I hate it. Morning. But I love coffee, so that's all good. About to start work, both house and imaginary. Have a lovely Sunday.

What I Am Working On Now
You probably remember me writing a lot of very short, very weird fanfiction about X-Men and sundry. The only thing I've kept is the weird. Here's what I'm working on: it's an excerpt from the first novella -- Hard Luck -- in a serial, which I'm calling Saga of Menyoral.

Rock of Ages
In many places, and in many times, people tell tales of lands that brim with magic and swarm with fairies, where every princess is a beauty just waiting to be rescued, where third sons are clever and knights are bold as brass.
Rothganar used to be like that.
There were glowing fairies zipping over every pond, back then. In the great cities – Dreamport, Brightwater, Oasis, Long Knife, Muscoda – there was work and to spare for anyone with even a breath of magical talent: in the sewage treatment plants, the manufactories, the research laboratories. In the wild places, magi closeted themselves in their towers and devoted themselves wholly to arts black and white. Priests contemplated the heavens and drew power from the divine. Closer to the ground, shamans shook their bone rattles and sang to the spirits of the world; deep beneath the surface, short stocky men pounded spells into beautiful works of weapon smith's craft. Over in Windish, they sang in the salmon every summer, and down in Oasis even the humblest home was freshened and cooled by magical breezes. And all over their beautiful Homeland, the People lived their long lives, while others led a briefer existence.
It was a dangerous place, Rothganar, with a dryad in every oak, it seemed, and a dragon in every cave. It teemed with manticores and griffins and the occasional cockatrice, with trolls and giants and the sly, whispering ghosts of drowned girls. Adventurers and soldiers of fortune never lacked for something to do.
Rothganar used to be like that, and not very long ago either, but it all changed in one night, one night when the People tossed and turned, insomniac in their tents and longhouses.
The next few days were even worse. The monsters died next, dropping down into heaps of impossibility, and the spirits blew away like fairy dust on a strong wind. The magi and the priests of great rank, the highest in their Arts, began to kill themselves, terrified by what they had seen and what they could no longer see. In the forges under the mountains, the hammers of the Bearded Ones fell utterly silent for the first time in centuries. In the cities, the manufactories ground to a halt as their devices all malfunctioned, every one. The sewage treatment plants in Brightwater and Muscoda, in Dreamport, in Oasis and Windish, failed spectacularly. There was panic in the streets, rioting, quests undertaken, and none of it was any good, because the magic that for so long everyone had used and taken for granted, the magic that fueled everyday life – it didn't come back.
Then the plagues came. Diseases that before the healers had been able to prevent with a single enchanted touch, now felled people by the hundreds, by the thousands. There was far more than the shamans, who somehow retained some of their abilities, could handle, and many of them worked from weariness to exhaustion straight down to death. By the end of it all, Rothganar wasn't wonderful any more, and difficult as life had been, as awful the state of the world, now it was worse.
It was all down to the rock, even though none but a few knew it existed, and most of those had died. The magi and priests of Muscoda had tried to control it all. It was the work of ten years and more, the calculations checked and re-checked, but it wasn't as if they could practice the ritual, was it? Something went wrong on the night they drew power into the stone. It was a great, gray, unremarkable granite slab, carved into a round like a biscuit and polished to a glassy sheen. Etched over every inch of its surface were runes and sigils in careful whorls. Was it one stray fleck of acid that sent the great working awry? One small mistake? A sneeze during the casting? What killed the magic? None of the participants could know: only the stone cracked, and they didn't know for long. After the ritual, the stone lay abandoned, left to weep a pearly tear into the earth, every once in a while.
The wizards and enchantresses dreamed of dark things from beyond the edge of reason, that night; the priests writhed in the freezing grasp of Hell, and when they woke, they couldn’t touch the magic.
Two miles from the place the rock had been laid, a child kicked his way through the wall of his mother's womb with the power of his unborn stretching. His mother had just enough breath left to name him before she died, and his father enough time to hear her whisper, "Vasily," before his son blew out his eardrums uttering a first wail. That night, every last fairy in Rothganar vanished in a wisp of glitter.
The gods, with one notable exception, didn't seem to care. As long as prayers and worship drifted to Their Hall at the very top of the World-Tree, why should They? If even Their puissance was somewhat diminished, well, They didn't use it much anyway, in this day and age. But Akeere Wayfarer took note, like She always had, and She did what She could, like She always had.
The very morning after the stone broke, She appeared to a man just retired from wandering. He was baking his old bones on a beach in the Monmouth Islands when She came to him, laid Her hand on his head, and set him to wandering again. From that moment, he aged not another day. No, it wasn't much, but goddesses plan for the long haul. Nine years later She began to visit the dreams of an orphan boy in a tiny state in the Dragon's Spine. She kissed Vandis Vail on the cheek and taught him to fly. All the fairies were still dead. The goblins were dead. The pixies were dead. The People were dying. It wasn't much. Last, after thirty years and then some, she visited a one-room cottage in Wealaia, when everyone inside was asleep. The tiny, worn-out tulua in the pallet slept like the dead; so did the huge human male, one hand resting on the hilt of a claymore on the arm of the chair, one thick and freckled arm curled around a swaddled little form.
A soft fuzz of red hair stuck out of the blanket, and within the delicate, flexible ribs, there was a ruddy glow like a coal. Very gingerly, She blew on the baby's heart, and the light within blazed high. After She left, She felt a little sorry for him, the poor wee laddy, but such things had to be borne.
No, it wasn't much – until it was.

Then and Now
I used to be venem. I was the lonely, lost little girl. We still have a lot in common. Now, I am me, but I hope her friends find me. I liked them a lot, and miss them.


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