Unnb

Toxic mist rises and swirls creating a grey-green haze above Lok-Fen. An observer would likely assign the word “ominous” to the hulking silhouettes that moved within, but they would be worrying over nothing. The fenfolk are gentle creatures who show little interest in the world or people beyond their home. A traveller might nervously pass through under the curious and unblinking gaze of many eyes, but they would never be attacked without provocation. Aside from carefully observing any strangers in their lands, the fenfolk are happy to ignore everything but themselves and their fen.

Genetically speaking, fenfolk are more closely related to algae and fungus than they are to humans. Despite this, they are, in a lenient sense of the word, humanoid in form. They are six feet tall even though their backs are so hunched that their monstrous hands almost touch the ground. Aside from some moss and algae growing upon their bodies they are naked, but as genderless beings there is no embarrassing display of genitalia to worry about. Reproduction occurs through a complex system of spores and slime, in one of the least pretty displays in nature. All that is necessary to know is that some swamp-based activities occur and fourteen months later a fifty kilogram child rises up from the depths of the fen. Within two years of rising, a young fenling reaches full size and is full of genetically programmed incuriosity.

Usually.

Unnb was different. They were afflicted with a condition rare among the fenfolk – wanderlust. Many in Lok-Fen called them “Unnbk’bnu fa ma hnn” which translates approximately as “Unnb who is unwise and ungrateful for our bountiful home”, but in a playful manner. Unnb was every bit as loved and respected as any other fenling, but the Druumm worried. The Druumm were the three eldest fenfolk, responsible for guiding the youth in life. Their guidance did not get through to Unnb who still gazed longingly from the edges of Lok-Fen. One day, they looked around cautiously, and then stepped beyond the boundary of their homeland.

Things suddenly seemed all too quiet, but Unnb carried on, even as the feeling grew. The intermittent bubbling and squelching of Lok-Fen had never once crossed their mind, but the lack of those sounds was a huge shock. The disturbing silence soon gave way to equally disturbing noise. The birds that used to call out barely audibly in the distance, never comfortable to enter the fen, were now up close. Their innocent calls felt like murderous screams, but Unnb carried on.

Unnb thought that on their return, they would like to known as “Unnbk’mo oaa” which is the closest phrase in the fenfolk language to “Unnb Who Carried On”. An exact translation does not exist as carrying on is not something that must be done in Lok-Fen. The thought lasted only briefly, and then Unnb realised it was a foolish thought. Noone would respect their choice to carry on with a journey unthinkable to fenfolk, and even if they would have done, Unnb could carry on no more.

Now an hour’s walk from home (perhaps more like twenty minutes for a human) Unnb felt exhausted. They looked around, and saw no mud hole or pond to rest in. One of their giant hands moved to touch their arm, and Unnb felt how dry their skin had already become. With a sad sigh, Unnb turned around and headed home.

The feeling of being enclosed once more by the Lok-Fen mist and sinking gently into its water gave Unnb great relief and great sadness. No fenfolk could last very long outside their natural habitat, but Unnb was determined to find a way. Their first venture beyond the fen was scary and brief, but it would not be their last, regardless of whatever the Druumm might have to say when they find out.

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All the stuff on the site conveniently arranged so you can easily find anything!

 

Visits to my Local Time Shaft

Short pieces written from the perspective of scientist and frequent time shaft visitor, Professor Barnabus K. Pompadour.

1 – 3D Independence Party

2 – Unusual Toilet Seat

3 – Worrying Message

4 – Evolving Doors

5 – Chronowraith Skull

 

The Church of Close Enoughism

Publications and scripture from the religion of Close Enoughism – a belief system based on the idea of celebrating things that are close enough, with the Mehssiah’s Great Acts of Mediocrity held in high respect.

December 2016 Newsletter

E-sermon 1: The Fundamental Idealogies of Close Enoughism

The First Act: The Grabbing of the Fruit

The Second Act: The Taming of the Beast

 

 

Fantasy Short Stories

A range of stories set within the same world, though not necessarily overlapping beyond that connection.

The City of the Dead

Hundreds of years ago, Kazzanhof was a majestic city, built for King Arran Kazzan I   as the pride of his vast empire. Unknown to the public, vampiric corruption gradually took hold. Eventually more than half of the royal council and palace guards had become vampires. The city and empire finally fell when Queen Petra Kazzan II proclaimed herself Blood Queen of the Vampire Courts and launched a wave of a violence against those who did not accept her dark will. The city stood as the world’s beacon of vampiric hedonism and violence for decades until a new revolution drove out the evil ones, creating a new, open society built on acceptance and unity of all forms of undead and a rejection of all violent traditions.

Jack Scrap

Glymmph

Glymmph are shapeshifters. They can be found all over the world, but it takes a glymmph to know a glymmph. They can change shape and size, but not mass. If you’re wondering why your tiny little cat weighs the same as a fully grown adult human… It might just be a glymmph

The Fisherman’s Sock

Sacred Fires

The story of Ennaya Atimari, a young woman who finds herself suddenly caught up in an adventure to protect ancient magical fires that have burned as long as humankind remembers. NOTE: I’m not super satisfied with these, or the unfinished drafts of a couple of future parts. That said, while the execution is lacking, I do like the concept, and the character of Ennaya, and the lore of the Sacred Fires. This story line is essentially on hold, with continuation and/or rewrites desired but not on my immediate radar.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Unnb of the Fenfolk

The fenfolk are an isolated species, never travelling beyond their homes in Lok-Fen, Dak-Fen, and Ro-Fen – but Unnb feels the need to explore, a feeling usually kept out of a fenfolk’s mind by their very genetic nature. This seems like an impossible goal, until an encounter with an old druid called Sann Varin.

Unnb
A Gap in the Lore

Other Short Stories

Bongo Jones

A story about a man in a mehtopian future – it is far from a utopia, and though there is a lot wrong with his world, dystopian seems a little extreme. Everything is just kinda meh.

Part 1 – A Day in the Life

Part 2 – Birthday

Part 3 – Festival

The Secret Task of Gorgeous George

A man who is so inexplicably gorgeous he had to rename his car sales company is forced to aid in an illegal scheme by the president.

A Boatload of Robots

Nora Spucket has to deal with a load of malfunctioning robots who she accidentally failed to lock in their container.

 

Other Things

Ghosts

Manatee

Poems

I very rarely do these.

Being Human

Password Please (external link)

 

Serious Discussion About Things

I put this last because I’m not sure how much I like these pieces or if I’m likely to upload more.

My Nanowrimo Experience: Success and Failure

Political Correctness and Free Speech

Intelligence

Visits to my Local Time Shaft – 4

So I was down at my local time shaft recently, and it threw out something less disturbing than last time – perhaps… Actually, this is also a little disturbing.

The time shaft gave what appears to be a passage from a classroom textbook. I’m surprised they still have paper ones. It describes a construction blunder of incredible proportion, stating that “a typo in the architect’s plans led the engineers to build evolving doors.”

Allow me to quote directly rather than paraphrase:

Initially, the evolving doors did not cause any problems. After around a month, they had developed a basic form of sentience. They were intelligent enough to mess with people who entered, jokingly asking for passwords, but for now, they were content with being doors.

It was another six months before their existential crisis. An employee, Jonas Fuller, was the first to report the change, stating “the doors asked me what it means to be a door.”

His concerns were largely ignored, and within days the doors barely functioned for their purpose any more. They became incredibly depressed and were far too willing to open up about it. Things only got worse from this point on.

Then a few sentences are illegible through charring from the time shaft, but it escalates quickly.

By this time, the hostages were well on the road to recovery, while the doors continued to exert power. They now legally occupy a new nation spanning 243 square kilometres of land formerly belonging to the USA. Aside from the events of their fight for independence, they have remained a peaceful nation, though the human rights record there still falls short of UN expectations.

And that is all I have. I wish I had the whole textbook to read more than this brief overview, but alas, this is the nature of the time shaft. We find random shreds of information and see what we can learn from them. This particular item really shows the incredible potential humankind shall achieve with synthetic evolution. Hopefully other applications of this wondrous technology will turn out less messily – or perhaps we are better off not risking it.

Until next time,

    – Barnabus K. Pomadour

Sacred Fires – Part 1

There was magic in the books of The Sacred Lahana Sa’Ellai Library. There was magic in the walls and shelves, but most of all, there was magic in the fire that rose and twisted in red and gold from the centre of the room. The base of the fire was surrounded by slate wedges pointing up. Each was engraved with a strange symbol. The fire never crossed the boundary marked by the slate. It never once thought to send a burning tendril out toward the shelves. The books were in no danger. The fire simply burned endlessly without any apparent need for fuel.

The flames reached up above the height of the first upper level. The second upper level gave a beautiful view down to the fire. It was up here that Ennaya Atimari had been reading for hours. Open books littered the floor around her, absentmindedly dropped when another title or cover caught her eye. She had always loved to read but no place had she ever been resonated as strongly with that passion as this place did. A momentary distraction came when she heard a noise from the opposite side. She glanced up just in time to see a hooded figure disappear between the shelves. It was just a librarian or flame-tender – hardly worth looking away from her book for, but just before she returned her focus to the battered pages, something caught her eye. High in the rafters above, thick smoke hung in the air, and in it she saw words. She shook her head and rubbed her eyes, but the words were still there when she looked again. Within the smoke, there were streaks of faint light which read, “Ennaya Atimari, You are powerful.”

“What does that mean?!” whispered Ennaya, and the light shifted in response.

“You are the one who shall reignite the other fires.”

“What other…” she began, but she was cut off by the sound of an explosion below. She stood up to run to the barrier and look down, but an arm restrained her. She spun her head round, and her eyes met those of a flame-tender, who gestured to stay quiet.

“I’m not an enemy,” he whispered to her ear.

A muffled cry came from below, followed by a woman’s voice demanding, “Where is she?”

The rest of the conversation was inaudible, but Ennaya made the connection.

“Is this about the words in the smoke?” she asked the flame-tender.

“So it is true. You are Ennaya Atimari?”

“Yes, but…”

“I am Lukani. I will get you out of here.”

“What does she want with me?”

“I shall explain when we are somewhere safe. Come this way.”

Lakani set off in a silent jog, pulling Ennaya along by the arm. He led her between two shelves, and they made it halfway before a deafening crack sounded and the shelf to their right began to fall towards them. Ennaya dived to the ground, and covered her head with her arms. The impact of the first row of shelves was not enough to topple the second, but a shower of splintered wood and books crashed around her. She anxiously moved her arms aside and looked round. A woman dressed in ornate black and purple robes floated in the air. While Ennaya had been looking away, the fire had grown, and was tall enough to provide a golden background in contrast to the dark robes of the woman. Her presence demanded such attention that Ennaya had not noticed Lukani staggering forward until he had positioned himself directly between the woman and Ennaya.

“Prophetess Ansakari, You are not welcome here!” he said, in a pained but bold voice.

“Brother Lukani, your treachery comes as little surprise. The few who remain on your side cannot stand in my way.”

“Yet I do.”

Ansakari gave a wicked smile and thrust an arm to the side. As she did so Lukani was flung across the room like a ragdoll. Her eyes then locked onto Ennaya, and she gently floated down to land on the floor. Ennaya stood to run, but stumbled on broken wood and fell. She turned to Ansakari and could not look away. She could not move. All she could do was stare fearfully at the approaching figure. Ansakari’s hand rose in a claw shape, and sparks began to fly between her fingertips, growing in intensity.  The crackling of lightning became loud, even over the sound of the fire. Ansakari’s hand swung forward to strike, and Ennaya screamed.

The pain of the shock never came. She opened her eyes. There was nothing around her but light. She wondered if she was dead, but then her eyes began to adjust to the glow, and she recognised it as the colour of the flame. Inaudible cries of anger came from outside. Ansakari must not have anticipated this. Ennaya certainly had not. She tried her best to make out what Ansakari was saying, but she could not. The voice seemed to get quieter and quieter. Then the light seemed to get dimmer and dimmer. Then it was gone entirely, and Ennaya saw she was no longer in the library. She looked around, but it did not help. She had no idea where she might be. For comfort she reached to touch her necklace. Beside it, on another chain, she found a tiny vial hanging from her neck. She had no memory of owning such a thing, or putting one on, so she took it off and examined it. Inside, a little piece of flame danced, no bigger than that of a dying candlelight. Despite its size, the flame did not seem weak. As she looked at it, it seemed to grow in power. Smoke found its way out past the stopper, and arranged itself into faint letters in the air.

“Our journey begins.”

 

PART 2

Visits to my Local Time Shaft – 3

So I was down at my local Time Shaft recently, and I’m a little concerned about what I found.

Almost perfectly timed with my arrival, a piece of paper flew out, and floated gently to my feet.

My name was written on one side. I turned it over and read, “We see you, Barny. We hope you’re having fun.”

I do not know who wrote this or why one man looking into the shaft is worthy of sending a note to. What makes it intimidating is that they used my full name. They know what the K stands for. Only my parents and I know what the K stands for. It even just says “K” on my birth certificate.

One scenario is that it is a threat from scientists of the future to dissuade me from studying the time shaft, but that seems unlikely as my research has not indicated that such studies are damaging – and they could not know my full name!

Alternatively it could be those chronowraiths I was warned about – but all others evidence suggests that they are either not real, or at least dormant. If they are real, and are actually sending messages to me, many would consider it an ill omen for our future. This assumption is based on superstition and rumour alone though. There is no reason to believe chronowraiths are inherently destructive or evil. Even if they would destroy our timelines, a worse scenario also exists. I have a bet with my rival that I will reveal my middle name if he ever gets a Nobel prize. If in the future he has achieved that goal… I’d rather have taken my chances with the chronowraiths…

Until next time,

– Barnabus K. Pompadour

Visits to my Local Time Shaft – 2

So I was down at my local time shaft recently, and it spewed out an incredible device from the future…

At first I was underwhelmed, thinking it was nothing but an average everyday toilet seat. My keen eye soon noticed something – a little button on the back. Naturally, I pressed it at once. The seat aligned itself horizontally at a comfortable sitting height, and a holographic basket appeared beneath it. I pressed down on the seat, and it did not budge. Some powerful levitation technology indeed must have been at play. I rummaged through my pocket and found a penny. I tossed it in, and it never reached the ground. Instead there sounded a light fizz as it appeared to simply disappear upon contact with the holographic basket.

Coincidentally, it was a hot day and I had had rather too much water on my journey to the Time Shaft. Thus nature called. Tentatively, I unzipped and used the device. There was a steady crackle as the stream reached the bottom. When I was done, I had to look – and the ground beneath the device was indeed purely dry.

I have tried to reverse-engineer the seat and work out just where my penny and urine might now be, but to no success. The only hint is a set of what appear to chrono-energetic drivers. From this I hypothesise that whatever passes through this seat is teleported into a different time – hopefully not in a way that might make it fly out of the time shaft…

One interesting possibility I have considered is that the matter entering the toilet is sent back in time to prehistoric jungles, where it acts as fertiliser to fuel the growth and evolution that one day led to the creation of the device that put it there. (Take this theory with a pinch of salt, as I have been known to suggest time-paradoxes at every opportunity!)

What I can say for sure is that the energy used by this device must be quite considerable in order to levitate and teleport matter. But perhaps it is still more efficient that stretching a complex sewer system to every house on an overpopulated planet? Needless to say, I will try my very best to discover the workings of this device, and see if something similar might come sooner than the far future connections of the time shaft.

I shall be back with another report as soon as the shaft gives me something to discuss!

Until next time,

     – Prof, Barnabus K. Pompadour

 

P.S – You may find my collected reports here.