Monday, November 8, 2010
Hello. This is Maldeus, head of the Dark Wood Circle, popping in to say that our little group may end up dissolving entirely. We've got the first two and a half chapters of Magician ready to go, but the odds the fourth will ever get written are pretty uncertain. On the off-chance someone discovers this thing and wanted to see it continue, or one of our old readers comes back hoping to see more, I wanted to offer this post as a psuedo-conclusion. If there's no more posts after this one, it's because the Dark Wood Circle fell apart over the weekend.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
A message from the Dark Wood Circle:
That's a wrap for part one of our twenty-two part epic which may or may not ever be completed. Personally, I think it's our best chapter yet, but it is rather disjointed, just like the rest of Fool.
Fortunately, we'll be fixing this in Magician. In fact, this is why we're taking a weeklong hiatus. We will be back on Monday the Eighth of November, and in the meantime we'll have had a chance to build up a buffer so that each individual chapter spends much more time in the editing queue, which should help with story flow.
Also, click the ads so that we get money, we'd appreciate it quite a bit.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
It had been too long since Ashen had had a good cup of tea. The east was much stronger on alcohol, perhaps because they had more troubles to forget, or perhaps because tea wasn't strong enough for the people out here. Ashen had to admit, in a fair fight, without weapons or ambushes or supernatural powers, he'd probably lose to nearly any of the well-built, resilient residents of the Shattered Kingdoms. Or at least, those of the Shattered Kingdoms he'd seen, and given they only got less civilized and more individually intimidating the further east one went, Ashen imagined it would remain that way.
The tea sloshed around a bit in the tin cup Ashen had been drinking it out of as a slight tremor went through the earth beneath him, accompanied by a loud thud. Ashen turned his head to see, but the deafening roar told him what he needed to know before his eyes got the chance. Someone had gotten on Damaskenos' nerves. He seemed to be very nervous in general, which made avoiding his nerves something of a tricky subject. With a sigh, Ashen set his cup down and began walking towards the commotion.
Ashen supposed Damaskenos was probably still scared of the world after what had happened to him in Sergeinov Circus, and his successful escape and the subsequent flight to Novakagrad with the Dark Wood Circus had done wonders for dealing with his tendency to overestimate an opponent's strength. Unfortunately, this dovetailed directly into an aggression problem, which was probably a bit better for Damaskenos, but was significantly worse for those around him.
"Oi!" said Ashen, arriving at the scene of the fight. Jenna was pulling Jaromil away from the fight, Jaromil looking back over his shoulder in a mix of excitement and horror. Vanagandr, Ceslav, and Nikolas had gathered around to watch the fight. Wilder was crouched low, battle-ready, and Damaskenos snap-kicked in his direction. Wilder leapt out of the way too slowly, the kick sending him sprawling. Ashen wasn't sure where Damaskenos had learned Karate, but he'd been getting a lot of practice in since they'd left Lanbrott, as if being nine feet tall and nigh-unto indestructible wasn't enough.
"I think maybe you've taken the concept of 'break a leg' a bit too literally," Ashen said. Damaskenos ignored him, advancing on Wilder. Ashen stepped in between them, and Damaskenos swung at him with one hand. Ashen took a quick step backward and fought the instinct to strike back while Damaskenos was off-balance. "Damaskenos, come on, I thought we were friends," Ashen said, opening his palms in a mock surrender. Damaskenos paused for a moment, glaring at Ashen. After a moment, he turned and pried a small tree from the ground. Ashen prepared to leap out of the way, but Damaskenos tossed it over one of the wagons and, letting out a massive roar, turned and walked away.
Ashen turned around and helped Wilder up. "Jenna, bring the water," Ashen called over his shoulder. Jenna ran over and handed the vial of water up to Wilder, who drank it down, his bruises instantly healing, and judging by the sounds, a rib or two snapping back into place. Immediately after he'd finished drinking, Jenna snatched the water and ran off. She was not fond of Wilder. "Are we speaking the same language?" Ashen asked, walking into an empty wagon, Wilder following just behind, "Because yours seems to have an entirely different effect on people."
"What do you mean?" Wilder asked.
"Listen," Ashen said, "I don't know what you're trying to accomplish by picking fights with everyone and their dog, but stop it. You're making all of us look that much weaker."
"And carting Jenna around doesn't?" Wilder said.
"Not 'us' the Circus, 'us' as in Devil's Hands!" Ashen said. Wilder was caught off-guard. After a moment, he opened his mouth to respond, but Ashen cut him off. "The only people who run around picking fights with every emotionally unstable misfit they can find are the people too weak to pick fights with anyone else, and everyone in power knows this. The only thing that shouts your weakness louder than picking fights with Jaromil is when you lose fights to Damaskenos thirty seconds after they begin!"
"We're not weak," Wilder said, "We don't have to hide!"
"Lying is what we do, Wilder," Ashen said, "Lying, and hiding, and scheming, and making sure the fight is never fair. You're never going to be stronger than everyone else, Wilder, because if nothing else there's always going to be other Devil's Hands who'd love to remove you as a threat to their personal cults, but you can make people think you're too powerful to risk fighting with if you'd just keep your damn mouth shut!"
"You don't have any idea what you're talking about!" Wilder shouted, "I'm above everyone else! Hell chose me to-"
"God, the 'chosen one' rant," Ashen said, rolling his eyes. "Every single Devil's Hand thinks they're the chosen one of Hell or Heaven or one prophecy or another. I killed three 'chosen ones' this year alone, four if you count both of the twins separately. One of them wasn't even hard to kill!"
"You kill Devil's Hands?" Wilder asked.
"Yes, and you will, too, if you don't want to be killed by one yourself," Ashen said, "We're not all on the same side, Wilder. If you take nothing else away from this, take this: You. Are. Alone. Every single Devil's Hand is ultimately an army of one. We might work together for a while, possibly even our whole lives, but only because circumstances make it profitable. You taste just as good as Jenna. Better, in fact, since no part of you is extra crispy."
Sighing in frustration, Ashen turned and left the wagon, leaving Wilder to try in vain to come up with some kind of pithy comeback.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Three years before Dark Wood Circus...
The Majestic City Academy of Natural Philosophy was more magnificent even than most of the palatial estates its students came from. The Academy was thronging with blue bloods spanning the entirety of the Imperial peerage. A collection of young men and women each told, from birth, that they were a higher class of person. Different. Better. Noble.
They strutted about through the halls, across the vast campus between the impressive, century-old buildings, constantly trying to act like they're more confident, more important, more noble than everyone else. It was entertaining, sometimes, to watch some lowly fifteen year old viscount who'd managed to pull himself to the top of a clique transform from a cocky, arrogant, controlling noble to a groveling servant the instant a mighty duke two years his junior walked past.
The idiotic, arbitrary social system was hilarious right up until it was horrifying.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
A bald man wearing a white apron was turning a whole pig over an open fire out side of a large stone house. A few moments later, he walked into the kitchen of the house where some rice was cooking on a large cast-iron stove and broccoli was being steamed. As Nickolas was tasting his food a large, fat, drunk man walked into the kitchen
“Where the hell is my food, Nikolas?!” The drunk man said
“It will be ready soon governor” Jack replied. The governor of Svetch stumbled over to the stove
“This stuff looks like shit!” The governor exclaimed.
“It's rice,” Nikolas explained, trying not to sound as agitated as he felt.
“Rice. Rice! Rice is poor people food! Make me chicken!” the governor yelled
“We have no chicken, but the pork is being made outside” Nikolas said trying to keep calm.
“I don’t want any damn pork!” the governor said as he accidentally spit on Nicolas’s face.
“That is it!” Nikolas said as he grabbed the large, hot cast-iron pot and swung it into the governor’s head. The governor fell to the ground with the front of his head gashed open and bleeding. Nicolas realized what he had done, and ran out of the house. It wasn't long after that he became a wanted man.
Some time later, outside of a small tent, Nikolas was hacking away at some hogs feet with a cleaver. As he was cutting he accidentally cut off the top of his thumb off. He looked at the blood that was gushing out of what left of his thumb was there, mildly irritated. He grabbed a towel, covered his finger and put the blood covered pigs feet into a pot of boiling water. He then grabbed a small box and opened it. Inside where some medical tool. He grabbed his thumb and stitched it up.
It was after he'd fled from the governor's estate that Nikolas learned what medicine and surgery he knew, hiding with a doctor. Unfortunately, the doctor's wife did not share her husband's sympathy for Nikolas' position. He'd fled to Novakagrad, the capital city, far to the northwest of Svetch. He'd been able to find a job in a pub, there.
Nikolas was cleaning the mugs out for the night when a man came running in with three knifes stuck in his back. “Someone is after me! You need to help me” the man choked out before he fell to the ground. In shock Nikolas grabbed the man and began carefully removing the knives. He didn't know what else to do. He was patching up the wounds when a man in a long, red coat walked in the door.
“I think my friend's wandered in here,” he said to Nikolas.
“Who is your friend?” Nikolas asked.
"Dan, Dan is his name," the man said.
Nikolas had no idea what the wounded man's name was and wasn't sure he should let the man in the hat through, but ultimately he relented. After Nikolas let him past a blood curdling scream came from the wounded man, and the man in the coat walked out a moment later.
“What happened!?” Nicolas asked frantically.
“Well, I killed him” the man replied.
“Why did you do that?” Nikolas said, his eyes wide with shock.
“Was I not supposed to do that?” asked the man, with a slight smile on his face. “I really should be going,” he continued, Nikolas still gaping in shock. As the man in the red coat was walking out of the bar, he turned to Nicolas. “You know, I swear I've seen your face before...On a drawing, though” he said. For a moment he sat in silence, pondering, while Nikolas scanned the room for something usable as a weapon. All the good-sized knives were in the back, the only thing out here were chairs. Would this man notice if Nikolas slipped out back?
"I've got it!" The red-coated man said, "You're that cook who killed the governor of Svetch!" Nikolas cursed under his breath. The red-coated man was looking straight at him now, and that meant he wouldn't be able to slip to the back for a knife. The man looked fairly thin, though. Perhaps he could overpower him with just a chair...But could he risk fighting with the murderer at all?
In the distance, the sounds of booted feet and the shouts of the guards could be heard. Nikolas glanced out the window, sweat on his brow. The guards were coming for the man in red, no doubt, but they'd probably recognize Nikolas as the "assassin" from Svetch once they arrived. Even if they didn't, what was to stop the murderer from telling them himself? "Did you bandage that man up yourself?” the red-coated man asked.
“Yah” Nikolas replied automatically.
"Interesting," the man said, pulling a card out from his pocket. Nikolas squinted in the dim pub lights to make out the Three of Spades. "We really are short on time, so before I go I need to ask...When you were a little boy, did you ever wish you could run away and join the circus?"
"With you?" Nikolas asked, surprised. "You're a murderer!" Nikolas said, before he could stop himself.
"And that makes us...Different?" the man asked. The sounds of booted feet were growing louder. "I should note that the alternative is prison."
Nikolas hesitated only a moment before saying "Fine."
"Excellent," the man said, "I am Ashen, this is your card, let's run away."