Vague Excuses…

February totally blew.

Yesterday, Fredman emailed me and asked me where the hell my blog updates have been. I replied that I could say the same for her, and thank you very much, I’ve been swamped at work with a research project for one of the political desk editors. So she writes back and says that first she had two weeks of flu, and now some other damn medical thing going on. I replied, WTF? (basically) and she reminded me that (a) she’s old and (b) not part of a household that includes a goddess that can heal pretty much anything and (c) she’s old.

Well, sucks to be her. And me, too, for that matter, recently. See, all of us except Alex had the damn flu in February for almost three weeks—that’s what you get for sleeping in a great lump with a bunch of other people. *cough* And then of course the children, little disease vectors that they are, brought it home with them from kindergarten. Yay! Little snotty faces that want to kiss Uncle Trent! Kissy-kissy-achoo!

Did I say that we live with a goddess that can heal? Well, apparently Dolores, like every other powerful being we’ve run into, doesn’t think that pain and suffering are a bad thing. What is it with them? I mean, we even called Ariolas, and that damned Elf mage (and Carol’s grandfather) just laughed at us. Dolores had said that we probably needed a break and NyQuil works great when combined with rest. You wouldn’t believe what Jimmy (who had it the worst) said about that. And he was coughing the entire time, too. I didn’t know he could string together that many colorful words! He didn’t say any of that to Dolores’ face, but she sort of knows, anyhow, being herself and all, and connected to us.

Alex was spared, via Sorrows, since she usually keeps the sword-bearer available for guarding us. He felt terrible about that, and bumbled around in the kitchen making chicken soup, over and over. Dolores and I took turns supervising, since Alex tends to forget about boiling pots and frying pans if something shiny passes by him. How someone so smart can be such an idiot in the kitchen, I don’t know. He says it’s because he’s never been fascinated by chemistry. Again, WTF? This is about attention, dude! Well, we managed to keep him on task (even if I was nodding off half the time, thanks to the NyQuil), and the chicken soup was actually edible. I managed to get him to NOT put rosemary into it. He thinks rosemary is pretty, and forgets that it’s nearly too strong to eat as far as most of us are concerned. He doesn’t even like the flavor! OK, I’m going to go punch him, just because

Back again. And yeah, he just laughed at me when I pounded him on the arm. It was that silly laugh that’s so cute, so I smacked him in the chest, which made him laugh even harder. I feel better, at least.

Anyhow. And then March came and with it this project at work. And the weather’s been hot-cold-hot-cold, so we’re all confused. Kerry gives up on winter on March 1st most years, and wears flipflops around the estate even if it’s freezing out. He regretted that when he went to get the mail and papers a time or two. Like Alex, Kerry’s pretty bullet-proof, but he regressed to shearling moccasins after that.

I asked Dolores about the “pain and suffering are OK” thing—not for the first time, mind you. Now, Dolores is not an omniscient or omnipotent sort of goddess, which I hope you’ve understood from the (still unfinished) conversation between Carol and her. She’s powerful, but not all-powerful. She suffers, too. But she’s got an inhumanly long memory and that changes your point of view a lot. I agree with her that pain is a great director for us short-lived. It helps us know what to do and what not to do to stay alive. Suffering teaches us about consequences. But sometimes, shit happens. In the abstract, I agree that it’s not what happens to you when the random fewmets hit the windmill, but how you respond to it that matters. In the short term, it’s pretty obvious why Advil was invented, and why psychiatric therapy is not a bad thing.

“Look at a waving field of flowers,” she said. “If a goat steps on some or eats others, is that a tragedy? Perhaps from the flowers’ point of view. And we, all of us, are a beautiful field of flowers that the Creator made from Itself. It is us. It is experiencing time and space through all of us. To the One, not even the most terrible tragedies have the same impact. They are all part of the marvelous play of consciousness.”

Philosophy can be a thin blanket on a cold winter’s day, can’t it? Still, it helps a little. Maybe. Maybe I’ll just hope that March coming in like a lion doesn’t auger for more blowage! Wish us luck, and let us know how your February went.

*   *   *

And… Holy Carplets, it’s nearly the end of April. What happened? Er…well…I’ll have to make up something. But basically, more of March happened. It was unromantic and way too much work for yours truly. The gang has been wondering if I left them to sleep at the office.

And I keep kicking over Fredman’s anthill in my copious spare time *cough*. She says she’s wrestling with the Book 2 rewrite, since her standards are much higher than when she first wrote it about six years ago. You should see the freaking diagrams she’s drawing to figure things out. On the other hand, you don’t want to. I just say, hey, this is how we lived through it. That particular month of July, 2007 ALSO blew, especially for Kerry and Alex.

Here’s hoping for more forward movement in May!

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. :)