Saturday, October 24, 2020

The Crowning of King Harold


Here is a spooky story that comes from my latest novel, Lions Red and Gold, available now in digital and dead tree only on Amazon. I post it here in honor of this Halloween.



30 December 1065


The king of all the Anglo-Saxons slept and waited the  arrival of the Ferryman to take him cross the way which all men go. But Edward the Confessor, breathed he still.


King Edward the Confessor, childless and waning, had betook ensorcelled by some dreadful magic, and the Court were powerless to wake him from his shadowed kine. In his long yearfulness did Edward well decline, as all men do, who liveth under God’s unslighting eye.


Meanwhile in the City, there a hulking figure turned his piping-hood against the misting rains. He wore he of a ploughman’s kit. He had no special undergarment; plain uncolored linen drawers encovered him to adequate. He wore he hose of linen wode[1] on each his separate legs, ill-fitting, and tied up upon his girdle with the drawstrings knotted on the hips through slits on side of linen drawers. The hose rose up to thigh-length and enclosed his feet entire for the warmth they could provide. Atop, he wore a linen kyrtill, neither bleached nor colored, and full-skirted to provide more warmth and manly dignity. Atop of this, he wore a tunic made from linen and then lined with wool. Its length, down to the knee, was that of any worker’s cut; the legs were then left free for ambulative livery. The shoulder-seam was curved, and at the wrists the sleeve were tapered down. These cuts were the style in the countryside in those cold days, allowing for some mittens to be worn upon the hands without befouling the sleeve.


About his waist, he wore a decorated leather belt, for ploughmen at the time, and other laborers as well, would wear this sort of belt to demonstrate their industry: a decorated belt tied gaily ‘bout shewed all who saw it that its bearer made a tidy profit in the year, and spent it lavishly, as noblemen may do. Upon his belt hung knife and purse and strangely, too, an arming sword. This last would mark this man as noble even in a ploughman’s wore.


Upon his feet were shoes of plain, brown leather with thin soles as was the custom. Rose they up above his ankle, and then turned they down again, and tied with leather laces in a tidy bow.

His hood was brown and woolen and it covered up the head and neck quite pleasingly. Aback it had a liripipe[2] to tie it to the tunic ‘gainst the wind, or to his belt when not in use. His hat, in brown, bycocketine, and wool, wore to the fore.


And finally, he carried on his belt a pair of mittens with articulated fingers dyed with saffron and with wode, belike a ploughman might he own. He didn’t like the pinch and so he left them well alone.


This man shewed care out to avoid ensoiling his boot up in the horse manure left upon the street; accreting mud-cake would enow be evidence his London weilke. He turned him up to Moorsgate, never showing out his face to any soul, for were the hour midnight and a witch he meant to call.


There near the Moorsgate is a postern passage that you might have seen or known. But at this time, it was a secret way to pass the wall, known only to the man who had it built and they who wrought the thing along. This were that man, this giant, secreting out the London ley.


The wintry mist upon his hands wrought red from white, and chilled the bones of present wight. Considered he the mittens naught, for he was used to Thor’s adversity.

The night were blackened up, with sliver of the Moon onrising and some tense, low clouds to block the stars. The New Moon held within its dainty crescent horns the Old Moon there, illuminated but a bit somehow. He kept him to the East and kept his hand along the wall. When he approachethed up the ruined temple to Minerva (and to Freya in her time), he turned him North and walked a mile 'long the Ancient Road called Aldgate, to a wee wic ded he ken up there which held the Devil's bouns.

On past the church and past the well, upon the edge of moor and fen lived Hollace in a hovel made of peat. Nobody ken her years or how her dwelling came to be. She lived alone and made her living hoarding aught the pretty herbs that grow along the wood and in the blackened Earth, in places cloistered up against most men’s good wisdom see. Her manner split the distance twixt Minerva and gay Od; for had she goodly wisdom when not wrought by madness; but with madness were she wrought a’regular.


Anon, this hooden-gillie struck her door quite sharply with the pommel of the sword he closely bore. He rapped again. Came then she to the door, the crone, with shawl and nightcap on her. Bent was she with age, the weight all men among us bear. She were a wee thing, dessicated like unto the desert had been through her.

    “Aye, well met, me Lordship,” said the little crone.

“Aye, and well, well met, my faithful friend,” replied the giant, as he ducked to enter there.


She had no fittings and no roomware there inside, save just a rocking chair to set, and table wee, just big enow to well suit one, and wobbly. The giant sat upon her floor, unfinished, but quite dry and warm. He then untipped his hood, and did reveal himself to God and every man who woulds’t see him: Harold Godwinson were then apparent seen beneath the shroud.


“I’ve ere walked forth from London for to ken the forthshaft[3] as you truly ken. Tell my forthtime and the towardness of ere this island Albion, ye kenful oldwife Hollace.”




Well-æthelgedly,[4] Harold then produced the hoard within a gunny and he put it on the table.


Hollace held up each the sundry coin to see the emberment of stovelight gleam against it, then emplaced it in her apron. Counted up she thirty shillings; were enow for her to tell the future to this man before her now.


She turned her good eye to him and she squinted at his face. This man, this giant of a man, had cheek of ivory, quite fair. His chin were noble too, and boued it forward in perpetual determination made. He wore them clean, his cheek and chin, to shew how manly hath God wrought them both. However, had he broad mustaches, as they were the fashion of the time, in red but with a little white. Here in the gloom and dour mist, his curly hair of red hung down about his collar so, accentuating up his finely-cultured bones. His father, Godwin, famously wore down his hair the same, but Godwin’s hair was brown without the fire of Harold’s mane.


Sir Harold, was he tall, perhaps six foot and then a little bit; and had he shoulders broader by a hand perhaps than were his narrow hips. This night he bore no armor, for to travel in disguise; but even aught his case were he to look upon a knight tonight, with sparkling blue eyes.


“There is a tide ‘pon this New Universe, and up upon it do we rise and fall, bestruck by fated stars, m’lord,” did Hollace cast, while opening the shutter on her window. Hollace struggled with the latch. “My hands. My hands…” Sir Harold breathed frustration and impatience with the witch. She finally got the latch to spry and peered up into Heaven with her one remaining eye.


“The Moon is dark tonight. I scarcely spy its aftlimbs. Darked and blooded.” Hollace turned to him with some alacrity and grasped his wrist within her claw. “Better for to see our stars, my Lord, and hide these secret things, these weirds we say.”


“Make weird be plainer, pray,” replied the Lord of Wessex, Edward’s second, backing off the clying crone. He thought to doubt the wisdom of this gallant forth from castle home.


She answered thus, “The old King dies. The spell he’s under shall not lift again. Not outright, no.” She poked about her hearth a bit. “The spirits mark his passing right before Epiphany, when Magi from the Orient would come to bring your Savior ‘is.”


 “The day before?”




“Do the spirits tells’t what’s be time of day he passes?”


“Night, as all good things befouled by the baleful dark.”


“And when this dark thing dost transpire, would he name an erve? Would he name me ere his erve?”[5]


“This up the hand that makes it so, Lord. Whosoever dost this gill last see, will name that man the Anglish King.”


“Then that man must be me, wise Hollace! How to make this so? For Fate, that mistress to the meek and to the passive men dost take to men upon the cusp of History. She taken by these men, well fore they take Her to their marriage bed. The small among us are like afterbear:[6] these small in stature and responsibility. These pups are bound to Her by apron-string, and beaten to obedience by that which Fate should bring.


“But up among the atheldom, among the haletheeling wiclords, thegns and kings[7], She doth submit to just and ruly strikes, and finds good discipline to us. To me.


“I shall bind she to me this Lady Fate, for fair Fortuna woulds’t for me slake.”


“What’s that?” Asked Hollace, as she’d lost into the fire. “Oh. Aye. How make it so? The spirits know.”


She poked the fire once again and turned to Harold, sharply. “Thirty shillings more. The wortcraft such as spirits shew is never given free.”


This angered Harold and he thought to thrash the woman. But he stayed his hand and handed her more coins. She looked again upon the glinting, one by one, before the firelight.


“To make you up the king, ye’ll need two pretty gifts to woo this Fate you seem to moon for, Lord.”


“What they? Pray, speakest of these gifts.”


“The first of these, a brew I sh’ave concocted. Cordial is it in its scent, but gale to do it galder[8] when it’s work be rent. Pour it down the gullet of the king.”


“What then?”


“He will awake, anon, up from his spirit’s foul abreet[9]. He’ll spy you with his newly-daven eyes. And then, descent again into foreheawen late Eternity. His life’s reward you’ll bring.”


“It kills him?”


“Aye. It’s this you wish for, Lord, by faith?”


Sir Harold stopped to contemplate this thing. He saw the light from Devil’s Moon through cracks within the walls. “This do I beg of Fate.


“Now, what the second pretty shall I need to woo this fickle puterelle?”


She stood with some distress, and stepped perhaps four steps, and opened up a box upon the floor beside her filthy bed. She made some grunt of satisfaction, and pulled out the brew, and also something like a looking-glass. She straightened up her back again (as well she could in her decrepitude), and came to set again across from Harold.


“This, the second afterleen,”[10] she said, “a viewcraft-lens marked up by Jews direct from Orient. Marry, stand before my fire. Hold it up and let the fire-light shone through against the other wall.”


Harold did. Upon the wall, an apparition summoned up! T’were summoned, clear as blessed sunlight, thereupon! He gasped and pulled his arms to him. And when he did, the apparition disappeared! “What spiritcraft is this! You witch! You sorceress!”


Hollace grinned, and was well pleased. She cackled, and the flecks of spittle went upon the table, and then some upon the nobleman. She held her innards in with both her bony arms, she cackling and on.


He smelt upon her newly urine.


Hollace caught herself again and told the nobleman, “It is the viewcrafter. It shews the ghostly apparition on the wall when placed before a fireplace or lantern, or a torch! How riotous! How dear!


“Make of this a miracle. Shew upon the wall this markup of a ghost. Ye tell the host about this kelpie wraith, and that it did’st appear to you and Edward right before his life were claim’d! Make show of it! A show for all the peoplement of Edward’s home and all these Anglish islands. Tells’t them that  this spirit said for you to take the throne!”


“Dissemblement. Aye, dark dissemblement. But for the purposes of England’s light and weal. For th’hand of Fate, I do submit to Devil’s deal,” said Harold with finality.


He practiced with the viewcrafter a bit. When he was satisfied, he stood and thanked the crone, and placed the gifts within the pocket of his purse.


And when he had departed, Hollace only then recalled and spoke the rest: “Those summoners upon this apparition suffer rhotic yieldback[11] in this cast, as all men do and in all things at last.”




In truth, just as eld Hollace said it would, King Edward was awoken from his sorcelment upon the 5th of January, which we call Eleventh Night. The spirit shone upon the wall; the King announced to all that Harold to protect his kingdom and his wife; and then the poor King died, upon the very early morning of the Twelfth Night, January 6th.


Sir Harold grasped the crown and scepter, and made haste unto the Abbey at near-by Westminster. All the nobles of the land and all the higher clergymen were present for the Feast of the Epiphany. The new King was enthroned that very day before the Witan of the realm: The 6th of ’66.

[1] Medium blue.

[2] A long strip of fabric resembling a streamer, usually on a hood or headdress.

[3] Future.

[4] Noble.

[5] Erve – Heir.

[6] Descendants (by analogy to forebear).

[7] Haletheeling… kings -  Nationalistic noblemen.

[8] Gale to do it galder – filled with magic

[9] Abreet: Destroy or exterminate. In this case used to mean waking from sleep, destroying sleep.

[10] Reward.

[11] Rhotic yieldback – poetic justice


Tuesday, October 20, 2020

An Editorial By An Imaginary Person

Steeple Jack is my City of Heroes character. He lives on the Homecoming servers on the Excelsior shard.

He insisted upon making a guest blog post here. I do not endorse, nor shall I be held responsible for, the views expressed by guest bloggers. Their opinions are their own and not those of the blog or the blogger. In other words: Blame Steeple Jack.

On Universal Deceit
By Steeple Jack

People use "conspiracy theory" as a pejorative term to deliver, in as few as possible words, the following insults: 
- "you believe things that aren't true," 
- "you're stupid," and 
- "you're evil."

But the thing is, as a civic culture degenerates to the point that the only things you're allowed to say in the public space are lies denouncing other people or apologies for things you know you didn't do, you more or less move in a nimbus of untruth. Universal deceit. 

You recognize that a conventional narrative has to have passed through the filter of mandatory lies to enter the realm of polite discourse.

And "conspiracy lore" and other outlier ideas, having been rejected by these same filters, acquire a kind of credibility in the form of the awareness that the guy that lies his ass off all the time says it's not true.

An age of lies make the ideas that it rejects plausible by attempting to refute or censor them.

The guardians of civic lore bitch about a monster that they create themselves 24/7/365.

I'm done bitching. I'm not going to pretend things are different from what they are. And I don't care what you think about it. That's what it's going to take to sort the good from the bad: truth.

So Memo to the guardians of civic lore: Let me save you some time.  

I'm stupid. 

I'm evil. 

I believe things that are not true. 

I literally do not believe in science. 

And I will not go educate myself. 

I've been educated quite well enough.

P.S.: I broke my  hand fighting Babbage.


Tuesday, May 12, 2020



by SpecialGuestStar
(Clip and save)

Silver bullets won’t harm Draculas. They only harm Wolfmans. They also harm Ratmans, Tigermans, and Boarmans. they will harm Bearmans but Bearmans are generally law-abiding and helpful, if misunderstood.

For Draculas you need a crossbow with wooden stakes blessed by a priest and then holy wafers. Also works against Blackulas.

Mummies just have to get wet

Trolls? Fire or acid

Zombies sizzle when you throw salt on them

The Creature from the Black Lagoon can get killed normal, but his skin is tough so you need a higher caliber. 

Bizarros need blue kryptonite 
And for Frankensteins, they’re actually quite gentle and intelligent. They just need some understanding. 

(Clip and save)

Silver bullets won’t harm Draculas. They only harm Wolfmans. They also harm Ratmans, Tigermans, and Boarmans. they will harm Bearmans but Bearmans are generally law-abiding and helpful, if misunderstood.

For Draculas you need a crossbow with wooden stakes blessed by a priest and then holy wafers. Also works against Blackulas.

Mummies just have to get wet

Trolls? Fire or acid

Zombies sizzle when you throw salt on them

The Creature from the Black Lagoon can get killed normal, but his skin is tough so you need a higher caliber. 

Bizarros need blue kryptonite 

And for Frankensteins, they’re actually quite gentle and intelligent. They just need some understanding.

Friday, January 17, 2020

RIP Christopher Tolkien

LONDON (AP) – Christopher Tolkien, who played a major role protecting the legacy of his father’s The Lord of the Rings series, has died. He was 95.
The Tolkien Society and HarperCollins UK confirmed his death but no details were provided.
Tolkien’s life work was closely identified with that of his father, J.R.R. Tolkien. He helped edit and publish much of his father’s writings after the science fiction and fantasy master died in 1973.
Among the books he worked on were The SilmarillionThe Children Of Hurin, and other texts that flesh out the complex world his father created.
He also drew the original maps that adorned the trilogy of books released in the 1950s.
Tolkien Society chairman Shaun Gunner said “millions of people around the world will be forever grateful to Christopher for bringing us” so many of his father’s literary works.
“Christopher’s commitment to his father’s works have seen dozens of publications released, and his own work as an academic in Oxford demonstrates his ability and skill as a scholar,” he said. “We have lost a titan and he will be sorely missed.”

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Great News Everyone! PvP is Coming...!

In our ongoing OSR D&D Fallen Empire campaign, players are in the level 4-level 5 range. One player has a decrepit motte-and-bailey castle with a few disgruntled peasants. They have notoriety in the city and there are fewer and fewer residents that are of a higher level. In let her words they are moving up in the world.

At this point they have been quite successful in their shenanigans, ventures and adventures.

But they’re starting to discuss their characters turning on each other... Like, one character has designs on that castle.

MUAHAHA everything is going according to plan!

Have you had / do you have players who eventually decide to go to war against each other?

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Moral Question

Is the use of a Philther of Love an inherently evil act?

If not, when is it OK to use one?

Wednesday, December 25, 2019


Elias found Cheryl down at the stables where Christine had said. She had riding pants and high cowboy boots on and her riding helmet was hanging behind her head by the chinstrap. She had the same heavy denim shirt she always worked in, whether it was fifty degrees or a hundred. Her short platinum hair caught highlights from light coming in the open door. She was tacking up a Palomino, tall at the shoulder as Elias. The gelding was on crossties. Didn’t take his eye off Elias. Sometimes horses get a vibe from senses people don’t know.

Cher looked down behind her at Elias approaching and nodded to him, talking low to the horse and scratching him at the shoulder as she worked the halter over his muzzle.

“How are you, Cher?” asked Elias.

Hot today, Eli.” She didn’t look up from her hands. Come to think Elias was sweating just from the walk over from the house. “But the horses gotta get their work in.” She attached the breastplate.

“Christine said you wanted to see me,” said Elias.

“Let me tell you a story,” she said. “Maybe six years ago. It was wintertime. Had a horse named Kindred. He gave us a scare.”

“Oh?” asked Elias.

“He hadn’t eaten or drank or made for a couple days and his gums had gone white. It’s bad when they go white. But the vet came up, took a look and when she was here his bowel turned again and he seemed okay. She left, and I had a school board meeting, so I went and soon as I hit the 10, got a call from Christine, said he’d turned again. So I called the chairman and told him I had a sick horse, couldn’t make it.” Cher turned and picked up the saddle and put it over the pad on the gelding’s back. 

“I called the vet back in and she was there almost as soon as I was. Vet said it was fine and that he’d be fine. I didn’t know much back then but I knew if they turned twice it was real bad, you know? So I walked him and walked him and he would walk, but as soon as we stopped, he wanted to get down on his knees. Ohh, no you don’t! So I’d walk him some more. It was full nighttime and we’re out in the second ring and I’m talking to him and leading him around the edges of the ring. If a horse’ll graze then he’s okay, but Kindred put his muzzle down and sniffed; he didn’t want any. So that was two strikes. 

“I called Jim and he came home and by then Christine had the trailer hooked up to the Dodge and we trailered him in to Tucson. They put him in the stall where they check for colic, and he was already so bloated they had to squish him in sorta. They did the rectal and the ultrasound but we all knew he needed surgery. 

“They took him to the other stall to prep and they put the IV in and I started crying because, you know, you never know when it’s coming. That last day. He was only twelve.”

“That young for a horse?” asked Elias.

“Oh, getting on toward middle age maybe,” said Cher, tightening the girth. “He was a young twelve.” Elias saw maybe a tear in Cheryl’s eye.

“Well, he was laboring now. Probably more from nerves than pain. We walked him in to surgery. They know, Elias. They know. And he looked at me. Right in the eye he looked at me, and right through me. He looked at me as if to say, “Don’t worry, Mama. I’m coming back.” Not a hint of fear to him. Stoic, maybe. 

“So he’s in there and one of the ladies from the PTO, Edie Bowman came down. She has the Cross Beau Farm, up on North Cascabel Road north of Pomerene, to be with us, me and Kindred.

She was asking me about my presentation for the new field house and trying to keep my mind occupied.” She put her hand out to Elias to help her up into the saddle. 

“And I just stopped, and I put my hand on her arm to stop her. And I knew he would be okay. In a moment I just knew.” 

She braced on Elias’ shoulder and one stirrup. “Not 90 seconds later the surgeon called saying they were gonna sew him back up. There was no necropsy, which is when they start to die, and it was just a blockage. They cleared it and they were sewing him back up good as new.”

“Close call,” said Elias.

Cher mounted the gelding and made a clicking sound in his ear, spurring him right up to a trot. She called back to Elias, “Closer than anything this family’d ever had before Jim met you.”

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

I Stabbed Him In the Leg

Late on that languid afternoontime, Nesta sat against the curtain wall aside the gate, with knees drawn up and head bowed down, the seabreeze cooling her. Uncomfortable was she, inside and out. Her mistress then approached and was atop of her position ere ‘fore Nesta saw she had appearethed. Imogene sat down before her.

“Never trust a man of God when acting as a man of flesh,” she coolly said.

“Me never did and never will,” did Nesta then reply, but never raised her head to meet her master’s eye.

“It’s time to make your homage to the Duke.”

“And over that, my homage given ere direct to him, a priest will minister to that transaction, I suppose?”

“He will.”

She looked at Imogene, “Then what’s it mean? This homage? If between my Lord and me, there’s God’s own man to make a mockery of freely given hand?”

“Now perish!” Imogene then said, for second time this day. But here, in earnest did she grant. “These ways are the ways it’s done. Your insolence will cost me. And cost you, of course. But when you spend your reputation of your own, it’s yours to spend. Ask not for usury against my own supply, you wouldn’t mind!”

“I mind you, Imogene. I’m sorry for the folly me of questioning it.”

Imogene said, “Every man has place within the World. Tis God put down the order of the Firmament,” she said, looking up at skies unrestful now. “Some have man makes himself the order from ere Chaos where before the Gods firm hand. I mean to say, they said it in Antiquity like that. You knowest this from history, my charge?”

“Me aye, since I were very small, Cael Morth and some the tutors back at Wolvesey taught me this and other things from back in ancient times.

The girl continued thus, “My favorite is Juno, wife of Jupiter, and patron of the peacock, of all women and of Rome. For she was clever, and she loved us, Imogene. She gives us of our agency deliver out a babe, and gives us the ability to learn and grow our intellect – whacht men may scoff! But also did she have the failings of a woman, stark reminder to us always to be guarded ‘gainst our own weak failings, inspext[1] to our sex.”

“My favorite,” said Imogene, “is Leda and the swan. For Leda, she seduced by Zeus when in disguise, bore him two children: Helen and Polydeuces; but also did she bear for Tyndarus two children: Castor and the girl named Clytemnestra. Four children, each a hero or a consort to a hero be. Two men: One the king of mighty Sparta, and the other God to Greeks. She changed the ancient world through holding good fidelity to motherhood, and thought she highly now, despite her virtue take’d in subterfuge.

Came tears now from the Dame. “And now upon my afternoon in daydream wrought, and contemplating Odo and my heart, I feel a greater sistership to Leda than before.

“Now come with me and be presented to the Duke.”

And so she did. “Don’t you wish to know what thence transpired? When he came upon me, Imogene?”

She sighed. “…Non. Perhaps? I do not know!”

She spoke now not to Nesta, but herself. “For there is peace in letting that which will not change be also something one will never know. It’s done. There is no second act to play.

“But curious is she whose heart is twain: one side spurned by vile comedy, and one side t’ward his heart it doth remain. It’s worse to know than not to know, for half a heart beats firmer in our breast than none at all; however, God hast made from Adam woman to betray. And ere, within the matter of her heart, betray herself. It is our lot and pain.

“When men make feast of lamb, they are like wolves. They hunger, slaver, famished they of flesh. ‘Tis true of them, whichever were the lamb be food for stomachs or for loins. They have no high civility when the hunger in their case they feel for thee. They’re wolves.

“The lamb is slaughtered, dressed, and fed unto the wolf; the skin of her is tanned. The glover makes then iv’ry colored gloves from her, to separate the skin of precious youth from raunch and nast and slime. Tell me now, what purpose is the glove?”

Her Nesta tried to answer her, but Imogene was speaking to her naught.

“The glove protects the hands from fraudulence and base, and keeps good virtue good and whole, against poor custom and some down acclivities. But also from the touch of something greater: ere, good passion. Good passion dost it cloister off a woman from her wedded master.”

In daydreams then, did Imogene continue thus to speak now to herself: “Why then, do we wish ours to keep the glover’s wrought between ourselves and hands most gentle, Imogene? Ah, Genny! Would but thought this raptor would take to us and together make a roost! And so dazzled by him, Sunna in the Eastern morningtide, mistook his claws for plumage of the crest. He rent me, Leda! Ach! He rent me!

“But were this child here before me, Leda, gloved before she were in hand? Or were she now made shewn the fallen world, the foul fallen dignity, and gobbled up her virtue by a predatory swan? Were she made a roustabout by artisan of basest infidelities? Woulds’t she be Medusa, laid to rape, and then admonished for her fall? And he, Bayeux of deviltry, there residing up within the girl ere now?  She pregnant? What to say! Oh, Imogene, would William think of me, should bring him up an ingénue, when lioness the promised be?”

At this her squire shook her with great vigor. “Odo didn’t take my virtue, marm. I stabbed him in the leg.”

[1] Inherent.