Monday, June 02, 2014

The Reason for the Silence... such as it is.

As per usual I begin with an apology - and this the most earnest of those so far: so very sorry for the abruptness and the length (!) of my silence.

I am in fact, still alive, still working, and most significantly, preparing for fatherhood.

I do suffer from chronic, low level depression which most often presents itself as a strong desire to be left alone and excessive computer gaming :\ ... yet the main reason for the sudden stop was more particularly two things:

1/ fear, as I approach the moment/scene in ECONOMOUS that motivated me to start his story in the first place; &

2/ realising that I had no idea who Miss Swift actually is (since *-SPOILERS AHEAD!-* I want to make her a main character) and not being able to proceed without her being better realised.

Well, happy day \o/, thanks to my writers' group of Michael Hawke, Ben Morton & Rikki Lambert, I have a much clearer sense of her now (and quite different she is from how I have penned her so far) so proceeding can begin again.

That said, I am currently in the thick of illustrating a growing list of picture books which have most of my creative professional attention, and what of that is left for writing I am thinking of applying to the other fruit of the WRITERS' GROUP: the continuing story of Europe, the Branden Rose, taking up where FACTOTUM left off. Excitingly (for me, at least) I have a beginning, middle and sense of the end (or a final catalysing moment to work towards), so it now simply awaits for me to take the start I have already and turn it into a finished tale.

I would like to thank you all for your persistence and Tom Wamstad for his expressed concern (which prompted me to speak up at last). I am still here, a little overwhelmed, but getting there.

For my next post I shall seek to respond to the comments from the last long ago post, so stay tuned...)


Friday, January 24, 2014

Economous Musgrove Chapter 9 Part 3

Wow, almost did not make it :O

I blame my preoccupation with a picture book I am working on that is due in little over one weeks time - I Don't Want to Eat My Dinner it is called, a sample for you below.



On posting this, I am painfully aware of missing details, of things not quite fleshed out, but such is the state of first drafts, so read on knowing that if this gets to a more polished stage it will be fuller, fitter, finer.


Economous

musgrove

    
© D.M.Cornish
PLEASE DO NOT PUBLISH OR REPRODUCE WITHOUT MY PERMISSION

Chapter 9 PART 3
The Sulk & Through

                                                *          *          *          *          *

The tenth day of his travels and Economous was on the road again. Elated, he whistled softly to himself as he sat in the now moving lentum cabin, Miss Swift once again opposite and once again ignoring him. Two new somebodies sat beside each of them – some large lady in a thick shawl and coddling a covered basket, and a gentleman in sleek blue soutaine – either whom Economous took little time to observe: just to be moving on again was all his interest. The smudgy threat of the Ichormeer glimpsed once more from the hilltop road out of Poonemünd was enough to arrest his attention and he stared at it until the road dropped once more to the unending flatness of the Sulk plain and the dread mire was lost to sight.

“And what calls you out to Undermeers, my good friend,” the well-dressed gentleman said suddenly, addressing Economous directly in an accent somewhere between Gott and Bosch, with a strange Tutin ring to it too.

Though surrounded by people after so long in the strange near-solitude of this journey – this great crossing – Economous almost did not answer the forward fellow. “I have services to render to a great lady of the region,” he said, telling more than he cared to in his haste to make amends for his slowness to answer.

The well-dressed gentleman looked at him and nodded slowly. “Well for you, sir, well for you.”

“What of thee, dear girl?” the shawl-draped lady enquired with beady fascination of Miss Swift. “What brings thee hither to such out-away places?”

Tip of her fan touching her chin then fluttering with abrupt modulation, her falseman’s eyes hid again in the shade of a tricorn brim, the young woman also took a moment to respond.

“My answer is much the same, madam,” she said bluntly and turned her gaze to the view without to bring any further enquiry to an end, casting Economous a brief and subtly perplexed glance as she did.

“A great lady too, is it?” the be-shawled traveller pressed.

Miss Swift’s fan shut and tipped to the left, before snapping open and fluttering angrily – was the only word Economous could give the motion – again. “Indeed, madam” she said with careful politeness. “And I do not wish to say more on it.”

To this the portly woman smiled a peculiar, almost indulgent smile and inquired no more.

Economous did not know what to make of it all, but he was certain the two newcomers passed knowing looks.

                                                *          *          *          *          *

The lack of proper way-posts, coach-hosts or any such thing to change teams forced the lenterman to halt often to rest his horses along this stretch named the Lang Plat. Though these were only the briefest pauses possible to serve the contrary demands of both speed and equine wind, it was not until very late in the day that they achieved the intersection of the Lang Plat and the Conduit Limus – the Ichor Road it was commonly called, its southern arm running audaciously – and largely unused – through the threats and horrors of the Ichormeer. A long earthen dyke ran upon the western flank of the Ichor Road, reaching north and south as far as could be seen. Economous had some recollection of receiving instruction at the athy of a battle being fought here during the early days of the Sulk’s full founding, though between whom and over what he could not now bring to mind.

For the meeting of two reputedly major highroads, the crossing was strangely empty of settlement and traffic – no imperial bastion to watch and tax, nor even an eeker’s cottage to make advantage of the congruence. Leaning out and looking ahead – quite painful to achieve – the young fabulist beheld in the westering light the battlements of some fashion of fortress showing clear above the rises some miles further ahead.

With scarce a pause in caution of contrary traffic, the lentum crossed the Ichor Road and pressed on.

Yawning and stretching in his seat to clear the travel-drowse, Economous heard the lenterman shout the six horse team to greater exertions despite their weariness and to the young fabulist there seemed a note of fear in the harshness of the bluff man’s cries. Though the sensation was surely just the weariness of the road, but he almost dared to admit to himself that there was something unfriendly in the air without, something – dare he admit – threwdish about the entire darkling vista. Now that he was ken of it, the threwdishness pressed upon his wind and he found himself nodding in hearty accord with the driver’s hoarse infrequent barks. Surly they were about to be beset by some slobbering horror!

Why does the lenterman not drive us faster? he fretted, peering through the lattice at the darkening hurrying world without. Is he dumb to our danger?

Over a final rise and the bastion loomed, jutting from the acute slope cut into a hillside and running long and narrow along the flank of the road. Spangled by myriad windows, its west-facing battlements lit deep orange in the sun’s last light. With a loud “Heyah!” from the driver and a disconcerted bellow of horses and the lentum lurched, shaking its passengers sharply. Miss Swift was almost knock from her seat but for the quick steadying hand of Economous’ on her shoulder. Tossed about smartly, the four travellers clung to whatever hold they could. Rocking and leaping the carriage closed the final fathoms to the bastion gates at a sprint, making the foreyard with a clash and boom of a gate closed abruptly behind them.

Thank you, Mister Musgrove,” Miss Swift said as she coolly but firmly pushed Economous’ hand from her shoulder with the guardstick of her closed fan.

The cabin door burst open and the back-stepper was there, ready to hand the ladies alight, his face flushed, his eyes gleaming with glee the lantern glow of the yard.  “Did ye see the basket?” he exclaimed up to the driver and the sidearmsman even as he opened the cabin door and handed the ladies first from the lentum.

 “Nay, di’n’t catch a hook of it,” cried the sidearmsman. “But [NAME] thought he did and got us to th’ gate with all breath behind him,” he declared with tip of his head and a smirk to the driver beside him, clapping the pale and shaking fellow upon the back. “You getting the ghasts, me hearty?”

The lentum driver shrugged. “Better sure than sorry,” he muttered.

“A nicker was after us?” Economous asked as he clambered out, looking back to the closed gate that had made good their escape, then up to the wall tops where musketeers in Imperial mottle stood peering into the deepening gloom.

“I say it was, aye,” the lenterman replied sourly. “Just rose up outta the stubble and sprang at us. I thought I was done, but got us away. Where’s yer eyes at, [NAME]?”

“In me dial, as per usual,” the sidearms man grinned. “But I reckon yours are poppin’ out at any lurching fancy.”

The driver said nothing to thus but spitting a curse, stowed his whip and dropped stiffly from his high seat to the still hard earth.

A single musket shot hissed and popped into the silence from the battlements above, drawing gasps from the new arrivals. Passengers, lenters and yardfolk alike looked to the heights of the fortalice.

“Can ye see it?” came a gruff call from the yard.

“Nothing, bell-sergeant,” was the reply from pediteers watching from the wall-tops. “It has surly scunnered … if it was there.”

Looking to Economous then the rather paler sidearmsman, the lenterman adjusted his copstan to a jaunty angle. “Got the ghasts have I?” he uttered, then turned and went to help unharness the horse team.

“Aye.” The sidearmsman looked uncomfortably at Economous. “What ye gawpin’ at, townie!” he snarled and turned his back to clamber off his high seat on the lentum too.

But all Economous cared for was how close he had just come to dire monstrous encounter.

“Withdraw inside the coaching house, if you please, goodly peoples,” demanded a tired looking man of middling years resplendent despite obvious weariness in military harness of rouge, luec and or – red, white and gold.

Economous training at the athenaeum had been martial enough that he recognised the pediteer as a sergeant-at-arms of His Most Serene Emperor’s service. Compliantly, the fabulist turned his attention to his luggage being heft from the lentum roof, as he fellow three passengers retired with the elevated wind of those who have just scraped with danger.


                                                *          *          *          *          *

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Economous Musgrove Chapter 9 Part 2

Late again, but still arrived, more Economous is here.

May I just say too, how much I appreciate you all, whether you comment or not, and how much your comments encourage me to continue and aid in the creative process - it is like you are all some kind of beta (alpha?) testers helping guide the outcome of the final result. Anyway, lame similes aside, thank you all.


Economous

musgrove

    
© D.M.Cornish
PLEASE DO NOT PUBLISH OR REPRODUCE WITHOUT MY PERMISSION

Chapter 9 PART 2
The Sulk & Through

The next morning, with the sun already beating with summer heat upon all uncovered pates, Economous found the lenterman sitting easy with the side-armsman and the backstepper, all sipping the best local under the shade of coachyard’s broad eaves.

“No passage today, m’hearty,” the lenterman said with a lazy tip of his already lazily tilted stovepipe hat.

The second day proved even hotter and the lentermen all the more comfortably disposed under the coachyard eaves, and the driver’s answer was the same as before.

“You’ll not make the clock wind faster,” the fan-flicking woman observed as Economous sought frustrated retreat to his small solitary bunk space.

Sat at a small round budge-table just outside the common room door, she was sipping what the young fabulist could only guess was salloop. Head now barely covered by an impractically small version of a stovepipe known as a columna, she still wore the same dark green travel cloak, satin mules of striking red poking out from beneath the viridian hem of her light cloak. But more striking yet – and catching Economous utterly off guard – were her eyes, now clear of any obscuring hat-shade, were clearest blue with orbs of solid bloody red. She was a falseman. A lie-seeing leer. A lady lie-seeing leer.

 “Neither will chiding me, madam!” Economous retorted hotly, surprising himself so profoundly with his own heat that his pace quickening in shame as he sought to retreat past her and seek the solace of his hired room. Yet better nature over-ruled him the very next beat and halting abruptly, the fabulist pivoted on his heal to face his fellow traveller.

She sat up the straighter, fan clicking shut and readied as a weapon. She blinked at him with those disquieting eyes, expression pinned between dismay and self-defence. 

“Uh…” he fumbled, “I – I – Sorry for my impulsiveness, madam,” he bowed as low as seven days aboard a po’lent would allow. “Please … please, allow accept my apologies.”

This woman beheld him in still silent deliberation.

“I am not of the habit,” she returned at last, “for speaking freely to one of whom I am not properly introduced.”

Economous blinked at her. “Mister Economous Musgrove, Metrician Third Table and Illuminator to Gentry.” The young fabulisto obliged his audience with a second bow: a bumbling simulacrum of the sweeping bobs Mister Bidbrindle liked to beck, if only to avoid looking into those red-and-blue eyes.

“Miss Swift, if you must,” she returned, her voice cool but her fan a-flutter tightly. “Panapolë Swift of Doggenbrass.”

“Well, Miss Panapolë Swift of Doggenbrass,” Economous halted before her – A name at last! – “Surly you find the delay tiresome?”

“I do, of course,” she said, taking a sip of salloop, “but I know better than to fret at a cause I cannot alter. Lights know I have had much practice,” she added, more to herself.

With no counter for this, Economous stood dumb, hands behind his back and cupping the bottom of his bautis-box to give them something to do, sucking in the warm air as he rocked upon booted heels and gazed up at the thin clouds drifting west.

 “And how is it, Miss Swift,” he said at length, “that you are still my travelling companion?”
Regarding him for a moment with a must-thee-know stare, she finally said: “I am seeking a particular personage in Knapphausen,” she offered at last.

“As am I,” Economous returned, his last syllable going mawkishly shrill in his surprised delight.

He blinked at her and she at him, quickly turned upon both sides to gaze-averting embarrassment.

“It is hiring season then, in the Subtle Pall…” said Miss Swift as she stared fixedly at her salloop with those discomposing eyes and fanned herself with especial vigour.   

“Aye,” was all of Economous’ reply.


                                                *          *          *          *          *


Carrying Miserichord about in its box on his back, Economous took to assiduously avoiding Miss Swift, instead wandering about the village, crouching to draw the sagging wooden highhouses with their distinctive conical roofs of flax and their grim-faced denizens. At first he was a spectacle as souls stood over him to watch him make his marks, but tiring quickly of muttering wonders and beady observation, the fabulist fled east out through the gated gap in Poonemünd’s warding dyke and moat. In the windy hissing solitude of the surrounding pastures, the road actually went directly up a hill of all things, a mound really, but a genuine lifting of the earth. It was a herald – as he soon found – of much greater undulations east, the shadows of dark hills on the horizon.

Clambering over a stone fence that bordered the rutted, scarce-used way, Economous climb through dry grasses and withered thistles to the highest point of hilly mound and found it afforded a remarkably wide view of world. To the south the land fell away in a series of wooded folds running over long miles to a dark stretch along the horizon that occasionally glimmered with water reflecting the morning sun. A fume seemed to hang over that far off strip, and from even such a distance there was an obvious deep rouged taint upon it. With a queer inward leap of fascinated fright then a sinking of dismay Economous realised that he was seeing the dread Ichormeer, a vast swampland even the most closeted niavine knew as a seat of unconquered and largely undocumented monstrous power.

“So close,” he murmured in vocal amazement.

The trained metrician in him thrilled to the thought of measuring even a small portion of its unexplored precincts, report back the weird species creature he might uncover and be an ornament to his profession at last. But the rest of him just beheld it in the dread common to all everymen at such a prospect.

In the evening – warm and clear, a glory had he been in the mind to care – he climbed upon a hayloft roof as he had as a child, to lay and gaze at the meteor splendours of the unclouded night sky until Maudlin was westering and weariness forced sleep upon him.

The only wonder of the next day was the late arrival of a post-lentum from the populated west, disgorging its brood of rumpled passengers.

“Aye,” Economous’ lenterman reported with a smirk and commendable patience as he sipped a bowl of Mullhammer’s Best in the common room of the Cradle & Manger, “we have fares enough to be going on tomorrow.

“Thank you, sir,” Economous returned with a bow, taking and shaking the startled fellow’s hand happily, “Thank you, thank you.”

“A’right, mate,” the sidearmsman retorted, nodding over his own beer-bowl at this sudden enthusiastic limb-pumping. “He’ll need that arm for the harness termorrow.”

“Yes, yes, of course,” offered Economous, releasing the bemused lenterman and giving an apologetic bob. “I will see you tomorrow.” With that he ordered [FOOD GOES HERE] and retired to his room to wait the last hours of stranding.


At last!

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Economous Musgrove Chapter 9 Part 1

So we begin again, Finnigan ("... he has whiskers on his chin again...")

It may well be noted that this chapter has the same title as the previous, and this is because I have actually renamed them in between postings; for this chapter bears the title much better than the previous (which is now called, "Humour" - tho this is not a title I am yet fully settled upon).

Things are likely to get lumpier still from now on for we are most definitely in "writing as I go" territory: let the terror begin!

As for Tales from the Half-Continent, it is 216 pages long, has 1 map (recycled from Factotum - please forgive me), 8 character illos but alas, no appendices - it seems I am become too obscure to be allowed such indulgences a second time.

Let us revel in the obscurity together \o/

I see too that I got the athy's names mixed up (THANK YOU, ANON, VERY HELPFUL INDEED): it is known by all three names in my various notebooks - I think because I cannot decide which noun I like the more (one for the suburb it is in, the other after its founder, a third for the street it is on) so perhaps I will keep them all?

Also: How's the story as a whole tracking so far, folks?


Economous

musgrove

    
© D.M.Cornish
PLEASE DO NOT PUBLISH OR REPRODUCE WITHOUT MY PERMISSION

Chapter 9 PART 1
The Sulk & Through

word ~ definition …………

Economous had thought the three day journey from his childhood home to Brandenbrass three years previous had been a bold and extended venture: it took four entire days upon the Grand Trunk to make it even half way across the vasty fields of the Sulk. In the first the young fabulist thrilled to the alien vista that was presented to him through the sashed windows of the lentum; a land both familiar in its pastoral simplicity yet subtly foreign in its form of building, fashion of citizen and the utter flatness of the ground. He had once reckoned the Milchfold about western curtains of Brandenbrass topographically unremarkable but that region was a veritable downs of undulation compared to endless evenness of this current scape. The word “plain” was well meant here.

Perhaps most remarkable were the many white mill-towers with their red or blue roofs and great wind-sails of red or white ever turning even in the light summer airs. Communities of them were founded at every sight of the compass, the tips of rotating sails even glimpsed peeping above the arc of the horizon green with row upon row of low-sprouting vegetables – carrots, beetroots, radishes and chives. An uncommon sight in the Page – where much milling was done by ox-drawn stones – Economous watched these windmills with keen fascination, leaning out over the door sash to crane his neck and stare if the road took them close to one of the marvellous devices. In their shadows and out amongst almost every field toiled a greater multitude of moilers and other labouring folk, a far greater number than Economous had ever beheld during his child-years, each – man or woman – dressed peculiarly baggy breaches of white or faun, gathered  about their shins and bulging at the thighs.

At the sprawling rural focus of Swaddle Tunp the rotund gentleman and his consort left the journey, to be replaced the next morning by a fellow of advancing years who smelt strongly of skolding parts. The vertical stripes he bore upon his face to show that he was indeed a monster-slaying skold. This new passenger must have been most talented at his profession: There is no such thing as an old teratologist went the axiom yet here he sat.

“Hello and good morning, sir,” Economous tried, wishing to express his admiration, a similar greeting falling flat once again upon the young fan-flicking lady.

“I can see that you are a measuring man and I will grant most readily that your kind are a boon upon the road,” the old skold said with a glare from eyes especially and penetratingly pale. “But I am not interested in chitter chatter, sir, and ask of you the peace to travel quiet and unmolested by empty words.”

Eyes still hid under the rim of her tricon yet clearly smirking, the fan-flicking lady hid her amusement behind her fan.

Economous returned his gaze to the sash.

By sheer frequency the marvels of the region wore out their charm as the steadily passing vista proved unchangingly horizontal, and despite the miles shared, his fellow passengers remained self-possedly unengaging so that the young fabulist found himself nodding. Resting his head upon his bundled coat – unneeded in the heat of the cabin – he lost great stretches of road to his recollection, the journey becoming a strange cycle of boarding, sleeping, eating, disembarking at some new town: Swaddle Tunp, Eg Harbidge, Sulking Mede, Boston – each remarkably similar to the last, each a place only to sleep until the small of the next day when the sequence began again.

By the seventh day travelling between the low sturdy bastion of Fauquemberg and Poonemünd – the last concentration of population of the eastern Sulk – landscape and architecture did change. The ground began to undulate and grow craggy with grey granite boulders thatched with dull green lichen rising up from fields now whitening with the heads of buck-wheat, barley and spelt, tossing and rippling in the gentle warmth. The dry stone walls about fields became higher and more often began to form the foundation for thick thorny hedges that now obscured the once wide and open view from the carriage window just when the scene was becoming more interesting. Once proceeding flat upon the flat land, the road began to dip and rise and cut long furrows into the hilly earth. Pines and cedars grew now in dark copses upon hillock tops or in tight windbreaks across in growing count of low ridgelines. The people the lentum passed – day-walking postmen amblers, itinerant soup-sellers, cart-driving farmers – did not grin or wave as the more westerly denizens of the Sulk had done but went about with frowning inward expressions despite the glorious bright of the waxing summer.

The post-lentum arrived at Poonemünd as the wondrous yellow glare of a pristine sunset draped every westerly surface in solar gold, making steady way along a broad unpaved street of sun-hardened dirt, rutted and rough yet lit rather incongruously down its middle by a line of fine lamps. The journey terminating at the wayhouse, [wayhouse name], a complex of low, sole-storied, wide-roofed quadrangles connected by covered walks.

“Commerce bain’t as steady regular as one might reckon betwixt them easternly folk and us,” the lentermen informed Economous as the fellow put his mark upon the two remaining passengers’ Ticket-of-Passage. “Dour and close, they keep well to themselves and well may it continue so. We won’t be trundlin’ yonder” – he nodded to the arc of pallid eastern sky already glimmering with the night’s first stars above the red-tiled roof of the wayhouse coachyard – “until I have a full count o’ passingers – not worth the wear or worry elsewise.”

Increasingly keen to be at his new work, Economous thought this a remarkable inconvenience. However, his fellow passenger – the young fan-flicking woman in the fashionable garb who had shared the whole journey with scarce a word – took this information with a patient nod and proceeded directly into the common room of the Cradle & Manger.


Frustrated but helpless to alter affairs, Economous followed after.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

The Beginerringenine of Anno MMXIV

Welcome welcome to a new year!

Alas for 2013, t'was a lovely number now gone, the year itself full of twists and turns.

Normal transmission of Economous Musgrove will resume next week 6/1/2014 (that's how a date is logically writ in everywhere sensible ;p - a set of numbers expanding rationally in scale from least to greatest rather than some un-sensible jumble \o/ )

For those new, middle-arrived or just needing it, here is a link to the very beginning of Economous' tale - and I will be adding a button-widget-graphic thingo to the right that does the same: ECONOMOUS MUSGROVE: The Beginnering.

To tide us all over and as a murky kinda Yule-Christmas-New Year in-the-notion-of-some-sort-of-present-giving-malarkey thing I am well pleased to announce that March this new year (in Australia at least for now) the release of Tales of the Half-Continent (I wanted to call it Sensoria for reasons that I reckon will be clear once the stories are read, but was overruled).


Two stories set in the H-c (one already released in anthology, but now polished and with more WORDS[TM] added) involving new Sundergirdians doing their own thing (by which I mean NOT a sequel of MBT)

So, on we go and blessings to you all.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Economous Musgrove Chapter 8 Part 4

On time?!! How is this possible?!?!??!?

This chapter is the longest so far - 4 (!) parts to it. I seem to need to bang on with the travel bits :\

I had this small thought this morning about plotting ahead of time versus just winging it, and I think why I prefer to wing it (with a sense of direction/purpose mind) is that plotting seems to me more of a stand affar and determine from without, but I need to be in the meat with my characters, need to see and feel the tale with them in order to know/find where to go next. 

Winging it is more fraught but I feel like I share the journey rather than dictating from above, as it were.

Oh, and not that this is important, but this is still the pre-written "stuff" - though the fear-facing is going on as I now start to lay track before the very wheels of the moving train.


Economous

musgrove

    
© D.M.Cornish
PLEASE DO NOT PUBLISH OR REPRODUCE WITHOUT MY PERMISSION

Chapter 8 PART 4
The Sulk & Through

A thump and shout and Economous started awake in his makeshift berth, humours pounding inexplicably in his ears, sleep driven from him. He cast about wildly, thinking himself beset by some strangling violence but quickly realised his place, and the choking sensation simply his stock twisted uncomfortably in his sleep. In the strange twilight he could see a bargeman grinning at him like the foolish city lubber he must have seemed and straightening his harness, Economous pulled and settled his baldric of concometrist mottle to remind the fellow that he was not just some daft naivine.

“Weal morning,” he said to cover his own chagrin.

The fellow appeared to get the implication for he left off his idiot smirking and with an acknowledging shrug and a “Weal morning,” in reply, went back to what ever labour it had been that had most likely woken Economous in the first.

Stretching a yawn and peering ahead, Economous was surprised to see a great town – indeed a veritable city – shadowed against the eastern arc of sky ruddied by the approaching sun.

Here was Proud Sulking, great riverine trading port of the Sulk, the Idlewild and the lands beyond.

By steady cycling of the cromster’s gastrines they travelled all through the night and now arrived with the dawning, drawing to the long addit wharfing of Proud Sulking in line like proud rams-of-war treading stoutly into battle. Stretched well beyond the walls of the riverine city itself, the addit wharfs were heavy frames of swarthy wood raised on great blackened plinths of hard and slimy stone. Built at the time of the port’s foundation  – so Economous recalled from his readings – each slab had been mined from the granite quarries of Exodus and brought up river on barge to be sunk into the shore until they formed a solid platform nigh as longs as the coastal front of Brandenbrass herself. There was not one stretch of the quay that was not spiny with loading sheers of various function and size, many busy even now before the day was fully dawned.

Here the Douse Fish drew to halt at the tail of yet another a line of craft awaiting their call to berth and load or unload. Here the cromster’s boat was lowered and Economous’ chest and canvases and the box that held Miserichord were brought up from the hold to be stowed aboard it. Joined by River-master Patefract going ashore for his own business, Economous was rowed to one of several score low stone hards at the foot of the wharf where he was handed ashore while his goods roughly unloaded. Patefract having said nothing on the row, said nothing now and depart upon his own business with only the shortest glance and the merest tilt of a nod of goodbye.

Walking much of the mile of the southern arm of the addit, Economous found a great fortress-like entry house with three tall uncomfortably narrow doors through which folks were already passing in crowded shuffling line. Musketeers in Imperial harness of rouge and or – red and gold – stood fast on either side of each door, eyeing all comers sternly but not impeding the progress of the arrivals. A motto carved into the heavy lintel above the doors and their wardens read:

Adveho Totus vos Defessus Hucilluctorum

Come all ye weary wayfarers.

Economous smiled wryly. “Come and do what,” he muttered to himself.

The gate-wardens in Imperial mottle and grim admitting clerks waiting at the end of the long colonnade that kept three line of souls discrete from each other were familiar enough in their bullying officiousness. His nativity patent scrutinised and reluctantly verified and his meagre collection of chatels inspected, Economous was allowed to proceed through.

Released to the street beyond, Economous blinked at the glare of sun now rising above curtain wall and roof top, shooed away the many demanding offers of help and took a moment to right himself.

After his time in Brandenbrass – one of the the great cities of the not just the Soutlands but surely of the Sundergird itself – Proud Sulking seemed on the face smaller and quaint. For all its bustle and clutter; the close street and crowding evidence of great business, of lofty garner towers and eminent mercantile representations raised above domestic dwellings; all the mighty ceaseless labour of loading an endless line of barges, cromsters and prams with all the produce the old and fruitful leagues of the Sulk provided, this comparably noteworthy city lacked the ponderous feeling of ancient – dare he call it constipated – gravity that veritably throbbed from  even the dunkest alley of his onetime home. Strange – perhaps even revolting – to his inculcated senses, Proud Sulking did not smell of the vinegar of the sea, rather the usual horse-soil, brick-dust and wood-smoke of urban life was permated by the loamy, moldering fug of river-ooze and ploughed field. It was powerfully redolent of childhood and of home, odours that he had almost forgotten that filled him now with nameless misgivings.

Spying a coach-host – signed The Timely Boot – located opportunely up the street adjoining that on which the admitting house was found, he left his pondering Proud Sulking’s scant wonders and made directlyfor the establishment. Through the long yard full of horse teams in harness and hurrying porters, of luggage by the stack, of pails and baled hay, he entered the parenthis and its fare booths. As fast as another queue of people allowed, he hired a seat upon a post-lentum to take him the first stretch of his great overland quest.

“Where are ye destined?” came the commutation clerk’s question.

“Knapphausen.” Economous proclaimed the name as if it were deliverence itself: the last stop before ultimate success.

The clerk regarded him narrowly for a moment, as if he had just cursed. “I can writ ye the passage to Sulking Mede and Char Soster, but ye’ll have to shift for yeself to go beyond.”

Though Economous knew well enough that the cities of the Subtle Pall were states unto themselves and independent of the loose collection that had become of the Haacobin Empire, he was surprised to find such unfriendliness to the mere mention of one of its destinations.

“Then make shift I shall,” he said in parting as he took the handful of sheafs that were his Right-to-board and Ticket-of-Passage from post  to post along the Grand Trunk Road.

Alotted a number upon a slip of card – 143 – unable to find a seat in the congested commons of the parenthis, he availed himself of an untenanted nook between the left-most fare booth and a fine-looking long-clock tocking out the long wait.

Despite the sense great and ceaseless activity out in the coach yard and the steady cry of what seemed random slip card numbers, the cram of waiting passengers never seemed to get smaller. Refusing to crane his neck to watch the long-case clock beside him, the fabulist nodded from sheer boredom even as he stood, roused repeatedly yet incompletely by the tooting – loud even from within the commons of the parenthis – of lentermen’s parting horns.

Final amongst a collection of other numbers, his call came, “143!”

Out in the yard, Economous good’s were taken from him once more to be secured atop the roof of a fine looking post-lentum of deep glossy green.

“Mornin’, brother-measurer,” said the lone backstepper in winking greeting from his perch at the rear of the carriage.

“G-morning,” came Economous’ unready and fumbled reply. It was an odd quirk of society that lentermen held brotherhood with concometrists as fellow wayfarers – view that, whilst appreciated, was not reciprocated by the metricians. Regardless, it persisted.

Hauling himself into the cabin, the fabulist found with small sinking of disappointment that he was one of four passengers. He knew it was foolish to have thought it could be otherwise, but Economous felt that now he had finally arrived upon new shores his adventure was all his own, and that these three fellow wayfaring souls were only intruders on his quest. Squeezing next to a rotund fellow in surprisingly expensive coat, trying with only minor success to not knock people with Miserichord in its box, he smiled tightly at handsomely dressed lady across the barely manageable gap between knees. If he had to share his lentum then to accompany such a damsel went a goodly way to ameliorating his frustration.

Brown curls of hair caught up in a travelling shawl of deep and fashionable green beneath a gleaming black tricorn that kept much of her face in shadow within the gloom of the cabin, the lady regarded Economous silently as he fumbled aboard. At his greeting she flicked her fan smartly apparently against the already heavy warmth within the cabin but said nothing. And when the bautis-box inevitable knocked her skirted knee, she snapped her fan shut with a snap and quicker than blinking, tapped knocking the over-long bautis as if it were the source of all discomforts. She then looked away as if Economous no longer existed.


Swallowing down his embarrassment, Economous looked out the window at whatever he could fix his gaze upon, as with a toot of the cockrobin’s horn and shouts of, “As ye please, gentles, as ye please!” from the sidearms man, the cabin lurched and the lentum was away.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Economous Musgrove Chapter 8 Part 3

Wow, pushing the limits here; that is what fear will do for you. 

Well, still some already material left though it has gaps in it: gaps where I do not know details of that moment but know what comes after. I will do that at times. This is a first draft so you are going to get all the lumps and bumps that come with that I am afraid. That said, I am actually pleased with how complete the text has been up to now (full of errors certainly, but no gaps of writing).

Any way, apologies for the extended delay, now on with the show.


Economous

musgrove

    
© D.M.Cornish
PLEASE DO NOT PUBLISH OR REPRODUCE WITHOUT MY PERMISSION

Chapter 8 PART 3
The Sulk & Through

By a ceaseless rotation of limbre and gastrine, the Douse Fish was kept at a cracking pace for so small a vessel, passing upon the ladeboard other craft guided by less impatient souls.

With the westering sun low in the wan blue dome of almost cloudless heaven, the cromster made the great rivergate with beats to spare, her timely advent hailed by a great din of frog chorus ringing from either weedy bank. Dark in the dusk-light against mounting billows of delicately orange clouds rising to the north and twinkling with a myriad lantern and window-lights, the Spindle entirely blocked the river ahead. Against the pallid element Economous could make out  the crenelations of the squat bastions that anchored it to either shore, and see its long low battlements crawling with people all moving with snail’s speed from right to left – east to west.

“Refuge-seekers,” the lady passenger said as if she and he had been in constant conversation all day, speaking with pointed volume to be heard of the squall of frog-song. “They seek to escape the growing threat of monstrous uprising to the east. And hark,” she continued pointing to the sheoak lined eastern shore where high-screened barges disgorged companies of pediteers in the rouge and juverd – red and yellowed green – mottle of Useless. “The city-states begin to mass their soldiers.”

Economous beheld the mass of moving martialing souls on bridge and bank in amazement. “The threat is truly that grave?”

The woman looked at him sidelong. “Yes,” was all her answer.

It was Economous turn to look at her. “And has it reached up to the Undermeer?” he asked, fearing the answer.

“I do not yet know,” was the reply. “I presume that is your journey’s end?”

“Aye,” Economous nodded slowly. “That it is.”

“SEIZE ALL LIMBRES! RIDE THE TREADLE!” Patefract bawled, cutting conversation short.

Immediately the poor cromster was again put to shudders as her pace was arrested and she was brought with handiness of long experience to join the end of the line of vessels all waiting for their turn to pass through the impenetrable fortification. Pacing at the steerboard beam of the tiller, Mister Patefract fretted the much desired summons by the rivergate masters while his small crew worked to unstep the single mast and lay it secure upon the deck. Muttering and glowering at the flag-bearing masts that rose from the central hornwork of the Spindles, the master let out a wordless bark when the Douse Fish’ number was finally signalled with the instruction to proceed.

With tell-tale shudder, the cromster drew into one of the four low tunnels through which vessels were let upstream. Passing under the daggered teeth of a ponderous black-iron portcullis, Economous felt a strangely anxious thrill – a silly little fear that they would not be allowed on for some reason. Here on a low stone pier to the ladeboard-side along with the usual waterside cablemoors stood a coterie of excise clerks and their guards, each proofed in black and all looking drawn and drooping in the stark light of their night flares after a day long of ceasless scrutiny. So very much like the inky, neck-stiff clerical souls of the city, Economous paid scant heed to their preamble as they declared their right Imperial to step onto the Douse Fish’ sacred deck, marvelling instead at the grimy arch of stone a scarce arm’s reach above where dark algaes glistened with the sweat of tunnel-confined water. The cromster was tied, the excise clerk’s came aboard review the bill of lading and the other passenger made her leave.

“The dove’s flight carry you safe to your harbour, Mister Some-time,” she said, offering this odd parting with the slightest of curtsies.

“Oh, travel well, good lady,” Economous bade in farwell, half-standing and fumbling his hat from his head in surprise, amazed to discover that this woman was even shorter than she had seemed whilst seated.

“Indeed,” she said. “If you do happen to discover that nickers threat your destination please send me word of it.” She passed him an unexpected item – a calling card inscribed with a name and more amazingly an occupation:


Dolours of Herbroulesse (Ly)
Laude to the August of the Right of the Pacific Dove


This woman was a calendar!

Yet before Economous could press for more, this Dolours of Herbroulesse sprang warrior-nimble to the stone quay with a flash of parti-hued leggings showing through the flaring shirt of her coat and hurried through a heavy iron-bound door that lead by a low arch off the stone quay of the tunnel pier.

Cries from the pier and a officious bow from the chief of the excise clerks told of the Douse Fish’ worthiness to proceed. With shouts of his own and, Patefract had the cromster continue “under limbres,” as he ordered it.

“Half ahead by limbres,” Patefract ordered loudly, smiling finally in satisfaction – an expression that looked positively wicked on so uncongenial a face.

As the cromster came out of the tunnel a bright pink sibaline flare shot from a central bastion into the darkening sky, informing all approaching vessels from either south or north that they would have to moor for the night in the shadow of the impassable wall. With sullen clang and a ponderous splash a great black portcullis dropped behind them as if to add punctuation to the signal: no other was passing through today.

But the labour of the Douse Fish was not done. Despite the closing day, the faithful little craft was made to tread on, pressing upstream as above her, her crew and sole passenger a slow spectacle of tiny cosmic lights came out in ones and twos until the entire dome of sky blazed with spangled fire. Catching a line of other vessels visible only as low shadows on the faintly glistening water and single dancing mast lamps, Patefract joined his course to their their’s, becoming now the tail of this improvised squadron. At first the vessels kept to the left – that is, the ladeboard and in this moment western – side of the river’s flow, allowing way for south- and sea-ward bound vessels to pass unhindered upon the right. Yet as they wore on in silent north-bound convoy each vessel began to prefer a course as close to the middle of the river as was reckoned prudent, as if their masters were by mystic accord reluctant to remain near the ladeborad shore. Chimes – or late supper – was softly called and the meal-time conversation amongst the Douse Fish’ small crew gathered at the bow happened in a hush, every sentence accompanied by vigilant furtive glances to the western landfall.

Sitting now upon the deck, back propped against the bit, Economous ate his own meagre repast from Bidbrindle’s thoughtful parting parcel – pan-bread, best Wretcher wide-cheese and parched apple parings – and kept his own puzzled watch upon the ladeboard shore. “May I ask why you have taken port on the opposite bank to your course?” he inquired of a passing bargeman.

“’Tis an unhappy stretch o’ ribbon is all, sir,” the fellow muttered with a nictating wink. “Discomfittin’ sounds and causeless spookings. Yet fear not; harm seldom happens.”

Yet as it had been with the teratologists, rather than frightening him, the intelligence that monsters might be lurking in shadows and tangles scarcely the length of a long field away aroused only intense fascination. Wrapping himself in his coat like a blanket, he stared scarcely blinking to the dark western shoreline, wishing he had a laggards eyes to pierce the black blank and spy what manner of hobpossums might be skulking there. He listened pointdly yet no discomforting sounds came to him across the river but the gentle plash of earthen-reeking water pushed aside by the blunt blade of the cromster’s bow and the endless batrachian chorus ringing out from the reedy mud. Undisturbed by man or monster, it was as if every tribe of frog had turned out to bellow from the sodden grime – long low hoomings, metalic ringings, repetative baritone mutterings and high pingings that almost gratted in the ear – a raucous trilling concord that did not cease even when late coming Phoebë raised her lumpen lunar dial above the dark eastern line of trees.

With the moon’s arrivial Economous made a bunk for himself where he lay. Draping his cloak over himself and doubting any prospect of sleep, he set himself to witness the transit of the celestial glories as he had once done on secret night excursions as a child. Trying to summon the ephemerides the tables showing seasonal planetary positions and subject of no small count of examinationaries at Athingdon Athy – to mind, he determined himself to witness the transit of tiny Jekyll across Maudlin’s midnight face. Yet as the great constellations – Vespasio, Medise Toxothene, Vauxall, the Tides and the Lots with luck-plagued Droid twinkling so innocently from within – span in radiant glory across the benighted dome, the silent rhythmic throb of the cromster’s gastrines and the gentle yawing of the deck lulled him…


                                                *          *          *          *          *