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The moon rises over the river while the houses burn behind us. I tie the mayor up & Bismuth cuts off his hands. Kisa keeps him alive. He comes to with the three of us standing over him and by the light of his burning house we address him. “The town’s safe, now pay us.”

Earlier that day we took him out to the island which wasn’t probably the best idea. He didn’t believe us about the ruined castle full of skeletons. “Not just skeletons. They jump up and try and get you. They’re living skeletons.” None of us particularly good with words or talking or knowing anything about ghosts. Well, the castle – we heard it was full of ghosts. Back on the first day. Well… Maybe I should go back to the beginning.

Kisa, who I call Swampy, cause of how she is. Me, who everyone calls Baker, cause I can cook & grew up as a baker & Crazy, who’s name is supposedly Bismuth. Parents should’ve called her Batshit though. Nuts. The three of us are Grakky Legion – mercenaries from the companies down south. This mayor Reynolf or Randolf – (Can’t pronounce these northern names) sends word & money that he needs fighters to protect this dam he’s building. So they weigh his coin & command sends him us 3. We head up north to the town.
Maybe a week ago we show up – so Day 1 –
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Meet the mayor & the locals. Town doesn’t have much – they crow on about how rich the land is but the inn doesn’t have coffee & the room’s just got one big bed for every traveler. They never even heard of coffee. The story we get is that there are bandits out in the marsh who want to mess up the dam. Doesn’t make any sense but sense isn’t really part of this, when I think about it – the mayor had to be pretty dumb to hire us in the first place. Now that I think about it. Anyhow- bandits out in the marshes – that’s what we hear so we go investigate.

On the first day we run into some kind of giant with two ugly heads. This thing seemed pretty crazy – but we came to find that the swamp was all but full of these kinds of freaks. It sure pissed of crazy who went berserk on it with her axe - me and Kisa helped & it got shot down with I think 4 arrows in its necks. Crazy Bismuth decided on keeping the teeth. Said she knew a guy who’d buy them.

Then, there’s bandits, we find ‘em, Kisa counts coup – pinkiess this time – she gets weirder every time we go back to the bush. Pinkies say we got something like 12 of them. I thought there were more but these swampbillies are dumb as rocks. I got one of them sword to the throat “Where are your friends! Where are they!” I’m yelling at him, bloode everywhere there’s just two left and he’s in this stinking tent in a buggy marsh crying and dumbshit can’t even come up with a lie to save his life. I think Crazy’s battle-chant had gotten to me cause I killed him & then his buddy – they couldn’t even make up a story to try and trick us. I don’t have any regrets.

Then when we’re camping out, getting ready to head back and get paid we run across or anyhow this little girl comes running up on us in the night. Bandits again, they got her whole family, she’s been trapped for weeks – just finally escaped. We try and keep her out of it, but she wants to follow – we find more of them & they go down like the others. After this we figure there’s more up in the marsh & Swampy thinks she can find the rest of them. We meet with this boatman who dropped us off in the first place at the appointed time. We figure we’ll send the little girl down the river with him and have him send our report to the mayor.

Well the kid doesn’t want to go with him & Crazy gets all attached, real fast, real crazy. She wants to hug her and pet her and… Kid hates the boatman for no reason - he’s just some guy with a boat – she bolts. This makes Crazy crazy and we try following – but even Swampy is stumped. We keep hearing her cackling from out in the trees – and these trees – they’re all moss-hung right? And still pools of water, and frog noises & crickets & on and on – it’s not a nice place – no matter what Swampy wants you to think. I say – this is all gonetohell and we all rally & decide to just go back to town with the boatman. Meantime – down the river we keep seeing the girl show up from behind trees & jumping up out from behind rocks. Suddenly it’s real supernatural. Crazy doesn’t care & still wants to get the girl – so we get the boatman to put in so we can go talk at her. Me? I got it figured out – she’s a witch. I say so.

The swamp had a lot of those twig-dolls – you know, like you hang up from trees? Swampy says they didn’t do that where she grew up. Anyhow there’s a lot of those & the witch-girl changes so she’s like a big elf lady & turns all the twig-dolls to life. This, I hate.

The witch turns out to be made of wood or something – you sock her with an axe or whatnot & it’s like cutting down a tree. We about dulled our axes by the time we brought her down – and no thanks to kisa who got so scared by her wicker-men that she ran off & didn’t even really help. Me and Crazy hacked the witch to bits & then Crazy – being crazy took her head to keep. Meantime the wicker dolls & killed the poor boatman.

So Day 3 –
We’re sleeping in the inn & telling everyone we meet about the witch in the woods. The witch said all kinda nonsense – this is what Kisa tells us cause she understands swamptalk. Supposedly this dam the mayor is building is going to make it so that the island with the ruined old castle won’t be separated from the mainland. This is a big problem, the witch says, because of the evil on the island. Sounds like the kind of thing a witch would say to keep you from hacking her head off to me, but that was my first witch, so I can’t be sure. Witches. Town is all aflutter because this pretty girl got stolen out of her house.

I don’t like mentioning it here but I’ve been having all kinds of weird dreams. Spider-ladies in the attic & so on – Crazy says she’s having dreams like this too – but I don’t say squat about it – bad for morale, bad for our image. Crazy doesn’t care – she’s out in the street selling giant teeth & spouting off about the dreams she has with the river full of eyes. Bad dreams – I don’t like this town.
Anyways, there’s this girl in the town called Pretty – that’s what they named her, pretty girl. She got robbed or run off in the night. Me? I think she kidnapped herself. Run off with some boatman y’know? We go look in her house – the fat old mother is after us “please please my baby!” so we’re looking around – find a false wall in the girl’s bedroom – we break that down – find a trail of blood – it goes down the side of the building. So Kisa tracks her to the river – looks like someone drug her over to that island the witch was on about. Someone loans us a boat and we go.
Over the island it’s all forest – after a minute we run into this thing… Ugh. This thing is big & green & has like fingers growing out its arms & boils all over it. You hack it to bits & the bits keep growing back. We cut this thing to ribbons & it would not quit. We decided to try burning it up & that worked okay, once we’d chopped it apart the head started yelling about hating fire and how that hurt it or whatever – so we made sure to keep up with the fire. Worked.

At the castle we find the girl – she’s up in the one still-standing tower – but there’s a whole mess of skeletons in the courtyard – just laying there – but still, they jump up lively & mean as soon as we get close & then it’s a fight. We’re outnumbered so we head for the tower- it looks like we can hold it. Crazy has a time trying to break down the door & finally just cuts it to bits with her axe. We get in and I do what I can to barricade the hole – this after the skellys all but creamed us. I hold the door while they get the girl – she’s upstairs & waiting for someone to save her. Me and Bismuth lower Kisa & the girl and then Crazy & then me – rappel down – almost got by the skellys. Craziest thing I ever saw. We run back to the river & boat it back across.
Baker
Now – Crazy keeps giant teeth & foams at the mouth when she cuts off witch heads. She’s crazy. She notices that Pretty has bites on her neck and says she’s a vampire. Which is, if you didn’t know, a type of guy who lives forever by drinking people’s blood. I’ve been a cook my whole life - there’s all kinds of people who eat blood all the time – they usually have bad BO – but I never knew one to live forever. Supposedly it’s because of eating people’s blood. We put our heads together and none of us know much about any of this. Crazy says they die in the sun – but its midday without clouds so I don’t think the girl is a vampire. We take her home & tuck her in – the mother pays pretty good.

Day 4 –
Again they wake us up to start complaining – stupid town without coffee.
The Gravedigger & town priest are on hand to piss us all right off with jibberjabber and nonsense. I duck out of this bullshit to go to Pretty’s house and look around. There’s a secret place behind the wallpaper where there’s this painted on door - or burned in door-picture that was hidden. It has a keyhole & I’m pretty annoyed & puzzled to see it. Stupid magic door. Turns out Pretty has a key stashed in her jewelry box. I give it a thought, take the key. Pretty & her servant are all “Buh Buh Buh!” About me tearing up their wallpaper but they give me the key when I ask kinda nice. I figure it’s a magic key for some kind of magic door & so I pitch it in the latrine. Thought about the river but that whole bit Crazy kept saying about the river full of eyes made me reconsider.
We figure we’re up against some kind of magic guy which freaks us out. My thought is – maybe we can find something out at the witch’s house. This is all I’ve got to go on besides the town charlatan & this lunatic gravedigger who are after us about nonsense. The two of them probably couldn’t find their own asses between them – but they’re all on and on about curses and the old mayor who used to live in the castle. I believe in Swampy so we figure, let’s go back to the swamp, let her figure out where the witch house is – then we’ll see if she knows something – cause she seemed like she was upset about that island an all before we killed her. So we go to the marsh again – but Swampy is stumped. I get the idea that we spin the witch’s head and go where it points – since its magic and all. Magic stuff… Man I don’t know? I don’t get paid enough for that.

Luckily Crazy keeps the head on hand with her other collection of trophies so we spin the head on a flat stone to see where it points – figuring that’s the way to find the house. First spin & the head starts yelling and screaming – making all kinda noise. This sets Crazy off and she shakes it by the hair till it shuts up. We go in the direction it was pointing though. Supposedly the head kept breathing – that’s what Bismuth says – Me? I think she’s doing it somehow cause she’s crazy. I caught her doing some kind of puppet show with it before. The Marsh & the town & the dreams – they have a bad effect on people I guess. That’s my opinion.
Troll
We wander off and end up getting ambushed by more of those fire-hating things we saw before. A lot of them. One was almost too much for us & against 20 we decide trying to talk is the thing to do. Well, I do. I’m the best at talking so I get tapped- plus it’s lucky these guys speak Giant which I’m familiar with. The main one has two mouths growing out of its face & neck, says he’s Grishgrash the grampa of trolls – which is what these guys are. So what I get out of them is that the witch was Grishgrash’s wife or maybe all of their wife? Or mother- they get real weird about it. I tell them that there’s a problem on the island and we need to check on her house for clues cause there’s a magic guy who’s evil or something.
They decide that they’ll take us to the witch house & then eat us after. We go in, where they won’t follow & I get the idea that I’ll cook for them. I say to Grishgrash – he’s making bad choices eating raw people – I know how to cook something that’ll curl his toes nice. Luckily the old witch had a chicken at her house – one of those scaly ones that bites – I’ve cooked with them before- they’re tough but they take to spice easy. Takes three whacks to get its head off and it bit like the dickens – but I get to cooking while Kisa and Bismuth sack the house for cues.
Kisa comes up with a chest that’s locked – there’s no key… Whatever – let Crazy break it open. I’m not going to even think about keys ever again. You ask me from now on? There is no such thing as keys.
kisa
Chest was full of witch-swords & we take them. I do a good job at cooking & the trolls seem to like it – they say we can go & Grishgrass gives me a fingerbone – says if I break it the trolls will come to help out. He wants to learn cooking but is scared of fire – I let him know you can get meat to ‘cook’ if you soak it up in juice – he says they’ll try that out. Old trick – southern style cooking is an art, I don’t mind spreading out this way.

We get back to town just in time for everyone to be going on about how Pretty & her ma & pa are dead.

Day 6 – Crazy Bismuth is all on about this dream she had about Pretty’s house being haunted & bad, and how in her dream the door that I found was trying to open & then there were monster-demon things tormenting her and she kept fading in and out of existence & how she saw me there, in her dream. Maybe she did. Maybe I had a dream like that too. But I have the sense to keep shut about it. Nobody likes hearing about your dreams.

Still no coffee so I start with whiskey. The mayor is all “there are no such thing as skeletons that jump up on you in abandoned castles.”
I lay it on real professional. “You hired us as contractors & we are telling you there is a problem. If you don’t want to listen that is fine, but we are professionals so job done.”
He says well maybe there are skeleton castles. Agrees to go over with us so we can show him.

Of course there’s no skeletons at all when we get there. The door Crazy broke down looks just like it did before she ever put an axe to it and the mayor is acting like we’re idiots. Except then we see Pretty up in the window. Now me – I think – the stupid broad kidnapped herself again. I go to say just this to the Mayor after we go and find her and then he starts laughing like an asshole and flies right out the window. He’s a fucking witch too. Magic guy turns out to be the mayor! Who was evil as hell or something.

Pretty’s all wrong & starts biting & clawing poor Kisa & who tries shooting down the mayor out the window. Crazy & me go after her & she walks out the back window – like, just walks on the wall all no-good at all. Like a spider.  All the while Kisa is freaking out about something outside.

Turns out the mayor conjured up all the dead guys the first time and now the courtyard is full of them. He flies up to the window and whammies us with some kind of magic cold that all but killed us. Kisa calls on nature to save her & the vines in the courtyard grow up around the tower door – Crazy runs down to hold the door against these things as they march through thorns getting all torn to hell. Kisa shoots out the window again and says she got the mayor – I’m not taking chances – I jump out the window and get Pretty between me and the ground – I get her head off and she turns to ashes – too late to break my fall – the rocks hurt like hell – but I get on my feet and start running for where the mayor fell or landed. Magic guy. Fucker.

We run to find him – Kisa’s faster than me – and find him – but it’s not a real guy at all – some kind of ghost figure with fake money! He’s got tricks. We realize Crazy is fighting off a few hundred dead guys and run back to get her. I climb up and in and head downstairs where she’s going berserk on these dead guys with her magic witch sword. I’m starting to think about breaking the magic finger and hoping the Trolls weren’t just playing some shitty joke on me – but I tap Bismuth on the shoulder so as not to get killed by surprising her while she’s having her battle-fit. “We’re going out the upstairs window.” I barely finish telling her before she grabs me and runs me up the stairs – the dead guys are chasing up behind us and I catch it in the face when a really big one uses a little one to hit me with. We dive out the third story window & run to catch up with Kisa – run to the boat and then find it gone. Of course. The Mayor!
Evil Mayor
We swim back to town & the mayor is having some kind of torch & pitchfork meeting to try and pin all this bullshit on us. Kisa sneaks on up ahead in the shadows while Bismuth helps me out – she’s got eyes like an eagle. I get two arrows into the Mayor before he can say boo and Crazy runs up to make sure he’s really dead this time – the magic sonofabitch. She gets up there in time for him to come awake just briefly and then… Well he blows the fuck up – Bismuth is down all her eybrows & hair – townsfolk are running away from the fire & the houses are all going up like tinder. I see this… devil, I guess, shoot out of the explosion & I get a couple of arrows into it just as it goes and stings Bismuth – that’s the thing that finally brings her down – after the skeletons, the cold, the undead, jumping out windows & finally getting blown the hell up – she just can’t take anymore and is KOed. I dot the devil-things eyes with a couple of arrows and it goes up in fire & bad smells. Kisa’s on hand to use her nature-whammy to bring Bismuth back – when there’s The Fucking Mayor- again. He starts like he’s laughing at us or something acting all scared – so I let Bismuth get a little revenge- he goes down again and starts bleeding out – I realize this is against our contract – so I say to Crazy Bismuth, as she’s going for his head, to cut his hands off so he can’t do magic on us anymore. We tie him up and Swampy does her nature juju and he wakes back up.

That’s how we saved the town.
kingtycoon: (Default)
Fabcity Title

Catalat wakes & starts dreaming, these are her days. She wakes & starts dreaming in the great garden of her family's home. She sometimes sees her parents, the servants say that they are her parents & she believes the servants, who have after all raised her and have never been deceitful. They have been misleading though. She wakes in her huge ornate bed, in her huge ornate room in her huge ostentatious house. It's the only place she's ever been but it is obviously both huge & ostentatious - even to one who's never experienced anything else. The manor spreads over the land a marble & crystal monstrosity.

When she sleeps she is aware - conversations are had over her supine form, discussions involving her, and she is asked questions which she answers, though asleep. Though asleep she experiences the realities of her life. When she wakes she begins dreaming.

One day she wakes not in the huge ornate bed, but rather on the grim folding cot in the cramped grim room full of cots & other sleepers. She does not know any of them. The servants enter the cramped grim room, which is after all, only a canvas tent. These servants wear long knives & animal skins, they are not gentle. They take Catalat & the others out into the sun, out in the sun there is a camp in a rough clearing surrounded by a tropical forest, surrounded by snowy mountains on all sides. A river flows nearby. In the middle of the camp is a concrete pylon with thick cables attached to it, they rise into the sky at an angle and are lost to sight somewhere off in the misty skyward horizon. A ship is moored at the pylon, it is held in midair on the cable.

The servants load the ship which has a bank of mechanical doors on its side with unmarked wooden crates. Catalat & the others watch this happen and are held back by the armed servants. Then, when the crates are loaded, she is pushed onto the ship along with the others. They are not gentle, but they are not cruel.

The servants drive the passengers up the back stair, a spiral stair of bronze grillework which lies beyond the banks of wooden benches with their blown out wicker caning. The ship is old & tattered but has an element of faded ostentation about it. On the upper deck there are more chairs still. She sits & so do the others. She can see through a window that the ship attaches to the cable by a mechanism made of bronze & iron. It is held aloft by many brazen fists, each as big as her head. She sits patiently because this is her principal occupation, having been raised to the task of calm patient waiting.

The fists begin to move & clack, the ship lists and judders and climbs the cable into the air. This is frightening & thrilling. The other passengers all start & mutter, none of them speak a language Catalat knows. The ship climbs into the clouds, there is a heavy mist in the air within the ship, a clammy fog that conceals even her hand in front of her face. Catalat falls asleep & still does not dream.

FUC Humors
Her body changes in her sleep. She feels it happen. Her face & limbs, hair & teeth, everything about her becomes more symmetrical. Her shadow grows, longer & longer, her hair & eyes loose their pigment & become part of her own shadow. Her flesh becomes more taut on her bones, which grow stronger & lighter. She is aware, without knowing that her physiology is gaining another layer of expression, that this transformation was within her all along.

When she wakes she begins dreaming, she can see that the others have changed themselves, they resemble themselves all the more. One man steams with a burning inner heat, another with a tremendous internal cold. One casts light from her eyes, another is taller & more rigid, anothers' face is a muddle of mismatched pieces, and another sweats & salivates freely, dripping wet.

The ship is descending through the sky into a vast, unknowably vast city. It spreads out, titanic buildings & plazas, forests & waterways in every direction - it is immensity itself. On every horizon plumes of fire & smoke rise and the city has no boundary, save the sky, through which the ship descends.

It comes near to ground in a great plaza surrounded on all sides by towering buildings of various descriptions. Below the car, where it settles at it's pylon, is a great thick skin of red glass - a circle of heavy glass that must be a hundred feet across. The servants come, they are wrapped in scarves, they gather the altered passengers and push them from the ship. Then push out the crates. Then the ship departs, leaving for the sky.

Fabcity Traincar

The plaza is surrounded by four buildings, one is a gigantic cube rising high into the sky, ten or twelve stories, it is a bare concrete edifice with regularly spaced windows, between the windows are a fringe of Red Circles, the barest decoration. She takes a wooden crate and pushes it across the glass toward a bank of immense glass & steel doors that fronts the building. Inside, there is a small forest of beautiful tropical plants lying across a plain of smooth polished concrete. A wide lobby with a single concrete desk, the plants dividing out the interior of the building from this great portico. She examines the plants in the dim interior - they are silk, and between them there are concrete stairs that descend further into the building. Another of the passengers has dragged a crate behind the rectangular concrete desk.

baq_800

The stairs descend into a sunken lounge with a very large circular bar in the center. scattered throughout, lying on thick red carpets are circular sofas, also red. Catalat finds that the red of the room gives off a faint illumination, a slight smoldering that allows her to see as if in dim twilight. She finds in the cardinal directions of the lounge that there are stairs to other lobbies, through silken plants, and between these cardinal edges there are spiraling stairs that climb up to a raised mezzanine, and then beyond, into a ceiling. She takes her articles from the Crate, including a live hen, and ascends the stairs as far as they will take her.

She finds herself in the corner intersection of two hallways with walls painted different shades of red, the floor made of shining white tile. A series of doors lies on the righthand wall of the righthand hallway and the lefthand hall of the lefthand hallway. She takes a sinister approach and looks a the first door on the left. The mechanism that keeps the door closed or would have has been broken & dismantled, the door opens into a bright room full of mattresses & sofas all upon thick red carpet amidst enameled white walls. The windows are broken out & a cooling breeze is upon the room. Two doors lie to the left and two to the right. From her left she hears the bleating of a goat and the squealing of piglets. Through those doors she finds a pair of rooms, one a strange elaborate bath wherin a goat is tethered. The other is an elaborate, fanciful kitchen, in which a sow & her piglets is installed. These chambers are all a strange blend of exotic fancy cluttered with the modest implements of a rustic living. It is jarring & peculiar. Dust & rubbish is everywhere. Catalat decides to tether the goat, her hen rides on the nanny goats horns as she begins to lead them out of the room. As she does so, activity outside draws her attention.

Another ship has descended on the plaza below, the red-circle plaza which the window looks out upon. This ship has no servants however, it has enormous men, like gorillas, or apes like men - Ogres, huge brachiating figures dressed in metal & rags they descend on the plaza and attack the few passengers who remained there, snatching up the crates and then departing in their ship leaving behind the mauled body of the one passenger who attempted resistance, a tiny, futile figure streaming light from its eyes as it was crushed by indifferent giants. The ship leaves and a trio of black forms descends from another building framing the plaza. These fall to the ground like the shadows of mantas, huge & with a visible mass, and as these dark pools fall over the red glass circle they attain another dimension become the forms of standing figures, preening birdlike, they surround the body of the dead man. Catalat sees that they are physicians.
alchemy crows

She rushes back to the plaza to see what they are doing - finds that the man has been flayed, his organs drawn out to some unknowable purpose. The Krow-Doktors talk to her in stilted complex voices that grind in the air. "We've taken the essence form it that we need take all else as you require." And they fly back to their perch, hidden on the nearby roofs. Catalet falls asleep & begins to act without dreaming. She takes the one whole arm that remained from the body's autopsy and removes the bones, these she modifies and alters, creating a series of interlocking bone fragments that can be arranged as a puzzle with the final form being a weapon. Armed with the Bone Puzzle Sword she feels safer and goes back to dreaming. She returns to retrieve her Hen & Goat and goes about exploring the rest of the Red Circle Tower.article-0-183AA43900000578-777_964x938


On the fourth floor she finds another unlocked suite which faces out down an alleyway where the Red-Line-Cable-Car had traveled, she can see it bumbling off in the distance, as well as the roof across the street where the Krow-Doktors linger, counting their vials. As well she can see the iridescent, barely present cuckoo-men who have been lurking in the room, looking out from hiding! She has broken their cover and they whistle & shriek at her.
judex8
They are almost translucent, the Cuckoo Featherhood being all but intangible, their mass diffusing around them - the pair are surrounded by halos of dust. They shriek their bird-muzzles, whistle incoherently and are immediately angry for Catalet has stolen their goat! It seems there will be a confrontation, but the Tangbile Hawks are cowards. They leap out the shattered windows and drift, one up, one down to other portions of the building, crying out their inscrutable yelps - "Thief! Thief!"

The Krow-Doktors offer arbitration - a whole jury & prosecution of birdmasked strangers. The Krow-Doktor Bensalem says resolute & certain in three voices at once (since who knows how many mouths or throats lie on the other side of his mask) that possession is the only law known, the only rule enforceable, here, in The Fabulous Unknown City
kingtycoon: (Default)
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It's not cold today but it's been cold. It's not hard today but it's been hard. Hard I don't mind - you can get through that. Cold - cold might kill you.

So my process remains the same as ever. If there is a problem you make a plan and execute the steps, every day that you're able, to mitigate the problem in steps. There's nothing in the world that can be defeated by a decent plan, meticulously executed.

Meticulous isn't my strongest suit, you understand, but this is one of those areas where I'm harder on myself than is sensible. I was talking to a friend of mine and I said - what do you think? I feel like I'm lazy, but that I accomplish kind of a good deal of things. I mean, I haven't written any very good books - but I've written some books. I haven't painted any very good paintings - but I've painted a lot of them - and at both of these things I've gotten better. I haven't had the best job, but I get better ones - always and forever I feel like I am in the act of becoming and that the permanent trajectory remains forward & up. There's a direction to things and it's carried off by trying a little bit each day to make a thing happen. That's the standing position, the foundational assumption. I stick with it.


To this end my circumstances have actually improved for the better owing to the recent troubling revelations re - that kid up there's school performance.
So I managed to expand the amount of time we have together by chiseling in twice weekly study sessions up at the library. This is proper & great. Sitting by the fire talking about the origins of Judaism & methods of calculating GCF & 15% tips. We're progressing, she's progressing in school, and I'm progressing in getting to have useful productive time with her. I love her so.

(Incidentally. So 6th grade Social Studies does a non-chronological introduction to all of the ancient world. The first section was cavemen & history and we had a long, productive discussion here. Lascaux & Altamira caves represented, I give her this lesson, a chatty kind of lecture spoken as we walk the walks of our neighborhood: "You see for the last 10,000 years people have had civilization. But there have been people for hundreds of thousands of years. Cave-men, you understand? They were amazing, brave. Think about it. These people wandered through the world killing mammoths - Mammoths! With rocks, pointed sticks and rocks. Rocks! And they sat by their fires, eating their mammoth and they must have told stories. Had their own ideas and legends. What could they have been? We don't have them now, because they didn't write them down, who knows what they talked about, or what language they spoke? But then they figured out to write things down, and you see, after writing things down for just 10% of our history we went from hunting mammoths with rocks to landing spaceships on comets. You see what organization & history can do. You can't land a spaceship on a comet without all the thousands of years of development and planning, but every generation improves things a little bit, makes it more possible for the next generation to build more and better things. So the moral of this story is - Write Down what you have to do, and Write down when it has to be done.")

We're working on things. And now have things to work on - it's added a bit more structure to our time together and it's given us projects to see through - so that's actually something that has been missing in our interactions. Really, she's been heading into weekends tired & overworked & so have I - we've fallen out of the habit of making lists of tasks and activities, and now we're back to it. We knocked out sumeria - learned a little cuneiform & even made a cuneiform emblem out of clay for her - I lent her my book on the treasures of UrIII and told her the PG version of Gilgamesh - we had productive time & good.
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The last section on the fertile crescent before heading into Egypt was on the history of the Jews. I worked through it with her, but I was pretty astonished at just how kind of... religious & downright zionist the section was. The covenant with Abraham was kind of painted as a real-true thing that happened, for example. And Moses & the red sea was presented through, effectively, the Charlton Heston version of history. I held back and didn't correct, just helped her through the questions presented and offered commentary as deriving from the Torah - Adam & Eve, Cain & Abel - there are interesting stories- Noah/Utnapishtim's arks & the tower of babel & so on. We got through it and it was worthwhile - but I didn't do too much commentary because, well, you have to know the represented information before you can make a functional analysis. That's down the road, no doubt - but for now, it's been pretty wonderful.

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But it's winter, or winter enough - and it's been cold. We were sledding on saturday & discarding our coats on sunday. Crazy old Ohio weather. The wind is blowing a gale now and I understand the cold is coming back, so it's back to coats & layers for me. And cold walks in the early dark talking about Imhotep & Osiris & the 3 seasons on the Nile & the meaning of lowest common denominators & the value of work & the worth of effort for its own sake.
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The mind reels, the mind fails, the mind desires unwelcome outcomes. The mind must ever be the servant of the will and yet? It sure don’t seem like it goes that way does it?
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The Will is intention and desire and self, you could say it’s seated in the mind but I tend to disagree, I don’t offer an alternative, I just disagree. The Will is fragile and can’t be supported once it’s achieved its ends. It wishes for things but is made to wait, languishing – that’s what’s bad for the will, being frustrated by waiting, by time, by distance and the intervening efforts required between wanting something and having something done. It’s in your will to write a book, in your will to paint a picture, to find a job, to do a job, and it’s the mind that wanders while these things are being accomplished. It’s the mind that listens to physiology and succumbs to strange demands, weird pulls and bad decisions. The Will is frustrated because it is boundless but tied to a mind. The mind, in this construction, is the physiological intellect.
I don’t always think this, but what does that mean? That I don’t really think this or that depending on physiological circumstances I would always think this? Conundrums.
Turning away from that though – there is the life that’s accomplished in the intervening time, life occurring without the application of Will – the life that happens to you when your attention is elsewhere. This is a comfortable state for me, being rather willful as people go. It’s fine to sleep through days while thoughts of far off, even imaginary places spring up.
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I remember, at a party once, I was drunk and getting drunker, I was drunk. I sat at the bar with a girl I didn’t know, she wasn’t interesting so I had to be extra interesting. Do you know how that goes? I took the conversation where I wanted it to go – explained how it is – you flex the will, imagination, you think – the telephone poles become the Baobab – they become trees sprouting from the ground, breaking pavement, the lines are vines, the asphalt is a litter of flower petals, the cars are elephants, mammoths. You can will physiology into submission, see what you want. Focus the mind on what you want to see, and close your eyes concentrating, open them – and you see. The girl drove me home but we didn’t kiss. I see her once in a while, I don’t care about talking to her now.
Sometimes people can’t learn. Because it’s not obvious what can be known.
In the meantime, life is lived, while you dream the dreams you decide to dream. There are those moments, where there’s another person who appears, who you want to appear and then the world snaps into itself – no amount of force or insistence will shape it back to your fantasy – instead you accept the real because you need to share the real with someone.
My person, the roots to my particular tree, of course, is Agatha – who I’d missed. We spent our time together, wonderfully. Pancakes and shoulder-rides and the war of Jam vs. Jelly while we wait on our Pancakes. “Then, Everything changed, when the Jam nation attacked.” The sweetener packet says to us. “But I believe the Creamer can save the world.”
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Flirt at the bookstore, drawings on the dinnertable. We are busy and happy and the best company either of us could want. It’s so strange anymore- that I live for the weekends, for the good time.
I wonder if I could have it every day – so many people do. They have wives, girlfriends – every day, and their kids every day. I’ve got solitude until the weekend.
Well – not solitude, but my friend comes over- who I used to date till I didn’t want to. She makes fun of me about the Plainswoman – I show her what I’m working on and she scolds me: “Of course, you’re the worst possible boyfriend, that’s why you have to get all caught up in these crafts based romances with women you never actually see.”
I kick something on the floor, look at my feet, sidelong glance and a smile – “So?”
The weeks go by, Monday-Friday and the Will is subsumed by other wills, the car drives itself. Come the weekend and life is focus, laser-sharp. That’s what’s happening. That’s who I am now.
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It's weird, a lot of times, to be alive right now, the way things are. The new Pokemon game came out and it's great. If you didn't know, Pokemon is kind of something I know a lot about. It started innocently enough - just pointing it out to a little kid "Hey, there's this game about being an animal trainer you can try." She took it and ran, if you asked anyone who knows her, you'd hear that it's her main preoccupation. It's a pretty fun preoccupation so I don't mind. I got us a pair of expensive Pokemon machines (we have no other games for our 3DSes) and some games and we play and trade and do it all. Collectible Card Game, capsule toys, the whole thing. Pokemon is a big favorite. I like it fine myself - in the video-game there's a weird level of hidden depth that makes it satisfying to play over and over - and I like funny inclusions like this:
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Agatha got grounded from Pokemon mostly because her mother is unreasonable and just straight up wrong about the importance of elementary school and her weird, unnatural hostility to a good time. Seriously -just a frowny-face-weirdo about pokemon. Nevertheless, the new game comes in two cartridges and I got one for me and one for A, and shhhh, don't tell, but I don't punish a kid for whatever happens at school, Shhh, don't tell - I think her mom is a mean old drag. Don't tell.

So I let her play and we play it up, well - I do. Shoot, I played it all up like a fool.
Gobi
These are the evolutionary stages of the starting fire-type (there's a whole rock-paper-scicsors with the 18 elemental types) I named my little Fennekin Gobi- thinking I'd name all my fire-types after Deserts. But really, I didn't have any more than just Gobi here - who mystified me by transforming into a little girl-witch-fox, well, a cross-dresser witch-fox (all the pokemon who have genders are cis-gendered and this is significant for the purposes of breeding - which is a big deal). Anyhow, I was all, it's a girl but a boy now and it was weird in the mini-game element where you pet your Pokemon and feed it bonbons. Then it evolved into some kind of wizard Druid with a fucking necktie - I was super happy about this. Some kind of shamanic journey of the Fennekin who became a wizard.

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Aside from that we decided to try and build ourselves some electronics - soldering was pretty new to both of us, but she'd definitely done it more recently than me. We both did pretty good though - and I hope to get the batteries and test this beast later today. We got 6 of them, so we could make a cube (maybe, or a wall decoration, we'll mess with it.) I'll let you know how it goes.
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I have to explain to you - I'm going away - for the first time in forever in two days, just going away, and I'm really excited and uncertain about it - leaving Cleveland? It's been so long, what will happen? I never leave Cleveland, that's the thing about me even. God I gotta get the fuck out of this town, I need a new experience and new horizon if even briefly.
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Agatha - The Page of Cups




When I started this, now more than a year ago, I didn't really know how far I'd go - but once I started on the minor arcana I knew I'd have to do something special for the face cards - the top of the suits. It came to me that I aught to work with actual faces - the ones I know, and so I started thinking about who exemplifies which characteristics of the cards and started planning how I'd do this. Then I got deep into the phones and the pens - and I don't mind telling you, while it's kind of interesting and I'm somewhat proud of how I've reasoned out that Phones replace Rods and Pens replace Swords - figuring out how to paint a picture where there are 8 cellphones laying around - it's not that fun. Anyhow, I wanted to get to one of these and I don't even care, I don't need to go in sequence here. The Duke of Zhou only had 64 Hexagrams - which amounts to all of the Major Arcana (less the Student #0) and all of the numbered cards - meaning these face cards fall out of sequence anyway. Anyway, and also - I do what I want.



Page of Cups Agatha So here is Agatha, the Page of Cups.  Agatha loves Pokemon, hates school, loves Rootbeer milkshakes from Tommy's.  She is really incredibly good at drawing, very, very poor at remembering to call people on the phone or to turn in her homework.  She's a good and loyal friend, when she remembers to be, a kind and compassionate person, when she remembers how to be and wouldn't knowingly do anything bad ever.  That's all to say that Agatha is a 10 year old girl who lives in her head, has an imagination bigger than the world and can't always be relied on not to stay camped out there when there are things she needs to be paying attention to in the real world.  Agatha is principally Good - but practically somewhat Neutral - owing, effectively to her lack of attention for the material world.  Practicality though, that doesn't really suit her anyway.



Page of Cups
Agatha's got freckles to spare and promises that she doesn't want to grow up vain even though strangers all want to comment on her hair and tell her how pretty she is.  She makes friends with everyone, even if she won't remember their names, loves animals and peanut butter, is terrified of the Slender Man and still usually rides on her father's shoulders.  She's smart as a whip but lacks application, she's perceptive about surprising things and knowledgeable about the weirdest fan esoterica.  She can't see without her glasses and if it were up to her, she'd spend all day making sprites for video games.  She doesn't usually finish the things she starts and she has never even attempted to clean her room.







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Agatha loves sugar and hates vegetables, she rarely eats and usually just a little.  She's picky about food. Indifferent to most of life's comforts, she has to be reminded to eat, to change her clothes and not to sleep on a bare mattress.  She's very earnest and incredibly polite.  She is good humored and funny and would rather cut up with her friends than listen to a teacher.  She can dance and loves the Beatles, Gangnam Style and Michael Jackson.



She's a good card to draw and she's got my favorite face of all the faces.

The Page of Cups represents the inspiration that drives you to a new creative effort.  So for that, I have Agatha - without whom?  I don't know if I'd ever have picked up a brush...



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On today of all days I painted the Senator.

This is my version of Tarot #4 - the Emperor. Sure, sure, the Emperor. You know what? I prefer the imperial system, over the nation state? I say Empire. It's a better, maybe even more robust and correct version of organizing people. More humane. That's my position. Now. I grew up with Star Wars, a little movie you might have seen. The Emperor - he's the bad guy, and Senators are kind of good. Kind of. See this is America. Now I have to get upset and say some political things - for a minute-I just have to. Listen.

So you have representatives, and they're supposed to represent you! It's a whole thing, the Republic. But the thing is - I've noticed that politicians keep deferring to ideologies. Now - I hate ideologies, and by god you should too. You know why the person who represents you wants to talk up ideologies? Because they don't care about you at all, and by talking about pie-in-the-sky notions, they can trick you into thinking that they do. True Fact - if I were the representative for my congressional district - I would hold out, and hold out and hold out and cast tie-breaking, filibuster defeating votes for any bullshit that came across - anything at all - as long as thy would concede that my constituency was granted a $100,000 tax credit. There, job over, represented your interests. Gamed the stupid system and won - for you. Your representatives don't do this -because they do not have your interests at heart - at all. They will tell you some kind of libertarian claptrap about ideals - and that's because they won't do anything for you - at all. Ever. Anger over.

003
So aside from being kind of angry about politics - today of all days! I painted the Senator. Here's your guide to the iconography. The Emperor is Card 4 in the traditional tarot and it's the Emperor -the universal and maybe sublime father. As I've said - Emperor as a title sits uneasily - what with the nurturing ministrations of star wars. But Father, older, elder, system of governance, the world. Senator is a Roman way of saying 'old man' true fact- the Senex, from the latin for codger. Senators are supposed to be old men who are staid and steady, pillars of the status quo. So - since I like these things: Liberty, Equality and Brotherhood (ya heard!) I went with a democratic symbol of terrestrial dominion and antiquary patriarchy - the Senator. Senators are old men (overwhelmingly) - and they govern, they choose the world you live in. Heck, even if you aren't an american (on today of all days) the old Senate will govern your life in a meaningful way. These are the old guard. I... I'm not trying to make my Senator card a villain. I'm not, just today - it wants to be. I live in Ohio and we haven't had a decent Senator since Glenn returned to the stars. True fact.

So a symbol of terrestrial dominion, masterful excercise over the system of the earth and a patriarch- which, if you value Liberty, Equality and Brotherhood - you don't value or respect all that much - but the Old Guard. The Ancien Regime. The Senator fits the bill.

Now - old timey tarot will put the Emperor as a domnitor, a substitute for the All-Father. Now, this I get. I have a love of the WOTAN of the they Sky Father, the embodiment of childish desiring. Of a want for comfort. I'm a father in fact,and I tell you true- I give some thought to my activities and say: "What would Odin do?" Because Odin plucked out his own eye to see the motherfucking future. You can talk about divine sacrifices, but I am here to tell you that making your hand take out your own motherfucking eye is pretty much the winningest style. So... Okay a door slammed, and I'm... okay I was here. There is a power in the FATHER of all things - and that is something I want to touch and know and care about - not because I want that comfort - but because I want to emulate that strength and goodness. This is lost. There is a lot of talk about the villainy of patriarchy, and I feel - that this talk is fair, it's totally fair. But I also feel that there is a place a vital needful place for the potent, correct and Good Father. So there is that. I abided by convention and gave my Senator a little Col. Sanders Beard. Greying at the temples. And throw in a cane - to complete the iconography.

Or anyway approach completion. I painted the Senator's Cane and kept thinking of Preston Brooks (wikipedia is protesting, google for yourself - unless you're wise). Senators should all have canes, and maybe pistols. There's a strength in the world and in Democracy and maybe the best version of that is the Senator. It's only that when it all goes bad, when it's the worst that it can be -the Senator, the Emperor, the Father - he's the villain, he's Darth Vader, he's the bad-bad-man. Which is a turn. But interesting. First in greatness, least in deficiency. That's my Senator.

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I topped it, you know, with the goat-head. Capricorn you know - pretty satanic right? I didn't mean for the excess of Satanism. True story though - I think this is one of the better paintings I've painted. I thought hard about casting the whole thing in the shadow of the Goat-Head- but resolved instead to replace the anthropomorphization of democratic ideals with a terrible goat head. Because it's relevant to the esoteric symbolism - but also Creepy As Hell. So while you contemplate sinister goat-heads - look at this:

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