This was originally an opening PBEM post for my good buddy Tenebrae. It ran for about 20 episodes in the end.
You awaken suddenly, dreaming of the woman in white, the smell of her hair in your nostrils. As you turn your head to settle on the pillow, the moment is lost, and you listen for a while to the antique timepiece ticking loudly and regularly from the next room. It must be nearly midnight, you figure from the noise of the traffic outside. Box apartments like yours are cheap affairs, but this one was a steal, situated so close to a major magline. Your colleagues thought you were crazy, but you found the rumble and ever-present whines of passing cars’ engines helped you sleep. And after a lifetime of law enforcement, you need all the help you can get, to sleep.
Thursday, October 26, 1967
Albert Embankment, London
Amidst a haze of sodium orange thrown upon the street by the ancient Sturgeon lamps, a young woman stepped smartly through the sheeting rain, struggling with a particularly stubborn umbrella. Finally managing to erect the contraption, she shook herself, perhaps against the cool, gathering autumn breeze, and cast about for somewhere to sit. Spotting a bench, she withdrew a newspaper – some kind of broadsheet – from her suitcase, and trotted on particularly unsuitable heels to the seat, placed the paper on it, and sat down. Further rummaging in the suitcase, which obviously doubled as a handbag, produced a compact mirror, and she set about manhandling the unruly umbrella in the gusting wind and attempting one-handed to repair the damage to her hair, which she wore fashionably tight, slicked against her head. It would have showed her neck to good advantage, had her beige Burberry not had its collar pulled up against the weather. Continue reading
I remember quite clearly the moment when I first realised that the zombies – an entirely inappropriate term but a convenient one – were, for want of a better word, psychic.
Yes, that’s two words in one paragraph that aren’t really completely apt. Bear with me, I’m under a lot of pressure, and my vocabulary isn’t what it was. I also have a tendency to ramble if –
There I go again. I’ve got to watch that.
As I was saying. I realised that They were psychic, and that I wasn’t quite as mad as I thought, the evening I was able to observe one up close, by accident. Continue reading
“A man cannot be more than he is. This is the first truth.
Yet, a man must be all he can be. This is the first duty.”
Collected Teachings of Wun Sui-Tin, I
He would remember the moment for years to come; when the message arrived, he was lying on his front, face comfortably ensconced in a perfumed, chilled towel, enjoying what was perhaps the finest pummelling of his life so far. His eyes had long since ceased to study the intricate patterns hand-carved into the earthenware tiles of the floor but were not closed; they simply held themselves half-open, registering nothing, an arbitrary point fifteen feet away. Continue reading
The fragrance of rosemary!
An unburdened youth.
The arcane engineer is, at heart, a tinker, a lover of gadgets and gizmoes, obsessed with how things work and how they might be improved, for the benefit of the wider community, or for personal profit. These engineers have discovered that their little projects benefit enormously from their knowledge of spellcasting and arcane lore; by building artifacts and infusing them with magical energies, otherwise mundane items become infinitely more useful. Arcane engineers are thoughtful, careful planners and plotters, taking a decidedly strategic, informed approach to adventuring, but when pressed into action are shown to be hugely inventive, resourceful… and deadly. Continue reading
You’ve heard of Torchlight; you’ve probably heard it’s a “Diablo clone”. You’ve likely been told it has three similar characters – the grunt, the ranged specialist and the caster. I won’t waste your time by going over that. The spells go whizz, the satisfyingly crunchy melée criticals rock the screen, and the entire ensemble positively reeks of pixel-perfect gloss and near-steampunk, Warcraft-alike, chunky graphics.
You know all that. But what’s it like? Continue reading
A Thousand Words
Though pictures weigh a thousand words
(Just as some poet told us so),
I’d spin a yarn that spoke of birds
And thund’ry archipelago.
Eleven o’clock, December 24th, 1834
Dartmoor, Devonshire, England
He fell heavily and forwards into the snow, and as his palms stung with the contact he fought an urge to scream, to blister the surface of the world with his hatred and his impotent rage. As the muscles in his arms and shoulders buckled and trembled from overexertion, their inhuman power and stamina exhausted, he twisted and fell sideways, rolling onto his back as snowflakes gently descended and landed on his face. Unable to lift a hand to brush them away, he smiled a cruel, snarling smile, revealing a single, sharp fang, and he considered the events which had hastened the end of his life.
The prisoner stirred.
In the space of a breath, his eyes opened and he came fully awake, instantly alert, catlike in his poise as he moved swiftly, efficiently, to his feet. His hooves, bound with softly glowing rooters, made no sound. He had heard something, in the depths of a troubled sleep, and his weatherbeaten, callused hand sought a weapon that was not there.