Friday, September 27, 2013

Administration 2013 Post for Q3

As of this post, the Chronicles' third quarter is done and so is its story: The Treasure of the Iron Range. The fourth and final quarter begins a week from now and will run through the rest of 2013, ending on December 27th--the day after Boxing Day--and I will include an year-end Administration post around that time. The compilation of past serials remains a thing, but it's one thing to ensure that I have all of the files in one place and in usable condition, and another altogether to transform that into a volume of professional-grade prose that's actually worth someone's money. This requires skills and tools that I don't have, and that means bringing others into the project. Bringing others in means paying them, and that's something I don't have at this time- and no, I don't have the stroke to hit up Kickstarter or Indiegogo because there is no way in Hell I'm going that route without an ironclad business plan ready to go. I've seen what happens to those that don't, and I refuse to be That Guy.

The final serial for 2013 will be something that, for me, is experimental. You may not notice it at first, but I'm going to do something different with this story that I haven't done to date and if it works then I'm going to make it a standard practice. I'll spell it out in either the Q4 or the year-end Administration post. I'm going to switch away from zombies and the like for this story, but it's still a story of adventure and action; more details are spoilers, so you'll just have to wait to see what I'm up to.

The other things that I'm now considering is bringing other writers into the Chronicles, posting on days other than Friday, but otherwise serializing their stories on a weekly basis. The reason for this move is because I want to write another novel, and I would like more than just my own content on this blog for you folks to read and enjoy while I do that. I will have more to say at the end of the year.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Treasure of the Iron Range-12

“You expected otherwise?” Ken said as Gabriel walked into view from nowhere.

Gabriel approached, but Ken felt no fear. He tore off an ear and chewed on it.

“Oh no.” Gabriel said, “But you did surprise me with your earnest attitude. No whining, no moping, no ‘But I’ve got to do this boring old shit that I hate’ crap that I’m so used to sweeping away to get a monkey to do what I want.”

“Just needed a second opinion is all.” Ken said, cracking open the skull and getting at the brain, “Some super-powerful guy shows up out of nowhere, talks like something out of an old movie and has me wanting to screw over his buddy- and I’m supposed to just go with it? You’ll forgive me if I’m a wee bit skeptical.”

Gabriel clapped his hands and smiled. “It’s been a very, very long time since I found myself a monkey that finally got what’s going on.”

Ken finished chewing some brains. “I’ll take that as a compliment.”

Gabriel now got close to Ken. “Maybe the old man was right about your kind after all.”

“I figured that there was something you weren’t telling me about this.” Ken said, “That’s why I got that second opinion. Deeds don’t exist in vacuums, especially something that crosses streams like some dude using a European name and talking angels and demons wanting little old me to take on some ancient monster of a First Nations’ mythology. Once I got up to speed about this hunt you wanted me to do, I figured out that context.”

Gabriel took a seat across from Ken. “Go on. This should be amusing.”

Ken swallowed the eyes whole, one after the other. “I found it quite interesting that you’d send me against an ancient entity whose legendary prowess, and hunger, was so similar to my own. That’s when I recalled your words, that you still served loyally despite what you thought of Mankind, and put that together with something else I recalled from many years ago.”

“Which was?”

“The enemy can’t create, only imitate—only repurpose, rectify, remix—and therefore imitations can’t be better than the original.”

Gabriel nodded. “True, true. Go on.”

Ken finished the last of the soft bits, and now broke down the stripped skull into chip-sized bits. “I also recalled that you lot don’t reckon time as we do. ‘Wibbley-wobbley, timey-whimy’ as some of us call it, so I figured that the imitation and the original need not appear in the same place in linear time.”

“Go on. This is good.”

“This was a set-up alright, but not about me and the Necromancer. This is about the big picture, about long after I’m done here. I needed something that he had to complete myself, from your point of view.” Ken said, mixing the bone bits with some water and drinking it down, “And now, that’s done. By consuming Wendigo, I take on the curse and—because I’m the original—I fix it into a strong trait that makes myself into a subrrace that breeds true. I’m now, potentially, the father of a race of Men.”

Gabriel smiled, and took back his sword.

“Correct. Now, that wasn’t so bad, was it?”

“You’re still a dick, Gabby.”

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Treasure of the Iron Range-11

Ken smelled Wendigo’s foul essence as the cracks in the sarcophagus worsened, and soon became so palpable that he could taste it. He did not hesitate to attack, rushing it and thrusting Gabriel’s sword through one of the cracks. Within came a primal howl of pain, sending Wendigo into a frenzy that fueled his efforts to burst free of his prison. Knowing that his advantage soon would be gone Ken thrust the sword through more cracks, wounding his prey again and again before he had to fall back. As he got clear, the last blows from within shattered the sarcophagus- Wendigo was free.

The old demon, his long-dessicated corpse burning in places, locked eyes with Ken and saw that Ken wielded Gabriel’s sword. Words in a tongue long lost to time flew from Wendigo’s mouth as if they were hurled stones, but still both could not escape the similarity between them: both white as snow, both apex predators, both with inescapable drives and the means to satisfy them. Had Wendigo been fully in his power, as he was in life, only being a hirsute giant would meaningfully differentiate the two.

Ken and Wendigo now circled each other, like rival predators fighting over territory often do when they challenge each other, and both knew that this would not be a fight over status. This was for life itself, to true and eternal death, as neither would allow the other to survive. Despite similarities, Ken and Wendigo noticed fundamental and irreconcilable differences. All this they both knew without a doubt within a moment’s consideration, and that is why both of them pounced to attack.

Wendigo, still quite weak and already wounded, nonetheless struck hard against Ken and bloodied him bare-handed. Ken, once more filled with strength beyond previous expression, cut deep into Wendigo and flame licked at the wound. Wendigo picked up a club and used it against Ken, forcing him to block; Wendigo kept Ken on the back foot, slamming that club at him relentlessly, backing him up until Ken dodged an overhead blow while backed against the ruined sarcophagus and took off that hand.

Wendigo punched Ken and sent him reeling, giving the fiend time enough to pick up his severed hand and reattach it as it nothing happened, and then turning to cave in Ken’s skull with the club. Again Ken got out of the way, and this time Ken took off a leg at the knee. Wendigo fell over face-first, and this time Ken torched the severed limb, burning it to ash. Wendigo got up on his one remaining leg, but already Ken was upon him. First his arms, and then his other leg, got cut away and burned to ash in turn at Ken’s hands.

Wendigo howled, knowing what this meant for him. Desperation and defiance, mixed together into a horrific scream of pathetic tones, nearly deafened Ken as he stalked towards Wendigo’s limbless form. Off came Wendigo’s head, and Ken consumed its bits.

“Well done, monkey.”

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Treasure of the Iron Range-10

The next step, as Ken saw it, was to make his way into the mine. Down there were certain to be more of The Necromancer’s undead thralls, including the last of the more intelligent leader thralls. Ken knew that he was expected, and this would not be nearly so easy to execute as his antics on the surface. He expected that he would find a more dangerous opposition down there, one that needed no light or fresh air, and the constricted corridors of the old mine made his mobility moot. This time it was a fight of might, not maneuver.

Ken’s expectations got met on the way down. A far more aggressive response met him early, and Ken in turn demonstrated that he knew how to handle a longsword in confined quarters. Once he saw that the sword’s flames didn’t burn him, or that the blade didn’t cut him, Ken laughed long at the enemies before him. As their severed limbs and torsos caught fire and burnt to ash—some falling down the shaft, reduced to ash before impact—Ken heard the dull roar of more of them awaiting him below, and the laughter grew louder. He felt no fear.

Ken came out of the shaft swinging, cleaving through the undead and rotting flesh and burning them to ash before they could get a withered claw on him. Fury uncommonly expressed energized his form, and he continued to laugh at the absurdity as he hewed through the undead horde as if they were so many bales of hay. When the horde attempted to flank him, he quickly hewed his way out and then resumed the assault. They tried and failed multiple times, so at last the leader compelled their retreat and Ken eagerly pursued them- cutting them down without mercy.

As he reached the very bottom of the mine, where the thralls worked anew at long-dead veins to create underground a ritual space around which they unearthed a massive sarcophagus of silver that shown as if it were reflecting a full moon on a cloudless night. Before him now stood a great and large abomination that once was an ordinary man, now distorted into a caricature formerly seen only in the fiction of the Old World. On its face Ken felt the great presence of The Necromancer pushing down upon him like a giant bearing down on his very soul.

Ken drew the sword, blue-white flame flaring in The Necromancer’s presence, high over his head as he readied to strike. The Necromancer, directly possessing his amalgamated thrall-gestalt, did not waste words and charged Ken. Ken severed an arm, but still got spun about and tumbled off his line. As the severed flame burned to ash, a new one grew in its place. Ken, seeing how this would go, drew deep into his inner strength; with uncanny speed, Ken dodged the monster and severed limb after limb until he sliced the thrall down to no flesh at all.

The sarcophagus cracked.