Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Doings lately

So, I've not been posting recently as there hasn't been much to say that someone else isn't already saying better. And I've been working on something else which is taking up the attention and energy that was occasionally pointed here. A sample follows. I'm not sure how many people read the blog or would be interested in this kind of thing but, there it is.


Prologue-
The arcing discharge from the diamond-shaped chamber at the top of the Spire, known as the Malwirra, flashed again. The light placed the path of his life in stark relief, literally and figuratively, as it briefly showed the way through the usual gloom of the North, while Faluk sprinted across the canvas walkway. The faint hope flitted through his mind that this was one of the swaths that had had ropes recently replaced or at least inspected. This being one of the less-appointed neighborhoods on the Lower Span, the normal noises of cooking, drinking, shouting, and general human life swirled around his ears as he raced past various dwellings and businesses, some anchored to the Lower with wood and steel, and others free-swinging. He couldn't hear any sound of organized pursuit, but the Watchers never really made much noise...

He grabbed a loose line and swung out over the Pit, descending as quickly as his burning palms would allow. He kept his eyes on the walkway he'd just left and those immediately above it. Was that a depression from a foot? Someone running? The discharge came again, leaving hazy, purple shapes in his eyes as he swung back in toward the city, landing on a rope-supported wooden platform. He dove for a rope ladder descending through a ragged square cut in the wood, its edges worn smooth by generations of hands and feet. The ladder was fixed at both ends, making travel much easier as he headed for another broad canvas walkway below him. Dropping the last few feet, he wheeled and stopped with a gasp before colliding with the figure in front of him.

The Watcher stood there, implacable in its skin-tight grey covering that ever so vaguely resembled fur, and its almost featureless bone-white mask. The masks were the trademark of the Watchers, lacking holes for eyes, mouth, or nose but with the depressions for eyes and a ridge for a nose of some kind present, as a simulacrum of human features. Faluk stopped to wonder if it was intentional that they looked subhuman or if it was true. He inhaled quickly as he tried to focus his thoughts. Was it making him confused already, without even touching him? All of the stories and lies he'd heard about them came flooding back to him.  Its head swung from side to side like a hunting dog as it began to step forward, surely examining the escape angles, what weapons Faluk might have concealed, surveying. Watching. Surely it was doing that reasonable thing, he thought. Or was it scenting him?

Faluk staggered back toward the ladder, eyes darting to both sides, mostly looking for possibilities below his position, but also for possible aid. Where were they?!, he thought. It's not like I expect them to reveal themselves completely but something-! Anything! His eyes fixed on the slowly advancing Watcher as it flicked a wrist and produced a two-foot, translucent rod from nowhere. At the end of the rod was a silvery ball that exuded intermittent ghostly emanations, like the mist from the swamps at the southern end of the Jun Wastes. Faluk found himself peering into them, seeing if he could make out the faces of former victims that legend had it appeared as images from these weapons. He straightened himself and looked into the featureless face.

"You don't want me, you know?" He tried to chuckle and ended up coughing, but used the movement to try to conceal his right hand reaching into his simple, linen belt. "The truth goes further than you know. I'm just a pawn." He huffed out a laugh. "Watchers! You don't even know what you're seeing-!" His beginning tirade was cut off in a gasp of pain as the rod shot out and the silver ball just grazed his right shoulder. Immediately, the entire arm was wracked with pain, followed by total numbness. He recoiled and staggered toward the edge of the platform. The Watcher stabbed forward again with the rod but Faluk pitched himself over the side.

He fell through some casual netting and a couple clotheslines, a skirt and breeches beginning their long, slow fall to the Pit. Flailing out with his usable arm, he grabbed a support stanchion beneath what looked like a locksmith's business. His hand found a mounting spike and gripped it and he swung into the mounting post that supported the structure, wrenching his left shoulder and knocking the wind from his lungs with the impact. He hung there for a few seconds, again listening to the surrounding sounds of the city, wondering about pursuit. He wasn't quite sure where he was at this point, but knew he had traveled a fair distance. He hauled on the spike, straining to bring himself up to the level of the support bar before his strength gave out. His right arm was still useless, but he could at least hurl that part of his body over the diagonally-mounted beam and gain some respite for a moment. He hung there across the stanchion, wheezing, and reached with his left hand into his belt and withdrew the pouch.

Holding it aloft, he studied its simple, black leather and casual guild stamp. The drug, he thought. The drug was the key. If more people knew about it, everything would begin to change. As he sat there staring at the bag, a Watcher descended without a sound to another stanchion in front of him, mere feet away.

Faluk grimaced and shook his head, his black, scraggly hair already moving in the constant updraft around the exterior of the Spire. The Watcher crouched there, pain rod at the ready, seemingly waiting. Faluk spit at the mask, briefly surprised that he could even summon up either the energy or the spittle, at the same moment as the rod darted forward and struck his throat. His thoughts vanished in a flash of white light and the Watcher lunged forward to grab the pouch as it fell from Faluk's open hand.

Just past the reach of the Watcher's grip, the pouch fell into the blackness, any trace of its passing swallowed by night and sound. The Watcher stared after it as two more of its kind swung beneath the locksmith's shop. The white masks turned to each other briefly and then dispersed back up into the reaches of the Spire. Faluk's body swayed slightly in the wind, lit once more by the Malwirra's constant energy.

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