Bare Handed

Jason Arson walked through the streets, sliding leather gloves onto his fingers as he went. The reason Jason wore gloves was so that he could distance himself from any actions he made while wearing them. It was a single degree of separation, but for him it was enough.

He was twenty minutes behind his schedule, and it made him agitated. He was still ten minutes ahead, his schedules were very early, but it still put him out of his element. He had less time to hand anything unexpected or unwanted. He had considered breaking into a run or light jog, but either of these would make him stand out. Right now, he needed to blend.

Jason had grown his hair and beard specifically so that no one would recognise him. So far it was working because the townspeople didn’t, especially since he no longer wore the uniform of a guard. Those that knew him best and might see through the disguise were in the castle. He knew he should feel safe about remaining anonymous in the crowd, but he felt as if he had forgotten something.

He turned a corner and saw it at the end of the street. The building with the item he was looking for. He looked at the sundial in the centre of the intersection. He was still behind, but he still had some time. He would sneak into the front door of the building just as the back door was being locked, and then hide as the owner locked up the front and left. Then he would find the paper bag, and unlock one of the doors, and leave. When Jason left, he would have to leave the building unlocked, since he had no key. That wouldn’t be an issue depending on how valuable the item inside the bag was.

Jason walked down the street towards the building and then he noticed someone. He recognized one of the faces. Why, was it a castle guard he knew? But they should all be on duty right now. He looked at the person’s face. It was a younger woman. No, he knew her for a different reason. This was one of the construction workers who had helped renovate the castle when had worked there.

He imagined what she would say if she recognized him. She would ask him what happened, she would ask him why he left. She would say that she was going to tell everyone that he was still in town. That he had just grown a beard, and to look out for him on the streets. To say hi, or something. Jason shook his head. She would ruin everything. He swiftly turned around before anyone noticed him, and took a detour. This was why he liked to be early.

When he finally got  to the building, he figured that he had no more than a few minutes. Could couldn’t seen anyone inside, but the door was still open. He figured that they must have gone to lock up the back, so he rushed inside and looked around. Where was the paper bag? He looked around the cabinets of syrups. He was confused, syrups used to be considered medicine, until people found out that they weren’t very healthy, that they just made a person feel good. Sort of. Syrups were now just used for intoxication. Jason sighed, and then saw the paper bag on a side counter. He walked over and grabbed it, then immediately realized his mistake.

He had messed up the order and grabbed the bag before the owner had left.

A man rounded the corner of the shop, just as Jason guessed would happen. Jason didn’t freeze, his instincts knew that that would look more suspicious. Instead, he continued picking up the paper bag, and then looked at the man, as if he belonged here, as if this was normal behaviour. And, thanks to ingrained social cues, the man believed it.

“That’s a new drink. I haven’t made a place for it on the shelves yet.”

On the shelves? Jason looked inside the paper bag. It was a bottle of syrups. He assumed that he had grabbed the wrong bag. This couldn’t be what he had been sent to take. He looked around for another bag, but there were none. This was what he had been sent to steal? Of all things, a bottle of syrups?

“Yep, it’s not a very expensive one, but it is our newest product. You can buy it if you like.”

Jason considered putting the bag down, and saying no, then exiting and coming back later to take it. That wouldn’t work, he would immediately be assumed to be the thief! And what then, if the guard was looking for his description? They would know both his trimmed and full grown faces! He couldn’t grow more beard. Jason thought for a moment, and then he knew what to do.

He put the bottle and the bag on the table.

“How much?” He asked.

The owner said, “twelve Solune.”

Jason nodded. He took his gloves off, put them in his jacket pocket, and took his coin pouch out of it. With his bare hands, he paid the man and took the bag with the bottle of syrups and walked out of the shop. He headed back to where he started. As he walked, he considered having a smug conversation with the leader about how he ended up getting the bag, what was actually in it in the first place.

Writing this one was actually a real struggle. I haven’t written anything outside of essays in the last ten days (I technically wrote four last week, although two were shorter philosophy essays for an exam). Sunchaser was written on the 23rd, and it’s the 3rd now, so it’s really been a while. (You should check Sunchaser out, it’s cool).

Anyway, my mind was blank. I thought about writing another chapter of the Solune Prince, but I’m really still not sure what to do about that series. So, I looked through the music on my computer for inspiration. I looked at a Calvin Harris album that I haven’t listened to in over a year, (his lyrics are kind of shallow), and found Slow Acid. It reminded me of the one preview I wrote with Jason Arson way back, and so here we are. (And Jason’s back story has been expanded upon since that one piece. Although the surround project has since been mostly abandoned.)

Anyway, hope you enjoyed it,

Daniel Triumph.

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Sunchaser

We live on a boat that sails across the sea. The ship is called the Sunchaser. I consider this to be a lazy name, because it’s simply a description of what the ship does. We follow the sun around the world. I used to wonder how we could follow the sun all the time, so I asked one of the captains.

He told me, “the ship is powered by wind blowing in the sails.” When I asked where the wind came from, he said, ” the air moves from cold places to warm places. So, when we see the sun, the ship moves slower, and our ship starts falling behind. Then, when it’s dark, we get caught in the winds that blow from behind us, where it’s cold, back towards the sun. This gives us a burst of speed, and we eventually catch back up to the sun and to the slower moving wind. This is how night and day work on the ship.”

We have been following the sun for many years. There are families, plants, and animals here too. In fact, I was born on this ship. Occasionally, we encounter other boats who sail alongside us. We meet new people. Sometimes, I wonder about the islands and lands that we pass. I decided to ask the other captain what’s on the land.

She told me, “on the land are other people. Many years ago, the other captain and I decided that we wanted to ride on a ship that would chase the sun. We wanted to take control of our abilities and use them in a productive way. So we learned how to sail, and found others who had the abilities and wanted to come along. Living on the sea is a lot more work than living on the land, but the reward is the sun.”

I asked her why we don’t ever stop on the land.

She told me, “we have stopped, when you were much younger than you are now. Some of the eldest of our group were unable to keep up with the tasks of sailing. We had to wait a very long time for the sun to return and bring us wind again. When you stay at harbour for too long, people get out of practice, and lose the important routines needed at sea. Some of our people gave up during the wait and decided to stay on the land instead. It’s easier to live on the land than here at sea. The ground isn’t made of ever-shifting waters. There were people living on the land, however, who were interested in taking the place of those who left. We were grateful that they would come help us follow the sun.”

I asked the captain why the sun was so important if we could never truly reach it.

She replied, “keeping up with the sun is a very difficult task, but the reward is that we have more frequent exposure to its light than those who don’t. We are able to see it by applying our own efforts. Instead of waiting on the land for the sun to come to us, we go to the sun.”

The other captain overheard us, and as we spoke, it came time for the two to trade duties. He told me that he could take a short break with me, and that I could ask him questions. So, I asked him if the people on the land were different.

He told me, “as you know, some people can’t sail, so they have to stay on the land. Some have decided that they would rather not take the effort to learn, so they remain on the land. Others realize that the effort needs to be maintained even after learning, while sailing, so they stay too. Others still never hear of life on the water until later in their lives, and they decide to train then, and join a ship.

“There are also those who were sailing that tire of the life following the sun, and decide that the rewards aren’t worth the effort any more. Others are pessimistic, and choose to believe that it wasn’t worth the effort in the first place. On the other end of the scale, some people were lucky enough to be born sailing, and learn the ropes as they grow up. Some people sail all the way until they die.”

The captain gave me a chance to think through what he had said.

“But, to answer your question directly, the people on the land are different, but not in the way you might think. As an example, you might find someone just like yourself living on the land. Outside of those who are simply unable, anyone can train and become a sailor. Anyone can learn, and practice the skills.”

He scratched his chin thoughtfully, then said, “as my partner said to me, the real difference between the people on the land and the people chasing the sun is the level of discipline and the kinds of habits they maintain.”

I asked if habits really was the only difference.

He told me, “yes, and the discipline to maintain those habits! Now, with that in mind, I think we both have duties we should be tending to, is that right?”

I hopped up and nodded. I headed to the area of the ship that I was responsible for. While I was working I thought back to what I had believed about the ship’s name. Was it a lazy name?

Inspired by the words, “ever receding horizon.”

I’m struggling to create narratives with underlying meaning. I know that this piece might be a little overt about the whole process, but it’s a first step, and I’m really happy about it. Once I get a solid grip on all this, then I can play with subtlety.

Daniel Triumph.

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Throne (?)

Yaska sat on her throne.

Although, she didn’t rule anything, so technically it wasn’t a throne. But it looked like a throne, so I called it a throne. I think it may have been a throne at some point. But, it looked like a throne, so I called it a throne for your benefit. Yaska herself didn’t even call it to be a throne. Perhaps you’re thinking that this seat isn’t truly a throne at all, in which case you’re right. Let’s fix that.

Yaska sat on her throne-like seat. It wasn’t really hers, she just sort of found it, and happened to be using it.

Well now wait. If it wasn’t her throne, then I don’t really have a good reason for saying it was hers in the first place. Why would I have done that? Maybe to elevate your view of Yaska? To see her king-like, sitting in her throne? But that doesn’t work, because it’s not a throne, and it isn’t hers. Maybe simply for the sake of the piece then? That could be it, and if it is, then I have to question— I’m going to stop myself there, as I’m in danger of becoming far too meta, and I don’t want to add a further indented paragraph. Instead, I’ll just go back and fix the sentence.

Yaska sat on a throne-like seat. It wasn’t really hers, she just sort of found it, and happened to be using it.

That’s better, right? Or at the very least, it’s far more accurate. Although, I’m probably here, getting in the way of the situation, so let’s try it one more time. Fourth time’s the charm, at least in Däwngale.

Yaska sat on the throne-like seat. It wasn’t really hers, she just sort of found it, and happened to be using it. In fact, being made of stone, the seat was rather uncomfortable, so she stood up and left it. The end.

I guess the part about the throne would be unnecessary if this paragraph was part of a longer piece, since it didn’t amount to much. Maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned the throne at all, since it’s so insignificant? If that’s the case, then here’s the final draft of the paragraph:

 

By Daniel Triumph.

I honestly don’t know if this counts as a poem, or as prose, or what. I don’t even think it counts as a prose poem, since it’s not very poetic. Maybe I’ll call myself avant-guard and proclaim that it’s a new form of prose! I think, I’ll just be confused and tag it as both.


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Who is Good Company? (A Dialogue)

“So, Jin, what do you think about hunting in the north?”

“I have no issue.”

“Really? I would have expected you to be against it.”

“Why?”

“Well, didn’t you grow up in the woods? Maybe you know some of the creatures that we hunt,” Salt was beginning to feel stupid but he continued, “as friends or something. Is that stupid to ask that?”

“I didn’t befriend any of the kinds of creatures you hunt.”

“Oh.”

“It is not stupid to ask if I have met the creatures of the woods. I did communicate with some of the others when I lived there.”

“But not the kind we eat?”

“You would know this if you lived in the wilderness. Prey does not generally make for good company. The most you can do with a bird or rabbit is to feed it. The do not have as high of a capacity for communicating.”

“Oh… I didn’t realize. But you said that you did make some friends with the creatures in the woods?”

“Yes. We N’Tariel are hunters. We need intelligence to catch our prey. The L’ynkos also hunters, thus, they also have intelligence.”

“L’ynkos? Wolf? Warg? You befriended a L’ynkos?”

“Not all of them, however, L’ynkos tended to be one of the better creatures for company.”

“Name! Tell me a name of your L’ynkos friends!”

“I cannot tell you a name; they do not address each other as we do. They instead know who is who by smell.”

“Well, how did you talk?”

“It took a lot of effort to create a way to communicate with another species. Similar to how you might try to talk to someone who speaks another language.”

“As we have in our travels! Now I understand why it’s so easy for you to get directions and information from foreigners. I’m guessing you figured it all out in the woods, of all places.”

“Pointing, either with the eyes or hands, as well as expressing emotion, are all fairly universal. You will find that with a L’ynkos, speech is extremely limited.”

“You must show me some time, how you talk with the L’ynkos.”

“Well… It is difficult if you are not a resident of the woods. They may even be less welcoming to me, I do not know their memory. And, also with more than one N’Tariel, threat of power comes into the meeting. A L’ynkos might run away.”

“Oh. Were there other intelligent predators you spoke, or rather, communicated with?”

“One of Däwngale’s, that is, Mother Nature’s spirits.”

“You spoke with a spirit?”

“Yes. A pond spirit. Only one was ever willing to speak to me. I assume it was because she was young. The rest returned to the water whenever I came around”

“Oh! You must have learned some amazing things from a spirit!”

“You must understand that even here there is a flaw.”

“But can’t a spirit talk, unlike a wolf?”

“Yes, a spirit can talk, but a spirit is,” Jin searched for the correct word, “lazy? No, perhaps, inexperienced? My L’ynkos friend and I could at least speak of hunting. Topics like, which prey tasted the best, or which made the stomach fullest. The pond spirit, the one I spoke to, had very limited experiences to speak on.”

“I thought that water spirits lived very long lives.”

“It is true, even this young one I encountered had lived many times my age, but still, she had not seen much. A pond is small and there is not a lot that happens near it. Water spirits also don’t have any habits or needs. She had nothing to draw from in conversation.”

“So your spirit friend could speak clearly, but not on many topics, and your L’ynkos friend could speak on interesting topics, but could not speak properly!”

“Yes, in so few words.”

“My! Was there no one you could talk to?”

“Well, once I exited the forest, and met you and the rest of the N’Tariel people…”

“So people are truly the best company?”

“Yes”

“Very well! I guess I can be satisfied just talking to neighbors, and those we meet outside the village.”

“Although…”

“Although?!”

“Well, a L’ynkos is far less likely to be deceitful. Even a spirit will tell you if they are withholding information.”

Salt laughed, “so there’s no good company for you?”

“Well, I would say that you are good company.”

“How kind!”

Daniel Triumph.

I’m struggling quite a bit with the whole dialogue thing in writing. I really like dialogue, but apparently good fiction doesn’t have a lot of it. In good fiction, it’s very to-the-point. I don’t know, I’ve always liked this natural feeling back and forth. Maybe it’s one of those things that is funner to write then to read?

I’d like to do an imitation of a Greek/Roman dialogue at some point, as Plato or Cicero have. That is, a big back and forth where characters speak on a topic in depth. Although, I’d need a topic with enough depth to handle it.

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Starman Part 4 (Final)

Starman part 4. A lot can happen between adventures.

(<< First Part<Previous Part)

 

“I know what it is!” Chloe stood up, “I think I know what we need to feed the star in order to give him the energy he needs!’

By now the various villagers that had been listening to Chloe’s story returned to their responsibilities. Only Jan, Yaska, and the Starman remained around the dwindling fire. Now that the story had turned to discussion, the stood, forming a small circle around the dwindling fire.

“What did the hero give the star in my father’s legend?” Chloe asked.

Yaska half-frowned at Chloe, “you said it was just food and drink. We gave him food and drink on the mountain.”

“I know, but, like you said, it wasn’t star food.”

“Well then what is star food?”

Chloe smiled, “well, what is a star? Here’s a better question; the sun is a star, so what is the sun?”

Jan looked into the sky and stared at the sun. His Plainkind eyes adjusted and focused. After a few seconds, he looked away and rubbed his eyes.

“Well, it’s bright!” Jan laughed.

Chloe frowned.

Yaska said, “It is bright, and it gives off heat during the day.”

“Right, so…?” Chloe questioned.

“So, is the sun a fire?”

“Yes!”

“So stars are made of fire.”

“Right!” Chloe clapped her hands together, “Stars are made of fire.”

“So we need to figure out what feeds a fire, and feed it to the Starman.” Yaska concluded.

“Exactly.”

The Starman nodded.

Jan said, “So we have to feed him shrubs and brambles?” He looked at the pile of desert plants he had gathered for the night fire with confusion.

“If I needed to eat shrubs, I would have told you. I learned the word for that.” The Starman said.

Chloe laughed, “don’t worry, I’ll tell you! Stars don’t burn wood or shrubs, you can’t grow those things in the sky anyway. Instead they burn hydrogen.”

Yaska listened with interest, but Jan said, “They burn what?”

“Hydrogen. It’s invisible and flammable,” Chloe said, “and a star doesn’t really burn it. Instead, it causes a nuclear reaction that combines four hydrogen atoms into beryllium*. At least, that’s what the Sol-Metch researchers say. But really, they know more about fission than fusion.”

Jan said, “you completely lost me.”

Yaska said, “you mostly lost me. But more importantly, do you know where we can get hydrogen?”

Chloe smiled, “oh, it’s in water.”

Chloe picked her waterskin up from the ground, “you can separate the hydrogen from the rest of the compound by, ah,” Chloe frowned, “running an electric current through it.”

Jan and the Starman stared, but Yaska’s face showed deadened recognition, “an electric current? Is that not related to the a soul in Solune culture?”

“Ah, all of our nerves run on electric signals, so creating one outside of a body is…” Chloe trailed off and twiddled her thumbs, “ah, even if it wasn’t such a touch area, how would we even…”

Chloe gave up on her sentence. She had the the water, but she wasn’t sure how she could separate it, or even how.

The Starman looked from Yaska to Chloe, and then to Jan. He could see that Jan was unsure of what was going on, but was aware that this was some sort of road block.

The Starman said, “but, if we are to believe your story then does that not mean that, like the hero, I can just drink the water?”

Chloe’s eyes widened, she brightly said, “of course! Perhaps you can do it within you! Let’s at least give it a shot.”

She handed the skin to the Starman, who drank a bit. He said, “this is what I needed.”

To Chloe’s relief, the Starman finished only half the water. He said, “thank you, you were right, this is star food. I think I should return outside the village.”

The Starman started walking towards the place where he landed. The group followed. AS they walked, the sky began to get dark.

Chloe said, “it was quite interesting to meet a star, I would have liked to learn more about you.”

Yaska said, “well, perhaps he can stay.”

The Starman shook his head, “You are all quite friendly, but I prefer my own home.”

The Starman closed his eyes and began generating energy. His legs slowly morphed away. His body dropped and began to hover above the ground. Then the rest of his features began to lose their form and he, once again, became a ball of light. The star rose up just as other stars began to appear in the darkening sky.

Yaska tried to see which star he would become, but through the dusk and the shimmering atmosphere, it was hard to tell. Jan departed shortly after to make sure the village had a fire, and Chloe and Yaska were left alone, watching.

“Did you see which star he was?” Yaska said.

Chloe said, “it’s hard to tell. To be honest, I don’t really know the locations of stars. They’re hard to see in the Solune Kingdom too, so we don’t really engage in mapping them.”

“Oh. He was a little strange. Silent. Perhaps he did not particularly enjoy our company.”

“He must have had some reason for wanting to get home. For all we know, that could be the reason. Maybe stars just think differently than us.”

Chloe shrugged and sat on the sand. Yaska sat next to her.

“I wonder,” Yaska said, “If that star in your story wanted to stay.”

“Well, my father says he did. I guess, like us, stars have differences too.”

Yaska considered her words. She thought about Chloe’s father. She had met him, the Solune King, before. He was said to be immortal.

Yaska said, “was your father the hero from the story?”

Chloe turned her head and smiled, “I think so. He told me that the star might return at some point.”

“It is just afraid of taking the form of someone influential again? Or getting attacked?”

“Yeah.”Chloe continued, “Hey, let’s go visit the fire. Maybe Jan will have a new story for us.”

“Or maybe you could give us another.” Yaska smiled.

They both smiled, and returned to the village.

That’s all I got.
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Daniel Triumph.

Footnote:
*The Sol-Metch researchers are incorrect about this. In basic terms, s star will fuse two hydrogen atoms into a helium, and then later will fuse two helium atoms into beryllium. The Sol-Metch and Solune scientific communities have not yet discovered helium, and so at the moment they assume that hydrogen either fuses by threes into lithium, or by fours into beryllium.

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