Final Words

My lady, I have a gift for you.

I do not want to give it, and the world would be a better place if I didn’t have to, but if a soul is going to have to leave this mortal world, I can think of no better place than with you.

I want to tell you of this man, of his hopes, and his dreams. His successes in the face of adversity, his defeats from the safety of his assumptions. I should tell you of the family he raised who love him, the enemies he made that respected him, and the dog he fed that worshiped him.

All of that, though, would be a waste of both our time. You knew him far better than I did. You didn’t need to hear each of these people as they anecdoted him from the living into the remembered. You were there. I am but a third act bit part in this play, sent to orchestrate this final ceremony.

One of the least pleasant roles I have in this world is to be the final point of departure for a soul, but I am always proud to do it, and I learn of people more than if I’d ever met them alive. We seldom tell people why we remember them, they way they touched our life, shaped it, changed it. Dug a new channel for our experiences to flow down, seeing them in a new context and a new light.

And the ending of a life provides a new lense we can examine ourselves in, and reaffirm what they taught us.

In the name of the lover, I send a gift of your follower to you.
In the name of the midwife, I help the ring of life and death turn again,
In the name of the traveller, I send a new experience for you.
In the name of the fool, I know I will join him some day.

In the name of the weaver, I lay this soul to rest eternal by your side.

Faith is like this hat

Faith is like this hat.

This is my hat. It’s a tricorn, which is pretty traditional as a hat worn by a malthian goes, but it’s nice, it fits me, and I’ve tried other hats, but this one works best for me.

Your hat? Can be whatever you like. Mine’s a tricorn, and my faith is of the Weaver.

This is not my original hat. Every so often, something happens in my life that causes me to lose my hat. In one case, I lot of people died in the place i was in, and I lost my hat for a while. Soon I had a slightly different hat.

I show my hat to other people, let them try it on, see what they think of themselves in my hat, if my hat is the right hat for them. Some of them are convinced that it is, and get a hat somewhat like it. Others find a new style of hat – more severe, better balanced, more pointy – and I am happy to help them on the path to the right hat. Others wear no hat at all, which is a shame, because the world is warmer with a hat on.

My hat would hardly be recognisable by the person who sold it to me, now. Wrapped around it is a red ribbon of the Lover, given to me by someone who knew better. In the ribbon is a feather that I didn’t earn, which represents something I didn’t do. It is a foolish feather, though, and so I keep it. The hat is covered by the dust of the road as well, where the world conspires to rip my hat from my head, and I have to go back and fetch it. it is crumpled, dusty and the wrong colour, but it is my hat, and it has bent to fit me.

However, you have your own hat. Your actual hat is nothing like mine, dashing though it is, but your metaphorical hat can be the same as mine as you join the faith of my lady.

Could you give me your True Name, please?

Stop the Clock

There are good reasons to run away.

My life is a thing I’ve never had much control over, save to pick and choose which bits I run away from. I ran away from the consequences of defending my fiancee, from being a blacksmith into the arms of the Braid. I ran from the expectations the Braid had of me into the new world, where I ran from shiny new thing to shiny new thing.

Then Kyle ran away, because he felt he wasn’t having an effect, and at that point I decided I needed to step in. The New World needed weaverites with a grip on the future, and if I could, I’d be that. That was two years ago, more or less.

I wasn’t a good blacksmith. Did I mention that? My father’s a good blacksmith, and more. My brothers can craft the finest tools from the roughest materials, but it’s never been something I could do. I ran from home because I couldn’t live up to what everyone wanted to me, and so, when the feeling came to me in the New World, I recognised it for what it was: Cowardice.

I can justify it. With me gone, someone will try to take over what I do, or what they think I do. Someone else can be the voice everyone agrees with but nobody listens to, someone else can shout into the darkness hoping for a reply. Someone else can be the focused target to blame for a thousand decisions he hasn’t made.Someone else can fail by degrees.

So, I made a plan. Set a schedule. Decided that was too official. Set a timetable, and decided that a timetable with one thing on it was not a timetable.

Set a deadline.

Told nobody.

It was simple. I would continue shouting into the void for nine months from the start of this festival. If my lady decided not to answer? if it really was an empty void? I would assume she had abandoned me, and vacate so that someone could try something right. Go back to normal life, making clocks for the millenese or something. Stay in the new world, but leave the events to Amelia.

It was Amaranth who got there first. The gods were listening. My lady could hear me, and wanted me to do this thing, and had sent down not just an eidolon, but all the eidolons who could hear her to help.

My reaction may have seemed odd, to those outside my head. I fell over laughing. My lady could hear me!

Unfortunately, it was for something I could do nothing about at this festival, nobody was here to answer the questions I had. My lady wanted me to do something, and it was beyond my ability. A position I recognise, but I have a different solution than just to run away again.

It’s time to get better.

Fifteen years apart

A glorious Shepsborn summers day, the occasional cloud drifting across the blue sky like a stray sheep, mirroring the flocks milling around the hillside. Somewhere up there was Eliza, watching and waiting, taking over the Vigil while her sister panics over the wedding tomorrow. Det would be with her, but for this class McLintock decided they needed. Speaker McLintock could be convinced to end early if the class seemed to have got the point of the lesson, and if so, he could make it up there just in time to escort her home, via somewhere nice, and out of the way, and if it took slightly longer to get home than strictly necessary, who would know?

“Master Marshall, do you have somewhere you would rather be?”

Yes, sir. “No, Sir”.

“Then you can answer the question Master Sornworth has been so very stumped by. If your house was on fire, what would you take with you?”

* * *

They won’t.



Romance dragged me here, to the grand colonial meeting of “What do we do?”, and now I have my answer. We will talk. We will argue. We will accuse each other of stupidity, of not listening (While not listening). The people I serve and assist, famous for their ability to talk around a problem rather than act though it, have absolutely nothing on this fetid dank swamp of politics. Evidence is presented, things that chill me to my very soul are told; and the line between “Do the right thing” and “Something must be done, do something” is thick with the mud from boots of two dozen arguing voices. We leave. We will ask the Lady, while themagicians attempt to move a physical volcano and deal with the metaphysical one later.

The supplication has happened, someone came to both the conclusions the meeting did at the same time, and instead of the large act of sorcery whilst others supplicated to see what else we could do, instead decided to supplicate to see if the sorcery would work.

My lady is not known for her clarity. She had been hinting at us all weekend, and now she spoke to us directly, such that none could avoid her words or her thoughts, and this is what she said to us:


I couldn’t. I had one more task, and I moved across the field as fast as my tired legs could carry me until I saw the shape of her in the distance. The only item I could not leave the island without. As Amelia and I joined the flood of people, we saw our friends and loved ones in their own attempt to rescue all they could. “Are you leaving?” I asked them. They were all leaving, or finding someone and leaving.

We got to the Marshall’s corsair, and eventually left with the last of our group. We’d left the tents, though Stuart and Fiona had grabbed the money and most of the stock that hadn’t been already stored on the ship. Fiona had also picked up the paperwork and heresy pamphlets, and we sailed from Coyote island, hoping our friends could do the same.

Born to be Bard

Tripped, fell, landed on a caravan.

I appear to have become an adventurer, which will please my parents no end. The same caravan that brought me in a few years ago is doing the rounds again, and so I’ve hopped on it – alongside some friends – to be guard duty for it. Possibly not the best idea we’ve ever had, given that the second day we got jumped by about twenty goblin things. Managed to fight them off without a scratch, though it’s beginining to worry me how I seem to be unable to use the bow outside the practice range.

Anyway, I got to bash off a few of them, though Stephanie – a halfling – managed to do a somersault off a wagon to – I’m told – drive her sword though a goblin’s head. Impressive, and I’m glad she appears to be on our side.

Stephanie sets upon a goblin
Stephanie sets upon a goblin

Otherwise, we’ve got a personable Dragon warrior in the form of “Call me Dave”, a somewhat boundary-stalking mage, and a quiet but effective dwarf. We’ve been asked to deliver some letters on the way, but in a record-breaking start, no bugger’s heard of the guy we’re supposed to be delivering the first to, this despite that he used to be in charge, which is a bit on the outside edge of believability to be honest. However, we leave in the morning, so no chance to investigate it more tonight. I’m going to try to get some sleep so if we get jumped tomorrow I’ve got more of a chance of getting out scratch-less again.

Watching the flock

It’s a Malathian Tradition.

Pretty much everything is, in the end. Fighting, drinking, loving, worshiping, eating, drinking, toasting, boasting, drinking. Any one is a Malathian Activity. Any two are a a Malathian Tradition. Any three are Malatian Cultural Values.

Especially Drinking, Drinking and Drinking.

I’m not drinking, not right now. Not for almost three months, and I’m pretty sure that the last drink I had was at New Years, when I was wedding people, and that’s so very far from a Malathian tradition that my friends back home would pour whiskey down my throat until I repented. Repented and threw up, at least. Traditions are important.

Everything’s a Malathian Tradition, and no thing in any world has as many Malathian Traditions around it than a Traditional Malathian Wedding, combining every single element of the list I began with, and every single element combined with every single element. Tradition upon tradition upon tradition. This isn’t a Traditional Malathian Wedding, because I avoid being Traditional when it will make my life more complicated, but there’s one tradition I’ll keep.

(Several, actually, but this one today)

Everyone near where we grew up is either a shepard, or knows one. Most have shepards in the family somewhere. The entire family is expected to muck in and help, someone has to be up on the hill at every hour to make sure everything’s fine. This means that someone in the family must be watching the sheep while the wedding’s going on, and miss out on the party. To atone for this, the people actually getting married will, shortly before the wedding, do a complete day’s shift. It’s called the Vigil, or Watching the Flock.

Some folks do it as a family event, the entire clan up on the hillside for a (sober) pre-party family get together, but we’ve always done it on our own.

I find a spot atop a hill sometime early afternoon, lay down a blanket, and watch.

I don’t keep sheep. Nobody in this new world does, as they don’t survive the crossing. My flock these days is a little less literal, the people whom I brought into our faith, or for who I am their adviser on theological stuff. I can’t watch them from my hill, not personally, and I’d not expect them to all be in one place. Some of them – too many – can’t, being beyond my flock and within the green fields of my Lady, but I think of them, and I pray for them.

My Vigil is different from anyone elses, I think. I’ve spent two months working on blighted land, blessing it over and over again to remove the oppressive taint, and now I wander the lands of Amun-Sa Over Ocean as a favour for a scary bastard I regard as a friend, watching over his land, looking for traces of an evil we hope banished.

There are specs on the fields, tilling the land, preparing it for a good years crop, and I watch them for hours until the sun goes down.

The land is still ravaged. Recovering from the terrors that were leashed upon it will take time and work, and there are still many lands left to go.

My small fire will last the night if I feed it carefully, giving me light to think by, and keeping away anything that’s frightened by it. Anything else may have to be introduced to my sword or my gun, as I protect my life and what I need to.

I watch over all of it, thinking of everything. My family, my friends, my soon to be wife, and this entire new world.

Tomorrow, we head for the festival, and there will be more action and less sitting and watching the world.

For tonight, I stand vigil.


“My lady Weaver

I ask you to cast your eye on this small patch of land.

Or your ear.

Or your nose.

Frankly, if you wanted to cast your elbow on it, that could certainly do no harm. Your eyebrow, arched above, would be a rainbow to it.

Mostly what this land needs is your love. Not a lot, really. The people who lived here love it dearly already. They tilled it, they built upon it, they found their way though the land. Not just literally – we have maps for that now – but what the land stood for, how the crops grew best and where.

They worked upon this land, finding the best ways to make this new world soil work for the old world farming style. Finding new ways, building new traditions for younger men to destroy in the search for something new.

Upon this land was love, hope, joy and – most importantly to them – food.

Look at it now.

Initially, that might look like a contradiction, since I mentioned above I’d be happy with the presence of your elbow, but you can look at it with whatever sense you like, and it’s still wrong. The love that was fed to this land has been bled out, corrupted into hatred and blight. The soil is brittle and black, the air is thick and sour. Frankly, I’ve spent the last month swimming though this soup in Dale and here, and if nothing else can convince people what terrible things unlife can do to the world, it is this. You don’t need your eyes to see this mess.

The farmers can love it again, but to get rid of the horror that has been unleashed here, I must request your help.

In the name of the Storyteller, I bring the tale of this land to a happier chapter.

In the name of the Midwife, I bless this land to bring it new life.

In the name of the Builder, I strengthen this land that it may support those who work it.

In the name of the Lover, I infuse this land with my love, reinforced by that of my lady.

In the name of the Weaver, I consecrate this land.

New Years Eve 1659

A patch of darkness shifts towards me, and reveals itself as Jacob, who wanders past and shows me his watch, the time’s getting close when I’m going to have to go over to Mill-en and perform the ceremony.

He’s looking… calm, in a way I find dangerous for a man who recently befell so much loss. I still have no words for him, nothing of comfort I can say. I spent last night by his side, a one man Weaver Wake, drinking, gambling and flattering the fine Flembic ladies who joined us in Tallards. He’s got a good claim on being the hardest bastard in the New World, and whilst seeing him crack was deeply unpleasant, the complete lack of hope is insidiously worse. The patch of darkness melts back into the shadows beyond the fire, and I try to collect my wits and words for the coming event.
I’m not sure I can do this, not really.
As I drift into Mill-en, there’s an avian attacking a man who blatantly isn’t the undead the feathered freak claims. I find the man a surgeon – Lady Justine saves another life – and go back to my worry.
But what am I going to tell people? No, I can’t perform your wedding, she’s not listening to me? No, I won’t be your priest, she knows nothing of my existence? But I can’t say “no”, can I? I can’t walk away from these people, the family who put so much faith in me that I didn’t deserve then, I certainly don’t deserve now.
And it didn’t work, did it?
I hold the wedding. Ana is looking… smug, as well she could, and her groom… relaxed. Neither of them are worried about anything to do with this, which is the first hint I have that this isn’t the thing it seems. I relax.
Weddings I know less of, but aligning Weaverites I’ve done before, and so I treat them as a Malathian tribe, far from home. I shout at them a bit, give them a bit of space to shout at me back, and go over the outline of the classic ritual. We’re here, they’re happy, they’re married. Ain’t stuff grand.
It’s a staged formality, as they confirm later on, but it’s a symbol and – as I will argue with Fiona again later on about something else – that doesn’t stop it being important.
I step outside for a moment, and the feathered freak is there to apologise, Flame and Rhind make for a bad combination.
Someone asks me who just got married, and James’ name clears my mind entirely. I manage to give the impression I don’t *know* who I just married, and I don’t. I should have known them better before I did this for them, instead of diving in half cocked to an event that has changed their public status. Even if I had answered the man, I’d still be a bad person – and a worse priest – to have just done this. There has to be something I can actually do, to help, to progress the cause.

To find her pleasure.

There is wine, cake, songs and tales, and I can join Havokstan around the fire for almost half an hour before Auriel catches my attention. Maybe this is something that I can do right.
Today doesn’t end yet.

Lady Blackthorne

“I am sorry to tell you that Lady Blackthorne has passed away. She died in childbirth”

Right. You’re from Millen, I know you are, because you told me. So, do I know Lady Blackthorne? Bah, who am I kidding. The number of Millenese noblewomen I know I could fit on the fingers of my head. Fiona’s taking it a bit hard, but she’s always had more connections with Millen than I have. Blackthorne … Blackthorn?… I’m sure I don’t know. It’ll bug me for a while, though. However, things to do, people to see. For a start, Dreamer’s been telling me to visit the Golden Dragon since the new year, I should do that…

And the evening passed, and with it the daylight, and W. Detail Marshall wanderered up and down the event site, talking to people, collecting information, spreading information, checking in on people he needed to speak to, and eventually:

“Millen is a bit fraught at the moment, with the Comte being away and Ansellina’s death…”

Someone more tactful than I would not describe the following silence as pregnant.

“Ansellina’s… dead?”

“I assumed you’d heard, she died in childbirth a fe” and at this point he might have well have ceased to exist. I nodded, and I smiled, and I breezed though until he went away, and when he did…

Lady Blackthorne. Ansellina. Oh my lady, I’m sorry.

Oh, Fiona, I’m so very sorry. The news of a close friend treated as a random aquaintance.

Ansellina was dead. There were five people in the new world who put me down the path I follow today, and none of them will ever know it. Toramaline, Erin, Amlie and now Ansillina are all gone, and not only did I not even realise, I’m going to be too busy to go to her wake. Or Mechna’s. Or Jig’s.

Right. This isn’t working. Time to get something… done.


I lied to you.

I told you I would return when the spiders had removed your skin, inch by inch, bite by tiny bit.

And I haven’t. I thought you’d appreciate a visit before then, as you lie there. I thought I’d tell you a story.

Once upon a – no, don’t try to move, the poison will hit your nerves soon and you’ll regret it – there was a person. An avian. Female. New to this world, but sharp as a needle. She was a friend, and now she is dead. That is the end of the story.

Yours? Yours isn’t a story. This is merely the fulfillment of a prophecy. You can hear the tapping, the soft click, click.


Spiders on steel, is there any sound so faint? You couldn’t hear them unless they were walking in time with each other, no ordinary spiders these. The clickying, ticky-clack sound of a hundred thousand tiny spiders all stepping exactly at once, and all heading directly towards you.

Isn’t that nice?

They swarm, and they are climbing up your table. I’m sorry we couldn’t leave you in your bed, but your friends might have found you early, and we can’t have that happening. That would be hope, and there can’t be any hope. Only the spider bites.

They aren’t getting louder, you know. It’s just they’re climbing up beside your ears, tappy-tappy, we thought of allowing you to move your head, so you could see this coming, but then you could have killed some of the spiders, and she won’t allow that.

I don’t agree. It’s not like we’re going to run out of spiders, there are hundreds of thousands of them, and I could walk in any direction and kill hundreds. The tappy-tap fades as they stop marching in time and climb over your body, and I’m sure by now you can feel them climbing up the insides of your wrists and over your body, the backs of your knees, the souls of your feet crawling with spiders with feet of their own. And teeth, of course, but that’s later.

Hundreds of thousands of spiders. How many legs is that? A faint white noise of spiders in motion, unlike anything you’ve heard before, and you certainly won’t hear again.

Not much longer now, they almost cover you entirely. I can’t see them from here, they’re inside the cocoon of silk, but I’m sure you can feel them. And there, all still, all quiet. Nothing but a faint tickling feeling all over your body, of thousands upon thousands of spiders, all perfectly still.

They stand. They wait.

And… bite.

Gosh. I didn’t think you could still scream under all that. Astounding what the body can take, isn’t it? I am surprised. They bite, each removes barely a tiny patch of skin, but there are so, so many of them to go though. You might think that this will be over quickly, that you can’t have enough skin for this frenzy to last more than, say, an hour.

You would be wrong.

Oh, yes. Hope. I will be along with my dagger, shortly. But I couldn’t possibly put you out of your pain, that would be hope.

And there can’t be any hope, anymore.

Only the spiders.