January 17, 2018

World of Recast Light: The Wastes

 The western half of the country of Styx is simply known as The Wastes, a desolate region of red earth, jagged black rocks, and mounds of trash. Bordered on the west by the ocean, the north by the Rodomontade Mountains, the east by the Forest of Infinite Horrors, and the south by the Empire, it’s about as out-of-the-way of a place as one could find.
Though flocks of dodos and pigeons populate the area, and the ocean provides plenty of fish, Styxians never consumed these beasts because they (the beasts, not the Styxians) feed off of nothing but garbage. The reason for this is that the early Styxians were forest dwellers, preferring to live high up in trees rather than low down (as all good goblins should). The Wastes were so dreadfully flat, and were rife with Styx-hating goblins using the place as a thoroughfare on their way to wreak havoc in the human countries, and were just generally not conducive to hunting, or living, or building a castle, all of which the early Styxians had set their mind on doing. They were perfect, however, for dumping trash, something which Styxians had loads of. Thus, over the centuries, the hills of garbage grew into mighty mountains, some of which are large enough to be seen from over the borders. They’re a bit of an eyesore, but most everyone inside the country of Styx lives on the other side of the forest of Infinite Horrors, where the trees block the view. The trash doesn’t bother them one bit.
As with any desolate location, weird legends concerning the place have cropped up over time. Some say that goblin ghosts haunt the garbage piles, still attached to those items they once cherished in life. Others claim to have seen spectral entities in the fog that evaporate into thin air when you get too close. Many people report a distinct feeling of being watched.
Peculiar tales are not limited to the flat expanse that comprises most of The Wastes, either. One goblin was traveling from Bombast when he lost his footing on a mountain trail, fell, and lost consciousness. When he finally came to, he was disoriented, but wandered through the crags at the base of the mountain, hoping to find some help. At daybreak, he stumbled upon a perfectly cultivated fruit orchard, ripe with the fall harvest. Beneath the trees, rings of succulent mushrooms and rows of plump vegetables grew. He had never seen such a display in his life, and certainly not in the barren Rodomontades. Stuffing his pockets with food, he started his journey once more, careful to mark the way back to this garden paradise by chiseling his initials into the rocks along the way.
When he finally made it to Styx Town, however, no one believed him. He insisted it was true and said he could prove it, so the next morning, he and his doubters set out towards the mountains. They saw his initials, just as he had claimed, but saw that they did not make a straight path but instead covered almost every rock on the mountain. He swore it wasn’t his doing, pointing out that these new marks looked to have been made by some tool he was unfamiliar with, and insisted that he could tell the difference. Now leading an increasingly skeptical band, he continued on, checking each set of initials, trying to spot which were his and which had appeared suddenly in the night. They continued like this for hours, even coming across a grove of trees at one point, though there was not one piece of fruit on their branches, nor any mushrooms or vegetables on the ground. The traveler had to concede that it would have taken over a hundred goblins to harvest an area this size in one night, and everyone else concluded that his original hallucination must have been due to his hitting his head in the fall. The group made their way home, taking many accidental wrong turns, but the traveler continued to look over his shoulder, hoping for some sign of the secretly bountiful Wastes.

January 4, 2018

Love and Chaos: The Third Duel to the Death

“Marriage is a duel to the death which no man of honour should decline.”
 G.K. Chesterton

Part 1

Part 2

Read on Wattpad
or under the break

December 13, 2017

Meet Augustus and the Empress

Meet Augustus!

Full Name: Augustus Ekphrasis
Appearance: Augustus is a middle-aged Chairoscuran with black rings around his eyes that make him look sleepy, a head of short, scruffy hair, and several days' worth of white stubble on his chin and cheeks.
Likes: Cooking, political activism, food, the sky, clouds, stars
Dislikes: Being stuck inside Chiaroscuro, phantasmal jellyfish miasma, wind
OccupationCookProfessional rabble-rouser, prisoner
Favorite Food: Anything he makes himself
Spirit Animal: Panda
Spirit Vegetable: Daikon Radish
Little Known Fact: Several councilmen frequented Augustus’s shop before his arrest, and offered to put in a good word for him at his trial. They recanted this promise, however, when other council members accused them of accepting “bribes in the form of food”, which of course brought to mind the specter of the Great Dumpling Scandal, which no councilman would ever want to be associated with.

Augustus was, of course, hatched and raised in Chiaroscuro. He inherited a noodle shop in the lower levels from his father, and soon mastered the art of cooking, becoming renowned for his delicious meals (at least, renowned in Chiaroscuro). Seen as an even-tempered and easy-going guy, many a shadow goblin came to confide in him over the years, asking his opinion about everything from marriage problems to business advice to the ever-looming Shadow Crisis. He eventually fell in love with and married one of Chiaroscuro’s few farmers, who grew food in the hidden crags and valleys of the mountains to the north. On several special occasions, she procured permission to take Augustus out of Chiaroscuro, which was when he first saw the sky. Though the two shared several happy years together, his wife fell ill during an outbreak of sickness, and died; since then, Augustus has considered himself a life-long widower.

It was years later that Augustus got into trouble with the Chiaroscuran Order of Law. It started when he began telling his customers his ideas about contacting the human Empress and letting the chips fall where they may. Though this idea was likely to get them all killed, his customers laughed it off as a joke; no one, especially Augustus, would be crazy enough to do such a thing. When he plastered copies of the letters he had drafted, addressed to the empress and containing several threats, all over the walls of his restaurant, that got the authorities' attention. They told him to cease and desist, not giving it a second thought. When he was caught by a portal official, trying to leave the city with his pockets stuffed with such letters, he was slapped with a fine, and when a passing Chiaroscuran fisherman saw him outside Chiaroscuro, heading for the border, he was finally arrested and thrown in jail. “Public menace” was his crime, and his trial was set for several weeks in the future (the Chiaroscuran Order of Law was caught up with a series of murders at the time, so one little letter-writing lunatic had to be put on the back burner). By the time the killer was caught and Augustus's evidence started to be sorted through, Chiaroscuro was again distracted by a sudden and completely unexpected turn of events…

Meet the Empress!

Full Name: Meg (Megumi) Ottavarima, aka “The Empress”
Appearance: Meg, or “the Empress”, as she calls herself, is an unhealthily scrawny, short Chiaroscuran. Her face is half black and half white (the separation runs diagonally down), and her yellow eyes have a far off, dreamy expression.
Likes: History, shiny things, being important, memories, Augustus
Dislikes: Being forgotten, putting forth effort, wind
OccupationHistorianthief, prisoner
Favorite Food: Black jelly soup
Spirit Animal: Jellyfish
Spirit Vegetable Fruit: Blueberry
Little Known Fact: She saw Sebastian in his cat form in the hall a couple times, when he was on his way to the Council Chamber. She thought he was pretty adorable, but didn't think that was the sort of thing you should tell a king, especially when his adorableness is due to a curse.

Meg once worked in the palace, studying all she could about Chiaroscuran history, as well as the writings on the Empire that had been copied and recopied from “The Academy Collection” over 260 years since the Ancient Shadows had first come to Chiaroscuro. Even though she had her own apartment in the palace (her father having been vanished during a Shadow Incident, her mother dying during the outbreak of the great sickness that ravaged the city during her childhood), she couldn’t help but long for the things she had heard about in the Empire, and the things she imagined. While all architecture in Chiaroscuro was black and white, the Academy Collection spoke about vermillion palaces, green-tinged copper roofs, and mosaics in every color of the rainbow (rainbows were something often mentioned in books of poetry and art, but never described. Meg supposed they must be something like blown glass sculptures, with lots of colors twisted together). She was certain, too, that all of these buildings must be surrounded by flower gardens—because who wouldn’t be surrounded by gardens if they could—and spent long hours imagining what it must be like to live in the Empire, especially in the Imperial Palace, home (or once home) of the Empress Hypatia Mbaga, a just and noble queen by every author’s estimation.

The longer she walked the white walls of the palace, the more she imagined life in the Empire, and the more lonely she felt, spending hours immersed in the world of a far away and long ago country. She wondered how it must feel to be the Empress, loved and adored and looked up too, and began to visit memory merchants, asking specifically for memories to be concocted of what she imaged: gardens, beautiful gem-encrusted houses, life within the walls of the palace—the Imperial, not Empyreal one. The more time she devoted to these, the less and less she cared for real life. Food tasted like ash in her mouth, and she only ate enough to stay alive… or not? What was lifethe white walls she found herself in, or the colored ones she could remember? Eventually, she had taken so many memories that she forgot which were her own and which were fabrications. She forgot if she were the Empress, who she knew on a rational level had died hundreds of years ago, or Meg Ottavarima, who seemed never to have lived at all.

November 29, 2017

Single Sentence Forest Poems

While I usually tend to wax poetic for a page or two in my poems, I’ve been reading some poets who have small, almost haiku-like poems that capture a single thought or image, so I thought I would try this out. They weren’t originally all supposed to be a single sentence each, but that’s how they started to end up, so I went with it.

These poems are also heavily influenced by the Coconino National Forest, in which Flagstaff is located, and with which I am in love. I’ve tried to write several peoms capturing my feelings about the forest, but they always seem to either spiral out of control or die a few lines in. Thus, I think these single sentence poems can capture what I want more effectively, by focusing on a one small thought or feeling at a time.



Some days
I wish I could run away
to the forest,
my forest,
where the only sounds would be
the shriek of the wind,
the roar of the trees,
and the constant cry of the birds.


I look for a path long gone,
scattered somewhere
under golden leaves
and rusty ferns,
devoured by the forest.


The art of daydreaming
is like hermitic alchemy,
spinning loneliness into gold.


My breath floats white in the air
as the needles drip in the sun.

And yes, this isn't a witches broom, but I
didn't have time to take a picture of one

Witch's broom

a kissing curse,
spreads like coral,
like fire,
under your skin.


I need a house
with large windows,
with panes so big
mine seems small.


Sap, dirt, the inevitable burning,
and the scent of centuries-
old butterscotch and vanilla:
there is nothing like it in the world.


The forest calls
with a soft voice
through sharp needles
and stiff leaves.

 That's all! See you next time!