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.



© D.M.Cornish

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.



© D.M.Cornish

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…

                                                *          *          *          *          *

Monday, December 02, 2013

Economous Musgrove Chapter 8 Part 2

So, the inner wobbliness continues, by which I mean my uncertainty about many things, most especially: do I make the journey a "thing" (perhaps too repetitive of MBT)? Or, do I expedite the journey for a change, give a sense of the passing vista, making note of important highlights, but cutting to the chase plotwise?

The urge is strong (as ever) to show the Half-Continent for its own sake, but I fear that my urge here is less geographic completeness and more a fear of getting into the meat and potatoes of why I even began this story in the first.

You can see with this week's offering that the former has been my current approach...

Plotting ahead is one thing, but I have found there are just some points in a story where I will not know what happens in it or lies ahead until I have actually written that scene and been through it with my characters and seen how they all react together thus revealing the next step/s.



© D.M.Cornish

Chapter 8 PART 2
The Sulk & Through

Slowly the Douse Fish got under way, treading with gradually gaining pace down channels marked among the collection of other vessels great and small by long heavy posts driven into the harbour bed, their scarlet painted tops pointing high out of the milky element. Ahead of her a pilot’s longboat of twelve oar somewhat redundantly – or so Economous thought – lead the way, its oarsmen straining to keep at speed.

Clear of the general crowding traffic of Middle Ground, the pilot boat signaled with the solemn waving of a large red burge. With a second, deeper shudder, the Douse Fish shook herself and quickly gathering a couple more knots, pointed north-east, setting for a course up the coast.

As the slowly turning long-boat was left behind, sea-birds Economous could identify as [………] terns and a few larger mollyawks squabbled and squawked as they flocked above the departing cromster. Diving and darting, they shot with a staccato of splashes into the roiling wake of the gastrin-vessel, each coming up with a wriggling flash of scaly silver in their long bills.

“They feed on fish,” remarked his fellow passenger, speaking at last, her voice having a soft musical lilt as one from the southern states of the Patricine. “And these in their turn come up from safer depths to feed on the effluent ejected from the pull below our feet,” by which she meant the gastrines arranged in a line about the treadle of the screw.

“Do they, indeed. I have ne’er seen a gastrine functioning before,” Economous said evenly then added in low and subtle irony. “Do you think the goodly captain would grant me a grand tour of the workings?”

The woman looked at him sharply then apprehending he was playing a jest, smiled wryly – an experssion that cracked her solemn mein like unexpected sun through winter storms. “I have it on good authority that he does,” she returned with equal satire. “Preceded by a grand luncheon of Pondeslee cheese, hart’s tongue and green-garnished spreadeagle – made from genuine eagle and not the usual whimbrels or craw-buzzards – all washed with the finest Equamine grass-wine.”

“After which he regales us with cheerful tales of all his near-misses and calamities turned to fortune,” Economous continued with a laugh, drawing an audible growl from Mister Patefract at his wheel. “Economous Musgrove, illuminator and sometime concometrist,” he offered introduction at last, touching a knuckle to the brim of his black tricorn. “At your service.”

Some-time concometrist,” came the flat reply. The woman arched a brow once more and saying nothing else, retreated into herself again and stared out at their heading.

The conversation went still as smartly as it had begun.

The Douse Fish pressed on towards a mighty bastion rising out of the white water. Cauda Caputum it was called; a slope-sided, flat-topped stronghold of brick and stone, appearing squat despite its great size, the northern-most bastion of the arx maria – five mighty sea-fortresses that rung the waters of the city about. Passing Cauda Caputum upon the left – the ladeboard as it was properly called in maritime service – Economous could make out Fidelis Fidës off to their right in the haze of middle distance, the next arc in the ring. Enormous spandarions of sable and leuc chequey – black and white checks – flew above them both, the proud flag of Brandenbrass at sea.

Past the grim watch of these arx the sea seemed released and set willingly to an increasingly powerful wallowing heave of wave that lifted and dropped the cromster’s deck in a ponderous rolling motion. Though the two passengers were far enough back to avoid much of the caustic spindrift that sprayed up and out from the blunt bow, a stinging mist pervaded the air, making Economous’ eyes red and winking sore. All this alarmed him at first, yet the handful of crew tending the weatherdeck did not show any concern and so the young illuminator grit his teeth and made a good showing. His first time ever at sea, Economous was gratified to find he did not suffer the sea-ills as most lubbers were wont of suffering especially upon a maiden voyage.

Taking out the salvaged confusion of pages that was his numrelogue – kindly rebound by Binbrindle as best as could with viol gut – Economous wrestled the spray and heave of wave to draw the small common wonders of the sea: the blunt headlands that served as their sea-marks, their vinegar-washed foundations craggy with scores of scabrous rocks serving as home to birds and fat waddling creatures – seelows he believed they were called – lazily baking themselves in the summer heat and bellowing cantankerously with every twitch or fart of the neighbours; dark olive-drab weed-wrack hissing past the cromster’s hull; a constant opportunistic escort of whimbrel gulls and terns hovering over the vessel’s mucky wake; discarded casks of every dimension bobbing by in a nigh-continuous flotilla – puncheons, barrels, hogsheads, even a great butt knocking with a damp hollow gonging upon the iron-clad hull of the Douse Fish; and always the pressing sweet-yet-sour reek of the ocean.

Once or twice the young illuminator stood to get a better view of some bird or flotsam only to arouse ire from Mister Patefract.

“Sit ye down, sir!” the master’s growl would come from the tiller-post behind. “Yer ticket fee dun’t cover me a-swimming to fetch ye out o’ th’ wine and none of me mateys know how to paddle to git ye.”

Remaining always in he place, his fellow passenger regarded the entire unfolding scene with serene uninterest.

Despite her slight size, her master plied the Douse Fish with skill as she hopped her way from headland to headland up the north-western coast of the Grume, so that by mid morning the little vessel made the Gullet where the great Humour river poured into the sea. Two low towers were there, one – the Underend – rising from the muck of the estuarine marshlands of the Sough on the Humour’s western shore, the other – the Over End – lifted upon great foundation-stones out of the very midst of the mighty river’s mouth. Under the watch of these fortalice, the Douse Fish joined several score of other vessels collecting from all compasses of the southern seas and even from far off and more fabled ports, marshalled before the western side of the river-mouth in a loose line stretching out to sea. On their right – to the east and beyond the bastion of Over End – Economous could see as many vessels as were labouring to enter the Humour, coming out of the same, hurried on under the river’s heavy outward push out into wild and open water. He could only marvel at the bizarre and impossible places some of them might be bound for, and felt a sault of joy that he too was on adventure to an alien destination. Squatting upon his rough seat before the helm, Economous stared in wonder at the gathered craft: many many cromsters of a surprising variety of lengths; lines of barges both laden and empty in the draw of iron-clad sheers-drudges; great shallow-draughted prams wide and flat to hold vast cargoes.

Upon the west of these, closer to shore in the quieter waters kept by the governing shadow of the Under End tower, a makeshift fleet of packets waited – light, two-masted sailers, each with signalling burge flags flying, requesting a tow behind any willing gastriner through the contrary surge of the out-flowing river. There was a time before gastrine vessels when such as these would have had to haul themselves through the churning eddys in their own boats by oar and arm alone. Indeed in these more enlightened times some still might, for though it was proper maritime practice for a gastriner to answer a Request for Towage, it was not – unless in time of open war – an absolute law. For the sailers moored by the Gullet it was a genuine lot-cast as whether a haul would be offered them or not by the masters of the muscle-driven vessels so commonly in their own hurry.

The Douse Fish trod within hailing distance of one such vessel – close enough for Economous to read Emperorfly upon her prow plate – and its master immediately called with great shouts for the cromster to heave to and throw the sailer a cable.

With a curse of, “Pullets and cockerils!” for the delay, Mister Patefract proved himself in some stripe a noble fellow after all and, slowing to a dead crawl had the loose end of the heavy, much-prized rope rowed in the cromster’s sole jollyboat to the needy packet.

Under proper tread again, the Douse Mouse took the weight of the Emperorfly in her stride at first, further into the Gullet she began to struggle against the full and mighty weight of southward pushing flow. With all limbres to the screw, the cromster shuddered as the muscles inside her gastrine boxes strained against the inexorable flow of the dark primordial river pouring into the milky waters of the vinegar sea. Economous clung to the sole mast as Douse Mouse – surely about to shake herself to flinders under her master’s obstinate command – juddered and heaved beneath the young illuminator’s unsteady feet. With a final lurch, the effluent surge let them go and cromster pushed her way into calm of the river proper, pulling a grateful Emperorfly with her. Yet Barge-master Patefract was far from content. Without pause the sour fellow ordered his own towage cable cast loose rather than lose precious moments in its proper retrieval, and so released of the sailer’s weight drove the hard-working craft on.

“We’ll nay make it, we’ll nay make it,” he kept grumbling to himself, determined to make the fortified rivergate of the Spindle before close of day when the fortress watchmen retired for the evening. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Economous Musgrove Chapter 8 Part 1

Two days missing!?! 

I think I am getting the jitters, for we are actually now in the lumpy parts of the story; that peculiar wilderness between what is definitely written, what is still being formed, and what has yet to be writ.

This is where my First Draft will really be showing.

Those of a praying persuasion, please pray that I face the fear of writing before your very eyes, because I very much want to get this story told, hence showing it to you all in the first, but fear is my constant opponent.

Regarding last week's questioning, it is a salient point that the serialised nature of this tale promotes pondering on what is next because there is only short bursts of words with a significant pause in between. 

Also, I am sorry if I gave the impression of not appreciating the deeper insights into the flow and direction and implications of these: I value such musings greatly (tho not just simple guessing/showing away about the plot, but genuine full-expressed wonderings) - indeed, they have at times given me insights into what I am doing I could not have had myself. So, thank you musing folks.



© D.M.Cornish

Chapter 8 PART 1
The Sulk & Through

gastrine(s) ~ great muscles grown especially in boxes –  usually made of bronze- or iron bound wood  - and used to drive treadles whose motion is used originally and chiefly to provide motivation for rams (naval gastrine vessels) and packets (articled gastrine vessels). In more recent decades they have also become more widely employed in the manufacture of mill-worked goods: beating metal,grinding grains, turning looms, and making many folks very wealthy in the process. ALSO stachel ~ said "STA-kl", a spine, especial one grown upon the back.

Too excited to sleep, Economous spent the night in preparation, which consisted mostly of packing, examining, re-packing and re-examining his meagre count of possession. The heaviest items to bring were his foldable easle that had seen little use in the last few months but would be useful indeed over the next; and a small carter’s trunk holding spare smallclothes,  the few books he still owned – every blank leaf scrawled with drawings, his modest collection of paints and brushes, a pair of handsomely buckled mules that had somehow survived his regular system of pawning – and would be good to wear come his first presentation to his patroness, and his sole threadbare blanket – such a friend for so many cold winter nights he could not bare to leave it to be sold. Rolled inside a hempen sack, he placed three blank, unstretched canvases of various dimension. Rather than wrestle the bulk of made frames all the way from Brandentown to the domain of his mysterious patron, he planned to construct them from wood he was sure would he could find once he had arrived at his journey’s terminus. Wondering at first if he might leave the dread tool behind, he wrapped Miserichord in his sole spare shirt and placed inside a narrow wooden box – the purpose of which or how he came to have it he could not recall – with a leatherned strap like the sword-holding bautis boxes carried by sabrine adepts.

The morning of the eighth day of the second summer month dawned with a cackle of magpies upon the neighbouring roof waking him from his slump upon the tandem. Leaving the sale of his remaing paltry goods in the hands of Bidbrindle – who promised to forward what ever profit he could garner as soon as Economous could furnish him with an established address – Economous farewelled his tiny garret, descended the geriatric stair for the last time. Half way down he was met my by Bidbrindle himself coming out from his own second storey abode.

“A-hey! The adventurer off to seek his making,” the older man greeted him.

“Aye, or bread and bunk, at least.” The young illuminator smiled, putting the carter’s trunk down with a clumsy thud so as to get a better hold on it.

“Well, let it not be that the heldin is set on his way unsung,” Bidbrindle returned. “Or unfed.” He flourished a canvas flour bag, tied with a hair-ribbon lumpy with foodstuffs. “Allow me to assist you with your heavier articles, I shall come with you to bid your farewell from the hard.”

Economus did not know what to say. His innards griped with sudden regret at abandoning so true a man as the violin-maker.

“You have elected to wear your metrician’s cingulum, I see,” Bidbrindle observed quickly, seeking to spare them further discomfort.

“Aye,” Economous returned with a duck of his head and a shrug, tugging at the black sash about his shoulder and chest that showed his to be a full-measuring concometrist. It made him feel like an imposter, but it could ease the path ahead, especially with the more clerical set – unless they were an abacus-trained mathematician, of course.

“Very wise, sir,” the violin-maker pressed on even quicker, seeing his first attempt fail. “Everyone likes a member of the Amicable Fraternity of Athenaeus.”

Passing through the tiny vestibule some small part of him still wanted for the vaunted door – that old portal to both fear and bliss – to spring open this one last time and for Asthetica to fling her lithely arms about him in weeping apology.

It did not and she did not.

For only the third time since he had come to Brandenbrass and the second time in a week, Economous hired a takeny from the To-Market, directing the stripe-coated driver to [……NAME OF EC’s HOUSE PLEASE!], there to pick up the carter’s trunk, easle and faithful Mister Bidbrindle with them. The journey to the harbour was startlingly brief and all too soon Economous found himself – not really feeling like himself the whole time – stepping off from mildewed steps at the bottom of the Queen’s Wharf Hard and into a jollyboat already waiting to take him to his vessel.

“Fare thee well, good sir!” Bidbrindle cried from the top of the stonepace wall. “Write me that I might boast of you success to all who need tell of it!”

“I will!” Economous cried in return, his voice cracking clutching the flour-bag of vittles had passed to him in farewell like it was a treasured keepsake. “I will!

“Sit ye down, ye bloat-brained looby!” the master of the boat skolded roughly. “Who wants yer fussin’s to make us over-tip and miss gate-shut at the Spindles!”

Amongst the great number of receiving vessels gathered in the outer moorings of Middle Ground, Economous’ vessel – the Douse Fish – looked disconcertingly small. She was a cromster – this much he could see by sight of her: a river-going craft that was surely scarce large enough for even the relative tranquillity of the inshore waters of the north western Grume. Climbing the short side ladder and handed aboard with the disdainful aid of a young bargeman, he was gratified to find that the craft was neatly turned out at least, neither rusted or cluttered with lumber and unravelled rope as was the common lubberly view of all sea-going vessels. While his carter’s trunk and his canvases were heft aboard and sent down to the hold, he presented himself and his commutation ticket to an ancient fellow standing by the long hefty tiller beam at the helm who he presumed to be the diminutive vessel’s master.

“ Mister Patefract,” he said with gracious nod, flourishing the ticket to be verified by this age-ed sea dog.

Close to the man now, Economous observed a face white-wiskered and ruddy red, the flesh scarred with white dotted cicatrices and the tiny, burrow-like pits of a life spent upon the vinegar seas.

“I cannot vouch for what them inky boobies at the certifying establishment told ye…” the vessel’s master drawled, squinting suspuciously at the paper held before him then up to Economous’ slightly disconcerted face,“Mister Musgrill. Yet I am reckoning they likely failed to collect ye, sir, that the ’Fish is not some fiddling-worked ducal caroucelle with more bunks than batteries.” He uttered these otherwise sardonic words with the flatness that could only come from constant repetition. “Ye’ll find no pillow for ye to lay yer head tonight – the deck will be yer berth as it will be mine and yonder barge-fellows.” He nodded backwards to a crew of two man-handling Economous’ stores below: the rest of yonder barge-fellows were presumably below deck to ready limbres and gastrines for the great push out to sea. “Only the gastrineer gets the privilege of keeping dry below decks and for that he must suffer the gutline’s reek. Sleep or wake as ye please, but stay ye clear of me crew and their labours. And that long lump o’ lumber ye have there,” he went on with a second nod, now to the narrow box holding Miserichord, “will have to go below: stachels on shoulders is one thing, but I’ll not have such above until ye reach yer harbour.”

“Very good, Mister Patefract,” Economous answered, not knowing what else to say. Despite the slight fee he had paid for his ticket, he had hoped for a little more. All disappointments be dashed! he schooled himself as he passed the offending article to a stowing bargeman. He was on his way to brighter days and that was all the purpose of life answered.

His oft-rehearsed speech now done, with scarce more than growls the river-master gestured to a rough bench formed from a line of puncheons sawn in half and fixed together between two wooden riding bits before the sole mast. Another soul cloaked from neck to ankle in a long oil-hide despite the balmy morn was already sat there, clutching cloak to throat and staring fixedly away to open waters on the right. As Economous – with a tip of his tricorn – bade this other whom he assumed to be his fellow passenger good morning he felt a shudder transmit from the pale slightly bowed deck through his feet and up his shanks. This surely was the gastrines – the boxes of living muscle that propelled all such vessels through the hostile waters – being released to action.

His fellow passenger glanced ever so briefly to him, thus revealing herself to be a woman. Neither obviously young nor noticably old, her faced was striped on each side with pale parallel  bands that came from under the band of her own tricorn, going over either eye, down the cheeks and around the line of her jaw – the markings of a skold.

The lady skold nodded but said nothing and returned to her inspection of the outer reaches of the harbour.

“Sit, will ye, sir!” Mister Patefract barked from his station by the tiller behind. “Or wind and wine help me, I’ll lash ye to the polemast!”

Economous sat.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Economous Musgrove Chapter 7 Part 3

Alas, with Supanova Adelaide now done I have the post con blues, but such trifles are not enough to stop Economous from pushing on!

To those who are seeking to guess what is happening next, it may come as some surprise to you that if my stories have plot twists these are not nor have ever been intentional, and though some authors might (certainly tv script writers seem to anyway), I am not sitting at my keyboard rubbing cunning hands and playing some kind of guessing game with you all. 

If their are "twists" they are instead simply artefacts of me seeking to be true to my characters and to the Half-Continent most of all, and because the H-c is a foreign land with forces driving it different from our own, "twists" occur, it seems. Was this how you were reading the MBTs? Trying to fathom ahead how things were going to turn out? 

(I do not do this myself, so I find the practice strange - I have always thought a story best enjoyed if each moment is savoured and I leave the telling and what is ahead to the director/author/whoever.)



© D.M.Cornish

Chapter 7 PART 3
Opportunity Unlooked For

In the bright cheer of a warm Estor morning promising a hotter day, Economous – dressed in full coat, high shirt collar and neckerchief despite the waxing heat – finally set a step outside the warren of his garret. With many a wary glance to left and to right he hurried his way to the harbour where the many commutation offices were, eschewing common paths in favour of an obscure route less likely to be patrolled by those not local living. His way took him to seaward precincts of the harbour’s edge where the closer to the powerful stink of the palid, acrid waters of the harbour the city drew, the more tumbledown it became. For the more well-to-do souls were, the further back from the reek they sought to dwell and to work – most of the city’s peers living in the hilly suburbs beyond the first curtain wall – as if to escape the bitter reality of the hostile waters. Even the Brandendirk – the Archduke’s palace and the cities chief seat of government – was built well inland. Economous had read once that it was the reverse in Gottland: that for their noble classes it was considered a sign of the strength of their breeding to live as near the sea-stink as possible, building out even over the smashing waves that were a feature of those distant waters.

It was the reverse for comutation agents too.

Proximity to the sea was prized for its convenience to the very vessels for which each agent acted and all the best crowded the main strands that ran along the very rim of the city’s many elevated stone pace – great structures of stone, brick and mortar lifting the sea-side districts safe from the monster-infested waters. Consequently it was in lanes and walks the tunneled off from these high strands that the cheaper – and generally shabbier – commutation agents were to be found. And, as a seldom contradicted rule, the shabier the agent, the shabier the vessels they represented.

 As for himself, Economous had grown well used to the smell by now, and standing now on the stoop of [AGENT NAME & ADDRESS], found in a dingy perpendicular alley, he drew in a lung-full of the odour before entering the file. He still remembered vividly his own very first proper smell of the vinegar seas; stinging, over-sweet yet caustic at once, bringing back a time in childheood when his father had spilt embalming douse all over the kitchen floor. The reason for such an expensive mishap in so incompatible a location remained vague yet disquieting even to this day, though Economous well recalled that at the time he and his mother – under her tearful insistence – spent a goodly long time living in the kinder-smelling hospitality of their next door neighbour’s tiny back room.

Purchasing the cheapest commutation ticket possible – twelve whole sequins or a week’s labouring wage – from a blandly mannered clerk, Economous was set to depart on the least costly receiving vessel warping a course to Boschenberg very early in two mornings’ time.

“The Douse Fish is the vessel’s gazetted name,” the commutation clerk intoned. “Its master one Mister Patefract.”

“Is it a good vessel?” Economous asked before he thought. “Sea-fit or whatever the saltdogs call them?”

The clerk regarded him with a mixture of required patience and barely vieled scorn. “I cannot say, sir,” he said and added meaningfully as he collected the fee. “I believe in our line you get what you pay for.”

With nought else to offer, Economous passed over on of the dazzling new coins of his down-payment.

“What is this, sir?” the clerk arched a brow at the glittering geld.

“It is… gold, sir,” Economous returned mildly, thinking fast. “Surely you do gold?”

“It is also not proper tender, sir,” the man blinked long-sufferingly at him. “Sous, oscadrils, staters, grassus, hours, Hergott doubles, Turkic lots and even Sebastian imations we do, but that” – he continued to regard the coin as if it were nothing more than a slip of paper with the word money writ bold upon it – “we do not. Find a benchman and git this changed into something useful… Or better yet, take it to one of those learn-ed wiseacres at the Pike Athy who could buy it off you to put on wondrous display,” the froward fellow concluded in a tone that spoke of anything but wonder. “On either course, no ticket will be issued without genuine denominations.”

Economous had thought the gleam of genuine gold would move folk to be far more willing, but it appeared that the avoidance of bureaucratical tribulations was prized higher. Half the district, two thirds of the day and four benchmen later, Economous at last found some one willing to do more than snort or sniff or scowl at his alien billions.

“That’s a Samnian knot!” this fourth benchmen – one Mister [………BRILLIANT NAME HERE………], Handler & Exchange, according to his well-polished sign on the shop’s door post – finally responded, speaking through rotten teeth and straggling greasy moustachio like the drooping wiskers of a cat. Despite these most obvious disadvatages, the fellow was finely turned out in well-cut frockcoat, his  solitaire properly tied about a pristine white collar.

 “From the lost kingdom of Samé?” Economous replied, recognising the name from his athenaeum learning.

“Aye, aye, Samé, Samnë – ‘tis all apples,” the benchman returned. “Where in the blighted here and vere did ye find such trove? Ye di’n’t steal ‘em, did ye?” he pressed with a scowl, drawing himself up indignantly. “I’m no fence for pilfer, sir!”

Economous straightened too, puffing his cheeks at the accusation, refusing the fright and the inwardly repeating scene of the fight on the Prandial with Monsiere Blanquett and his all-too-eager roughs. “It is payment, man,” he retorted hottly, “from my patroness in the far-off Undermeer.”

The benchman’s dubious expression did not shift, yet he said no more on it and agreed to five sou for each coin less his handling fee, writing up ten crackling-fresh folding notes – one for each coin.

Of a sudden, Economous found himself in that single transaction pocket-filled with an entire year’s living. Oppressively aware of the sheer weight of wealth in his wallet as he stepped in a daze from the benchman’s shop, the young illuminator hurried back to [AGENT NAME & ADDRESS] to pay the commutation fee. Receiving yet more folding notes as change from the increasingly unamused clerk and, for only the second time in his entire life in Brandenbrass, Economous hired a takeny-carriage to carry him, money and all, safe back to Shaded Rafters.

As Binbrindle so sagely predicted, Madamine Grouse was indeed displeased to be told of such abruptly final departure.

“I must be allowed time to advertise for your replacement!” she declaimed tartly from her appartment door. “How am I to make my own small way in zis ugly city wizout a full list of lodgers?” She thrust her hand at him, open and empty always wanting more.

Behind her and turned out prettily in a white summer dress all wide whispering hems of the softest, purest cloth and a broad straw bonnet – obviously a preparation for some dazzling Midwich outing with her beau –  Asthetica pottered  in the saloon and made a point of not looking at him.

But Economous felt bold now that he was going and he would show these grasping women the full stretch of his bow – as Bidbrindle was fond of putting it. “This ought cover my obligation,” he retorted with equal severity and slapped one of his newly writ one sou notes onto the cold grasping palm of his landlady. It was likely well more than was needed, but worth the loss if just once, on this last occasion, it

Astounded to silence, the Madamine just blinked and the folding money, laying so crisp and brightly printed in her grip.

This oddly strangled silence drew Asthetica’s attention. “Ma-ma?” she asked, coming now to the door.

 “You stole it!” Madamine Grouse suddenly gasped, clutching the billion to her bosom in over-drawn shock.

“Ma-ma!” Aesthetica chided.

“He stole it,” the older woman insisted, waving the note like it was an alarum flag, “and now he is fleeing zis city for fear of ze duke’s justice!”

“I did not steal it, madam!” Economous grew loud. Why are folks so keen to cry this at me? “I have a patron!”

“So you have been playing pauper all this time, have you?” the sour-souled woman shifted flank as quick as any wily ambuscadier. “Fooling this poor soul, starving my precious daughter out of her food! But now it proves you are a-wash with coin!”

“I have a patron now, Madamine Grouse!” the illuminator insisted with yet greater volume which seemed to bring him space to speak at last. “An agent for a lady of the highest distinction called only yesterday. This great personage has sent for me especially from the Subtle Pall. Her, and that” – he nictated firmly to the glittering disc snatched so securely away – “is part of a down payment to retain my service. If it proves insufficient, madam,” he pressed, keen to keep the momentum of the shock, “then you may take what rent you like from the sale of my affects. You are welcome to it. I am leaving this city, probably never to return.”

At this Aesthetica finally beheld him in full and frank surprise.

 “Never to return?” she repeated in a small, strangely strangled voice.

Economous frowned and jutted his bottom jaw obstinately. “Aye,” was all he said in overly cold reply.

Occult thoughts clearly raced behind the perplexed quickly blinking gaze of his one time fixation, and her perfect Hamlin-bow lips seemed for a moment to quiver perhaps with emotion, perhaps about to speak… Yeet Asthetica said no more.

What was it to her that this was so? She already had her deep-pursed peer just as was always intended; Economous was free to go and do now just as winds blew and for once they were gusting his way.

“Well zen, good bye to you, sir,” Madamine Grouse returned with an abrupt stiffening of manner. “Maybe now I can get someone to pay proper rent for your room.” Reaching across her daughter to subtly yet bodily shove the confused girl back into to room, his landlady firmly shut the apartment door, gracing him with one last and peculiarly narrow-eyed glare before the portal closed with a telling final “thud”.