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Sunday, 21 September 2014

Tana Standish, psychic spy - 01

I’m pleased to announce that Crooked Cat Publishing have accepted my first two Tana Standish chronicles.


 
Tana Standish, a child-survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto, was adopted by a British naval Lieutenant and eventually joined the British Secret Intelligence Service. She is a psychic with a photographic memory. Each adventure begins with the passing of a collection of papers and manuscripts to the author (Nik Morton) by one of her secret service associates. He then writes down her experiences. The first is The Prague Papers (Czechoslovakia, 1975), followed by The Tehran Text (Iran, 1978), both of which have been previously published (2008 & 2009 respectively), though the latter received minimal exposure as the collapse of the publisher occurred almost at the same time as its release. The next two adventures are planned; these are: The Khyber Chronicle – (Afghanistan, 1979/80), half-completed, and The Caldera Cryptogram (Argentina, Falklands, 1982).
 

The timeline for Tana’s secret service career is shown below:

The Singapore Signal – 1965 – (Tana’s first mission)

The Naples Note - 1966

The Izmir Intelligence - 1967

The Odessa Objective – 1968

The Pilsen Portfolio– 1968

The Karachi Code - 1970

The Elba Errand – 1971

The Gibraltar Gathering - 1972

The Mombasa Message - 1973

The Hong Kong Cover – 1974

The Prague Papers – 1975

The Peking Profile – 1976

The Bulawayo Bulletin – Jan 1977

The Mogadishu Memorandum – Jul 1977

The Cairo Codicil – Dec 1977

The Tehran Text - 1978

The Khyber Chronicle – 1979-1980

The Caldera Cryptogram – 1980-1982

The Savannah Statement - 1983

The Dingli Disclosure – 1984 (Malta)

The Malaga Missive – 1985

The Oslo Observation - 1985

 
More disclosures from the secret annals soon!

Friday, 19 September 2014

Saturday Story - 'Two birds with one stone'


TWO BIRDS WITH ONE STONE
 
Nik Morton
 
“Sorry, sir,” Torrence said, shaking his narrow-shaped head. He cleared his throat loudly. “The cargo's been in The Star's hold too long, Mr Grant. It's surprising what a little dock-strike can do...”
Lined face blotched with red, George Grant scowled at his shipping agent.  “And who knows about this?”  Torrence must be getting past it, he thought savagely, to make such an elementary mistake.
“Myself.” Torrence paused, grey eyes evasive.  “And the Second Engineer.”  Before Grant could react, he hastened on: “He learned of it by accident.  Came straight to me.  Seemed to think there might be something in it for him...”
“Sounds like he can be bought,” Grant remarked, stroking his thick dry lips.  Being in a position of power wasn't enough some days; it was much better when people could be manipulated, like the good old days when he first began his climb to the top.  He suddenly smiled, light blue eyes sparkling.  “Right.  Would you bring him round to my house tonight - at eight?”
            As Torrence left, suitably chastened, Grant leaned across his teak desk, his paunch ample testimony of the countless business lunches he had attended.  His wife still argued with him about the coronary he was nurturing. She still cared for him, he felt sure.
            He picked up the gilt-framed photograph of Susan. His heart turned, threatening that same thrombosis at the thought of those cupid's-bow lips kissing another man, of those wide, exquisite hazel eyes looking lovingly at another... Her auburn hair, tastefully draping her delicately boned shoulders, stroked by the hand of another man!  Moisture brimmed his eyes.
            For some time now he’d suspected that Susan's lover was employed on The Star.  Now, if he could get the Second Engineer to scuttle the ship for the insurance - which seemed why he'd approached Torrence anyway - then that would solve the rotten food problem.
            And, unbidden, a dark thought occurred to him.  He had not climbed to his successful position without treading on many people, but he'd always resisted outright violence, no matter how much he may have longed to “dispose” of a competitor.  But where Susan was concerned he was not always rational. The scuttling would also perhaps rid him of Susan's lover as well... Two birds with one stone!
***
That evening, Susan greeted him warmly enough, obviously keeping up the pretence of a loving wife.  “Busy day at the office, darling?”  Now, it sounded like a hollow cliché!  Inwardly, he went very cold at the touch of her lips on his cheek.
He never discussed his work with Susan and had even less cause to do so now. “A small crisis has cropped up,” he said, hanging up his overcoat. “I've had to invite a couple of chaps round tonight - to talk ship. You'd no other plans, I hope - ?”
            Fleetingly, her look implied that he could have telephoned to warn her, but she simply said, “No, darling.  It will make a nice change, won't it?”
            Torrence arrived punctually and Grant ushered him and the tall angular Second Engineer into the comfortable lounge. The small chandelier's lights glinted on the glasses and bottles of the drinks cabinet in an alcove; trendy tapas decorated the coffee table and chair arms.
            “May I introduce Martin Connolly?” the shipping agent said.
            Susan paled noticeably. After a slight hesitancy, she shook hands with the seaman.
            Grant glared, his heart hammering.  His whole body tensed; he was unaware that his teeth were grinding together.  The telling exchange of glances had been brief, but he’d been quick enough to detect the unspoken communication in their eyes: as if she had said to Connolly, “And why the hell didn't you phone me?”
            So... Connolly was her lover!
But what did she see in him, a grease-smelling engineer, with a take-home salary barely a fraction of mine?  His dark brown eyes, too close together, were too shifty by half, looked intense, scheming... Plans would have to be revised slightly.  He hadn't wished to get personally involved, but now he had no choice.  He wouldn't trust Torrence with the task.  A trip to Jacko in Soho would be necessary... Tactfully, Torrence vanished into the kitchen to assist Susan with the coffee.  The swing-door shut behind them.
            “I think you know why I'm here, Mr Grant,” Connolly said.  “I want to marry Susan,” he blurted out.  “Will you give her a divorce?”
            The direct, no-messing approach, so much like his own attitude in his youth, now annoyed Grant.
            They stared at each other.
            Finally, Grant replied, coldly, “Not without a fight.”
            Connolly hesitated, nervously brushed fingers through his shock of black hair.
            Grant thought of his own balding head, and his other remorseless signs of physical neglect and age, and realised what she saw in the Second Engineer.
            “What are you doing about the rotten cargo, Mr Grant?” he asked pointedly. 
“I know Torrence slipped up - it wasn't adequately insured...”
            It made sense.  Connolly would keep quiet about the perished cargo if Susan had a speedy divorce... The scheming, conniving – “That depends on you,” he heard himself saying.
            “Oh?”
            “My wife has a price: that cargo and ship.  I'd want you to open the cocks of The Star in mid-Channel.”
            The swine never even batted an eyelid!  “As ships go, she's past her prime, anyway, Mr Grant... And the divorce?”
            “As soon as possible - after.  Plus a small cash settlement of, say, £10,000 for services rendered.”  It gave him great pleasure to see his suspicions confirmed as Connolly's eyes widened greedily. “Agreed?”
Connolly nodded unhesitatingly and they shook hands on the deal just as Susan and Torrence joined them with the trolley of coffee and cakes.
***
Next day, directly after his Soho visit, Grant stepped onto The Star's gangway.  Salt-spray on the estuary's breeze sprinkled his face.
“Nice to see you, Mr Grant.”  Captain Henderson's craggy features cracked into a grin. “If you're worried about the cargo, then rest assured, the strike's over. We sail tonight at eleven and arrive New York Thursday.”
“That's fine, Captain!” Summoning a smile, Grant stammered, “Is it all right for me - to go below?”
            Captain Henderson cocked his head enquiringly.
            Grant shrugged.  “The engine-room,” he mumbled.  “An old friend's there - Martin Connolly.”  Heart throbbing, he gripped his weighty briefcase tightly, knuckles showing white.
            “Ah, Marty!” the Captain beamed.  “Along that passage, third hatch on your right.  Two decks down... Mind your step, sir...”  He turned back to supervise the loading of some additional cargo.
            Once below-decks, Grant ignored the Skipper's directions and headed aft; half-choking on the sudden overwhelming stench of diesel-oil, he descended three deck-ladders to the machinery space just for'ard of the propeller-shafts.  There was nobody about.  All busy saying their farewells, probably...
            He gingerly removed the package his old associate Jacko had constructed for him.  It looked ridiculously amateurish, like something out of a cartoon or B-movie, but Jacko had assured him that it would do the trick.  It had better, thought Grant as he hurriedly left the ship.
He returned home just after midnight, slightly the worse for celebrating the ship's sailing. Susan's lover would go down with the ship at ten sharp tomorrow... A pity about the crew, though.  Perhaps only the engine-room would have fatalities... He eyed Susan's photograph, and cried at the lengths he would go to just to keep her.
Then he saw the note, on the mantelpiece. 
George, I'm sorry, but I'm leaving you.  Martin doesn't know but I'm booked on The Star. I'm sure I can persuade him to stay with me in America.  I'm sorry. Susan.
Oh, no! Everything swayed before his eyes. He unconsciously crumpled the note into a ball and threw it viciously across the room.  Supporting his trembling frame against the mantel-shelf, he clenched and unclenched his fists. His heart felt like it was doing the clenching too... He couldn't live without her - didn't she understand that?  And now he'd murdered her... unless he confessed, alerted the ship...
            Unwelcome, a vision swam before his mind's-eye, of The Star riven by the explosion, a fountain of water gushing through the blasted deck-plates, steam gushing, oil spewing, flames cavorting, a pall of smoke, men shouting, shouting, panicking, fire-fighting, swimming... And Susan, perhaps cast into the sea, bleeding or burned or both, her beautiful features unrecognisable...
            He sobbed aloud and cursed.  Now, there was no feeling of smugness, of revenge, and no contentment.  Only a fathomless sensation of emptiness, his life stretching ahead, barren. Strange, he'd rather have shared the little he had of her than this... he hadn't wanted her dead - well, not after the first hot rage at discovering she'd been cheating on their marriage...
            It was Connolly - he'd enticed her away.
            But if I alert Henderson, I'll be as good as confessing to attempted sabotage, fraud, and murder; I'll be imprisoned, ruined, parted from her possibly for years...
            Hands trembling, fidgeting with countless chain-smoked cigarettes, he paced out the hours.
***
Unshaven, with bloodshot blue-hooded eyes, he lurched past his astounded secretary, Miss Gaskell, grabbed the office phone and rang the dockside.
            “Mrs Grant boarded The Star an hour before it sailed,” he was told.
            Hanging up, he snapped, “What's the time?”
            “N - nine, sir.”
            Grant jumped up, eyes staring wildly. Damn the consequences!  There was still time to save Susan.  “Miss Gaskell, quick - I'll dictate an e-mail!”
            Concerned eyes fixed on him, she sat with pad and pencil poised as an anxious-looking clerk dashed in, waving a message.
            Grant grabbed the sheet, scanned its contents twice, his heart quaking.
Face crumpling, he slowly sat down.
            AT 0840 GMT TODAY 'THE STAR' SANK FOLLOWING A MYSTERIOUS EXPLOSION.
Jacko's timing device must have been faulty...
TWO DEAD, FIVE MISSING.
            At that moment a tall stranger in a tweed overcoat was escorted into the office. “I'm Detective Inspector Stokes,” he said, producing credentials from a pocket.
            Susan - she was among the dead?  Or missing? Or, possibly, a survivor. Pray, God...
Grant looked up with a start, seeing the detective in front of his desk.  A strange feeling of relief seeped into him. Somehow, they knew... Dazedly, he nodded, mouth dry, and said, “I did it.”
“Pardon, sir?”
            “Sank The Star - what else - that's why you're here, isn't it?”
            “Oh... that's very interesting, sir...” said DI Stokes, taken aback.  “Actually, we were acting on information received regarding a proposed insurance fraud.  The man Torrence in your employ had apparently sold produce intended for shipment, the containers were empty.”  He checked his notebook, looked up.  “Our informants were your wife and a Mr Connolly, who jumped ship shortly before it sailed.”  He cleared his throat. “Now, about that statement you just made...”

***
Previously published in the Costa Blanca News, 2005.
Copyright Nik Morton, 2014
 
If you liked this story, you might like my collection of crime tales Spanish Eye, which features 22 cases from Leon Cazador, private eye, ‘in his own words’.  He is also featured in the story ‘Processionary Penitents’ in the Crooked Cat Collection of twenty tales, Crooked Cats’ Tales.
 
Spanish Eye, released by Crooked Cat Publishing is available as a paperback and as an e-book.

 

Thursday, 18 September 2014

FFB - Expressway

Elleston Trevor (1920-1995) wrote Expressway as Howard North (1973). This version was released under his own name, 1975 (he changed his name from Trevor Dudley-Smith); he was British, lived in France and Spain and finally settled in Arizona. 

Trevor used quite a variety of pennames – see this site for a listing - http://bookitinc.com/checklists/EllestonTrevor.shtml - such as Adam Hall, Simon Rattray, Roger Fitzalan, Mansell Black, Trevor Burgess, Warwick Scott, Caesar Smith and Lesley Stone.

 
Expressway is a documentary novel in the same vein as Arthur Hailey’s Airport and Hotel, as the cover of my version says. Mainly omniscient in point of view, it still works in a strong cinematic sense. The story is about the holiday weekend of 3-5 July on and around the New York - New Jersey Parkway, early 1970s.

It’s about those who drive and ride in vehicles and it’s also about the cars themselves. In the pearl-finish Cougar, Walt and Carol Amberton can’t talk about the alcohol that’s destroying them. In the black Cadillac, the sinister Mr Solo is ‘cruising, searching, waiting to see at first-hand a fatal accident’. In the Buick Riviera, Dr Brett Hagen is trying to find his teenage daughter, Tracy, and her companion, a man old enough to be her father. In the Chrysler Newport, Rod Gould and Nat Renatus ‘start the weekend with murder and bring death along with them.’ Then there’s the married couple, Floyd and Sue, expecting their first baby any week now; and Erica, running away from her husband Craig, and highway cop Lieutenant Frank Ingram and his paramedic wife Debby, whose lives are not improved by the officious unhelpful interference of Captain Darrow… Suspense, tension and action in a jam-packed holiday weekend.

Figures are now out of date, naturally, but the carnage is still shocking. ‘… on the Fourth of July holiday last year the national figures for death on the road reached a new peak at 917, while more than 36,000 persons were injured…’ It begins with an overview of the area and homes in on Patrolman Nolan who is due to complete his shift – until he stumbles upon a couple of drug-dealers (Rod and Nat) and he’s killed by Nat; Rod is wounded by Nolan. A neat little framing device is the young boy Jimmy, who is a car-spotter, munching on an apple.

Trevor has a good eye for detail. And in certain scenes we can discern the fast pace of his alter ego Adam Hall (Quiller books), viz: ‘Only when something goes wrong are you brought to realize how fast you are moving at a mile per minute but there’s no time to think about what you are learning too quickly and too late, because there’s a rocking motion and the scene dips as the brakes bite and then the world goes wild and great forces rise to hurl you bodily through tumult and you know that this is not you any longer, the you to whom nothing could happen, nothing terrible, nothing so unimaginably terrible as this.’ Breathless, yet powerful and so indelibly true.

Jimmy’s apple is one subtle leitmotif; another is the Venus 1000 car – advertised ‘as lithe, compliant, trembling under your touch’. Walt is the salesman who thought up that sexist spiel, before he succumbed to liquor. And another is the moths in the night air… when, a page later, after Carol worries about her alcoholic husband Walt: ‘For some reason they always go faster the nearer they go to the flame, spinning faster and faster till they touch; but what about self-preservation, aren’t all living creatures supposed to know when they’re in danger? Can’t they feel the heat growing as they circle closer? Surely they do. Then why can’t they stop?’ And of course her allusion relates to Walt’s alcoholic descent, not the moths. Later, she’s in the car knowing Walt has imbibed and ‘can only sit here feeling the refined brand of fear that is experienced by the trapped animal.’ This is an excellent devastating exposal of alcoholism, right up there with Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano.

Cop-killer Nat got a piece of grit in his eye and it troubled him. This symbolizes the irritation of guilt and fear. A little later, ‘Rod watched his friend, his thin and dangerous friend, whose nerve had gone because he’d done it before but never to a city cop. Nat was finished. He’d never get his style back, even if he beat this rap and set up somewhere safe, because the Nolan killing had changed everything and a bit of it had spun off and got inside Nat, just like Nolan’s bullet had got inside Rod himself.

‘ “It’s out,” Nat said, “I got it out.” [Referring to the grit].

‘No, Rod thought, you never will.’

Although I enjoyed Arthur Hailey’s books Hotel, Wheels, Airport and Overload etc, I find it baffling that they are still in print while this fine writer’s Expressway isn’t.
 
[If you're interested in the insight into a writer, you might try a memoire about Elleston Trevor by his wife, Bury Him Among Kings. Intimate Glimpses into the Life and Work of Elleston Trevor by Chaille Trevor (2012). It's a worthwhile e-book.]

 

 

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Writing - Shadows over Lornwater-02

Shadows over Lornwater
 
Morton Faulkner
 
continued from yesterday (where you can also find a short glossary)...


II

 

Their life is sucked from your bone.

But not only in obscure curtained night.

No, they draw strength from any light.

Barely the suggestion of a glimmer will do.

 

Of all, children understand them alone,

They know that the Unreal in Darkness breeds,

And their dread sustains all gloomy needs.

Oh, and children’s tears enrich them, true.

- A Life of Their Own, from The Collected Works of Nasalmn Feider (1216-1257)

 
***

First Durin of Juvous

Shadows danced in the room, a faint breeze from the open door wafting the flames of the shagunblend torches, casting stripes of darkness over the supine naked woman’s corpse. Welde Dep stroked his black beard and cursed his bad luck as well as the gods. He removed his watchman’s bronze helm and placed it on the wine-stained sideboard. Those same shadows flickered over the helm’s vigilant eye, giving the absurd impression that it blinked. Kneeling beside the dead woman’s head, he glanced at the two attending watchmen who hovered near the doorway of the House of Velvet. “Make sure nobody enters until I have completed my examination.”

            “Yes, sir,” said Banstrike, the more reliable of the pair. Cursh appeared disconcerted, which was not surprising, considering the amount of blood on the floor and walls. Dep suspected that Cursh didn’t have the stomach for the job; he bore watching. Watch the watchmen. As ever. The two men hurriedly slipped under the bead curtain and out the door.

            The corpse was no longer recognisable. Her face had been expertly sliced off, baring bone. That accounted for the mess of blood. He shuddered and wondered if the mutilation had been done while the victim was alive. As Lornwater’s chief special investigations watchman for eleven years, he’d seen all manner of sights and dealt with man’s depravity, the cruelty meted out to men and women alike by disturbed individuals forsaken by the gods. Yet even now he was not quite inured to the grisly nature of his calling. He still felt empathy for the victims.

            Stripping the skin from a person’s face was a message. Usually, the messenger was an assassin. This particular message meant that the victim would be consigned to forever roam Below and never attain eternal rest with the Overlord. That raised at least two questions: who was the assassin, and who hired him? Yet more questions lingered, however. This disfigurement was slightly different: the woman’s right eye had been cut out and placed in her left palm, and her nose was missing. Absently, he fingered the gristle that was all that remained of his right ear and let out a throaty mew of sympathy.

            The dead woman’s body was twisted, as if she had fallen abruptly, her right arm trapped under her. Gripping her cold shoulder, Dep eased up the corpse and released the arm.

            The glint of a gild ring on her finger immediately caught his attention. Most odd. There were not many female assassins registered in Lornwater. And what was a member of the assassin’s gild doing here; and why was she killed? Was it a failed assassination attempt?

            Clutched in the woman’s right palm was the missing grisly nose. The placement of the eyes and nose signified something esoteric, he felt sure. He must solicit advice from someone adept at dealing with the Darkness; his own dealings were concerned with ranmeron magic, involving personal power, and this was beyond his knowledge. He sighed. He had no choice but to approach Nostor Vata, the king’s witch.

            Dep stood and studied the room.

            This was a place of leisure and pleasure. He expected to see scantily-clad nubile women, fruit of the gods and wine, plenty of wine. A goblet lay on the floor, its red liquid spilt, near the sideboard. No bottles, no more goblets. Wine mixed with blood. He noticed his own bloody footprints – and those of Banstrike and Cursh – but there were no others. Most odd, indeed.

            Business-like, he fished out a small black leather pouch and bagged the eye and nose. Then he removed a thin sliver of coloured paper and dabbed its edge into the spilt wine; the colour changed, but not red, rather blue. Poison, then. That was the female assassin’s method, though it clearly went awry and cost her life.
***
 
“I find it hard to believe that you’ve developed a sudden case of memory loss,” Watchman Dep said, levelling his dark brown eyes on the proprietor of the House of Velvet, Ska-ama. The office was small, two walls filled with shelving. Only high narrow windows admitted daylight. Shadows abounded wherever Dep looked.

            “I’m trying to remember, Watchman.” He leant on his desk top, screwed-up his features. “But… it is the shock. Who was she?”

            “I was hoping you’d tell me.”

            Ska-ama shook his balding head and his jowls wobbled. “I didn’t recognise her. How could I, with… with…”

            “What about her other features? They weren’t defiled by her killer.”

            Ska-ama nodded hesitantly. “She – a terrible waste, she had a good body… but nothing that would identify her for me.”

            “Do you know who was visiting your establishment earlier today?”

            “No, I can’t keep account of…”

            “The law says you should.” Dep sighed. “I will have to close you down, since you’re incapable of abiding by the law.”

            “But – some very important people visit here. They don’t want their names associated with… with my house.”

            “I’ll spare their reputations and blushes, providing you give me the information I require.”

            Reluctantly, Ska-ama got up, moved sluggishly to a shelf and removed a book. “My receptionist records every person who enters and when they leave.”

            “Really?”

            “Yes.”

            “So, since the woman’s body was found the place has emptied. And she managed to make a note of everyone leaving?”

            “I imagine so. It’s her job.”

            Dep took the book, leafed through its pages, found the most recent entries. “Seemingly not. A good half-dozen visitors are not logged out. Yet they certainly are not here now.”

            “An oversight. My receptionists are usually very conscientious.”

            “I’m sure they are. And doubtless being scared of vicious murderers, they abandoned their post.” He wasn’t going to get anything out of Ska-ama. “I need to interview your… staff.”

            “I’ll arrange it at once. But please don’t keep them too long. They have a job, you know. Time is money.”

            “Since you said ‘please’, I’ll do my best.”

            “Thank you, Watchman.” Irony was lost on him, clearly.

            Dep sent his two men away to check on the whereabouts of today’s visitors listed in the receptionist’s book. In the meantime, he spent the next two orms interviewing the men and women “entertainers” who “catered for all tastes”. Every one of them vowed that none of their company was missing. The dead woman was a stranger to them. This suggested that she had entered this place without being noticed, which wouldn’t be difficult for an adept assassin, and was here on a killing contract.
***
to be continued... in the free sample available from Knox Robinson soon!

http://www.knoxrobinsonpublishing.com/book/wings-of-the-overlord/


Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Writing - Shadows over Lornwater-01


SHADOWS OVER LORNWATER

 
Morton Faulkner

 This is a 9,000 word short story which will be made available for free by Knox Robinson, the publisher of Wings of the Overlord. It is a stand-alone tale, but it does foreshadow events in that book and its sequel (in progress), To Be King.
 
 
Lornwater, 2050AC*

*[see brief glossary at end]

 

I

 

Be wary, they have a life of their own,

Roaming across ceilings in moonlight,

Fleeing or slinking away in day-bright.

Yet, they hold feelings like me and you.

- A Life of Their Own, from The Collected Works of Nasalmn Feider (1216-1257)

 

***

First Sidinma of Juvous


In striking contrast to the brownish spot on her forehead above her nose, Sister Illasa’s complexion held a bluish tinge, despite the flickering torches in the shadowy stone-walled basement room.  Deep green silk covered her thickset body, wrapped about her waist and draped over one shoulder. Her bosom heaved as she spoke, her voice demanding and yet sultry. “O, Tanemag, strong king of the Dunsaron, heed me in my conjuration!”

            Her right hand comprised six fingers and held a bowl of dark water, which she moving in a circle over a crackling brazier. Her close-set olive green eyes flashed, almost luminous in this light. “Mussor, master of water, fashion me my melog!” She blew on the flames, purred, “Wrest from those I name the life-force that will drive melog, by ear and eye and nose and ear, animate my shadow assassin from out of darkness!”

            With her free hand she pulled at her stringy black hair that was streaked with grey and blue. She yelped involuntarily and her fingers gripped a bunch of hair like twine, and then threw it on the flames, where it sizzled among the charred bones of sacrificed creatures.

            An abrupt draught wafted through the dark shadowy place, even though there were no open windows or doors. “Winds of Lamsor, breathe life into my melog. Dark Bridansor, fashion me my creature to do my earnest bidding! Let the named ones lose the use of their limbs and become mere puppets for my melog.”

            Exhaustion stretched her nerves taut, her breathing rasped in her throat. This must work; she knew she would not have the strength to repeat the spell. Lifting the bowl to her lips, she drank the entire contents, every last vile drop. Fleetingly, her stomach threatened to rebel, but she held it down and smiled. Her dry throat was cured; the corners of her mouth dribbled blackly as she reeled off names, her lips moist and slavering: “Pro-dem Hom, Den-orl Pin, Cor-aba Grie, Fet-usa Fin – you all are spawn of Saurosen and thus deserving of my creature’s dread ire!”
 
continued tomorrow, (a little longer excerpt)...
 
 
Glossary
 AC - Arisan Calendar. Recorded history began 0001AC. Originated and introduced during the fifth year of King Zal-aba Men’s reign. The Calendar was backdated to his first year on the throne. See below.
Bridansor – great-lord of Dark.
Brilansor – high-lord of Light.
Doltra Complex – Prestige building in Lornwater’s Second City, named after its architect.
 
Floreskand – Land contained between the manderon range of Tanalume Mountains, the Varteron Edge, the dunsaron range of Sonalume Mountains and the ranmeron Shomshurakand Barrier.
Gild – The vast majority of common people belong to some kind of gild, be it religious, merchant, or craft. Merchant gilds regulate trade monopoly. Gildsmen also take up vendettas on behalf of members’ families. The most infamous quasi-legal gild is the assassin’s gild.
 
Lamsor – black lesslord of winds.
 
Lornwater – also called the Three Cities, comprising The Old City, The Second City and The New City. Founded in 959AC.
 
Madurava – Compass. Florskandian compasses are enormous; there are no portable ones; they are kept in Madurava Houses, usually one per city. See diagram below.
 
Manderranmeron Fault – Geological fault running the length of Floreskand and containing the four fault volcanoes: Danumne, Astle, Altohey and Olarian.
 
Mussor – black lesslord of water.
 
Names – Surname is said first, then the chosen or personal name; thus Canishmel Bis refers to Bis (chosen) Canishmel (surname).
Orm – time measurement – 20 orms per day.
 
Paper – see reedpaper.
 
Parchment – common alternative to reedpaper.
 
Reedpaper – expensive paper, used exclusively by the affluent.
 
Shagunblend – combustible tar-like substance, a method of illumination.
 
Smalt – glass derived from the treatment of cobalt ore.
 
Storytellers – gild of tale tellers, graded in excellence by the pastel colours of their cloaks.
 
Tarakanda – the Ranmeron Empire.
 
Underpeople – people who are never seen or heard; feared, perhaps mythical, inhabitants of the waterlogged disused mines of Lornwater
 
Watchmen – city wall or palace wall sentries, wearing distinctive plaid cloaks; policemen.
 
The Arisan Calendar
There are 13 moons of 29-day periods in a year. Each moon is named after a constellation:
         1         Sekous;          Viratous;         3         Danduous;             4          Ramous; 
        5         Centirous;   6          Juvous;         7         Fornious;          8          Darous;
 9         Lamous;        10        Sortious;        11        Anticous;
 
       12        Petulous;        13        Airmous
Each moon is divided into quarters. There are 7 days and 7 nights in each quarter.
                                                   Days:                                       Nights:
                                                   Sabin                                       Sabinma

                                                   Dekin                                      Dekinma
                                                  
                                                   Sidin                                        Sidinma
 
                                                   Dloin                                       Dloinma
Sufin                                       Sufinma
                                                   Durin                                       Durinma
Sapin                                       Sapinma
These days are numbered One to Four, depending on which Quarter they are in; thus the 16th day of the 4th month in 1470 would be written thus: Third Dekin of Ramous, 1470AC.
 
 

 
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