Thursday, December 20, 2012

Twenty-Sixth Beginning: Assembly of God

In the beginning was the Word.      John 1:1

Shit!  Did I tell you to find someone who knew god?  Or did I give you a specific list that did not include anything about knowing god?  He’s not going to like you.

Alright, she’s not going to like you.  She’s going to interfere.  She could hurt you badly.  You’re young and I’m new here.  We’re still feeling our way. 

Yes, I know I said I needed help.  But some kinds of help are no help at all. 

Yes, he did say that contention was a necessary part of the world.  I just think that we’ll get enough of that coming at us from outside.  We don’t need to invite it in.

Well, if she’s dead already, you might as well bring her through.  It’s going to be difficult.  We can’t lie to these people.

Yes, but sometimes lying is all that keeps one person from hating another.  I don’t think she’s going to like me.  Did you follow the list with the others?

Well, that’s good.  How many?  Well, that’s two more than we strictly need, so maybe that will be all right.  I’m not that good with people, though.  If the others like her better and she kicks up a fuss, they may not help at all.

Yes, you are lovely.  I’m sure once they know you, they’ll love you.  As much as you need.  It’s just that knowing you will require the slow building of a bridge of information.  You’re not like anything they know.

A bridge?  Let me think how to explain that, for a minute.  Yes, bring her through while I think.

Yes.  All the way.  Just like we planned.  Make sure she wakes up last, though.

Yes, I love you.  How could I not?  You’re going to be exactly what I want.

Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.     Proverbs 27:1
If you had asked Edwin Carlisle yesterday what his future would be like, he would have said that everything was rosy.  Of course he would have mentally translated ‘future’ into career.  Maybe not in so many words, but his work life would have been what he was thinking about while he was thinking ‘future’. 

Today was completely different.  Today it all felt hollow.  He still remembered all the projects, all the triumphs, all the buildings, streets, and bridges that were there because of him, because he could make things happen were others got bogged down in other people’s objections.  He remembered them and he remembered being proud of them, enjoying them, exulting in them.  He could even remember the rest of the cycle:  the urge to take weeks off and relax, the basking in the glow of success, the catching up with other parts of his life outside the project, followed by the little restlessnesses, the growing dissatisfaction with family and friends that meant it was time to find another project.

The best projects were the ones that everyone said were doomed. 

Now Ed just wanted to let doomed things lie.  And, feeling like a doomed thing himself, he was lying out in his orchard.  His home was just far enough into the city for a private orchard to be an indulgence.  It was a hobby.  It helped him work off steam while his mind chewed through problems.  It provided home-grown, organic fruit and nuts for gifts.  He had loved it.  He had gone there hoping that it would cheer him.  But, the trees may as well have been rotting stumps.

Missy was dead.  It was stupid to be reacting this way.  He had known it was coming.  There were people that he could call, but he was in mid-project.  It always took awhile to talk people back into liking him again after he entered full-on, blow-them-off project mode.  It just seemed too much trouble to go through.  Everything seemed to be too much trouble.

It was a pity he couldn’t starve himself to death in a single night.  He couldn’t imagine ever eating again, could barely imagine having the energy to stand up.  Poor Missy.  He would always wonder if she had known it was coming.

He began to think about sharp tools and feeding the trees with his blood.  Missy had liked the trees.  She had eaten the fruit with gusto.  He couldn’t think of any tools close to hand that were smooth enough.  A pruning saw just wouldn’t do. 

It wasn’t quite winter, yet, and it wasn’t quite dark, either.  The moist warmth of the well-composted ground was sending up mist into the evening air.  There would be a tule fog tonight.  Probably not enough of one to reach up to the highway, but the local roads would be hazardous to drive.

Ed thought about driving into something in the fog.  He couldn’t think of anywhere where that would be definitely fatal, without involving another car.  He couldn’t do that.  That would be cowardly and selfish.

He thought about his toes.  His arms and legs were spread out like a paper doll.  That’s how he felt.  Dry and lifeless, strung hand to hand with a line of other people exactly like him.  He was endlessly replaceable.  What clothes was he wearing?  Would he care later that they were wrinkled and muddy?  Would he ever care about anything again?

He remembered lying out in a field like this when he was young.  He had lain out at night and imagined that he was looking down, instead of up, that he could fall into the dark and the stars and fly.  Now it was all misty and cold and it felt like gravity had been turned up to two or three times its normal intensity.  He could feel the meat hanging from his bones.  It was a good thing the ground was there, to hold it up, or it would droop until it fell off. 

This was no way to be.  There were guns.  He knew people who had them.  He’d remember who they were soon.  Eventually, he’d have the energy to stand up and get a gun.  Going on like this forever just couldn’t be borne.  It was okay to be miserable, now that he knew that it would stop.  Maybe not tonight.  Tonight he was too cold and tired.  He’d had a shock.  But shocks wore off.  He’d have enough energy soon.

Maybe if he slept, he’d wake up and remember who had a gun.  Someone who worked all day, so he could break a window and get it and not have to talk to anyone or let anyone see him.  Letting anyone see him would be a bad idea.  He had to look like hell.  His eyes felt heavy and sunken.  Maybe they had pushed back in his head too far to be seen.  That would set anyone looking at him off.  They’d ask him where his eyes were and while he was explaining, he’d make a mistake and talk about the gun.  Then they’d lock him up and he’d be miserable forever.
Ed turned his head to look at his hand.  It looked like a normal hand, in the fading light.  Through the mist he saw mushrooms pushing up through the dirt just beyond his fingers.  Were they moving that fast, or was he just thinking that slowly?  They were unfolding in droves.  No, not droves, there were only a dozen or so.

Ed turned his head further.  They were in an arc.  With as much plan-reading as he did, the geometry was obvious.  The mushrooms were rising in a ring around him.  What was the story about fairy rings?  All Ed could think of were stories about fairies that opened cracks in the earth under barrows, places of the dead.  What did those fairies do?  Ed couldn’t remember.  Something about aging, or living a hundred years underground in a week.  He didn’t want to live that long.  There was no way he could bear a week.

The mushrooms crowded in around him and he felt himself sinking into the ground.  No.  He needed to be able to get up later and get the gun.  Ed started to weep, more tears that he believed could come out of him.  They were warm until they got into his ears, where they cooled enough to be sticky.  Maybe the salt in them would kill the mushrooms.  Maybe he just needed to cry harder and he’d be free.

Ed started to sob.  He pulled again and again and finally pulled one arm free.  The back of it was covered with pithy white hairs.  Where the hairs entered, he could feel nothing. 
Okay.  Numb was good.  Maybe the mushrooms would eat him and he’d never have to stand up again.  After that, someone had better come and till the mushrooms into the soil, to let the soil dry out.  Soil that wet and fungus-ridden had to be bad for the trees.  It was nice to feel concerned about the trees again.  Ed let his arm fall back.  It wasn’t just the mushrooms coming up, he was definitely sinking down into the dirt. 

That would be convenient.  That would outdo Uncle Buster.  Dad had always been proud of Uncle Buster.  Uncle Buster had been retired when he died and Dad always wanted to go out just like him.  Buster had had a garden, rather than an orchard, and he had pottered in it every day.  He took his wheelbarrow out, pottered in his garden, then tipped the wheelbarrow up and sat back in the shade of it to nap before pottering a little more and pushing the wheelbarrow back up to the house.

One day a neighbor noticed that Buster had been napping for most of the day and went over to check.  Sure enough, Buster had died, right there in the garden.  When the ambulance came, the overgrown driveway had been too wet for a gurney to push through, so they had just tipped Buster’s wheelbarrow up and used it to haul him down to the street.  Neat and efficient.  Dad had approved.

Dad had only managed to die in his sleep between the time that his wife had gotten up and the time that the coffee was ready.  Now Ed was out-doing Buster.  He would disappear completely, not only ready-laid-out, but ready-buried.  He didn’t believe that he was going where Missy was.  He could have been happy believing that, but he didn’t.  This wasn’t going to be joy, only relief, and just a little hint of triumph at finally beating Dad at something. 
Odd that he’d be thinking that.  Dad had never accomplished much of anything.  Odd that he’d feel like this was the first time . . . well, maybe he’d think about that some other time.  Or maybe there was no time.  The mist was thick.  Ed wasn’t sure if he was seeing fog or mycelium covering his eyes.  Mycelium:  that was the name of the roots of mushrooms.  Not roots, exactly - those underground tendrils were the main part of the mushroom.  The parts above ground were the fruiting bodies. 

Ed chuckled as his sight dimmed and he felt a whisper of moving dryness in his nose.  He was going to be a fruiting body in an orchard.  He was ready to let go.  He hoped all his parts would be useful.  Missy couldn’t find him and worry.  She wouldn’t be alone.  She was gone.
He hoped someone would take good care of the trees. 

That one looks good.  I wasn’t expecting him to want to die.  No, that’s all right.  Do him first.  The first one will be riskiest, and if he wants to die, that’s like permission to take the risk. 
Yes, he might still want to die.  We may have to let him.  Yes, that makes two unsuitable ones.  They might all be unsuitable one way or another.  We just have to deal with what we have, now.

I think you did really well, all things considered.  Should I tell you now that the Book Man didn’t think you’d be able to do this at all?  Would that make you nervous? 

No, I don’t think you should be nervous.  I think you’re wonderful and can do more than the Book Man suspects.  Of course you need to remember to listen to me.  I’m also more wonderful than the Book Man suspects.

Yes, I’ve surprised him before.  I intend to surprise him again.  I intend for both of us to surprise him, over and over.

That would be nice, yes, if the others could surprise him, too.  I don’t think we should show them to him too soon, though. 

Do you need to rest?  No?  All right.  Pull him almost all the way through.  Then let him rest.  It looks like he needs to rest.  I remember the anatomy.  You need to keep the function intact.  Yes I know it’s complicated, but you’re wonderful.  And I remember it all.  At least, I hope I remember enough. 

Pull through as much moisture and structure as you need.  They’ve given us more than enough.  Now pay attention.  I know it’s hard.  Don’t stop at the wrong time or he’ll die.  There’s my good girl.

Twenty-Fifth Beginning: Villanelle with Hobbit (poem)

The road goes ever on and on,
Or so a famous tale once said.
You travel it until you’ve gone

Far from your door, far from your lawn,
Far from your table, from your bed.
The road goes ever on and on,

As on your moving feet are drawn,
As on your eager eyes are led.
You travel on until you’ve gone

Through forests’ shade and tunnels’ yawn,
With only going in your head.
The road goes ever on and on.

It’s movement that you rest upon.
It’s stillness you have come to dread.
You travel on until you’ve gone

Beyond all going, toward a dawn
Spread radiant in glowing red.
The road goes ever on and on.
You travel it until you’re gone. 

Twenty-Fourth Beginning: Groove vs. Rut (poem)

A groove is smoother than a rut.
A groove is cooler, hipper, but
A rut can hold you to the road,
Can guide the tire, move the load.

A groove is easier to lose,
To skip, surrender.  Oops!  Old news.
A rut will grapple, grasp, and grip.
It’s hard to give a rut the slip.

But groove or rut, the truth is that
The road is seldom ever flat.  

Twenty-Third Beginning: Mr. Roget's Neighborhood (poem)

If this were
Mr. Roger's Neighborhood
We would sing
"It's a beautiful day
Neigh bor hood."


This is
Mr. Roget's Neighborhood.
and so we
Breathe Deep. 


It is beautiful,
bonny. . .

, , ,

   , , ,

      , , ,

         , , ,


 . . . until the Cap with the label
Speedy Delivery

upon pale and

Twenty-Second: Believing in Chocolate

Don't give up                                          [two versions - I'm thinking about it]
on the Hershey's bottle.
Invert it
and squeeze
and plunge it in
to the milk.


When the milk has risen,
revert it
and shake.
Then squeeze it on back
in the glass
rich and dark.

There is more sweetness left
in the world
than we see.
Though we sometimes
must rise in the dark
to find it.


Don't give up on the Hershey's bottle.

Invert it and squeeze.
Plunge it into the milk.

Revert it and shake.

See it flow back,
rich and dark.

There’s more sweetness
Still left than we see.
Though we sometimes must rise in the dark to find it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Twenty-First Beginning: A Very Old Bedtime Story

[written for my middle son, who is 34, now]

Eric and you

And an elephant, too

All went for a ride

In a fine kangee-roo.

And it hopped 

    And it hopped

          And it hopped

     And it hopped

And it hopped

     And it hopped

          And it hopped

                Then it stopped.

And where did it stop?

After those hops?

This fine kangee-roo,

It stopped at the zoo.

And it played a kazoo,

Yes, a purple kazoo,

For Eric and you

And the elephant, too.

And the zookeeper let all of you go right through.

And when you were through,

This fine kangee-roo

Gave you the kazoo,

And you blew and you blew.

And the peacocks all flew

From the sounds that you blew,

But the bears laughed and danced

And made mulligan stew.

And the porcupine taught you

A game that he knew

While the elephant threw

A quick horseshoe or two

With three zebras, two aardvarks, and one old, old gnu.

And you stayed and you played

And you played and you stayed

Until zebras and aardvarks,

Porcupines, gnus, and bears

Had all settled their heads

In their beds in their lairs.

And then Eric and you

And the elephant, too,

All rode your way home

In the fine kangee-roo.

Yes you hopped your way home just as quick as one-two.

And you settled your heads

In your own little beds.

And you told me you loved me.

And I love you, too.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Nineteenth Beginning - that's all folks (Worldshore) misc. notes

I’m going to pause for a few minutes and set down the look of the people and places in this story.  I’ll sort them into the narrative later.  Right now the plot is ticking along well relying mostly on the voices.  But the other stuff needs to be firmly in my head, to keep me consistent and, to be honest, to let me salt comments into the manuscript as I write along. 

So.  Obviously the main character is Morganzer, also named Ferntickle.  She’s fifteen and hates being fifteen.  She wants to be in charge or at least thinks she does.  That’s a little patronizing.  She definitely wants to be in charge and always will.  It’s just a part of her personality.  She will always perceive others as being off track and needing guidance at the very least and a good shaking followed my someone more competent (only coincidentally her – it’s not like she want all this work) taking over, just to keep things right.  Maybe she’ll mellow.  The mellowing will only be in action, though, she’ll always have the urge to take over.

Morganzer isn’t used to the idea of having two names.  She perceives her names as being in conflict.  She’s going to get a little shock when she finds how others view naming.  She’s going to get more than a little shock when she leaves her valley, which is isolated and populated by folks who don’t see the world the way most folks do.  That’s putting it mildly.  She’s been raised by scryers, with can be hard on a kid. 

Morganzer thinks she’s gotten all her height because she’s thin and gawky and as tall as most of the grown women around her.  She’s leaving out the genetic contribution of her father, though, mostly because the aunts she’s been raised by consider the nemen to be a temporary difficulty, which is true only in the realm of not wanting to think about that.

The nemen don’t see the women of Topside as relatives either, and the mutual denial is very supportive, in its way.  The Skeld, as they call themselves (nemen is a slighting term meaning not really men, or at least not really our men) are marauders pushing out of their old territory, taking advantage of a warming of the world.  They have wives and families back home.  Real ones.  They are deliberately gruff and uncommunicative with the aunts, enforcing a distance between them.  Any show of affection would be frowned upon, on both sides. 

Morganzer therefore doesn’t know how significant it is that a few of the nemen have had more than one child by the same woman or how significant it is that her father not only produced three full siblings, but checked in on them after her mother died.  She assumes that he’s of no consequence to her personally and that he assumes the same of her.

She’s going to be frowning a lot over the stories, for which I apologize.  I won’t say that it’s not that she’s that grumpy, because at this stage of her life, she is.  And she will have to work not to fall back into grumpy all her life.  But she’s going to be going through some big adjustments, or at least she’s going to feel the pull to adjust to a lot of things, and it’s hard for someone who knows it all to adjust to things she didn’t know about at all.  Like, in Morganzer’s case, the rest of the world.

She has a brother, who irritates her, and a sister that she doesn’t bother thinking of at all.  The brother does not scry, at least not in a normal way.  Morganzer does.  She scries very well.  She has built her sense of worth around it, believing that if you knew scrying you knew everything and everyone had to listen to you. 

But back to her brother.  Daffak is thirteen and getting pudgy before a growth spurt.  He doesn’t know that, though, and is afraid he’s getting soft.  He’s also worried about how tall he’ll end up being.  Unlike Morganzer, he’s noticed the visiting men a lot and has made a sort of gruff contact with his father.  He wants more contact, though, and is starting to do increasingly rash things to get attention from the men.  He has especially noticed that the Skeld men are taller than his folk, even taking the fact that most of his folk are women into account.  He’s noticed that the older boys who were half Skeld looked shorter than the few Skeld boys he’s seen.  (This is skewed more than he knows by the fact that only large Skeld boys are allowed to boat out.)

I’ve wandered away from the physical description of Morganzer.  I’ll add Daffak in, to make up time.  The Skeld tend to very fine hair with little or no curl in it.  Their women deal with that in various ways, but the men – half of whom go male-pattern bald by fifty – either tie back their hair in a braid or cut it very short.  They tend not to bother braiding hair that’s gotten too wispy.  Their hair comes in various light shades with maybe one person in ten showing red.

The Topsiders were a moderately diverse bunch at one time, but tend to the darkish and the wavy or curly, with no red.  Mixed children tend to look mostly Topside, with maybe less curl and a lighter hue.  Lychnis, Morganzer’s sister, is an exception.  Her hair is a definite light red and it kept the full curl, which makes it striking to both groups.  The aunts have kept it pulled back and covered, as a general precaution.  But she’s eleven, now, and wants to let it loose, like her agemates.  She’s not going to do much in this story.  She’ll be getting on with her life at home.  She’ll get more attention from her father, since he’ll be missing the other two and won’t be able to speak about it to anyone.

Morganzer and Daffak have dark, umberish hair.  His is thicker than hers.  It would show a wave if cut short, but they both wear it long, so neither knows this.  Although dark, their hair tends to sun bleach easily, leaving the top layer a brickish color, with dark strands peaking through.  The bleached layer is weaker than the underlayer, and breaks off more easily.  So for the last few inches, their hair is dark. 

Daffak’s hair is longer than Morganzer’s, which irritates her a bit.  Hers, being lighter, tends to let shortened tendrils loose from her braids to float about.  When in deep scrying, they stand out from her head.  He wears a single braid, like the nemen.  She wears two and tucks them around each other at the base of her neck.

Both Daffak and Morganzer have very pale skin.  If Lychnis gets too much sun, she freckles exactly the way that their father thought Morganzer would.  Morganzer hasn’t really noticed, but their father is a carpenter, rather than a raider.  Daffak knows, though, and has started trying to carve the dead branches of the valley scrub. 

All the Topsiders wear felt clothing made from the hair of the goats they raise.  The goats also produce milk.  There are a few small flocks of tough little banty chickens.  They lay barely enough eggs to keep their population up enough to be harvestable, so almost no one eats their eggs. 

People do eat sea bird eggs, though, especially in season.  The children are encouraged to trap or otherwise kill the local rabbits and weasels.  Slings are popular weapons for doing this.  There are berry bushes.  Around the edge of the warm, there are rose bushes.  The roses have adapted well enough to the cold to push out beyond the warm.  Rose hip tea is popular with the aunts, who know that it prevents scurvy.  Roses are embroidered on the edges of the aunts’ felt coats.

Daffak is an extrovert, wanting to be connected to people more than most scryers care to be.  Being around introverts is starting to wear on him.  He perceives it as being around women, though.  That will change later.

Oh, the nemen have gotten ahold of cotton toweling and the Topsiders use the old towels in various ways, most notably as carriers and parts of clothing.  Linen, hemp, and wool are the fabrics produced by the worldshore.  There’s a seaweed that can make a rough strapping or tarp material, too. 

How many Topsiders are there?  That’s a good question.  The Skeld have inspected, and they pretend that they know, but all the Topsiders looked alike to them at the time, and everyone kept coming and going.  It’s a long little finger of a valley.  There are four good-sized caves currently being used to house goats and their tenders.  Maybe a few other folks, too.  I mean, the smell of the goats keeps everyone away, so it would be a good place to stash things.  And people. 

There were eighteen families with the wanderer, when they came to Topside.  It was called Topside even then, because it couldn’t be seen from the sea and you had to climb up the cliffs at exactly the right place to reach it.  The followers came in a masted ship and held climbing contests each day of the trip.  The rope ladders had been made before the trip and were given to the best climbers to let down for everyone else.  That’s the advantage of a boat load of scryers.  There was also a pulley for hauling gear, but that’s been broken, burned, or hidden away.  No one Topside knows where at the moment.

Lillibell has medium to dark ash blonde hair.  She’s starting to go grey, which isn’t really noticeable against the ash cast of her hair.  She’ll be well into grey before anyone really notes it.  It’s also starting to get a bit curly in patches.  She’s the only person Topside who cuts her hair into bangs, although no one Topside uses that word.  It’s not your usual set of bangs, but hugs the edges of her eyebrows and comes down her cheeks, curving in slightly.  She’s also hacked off hunks on each side at about chin height.  It’s a cut that she does herself with a knife and no mirror.  It’s for convenience.  The rest she braids back out of the way.  Sometime one braid, sometimes two.  With the bangs, her jaw doesn’t look as square as it otherwise would.  Not that her appearance is the reason for the cut.  The cut is completely functional.

She’s a naturally happy person, which is just as well.  She’s medium height and is starting to get a bit haunchy as her knees go.  Her digestion is also not what it should be for a woman of her age.  And they’ve used spells to wither her womb, because it was acting up so bad.

She used to wander all over the valley, collecting materials for other people to make baskets from.  Collecting and processing the materials takes about half the time of making a basket, so a lot of craftier folk were happy to let her collect for them.  Now she mostly stays near the bath house and is getting more and more clever with the materials near there.

Lillibell has become more sedentary since the knees began to pain her.  She makes paper and ink.  She’s gotten good at dying the felt, even developing a fast bright blue.  She dyes and uses embroidery thread.  She’s found a number of uses for the seaweeds that grow at the base of their cliff.  Most of the bowls and plates Topside are made of seal or walrus leather.  Spoons and combs are carved from ivory or horn.  She’s gotten good at making things with all of those materials.  There is actually a decent bank of metal that the followers brought with them, but it was either taken Downside or to Farside, to keep it from the nemen.  So she’s never worked with metal. 

Lillibell has seen her own death while scrying more times that anyone else in Topside history.  Although she doesn’t know it, there’s a book on all of the ways that she could have died.  Other women have taken over the task of watching her future and she’s relieved that they have.  There’s something unsettling with watching yourself die, especially when someone else is killing you.  Even if you avoid it, you can never talk to that person the same way ever again. 

Lillibell is going to die if she doesn’t get out of the valley with Daffak and Morganzer.  She’s also going to die if she goes.  But it’s a later death and it won’t be caused by someone she knows.

  Morganzer’s face is a little thin and her forehead rounds out a bit.  Daffak’s face is baby-cheek round with a slightly flattened nose.  He’s hoping to grow out of that.  His hair forms a widow’s peak.  His two middle fingers are exactly the same length – just like his father.  Lillibell’s face is a little squarish of jaw, with a high forehead and a nose that has kind of a bump on the end. 

There’s one stream a summer day’s walk from the valley that has a clay bottom.  One or two expeditions are made there each year.  The timing has to be right.  The nemen know nothing about it and the clay is taken Downside for processing and use.  It’s not very good clay, but it makes a change. 

Let’s say that the eighteen families that came each had four members.  That’s 72 people.  Let’s say that scrying suppresses ovulation, so that the population snuck up to 120 and then stayed about there.  Let’s say that half of the population went to Farside.  That’s 60 left.  Then say that the oldest fifty went Downside.  That’s an original dozen Downside and 48 Topside, a third of which are children.  So sixteen children of various ages.

The valley can support 120, though.  And the nemen are supplying added children.  Let’s say the old women live longer if they’re Downside and not doing farm work or gathering in the cold.  So double the children and double the Downsiders, as they build up.  That’s nearly 30 Downside and about the same number of children.  Say 17 – 19 is the age of majority.  That’s 16 years spread among the children, or about two children of any given age.  They’d tend to clump a little. 

Babies stay with their mothers, who stay near the baths, working as support crew.  Girls aren’t allowed to work the baths unless too young to be of interest or old enough to bear safely.  The baths are made of cedar and are well made.  The story is that Topside was originally made for a prince to visit.  Hot baths near the cold snow being poetic and coincidentally far from his counselors’ prying eyes.  Then the prince died and the ships just stopped coming.  There had only been a few men at the baths and for some reason they produced few sons.  The aunts, minus their oldest, had welcomed the nemen as fathers to their children.  In exchange for leaving children, they would operate the baths for them as long as the machinery held out.  It was a pity that a rock collapse had blocked off access to the main machinery.  But it was built on a natural hot spring, as you could tell by the valley. 

Lets talk cardinal points for a bit.  Let’s call the coldest reach of the Worldshore north.  Let’s call the warmest reach south.  Then the sun will come up over a massive mountain range each morning, at least for most of the shore.  There will be a lovely sunset way out into the western ocean – just called the Ocean at the end of every day.  Things are arranged so that up Topside, the winter days are short and the summer ones are long.  Most of the really educated folks everywhere (even on the continent) know that the world is round.  It doesn’t get pondered much, Topside, but Downside has a library with the requisite explanations.  It’s actually not a bad little library, if you overlook the spottiness.  Eighteen families.  Eighteen views of what was important.  Half of them didn’t bring books at all, beyond ledgers and journals, and they were expecting to fill those in. 

So we have a valley up on a high cliff.  I’m trying not to use the word fjord, but I may not be able to get around it.  There’s a finger of a fjord-bump jutting into the ocean, surrounded on most sides by towering, jagged islands.  Basically broken fjord leavings.  They’re scenic and rugged and awe-inspiring, unless you view landscapes where it’s difficult for people to get around and impossible for them to live as broken debris, terrifying, perhaps, but as ugly as trash due to its uselessness.  The majority of the folk on the Worldshore have a tendency to judge landscapes in that way.  It’s a definite: “so what can you do for me” attitude.  It’s also not awe-inspiring if you were born there and have looked at it since long before your brain knew how to make images out of all that electric mess that your eyes were shoving at it. 

Daisy managed awe.  Lychnis has toyed around the edges of the feeling and might uncover it lurking behind her liver somewhere, if she persists in examining her perceptions.  Morganzer and Daffak ignore it the way fish ignore water.  That is, they’re very aware of it, but not as a separate thing, to be considered for itself.  They’re constantly monitoring it for cues to how it’s going to affect them. 

The fjord-bump runs almost exactly from it’s attachment to the mountains in the northeast to its tip in the Ocean, southwest.  There’s only one place where a boat can be anchored – an area where a great chunk has fallen away to make a concavity.  Rope ladders are dropped from overhead.  Once you climb them, you have to walk along the spine of the fjord-bump until just after it meets the main mountain.  Then you climb up over the nearest peak and drop down into a valley.  The valley also runs roughly northeast to southwest, but it slices a bit to the east.  The bath house is situated at the front of the valley, in a little flat grassy area.  Behind it, on either side, are the prince house and the servant house.

These days toddlers and their keepers live in the servant house and the prince house is kept for the nemen and whichever women are asking for children.  Morganzer actually thinks that the women pick when and maybe who.  We’re going to shock her a little before we let her get out of the valley.  But don’t worry, it’ll mostly be in a scrying bowl. 

There are four caves, as I believe I’ve mentioned.  Three are at the eastern end of the valley.  Locals refer to the left and right sides of the valley.  This convention presumes that you’re at the bath house and looking northeast.  The left side of the valley is shielded from the wind by the valley sides, which are shear for most of its length.  That side also gets called the lee side, therefore.  The other side has less steep sides and tends to collect snow drift in the winter, so it’s also called the drift side.  The drift side gets a bit more sun, because the sides are sloped back and don’t block it much. 

There’s one cave in the lee side, about halfway down the valley.  It’s the biggest one and the one that houses the most people and the fewest goats.  It’s been rebuilt the most, or at least it looks like it has.

The other three caves are down at the east end on the drift side.  To get out of the valley you have to start climbing up the mountain on the drift side before you get to the first cave.  You go up and up, heading loosely northeast and keeping to the spine until it reaches another spine.  You turn to the right, then, passing over the new spine and onto a bigger mountain.  You won’t be able to climb up to the spine of that one.  It’s always ice and always unsteady.  Instead, you pass along the side of the spine-holder until you reach a third spine.  You turn right and travel down that one.  About a third of the way down it, there will be a steep slope dropping off to the left.  If you can travel down it, bearing slightly right as you travel, you’ll reach another valley.  It will be rocky and round and no use for farming, but it will have a harbor that you can land a boat in. 

Getting there can be a bitch, though.  

Daisy is taller than most Topside women and has pale, straight hair.  Her face is thin and her eyes are a muddy mix of olive green and brown.  Her smile looks almost folded, the edges going up sharply and suddenly when she’s amused or had discovered something.

Mackah, Kholack, and Hallacha all look related, almost like they’re three ages of the same woman.  The face is roundish and the cheeks are flattish toward the front, giving a slightly maskish appearance.  Their hair is a thick, wavy brown and would have had slightly reddish highlights if they were still going above ground.

They are all going grey, with Hallacha being mostly grey, Mackah being mostly brown, and Kholack being in the middle.  Their hands and wrists are very wrinkled and so is the front of their necks, where they join their chests.  Their faces are much less wrinkled, although each has a typical expression that is reinforced by etching.  Kholack had her smirk.  Hallacha frowned, disapprovingly, and Mackah squinted as if perplexed or concentrating.

Narnemvar, on the other end of the world, is a tall man who used to be slim and graceful.  He’s still fairly light on his feet, although he’s developed a small belly.  He wears velvet because he likes the feel and his few clothes are well made.  He wears them until they wear out, seeming not to notice their decline until multiple holes bring themselves to his notice.

This hair is a medium brown and curly.  It’s cut in two layers, which used to be stylish and still is in some areas.  He wears no jewelery because it itches when he does magic.  He wears buckles on his boots to make up for it.  He looks like the sort who would wear a hat to have something to gesture expansively with, but he doesn’t have one at the moment.  His eyes are deeply brown.  He has an easy laugh.  He bores easily.

Postlavanderon is slim and brown and well made.  He is a practiced dancer and fencer.  Both he and Narnemvar have more experience brawling than a courtier is supposed to admit to.  He’s in his late twenties. 

Satbada is in his early twenties, but both of the men he is traveling with assume he is older, because of the way he dresses and because of his stiff propriety.  He is proud to be a servant and proud of being a good servant.  He exercises while the others are sleeping and is better trained at fighting than they know. 

1 - Trigger level - cannot properly perceive any component of active magic, but can trigger trap magic
2 - Active Perception level - can perceive active magic - this includes being able to hear the words of cast spells, being able to see the gestures made in casting, being able to lohode the movement of the spell, and feeling other referred physical sensations caused by the movement
3 - Static Perception level - can perceive trap or other static magic
4 - Near Sympathy level - also called the Finding or Scan level - able to call to a well known object, person, or material and perceive it if hidden nearby.  Finders and Scanners must be in motion and sense their target as they pass it. 
5 - Far Sympathy level - also called the Dowsing level - Dowsers can scan at a greater distance and can sense their target while still.  Four guilds determine whether a person can use the title Dowser.
6 - Connection level - also called by many other names - can pull different types of magic and connect them, thus casting spells and inserting magic into charms and other physical or locational trap configurations
7 - Calling level - also called the Weaving level - can pull raw or loosely typed magic from non-point sources and differentiate it into typed magic