The Aresan Clan is published four times a week (Tue, Wed, Fri, Sun). You can see what's been written so far collected here. All posts will be posted under the Aresan Clan label. For summaries of the events so far, visit here. See my previous serial Vampire Wares collected here.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


I'm moving this blog to a new home on my website, so I won't be posting here anymore.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Aresan Clan pt 115

Tall shelves of books extending to the ceiling lined the walls on all sides. A single door admitted one into this room, which contained no windows. As many books as possible had been crammed by the Sages into this limited space within their cloisters. If it had been feasible they would’ve added shelves into the ceiling and floor, in order to increase their shelving capacity.

Noone opened the door to the room ushering in some light into the dark. It smelled of decaying paper, aged parchment and dust. The organization of the books was complete chaos, with books being simply added as they were acquired, with no attention to order. Older Sages like her and Eloh had a fairly good memory of the random locations of most of the books, but finding one was still usually quite time-consuming.

Currently, though, Noone was not looking for a particular book, but for a particular gap that she had remembered retaining the last time they’d added to their collection. She couldn’t remember where it was, and just as she had to when she forgot the location of a book, she scanned the shelves for it.

Two gaps presented themselves, and Noone, split the collection of books that they had confiscated from Jule between them, mostly filling the gaps. Most of these newly acquired books were undoubtedly expensive and valuable copies, written with excellent calligraphy and decorated with beautiful illustrations.

But there was one that stuck out. It was small, created simply with a small sheaf of papers that had been folded folio-style and sewn together with a piece of string along the fold. No other binding was present and the book was not protected by any sort of hard cover. In fact, there was nothing even written on the cover page. Noone hadn’t looked at this one and only after shelving the other books, did she finally open the blank cover and look at the contents. The writing was crude and only moderately legible, apparently having been done hastily and not by one of the finest scribes.

When she looked at the top of the first page she was floored by the contents, titled, “The Sevenfold-Dream Prophecy.” Noone’s eyes expanded wide as she read this. This was the final prophecy of Maarta, something that she’d heard much about, but never realized had ever been written down.

“Immediately after Maarta woke she told us her prophecy,” the writing began just below the title, “And only after she prophesized did she tell us what she dreamt. She dreamt a dream within a dream within a dream within a dream within a dream within a dream within a dream: the holy sevenfold dream.

“At first, she dreamt of walking through a large, dark meadow. From this, she awoke to find herself sleeping at the foot of a giant elm. A leaf fell and she chased after it into the abyss of a great shadow. She then awoke again lying on the bed of a cottage with a strange and attractive man sleeping beside her. She started to climb out of the window of this cottage, but she again awoke. She had been sleeping just next to the precipice of a cliff and almost rolled and fell off into the clouds below. Looking down at the sickening height, she stood and fell upwards. In mid flight, she awoke again. Now she was chained to the floor of a rock-walled room, like a prisoner in a dungeon. A bucket of water was poured on her, and she awoke on the grass in the forest. A small fawn leaned over her and licked at her face. She stood up and asked the fawn how long she’d been asleep. The fawn responded by telling her she was still asleep. Finally, she awoke back in the dark meadow where her dream had begun. This time, though, the divinity was there to speak to her. Here is what he said, as Maarta related to us after she awoke.”

Then the scribe began to record the entirety of the last prophecy of Maarta, beginning with the cryptic words, “The sky will begin to fly like hoofs that walk upon the tops of trees; dawn will turn into dusk; and inverse-stars will fall.” It didn’t grow any less cryptic as Noone continued to read.

She was interrupted by the arrival of Eloh and Salles, who entered through the main entryway immersed in conversation. Noone left the library to meet them, immediately saying to Salles, “Look who’s back?”

After a greeting, Noone said to Salles, “I hope the simple pleasures of the cloisters will be enough for you after being exposed to all the wealth and decadence of the city, young novice.”

“Undoubtedly,” Salles replied.

<-- Go to Part 114         Go to Part 116 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Aresan Clan pt 114

Arann looked around him on the floor, and noticing all the drawings, he started labeling them with words. He wrote “mountain” on top of the drawing of mountains, “tree,” on top of a tree, “person,” over a stick figure that Samuel had drawn, and so on, crawling on his hands and knees as he moved from picture to picture. The boy followed crawling behind him, and inspecting each word.

After this, Arann helped Samuel draw the words themselves. He put the charcoal in Samuel’s hand and he guided it, helping him mirror the word “mountain” below the one Arann’s hand had written. He did this for all the words he’d written.

After completing this, Arann let go of Samuel’s hand and gestured towards the floor, trying to suggest to the boy that he try to write the words on his own. Samuel understood and he responded by beginning to copy Arann’s letters for “mountain.” He focused his attention hard, working carefully and slowly, his tongue sticking out a little as he concentrated. After this slow and deliberate effort, there it was: the word mountain, written in Samuel’s childish scrawl. Samuel turned his eyes towards Arann for assurance, and Arann replied with a smile and a beaming compliment: “Good. Very good.”

For some time, the lesson continued as such, while Eldeba waited in the background. He had been anxious the whole time about discovery and remained there in a state of dogged tension. He finally had to bring the lesson to a stop, telling Arann, “I think this is enough for today.”

Arann consented, standing up from the floor, spots of charcoal dust on his clothes and on his hands. “It’s been great Samuel,” Arann said to the boy, “We’ll continue this soon.”

Samuel was confused and disappointed as he looked up at Arann, who pleasantly waved goodbye. Though he was as cooperative as ever, he was preeminently displeased when the blindfold was put over his eyes and he had to be left alone.

As Eldeba led Arann towards the exit, Eldeba told the tutor, “That was good. That was very good.” But they both ran into Anders in the hall, who was on his way to the Public House.

“Good day Arann,” Anders said, “What are you still doing here?”

“I was spending some time with your young guest,” Arann said, “Tutoring him.”

“With the boy? I don’t think that’s a good idea, tutoring him,” Anders replied, “I can forgive you this once, since you certainly can’t know all there is to know about the nature of this boy, but what you are doing is careless. The boy is dangerous. And I can’t imagine that, whatever you’re tutoring him upon can do anything but empower him. The story of the Farmer and the Sable Tongue always comes to mind when I think of that boy. That sable tongue took over a whole city with the power of his speaking. Samuel here could do the same. He took over a small village, and he was only a child. As he grows, he will grow stronger. You empower him, you give him knowledge, and he is going to start enveloping people in his influence. That is dangerous. I cannot permit it. As I said, no need to apologize for this once, since you didn’t know. But from hereon, you aren’t to do it anymore. Are we understood?”

Arann nodded soberly as he heard these words, “Of course, sir.”

“And Eldeba, I want you to prepare the boy to be ready to march with the soldiers in two days. Have the palanquin ready and clothes for him and such.”

“Yes sir,” Eldeba replied.

Anders left the two men with an abrupt “goodbye,” and was gone.

Eldeba looked sheepishly at Arann. He was about to expresses his deepest apologies, when Arann raised his hand to stop him. “No need to apologize,” Arann said, “You were doing what you thought best for the boy.” Arann took a deep breath and added, “And you were totally right about it: the boy does need to learn how to write. He’s not going to learn to speak if he can’t hear. And I don’t wan to stop teaching him.”

Arann looked around to make sure that no one would overhear them and said, “If you’ll help me, I’ll come back again. Soon. I’ll tutor him as often as is possible. If you’ll help me.”

Eldeba looked around to see that they were alone as well and replied, “Of course, sir.”

<-- Go to Part 113         Go to Part 115 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Aresan Clan pt 113

Eldeba hurried through the halls of Anders’ Private House, swiftly moving his rickety old body along in search of the tutor that Anders had for his two children. He was supposed to be with the boys today.

He found the tutor giving writing lessons to Anders’ two sons. The middle-aged tutor, who was named Arann, hovered over the boys, who sat at two writing desks, scratching ink onto a piece of paper in the form of letters. Arann had a serious intensity about him while he was teaching, with his large eyebrows hanging over his eyes, his thin beard over his face, with his mouth set in a firm line across it.

When he saw Eldeba approach, he turned to look at him and nodded his head. Eldeba made a gesture that he would like to speak with him, and Arann approached, telling the two boys to keep writing.

Eldeba asked him, “You know Samuel don’t you?”

“The boy from the Fourth Order?” Arann asked.

“Yes,” Eldeba said, “The reason I ask is because I was wondering if you had the time to tutor him? You could help him learn to read.”

“Sure. I got some time after this,” Aarann said.

Later in the morning, Arann was at the door to Samuel’s room, being led in by Eldeba. Samuel was sitting on the floor, holding the hunk of charcoal in his hand, drawing loops and lines on the stone. He couldn’t see what he was doing since the blindfold was still covering his eyes, but seemed to be enjoying it nonetheless.

“Hello Samuel,” Arann said, “I’m here to help you learn how to write.”

Eldeba touched Arann’s shoulders and whispered to him, “I don’t think the boy can hear.”

Eledeba looked surprised by this new information. He bent over, and, fairly close to Samuel’s ear, he clapped his hand. The boy gave no reaction. He clapped his hand louder. Still no reaction. And no reaction when he clapped even louder.

“It makes it difficult for him to learn how to write,” Arann said, “We’ll have to do it with pictures. But that means we’ll have to remove the blindfold. Can we do that?”

“I’m afraid not,” Eldeba said, “His eyes are powerful weapons. Or so they say. According to Anders’ three philosophers of state, he has innate power to bend people to his will just by looking into their eyes.”

“You sound skeptical,” Arann said.

Eldeba seemed to remember his place and replied with extra deference and politeness, “No sir, not at all. I’m just a servant tasked with taking care of the boy. I assure you that there is nothing that would lead me to think that such respected gentlemen could ever be mistaken.”

Arann ignored his words and replied, “Yes, well if you’re skeptical, then I’m skeptical.”

Arann sat down right on the ground in front of Samuel, crossing his legs beneath him and facing the boy. Only at this point did Samuel seem to notice him, and seem to notice that it was someone different than who he was used to meeting.

Arann reached out and grabbed Samuel’s blindfold, snatching it from his head. The boy’s reaction was to hastily cover his eyes with his two hands and shake his head back and forth. Eldeba was also shocked by this gesture and moved away towards the door. But he remained in the room, closing the door immediately so that no one might accidentally chance upon them.

Arann had to silently assure the boy that there was nothing wrong and that he wasn’t to be subjected to any tests today. He grabbed the boy, touching his shoulder soothingly, and gently pushed his hands aside. With his eyes exposed, Samuel still stared at the ground. Arann had to gently raise the boy’s head until they were finally looking at each other. Arann smiled to reassure him. The boy’s piercing blue eyes looked at him uncertainly.

“I’m Arann,” he said, gesturing to himself. He then grabbed the piece of charcoal and he wrote on the ground the word, “Arann,” again gesturing to himself and pointing to the word. Then he wrote it out as a sentence, “I am Arann,” and again made similar gestures. The boy pointed at him and pointed at the word on the floor. He smiled in a way that seemed to indicate he understood.

<-- Go to Part 112         Go to Part 114 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Aresan Clan pt 112

Anika and Mill could just barely hear the sound of their footfalls, the sound of dirt crushed and scraped beneath their feet, and grass flattened and stray pieces of wheat stalk cracked. Holding hands while Mill led the way, they both looked more at their feet than the destination in front of them. Every step was placed deliberately, each time placing their foot in what appeared to be the quietest bits of ground they could reach.

By these means, they gradually slipped down the rows of Hassock’s pastures. On the shore of the lake, they tread silently over rocks for many paces. When they turned towards the forest, Mill squeezed Anika’s hand harder for extra support. In the woods, silence became extremely difficult. The forest floor was cluttered with underbrush and dried twigs littered the ground beneath. If their leg wasn’t shaking the leaves of some small bush, their foot was stepping upon and snapping some small twig. They kept moving forward, slower now, but undaunted, occasionally raising their eyes to look at their destination in the distance.

While in this posture it was that they caught sight of the Creature in the moonlight. She calmly strode through the forest in front of them. Mill and Anika both froze immediately, and gradually receded behind a tree as the animal passed by without noticing them. Despite that the sight deeply terrified them, a profound smile spread across their faces and they looked at each other with jubilation.

“We’ll make it,” Mill silently mouthed to Anika and she nodded in agreement. They turned their faces forward and began again their gruelingly slow progress.

Samuel begins to learn to write [522]
Samuel’s day always began with breakfast. Eldeba would always bring it into his room upon a tray, his shaky hands holding it as he set it down before the boy, partially unmasking him so that he might eat. It was the first day since he’d arrived seven days ago that Samuel wasn’t to be subjected to some test or experiment by Apamix, Taney and Sidd. Eldeba was thankful for this, since he was having a sense that this barrage of tests had started to suck the vibrancy out of the young boy. Samuel didn’t have quite that bottomless ebullience as he’d had when he first arrived. Then again maybe it was food. Or maybe he was lonely.

Across the stone floor, many drawings had been made with charcoal. Eldeba had salvaged a bit of charcoal from a fire and showed the boy how to draw with it, a difficult task, since he couldn’t properly let the boy see. But apparently the boy had picked it up and relished it. It was clear to Eldeba that Samuel had been fully removing his blindfolds when no one was around. He dutifully but them back on before anyone might see him without them in order to create the illusion that he always wore them, probably because he feared punishment should he be found out. The drawings made it evident that Samuel was doing this, but Eldeba was completely unconcerned. He had yet to see any evidence that the boy was as dangerous as everyone thought.

He inspected the childish attempts at drawing people, mountains, trees and so on. But what most interested him was something he saw almost hidden in the corner of the room, as if Samuel was trying to keep it secret. Letters were unmistakably inscribed there: “Herein is recorded the history of Richard Bale, great…” There it ended. Eldeba looked at the wall, where a whole shelf of bound books had been stowed. The books weren’t there for Samuel’s benefit. They’d been stored there since long before Samuel had occupied this room. When Eldeba looked at the bottom shelf, he found a chronicle of the life of Richard Bale, and, a few pages in, the first line of text ran just as the words written on the floor. The calligraphy of the book was quite advanced, and Samuel had clearly tried to copy it exactly, instead of using a simpler and easier model. It went without saying that Samuel’s letters were much sloppier, some even barely legible, but there, without any schooling, he’d copied the text.

“Did you write this?” Eldeba asked. The boy didn’t seem to notice that he was speaking. In fact, he never seemed to hear anything at all, and Eldeba only spoke to him, really out of habit, the way a person speaks to an animal or to a plant. Eldeba had noticed this after only a few days of taking care of the boy, and yet he suspected he was the only person who’d realized it so far.

<-- Go to Part 111         Go to Part 113 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Aresan Clan pt 111

It was nearing the coldest hour of night.  The city of Orinda was at its quietest.  And Mill quietly snuck out of Anika’s house and crossed the town towards his former residence.  He only saw a single person on the way, an acquaintance, wandering the streets confused and drunk, whom he avoided.

Sneaking around the back of his home, he quietly pried open the shutters and entered unobserved. The sight that confronted him therein, in the dim starlight, was unsettling.  Multiple persons with vindictive intent had clearly broken into his house.  They had destroyed everything breakable, thrown many of his possessions on the floor and even applied their muscles to battering his furniture with hammers and axes.  All of his books had been ripped apart and what food he had was spilled onto the floor or stolen.  Harsh insults had been carved into the walls with a knife, accusing him of being a “traitor” and a “Godless heathen” and “Creature food.”  Someone had even used a candle to create a smoke stain on the wall in the form of a bird, the Fourth Order symbol of death and destruction.

Fortunately, though, they had not found his secret stash.  It was inset into the wall behind a hidden panel.  After opening it, he pulled several small bags of gold from the space and put them into his bag.  His essential tree oil was also there, along with a hunting blade and a personal letter of invitation from Anders, which he was supposed to present in case he were ever detained when and if he decided to return to the Omnia or the Aresan Clan.  All of these he took and stuffed in his bag.  Search as he did, though, he could find little else in the place that looked worth salvaging.

He gave the place one last look, a brief goodbye to the home that he had spent the last several years of his life within, and then he crawled back out the window the way he’d come.

He found Anika packed and ready when he returned.  A look of anxiety and worry spread across her face every time he left her sight, and as soon as he returned, it instantly faded away.  Even just this brief absence was enough to trouble her, such that she leapt forward and hugged him once again with the same vehemence as she had hugged him earlier after having been parted with him for days.

When she finally left off her embrace she stepped back and said to him, “You, really don’t have to bring me with you.  If I’m going to be a burden, I don’t want that.  I’ve survived completely on my own for years.  Many years.  I’ll worry about you, but I’ll be fine.  I can take care of myself.”

“You’re not going to be a burden on me,” Mill said.  He meant this earnestly, though he perceived, quite correctly, that she would be dependent upon him, a fact that played some part in her reservations.  What he had meant to say in his few words was that, though he would have to do much for her, it wasn’t really a burden, since he wanted to provide for her and that the benefits of her companionship were ample reward for whatever labor he might have to endure for her.  But he didn’t say so much.  He simply added, “And I want you to come.”

“I mean.  I know how to live on my own here, but not out there,” she said, “I’m not sure how much help I’ll be.”

“I really want you to come,” Mill repeated, emphasizing this statement by fixing his gaze intensely upon her eyes, “Don’t not come for my sake.”

Though Anika’s doubts were not assuaged, his words were enough to push aside the misgivings that anchored her to her home and permit her to follow him out the door into the night.

Mill dumped a generous amount of essential oil on both of them, filling both of their nostrils with the overwhelming scent of tree sap and pine needles.  He told Anika that they must walk as quietly as possible, that they must be more silent than the wind.  In his mind he was thinking that his decision previously to run was a mistake.  He had made far too much noise and the Creature was much faster than him.  If the creature couldn’t smell him or hear them, they should be able to sneak unobserved through its territory.  For this reason, he and Anika, barely permitting themselves to breathe, tiptoed across the dirt paths of Omnia. They moved in the direction of the pastures that encircled the city, taking each step as carefully as possible.

<-- Go to Part 110         Go to Part 112 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Aresan Clan pt 110

Upon entering Anika’s home, Mill scanned the room and saw Anika sitting in a chair, fast asleep. A candle burned next to her and she breathed deeply. A glove that she had been knitting when she fell asleep, sat on her lap, with the needles inserted into it. When Mill reached forward and touched her on the arm, she was startled out of sleep, dropping the glove to the ground.

When she looked up and saw Mill, she leapt from her chair and wrapped her arms around him. She held him tightly there for a long silence, as a look of concern was released from her face for the first time in days. She appeared to have been considerably aged by this worry in the interim.

“God be blessed,” she exclaimed, “I thought you were dead. They’ve been saying the worst things about you. That you’re a traitor. That you’ve been excommunicated. They said you’d be killed if you ever came back. Why did you come back? You can’t be here? They’ll kill you if they find you. What happened to you? Where have you been?”

“I’ve been in prison in Waldoon,” Mill said, “It was horrible.” He elaborated on some of the horrors of his imprisonment: the long periods in the dark, the torture, the flogging.

“Why were you imprisoned?” Anika asked.

Mill hesitated a bit before he answered and then said, “They suspected I was a spy for the Omnia.”

Anika looked at him suspiciously and then asked him, “Are you telling me the truth Mill? Please. No more secrets.”

Mill sat down in a chair nearby and Anika returned to sitting in the one she’d been sleeping in. She looked at him intently, waiting. Mill lowered his face into his hands and ran his fingers through his hair.

Once he was ready, he began, “I am a spy for the Omnia. I was caught trying to kill Lipmon, the man from Still Creek. They held me for so long because they were torturing me for information.”

“You’re a…?” she asked, “You were…? But why would you…?”

Anika stood from her seat, walked towards him, hovering above him and looking down on him. She then slapped him as hard as she could across his face. Immediately after this gesture, she turned around and cried into her hands.

Mill stood up and embraced her from behind. He whispered many times, “I’m sorry. I can’t forgive myself. I’m sorry.”

After a long time remaining in this position, he finally whispered to her, “I can’t stay here in Orinda, and I want you to come with me.”

Anika turned around to look at him, her bloodshot eyes wide with surprise. She had to step back to get a full view of his expression.

Once she had determined that he in fact meant what he had said and was earnestly asking her to run away with him, she asked, “How can I do that? How can I leave everything behind?” She looked around in every direction at all the possessions she had in the room scattered in their various places. “I’m discovering that I don’t even know you,” she said, “You’re not what I thought you were. I thought you were some simple farmer who’d moved here from some tiny Fourth Order village. But, then again, I guess I should have known. The secretiveness, the spying, the fact that you could read, that you could write, that you were a terrible farmer, that you…” She stopped once again in mid-sentence and turned to him, looking into his eyes.

“That means you left your homeland to come here. You’re from Lamosa, I suppose. What reason could possibly compel you to leave, I don’t know. Duty? Patriotism? Love of country?” she asked. After a pause, she asked him, “And where would we go if I were to run away with you?”

“To Lamosa, I suppose,” he suggested, “Or perhaps to live in the wilderness. We can go wherever we want.”

Anika didn’t like this answer and she frowned. But instead of saying ‘no,’ she asked him, “Do you what it would be like if you were to leave and I weren’t to join you. It’d be like the last few days over and over again, day after day. I don't want to go through that again.”

<-- Go to Part 109         Go to Part 111 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.