Surprisingly, Cassidy showed no sign of fear. Blood was pouring from his nose and the corner of his mouth, but he didn’t flinch back even from the threatened blow. Kneeling, bound, bleeding, he even managed a shrug. “You’re dead.” he said calmly. “I don’t speak to dead men.”
There were no leaders to lead us to honor. (What honor, what honor was there?) Yet without leaders, we gathered (In the devil, the devil's own lair). There were no bugles to sound our rally, No scribes to mark up our tally. There were no cannon to shield us, Nor generals were there to wield us; No training had we to field us, Except for our numberless hate. (No training, O Lord, but hate) There was no glory to battling; (All glory, O Lord, be thine) And came no deep drums rattling To mark out and steady our line. There were no heroes among us, For vengeance or honor or fame; The tides of dim heavens flung us-- (The tides no man may tame) The circumstance that stung us No man may turn or blame. There were no mourners to sing us Home to our well-earned rest. No angels came down to wing us (O Lord, at thy behest) Nor shield-maids to bring us To feast with the bold and the best. Unmarked and undefeated, Our fallen brothers bide. Our blades rust where they meted Death and their owners died. Where men and wolves competed The carrion buzzards glide. There are no omens to herald our waking (All gone to better men). No prophesies grant us betaking Life and a new life again, Nor sight foretell us partaking The world in building, then. Yet we shall be there, remaking-- The world beyond all ken.
The old king was dying.
The power that had once dwelt in his frame was gone, its only relic the knotted hands that once had been strong. His voice was dim and his face gone hollow-boned and stark. Now and again, when he raised his eyes, something of that old, imperious glare was in them; now and again, his voice had the snap of its old command. Oftener, though, it failed in mid-word, and men did not catch its meaning.
He spoke in a rasping whisper: “Where is my Elissa? I have not seen her today.”
His chancellor, who had been speaking of the captain who held the west, the levies that mustered to the north, and the lords that gathered to the city, went abruptly silent. It was another, a lesser counsellor, who said: “She is at the tower gate, Sire. She will come with news, soon.”
“I have not seen her today,” the old king said. His eyes, half-open, regarded them. “What news will she bring?”
The chancellor said, “My son sends his word to her word daily, Sire. She will have all the news that comes from the north.”
“At the tower….” the old king said. “…she will look down to the way of kings to Zamora. What news from Zamora?”
Again, the chancellor hesitated. The other lord said: “My lord, there is no news from Zamora.”
“Then Zamora stands.”
“Aye, my lord.”
“Aye, my lord.”
“–And Jalra the Younger gathers men in Vanaheym.”
His chancellor said, “He has sent all word of the latest levy, my lord. I have their numbers–”
The old man laid back his head. His eyes were a gray glint beneath the blue-veined lids. “Where is my Elissa? Send for her. I have not seen her today.”
MidJourney: can you illustrate it?
So can you make MidJourney / AI art generators illustrate your stories for you? Yes and no–not yet. Will you be able to? Yes, soon. Did it draw me a picture of a caracal in a trench coat? Yes. Lots. (“Oh, that’s nice, that’s a lynx.” “That’s a caracal.” “Oh.” “That one’s a lynx.” “Ok, ok, ok, I see, I see, so, now, just for my benefit, Riders?” “Yes?” “In the future, how do I know which one’s a lynx and which one is a caracal?”) Did it also put eyepatches on them? No, for some reason it completely refused to put eyepatches on them, weird.Can I describe an isolated scene or mental image and have it 100% fulfilled?
No, not yet–and also YES TOTALLY.
“But we aren’t human.” Sam cut him off, still cold and controlledly furious, and under the coldness he threw a sneer into his voice as well. “We aren’t even alive. Consider that, when you think what lives–all of your lives–are worth to us.”
It really was a good thing Sam was handling all the talking. I wouldn’t have been able to deliver that threat without bursting into tears.
“So the wolf made of smoke is attacking this shaman guy, and they’re fighting in a ring of torches.”
“Very good, heroes should fight the villains–the wolf is the hero, right?”
“Yeah, it turned out he was, but the Wolf Boy is down in this pit trap and he’s gonna have to stay down there until the hero pulls him out. So he’s not going to be able to contribute.”
“He should contribute, he’s one of the heroes. The heroes have to defeat the villains.”
“He’ll have plenty of opportunities later in life.”
Yasmini said: “I grieve because I fear this marriage shall bring me no honor. I will not be a first wife. My children shall be merely a concubine’s children and get no good inheritance, and I foresee no joy in my new husband, or he in me.”
“These are hard thoughts,” said the stranger. “Is there none whom you might be pleased to wed?”
“None, for I have learned that the companion of my youth, whose father was friend to my father, has died in battle with the northerners.”
“What was his name?”
“Zabra of the Hawk’s house, son of Adron.”
“…just so,” said the traveler.
Then he strung his harp, and played many songs. The maidens sang and clapped their hands so that the silver and the beaded bangles on their wrists rang like bells. Even the Lady was for a time made merry by the music; she leaned close to hear, and smiled.
When they near to the town, the traveler slung his harp and would go from them. Although they pressed him to stay, and promised him to play at the prince’s table, he but bowed and begged leave. Yasmini stopped the carriage to bid him farewell. No coin had she to give, but she gave him with her own hand the rings she wore.
The traveler bowed low, and said no word; but for a while as the dust was fading he stood still by the roadside, weighing those jewels in his palm.
Sam threw open the door and stalked in without bothering to make himself nonthreatening. I’d already seen him coming up the stairs, and the way he carried his shoulders had braced me for trouble. But now, Jurt slid away from the wall to stand half in front of me, and Edris threw a big-eyed glance at him over her shoulder. That was what made Sam stop in his tracks and reset his expression, I think.
Then she went straight back to smiling at / psychologically wrestling with her offspring. He was smearing food on my countertop in lieu of eating it.
“HellCop,” Sam explained.
That didn’t mean anything, unless–
Jurt’s hands were loose and easy at his sides.
“Jurt, does the Kite have a tracking beacon?”
“It’s always trouble….hey, Allie.”
Alice Preston vibrated to a halt. “Cass, are you in?”
“Yep, the, uh, the Protector said we needed to go help you out.”
Alice did not reach out and grab his face between both of her hands, but she looked like she wanted to. “It’s going to be perfectly simple and perfectly easy and I just need three things from you, okay? Three. That’s it. Three.”
“Three, yup, sure–”
“Don’t die before Wednesday.”
“Okay? Just don’t. Okay?”
“Show up on Wednesday.”
“Okay, yup, show up on Wednesday.”
“Do not. Forget. The bolt cutters.”
“I love you so much,” said Alice Preston, reassuringly.
“I do have a question,” said Cassidy, not reassured.
“What about the big giant dog?”
“We will deal with the big giant dog.”
“I have no more questions.”
for love alone
Alberich smothered a rejoindering sneer from Jehan by saying lazily, “The women among the Pastless ride into battle some times with their men. They carry long knives. There is no greater fear for a wounded man.”
Vay flicked a glance at him from averted eyes, unsure whether this constituted support.
“They are barbarians.” Alberich said, and went mute again. He appeared, as usual, entirely ready to say nothing more for the rest of the evening.
Vay gathered up her, well, courage. “Sire–then you will say it is not a matter of courage.”
“Is it any less dangerous to bear a child? This thing that you do for love alone?”
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