May you be broken

May you be broken
On the wheel, or on the ice
May you be shattered
Of the bone
Of the mind

I was hale and whole once
I walked as straight as you
I was sane and in the light
This was the world I knew

But I was broken limb and spine
Then they broke my mind
My life was torn and tattered then
Lost and lost was I

But in the breaking oh
The breaking and the breaking
In the breaking and the madness
Of the shattered shattered self
I found the twisted power
That slept within myself

I was broken but unyielding
I was mad but I strove on
I was shattered but I rose again
Lost it all and carried on

I am not half the man I was you see
Yet the limits he knew I don’t
For all I was and am not now
I broke his limits and carried on

In the shattering and madness
I found another way
Alone and so alone I was
With all the could have beens of me
I found a path a twisted path
That lead from there to me

Roads I never looked for
Path’s I should have feared
On my belly crawled
For I could not stand
To places oh to places boy
I never dreamed I’d look upon

For all that could be stolen was
All that would leave me did
Those few who rallied to the wreck
Were more precious than close blood

I had it all
I did I did
A castle built on sand
But broken boy
As shattered was
I lost all in one tide

Broken boy
As broken is
Clawing at bare rock
What is torn from wrack and ruin then
Will stand to Ragnarok

I wish for you a breaking
I wish for madness and traitor’s blow
The wisdom of the broken
It is love, not wealth, makes home.

Aesir, Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Pagan, Yule

Mission Creep

Mission creep is the gradual or incremental expansion of an intervention, project or mission, beyond its original scope, focus or goals, a ratchet effect spawned by initial success. Mission creep is usually considered undesirable due to how each success breeds more ambitious interventions until a final failure happens, stopping the intervention entirely.


The first indication that something was wrong should have been that there were signs of roadwork.  The driver was not a newbie, so there was no excuse.  The odds of there being roadwork as opposed to something planted under the road were about the same as the mission statement being an accurate depiction of our goals and a realistic end state of the country when we were done.

The second indication that something was wrong was the silence.  Some of you know what I am talking about.  That moment where the sound is so profound, the shock is so intense that your body interprets this combination as silence.  In silence our armoured jeep twisted, rose into the air and spun.  Objects and people inside flowed and deformed like water.  Time slowed.

Objectively I knew this was an explosion, an IED, and a bad day at work.  Subjectively, I saw the arc of the water from my water bottle describe an arc as it turned in the air above my face, sparkling in the light like a rainbow, like a mini-Bifrost.  Asgard calling, will you accept the charges?

Then the impact.

Jeeps can fly, but they shouldn’t.  Armour kept us from being shredded, but when land battleships take to the air, it is like turkeys pushed out of the WKRP thanksgiving helicopter, they don’t fly well, and they don’t land happy.

Things broke inside me, bits of driver sprayed over me, which I realized meant we could skip “the talk” about situational awareness, and the signs of tampering to be reported to the convoy each and every time noted.

I found my personal weapon, trying to have coital relations with my ear.  In order to defend one of the few virginities I had left, I removed the flash suppressor from where it tried to enter my ear.  I noted figures moving outside, shooting at us.  That seemed about right.  I couldn’t move, but since I had my rifle I could probably shoot them.  I thought about shooting my driver for being an idiot, but both the fact he was dead, and the fact I didn’t have room to orient my rifle towards the forward compartment made me settle for the Timmies outside.  They had crap for movement discipline, no one seemed to have heard of cover so I shot a few of them.  I noticed they merged and separated as my eyes did weird things.  When you see someone doubled, and shoot them, they fall like synchronized swimmers dancing, and the Blue Danube waltz started to supply the sound track.

I went cold, and decided it was getting too hard to process it all.  I decided I was going to nap.  Besides, I can’t seem to open my pouches to get a new magazine.  My fingers are too slippery.  I was just about to nap when a woman in unfamiliar battle dress yanked me unceremoniously from my vehicle.  That was odd.  I was all kinds of trapped, and there was a bit of the frame that was actually in me, so her yanking me out was strange.

I guess she could have been a Kurd, they have female fighters.  They don’t have too many blondes with shit eating grins, laughing eyes and the ability to clean jerk an armoured door right off its hinges, so maybe not.

She tossed me like a rucksack in the back of a helicopter.  There was something wrong with the markings on it.  Not a red cross, but three black interlocking triangles on an olive drab.  The woman hopped in the pilots seat and spooled us up.  Fire pinged off the chopper, and I wondered if I was in for my second crash of the night, wondering how I survived the first, since I seemed to see someone’s corpse sprawled in the upside down jeep she pulled me out of.  In my seat.  Like, holding my rifle too.  Frigging odd that.

Things got odder as we rose through the air.  At some point the helicopter turned into a horse and the woman’s battle dress turned into shiny chain mail.  Not the Red Sonja sexy stuff either, it smelled of sweat oil and blood.  Her hands had the sort of scars you get from thousands of wounds never fully healed from hands used as tools in a line of work where the concerns of tomorrow were never going to matter.

I am pretty sure I didn’t make it.  Well.  Fuck.

I am yanked off the horse in a courtyard in front of a huge hall that is made of spears and shields.  There is a whole lot of logistics activity going on.  Not so much dead guys like me on horseback, mostly loading a ridiculous amount of brightly wrapped packages into a sleigh pulled by eight behemoths the size of steroidal moose crossed with dinosaur.  Like caribou as seen on acid.  Or reindeer if you are of the Finnic persuasion.

I got slapped on the back and goosed on the ass by the woman who yanked me off the horse, she slapped palms with the women loading up the huge sleigh being loaded.  The women in bright chainmail doing the loading reminded me of the human chains loading C130 or C17 on the tarmac ready for roll out.

I turned at the sulphurous swearing behind me and my vision which had stopped doing the double/single shifts after I got yanked out of the jeep having a bad moment.

I saw both/either/neither Odin the Victory Father/Santa Claus stalking down towards the sleigh.  In one hand he held a spear that reeked with killing hunger, or a large sack that should have required a fork lift to carry.  It shifted with him, both/either/neither.  The other hand was a long list, scrolling into infinity if I looked at it too long.

“Frigging Frig writes smaller every year.  Check it twice, how about use a printer not cursive, I invented runes so we could type set and be done with this chicken scratch bullshit!”  He roared, and while it made my blood run cold, the course of jeers from the women and cat calls let me know sympathy for this devil was in short supply.

“Suck it up fat boy, you have one delivery a year.  We don’t even get the night off.”  The woman were grinning with the uncomplicated joy of a wolf pack watching a three legged baby deer try to run away.  All the while tossing bulging sacks onto the sleigh that should have filled a C17 at this point let alone a glorified wagon on skis.

I honestly almost felt for him.

He bumped into me and I saluted reflexively.  “Sir!”

He saluted back, with the list which hit his helmet/fur cap like a waving banner.  “At ease, stand easy, your fugging dead so can the crap recruit.  Grab a pint, we’ll orient you in the morning.  I got,”  He waved a hand at the loading going on “stuff, to do.  He murmured.  Can’t even swear in this rig.  Fuggin censorship is what that is.”

The raven’s on his shoulders laughed as his transformation into Santa became full as he approached the sleigh.

I asked the question that was bubbling up in me, well I should have a few, but honestly the one was really working hard to get out.

“Odin, um, I mean Santa.  How, I mean when did you…….”  Okay give me a break, I had been on convoy duty an hour ago, not expecting to have theological discussions with my actual deity about cultural appropriation and it’s effects on multi cultural celebration of sacral feasts.

He stopped and looked at me.  Sometimes one eye and an eye patch, sometimes two blue merry ones twinkling behind the twee-est fugging (now I can’t even swear!) glasses you ever saw.  His smile was quick and infectious.

“Do you remember how you ended up in Pakistan in the first place?”  He asked. 

Then it hit me, my eyes widened.  The most dreaded of all phrases a military man on deployment could hear, could say, could even think filled my brain, and escaped out my lips.

We said it together, the god of slaughter and myself.  “Mission creep.”

A glorious blonde woman of imperious mien reached the top of the stairs above the courtyard, she tapped a wrist that had no watch, but conveyed the message “You are in danger of missing your timings, why is your fat ass still on the ground?”  without saying a word.

He got moving, and the sleigh took off like a VTOL powered by elephant sized caribou, or reindeer if you are of the Scandinavian persuasion.  Off to deliver presents to all the good girls and boys.  The Yule Father, the brightest face of the All Father.  Now Santa Claus because mission creep is a bitch, and when it sets in, even the most reasonable job becomes an epic impossibility.

I headed for the hall, where everyone else was enjoying a night off.  I was not going for milk and cookies either.  What the hell, I wasn’t driving tonight!  Good luck sir, Santa, whatever.


The Witch at the Gate

There is an iron road
Those who walk it now
Are much loved
Yet fare away

I am that now
That walks all roads
Even this road
Of Hel wrought Iron

Laughing they march
For age will not mark them
They fare ahead
For their limbs know no weariness

The river roars beside us
Down past the root of the tree
White the fog rising from it
Cold as the grave

They sing bold songs
Vibrant and obscene
Their boots ring on bone
Crossing a bridge
Of the first river
That runs over the weapons
Of all the world’s wars

Panting, I follow
Age has slowed me
But a soldier born
Will not fail in this
Coldest march

The gates open wide before them
The dread hound bows his head,
She who stands
Tall as any two of them
Though bent and rotting
Of ancient grave
Moves her staff aside and salutes
The war band’s return

The banner passed the gate
Where grey and tattered it feebly waved
In sunlit world
Beyond the gate of bone and iron
It flared in vibrant colour
And snapped in unseen wind

As I strode to reach them
The old wood staff
The witches own
Barred my way

“Beyond this gate you shall not pass”
The giant witch denied me
I raged against her in my pride
“Of their company I am by right!”
I swore and spoke the truth
“No living is of their company now.”
Her voice and her staff both barred me

I drew my knife and a bone took up
“I own the arts to command the dead,
I learned the arts of the hanged one
The roads of the tree hanger
The dead may not resist my reed.”

Her laughter tattered me
Soul, and sight and sense
“Your master awaits politely at this gate
Not even his sons passed it living,
This road ends for you at this gate
Not ever will you pass it”

The gate closed against me
Weeping I fell at its feet
Again they returned to the trumpets
Again they returned to the grave
And we, their unfallen brethren
Must abide
In life.



As Remembrance Day approaches, given that more of those I served with are dead than alive, you could say I have mixed feelings about recruitment, service, and the god that got me into it.

On balance, someone had to do it, and it was important to who I needed to become. It cost a lot, cost others far more, and no, none of the promises are now or were ever in human history true.

Recruiters lie, politicians lie, history is constantly edited to avoid embarrassing those repeating mistakes, but the job needs to be done by those who treat it as something more than just a job.


An old man and an attractive woman were playing chess outside the recruiters office.  Here in Canada I guess they aren’t that busy, because they had shut down for lunch.  I took a seat at the rough iron seat at the table next to the two chess players and determined to wait.

The woman turned and smiled in a way that made my eighteen year old blood rush lots of places unrelated to my brain, and she gave me a long slow once over look before she spoke in a voice soft and warm as sunlight and honey.

Freya woman

“Oh a big strong boy like you, I bet you would make all the girls swoon in a uniform.”

I had a lot of experience with girls, but her voice made me feel like a twelve year old virgin trying to talk to the hottest grade twelve in school.  I was saved…

View original post 1,350 more words


Time to turf the Terfs

For those who don’t know, Terfs are Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists.  Basically the feminazi gatekeepers who decide that your plumbing determines whether you get to define yourself as a woman.

Now I am a cis-hetero male, the kind of big, scarred, hairy, meat eating, hunting kind of male that sets most of the radical feminists to making warding signs against evil, the patriarchy, and beards in general.  This may raise the question about why I care.

Honestly, what has this to do with guys like me?  What has this to do with women who aren’t interested in radical feminism, or don’t really think about the issue much at all?

It’s about the damage we do, and sometimes the people we drive into either depression or suicide because we let these rabid diaper checking buffoons gatekeep genders and sexual identities based on a little bit of flesh they feel they get to pass judgement on.

Here is the problem I have with it.

When I was working my first civvie job, one of our salesmen came down with testicular cancer.  He won the battle for his life, he got to go home to his wife and kids, but he lost his balls.  At work, suddenly the guys closest to him got scared.  A bunch of crude, foul mouthed a-holes to whom profanity and obscenity were ninety percent of any interpersonal friendly communication got dead quiet and their eyes got haunted because they knew that ninety percent of their jokes, the locker room talk they bonded with before, could trigger their buddy into deciding without his testicles, he wasn’t a man anymore, and maybe he should just die.

They were terrified, and didn’t know what to do about it.  The 800lb gorilla in the room was the definition of manhood that meant cock and balls, the symbol for courage, ambition, drive, commitment, resolve and every single virtue that makes a man feel any sort of pride were on some level equated with that whole cock and balls.

A few of my buddies from the service had bad times with IED’s on convoy duty and came back short some parts.  Legs and arms honestly were less dangerous than eyes and balls.  One takes away the world, the other your feeling you have a right to be in it.  Should it be that way?  No, but the toxic equating of testicles and functioning cock with being a man left those with wounds or diseases that took those away at sudden risk of death by their own hand.

I know the pink ribbons, the pink T shirts, the save the boobs fund raisers are cute, but I have lost count of the number of my friends who have battled breast cancer and only survived because a double radical mastectomy cut away all their breast tissue, and most of the tumours.  The loss of their breasts, coupled with the wonderful effects of chemotherapy left them with a body that was about as feminine as a stick, and about as fun to live in as a house on fire.

The thing about Terfs is their biological gate keeping of women’s spaces makes women who have lost their breasts feel like they are getting shamed by these gate keepers who look at them as possible fake women, their description of trans women, and many of them really do believe that without those little bits of flesh, these cancer survivors really are less women than those Terf gatekeepers.

Then we get to the secret shame.  The reasons women need to get hysterectomies are varied, and ugly.  It is not a fun thing to do, it has huge effects on women, as a major control system got yanked from your body and has effects that really do a number on you, and your self image.

Now we have the Terfs, the keepers of the Red Tent, and all that wonderful all who bleed are welcome bullshit.  You don’t have to sit there and demand women prove they have a uterus before they can come into the tent, come into the workshop, come into the discussion.  Most of the Terfs will never even know who it was who should have been coming for support and welcome from the community of women, only to slink away in quiet despair as it was made clear that because of that bit of flesh they cut away to save their life, they were no longer welcome.

I am not going to say anything about the transgender experience.  I am not one, those that I know who are can speak for themselves and so quite well, but the fight against Terfs is not just about the transgendered, it is about all of those who these self appointed gate keepers of gender spaces make feel both unwelcome and unworthy.

This has to stop. 

This gatekeeping bullshit is costing us people.  They stop coming to their community for help and support in their time of need because we let these male and female diaper checkers screaming that if you don’t have the right kibbly bits you have no right to call yourself a man or a woman, you have no place here, no voice here, and no support here.

We lose them to the quiet solitude of despair, we lose them to suicide, and what do we gain in their place?  Screaming idiots who think that what is in your pants, or your bra, determines if you have a right to be a man or woman.

Life is cruel.  Life is so much crueler than death I cannot count the number of close friends who have lost to cancer, to disease, to injury, parts of their body that were critical in their definition of self, in their own identity.  In the shame, a shame that should not exist, but does because of these gate keeping idiots, they look at what they lost and turn away from their community in the moment they need support to develop a new understanding of who they are going forward.  How to be a husband, a father, a mother, a wife, a man, a woman, when the parts they hung their identity on as a teenager aren’t there anymore.

We are not just that bit of flesh.  My manhood isn’t just in my pants, or I am not a man at all.  Those men and women who have lost the parts of themselves that are their primary and secondary sexual organs are no less a man or woman than they were before.  They are survivors, they bear the scars of their losses, but where you could bear the loss of arm or leg with pride, the shame of losing those parts somehow makes too many think they do not deserve to be in our spaces, in our rites, in our discussions anymore.  Those who most need our support during this transition are denied it because of the Terfs and their equivalent in the male community who think that the sum total of manhood is the ability to ejaculate.

We need to do better.

Start with turfing the Terfs, but moving forward, we have to stop confusing biology with identity.  You don’t lose your standing as a man or woman of our community because you survived losing a few pounds of flesh.  I am tired of losing people because Terf’s are unwilling to accept this.


Hail to She of Silence

Hail to she of silence
Hail to the two faced goddess
Grim rotting face of horror
That the living fear and shun

Hail to she of silence
Hail to the two faced one
Pale face of infinite mercy
In steadfast eternal watch

When the chains of flesh make prison
When the mind and soul are torn
It is she alone who is with us
To welcome us at her door

For all we beg her to pass us
For all that we curse her name
She never strays from her duty
She who ends our pain

Though we rage at her in denial
Denial we prayed for the end
On her our shame is written
On her our guilt makes no stain

Hail to she of silence
For two faces judge not what they see
For the horror she is to the living
And the mercy that the dead only see

Hail to Hel, goddess of our dead. In this month I have seen you take my beloved uncle and respected father in law into your halls. You have offered the final mercy to those whom life had visited every indignity, every cruelty, every theft of power, grace, agency and freedom. For all that we rage at you, for all that we curse your coming, and beg you to pass us by, at the end you remain the unbroken promise, the truest of all, the most faithful. You alone are so steadfast in your duty that no matter who rages against you, your mercy remains, your hall opens, and a welcome awaits those who welcomed and those who feared such passage in equal and judgement free resolve.

She is the two faced goddess, the face she shows us is both indescribably horrific and impossibly graceful. Such is death. A wound beyond reason, a terror beyond understanding for those who bear the loss, but the final and promised mercy and release for those whom life has broken, and left in the rotting prison of flesh they can neither command nor escape.


Cat’s Paw

Since we are entering the time of year when certain emotionally and mentally stunted morons decide that Halloween is time to do bad things to cat’s it is time to remind you that there are things to be feared in the dark, and those watching whose attention you do not want to draw; not at this time of year.


Lisa was a bright and studious girl, who was just established in her own apartment for the first time. A junior at University of Victoria (UVic), she rented a room at an old house just off campus that was subdivided to make six mini apartments for students. They shared a kitchen and untidy communal living room, but her room had space enough for a desk, bed, bookshelf, mini-fridge, and litter-box for Amber.

Amber was Lisa’s cat, while she was the families cat in theory, he had lived in Lisa’s room, been cared for, and walked (you can walk a cat if you are determined enough), by Lisa every day, and when Lisa left home, Amber and Lisa simply accepted it as a fact that they would leave together, and so it was.

On the corner of Lisa’s desk was a small alter and offering bowl, every day she would pour out a measure from her first coffee to Freya, goddess of magic, passion, and she had decided the patron of those seeking degrees in education (teaching=herding cats). She also left offerings at the battered garden gnome at the front door, for the house wights. She was pretty sure that Aiko (the Japanese girl) was doing the same.

Friday morning she got dressed, threw on a hoodie (UVic Vikings) against the fall chill, and snapped on Amber’s leash. Off to the local Bolshevik-Bean, with its tattered red star and fading Che Guevara poster, she ordered her week end treat of breakfast wrap and Pumpkin spice latte with extra whip. Amber patiently awaited her share of the whip cream, while rumbling a happy approval at the all-organic actual whipped cream the hippy owners insisted on. Across the café, one brooding boy observed the girl and cat with a smile that had much more cat-cruelty than anything human.

He was not young, unlike the bulk of the clientele being neither student nor staff of UVic, but a local worker at the video game store. He wore a Satanic T-shirt and inverted pentacle, bore a sloppy mixture of tattoos of various arcana, from Celtic to Egyptian, wearing a short goatee and fierce glare that clearly intended to shock or challenge. This effect was clearly lost on a crowd of busy college students who hailed from a number of faiths and ideologies whose happy clash was the norm for the University and faded into the background, unnoticed.

His name was Greg, but he had begun to go by Stavros, because he felt that was far cooler, and was truer to his own nature which he felt was dark and powerful. Through years of social rejection from peers that didn’t get his interests he had decided he was deeper than other people, and when his fascination with the dark, with atrocities and need to continually shock others caused those in the gaming communities to reject him, he turned to magic. He had tried the local pagan communities, and even the local Satanists, and all had rejected him. They were afraid, all of them, like that little bourgeois feeding her cat across the way. She was pretty, but wouldn’t look at him twice. He sneered, he decided he had a use for her, and her cat would help him get it. Laughing, he finished his coffee and waited for her to leave. He would follow to see where she lived.

Leaving a small piece of her morning wrap at the garden gnome, for the house wights, Lisa traded cat for laptop and binder, scratched Amber behind the ears, and asked her to guard the place for her until she returned. As she left Amber bathing herself in the window, she noted the “creepy guy” from the game store was on the sidewalk out front. Funny, she had never come this way before. Thinking little of it, she ran to catch the bus into campus.

Stavros waited until the little student bourgeois all left for the drone academy, and went to the old window that the cat was in. Knowing the old houses, he used his belt knife to push the lock on the window open, then forced it open. The cat hissed and backed away. Having heavy work gloves on, he grabbed the cat, and stuffed him into the gym bag, and zipped it quickly up. Now he had what he needed for the full moon tonight. A little bit of blood, and he would get for himself the fear and respect he deserved! These bourgeois children knew nothing about real power…..

When Lisa got home it was almost dark, and her room was bitterly cold. Her room had been robbed! Her iPod and charger will still there, her electronics were all there, only her alter had been disturbed, as if Amber had retreated to it, and been taken from it. Her Freya statue was broken, and her offering bowl was chipped. Amber was gone! Who would steal a cat, when the SPCA had so many? Anyone who would give a good home to a cat could get one, so why break in and steal it?

The police were little help, with nothing stolen, and with no known enemies to question, the only thing they could do was give her a complaint number, and add to her fears. Before they left, the police told her that some “sick freaks” like to kill cats as part of that “black magic and shit” they said while pointing at her little alter. Too shocked to be insulted by the police implications that her Freya alter was black magic, she suddenly had the fear that someone might have taken Amber for the purpose of hurting him. There were, after all, people the SPCA would NOT give a cat to after all.

The whole house having searched the neighborhood, and put posters up of Amber on the nearby telephone poles, Lisa returned home dejected and scared. Amber was gone, and there was nothing she could do. She stopped at Bolshevik bean to get her nightly pumpkin spice, but hadn’t the heart to drink it without Amber. She stopped at the garden gnome on the way into the house, and poured the whole coffee and whip onto the stones. She looked up into the night sky, at the rising full moon and asked Manni the moon to watch over her cat, Amber, then she begged Freya to see Amber got home safely. Normally Lisa was careful not to do magic, or curses, or to ask the gods for anything that could harm another person, as she was very uncomfortable with how her father and his army friends were so quick to see violence as an answer; but the thought of Amber being taken to be hurt angered her. She concluded her prayer thus: “Great Freya, if anyone sheds one drop of my Amber’s blood, I hope they frigging die!”
Lisa went inside to cry herself to sleep. Outside in the night, three neighborhood cats came to lick the foam from the gnomes offering bowl, and the moon shone down white and cold above the now empty bowl.

Stavros didn’t like research, it was way too much work pawing through boring book after book either by archeologists who didn’t believe anything, or by fuzzy brained pagans or stoned loser Satanists who believed everything. He watched a couple of horror movies that really struck him though, and through his gaming had found gods that promised power, the kind of power that would make him feared by all the little people who thought it was safe to laugh at him.

There was a big mausoleum in the cemetery. He knew that the graveyard was the right place to do the spell at full moon because that’s the way they did it in the film. There was one mausoleum that looked like a great granite table, supported by four carved stone pillars. Inside were the remains of a few generations of families, but in the moonlight it looked like a black stone alter. He set his candles at four corners, and spray painted his pentagram on the alter. He had written out the spells from the movie; three hieroglyphs that were supposed to inspire fear in men that saw him, lust in women that saw him, and bring him victory over his enemies. According to the movie, you had to draw them in the blood of your victim first, then kill them to make it happen. Of course in the movie, the heroes stopped the priest while he was doing some stupid chanting and praying, so Stavros was just going to do this fast, and get out before a security guard or cop showed up.

Pulling the cat out of the bag, Stavros almost lost the little thing, as it clawed and scratched at him, even through the gloves. Slamming it down against the alter so hard it was stunned, he cut it with the knife he lay beside the alter and started to paint the symbols on the surface of the stone. It was hard with the cat writhing, and the candle and moonlight shifting, and the need to speak his spell at the same time.

“Set god of darkness, by this blood—-stop it you stupid cat— I summon you. Fear in men, lust in women, victory and power I call”

A woman’s laughter seemed to come from all around, and the little cat went very still. The moon light burned clear of the clouds, and Stavros stood in a pool of white fire as the shadows drew back from him. Blinded by the light, the knife gleaming wetly in his gloved hand, Stavros paused as he heard the woman’s laughter getting closer. Set wasn’t a chick, was he?

Four glowing gold eyes gleamed in the darkness. Alternating between high and low as they seemed to flow seamlessly and soundlessly over the coffins and headstones, they were wide set, like large dogs, but slit like snakes or cats eyes. A deep rumbling joined the night, like the growl of jungle cats.

“Fear, little man, I give to you. Lust, little man, I will share with you. Victory, little man, I will work on you.”

A woman strode through the graves with languid prowl, as much like a cat as a dancer. A necklace of amber and gold flashed from her amble cleavage, and her hair caught the moonlight like sunsets own fire. On her hands were gloves of soft fur, like catskin.
Left and right, on the headstones leaped great golden cougars. Their ears flat, their fangs gleaming wide and white in the moonlight, their throaty growls now turned his blood to water, and loosed his bladder down his leather pants.

“That is fear, little man. That is first. This cat is not yours, little man. He is mine, and another’s. Tree-Gold and Bee-Gold here are mine as well, she gestured languidly at the mountain lions whose tails lashed in blood hunger and hunt-lust. One who also owns this cat had offered me your life’s blood, should you draw Amber’s blood. Your knife is as stained as your pants little man”
She laughed again with the casual cruelty of a cat, and with a throaty purr continued

“Your life is Freya’s”

“Run swift, sweetling, my children like to play with their food. If they don’t get a good run first, they take their time with the finish”

Stavros ran screaming, but in the darkness, the graves themselves tripped him up, and he fell again and again, each time being savaged by one or the other cat, until at last he was slow to rise, and Bee-gold took the killing neck bite.
Cooing softly, the golden woman took up the wounded cat.

“Little Amber, let mother see to you.” Moonlight flashed like so much fire upon her necklace, calling sun-colour to moon dark, until it seemed that gold ran down the woman’s arms onto the bruised and bloodied cat.

As Stavros screams turned to broken moans, the cooing of the woman began to be answered by purrs of the little cat, as if his wounds themselves burned away in her light. Setting him down, they walked together to the broken man upon whom the two mountain lions were feeding. With the aplomb of any cat, he shouldered his way between their two great heads, and lapped delicately at the life-wine spilling from his throat. Sharing an amused look the twin lions returned to their mistress to leave their cousin to his revenge repast.

The woman looked up at the bright moon in the sky and said

“I expect you to see him home again. My little friends are less welcome on the streets”

Lisa woke the next morning shivering in the cold. In the night her window opened again, and her beloved Amber was curled up on the bed spread behind her knees. As she took up her beloved pet in wonder, her eyes caught her alter, where her broken Freya statue was somehow restored. Looking upon the blood her cat was happily and smugly licking off himself, and remembering her evening prayer, she wondered….


Masks and Silence

Masks and Silence

Wolfslayer unspeaking strides
The endless years
The watch of the wolf
The world to tread
Beneath his boot of scraps

Unshorn and silent
Brooding and cold
The judgment of the gods
The twilight killer
Among us walks

For all his father hung
On windswept tree
That mortals should in knowledge grow
For all that Thor in endless war
Our world defended
Howling the human kine
Refuse the runes
Refuse the lore
Refuse the battle
But not the cost

Masked and gowned
Deep scars in faces
Deeper in souls
Falling unmorned and unnumbered
By lowing kine that only care
That their muzzle is free to browse
While herd defenders fall
Weeping and ignored

Jottun laughter shakes the land
Angrboda mother of monsters
Rejoices as her children reap
The harvest endless
Of the children of Ask and Embla

For all the prices paid for knowledge
For all the heroism of defenders
Count as nothing
When comfort excuses killing
And ignorance is worshiped as god

When Twilight falls will Vidar speak
With the boot of scraps
With left overs of the common man
Shall the Odinslayer shatter
The Victory slayer broken
By the leavings of the silent
Will the Wolf be slain at last

Kneeling the silent one gathers
From janitor, nurse and aid
From doctor, coroner, and tech
Ten thousand masks
Scraps of a war they fought alone
Scraps of the forgotten and distained
Scraps of faith in a land unworthy
Woven into a boot of battles

Forged of a faith hard kept
In faithless lands
Forged of weaponless warriors
In a fight forsaken
Will the silent one forge
The death of the Hope Slayer
From the failure of our days
Will he weave a weapon for twilight

The Silent One cannot speak
His is the final watch
His the eyes that see
Those whose hope has died
Yet rise to battle still
In silence he nods
Keepers of the twilight watch
But their scraps he will carry
To the final day
Where words will not suffice
And the wolf at last will fall.

—For my friends in the healthcare sector who have to be despairing at the active resistance and outright attack they are facing in the long struggle to keep us all safe from Covid. For those who have lost, who are struggling now, and will yet face this particular monster we could have, should have, and would have already defeated if not for the howling and defiant ignorance of the science deniers, conspiracy theorists, and morons.

Vidar is the Silent One, but while he does not speak, he watches, and the long struggle is his. You are not alone, and your struggle is not unwitnessed.


Mermaids: Daughters of Despair

I was given a challenge, and it seemed reasonable to answer it.

The Challenge

The merchant Iadakus was proud of his bride, Adosina, a high breasted beauty, daughter of an Ostrogoth chieftain of the people with whom he traded dyes and fabrics, spices and steel ingots for the furs, amber, and fantastically ornate mosaics used to adorn small items all the way to sword sheathes, most often to be used as grave goods, with an opulence the most sophisticated Byzantine or Alexandrian magnate would pay any amount to posses.

The older sailors of his merchant ship Marzamemi muttered about the risk of having a woman on board, the younger sailors grabbed their crotches and whispered how long it would be before the blushing bride tired of the old merchant, as it was a long voyage. For two days they sailed along the shore, for the winds were with them.

The third night as they swayed at anchor, the wind began to rise, and the captain was awakened. The shallow draft ship rolled and slipped over the waves as the captain screamed out to the keltuse to beat to quarters. The anchor dragged along the bottom and snagged on a reef, dipping the stern of the galley until the sea threatened to roll over the decks.

Iadakus struggled to get to the cabin door, his young wife Adosina helped to keep him from falling as they struggled onto the deck. The Byzantine captain screamed at his men to cut the cables and free the ship to run before the wind.

The waves hammered the ship, the aft rising high enough the steering oar would not bite, and the ship rolled on its beam as it was broadside on the waves, the tarred ropes howling and screaming as they strained. Fortune favoured them, and the heavy bow with its bronze ram dipped the nose and plowed deep into the trough of the wave. The ship groaned and boards shattered as the ship bent as its spine nearly broke. The slack in the lines when the ship bent left the mast loose, and the wind caught the yards like a giant’s hammer, while the sea clawed like a hungry dragon at the hull, dragging it the opposite way.

The mast snapped and came down shattering the port rail and carrying six crew into the sea. Adosina joined the sailors as she picked up an ax rolling loose upon the deck to hack upon the lines on the fallen mast threatening to pull the ship over as it dragged behind the dismasted galley.

Dawn found them dismasted and far from the shore, the sky dark and wild as the winds howled in the distance to all sides, whipping the seas beyond the azure of the sleeping Mediterranean into the white of the seas fangs bared to its prey.

It was then the young sailor who had been grabbing his crotch at the sailing, looking at Adosina and dreaming of her growing bored enough with her older husband and lonely for a young sailor, who looked over at her now. Dress pressed tight to her body, soaked in sea water, her hair loose and wild in the wind, the axe used to clear the lines and shattered rails in the storm tossed night now loose in exhausted hands. Fear covered his face, for he knew they were in the eye of the storm, and every path onward was back into its teeth. A landswoman, she only knew the sea no longer raised their ship to the sky and smashed it down with every wave. She smiled, a hopeful smile, taking joy of survival hard won.
The sailor saw her smile and his fear turned to rage. He pointed and screamed.

“Her fault! It is her fault. We took a woman on board and the sea she grew jealous. She will take us all if we do not cast her out!” The sailor screamed.

The men growled and turned to circle her, she backed towards her lord husband. He reached down and took the axe from her hand and smiled. She turned back to face the approaching sailors, and did not see her merchant lord husband raise the axe, and bring its haft down on her head.

They bound her hands, and she kicked out at them. Wrapping her legs in anchor chain, they swore she would go down to the bottom to the sea so she would no longer be jealous. Adosina raised her eyes and begged her husband to defend her, that she was a good woman who had fought all the night along side the sailors to save the ship. To her husband she begged, “You promised on our wedding that you would take me to distant shores, will you break all your oaths to me?”

Two sailors stirred and began to argue this was true, but the captain reached down to grab her mouth and with his dagger cut out her tongue.

“She is a witch, she tries to beguile us. Let her be silent until we give her to the sea. She will beguile no sailors.” The captain swore.

Adosina’s husband sneered at her in fear forged rage and imitation courage. “If I let you live, I would not see the farther shore, so I give you to the sea.”

Legs bound together, she fell into the sea. Clawing at the surface, she could only fall deeper into the cold and dark. Her mouth opened, tongueless and breathless, she could not scream, but she raised her arms in entreaty at the men who had betrayed her.

Down beneath the wild white water of the seas rage, down past the blue of the sea’s peace, down into the black of the sea’s hunger. It was there that she found a giant.

Hair flowed like a crown around a face so white it shone. What colour was it? Green of kelp, black, who could say. Face proud like a queen, cold like the mercy Adosina had been shown, eyes black and pitiless of the sharks that turned in lazy circles about her. Hands the size of a man’s torso reached out to cup Adosina, and the howling panic of the last of her bubbling breath fell away.

Blue human eyes staring into black eyes some called divine, but most spoke of only in fearful whispers.

The voice of Ran echoed in the deep, gentle as the faintest whisper the fiercest storm barely raised down here.

“They gave you to me child. As if I cast my nets for one who has never strode a deck, never taken of my bounty and given nothing in return, as if you were the one who came as a thief to my realm. I took my payment of them and let them go. Their chance to offer to me was when they sailed. Yet, they give you to me.”

There is no way to cry in the sea, but Adosina tried. She had no voice, no husband, no hope and no home, now even death was denied her. The same spine that drove her onto the storm tossed decks to take up axe and battle the storm caused her to raise her eyes and glare defiance at the cold white face of black eyed Ran of the deeps. Wordlessly, breathlessly, she screamed her rage.

Far above, the sea whipped white and the sky’s answered in lashes of lightning and howling wind as Black Ran laughed.

“You please me, daughter. Would you serve one who will not toss you aside, for what I catch, I keep?” Ran asked. Adosina nodded.

Ran stroked the chain bound legs, and the bronze chain fell from them.

“They took your legs, that you never be free. I will give you legs that will make you ever free in my kingdom.” Ran sang softly. Fish like scales the colour of the verdigris and bronze ran down Adosina’s legs, and those legs fused together into the seamless lateral tail of a whale.

Brushing the torn clothes from her torso, and the bindings from her hair, she let Adosina float free, beginning to swim under her own power in the cold and lightless depths.

“They thought I feared your beauty, when it was their own fear that could not face the sight of it, so do not hide your beauty for fear of their eyes or their ownership any more.” Ran whispered softly, her eyes catching the sad blue eyes of her newest daughter.

Lastly she bent her great head down and kissed her daughter lightly on the top of her head.

“They took your tongue, and took your voice, for fear you would entice and bewitch them. Thieves upon my oceans, oathbreakers and woman killers, they sought to silence you and in my eternal silences to hide their crime. Daughter of mine, I give you back your voice. I give you my song, the song of the sea, the endless hunger of the source of all life, the endless hunger of the silence and cold that drowns every scream and waits to drag down the bones of ships and sharks and bones alike.”

Adosina raised her head, and opened her mouth. She sang, and for miles around, every shark and ray turned and swam to her call, while above the black depths, the sea boiled white at her call.

Ran looked upon her daughter and smiled.

“Will you stay with me child, in my waters. Will you seek out the men who trespass in our realm, and seek to use us so lightly? Will you use the voice they stole and I restored to call them to the death they promised you?”

Adosina smiled, and shot towards the surface, seeking the sun and wind, the surface of the sea upon which the ships of men sailed, and upon which the magic of mermaids waited to be made.

They say that Black Ran casts her nets for the men who work the sea, dragging their living from her bounty. They say that she is a jealous goddess, yet these are but the words of men. Such men who have turned her seas to red with the murder of their own hands, who have struck from the sea and treated the women they found as little more than loot to steal, may well have told only such of the truth as they chose to face.

They say the mermaids haunt the seas, whose voices call the sailors and tempt them to watery embrace and death, or whose songs call call the ships themselves to doom upon reef and rock. What could drive such womanly spirits to such wrath, or the sailors to such fear, who can say?

Adosina, daughter of Ran

Twisting paths, twisting rope

There was a time I had a choice
Young and strong with naught but dreams
Twas then the old man
Spun a tale and weaved a song
My foot unthinking took the dance
My hands upon the weapon closed

I followed into fire and shot
Thinking the danger to my front
Yet the song was in my soul
The weaving of my step
Through blood and fire
To tree was bound
And bound and bound

Young and strong with naught but dreams
Did the old man whisper in my dreams
Secrets of life and truths of death
Would I like to learn to sing
The songs of madness
Songs of truth
His face a grin his fingers swift
The rope he guided me to weave

I followed into song and verse
To weave the truths no words can hold
Of loss and learning
Of illusions death
Of rising when no hope remains
Unknowing to the tree was bound
And bound and bound

When to the tree at last I came
I found him there
Beside my grave
A rope was in his hand
Of my weaving every strand
And to the tree he bound me fast
And bound and bound

The old man laughed
And let me swing
Choking on the truths I learned
I took them up
And with them burned
I wept then for the cost
But to this tree I was always bound
And bound and bound.

The twisted paths that I had trod
Were mine to chose
By strand and strand
With arts of healing
Arts of war
With songs of glory
With magic wrought
This noose I wove
This path I trod
Was always to this tree I was bound
And bound and bound.