Charon’s Conversation Sunday, May 30 2010 

And Charon raised a voice of sand and said,

“How deep? Shall I peel back the skin of ugliness for you, and plunge you into the heart of its fruit? Show you heathen men? Show you machinations? The hearts of all are dark in this place and God is not with us. What would you see, fair youth? I can reveal the adulteress and the liar, the depressed and the mortally proud, the unnatural fruits of false religion, the stench of men who love each other as they should love woman, the sacrifices made to idols – the idols themselves, for they burn -, men who prayed to stars and to themselves…”

Farin said, “I seek the way to the witch’s keep,” and thus Charon saw the sword of Rosgaliant.

“Aye, for what purpose, worship or slander?”

“Neither, for neither will be holy.”

“Then do you lust her?”

“As I lust for fire and brimstone; that is to say, naught.”

“Seek you -”

“- the means by which, old sailor, I may free the city of Overland from the drought to which she has accursed it.”

“Aye. Many enter by my way.”

“But I am not dead, and by grace-mercy, cannot die.”

And Farin joined Charon in his boat, and the current accelerated into a swift stream.

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The Path is Paved Monday, May 24 2010 

Should heaven burn or hell freeze over, yet the shieldmen would not let down their guard. And Maroph, knowing the strength of the guardians, spake thus in most commanding tone:

“Whoso raises his arm against Farin and his fellowship shall likewise suffer the fate of Savia the Silver, who is damned by God. You have no stake in such small skirmish. Farin of Rosgaliant is not one of your own, and does not belong in the Underworld, save by holy appointment. Put back your shields and let him by, for as my daughter may well say, Sir Farin seeks to break the curse that sits on the city in Overland.”

The unseeable guards smacked their spears across their broad breast plates.

“We are the keepers of Underworld’s deepest gates, and our way is shut. The curse shall not be broken ere the world end. Depart from me, you holy triad. An you live, I shall not see your faces.”

And Sir Farin spake:

“Who keeps the keys that bind the city in Overland?”

“The keeper of Underworld’s seas.”

“Then in good will lead us to him.”

Again the guardians refused, but Lilith fluttered forth from Farin’s breast and cast light in the darkness; and the knights were made visible, and they cowered like blinded mice.

And the goblin that bore Savia’s stained soul unleashed a cry of horrid fury, and died of fear, and Savia’s shade escaped from Lilith’s light and fluttered back across the wilderness to the confines of her castle.

And Farin raised his sword and wrought mighty works against the guardians, slaying none, for all were dead, but delivering such stinging blows that none was left unscathed, and each and every guard fled after his mistress across the vast blank wilderness, for the shores of Underworld’s seas, that lay a hundred miles off.

Faithless fiends with furrowed brows Saturday, May 22 2010 

But the driver writhed and changed his form, into a wisp of a ghost, and spread through the air like gray breath. And Maroph beheld the ghost, and saw that they had been tricked, and that the driver had been a guise put on by the witch Savia, whose dark arts spread mist across the roofs of the Underworld.

And Maroph spoke and said:

“Why do you defy the youth? He is Farin of Rosgaliant. He passes with our blessing. Do not touch him.”

And the wisp of Savia set the faithless dead on the holy triad, and there was mighty fighting, until Maroph broke the earth in twain with his strong hammer, and cast the dead into the pit he made. Savia made off and inhabited a goblin who tended to the Underworld’s second ring.

Rising Tides of Wrath Monday, May 17 2010 

With the grace of saints, Lilith sung an old Overworld tune that reached into the heart of the Earth, wherein lived her father, fairy king of heaven, lain to rest until the day came when Overland would need him again. His name among men was Maroph, and his daughter’s song recalled to him man’s plight.

He rose from beneath the roots of the Underworld’s trees. The song led him to the boar, whose eyes shot red for sheer terror. The boar’s mother indwelt its dumb brain. By its mouth the witch said:

“Why rise you, Maroph, before the day of reckoning?”

Farin toppled from the beast’s jaws. Farin held tight to his sword, but when he rose, he found Maroph, mighty Maroph, astride the monster. And Maroph struck its skull upon the tree bark, and from the head removed the monster’s brains, and taking hold of Farin’s sword, sliced it into twenty parts, and scattered the fractions in the brambles, that their mistress may have no use of them again.

Stranger spawn awaits Saturday, May 15 2010 

Farin and Lilith came to the bottom of the road. Ahead lay the twined brambles of the Underworld’s forest. An ivy trellis formed a doorway. The doorway opened to an unpaved road that snaked through the forest. Where it lead, no one knew, save forwards downwards.

Farin and Lilith passed under the trellis. Dark birds cawed in the wood. Lilith shone her light upon them. Their marble eyes were blinded, and they shied away into the deep, dark depths of the Underworld’s wood.

Now Savia, the Underworld’s witch, espied the travelers from her castle that lay in the high vales of the Underworld, and she sent her child to waylay them on the road. It bounded forth from her ivory tower, down into the forest. Lilith, knowing all, urged Farin to whet his sword.

The beast uprooted trees in its unworldly rampage. It tramped on four cloven hooves and stood taller than most horses stand. Its tusks were broad and sturdier than bone, and its snout, when it smelled Farin’s scent, bled with hungerlust. A boar, it was, and yet not a boar, for its father was a warlock and its mother, on the day of inception, had unnaturally taken on the guise of a beast and thus spawned this ugly imitation of creation.

It came down upon Farin, and plucked Farin from the ground by its jaws, and shook him like a rag doll. But Lilith, holy Lilith, would not let her champion be defiled. With the grace of saints, Lilith…

__________________________

did what? you ask.

As soon as I know, I will tell you what she did.

From Empty Pools and the Dim Plateau, the Undead Rise Wednesday, May 12 2010 

Now Farin’s sword was a long, slight blade, and its makers had engraved old runes into its cross guard. When he slipped it from its sheath it glimmered slight, though there was no sunlight in this world.

“I am Farin, of Rosgaliant.”

The Second Chamberlain hissed and spat, and the sinners rose from their empty pools, their filthy chains clanking like rocks. The first sinner bit at Farin’s hands, in hopes of snapping off his light fingers, but the blade slipped down the sinner’s throat and severed the chords within.

The second sinner came at Farin and its brains bled like a river, and when the blood splashed on Farin’s clothes, it burned their wearer. Farin swung once, and lopped off the sinner’s perverse head, and the head rolled off the Plateau into the far depths of the underworld.

The third sinner bounded forth like an eager child, and his overlong hands wrapped themselves about Farin’s neck in coils, and the fingers twisted up Farin’s face like ivy, in order to put out his eyes. But Farin’s blade took on its own life, and severed the hands from the sinner’s wrists, and the hands writhed and flopped to the floor like wounded fish.

The Second Chamberlain fled, and it is said that the bodies of the sinners shriveled up into pathetic piles of ash, slipping out of their chains and drifting off into the charcoal floor – though there was no wind –  and never again troubled passers into the Underworld.

Dour days deter no devils. Tuesday, May 4 2010 

On the hilltop steeped in summer-green trees stood a man with the darkest brow in the cloud-shadowed valley. He would not sit, for his feet were restless. The valley lay beneath, in his keeping.

We have heard of his baptism, his youth, and the feat of arms he worked against lawless men; and how at age thirty-three and three months, he found himself in the keeping of St. Michael’s Church of faithless creatures who called themselves men. This warrior became a deacon with two healing hands.

Rome sent the Priest called Viggo to feed the church and to minister to the people (who by God’s grace were only just discovering their personhood) with the deacon.

That church, that Godless church, was far from Rome and had no shepherd before these two men came. The stomachs of their sheep had lain hollow and empty for far too long.

But why was the dark-browed deacon here upon the summer hill? He searched for a cup. Ivory. Made by worthy hands for worthy use. The Chalice. This, and the Father’s blessing, had breathed true spirit into the forest. St. Michael’s had shepherds. St. Michael’s drank the blood of the Lord. The loss of the cup was no small loss for the cup was life.

The sky was dark to match his mood as the quiet man named Deacon Farin trudged through the foot-high leaves in search of that holy cup. Its bearer had become fodder for this valley’s monsters, and there was little hope that the cup had survived, save divine hope, though that seemed foolish on a day so dank as this.

What did Deacon Farin find?

He came to the crest of the hill.

The tallest tree in the valley’s wood had stood at the top of the hill for ages, but some wicked man had been about the forest with his axe today, and had chopped the tall tree down. The branches reached skyward like oblong arms with twisted digits. The stump remained untouched, but was marked up by quite unclear instructions.

“Find the chalice, find a turn, find the chalice, right the spurn.”

The ivory cup lay broken on the stump.

From its bowl, Deacon Farin saw, streams of Holy Blood come frothing forth like a never-ending brook of life.

The mangled oak stump absorbed the blood and began to grow to life – but as it did its mighty best, a snake the width of six rats twined about the stump and ate its bark away, and so the tree would die again.

Deacon Farin picked up the Chalice. Turned its rim upon the head of the snake.

The blood poured forth and shimmered like liquid flame, and smote the snake. And the snake wretched up the wood of the tree and dissolved in violent fashion, until nought was left but a pathetic inch of the serpent’s tail.

Having defeated a devil (for the snake was hellspawned), Deacon Farin took up the cup and turned down the valley and hurried down to St. Michael’s.

The tree regrew and bloomed.