• Hey Pat!

    Thanks for this wonderful sneak peek at your present work! :O)

    Very well written (which can truly be a challenge in sci-fi & fantasy, where you're presenting very new experiences that sometime require very unique language and yet must be understandable to the reader).

    It's interesting how easy it was to relate to a future self trying to help a past self and the past self's frustration at not being able to pry out just a little more information. I guess the whole expanded self / mundane self scenario's a source of the familiarity. I'll be curious to see how other Enchanted Factory members related to this.

    Keep up your good work, Pat. I can see a lot of readers getting totally lost in this story. :D

    Sunshine & Blessings,

    • Hi Gio --


      Glad you liked this :-)  I'd love to post it all, but then it would be considered "published" and I couldn't go forward from there to reasonably expect payment . . . but you know that!

      Anyway --


      Hoping others will jump in with comments and offerings, and I'll be in and out as time permits.


      Catch you later :-)

    • Don't change a thing, Pat! Your post is perfect! :O)
      ~ G

    • Maybe I'll come back with something else that's unrelated, just for the sharing :-)


      Later . . .

  • Hi Gio --


    Well . . . you've been tempting and cajoling me in your whimsical way for some time now, so I've decided to share a bit of the sprawling saga I'm in the midst of.  It's one chapter, in the middle of things, so you won't know what's been going on up to this point, but it will give you at least a partial idea of what I'm doing.


    To summarize the theme . . .


    Imagine a reluctant time-traveler thinking he's at the mercy of cosmic whimsy, who gradually learns the stunning truth of his identity, his purpose, and the nature of the infinite game in which he's entangled.  Meanwhile, an interstellar alliance battles a brutal pirate legion, unaware that their adversary is but a pale whisper of the terrors about to be unleashed by the lords of darkness, while the Shepherds watch, and await their time to intervene.


    Alazriel's Game -- it's not for the timid.




    -- VI --





                Powerful steeds thundered past our hiding place.  I could hear the whoop of trumpets and the thump of cannon fire, men shouting and small arms crackling, armor clashing, women and children screaming, booted feet clattering.

                The wall behind us boomed and crashed, and flying pieces battered us.  Misha cried out in terror.  I leaped in front of her, trying to shield her.  Armed and snarling figures emerged from the dust – short, swarthy men in blood-red uniforms.  The Rizwa!

                Deafening boom – warm, sticky splatter.  Misha!  Acrid smoke stung my nostrils, mingled with dust and sweat.  Tears of rage burned my eyes.  Vile laughter filled my ears.

                I fought them, swinging and roaring savagely, but there were too many.  The left side of my head exploded in pain.  They had me – grabbing, shaking, beating me, dragging me away.  Misha!  I struggled to get free – no use.  Misha!  Pulling, jerking –

                “ – up now.  Wake up!  It’s time to eat.”

                A shriek of fury ripped my throat as I came up swinging wildly, and water splashed – and I realized where I was.  It was Elder Non shaking me.  I’d fallen asleep in the pool.

                I got up and got out, and he handed me the suit he had draped over the stone table, one very much like his.

                “Bad day in Bishra Khal, huh?” was the quiet observation.  I gave him a brief, hard stare, for he knew very well what I’d been dreaming about.  I wondered how often he still did.

                “You know,” he continued softly, “Misha was a very brave little girl.  Lokwado would have been proud of her.”

                “Yeah,” I said just as softly, absently noting that no water had left the pool with me.  I was dry and clean.  “I suppose he would have been.”

                “He had hopes of her marrying – ”

                “Why are we talking about this?”  I shot him an angry scowl, one leg into the suit.  “And why did all those people have to die?  What was the Timestalker’s almighty purpose on Kai Lahrat Dhum?  What did we accomplish, Elder Non?”

                He stood staring at me, plainly bursting with the desire to tell me what he plainly knew, but all he said was, “It’s good to talk about it, don’t you think?  To help get over the pain, so you can face your next challenge?”

                “Maybe.  Yeah, I suppose it is.”  Still scowling I tugged on the other leg.  He knew I didn’t want to discuss it.

                “I know.  It’s fresh to you, and it hurts.  Come out when you’re ready.”  He clapped a hand on my shoulder and squeezed once, then left.

                I stood clamping my jaws for a moment.  Finally I shunted the memory aside, shifting my focus quite deliberately upon the other scenarios.  I knew from long experience they were more than just dreams – they were actual adventures.  Not memories of my current life, like the disturbing recollection of the battle of Bishra Khal.  Rather they were other realities, to which I was mysteriously integral and irrevocably connected, and which I had visited before.  But never had these journeys been so vividly continuous and undistorted.  Their significance, however, remained a mystery.

                I slid thoughts of them aside as well and struggled the rest of the way into the long-sleeved, one-piece garment.  It was snug but not too tight, and felt smooth – velvety – silken.  It was woven, not of fibers derived from plants, but of living plants.  I wondered how Elder Non had managed that, even as it fastened itself seamlessly from my stomach to my throat.

                I went out into the larger cave to find him squatting beside the coals of the fire, stirring something in a stone pot.  Three torches were now lit at the north, east, and west walls, for night had fallen.  He glanced up as I came over, then stood and grabbed two stone tankards from the table and handed one to me.

                “Here’s to timely arrivals,” he said with a grin, and raised his mug in a toasting gesture.  “Welcome to Singtree, Junior Non.  This is your new base for a while.”

                I took the tankard and we tapped them lightly together.  He took a hefty gulp, I a tentative sip.  The liquid was sweet and a bit tangy, but not syrupy.  It spread a warmth down my gullet and throughout my midsection.

                “Whoa!  Something tells me I’d better be careful of this.”

                “Nah.  It’s harmless.  In fact, it’s good for you.”

                We stood there staring at each other then, both keenly aware that the jovial scene was quite incongruous with our circumstances, and I felt a familiar prickling up and down my spine.  I knew he felt it too.  It was like gazing into an enchanted mirror that added or subtracted age before reflecting the image.  I was looking at myself – three, perhaps five years hence.  This me had let his reddish brown hair grow, and a rust-auburn beard had sprouted.

                My eyes flew wide in astonishment.  “You – !”

                “ – remind you of Tybrok,” he finished for me.  “I know.”

                “You don’t seem surprised.”

                He gazed frankly back at me, but remained silent.  In the deep orange gloom he appeared somber.

                “Well?  Are you going to tell me what’s going on here?”

                He was giving me That Look, and said, “Relax.  I’ll be briefing you on a few things you have to know, but . . . ”  He left the obvious unspoken, for we both understood that Sylvriel would not allow us to change things.  He could not reveal to me what he had not yet learned when he was me.  The law of paradox was immutable.

                “Yes,” I said wearily, “I know.  So brief me.”

                Sea-green eyes glittered in the firelight, but he said nothing.  I felt the frustration rising anew, and I wanted to grab and rattle him until he told me everything, knowing the effort would be futile.  Even if he made the attempt, the Princess would silence him, or cause me to hear gibberish.  We – I – had learned this early in life.

                I glared into my own eyes and released a long, hissing sigh, a deliberate, resigned venting of the stress, and he smiled knowingly.

                “There you go.  Now – come eat this mess I made.  It tastes good and you need it.  Then we’ll talk about things.”

                He was right.  It was quite tasty, and filling, and altogether satisfying, and the brandy-like beverage was even smoother going down.  A glowing, tingling warmth began to spread from my midsection, radiating within a few minutes to every part of my body.  I felt mildly flushed all over, and warm and comfortable.  Tranquil.

                “There.  Now you feel better.”  It was a statement instead of a question.  “Come sit outside with me.”

                In a moment we were both propped against the rock wall that stretched away from the left side of the cave entrance.  The breeze was brisk and chilly against my face, but I felt perfectly warm and snug inside my unusual garment.

                “This is quite a suit.  I know you can’t tell me about it, but I’ll bet the story behind it is – well – interesting.”

                That statement produced boisterous laughter from my Elderself.  “Interesting indeed!”  His eyebrows raised in palpable glee.  “You have no idea!”

                “Oh, you’re just having a grand old time, aren’t you?”

                “As a matter of fact, I am!”  More uproarious laughter.  “Listen, Junior, I know how you feel, and you know that.  But this is going to be a profound experience.  You’re going to love it – well, most of it – so be patient.  You’ll understand soon, believe me.”

                I was grinning by this time, for I could not be angry with him.  Each of my Otherselves was in the same predicament as I, and as an Elderself myself, I had enjoyed teasing Junior and laughing at his perplexity on many occasions.  It was a spiral effect that was inescapable and, since Elder Non was me, I readily understood his sense of humor.  It was this type of interaction with the elders of me that helped me cope with the craziness because, if they were happy and healthy in spite of whatever they’d endured, I knew I would be also.  In this case, paradox worked in my favor.

                We sat out there for a long time, sipping Brandyfood as he filled in some of the holes for me.  He began by easing my concerns over the Loddy-body parts we had been eating, drinking, and burning.

                “It’s made specifically for us,” he said.  “Don’t ask how or why, because I don’t know how.  Apparently we don’t need to know that, and I can’t tell you why.  Loddy will show you where and how to gather the ingredients and how to prepare them.  Same as the Redroot and sulphur you’ll be using for fuel, and the Sapflower for the torches.  That’s all I can say about it.”

                “Redroot and Sapflower, eh?  Cute.  Tell me about these dream journeys, then.  They’re suddenly very clear, and obviously they mean something.”

                “Obviously.  But all I can tell you about them is what you already know.  They involve other realities and states of being, all of which are related adventures and part of a larger story, just as we are.  You’ll tie it all together soon enough, but I can’t do it for you.”

                I sighed in resignation, knowing the truth of his last words, but still determined to pry information from him.  “Okay, what about this ‘Little Father’ business?  Loddy seems to be – ”

                He put up a hand and was shaking his head slowly, giving me That Look once more.  “Again, you’ll find that out soon enough, but I can’t tell you.”

                I harrumphed and said, “Yeah, I figured that because he obviously knows, and he won’t tell me anything either.  So what about this place?  Is this Alistaar?  Is he the same Loddy of our ancient legend?  Give me something I don’t already know.”

                He awarded me a sidelong stare, clearly searching his memory to find what he had learned at this point, so he could repeat it.

                “All right, Junior, here it is.  Loddy is Loddy – that’s all I can say about him.  But you’ve already come to suspect that he’s not exactly a ‘he’ but a ‘they’, and you’re partly right.  ‘Singtree’ isn’t just the name of this place, but of a race.  They are very old, and very wise, and they’ll teach you things.  You’re here to help them realize what I can safely describe as an epic achievement.  You’ll understand so much more once this adventure is over, and I really wish I could tell you all about it, but you know how it is.”

                “Yes, I know how it is,” I said impatiently.  “So I’m here to help them.  No big surprise.  That seems to be the reason for us popping in and out of situations all over Space/Time.  You know the real question, and I’ll keep asking it until I get the answer!”

                He adopted an air of faux drama, throwing back his head and casting his arms aloft to embrace the stars.  “Oh, how and why are we thousands of people of different ages, known to countless civilizations throughout the universe, past, present, and future?  That, my dear friends, is The Question!”

                “You’re not funny.”

                He chuckled and gave me a wink.  “Of course I am.  You worry too much.  You think you’re some freak of Nature, but you’re not.  Rest assured, you’re not.”

                “You seem so at peace with all of this now,” I said quietly, suddenly realizing that he was much calmer, more spiritually mature than I.  “You’ve clearly learned things I long to know, and can’t tell me a thing.  It doesn’t seem fair.”

                “It’s paradox,” he said with a shrug, in a tone that plainly stated I should know better. “If the future were carved in stone and people knew what was coming next, I promise you everyone would make dozens of major course changes to avoid the troubles they saw coming and to enhance their prospects – which would completely alter the future already seen, and that’s impossible.  Creation would be utter chaos.”

                I arched an eyebrow as I pondered his words.  I’d had similar conversations with other Elderselves before, but I still wished for some way to get around it.

                “And if everyone could go back and tell their younger selves things they didn’t know,” he went on, “none of the probable selves that come forth from that point would be the ones who went back and told secrets, because those versions of them never existed.  Therefore they never went back and told secrets in the first place, so nothing changes.  Paradox is a circle of impossibility, Junior.”

                My mood darkened as I thought of the terrible events on Kai Lahrat Dhum, and how I wished I could go back and “fix” all that but knew I could not.  I understood what he was saying.

    I understood paradox, though the way he’d put it made it clearer to me.  The universe was meticulously designed, intricately constructed, and perfectly if precariously balanced – and its Creator clearly intended for it to stay that way.

                “You got it,” he said, knowing my thoughts.  “This is Alazriel’s game, and he makes the rules.  No interference allowed.”

                “We interfere.  Constantly.”

                “We’re supposed to.  It’s what we do.”

                I stared hard at him, willing him to continue, knowing he’d learned the answers to at least a few of my burning questions.  He awarded me what was intended as a placating smile and said, “When you’re me you’ll understand a lot more, and yes, you will be more at peace with it all.  Trust me.”

                I laughed at that.  “How can I not trust me?  Tell me about the war.”

                “Same old story,” he began with a sigh.  “The freedom-loving battle the oppressor.  In this time and place, Mogoloth and his puppet emperor Lomaan Quyne seek total conquest of the galaxy.  Those who submit, they absorb.  Those who resist, they destroy – or try to.  Many races fight them, but though these are heroic and determined, they’re losing.  You and Singtree will soon join the fight – and it will be a long, frequently painful ordeal.”

                Mogoloth.  I suppressed a shudder.  I’d never heard of Quyne, but I knew this name from Alistaari legend.  The Darkbeast.  The Supreme Negative.  Mogoloth, purportedly, embodied all that was Evil in Creation – the very essence of negative energy in all its expressions.

                “And I suppose you can’t tell me what I and the Singtree will be doing?”

                A half-smile touched his lips as he looked out at the night.  “Not specifically, but I can safely say that you’ll . . . grow very attached to them.  And it will be enlightening.”

                I lay my head back against the wall with a thump, frustrated at the answers that were not answers that so frequently followed my questions, and gazed up at a constellation that was shaped like a crustacean’s pincer.  The air was clear, the darkness deep, and the alien star patterns utterly dazzling.  It was, for an instant, beautiful and serene.

                Suddenly a series of tiny light threads criss-crossed the sky within the pincer, and a pinpoint of light flared briefly – then another.  More faint lines flashed – more starbursts ensued – and I knew at once what I was watching.  I’d seen similar battles in space before.  I felt a chill.

                “The war is close, Junior.”  His voice was quiet as he gazed out across the descending slope toward the forest,  his expression that blank, wide-eyed stare that indicated bad memories in vivid replay.  “And getting closer by the minute.  That was a Braxi cruiser that came down around you today.  They’re enemies.  The star-like ones you saw afterward were Zohlan – they’re friendly.  The Volkai haven’t arrived here yet, but they will soon.  They are fearless, ruthless, brutal, and crafty, and their numbers are mega-legion.  They and the Braxi form the bulk of Quyne’s army.  But these are not his only weapons.”

                He sat toying with his empty tankard, and I knew there was much more to tell, but he went no farther.  The sadness in his voice almost made me glad he didn’t, for I was sure I didn’t want to know his sorrow – my sorrow – before I must.

                He stood slowly then and went on, “There will be others coming – some allies and some enemies, and you won’t always know which is which at first.  And I know I’ve raised more questions than I’ve answered, but I’ve told you all I can.  Stand with me now, it’s almost time.”

                I wondered, Time for what? as I got to my feet.  As we stood together he smiled and said, “It’s beautiful here, isn’t it?  I’m really going to miss this place.”

                “You mean you’re leaving already?  I just got here!”

                “I have other duties.  You know that.”

                “Yes, I know.  I know.  It’s just that – ”

                I was interrupted by a low rumbling sound, which grew quickly in volume, and the ground began to quake.  I looked at Elder Non in alarm, but he stood as though entranced with arms flung wide, head back and eyes closed, much the same way as I had earlier embraced the storm in the savannah.

                Suddenly the ledge came alive as trees and shrubs and grass and Loddy-birds and a multitude of other creations erupted from it.  Three of the bristly, cone-shaped tree beings rose far, far into the air.  Vines wound themselves about the enormous trunks and throughout the branches and bloomed with hundreds of radiant flowers of every color imaginable.  Likewise the smaller trees and all the shrubs blossomed, and dozens of curious, incredible things I could only describe as “planimals” (or were they “animants”?) scurried, flitted and crawled upon the ground and among the limbs.  They swiftly settled into place, and all grew quiet.

                Then Loddy Barkenthorn sprouted from the ledge, accompanied by three huge beasts, which I couldn’t help categorizing as canine, leonine, and ursine, even though they were the same amazing “planimals” as the rest.  Wolf and Cat flanked him, sitting on their haunches, while Bear towered behind him with its huge paws on his shoulders.  They all gazed at me with dazzling pearlescent eyes.

                I was equally awed by Loddy’s appearance, for now he seemed to made of a deep red, fluid agate wearing shining armor of polished obsidian and radiant gold, and clutched in an armored fist the cobalt hilt of a monstrous diamond broadsword.  His long, thick mane and flowing mustache were of medium grey pumice.

                Suddenly I realized this was the Loddy of Alistaari legend – the Guardian Warrior, of whom one could find statues and other likenesses all over the planet.

                He gently placed the tip of the blade on the ledge and placed his hands one atop the other on the end of the hilt, and tiny forks of lightning flickered and flashed within the crystal blade.  His expression was almost ludicrously somber and forbidding, but the emerald eyes were aglow with mischief.

                A light trilling began from far above, like a flute, and then Loddy and his companions lifted their heads as deeper and deeper harmonies joined in.  It spanned the audible range until the entire mountain resonated in vibrant chorus, a long, single tone.  And I thought, Sing-tree!  Of course!

                After several seconds it stopped, and the silence rang in my ears.

                “Junior, these are the Elders of Singtree and their attendants.   Elders, this is my Juniorself, Era Non of Alistaar, as promised.”

                “Welcome, Little Father,” came a slow bass resonance, and Wolf, Bear, and Cat all gave me a slight bow, though their blazing pearly eyes never left me.  “The prophecy of the Greenskeeper is fulfilled.  Praise be to Maudra!”  Again they lay their heads back, and again the vibrant, incredibly beautiful harmony sounded, but briefly this time, and I felt a warm tingling shoot through me like a mild electrical current.

                Elder Non stepped over to me as the breeze whispered through the foliage high above, and stuck out his right hand.  “I have to go now, Junior.”

                I clasped his hand firmly, almost desperately, wanting to plead with him to stay but knowing there was no use.  To my surprise, strands of fiber leaped from his forearm to mine, and his suit unraveled almost instantly while mine grew noticeably thicker.  In a few seconds he stood before me utterly naked, and I realized I was gaping.

                “You are now the Greenskeeper of Singtree.  Don’t worry – all is as it must be.”

                “Wait!  Don’t go yet!  What – ?”

                POP!  He was gone.  Despair welled up in me for a second, then subsided, and I felt resigned.  Confused as ever, but resigned.

                “Hail to the Greenskeeper!” Loddy’s voice boomed in my mind as he flipped up the sword with an impressively smooth move and brandished it high over his head with both hands.  The blade pulsed with blue-white fire.

                “Praise be to Maudra!” said the deep slow resonance.  “Tonight the voice of Singtree shall be loud in its rejoicing!”

                Again the buzz went through me, and the chorus began once more, this time not a monotone but a rousing melody unlike anything I’d ever heard before.

                My suit made me itch and tingle, and I lifted up the cuff of one sleeve in concern, for it had been so comfortable – and my eyes flew wide in panic.  I quickly checked the other sleeve.  Both pant legs.

                Then I had to laugh.  It was bizarre, but not astonishing under the circumstances, to see those millions of tiny filaments – those pinkish-brown roots!

                “ . . . grow very attached to them,” Elder Non had said, and I chuckled at his – my – deliberate understatement.  No wonder he’d been so moved to mirth!

                I didn’t know how this could be possible, nor could I fathom the purpose.  But my initial shock had evaporated, and I was filled with an utter peace and a boundless joy that was quite unexpected but totally welcome.

                Loddy still stood with his diamond blade raised on high, and it burned with star-fire.  The Elders stood with forelimbs upraised and heads laid back.  Their angelic choir seemed to lift me up and carry me away, and there was nothing in Creation I wanted more at that moment than to throw my arms aloft and sing along.

         So I did!

  • Hi-i!

    I was thinking about collaboration, when it hit me....

    When I'm writing or drawing - or in any art or activity, really - I'm in deep interaction (collaboration) with all sorts of non-physical energies.

    (Or DANCING!)

    THAT'S basically the thrill of it all.

    Long before any end user or critic or publisher or editor or co-writer even gets to walk in the door, there's been this intimate exploration through invisible pathways and slides and climbs and cozy moments in nooks and cranies, and it's almost startling when I'm suddenly reminded that I have physical collaborators, too!

    HOT WOW! :D

    Sunshine & Blessings,

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