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Remembrance

by on January 22, 2011

“Grandpa, what’s the scariest thing you’ve ever seen?”

“Scariest thing, hey? That might be too much for you—sure you’re old enough?”

“Grandpa! I’ve already kissed a girl!”

“Oh, well, in that case—

“Let’s see. Well, when I was still an unmasked apprentice—maybe 210, 220 odd years ago—my master and I were in the Fuligin marshes. I was young, but I’d thought I’d seen everything, you know? I was a Pariah’s apprentice, as wise as the hills—”

“Grandpa?”

“Wool-gathering. Sorry. That’s what old age does to you.

“We were hunting zoëleiche, the two of us in a small boat, rowing in the shadows of those black, weeping trees. The zoëleiche had gathered in small groups, mining the muds for I can’t remember what occulted thing. We killed the zoëleiche as we found them, set them aflame.”

“Did they attack?”

“Hells, no. Zoëleiche are mindless—but the lore-wise who raised them, now they were dangerous. We discovered them on an unlit barge, coloured black as pitch, as night. Can you picture that? A ship as dark as death? The smell of corpses and embalming fluids lingering behind it, like the smell of your mother’s cooking?”

“You’re spoiling it!”

“Yes yes. Now, we followed that ship to a village built on stilts at the Fuligin’s peaty heart. A village full of corpses and lore-wise creating zoëleiche polyptych out of severed limbs.”

“What did you do?”

“Burnt it. All of it. I’d never seen Master Gabriel so—wrathful. He turned the air itself into an ocean of flame. The waters boiled, the trees were torn, shredded, ashed, and the ashes consumed.”

“So you won?”

“—my bladder’s killing me. Help me up.”

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7 Comments
  1. WordPress’s word count feature is buggy. It never agrees with the word count in Emacs or Openoffice, and I just notice that wordpress counts something like “you—sure” as one word rather than two 😦

  2. parfles permalink

    Ah, wordcount, meh. The story is great, that’s what matters.

    You’re building a legacy, I see – tiny bits of worldbuidling through these vignettes, I like it! The world you’ve introduced in the previous stories was confusing but fascinating, and I’m glad we are finding out more.

    This is a nice step away from the intensity of the previous two. I love the tone – the grandfather and grandson perfectly captured, and the alien details fitting in with the universal way the stories are told. I love the detail of the weird creatures and their creators and the cthuloid developments – all very real with very little detail actually given. And I am impressed with the myth of the Pariah and how it’s building up.

    Keep ’em coming 🙂

    • Thanks! I’m glad you’re still enjoying them. Was worried that I’d got the tone in this one very wrong, and then began to run out of time to tinker with it.

  3. Enjoyed the princess bride story telling vibe – liked the way you invoked the family ease in the dialogue. I think the light tone and dark subject matter work pretty well together.

    I assumed the most terrible thing that our narrator had seen was Gabriel in his fury (as opposed to the evil undead barge) – but I would have liked this to be more clear.

    Also enjoyed the ending, very unresolved – just a little slice of the conversation.

    Also enjoying the serial nature of these I think.

    • Thanks. I had pictures of the princess bride and Peter Falk and Fred Savage in my mind while writing this. Especially Peter Falk.

  4. Monty permalink

    I thought this was great. I really like how you create this dark fantasy world at the same time as you’re establishing quite a sweet relationship between the grandfather and his grandchild. The piece is very evocative, but still economical.

    The only very little thing is that the expression “Hells no” felt a bit jarring coming from the grandfather, particularly as he used the kind of old-fashioned expression “wool-gathering” earlier.

    • Thanks. Everything else I wanted to use besides “Hells no” sounded worse 😛 Maybe should have cut it.

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