Nightfall p. 5 (Finale)

Link to part 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Sorry for the delay, but let me present to you; the final segment of the Nightfall story! It’s a bit longer than usual, I hope you won’t mind!
I’ll be uploading the paragraphs in a collected post some day soon, but until then, enjoy.

Nilassa nearly fell off her stool when the man’s face uncovered. It had only been for but a moment, as he had blown out the candle as soon as the girl lit it, yet that moment had been long enough. The man had a scar over his face, a scar as thick as a finger, reaching from the top of his forehead all the way down his chin.

Let Urikal lead the Night Mother straight to hell! She had called this mission’s target unconventional. Unconventional her ass. Unconventional, Nilassa thought, would have been a guy with three hands, a shape shifter, or possibly even one of the warrior-monks of the Eastern Sea – no matter how un-likely that would have been. Unconventional, was not to kill bloody Skylar Sunkeeper himself. She was a Lady of the Night, not a freaking goddess.

She had heard the stories – everyone had. The man could split the skulls of his enemies without even lifting a finger; he could tear the flesh of a werewolf’s bones with his bare hands; not to speak of the most famous tale of the man, where he split the god damn land itself in two pieces; even children knew the story of the creation of the two great continents.

She had killed the Black Prince without even stretching a finger; she had even managed to send the Slaver of Aszhar to Urikal – even though the scar he had given her still tormented her. But by the gods, how could she kill someone like the Sunkeeper? The man was as close to a human deity one could get. She was sweating, and it wasn’t because of the heat.

She looked down at her trembling hands as a thought struck her. Had the Night Mother known as she sent her? She could almost hear Lady Vada snort at her ignorance with that thought, even here, a hundred miles away.
Of course she had, you block-headed moron. She is the Night Mother, not some feebleminded street-rat. Anyway, none of that mattered right now; she had to decide what to do – apparently sooner than she had hoped, as her target now rose, putting his scrolls back in a leather bag, and made for the door.

Shit, shit, shit.

Well, Nilassa, either you fail the assassination and quite possibly get ripped to shreds by the Sunkeeper, or you’ll get back home with a failed mission. The outcome is the same, no matter how you look at it.

Might as well try to bring down a legend.

 

And that is all of it, folks! Thanks for staying with me the last couple of months, I’ll be working on another short-story soon enough, which I will continue to upload every two weeks.

Nightfall p. 4

Link to part 1, 2 and 3.

A man wearing a ragged cloak. She instantly turned her face towards the window, pretending to study something on the outside. Deoryn’s ass! What the hell was that, Nilassa? It’s like it’s your first mission. Casually looking at the window? If the man didn’t find her suspicious before, he would now.

She drew a deep breath, trying to calm herself. It didn’t matter, she told herself. Their targets never knew they had been chosen; to him, she was just another patron at the inn. A weird one, for sure, but nothing else. That was all.

After a minute or so she dared glance at him once more. The man had dived into some scrolls, lying on the table before him. If she wasn’t sure whether that man was her target before, she was now. No obvious weapon visible, but he did carry a circular object by his right hip, wrapped in some kind of intricate leather. She groaned. She hated going up against the left-handed if the mission turned into a confrontation. It just messed with her head in some way.

Anyway, a kill should never lead to a confrontation in the first place. Confrontations are to be avoided at all costs. That was the main rule when working for the Night Mother. Just go in swiftly for the kill, and escape unseen. It was supposed to be quick and easy, and it usually was. It should have been this night as well. But the problem was that this night wasn’t just another night, as she came to realize the moment the tavern maid lit up the candle standing on top of her target’s table.

As always, thanks for reading. I can’t wait to reveal why it isn’t like any other night!

Nightfall p. 3

The third part of my Nightfall Series.

Link to part 1 and 2. Here and here.

Luckily for her, Nilassa thought as the man readied her drink, the weather was poor outside today – and none would raise an eyebrow at her hood, even inside. Well, to be honest, not many would look at her hood twice even on a perfect day these days, what with so many odd people and criminals lurking about.

Today, every tavern in Deoryn had its own fair share of hooded folks as either guild-members, assassins or questionable people even more malicious and wicked than the former. The common people didn’t want any part in that. She raised the mug in thanks after the innkeeper handed her the drink, and turned around.

Now, where was the bastard? She noticed the odd shiv – hidden poorly in the boots of every other moron – and even one or two daggers, but no oddly shaped weapon. Neither someone in a cloak, understandable as it was, by Deoryn, it was hot in here.

It was quite possible that she just couldn’t find him from this view, Nilassa realized, as the fat fella dancing on the round table in the middle of the room practically blocked the entire further end of the tavern. She gulped down the last of her drink, and rose to move toward the other end. As she got around the heavy dancing man, she sat down on one of the stools by the windows.

There were less people here, but still quite enough to blend in without raising suspicions – or so she thought, yet one of the visitors looked straight at her.

 

As always, thanks for reading, and let’s see who Nilassa will encounter in two weeks!

Kingdom of Tulahan

Greetings fellow reader!

Today I bring you an update that’s a bit out of the ordinary. I’m here to announce my latest blog going public, the Kingdom of Tulahan!

So, what exactly is the Kingdom of Tulahan?

I’m glad you asked.

Basically it’s my world-building interest that has finally taken solid form in the shape of an intricate fantasy world, complete with a multitude of compendiums and collections of short-stories and informative texts on characters, beasts, plants, artifacts, world-orders, relationships, prejudices, power-struggles and legends all taking place in the realm of Tulahan, a world created by the weird and wicked mind of yours truly.

If this sounds interesting, check it out here.

It’s been a side-project of mine for many months now, and after going back and forth between launching it already or not, I decided that it was time. There’s still a whole lot of work to be done before the core information is in place, but I couldn’t wait to share it with everyone! If you’re as nerdy as me, enjoy fantasy short-stories, or just find magic, dragons and beasts to be awesome; then I promise you’ll fit right in.

Updates will be rolling out daily, and the small gold-fish that is currently the world will soon have evolved into a massive leviathan of the sea.

See you there!

 

On a side-note: Next part of my Nightfall series should be hitting the blog in a day or two as long as my cat does not eat up my manuscript, for some reason, paper is a delicacy to him.

An Unexpected Experience

A normal evening that turned into something extraordinary

Chris Wilsson posted an interesting article today where he was given the rare opportunity to encounter both a Geisha and a Maiko by mere chance on the streets of Kyoto.
He even got some marvelous photos out of the experience, if I may say so myself, and it reminded me of one of my very own fondest memories of Japan.

It’s funny how these kinds of chance encounters can enrichen a trip. Oftentimes they are the ones you tend to remember the most.
They could be in the form of a festival you didn’t know of beforehand, an old man passing by when you’re in Nara who gives you seeds and nuts to feed the deer with (a story I’d love to share soon enough), or maybe it’s simply that vibrant butterfly whom accidentally lands on your shoulder.

It could be events that weren’t planned at all. Events that surprises you. Events that wouldn’t have been as extraordinary should you already know of them the moment you put your foot outside the door.

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The event that Chris’s article reminded me of was when I was in Kyoto myself, nearly a year ago. I was travelling with my significant other and a couple of friends, and we had planned to stay roughly a week in Kyoto.
“A week?” you might say to yourself, chuckling, and you’d be right to.
Soon enough, as you can imagine, we realized a week was not nearly enough time.

Long story short, the Gion District had to, unfortunately, be cut from our schedule, successfully rendering our hope of encountering a Geisha (or Geiko, which is the local name) or Maiko to vaporize into thin air. But here’s where the story begins rather than ends.

One evening we were walking down the Kamo River (the smaller river that runs through the center of Kyoto, not to be mistaken with the Katsura River) looking for a bar, as we had yet to discover how a typical Japanese bar was like. We went up and down the streets, right and left, searching for that perfect one. That traditional, cozy yet classy place, a place we thought would capture the essence of Japanese culture.

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Selective as we was, we spent at least an hour or two walking the streets of Kyoto, turning away from the riverbank, in order to find the perfect bar. Yet we never found a place we deemed worthy of our expectations. Our expectations, that at this point, was sky-high and in hind-sight, frankly quite unrealistic.

At one point we came to a conclusion and a mutual agreement was struck: we would never find the perfect place that could reach our combined expectations, and it was meaningless spending the whole night searching for the bar of our dreams.
We decided to just enter the next bar we stumbled upon, and go with it.

Soon we were standing outside a modern wooden house. The design was quite modest, simple, the entrance covered behind some trees and bushes, almost as if it was purposely hidden. The sign on the wall said one word: “Bar”. Nothing else.
Well, this is it then, we thought. It didn’t look like much to the world yet we had come to a decision. This would be the place, and we hesitantly entered.

And boy was I glad we did.

The bar had just opened; actually, it was their opening night. Its owner, together with what we later on learned was his apprentice were standing behind a small counter. And that was basically it, a bar counter with stools for maybe eight or nine individuals in a very narrow room. There were hangers for the coats on the wall behind the bar stools, and a window down the furthest end of the bar. Apart from this, there wasn’t much else. A couple of other guests were there, looking at us apprehensively.

The place was classy, mind you, a lot more classy than we had expected, and I can imagine we looked quite silly in our colorful shorts, sandals and loose t-shirts as we entered. Would we be thrown out? Even more importantly, had we insulted the bar owner? Luckily, it didn’t seem so, as he merely smiled at us.

After a moment’s hesitation, we nodded towards the owner and sat down beside the window. The owner’s apprentice offered us peanuts, and we ordered our drinks. We soon learned that both the owner as well as his apprentice was quite adept at English, and we ended up speaking for quite some time. After a while the guests struck conversation with us as well, and the evening that had gone towards disaster slowly morphed into a delightful experience.

Yet this wasn’t even the best part.

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The best part was later that very same evening, at the very same bar, a Geiko walked in.

She wore the most beautiful kimono, carrying her own with a regal dignity, only moving with slow, controlled movements; her hair in a traditional shimada that could only be described as a true work of art.
You could feel the atmosphere in the room changing as she entered. It was mind-blowing, almost as if some long forgotten princess of old had entered the room. My companions and I was completely speechless, our jaws donning the floor.
Now mind you, this wasn’t a neighboring street to the Gion District, so the whole experience was unexpected to say the least of it. The Geiko had come specifically for this very bar.

Apparently, the bar owner was quite famous in Kyoto, owning multiple bars and restaurants, some of them in the Gion District. The Geiko was an old friend of his, and she was there to visit him on the opening of his new bar. While some of the owner’s attention shifted towards his new visitor, the apprentice kept talking to us, explaining the whole thing.

Midnight had passed hours ago when we finally, and reluctantly, decided to take our leave. The evening had been, and in fact, still was, magical, but every day arrives at its end at some point.
The owner thanked us before leaving, giving us his card and encouraging us to visit him again. We returned his appreciation, thanking him for everything before we bade farewell to the guests and the Geiko – and left.

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Its funny how these kinds of chance encounters takes shape.
Had we found the perfect traditional Japanese bar we were looking for?
No, not at all, the bar honestly looked more Western than Asian.
Thinking of the initial quest we were embarking on, I’d say we failed miserably.

Yet somehow we’d met a local celebrity on the very opening night of his new bar, tasted some of the finest whiskeys I had in my life, got to meet a wonderous Geiko, and even exchanging stories and experiences with other locals.

We’d failed our plans and the evening was nothing like we’d hoped for – yet it turned out to be one of the most memorable nights of my life.


 

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and please let me know of your own chance meetings or unexpected experiences!

Nightfall p. 2

The second part of my Nightfall-series.

Time for another update!

I’ve been once again neglecting my legendary being-posts. Seeing how my motivation has waned a bit concerning those, I’ve been thinking about turning them into a monthly thing instead, possibly bi-weekly, as this series. There’s just not enough time to write everything I want to write… I will put them on hold for now, but fear not, as I will still be posting any new writing. That, my dear reader, I promise.

Moving along — Please enjoy the last part of Liannas story. Here’s a link to the first part.

Even though the tavern had reminded her of her uncle’s old shack from the outside, it had – luckily – none of the rats or the cobwebs inside.

The room was bustling with the type of noise you’d expect from your everyday Nihillian Tavern: drunkards cheering, prostitutes seducing innocent boys barely of age, and bone-headed fighters trying to start trouble.

When Nilassa had been nothing more than a runt of the Night she – like most of the others – had imagined it would be difficult to commit murder in a place like this. Yet, as she had soon learned, the opposite held more true. While the liveliness of a tavern admittedly did make it harder to sneak around, it also made it easier to stab someone in the back and leave before anyone noticed. People where usually too drunk, or too interested getting inside some dim-witted virgin’s pants, to notice someone being murdered right under their noses. At least when the murderer was one of the Night Mother’s.

Nilassa walked straight up to the tavern’s serving counter, snapping her fingers.
“A jug of your finest wine, and don’t let it be that horse-piss you call Nihillian’s finest.”
The innkeeper, looking offended, soon reclaimed control over his expression as he saw the golden coin she slide over the counter – and responded with a smile worthy none but the deities themselves.

“Coming right up, milady.”

 

Legendary being of the Week – The Haferbock

The Haferbock is just another one of those classic German folklore creatures called the Feldgeist, or corn-demons. Yeah, you heard me right; a corn-demon.
It’s a spirit closely related to vegetation and the growing of seeds. To be more specific; The Haferbock, or the Habergeis, is a creature that embodies the act of regeneration, and the circle of life for plants or growing things.

The Haferbock belongs to the family of Feldgeist, as I just mentioned, much in the same way as the Kurote belong to the yokai-family. There are dozens of Feldgeist, or vegetation deities, in German folklore, but the one that did catch my eye was the Haferbock.

The Haferbock takes the form of a goat in most stories, but it is also known to take the form of a three-legged bird or a goat-bird hybrid. The Feldgeist hide in the cornfields, and usually try to flee from any trespassers or humans it encounters. However, should you catch up to the Haferbock, or worse – touch it, the best you’ll get away with is bad luck for the rest of the day.
Should you meet a specifically vicious goat-bird it might slap you on your face, kick you, bite you, or even devour you.

If that wasn’t bad enough, tell your children to never imitate the cry of the Haferbock, should they hear it while playing in the fields. As the Haferbock really dislike imitations. Bad luck is ensued, and it will do everything in its power to catch the imitator. Even if the spirit does not succeed, you’ll find the bloody coat of a dead goat-bird hanging outside your window when you get back home, and trust me – it won’t be a pleasing sight.

Actually, you should never let your children near your cornfields, as the Haferbock is very fond of children, and not in a good way.
This trait is very important to the legend, as the spirits quite likely originated from the farmers’ own desire to frighten their children from entering the cornfields in the first place. Some sources claim it might be related to invoke extra vigor and speed into the reapers back in the day so that they speed up their work. (The faster they’ll get done, the less chance of encountering a Haferbock)