Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Gallifrag Nevit

So I made a new character for a rpg we're going to play through discord or roll20 or...something. And I was supposed to write a character background for once...so typical me, I went a little overboard. If you're in the game in question...you're probably not supposed to see this, though :P

Bright-eyed and Bushy-tailed was a phrase made for (or by, as he was prone to saying) Gallifrag Nevit, or Newt as he was known. As a youth he displayed a strength of arm that was only surpassed by his talent for tale-telling and penchant for scandal. Falling in and out of love seemed to be his most favoured skill, and when the Mayor's daughter took a liking to our honey-tongued hero, he knew it was time to leave. There may also have been a fire.

Newt took to life on the road with glorious flair, quickly finding and befriending like minded individuals and eventually joining The Salamander's Tongue, a troupe known for their bawdy tunes, tumblers, and fire-eaters of great skill. Newt became something of a fixture, his tale-telling centre stage as the patrons ate, offset and jibed by the bawdy crew.

And then there was Ellania. The bouncer and sometime poet of their group. A high elf of low and cutting wit, she entranced Gallifrag from the first insult. They bandied words, duels of wit and, Newt dreamed, love. Moon elf, she called herself, and moon eyes, she called him. For the long years that passed so swiftly, the days and nights of ribaldry and passions cloaked by duelling tongues. The act that they were, together, on stage and off, each enjoying the teasing delights of courtship.

And then in one night, it was all over.

The muddy village they came to could scarce afford to put them up. The tired and weary troupe, buoyed by spirits alone, set about lifting the poor villagers as they could. Food they shared, drink they overpaid for, and laughter was gold they spilt into the souls of the downtrodden. It was more than a lifetime of passion that was spun that day, and something more lit within Newt as he followed Ellania up the half-rotten stairs. The glances they exchanged that night said more than a hundred years could have, and though dirty and insect-ridden his bough was, Newt's heart was lighter than the heavens.

He awoke to harsh sounds in the night. The clash of metal and the crackle of something else. And then a voice crying out in the dark. Dagger in hand, Newt flung open his door to the scene of a nightmare. The inn on fire, Ellania's room locked and blazing from within.

With ferocious kicks he burst into her room, the wounded Ellania left dazed and bleeding on the floor, while the fire raged all around.

And for the first time, he prayed. The ancient halfling words spilled from his soul and into the night, a tale of fire and wounds so deep they would not be quenched. As the words rang out, he slashed at his palm, the blood hissing into the flames that licked at his tumbler's legs. He fell to his knees, his voice booming to the sky, strident and proud and broken.

And a ringing call was his answer. The flames gathered into his palm and thrust into his soul, scorching away what he was and filling him with a power he had never known. His hands became the instruments of the divine, and as he laid them upon his dying love's body, he felt his life join with hers, the fires sweeping away the poison in her blood, and making her whole.

In that moment their souls co-existed, and the overpowering joy he felt as they regarded each other was tinged by a bright sorrow. For he knew then that there was a price, that there is always a price. And he felt the weight around his soul, not only of the duty that now befell him, but of the difference between them. The enemy Ellania had faced was far more powerful than he knew, than he could understand, and he would be cut down in a heartbeat if he stayed by her side.

The compulsion settled within him, and as he carried her from the charred but otherwise miraculously unharmed inn to the troupe's caravan, he knew he had to leave. The whispered blessing he laid upon her cheek had the love of all the years they had seen together behind it, and as he stepped away he left the one thing he treasured most - his prized flute - and took the one thing he knew meant nothing to her, a small silver ring she had won at a fair.

With clasped hands and hugs, Newt walked away to pursue his newfound destiny. A voyage of long years, but with love always in his heart.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Post Snippet; The Flower in Your Embrace

(Another post snippet. I do this from time to time, just take my posts from elsewhere and save them here. The height of ego, eh?)

Oh the guilt! "Everything in my life is great, why can't I even do this one thing?"  I know that feeling well...and it doesn't get better as you age, until you realise a few things.

Writing under pressure is hard. It's like trying to contort and squeeze in on something that's as precious as a flower, trying not to crush it to pieces, but to somehow make it bloom by will alone. And then it's as if you're pushing in both directions, pressing down on yourself while gasping for air and pushing back to leave that little breathing room. You're wrung out and crying, taut and beaten ragged, and that's even before you try to write.

Sometimes your story reaches out to you, like a golden sun extending its warm rays to you. In those cases, if you're pushed to put your hand out, it'll simply settle in your palm, flowing over you and filling you with that beautiful feeling. Sometimes it's inside a glass case, and you need to smash through to grasp that trophy, but when you do, you're filled with elation. Sometimes it's behind rock, and you need to come equipped with mining gear, and if you're lucky, some well placed dynamite might get you through to those gems.

But...all of these cases are different, and all of them live inside of you. If you're crushing that flower that is your soul, it's not because you're not a writer or that you can't write that it's not coming out, it's because you're not in the right place for it to flower. Nothing works if you're screaming at yourself, telling yourself that the conditions are all right, why isn't it working. The most beautiful flowers don't always bloom in paradise, some bloom in the desert, some bloom in the winter, some surprise you in the middle of desolation and pain.

As any kind of artist, it behooves thee to know thyself. To not crush that tenuous link between your muse and yourself by ripping yourself to shreds when it's just not working. Sit back, breathe, relax. The proof of your writing isn't in whether you can crush out a novel in thirty days, or thirty years, that's just the validation from the rest of the world. The proof is that your soul speaks in the written word. All those little snippets, pieces of prose, long forgotten words of wisdom, snatches of shining story...are not worthless. They may not be something you can earn money from, but that means nothing. Artists don't 'art' for money, we do it to send a message, to communicate, to touch people. That alone has value in a world such as this.

The fact that you want to reflect on your life doesn't mean that you're not a writer. It means the opposite. It means writing is so crucial to your soul that you can't see another way to live. Welcome to the club. Now stop punishing yourself and realise that if you turned your gaze to anything other than your story right now, words would flow out of you. Passion would flow out of you. Life would flow right out of you.

So do something else. Live, and let the story wait for another day.

Monday, 21 November 2016

A Note on the Sentai

I wrote a little bit of history to my story yesterday, trying to get the kinks worked out. Thought I'd share it.

The inhabitants of Nova Sentai were a race of traders and explorers that were one of the first to investigate wormhole technology. Eventually abandoned in favour of hyper-light travel, wormholes or darkgates as they became known, would eventually form part of the reason the Sentai have become one of the most scattered peoples in the galaxy.

In 22-24, the Arthannan opened negotiations with the Sentai in a bid to garner darkgate technology. Negotiations fell through, and soon tensions escalated towards open war, lasting several years. Darkgates were used on both sides, though the Arthannan could only utilise drives from captured vessels, and the Sentai's weaponry was sub-standard compared to their foe.

Eventually a decisive strike for the Sentai was rendered into an abject failure, ultimately culminating in defeat for the species, when their fleet tried to utilise newly found Hyper-Light technology for the first time. Many of the ships were destroyed upon stardrive use, others were disabled on re-entry, right next to the Arthannan fleet. The flagship, however, fared both better and worse. Their prototype drive landing them within striking distance of the Arthannan home world, the Sentai opened a barrage of darkgate missiles upon their foe. The missiles malfunctioned, opening up a rift in space and hurtling hundreds of undetonated warheads along with the ship through to an unknown destination.

The Sentai home world soon faced the wrath of the Arthannan fleet. Unprotected and at their wits end, they took to the stars, abandoning the planet and its civilisation to the Arthannan. Harried though they were, they still managed to escape, eventually settling amongst other peoples, integrating but never forgetting their roots through the ages. 

The Arthannan eventually obtained their darkgate technology, but as the Sentai had found to their detriment, it was unstable and ineffective at best. In a cataclysm borne of hubris and greed, the Arthannan homeworld was torn asunder, rendered into a million asteroids, soon sucked into orbit around their sun. The off-worlders of that time were left adrift, having to find their own way in the galaxy as the Sentai had done, forming colonies and raiding the stars in an impotent rage at the foes that had escaped them.

Through the ages Sentai and Arthannan fought, their grudges settling into grim hatred. And to a few, the lost flagship began to take on a kind of mythical quality. A treasure hunt in the depths of space, a race between two enemies for a glowing prize and one final, solid victory.

Saturday, 12 November 2016


Context: I'm on Discord a lot, it's a chat program with multiple servers, a bit like IRC but with a nice interface, gifs, and voice chat. I was posting this to someone but then moved it here.

A server I've recently joined there has some fun people in it, and a few are fairly young women, smart, cool, witty, etc. Over the last few weeks I've gotten to know them and I quite like them. And it's an interesting dynamic for me, because they're funny and interesting and single. Anyway...sometimes when I say I'm old people don't really understand the meaning behind that, but it's days like this that kind of highlight not my age, but the difference in my lifestyle. These people go out on the weekend and during the week, and live it up. They date and have relationships and friends, and that's all cool.

At least, it is for them. The problem with being around people that you're interested in, is when they go out and do things you're reminded that you're not really in their lives. Moreso when you realise they're living a lifestyle that you've never had and feel like is in the past for you. And tonight I felt the strangest feeling as they went off. Not a little jealousy, which I'm generally used to by now, but that more and more I've started to miss a life like that. One I've never had, and also been somewhat scared to have.

I want a lot of things in my life, but I deal with what I don't have because I know it has been my choices and my fear, and perhaps my laziness also, that has caused them. But one thing that makes me not feel somewhat disconsolate about is when I know people are out there having a ball and I'm just sitting around at home. I wouldn't rather they be home too, I'd rather be out there, living it up. And sometimes I feel a little like I'd like to be with them as well.

It just reminds me, sometimes, of all I don't have and all I want. And sometimes it reminds me of the gap between myself and younger people, people my own age, and even people older than I.

It gets to me a little. Because I'm reminded that I'm a little lonely and I want love, too. And even if they're not out there finding soul mates and whatnot, I still think "hey these are cool people I like, why aren't I with one of them?" Of course it's not anything like that easy, or advisable, it just makes me think of everything I wish was true for myself.

Even though I know wishes don't make anything...

Thursday, 10 November 2016


Hot, flushed, and wet,
the skein peeled away to reveal flesh and bone,
supply as midnight, smooth in silk,
the flowing rivers of your chest,
peaks and valleys of your neck,
"Surrender," she whispered in tender tones,
an angel's breath away.

Falling stars,
my stars, I'm falling.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

The Heart of Adventure

You know what's wild? That we know the universe is expanding. That we actually pretty much know that it started at some point, and that we know that the fabric of the plane we exist on is changing. Not just the earth, not just the solar system, not just the galaxy, but every single thing that is even slightly possible to know.

That we can actually understand that there was something that smacked the universe into existence and while we're living it's still in the momentum of that movement. It's still flying as we go about our lives and will continue to fly long before we burn out, in the wake of that event that caused everything that we can possibly perceive to be.

Sometimes I forget, until I read something random...and then I realise again that somehow, everything we could ever possibly try to understand is undergoing massive flux constantly. The most powerful and amazing thing possibly conceived is happening all the time.
Why then, would it be so impossible to think of something that could transcend all that we know, to think of things happening that we don't yet understand, to live in a world where all things are possible because everything is possible?

Sometimes I wonder about the future. I love science because it tells us what we know now, not what we know tomorrow or in two hundred years from now, but right now, today. And the reason it does that isn't just so we can use it, but to teach us how much we don't know, so that we can have our ideas and realise that nothing is done, nothing is finished, nothing is over. This universe still needs explorers and adventurers, willing to delve into the depths of space and the mysteries of a grain of sand with equal fervour, not so one day we will have all the answers, but because there are so many answers out there, and so many things we could know.

How could this life ever be boring, knowing that?
And when I think of how the world is today, I just want to send that message everywhere, so people think again just how much is possible in life. How much life contains within that simple word, on that simple breath. How much this life means...that even the thought of that, moves me and fills me with passion and raw desire to just go out there and see it. To find out more. To be in that journey, that adventure, with everyone.

Inspiration is a strange thing. It lives within anything and everything, if you just tilt your view a little. And I think that's just one of things that lets me know life is beautiful, even if it's terrible for some, even when it's not great for me. Life contains all the things you could ever want or dream of. We just have to get there, that's all.

I don't know if a me has ever existed before, I tend not to think about reincarnation because I like the idea of having a definite existence. I like feeling that this is the only chance for me to put a block down for someone else to stand on. I like the idea that my life has one true purpose, that my soul has a destiny, and that the afterlife doesn't really change that. But if there is reincarnation, I hope one day I can come back, and maybe get a chance to see how much of it we've discovered.

I hope one day I get to see it all made right.

I hope one day to see us amongst the stars.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Someone once said; to love is to be vulnerable.

That person did not go on to say how to do that when you're scared. When you're bound and bloodied by emotion and the consequences of your actions. When you're not ready in the slightest but someone holds their hand out to you.

You're not supposed to push that hand away, to fill it only with the sand of troubles, to let it sit, and wait. For love to be - any love, be that familial, platonic, passionate, you have to grasp that hand, and accept what may come.

You may be low, they may be high. You may be up and they down. You might both need each other more than you realise, because that warmth spreads both ways.

I'm not very good at not being afraid. Yes, I don't mind rollercoasters so much now, and maybe I can deal with going to a party on my own, and sometimes even spiders get dealt with. But the big things, the things that would make me a man, a person I could be proud of, well...they're not always so easy.

This place is where I put parts of myself that often reflect what I want to be, not what I yet am. They are struggles and reminders of the path I want to always be in front of me, and whether I like it or not, sometimes I falter on that path.

Today I was reminded to not be a coward. To take the hand proffered and dive into that abyss, that unknown, and simply live. Regrettably I realised this only as the tide began to recede, but this fool is nothing if not hopeful, and one hopes that boat is not yet far from shore.

I have, somehow have always known, that I must pursue my own goals with diligence and purpose in order to truly be happy, to be able to reciprocate the love I am given in the way it deserves to be returned. I need to be that man to truly be worthy of the one I'm with. To feel like someone who has accomplished, who has achieved at least some of his goals, who can really make a difference.

My friends have all moved on, my peers left me far behind, and any thoughts of competition fled me long ago. My desire to be good at something twisted in on itself like a warped sculpture, whispering over and over that I can't ever succeed because I'm so far behind I can barely reach their legacy. Telling me I'm the one left behind, while by night I dream of running faster than the wind.

But that's a lie. I'm better at what I do now than I ever was. And just because I haven't come as far as I've wanted, doesn't mean I'm not worthy in some way. Yes, I don't have a job. Yes, I don't have any money left. Yes, I live at home with my family. But being an artist, being a writer, isn't always the straightest path, and it's certainly not the traditional one. I'm not going to pretend it's easy going against society, I'm not going to pretend I don't feel like a waste of a life sometimes.

And I'm not going to pretend I'm no good at what I am anymore.

I might not be a real writer yet. But I am far from being nothing.

And maybe if I can find the strength to not worry of shattering someone else's soul, I might be able to find companionship on this road again.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

The Monk's Reflection

With folded hands I stepped inside and turned the clock to one,
and then I started all again as though had just begun,
the life I dreamed I'd never live and always wanted more,
then gifts I have and love I know and friends I do adore

What found I then a thought so true that nothing could compare,
and roused the mind that had been blind to start to really care,
for all I've known and all I have and all that I could be,
and make that dream instead of one a true reality.

Never Sent

I wish
there was a place we could just disappear,
to talk, to be close, without any fear,
of the world outside and their thoughts and sly glances,
of tomorrow and the days after and what they may bring,
just us,
the two of us,

So I could kiss you,
And not have the world matter.
Where our short passion could flower,
in loving need,
that was meant to remain secret,
and last days, not years.

But it does not, will not, exist.
So I cannot hold you,
and tell you that you are beautiful,
and wish you well with your life,
while I taste you.

I cannot share a secret with you,
in a moment,
and have you lock it away,
have you understand.

I can only write this,
and think of what is,
and what was,
never sent.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

You know nowt, Ix-Snow / Knives-Out

This is a thought ramble. It will probably embarrass me later.

So I don't know. I don't know why I do things sometimes, and that's probably okay. Probably. Recently I did something, wrote something for a person on twitter that I don't really know (and that doesn't know me at all), but somehow...I thought I could help, since that person seems to be going through a hard time.

I don't know what it's like for others, but about my only gift is sometimes I can say things which, if taken in the right light, can make someone's day feel better. And I thought...well, I don't know how twitter works at all, but maybe if someone reads it, they'll feel a little better, inspired maybe, if I'm lucky.

I should also mention that most of the things I do that are "out-there" are done late at night, so I can regret them in the morning (it's like that for everyone, right?).

It's the first time I've put something out in the public domain. Well, where people have a chance of reading it anyway. I had fun doing it and I tied it in a pretty bow, which in retrospect probably camouflaged it from what it really was.

The result? No response. Not from that person, not from anyone else, in fact I barely know if anyone read it at all.

And then I realised...this is what it must be like for people.

Recently I'd been talking to some friends about how dangerous the internet is. Not in the regular ways, which we all know about, but in that these days with a lot of people creating things, many of them turn to the internet first. Whereas before most artists would start in the physical realm and build approval from family and friends, before moving onto a wider circle, these days it's just easier to put it online. In the Knives-Out arena.

Knives-Out is very dangerous for a sensitive soul, which is a trait almost endemic to creators. People who parcel off pieces of their heart, soul, and mind for other people are naturally very exposed by this process, and Knives-Out can cut to the quick. And a couple of days ago, I got my taste of it.

I didn't even experience any knives, just the internet equivalent of a Blank Stare...which, I suppose, is probably for the best. Don't get me wrong, I've had things out there before, but generally speaking I tend to sharply limit my exposure, and I hadn't done something this far out before.

It really made me glad, though. Glad that my preferred route isn't the aether of the electrowaves, where you can rise high and fall low on a whim, but rather the tried and tested book-in-hand world. The drawback of that is it mostly relies on a finished product, but I think, in retrospect, that's not such a bad thing. I like talking to people, but I don't like instability in what I am. If I turn out to be a crappy author, so be it, but if I rose and fell on the passing whim of internet wanderers...well, I don't think I would endure that very well at all.

What do you think? Knives-Out or the Ruthless Realm of 'irl'?

Saturday, 16 July 2016


I've decided to revisit a story I started a few years ago, which is basically a love-letter to my younger self, at least to begin with. The simple dreams of youth, the wanting to be good at things, and thinking that being great academically could get me into a great university and somehow put my life on a track that would mean I'd end up doing all the things I wanted. A job doing things I was interested in, mixing with people who inspired me, being successful, etc etc.

I started it as a way to try to sort my life out. To somehow correct the mistakes of the past by creating a story that fulfilled all those ideas that I ever wanted. That would somehow break down all those walls that made me feel like a failure and close the door on the past, while opening the path to the future. It could be a great story too, don't get me wrong. Sure it'd be a little potter like, but there were many versions of that type of story way before that behemoth graced fantasy literature.

But what I'm discovering as I write this story, is that something is really wrong inside me. I've always been hopeful and optimistic, while being rather cautious of investing myself into something. I liked to think of myself as a cynical idealist, expecting the worst but hoping for the best.

Now, however, I'm feeling something different. I'm realising that carefree, lighthearted, faithful me has long been warring with something else inside, that cascade of crushed dreams and expectations that have been swirling around inside me for a long time. And the older I get, the more my optimism peels away to reveal this morass of sadness eating away at me. I don't get excited for things, I don't invest in them any more. Sure you might say that's natural as we get older, we're no longer kids running around being amazed by everything.

But shouldn't we be? Isn't life amazing from 0 to 90? Or do we hit 21 and slowly have to step into this rote abyss where life becomes about working to gain the things we want. Money bringing material things, cars, houses, even relationships and spouses. Sure, we all need to eat, but what are any of those things to what we really want to do. What we really dream of.

Running faster than the wind, speaking to a million people at once and inspiring them, reaching for the stars, and beyond. Being able to giftwrap an idea and hand it to someone. Getting the world to stop, and just listen to each other, and realise there's a better way to do it all.

And somehow, I want to take my faith away for a moment and just look at what is left. To take out that parcel of sadness and not ask anything of myself, for that hasn't worked in some time, but to look at it and get angry again. To invest emotion into the thing that I most hate about myself, the only thing that has been standing in my way the last decade, the biggest part of me that deserves to be denied.

Because I'm not going to be a failure forever. That's not going to be my life. And if I can't get to a place where I finish the one thing that won't make me feel like that anymore, I'll try something else. And then I'll try something else. And then another thing. But it won't be too many, because that ball of faith is still going to be there. And that tells me this world was made for believers, believers in people, believers in themselves, believers in the world. Believers in life.

So I might be older now. No sweat. The real life is going to start now. I didn't do it while I was "young", fine. I'm going to do it better now that I'm older. Because I have more than half my life left and I'm going to get my money's worth.

I have faith.

Thursday, 28 April 2016


~ In an effort to prevent this becoming the blog of ultimate whining (the read version of the bog of eternal stench), I've rehauled this post. ~

Recently a friend of mine made a little post on why one should read a lot as well as write. I decided I didn't want to churn up her comment section with my thoughts, so instead I'll place them here.

I don't read a lot these days. That's not because I don't want to or don't have time to, I do. The main reason (other than I now have the attention span of a gnat on crack) is actually the same reason I write; what I want, how I want it, isn't out there.

Now I've read great books and amazing stories, I've even read things I feel are perfect and that I would hold up as an example of what I want to write. And while those writings are vastly superior to mine, they're still not done exactly as I would do them. They may be awe-inspiring and speak to the bones of my soul, but what I want from a book isn't all I want to write. The message, the heroes, the romance, the darkness, may all be in there in a way I dearly love, but the way I will write those same things will be different.

So why is that a reason why I don't read? Bluntly put, I reached the point where I needed to put what I wanted to read, out there.

That isn't to say I feel I've read enough, as I'm not very well read at all. Fantasy was always my genre and rarely anything else though, so when I started writing what I wanted, I also stopped reading a lot of it. I should branch out and enjoy other book types, but somehow I just don't end up doing that. I start something and then it just doesn't grab me, and I'm in the middle of at least three books right now, and have been for over a year.

I think I would like to read a good book, whatever it's about. The problem is, I'm just too lazy to find one ;)

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Steele & Butler (2)

Ashan returned after a moment, carrying a tray of still sizzling sausages and bacon, with hash browns and something else on the side. He laid the table, complete with a serviette across Jane's lap, and then stepped back. "Will ma'am be requiring anything else?" he asked.

Jane cut a piece of the sausage and popped it in her mouth, chewing slowly. "What are these, Ashan?" she asked, pointing her knife towards the something else.

 "Beans, ma'am," Ashan replied.

"I know they are beans, Ashan, why are they on my plate?"

Ashan tilted his head slightly up and to one side and then down again. Which, through long observation, Jane had learned was his version of a shrug. "I heard they were good for you, ma'am. I thought you might like to try them. Apparently, they are vegetables, a new discovery or so I've heard."

Jane gave the butler a long look. "I will try these beans, Ashan, on the condition that they do not appear on my plate again," she told him.

Ashan sighed ever so slightly. "Very well, ma'am," he said, adding under his breath, "perhaps the broccoli will suffice."

Jane gave him another long look and took another bite of the sausage, brushing the beans to one side. "Ashan," she said after a moment, "there is a young man leaning against the shop two doors opposite. Would you be so kind as to invite him into the lodge for me?"

Ashan's gaze swept to the window and beyond. "The one desperately trying not to enjoy himself?" he asked.

Ms Steele nodded. "That's the one."

Ashan straightened, a firm look coming into his eye. "Of course, ma'am. It would be my utmost pleasure," he said, and heading towards the foyer.

Jane's eyes returned to her food, and she ate with gusto, her novel tucked open under the rim of her plate. It was some time before Ashan returned and by then she was scraping the last of the beans away. The fork was half way to her mouth when she realised Ashan was standing by her shoulder. Resignedly, she ate the last mouthful, making a face for extra effect. "Well?"

"I've had him cooling his heels in the hall for just over ten minutes now, ma'am. Are you ready to receive him?" Ashan asked.

"Excellent. Yes, thank you Ashan," Jane said. She took a sip from her tea cup. "Please sit him down opposite me, if you would."

"Of course. I'll just be a moment," Ashan said with a short bow.
Ashan vanished and Jane's gaze returned to her novel. She read in silence, slowly turning the pages until a loud clink roused her back to the world. She looked up directly into the earnest eyes of the young man who had almost inadvertently marked himself as a target in a much larger game. He set down the spoon, an abashed look on his face and cleared his throat. “Ms Steele, I presume?”

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Steele & Butler (1)

The tray was sparkling silver in the slanted beams of the morning. Ms Steele watched it come out of the corner of her eye, even as she turned the page of her novel, perched in her chair by the window. It was a comfortable chair, and the spot was perfect for her needs, even as she relaxed in the sun of the mediterranean summer.

The tray made a light ringing as the cover was pulled away to expose two scones slathered in butter and jam, accompanied by a small teapot, two cups, and three segments of orange. Jane smiled to herself and reached out to snag a feg of the orange, her hand snaking past the stream of tea.

"And how are things today, Ashan?" she asked the butler as she bit down on the orange.

"Things are very well, ma'am. Thank you for asking. And you, ma'am? Any adventures on the cards for today?" Ashan laid the tray on the small side table, and offered Jane the plate of scones, the underside neatly cradled by a napkin.

"That's the thing with adventures, Ashan," Jane said with a twinkle in her eye, "you're rarely given time to schedule for them," Jane smiled and took the proferred plate, biting deeply into a scone.

"Very wise, ma'am, very wise," Ashan said with aplomb. "Anything else I can get you this morning, ma'am?"

Jane squinted at the man, trying to determine whether he was ready to crack or not, but his calm face - not dour, she told herself again - betrayed nary a hint of his thoughts. "The usual, but hold the eggs, please," she said, and as he turned away, added, "You will smile for me, Ashan."

"I am smiling, ma'am," Ashan said with no trace of sarcasm.

Jane smiled and returned her gaze to her book, peering above her glasses out of the window. Seven. She shook her head. What was the director up to this time?

The window looked out onto the thoroughfare of a small but bustling seaside town in the middle of nowhere on the continent. Quaint and mysterious stores lined the cobbles streets, and holiday makers and sunny faced denizens alike wandered amongst them chattering in a mixture of languages and smiles. There was no discrimination here, whether new or old, everyone was a friend or friendly, which is why the short haired youngster with the frown on his face stood out like a sore thumb. Jane was quite sure that he was unaware how many other agents were in the crowd, or he would be terrified.

Jane caught her lip between her teeth in momentary worry, her hand resting against her thigh reassuringly. She shook her head then, and dismissed it. The lodge was a bastion in these wilds, unspoken protection against all sorts of hidden and not so hidden dangers that lay in her line of work, and it was unyielding. She yawned and wiggled her toes inside her soft leather ankle-high boots, and took another bite of the scone. Well, it was none of her business, at least not yet. Eight. She grit her teeth on a bite as the youngster looked at her again. The rookie was going to get himself killed.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Learning to fall again

I never thought I'd be this person.

I had a dream last night. I dreamt of a girl, someone I remembered having dreamed of before. My dream girl, as it were, sparkling in delight at seeing me again.

And I was reserved. Inside I overflowed with joy at finding her again but outwardly I was cool, reserved, matter-of-fact. And I realised that I had doubts. I had fears. I was wondering if I was right or if she wasn't actually the one. My dream girl. Sure she wasn't perfect, and was perhaps a little inebriated and giddy, but she was everything I wanted. And as her bright eyes looked at me, I felt a surge of joy, and then promptly began avoiding her gaze, turning brusque and businesslike.

To her question of why I didn't find her, I replied that she could hardly expect me to find someone who disappears so suddenly. Dream me is a real square, apparently.

It gets better. In the throng of the underground bazaar, I lost her somewhere, only to find later that she is in a ring about to begin a bout. The doorman told me that if I went up there, I would have to fight too. That gave me pause and I clearly remember my sense of helplessness, wondering what I could do. It apparently being obvious to myself that I couldn't fight.

Bruised and bloody, she ends up in my arms, as I carry her looking for someone to bind her wounds. I'm sure she runs a finger along my cheek before she disappears again. The dream shifts, but it hardly matters any more...

I never thought I'd be like this. Someone too scared to love again, too scared to try because it might not be right again. Someone who is all duty and responsibility, and sheds passion and energy like they are a dark plague. Someone afraid to fight for what he loves.

I think I have become a little too restrained. Repressing my desires and passions, my excitement and naked frustration, getting used to disappointment and all the while smothering my flame.

This is not the person that flew half way around the world for love. This is not he who marries happy and ridiculous with thoughtful and serious. This is not him that believes. Who takes hope as his eternal spring.

This is not me.

I refuse.

Next time we're going to fly. And I'm going to fall...

Sunday, 14 February 2016

She who is

Storming as a thundercloud,
bitter smile to match,
shadow of the vaunted halls,
wake of ember and in ash

This is not your glory, no,
though fierce you oft may be,
huntress with a heart of gold,
that they will never see

Stirred chaos is no home to you,
some day will surely show,
the light that flares beneath the skin,
in burning afterglow

One day you'll blossom, screaming skald,
as every secret does,
and on that day know then as now,
that you are my beloved.


So the original version of this was quite different (or rather the final original), but I thought I'd include it anyway. A little more prosaic perhaps (and certainly less prophetic!), but although the end turned to romance it was more about seeing beneath the skin of a regular person and...wanting to tell them that they are seen.

Stalking like a thundercloud,
your scowl schooled to match,
you storm along the corridors,
cleaning up all the ash

But that is not your story, no,
though quiet you seem to be,
a huntress with a heart of gold,
is what they fail to see

For what you do is not all you are,
as some day will surely show,
the light that shines beneath the skin,
and leaves you all aglow

One day you'll blossom, pale and proud,
as every lady does,
and on that day know then as now,
that you will have my love.