The Alabaster Grapes (Yet Another Fractured Fable)

Thanks to the advice of a friend, I revised my Fox and the Grapes satire, removing it completely from the fable to give me more room to play with it. Here is the first draft:

The Alabaster Grapes

Not so long ago, there was a great vineyard surrounded by steep hills and cliffs. The grapes were sweet and tasty, each grape slightly different. It wasn’t a perfect vineyard, for perfection is a myth, but most of the animals were content, except for a fox and an owl

The fox and owl had heard that somewhere in the vineyard were the legendary Alabaster Grapes, a grape with the perfect flavor. For them, only this would do.

The fox and owl searched the vineyard for the Alabaster Grapes. They sampled from every vine, some grapes plump and purple, others a green or gold approaching the alabaster they were searching for. Though they were all delicious, they did not satisfy them.

When the owl settled on the bunch of grapes that he liked best, the fox became filled with anger.

How can you settle!?” Demanded the fox. “Only the Alabaster Grapes are worthy.”

The Alabaster Grapes are just a legend, my friend,” said the owl. “We must enjoy the best we have.”

No! I will never back down, and these inferior grapes are in my way. They are now my enemy.”

“How can grapes be an enemy?”

“They are my enemy!”

But they’re delicious,” said the owl as he ate a tasty grape.

The fox was so enraged by his friend’s wisdom and pragmatism that he chose to teach him a harsh lesson. The fox grabbed a branch from Mankind’s Fiery Flower, the one that brought heat and destruction.

The fox set the owl’s favorite grapevine aflame with the Flower. “You dare settle? Now you get nothing! Good day, sir!” And his friend’s weeping enraged the fox even more. He set every plant in the vineyard on fire, watching with satisfaction as they burned.

But the Fiery Flower burns all in its path. The flames spread red across the land. All the animals except those living high in the verdant hills were burned to death or fled far from the vineyard. Even the owl died in the flames, but the fox felt no guilt for his friend’s gruesome death. He watched from his borrow on a high cliff, where the fire would not touch him.

And when the fires went out, all the vineyard was destroyed except for one grapevine, which was covered with white ash. “At last!” Cried the fox. “The Alabaster Grapes!” The fox came down from the verdant hills and took a bite of one of the ashy grapes. It was dry and bitter, the flavor of desolation.

“This is fine,” said the fox between choking bites. “This is just fine.”


If you have any feedback, please comment below. Like with all of my stories, I strive for perfection.

doge in space card redux

The Fox and The Grapes

Okay everyone. Here’s another fractured fable for you. I bet that you know the original…This one’s a little different 😉 Like the others, they’re slated for a companion book to the Watchmage Chronicles (Book 1: The Watchmage of Old New York, is only 99 cents. Get hooked on the series now, so you can snark about how you discovered it first)

Once, but not so long ago, there was a great vineyard surrounded by great hills and cliffs. All animals loved the grapes for they were sweet and tasty, each flavor slightly different, a paradise for those that partook.

All the animals were happy, except for the foxes. The foxes had heard that somewhere in the vineyard were the legendary Alabaster Grapes, a plant that produced the perfect flavor. For the foxes, only this perfection would do.

Two fox brothers searched the vineyard for the Alabaster Grapes. They sampled from every plant they could find–some plump and purple, other a green approaching the alabaster they were searching for. Though they were all delicious, they were not the grapes that the foxes were looking for.


While the second fox became despondent, but decided to settle on the bunch of grapes that he liked best, the first fox became filled with anger.

“How can you settle!?” Demanded the first fox. “Nothing else will do. Only the Alabaster Grapes are worthy.”

“The Alabaster Grapes are just a legend, my brother,” said the second fox. “We must make do with what we have, for there is no perfection, but things that approach it.”

“No! I hate all these grapes. I will never back down, and these grapes are standing in my way. They are now my enemy.”

“But they’re delicious.”

The first fox was so enraged by his brother’s wisdom and pragmatism that he decided to teach him a lesson. The fox grabbed a branch from Mankind’s famed Red Flower, the one that brought light and heat.

The fox set his brother’s grapes aflame with the Red Flower. “This will teach you for settling. You deserve this!” And his brother’s weeping enraged the first fox even more. He set every plant in the vineyard on fire, watching with glee as they burned.

But the Red Flower is insidious and burns all its path. The flames spread red across the land. All the animals except those living high in the hills were burned to death or fled far from the vineyard. Even the second fox died in the flames, and the first fox felt no guilt for his brother’s gruesome death.

From high on a hill facing outside of his burrow, the first fox watched the carnage. “Those grapes were sour anyway,” he said. He curled up in his burrow, satisfied with all that he had done.

Now, years later, the vineyard began to recover, and delicious, plump grapes reached harvesting time. And the fox began his quest for the Alabaster Grapes again. And the Red Flower was already between his jaws…

The moral: Just because something isn’t perfect, doesn’t mean you should destroy it. You never know the consequences.

Like this story? Than you’ll love my historical fantasy series, The Watchmage Chronicles. The first book is only 99 cents and free with Kindle Unlimited.

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doge in space card redux

The Captain and The Storm King of Dunderberg Mountain

Here’s yet another fractured fairy tale. I hope to include this one in my Watchmage Chronicles collection, as it’s a variation of an old folk tale of New Amsterdam (the name of New York when it was first colonized by the Dutch).

Note: My Captain Antony Van Corlear is not-so-loosely based off of the real Anthony Van Corlaer…or likely real, anyway.

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The Frog and the Hen: Another Fractured Fable

Once again, I am adding another fable to my collection. I will probably add this one to an anthology I’m working on about stories, fables, and fairytales from the Watchmage Chronicles’ world. Now that The Watchmage of Old New York and Cold Iron are both out, I can work on both these and the third book, The Fiddler’s Bow.

Oh, and if you’d like to jump in on The Watchmage Chronicles, the first book, The Watchmage of Old New York, is only 99 cents. Both books are free if you have Kindle Unlimited.

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Once upon a time, though it happens every day, there lived a frog named Bud. He lived in a swampy pond, not far from a chicken coop. He slept all day and spent all night drinking fly-flavored beer (Coors Flight: “the Buzzy Bullet”) and croaking as loud as he could with his frog buddies, Err and Weis. The croaking was so loud that it kept the chickens awake, and sometimes Weis would play his banjo, making the party even louder.

One day, Henrietta the Hen made a racket, clucking away as loud as she could. Annoyed, (because how dare someone keep him awake) Bud hopped over to the chicken coop.

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Update Update Update…Update

If you couldn’t tell from the title, this is an update. A bunch of cool writing stuff happened in the past few days.

My short story “Skully” is now in the anthology Twisted Tales: 15 Literary Lies and Epic Yarns, published by Readers Circle of Avenue Park I’m in very talented and established company here, and I’m tickled magenta…which is even more tickled than pink.

You can buy it on Amazon for $2.99, or you can get it for FREE by joining their mailing list here

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Watchmages and the Star of Nine

Return to Watchmage Wikipedia


Watchmages are Wizards that have taken on a role of leadership in the magical world. Each Watchmage rules over a region or a large city, where they are responsible for the regulation, assistance, and justice for all supernormal elements in their jurisdiction.

Watchmages are either appointed by the Star of Nine–the Wizard’s ruling body–or ratified by them. They are expected to abide by the Star of Nine’s rigid laws, and any Watchmage that does not is punished harshly. There’s a saying that “there are no ex-Watchmages.” This is not exactly true, as Watchmages do resign (forever is a long time to hold a position), but Watchmages are not cast out for failure, they are executed.

There are some Watchmages that are not connected to any city or region. They wander the world, dispensing justice as they see fit (though within a Watchmage’s jurisdiction, they (usually) defer to the Watchmage. They are called Shadowmages, and they have much more leeway within The Star of Nine’s Law.

The Watchmage’s symbol is a cane or staff, usually tipped with a Fourth Way Enneagram within a circle. Some have a separate sigil as well.

The Star of Nine rules over the Watchmages. It makes the Laws that all supernormals must abide by, and has final judgment over all. Although all Wizards have a say in the Star of Nine’s doings, older wizards carry the most gravitas and have the most control.

Though The Star of Nine exists to keep the status quo, there are many factions within and political infighting. One might say that it’s the infighting that keeps the status quo.

The Star of Nine’s symbol is an Fourth Way Enneagram without a circle.

A Watchmage’s Duties: A Watchmage’s primary duty is to prevent Warp within their domain. This means keeping a close watch of the Magelings and Dwellers in an area, as an errant spell or visible Dweller can warp and tear the Veil.

Other duties include providing assistance and acting as judge to the supernormals in their domain, and defending the domain from hostile supernormals such as elemnetals, werewolves, vampires, and the undead. They also investigate rumors of new supernormals, usually the product of Warp or magic gone wrong.

While Watchmages have the right of judgment within their domain, they sometimes pass prosecution of major crimes to the Star of Nine.

History of The Watchmages: Watchmages have existed as long as Wizards, though their duties and the name was never defined until the Star of Nine formed. The Wizards acted as leaders and shamans in small tribes, and later on court magicians, kings, or even gods on Earth.

The misuse of magic by Wizards has led to great calamities in the past, such as destruction of whole civilizations. After the Crusades, the oldest Wizards formed the Star of Nine to govern themselves. Since then, there have been no major breaches in reality, though thousands of magelings and Dwellers have been “purged” from our side of reality.

The population surge and technical advances since the Renaissance have changed the nature of the position. Watchmages are often overwhelmed with growing populations, and new inventions, and a changing world that they find hard to understand.  Like Dwellers, they are often lost in the new world, using laws and methods that no longer apply. Magelings have become both a greater threat and greater ally than ever before, for they understand the modern times.

The Star of Nine’s Duties: As mentioned above, The Star of Nine oversees all of the Watchmages and Shadowmages. They appoint Wizards to these positions, transfer them, and “remove” them when necessary. They make all of the Laws and hold trials for Magelings that commit grievous crimes (such as extreme Warp or creating new supernormals).

When necessary, they create new laws and weigh the virtues of new spells and curios, deciding whether to allow or outlaw them.

Although they’re banned from doing so by their own laws, The Star of Nine is very involved in mortal politics. Most of this puppeteering comes from the oldest Wizards whose power renders them free from the laws. Some have lived so long that they see humanity as nothing more than pieces on a chess board.

History of the Star of Nine: The Star of Nine formed after the Crusades in response to Wizards causing and using political upheaval for their own benefit. The original council consisted of nine members, but in 1653, under pressure from the Watchmages, they expanded it so that all Wizards have a say in the government. The original nine members still have the most power by way of influence and magical might. The downside of this equality is that The Star of Nine is incapable of taking swift action, at least with everyone’s knowledge. Instead, it created many clandestine actions and conspiracies within.

The Star of Nine has had trouble dealing with the modern world. The oldest members have the most difficulty. As such, The Star of Nine is approaching a tipping point where they must either adapt or implode.

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Philosophy Explained Through Art…and The Matrix

I enjoy reading about philosophy. I think it’s a writerly thing, especially speculative fiction writers like me. After all, it’s our job to ask “what if?” “What if a great power is awoken, and the only way to stop it is by throwing his ring into a volcano?” “What if there’s a secret wizard society, and children go to a special school to study magic?” “What if there’s a world where the seasons can last for decades?” You get the idea.

I found this page very interesting. It’s almost a crib sheet to the major schools of thought, explained through art. Of course, you don’t have to follow one school exclusively. I find myself shifting from one to the other. Such is the nature of a thoughtful mind. Debating yourself is one of the best ways to learn.

I’ve been thinking about the “Brain in a Jar” theory lately. To summarize, we may be brains within a jar and our reality is nothing but an illusion (like The Matrix). Maybe we are avatars in some virtual reality game, or characters on a TV show? We have no way of proving or disproving this, since we are prisoners of what we can perceive, existing in our own private universes. If we can’t perceive something or perceive it’s effects, then we can’t prove or disprove its existence.

Dammit, I am!

Sometimes I wonder if this theory pertains to fiction. What if we aren’t the brain in the jar, but the ones who put the brain in the jar? When the aliens create The Matrix, are they creating a true reality for us to exist within?

The answer I keep coming to is that maybe it’s not real as we define reality, but it does exist. To exist, something must be perceived or it’s effects perceived. This chair exists in my reality because I see it. The wind exists because I feel it and see it blowing leaves around. That damn jackhammer outside exists because I hear it and see it shattering the sidewalk outside my goddamn apartment (sorry, just frustrated at the construction crew that’s been outside for over a month). Thoughts exist too because others can perceive or be affected by them.

Fictional characters may not be “real,” but they do exist. They affect our thoughts. They make us laugh and cry. They empower us or bring us despair.

We may be characters in someone else’s book or video game or whatever, but maybe not. Regardless, this reality is real because it’s real to me. I exist because I think. Would I exist if someone else thought of me? If a tree falls in the woods…

So if aliens have our bodies hooked up to weird tubes and created a virtual reality or not, I have to assume that it exists either way. We all do. Except for Keanu Reeves. He’s the One.

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