adventures in dysthymia

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Babel, a poem

Babel

I have built, stone by stone,
word by rough-hewn word, my tower
to reach God. He hides behind
the sun. He writes upon the clouds

in runes a thousand tongues have
murmured without understanding.
Another inch, another word —
I seek him in this labor yet.

Come dwell a while in Babel; dwell
with me and we shall name the streets
anew each day. See them, laid
in line and page below us, confusion

singing among the empty houses.
Everyone has come to climb
the stair, look toward whatever heaven
they hope to hide within their hearts.

I extend my hand to him
once more and find myself, as ever,
lacking, my way grown longer but
no closer. Gaze upward, measure again.

My scaffolds must remain about me,
testimony to this toil,
blasphemy and poetry
working ever hand in hand,

until my hand might grasp the sky
and shake tomorrow loose. Give me
only a place to stand, a higher
place, a tower to reach God.

Stephen Brooke ©2014

Although labored over for a few days, I still consider this somewhat early-drafty.  Haven't posted much in a while, letting myself 'lay fallow,' so to speak, after finishing off the Donzalo novels. I'll be getting back into stuff soon.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

To Take Arms, a poem

To Take Arms

So, is it wrong to take
ones destiny into ones hands,
to make that leap into
the darkness on ones own terms?

I, too, might take arms
against tomorrow, against
insistent fate. Someday,
I may feel the need.

There come days when I
believe, and days I do
not. Which will this be?
Tomorrow speaks too loudly,

and if, in the end,
things have only what meaning
we give, what meaning have we?
Take arms, brother, take arms.

The last day of my life
I may regret all done
and undone. The next day,
I shall not care. Let fall

things as they will; in time,
everything and everyone
is forgotten. Let fall the darkness.
I shall know when to take arms.

Stephen Brooke ©2014

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Odds, a poem

Odds

I have seen the doors of destiny
open before me, seen the calm, cold stars
wink to life in the void. Hear their voices,

lifting songs that hold no key. Once I
learned such tunes, misunderstanding each
promise. Like that famous cat which is

alive and dead at once, these futures both
exist and don’t. Did I choose? Ask
the angels and the stars. Ask those beguiled

by the lurid signs along their roads.
Signs and wonders, portents of my fate,
point ever away from here. I’ve heard the whispers

of the hard-faced women on this street.
All the night, they whisper to each other,
laying odds. Which regret will I

ask to wear when they have done their weaving?
Tonight I count the stars. Their number must
add up to something, something I might believe.

Stephen Brooke ©2014

Being all poet-y and obscure

Monday, November 17, 2014

Concentrate, a poem

Concentrate

The smell of burnt oranges fills heaven,
rising with the caracara
from the prairie swamp. It is
a long, flat two-lane way from the coast

to Lake Okeechobee, broken only
by Immokalee, sleeping still
when I drove through. But the plants
run all night, up by the lake,

turning the golden fruit to juice,
concentrating Florida
for consumption. Pillar of smoke,
pillar of fire, lead me on,

though I know not why I was chosen,
no more than the high-humped Brahma cattle
that watch me pass, the red-wing singing
in the ditch. As time passes, unobserved,

all that is me is concentrated
here, on a road that leads
to dawn. Why question what may lie
beyond this smell of oranges?

Stephen Brooke ©2014

a route I frequently drove, once upon a time, across the empty country between Naples and the lake

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Socks, a poem

Socks

I won’t have sex in socks,
no matter how cold it may be;
I need my feet as naked
as the rest of me.
My toes might feel quite frigid,
yet they yearn to be free;
we shouldn’t have sex in socks,
I hope that you agree.

No, I won’t have sex in socks,
more blankets are the key;
pile them thick on the bed —
I think we need at least three.
Then, content in our cocoon,
snuggling cozily,
all my little piggies
will go ‘Whee! Whee! Whee!’

Stephen Brooke ©2014

just  nonsense

Monday, November 10, 2014

What Now?

Now that the ‘Donzalo’s Destiny’ saga is finished, it is time to tackle new writing projects (not to mention non-writing ones). Perhaps I’ll finally finish some illustrations for one of the children’s books.

I have started in on a new novel, which may or not lead to obsessive writing. Very different from the fantasy books I just completed, both in content and in style. I went with a method of short scenes and varied viewpoints in the Donzalo books whereas I intend to be quite mainstream in the new one, with a straight-forward first-person narrative.

The story should be pretty much mainstream as well. Not exactly a thriller nor a mystery but veering in that direction — have to keep the readers’ interest somehow as I sneak in those oh-so-important observations on the human condition and that kind of stuff. :) I am not working from outline and notes this time, either. Well, I do have notes, of course, but I’m still doing more of a make-it-up-as-I-go thing. That means my first draft will tend to be more, well, like a first draft.

Anyway, I just finished a good draft of the second chapter with a dead body, so I’ll have to see where that leads! One thing I do always have in my notes is a list of phrases and exchanges that I want to incorporate into the narrative at some point. I really do work from words to plot more than the other way around. I also have a completed later chapter which I originally wrote as a short story quite some time back (under the title ‘Surf’). That was sort of impetus for this intended novel.

It is also time to get into my previously published books, do revisions and edits, and get new editions up, including mobi (Kindle) format ebooks for Amazon. The children’s books are probably OK as are, but I definitely need to get back into the novels and poetry. THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE would be a good place to start, followed by the Donzalo books. Once the latter are revised, I intend to put out all four in a single volume. Print only, including, maybe, a hardcover edition. If one wishes ebook versions, they will have to be purchased separately.

Having mentioned the MIDDLE Young Adult novel, I will say that I might yet tackle a sequel to that book. But my interest is elsewhere for now, and the book has not sold well anyway. I look on it as my ‘practice’ novel, the one where I learned a great deal of craft. Not that I don’t consider it a reasonably successful attempt. Eventually, a sequel (sequels, more likely) to DONZALO should also appear. There is quite a lot to explore yet in that world and group of characters (and their descendants). Not to mention, the varied political and philosophical bits I threw in — though I’m not sure I can top the nihilistic, depressed sorcerer I used as the primary antagonist in the novels!

And, having now mentioned nihilism and depression, I return to the novel-in-progress, tentatively titled SHAPER. Depression, world-weariness, suicide, are going to be major concerns here. Yeah, it sounds dark and maybe unappealing. But it’s also going to be about surfing and love and sunshiny beaches.

* * *

On a completely unrelated note, my niece and acclaimed Americana artist Mean Mary James will be performing a couple shows here in the Florida Panhandle in the next few days, Thursday night at Topsail Hill State Park and Sunday afternoon (3 PM) at Roberts Hall in Lynn Haven. If you have a chance, get out and see her.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Hill-Farm Sketches, a poem

Hill-Farm Sketches

1.
July was heat and thunder
with an ice-cold creek
flowing through the middle.

2.
Each pine on sandstone hills
knew the soft caress
of a summer moon.

3.
The oft repeated name
of the whip-poor-will
filled the shadowed hollows.

4.
The dogs ate boiled potatoes
when our pockets were empty
but the garden was full.

5.
I could never climb
high enough in the maple
to see all I desired.

6.
The voice of the night
still whispers among the hills
but I can not hear the words.

Stephen Brooke ©2014

Memories  of a place I lived as a  kid. I could see adding more were I to get ambitious someday.

Fashion, a poem

Fashion

It was with care I put
my happiness away, there
on the top shelf. Maybe

someday I can get it down,
unfold it, smooth the wrinkles
and see it still fits.

It used to be all the fashion.

Stephen Brooke ©2014

another little throwaway thought

Friday, November 07, 2014

Video Trailer for The Hand of the Sorcerer

I put together a simple slide-show video trailer for the release of THE HAND OF THE SORCERER, officially out on December First. My music, too, an older piece I adapted for this.


I am waiting for my final proof print copy to arrive and then I'll go ahead and put up purchase links at the Arachis Press site (the book is actually already available at our Lulu shop and should show up shortly at Apple, B&N, Amazon, etc), even if the official release isn't here.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Pine Cones, a poem

Pine Cones

All night, I lobbed pine cones at the moon,
hoping to dislodge it from the sky.

You held a jar ready so you might carry it home,
place it by the bed to light our lovemaking.

We should have been there rather than staring upward
at the slow transit of the heavens.

Stephen Brooke ©2014

in a sorta sijo-like form

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Come and Go, a poem

Come and Go

I have learned not to miss you, lately.
Each day, each hour, I fill
my life with little things.
There is the garden. One might

lose himself there, among the rows,
tending to ones mindless chores
beneath the slow clockwork of the heavens.
Never mind that you loved the flowers

and the sunlit days we shared.
Such will come and go, come and go
as you did, and who might stop them?
There is rain tonight. It also

comes and goes, and that is expected.
Tomorrow, I know I shall still yearn
but not so much. I have learned
not to, lately; learned not to miss you.

Stephen Brooke ©2014

I think this sort of romantic drivel come too easily to me...

Saturday, November 01, 2014

The Hand Is At Hand

I have a good, more-or-less print-ready manuscript of the fourth and final book of ‘Donzalo’s Destiny’ finished. This last installment, ‘The Hand of the Sorcerer,’ ran some 15,000 words longer than its predecessors — still not a particularly long book.

But all four books together actually form one novel of just over 200,000 words. And that is with my relatively spare writing style. Were I one to add lots of descriptive detail, it might well have run quite a bit longer.

At this point, the projected official release date is the First of December, which means it should be available a couple days before for ‘Cyber Saturday.’ Anyway, one will definitely be able to purchase a copy before Christmas (from Arachis Press).

Naturally, I shall continue to rewrite and polish the text right up to the last minute, but the main job now is design and formatting. That is partially done — I’ve been making up dummy covers for some time! I also hope to get a video book trailer ready, the same sort of simple slide show I did for the previous three DD books. I have already composed a couple possible sound tracks for use.

Perhaps I shall post here a little more frequently now. I have been very much obsessed with getting ‘Hand’ finished to the detriment of any other creative work. I’ve barely touched a musical instrument in months, nor picked up a paint brush.

Not to mention all those waves left unridden down at the beach.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Bangin' On My Bodhran, a lyric

Bangin’ On My Bodhran

I’m bangin’ on my bodhran,
it makes a pleasant thump,
and when I bang it hard,
all the dancers jump!
I keep the rhythm for ‘em,
I keep the rhythm tight;
I’m bangin’ on my bodhran,
I’m bangin’ all the night!

The fiddlers don’t like it,
I think they want my blood,
but who’s to say their squeakin’s
are better than my thud?
They give me dirty looks,
it’s like they’re throwin’ knives;
without a drum to bang on,
they have such empty lives!

I’m bangin’ on...

Some like to use a tipper,
some like to use their hand;
some play all by themselves,
And others with a band!
Some hold them to their side,
and some right in the front;
it matters not how I may choose
to bang on my instrument!

I’m bangin’ on...

Now, when if air is soggy,
my bodhran does get limp;
and though I bang my hardest,
I still sound like a wimp!
But I’ll not be stymied,
when the weather’s damp;
my drum’s not its best
but I’ve two feet to stamp!

I’m bangin’ on...

Stephen Brooke ©2014

A song, eventually. I suspect I could make up endless nonsensical verses for this. And maybe I shall!


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Super-Taster, a poem

Super-Taster

Super-tasters, they name us
now, but as a kid
it was just picky eater,
and he’ll grow out of it.

Super-taster — is that
a super power, and all
those over-seasoned dishes
a sort of Kryptonite?

Never fear. A serving
of mashed potatoes, another
mild-mannered meal, and my
powers will return.

Stephen Brooke ©2014

Only a bit of silliness

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Thrift Store, a poem

Thrift Store

These dreams no longer fit.
I’ll box them up, donate
them to the thrift store,
let them be fingered, held up
to see the size, the wear.
No one there will know who once
wore such impractical garments.

Stephen Brooke ©2014

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Gray, a poem

Gray

I have sought to capture
the elusive colors of the clouds,
rushing after them with canvas and brush.

They ran from me, hiding themselves
in cloaks of shadow and light.
They have taunted me, the clumsy lover.

From sunrise to dusk, I have followed,
wondering if a touch of cobalt
would find that gray, before it fades.

Stephen Brooke ©2014

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Saigon 1966

I've been straightening out the collection of old photos and albums here recently and, having finished up on my mother's pictures, started in on my Aunt Dotty's (Dorothea Page). Here are several from the time she spent in Saigon in 1966, while she was there with Battelle doing research work for the CDTC (I think they were cataloging Vietnamese boats).

These are all at the Arc en Ciel, a popular nightclub for Americans in the Chinese section of Saigon. Many of are a singer only labeled as 'Karen' with her band; I would assume they are Chinese. Whether local or from somewhere such as Hong Kong, I have no idea. My aunt seems to have been friendly with Karen, anyway.











Presented just as a look at that time and place.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Hand Covers


These are mockups of a couple cover ideas  for the fourth and final DONALO'S DESTINY book (which should be out before the end of the year). I am not sure which I prefer. Or maybe I'll go some other direction.

But I definitely want purple. :)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Comfort, a poem

Comfort

Black-velvet Jesus on one wall,
black-velvet Elvis on the other;
plaster madonna on the shelf,
plaster child, plaster mother.

Skeeters buzzing at the screen,
tree-frogs clinging to the pane;
sweet-tea pitcher on the table,
distant thunder might mean rain.
Hound-dog whimpers at the door,
chuck-wills-widow calls to the moon
rising through the sugar pines;
crickets join night’s age-old tune.

Grits are bubbling on the stove-top,
chicken sizzles in the pan.
Sip my tea, ice melts away;
cobbler’s cooling, by the fan.

Dusk sings on the fields and hills,
full of darkness, slow and deep;
hear the rumble, rain is coming,
rattles the roof, soothes my sleep.

Jesus watches over me,
Elvis sings my lullaby,
stars of heaven guard this house
till the morning takes the sky.

Stephen Brooke ©2014

This might be words toward a possible song. Or maybe it’s just a bit of verse and will go no further. A bit of unlike me, either way. Anyway, neither the poem nor its title should be considered finalized.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Pear Season

Peach season is over but that only means that it is time for pears. And I have plenty of them, the hard(ish) cooking pears. Not that one can’t eat them fresh, though it is best if one removes the heavy peel first.

I processed my first batch of them a few days ago, cooking up the slices mostly to see how they would come out and if I wanted to bother with an attempt at canning. I must say, the result had about as much flavor as paper and was not much sweeter. So I ran them through the food processor to see if they would be acceptable as sauce.

Now I use a fair amount of apple sauce in my baking — it is a good and somewhat healthful substitute for some of the sugar and shortening (incidentally, I also employ prune juice in this manner at times). I tried out my pear sauce as a replacement and it seemed to bake up quite nicely and taste fine. However, the spice bread I made was definitely drier than usual the next day, so I suppose the pears are not a perfect substitute.

But I may process more anyway, and put up some slices as well. I don’t know if I’ll bother to can though, just freeze a few quarts. And I will be baking something with fresh pears soon. It’s been too hot here the last week to bake at all!

I reckon this was probably the worst heat wave of the summer and, truly, the only really bad one we have had. That’s not doing so bad considering we are entering late August already. Yep, fall is on the way and kids are back in school. That means both more chance of surf and fewer people in the water when there are waves.

If I did not so detest cold weather, I would be welcoming the coming of winter.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ground, a poem

Ground

Life is a balancing act,
a tightrope walk, where each
of us must fall off
in the end. How far
is it to the ground?

Stephen Brooke ©2014

A little poem-thought that sat in my notes as an unsatisfactory cinquain for a while. I don't know if this is that much more satisfactory but at least it is finished.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Chiaroscuro, a poem

Chiaroscuro

Out on Peanut Road the trucks are rolling,
rumbling, basso continuo in the dark.

Dawn is half an hour away and the dogs
are eager for me to fill their bowls. They hear

the musics of the morning, mist-diffused,
rise from these fields, dewed webs of night time humming,

pulsing, pianissimo in tremulous
resonance, in tensions of light and dark.

The sun will sing its way into the day
as every voice of dawn joins in the chorus,

cardinal and mocking bird take up
the tune, rising, rising, on the stillness

to skies of promise. I am hidden here,
in chiaroscuro of my own hand,

the semblance of a man rapt in his shadows.
Fog and trees obscure the light of headlamps;

soon, those who hurry to a job somewhere
will be on the road, and tractors making

their way to fields of cotton or of peanuts.
Whether they spread poison or fertilizer

this day, I do not know. Sometimes both
at once, life and death together sprayed

up and down the rows, the farmer a god
handing out salvation and damnation

to those below his wheels. When the sun
has burnt away the mist, where shall we hide?

Out on Peanut Road, the traffic murmurs
of morning. There is coffee in the kitchen.

Stephen Brooke ©2014

Peaches and Processors

Yesterday, I picked the last half-dozen peaches from my trees. Today, I shall bake the last cobbler from fresh peaches for this year. Never fear, though, there are twenty quarts put away in the freezer. The crop should grow larger over coming years — this was, after all, really the first time I had enough to bother with them. I do think I shall need to can them next year or, maybe, purchase a small chest freezer.

Now, the pears are about ready. There will be an attempt to can a few of those, perhaps in the form of pear sauce. No room for frozen ones! It may be a while before I have more than the one old tree bearing but I have put in several small ones that will have fruit eventually. These are the ‘hard’ pears for cooking, not for fresh eating (though one certainly can eat them right off the tree).

* * *

I’ve taken a little hiatus from working on the novel while I attend to other necessary chores. This does not mean that I have forgotten it — I find myself jotting down ideas and bits of dialog from time to time. I probably needed to let the story develop in my mind this way for a little while. I am not one to just sit down and start writing without a good idea of where I am going.

And I continue to use Open Office Write as my primary word processor. I am sure Libre Office is every bit as good. I did come close to switching over when development of OO came to a halt for a while before it was handed over to Apache and elements of IBM’s Lotus variant were added in.

But the Open Office suite is, it must be admitted, rather bloated. I don’t really need most of the other components. I have fooled with the spreadsheet but haven’t much use for it. The Draw program is okay for some simple layout applications but, then, I have and use Corel Draw quite a bit so I don’t really need the OO offering.

I tried out AbiWord recently to see if using a ‘lighter’ word processing program (especially on my notebook) would make sense but have since deleted it. The reason might seem trivial but it boils down to the fact that AbiWord will not automatically add en-dashes and em-dashes to my writing. I do not have time to type in an ‘alt+’ code each time I need these. Still, it is better than using the execrable Microsoft WordPad!

* * *

Although I am officially retired from location recording, I may come out of that retirement briefly and go record my friend Lynda’s piano recital out in Marshall Texas. She left Tuskegee a couple years ago and now teaches at Wiley College. We briefly lost touch while each dealt with the problems in our own lives (I was concentrating on my mom’s care in her final years) but got back into contact around last Christmas.

It’s an opportunity to get out and do something and to reconnect with someone who is important in my life. So we shall see.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Cobbler, a poem

Cobbler

I am a gobbler
of peach cobbler,
with ice cream laid on thickly.
I can’t resist
Nor do I desist;
It disappears quite quickly!

A golden crust
is a must,
with fruit that’s sweet and ripe;
bite after bite,
if it’s done right
you’ll hear not a single gripe!

The cobbler beckons,
I do want seconds —
I can’t resist that aroma.
But if I ate
another plate
I’d go into a coma.

Stephen Brooke ©2014

Just some silliness. I have been baking cobblers with fruit from my own trees --- despite pinching off more than half the fruit when it first developed I still have a prodigious pile of peaches to pit and peel!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Of Brothers

I have finished a good draft of the first ‘Tale’ of the fourth and final (yes, for sure!) Book of Donzalo’s Destiny, THE HAND OF THE SORCERER. It came out a little longer than typical, at a bit over 25,000 words. This section is titled ‘Of Brothers.’ One more tale of similar size and I shall be done.

Except, of course, for rewrites and editing and all sorts of stuff. I could actually see having the novel out before the end of the year if I don’t dawdle. Then...I look back over the previous three books and fix anything that needs fixing. Easy enough when one uses a print on demand plus ebook approach. But time-consuming, still.

Once I finish with that task, I do intend to put all four Books together as one largish novel (which they really are, after all) and offer it, print only. Maybe even in a hardcover edition if anyone shows interest.

If I can shift gears after so much time with Donzalo and his world, I do hope to work on something completely different then. A Serious Literary Novel, maybe. And all those illustration projects I have put off for so long.

Eventually, I do intend to return to Donzalo or, more properly, his friends and world. Old Donni has pretty much made his mark and is going to retire with his lady love, I think. Who will end up being his lady love? The fiery Lady Fachalana? The sweet but murderous spy Ansa? His first love, Princess Lomela? We’ll find out when I finish the last Tale!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

All the World's a Stage

Oddly, though I have suffered from crippling social anxiety in everyday life, I have never had a problem with getting on stage and performing. This assumes that I am well rehearsed, of course. Including my ad-libs.

I like to tell folks that when I am on stage I am not a musician but an actor playing a musician. Even when I’m not on stage, I’m not much of a musician.

But really, that’s it. I play a role. The advice to ‘be yourself’ is very, very wrong for me! I have to become someone else.

In a way, it is like creating a character in a story. There is certainly something of me in every character I write, but they are not ‘me.’ They perform on the page even as that other character I create performs on the stage.

A song, for me, is most often simply a conveyance for my words. This is not to say that I have no interest in writing good music. But I admittedly have little interest in being any sort of particularly good player. I do not like to jam. I am interested only in being sufficiently proficient to get my songs across.

That is more a job than a pleasure. As is learning to sing well, craft my words, and all the rest. The pleasure comes when those who listen or who read ‘get’ it. The goal is to communicate. All else serves that.

All the world’s a stage. I hope only to say my lines well.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Finishing the Story

I didn’t really take any time off after completing THE SIGN OF THE ARROW but pretty much jumped right into writing the fourth and (almost certainly) last Donzalo book, THE HAND OF THE SORCERER. That title is likely to stick though it is not yet written in stone (i.e it hasn’t been assigned an ISBN).

There were so many ideas in my head I had to immediately begin sorting them out, making notes, outlining. At good bit of my plotting does admittedly take place in my head before I start typing — I am not really one to sit down and make it up as I go along, although there can certainly be a good deal of improvisation once I start writing the narrative.

Anyway, I am currently 12,000 words into the first ‘Tale’ of the book (titled ‘Of Brothers’), which promises to come to my typical novella-size length of somewhere around 20,000 words. Then, probably only one more such to finish the entire DONZALO’S DESTINY saga (although it could always turn into three Tales – that has happened in the last two books). The last Tale will be named ‘Of Destiny.’

Although I know I shall be tempted, I promise (mostly myself) not to tackle another saga carrying on the story of these characters right away. I do have a good idea of where they will be going — that’s part of knowing who they are. Donzalo himself will not have a central role when (if?) there are more books.

My proof copy of THE SIGN OF THE ARROW arrived and looked fine so I have no reservations about announcing the availability of the book in print. EPUB, PDF and print versions are all available at the Arachis Press shop at Lulu and will soon be up at the AP website as well (arachispress.com). Officially, the release date is still August 1, but that doesn’t really mean much.

I hope to turn to other projects once I finish this and get the Donzalo movie out of my head. I do obsess about it. I practically live in it. It will be time to go live on a beach for a while and write something about Florida, I think!

Finally, I’m going to include a short passage (I tend toward short passages) from the new book-in-progress, a scene of the sorcerer Radal reminiscing about his youth. Not a final draft, of course.

* * *

Radal was not sure when he had first heard the voice of Darkness, but it had come with forgiveness for all the thoughts, all the desires, his mother had told him were sins. They are nothing, said Darkness, and her voice was as soft winds of night.

She whispered to him that the gods were only little things and would perish as surely as men. Then only she in her primal majesty would remain. Naught else would matter.

The sorcerer had a small obsidian figure he had found as a boy, half-buried in the clay by the river. His father, the tall stern soldier, had told him it was only a chess piece someone had lost but he knew that it was she, come to him so he might worship.

That figurine resided now in distant Celatas, on a shelf in his study. Perhaps it had been but a lost gaming piece. Perhaps it had no power other than that he gave it.

Darkness, the goddess of that unhappy boy, Radal now knew as a manifestation of the Great Void in our world. The Void was indifferent to all existence. It did not even hate, being empty of all things. But Darkness hated, as had Radal.

He would serve her always and her father, Death — Asak, as the Kamatians named him, and the Ildin before them. Someday, soon probably, Asak would come and give him his gift of peace, of extinction. He would be with his goddess.

Until then he would serve her, though she asked nothing of men.
Radal remembered still the hymn the boy had composed in her honor, that he had intoned before his little obsidian idol.

Darkness, Asak’s eldest child,
Lady of the Lifeless Lands,
on your carved ebon throne,
scatter Time’s unnumbered sands.

Wisdom comes as nightmare runes,
written on the lids of eyes
that beheld you, vast and still,
ere stars rose in ancient skies.

All the children of the day,
generations raised in light,
shrink from the Abyss’s gaze,
waste and wither in your sight.

Darkness, born of endless Void,
Goddess to the men of old,
reign as Queen of endless realms,
worlds where all things grow cold.

Radal smiled thinly at the memory and, with a sigh, turned to his work. He must soon act, and decisively. Then let things be as they would be, knowing that Darkness did not listen to prayers.