Saturday State of the Author – October ’17

Stuffy. I got a double gift of a head cold and allergies attacking nearly simultaneously. I don’t recommend the combination. However, the generic fluticazone I can recommend. I like being able to tie my shoes without having to lean against the wall and lift shoe and foot to waist height before tying. I’m allergic to mold, some grasses, possibly ragweed, and paperwork. To my knowledge there is no effective treatment for paperwork allergies. Continue reading


Saturday Snippet

I thought I’d finished writing about Rigi and Co. I thought four books was enough. No. A short-story ambushed me during rehearsal last week. Here’s a tiny tidbit. It does contain two spoilers, so I’ll put it below the fold.

What happened to launch a story-attack was a song. The chorus is singing a choral arrangement of “Ashokan Farewell.” I had always thought this was a folk-song, but it was composed by Jay Unger for Ken Burns’s The Civil War. A few years later words were written for it. Ashokan, New York, was a small town that is now under the Ashokan Reservoir and that is near where the composer has a music camp. In the choral version it is pronounced “Ash OH ken.” It certainly has an American folk-music feel to it, with Southern Harmony/Sacred Harp harmonies in many instrumental versions I’ve heard.

We’ve been battling the notes thus far, and last week was the first time I really had enough brain free to follow the lyrics as well as the notes. Alas. My mind’s eye promptly locked onto a couple dancing to the tune. The couple was Aunt Kay and Uncle Eb. And story ensued.

I couldn’t find an adult choir recording. The lyrics really call for mature voices, not young ones, but that’s purely my opinion. Again, spoiler below the fold.

Continue reading

Friday Fiction: Of Merchant and Magic Part 15

In which Actions have Consequences, albeit perhaps not as dramatic as some.

Chapter Fifteen: Rumors of War

“King Sanchohaakon, or as some are calling him King Josya, will not be happy,” Sabo observed the evening the market ended. At his grace’s request, Tycho, Master Sabo, and the archpriest dined together at his grace’s table. Duke Malnaan would have been there, but he’d come down with a “stomach ailment,” as his man delicately phrased it. However, he insisted that the planned evening continue even without his presence.

Tycho winced at the disrespectful name. Josyas ate anything they could find, and pissed on it afterwards so whatever they did not want would be ruined for other animals. If they got into a cupboard or grain bin, they could ruin every bite of food before the householder knew they were there. Tycho sipped chilled fruit juice and wondered when he’d stop smelling vinegar and bad coin. The combined stench had haunted him since the council meeting. Continue reading

Friday Fiction: Of Merchant and Magic part 14

In Which Tycho Observes the Importance of Oaths Kept and Oaths Broken…

Chapter Fourteen: Donwah’s Son


Tycho found a slop bucket in one corner, but no cot or other furnishing. Time passed and he napped, prayed, and grew thirsty and hungry. His tongue felt fuzzy and dry. His stomach grumbled. The ache in his shoulder and arm made him flinch when he moved the arm too much. He could bend and move it, but extending it straight out in front of him brought tears to his eyes. How was he going to show the hides if he couldn’t reach forward?

Had the duke claimed his hides? Tycho froze, cold sweat breaking out all over, heart pounding again. Was it all a false accusation to claim his wares? The counts of Sinmartin had done that, two generations ago, falsely accusing traders of blasphemy and then claiming their goods. No. The duke did not seem like that kind of man. But looks deceived. Tycho closed his eyes, not that it made any difference in the darkness of the cell, and recounted his meeting with the duke and his sale. Nothing in the memory hinted that Duke Malnaan was that kind of man. But what if he’d been pledged to the Scavenger despite his high station of birth? Could that even happen? Why not? The gods claimed who they claimed, and Tycho had been born for Maarsdam but marked by Donwah, so who was he to say?

Tycho had no idea how much time passed before the door opened. He was light-headed with thirst and hunger when he heard footsteps, the door bar scraping, and keys. He got onto all fours, and managed to stagger to his feet, leaning on the wall for balance. He did not care to have the guards rip his shoulder out of its socket pulling him off the floor. The door opened and someone stormed in, carrying a torch. Two other soldiers followed, grabbed him, shackled his hands behind his back and half-dragged him out the door, never saying a word. They hauled Tycho back to the main room, then forced him to his knees in front of a veiled woman, Master Sabo, and a black-masked priest. Continue reading

Friday Fiction: Of Merchant and Magic Part 13

Our hero lands in a wee bit of difficulty.

 Mage or Merchant?


Tycho felt a small pang as he pressed his seal into the weigh-seal on the first bundle of hides. The others saw the shimmer as the set-spell worked, confirming that he was Tycho Rhonarida and a true son of Rhonari, but there was no weigh-mage to affirm that the scales had not been tampered with. No notary-mage waited around the corner to test documents or to draw them up. No preservation-mage could spell-seal Tycho’s goods for their buyer if they were taken on the road. How were the mages’ families faring? Probably not well.

Strong men heaved the bundle off the scale and the next bundle onto it. Tycho had looked at the list of booths and had found his, not far from the weigh-house. However, it was only three down from where the food sellers began, and he foresaw trouble for his self-control if the wind came from that direction. He would allow himself one fried thing per six days. And those required coin payment. The meals at his inn had already been paid for, he reminded himself. Continue reading

Friday Fiction: Of Merchant and Magic Part 12

In Which our Hero Learns More About Coins and the Locals. And makes an enemy.

 Troubled Markets


Tycho stopped in the market to get something to eat and to watch and see how things were arranged. The next large market, not quite a fair, would begin in four days, and he wanted a feel of the place before he set to work. He bought toasted cheese on bread and stood in the shade of the weigh building to eat, then strolled between the tables, looking at the fruit and breads and some local weavings and wood-carvings. Nothing caught his eye, at least, not until the man he’d heard at the inn raised his voice.

“What do you mean four liamb to the frein? That’s good silver coin, not the debased garbage from the north.” Tycho was not the only man who drifted closer to the sound of an argument.

“His grace sets the rates in consultation with the smiths, sir, and it is four liamb to the frein.” The man, a fine cobbler by the looks of his wares, stuck his lower jaw out. “This quality leather is at least ten frein per hide if I can find one good enough, so the shoes cost in proportion.”

“Leather is leather, and shoes cost ten liamb when I buy them.”

Tycho got a better look at the man’s boots and decided that either he was lying or hides fell from the skies in Liambruu. He wagered on lying.

So did the cobbler. “Then show a payment page and speak to the priest of Yoorst and the market master if you believe these are too high. I charge cost plus a living, like any honest man.”

“How dare you claim honesty? May Maarsdam strike you for lying.”

The cobbler stood up, looked past the obnoxious noble, and pointed to Tycho. “You! Merchant! You are of Maarsdam, are you not?”

Tycho lifted his staff. “I am a merchant and follower of Maarsdam of Rhonari, yes.”

“What say Maarsdam’s priests about just price?” Continue reading

Friday Fiction: Of Merchant and Magic Part 11

Things start going downhill for Tycho, and for once this is good news. Other news is . . . possibly not so good.

Chapter 11: Claims and Coins


“I recognize it. The armor, not the other bits,” the town guard leader snorted. “Silman Rat-gut, or at least that’s what we called him. Son of someone in the duke’s court. Got himself disinherited and then declared out law at least once, did some bully work for the duke’s younger son before the son lost a race with a horn-tusker. He won’t be missed.”

That made Tycho feel much better. The grain merchants were also happy, because the priestess on duty at Gember’s temple had a scribe write out affirmations that most of what they carried was not leb-grain. “We don’t eat much wheat here,” she explained. “Some of our people came from the east, and they vowed not to eat wheat for some reason. Their children follow the same vow. We grow more barka and hairy oats.” She’d written out several pages for the traders.

The guard leader continued, “I’ll keep my ears open for anyone missing relatives. The only other one that sounds familiar might be Nobuk from the farm the other side of the big ponds, but a lot of men have dark hair, square faces, and bad teeth. Any scars or other marks on him?”

“Not that I noticed, and none of them were wearing fancy clothes. We left their boots with them.” Hardrad said.

“Thank you. I don’t want them haunting someone. Although they’d probably foul that up as badly as they fouled up the attack on you.” He did not sound impressed, and shook his head. “I could have done a better job with a group of temple novices of Moha the Blind.” Continue reading