Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Promises We Keep-Part 03

I was not then the man that I became after the Azure Flames. I did not possess the skill, the experience or the abilities that made me famous. However, I did possess much of the knowledge and the cunning necessary to succeed and that is what I put to work. I had a few friends amongst those very local authorities, and through them I found the records kept for the authorities’ attempt to bring the gang to account for its actions. I found in those records information concerning who the members of this gang—which, as I suspected, was part of a larger gang—were, where they lived and what they did with themselves. I also found that they were in a long-standing conflict with a rival gang, then known to exist all over the Old World: Hell’s Angels.

I took some time to copy the information, quietly and without notice, and took the copy home with me. There I continued to study that information, and I took care to study the pictures taken of the members of the Outlaws motorcycle gang that somehow escaped the doom intended for them by the authorities. These thieves and reavers of the Old World accrued wealth and power through using brutal violence to control the trade in goods and services that the Old World’s authorities claimed to disallow. The rival Hell’s Angels gang contested for control of the disallowed trade that the Outlaws controlled, and their struggles was a bloody and brutal one fought in the manner of a blood feud.

The idea came to me then and there that I could manipulate this conflict to achieve my end, but this idea was not without risk. I knew much of the ways of gangs such as the Outlaws and Hell’s Angels, but I did not possess much experience in dealing with them. The authorities approach to dealing with them was select one of them to pretend to be one of the gangs’ sort of people and go through the process of becoming an initiate to a gang, achieve full membership and then sabotage them from within until they are weak enough for another to conquer them from without- usually by the authorities’ hand. I knew, even then, that if I attempted to do as the authorities did then I would fail and be butchered like a hog to slaughter. I had to use another method to achieve my goal.

I knew that these two motorcycle gangs would resume their feuding ways readily, if provided with an excuse, so I decided to provide one. Being that both of these gangs operated in defiance of the authorities, and that both of these gangs operated in the open—they wore the symbols of their gang affiliation with pride—instead of wisely concealing their presences, all I needed to do would be to play out a very believable scenario. I would disguise myself as a member of one gang, stalk one of the other gang’s members and ambush him in a place where my disguised self would be readily seen. I would be certain to take the target’s “colors”—a supreme act of humiliation for these scum—and then display those colors in the clubhouse of the former gang. Once the latter gang saw the displayed colors of its targeted member, a gang war would inevitably result. The ensuing chaos would allow me to freely go amongst them and cull them as one culls deer from a herd.

Even then, I knew to keep the plan simple. Plans, good reader, never play out as one intends. The wise know that something will go wrong, or something unexpected will interfere, and therefore it is best to leave plans simple and flexible. When the complications come, a simple and flexible plan is far easier to adapt to changing conditions than complex or inflexible plans. To accomplish my objective, I needed a weapon, a suitable disguise and a few places to scout before I considered both my approach and my target. I intended to do this all in one fell swoop—that is, in one night, which was possible at that time despite the distances due to the many tools the Old World had for travel—and it was at this stage that I started what, in retrospect, was the step that would serve me well for the rest of my life.

I paused, walked away from my planning for the space of a meal, and then returned to it with the specific task of finding points of difficulty that could easily result in failure. The obvious points hit me immediately, in that merely knowing where the two gangs keep their clubhouses would mean that I could easily break into them. Neither would assaulting one nor escaping thereafter be that easy. I knew I needed help.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Promises We Keep-Part 02

Part One: A Cry in the Dark

Everything was very different in the Old World. Before the Azure Flames flooded the world and reduced it all to ashes and dust, the monsters that menaced the world were few in number and subtle in their affairs. Men routinely lived in cities so large that millions could be found dwelling there, and they did things so ephemeral because so few were needed to feed, clothe and house them all. It was a time when Man lost touch with Creation itself, lost in the splendor of a wealth so incredible as to be thought mythical to you that came after the Azure Flames. It was also a time when Man took so much of this for granted that they lost sight of their fortune, even the most wretched amongst them. Such perversity is, in part, why the Azure Flames seemed to me to be nothing less than divine retribution for such hubris.

I was a young man then. I loved a woman, a woman who—sadly—chose not to be my wife. Yet she and I remained close and intimate friends, and I swore to her that if she should ever have the need that should call upon me and I would answer. It became clear as we spent our youths and matured into what should have been the prime of our lives that this turned out to be best for both of us, for our lives diverged wildly.

She became a wife, married to a decent and patient man who made his living through fixing the power systems of homes and workshops, and a mother to three girls who promised carry on their mother’s legacy of sultry beauty. She also became crippled after she suffered a freak accident while traveling to a marketplace, making impossible her ability to do for herself. Meanwhile, I struggled to keep any work for longer than a year due to my inability to avoid speaking the truth and not work to the fullest of my capacity; I made others look like the failures of men that they were, and they took petty revenge by conspiring to have me removed- and the rules did not allow a man to defend himself as he should, by either cowing or killing them in an open fight. (So I did it covertly, and this development of cunning would serve me well later.)

I remind you, reader, that a man could not simply build a home and sustain himself in the ailing years of the Old World. Instead, he had to do work for others just to accrue the means to feed, clothe and shelter himself—usually, so did his wife, especially if they had children; my dear friend, as you can see, was in a most vulnerable position after her crippling—and those few that possessed the wealth acted as the petty men they were despite being the slave-masters of the world. The laws forbade that men settle their disputes as men were meant to, enforcing a form of false helplessness that coddled the weak and craven (who, naturally, groveled at and eagerly served the masters out of dependency as well as delusion)- not that I thought in those terms at the time. The Old World was a world gone mad with its own hubris that it could defy Nature and impose itself upon the law that makes the world work as if it were rules written for a game.

That revelation did not come when the Azure Flames flooded the world. It came a few years before. My dear friend’s husband crossed a gang of men known for their disdain for the law of this sick society and their love of self-powered, two-wheeled vehicles known as “motorcycles”. This gang called themselves “The Outlaws” and the people in charge took them quite seriously. These men found where my friend and her family dwelled, and they assaulted my friend and her family one night by surprise. By the time that the local masters responded, this gang slew her husband and children while leaving her in a state wishing that she too had died. The authorities took her to a hospital, and once she regained her wits and could stand to hear what she’d suffered she started to call to her remaining family. Her mother and brothers abandoned her, seeing this as divine punishment for her willful disobedience to her elders and their disapproval of her husband. Her late husband’s family likewise abandoned her, for they saw it as a judgment against him due to his own disdain for tradition.

Late one night, I received her call. I made haste for the hospital and stayed with her for as long as she could before fatigue overtook her. It was in this lengthy conversation that I learned—from her—all that I said immediately above. Yet her troubles had just begun.

She was severely injured, and while the hospitals of the Old World could (and did) perform such miracles that today cannot be believed without resorting to sorcery or other supernatural power it did not come without a price. This price quickly became impossible to bear, for the merchants that she (with her husband) struck a pact with to prepare for just this scenario broke the pact with spurious and false claims that she somehow violated the terms of the pact. She needed the hospital’s care, but was not able to repay the hospital for the care provided; if not for laws in place forbidding the denial of care that must be had, the hospital would have thrown her out to die.

Things would get worse for her. The home she had, after the authorities completed their use of it to find information above and beyond what she could provide, became the victim of another attack- this time by fire. This fire consumed the home, and all of her wealth, leaving her not only without her husband and children but also the home that she made with them and the wealth that they generated. No family, no friends (save me), no wealth and no support from the larger community left her bereft of anything but her hope in the authorities’ system of enforcement.

The authorities did, indeed, capture the Outlaws gang and bring them into this gang before a so-called “judge” and let a pair of smooth-talking advocates argue for and against whether or not the gang actually killed her family and destroyed her home. Due to the cunning and perversity of the advocate that the gang employed (no doubt by their own ill-gotten gains), the Outlaws successfully confused that fool of a judge and had him declare the Outlaws free wrong-doing. After successive appeals to higher levels of authority, this route ended when the penultimate level of judges declined to hear her appeal. With this action ended, all socially-allowed means for getting revenge closed their doors to my friend.

I sat that night in her hospital room, as she cried a deluge of tears in a mixture of frustration, rage and despair that masked her incredible pain of the body. She took me by the hand and looked at me with eyes so blue that the oceans seemed small by comparison. She said nothing—she did not need to—and I answered her with immortal words said by Solomon Kane: “Men will die for this.”

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Promises We Keep-Part 01


I am Ken, the father of that race of Men whom you know as my Sons, stalkers and slayers of all things foul and unnatural. By my hand, I write these words. I write these words, telling the story of my life, because I know too well that one’s freedom depends greatly upon the power to control the story of one’s life. As I write this, I am now a venerable man and soon to exhaust the last of my lawful allotment of time, yet my mind remains clear and sharp. So, before the mercy of a peaceful death comes, I write so that I ensure the fidelity of my story after I am gone.

I do not know who you are, reader. I cannot assume that you know who I am, nor can I assume that you are either a friend of my people or a foe. I can only assume that not only can you read what I write, but that you comprehend it and are able to enrich your life through appreciation of the meaning that my story imparts unto you. Therefore, all that I ask is that you read my story honestly and carry it with you honorably thereafter.

Even now, at the end of my days, the demands of my existence require long days away from a quiet place where I may channel my thoughts through a pen and record them like this. This is why I do not write lengthy tales, but instead write short and succinct stories of significant episodes. It reflects the reality of my existence after the Azure Flames flooded the land and reduced the Old World to ashes and dust. Therefore, I hope to live long enough to collect these tales together into a single tome so that my descendants—and other future generations—may benefit forever from the substance of my story.

With that said, I begin not with the most notable of the tales told about me, but something I have not revealed to anyone- not even the women I took as my wives, nor the children I sired by them. This is a tale of the life I led in the dying days of the Old World, before the Flames, when I had yet to become the iconic figure—the living legend—that I am now. Yet, as the wise amongst you shall see, my younger self held the defining trait of my people: we are defined by the promises we keep.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Administrivia: The Promises We Keep

"The Promises We Keep"

This is a serial intended to run until the end of April or the beginning of May, so about 15-16 weeks or so. Each segment is intended to be about 1000 words in length, and posted to this 'blog on a weekly basis on Thursday of that week. Posting times will vary according to the requirements of my Master's coursework, but keep in mind that I am in the Central (North American) Time Zone so calibrate your expectations accordingly.

The first installment will be posted on Thursday of next week.