Thursday, June 30, 2016

After Brexit

Brexit good for markets

Tesla Auto-Fatal

Dead Eggs

TG troops allowed to serve

From BLCKGRD

BLCKDGRD: The World of Matter Received Its Shape from Diabolic Power, or: Born One-Hundred Five Years Ago Today

THEODICY

Czeslaw Milosz

No, it won’t do, my sweet theologians.
Desire will not save the morality of God.
If he created beings able to choose between good and evil,
And they chose, and the world lies in iniquity,
Nevertheless, there is pain, and the undeserved torture of creatures,
Which would find its explanation only by assuming
The existence of an archetypal Paradise
And a pre-human downfall so grave
That the world of matter received its shape from diabolic power.  

Teachout Leads

The Silent Sphere -17


vi

What the observers saw when in the center of crater was a spire of black sand that struck upwards from the ground, rising nearly as high as the walls of the crater, and smoothly curving in a concave arc to a top. On that top was their ship, only not the battered and bedraggled shape that they had last seen, but, instead, shining and pristine.

Gradually the travelers arrived at the base of this spire, and found there a rope ladder of braided hemp, which led upward to the vessel. It waggled in the breeze, swaying from side to side in segments. The climb was not arduous, because the bottom was weighted down with lead plumbs of great mass that had sunk into the sand. Once over the top, they found upper deck spotlessly clean and in order.

All of this was amazing enough, but understandable, after a fashion, given the origin of the craft in the first place. However, as amazing was who was there, dressed in blue silk, embroidered with circular key designs, was the princess, and wearing a scarlet velvet robe, with a black velvet three-cornered soft hat in the muffin style that drooped a quarter of the way over his head, was the Summoner, his face even more pointed than before.

“Greetings!” He was jocular and jovial. He almost seemed as if he were the spirit of the East, ready to bestow gifts from a gnome's bag. His smile was so broad, it barely fit on his face.

Jehanjir looked at him, and then simply embraced him.

“You will have to tell all, old friend, this was almost a treachery.”

“You know Eo and her spies, if I had breathed a word of it, it would have been the collapse of all our hopes.”

“You know that Albrecht guessed.”

“Of course he would, he's very clever, and studied under some who were even more clever still. But cunning alone is not enough. He sleeps below badly wounded. Once everyone has gathered, I will tell all of the story that I know, and some that I guess, and a bit that I fear. Then each must do so in turn, because we are the blind men around an elephant.”

“And you, I think, have what part?”

“That remains to be seen.”

When at last Morwethe and Higar arrived, though her godling was nowhere to be seen, they had all arrived, they were seated in a semi-circle on pillows covered with silk embroidered with fantastic birds out of varied epic poems, mostly of green, though some of red and sea blue backgrounds, with gold and silver threads. The Summoner cleared his throat and pointed to each in turn, who told their tale better or worse depending on talents for oration. He prompted with many questions, and then thought for some time. Then he gathered them again, and spoke in a formal but animated high voice, as if giving a lecture at university.

“It seems auspicious to begin from before the beginning. In our cosmos there are seven sons and seven sisters, seven suns, and seven spheres, plus the moons which are their daughters. For half an eon, they have twined and danced, met and mated, and schemed. No one could upset the order, and even all acting in concert had only specific powers. Since they could not receive worship directly, their power was limited to that which they could draw from their own physical manifestations. Hence little was done, and less was accomplished, though from time to time all seven sisters or all seven suns, could deny their favors on the others, and occasionally some egregious transgression or heinous act on the part of a godling would yield a disproportionate response.”

“However, there is another true God, that is one who can draw power from the fabric of the cosmos itself, he is the gatherer of souls, who taketh them to distant and diverse places on their departure from mortal life. The ferryman is known to all, and is not among the imprisoned. He has a cult, and draws power from its worship. As this is, he is a very god, and mightier than any of the 14. While the others are interested only in their attractions and slights, in their fancies and fantasies, he guides the cosmos forward, because it is the souls who are elevated to choice and sentience who are his cult, and thus his power.”

At this point Higar spoke, “So why does he not rule.” It did not come out sounding like a question.
“It is not his purpose, and while he is stronger than any one, he is not stronger than all in combination.”

“So it was, there were the 14, and the Ferryman to watch over them. Souls passed through the world, and so the shape of it grew. But as the souls grew in stature, so too did the godlings they worshipped, and these godlings, while adrift from the fabric of the cosmos and deaf to the music of the spheres, were more than capable of oft challenging the rule of the 14, at least in places, and at times. This has led to struggles between godlings, and such spirits as they could command, and true gods and goddesses. Each time the rebellions have been put down, though often with some enormous cost to the mortals who were unfortunate enough to be collateral damage. The last of these was not that long ago as such things are reckoned, there was a great pestilence that swept the worlds, and it was part of that war.”

“At first, when Korana went silent it was the belief that this was a rebellion, and the shrouds we see were the architecture of some godlings and spirits in alliance, attempting to seal Korana's physical influence, and cut her off from the other Gods and Goddess' in preparation for attack. So the 13 others decided to isolate the spheres in the orbit of Isir, the sun of winter, regardless of the cost to the mortals on and in the seven spheres”

“This much, I think, was explained before our departure. But there was a problem, and that is that Eo wished to hold both Jehanjir, and most especially myself, in her grasp. It was only partially clear to me why this was when all of this began, but now I think I can tell the tale.”

“As Albrecht surmised, Korana lives, and lives still. There is no rebellion against her in this sphere. As I was told before leaving, the Ferryman is denied this sphere, but it is not by some aggregate of spirits, but by Korana herself. Jehanjir analyzed the substance of the shadowlands, and found them a great reef of living creatures. Death cannot visit it, as he told you in person. That is how the reef grows: minor spirits incarnate as the crystal diatoms of it, and grow as a reef, trapped there in a life in death. Greater spirits incarnate as the denizens of its dark ecology. But death does not hold there, and so it is a region of torment.”

Albrecht had been in thought, “So if we could stand there, and summon death to it, the whole evil edifice would tumble and topple.”

“And provided you have no concern for the lives of all below it, that would be a simple solution, which we could effect in an instant. Assuming of course, Death turns not on you first. May I go on?”
The swordsman nodded.

“So the shadowlands are of Korana's intent, if not specifically her doing. I do not know all well enough, but I think some devilish process of alchemy is involved, and of such who could effect it, there are few. The shadowlands shroud Korana, and thus she is more and more immune from other influences. But this is only the start of her plan. It is plain she is gathering spirits and godlings to her banner, and uses the growing physical sustenance she has as a cudgel to control them.”
Jehanjir nodded, “Such a fool I was not to see it, of course.”

“So were we all. But she was not alone. Eo too wishes the same trick, if only in more subtle form. Hence her, binding affection may we call it? For you and I.”

“That's one phrase.”

“Eo, seeing the growth of Korana, hurled debris at her, threatening to start a war. She also informed the Ferryman of some of what she knew, though not all of it. And through his auspices, were we all dispatched to this place on this mission. She also has convinced the other 13 to call out the flies, and purge those godlings that will not rally to their banner. Thus Death himself, along with War, Famine, and Pestilence, have been sent hither to wage conflict against Korana and her forces. Their camp, as Morwethe and Higar found, is the white city, whose writing is in the language of the spirits.”
“So that is before the beginning magus, but not the beginning.” The princess was direct and matter of fact in this enunciation of what she saw as obvious truth.

“Yes, it is before the beginning. Of the beginning, it has been told in pieces and lived by all of you. Now let me supply the ending. Of course the ship was, as two of you guessed, a prison for my essence and body, which would be summoned back to this world by the appropriate means, namely the music of the sphere as it fell from a great height. I was reborn in side of it, and found the dragon scale which imprisoned Princess Si-yeona, and the swordsman, who was near upon death, or more accurately would have been dead if death could have caught us. So I sealed him in a magic circle and prepared for the impact, which was sharp, but no so sharp as to injure me, half in this world as I was. Once here, the energies released were enough for me to complete the transference from out of the everywhere, and into the here.”

“Once this accomplished, I reconstituted the ship herself, by summoning her true shape.”

“Where was this from?”

“Oh, in the mind of Albrecht, he had as perfect a vision as any. It was not difficult, given how he was raptured in a dream, to call it forth from there.”

“Dreams are a place?” Asked Higar.

“Yes, dreamland is a place, and while it is a constantly shifting archipelago, all dreams are contained within it, and border each other's inlets and estuaries.”

“Oh. So you can summon things from dreams?”

“Some of them. May I go on?”

Higar nodded.

“So it took some searching, but I found the scale. It was no difficult matter to pour the princess out of it, and then provide her with some covering.”

“She was naked?” Higar intervened again.

The princess stiffened only slightly and the Summoner made pretense to ignore the question. Higar grinned broadly.

“After this, we tended a bit to Albrecht's wounds, and the princess cast a soft ward around us. It was then a matter of waiting.”

Niccolo spoke next: “We have a long delayed council of war to hold, and take inventory of our resources, and catalog of our foes. What say you, is our objective now to merely find a way to depart on this vessel, remade as it is, and inform the Ferryman of these affairs? Or is there more that we should spy upon?”

“We have more intelligence to acquire I am afraid.” noted Morwethe, “and I have a task here in any event.”

“Which is?”

“My God is lost here, I cannot sense him, and I know he has not been called to another sphere.”

“Why is that?”

“I am his only human communicant. He has no other worshippers than myself who could call him off a hostile sphere.”

“A pitiful poor godling!” came Higar's cry.

“His enthusiasms have been misplaced,” she volleyed back, “and need to be better directed.”
Niccolo stared around and asked the assembly, gazing each in the eye, “Are there any other personal missions that we need to know of?”

“None here.” Albrecht was direct.

“Not of mine.” Came the princess.

“I have nothing occulted from common view.”

“To get out alive.” Higar's voice was almost faint.

“We have to decide what is next, then.”

A different voice, a hissing voice, a dark voice, hissed.

“That is easy, so very easy. You must first answer to me.”

They turned and saw him, coalescing from a foul smoke, a tall man in white plates of ornate armor, his face, and his voice, from before.

“I am Death, and I would have a word with you.”

He pointed at the princess.

“Have your word, Lord Death.” Her voice was neither haughty, nor humble, neither fearful, nor feigning courage. Instead it was if she were passing a condiment at a feast, without care, without worry.

“There is a soul that should be mine, and it is you who put it out of reach.”

“Would you be willing to explain?”

“I am not.”

“And what is it you want?”

“A soul to replace the lost soul.”

Jehanjir looked at Albrecht, and then at the Summoner, he reasoned that there must be some explanation between all of them, but could not quite place all of the pieces together.

“Which soul?”

“The one that was hiding in the mouse.”

“Hiding in the mouse?”

“Yes, which you secreted out to the shadowlands.”

“I can't say I intended to secret anything of yours out.”

“But none-the-less, you did.”

Jehanjir poked the Summoner. The Summoner whispered back. “The ship is a portal, souls can incarnate there, because spontaneous generation is wrapped around it. The vegetive force is stronger there. Like a lens, if you will, or a fulcrum for it.” Jehanjir replied back “Just preter-born, or souls attempting to evade death?” The Summoner though t for a moment, “Both.”

Morwethe remembered seeing the princess toss a mouse overboard into the void. And went over to the two sages, and they explained what they had concluded, she filled in with the story of the mouse. Finally Higar and Albrecht were brought in on the whole secret, but mean while, the Princess continued to talk with Death as if she were discussing bolts of fabric at the marketplace.

“I do not think you have the might to strip my soul from my body.”

“True.”

“So If I say that I am sorry, and offer that as soon as the shrouds of Korana are broken, that you will have whatever souls you lack, and many more, so that therefore you may join us, would this be acceptable to you?”

“It is not. The breaking of the shrouds is not in any way, nor in any shape, nor in any manner, nor in any form, within my province.”

“I doubt that. So flagrant a violation of your office it is.”

“True, however I have no means to bargain with the powers I serve on that basis. If it is broken, it is by their will, if it remains, it is by their will. I must still perform my office regardless of the resolution of other circumstances.” There was a particular hiss on that last syllable.

The Summoner leaned over to Jehanjir. “I think someone wants us out of the way.” The astrologer whispered back. “Men are more oft killed by the balance than the sword.” The Summoner nodded, it was an old proverb.

“So if I dismiss you, what of it then. You cannot take me before my appointed time.”

“Ah but I could haunt you, and have the odor of death on you, and everything you touch. I could have food rot in your mouth, and all that is near to you come to its most painful demise. Then when your hour does come, I could assure that most vile and agonizing ends are visited upon you in order, until you will beg for my final caress. There are fates worse than death, and they will be waiting for you.”
The princess gave a short, serene, nod, as if she were allowing a musician to play on.

“I propose a game, then. Win, and I go, lose, and you accept that the burden of replacing this soul short is your own burden.”

“I think, nay.”

Jehanjir spoke up. “Would it help to raise the stakes?”

Death turned and glowered at Jehanjir.

“My predecessor warned me that you cheated him.”

“One must always cheat death, but it is also true, that Death cheats all mortals of days, hours, and minutes. I merely was more skilled at that time and place than the soul that held your office at that time. I must ask what became of him?”

“You do not have the words for the torment he endures.”

“I imagine you would be happy to teach me. But still, my offer stands. The throw would be for double the stakes. Win and the old error is erased, and the new one rectified before it could possibly be of great import."

Death looked back and forth.

“Choose your doom, but it is she,” he pointed at Si-yeona, “who plays.”

She wasted not a moment in saying “I accept.”

It was found in old manuscripts that all princess' of her realm studied, writing from the hand of sages who played with death for some stake or other, not always for life. From a commentary she remembered the advice that one should never play a game of words or wit with death, for he can always find one who is dying to steal the words from. A game of strategy is possible, but dangerous, in that while death is no great strategist, he knows every trick and cunning trap, and is relentless in exploiting any small advantage to his own ends, grinding all opposition to dust. Thus, advised the commentator, unless one is an expert at some particular game, it is best to play a game of chance, even though Death is lucky, and often brings misfortune to the other. Another commentator noted that Death would never be truly fair. In fact, he never was.

She looked. “Cards. There is a game that gamblers play, called 'Show,' I am sure you know it.”

“In its many forms, we would have to agree to the exact rules first.”

“That would be agreeable to me. I choose the version played on the port of BuYang, in the establishment known as the Monkey Puzzle.”

“And how would you have made such an acquaintance as that?”

“To recruit sailors for our fleet, we are best by wars, and no hovel or hole to humble to do a fair turn for a fair country.” She didn't mention that in playing for terms in the navy, she used her sorcery to confuse and bewilder her opponents.

“I warn you little one, your incantations and vibrations will have no effect on me, and might even rebound to affect you.”

“I need no spell. In fact, I would propose we lay a circle down, and play with in it.”

“I accept. One game, to 7, and nothing more. But not on this vessel.”

“Done, good lord Death.”

One by one the clambered down, and found a place on the black sand. Both Death and the Sorceress drew a circle and placed a bar across it. As they did so, it seemed that men and creatures began to gather from out of the air. Some became solid after swirling of sand, others seem to crawl up out of it. Some had the bodies of men, and the heads of beasts, others were man on top, and serpentine below. They began gurgling a horrible tumult as the cards were produced from Niccolo's robes and the wax seal cut.

Each shuffled, Death with one hand cutting and splicing together, the Princess with two hands, which were nimble but clearly not professional. Niccolo frowned, all good carte players he knew were either very good, or very bad with the shuffle. Albrecht was just behind and to the right, and raised an eyebrow, but decided that it must have first been from alchemy, he did not know that the first decks of cards were printed on TianXin a very long time before. At least, the first packs known among mortals of this cosmos. Higar was intently looking at the faces of the players, but neither betrayed any inner thoughts.

They cut for the deal, the princess scored a 5, but Death a 6, and chose to call first. The princess tapped the cards together, and three times shuffled them, She then let death cut the deck, which became the trump, a Jack of Swords, on guard with an elaborate battle sword. Death's mob hooted and howled. On huge flightless bird with a large face rolled its tongue out and began the clap.

One. Two. Three.

The princess was a practiced enough player to put her cartes face down and make her call.

“Bow.”

Death stared at a Jack, a three, and a four. Good enough to win, but not quite enough to demand to show. The hand scored 3, 6 for the pair against the table, minus 3 for the cards he held. The princess had a clutter of cards, none of any use, though two were of the same suit. This scored 2, 3 for the blaze, minus one. Death tossed the four, and picked up a 9. This improved his hand to 4. The princess tossed an off card, but picked up another of no more use. Death had one point waiting.

“Win.”

Again the clamor started.

One. Two. Three.

“Bow.”

She took precisely the same amount of time as before.

Both drew. Death picked up a 7 of diamonds, which did nothing for his hand. He stared, and set the cards down.

“Stop.”

Whether it was fortune or not, the Princess had drawn the missing third heart, and with a blaze 4,6,7 had a score of 5, which is a relatively strong hand. But Death had stopped, and lead two to null.
She passed the pack to her opponent, who shuffled three times, and let her cut for trump, it was the Queen of Swords, and in the rules of the Monkey Puzzle, “Calamity.” This meant that if a hand could be scored two ways, it was scored for the least, rather than the most points.

The princess stared at three hearts: the queen, the 9 and the 6. This scored 6 as a blaze, but because of calamity, 6 for the queens, minus 3 for the 6 and 9 meant 3. In Death's hand were two 8's of the black suits, and a 6 of clubs. This scored as 2 either way.

“Win.”

“Show.” Death knew he was weak, but also knew that there were not many cards under calamity that could improve his hand. Best to end her calling and take what pain there was. Si-yeona turned her cards up, and the result was as expected. Death lost 2, the Princess gained 2. And now it was 2 to null the other way. But with Death calling. He smiled a cold smile and watched the cut of the cards, it was a 7 of trumps. He drew a breath in, and let the divine forces flow through him. He would have his win.

He looked at the cards, and even onlookers could tell he recoiled at them. He had a pair of sevens, but also an ace of spades and a 6 of hearts. No matter how he scored it, it came out negative. He decided to simply call “Stop.”

“Monkey puzzle rules, stop costs one without play.”

“True.”

“Debt of one.”

She was relieved, her own hand scored only 2.

Death's cut revealed an 8 of hearts as trump, and he looked at his cards. It was the same unpleasant circumstance: a pair on the table, but a useless ace. Amidst the row of pounding, the princess called “Win.”

He snarled back “Bow.” He discarded the ace and caught a five of diamonds. Now he scored 2, better.

“Win.” She called at the same moment in the drumming.

“Bow.”

She had caught a King of Spades, thus giving her a run worth six, and minus 2 for her two. Four, a relatively strong hand. She had a score of two waiting, this would bring her to 4, closer to victory and five points ahead.

Death decided to go for a blaze, and caught a diamond Ace. This was powerful: 6.

“Stop.”

Death simply looked. Was she using some magick, or perhaps other device?

The cut for trump showed a 4 of Swords.

Death looked at his cards, a natural blaze for 7, an ace, a 10, and a 4, all of diamonds. The princesses hand was almost valueless, she waited.

“Win.”

One. Two. Three. Now the gathering men at arms were pounding pikes into the sand, and one minotaur fired off a hackbut into the air, letting a sulfurous air add itself to the mixture of acrid odor and excrement and blood.

“Bow.”

Death held, the princess drew, she had a blaze, but of low cards. The new card was a queen, off suit, which only made things worse.

“Win.”

One. Two. Three.

There were trumpet screeches, another shot was fired, and the rattling of armor was heard. Now it seemed that at least a hundred retainers were behind the pale rider.

“Bow.”

Death was closing the gap, with a good show on the next hand, he would be even, however, even before she drew her card, he said “Stop.”
Death 2, Si-yeona 3.

Death again called out for divine aid. He knew that 10 of the Gods and Goddess were behind them, and so he visualized having 10s fall like rain.

The new cards that the princess stared at were good, but not too good: with the King of Clubs as trump, she had the queen of clubs and the ten of that suit, for 7, minus two because she held the 6 of spades. 5. Good.

“Win.”

Death's cards held two tens, he knew this had promise, he bowed, and discarded at once again useless ace, believing that his benefactors had to have sent tens. The card was disaster for the princess: a jack of spades, reducing her hand to 5. But death had no succor, he picked up a small 3, and was still sitting on a weak hand.

“Win.”

A deep silence broke out. Death thought to demand to show, but waited, the ten would pay for all.
“Bow.”

The princess was now at five, if she stopped.

The next round of cards made no change for death, but the princess dropped the heavy jack, and found herself back with a hand worth five.

“Win.”

Death bowed almost immediately.

She stood at 6. He would have to make her show on the next pass, because it was for the game. And so he did. He looked at her cards, and realized the 10 he had been drawing for, was in her hand all along. The final score then, 8 for her, 1 for him. It was a humiliating defeat for the fell spirit.

The princess took up the cards and handed them to Niccolo, never taking her eyes off of Death.
“It is too bad we didn't play for stakes, I would have seven souls of you.”

But death sat dejected, his leg slid forward and he slouched. His followers grew almost as still as if they had been turned to stone, and many began crawling off, there was a hanging expectation in the air, like the doldrum before a storm. Gradually a buzzing noise was heard, it was from all directions. Flies began swirling around them, and those who were still living, or had flesh to bite, began swatting them away. They grew think like the fetid air of a poisoned swamp, the buzzing grew louder, and then grew more incessant and moving. There were still enough spaces to half way see that everything was running for cover, beast, corpse, or human. Many were jumping in the water. Only the princess sat calmly, not a single fly entering her half of the circle. She saw as the insects formed a mass and swarmed over Death, crawling, biting, taking off again. She thought she could see blood dripping from their legs and wings as they left. The figure grew thinner, and then fell over, like a tent without poles. Finally, after many minutes of watching them flow out of the remains of eye sockets and the spirit's mouth, the poured down into the ground and the took off in all directions.

Air was noiseless, even breath was stilled. The camp brigade simply stared dumbly, not even a skeleton was left, only the hollowed out armor sat there with the skull of the old spirit lolling on the ground as the sole remaining scrap of his manifestation. However, the crackle of power was still in the air, and gradually at first, and then with an increasing pace, bones began to fill in, and then flesh, and then skin, and finally a face. Instead of a thin pale white mane, there was a ruddy full cheeked warrior, his beard filled in, and became thick and black.

The astrologer whispered “A new death.” The Summoner merely smirked.

Then the new holder of the grim office bent down, scooped up the skull and held it aloft. The followers stood up and cheered a broad “Huzzah!” There was a vast din again as the beat and shot and shouted. Death stiffly moved his arm in a gesture for silence.

“My name is Death.” And he cackled, one eye blue, the other black. He bent back with gales of laughter, and then grew starkly composed again. He turned one eye towards the slender small figure of the sorceress. His voice was booming and deep, but with a high-pitched edge as he spoke in softer tones.

“I shall slay thee, mine enemy.”

“The game was fair.”

“Indeed, perfectly fair. And so are you, fair beyond compare. And so shall your meat be sold in the fair, to whoever has coins for it. I will make you my riddled whore, cursed to be rotting and rutting for ages.” He stuck out a long tongue like a serpents and it rolled in the air.

The Summoner drew back, no preter-born spirit was this, but a godling incarnated with the office of death.

“You shall not find me so easy a mark as the last of the spirits of passing. I shall not depart at other's whim.” He turned to his company, and again held the skull aloft. His banner bearer, an eagle beaked creature with metal feather on his torso, and goat's haunches, raised the black flag with the white rose. 

“We fly! Return to the city, and prepare for battle!” The sound of the voice rolled over the sand, raising a wind before it that caused small dust devils to burst into existence and then fade.

Spiraling down from above was a monster, it was on four legs, like a horse, but its feet were claws, and its body feathered. Its head was like a lion and dragon mixed together with a fur main and lion's snout, but four eyes and scales about them like a wyrm. Its tail had round balls with spikes on it, and they lashed back and forth, striking some of his minions, who lapped up each other's blood.

In a single motion he boarded it the moment it landed, and then he rode it up and led his army in the direction from which Higar and Morwethe had come. The hoard raised black dust behind them, and were soon obscured as they ran and clattered away.

In the aftermath of this exodus, the group stared from one to another. Finally Higar broke it, with a half serious, half-jest: “Perhaps we should have compromised, and given him the princess, the astrologer, and the mouse.”

Albrecht chuckled. “Yes, those are the sort of compromises that many seem to make in the face of death.”

“I still do not understand why he did not show and cut his losses.”

“Because they wanted him to lose,” Albrecht called back over his shoulder, “so they could replace him.” He looked at the princess and bowed low. “You are a great lady, and it is unimaginable that we should be so fortunate as to be graced with your presence, your highness.”

She smiled slightly, and tilted her head. Realizing that, while the attention might or might not be wanted, she had to do something.

“I could not have done it without you. He was cheating, we could all feel it.”

“Yes my lady, he was calling on the Gods and Goddess, and you were calling on me. And I, now as always, will be there, against which so every foes you set me against.”

“Give me a lock of your hair to remember you by.”

Albrecht took out a small dirk and cut a lock of his hair, without hesitation. This was a more brazen and foolish act than usual, because in the hands of an adept of sorcery, such things give great fuel to a spell.

Niccolo looked up at the restored vessel.

“She's a yar ship, will she take the cataract?”

The Summoner looked quizzically at him.

“Didn't you see what just happened, man? Great spheres! The old cards are thrown up in the air, and we have a world to win.” He jerked his thumb at the ship. “When the Gods are at war, the mortals have no sides. So let's have at it. Korana is the closest one to bleed some sense into.”

End of Book I
To Be Continued in The Dogs of War.


Conc... what was I saying?

I've Made the mess, but I certainly will not clean it up...Boris Johnson,