I have no fucking idea how I’m going to do this I am pretty fucking tired right now and it’s not entirely my fault.
I woke up at like six and got talking to this cute girl from work and I regret nothing except feeling like a corpse right now.
I planned to just like message her and for her to respond later but then we got talking and all that sleep time was just swallowed up and I feel pretty good honestly and I’m probably gonna see her sometime next week, or this week. So yeah my love might turn around from being total garbage slash non-existent as of the last couple of months verging on a year so that’s nice I guess, until it’s not haha.
In other news I got back the second to last part of Diana and I spoke to my editor after blowing my wad on the last round of editing and she says I should get it back soon, whatever that means haha. But yeah so that’s happening, that other thing is probably happening. Compared to how shitty I’ve felt for the last couple of months I feel pretty good, I’m really happy right now and honestly I don’t like it, I wish it would stop haha.
Maybe playing more red dead 2 will make me more miserable. Probably gonna do a review of that because everyone I know says it’s pretty underwhelming and honestly so far I can’t disagree. Like there’s nothing really about it that blows me away honestly. It kinda just feels like another red dead game, it’s not really that special. Definitely falls short so far comparing it to GTAV. I don’t mind the slow pace as long it’s building towards something and it’s immersive like Kingdom come deliverance. I loved the slow beginning of that game. Really need to do another playthrough of that game. I can’t remember the last time I was so immersed in a game.
Anyway, dying need to nap or do some proofreading or something.
She kept up a dizzying pace through the old building, but I could hardly object to the brevity of the tour since it appeared to be just a series of long hallways looking all alike.
“This is the day room”
She opened a door that looked no different from any of the rooms we’d seen before. Despite that it had no viewing window and opened onto a large rectangular room with almost greenhouse windows on the walls and in portions of the ceiling.
“This is something like a solarium, they used to think the sunshine had medicinal effects, we use it as a common area, they have art supplies and games they can play.” She said directed me to deshevelled pile of soiled board game boxes and art supplies collected in a half closed closet. The room itself was empty but for a series of rounded tables made of a cheap chipboard wood with a few simple plastic chairs dotted around them and a few beanbag chairs. The carpet was a dull cream colour and the ceiling tiles were deeply sodden asbestos tiling with neon lights running in parralles across the ceiling.
I looked around the room as it stood empty, littered as it was with papers and crude paintings on the walls. The paintings depicting oddly shaped buildings. Or so it seemed, although obscurest in nature, following no known Euclidian geometry and copying no style I had ever seen before. Despite that they were quite skilfully reproduced as if from memory.
“Oh you noticed that”
She said spying my eye caught by the odd painting.
“We have a number of artists budding or otherwise that come here.”
“Are you a fan of the arts Mr Tilinghast.”
“Henry, please, to my friends.”
She seemed to scoff and then smile.
“I’ve eyes like anyone else” I said attempting something close to aloofness.
“The director seems to think artists are more susceptible to madness than ordinary men”
“Oh, why’s that?”
“It’s nothing he would publish for peer review, but he seems to think your mind has to be half gone already to be an artist in this economy.” She smiled and I stifled a laugh which cooled to a morbidity as I studied the sad truth in that statement.
I sighed in agreement and continued to study the room. It was bright which was odd due to the weather being as grey and dim as it was. The room seemed to glow with an eerie effulgence, it had to be something to do with the placing of the room and the windows harnessing the light.
“Please take your time to look at some of their work, the room is closed for today.”
I took her up on her offer and started to perouse some of the paintings, most of which were marked with the same signature. The scribbling did seem familiar but I couldn’t make out the name. The paintings seemed to correlate with the others, odd cyclopean structures, strangely shaped humanoid creatures. It seemed almost like the interpretation of a childs drawing done by a skilled hand.
“Closed?” I said idly not taking my eyes off an etching of a bust done in charcoal. The bust was some strange abstract creature that seemed to have the head of octopus and the body of some kind of reptile with wings with large clawed feet sitting prone on a pedestal.
“We had an incident the other day with one of our patients.”
“An incident” I aped thoughtlessly losing myself in the strange chimera like creature in the etching. Noticing then that were some very similar drawings done like but in what seemed like a childs hand, and still more in differing styles until it seemed to be something of a contest to draw the eldritch squatting thing.
I turned to her and saw she was motioning with her eyes at a patch on the floor. My eyes following her to see a portion of the cream carpet that had been removed in a large square with a box cutter a slight shadow of a brown stain on the exposed wooden boards below it.
“We’re having someone come in on Friday to replace it”.
“I’ll take you to see the director now if you’d like, he should be in his office.”
She led me down another hallway indistinguishable from the others we’d just traversed to a door with golden sign with the name Avery Fournier – Director Pink Bird Sanitarium embossed on it.
The door itself was a firm red oak with the top panelled cut out to make way for an ornate opaque glass screen. And as the light was shining I could seemingly make out two figures and could catch something of a conversation going on inside.
“He must be busy, should we come back later?” I asked.
“No he’s expecting you, he might just be recording something, if we enter quietly it shouldn’t be a problem”. She smiled and motioned towards the door holding her clipboard tightly to her chest and pushing her glasses up on her nose as if touching up a careful costume.
I clasped the door handle getting a slight jolt of something but not removing my hand. A sudden striking feeling of unease came over as if I was about to open a door to a party of people dancing over my own grave.
Opening the door as gingerly and as politely and inobtrusively as possible I entered with my head bowed like a monk seeking safe passage through some savage mongol land. But to my surprise I was greeted by a most affable and rotund looking old gentlemen sat smiling warmly above a great and bushy mustache.
The man instantly put me at ease with his effortlessly pleasant manner and way of speaking.
“Henry, is that you, take a seat old boy, you must have had quite a journey.” He addressed me queerly as if he were some old friend or an uncle rarely visited but gladly accepting of any such chance encounter.
Finding myself caught off guard by his amiable appearance at knowing me, I had but silent stammering in answer.
“You must be exhausted, where did you say you were coming from? Boston was it?”
“N-new Hampshire actually.” I said tracing my hands feverishly along the back of one of the high wingbacked chairs in front of the man’s small but neat desk.
Fournier’s office was little more than broom closet in size, a very humble room for a seemingly very humble and benign figure. But despite the size, the furnishing were old and eloguent, the smell of treated leather and hardwood was thick in such a tight space and nevertheless it gave way to an informal comfiness that was quite unbefitting an office of such stature.
“Would you like a toffee?” He asked standing to pass me a large glass bowl of individually wrapped toffees.
“Erm no- no thank you” I said smiling.
“Hmm” He smiled and sighed before putting the bowl down and unwrapping one for himself and fiendishly popping it into his mouth grazing his bushy white moustache. He smiled again and said “I must admit I’m quite partial to them” He narrowed his eyes and then at once as if he forgot something said “Oh of course, I’m forgetting myself, would you like one Zane?” He said lifting the bowl in the direction of the wingback chair to my right.
Check out the rest of the chapter on inkittttt The weeping song
I actually planned to and wrote a review for battlefield 1 for yesterday but it was so dull and pointless I just didn’t post it, insert rant about modern gaming haha. Basically sums up what I thought of it. It was ok, considering I paid nothing for it.
Good news just got back the second to last piece of Diana and the last piece is on it’s way, our baby gonna be whole and beautiful soon enough. Then I can make the final changes, get her looking good and get her ready to shake her ass for some literary agents which in all likelihood will be all be women haha. True fact about literary agents, the gatekeepers of the industry, most of them are women. But then again most book readers today are women I think.
Well that is you see a lot of books targeting women specifically. Mostly about sex with vampires or werewolves or handsome rich guys haha. Kinda makes me wonder why that is, when did our culture move away from men reading books? What am I talking about? I literally started this blog mentioning the reason, it’s fucking videogames of course and movies and tv obviously. Fucking videogames killed men’s desire to read, goddamn it haha.
Well maybe that was when videogame stories were half decent, now they’re either totally ass or non-existent. The non gamers are probably off watching netflix or sport. But the thing is for me, my love of books really cushioned the blow for shitty videogame stories. I never really expect much from a games story and don’t care if it doesn’t even have one, in fact I prefer it. Because if I want a good story, there’s one waiting for me in a book. In the same respect if I want to see shitty cgi and explosions I go watch a marvel movie haha.
If you go looking for good stories in a videogame you will be disappointed. Even so we see novelists working with games developers to make decent stories and captivating world like the guy that wrote the metro novels which spawned the awesome metro games and yes I will be preordering the next instalment haha. Probably, if I’m not broke still when it comes out. Spent the last of my money, i.e the banks money on the last round of editing for D. If I work all through christmas I might be able to eat sometime late january haha.
To a lesser extent the witcher, though I won’t get into that because I fucking hate the witcher books with a passion and the writer is such a jackass. The games are great, they really elevate his boring overrated writing but the asshat is still suing them for more money despite the fact he thought they would fail so didn’t opt in for royalties, he just took a cash lump sum I guess. But of course now it’s like the hottest game of the decade he’s all in wanting his cut. If you read any of his books you’d be utterly disgusted by this.
They turned his boring slog into a living world full of interesting folklore and action and memorable interesting characters and GWENT! Holy of holies. I just saw they released a gwent rpg card game and I had hold myself to resist buying it at full price.
In other news the Parker book I’m reading has got lit, it’s pretty good, like it’s all out war at this point where Parker enlisted an army of his old heist buddies to take this mob town apart. Just gutting it of money, they take like a quarter mil in one night which is awesome. But the heists are a little too easy honestly, it’s nice but the hard stuff is coming and I can’t wait.
Anyhoo, gotta get back to work, got a new piece of my lovely lady Diana to clean up and I have to prioritise that obviously.
A dry morning wind lashed at the dusty emptiness of the wasteland as the sounds of muted activity echoed over all the stark nothing. The ambience of a frail egg shell headache, a morn after the night before, everyone tip toeing around busily packing up their lives. Still cool and dank but the sun bright and blinding coming up over another centuries old pile of garbage in the distance.
A slight figure blotted out that bright sun and cast an angular shadow on the side of a circus tent. One of the boys taking it down turned his scruffy dirty face in the direction of the shadow maker. He squinted with his hand attempting to block out the sun, a strange blinking collar around his neck.
“Mornin’” The young carny said as if it were a phrase buttoned to his tattered coveralls. He squinted harder trying to make out the figure. Rubbing his eyes as strange images of malformed birds filled his mind and he saw a grotesque heron mask. “Oh lady Hero, I didn’t know it-“
“The Ringmaster, where is he?”
“Oh, the boss, he’s-he’s still up in the big top, they’re getting ready to pull it next.”
“Thank you” Heron said flatly, slowly walking in the direction the boy gesticulated to.
The boy nervously returned to his tinkering, loosening the ties on the tent and scratching under his bomb collar.
Heron walked in between the stalls, more carny’s tinkering away to dismantle and pack away games and rides. All so they could move on to the next town, she could feel them they trying not to look directly at her.
“Hows tricks bird girl?” A voice mocked.
Heron looked coldly out of the corner of her eye, the voice came from a tall gaunt figure leaning out the window of his icecream van. He laughed and stared with his sharp dagger like beady eyes as he smoked from the corner of his mouth letting ash hit the counter without a care.
She turned her head to the front and continued saying nothing.
The Icecream man laughed and watched her go tapping ash out the window.
At the foot of the big top the dogfaced boy sat sullenly falling in and out of consciousness.
Upon seeing her he decided to be awake and quickly bound over to her.
“Ya bring me anything?” He said.
“Not this time, the big man in here?” Heron said.
“Yeah, he and Tanner are arguing about how the mutant sea lions are kept again, it’s really boring.”
“I see” She said as she patted him on the head and went on through into the big top.
Inside it was even cooler without the sun, the smell was so familiar; woodchips and blood and vomit and piss. Death and life, love and hate, there was nothing that wasn’t under this big top.
Heron looked up at the rigging, staring at it without knowing why, for a moment she couldn’t take her eyes off the tightrope.
Then remembering her purpose she pushed on into the ring.
As she was fortold the Ringleader was having a heated discussion with Tanner the animal tamer.
The Ringleader was a large man with a round belly but without hint of sagging. His roundness was almost perfect and complete, spherical and tightly packed, as if he were a baseball that could tuck in his arms and legs and roll away. But attached to the baseball were strong ropey arms and legs and a head he used to hold an oversized black top hat. His face always carrying the merest hint of a jovial smile betraying a wicked set of eyes which poked into every corner. He stroked and twirled his vaudeville mustache as he gestured wildly with his free hand.
“My good man, you realise these ‘creatures’ of yours cost an arm and a leg to feed, quite literally. I simply cannot afford any more lavish accomodations for them and certainly can’t spare the water to give them a dipping pool.”
“But you don’t understand, the heat is worse than ever this year, they’re going crazy, they need a way to cool off.” Tanner said as he stooped. Tanner was a large man with soft eyes, a lover of animals and wildly homicidally protective the particular species he’d trained from birth.
A rather unusual species of sea dwelling creatures that had with the drying of the oceans evolved to live on land. Undoubtedly with the help of the rampant radioactive fallout after the first war. One of the creatures playfully practised a routine where it would stand to attention on a podium. Then accused criminals would be dropped from the rigging for him to catch and eat. In this instance a side of beef or some other indistinguishable meat was dropped. The huge thing lumbered into position on the podium wobbling back and forth comically.
The creatures were huge twice maybe three times the size of a human. Scaly shiney skin but rough and course like sand paper. They had huge heads with large teeth and tusks but oddly reptilian features, with clawed hands ridged flippers for digging in the sand.
The ringmaster looked the creature over. The creature almost seemed to be trained to beg and look as cute as a giant reptilian mutant man eater could.
The meat was dropped and in an instant the creature timed it’s movements perfectly and snapped the meat out of the air with it’s ferocious jaws. The power of the bite bisecting the meat without need of sharp teeth, just the power of the jaw was enough to rip anything apart.
It moved with so much power, all those large muscles moving at once, spurred by instinct and training, the ground seemed to quake, the air shifting. The amount of power necessary to move that bulk would astound any crowd. The amount will to train the beast even more so.
Heron stared at the Ringmaster and he turned and noticed her out of the corner of his eye. He turned back to Tanner to dismiss him. “I’ll see what I can do”.
“Very well” Tanner said also having noticed Heron waiting. He left abruptly without saying anything more. Exiting through a large opening in the back. The creature bounded after him flopping around comically dragging it’s large finned tail.
“Yes?” The Ringmaster said crossing his hands behind his back he tilted his head as if he were talking to a child “Do you have something to say?”
“They’re all dead”
The Ringmaster showed no great surprise in his stoney features, he only let out a long disappointed sigh “I see”. He turned to walk up the steps towards his ‘throne’ on the edge of the big top. It was a monstrosity made of collected pieces of wood and metal. Different discarded weapons of the long dead clans that came before. The scattered remnants now making up most of the circus a generation or so on.
He sat and waited for her to say more “Is there more?”
“The ronin clown Pookie lives” She said flat.
He hid it well but at the corner of his eyes, wrinkles started to appear. “And why didn’t you stop him?”
Heron stood not moving, expressionless behind her mask. “That was not my mission”
“Your mission was to bring back a body, so where is it?” He gestured spreading out the fingers of one hand.
Heron said nothing.
The Ringmaster tutted “Forgive me, you’ve lost your friends and I’ve lost a headline act” He paused and thought about the implications. “I want his head atop my throne by this afternoon”
“Yes Ringmaster.” Heron said.
“Wait, I changed my mind!” He tapped his lips with a long finger “I want you to shadow him for me. Report to me on his movements through carrier pidgeon” He sighed deep in thought. “More information is necessary.” He said to himself. The ringmaster straightened his moustache and tugged at it a little more before he noticed Heron was still standing there. “You’re dismissed.”
Read the rest on inkitt Imaginary folklore
Promised us the world
They told us we’d find a love
I saw your face there
Looking off in the distance
Watching the tv.
How could I ever
Find the words to tell you or
Love anyone more?
Ok truthfully just desperate for content at this point and not really feeling up to starting Diana two, I dunno, I just feel kind of drained creatively, might be something to do with my sleep patterns but I don’t feel super pumped about it. And I don’t wanna start anything unless I’m ready to start it. So I’m just back in the trenches finishing this off, which is one of the stories I started and sort of abandoned when I lost focus of where it was going.
I think I literally abandoned this story to write the first Diana so I’m kind of hoping for that to happen again, just to be writing this not really knowing where I’m going then boom get hit the lightning bolt again.
I didn’t abandon this because it was shit, I just kind of lost my place because this is a story I didn’t write out a really detailed plan for, now I write out these really detailed chapter breakdowns I almost never look at but they’re there in my brain. But for this it was sort of up in the air and I can’t really place, I’m not sure what I was doing with it so it’s harder to keep pace on it.
Just trying to keep my mind busy so I don’t go insane, kind of ironic considering the subject matter. I do love Lovecraft but I dunno it feels sort of hollow copying him or trying to make it into a marvel haha. I dunno, it just doesn’t get my blood pumping as much as Cur did, well I don’t anything could get my blood pumping as much as Cur did. Too soon for a sequel to that but I should start work on a plan for it at least, the plan for Diana two was finished ages ago, I just might want to go over it again.
In other news really enjoying the latest Parker book it sort of starts off as a normal Parker book and slowly escalated into an all out war bringing back some of the best characters from the series, even one from the fucking dead haha. I tried finding info on this but I could swear this one character died in a previous book this books references and I went back and sure enough, he’s dead as a doornail, I guess Westlake just forgot haha. Which is so weird because of how he seems so good and keeping all these characters alive in his universe. To miss bringing a guy back from the dead haha. Maybe it was a different Ed Mackey with the same wife haha. I dunno, I’ll give it a pass, he is a cool character.
Also so stupidly excited about this but I managed to track down and pirate all the conan, shadow and solomon kane pulps and I can’t wait to read them. So I’m gonna be knee deep in like 1920’s era pulp fiction for a while, should be really fun and inspiring. I can’t wait to get into it.
Anyhoo, hours a waining and I need to do some proof reading, wasted too much time already setting up the Loverman Inkitt page for you to mosey on over to.
On recollection of that singularly disgusting building my mind is hesitant to reconstruct the image of the hideous fuchea paint. Which cast over it like a layer of bubbled pink flesh hanging over a rancid rotting skeleton of a building. The colour of which I might imagine of those many chosen people who were exposed to a noteably vile a substance as cyanide gas intended as such for vermin. Their bodies bloated and pink, skin bubbling like that of a suckling pig slowly roasted over an open flame. The bones of the building that of an old English town house, transported brick by brick from such old haunts as Glastonbury. Home to such tails of wicked faeries that would disappear unlucky travellers who might have the poor fortune to rest upon a certain rock deemed sacred to the cruel ironic justice of the fae folk.
To this day I have seldom the choice to replay this ‘event’ over and over in my head. As it was this soggy new England morning in maine that I was to lose my grip on the mortal coil for better or worse.
It was a notably wet early morning that I was to set foot on the grounds of the Pink Bird mental asylum as it stood in the October of 1994 in the new England town of Presque isle maine.
Having graduated from a university of note some years before I was applying for a newly opened position at the facility. I’d hasten to add I had grown irritated at relaying which university I’d graduated from. As it seemed to invoke strange and morbid fascination from anyone that heard the name which is why I refuse to mention the accursedly wicked place even in these notes I scrawl now. Strange rumours dogged it of doctors coming from there possible forty years hence conducting strange research into the reanimation of dead flesh. I had no interest in such study for it was the mind that interested me. It became increasingly more irritating as people seemed to imbue me with vicarious curiosity at the history and rumours that abound said university of which I deem to remain nameless. It’s past neither in my time there nor in my present state interested me at all.
That being said I can’t help remarking on my present predicament and wandering if the accursed place had some hand in my misfortune.
I approached the building which I had remarked looked like a corpse prepared hastily for an open casket viewing. A make over having possibly taken place in the early seventies had not aged well and as it sat off the beaten track in the back country of new England.
The garden was slightly overgrown, the hedges seemed to crawl out and attempt to swallow the narrow path that led from the road. A large bare tree stood in the court before the building reaching up into the slate coloured sky of that misty morning. The colours of the hedges a mix of deep damp greens and autumnal oranges and browns forming a mash of living and dying rott. The smell of which was slightly sweet.
I approached the building in an old crysler my mother had left me passing a few years prior. The car was in fairly good condition but wide and maneuvered like that of an old tugg boat on choppy waters. As I wasn’t the most robust figure of a man I was prone to car sickness which made me slightly light headed as the car lurched around the tight oval curve of the main court around that old bare tree with it’s dark grey bark.
I parked as near the entrance as I felt was polite as there was no markings of any kind and only one other car parked in a similar fashion. But notably of more refined taste, a dark blue bently with tasteful chrome wheels.
I ascended a steep set of slightly damp stone steps to reach a large but ramshackle white wooden door as cracked and creased as the rest of the paint work on the old building. The whole thing looming over my head looked like a sore open wound crawling with unwanted plant life like dry boney fingers peeling at the cracks in the saturated fuschia paint.
Taken with some odd ceremony I knocked on the old door and was met with silence and then a dull echoing noise I attributed to the age of the building. But sounded oddly almost like a person sighing deeply or the sound of sawing wood.
After getting no response from my peculiar inclination to knock as if it was episode of downtown abbey and I was about to be greeted by some overly verbose woman in a bustiare. I shuddered at the thought and twisted the old rusty doorknob which released a coppery scent and then popped open with a shudder that ripped through the entire frame and an awful creaking scraping noise that went through me like the sound of grinding teeth.
“Oh I’m sorry” A young woman said as I almost fell on her through the door as it gave way faster than I thought it might. “I should have warned you about the door, I heard you knocking I was just…”
I was taken by her instantly, a beauty of note, her blonde hair tied into a tight but full bun secured in place with what looked like a chopstick. A set of small reading glasses perched on the tip of a short sharp nose below of which rested a set of full pursed lips painted with a muted dark pink lipstick which seemed to match the sparse spackling of light freckles on her cheeks.
Her lidded eyes were green and distinctive under neatly plucked eyebrows, perfect eyelashes beating like that of a butterflies wing. Her face a delicate pale canvas of faintly german irish features.
Read the rest of this chapter on inkitt. Paint a vulgar picture
Gonna keep it really short like super short because I feel like total garbage which is why there was no poem yesterday, I was too focused on not throwing up and trying to sleep than being creative.
I guess I ate something that didn’t agree with me because my stomach is in hell and I haven’t slept very good the last two days.
Then I start to try and so some work and the internet doesn’t work for some reason and would you guess I’m banned on facebook again but this time it was literally for nothing. Like I haven’t even been using that account very much since I got the alt account. But I get a message saying I had a picture removed because it goes against our “Community standards” you know that thing we keep specifically vague so we can decide literally anything goes against it. Yeah that thing. But get this, I go to see what it was they removed and it was nothing, like it wasn’t that it was a harmless picture, it was literally nothing. Where the thing they removed usually appeared it was just blank.
I haven’t even uploaded any pictures recently on that account, so not only could I not see what it was to contest it, I sent it for review, still banned, surprise surprise. Facebook is a fucking joke. This is either a fuck up in the algorithm or there’s literally someone just banning me for fun and I wouldn’t be surprised if either one was true. Someone at facebook hates me. It’s fucking ridiculous.
Anyway I managed to get some proofreading done today, thankfully it was a short chapter but it needed a lot of work and I really need another go over this book in depth when I finish the first proofread because I sense some structural and continuity problems I need to rectify.
Ok that’s your lot.
The tavern hummed with activity, drinking, games of darts and singing songs and merriment. The light of the warm fire danced along the dark wooden beams and the cobbled stone floor. On the walls made of stone not daub were exquisite paintings and tapestries depicting maids bathing by a lake like wood nymphs. The room swelled with a carefree indulgence rarely seen in these hard times. Coirpre of course, savoured every moment of it. How lucky he felt to be in the bohemian city of Slaghtaverty, to be in Ulster away from the pig farmers and yocals who couldn’t hope to appreciate his poetry. To smell fine wines and ales in the air instead of pig shit and misery.
Here it was different, the people were cultured and open minded and what’s more they knew his name and treated him as his position would dictate. Bard’s were of course revered as much as princes for the power they held could make kings and heroes alike out of common folk and vice versa.
They could bring to life ancient battles and mighty sea voyages, they had the power to create and destroy reputations a power few sneered at.
“Please sir Coirpre, one more ballad, the lusty maid of Sliabh an Iarainn perhaps?” A women in a fox felt hat said, her comely face slackened by the ale in her cup. Her dress even more so.
“No no, I must go to bed” Coipre jested.
“But who would you take with you noble Coirpre” The woman cued shamelessly, moistening her eyes and clutching her breast wantonly. The tone of her voice flat and monotone, her eyes doughy and expressionless. A small crowd of similarly inebriated women gathering at her heel.
“My lady please, I beg you-.“ Coirpre taken aback by this proposal turned clumsily and bumped face first into the warm stone wall of the tavern. In doing so spilling the remainder of his flagon on his tunic.
Looking up from his stupor he regarded that it was not in fact a wall but a man, a man in which he recognized.
“Are you all right sir Coipre” The drunken maid asked the downed bard as he picked himself back up.
“It’s you!” He sputtered attempting to dust the bear off his jerkin. “The one who saved me from those bloodthirsty peasants in Killaloe?”
Cur didn’t even look down as he said in his guttural fashion “Out of my way fool!” pushing the minstrel aside like a common beggar.
“Yes well, thank you all the same” He muttered tugging at the bottom of his sodden tunic, his face turning red.
“What are we doing here?” Birog whispered as she dusted off a chair to sit at a table near the fire. “Isn’t it dangerous to come here, I think the fewer people we encounter the better, what if a thief were to-“
“We have business to conclude here with the Chieftain Abertach.” Tuan said as he sat down looking around at the women who encircled the bard Coirpre like a bird of prey picking a mouse.
“What business? We have a mission that will decide the fate of the whole kingdom and you want to run errands?” Birog tittered folding her arms scournfully.
Cur eyes scanned the small inn looking at every local in turn. There was Coirpre the bard fending off a coven of flat faced wenches with fat arses. A potbellied bureacrat with a bulbous nose drinking himself red in the face leering at those around him. Some merchants sat at a long table drinking and playing some sort of card game, taking it very seriously as if their lives depended on it.
No denizen of the inn stood out but one. A strange cloaked figure whispered in the ear of the barkeep who was not as subtle as the cloaked figure stopping to gawp open mouthed in Cur’s direction.
“Good evening gentle folk.” A melodious voice said over his shoulder.
Coipre bowed cross legged at the edge of the table smiling tentatively. “I believe we got off on the wrong foot and I’d very much like to apologise.” He said speaking clearly looking at Cur who did not meet his gaze. “And of course buy you all a drink, perhaps perform any ballad or song you’d like.” He smiled looking at Tuan and Birog and then as if about to take to song he lifted his head to look at the wall behind them. “As on the morrow I depart to be received by none other than Bres king of Inish Veil himself at Dun Bresse.” Coipre boasted tossing a glance at the druiddess who seemed to recoil at hearing the name.
“Go” Cur groaned.
Tuan laughed and said “But haven’t you heard, Bres isn’t home.” He smirked and watched the puzzlement circle the bard’s face before releasing him. Tuan licked his lips and put both his hands on the table. “But a drink and a ditty will do nicely, anyone else?”
“Oh yes” Birog said “I’d love to hear a song.” She smiled seeming almost giddy to forget about Dun Bresse.
“She doesn’t get out much” Tuan smirked. “Three honey meads I think”
“Speak and it is done- oh barkeep!” He snapped his fingers at the barman. The cloaked figure who whispered to him skulked away almost without foot steps. He seemed even to float out of the door and under the crest of Ulster hanging above it.
The barkeep was a skinny sweaty looking fellow with a bulging beer gut and a potmarked faced. “Yes of course honorable Coipre sir!” He said bending and scraping like he was paying some sort of debt working here.
He returned swiftly with their drinks but under the one meant for the firbolg was a folded note. He he took it and unfolded it regarding it nonchalantly. He looked up at the barkeep who seemed hesitant, waiting for a response, his mouth slightly open as if he forgot to breathe.
“He’ll see you now” He said trying to whisper but his throat was too hoarse and it broke almost instantly.
Cur said nothing and slowly rose to his feet. Tuan and Birog did the same instinctively feeling as if the mood had changed drastically.
“The gentleman must go alone” The barkeep said putting out a pale thin hand to bar them with only the ghost of a threat.
“No, they come to” Cur growled.
The barkeep let his hand drop to his side as if it were made of wet rags “If you’re certain”. He swallowed painfully, his gaunt throat visibly contorting.
The barkeep nodded thoughtlessly, looking off into nothing.
Tuan looked at Coipre who held his loot about to play, a bemused expression on his face. “Be a good chap and mind our drinks won’t you” He smirked.
They left the table and followed the barkeep up a short set of steps beside the bar and around a corner into the back. There was an ordinary looking door, that seemed like it might lead to a cellar or cold room. The barkeep approached it and rapped on it three times.
“He’s here sir, the stranger” The barkeep said his head tilted forward waiting for a response.
With that the door opened and the barkeep moved aside and watched them as they went inside as if waiting for a pat on the head.
The door closed behind them. Before they knew it, they were boxed in on both sides by a couple of dwarf heavies in thick leather jerkins who padded them down for weapons. Going about it with the cool disinterest of a farmhand patting a sack of grain.
Cur grabbed the hand of the first that tried for his blade. A young but strapping dwarf with a pale beard but no moustache. An impish expression on his face as if he was caught stealing a bun from a market stall.
“I keep my weapon, you keep your fingers.” Cur hissed.
The dwarf froze, sweat dripping from his forehead he looked off at the other end of the smokey dark room. A large desk and the figure sitting behind it, waiting for some sign.
The figure at the desk waved some pipe smoke away and in so doing made a gesture. The dwarf heavy with permission retracted his hand scournfully, glaring at the side of Cur’s head.
Birog started a slap fight with her molester, ending in a red face for both of them but her attacker looked far more embarrassed. An older dwarf with a cue bald head and small boxed in ears, a long beard plated at the corners of his mouth. His ruddy face and beard made him appear more like a goat herder than a hired thug. Despite Birog’s protestation he succeeded in separating her from her sword belt and spiriting it away with him back into his corner. A dismayed look on his face as if he expected an apology.
Tuan rarely carried a weapon and thus did not object to the search. Merely tutting then rearranging his coat.
“Sit” The figure behind the desk said. Two more diminutive but stocky bodyguards stood behind him. Their arms crossed in front of them, large crossbows cradled on their tattooed forearms.
There was only one seat purposefully dwarfed by the desk, the Firbolg took it. Tuan and Birog were expected to be invisible, standing between the desk and the door.
“He might have thought you were jesting.” The dwarf behind the desk said as he stubbed out he rapped his pipe dumping the embers into a wooden tray.
“New boy, Abbertach?”
Abhertach didn’t take his eyes off Cur as he repacked his ornate hand carved bone pipe. One of the archers lit the pipe with a candle held in a hand missing most of its fingers. Abhertach let out a tight little laugh as he realised his mistake. The bodyguard missing the fingers growled under his breath. His face frozen in a bitter grimace. “Yes, he is.”
The dwarf with the missing fingers was completely bald and so clean shaven it looked like he could not grow hair at all. He scowled at the Firbolg as if somehow that would grow his fingers back.
“I should have told him not to search you but you see it’s a force of habit, no harm no foul, this time. I didn’t know you were coming.” Abhertach tried to smile warmly but under it was a cold clenching of teeth and sharp inhale of breath.
“The great Abhartach, spy master and thief, didn’t know we were coming” Tuan chimed in.
“And who are you sir that you know me enough to call me a thief?” Abhertach’s demeanor was jovial but barbed with a clear threat.
“No one” Tuan shrugged.
Abhartach was a gristled dwarf with shrewd rodent like eyes. The physique and shoulders of a warrior with a barreled gut of a chieftain. But the cheeks and soft wrinkled face of some sort of blood thirsty merchant who’d sell his grandmother for a higher cushion.
Abhartach twirled his enormous moustache which he wore with no beard which was uncommon for dwarfs. They were usually full bearded or clean shaven.
“Now that the formalities are out of the way, what is it you want here?” Abhartach said leaning back in his chair looking down his nose at them slowing his breathing.
Cur looked about the room which was grand in it’s relative squalor. A small secretive office with extravagant furnishings, a mix between a thieves hideout and a whore’s boudoir. The desk was high and he undoubtedly sat on a raised chair and made sure the guests chairs were shorter so he could look down on them.
“I paid you for the last job and I have no further use of you”. He said as he leaned forward clasping his hands dismissively in front of him as if discussing rug sales.
“The woman” Cur said.
“Ah yes” Abhartach said scratching the side of his nose with his pinky. “Well-“
“You set us up, there was a witch in the woods waiting for us” Tuan said merrily, no hint of accusation, he remarked on it as if finding a penny in mincemeat pie.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about, who is this?” He asked the Firbolg.
Tuan without reservation jumped across the table transforming in mid air into the from of a wolf taking the dwarf chieftain by the throat.
The young dwarf who tried to frisk Cur put his hand on the Firbolg’s shoulder and pressed down trying to stop him from rising. Radiating his will downward.
Cur took the lads hand and pulled him down so he could take him by the scruff of the neck. Cur smashed his face smashed with a vicious indifference against Abhatach’s high desk, flailing a few of his teeth across the blotter. The unbridled and unwarranted cold savagery of it froze the room in amber for a few moments.
The bodyguards readied their cross bows.
“Wait” Abhartach strained lifting a hand.
The crossbow men lowered their aim.
Tuan took human form again and hopped off the desk smiling as if it was a little show he put on descending the high stage with a click of his heel.
“Out with it Abhartach, you work for Bres?” Cur scolded.
Abhartach rubbed his neck and smiled trying to laugh but only coughing. “Bres? You could say he works for me”.
“What fantasy is this?” Birog said.
Abhartach looked at her for a moment puzzled then back to Cur as if she hadn’t said anything at all.
“Surely he order you to kill the chieftains of the villages that wouldn’t pay his taxes?” Birog said almost to herself. Now in the dim darkness of this smokey room those words sounded so feeble and childish coming from her.
Abhartach became grim and started to breathe heavily. His face draining of colour and his eyes becoming long and hollow staring at nothing as he rubbed his neck. His face locked and expressionless as if he pictured himself somewhere else as he spoke in hollow tones. “If only that were the case” He said hauntingly.
“What do you mean” Birog asked.
He looked at her and saw nothing and licked his dry lips. He started breathing heavier and his neck became red as he rubbed it. “You don’t understand, the taxes aren’t Bres’ at all” He said almost whispering his eyes looked scared even thinking about it.
“Who left here?” Cur said.
Abhartach let his mouth hang open.
“If it isn’t you then- where are the children?” Birog asked.
Abhartach slammed his fist on his desk and screamed “I DON’T KNOW!” He calmed himself and said again “I don’t know, oh goddess save me I don’t know.”
He went on shyly “They just wanted me to choose, they knew of me, knew I would know the right villages to- I had no choice. They said they’d, they’d do the same to Slaghtaverty.” He breathed heavier and heavier and seemed to sink into his chair as if he were deflating.
“Who?” Cur asked.
“They didn’t want to do it like last time, they’re smarter now, they have a new king, they rule from the shadows. They wanted me to choose and cover it all up for them.” He spoke faster seemingly rambling.
“You used us” Tuan said.
“Yes, I thought if I could spread a rumour of a vampire or some such monster I could distract people from the truth. You just had to go there and cause a ruckus, kill a few elves and then they’d come for the rest but the blame would fall on the mysterious stranger.”
“Who are they?”
“It didn’t occur to me that I chose villages that refused to pay their tax, its just a coincidence, I had no choice- they wanted the children.” His eyes reddened and he spoke quickly as if it all had to come out at once, as if every word unburdened him somehow.
“You sent a messenger to meet us with our bounty, he lured us out to a witch, lured us into the woods.” Tuan mused.
“I sent no messenger, I always paid you here, it was them, don’t you understand, they were done with you, you were a loose end they had to tie up. Do you understand?”
“WHO?” Cur stood and slammed his massive hand on the desk towering over Abhertach his voice booming over the sounds of merriment below.
The night was darker than pitch, cold and moist. The cloaked figure could still hear the dampened merriments of the folk inside. He looked up at Abhartach’s office window and grinned.
He took something from the sleeve of his cloak and started to sprinkle it on the ground muttering some sort of incantation.
He then started to walk the street of the town, all in their beds but the tavern folk. Their chimneys slowly dying as the children slept soundly their mother pecking them on the forehead. Their fathers tucking them in.
The figure continued to walk, humming to himself as a bluish fog started to cover the town of Slaghtaverty.
Read it on inkitt Nightcrawlers