WIP The Seventh Law of Power

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More from what is planned as the concluding volume of the Laws of Power series. The title is subject to change, but probably not. Also, no real context, except if you’ve read others in the series you might have an idea of what’s going on.

Before they departed Shalas, Marta indulged herself by going down to the docks. She already knew the Blue Moon would not be moored there, and she had no idea what she’d have said to Callowyn even if it had been. The time they’d shared was because of an Arrow Path contract, now fulfilled.

They were not and never had been friends, even though Marta had grown fond of the pirate princess now turned ambassador, and Marta had a suspicion that Callowyn felt something like the same. Yet the Arrow Path did not leave room for friendship. Friendship was dangerous.

For all concerned.

Marta heard the whisper of wings before the raven touched down on her shoulder. “Mind telling me what you’re doing?” he asked.

“Yes,” Marta said.

“You do remember that the plan is to leave Shalas before noon. Standing on the docks staring out to sea isn’t getting us one step closer to Lythos.”

“Noted,” Marta said, and that was all.

Bonetapper blinked. “You are in a strange mood. Even for you.”

Marta sighed. “Strange mood? I am in a strange life. What I do and the way I live is not what most people do and not the way they live. It’s the only life I’ve ever known, but why does it feel so strange to me now?”

“I think it’s called ‘perspective,’” the raven said. “Most people consider it a valuable thing, but in your case, I’d ignore it.”

Marta almost smiled. “Why?”

Bonetapper paused but he didn’t waver. “The point of perspective, I have been told, is to be for a moment outside yourself looking in. Perhaps seeing yourself as others do, but mostly seeing from outside things you were blind to when confined to the space inside your own head. I hear it’s useful for other people. For you, it is pointless.”

Marta frowned. “Really? How so?”

“Because whatever you see now can’t change anything or teach you anything useful. The truth is, no matter what fresh viewpoint you achieve, tomorrow you will wake up as you are and do what you have done and will continue to do. Change your mind? I know little, but I do know the Arrow Path doesn’t work that way. You were born with Amaet’s debt, and you will bear it until…whatever she has in mind, which I suspect even you don’t really know. All perspective can do is make you melancholy. As now.”

True, I don’t know, Marta thought. She was getting more than a little tired of the fact.

“You’re a thief,” Marta said aloud. “Man or raven, you will always be a thief. You can’t stop being what you are, any more than I can. Stop trying to turn yourself into a philosopher.”

While it was impossible to be sure, Marta had the feeling, if he could smile, Bonetapper would be grinning.

“Why should I? I steal food from the dead and philosophers steal their ideas. The two are hardly incompatible.”

Marta didn’t bother to answer, mostly because she didn’t have one.

That’s too much time wasted moping on this dock. Time to be moving.

 Since there was no pull of the Seventh Law that Marta could sense, she picked her own direction. Not for any great desire of the destination. No, there was no pull there either, but any direction was better than none at all.

“Bonetapper, let’s go home.”

(c) 2021 Richard Parks

Wasted Words

Sometimes everything turns into a story. Even a meditation on a pet peeve. So…

Wasted Words

“I don’t understand it.”

She looked up from her book. “You don’t understand a lot of things: other people, quarks, qubits….”

He interrupted. “I understand qubits. Could I build a quantum computer? No, but I get the idea.”

She shook her head. “Beside the point. I simply meant that the set of things you don’t understand is a very large set. Could you be more specific?”

He almost said, “Could you be less contemptuous?” but decided against it. “Why do people waste so many words on the obvious?”

“Example?”

“People who insist on saying idiotic things like ‘blue in color” or ‘rectangular in shape.” For heaven’s sake why?  Are they afraid we’re going to assume ‘blue in shape’ or ‘rectangular in color’, so they feel the need to clarify?”

“Could be synesthesia.”

“Unlikely. The most common manifestation is in people who perceive colors as sounds, not shapes. Or associate numbers and letters with colors. I do that sometimes.”

“What color is zero?”

“White, of course, but I don’t have synesthesia.”

“Then how did you know what color zero is?”

He sighed. “Because you asked me. Ask me about any single-digit number and I can tell you what color I associate with it. That’s not synesthesia, that’s just imagination. Eight is orange, by the way.”

“You’re right. Eight should be orange, but we’re getting off track here. You say it’s a waste of words?”

He shrugged. “So? It’s obviously redundant, except for those rare people with perceptional differences. I hate wasting words. It offends me.”

“You fritter away emotional capital generating anger over trifles. That’s a waste that offends me.”

“So? It’s not as if I’m going to run out of emotional capital. It’s an infinite resource. In fact, the more we use, the more we have.”

She glared. “That’s neither here nor there. It’s the waste that bothers me. The redundancies in the language you pointed out might be inefficient, but you can’t say they’re not precise. Don’t you like precision?”

“Not when it’s inappropriate. When I say I hammered a nail, no one should be asking me if I used a hammer. It’s not exactly a secret at that point.”

She looked at him, expressionless. He knew that look. He waited, but not for long.

“You’re getting worked up over what amounts to a speech tic. We all have them, and you’re only responsible for yours, not anyone else’s.”

“I don’t have a speech tic.”

“Then why do you start so many sentences with ‘so?’”

“So what?” he said, before he could stop himself.

She just shook her head. “I’m out. I shall go back to reading my book, leaving you to stew in your own obsessions.”

“I always do.”

“I meant quietly.

“Fine,” he said, and thought about it. “After all, silence is golden in color.”

©2021 Richard Parks

Regarding Tolkien, But Not Really

This is a new story set in the Black Dog Pub. It’s not in the collection for temporal reasons. Namely it wasn’t written when I released the book.

My name’s Casey. I’m the bartender here at the Black Dog pub…well, one of them. Neegan’s the other. I’m a banshee. Neegan…actually, I’m not sure what Neegan is. Tall, good-looking guy. Maybe I’ll ask him one of these days, but I digress.

The subject came up when I was talking to Tim the Clurachaun. You might notice him if you stumble into the Black Dog. Short guy, even for a fae. Wears a red vest. Like their drink, clurachauns, so he’s often here. Oh, and a word of advice—never make a bar bet with a clurachaun. Trust me on this.

Anyway, one evening Tim was on his usual stool muttering into his beer. Or maybe he was scrying, you never know. Finally he puts his chin on the bar and stares into the golden brew.

“’All that is gold does not glitter,’” he says, and I couldn’t help myself.

“’Not all those who wander are lost.’ You read Tolkien?”

“Not a bad storyteller, for a human,” Tim says, “though he had elves all wrong. They’re about as ethereal and wise as a kick in the arse.”

“What about the Seelie Court?”

Tim grunted. “I was referring to the Seelie Court. The Unseelie Court is worse, if more fun.”

Most fae are at least casually associated with one Court or the other. As a banshee I’m usually lumped in with the Unseelie bunch. Not sure why. Foretelling death is a useful service, and it’s not as if I actually kill anybody. Now, if you were talking about my Scottish cousins the baobhan-sith, you’d have a case. Those girls have a taste for blood. Good dancers, though.

Tim drained his beer, ordered another. “Speaking of Tolkien, I don’t envy humans at all…and I very much envy them.”

“At the same time?” I said, wiping a glass. “Not possible.”

Tim nodded, looking morose. “I know. Probably why it keeps happening.”

“How do you not envy them?”

“They have the lifespans of mayflies, by comparison. Most of them go through that short life in a fog, seldom with any sort of a clue what’s really happening around them.”

“And how do you very much envy them?”

He sighed. “They make stuff up.”

I frowned. “Really? That’s it?”

“Casey, darlin’, when we tell a story, it’s something that actually happened, if exaggerated. When they tell a story, they take a kernel of truth and blow it up into an entire myth! Nothing bends reality like a good myth, and they are myth machines!  Like Yeats and the Leannan Sidhe, or that Tolkien fellow. It wouldn’t surprise me if one of his high and mighty elves that don’t exist shows up here one day. The fact that you and I are having this conversation right now might be due to one of them making stuff up.”

“Scary thought.”

Tim does get into the foolishness when he’s into his cups. Still, next chance I get I will ask Neegan what the heck he is.

Just in case.

©2021 Richard Parks

It’s Nice to Be Included

This sort of thing doesn’t happen all that often, at least in my part of the writerverse. My fae fantasy, Little Fire and Fog, is part of a push to encourage Kindle Unlimited (KU) signups. The list includes a selection of fae themed books, like LF&F, that are available in KU. If you’re inclined, check out the web page. There’s a button up there somewhere. There’s no obligation, so it doesn’t hurt to look. If you’re already in KU, you might get some ideas for your next read.

Ringing the Changes

Not inaccurate but incomplete. I’m thinking more of an addition rather than a change (although I’m likewise considering some tweaks to the website. Lord knows it could use a refresh).

Ahem. Excuse the tangent. The point I’m getting to is I’m seriously considering starting an email newsletter. And by “seriously considering” I mean yeah, it’s very likely going to happen. Not today, but not the distant future either. Such things require planning to do right which requires time which you’d think I’d have tons of, being largely confined to the house except for necessary errands, and you’d think wrong. There’s always something else I need to be doing aside from what I want to be doing. So it goes…

Sorry. Tangenting again. So here’s the thing: Why a newsletter? What’s wrong with the blog?

Well, lots of things, but that’s not the point, even if the blog isn’t going away. There are advantages to a private email list that a blog doesn’t have, and not just for me. For a start, what if I want to give actual readers a heads-up on a special promotion or giveaway or preliminary book cover, but am not ready to or don’t want to broadcast it to the world? That’s a newsletter’s job.

I’ll give you another example. When I sold “The Fox’s Daughter” to Beneath Ceaseless Skies, I announced it here and over on FB. One of the biggest fans of the Yamada series didn’t see the post, even though we’re FB friends (FB is like that). It took a share from another reader to bring it to their attention. Whereupon they were somewhat put out that they weren’t immediately informed, and can’t say I blame them. When I mentioned a newsletter? They demanded to be signed up first, and when the time comes, so I shall. People are less likely to miss stuff that might interest them that way.

Frequency? Probably once a month or so, at most. And when I say “private” email list, I mean exactly that. I will not sell it and I damn well won’t share it. This is just for you and me, for however many iterations of “you and me” there are. That’s for you all to decide.

There will likely be some bonus for signing up. Haven’t decided what yet. Likely an original work before it’s available anywhere else, that kind of thing. Something else to think about.

So what do you think? Hate newsletters? Love them? What’s a newsletter? Speak now or I’ll likely just do what I want. Very dangerous, that.