Barbaric Splendor

Somewhere above him, sealed in revolving casks of flyweights lay the letters to the book, not the final book perhaps but the book with every secret of the lost land, and Xotl’s own people in their journey from Stygia and the mind blasting secrets they once strove to guard from outside raiders.

Lost without understanding, he could not understand their voices on the wind through the cacti forests. So he’d come here, to the proud keep on the heights, and found only this quartzine maze of the Founder.

The first mirror broke into fragments that rained upon him in his flight. Behind Xotl the Cold Man barreled on with its elongated snout and iron thews, the flat-footed charge of the steel beast ravened in a mechanical maniac way for the blood of the Xuchotlan. As the iron beast crashed closer, Xotl gripped the long knife he still carried and prayed to the Green Lady but no plan came to him.

As it careened forward showering the semi-barbaric tracker with biting shrapnel, he sprang from his hiding place in the manner of a desert mountain wolverine– now he found slight purchase on the smooth and machine tooled surface of the creature, but its grasping pincers were easier to avoid up close.

He knew he was chancing a worse pulping of his injured frame by wrapping up the creatures middle with his legs in a lock position as he strove to pry back the neck plate and expose the semi-organic nerves piping along to the sensors housed in its sleek skull– like a man caught on the charging buffalo with no steering but to hold to its mane he and the metal charger tore through the crumbling Halls of Science in a welter of rending shards and screaming visions of an ancient past brought into the roaring case of steel guarded modern product from the old craft of the counterfeiter.


Beyond the Outskirts III

He’d traveled far from the land of his fathers, and though loath to admit it by voice, he had not witnessed much by deed or rumor to bear up the notion that men were made better in their rule or treatment of other men by the sight of beautiful lands and skies– But then he could say little for their improvement close crowded withdrawal of all comforts and tender human graces within the walls of the mountain castle where the walls seemed to sweat the congealed tears of every miserable end they’d borne mute witness to in the days of the lotus.

He was roused from this meditation by the shout of a Wazri, quickly stifled by his compatriot with a swift slashing gesture of his thick muffled hand. Hark– the passage above, one of the doors is undone, if my ears do not lie…ah what is that? Xotl placed his ear to the marble floor, and though he struggled to hear it, with ears used to the free motion of horses and whirling prairie devils, he felt the bounding tread of some immense animal, carrying all the hooves and snorting fire of hell with it. Form a stout line with your backs to the pillar men, and don’t waver with those lances no matter what comes down that hall he shouted, rising to a flat platform the slightly overlooked the hall where they’d been sitting moments before.

The Seer’s fastness shut its shining doors on Xotl’s attack, blocking them within its square warrens. The three Wazri bounders held their stout claw braided pikes in a ready crouch, but they shook in their padded armor like with an ague of ancient plagues released from long sealed bottles. Xotl pried at the edges of the doors, he threw his granite trained muscles into the quartz barriers, hammering with the strength of a maddened crew at a sealed bulkhead.

Finally sinking to the floor , he found the last fight left was keep his head and eyeline from sinking to his bosom . he’d seen men allow their nerve to leak from their navels long before any enemy with sword or bow claimed them. He composed himself as he rested, counting the strange goldwork and gilt whorls that traced the remnants of a strange and ascetic kingdom that the Silver Seers transposed for their own obscure uses .

The devotion of the former inhabitants and presumed builders of the Seer’s fortress were seeming devotees of both refined reposes amid gardens and the most barbaric torments inflicted on a captured nobles of another tribe or band of tribes that the absconded builders once warred against.

These halls were built over something much older, crooned the Seer’s disembodied voice. The curtains pulsed in glowing colors, he and the Wazri felt less as a band of desperadoes in a trap than defenders on a lone redoubt, with howling peaks on one side and plummets to the far rocks below to the other. Over it all brooded the strange and evil stones from which the curtains, the narrow shelves and the grisly bowls and candleholders ran with a light that belonged in skies reddened like blood mad eyes.


Beyond the Outskirts II

The broad hall with carven scenes of hunting and journeys over strange mountains and fields ringed the close walls , brooding upon any entrants with a sense of the structure that must weigh above that cliff sealed crypt. It was unreachable from the narrow broken heights from which she’d descended with the Auxai before Xotl took the fighters to scout and try and breach the walled plateau.

Vlayna whirled and squared with a starshot of twin wavering flames that stole back into the dark. Like two burning brands cast into a well of pitch, they fled before the singing of her scabbard as her blade smote and singed some stray mist from the clammy broil of the apparition.

The air within that chamber was oppressive as a summer hothouse despite the fall air that moved the wavering grasses in the vast fields outside. She stared as the floor rose up in glittering panels and she heard the searing yet not unmirthful chatter in the voice that followed– you have a noble figure for one so foolhardy to interrupt my sanctity. I will diminish your presumed lack of station…

She felt torn backwards as if an abyss swallowed the sky in its passage, and her ego telescoped downward to hover above a zero point that yet still hummed and churned with the tormented conscioussness within.

Vlayna felt hurtled on vermillion stained and dusty byways of time, saw roiling eons in their turn and flew above the rise and muster of great legions and cities until the only beggars left were to take up new rags hewn from the raw cacti and yucca stem. Stragglers who armed themselves with such sparse timber from the deserts to face with fear-struck eyes the cold dawn above the scoured wastes as mute mirrors to their vanished ancestors.

Then like a mote in a star tumbled sky she rocketed back into the lush seat before the psychic minister. The air was dark but for the curtains which seemed to glow a pale greenish haze across from the single white painted table that sat between them, and before her the man whom she now knew no mistake was one of the Seers, sought by the fen beating hordes of the Auxai, chortled and grimaced in his delight at her bewilderment.

Now you won’t deny our masterful truth, like those wine sotted japes that call themselves the Meydin Hall of Science. I laugh at the Auxai outfielders as well, the stinking savages won’t accost me here.

Even as she wished to shrink from his merciless gloating and triumphal sneer, she raised her frame to the full and directed the now soaring ire of the river boat privateer and Captainess at her captor — You mottled and failed sooth and stoop haunter! You dare abduct a holder of the keys of the Gonzalin League? Whilst in the fulfillment of a disarming and call to stand before the infallible of this land?

When the Xuchotlan arrives here…she silenced her mouth but not her wrath as a fresh wave of mirth seized the Seer. It shook from his swaying stomach to his stout upper body. Under his silken and loose garments he resembled a water hog with the lower half of a bandy legged wagoneer, fresh from hauling his produce and swaggering on his cushion below the black and white fringed mirrors and the piercing light from a single brand that burnt above them and seemed to give more animate leap and gleam to the strange parodies of life that brooded from the shadows around the sorcerer.

When that devil hearted rouster gets here, I’ll subdue and slay him in my lair. Here, wench! I have complete rule and through you , the City Hall of the League will empty of all but the most supplicant to brush their noble pates upon the royal floors at my leave.


Cowboys and Lawmen in Ancient Plains

Uncouth and halting interactions with the desolate outside. Pressing gifts many threaded sleeves as the men wearing multi-colored patterns of vulture and warthog slapped trinkets and tobacco pouches furnished with strange devices towards the adventurer.

He gestured slowly, several leaf shaped daggers slid from woven sheaths. He did not reach down to the scabbard at his side, but looked at them like dogs in the morning mist. Then he tipped his hand with forefinger and the last cocked in the universal signal for the thirsty traveler. The man with his high head wraps with strange crosses of gold threaded shells gestured for a word, and Xotl stood back, letting him step ahead of him.

The entire band stared at them with eyes and faces bronzed by no sky traveled by wholesome sunlight. He resumed walking with the man slightly forward. He’d learnt the art of the river jargon and knew the best respect to show among war-like strangers was to give little opening for a short notice sortie. The older man pointed to his headwrap or dressing as Xotl observed with slight unease– they call me Once White Claw, see this ladder? I invented it.

They stepped under a wide framed arch that seemed a copper alloy . As they grew closer to its carvings it loomed as a large boulder splashed with marble carved and shaped to an ornate display.

Several long seats abutted an obsidian bar piled with bent iron bowls, hammered kettles and crack mortars. Downed his glass, each reclined in his own fashion and the gathered men began to drift away while a few from the gate stood with quiet interest.

The trader sank back in his dirt streaked silks and regarded him. He’d not seen his like since he fist entered the stone city. Few found any reason to leave as the gardens that reached down from the broken balustrades in the oval stone cliffs that served them for walls brought in fair harvest. The soil less eeries of the catacombs teemed with a rippling roost of silent bats that brought nourishment to the dew hungry fruiting plants that grew among the caked guano of the caverns.

Not so bad for a straggling crew on a sorrowful watch and no sleep isn’t it wanderer, said the old man. You’ll leave the gambling to professionals and serve no more liquor to Plainsmen this night said Xotl waving off the second round–the face of the old man was creased with amusement as the server swept in on pointed shoes , he seemed to frown as the attendant carefully placed a clear tray of the green melon ice float in front of Xotl who downed it with gusto.

That was for the throat, he indicated the small metal cups as the old man shrugged and filled another. You expect to sing like pretty bird once you leave here? Xotl eyed him with a practiced ease, leaving one side of himself propped to the bar covering any lunges from his front side with the scabbarded fusil.

I’m not the kind of cowboy that sings so sweet he grunted as he helped himself to another ice float. Maybe not, but the canyon carry a long way, you hear many things , ever been down there late at night? Have you retorted the adventurer, knowing it for a blunder just as it left his lips, and knowing further there would be no way back to their genial ease in the city of the barricado’d plains.

Beyond the Outskirts IV

There is something else said the chief, a short man without his snorting range pony, and yet he seemed to stare right at Ullara as though her long bow-like limbs didn’t dwarf his own. Among the dark meadow grasses sliding against the stunted branches of the meadow beneath vast depths above and yet he thought he heard a soft noise of horses’ accoutremonts brushing together with a cold metallic sound in the dark of that meadow. His eyes held hers not ungentle in his barbaric finery. We want you to take this elixir to the monks of Ebershir , who can bless it for our use.

She rose from the dark floor with an inrush of breath that felt like the fabled stone hermit perched across her chest in the night—- The air wavered with the glint of drifting spirits above the immense pillars– She heard the voice before she saw the green light– it rose and flitted above her and she felt for her cutlass and crushed the steel into the ring of the burning figure’s wavering skull — The glint changed to a dancing sheen of figures ferns above rills and deep mountains with proud figures clad in bright ornament standing distant a pagan riot in her head she turned from the brief vision. The light returned to poisonous green and now she saw a figure moving toward her walking it seemed with that cape of flame — then the figure spoke in a voice that poured out the breath of tombs and some shore outside human grasp–

You are weary why don’t you lie back down?

You despise me do you not?

Like a rampant eel

Will you not bend to my desire? I can deliver you to the height of pleasures!

Then savoire this, and she flicked back the catch on the blade’s hilt and snapped the flint and a charge roared in the mountain hollow wall fell in with a crash not 5 yards behind the figure as the granite shot she’d filled in the water scoured halls above charged through the form that crouched before her. its green fire racing along into its eyes and changing to a fulgent glow to a dolden sheet of flames that capered and staggered toward the plunging stairs behind the vast pillars like a sot fresh thrown from the ale house landing. Mazes and towering wheels of fire turning over souls an iron maze of grinning faces trapped within the pitch like volcanic metal. And such an artist she quoth. With her hair trailing her enormous blonde mane she returned her weapon to its hold and strode up the opposite stair to the escape taken by the storm ghoul.

The mocking screams from the wavering fire over the raw floor capered in her mind’s ear long after she left the abandoned hall. Then the flash of places outside faded like the lights of a far city over a dwindling pass left by the regulator gazing with disgust through stone troughs stained with the ruin of pilgrims in lonesome canyons.

A Confrontation Near An Abandoned Ironclad

lonely stands amid the hushed slurs of late harvest branches and the fading cries of field hounds

the ranker and weedier thickets about the mist shaded brooks out in that last parade of the outlaw Harry Tracy

You let me down champ. But this’ll help with your busted skull. He held out the possum gnawed, foul smelling leather kit. You’ve got to look inside first– he motions like a stadium usher who’d found a new seat. Carson stepped forward to peer down at what the bag holds.

Brief shiver, the clack of ink-stained circuits, frying membranes and segmented limbs picked off shorts in the carrier apparatus with ‘droit pace.

Get rid of it… Trust me! he ducks, looking at the road, he curses softly to himself as a silver haired bicyclist whirred by on an aero frame. That’s the tracer, he’ll have a tester for the ambient skin tone, our pulse is monitored for changes! No you coot its Tracy…He’s too good at racin’ customs Henry. He’d smoke us without touching metal.

Hey cal…don’t switch a piece just yet.. Carson stepped across the bike’s frame and fought for the grip like a miner trying to grasp a falling hammer on a fairground. His forearm and wrist pinched like a bear vice left in a corn fire. The hold on the high-rise dwelling farmer stayed.

Why don’t you tell me what this has to do with the kid back there?

We don’t socialize much he rasped the salt flecked mustache above his large lipped mouth not joining the rattling shake that drove through every joint in his rangy limbs.
he nodded to no one in particular/


Get rid of it… Trust me! he ducks, looking at the road, he curses softly to himself as a blaze of dark hair and roaring pistons welded to his legs like Berlin gymnasts. That’s the tracer, he’ll have a tester for the Pulse Ruby of The Gods, our very pores is monitored for changes, // ya let’s fade away from here.

The dark theatre heaved with the groans of couples and the sharper image of premier doms in the audience. The lower aisles were prowled by a menagerie of predators and this caused a sort of prehensile frenzy when they applied razors and the pocket skills of a tailor. The picture booth where the images to be displayed on the canvas screen were wriggling with glow eels that swam in a translucent tank in front of the lantern– acting as a pisha show where the goal was to push a bishop into the Sink Well of Madness without using any hands.

The Whiskey Barrel, Ch. XVI , The Presidio

Just a plain fact, that there is no secret that any guru can tell you, to shortchange the old man who toils at his cold die and forge , ragged campaign after who follows every man over other men’s footpaths– to the extent that a thinker would not founder then they avoid letting the course of their thought to rest on the support of any outside factor, not the golden glow of summer fields, the constant whirl and pulse of an active social life nor the constancy of friends. Is it not this other the beginning of a more adult form of humor?

The Farmer Mindset (updated)

I almost got run over by a combine today. So feelin sad and ornery and collectin guns because I’m a short feller, that don’t even factor dude. I can understand bein mad about some woman but to the point of throwing drinks on couples out for a night on the town– sir I almost got run over by a tractor today, it wouldn’t have cared if I were tall or short.

Those greasy tires would have crushed my nuts like a bug’s carapace all the same. So excuse my lack of interest in yr story, that’s all. I’m just glad to be alive in one piece nuts intact, I’m at the bar, drinkin an if some available female takes up the threads and byways of conversing with me then fare thee well.

I’m ready to taste something that smacks of distant starfire or the blazes of lust now that I’m not waiting for any Man.

The farmer’s are burning the last of the fields at the end of the Fall harvest. Rod and some Southern dandies form up in a circle dance wearing hosen to stop the Boll Weevil from making a terrible return next harvest.

The toilet was a good ‘un

To the modern painter–

I’d agree that Duchamp’s concepts were mostly cold japes– I could name a few painters who gave at least a real college try at a response to the challenge of Duchamp’s reduction of painting (and all of life, by extension toward Leary’s talk of games perhaps) to a mostly self-referential game. But it’s the way you do it that counts when the art world is showing noticeable breaks in its facade from its repeated, constant, daily toilet-scraping bows to austere experience.

Beyond the Outskirts, early version

The display of cuisine and dining on social media means little to me, its not intended for me, its not my idea of aspirational– but that doesn’t mean it’s meaningless.

“Have a cocktail, relax by the pool”– And as you sink back into the lounge chair, hallucinate bands of swarthy foreigners rappelling into yr backyard from primitive gliders to scalp and practice white slavery. Continue to stir yr cocktail with a handgun, or participate in my illusion and try and figure out if it’s ancient or utterly modern.

The constable told of a hulking grey skinned demon, with a large brow and a prominent bulge both concelaed and obscenely displayed in a crotch pouch that protruded like a helmet crest. What he wants, no one can tell. They say he was a man that went out in that desert and saw things that changed him, then he come back and start growing the lotus in the old compound atop Split Skull Canyon.

Changed, how? asked Xotl, already tamping his single shot’s breech and holding his fingers from fidgeting with his knife handle. His Xuchotlan temper would mount to a deadly serene calm at the point of battle, not during this waiting and scouting, reconning and planning. He could think much better fighting men on horseback.

The old man sank back in the chair, near touching the wall. His eyes suddenly grew large and pale in their dark sockets. He leaned forward with an effort– They put somethin in him, in that hospital, so that he grows unlike other men. Taller, stronger, but with each year he looks less and less human. I only saw him from the upper balcony, when they’d bring in new prisoners. But what he was standing in a dark cloak always, and never in the open sun apart from his wrappings.

She watched his slender yet muscled back retreat up into the broken fastness of the canyon, his shock of long dark hair waving like a brutal pennant in the blue tinged air. The ridge held for another 100 yards and then dipped into the ravine, where a distant trickle of scarce spring water fed the waving fronds of blooming aloe and yucca far below them. They’d crossed the salt wash with their weapons held above the swirling devils born of long departed dust reddened waters, and she reclined on the bench-like rock at the foot of the ravine Xotil had disappeared into.

She’d admired the rippling play of his muscles as he’d ascended carrying their pack loaded with wines from the city in copper stopped flasks and the dried meat they’d bartered a war camel for after rounding on the herd of Pinker patrols in the outlying dry marshes. But she’d admired even more how he would size up the task ahead, and simply do what was needed without fiddling deliberation or a lengthy counsel.

She caught the glint of an uncoiled serpent like thing falling at great speed from the rocks above. She’d lighted to her leather booted feet and the flash of twin rapiers bounded from her large hands as she stared from side to side to spy where the snake had stolen. The laughter from above almost startled her more than the falling rope, and she found herself looking up into his grin– he stood holding a fast line about the size of four stories up the ridge. A fine draw lass, but the snakes we must fear are ahead of us and less ready to make their arrival known he chuckled with grim mirth.