mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (The Prince)
We were just getting to the good bit where our Elrond Hubbard starts doing the bit about psychologists when a tall elf with long hair pulled back into a ponytail enters the room with a shorter elf with short blond hair. "I'm here from the firm of Fen and Geller representing the Church of Rivendelogy, we have copyrighted this and therefore you must all clear off! All you actors, stop acting. That's right 'Frodo', put down that book of copyrighted church papers." The shorter elf nods in agreement without saying anything. That was the end of our parody and I hope never do get involved with Rivendelogy again. I've still got scars from when the short one tried to bite the ring off my finger.

(This is me, releasing strangeness into the night. Plus people seem to like this sort of fannish stuff.)
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (The Prince)
Yesterday we had one of those perfect Colorado days. I went outside just after noon and found the sky to be perfectly blue without a cloud in it. The temperature was quite good for winter at about 14°C (57°F), I could just barely see my breath at times. There was a smell in the air like winter; distant hillsides covered in snow melting just a bit, a slow gentle wind over cold ground. It made breathing feel like when I would put an icicle in my mouth when I was a youth. Cold, but pleasant.

     It was the same sort of day south and west of Pskov when Raina came to her great-uncle's estate. He had died, against many people's expectations, peacefully in his sleep two days earlier. Many relatives that had been excluded from his house for years would gather and tell polite lies about how sad they were that he was gone. Probably the saddest person at his wake was Raina, though many relatives muttered about her having come out of this very well indeed, since she would inherit the estate of Ivan Radoslav Obeczan.
     She stood much of the day a solid bulwark covered in black velvet against the hoards of relatives both close and distant. She quietly fended off veiled appeals for money from the less sensitive and gracefully absorbed the kind platitudes of sympathy from the more considerate. He had been an unconventional sort, the black sheep of her paternal grandfather's generation. She thought about this as the endless stream of cousins, nephews, nieces, and the assorted hangers on filed past her after having made sure the old goat was really dead in the front parlor.
     "Conformists. Dutiful servants of the temples, good workers with comfortable to good jobs, and a careful number of children as proscribed. We are a well off family, though aside from Ivan we would never be mistaken for a leading one. They saw his wealth and clucked their tongues that so much should come to someone who would do so many unacceptable things like slumming with the Otrok class. Do any of them ever think that maybe it was because he was unafraid to do almost anything that he became wealthy? Probably not."
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (Default)
After finishing up all the preliminaries with my client I felt the need to consult with a higher power. Meaning my grandmamma. She has much more magic than me, is terribly clever, and has two centuries of experience to draw upon. After all my usual methods would do me little good, no sense in looking up girlfriends and relatives like I would with a skip trace. Plus any excuse to see her is a good one.

It isn't far to her home in Elyria, a neighborhood of industrial warehouses and ageing 18th century working class houses. She settled there before the freeway, and long before I was around. Sometimes I suspect that she'll be living there after the whole city is gone, her little neat house standing by itself, an island of old Russia on the high plains. That isn't terribly realistic, after all she has moved before, but she has an air of permanence about her. She certainly didn't move when the more recent Russian community grew up in Glendale, when new factories were built, and the neighborhood became Hispanic. She says that the changes don't bother her as long as the weather is pleasant and her neighbors treat her with respect. Which they do for the most part, I've even seen a few of them coming by to consult with the wise woman.

(This is the grandson of Baba from Kiska and the Firebird)
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (Default)
Jonah looked at the selections in the autocase without much interest. The brightly colored packages each trying to out do the others with enticing pictures and colors. But the soldierly rows of food in the convenience market were not terribly interesting. He would much rather have brought something from his own kitchen, but he had not felt like cooking last night and now he would pay the price.

What to choose? Another gaily wrapped packaged of southwest style spring rolls, ready to be thawed and cooked in the microwaves at work? Work. That was the reason he wasn't terribly interested in the food offered by the deserted store's automated shelves this early in the morning. Work where the great machines clanked roared and shuddered as they turned out mile after mile of plastic pipe. Where he would move about his solitary rounds checking the machinery and doing maintenance. Maybe today he might glimpse one of his four co-workers. Though probably not.

He sighed and leaned his head against the cool coated plastic. He ought to be grateful to have a job that paid a bit more than usual pittance. But he was lonely each day at work, walking the buildings devoid of people. Spring rolls. Choose to keep working, because the alternative is worse, and who knows, perhaps there would be something interesting on offer from the cable tonight. A brightly packed bit of entertainment that might make him forget that tomorrow would be another day of work.
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (The Prince)
The iron grip of winter in its soft glove of snow closes around the Shadow Mountains. This is the true season of the region, when the landscape seems most at ease with itself. Against the perfect white of snow the dark branches of the Frost Apples stand like burnt orchards with their bounty of burgundy fruit. Amid these groves the Umpyir often come to dance in the moonlight or feast on sunny days when the light is harsh like diamonds aflame.
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (Default)
Lars waits by the front door finishing his toast like a tall bony thing. A black clad flamingo or something. You know a what's it, a metaphor sort of thing. He's just licking his fingers as Dave comes down the stairs in a black turtleneck and jeans.

"All set?" he asks his glowering companion with a grin.

"No, I'm just ready to get this over."

"Right, follow me then. And don't worry nothing really bad will happen."

As they go out the front door Dave says to himself, "Why do I not believe you?"

Ten minutes later Lars is pushing the squeaky wheeled garden cart over partially frozen ruts with Dave's help. His crow seems not to mind to rough ride too much, he's still determinedly perched on his friend's shoulder. Dave is huffing and puffing out little clouds. The morning sun is just starting to remove the frost edging from the spruce trees.

Dave asks, "So Huff Where... Wheeze.. Are we.. going?"

"To Neversummer," he replies rolling the word around like he's tasting something golden.

"What? The national park is miles away!"

"No, no. Neversummer Distillery, that's it right up ahead."

The cart comes to a stop in front of a weather dulled chain link fence and gate. Dave catches his breath and then looks up as Lars fiddles with the padlock and his big ring of keys. There are various signs on the gate. "Neversummer Distillery, Home of the finest Colorado Whisky" "No Trespassers" "Keep Out" "Intruders Will Be Shot" "This means you Lars Redgrave!"

"For some reason I’m getting a bad feeling about this."

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mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (Default)

The red haired occupant of the bed is so startled by his sudden awakening that he falls out of bed at the feet of the black clad intruder. "Good morning Dave!"

"Why are you in my house Lars?! No, I don't want to know. Just leave so I can go back to sleep."

"But adventure Dave! And tea. From within his long black coat Lars produces a thermos. He opens it and pours some of the steaming contents into the lid/cup and places it on the floor next to Dave as he sits fuming on the floor. "Now I know you'll see things my way after a nice cup of tea."

"And if I don't?"

"Oh I'll just sneak back into your house in the middle of the night and leave a skunk in your bed, glue all your furniture to the ceiling, or curdle your milk. Something like that. Get dressed and I'll see you downstairs in five minutes."

Dave groans as Lars lets himself out of the bedroom. "Really I only do these things for Dave's own good. He's a computer programmer who made far too much money and now he often does not get out of bed until after noon. Not that anyone else around here gets up much earlier, but it seems to me that Dave needs this sort of discipline. Plus he's looking a little paunchy so climbing over some fences and then running away from a shotgun wielding maniac is a good substitute for exercise. But most importantly a nearly normal person, especially a Dave, is important to witness this enterprise. It is the best way to maintain a reputation as a lunatic."

Lars goes into the kitchen and helps himself to a slice of not too moldy bread to make toast.

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mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (Default)
The day is barely dawning, the first light setting a brilliant glow on the high mountain snowfields. Down below a small town sits tightly squeezed between a narrow lake and the steep hills of the valley. A early morning fog is rising off the still waters of the lake drifting past a slightly battered standard green highway sign stating this to be, "Ithill, Elevation 9,154 feet". All is quiet in the idyllic scene of the few dozen aging houses and storefronts.

Except for a squeaking coming from one wheel of a garden cart. It is being pushed by a reedy young man wearing a long black duster. He apparently uses the same hairstyling techniques as Einstein as his mass of sandy hair sticks up every which way. On one of his shoulders a crow sits rather calmly watching the scenery go by with apparent interest.

He turns his head towards you and says as he continues to push the cart, "I find that the best time of day for impractical schemes is first thing in the morning. That is if you actually want some chance of success." He leaves the cart laden with kegs, rope, wire, a bolt cutter, and various other implements to walk up to the back door of one of the better kept houses. He takes out a large ring of keys and lets himself in the back door before continuing in a quieter voice. "Which of course assumes you want to succeed. Most of why it works better in the morning is sobriety and surprise. Speaking of which..." He lets himself into the bedroom on the second floor and holds pulls out an old fashion horn with a squeeze bulb on the end and holds it near the visible ear of someone buried in blankets on the bed.

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mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (Default)
In one of the last acts of the War of the Uprising the city of Pskov was burnt by Bóginki to punish the humans' use of powers forbidden them. They had dabbled previously, but during the war human enchanters took full advantage of the opportunity to call on spirits they normally could not and to work what magics they could. The Bóginki decended from the sky one October day to bring flames and death by their greater powers. Many humans were cut down on the tree-lined roads fleeing to the west. Pskov was reduced to quiet ruins for a century before the humans started to cautiously return to live, though much less boldly than those old residents had.

A few who fled long before the end into the mountains east of Danevar are reputed to survive still. Those lands are deep with strangeness and the Bóginki will not go there, though they do not say why. Those who live there are said to be as fearsome and live by darkness as their opposites live by light. Fearful villagers near the mountains say that these Umpyir come to take away life and spirits from the unwary.
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (The Prince)
I have an idea. My idea is that I could post a vignette a day to my journal to improve my fiction writing and writing in general. Plus keep everyone here entertained. So hopefully this will be the first of many.

The soil moved for the first time in tens of dozens of years. The rich, but pebbly loam being dug by a garden spade. The bottle waited with its charge of mystery. It once had been marked with a white paint symbol that would have reminded the enchanter what he had filled it with. Now two centuries of slow aging had slowly reduced the paint to flakes held to the surface of the bottle by the dirt alone. Would it be at last found? The square glass pulled from the ground so long after it was buried to save it from fire and the prying inquires of the Bóginki. If it were found might someone at last drink the fine liquor stored within it and unknowingly gain the spirit that lay dormant in it? The next few minutes would tell as the gardener continued to dig in the warming vegetable patch.


mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (Default)

January 2016

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