Carol and Friend

Here Be Oddities

Should I Spoil You?

When I said I would provide stories from our World of Weird, I didn’t realize how damn hard it would be to do without giving massive spoilers. So much happened in that first year after we graduated and Alex took up Sorrows—see? Even that’s a spoiler. But maybe this is not entirely a bad thing. After all, Alex said in the preface to Sorrows’ Master that he tells his kids about how he met Kerry and how we all got together. Whoopsie…but yes, the twins will be five this year, and his daughter did ask. Whether or not she really understands the answer is something else. She will eventually.

So would it be wrong to let you know that the gang has expanded a whole bunch? We’ve got in-laws around we didn’t have before, courtesy of the Magistra that fell in love with us—the children’s mother, the beautiful and fierce Miss Carol. We eventually did meet Michael’s handler—oh, wait, that’s in the forthcoming books page, and so is Carol’s tale. So a bunch of this is already out of the bag?

Fredman, You Weasel

Fredman, you weasel. I worried for nothing, dammit.

(Oh. She says I should have read her site when we were putting it up. Pish-tosh. It’s not like *she* has read every word of the sites she’s built for clients. I still say you’re a weasel, Fredman.)

Michael’s handler, who is not “Gabriel,” but Julian, is a handful himself. He’s just as scary as Mike and Ian, but not crazy. Or not very crazy. And he’s a magick-user, too—a Witch with a capital W. That is, he’s one of a preternatural race, not a Wiccan. There are similarities…except that Witches are mostly not human, and are pretty rare.

Mike coming to us permanently that July was the first domino down in the sequence that led to us getting sucked into working for the U.S. Gommint. Trust me, this isn’t as boring as it sounds. We get callouts for all kinds of scary Weird Shit and travel all over the U.S. for it.

World of Weird

“World of Weird” is the term Brooke coined for all the distinctly non-mundane stuff under the noses of the general populous. Do people know that Club Dante, downtown, where the live bands play on weekends, is owned and operated by an actual Roman? Oh yeah. Carolanus, the vampire Master of masters in town whose club that is, he was alive toward the end of the Classical Era. I think he was born in Roman Spain in the first century AD, but moved to Italy during his lifetime. Wow, history lesson with legs and fangs. And he’s only one of the three vampire masters in town.

Our other masters are Casimir and Tamara. Casimir is Zoë’s heir. He, with Zoë and their nest, came to Palmers Rest back in the early 19th century. As did Carolanus and his nest. Tamara went to the New World with Dolores, her very old friend, so she was already there when they arrived in that howling wilderness. Those three are but a few of the preternaturals that sought refuge with the Gotth. —Thusly was the town named.

Speaking of refuge: More of the World of Weird that you probably have seen around town and recognized is the Cloutier clan. They’re quite a force in town, thanks to the Gotth’s acknowledgement of their relationship from the beginning to today, as well as social justice for persons of color slowly prevailing in the South. Back in the early years of the 20th century, Mambo Genevieve came from New Orleans to worship with Augustus, the sword-bearer of the day. They had an ongoing thing, Dolores tells me. Augustus was one of the mages of the Lineage, and he was as much Genevieve’s equal in magick as he was her friend and lover. Our ancient mambo today, Miz Thelma Cloutier, is their daughter, and her many children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren form a considerable vaudun faction in town. Man, people love finding the vévés around downtown. It’s a kind of scavenger hunt for voodoo fans.

The Cloutiers are just so…around…that those of us who grew up here sort of take them for granted. Everybody has at least one in their high school class. But they and the vampires form the basis for a lot of the tourist business that we get around town.

Parties, We Haz Dem

Then there are the Holy Days. You wouldn’t believe how popular the cross-quarter days are around here—it’s like festival four times a year, for Christmas’ sake. OK, not Festival. No town our size could afford that. We have a big public do on Halloween, of course. For Halloween, there’s usually a band and a party in the town square, around the Lady Fountain. Alex gets dressed up in his best sword-bearer armor and he and his soldiers go sit out in the square and accept gifts to Sorrows as well as grant boons and otherwise entertain. Then they retreat to Gotth Hill for the party there. A lot of Wiccans and mages come around to see us at Halloween—good times.

Candlemas and Lammas are pretty mellow, in contrast, just big parties down at the Museum, the restaurant that the Cloutiers own.

Now, Lady Day is a HUGE party—of course. It’s not official, but the citizens do occupy the town square and sometimes there is an actual fair. Dolores comes out and gets her party on in style, and humans and preternaturals come from all over to get down with us. We get Maenads, even, which have to be corralled eventually. Keeps us busy, rescuing the drunk fae and humans. Oh, the stories. Most of the stories from Lady Day festivals begin with, “I was so stoned…” and generally have something X-rated in the middle. You can’t buy fun like that, I tell you.

This Week’s Reminiscence

Hmm, what’s going on in the World of Weird this week?  It’s getting close to Candlemas, and Mr. Stafford, the old guy who owns the farm next door to Gotth Hill, between us and the lake, says he’s going to breed Primo again this spring. Oh, lordy, lordy. First, we still don’t know exactly what Mr. Stafford is. He’s been around for…uh, ever since? Probably fae of some sort, or half-fae. Keeps to himself. Looks like an old guy of sixty-something. Probably a glamour, that.

As for his dog, Primo? We all grew up thinking he was a Newfoundland. But he never got old…uh…what the hell is that thing? Besides a drool machine…

Fredman says she’ll tell you that story. Hie on over to read about Fetching Slippers.

 

waterside-idyll-fi

A Nice Place to Visit…

Think of this as the musical interlude while I rack my brain for something that’s not a spoiler but will be entertaining. So I present a curious view of the lake just west of Gotth Hill…and what the heck? OK, Jimmy may have Photoshopped this… or not. I, personally, would not eat crows. Did that dragon do something bad?

And… that dragon might actually be one of my relatives. Not saying just who…

If you’d like to have this as a wallpaper, head on over to NE.Fredman’s artwork page.

Torgil-closeup

Vampires Versus the Abyss

Torgil, master vampire

Alas, poor Torgil. He met a bad end. Clicky for larger version.

One of the things that we learned even before Alex took up Sorrows is that vamps, especially the pretty civilized specimens who live in Palmers Rest, are not the creepiest or most dangerous critters out there by a long shot.

Alex will poke me (OW stop I haven’t even done it yet) if I give out too many spoilers, but if you’ve gotten into the book, you know about poor old Torgil. That’s the guy in the image up there, with the uncomfortable-looking squid-ish arms popping out of his belly. The guys told me that that’s not even all the arms that could pop out. YUCK.

The term we use “ridden” vampires. That critter there is one of nest that infests the vamp, one critter per vamp, via a freaking gateway INSIDE THE VAMPIRE. Vamp physiology I’ll leave to Ian to explain (he’s vivisected several). Then they try to establish a nest in THIS world via egg-laying into other vamps.

Abyssals Are Just Yucky

So, why the heck would Torgil even consider that? Part of the answer is spoiler (sorry)…

BUT, as Tamara the Ancient told us (she’s one of our vamps), even vampires have things that prey on them. And there are places far worse than undead. (Or not-completely-alive, as it happens.) Some of these we just call Abyssal, being as they come from a place pretty freaking alien. Abyssals such as infested Torgil and his nest apparently can grant vampires a bit of immunity to sunlight, not to mention access to a heck of a lot of Necro-essence. They’re very good at converting living tissue into not-living tissue. Vampires, in fact, theorize that they may indeed be a breed of proto-rakshasa that caught an abyssal infection that kind of stuck. Thus, they are sort of undead.

Back to the Abyssals. There are a lot of sorts out there. I can’t even pronounce the proper word for what infested Torgil’s nest. Most vamps are smarter than to even fool with them–they’re considered vamp-parasites. But, we’ve learned from some of the rakshasa we know, there is even an entire society of rakshasa out there that has gone and intentionally fused with a couple of types of these critters. Why, oh why? Well, those guys are apparently incredible heavy-weights in the magick-wielding community, and they got it from that fusion.

Daywalking: Not Quite Dead

But apparently you don’t have to do the nasty with an Abyssal to be able to eat lunch with us outside. Tamara, who is herself a daywalker, is immensely old, but hardly one of the ancestral vamps. We thought that her ability to picnic had to do with being an Ancient. Then we found out (Jimmy did, and had hysterics doing it) that she’s not exactly dead. She has a very slow heartbeat, she can eat some of the time, and generally all the normal functions are just really minimized. I won’t give out a huge spoiler, but a lot of her powers come from what she was BEFORE she was turned, and that was three millennia ago at our best guess.

Just a Teeny Spoiler, OK?

In Book Three, (http://www.nefredman.com/books/) you’ll see how we learned a LOT more about rakshasa. Point of semantics: “demons” covers a lot of beings, from non-corporeal in our worldspace, ever, to those that are actually a sister-branch of human. The latter we took up calling rakshasa. This isn’t the proper Hindu sort of legend/myth, just a name to hang our experiences on. I hope you’ll forgive me this mis-mything. In any case, if you’re a fan of kitsune, hold onto your jeans. You’re gonna love Book Three. Promise. :)

Tentacle Farm

Thought for the Day

Thought for the day: Do NOT pry the iron cover off of that mysterious well you found inside the old barn.

Oh yes. Where did THIS come from? Jimmy Cortes, our resident photographer and Photoshop geek, likes taking walks out in the countryside near here. There are a few abandoned farms near the lake…not all of them are uninhabited, it seems!

Jimmy swears he didn’t do anything to this photo. You can’t see the doe the, um, thing just ate, but it was there just a moment before, he says.

pookyface-featuredimage

Is This Blog Working Yet?

*taps microphone*

I started to title this post, “An Introduction to the Sword-Bearers of Palmers Rest,” and then had to slap myself in the head because, you know, I did finally graduate from college and I don’t have to do term papers anymore. Now, I do work as a journalist for the Times-Picayune in Chapel Hill, so in actuality I do much worse than term papers daily. Growing up is realizing, if you write for a living, that deeply researched term papers are only the kiddie pool.

Uh, enough about that. Story. You guys want a story about the weird that goes on in Palmers Rest.

Dudes! I wrote books about this stuff! Start with Sorrows’ Master.

Questions from the Preternatural Community

But here, mainly, I wanted to splash around in this bigger pool and let you guys on Mage Net know about the new preternatural sheriff in town, since we’re getting many, many questions that just repeat themselves. That, and the vampires amongst you tend to email us at 4 a.m. and want an answer toute de suite. Yikes, no way. Sorry. Posting this is way better.

We get questions like, “What the heck is a sword-bearer, and why is that a big deal?”

Like, “What’s his territory? Do I owe yet MORE tithes or protection money?”

Like, “If he’s the new sheriff…how is he better than the Council of Nine or the flipping vampire masters in our town?

Like, “So there finally IS a new sword-bearer, huh? Is this kid going to be effective? We heard he was some kind of [your choice of derogatory term here].”

Like, “Is he a mage? The last-sword-bearer-but-one was. Are they ALL mages?”

Short answers:

  1. Either the answer to your prayers or your worst nightmare. Tell me if that’s a big deal.
  2. Traditionally, as far as he can travel in a day, so that at least gets us the East Coast. Or just Palmers Rest. As for tithes, no. But if you want a boon, now, that’s a different story.
  3. No mandatory subservience for mages. No blood donations. And he does great parties.
  4. Yes, there was a hiatus for Sorrows. Alexander is a Southern gentleman, born and bred, but he’s no pushover. However, unlike most Southern gentlemen, his sexual preference is Yes, Thank You Very Much. When he has to, he hits like an Armored Personnel Carrier and takes damage like one.  Don’t forget the big freaking sword. He’s the real deal.
  5. No. He’s worse than a mage. We’ll get to that eventually.

Stuff like those questions.

Polite Guy with a Big Effing Sword

For those who are wondering, the “preternatural sheriff” I mentioned is the new sword-bearer. We didn’t know, at first, that that is what a sword-bearer does in the preternatural community. He keeps things from going totally nutso.  Oh, correction: He’s not a cop. There are no rules or laws he enforces, except the basic “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.” Or something like that.

Boons: For the Usual Price, he’ll grant a boon. Or you can hire him and his soldiers if he approves of what you’re trying to accomplish. More about that later, too.

Not all the sword-bearers have been as truly kind and downright good as the new guy. Most folks would not call the sword-bearers or their Covens moral, but they do have standards. Each one makes up his own mind on what those might be.

And Alex does know what to do with all the forks and knives at a formal table. Dude’s polite, get over it. He can still hit.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start some introductions, so you don’t get lost right off the bat.

Where am I writing from? Well, I live in Palmers Rest, North Carolina, which is a small town at the western edge of the Triangle Area in North Carolina, a bit west of Cary and Raleigh, and south of Chapel Hill and Durham. That’s in the United States, guys. The year is 2014. OK? Situated? Good.

I’m Trent Broyhill, or as they call me at home, the Apprentice Evil Queen, or AEQ, if you like acronyms. I’m one of the seven originals in the Coven, not including the sword-bearer, my dear Alexander Malcolm Gotth.

Why a Coven?

We are neither witches nor Wiccan. Calling our bunch a “Coven” is sort of a in-joke that the sword-bearer and his mates took up sometime around 1600. If Christians then knew about the sword-bearer and his goddess—the Trinity, a god in many bodies—they tended to think he was the very Devil, and we his circle of worshipers. Mistakenly, they think he’s in charge, the miserable sexists, but you know, 1600s.

He’s not in charge. SHE is. He serves his goddess and his family. He protects the town and the humans in it. Kind of keeps an eye on things. Accepts gifts on behalf of the goddess on the cross-quarter days. Grants boons. Goes medieval on the collective butts of they who threaten.

Of what are they gods? Back around the time the Egyptian dynasties were getting started, Sorrows made the crops grow, the children be born strong, and the animals and plants nice and healthy. The Trinity is a fertility god–with a sword.  And we’ve been living right under your noses all this time. :)

Was that a good start? When you read the first book, let me know what you think.

Let the questioning begin. Please, no spell-bombs.

PS – That’s Alex in the image, wearing the famous “Pooky” face of utter confusion. Which is how he felt for the first month he was…uh, I’m going to save that. *evil smile*