Josha’s Last Night of Freedom

Based on a FB group I started to get people writing. There are weekly exercises, and this was the first one. The goal was to write about a support character without ever bringing a protagonist into the story. This helps flesh out a support character. Some people have actually caused their support character to change based on this. Josha will never change, though. Here is Josha, the mentor of Kessem in Drowning the Sands of G’desh.

Josha bit into the cork in his vial and yanked it out, the pleasant thrum of the glass reverberating. Red liquid sloshed about in the alchemist’s bottle and he took a swig. The red dripped down his chin and he wiped it with the back of his white tunic. It slowly made its way down the bottle as well, leaving sediment.

Hamed laughed and grabbed for one of the other vials with the same color liquid. He took out the cork and also took a gulp, sighing in delight at the drink. Abram was apprehensive and said, “Alchemist, how can we trust this? What will it do to us?” Abram was the youngest at twelve, but the three usually got along. Either way, their destinies were intertwined and they would need to learn to work together. It galled Josha to no end that the snot nosed child followed them around so often.

However, Hamed was always in good spirits, and he responded, “What it’ll do to you is get you good and drunk so you can actually have some fun.” Hamed was to be the Sultan when his father passed, which was likely soon enough. He was still a teen, a couple years younger than Josha, but he was the last son and his father emphasized a desire to have youth on the throne. His brothers, each a great general, seemed to relent to the pressure of father. The one who did not was sent to the front lines to never return.

The bottle looked strange in Abram’s young hand. He analyzed it, swishing it about in the glass bottle, shaking up the ingredients. Josha groaned, “Don’t do that, boy. You’ll destroy the composition.” He swirled his own wine, “You gently swirl. Then check the streaking. That tells you how thick it is. When you open it, let it breathe.”

“You didn’t let it breathe,” he shot back, snarling.

“That’s because I don’t care what it tastes like. I just want to get drunk and do something stupid.” He took another long pull and laughed, lifting the bottle up. He could feel it in him, the thoughts in his head swimming. Internally he gloated at how his judgment was impaired and the rest of the day was out of his control. “Now open your damned bottle before your mom asks you to suck on her for your milk.”

The boy grumbled, but did as he was told, opening the wine bottle and drinking from it. Hamed pushed him to take as deep a drink as possible, then went to finishing half his own bottle. Josha scoffed, “How much you think I made?” His tongue felt numb and his lips moved in ways he didn’t mean. “Take time, Hamed.” Josha had to sit down, and leaned. The concoction was stronger than he planned, but that would do fine enough. “We going to Kazab?”

“Of course. We have some festivities planned, too. Not often we get above ground,” Hamed said, then pulled up his friend.$

Elixir of Wisdom Part 2

Here is the finale! If you want to read the first part, just skip down a story to avoid spoilers. Again, unedited. Sorry guys.

The Advisor coughed and read diligently, taking in every ingredient. Moments passed, and nothing was said, but the Advisor mumbled to himself every other word. Finally he placed it upon a table and, looking up at the two men, said, “This is most certainly beyond my abilities, a potion so prolific I can only stand in awe and pray to the One that you allow me to learn how to make it and allow me to drink it that I might gain your wisdom.”

The Wazir’s eyes went wide at the child’s stupidity, at his monstrous blunder. The poisons were common. Most women in the market would chide a man for buying these, as they have no other use. But the Advisor allowed it to go past him, for he had no understanding of alchemy or of poultices, and this would be the gleeful news the Wazir was awaiting.

Without hesitation, the Wazir bowed, and said, “By the One, the messengers you send should each be given one ingredient they are to retrieve. Also, do not tell them the use of the items, nor who will consume them. Surely your enemies are many, and if one were to find out, then they would tamper with this good and wholesome potion, so that it would affect your constitution and judgment, and bring upon you ruin.”

And the young Sultan and Advisor, thinking the Wazir was good in his wisdom and advise, unaware of their plots to kill him in secret, did as the Wazir said, and they sent out slaves which had no tongues or genitals, and the slaves came back in under a week’s time, delivering what was required. Some died in the desert from wyrms and bandits, though most returned unharmed due to the mamluk guarding them.

As soon as they returned, the Wazir went to work over his flasks, beakers, vials, and sands, distilling, pulling essence out of the leaves, and the reduction of fleshy animals, mostly lizards. He even took a dune runner’s poison gland and stirred it in with the Advisor watching.

The Advisor, at least mildly astute, asked, “What are you doing with that gland? What part of the dune runner is it?”

When the Wazir realized he was also a dolt in anatomy, he smiled pleasantly, and said, “The gall bladder, for that is where stress goes, and stress is what gives one wisdom.” The Advisor accepted this and the Wazir continued to go on his way.

After a week, the potion was done, and not a moment too soon. In the time it took to cook the poison, the young Sultan had defiled countless folk. Those who stole were executed. Women who were accused of whoring were brought out in public and shamed by man after man, acts not suitable to men. It was said the young Sultan took a variety of lovers, and many would end up in the streets, stoned to death.

The Wazir’s wife, the day the Wazir was to administer wisdom, said, “You are doing a good thing, my husband, but why call it an Elixir of Wisdom?”

And so the husband, frowning at the thought of strangling out a life, said, “Because there are two ways to obtain wisdom. The first is to spend your life striving for it. To struggle for it in all its forms and to always understand there is one more wise than you in at least one subject. These two have struggled to bury their heads into the sand, ignoring the wisdom of others, and so they subject the people to horrors not seen in three generations. If given eternity, the two would not strike out to see what the world was outside their palace of Fah Hazeeb.

“The second way to obtain wisdom is to die when wisdom is so far from your reach. It takes great wisdom to die when you are of no use, and when they drink this, they will never realize it was their wisest moment.”

So the Wazir went to the youths and put the two vials in front of them, small things with a green liquid in it. The smell was pleasant due to sugar and lavender he added, and in fact it would even taste pleasing, or so he deduced. In a few moments he would have enough time to ask them if it did indeed taste delightful. Only fools would accept a potion pleasing to the tongue.

The Advisor said, “My Sultan, to make sure it is of quality, let me taste it so you can be assured it is pleasing.” The young Sultan was about to speak, but then allowed the noble gesture. When the Advisor drank it, he said, “It tastes sweet upon the tongue, and my eyes feel like a layer was lifted from them. I can see things so clearly.”

This clarity was a lie, a part of the ingredients which would cause a golden haze to set in before death overtook. And the poison would take long enough that the young Sultan could take his time walking to the table with the vial, slowly uncork it, and allow a drip upon his tongue, yet the Advisor was still standing. The young Sultan exclaimed, “This is quite sweet, but I do not feel the effects.”

The Wazir was quick to say, for the time was passing and the Advisor would soon slump to the ground, “You must drink of it greedily, as your father and I drank greedily of life. In doing that, you can find wisdom unparalleled.”

So the young Sultan drank it down quickly, and with the final drop, he watched the Advisor drop to the ground, his skin white and cold as the midnight air. “You foul sorcerer, you tricked us with honey and lies. You killed your Sultan?”

“You are no Sultan. You are a fool which was raised poorly, though I could not see it and your father did not dare raise a hand against you. If you could not understand how to obtain wisdom, I would allow you the wisdom to step down from your throne.”

And so the young Sultan’s eyes rolled back and his eyes were white as his flesh, and he was cold.

The Wazir left and went to his wife, and she said, “You have done a great deed. The bells toll the death of the young fool, and the people rejoice. I have no doubt, they will see to it the man who delivered them from these imbeciles will be seated on the throne next, seen to as the Sultan of Hazeeb. You will have that honor, my husband, and your eldest son will sit at your right hand to be the heir.”

The Wazir mourned the death of the young Sultan for a month, then took the throne unwillingly. His eldest son was already a wise and good man. He taught his children the lessons of the Elixir of Wisdom, and so his children, and their children, and so forth, continued the legacy, and not once since that time did they lack for wisdom.

To this day, an ancestor of the Wazir who saved Fah Hazeeb from tyranny sits upon the throne, filled with wisdom.

The Elixir of Wisdom Pt 1

I’m a horrible tease. When writing my 30 minute race the other day this is what I came up with. Finished it on a second 30 minute race, but the fear of death was real when this is what I ended the story with. Hope you enjoy. Next part up Friday or Saturday. Also, unedited. Sorry guys, I like it rough.

The Elixir of Wisdom

 

Long ago in Fah Hazeeb, there was a wise Sultan and Wazir. The two men were close friends, growing up as children and going on many adventures together. The Wazir kept the Sultan in good health and good wisdom, and together they expanded the fort-city of Hazeeb.

However, the Sultan went ill soon enough, and on his fiftieth birthday he passed on. The funeral was extravagant, prepared for by his youthful son and the Wazir, and for a month the Wazir wore black garments and wept, buffering his face as he did so to show that the One was unjust in taking the man.

After a month, the Wazir came back to see the young Sultan was already at work, learning about politics and taking barter with their neighbors. His own advisor gave suggestions on this and that, but all suggestions were hedonistic, and in the month the Wazir was gone, Fah Hazeeb suffered.

The Wazir thought to himself, “This child is using a child to guide him, and there is no wisdom in that. I will reproach them both and they will see I speak sense, as the One will open their eyes to it.”

So the Wazir the following morning approached the two young man, one the Sultan and the other the advisor, and he said, “I beseech you to quit your foolishness. You drive your people into the ground and dishonor the One. Your behavior is not what your father would approve of. Let me guide you.”

The young Sultan said, “You were good to my father, and in your old age, I will be good to you. You have seen much, and I have heard the stories, and while I did not get to partake on such adventures because of my youthfulness, I will learn from you and gain the wisdom as if I had. So will my Advisor.”

This pleased the Wazir, and so he went home and told his wife. However, his wife said, “Do not believe the tongues of youth. They lie to appease those who are old, thinking them dolting fools. Go back tomorrow, to see that he will listen to your wisdom. Inform him the contract with Fah Tashekesh is one of childishness and we require better gems for our grain.”

The Wazir, not himself a fool, did look over the treaty and saw that there could be considerable more gain. As the treaty was signed recently, no doubt Fah Tashekesh sought to take advantage of the young Advisor and the young Sultan. But there would be no need for concern, as the Wazir would set things right.

So the Wazir went into the throne room the following day and laid out a plan to gain more from Fah Tashekesh, and the Sultan and his Advisor said it looked good, and how could they be such idiots, but the Wazir assured them that there are bad people in the world, and they will no longer be taken at a disadvantage.

With much joy in his heart, he went back to his wife, and the Wazir said, “My love, they listened. I am their elder, and they respect that.”

“Tomorrow, go to the harbor. See what we ship out and take note of our exchange. Then in a week go to the harbor again, and see what Fah Tashekesh has given us, again keeping in mine our exchange. If it is as you plotted, then the boys listened. If not, it is because they are haughty youths incapable of admitting blunders, and so they kept with the old contract to seem in control.”

This put sorrow on the Wazir’s heart for the evening, but in the morning he went to check the grain, and when he saw how much was being shipped out, six boats filled with bushels, he rejoiced in his heart that Fah Hazeeb would reap such a profit. For the next several days he gave advice on mandates, and the mandates were mostly adhered. There were few laws passed or rescinded which made his heart heavy, and the Wazir believed the young Sultan and his Advisor were indeed learning the ways of kingship.

Then a week passed, and there were only two boats filled with gems, and those gems were not diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, or rubies. They were tiger’s eye and amethyst and quartz. The Wazir made his way quickly to the young Sultan, but on his way he saw his wife. She, seeing how flustered her husband was, quickly went to him.

“My love,” she said, “Do not storm the court, or you will look the idiot. Wait. See the barrels go to the young Sultan and see what is written upon his face. This will tell you the truth. Should they laugh at you when they think you are not looking, then this is their plot, and there is nothing of loyalty or wisdom in their blood.”

“How is it my wife is so wise, and I am of such folly?”

“My husband, it is from you I have learned, for you have been a good teacher. Being younger than you, I know what youth thinks. Knowing the old Sultan, you believed only the best for this boy. But he is not your childhood friend, and the old Sultan did not have time to chastise the boy, as the One would command. For this, I watched as the youth grew up with disobedience in his heart.”

“If the One only gave me sight then that I could have corrected the youth’s course.”

And so the Wazir made his way up the stairs, to the court, and he hid cleverly behind some banners which the youth brought in from a city known for weaving the finest silk. The young Sultan laughed when he saw the riches, “And the Wazir thinks he can get me more? I have created this contract, and my authority is all people respect. The Wazir is old and needs to know his place.”

The Advisor scoffed, “We should teach him his place that he will never bother us with his unwise council ever again.” And so the Wazir listened as the two youths plotted to kill him.

As he listened, he thought to himself, “My wife was correct! Now they look to kill me!” This would not do, so while they plotted, he plotted as well. In his mind he created a devious plan which would give him freedom, and free the people of Fah Hazeeb from this twit and his faulty Advisor.

When the two had laid out their plan to kill the Wazir, the Wazir quietly made his way out of the court, and when he was outside the door, he loudly stepped upon the marble floor, that the two could hear him inside, ceasing their plotting of his demise.

Once in the court, the Wazir, playing at him not overhearing the youths, stated, “Did your father tell you of the Elixir of Wisdom? He drank of it regularly, but I have been so busy mourning the loss of my dear friend, I have not had the time to gather my ingredients.”

The Advisor asked, “Why haven’t I heard of this elixir?”

The Wazir said, “It is because there are few with the knowledge, and fewer still share the knowledge even of its existence, let alone how to concoct it.”

The young Sultan said, “What does it do that I would want it? Clearly I am wise beyond my years and capable of doing what my people require.”

“You are right, young Sultan, that you are wise, but your people suffer below. Not because you do not know what you are doing, but because your senses do not go far enough. This elixir is why your father led so wisely. It allows one to understand his people simply by glimpsing one person. If a peasant comes in and complains his cattle are being attacked by wolves, you will know the men to send. You will know the waters are lower than they ought be, and that damns must be built. From that one man, you will know there are hungry at the foot of the bridge, and you will know which stores to pull from to vanquish their famine.”

“This elixir is truly great and powerful. I will send for you tomorrow to see if it is what I want. Today I will send my Advisor so he can see if there are plights this elixir could cure.”

So the Wazir quickly made his way out of the court and went to his wife. He said, “All you spoke was true, and now they are after my life. Quickly, go to the markets and tell them to pretend they are in need. Inform them the young Sultan’s men are coming and looking to see if more riches and food should be given, and if they are for want, then more will surely be provided.”

The wife replied, “There is no need, my husband, for the people are for want, and they will surely beg for coin when the men go by, so has been the waste of the young Sultan.”

It was as being slapped that the Wazir did not take heed sooner, that he did not look upon the people and realize the poison they had been ingesting at the hands of the young Sultan and his Advisor. Then the Wazir said, “I cannot delay, then. I must make a poison for the two which will work through their systems slowly, but kill quickly when it reaches the heart.”

So the Wazir and his wife looked through their tomes, and eventually found the list required.

The following day, the Wazir went before the young Sultan, and the youth said, “My Advisor hears you true, the people are for want. Then tell me the ingredients, that I might send my couriers to fetch what is needed.”

The Wazir handed him a list and said, “These are what I require to give you the wisdom to aid these people.”

The Advisor took it in hand and looked over the list, much to the Wazir’s concern. If this Advisor had any wits about him, he would recognize the ingredients created poison, but it was a risk the Wazir felt worthwhile. On his own, it would take months to gather, and he was unsure how patient the young Sultan would be before executing the old man.

The Advisor coughed and read diligently, taking in every ingredient.

The song of Sven the Goat Defiler

This was my 30 minute word race. It’s special. Takes place in the world for my second book. Enjoy? Kind of. I was told there was a lot of laughing. I also didn’t edit, sorry. Too tired. I accept my imperfections.

This is the song of Sven, the Goat Defiler, as told by Jorgen, the Teller. Also known as Jorgen, the Obnoxiously Loud Bastard, as he was both loud and his father died the third blizzard after Jorgen’s birth. That is to say, approximately five days after the child’s birth. Jorgen told the story at the 187th moot of Hamshpel.

Long ago there was a man named Sven. He lived in this very village of Hamshpel as a butcher. Sven was an ugly man, one so ugly that it would be difficult to describe, but we are drunk, and I am willing to try.

Sven’s nose looked as if it were shoved in a bee hive, a large and bulbous thing that was beat red. His face had pox marks all about, as if someone had stabbed him many times with a small sword. His eyes were squinty as his cheeks bulged up and his brow was overly large, a great flat space where one could write an epic. His hair was always greasy, no matter how much he claimed to bathe, and as he reached his twentieth birthday, the hair started to fall out in patches due to his own father’s early baldness.

His chest was thin, while his gut was large. He ate too much food, while not working enough. Half the animals that went into his market left through his bowels. His hands were like potatoes with five tiny carrots sticking out, that it was awkward for him to shake hands or carry tools of any real weight.

In short, there were none so ugly as Sven.

The women took note of his fat body and his hideous face, and he was unable to find a wife. When he was twenty five, the loneliness reached a startling point, and he wept and wept while at work, though no one was in his store. While he wept he looked at the goat he was to butcher, a female goat which had just given birth to kids, and he thought, “This is a woman, and if I’m to want for a woman’s body, perhaps this is where I will find it.” So he stood behind the goat and took her, then butchered her and sold the meat to the locals.

He continued this practice, as still no woman would see him, and as he continued, none questioned his meat. They only noted he seemed happier and more friendly, and his shop became busy, even when people didn’t need to purchase.

However, below there were changes, and he felt strange and itchy at odd hours. But he continued on until one day a merchant came in and said how delighted he was that Sven was so willing to reach out to the community, that he was now a happy man and the merchant had a wife for him, which gave Sven great joy.

The woman, Ulgrid, was a woman who defied description, but again, I’ll do my best to do her justice. She was a gorgeous woman in a snow storm, which is to say a blizzard, where one can see no farther than five feet and she was ten feet away. Her face was a pumpkin, unusually smooth and round, with several rolls due to her girth. Her hair looked like straw in which a philly had relieved herself. Her body was as thick around as an ox, and her legs were as large tree trunks with the sap running down it and freezing in large, hanging sacks. Her arms looked like wracks with dangling hides. Sven didn’t care, as it was still a step up from goats.

A wedding was had, the ancestors were called upon to bless it, and the two went away for their first night of passion. Ulgrid dropped her clothing, and the earth supposedly shook when she did so. She threw Sven over her shoulder, then tossed him on the bed, licking her lips as if she were eyeing a stuck pig. However, when she removed his pants and saw the corruption of his body, her face turned red in horror and fury.

“You have not been faithful to me! These are the diseases of animals!” And so, in righteous rage, guided by ancestors of old, she thrust her fist into his chest and ripped out his heart, squeezing it until it stopped pulsing and he laid there dead.

The lesson here, lads, is no matter how long you’ve been without a woman, goats just aren’t worth it.

A Shadow’s Plan

Writing prompt: write a 200-500 word synopsis of your story through the POV of your antagonist. Tricky in any good fantasy novel, because you can’t have just one.

[Shadow] looked at the plans for G’desh, the great desert which overused the name of their false idol far too often. The G’desh Desert, G’desh Lake, G’desh the city, G’desh the deity that everyone prayed to though it was forbidden. The sooner he finished his work, the sooner he could return home, where names made sense and the gods were real, tangible, helpful. None of this angry fire god and invisible one in the sky looking down.

Part one of the plan was set. Infiltrate the Followers. They believed in their One, floating in the sky with some plan of salvation. They were exiles, and their general, Abram, was itching to retake the Bronze City after eight centuries in the sands. [Shadow] promised the city to Abram, and he would deliver. Within the year they would march on the northern districts, near a hundred miles away from the Bronze City, but they were on the lake and good enough for a stronghold.

Ling infiltrated the Eternal Flame, an extremist religious sect. All who were not human had to burn. All who did not believe had to burn. All who were corrupt had to burn. [Shadow] cursed the obsession with burning in the south. He cursed G’desh, the fire god. But Ling would use that obsession to take Fah Takeshek. She would use it to burn out the fat Sultan of that city-state so it was ripe for the picking. According to history, it would be the first time ever the absurdly wealthy city was taken through military force.

In the heart of G’desh, the Bronze City on the southern tip of the lake, [Shadow] placed advisers who taught lessons of intolerance. They told the Khalif to wage war, keep the people low, do not tolerate other races or religions, and keep the people ignorant. But centuries of tolerance would be difficult to defeat when stretched so thin. The Khalif would make his errors, and for them his dynasty would cease.

[Shadow’s] people armed the populace, spread dissent, boiled water, raided shipments, and created chaos and malcontent wherever they traveled. The time was ripe to put part two of the plan into motion, to weaken the south for his northern employers. To finish his mission so he could get back home.

Synopsis: Drowning the Sands of G’desh

What I am putting on the back cover of my book.

Two religions have waged war for centuries. While the Pure Flame controls the Bronze City, forcing the Followers into exile for over two hundred years, the Followers have found a questionable ally capable of turning the tables. These are the tales of four souls navigating the era the Sands of G’desh drown in blood.

Kessem, a young warrior and idolized uncle, is demoted to scholar. However, an old man and a foreigner have plans to use him as a pawn to take control of the Bronze City. Can he survive their manipulations, and which side will he help?

Dameneh pines for a woman who left two years ago. However, at sixteen he is chosen by the One to become a holy warrior. Now he must take on the life of a nomad and the unwanted responsibilities of fate.

Azasheer is a mysterious assassin capable of wielding fire as a weapon. He works for money, caring little about the tyrannical Khalifate or the struggling rebels Interacting more often with the rebels, he starts to wonder if he could fight for more than money.

Salemen is a simple scribe for the Khalif. Watching horrors occur day after day, he wonders if the rebels are in the right. Meanwhile, his wife has a secret she keeps poorly hidden from him.

These are the tales of G’desh, the first volume in the Legend of Ji-Wei

G’Desh – Hymn of the Delven

The delven are a race of dark skinned, small people. Their black skin looks like unrefined oil, glistening under any light. When exposed to the sun and not given enough water, their skin painfully cracks, revealing a second skin underneath. For the first few days, this skin is raw and sensitiveness. After a week, the pain numbs. Once cracked, full submersion is required to heal. Despite this pain, they spend a great deal of time traveling through the desert, skin cracked for possibly months on end. Merchants use what water they can in order to wash their face, closing up those cracks.

The iris and pupil are black while sometimes the entire eye is black. Such a sign is considered a blessing, showing the purity of one’s faith.

The scalp is generally bald, though at times there will be a tuft of hair. A few very rare females have complete heads of hair. This never happens for a man. There is no stigma tied to hair, though the exotic sight of long hair often makes such females desired by both delven and man. The rest of their body is always hairless.

Delven ears are longer than human ears, pointed at the top and going towards the back of their head. The small race rarely exceeds five foot, almost always being at least six inches shorter than a human. Women barely reach four and a half. Some women have stopped growing at three and a half feet, while men are usually no shorter than four feet. Because of the small underground dwellings of the people, this is not viewed negatively. It’s only in the world of man that such height becomes frustrating. In very few cases, delven have reached six feet. These are almost always people of great faith, either anointed by a prophet, destined to become a dervish, or given some other great feat to accomplish. Some say it’s the height that gives them the advantage, not the other way around. Either way, tall delven do great works.

Due to religious beliefs, the delven capacity to survive in the desert, and the money brought in through commercial pursuits, the delven were viewed by the Purifying Flame as an abomination and slavery was forced upon the race. Many fought for freedom, and those who were able to get away from their overseers made out into the desert. Many died. Many others found oases to become a part of, their blood lines surviving around those small bodies of water for dozens of generations.

Due to a very successful slave rebellion, the Pure would claim genocide was required if there was to be a righteous world. For centuries the delven were not seen around Lake G’desh. However, in the desert they were free, and whenever the short people gather together for worship, before singing the Hymn of Company, they sing the Hymn of Freedom.

The desert cracks our skin.
The sun takes our water.
But we are free.

 The oasis isolates us.
Creatures of sand consume.
But we are free. 

The Divine watches.
The Divines gives to us.
And we are free.

By Len at Kraken's Wake

By Len at Kraken’s Wake

The artist’s site can be found at the Kraken’s Wake.