Upon a Distant Tide

Here’s yet another tale, told from the POV of my SCA persona and meant for oral presentation. I’m sure that another version will find it’s way into the book of short stories in the Watchmage world. They always do.

When I was away on a voyage, my betrothed, my loving sea, died of a fever. I returned home to the news, and raged that the fire in her soul consumed her body. It was a cruel trick of the Old Gods, and I swore that I would travel to the Otherworld, plead to the Gods, and bring her back to the living.

Six months later, my captain, Cornelius van Corlear, agreed to my request, and he sailed to Ynys Mon, the Sacred Isle, where the Romans once crushed the heart of the Druid religion, and where stood an entrance to the Otherworld. He gave me one week to return, or he would leave without me.

I left and found the famed cave to the Otherworld, and there I drank the rye-blight tea. I entered the cave and soon lost my senses.

crystal ship

When I awoke, I was on a crystal ship sailing down a wide river. The sail was silver, and the oarsmen mere shadows. At the prow was the God of the Sea and patron of sailors, Manannan Mac Lir. “You should not be here, Drustan of Nordenfjord,” he said. “We sail for the Otherworld.”

“I must be,” I said. “My betrothed, my loving sea, has been taken before her time.” And I spun him my tale, and of my love, a woman of rapier wit and steel in her soul, a woman that never needed saving until the day I was not there to save her.

He shook his head. “You cannot sail backward, for that loving sea you dream of has flowed to a distant tide.”

“Please…PLEASE…bring her back to me.” I pleaded, but the god was unmoved. I panicked, trying to find some way to convince him. I looked at the shadowy oarsmen.

“I will pull an oar for 100 years and a day if you return her to life. I swear it upon the sea!”

The Sea God smiled for he believed my oath. “I will not take your oath or grant your request. You cannot sail backward, for that is the gift of we gods alone.”

I stood puzzled at his words and broken at his denial.

“Your offer pleased me, Drustan of Nordenfjord, and in these times, I am rarely pleased. So I will explain and share a secret of the gods. We live backward in time. We were born weak as kittens at the Sun’s final death. We grow stronger every day before, and at the height of our might, we will die setting the foundations of the Earth. Your past is our future.

I wept, for Manannan Mac Lir never lies. My loving sea was upon another tide and sailing backward would only leave me alone and adrift.

Finally, I said “If you live backward in time, allow me this humble request. Six months before now, please visit my love and give her three kisses: one for our love, one for our loss, and one for when we sail together again in the Otherworld.”

The great god agreed, and I lost my senses once more, awaking in the cave alone with my memories.

I returned to my captain and we sailed off to a new adventure. And once more I searched for a loving sea upon every distant tide. And I found her.

Like this story? Then you’ll love my series, The Watchmage Chronicles. The first book, The Watchmage of Old New York, is only 99 cents! Come visit a 19th century New York, where a world of magic and supernatural beings exists beyond the riches of the Upper Ten Thousand and the grim deaths of the poor.

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Gary the Gingerbread Man

Once upon a time, there was a town full of live baked goods. There was Bill the Breadpudding, Terry the Tiramisu, Christine the Cookie, and far, far more. There was also Gary the Gingerbread Man, and he was one far different.

You see, Gary the Gingerbread Man never agreed with anyone. He wanted things his own way. If Bill the Breadpudding said water was wet, Gary the Gingerbread Man said it was dry. If Terry the Tiramisu said the sun was hot, Gary the Gingerbread Man said it was cold. And Gary the Gingerbread Man never changed his mind, even when he knew he was wrong.  Gary the Gingerbread Man knew that changing your mind is weakness. Gary the Gingerbread Man was inflexible and brittle, so he pretended to be hard.

Gary the Gingerbread Man decided that he was finished with such small-minded fools. They were all sheep, he thought. I know the Truth, though I am freshly baked. Admitting wrong is weakness.

Gary the Gingerbread Man ran away, into the deep woods away from the town. And when Bill the Breadpudding, Terry the Tiramisu, and Christine the Cookie went after him to bring him home, Gary the Gingerbread Man said “run, run, as fast as you can, I know the Truth, I’m the Gingerbread Man. And when Bill the Breadpudding went after him, Gary the Gingerbread Man said “run, run, as fast as you can, you’re just a sheep, I’m the Gingerbread Man.

And on and on he ran, refusing to see things any other way, for Gary the Gingerbread Man was inflexible and brittle, so he pretended to be hard.

And on and on he ran, until he was alone with his thoughts. But he was not alone with himself. Frankie the Fox found him until a Poplar tree. Frankie he Fox said “I like the way you think, Gary the Gingerbread Man. You are right, they are wrong. Everything they say is a lie, but you know the Truth.” And Gary the Gingerbread Man believed him, for what is a gingerbread man without frosting to sweeten him?

Gary the Gingerbread Man and all the foxes became friends. They said “I like the way you think, Gary the Gingerbread Man. You are right, they are wrong. Everything they say is a lie, but you know the Truth.” And Gary the Gingerbread Man believed them, because he believed himself.

Gary the Gingerbread Man told his fox friends about the town of baked goods. They pretended not to lick their lips and told him that they are wrong. They must be shown the Truth. Lead us to them, Gary the Gingerbread Man, and we will help you show them the Truth. And Gary the Gingerbread Man believed them, for what is a gingerbread man without frosting to sweeten him?

They all returned to the town of baked goods. When Gary the Gingerbread Man tried to tell him that he found others that knew the Truth, the foxes rushed forward and ate all the baked goods. They ate Bill the Breadpudding. They ate Terry the Tiramisu. They ate Christine the Cookie. They ate all of the villagers. And Gary the Gingerbread Man was happy, because they were sheep and deserved to be eaten by those that knew the Truth.

And then Gary the Gingerbread Man was alone. And then the foxes turned on Gary the Gingerbread Man. They said “thank you for the meal.” They circled Gary the Gingerbread Man. They said, “we are not finished. You must feed the Truth.”

The foxes ate Gary the Gingerbread Man. And as they bit off his legs and arms, Gary the Gingerbread Man was happy. He was feeding the Truth. He would die for the Truth. He was not inflexible and brittle, he was a hero.

Gary the Gingerbread Man didn’t care about Bill the Breadpudding. He only cared about himself. He never knew the Truth. He knew a Belief, and refused to listen to anything else.

Gary the Gingerbread Man died a fool, and everyone in the town of baked goods died because of him. Because Gary the Gingerbread Man was inflexible and brittle. And Gary the Gingerbread Man was wrong.

Gary the Gingerbread Man was always wrong.

Hey, did you like this story? Check out my historical fantasy, The Watchmage of Old New York. It’s only 99 cents for the holiday season, and available in paperback too! Books make great gifts, and ebooks are great (cyber) stocking stuffers.

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