Archive: Output

The Death and Times of Halren of Durgol (Part Four)

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009
This is part 4 of 5 in the series The Death and Times of Halren of Durgol

If you missed parts one, two, or three be sure and go back and read them first.

The Death and Times of Halren of Durgol

Part Four

©2009 Jason Penney

Cabbage. The smell filled Halren’s nose. He gagged and began to cough.

“You’re going to be fine, son. Don’t try and move.”

Halren’s eyes opened. A pock-marked face stared back at him from much too close. The smell of the man’s breath almost caused him to faint.

Halren tried to back away, but couldn’t. “Can you…”

“What is it, son.”

“…step back a bit?”

The face smiled and floated away, upwards. Firelight danced across wooden beams. Halren realized he was lying down. He tried to sit up, but couldn’t. Ropes dug into his chest. “Why am I tied down?”

“I’m sorry, son. I wasn’t sure what to expect when you came round.”

What was happening? Halren tried to force his mind to make sense of what was going on, but it refused. “Where am I?”

“We feel terrible.” A woman’s voice. “We will have the driver flogged for you as soon as you feel up to watching it.”

“Who is that?” Halren’s eyes shot around the room. “Where am I?”

“Calm yourself, son.” Cabbage breath leaned over Halren again and whispered, “It’s Queen Rohna herself. There was a terrible accident. You’re lucky to be alive.”

“Alive? What do you mean?”

“It is a miracle,” said the queen. “We were coming to our great hall to hear from a potential new court musician, Halren of Durgol. We suppose that was… is you. Sorry about your instrument. Our silly coachman lost control of our horses. We thank the gods you have awakened. Our poor horses feel very bad about it indeed. We were sure you were dead.”

“I was dead.”

“No, son.” The man placed a firm hand on his shoulder. “Very nearly.”

“No. I was in Bolrinia. It was wonderful! I was just about to…” Halren remembered the queen, and trailed off.

“Just about to what?”, asked the queen.

“Pay him no mind, Your Highness. He’s probably suffering a brain fever.”

“No, I was dead. I saw the wraiths. I went to Bolrinia. I met Rystus. I met Valestra”

“Fascinating.” The queen’s voice betrayed no real emotion. Halren had heard people comment on it but only now did he understand. “You must tell us all about it. Our father is dead, you know. Poor Daddy.”

The memory of good King Amullon getting beyond intimate with Lynara came unbidden to his mind. “Yes.. uhm… I think I need to…”

“Your majesty, I think we should let him rest. He has been through quite an ordeal.”

“Very well, Malbar.” Halren heard no anger in her voice, but he saw fear in Malbar’s face. “We expect to hear all about it once he is feeling up to it. We’re very interested.”

Halren heard the queen move away. Others he hadn’t noticed before followed. From the clanking noises Halren assumed they were the queen’s guard.

Malbar bent over him to remove the restraints. “You won’t be needing these. I have some nice cabbage stew. You must be quite hungry after your ordeal.”

The thought of eating cabbage stew turned Halren’s stomach. “No, I ate quite a big meal at the buffet.”

“You’d better get some sleep, son.” Malbar covered Halren with a blanket.

“Thank you,” Halren said before he drifted off.


Halren awoke to hear Malbar talking to someone.

“Tell the queen that he will need some time to recover. He may not be right in the head. I recommend she not see him for at least a year.”

He shooed the man out.

“Why’d you do that?”, Halren asked.

Malbar hobbled over to Halren and smiled down at him. “Listen, son. I believe your story, but you want to be very careful about what you say.”

“What do you mean?”

“You say you were dead. You went to Bolrinia.” Malbar paused to scratch his chin. “Well, I’m sure you aren’t supposed to remember something like that, are you? Best keep it to yourself.”

“But the queen –“

“I may look dim, but I saw it in your eyes. There’s something you don’t want to tell the queen, isn’t there?”

Halren nodded. “I –“

“No.” Malbar’s hands shot up and covered his ears. “Don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.”

Halren nodded. “Help me up then.”

“You can’t be getting up so soon. You were dead just yesterday.”

“I feel fine now. I need to clear my head.”

Malbar shrugged and held out a hand. Halren grasped it and tried to rise. His body ached, but he didn’t feel trampled by horses. He tried to walk. Everything seemed to work.

He stepped outside and bumped into a thin man who seemed in quite a hurry to get in through the door. “Sorry.”

The man looked at him for a moment, then spoke. “Halren of Durgol?”

“Yes”

The man bowed. “The Queen concedes to Malbar’s expertise in this. Due to the inconvenience caused she will hold open the position of court balladeer until you return. Do you agree to these terms?”

“Look, I feel fine.”

The man stood there blinking for a moment, then repeated, “Do you agree to these terms?”

“I’d just say yes, if I was you,” called Malbar from inside.

Halren sighed. “Yes, of course.”

“Very good.” The messenger bowed, turned, and walked away.

A year? Why had Malbar interfered? Meddling old fool.


Halren tried to focus on the food smells and ignore the low murmurs filling the room. His clothing felt too tight. The lute began to slip in his sweaty hands.

“Come on, play us something new.”

Halren couldn’t see the speaker, but he sounded like a big man. A big man who might easily toss him across the room, or through the window. Ever since he returned from the afterlife his music seemed to be missing something. Half a year gone. How would he impress the queen if he couldn’t impress these simple folk? Things could get ugly if he didn’t hurry up and come up with–

“Something with a story,” someone called.

Yes. That was it. Halren placed the lute on his lap and wiped his hands on his chest to dry them. He picked the instrument up and gave a weak smile.

“This story,” he began, standing up, “is true.”

Halren strummed the lute and let the sweet sounds fill him. It drove all his fears away. Vivid memories flooded over him. His mouth opened and he sang the whole story. Starting with waking up in the red room, and ending with waking up to the smell of cabbage. It came to him on the spot without effort. He felt liberated to tell the entire tale for the first time. It didn’t matter that he told a room filled with strangers.

The song left him drained. Covered in sweat, he slumped back into the chair. When his eyes opened, faces stared back at him. Smiling faces. Halren rose to his feet and bowed. The crowd laughed and cheered.

Halren traveled from village to village testing the song for different audiences. He made minor adjustments, and kept a close eye on people’s reactions. He avoided cities. It wouldn’t do for the queen to catch wind of the song before his audition.

He tried to drop the verse about King Amullon and Lynara. He tried a number of different ways to avoid it, but it just didn’t work. The crowd somehow knew he had withheld something important.

On the nights he sang the entire song, it garnered reaction he never imagined. The death of King Amullon had been a national tragedy. Some said it had driven Princess Rohna mad, and from what Halren had seen of her it might be true. Night after night folks would come up in tears and thank him for helping them deal with their grief over the King’s death.

Tune in next week for the final installment!

The Death and Times of Halren of Durgol (Part Three)

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009
This is part 3 of 5 in the series The Death and Times of Halren of Durgol

If you missed parts one or two be sure and go back and read them first.

The Death and Times of Halren of Durgol

Part Three

©2009 Jason Penney

“Going up.”

“Oh, I don’t like this.”  Halren stood alone in a small glass room, which somehow levitated up along the wall.  He could now see the entire game floor, fading away below.  His stomach seemed to move at a different speed than the rest of his body.  He closed his eyes and groaned.  Perhaps he shouldn’t have eaten so much, or so fast.

A bell rang somewhere nearby and the little room eased to a stop.  “Floor of the turtle,” said the disembodied voice.

The door opened and Halren rushed out of the glass room, happy to return to solid ground.  He took in his surroundings.  He stood on a sort of suspended bridge that ran the length of Bolrinia’s outer wall.  He crept towards the inner edge.  Similar walkways ran along the same pathway both above and below.  He peered over the railing.  The gaming floor stood far below.

Halren imagined what it would be like to fall from this height.  The world around him began to spin.  He shoved himself away from the railing and sat on the floor and waited for the dizziness to pass.

Once he recovered, he walked along the outer wall, avoiding looking towards the center of Bolrinia.  Doors with numeric symbols lined the outer wall.  Halren looked for the symbols matching those on Valestra’s tarot.

When he found the room, a short purple skinned creature blocked his way.  The creature had long pointed ears and only a few thick black hairs on its head.  It wasn’t much larger than a child just learning to walk, but much less cute.  “Sorry, Pal.  Invitations only.”

“I have this.”  Halren held out the strange card.

The creature’s skin color changed to a pleasant blue.  “My apologies, sir.”  The creature bowed and stepped aside.  “Go right in.”

“Thank you.”  Halren tried the door handle.  It wouldn’t give.

“Put the key in the slot.”

Halren turned to look at the creature.  Now a pale green, it extended an empty hand and made as if to give something to Halren.

“What?”

The creature pointed at the door and repeated the gesture.  “The card.”

Halren examined the door until he noticed a slot just above the handle, similar to the one on the magical chest.  He shrugged and inserted the strange card and heard a click.  When he tried the handle again the door swung open.

Halren stepped into a long hallway with walls the light red of dawn sky, only harsher.  Where did such a color come from?

“Halren, come on in.”  Valestra’s voice came from somewhere down the hallway.

Halren walked towards the voice. “Hello?”

Halren thought he heard giggling.

He exhaled, relieved to hear someone else present.  He thought the signals he picked up from Valestra earlier could only mean one thing.  Of course she was not just any woman.  She could have any mortal she wanted, or any of the gods.

“Come on, Halren.  We’re waiting for you.”

More giggles, louder now.  Halren increased his pace and tried to ignore the many paintings of beautiful people in various stages of undress that lined the walls.

At the end of the hallway Halren turned the corner and stopped dead.  The room was impossibly huge.  The high ceilings rose up at least two more stories.  Two rows of white columns ran the length of the room.   It seemed somehow familiar.  Had he been here before?  Then it came to him.  This room was the twin to Valestra’s great temple in the capital.

A sea of people filled the room.  Naked people.  Naked people doing things he had only ever heard about in late night tavern brag sessions, and a few he had never even imagined.  Not just mortals.  Some glowed.  Immortals, scattered throughout the crowd.  Halren heard tales of unions between gods and mortals, but he never imagined anything like this.

And there… Could it be?  There, entwined with Lynara, the goddess of sorrow, lay old King Amullon.  Tears streamed down his smiling face as he…

Halren averted his eyes and they settled on Valestra.  She sat reclined atop the altar at the temple’s far end, naked except for the strange glow all the immortals gave off.

“It took you long enough.”  Valestra gave Halren a wink.

Halren tried to speak but only managed to blink a few times.  He could use a stiff drink.

Valestra snapped her fingers.

Two tall, beautiful, but more than a little intimidating women flanked him.  One shoved a chalice filled with a glowing greenish liquid into his hand.  Halren hesitated only a moment and then gulped it down.  It tasted sweet, with a hint of fruit.

“Bring him here,” Valestra said.  An undertone of command snuck into her sweet voice.

Before Halren could react the two women led him through the crowd to the altar.  He didn’t resist.  Why would he?  Love herself wanted him.  How much better could Bolrinia get?

The two women stopped just before the altar and began to remove Halren’s clothing.  When they finished, they melted away into the crowd.  Halren looked into Valestra’s eyes.  He no longer felt anxious.  Whatever they had given him to drink must have boosted his confidence.

“Well, I see you’re not shy.”  Valestra beckoned to him with her index finger.

Halren smiled, and stepped forward.  This truly was paradise.  Dying was the greatest thing to ever happen in his life.  Behind him the room went silent.  Valestra’s eyes widened as he leaned over her.

She frowned, and Halren noticed she was looking past him.  Now what?  He turned.  A bleached white skull grinned back at him, barely a hair’s breadth away.  Halren fell off the altar in surprise.  He rolled on his back and stared up at the red-robed figure.  Nenus, the third escort.

Nenus grabbed for him, but Halren slid away from his grasp.

“No need to be so rash.  Can I just grab my clothes?  They’re around here somewhere.”

Nenus’ cold hands were on him now.  The wraith tossed him over his shoulder.  Halren’s vision began to swim.  He saw Valestra pouting like a spoiled child just told she couldn’t wear the Queen’s crown.  Then everything faded into nothingness.

Tune in next week for another installment.

The Death and Times of Halren of Durgol (Part Two)

Thursday, August 6th, 2009
This is part 2 of 5 in the series The Death and Times of Halren of Durgol

If you missed part one be sure and go back and read it now.

The Death and Times of Halren of Durgol

Part Two

©2009 Jason Penney

“Hey buddy. You thirsty?”

The speaker stood easily two heads taller than Halran. He wore a suit of black leather armor with a sword hanging from his belt so large Halren doubted he could lift it. The sheen of sweat on his bald head and tree-like arms gave off a faint blue glow. It could only be Rystus, the god of war.

The god again pushed the stein in his direction. “Hello? Anyone home in there?”

“Yes, hello. Sorry, sir.” Halren cringed. “Uhm, Your Highness? Your Holiness? Your… uhm.” He tried not to panic.

Rystus laughed and the room seemed to shake with him. The laugh, while not exactly good natured, contained no malice. “Lighten up, Halren. You’re among friends here. It’s all good.”

Halren just nodded. He had no idea what Rystus meant, but he knew better than to disagree with a god. He accepted the offered drink and sipped. Strong, but not bad. He gulped the rest down.

Rystus laughed. “There you go.” The god slapped Halren on the back, knocking him to his knees. Rystus took the empty stein and helped Halren up. He placed something else in Halren’s hand. “You’ll need this.”

Halren waved in thanks, fighting back tears.

“I’ll see you around.”

Halren examined the tarot Rystus had given him. It wasn’t a card he recognized. The face showed a detailed image of a smiling bard. Strong chin. Perfect hair. Intelligent gleam in the eyes. It could be Halren himself. Perhaps it was. It would take some time for his understanding of what was or was not possible to catch up with his new surroundings.

No one ever told him death would be like this. He entered Bolrinia proper and found it to be a great open space, teeming with people. He walked among them, watching them. Most sat around tables apparently betting on games of some kind. He recognized a few, but most he could not place. Many seemed to be based on chance, or perhaps supernatural abilities.

The landscape shifted and he found himself walking aisle after aisle of what appeared to be small magical shrines. People sat before them giving offerings of coin. The shrines would sing and sparkle while the petitioner prayed before them. He saw an elderly man’s prayer for great wealth answered. His shrine attempted to drown him in coins while he danced for joy.

Halren wanted to see it all, but he found himself lost more than once. He just couldn’t take in the sheer size of the place.

The enticing scent of cooked meat filled his nostrils and distracted him from the games. He had not noticed his hunger before, but now his stomach rumbled in anticipation. The smell seemed to be coming from a magical stairway descending through an opening in the floor.

Could it be a trick? He watched the endless supply of stairs form out of the floor and then walk down themselves. He could not see the bottom.

“Excuse me.”

Halren stood aside to let a jolly looking woman step on the top stair. It carried her down into the darkness. He waited. When no screams of torment emerged he decided to risk it.

He lowered one foot onto one of the stairs and felt his legs pulled apart without warning. He clutched the railing, intending to step back onto solid ground, but it also pulled him forward. No use fighting it.

The stairs deposited him into some sort of eatery. All manner of foods sat out on display. People here just walked up and took what they wanted, filling plate after plate. Could he just stroll in and start eating? He stepped toward the table but a large man with the head of a dog blocked his path.

“Aha,” Halren said.

“Aha?”

“I knew it. What happens now?”

“Sir, I just need two gold coins before I can let you enter the buffet” The dog-faced man scratched behind his left ear.

Buffet? “What does that get me exactly?”

“All you can eat, sir.”

“Oh… I don’t have any money on me.” He leaned in close and whispered, “I’m dead.”

“Imagine that. Did you arrive recently by any chance, sir?”

“Yes. I just–“

Dog-face waved for him to stop. “You should have some coin available to you via the Afterlife Tarot Mechanism.”

More gibberish. “The what?”

“Do you have your identity tarot on you, sir?”

“No, what’s…” Halren stopped and dug into his belt pouch. He pulled out the card he received from Rystus. “You mean this thing?”

“Yes. Just place it in the slot on that big wooden chest over there.” He pointed to a large worn chest near the entrance.

Halren walked over. The chest came up to his waist. He opened it and peered inside. Empty. He closed it and looked more closely. He slid the tarot card into a small slot just above the brass clasp. Something inside grabbed hold and pulled the card out of his grasp. Perfect. He peered into the slot hoping to see what type of creature lived inside, but it was too small and too dark. He opened the chest again.

Immediately he slammed it shut, keeping the latch from locking again with his thumb. He glanced over his shoulder at the dog-faced man.

“Everything all right, sir?”

Halren tried to smile. “Oh, yes. Just a moment.” Again Halren raised the lid. More coins than he could count glistened back at him. He reached in, grabbed a handful, and shoved them into his pouch. He let the lid fall shut and started back.

Dog-Face pointed at the chest. “Don’t forget your tarot, sir.”

Halren looked down and grabbed the card which was now sticking part-way out of the slot. He peeked into the chest again. Empty once more. Well, at least he had pocketed some extra.

He walked back to the dog-faced man and held out two coins. “Here you go.”

The man took them and then licked Halren’s outstretched hand. “Enjoy.”

Halren fought down the urge to wipe his hand on his sleeve and approached a long table covered with food. More food than he had seen in his too short lifetime. Total. He picked up a platter. Where to start?

“Don’t be shy.”

Halren looked up and fumbled the platter. The woman smiled at him and his heart melted. Halren immediately had the urge to write a song. An ode to this woman’s beauty. Her hair. Her eyes. Her smile. Her tiny little dress. The pale glow of her skin. A goddess! Not just any goddess. Valestra, goddess of love.

In his younger days Halren spent a good deal of time puzzling over the many images of Valestra. No two were the same. The color of her hair and eyes often differed, as did her build and height. Even with the differences, everyone knew they represented the same being. He never did find the common element that made it so obvious, but it was there.

Now here she stood, right before him, twirling her silky hair around her left index finger. Halren, aware he had been staring openly, turned back to the food.

“You know, you can have whatever you want here.” Valestra bit her lower lip. “See anything that appeals to you?”

Halren tried to respond but his mind refused. He could not remember the last time he felt nervous around a woman. Usually they seemed nervous around him. “Well, I uh… The food, you mean? I’ve never seen… I’m famished.” He grabbed a turkey leg and took a large bite.

Valestra gave a little pout and winked at Halren. “Well then, once you’ve had your fill here, come and find me.”

Halren nodded, chewing rapidly. His heart throbbed in his chest. Surely she heard it. “Oh. Yes.” He seemed to have forgotten how to speak in complete sentences. He managed to muster a “Good” before she pressed a finger to his lips.

“Enjoy your food.” She smiled and clasped his free hand. “I’ll be waiting.” She brushed up against him as she passed, sending a shiver up Halren’s spine. Halren watched the stairs carry her up until she disappeared from view.

He glanced down at his hand and saw another strange tarot card. This one with a turtle, and the symbols for forty and six. What was this for? He shrugged and stored it with the other card.

Tune in next week for another installment.

The Death and Times of Halren of Durgol (Part One)

Friday, July 31st, 2009
This is part 1 of 5 in the series The Death and Times of Halren of Durgol

The Death and Times of Halren of Durgol

Part One

©2009 Jason Penney

Halren pushed up onto his hands and knees and spit dirt onto the red stone floor.  Where was he?  Where was his lute? He tried to remember if he had been celebrating the night before, or perhaps drowning his sorrows.

He got to his feet and brushed red dust from his leather tunic.  Two robed figures stood before him in silence.  “Excuse me sirs, but would you mind telling me where I am exactly?  I can’t seem to recall how I got here.”

No answer.

He looked from one figure to the other.  The one on the left wore a snow white cloak, while the one on the right wore darkest black.  The robes stood out in sharp contrast to the deep red of the rock cave walls.

Wait.

Black, white, and red.  Why did that remind him of something?  They were the colors of… “Oh no.”

He spun around looking for a way out of the cave.  Solid rock surrounded them on all sides.  Halren stepped closer to the two figures and examined their pale faces.  “I’m dead, aren’t I?”

Again no answer.  Still, Halren felt pretty confident in his assessment.  Where else would he see two living skeletons dressed in these colors?  The escorts to beyond, just as he had always pictured them.

Well, two of them anyway.  Ithus the White and Sythus the Black stood staring directly at him.  At least it felt like they were.  Could they even see?  If empty eye sockets in skull faces could stare, they were doing it now.

Ithus raised his right arm and the loose white sleeve slid away to reveal a bony fist, palm side up.  A single finger extended and then curled upwards, beckoning.

Halren pointed to himself.  “Me?”

Sythus nodded, just once and with great deliberation.  The wraiths parted like curtains and revealed a rickety wooden cart.  Halren’s father used a similar cart to bring crops, and sometimes Halren, in from the field.  He could almost see the old man now, walking beside their old donkey, Maggs, trying to convince Halren the road to a good life was paved with hard work.

“You don’t just ask the gods to give you the life you want.  You have to earn it.”

“You could get a priest to ask the gods for you.”

His father stopped the cart, reached up, and pulled him bodily onto the road.

“What was that for?”, Halren asked the back of his father.

The man continued to lead the cart back to their little house.  “Because there’s no such thing as a free ride.  It’s time you learn that.”

The cart before him now had no donkey.  Instead Halren saw two strange devices unlike anything he had ever laid eyes on before.  Each had a small platform suspended between two large wheels.  A post jutted up and out in front, with a cross-bar on top for handles.

Were these the escorts’ mystical steeds?  Every depiction he ever encountered showed them as some sort of horses, usually rather large horses, not these…  whatever these things were.  What else did the legends have wrong?

“All right, no need to push.”  They hadn’t moved, yet Halren felt the escorts’ impatience urging him forward like invisible hands. They wanted him in the cart.  Now.

He obeyed and climbed in. “Where are we going?”

Sythus and Ithus approached their steeds and each stepped onto the platforms between the wheels.  They leaned forward in unison and, with a faint hum, the wheels began to turn.  The cart creaked from the strain and lurched forward.

They picked up speed heading directly towards a wall of red stone.  Halren braced himself against the rear of the cart.  Could he still feel pain?  “Uh, my good fellows…  I suppose I shouldn’t be concerned about it, being dead and all, but aren’t we going to crash?”

His escorts each waved an arm at the wall.  Blue and white lights danced across a large section, dissolving it into nothingness as the cart rumbled through.  Halren slumped to the floor, breathing heavily.

Just when things finally started going his way he had to end up dead.  It just wasn’t fair.

Life’s not fair.  That’s what his father replied any time he complained about things not going to plan.  Perhaps the old man had been right.  Halren took a deep breath and sighed.

His eyes began to water and his nose filled with a burning smell.  He slid himself over to the edge of the cart and peered at the road below.  Fire.  He looked down at cart.  Wood.  He reached over the side and let a single finger touch the metal band on the wheel.  He snapped his hand away with a yelp.

Two questions answered:  the road was on fire, and he could still feel pain.

“Are you sure we’re going in the right direction?  Surely this is Dramol Way, the flaming road to Kathadra.”  Halren had no longing to visit the city of eternal torture.  “Shouldn’t you be taking me to Bolrinia?”

No reply.

“All right.  I get it.  I should never have pushed the priest to intercede for me.”  Halren paused.  He decided to leave out the part where he questioned if the gods had the power to grant his request.

“I paid the rather hefty ‘donation’ he demanded.”  Halren moved to the front of the car and leaned towards Ithus and Sythus.  “Should he have done that?  I don’t think that’s right.  Am I to be punished for his actions?”

In the months since his encounter with that priest things really turned around for him.  He managed to gain an audience with the Queen, who happened to be looking for a new court balladeer.  His future looked bright as he watched the Queen’s coach ride across the courtyard towards the palace hall..

Then…

Then what?

Why couldn’t he remember?

Now this, traveling down the road on a one way trip to never-ending pain and torture.  Halren looked upwards.  “Well Dad, death isn’t fair either.  You happy?”

He turned back to the escorts.  “Look, I know I’ve been a bit of a pest, and I could have given a bit more at the temples now and again, but I’ve led a good life.  Boring, sure, but I never harmed anyone.  Isn’t there something I could do to change our destination?”

Sythus turned his cold white face towards Halren and shook his head.  He turned away again and pointed.  In the distance a tower-like structure rose up into the swirling purple sky.  Lights glistened and sparkled up its entire height and letters burned across the top.

Halren struggled to read the words.  His father insisted he learn to read, and it had come in handy.  These words he did not recognize, except one.  “Bolrinia?  That’s Bolrinia?”

The two figures nodded in unison without turning to face him.  Relief poured over him like rain.  Paradise.

Halren’s gaze remained affixed to the towering structure for the remainder of the long journey.  He always envisioned Bolrinia as a field or garden.  When he tried to remember any description in the scrolls, he couldn’t recall there actually being any.

None of the artistic impressions looked anything like this.  Its construction was unlike anything he had ever encountered.  It appeared to be made entirely out of solid black marble.  A long stairway led up from the road to a set of huge golden doors that danced with the light of the burning road.

His silent escorts leaned back and the cart came to an abrupt stop.  Ithus gestured for him to get out.  Halren leapt over the flames and onto the grand marble stairwell.

He waited for them to follow.  “Do I just go in?”

Sythus nodded and shooed him away like an insect.  The two wraiths exchanged a glance and then leaned forward and rode away on their strange humming mounts.  He felt certain they were laughing at him.

So what?  He stood just outside the gates of paradise.

A rush of energy surged through Halren, and he bounded up the stairs.  Maybe the dead didn’t get tired.  He could get used to this.

Check back next week for the next installment.

Coming Soon: Serialized Fiction

Friday, July 31st, 2009

I’ve decided to try and  experiment with serializing some fiction here on the site.  My first offering will be a stand-alone fantasy story set in the same world as Miracles, the novel I’m currently revising. If it goes over well it may become a regular thing.

The story will be posted in four or five segments, one each Friday.1 Enjoy!

  1. starting today at noon EDT []

“Miracles” Type-in Update (Late-July)

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009
type-in
56/108 scenes

Last week was pretty much a wash, at least until Friday and Saturday where I blew through two chapters. Since then I’ve been ensuring I get at least some progress every single day, which has had a remarkably positive effect on how I’m feeling overall.

The change in progress1 is probably a bit deceiving in that I had a few scenes that were combined, and few that were added, leaving me with one less scene total, and only six scenes further along, even though I know I actually revised more that that.

Enough about me. How’s everyone else’s writing going?

  1. On a technical note, if you’re reading these posts on http://jasonpenney.net/ directly, but are seeing it some other way, I’m testing an update to my ProgPress plug-in that should make the progress meter show up at the top of this post. I know it works in Google Reader, but if you’re using something else, I’d love to know if it’s working or not for you. []

Quick “Miracles” Type-in Update (Mid-July)

Friday, July 17th, 2009
type-in
50/109 scenes

Between work being crazy, computer issues, and lots of fun family summer day-trips, progress has continued at it’s rather glacial pace. I’m just shy of the halfway mark now, and I think I’ll have time this weekend to push things along.

Update: Looks like I’m working Saturday, so no I won’t push things along this weekend.

“Miracles” Type-in Update for May 19, 2009

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009
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30/109 scenes

Sorry for the lack of updates. Life continues to move at breakneck speed while the revisions continue at a more glacial pace. Yesterday I hit the pile of new, hand-written scenes, so there’s a lot more typing going on right now, which is actually a nice change of pace.

“Miracles” Type-in Update for May 2, 2009

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009
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24/109 scenes

A bit of a crazy week, but I pushed myself to make up some of the slack this morning, and like Cindy said, “progress is progress”.

“Miracles” Type-in Update for April 25, 2009

Saturday, April 25th, 2009
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18/109 scenes

Managed to make some progress every day this week, but not enough to post each day. Half the scenes since my last update were red ones1 so it’s been a bit slow going.

  1. meaning that they were either new, or substantially marked up []