Daughter, at Hunt’s End

This is an independent scene I wrote ten years ago, which may reenter my stories later in some form.

Athowl and his daughter Lereya went to a council with the chief men of Hormal that night in the Hall of the East in Hormal House. The Hall of the East had been built by giants, and the rest of the house had been built around it years afterward. As they came in through the atrium they did not realize that they had gradually become the last of their party, while they spoke together in low voices. They slowed and stood still completely as the others passed into the Hall of the East through the huge, black doors. They did not see Weseout, the magistrate, waiting for them in the door with one leaf partly open. The door was so large that, though it was open wide enough for a man to pass through, it seemed only slightly open. Even when they turned to face the door, and slowly looked up all its height, they continued to talk.

When they stepped forward Weseout spoke quietly, “There are three large images in the stained glass window, I am warning you if you are sensitive to such things.” Lereya leaned on her fathers left arm, and the gesture seemed to make both of them large, even standing before the towering doors as they did. Athowl answered the magistrate, “We might be sensitive. With us it is not so fixed as your human disposition, because we are freer in our intercourse with images.” Weseout said, “Come in, they are a worthy sight.” Even when they came they did not do it immediately, they paused. Lereya laid her hand on her fathers breast, and he covered it with his own hand.

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The Wurd Creature

An instance of the Wurd creature, a deadly significant being. These descriptions were only slightly edited from when they were written in 2011.

“She slung a small, leathern wallet onto the table, with a pad that had been between it and her shoulder. When it landed on the table Chi Luw heard the little, leather thing echo like thunder in a far away cave. The table groaned loudly. Chi Luw was amazed that Shuy Lauh could carry such a weight. Shuy Lauh went and closed the door. The only light was the light of the glowing fire. The wagoner lay back into the corner, and drew his hat down over his face, looking very black, and larger than life, in the sinister light. Chi Luw pulled at the wallet, and it fell from the pad, and rumbled again.

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A Heart and the Spirits

Amos was twelve when it happened, and it happened because he loved his mother. His father always said he was named after his mother Amy, and only his father could call him Amos. Everyone else called him by his last name, Hamilton; that is, they called him ‘Hammy’.

His hair and eyes were dark, his movements slow, and he liked things to be clean; he liked to clean things like his mother, and inside him he was hard and cool and hidden and strong and old as the inside of a young hill.

It was dark when it happened, because it was night when it happened, and it meant so many things.

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Andrew Fearus vs. Harshade – The Fight

Here is the initial post from the Facebook Page introducing Andrew Fearus and Harshade:

Trying something: an Arena.
I introduce two characters, and you choose which of them will win a sporting contest of power.
The setting is the universe of the Portal, on the Front, more description of which will be revealed in the Arena and hopefully elsewhere as well. Next week the votes will be tallied and the battle described.

Andrew Fearus

A wide hand and wide brow, grim mouth and unexpected force of power. Few have met any of his family, but have heard much of his honor in their name of “Fearus”. His hair and clothes are dark and rather ragged when studying or fighting and not socializing.
He is shown in the image summoning a defense of tortoise shell.
– Imagined and depicted by Patrick Lauser


A thing of night shadow, though friendly and humorous. His physical body consists of a smoke-like darkness, and he has a casual command of obscure powers. He is a first generation visitant of the Front. His preferred summoning is a claw gauntlet and helmet of hard and silent aerial crustacean shell into which he flows like the tide into a coastal cave.
He is shown shattering a sorcerer’s blade on his gauntlet.
– Imagined and depicted by Nathaniel Lauser

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The Watchman and the Word

The Chamber

The Watchman sat on the fallen keystone of the high vault above him. While he remained, the chamber would not fall.

Behind him stood a door, vast, but simple.

Before him stood a wall.

There resounded a thunderous noise, that would have shook the chamber violently, but, while the Watchman sat, the chamber shook no more than the sun would shake in the sky.

A small gap appeared in the wall, the stones crumbling and rolling aside, and two men pulled themselves through the gap on their faces.

One seemed to be part German, and part Malay, his hair like dark, wiry wool, and a fine dusting of stubble covering most of his face. The other was clearly Mongolian, smaller than the first, and seemingly younger, though he was in fact fourteen years older. They quickly surveyed the room even as they rose from the ground. They stood still and studied the Watchman before they approached.

The Watchman’s nostrils were reddened, as if the friction of breathing for indefinite years had burnt the skin. His lips, however, were free of any discoloration: he never spoke. His eyelids too were crisp and clear: he never lowered them. His eyes blazed as if with terror, anger, or joy. His untouched hair, the color of pure light, spread over his entire body like dew, even to his feet and fingertips.

The intruders approached him without pausing to brush the dust from their clothes, and kneeled before him.

I am Temdeg.” said the Mongolian.

I am Penipuan.” said the other. “We desire to enter the other world.”

Temdeg asked, “Are these the doors of the night?”

The silence fell so deep that they could hear the three heartbeats in that room, and the blood streaming through their veins, yet nothing else seemed to move.

Penipuan said, “We are peaceful travellers…”

Not so peaceful.” said Temdeg, taking a small submachine gun from under his coat, and laying it noiselessly on the stone ground. “But we mean no harm to you, nor to anything that you love.”

The silence returned. The Watchman’s eyes seemed to see all things, and be blind to anything individual.

Penipuan got to his feet, and walked to the vast, wooden door, giving the Watchman a wide berth. Temdeg followed him.

Penipuan ran his fingers over the door, and a terrible suspicion rose in his mind. He drew a small hammer from his belt, and struck the hairline crack where the two leaves of the gate met. A chip of tawny rock, not of dark wood, fell to the floor. The door was an image, portrayed on a stone wall identical to the wall they had broken through.

Another thought made them turn, and look across the room. The gap they had made in the wall was no longer there. There were no fallen stones, no cracks, no dust, no sign at all that they had forced an entrance. Temdeg looked down at his clothes: there was not a grain of dust to be seen on them: they were spotless.

The two of them retraced their steps and stood again before the Watchman.

Penipuan spoke, “I have come far, through worse than this. I will not allow you to kill us so easily.”

Temdeg seemed to be shocked by these words. His face seemed to turn into the stone that surrounded him.

Penipuan in a single movement leveled a pistol at the Watchman’s heart, just outside of arm’s reach. Temdeg turned away in mute indignation.

Penipuan fell sideways like a rope loosed from above, and the futile pistol clattered on the ground. In the silence, Temdeg could hear only two hearts beating. He spoke without turning,

A fool escapes his own prison into that of God.” Then he turned to the Watchman. “He knew every act was his own doing. To send him into the world he sought not, but belonged to, was your first act since we came.”

He looked down at the corpse.

Let him lie entombed here, to show any others who come as far, what a lie is.”

It was only when he kneeled that he could meet the fixed eyes of the Watchman. He pressed the palms of his hands together.

Master, is there no way?”

The Watchman spoke, and the unprecedented movement of the lips seemed to send a weary ripple through his entire body.

There is no way for any to enter.”

Temdeg did not falter.

Can a way be made?”

Again the Watchman spoke.

None of your kind can find a door into that world. That world is real, and your kind are from earth.”

Temdeg bowed his head, and said,

Two real things cannot posses the same time and place. We would cease to be anywhere, before we could be there.”

But he raised his head again.

Yet a word may be a scratch in stone, and be a man, in the same time and place.”

He pressed his hands together harder.

May I pretend?”

The Watchman and Temdeg did not change outwardly in that silence as they faced each other, but they waited together in that moment as one being. Beside them the corpse of Penipuan grew as cold as his useless pistol.

Yes.” the Watchman said. “Yes. After all, that only is how your kind have ever done anything.”

Temdeg saw above the Watchman’s head the nick made by the hammer in the wall, and saw it vanish. The massive, wooden gateway began to swing inwards, opening onto utter darkness.

Temdeg, on his knees, bowed, pressing his taut fingers to his trembling lips. Then he concealed the submachine gun inside his coat, rose, and went to stand at the brink of the darkness.

He heard the voice of the Watchman speak behind him.

It is as you said: a word may be a scratch in stone, and a universe. This is that word:”


In that moment, to himself at least, Temdeg ceased to be.

The three in that chamber all spoke different languages, but the Spirit of God there gives understanding of tongues through his servant, the Watchman.

“Iniel” is the name of the other world I create, in one of the languages thereof. Roughly, “Temdeg” is Mongolian for “Symbol,” and “Penipuan” is Malaysian for “Lie”. I tried to think of nationalities that would be most likely to reach such a place as the Watchman’s seat.

I hope I succeeded in portraying Temdeg as older in behavior. Youth is no advantage in such adventures as his; I feel I am too young to be writing a story about him.
It occurred to me afterward that Temdeg pressing his hands together may be a more Chinese or Japanese gesture, and not actually be prevalent in Mongolia.

The Watchman is symbolic, of course. In fact he is practically symbolic of symbolism. You will notice that he adheres to the Buteyko breathing method (in his breathing through the nose). But of course it is supernatural that his eyes are not blind from being always open.
I feel that he should not speak at all. But I suppose Temdeg pretended that he spoke.

 – Patrick Lauser

A Virgin for the Elves

~A Virgin for the Elves~


Micheal Marrion loved his grandfather. He would sit watching his grandfather’s hair and beard resting on his shoulders and breast with the same awe as one would watch the water of a waterfall move. When he was small he was allowed to make nests in his grandfather’s hair, and for many years he believed he had been hatched from an egg in such a nest. Continue reading

Mr. Stroudfreck and the Dragon

A scene that came to me once, unconnected from any larger story. Two men are walking beside a road and one, Mr. Stroudfreck, is speaking.

“Yes. Now it is sweeting up. The newest blooms are so peppery; in the pink, at least.”

The sun had already dried the sidewalk, but had only begun to work on Mr. Lanceling’s clothes, and so far only succeeded in making them feel stiff and abrasive. He watched Mr. Stroudfreck, who never seemed to show signs of discomfort in any circumstances.

Without preamble, a man ahead of them on the sidewalk turned back, presented an 1847 Colt Walker pistol, and fired on them.

The report of the gun, instead of being gone as soon as heard, lengthened as if a knife scraped it over toast. And as if the sound had become shape, a dark, serpentine form darted from the mouth of the gun instead of bullet and smoke.

It reached fifteen feet long with the speed a loosed arrow would fly the distance, and in the same movement as its sudden growth it rose on scaled hind legs, and above Mr. Stroudfreck and Mr. Lanceling its bulbous, reptilian eyes blazed like the eyelids of the morning. The sound of the gun, now horribly distorted, became a saurian scream that pierced the mind like a sword. Mr. Lanceling collapsed into a sitting posture by the side of the road. A cascade of fire cast from the creature’s throat bore down on the gentlemen, and the brilliance seemed to dim the sky in that direction as much as the jetting fumes. Mr. Stroudfreck raised and opened the umbrella, dark against the poisonous glare, and from this canopy the flames slid like cobwebs from the nose of a flying plane. Mr. Lanceling jerked his feet into Stroudfreck’s shadow, which jutted into the sunlight at a strange angle, flickering between the rags of flame that fell on the concrete around it.

The beast arched its loathsome body, gathering in its inhale the summer air whistling through its shark teeth, hot air that was cold in the demon’s gastly heat. Mr. Stroudfreck closed the umbrella, and, stepping forward, drove it upwards through the lower jaw and in through the brain. The tongue lashed the folds of the homely instrument like a stricken asp, blood spilled from the raging eyes, the internals of the head and mouth ignited and split the face in two, wreathing it in fire, and the forepart of the worm fell like a burning club to the sidewalk.

As if vanishing through the concrete, Mr. Lanceling never saw it strike the ground. The disappearance of that long body, whose scales seemed to glisten with shadows, brightened the sunlight around them. Mr. Lanceling put his hands to the ground to steady his legs as he rose, and wondered if part of the heat he felt in the pavement originated in the encounter he had witnessed. He stared at the place he had last seen the dark creature, feeling that it could start from the ground at their feet as easily as it had from the barrel of a pistol. Knowing a thing such as that to spring from the sunlit air, he thought he could never feel comfortable anymore. Mr. Stroudfreck was turning to him.

“How do you find yourself Mr. Lanceling?” he asked, as though they had met each other there.

“I feel as I need to take an umbrella everywhere I go.” Mr. Lanceling replied. Then he realized that he had not thought of the man who had fired the shot since the more fearsome antagonist had entered the scene. He looked down and across the street, but did not expect to see the man, who must have made good his escape already, though the interaction with the worm had not lasted long.

“Do you know who it was that fired on us?”

“A pawn, a hired man no doubt.”

“Someone should take his gun away.”

“Oh, it was nothing to do with his gun.”

– Patrick Lauser

Trivia: the 1847 Colt Walker pistol was the most powerful black powder repeating handgun to be made.