This is a venue for whatever random literary accidents I happen to spawn. Feel free to hang around. If you read something, post a comment. It's the only way I know I have readers. I make no promises of updates, but they'll probably be more regular if I know I have a readership. I have ideas, I just lack time. And experience. And talent. And confidence in my ability as an author.

I should probably take a moment to address content. As the story is laid out now, there are no plans for sexual content of a graphic nature. That being said, I mince no words when it comes to violence or profanity, and sexuality probably won't be any different. The only promise I can make is that I will make sure to present such things in as tasteful a manner as possible. An artful scene change will be provided whenever the story allows.

To review-
Profanity: Yes
Sex: Maybe
Violence. Very yes.
This is not a children's story. I leave the decision to read it to you.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Wanderer Ascension 1

“Right,” Noah replied, shrinking under Death’s withering gaze. He prudently decided to change the subject. “So what’s next? What do we do now?”

“Now we wait,” she replied sternly. “The next step requires one of higher rank than I.”

“Of course. Frantically avoid a grisly death, then sit around waiting for the brass to show up.” Noah feigned a nostalgic tear. “It’s just like being back in the Corps.”

“Must you accompany every situation with a joke?”

“It was a lifelong dream of mine to make people laugh.”

Death’s expression softened slightly. “I don’t suppose I’ll ever get a serious answer of you, will I?”

“You first.”

“Excuse me?”

“You’ve been dodging my questions since we met. You’ve supposedly been watching me for I don’t know how long, you know all this about me, and yet I can’t get you to tell me anything about this place, or even why I’m here.”

Death ran a delicate hand through the hair at her temples. “Please believe me when I say that you will receive complete understanding soon. Be patient.”

“All right then, let’s talk about you.”

“Me?” Death responded, meekly toying with a strand of crimson hair.

“Yes, you. You’re the only friend I’ve got in this place; I’d like to know a little bit about you.”

“What…What would you like to know?”

Noah sighed. “Look, this isn’t an interrogation, I’m just trying to make conversation, since you apparently aren’t allowed to tell me anything useful and the big hat is taking his sweet time. Where are you from? How’d you get this gig? What’re your hobbies? What do you do when you’re not escorting the dead or playing tour guide to cantankerous retired corpsmen?”

“I’m not ‘from’ anywhere, anymore than the ground or the sky comes from somewhere. I didn’t receive this ‘gig,’ I was born to it. There is a need within the universe, and therefore I exist. As for my hobbies, my duties keep me quite busy enough without me dwelling on extraneous concerns. Though I can’t remember the last time I spent this much time dealing with a single man.”

“A workaholic, huh?” Haynes smirked. “Y’know that’s really not healthy.”

“This from a dead man?”

Blinding light blasted from a hole in the sky, and a figure appeared. His skin shone like it was on fire as he descended from the heavens on six alabaster wings. The light in the sky faded, but his radiance remained, clothed in a simple white garment wrapped loosely around his slight frame. He halted his descent just short of touching the ground.

Death smiled at the figure. “Gabriel, it is good to see you again.”

“And you, Lady of the Chill Embrace,” he replied with a voice that somehow sounded like both a thousand trumpets and a gently strummed harp. “How is the candidate?”

“Inquisitive.” Death directed a glare at Noah.

The angel seemed not to notice. “Of course he is. It is to be expected. But it is not for us to wonder at His plan.” He smiled down at Noah. “Noah Haynes, I am Gabriel, First of His Seraphim and Metatron, the Voice of God.”

Now that he was closer, Noah realized how feminine the newcomer was. If his simple garment didn’t leave his chest exposed, Haynes would have had a hard time determining his sex.

“Good to meet you,” Noah responded more nonchalantly than was appropriate. “I assume you’re here for the next step of whatever it is I’m doing.”

Gabriel’s face registered a hint of annoyance. “You are correct in that. I have been charged by the Lord to prepare you for His service.”

“What exactly is it I’m helping God with? I didn’t realize I had any skills that would make me especially useful to Him.”

“Few men do. But with His will as guide even the dullest tool can cut like a razor.”

I think that insult was intentional

“Right, so anyway, what’s next?”

“Next we look at the previous, Noah Haynes. In order to prepare for your future, you must understand your past.”

Monday, June 16, 2008

Wanderer Exodus 8

Sunlight caressed Noah’s face like a mother waking her child. As he opened his eyes he noticed the feel of grass underneath him. He raised a hand to shield his eyes from the sun.
“And I was so hoping I’d get to throw a bucket of cold water on you,” announced a familiar and welcome voice. “Did you disappoint all the women in your life, Noah Haynes?”
“Only when I left,” Noah smiled up at Death. It was good to see a friendly face. “I’m surprisingly no deader than when I left. What happened out there?”
Death scowled at her unruly charge. “What happened is that you hurled yourself headlong into a situation you had no understanding of and that you had no hope of resolving. Had I not been there you would certainly have been torn apart by those devils.”
“I thought you weren’t allowed to help me,” Noah responded peevishly. He had a growing suspicion that he was being played.
“During your first test, I was not. However, during your second trial it was my responsibility to prevent your death, should you pass.”
“I wasn’t told about this second test.”
“Of course you weren’t. Awareness of the test would invalidate the result.”
“Of course,” he replied, genuine annoyance creeping into his voice. He was starting to develop a good idea of what had happened, and he was not pleased. “So when exactly did I pass the first test?” Noah demanded. “Was it after I fought off a crazed badger while hiding in a hole in that cliff side? Or was it when I fought the scaly turkey on top of that plateau? Maybe it was after I dropped the demon brother of the deadly mantis?”
“Devil,” Death corrected. “Devil brother of the deadly mantis. Demons are mythos based, traditionally Judeo-Christian, though the Japanese Oni could technically be considered demons.”
“Semantics is not a big priority for me right now.” Noah growled.
“Nor are manners, it would seem.” Death replied coldly. “Here I was, worried that at an moment something would tear you apart or swallow you whole, then when I finally see you again you pick a fight with a type 4 devil, before trying to take on the rest of his bask. Now, after the utterly predictable beating, you wake up and belligerently harass me like it’s my fault you show atrocious judgment.”
Noah squirmed under Death’s penance stare. “I’m sorry, I didn’t- wait, were you there when I first ran into Belron?”
Death looked to the side and tucked a lock of scarlet hair behind her ear. “I monitored your progress throughout the first test. When the time came to progress to the next, I was required to take a more active role.” She glanced back up at Noah. Their eyes met.
Green eyes.
“You were the girl.” Noah stated evenly.
Death nodded. “The deception was integral to the test. We had to be able to judge your response.”
“There was never any danger?”
“None. Those devils didn’t have the power to harm me.”
“Sure did a number on me, though.” He smiled ruefully. “Suppose the body parts I saw were fake as well.”
“Meat prepared to bait the devils. No human had walked that place in generations.”
“You should get a Tony for that performance,” Noah observed. “Standing in mute awe at my presence, as if I was the last thing you expected to see.”
“Oh, and I suppose you don’t feel you were in any way overly dramatic. The way you swept in to my aid I half expected you to start calling Belron a ‘fell beast’ and demanding that he ‘unhand me’”
Noah chuckled. “My name's Noah Haynes, and I’m here to rescue you.” He shook his head. “No, the best performance of the show was after I dropped Kazzak. The way you blushed, it was brilliant.”
Death glanced down slightly, and Noah thought he caught something in her body language.
Is she….? No..., of course not.
“Is it safe to assume you put those devils down after I took that hit?” Noah changed the subject.
“They were dealt with.” Death replied, her gaze returning to Noah.
“Care to elaborate?”
“No,” Death replied icily

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Wanderer: Exodus 7

Noah stood victorious over his fallen opponent. To Kazzak’s credit, not so much as a whimper escaped his lips. With a broken knee, that silence was no mean feat. He glared at Haynes murderously.

Noah stepped back to the recently rescued damsel. “Who..?”

“Like I said, my name is Noah, and everything’s going to be fine.” He smiled, retrieving his blades. “Thanks for keeping an eye on these for me.” The girl blushed as their eyes met.

Green. Here eyes are such a beautiful green. Where have I seen that color before?

“Kazzak!” an enraged yell shattered the tranquil moment.

Oh, right. Those guys. I should probably get on getting us out of here.

While Noah’s back was turned, Belron had stalked over to his fallen champion. “You promised me victory! You swore to grind him into dust!” If before his eyes had been stormy, now they held tempests.

Kazzak looked up at him resolutely. “Lord Belron, I have failed-”

“You have failed your entire bask!” Belron grabbed him by the neck and drug him to his feet. “A human into our realm. Not a human, no, two humans fall into our laps, and you can’t win a simple contest of combat.” Belron released him, forcing the hobbled devil to balance on one leg. The other hung at a sickening angle.

“You’ve made me a laughing stock.” Belron’s massive fist uncurled and tensed into a claw. “What I do now is for the sake of every member of the bask.”

Sudden understanding dawned upon Noah. He broke into a run and cried “Belron-”

Belron’s hand flashed up under Kazzak’s chin. His talons tore chunks of flesh from his subordinates throat. Kazzak bowed his head one final time to his lord as blood boiled forth from the wound, and then fell back on the dusty ground.

Noah stopped dead, starring horror struck as the devil lord casually flicked blood from his claws and strode towards him.

“I apologize for that,” he said, smiling with teeth that were never meant to be reassuring. “It really was a kindness. He would never have been able to live with the shame of being defeated by a human.”

Heartless bastard. Noah checked his wrath. Nothing for it now. Just get the girl home.

“The contest is over,” he stated brusquely. “I want assurance from you that of your group will harass us as we leave.”

Whatever shred of friendliness had managed to take root in Belron’s smile was swallowed whole by predatory glee.

“I can certainly grant you that guarantee,” he replied, oozing smug self assurance. The other devils formed a loose rank behind him. “You see,” he chuckled, stepping back to stand at the head of his vassals. “We don’t plan on allowing you to leave at all.” Vicious laughter emanated from the assembled devils. “Riffle, the girl,” Belron commanded. “And don’t kill her. We’ll need post dinner entertainment.”

A short, lithe, reptilian devil burst from the rank, no doubt intent on downing the groups original prey.

Haynes’s blade snapped out across the devil’s flank as he passed, opening up his side. The devil dropped to the ground and whimpered, ineffectually clutching the terrible wound and trying to rise.

The line of devils collapsed as they rushed to fall upon Noah. The first was a smaller was easily kicked aside as a second, larger devil took a point in his stomach. Suddenly Belron erupted from the mass of devils, intent on taking down the troublesome interloper himself. The scaly grey-black mountain slashed downward at him with five steely talons. Noah voided the blow with a stop cut to the forearm, slice to the bone effortlessly. Another slash opened Belron from hip to short rib, and the imperious devil fell, spilling infernal organs onto the ground.

The victory brought no respite. Noah parried attacks from two different devils. Pain shot through his body as his vision exploded with light. As he fell, Noah saw a clubbed tail whipping at the edge of his vision.

God, please let her have had the sense to run.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Administratum 1

I will be attempting to update a weekly update schedule. Monday shall be the appointed day for Wanderer to go up. Hopefully I will be able to maintain this over the summer.

Wanderer Exodus 6

The devil lunged at Haynes with a jab to the head. He slipped under the blow and countered with an open palmed hook. Before it could connect a blow slammed into his side, hammering his ribs. Haynes staggered back and his legs were swept out from under him.

What happened? Noah wondered from the ground. Then he saw the long, streamlined tail whipping behind Kazzak. Great, one fall and all I’ve learned is that the guy has a tail.

The crowd of devils roared with laughter. Kazzak smirked down at him with relaxed contempt. Noah stood and dusted himself off as nonchalantly as he could manage. He’d expected something like classical wrestling. This was more like pankration without the submissions. And a tail.

Man and devil assumed ready stances. Noah performed a side kick at the devil’s legs. Kazzak stepped back and countered with a jab. Noah parried, but was knocked to the ground when Kazzak’s tail struck the back of his knee. The gleeful shouting grew louder.

Haynes rose and the dance began again. Haynes moved in and out, varying the distance to his opponent without ever quite closing enough for either of them to strike. Every time his opponent would try to close, he would slip away. The spectating devils were getting restless. They began to cast insults at Kazzak, demanding he end it. Spurred on by the derision of his fellows, Kazzak lunged, trying to engage his elusive foe. Noah stepped to the side and began to counter when Kazzak’s tail whipped at his head. He blocked the blow, then grabbed the troublesome appendage and pulled. The devil stumbled at the unexpected force, and then fell as Noah swept one of his legs from under him.


The yells from the infernal crowd increased: “You should have had him.” “A child could have countered that.” “Are you blind as well as stupid?”

Kazzak stood. The contempt in his eyes had turned to hatred. He hurled himself at Noah and threw a vicious swing at his head. Noah stepped in and blocked the swing. The heel of his hand drove into the devil’s chin, slamming his hairless head back with a brutal chin jab. Haynes grabbed Kazzak’s still extended arm and hurled his opponent to the ground with a perfectly executed hip throw.

As Kazzak impacted the ground, the crowd went silent. The human had turned what they had thought was a fluke into a rally. The score was two-all, and Lord Belron was not happy. His eyes were stormy, and his face twisted into a scowl.

Kazzak stood and regarded Haynes warily. The hate in his eyes had boiled down into suspicion, and maybe a hint of fear. He could not allow himself to fail again. He squared off with Noah, but made no aggressive motions.

He’s scared of my counterattack. Good.

Suddenly Noah threw a front kick. As Kazzak began to respond, the kick melted into a lunging straight punch. Despite the feint, the devil still parried the blow. Haynes quickly disengaged his hands and spun around under his opponent’s guard, slamming a hammer fist blow into his temple. He sidestepped as the devil’s tail lashed out from behind his shoulder, and drove a side kick in the devil’s knee. Noah felt a tiny spark of pride as the joint broke. The sound of Kazzak striking the ground seemed to echo, despite the openness of the plain.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Exodus 5

The girl was running from a group of devils. At the head were several that resembled mastiffs the size of small horses. The rest were all at least nominally human shaped, though many had fallen to running on all fours in their haste to reach the prize. In all there were thirteen. Noah hoped that made them unlucky.

The girl was fast. She was managing to stay ahead of her diabolic pursuit for now, but she had to be exhausted. There was no way she could outrun those devils. There was nowhere for Haynes to set a trap for her pursuers. A frontal assault was the only option that would allow him to reach the girl in time. He’d have to engage a more mobile and numerically superior force of unknown capabilities while preventing them from harming a civilian. It was stupid. It was suicidal. Noah was already running.

There was an outcropping that ran from the mouth of the canyon into the basin. Haynes ran along it, hoping the devils were too intent on their prey to notice him. He stopped for a moment, gauging the timing, then charged forward and leapt off the cliff.

He landed on one helldog, snapping its spine. His twin blades trisected a second. He spun around, opening the stomach of a third. The last dog’s lunge landed on Haynes extended point.

“The rumors are true!” shrieked a lesser devil. “The human has grown claws.”

Rumors? Was I spotted earlier?

“It matters not.” A scaly grey mountain stepped out of the crowd. He stood nine feet tall, and muscles rippled under pebbly skin the color of charcoal. Tiny black horns dotted his hairless scalp. A breechclout of rough leather was his only garment. He glared down contemptuously at Noah.

I wonder if this is how Beowulf felt.

“I know not what sorceries with which you summoned the talons of the blood mantis, but they shall not save you.”

“He’s killed my beauties!” cried out a whip thin devil the color of swamp muck.

“Cease your sniveling,” intoned the massive devil, punctuating his imperative with a backhanded blow.

“This girl is under my protection,” Noah declared, desperately hoping his voice sounded more imperious than he thought. “I have been sent to retriever her.”

“By whom?” the chief devil asked incredulously.


Behind Noah the girl started.

“The Velvet Hand has no business here,” he sneered. The other devils seemed to shrink back from him slightly. “I demand a game be played for the girl.”

“A game?”

“We know the law. Death and her servants must submit to a game of possession if challenged.”

Crap. Crap crap crap crap crap. Is he bullshitting me?

“As you will. What game do you propose?”

The devil drew himself up to his full height and took on a more regal bearing. “A simple match between you and my champion. The first to force the other to the ground three times will be declared the victor. You shall fight in the manner of the high Aetherians Neither tooth nor claw shall be used.”

Champion? This guys built like an Abrams. Why does he need a champion?

“Who shall be your champion?” Noah asked, dreading the answer.

“Kazzak, come forth. You shall be my harbinger of violence.”

A devil with skin the color of clay stepped forward. His skin was smooth and hairless. While shorter than the first, this devil was nearly as broad and just as muscled, and he was still a head taller than Noah. He wore a breech clout, like his larger counterpart, and long, pointed ears framed his face.

“Lord Belron, I shall grind him into dust.”

“What guarantee do I have that you will allow us to leave should I win?” Noah asked Belron pointedly.

The devil lord looked affronted. “The law of the game is sacred. Should you win, we should not dare attack you for fear of Atherial justice.”

“Of course. Just making sure you remembered that.”

First order of business when I get out of here: Find a copy of The Afterlife for Dummies.

Noah handed his blades and his shoulder bag to the damsel.

“My name’s Noah. Watch these for me, eh?” he said, smiling as reassuringly as he could. The girl accepted the weapons and stared at him in mute disbelief.

The two combatants faced of on the dusty battleground. Behind his opponent the other devils jeered at him from a rough half-circle. Behind Noah stood a terrified girl who looked much too young to die.

What now, Galahad? he wondered ruefully, just before Kazzak leapt into motion.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Wanderer: Exodus 4

Noah rose and regarded the carcass before him. The massive corpse was a monument to his determination to survive, and his willingness to kill any devil that tried to stop him.

Haynes approached the body and began examining appendages. The massive fore claws were obviously too large to be of use to him. They massed as much as he did. Each leg segment was at least as tall as Noah. They were likewise useless. Then he noticed the smaller second set of claws. They projected from below the primary claws, tiny mockeries of the two massive engines of destruction. Tiny being relative. The foremost segment of each claw was a yard long and wickedly curved. The outer edge of each was razor sharp. Haynes smiled.

With a little work one claw came free. The second followed soon after. Halfway along each massive digit was a large spur that had been part of the joint. They made good handholds.

Noah hefted his new weapons. They were lighter than he expected. Not too light, though. They reminded Noah of his high school days, when he would hurl himself into any martial art he could find a teacher for. He’d spent a lot of time with tonfa in his hands. It was just like old times, except bigger and sharper.

I just killed a hundred long foot mantis with a pair of sharp rocks. I can raze Hell with these. Or a hell, anyway.

Despite his momentary jubilation, Noah knew his best chance for survival was to stay hidden. The lesser devils would probably go to ground if they thought something of this size was on the move, but it was only a matter of time before someone realized the titan was dead. He didn’t want to be there when the scavengers showed up.

Thick, cord-like tendons had pulled out of the forelimbs along with the claws. Haynes evaluated this material, and decided it was the best rope substitute he would find. He fashioned a lanyard for each of his blades, and placed a length of the sinew into his bag. As he worked, he noticed something odd. Beneath the thick layer of red dust, there seemed to be a faint design on his right trouser leg. Noah started to brush away the dust to view it more clearly, but then decided to leave it for another time when he wasn’t being chased by corporeal manifestations of negative emotions. Or whatever the hell they were.

Another question to ask Death when I get out of here. I should be making a list. Maybe the next devil I see will have a pen attached to his tail.

Noah slipped his hands through his newly made weapon straps and began to walk. He moved away from the area where he had started his journey. Away from the cave with the corpse at the bottom. Away from the field of slaughter.

Time passed. Noah couldn’t tell how much. He didn’t need sleep, and there was no night or dawn here, only twilight. He moved carefully, using the terrain to hide his movement and climbing to scout for opposition. He spotted the occasional devil, but he evaded notice. He resisted the urge to fight, even though the weight of the twin blades and at times even his own body screamed at him to do so. Combat wasted time and made noise. Haynes could afford neither.

Devils seemed to be becoming more common. At first Noah thought he could had just wandered into a more populous area, that he could just double back and travel through a less popular area. But the area behind him was also noticeably busier than when he had passed through it. The devils were becoming more active. Or there were more of them. The devils were also larger than before. Once Noah worried when he saw anything larger than a big dog. Now most of the devils were man sized. It didn’t bode well.

I’ve got to come up with a new strategy. Roaming like this was fine when there were only a one to an acre, but I can’t evade them if the keep concentrating in this area.

Then the situation changed completely. Noah had been traveling along a shallow, wide canyon when he came to a sharp turn. Peaking around the corner he saw a sight that would fuel his nightmares for years to come. The canyon expanded out into a basin, and on the floor of that basin was a pack of devils. A pack of devils and one young woman.