March 13th 2009,
Hi all it's finally spring here in Saskatchewan again. I don't know why I'm surprised, it happens every year about this time. All I know is it's nice to be able to go outside without the definate threat of frostbite. Anywho, this is a small post, as life is gernerally good. No new exciting things with the comic projects as the recession is hitting the comic industry extra hard.
Lately I have been working on my 'Mirror, Mirror' project with some satisfying results. I think the thing I'm most excited about is the scope. It's big enough for a novel but I can't see it being any more than that. So its a big idea, just not epic and I have a really hard time most times limiting myself to one novel sized story in a story arc. I think this is a good thing for me and I'm putting alot of other projects on hold as I pour effort into this one. Anywho, the prologue is in it's first draft, so I'm posting it here. More to follow, I promise. Enjoy!
John, the Writer.
"I looked down to the earth and saw the black horde, a multitude of thousands rising like smoke from the east. Death and ash were in its wake and the righteous crumbled before them. I despaired. I then raised my eyes to the heavens and saw an angel descending. His appearance was radiant and his sword burned with holy fire. He was alone, but he was mighty."
Prologue - Fate
Three large figures wrapped in white stood silently in the middle of the swamp, the darkness around them broken only by the small pinpoint light given off by fireflies and will-o-wisps that floated above stinking pools. The air buzzed with insects and hung heavy with water and rotted wood. Their boots were black with mud up to the knee and the hammers the two larger figures carried were crusted with dried blood and gore. The swamps were not kind to those from the cities and the snakes and beasts that made the tepid waters their home were vicious and feral, hungry for meat. The three had started as four, but the result was worth the cost. Before them stood the house they searched for.
It was no more than a hovel, a muddy hole in a mound of moss and debris piled by unskilled hands. The door was the only part of the house that looked solid, beautiful red painted wood banded in brass and inscribed with faint Crystal lettering. It was fitted with a brass knocker in the shape of a ghoulish head; teeth barred and frill of horns worked in cold iron. There was nothing else besides the door to show that the mound was any different from the hundreds of others that dotted the swamp. There was no lane or lamp to light the way and the door was facing heavy brush so that one had to be looking for it to see it. One of the hooded figures reached out to grab hold of the knocker while his two companions wiped black gore from their hammers. The sound from the knock was muffled in the heavy air.
There was a moment of silence before the door creaked open, spilling a knife's edge of light out into the darkness. A bulbous nose pushed itself out through the crack and two eyes as black as beetles peered out with suspicion at the visitors on the other side of the door.
"Hello?" It asked gruffly, "if you're lost then that's too bad for you. You can't come in, I won't allow it. If you're dying I'll put some food out on the step, the salamanders won't come near here. You can stay the night on the step, but you can't come in. Are you dying? You can't come in."
The man outside cleared his throat, a sound like a locomotive driving on gravel, low and gritty.
"We know a threader lives here." He said in the same rocks-in-tumbler voice.
The nose behind the door bobbed, "Where you from? The provinces? From outside our time stream? There ain't no threaders anymore, there isn't. The Queen, may she sleep in peace forever, killed them. Some might say murdered, but not me. I say they got their justice. No one should be able to twiddle with the threads of fate, it's too powerful."
"Are you Abe Capus?"
Again a moment of silence, the nose bobbing quickly in thought, trying as quickly as possible to determine the correct answer to this man standing in his doorway. Two shapes loomed behind, indistinct shadows, tall and menacing. They still held their hammers by their sides, the heavy metal gleaming in the light from the door. Their presence made up the small man's mind.
"Nope, never even heard of such a man. You lads look like you can take care of yourselves. I'll leave you to the swamp. It's a fine place to be if you don't mind the smell and the snakes. Good day to you. Or night; I don't have a clock. Good riddance at any rate."
The man outside caught the door as it was being closed, but could not pull it further open. There was some magic in the red painted door. The nose had retreated and now it bobbed back, the beetle eyes slitted and angry. "What?"
"You are Abe Capus. I know this to be true. Would it be that I could force you to help us instead of merely requesting your assistance. I know you will not be forced into anything. I also know you to have lost much in this life and given a chance to change your own fate may, in gratitude, give us aid." The words came out slow and steady, unwavering in their absence of emotion, sublte as a landslide. Still holding the door open, he withdrew a small shrouded object from the depths of his cloaks. The shroud fell away and the thing in his palm gleamed in the light cast from the door.
It was round, nearly perfectly round and filled the whole of the man's large hand. The surface might have been any color or no color, shifting the way it did in any bit of light, taking parts of the light in so that shadows resulted or else amplifying other bits so that brilliant rainbows danced. Looped around it many times was a fine golden chain, the delicate links wrought in the likeness of a a beast's mouth, the jaws holding fast to the neck of the link in front of it. Delicate locks hung on the chain at random, seven in all, and it looked like one had already been opened. That part of the object was not as glimmering as the rest and looked to be dead as if it's light had been used. The nose behind the door bobbed.
"Do you... you... ah, ehem." A mouth still hidden by the door cleared itself, "that is to say, what have you there?"
"You know what it is."
"Perhaps I do... perhaps..."
"It is yours to do with what you would, should you preform one task for us. One lock we require opened, it's thread changing a bit of fate. One lock was used long ago. That leaves five for you to do whatever you wish."
"And you think I can open the locks? Could be I don't know what you're talking about! Coming in the middle of the dark, disturbing an honest man's sleep. I say I shut my door to you all!"
"Five fates to change anyway you wish. Think, Abe Capus, think of what you could do with five fates. Your honor restored, your order restored, is that not worth a small task?"
Now the nose quivered like a fiddle string drawn taunt. The eyes narrowed.
"Come in." The owner of the nose said quietly, the eyes darted out into the darkness beyond the shape. "Only you, your friends must stay outside. It looks as if they can take care of themselves. Come in, and quickly. Before I lose my nerve. Come in before the energy attracts other... things. Fate magic, very strong. I should know... huh oh do I know."
The door opened quickly to the exact space needed for the man outside to edge past the threshhold. He had to duck past the door and even once inside stooping was necessary to fit inside the house. If what the stranger was expecting inside the door was more mud and sticks, he was pleasantly surprised. The room inside was spacious and clean, with wood paneled walls and shelves filled with books and small pots. Small round doors designed in likeness to teh one outside dotted the walls between the shelves. Lavish rugs covered the floor past the doorway and the stranger found that the mud on his boots had been left outside when he walked in. There was magic at work here, strong magic. The stranger closed the door and studied it briefly, there was a brass tag stamped on the back that stated 'Holland Holland and Sty: MasterWork Doors'.
"A portal." The stranger said quietly.
"Hmm, oh? Oh yes yes, a portal. Professional. Bought it in the the city, the biggest city at the time. DevenPort I think." Abe stopped pacing about and smiled, "in excile it is amazing what neccesities you can live without when you have some simple pleasures. A magic house in the middle of a swamp. Heh, I guess that is a bit of a necessity, isn't it? I did favors for the Sty family way back when. That door was made special by Griff's own claws. Delicate, delicate things these portals. Masterful work."
Abe Capus was an imp of a man, small and stooped with a brush of grey whiskers collected underneath a massive nose. His beetle black eyes peeked out from underneath eyebrows of similar size and color to his moustache. His fingers never stopped moving, weaving into and outside of themselves like spider's legs; long and delicate. He had the appearance of someone who was very, very old but kept on existing through power of will.
"Prudant. You would not have lasted the swamp a month otherwise." The stranger kept his hood drawn and his face shadowed. "I need you to preform a transfer, to change a fate."
Abe Capus squinted his eyes and then his shoulders sagged, "I suppose it is now wasted breath to deny that I can. After I've invited you into my home, no, it would be wasted breath. Set the egg there, in the table. A fate egg. How did you find it? I had thought them all destroyed. Well all the ones available to us, to me."
"Does it matter?" the stranger set the egg on the table that Abe motioned to.
Abe paused, shook his head, "no. But... there were twelve, I think. most were used in the great war. We were a great order then you know, very powerful. Kings, magicians, everyone came to us when things got to their worst. We were the last resort. If no one else could do it, they said, give it to a threader. We did alot of great things during the war. Great and terrible things. After the Queen ... well, threaders were not welcome. You would know that of course, common history I would suppose. But text books take away the emotion of a time, the raw expierence. It was a very terrible time, when the strongest magic's in the world clashed. The threader's sided with the wyrm, we had to. It was his eggs afterall. Didn't matter much, really, Queen or Serpent, they both looked the same in the end. The bodies. They had to pile the bodies when it was done. You've never smelled anything like it, felt anything as horrible. She killed the threaders then, throats cut with our own knives. I was left for dead but escaped 'cause I wasn't quite gone, crawled out of a mound of flesh before they set fire to the pyres. She destroyed the eggs too, too powerful she said, but I think it's just because she couldn't figure how to use them right. I had thought all the eggs destroyed. You can't make new ones you know, they're unborn dragon eggs. So much untapped potential, caught by the egg itself, guarded by the locks." Abe spread his hands out on either side of the egg, fingers unfolding and making a net around the swirling colors of the egg. "No more dragons, no more eggs. No more fate magic, no more threaders."
"Will it take long?"
"Hmm?" Abe lifted his eyes from staring at the egg. The colors still shone in his eyes. His was a life that had lived fullest in the past and seeing the egg brought all the memories back. The stranger was far less patient.
"Will it take long?"
"No... not long. Funny, I always thought it was funny. It's not so hard to change the course of a fate, takes very little time. It takes a steady hand, of course, and a sharp knife, but not time." He sighed, "what fate do you need me to change?"
"The fate tied to this scroll. A prophesy. This is the original text, the thread will be there." From inside the sleeve of his robes the stranger pulled a tightly rolled piece of parchment.
"Give it here and we'll begin then, sooner I'm done, the sooner you can leave back into the fell dark that brought you."
"I'll keep it until it's needed."
"Fine then, have it your way. I'll not ask questions, even though I probably should. I don't need it until the end anyway. You may want to stand back, don;t want to mix your thread up with the others." Abe took a bowl of water from a stand and threw it into his stove, killing the light to a dim glow. Walking to the egg he seemed to grow in stature. Somewhere through the decades he was remembering what he once had been, remembered that Kings had bowed to his power. The wisemen who had come for advice and the queens that had paid dearly for his service. He took a case from a small drawer in the stand and set it on the table, opening it to reveal a knife wrought in pure silver, hilt and blade one long piece with no other ornamate. Then Abe Capus turned to the fate egg. It was with steady hands that he spread his fingers around the egg and summoned it's power to his will.
The swirling colors quickened and flowed steady over the surface of the egg. In the absence of the firelight the colors made the room swim in rainbows. After the miles and miles of darkness and swamp the stranger leaned closer to it, appreciating the light. Abe turned his hands around the egg slowly, tilting them and puling his fingers back and forth as if he were playing the strings of a harp. His black eyes were slitted and the stranger thought he heard some muttering, but it was incoherent to his ears. It did not take long for Abe to call the threads present in the room to be visible.
They came in patches, shimmering lines drawn through the air. In the presence of the threads everything else in the room became less physical, as if the the threads were the only thing real, the only thing of any consequence. Each thread was remarkably different; some were faint and undecided and some were bright, the fate concrete in its destiny. The colors varied in no order, reds and golds and deep blues mixing and twining with green and orange and white. The strong ones held in their threads pictures and memories of what was to happen. Glimpses of people and places flashed along their surfaces impossibly fast to follow.
"They are echos, glimmers of what might happen," Abe said, sensing the stranger's interest, "see how they move? Through solid objects, through you and me. Nothing physical hampers them, they care only for deeds and thoughts, plans and convictions. Nothing is quite so complex as a fate. A thousand different strands weaving and fraying to make a thread. Always changing. All it takes is one thing, one event to change a fate. With a fate egg though, you can change the course of history!"
Abe kept his fingers twitching and the stranger saw that a few of the threads were now keeping time to the movement. One looped lazily and the loop inched closer to one of the locks in the egg. One end of the loop poked it's way in and twisted around, the lock opened with a pop and a new thread emerged from the egg. This one looked as if it were on fire and the end twitched like a live snake. The stranger could almost see it snap a tiny mouth as it looked for a place to belong.
"A blank thread," Abe breathed, "it can be anything, it is raw potential with no fate of it's own. That is the power fo the fate egg. Quickly! it will latch onto a different thread soon if we do not hurry, it doesn't care where it belongs, it only needs to belong. Joining it so the desired outcome is the result is the real magic. The scroll, quickly!"
Abe's eyes were lit with the fire of the burning thread, his grinning mouth betraying intense joy at the work he was completing. he held out his hand without looking, not taking his eyes off the living thread emerging from the egg, gesturing wildly for the scroll. The stranger placed it in his hands with a grim smile on his shadowed face. Without looking at it Abe Capus unfurled the parchment and plucked at the thread attached to it, feeling it and measuring it's wieght between two fingers. It was solid, thicker than any thread in the room and as pitch black as sin. The fate egg thread turned towards it with obvious hunger, slowly snaking its way closer. It only took a moment for understanding to wash over Abe Capus, he saw the thread lead to the prophesy, he saw what events it was prescribing to transpire and his face drained of color.
"This... no! This prophesy must not be tampered with!" Abe screached, his voice going high from terror, "it is written on the stones! It was foreseen five hundred years ago!"
"It must be." The starnger kept his distance, out from teh web of threads in teh middle of the room but he paced the edge of it, face still hidden by his cowl, "Even this is a small price for what I offer you. I offer you your former life back?"
"It is written on the stones! Before the queen and the serpent, it was set down in the beginning!" Sweat poured from the brow of Abe Capus. In one hand he held the scroll and the other he kept near the egg, keeping the magic running. "I can't, some things can't be changed, some thing shouldn't be changed!"
"The prophesy can not be put off any longer, the prophesy must come true now!" The stranger growled, pacing faster around the edge of the threads.
"Do you know what you are asking? The events that this will change will devastate the world! Our world will be plunged into war, the Queen herlsef will awake and finish her work! All of us will perish, there is not one alive who will survive her wrath!"
"Do it! You have the skill to change this prophesy, Abe Capus! Change this one fate and you will have a fate egg to help you survive, there is nothing more powerful than fate magic, and there is no threader alive more powerful than you!"
"If you do this thing, change this one thing, you will be legend."
"But... the stones..."
"Kings will once again come to you for your counsel, your power and your order will be restored! This one thing, quickly! Before it is wasted!"
The firey thread from the egg was writhing frantically now, squirming towards the other threads. The other threads shied away from the egg thread as if it was a preditor, a vile monster in their serene midst. Abe Capus's hands shook, disturbing the rythmn of the magic and the threads started to fade from mortal sight, drifting into the chaotic colors of the fate egg's light. Swaet glistened on Abe's head, his conscience tearing him assunder.
"It's old prophesy... the Queen!"
"You have done worse than this, in the old days men died at your hands, their threads cut by your doing. This is not murder, it is progress. We have not the time to wait another two hundred years for it to be fulfilled! Doing this will make you a hero!"
"Do it!" The stranger roared, his voice filling the room. Abe shuddered and then regained control, his fingers were deft as he snatched the silver knife from the table. The cuts were quick and the red fire of the fate egg's thread blended seamlessly with the ethreal fabric of the scroll's thread. the thread's color dulled to the black thickness of the scroll and when it was done Abe Capus hung his head to his chest, tears streaming down his face.
"It's done, the prophesy has been changed. It's unnatural, even for me." He shook his head, "you've condemned us to the lowest pits of torment, it was a prophesy written on the stones! Those can not be so easily changed, you'll see! It takes more than a fate egg, it takes more than a threader!"
"It will be enough."
"It won't! I did it but I shouldn't have, a fate egg. Even for a fate egg, a soul is worth more than that. A lifetime passes too quickly... the eternal is more," He shook his head, "I am condemned, the stones... the stones... They know! Leave now, go... you've brought nothing but pain to me."
Abe didn't even look up as the hammer came down, striking his small frame to the ground. The stranger gathered up the egg and scroll, all the magic in the room dying with the small threader and fading back into the dimness of the embers in the stove he walked out through the door, now hanging open on it's hinges.
"Burn it all." He told the two massive figures waiting paitently outside. Carefully he returned the egg and the scroll to his cloaks, walking back the way he had come. Behind him flames licked upwards, a funeral pyre. The stranger didn't look back.