Thursday, May 26, 2005

Stereotypically Speaking...

Hail to thee, modern civilization, for fostering the role of the stereotype in an age of open communication.

Few non-Filipinos are familiar with the presence of the word "Filipina", which refers to the female half of the Philippine population. As for those non-Filipinos who are familiar with the word, chances are that you don't see it in a good light.

Do a Google search on the word "Filipina", for instance. That's right, do it now. You can always hit the "Back" button later.

Better yet, do a Google Images search. That should put things more in perspective.

Don't like Google? You can always try Yahoo. Or MSN. Or Lycos - Lycos has some pretty nasty results. Or the Open Directory Project, although the problem isn't quite as bad there.

Isn't it strange that the majority of the world seems to think of the Filipina merely as a mail-order bride, or as a sex worker, or as an exotic model? One would think that we've progressed significantly past the age of the Neanderthals.

Check that: One would think that, even though there are still a lot of Neanderthals out there, they shouldn't really be having the run of the Internet, should they?

But then, that's what the Internet's about for most people in this modern age. The Internet is for misdirected views. The Internet is for mysogynist perceptions. The Internet is for porn.

Yep, I suppose we're all guilty of it in one way or another.

But that doesn't mean we can't try to make it right.

When I type "Philippines" into a search engine, I should really be getting information I can soak up on the country's natural landmarks, its history, and its cultural legacy. When I type "Filipina" into a search engine, I should really be getting something about the struggle of the Philippine woman to reach beyond herself, and the standing that the rest of the world has so unfairly foisted on her.

Read them. Refer to them. Recommend them. Link to them.

I'm sure you don't want to be the stereotypical Internet user that we all make you out to be.


Between the Suman Latik webring, the UGotGame Expo last Saturday, and the Sci-Fi/Fantasy Convention last Tuesday, I've been running myself ragged. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy everything, mind you, but I've been running myself ragged, regardless.

After a while, everything gets to me: Running through creative exercises involving Suman Latik... getting urged to put on a Super Mario Brothers costume... meeting up with two Women in Red, an Eowyn and a Slave Leia... all very nice, yes, but it all gets to me after a while. Especially when I've got a workload to consider, and my family's pushing me to come with them to Baguio over the weekend.

Sleep. Yes, that's what I need: Sleep.

And a bit of good food would be nice.

And a bit of conversation with an intelligent woman, too. That always makes my day.

I'd throw in the possibility of getting all three in one evening, but I'm not that optimistic. That would be like having your cake, and eating it, too. :)

That said, the rest of my day awaits.

Anybody know a good place to visit in Baguio? :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Three Panels

Is it funny, or is it not funny? Is it merely amusing, or does it make you wonder how I can fail so spectacularly at humor?

How do those webcomic makers do it, anyway?

Starting from Sassy Lawyer's original image, I figured that I could make three copies of the suman latik picture and add dialogue to produce a makeshift webcomic. This is the approach that is successfully employed by Rob Balder's PartiallyClips, which uses comedic script with copyright-free clip art.

On the other hand, I'm probably as far away from Rob Balder and his webcomic as I'm ever going to get at the moment.

It's strangely difficult, trying to write script for a comic whose three panels are all exactly the same. You lose quite a lot of development material right there. It's even more difficult, considering that written humor isn't exactly my forte.

I knew, definitely, that the primary speakers were going to be the unwrapped suman in the foreground ("Suman1"), and the one in the dark wrapper sitting just behind the plate ("Suman2", seeing that it was easy to pick out from the rest of its crowd). My first draft was actually somewhat risque:


Suman1: Have you ever realized that we, as suman latik, are representative of pornography as a whole?

Suman2: Dude, lighten up already.


Suman1: No, I'm serious, man. I mean, we're long and thick. We exude a sticky substance. People put sugar on us, and then put us in their mouths.

Suman1: We're practically walking phallic symbols here. If we could walk, that is.

Suman2: ...


Suman1: What? Was it something I said?

Suman2: Whoa, dude. You're naked.

The punchline was completely out of left field, yes. Not quite what I was expecting.

I was prepared to use the comic based on this script for the longest time, but I think my personal censorship jurors got to me. (They apparently didn't stop me from putting the original script up, though.)

I spent two or three nights thinking up more scripts for the three-panel setup. While I knew that I wanted the result to be funny, I didn't know exactly how to make it work. How do those webcomic creators do it?

Interestingly enough, the scripts ended up becoming more and more wretched. I guessed that the loss of the original joke had hit my mental faculties hard, and now the ol' synapses were flailing for something - anything - that was even remotely funny. I did a few culture jokes, a couple of awkward ones... generally the stuff that I wouldn't show over here for fear that you'd sic the angry mob on me. :)

Here's one of the stranger results, for example:


Suman2: Honorable sensei, what must I do to reach true enlightenment?

Suman1: Seek the path without seeking the path, young one. Know the measure of the void. Contemplate the many faces of solitude.


Suman2: Umm... Sensei, that was what you told me LAST week.

Suman1: Enlightenment is not a goal that is easily attained, young one. You must transcend the self... the mind... the soul.


Suman2: You're only saying that because somebody unwrapped you and slathered you in sauce.

Suman1: Omm... ommmmm...

Yep, this was one of the saner ones. Kind of makes you shudder at what the other entries could have been, right?

So I guess I'm going to be stuck being a writer for a while. I'll leave the funny three-panel webcomics to their established creators, particularly Rob Balder. If anything, this entire exercise has given me a profound appreciation for the nature of his comic.

But hey, look at it this way: I just got you to read over six hundred words on the usage of suman latik as a webcomic subject. :)

Peace, everyone. I'll see you next week, on the Suman Latik Web Ring:

Polio vaccine developer
French for "clearly"
Goo Goo Dolls hit from "City of Angels"
Toni Tennille's partner
Administrative officer of a college
Casey Jones in the Turtle movies
US College Basketball's "Human Highlight Film"
Texan Senator, Republican, District 31
Kamikaze feline
What you don't know

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


Now, how exactly does one pronounce that, anyway?

"@#$%!", I mean. How does one pronounce that? Do we make this little bleeping sound, or something?

The most likely answer is that one doesn't pronounce it to begin with. "@#$%!" is more of an identifier than a serious word. I guess that it's used to dignify pieces of writing where profanity is needed but not merited, whether by propriety or by external censorship.

We usually find "@#$%!" and its variants in newspaper comic strips, I imagine. Comic strip characters get frustrated all the time, and a well-placed expression of this can be funny at the right moments.

Granted, actual swearwords themselves can be funny at the right moments, but newspaper comic strips have probably evolved to the point where generic expressions of frustration are the norm for that kind of comedy. (The relative freedom of most webcomics from standard forms of censorship, I must point out, allows them to use profanity with wild abandon.)

The degree of usage of profanity should really be considered a matter of character. Personally, I do use the occasional swearword, although I hold off on what I feel are some of the more vile statements. Other people don't swear at all. Still others are more than capable of swearing up a storm.

Consequently, fictional characters must run in the same vein. A fictional character will use a level of profanity that corresponds with how he is written and portrayed. The difficulty, however, lies in writing a character that has a vastly different "swear style" than its creator.

For some reason, a number of readers tend to ascribe the qualities of an author's characters to that author himself. This usually spells trouble for authors who run common themes throughout their books: Stephen King is particularly considered a heavy swearer because of his writings. Strange, but true.

Profanity in writing also holds a certain degree of consideration within the publishing world. I've already implied the distinction between newspaper comics and webcomics in this regard; A similar situation exists between the magazines and the novels of the world.

I find this odd, really. The censorship of profanity in print form presumably exists in order to prevent its undue influence on children. But, off hand, aren't we more likely to hear children saying 'bad words' than we are to see children writing it? It's not as though they can tell how a word is pronounced by merely reading it, after all.

I have to admit that we're better off safe than sorry, though. It's not as though I'm agreeable to having kindergarteners submit swear-laden homework assignments every day.

I figure, though, that the censorship of profanity in print exists more to ensure that we don't offend each others' sensibilities. There are three kinds of swearwords, it appears - the religious ones, the racist ones, and the sexual ones. All three can potentially offend sizable portions of the reading populace, although exactly why only these three categories effectively comprise offensive insult is beyond me. (Why don't we have swearwords that connote violent acts, for example?)

Maybe that's why expressions like "@#$%!" are technically safe. "@#$%!" by itself doesn't do anything. It doesn't culturally or aesthetically apply to a specific style of character, and it doesn't get associated with any established authors. "@#$%!" is too complex a collection of characters for children to understand or replicate. And, naturally, "@#$%!" has no obvious religious, racist or sexual connotations. Heck, we can't even pronounce the word, if it's even a word at all.

The trouble is that "@#$%!" by itself is unsatisfying. It's safe, yes, but it's unsatisfying. That, of course, disqualifies it from being a serious example of profanity. Cussing, after all, should really give us a little feeling of satisfaction afterwards.

What interesting quandaries we write for ourselves.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Get Some Game

I know that a lot of other people will be blogging about this, so I'll make this short - and possibly a little sweet.

I've just gotten back from the UGotGame exposition in the Greenbelt Mall today. I met quite a few people there, including fellow bloggers Clair, Marcelle, Sacha, Dominique, Jac, Jonas, and Ranulf. The latter was running the show without giving away any indication of just how tired he really was.

I also ran into quite a few cosplayers, and the stories that can be told about the event involved a rubber monster from Doom 3, a girl wearing a demonic inner tube, a lovely Zhen Ji and her weapon-flute, and the most complex mecha-costume I had ever seen. But I'll let other people tell those stories. :)

And then there were the locally-made computer games, which, while rudimentary, did show off exactly what their developers could do, given the little time that they had. I audibly wished for better writing and story for most of them, but on the other hand, that's probably a less important consideration for the programmers at this time.

The bottom line, though, is that I was fortunate enough to have attended a good convention today. And I wasn't even as big on computer games as a lot of the other attendees were.

There'll be another one next year, everyone. Do drop by and get impressed. :)

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Fan Fiction

I don't remember ever being a fan of, er, fan fiction. I do write the occasional Legend of the Five Rings story every now and then, but I think that's about it.

That said, I have nothing against well-developed universes. In fact, I like well-developed universes. It's easy to admire the construction of an all-encompassing setting and marvel at how the little details fit together so well. But I have to say that it's also just too easy to set up camp in such a playground and start fooling around with the furnishings.

Fan fiction is actually a bit of an exercise; It tests how well one can incorporate his or her own stories into a world that someone else created, and it pits those stories against a loyal fan base that finds it easy enough to tear the original world-tales to shreds. Experienced writers should note that there are very few pieces of fan fiction that gain the respect of a significant portion of the crowd.

What fan fiction does is impose a limit to a writer's imaginations, something that standard writing doesn't necessarily do. Fan fiction literally tells you that you can write whatever you want, provided that you stay (reasonably) true to the logic or physics of your chosen universe. Snow White must associate with seven dwarves. Kirk, Spock and McCoy must be the top three officers of the original Enterprise. Every Gundam series must have a mysterious pilot who wears a mask...

You might note that the three examples I've given above are perfectly breakable: Any fanfic writer can come up with an eighth dwarf for Snow White, or supplant McCoy's place in the Enterprise's hierarchy, or produce an entire family of masked Gundam pilots. But this is precisely my point: Despite the change, Snow White still associates with dwarves, the Enterprise still focuses on its officers, and the mysterious Gundam pilots still wear masks. These are fan fiction's limits at work.

A lot of writers of fan fiction find their imaginations impaired when they delve into general writing. This is not much of a surprise.

Conversely, a lot of general writers find their works stunted when they delve into fan fiction. This is also not much of a surprise.

The tricky part, you see, is balancing the two different mindsets. One can't simply turn the limit settings on imagination on and off like a light switch. You start out being either one or the other, and it takes a hefty amount of effort to transcend the two realms.

I believe that fan fiction is good exercise for writing in general. Putting together a story under a given established background is tantamount to being given a specific subject for your next English assignment: It forces you to write something that you might never otherwise have written, to consider things that you might never otherwise have taken into account, and to possibly even figure out something that you might never otherwise have learned. Fan fiction may or may not be more difficult than fiction in general, but it is the transition between the two that can potentially make us into better writers.

With that in mind, I would also like to see more fanfic writers delve into general fiction. I don't believe that it's viable to revolve one's stories around the same established universes forever. In fact, I think it's unhealthy - it indicates an inability to let go of a creation that may have already gone past its prime. General fiction, with its encouragement towards stretching the imagination, would obviously provide a good exercise in this case.

With regards to fan fiction, I suspect that what I'm really going for is some form of interplay between the two. Both deal with different, perhaps even fundamental approaches to fiction... and if there's anything that I feel we need, it's the acceptance and use of various approaches towards the way we write.

Antaria: Profile: Davin Earthwalker

Considering the ambition that is prevalent among the Tempestites, the position of grandmaster is highly coveted. At any point in time, there are many young upstarts pushing and clawing their way towards the top of the sect's hierarchy, which makes each Tempestite grandmaster's rule a lesson in fear and intimidation more often than not.

Perhaps this is why Davin Earthwalker is such an anomaly. The current Tempestite grandmaster certainly did gain his position through "standard" means (by having his teacher and predecessor, the half-mad Saarnus, torn limb from limb), but at the moment, Davin shows no signs of protecting himself against such methods. Some of his subjects whisper that perhaps the young man knows something that they don't. Others say that Earthwalker is merely subsisting on plain arrogance alone, and that his downfall is short in coming.

All Tempestites agree on one thing, though: Davin holds immense powers of magery, as well as an incredible control over his elemental servants. It is, in fact, rumored that Davin Earthwalker sacrificed a piece of his own soul for these extraordinary powers - a rumor evidenced by the glaring red scar across the young man's chest. Davin, however, never agrees nor disagrees to the truth of these statements - and smiles as the whispers grow even more widespread.

Davin controls but a single permanent familiar - Uthanak, a ten-foot-tall elemental formed of earth, rocks and soil. Owing to its nature, the construct holds as much devotion to the Tempestite grandmaster as a fawning servant, and has played the corresponding roles of bodyguard and chamberlain many, many times. Davin has even made use of Uthanak against some of his enemies within the sect, and perhaps that is why Davin has few outspoken rivals.

Davin Earthwalker fully knows that his sect's sentiments would be extremely self-destructive if left to run on their own terms. But he also knows that the Tempestites are more than capable of governing themselves, as long as the right measures of power are left in the right places. So he lounges in finery at his home in Allandria, content to delegate small doses of power to the people around him, awaiting the next challenger for his post.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Coming to Life

Just found out that Arashi-Kishu has a Tinio costume somewhere among the many creations in her cosplay cabinet. That's Tinio, the tattoo artist from the Anito: Defend a Land Enraged computer game, for those not in the know.

That little tidbit of knowledge just brightened up my whole day, ladies and gentlemen. It's not every day that you realize that somewhere, somebody is cosplaying a character that you created yourself.

I'm feeling real good now, everyone. Real good. Of course, the only thing that could eclipse this experience is the possibility of meeting up with one of my characters face-to-face, but I think I can already manage with just this little thing.

Mm-mmhm-mmhm-mmhm... (*Hums happily*)

Blame it on the Weatherman

Sometime between six and six-thirty this evening, the guy upstairs decided to open up the clouds in the middle of the sizzling summer heat, let loose a massive downpour of rain, and literally ROTFL.

Unfortunately for me, six-thirty happens to be the usual time at which I leave the office. Usually I just step outside, stretch a little, and then proceed to walk the twelve blocks to my brother's office where we catch our ride home. Earlier this evening, however, those twelve blocks became a quagmire of trapped commuters, inundated streets, and harassed traffic enforcers. Saying that the rain was heavy was like saying that the ocean was wet.

I figured that I came well-prepared, though. People who know me personally will attest that I've been toting around a black umbrella since college, and it's constantly on my person just in case I ever run into sudden cloudbursts during warm summer nights. So I unfurled the black monster, shouldered my briefcase, and stepped into the dark oblivion that was the next twelve blocks.

Yes, my resolve to get through the rain got a lot of "Are you crazy?" looks in the process. In fact, halfway through my leisurely walk, my 'resolve' started looking more like 'stupidity'.

The rain was relentless, pounding at my umbrella with the force of a carpenter's hammer. By the time I had walked three blocks, my shoes were squishing, the cuffs of my slacks were drenched, and my sleeves were wilting from the umbrella's residual runoff.

With the recent paving projects undertaken by the good city, I usually had a clear, comfortable fifteen-minute walk before me on normal days. As this day had officially become far from normal, however, I discovered that the city had neglected to level the newly-paved sidewalks properly. Rainwater pooled in extended patches before me, and I just blundered through it like a preschooler who didn't know better.

Perhaps "blundered" isn't the correct word, though - my shoes were audibly squeaking. And leaking, although this wasn't evident until the end of my journey.

Waiting at the last traffic stop was probably the most introspective part of the trip. That was where I stood in the middle of the massive downpour, narrowly evaded the waves of brackish water the speeding cars threw at me, and generally and plainly thought, this sucks.

When I finally squinch-squanched my way into the lobby of my brother's office building, I was greeted by a host of people who gave me that most fulfilling of looks: "Did you just walk twelve blocks through that?"

I raised one shoe and watched a thin stream of water leak out of the heel. Yeah, I answered telepathically.

A three-year-old boy holding his own little black umbrella walked past me then, giving me the good long stare that most little kids do. At least, I think he was three years old... he was knowledgeable enough to open his own umbrella, to say the least. He stepped out into the rain, listening as it pelted his waterproof raincoat as it did my good shirt earlier.

So I watched there as the little boy with the little black umbrella wandered in the endless downpour, wondering how long he was going to splash around on the edges of dark oblivion. And I smiled then, thinking of neither the rainfall nor the long weary journey home, but of how long it would probably take me to change my socks.

Stupid rain.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

What's in a Name?

It has been said that, if you're thinking of what to name a child, then the best thing to do is to walk into the middle of an open field and shout the name at the top of your lungs about six or seven times. If you still like the name after the seventh time, then you can keep it - after all, you're going to be shouting it at the top of your lungs for the next twenty years.

People who name their children "Tidus", "Ivana" and such therefore puzzle me. Not only would the names be terribly impractical for those times in which the parents would have to shout them at the top of their lungs, but they would needlessly burden their owners with years of playground taunts. Ever made fun of that kid with the weird name in your kindergarten class? Well, congratulations - you probably just scarred that kid for life. That's one aspect of your current lifestyle that your son or daughter will never understand once they've grown up and moved on.

"Tidus... that's a strange name. Why did your parents name you 'Tidus'?"

"I don't know. He was some character in a video game my dad liked, I think."

A similar approach applies even to fictional characters. Unlike our children, we can name our characters however we want, regardless of established naming conventions or even linguistic phonics. Like our children, however, we have to realize that once we release those names out into the wild, then they're going to be completely out of our hands. Any mistake we make in the naming of our characters, we have to live with for the rest of our literary lives. There are no nicknames where we stand.

I once read an amateur fantasy story where a racially diverse group of adventurers (think human-dwarf-elf-hobbit) were on a quest to retrieve a magical sword/scroll/jewel/cheeseburger. In order to do so, however, they first had to free a mighty hero from his icy prison in the frigid wastes - the last survivor of the original party that went hunting for their intended prize. The adventurers battled their way through groups of monsters, finally melting the ice that held its prisoner in check. And that was when the erstwhile narrator revealed that the hero's name was... Sir Jeff.

Sir Jeff.

Sir Jeff?!

I don't have the paper any more, mind you. I handed it back to the author, and advised him to either change the names or burn the whole thing. Abominations like that shouldn't be allowed to exist on their own.

And all this, because of a single name.

Each name, you see, carries some baggage to it. When we hear the name "Jeff", a certain image always comes to mind - an image that plays a vital part in forming our first impressions of the subject. Exactly what "Jeff" looks like to each of our imaginations depends on who we are and how many Jeffs we've run into. His hair may be jet-black or rust-brown... maybe even blond, depending on who we know. He may or may not have a mustache.

This is why names like "Jeff" can be appropriate for some settings but not for others. You can give that friendly neighbor of yours the nickname "Jeff" because he's as neurotic as Jeff Goldblum, or as blue-collar as Jeff Foxworthy, or simply as funny-looking as Jeff in Mutt and Jeff. But you can't give that venerable paladin hero among your fantasy characters the name "Jeff"... because those modern connotations don't - and shouldn't - necessarily apply to fiction.

Let's try an exercise, then. I give you a name, and you tell me what impressions come to mind. You don't tell me if you know anyone by that name - you tell me what impressions first come to mind once you hear it. Ready? Good.





Time's up.

When I think of "Cassandra", the most obvious impression I get is one of black hair. Long, straight, glossy black hair, I suppose, but that's probably my personal imagination at work already.

I wouldn't be surprised to find that your impression had black hair involved as well. There are few people out there who can claim the rare privilege of knowing a blond Cassandra, after all.

This is how a reader will see the characters that are set before them. The characters almost never get a chance to properly introduce themselves to the reader, and so there are no such "first impressions" that we normally get in human-to-human interaction. There is only the name, and in a story the name gives most of this first impression.

Be careful about your children, everybody - whether they're your biological descendants or merely the products of your overactive imagination.Your names, after all, will eventually define them.

Antaria: The Tempestites

The Tempestites are respected and feared across Antaria, and for good reason. The Tempestites control magics of summoning and conjuration, and are known for the massive Elementals they hold at their thrall.

Exactly where the Tempestites obtain such familiars is unknown. What is known, however, is that their summoned spirits are of forms that cannot normally materialize in Antaria, and thus must be bound to the components of the natural world in order to exist. The results are the powerful, feral elemental familiars that walk behind each mage of their kind... forever loyal to their respective masters. Where the Tempestites harry their opponents with showers of earth and rain, their Elementals take a more powerful, more direct approach that tends to leave nothing standing.

Their control over such Elementals and other forces, however, has taken its toll on the Tempestite psyche. Tempestites exhibit a single-minded lust for power in all its forms, plotting and scheming to surpass those who they see as their "betters". Arrogance is a quality best ascribed to their class, as is the notion of underhandedness. Most Tempestites therefore hold positions of influence among the general populace; It is indeed a rare mage among them who does not harbor such delusions of power.

There are, of course, many among the common people who wonder how the Tempestites can continue to associate themselves with the other mages. The Tempestites themselves actually find no fault being one of seven established sects in Antaria. After all, if they are not already superior to the others, then they may always work to establish their dominance... but all in due time, all in due time.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Suman Latik

For everyone who went to the blogging summit, especially Dean Alfar:

Ang sarap ng suman sa latik! What say you, Dean?

For all you non-Filipinos out there, suman latik is a sticky-rice delicacy around here. If you ever decide to drop by, make sure you put it on your list of things to try out, along with sisig and kare-kare.

The suman latik picture was graciously provided by the Sassy Lawyer herself. If you haven't checked out her blog yet, then you've obviously been living in a cave for the last couple of years. :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

To Be, or Not to Be?

It has only just occurred to me that fantasy (much less the Antaria stories) might not necessarily be a reader's cup of tea, and that I might do better by serving everyone some varying doses of different genres.

On the other hand, the fantasy writing is actually more experimental than expected. I started out working with the supernatural mystery genre, and then progressed to science fiction in high school. My college and post-studies writings touch the dramatic and metaphorical genres more than anything else, so now that I think about it, this is the first time that I've actually devoted a significant amount of my time to fantasy stories.

An additional consideration would be my search for freelance writing jobs. Usually I have to reserve my more consumable stories for those, so I tend not to post them here. The publishers would probably balk at buying something that has already been made available to the general Net-wielding public, after all.

I don't want to bore anyone, though, so I'll probably put up a few vignettes from time to time. Antaria, however, should still be my staple - seeing that I like working on fantasy, and that it's currently a little too expansive to be considered as a serious property. It's still mine, though, so don't get any ideas about stealing it. :)

That said, the Tempestites are getting mighty impatient...

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Antaria: Rewards

The young peasant boy struggled over the rise, gasping for breath with each step. Behind him, the air and dust coalesced into the form of a massive whirlwind.

"That's the last time you insult me," Valen said, molding the whirlwind's form with his arcane gestures.

Davin watched disinterestedly from a nearby seat. "I don't waste power on peasants, Valen," he said. "They're hardly worth it."

"Peasants are all alike. You let them get away with something, and you pay for the rest of their servitude."

Davin yawned. "So your solution is to summon an elemental and flay them alive."

"Yes," Valen said, giving Davin an angry look. "What of it, great leader? Has your heart somehow grown as soft as a child's?"

A large shadow loomed over the two Tempestites. Valen looked up into a pair of red glowing eyes, encased within a haphazard construct of earth, rocks and stone.

Davin waved a hand. "At ease, Uthanak. Lord Valen means no harm... don't you, Valen?"

Valen gave Davin a look that said precisely otherwise. Davin laughed.

The earth elemental gave Valen a suspicious look, then moved slightly to shield its master from the midday sun.

In the distance, Valen's air elemental had moved into an area closer to the riverbank, which meant that it had started to pick up mud and reeds within its spinning patterns. The boy continued to run from its wrath, although it was clear that he would be tiring soon.

"An interesting idea comes to mind," Davin said.

"Say it, then."

"What if your servant defeats your elemental, Valen?" Davin smiled.

Valen gave him a long stare. "That was an uncharacteristically humorous statement, Lord Davin," he said, "and it almost made me laugh."

"Well, what if your servant defeats the elemental?"

"He can't possibly defeat my manifestations. He can barely even saddle a horse properly."

"Yes," Davin said, watching as the peasant continued to run from its pursuer, "but what if your servant defeats the elemental?"

"He's not my servant anymore," Valen retorted, "and if he survives even this, then I would simply kill him myself."

"We would have to teach him, Valen," Davin said, his voice becoming more serious. "He would become one of us."

Valen glanced at the boy, now running at a frenzied pace towards rockier ground. The elemental followed at his heels, lashing at him with tendrils of wind, water and debris.

"You can't be serious," Valen said.

"We have rules, Valen."

"Aran curse the rules," Valen muttered.

The boy reached down and scooped up a small jumble of stones. He threw one at his elemental pursuer, watching as it simply passed through the swirling patterns and continued its path out the other side.

"Well, Valen?"

"Rules are rules, Lord Davin. I don't change the rules."

The boy staggered back, throwing stone after stone in a futile effort to hold back the elemental.

"He still has to defeat the elemental, of course," Davin noted.

The vortex was suddenly upon the peasant boy, pelting him with mud, rocks and whatever it could muster. His cries of pain were muffled by the ever-swirling currents.

"Not much chance of that," Valen said.

A stone, thrown of desperation, passed through the elemental's intangible body and shattered on the ground. A second one passed over Davin's head and harmlessly bounced off Uthanak's massive chest.

"Never underestimate a man who has been backed into a corner," Davin mused.

"It shall..." Valen began, and stopped abruptly when the third stone hit him right between the eyes. He collapsed, landing roughly on the ground.

In seconds, the air elemental dissipated, leaving a dirty, weary servant behind. The boy still clutched at an unthrown stone.

Davin stared at Valen's prone form for a few minutes, checking to see if he was still alive. Then, satisfied, he straightened and gave the boy a careful look. Uthanak moved slightly, causing the boy to drop the stone he was holding and stare up at the earth elemental with a mixture of curiosity and fear.

"Pick him up," Davin told Uthanak, and he watched as the elemental clutched at Valen's prone form.

"What's your name?" Davin asked.

The boy struggled. "O-Oris," he said.

"Oris," Davin repeated. "You don't look like much, Oris."

Oris bowed, as though only remembering to do so just now.

"Get your things together, Oris," Davin said. "There are people who I wish you to meet."

Monday, May 09, 2005

Blog Art

It just occurred to me (during work, even) that the 1st Philippine Blogging Summit assumed at least four general categories of blogs: The Government Blog, The Writer's Blog, The Journalist Blog, and The Popular Blog. Each of these types of blogs was discussed by a representative writer, and as a result, all the participants to the summit got a glimpse of what it was like to operate them.

But something still nags at the corner of my mind: What about the Art Blog?

There are a number of artists given to posting their works (as well as their thoughts about their work) online these days. There is a clear distinction between these and the Writers' Blogs. After all, some people like looking at art or reading comics, and these people won't necessarily be the same ones who like reading treatises on the nature of fiction.

Writers and artists, although both creative kinds of people who are all too willing to discuss their art of creation, simply produce different works. A clear distinction must be made between Writers' Blogs and Artists' Blogs.

For one, Artists' Blogs are easier to read, and are even more interesting to look at. Artists have a better grasp of visual quality than many other bloggers do, and as a result their blogs tend to be aesthetically pleasing to the eye: Complementary color combinations, organized layouts, you know the drill.

Writers are - let's all admit it here - disorganized. I believe that this clearly reflects their cluttered thoughts, which tend to jump from one idea to the next. Most writers don't seem to care what their blog looks like, because for them, it's all about the writing. (That probably explains why this blog runs on a horrible pink-and-grey scheme, incidentally.)

Artists' blogs command attention that is often fleeting in nature - you drop by, you look at the nice pictures or read the funny comics, and you head off. Due to the fact that art usually takes a while to create, most Art Blogs I've encountered don't update more than two or three times a week. I don't know if artists expect feedback regarding their works, but they don't seem to get much in the way of criticism anyhow.

Writers' blogs - depending on the skill at which they're written - don't let your attention go for a substantial period of time. By its very nature, a writer's work forces you to set aside more than just a couple of minutes to really let things sink in. What I've found interesting is that a writer can fire his entries off at the rate of as many as multiple times per day, possibly even getting more and more spontaneous as he goes along. And if there's something that's common to all writers, it's that they seriously expect constructive feedback.

We should have a representative who can discuss Artists' Blogs next year. I mean, we can't keep assuming that they can be lumped together in the same category. I'd suggest Jonas Diego right off the bat, only he'd probably kill me for even mentioning his name. :)

Besides, the next thing we know, the Sculptors may have some interesting stories to tell...

In Search of... Description

Still musing on cutting down the dialogue in my short stories.

The trouble is that, if I have two or more characters in the same scene, they'll inevitably be either talking to each other, or fighting with each other. (Sometimes both - I like pseudo-introspective fight scenes.) I think I focus on the characters and the circumstances too much; I should be giving the scenery an equal amount of screen time.

I suppose that, in order to wean myself off heavy dialogue, the first exercise that comes to mind would involve writing a solitary character in an appropriate situation. Maybe a man who suddenly finds himself stuck on a deserted isle...

Michael stared at the waves. Then he turned, and stared at the beach.

He stared at the waves.

He stared at the beach.

"Oh my God," he said.

"Oh my God," he said again, as though the first statement didn't nearly sum up the entire situation perfectly.

He looked out across the sand, past the piled driftwood, to the edges of the scrubby forest that seemed to stretch into the distance. The island was large and foreboding, and it stared into him, feeling each of his fears and premonitions with huge pointed teeth.

"Oh my God," he said.

I'll stop right there, because it appears that I'm hitting the dialogue issue again. While it might make sense for Michael to keep saying "Oh my God," I don't want his words to be dominating even one whit of this narrative.

Funny, isn't it - I put a lone character on a deserted island, and the first thing he does is talk to himself.

On the other hand, the description of Michael's first impression of the island sounds okay (not good, but okay), so maybe I can try to capitalize on that. The island should almost certainly make up the bulk of the description here, seeing that the narrative really has to introduce the environment to both Michael and the readers.

Michael looked out across the sand, first at the piles of driftwood before settling on the edges of the scrubby forest before him. It was deathly quiet.

This can't be happening, he thought. This can't be happening.

But, deep inside, he knew otherwise. The sand felt real under his feet. The waves roared thunder in his ears.

Oh my God, he thought. Oh my God.

I'll stop there. Michael isn't talking to himself anymore, but he's thinking to himself, which might be just as bad as talking to begin with.

Maybe my problem is that I'm telling things from Michael's point of view, rather than from the narrator's or the reader's point of view. It's part of the method of characterization on my end - if I source the description of a scene from a certain character's viewpoint, then the resulting narrative not only gives the reader an idea of what the scene is like, but also gives some insight into how the character's mind works. Here, for example, we not only get an impression of the sand, the waves and the forest, but we also realize that Michael initially lapses into denial once he is confronted with his situation.

So now I have to make sure that we don't get into Michael's mind, just for this exercise. Well, we can get into his mind a little, I suppose, as long as we don't probe far enough to get him 'talking' again.

Michael stared out into the beach. Something here was not quite right.

The sand gathered in a narrow expanse of grains and broken shells, feeding the waves as they lapped at its surface. A distance away, the piles of driftwood seethed under the naked sun.

Despite its scrubby appearance, the forest before him... loomed. That was the word for it, yes. There was nothing else that could describe its mass of island trees, thick canopy, and deathly silence. It loomed.

Michael took a deep breath, and as if in response to that single breath, a flock of birds broke cover noisily. They scattered above the treetops, cawing and screeching complaint at the intruder who had defiled their sanctuary. Michael stared at the sight, unnerved.

That was a lot better, I think. I'm wondering whether or not Michael's actions here would constitute 'dialogue' in some way, but then again, I suppose that he's part of the scenery as well. Anything that he does should be fair game for description.

The single sentence "Something here was not quite right" gives the narration a morbid quality from the get-go, and I think it forced me to pay attention to the surroundings. In a sense, it probably forced me to devote more time to the description because that would be what readers would be focusing on. They'd be expecting something to pop right out of the woodwork, after all.

I'm still unsatisfied with this narration, though, because I think it concentrates on what the reader sees, as opposed to describing the scene based on multiple senses. The previous narration referenced touch (the tangibility of the sand) and hearing (the roar of the waves) as well as sight, and I don't think I got that here. This is all purely sight.

Still, I didn't lapse into dialogue, and I suppose I should really be happy with that. But I really need to put together that one huge block of description sometime.

Maybe a different situation will be best. But then, that should probably be an exercise left for another time...

Sunday, May 08, 2005

The Line

The 1st Philippine Blog Summit concluded earlier today, which means that about two hundred Philippine bloggers will be putting their seminar experience in their posts. While I thought it was fine for what might be the first of many annual events, I'll leave the synopses to the rest of the blogging community.

One underlying theme that was discussed during the summit, however, was the consideration of unethical practices among bloggers. There was talk of organizing a regulatory body for the blogging community, but it appears that that's only in the conceptualization stage at the moment. For now, bloggers will have to exercise their own modes of responsible self-censorship.

With that in mind, I figure that it would be best to note exactly what people can expect from this blog and what people shouldn't expect from this blog (although I might surprise myself in the future - one never knows). I'll set things at five guidelines, because I happen to like the number five today. :)

1. No plagiarism.
I note this in most of my monthly disclaimers, and this'll probably be the rule that I'll never break. Stealing written entries from another person would put me in a really low point as a writer - so low, I think, that I don't deserve to be called a writer if I ever do it.

2. No angst.
What, exactly, does "angst" refer to, anyway? I seem to get a different definition every time I look it up.

While I admit that I don't really know what "angst" is, I assume that it refers to things that are whiny or personally depressing. I try to avoid those in my posts - I think that we all get enough of it in other peoples' blogs.

3. No political commentary.
Oh boy, you don't want to hear me talk about the government. I've driven most of my housemates nuts already.

Besides, there are plenty of blogs out there that offer the scintillating political discussion you crave. They'll be able to host you better than I can - unless you want a raving, neurotic, pseudo-liberal conversationalist on your doorstep.

4. No blogroll.
This is not to say that I don't read other peoples' blogs. In fact, I read plenty of other blogs. Heck, I like reading other peoples' blogs.

Nothing, however, is more irritating than having someone butt in on a perfectly good conversation just to ask me to link him. I don't give out free rides like this. I think people should spend more time improving their blogs instead - the linkage they seek should come to them, in that case.

That said, I drop a number of links to external blogs in my writings, and if I link to those blogs, then those links are obviously deserved in some way.

5. No certainties.
I like writing here. It's one of the few places where I can let my mind wander and just be my old written self.

Seeing that that's the case, I want to toe the line a lot... perhaps cross it every now and then. I want to toy with different styles of writing to see how they turn out, and in order to do that I might end up breaking a number of pre-established notions. Those might include the items on this very list. (Except Rule One, that is. Rule One is secured with barbed wire and electrified.)

At the very least, I want to afford any future guest writers the opportunity to waste a little space. :)

Thursday, May 05, 2005

On Stalkers

Hmmm... I've got a stalker.

Okay, okay, pipe down already. I may be a bit of an attention junkie, but I assure you that I'm not making this up. Besides, it's not that big a deal.

Don't think that I can't hear you laughing over there, Marcelle.

I've had her since either December 2004 or January 2005, I think. If I'm to believe her, she stole my number from a scrap of paper that I entrusted to someone regarding a random product order. (You can bet that I'm not going to use that service again, yes.)

She sends me messages over the cellphone, and I can't find reference to her name or number over the Web, so I'm guessing that she's not the tech-savvy sort. She even calls every now and then, letting the phone ring for two seconds before hanging up. (How she expects me to answer her during these exercises, I don't know.)

It seems that she likes my voice. And she thinks that I look good in a shirt and tie. And she likes my smile. (The latter sounds very odd, considering that my smile seems to frighten animals and small children, to begin with. To each his own, I suppose.)

Having a stalker feels strangely gratifying, in a way. Sometimes it feels nice knowing that you have suddenly become all the world to somebody, for no good reason at all. That's not to say, however, that it isn't more than a little annoying at other times.

I stopped answering her after her first few messages. I did make sure to tell her that the number she was calling was my 'work phone', though, so at the moment I'm ignoring her until she figures that maybe I switched numbers or something. Of course, it's been three months since then, and she's still calling. One should never underestimate the degree of human density, I think.

She gets a lot of points for persistence - at one time when I thought that she had finally given up, she started sending me messages at the rate of one every three days. These entries read like the usual gibberish that passes for text messaging among the general populace - pretty much all abbreviations and little substance.

Now, if she had contacted me via e-mail, then I probably would have answered her. The Internet does a fairly good job on protecting one's anonymity, and I could always delete her messages or block her addresses if they start becoming more than a little invasive. She contacts me via cellphone, though, and it's altogether too much of a possibility to determine a subscriber's identity and home address depending on what strings you can pull. So I don't answer her, and hope that she goes away.

The entire scenario gives me a very good position for observation, though. It's another aspect of the human character that I can incorporate into my scribblings... although to say that it's weird would be a likely understatement.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Conversations Between Two Different People

I seem to be writing a lot of dialogue into my stories lately. While good dialogue is fine (and this is assuming that my dialogue lines are good), I'm aware that it brings along a couple of nasty aftereffects.

For one, dialogue compromises description. I suppose that I can blame my research into styles of comic scriptwriting for this; While the more visual media can get away with works that read almost entirely as dialogue, a plain short story needs the description in order to speed it along. At the moment, I'm probably using the dialogue to drop subtle hints for background and appearance every now and then, and although it does make the reader think more carefully, I don't want to have to use that for every story I write:

Gus sank into the chair, his weight deflating the cushions. "Look, Johnny," he said, "you're a good kid. Abner's a good kid. Sal's a good kid. Besides, what did I ever do to you?"

"You know what you did, Gus," Johnny said, playing with the crystal tiger he swiped from the display shelves. "You know what you did."

"Aw, that was ten years ago. I said I was sorry."

"Yeah? Well, sorry don't take the pain away, Gus."

Johnny let the tiger drop to the floor, where it shattered. Gus winced at the sound.

My second concern is that, the more I depend on dialogue, the more the stories tend to adopt a minimalist approach. I've written stories that were purely composed of dialogue, and while I think they qualify as creative approaches to writing, they're not very substantial to begin with. They don't help much with regards to imagination - a reader could just as well be listening to the speakers on the radio, for all I know. I want the reader to be able to see exactly what a character looks like - how he dresses, how he gestures, how he feels. I don't want the reader to get away with merely knowing what the character sounds like.

"So, whatcha gonna do about that, Gus?"

"Bastard. That tiger cost me an arm and a leg down in Panama."

"Well, that's what's left of it now, Gus. An arm and a leg."

"You bastard."

"I don't have all day, Gus. I need the money now."

"You never said anything about money!"

"I know you've got the money. Everybody knows ol' Gus's got the money."

Finally, writing dialogue takes a toll on the psyche. Good dialogue requires a writer to visualize two distinct characters at once, and then to somehow put both of them in the same thought and see how they interact with one another. Different characters will simply interact in different ways; While the motivation and methods are fairly standard - friendship, intimidation, violence, pacifism, mercy, rage, and so forth - the approaches and reactions are always different. I find myself having to speak as one character and then the other... and so forth, alternating as needed. It feels strangely schizophrenic that way, and I'm afraid of what might happen if I do it too often.

"Well, I ain't got no money," Gus said. "You think that if I had any money I'd still be living in this godforsaken house in this godforsaken town?"

"I don't have to get an answer out of you, Gus," Johnny said, taking a few steps towards him. "Even if you weren't around, I could've just torn up the whole place. But luckily for me, you were here, Gus. You were here."

The gun was in Johnny's hands before Gus could react. Cold metal pressed against the larger man's upper lip.

"You can make this easy for me, Gus," Johnny said, "or you can make it a little harder for me. You might end up dead, Gus, or you might not. But either way, I'm going to find the money."

I'm going to try a little hiatus from dialogue for the next few days. While my exercises in that field have been okay, I suppose that I can't stoop to using the same approach for every story I write. That would make me a bit of a one-trick pony. No, come to think of it, that would make me a schizophrenic one-trick pony, which is even more difficult to imagine.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Antaria: The Celebration

The royal palace of Lorendheim stands in the light of a hundred torches, its walls, windows and balconies laid with yards of bunting and soft colored cloth. Beneath its lofty gaze the nobles of Lorendheim enter, each carrying their finest clothes, holding their finest gifts, bearing their finest lies.

The knights of the Galenic standard hold their posts here and there, their faces a mixture of stoicism and indifference. Their armor shines, white and gold, reflecting the glow of the evening fires. The Galenics have retained the favor of King Frederick's family for decades, and this night is merely one in a long series of associations.

As for King Frederick, sovereign of Lorendheim himself, he sits on a raised throne looking out onto a cavernous ballroom, greeting the guests as they offer him their fealties and watching them mingle with each other afterwards.

At the moment, he is now quite bored.

"Lady Ophelia of Mendingham," he mutters, watching the massive woman exit his presence. "No manners or decorum whatsoever in the eight unfortunate years I have known her. Where is Mendingham, anyway?"

The young woman standing by his left hand gives no indication of a response.

"How many more?" King Frederick asks.

"Many more," the young woman answers.

The ruler of Lorendheim stretches in his seat. "I'm a King, Maia. I shouldn't have to go through this."

Maia shifts a little, her armor settling against the edges of Frederick's throne. "You're a King, my liege," she says. "This duty is yours alone."

"Spoken like a Galenic," King Frederick observes, "Not very sympathetic, but spoken like a true Galenic."

Three figures approach the throne, each one in heavy robes of varying colors: One ancient-looking man, one younger man, and one woman who is younger still.

King Frederick sits up. "Metrians," he whispers.

"Lord Atharus," Maia reminds him, "although I am unfamiliar with his followers, my liege."

"Are you sure that he didn't just conjure them up at a moment's notice? I hear that the Metrians can do anything, you know," King Frederick asks her, smiling.


"Atharus doesn't really like these parties, does he?"

"Seems like it," Gharen says, watching the room carefully.

Cerise looks around as well. "It looks like the Galenics went for a show of force this time. You could hardly walk around without bumping into someone in armor."

"Well," Gharen says, glancing at her, "it's not as though they would have all those coats of shine and not be able to resist showing them off."

"Gharen, Cerise," Atharus says, without glancing at either of them.

"Yes, sir?" Gharen answers.

"We're about to present ourselves to the King. Be quiet."

"Yes, sir," Gharen says.

They reach the front of the carpet, at the foot of the throne. Atharus gives an elaborate bow, appropriate for his age and his status. Gharen and Cerise give much simpler greetings.

"Lord Atharus," King Frederick says, studying the three of them carefully. "We are glad you could join us on this most festive occasion."

"I don't join parties, Frederick," Atharus starts, tapping his staff impatiently. "If you send me even one more invitation again, I'm going to come over here personally and bop you on the nose."

"Is that why my last messenger had that burnt smell about, Atharus?"

"He was rude. May I take my leave now, Frederick?"

King Frederick laughs, although the Galenic bodyguard at his side places one hand on her weapon. "You're never afraid of speaking your mind, are you, Atharus?" King Frederick remarks.

"No one should be afraid of speaking their minds, Frederick. It's one of the virtues of speech."

"Yes, yes," King Frederick muses, "Such wise words from the wisest of Metrians."

Atharus straightens. "If you need me, Frederick, then you know where I am. Don't send any more of your silly invitations."

"Of course," King Frederick laughs, "of course. Enjoy the celebration, Atharus."

Atharus gives him a sharp glare, and then begins storming off. Gharen and Cerise follow him after a quick apology.


"Men like Lord Atharus are refreshing, in a way," King Frederick observes.

"He is a dangerous man," Maia chides him, gently.

"He'll keep his temper in check," King Frederick says. "The invitations were a pittance, compared to the few things that do make Atharus angry."

Both of them watch as a small circle of riotous colors and strange designs crawl through the crowd in their general direction.

"Maquin Dreamweaver," King Frederick guesses, "and I believe that means that the Masquers have arrived. Did we double the guard as we agreed earlier, Maia?"

"Yes, my liege."

"Good," King Frederick says, leaning back and settling himself on the cushions. "I wouldn't want them to think that we're not giving them a challenge."


Maquin curtsies in a manner more suitable for a lady of the court than an eminent male fashion designer. His hand mask bobs a little to the side, carved in the fleeting expression of a merry jester.

"Your majesty," Maquin says.

"Lord Maquin," King Frederick nods. "You always add such... color to the proceedings."

"You must excuse our tardiness, your majesty," Maquin fawns, waving the mask at his entourage. "It always takes a little time to make oneself presentable."

"So I am sure," King Frederick notes. "What of your sire, Maquin? I have never heard of Lord Gallos failing to attend one of our celebrations."

"Oh, he's already here, your majesty."

King Frederick looks puzzled. "He has not presented himself yet."

"Lord Gallos shall present himself to the King in due time," Maquin says. "He so loves moving among the people."

"I see."

"I shall endeavor to find him, your majesty, if that is your wish."

"No, thank you, Lord Maquin," Kind Frederick says. "I am sure that Lord Gallos and I shall meet soon."

Maquin bows again, and replaces the hand mask upon his face. "By your leave, then, your majesty, I would impress the crowd with my rapier wit."

"Do that, Lord Maquin," King Frederick smiles, "Do just that."


King Frederick watches the colorful entourage scatter and disperse among the guests. "Sometimes I really can't stand mages. Too many things to keep track of," he mentions casually.

Then he catches Maia's watchful eye. "Present company excepted, of course," he adds.

"Are we really so complex?" Maia asks him, her voice completely neutral and even.

"Mages are more complex than anything within or beyond this world," King Frederick laughs. "Aran himself would find it difficult to compete."

"Aran would hardly appreciate your taking his name in vain."

"Let gods be gods, Maia. Aran has his own problems, as I have mine," King Frederick says.

There is a slight commotion near the front of the great hall. A loud murmur sweeps one end of the room to the other.

"More guests?" King Frederick asks, wearily.


The two of them bow before the King of Lorendheim, pausing only slightly to allow him the first chance to speak.

"Kharandon Greybane," King Frederick smiles, stepping down from his throne to acknowledge the healer personally. "I had not heard that you were back from Vanarum."

"I just arrived a few hours ago," Kharandon says, smiling back. "I would not have missed your celebration for anything."

"You never miss celebrations of this sort. You know the Festivals of Remembrance very well, old friend."

Kharandon glances at the young woman beside him. She remains calm and composed in her armor, but she looks at him for instruction.

"King Frederick," Kharandon says, "this is my sister. You may know each other already."

"Not as intimately as we think, but yes," King Frederick says, turning to her. "This is Octavia? The last we saw each other, you were only a little girl!"

Octavia smiles. "Time flies, your majesty."

"When did you become a knight, Lady Octavia?"

"Two years ago, your majesty."

"She was posted to the Northlands for that time," Kharandon explains, "but Lord Astaruc has transferred her here as a personal favor to us."

"Yes, he does hold you in high esteem," King Frederick says. "The three of us must meet for a private meal sometime within the next week. We sorely need to catch up on old times."

"Old times indeed, King Frederick," Kharandon answers.

"Good, good," King Frederick nods. "Go ahead and enjoy the celebration, then. I appear to have further 'duties' to dispense," he adds, glancing at the bodyguard standing next to his throne.

"I understand," Kharandon says, looking at the throne. "By your leave, then..."


"I haven't seen Kha in a while," King Frederick says. "It's good to have at least one person you trust in this room. Aside from you, of course."

"Lord Greybane is a Galenic," Maia says, "If you would not trust the Galenics, my liege, then who would you trust?"

"I admit that I would place more value in that statement if it did not come from you, Maia," King Frederick answers.

"I speak the truth, my liege."

"It is up to me to decide exactly what the truth is, and what the truth is not, Maia."

They remain silent, watching the crowd.

"It's depressing sometimes," King Frederick snorts.

"My liege?"

He glances at Maia, smiles, and then turns back towards the crowd.

"That's about all I can take, Maia. I wasn't made to sit on uncomfortable thrones and welcome people all night," King Frederick adds, standing and looking upon the boisterous guests.

"What of the others, my liege?"

"Let them enjoy the celebration," King Frederick says, "Just like I plan to do right now."


The royal palace of Lorendheim stands in the light of a hundred torches, its walls, windows and balconies laid with yards of bunting and soft colored cloth. Beneath its lofty gaze the nobles of Lorendheim enter, each carrying their finest clothes, holding their finest gifts, bearing their finest lies.

Gallos contemplates the evening sky, looking out upon the obsidian ruins that the palace has been built on. Beside him, Rhias scans the night for unwelcome intruders.

"We haven't gone inside yet," Rhias finally says.

"I sent Lord Maquin ahead," Gallos tells her. "He knows what to say."

Rhias does not question her lord. She gives a passing Galenic knight a suspicious glance.

"What do you think of the King of Lorendheim, Rhias?" Gallos asks her.

She considers his question for a moment. "Youngish and restless," she finally says.

"A threat?" Gallos asks casually.

"No," Rhias says unhesitatingly, "but one who merits close watch in case he does become one."

"Indeed," Gallos says.

The Lord of Masks slowly crosses to a nearby doorway, motioning for Rhias to follow.

"Perhaps, then, it is time for us to enter," he says.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Disclaimer: May 2005

Oooooh. All tapped out.

Yesterday was the deadline for the 2005 Palanca Awards, and I went on a merry little run trying to get my entry collated and notarized in time for the midnight deadline. Then, in order to vent my frustration at the funk I'm in, I wrote a mad little conversation with myself in time to send it out as my 12:00 birthday message to all concerned. (If you were one of the lucky(?) recipients, then I hope you got a little laugh out of it at least - I know that some of you might sorely need one right now.)

Okay, okay... official text now. All entries posted on this blog are entirely original, having been written solely by me except where noted. I will not post anything from other sources without making express mention or linkage to their point of origin. The presences of the original articles in this blog constitute an informal Internet-based copyright, which, although not official, will most definitely give me the advantage once I take their plagiarists to a court of law. Hoo-hah!

I've long been aware that I have a distinct style of writing (hey, virtually everyone does), so if you steal anything from this site and try to pass it off as your own work, then believe me, somebody's going to figure you out, which will preclude my coming over and wailing on you. Well, I won't actually wail on you, of course, but I'll find something that befits the circumstances. I say you do yourself a favor and write something yourself, instead of trolling the Net and stealing from people - that way, you'll have a piece of work that you can be proud of one day. And it's better than having a bunch of legal scars that you'll eventually have to explain to your kids sooner or later. :)