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 Lyksos.”

“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

Monday After Monday After Morning After

Is it the End of the World as We Know it? Do we feel fine?

I can’t say I do. This whole year has been a dumpster fire that just will not go out. Most of it preventable, or at least the embers tamped down. Yet the people in charge can’t do anything and the people who could aren’t in charge. Sort of a perfect storm of SNAFU. I don’t feel fine. But I’m enduring, which feels like a win.

 

When the book’s finished I’ll likely put together some kind of price promotion for the first in the series, The Long Look. In the meantime, here’s a snippet of the The Seventh Law of Power, submitted with absolutely no context nor explanation. You’re welcome.

 

“I admit you’ve lost servants in a short order before,” Bonetapper said, once he was back in his raven body. “But you outdid yourself this time.”

“She was never my servant,” Marta said. “Not really. I thought I was acting according to the precepts of the Arrow Path, but I never felt the connection, the bond. Now I think it was no more than our interests coincided for a while.”

What can’t be taken, can be given. The Second Law. So perhaps according to the Laws, but not the Path?

Marta hadn’t thought of it in those terms before, but it was clear to her now that the Laws and the Arrow Path were not the same. The latter was simply a map to the first. If anything, her time with Dessera had proven that.

“Whatever else she intended, Dessera did me a favor. I’m beginning to understand something now that I did not before.”

“So am I, or I never would have realized the nature of my curse. You did me a favor, too.”

Dessera stood before them once more, a ghostly shimmer in the firelight.

Marta smiled a wistful smile. “I never expected to see you again.”

The ghost sighed. “Nor I you. Toban apparently had no questions about his next course. I’m embarrassed to admit I have no idea what should come next for me. I don’t feel imprisoned in this place now or indeed any other, yet I do not know what stage of existence or oblivion awaits me.”

“True of most of us,” Bonetapper offered. “Yet we assume, when the time comes, we’ll know.”

“I cannot help you with that,” Marta said. “I honestly wish I could.”

“I know. But would you mind if I traveled with you a while longer? I can be useful, and perhaps it would help me sort the matter out,” the ghost said.

Marta thought about it. It wouldn’t be the first time someone traveled with her as a companion rather than a servant; she rather missed it. And Dessera wasn’t formally asking for her help as would fall under the Arrow Path strictures, after all. She was simply asking a favor, as one person to another.

What can’t be taken, can be given. I believe this too is covered by the Second Law.

“I have no objection,” Marta said. “What about you, Bonetapper?”

The raven looked startled. “What? I actually have a say in this?”

Marta demurred. “Say rather you are free to express your opinion, as you always do. Just as I am free to ignore it.”

“That’s what I thought you meant. Fine. Just try not to get us killed.”

“Always,” Marta said.

 

More Progress

Chapter 4 of The Seventh Law of Power is in the can, or would be if it was a movie from thirty years ago. Everything’s digital and the can is a metaphor. Chapter 5 is begun. Only about 11,000 words in and Marta has already discovered the 6th Law of Power.

Frankly, I hadn’t expected this to happen so soon. But as the end of Chapter 4 came into view and I reviewed the seven laws, I realized I’d set  it up perfectly. Which would have been very clever of me if I’d realized this was what I was doing, but of course I didn’t. Neil Gaiman once said something to the effect that the real purpose of a rewrite/edit was to go back and fix the details so it looked like you knew what you were doing all along.There’s a lot of truth in that. Even so, I like it better when I get it right in the first draft.

Even if I didn’t realize this was what I was doing.

Still plenty of time to get things wrong. And I’m certain beyond a reasonable doubt it’s going to take Marta the rest of the book to find the 7th Law. Would be even more of a surprise if this particular event happened sooner. As with the discovery of the 6th Law, Marta and I are always open for surprises.

Progress Report and Some Minor Rebranding

Since one or two of you expressed interest, I’ll start off with a brief progress report on the 4th (and I think final) book in the Laws of Power series, working title The Seventh Law of Power. I mean, there are seven laws total and Marta’s looking for number 6 and 7. Once she finds the 7th, well, the point of the whole thing will finally be made manifest. And there will be a point, I promise. That’s the plan. A lot is going to depend on how the next few sections go. As it stands, I’m approaching the end of Chapter 3. Marta’s getting a new servant with a lot of baggage. About 200 years of it.

And Tymon the Black is coming out of the retirement he was never really in.

I still plan to post at least a few opening chapters along the way, but not until I’m far enough along that I know I won’t be doing major cuts/rethinks to the first few.

Other Business.

I really don’t like the word “rebranding,” as it implies I’m a brand. Which I’m not, for yay or alas. But every now and then revisions must be made, and not just in stories. One of my earlier books, The Ghost War, only has one review, and it’s a crappy one, mostly because the reader looked at the cover, assumed it was something in my Yamada series, and was disappointed. While a quick scan of the description should have knocked that idea down, to be fair I see the point. While I think it was a very nice and evocative cover, some of the armor being worn certainly shows a far east influence. Here was the original cover:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So I changed it to something which still fit the story (the main character soul-casts into a raven’s body at several points) but couldn’t possibly be mistaken for a Yamada story at first glance, like so. This isn’t about which cover any of us might prefer. The point is if the cover was misleading anyone, it needed changing, so I did. Here’s the new one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Problem, if not solved, perhaps prevented from propagating. Here’s the thing though—I’m still showing what I still think is a pretty decent book (while I was cleaning up the text for the re-release, I read a few scenes I didn’t even remember writing, and thought “Dang, this guy can write. Ego? A little.). And yet here it sits with one 2 star review. Not very enticing.

So here’s the request: Anyone who’s read the book but never left a review, would you consider it? I’m not asking for anything more than an honest review, but at least this time let it not be about the cover. That would be a pleasant change.