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Skycar2
I'm better at painting, sure, I just want to try and mess with drawings. See if I can do a thing with the old computer.

The carriage has two levels in three sections - the lowest section like the keel of a boat, the upper sections divided around the cable. They are reached by a wrought iron stair, spiraling up out of the lower deck. The compartments are littered with furnishings, cane chairs in the main, some bolted yet to the floor, some gathering dust and piled in ersatz fortifications. The bare wooden floors are scuffed and warped, the varnish fading. Altogether the sense you have is of shabby opulence, fading luster overlying a basic functionality, still somehow intact.

It is not long before the bodies are found. In one of the upper tiers, furthest from the entrance - there are three of them, you come up the stairs, following the commotion of the other voyagers. The bodies are arranged like passengers - sitting side by side, backs to the smudged and cracked windows. One is nearly a skeleton, one still steams from his slashed and bleeding throat, the last is in between not rotting but destroyed. They are all men. Each is dressed in a strange patchwork uniform. The mummy in a threadbare coverall fastened with four hexagonal buttons - he is shoeless and has no other adornments. The decaying body is dressed somewhat more elaborately - a collection of kilts & capes & mantles. The deadman is swallowed up, nested under the layers of his garments - greasy and patched and absurdly multicolored. The most recently killed man is wearing a tricorner hat from which dangle a curtain of beads. A plain mask is sewn to the cap & his blood covered clothes consist of a coat, blouse pants and a pair of tall boots - all draped in ropes of beads, glass and shiny, colored gaily.

The other passengers mutter over the bodies. A physician, it turns out, among you, gathers his threads, but is not soon enough to save the man. Hesitating a moment one of the grizzled mercenaries introduces himself.

I'm Milo. They tell me I have to come here because I wasn't gentle enough pacifying sedition up in Silverheaven. I guess they think I'll serve them better here." Milo is fair of face & pale eyed, slender at the waist, thick around the chest, formidable.

"If we're introducing ourselves then I must distinguish myself. I'm no cutthroat nor a scalptaker like Milo here - who must have been waiting so long to give his little speech. But understand. I don't care who any of you are, none of us do. Though I suppose we must follow the lonely impulse. I've been spared ever enduring loneliness myself. Call me Bonaventure if you must, Copperring. One too many of the sons of Copperring, sent abroad to find his fortune."

There are others, besides you, a handful. Mutters and dismay, only Milo and Bonaventure seem to have any loquacity, the others are silent as they are fearful.

Now - you are curious, of course. The windows of the upper tiers - they face inward and out - and you can see the mechanism of the carriage, where it grips the cable and moves upon it. And just now it has begun to move. There are hands, bronze fists the size of hogsheads, they grip the cable - dozens of the hands, and they tug along, pulling up the rope, raising the carriage up into the sky. There is the lurch of movement and then a steady, thrumming motion. The car is up, into the mist, the jetty and the River Music recede, the earth plunges, down and away, scraps of green in a sea of mist. As the view of the outer window fades to the pearlescent white of the mist, you stare, transfixed and the motion of the bronze fists. A man sits beside you, old, wrinkled and spotty - he looks Kliali but his skin is a very deep walnut tone and his manner is far more reserved than any Kliali you've met. "I chose exile, if you like, I prefer to say I chose to learn what isn't known. How do the hands move? What power lets them move? I would like to know. So I came here." The man, he carries a little wand, he toys with it idly as he speaks to no one in particular or to you. The wand is polished iron, shaped exactly, brilliantly made, to resemble a natural twig - you know this as a badge of the Tree of Iron. The Imperial bureaucracy. "My name is Marcus."

The car rises, your ears pop. Pop again. There are gasps, people call one another to the windows - "Look!" They cry, "See!" In the mists, or out of them rise sepulchral buildings, vast pillars of black iron seamed with welds that have the look of language - these drift by below the car, just barely. "Look!" They gasp. "See!" And now the mist unfurls around a piazza with a wide fountain, spraying columns synchronized to the clack of the carriage. All around are tiled streets, tiny beneath you, copper-clad domes, vaulted colonnades and groves of wild-growing trees. "Look!" You say. "See!" You tell them -pointing- there is a nested series of falls, the River Music, far below, decked in bridges, garlands of bridges upon the baffling tiers of the plunging falls. skeletal buildings, like the bones of great palaces rise up from the seat of the city's mists.

Up the carriage goes, on and on. There is gloomy conversation, Milo is the first to test the crates, the luggage. He is first as well to notice a change in the course. You are second - he looks, you glance back. The carriage turns, in the sky, slows, just slightly, just narrowly. It begins descending, just slightly - barely. The bronze hands grip more lightly, the carriage dangles loosely, there is a sudden, terrible, breathtaking drop, and a stop and a slower, easier descent, and then there is a slow cessation of the clattering sound of the carriage, and then the doors creak open on their own, sliding and you have come to Awese.
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001

Time goes on, the work continues. Life is as full as you can fill it. Lately I've been thirsty for inputs - empty vessel. Empty of money, empty of ambition - that kind of thing - it's a rest period. That's all ending now though - the creative effort resumes, the tides shift, the seasons and the personal chemistry all create the next phase. Which is a story I'm going to tell you.



This is the journey you take.  You leave your home  & do not want to.  Your people come to see you off, there are tears & long embraces - you try to hold the sounds of voices & the feel of those embraces - this is a final good-bye.  You are taken in a carriage which gathers a few people, delivers others.  It makes its meandering way across the earth.  You are halting & hesitant with these other passengers - unused to strangers & travel.  You are brought to a town along the sea & board a ship.  Now you are far, far from what you know.  The ship rides vagrant over the sea meandering.  You speak to the sailors who are alike & different from you as night is different from day and as alike.  You do not make friends but you have friendly times.  You learn new card-games, new songs  stories.  How to curse in a dozen languages.  The ship stops often along coasts.  You learn to watch the weather - see icebergs & whales for the first & final time.  Your nameless ship takes you to the marshy estuary where the river Music meets the Ocean-Sea.  Disembark there.  Land underfoot for the first time in months, only an hour of that before you're put aboard one of the local dhows, a low open sailboat that swims up the current.  Others are put aboard in the Prashnilivarii town.  You sail & help to sail up through the Valley of the Music through the marshy heart of Arcingspray, the dominion of the Prashilivar.  You pass through brick  stone cities perched over reed-crowded marshes, vast paddies of rice under towering ziggurats. Passengers come and go, you are destined for the final stop.  Soon it is down to just you & the boatman who smiles & is kindly and worried.  He's been paid well, you know, to brig you so far.  You've nothing to give him though.  He says nothing until you reach the destination, your final stop, far up the River Music where the mists of Arcingspray fall like a curtain from the wall of the Silverheaven beyond.



There is a little jetty, a collection of tin & wood shacks & a great pillar of mortar & brick, bigger than a house, from its peak a leg-thick cable extends off into the impenetrable mists, lost from sight.  The boatman leaves you there, at the jetty under the pillar with the others sent or chosen to come.  Besides yourself there are what look like some mercenaries, warriors; prisoners, some who've a reedy-scholastic appearance, some who're nondescript.  All have a reason to enter the unknown.



Bolted to the door of one of the shacks is a sign that says Engineer & the Engineer proves to be a young Prashnilivarii man, thickset, squat-built like an anvil & black as soot.  He's amber-eyed and his affable manner, avuncular presence- they convey a sense of persistent mystification, surprise, wonder.



"You are going to Awese?"  He asks you.  You have no choice and wonder why he would ask.  "We have your kit here, we do not know what you will need in Awese, but we guess.  Everyone gets a trunk.  Every trunk is a bit different..."  He trails off, thinking of another thing.  Stamps his foot, reproving himself.  "I am the Engineer.  I just operate here, some return, I take their statements.  We give you a trunk.  Ever trunk is a bit different - in case one item is needed where another is not.  But you all need food.  Water.  We provide you that too, a purse of each, canteens.  We do not know when you can go.  We all wait here it has been some days, but soon.  You'll go soon.  Relax here for now.  No escape is tolerated.  There is no escape from here.  Do not leave without permission."



You do not leave.  You do not know what is going to happen.  The Engineer has a staff of armed men, they provide you with the food he mentioned, the canteens, they feed you and watch over the pavilion where the other travelers all gather and sleep out on the ground.  It seems improper to talk, you don't.  None do.



The day, days are confusing, with the wall of mist.  Perpendicular to the earth, by day it is the color of pearl and snow, by night it is gauzy and infused by rainbows.  There is a faint sound of thunder from within.  The third day comes and when the moon rises steady & full, chasing the sun from the bisected sky there is a rhythmic clanging that becomes an insistent clanging, then demanding, then overwhelming.  You are unused to the loud rhythms of mechanisms.  It is like a metal heartbeat, racing, faster.  The encampment wakens and the staff hurries you and the other travelers to the pillar.  Out of the mist a great metal boat, or a carriage, some union of the two, it descends along the cable, which it seems attached to by a channel at its top.  It stops as it reaches the pylon & apertures on its side open, sliding doors, metal and glass.  A few ragged people dart from the doors even before they open completely, falling over themselves and each other.  They run across the dirt-field around the pylon and are set upon by the Engineer's men immediately, restrained, you don't get a good look, you are hustled onto the carriage by others of the Engineer's retinue.  "It may leave quickly, it may stay only a moment, hurry!"  You are pushed along with the others barely hearing the Engineer's hasty benediction.  "My friends it is time.  Good luck!"  In a flurry of arms and efforts the crates and luggage are pushed up onto the carriage what seems a frenzied effort to wall the doors behind you.  The crates are stacked, and the urgent loading of the carriage stops, completed.  And then anticlimax of nothing happening.  For a long time.  "You go no-one knows where.  You will see what no one else will see, or ever does.  No one knows what will be provident or reckless where you are going.  You are like infants born today, you are like the first men and women in the world!"  The Engineer begins his longer speech.  It seems he might continue - but the carriage lurches and there is a disheartening sound - metal on metal warping, or worse, and then the rhythmic clashing and then the carriage begins its hasty ascent into the mist.



More to come.  Awese awaits!





002
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And every other project as well. There's time enough for them, for the moment, and impetus, dreams,ideas, the fulfillment of ambitions.

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