Less tower, more square.

Just started two things, reading The Square and the Tower by Niall Ferguson and looking into selling music clips online and it brought up a thought about creativity.

Due to the way things are, especially in these times, the ability to navigate around any pecking order and connect with both collaborators and consumers is better than ever.  Just from my own research today on selling clips there are so many platforms with different costs and ways to set up that it really comes down to the creator.

There is loads of support no matter what thing you are curious about, wheth its music, visual, performing or what have you. In my experience as a bassist there is not only instruction but boards where you can talk about how to get going out there ( I also have my own joining a band blog at Band survival guide ) I mean, you can connect to lots of folks online but what’s cool is also making connection to other local like minded artists to get you started. I’m thinking of some of the places our band have played which are artist groups, made up of people who connected online. These people can inspire you as well as be there as potential as friends/contacts who can put you in touch with others.

Not all collaborative activities work out, some do, and some are like when Ricky Gervais met Stephen Merchant, when Sting started talking to Stewart Copeland or when Johnny Marr knocked on the door of Stephen Morrissey.

You never know! It’s not about being a super anything either. New Order, members of the Fall (band) and other eventual full time artists were just people who saw the Sex Pistols at Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall back in the late 70s. Some went from the show to the music store, pointed and said “that one, please!”

Dont hold back on your dreams. Where they can go is limitless.

Cheers,

Tom

Prologue – The Quiet City (a Halloween sampler)

The Quiet City

By Tom Pogson

Prologue

It started the moment she locked the door.

As soon as the gold-colored tumblers of the deadbolt clicked into place she felt something inside of her twist. Her chest felt tight; her neck like it was swarming with spiders.

Then came a tremor in the cartilage of her bones, in her sinews and the fiber that binds a soul to the earth. Amy knew she was in the worst kind of trouble.

Something had felt wrong since she left the employee entrance of the British Columbia Archives building beside the museum. Skirting the long concrete bench she climbed the eight stone steps to the sunlight and traffic of Government Street. Even with the warmth of afternoon sun on her face she could not lose the feeling that something wrong was weighing her down. It was not like those final nights she had with her cousin Amber. This was not sorrow or guilt. It was bigger. There was no shaking this off.

Amy Paul crossed the road, passing the grey stone buildings of the Victoria Legislature, hurrying past the stone memorials and the fountain on her way to her apartment on Croft Street. It was the same thing she usually did with the exception that she did not feel like stopping off anywhere on the way home. Normally something would tempt her in. As she got closer to home it felt like she was hearing the drone of a nearby bee farm.

Now on the other side of her front door, it felt like she was inside of the hive.

Cautiously Amy lowered her backpack to the floor. Strands of her long brown hair rested on her glasses as she moved slowly, no idea what was keeping her so fearful. The bag slumped against the brown wooden closet in her front entrance way as she turned around for the hallway light switch. It was early November, so the little one-bedroom apartment was still illuminated by a soft silver-grey seeping through her drapes.

She could not see anything different as her brown fingers slid up the to the plastic rectangular fixture, setting upon the curved plastic light switch.

Listening to the still air as the lights came on, the soft tungsten glow spilled into the kitchen and the living room. The only sound was her grandma’s old metal fan on the dresser in the bedroom that she never turned off.

Amy stepped forward and turned on the kitchen light beside the rounded green fridge. She looked towards the dining room table where the wide silver smudge bowl that Aunty Kathy gave her rested next to a ceramic bowl of bright red apples. She looked towards to the bedroom, which had become slightly darker, save for the softening light from between the curtains.

It did seem dark for that time of year.

It did seem quiet.

Then the air became heavy. Amy froze. It was like you had a giant racehorse breathing on your cheek, but the kind of horse that wanted to drive you straight through the drywall.

Her head turned.

Black swirling terror froze the blood in her veins. Growing in the still air of the kitchen, the gathering black seemed made up of something between flies and finger-sized daggers. Next came a horrible hissing, tearing noise as the shape formed before her, the figure always in motion, its changing form darting around a widening mouth and red orange eyes. Jagged orifices of eye sockets, nostrils and non-existent lips perpetually altered in shape, the undulating spectral skin continuing to swim and scurry as its throat brought forth sounds from hell’s deepest heart. From there, the demon shrieked with a fury that could have dropped her to the floor.

Instead she ran, bolting around the wood division in the apartment’s center into her living room, the creature passing straight through the fridge and the cupboards to the other side causing her to leap back as it emerged with a horrifying smile.

Her first-floor patio door latch was stuck. She pushed on the latch, the white plastic refusing to budge as the spectre slunk closer. Desperately Amy tried throwing whatever she could find at the horrible face that sneered at her, shoes and books and her large white coffee mug just passing through it. She ran back around through the kitchen to the hallway, the demon following and screaming inches from the hairs on the soft nape of her neck. She tried the deadbolt at the front door, but it would not move. The gold latch was as solid and stiff as if it had never been made to turn.

“You’re mine!” it screamed from every direction in a cacophony of thousands of horrible voices.

She ran through the kitchen again, hoping to this time smash a window but it appeared there as well, blocking the way. Each way she tried to turn it faced her, shrieking almost victoriously, until Amy was cowering, trembling in the corner of the dining room, under the table holding onto the smooth curved ash table leg.

Then it began laughing at her crumpled shape, a horrible grating noise surrounding the young woman as the demon neared her from the kitchen. It grew in size and darkness until it blotted out the light from above. Then another demon just like it appeared and began closing in, this one from the living room where it rose from behind the couch. Then another appeared and another.

A demon rose up behind her, right out of the wall, followed by five more, all of them now laughing viciously, the sound becoming a single scream. All of them wanted her death.

The first one gave a great scream like the roar of a thousand eagles, the room shaking and the table snapping in two above her. Red apples scattered across the floor.

In front of Amy’s near crumpled form fell the sage stick and her mother’s zippo cigarette lighter with the Jack Daniels engraving.

Without thinking or realization she snatched the lighter and the sage, her body smoothly swinging into unconscious motion. She rose.

Into the hellish hurricane she stood defiant, her back arching and her frame becoming taller than she even was. The noise in the room rose to piercing as the stick of sage began to burn, the white plumes of smoke billowing by her side.

Her eyes were not her own. They were ablaze with an ancient light. In a world that even the very stones beneath were in consistent flux, those oak brown eyes faced out like the one single purest element. Walls shook as if the entire city was about to sink.

By the Great Spirit, you will leave!

Louder than bombs she screamed, swinging the sage like a sword.

*** bonus teaser, Chapter One first half ! ***

Chapter One

Homecoming

Morning light through glass squares of a patio door flooded the dark wooden stairwell as he hurried up panting. Enoch found every day busier than before, ever since taking ownership of the Inn less than a year back. He didn’t have time for this, even if he knew he had agreed to it. Betty was sick. He needed to hire more staff somehow. Everything was piled up.

In the room at the end of the hall, Daniel was sitting on the soft white linen bed with the copper frame. He felt only slightly lethargically numb since he was not actually sure if he had fallen asleep.

A knock at the door broke the quiet.

“Mr. Whitmore!” came the voice of the older man.

“Yes Sir?”

“Well…it’s your wake-up call Mr. Whitmore. Seven thirty!” He said through the five- panel door. “Would you like breakfast brought up to you?”

“Umm…no, no that’s ok Mr. Sage,” he called out, “I’ll be right down!”

The response from the man outside was him knocking on another door further down the hall on the top floor of the Prairie Inn, the sound muffled as Daniel rubbed his eyes and got up to dress. Without even thinking he took out one of his Duke, Sons and Co cigarettes from the pack on the table and lit a match. Taking a drag, he went over to the source of the morning sun.

The room had two windows, both tall and rectangular running from the roof to only a little ways off the floor. The north-facing side with the tall chair in front of it looked towards a small cluster of shops, post office, little homesteads and the hutch-like railway station nestled amongst the woodland. Daniel stood facing the other sunnier window, morning sun streaming in through the light cotton curtains. Wearing only his white linen pajama bottoms with the blue drawstring, he looked outside to see what he could not have made out when he arrived the night before.

From the railway tracks that passed just yards from the steps of the hotel, he saw a single dirt road running east to west between the rolling fields where two farmers were already busy under the cool mid-October sun. A single country road crossed just beyond the first ridge, evident by a single horse drawn carriage that rolled along, it’s black hood like a little sail crossing a sea of sporadic woodlands, farmland and irrigation.

Except for the white capped mountains in the distance there was very little to remind Daniel Whitmore of his last clerical posting in the young town of Cranbrook, deep in the Kootenay Mountains.

Now on the Saanich Peninsula the only sounds was the singing of little chestnut chickadees that had decided to make a nearby poplar their gathering place.

He blew smoke towards the window which curled up over the wood frame towards the sky. In the clear glass ashtray on the dresser he extinguished the single red ember of his cigarette.

His little room it was so peaceful after the steamship journey through the Gulf Islands, and before that, the port of Vancouver.

The train he now needed to Victoria was not for another hour and a half so he decided he would get something to eat first from the pub downstairs and maybe a cup of coffee. He grabbed his felt hat of the low-slung white dresser, clicked the door latch, and went out into the hall.

An hour later he walked out into the warm light of a near cloudless morning, Daniel in a slight hurry toward the village up the tracks.

The little hut with the words “Turgoose” written in black ink over it’s rain cover was empty as he climbed onto the dusty slats of the wooden platform. The wood creaked under his weight, which was still somewhat slight even after being a regiment veteran of the South African war as a younger man. Now at thirty-two, the only clue to this was his colt six shooter that still travelled with him, concealed deep within his case.

*** to be continued…***

Thank you for reading and supporting independent artists! If you enjoyed this please link and follow me! Have a great Halloween!

Cheers,

Tom Pogson

The Lie that tells a truth – a Quiet City blog

Fact : The place of Emmett Till’s death is now on its third physical sign, a teflon coated, bulletproof marker that weighs in at over 500 lbs.

Lie : Atticus Fitch and To Kill a Mockingbird really happened exactly like that with those specific names.

Now, by no means am I comparing my story to Harper Lee’s justifiably Pulitzer Prize winning masterpiece, or my subject matter as powerful as how one speaks to the injustice and still present anger, but I literally just saw the article about the new sign (Washington Post Article ) and it is the broadest and most blatent example of this.

Such things show the function of fiction. Through a story you can bring people in and let them fully experience truth at a gut level. To Kill a Mockingbird caused a visceral reaction in 1960. So did Philadelphia when that movie came out in 1993.

For me the story of The Quiet City speaks to both the magic and the extremes of my hometown, which is really like many places but packed between a Malahat and a Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal.

In one block in Victoria are the vvery poorest and most extremely wealthy. Working in our service industry for decades in a world class tourist destination I have long compared it to a theater stage. There is a glorious performance up front, but backstage the paint is peeling and the coffee machine needs replacing. Even more so now as working people can’t survive on one job and the need for “low income housing” keeps exploding, as well as animosity to people who have properties here from out of town.

Whitechapel all over again, and here comes my ripper.

There’s also the enjoyment of the books creation. Outside of my own political and editorial sides, to come anywhere near creating this work I had to dig into every story, many of which just unfolded more secrets and stories about our city such as the network of tunnels…

and like this image, Victoria’s story is one of a vibrant mix of cultures as in the early days we were more the destination than Vancouver. As such this new furthest flug city of the commonwealth attracted everyone, from First Nations to across the Pacific, from Europe to every other corner of the

Inner harbour 1910

…world to create their own chapters.

What is still interesting is due to the natural barriers of water and mountain rock, our mix of stories is crammed together so within a few miles it is as though every possiblity is played out. And of course there’s poor dear Agnes Bing, who perished on September 29th 1899.

I had the idea for the Ripper coming here only to find out that this lady who co-owned a bakery with her husband John was tragically killed in that same way trying to cross the then Johnson Street bridge late at night. Songhees people were blamed but we never learned the truth. Like with the Ripper crime scene investigation was in its infancy.

So is The Quiet City true? No. The settings are as accurate as I could make them, and certain people such as Rattenbury, Carr and the Vital Statistics agency in the West building are absolutely fact. My story is silly but the rest comes from a love, pride and fascination with #yyj

Ok, speaking of, time for some story to happen.

As a bonus Halloween treat I will be posting the first chapter of The Quiet City so you can finally dig into something.

Stay tuned, like and definitely follow so you can read it as so as it drops!

Thank you for reading!

Cheers,

Tom Pogson

The Quiet City – post Thanksgiving catch up

A very special location

Happy belated Thanksgiving to other fellow Canadians. Just getting going again after a very busy weekend with not just cooking a turkey but also a wedding and getting ready for the Cookeilidh Celtic band’s next season.

Presently I am doing outlining of the remaining chapters. I had put this off as I wanted to let the book flow naturally from one section to the next but as I got to about Chapter three I realized that it wasn’t going to work.

There are lots of little parts and things that connect one person to another so you really have to map it out, so the train has stopped for a while as the tracks are being laid down. The book is presently sitting at just 34 pages which is still quite early and when I’m in transit I have done some reading and editing of that. My parents, who have always been my executive producers before have also gone over it and know the basic structure. My mom Joan Pogson is also working on a historical work about the “Scuzzy” which was a steamer that use to go up the Fraser River, through the Hell’s Gate Rapids, to deliver supplies to the miners.

Like I said before, this kind of thing runs in the family.

This is my Dad’s (Jim Pogson) book from his and his father’s (Roy Pogson) time in BC Hydro. My grandfather was head of BC Hydro for Vancouver Island and workled for the company back when they were the BC Electric company that also powered the streetcars.

Was studying more about those streetcars powered out of their station on the corner of Store Street and Pembroke and Discovery near the harbour. Eventually these cars did serve incoming passenger ships as well with signs saying “Downtown” prominently displayed on a front window .

You can definitely imagine the car emerging from the back entrance first thing in the morning to pick up commuters.

While some of my photos are admittedly shots from online there has been more and more actually going to locations to try to imagine how it all wouled work. I teased at some things going on around Johnson and Douglas on the book’s Instagram page and while I can’t say what I’m planning…

Douglas and Johnson

Interesting nearby alley

…I can say that that alley will have a connection and that in absolute honestly the intersection of Douglas and Johnson was the site of Victoria’s first graveyard.

To the best of anyone’s knowledge the bodies were moved to Pioneer Square on Quadra Street beside Christ Church cathedral.

There’s also other great locations worth checking out on foot such as…

the site of the David Spencer arcade before the fire of, you guessed it, 1910 and…

the Brown Jug saloon which almost to make up for it’s exciting, rough and ready history has turned into a very classy Birk’s jeweler’s.

The blogs are going to be more like this with letting you know little bits of where I’m at, with one final exception.

I will be releasing something very special at the end of the month so definitely stay tuned!

Anyways, back to work for me! Brewing more of my favorite tea, Tulsi ginger turmeric as it’s a wet day out there.

Have a great day yourself and thanks for catching up!

Please like and follow!

Cheers,

Tom Pogson

Beecher Bay

Read the World

What is really happening around you? The truth is that there are numerous things that we don’t know about and couldn’t know, because we all have our own personal stories.

Consider how many stories that is, around the world, every single day.

Now I am not a voracious reader, no way as much as I’d like to be, so I tend towards piling on the audiobooks. These days, one of the benefits to smartphones is the ability to get audiobooks and books on demand. Between Hoopla (free library) and Audible (Not free but expanded) you can easy learn about every corner of the world.

Here is a direct screenshot from my device, no b.s. of the book that got me fascinated about the subject of North Korea back in December of 2016…

Later on I actually took out the following hardcover book from the Greater Victoria Public Library which may be available in your area as well.

On the same subject this book is amazing, written by an author still residing in North Korea who goes under the pen name “Bandi” which means firefly in Korean. Suffice to say he had the book smuggled out miraculously and cannot dare reveal his name.

When it came to my study of the broad subject of First Nations, well the first thing I learned straight away that can’t be one subject as it’s a bit like “ok, learn everything there is to know about the history of Europe”, so I narrowed my focus to then Coast Salish (and even that is far too vast, so I tried to focus on this area).

Of the many I read, this one stood out with it’s honest accounts of local history.

There is also an amazing dissertation by Allis Pakki Chipps-Sawyer called “Standing on the Edge of Yesterday” which you can pull down from Google as a PDF that explains so much about what is misunderstood about Coast Salish culture.

My mom got me reading a book ages ago from a middle eastern writer, who’s name sadly escapes me (gotta ask her on Monday) but here’s one that is totally worth getting however you can..

Set around the period of the Iraq war the protagonist is an American Iraqi woman who is trying to help her family and community, falling into questions of loyalty when things are seen from their perspective.

Now it is no coincidence that I picked three groups of people who have been seen as “other”. From my own experience with studying Native culture (and more) for writing, and just learning in life, when you are brought into a conversation things suddenly become clear.

The idea for this was me and a friend on Facebook talking about violence, both agreeing that noone should hit anyone. From my love of true to life things like the BBC’s The Office or NBC’s Parks and Recreation the idea of violence is uncool, pathetic and even just embarrassing.

As a human species is was not our ability to physically fight that kept us alive, it was our ability to plan and create cooperation.

A lot of violence, and the worst tends to come from faith reasons, which is how it becomes so deep set. As someone raised Catholic but a woman who would have been a nun if it wasn’t for his Dad (no kidding, mom was head of the British Columbia Secular Franciscans for years) I utterly disagree with the idea that God or any deity needs our help in enforcement.

100000000 Arnold Schwarzeneggers would be nothing compared to your supreme beings ability to snap his/her feelings and instantly fell your foe, so why does he need your help for that?

He does need your help to spread his love.

Ooh and in researching this I can a blog by a lady who has read way more than me (not hard to find)

Here’s the cover for it with the link below…

World Tale-Away challenge

Oh yeah and the music for reading, blogging and totally chilling comes from this favorite. Now I have listened to Tycho – Dive before but here’s their album from two years later called awake. Sort of reminds me of Groove Armada and Air so if you want great working ambient sound you’re good to go.

Tycho – Awake

Cheers,

Tom

🍻

P.S. checked with Mom and it was called Bread of Angels by Stephanie Saldana

Niagara made me cry

I still have a weird relationship with the falls that lasted ever since I saw this image. It was so long ago that I actually don’t remember because I was very small.

I was about 2 or 3. I was in Chilliwack, British Columbia when it happened.

I’ll pull out…

I don’t know how I ended up on page 133 staring at Niagara’s brink in this big volumn by the Canadian Automobile Association in 1976 but I did and it freaked me out so bad I cried and my father actually tried holding me while I looked at the photo (Still didn’t work).

The book is great if you can find a copy. It essentially goes from what it groups as “Atlantic Canada” and continues went through every National Park starting with Terra Nova National Park which is just west of St John’s on the Island of Newfoundland. The photography is of the time of course, but still quiet good, especially for that one photo that later on, when I flipped through the book would try to flip past quickly.

More recently, and I think due to stress, I had these waking dreams of going right up to that brink and being swept over but never actually falling. I’d just replay that over and over until I’d get out of bed. I tried neutralizing it by watching things on the falls or even the movie Niagara with Marilyn Monroe (where she does the walk that apparently many people have tried to emulate. Couldn’t find a meme of it but I love this shot…

Anyways all any of this did was make it more visual as I tried to be sensible with questions about it’s point of no return, and “oh so they can turn the spillways on and cut Horseshoe Falls down by fifty percent to help ground a boat out?”. Eventually I tried to write it out as I was trying to create more material this year. “Precipice” was born.

Original Song – Precipice

Haven’t had the dream in a while but I’m still fascinated by it and I’m conflicted about if I would ever want to go. I almost want to go and face it down, whatever the hell that is lol. I mean, how would I know I conquered the falls? Do I walk right up to it like a 50 gangster in a pinstriped suit and go “Ok Falls… Listen here, see?” Would a barrel be used (I think they are actually illegal now.).

Or would it just be randomly unpleasant for me and why go? There is lots of interesting stuff in the area, like the Thousand Islands, Niagara-On-The-Lake where Stephen Fry is presently taking up residence, or the Scarborough Bluffs on the shores of Lake Ontario which look like clay and glacial debris forming something from the Grand Canyon.

Has anything freaked you out so you just had to take it on? I think my fear of heights comes into my falls thing too, but yeah have you decided to take skydiving because of your fear? It’s all “false evidence assumed real” so if your skydiving (and naturally pull the cord as per instruction) or you visit Niagara (and stay on this side of the railing) you will get through it like anything.

If you feel crazy brave enough to tell us put it in the comment section below.

Cheers,

Tom

Bard – Chapter One

958-mossy-tree-bark-1920x1080-nature-wallpaper“Well, this is certainly awkward.”

There wasn’t much else to say at that point.  I was lying face up in the Commons of the Bly Forest, as place that is as sacred as it pretty much gets with more and more Jeekan faces glaring down at me.  And it was not comfortable either.  When you finish coming down from a climb of the Tiki Tree you usually have people to help you up.  They pat you on the back and talk to you.  They’re excited for you.  Not me.  And fair enough really, considering that the tree that was behind me did not use to exist.  I made a tree.  Around here that was kind of a big deal.

We live in trees, us Jeekas.  Trees are our thing, pretty much.  I was born in one.  I learned to climb before I could walk.  Our red wand soldier Jeekas have a drawing of the mighty Tiki Tree on their shields.  They were not just a part of every moment of a furry little guy’s life.  They were downright mystical.  The Bly Forest has long been called the Po-Ha Spirit Shal-Than’s sacred garden.  Indeed, from where I was lying I could barley make out the afternoon sky, filtering its way through the dense foliage high above.  The Tiki Tree, or this side of it, took the most of my view.  That thing wasn’t a tree when you stood before it like I had done the day before.  It was a mountain. It was sheer wall of bark ascending into dense foliage with skybug lanterns swinging above the whole of the Commons. It took long to climb, which is saying something because climbing with our fore and hind claws was kind of something we are known in Tarsha to be good at.  All around the Commons, which is the sweet grass circle between the Tiki and the wand trees, we numbered in the hundreds.  The event was over but lots were sticking around to see what would happen with me.

Ok, they all were.

Because of that it took a while for Readspa Weet and his horrible little nephew Dinnlen Weet some time to push through the crowd to get to me.  Readspa was the Seat of the Tree, the head governor of all the Bly.  I was not looking forward to meeting him as I lay below the curved branch that had brought me to the forest floor.

“There he is Uncle!” Dinnlen said as he got close “There’s Jeebles!”

Oh, yeah…Dinnlen was enjoying himself thoroughly.  One more thing I had done wrong.  One more thing to go to a governor about, and he was related to the top.  The guy was in spoiled rich pup heaven.

“Don’t you have workers you would rather be lashing, Dinlenn?” I said.  We were never really super close.

I didn’t see him.  He was clearly standing back a ways from me, along with some of the others in the crowd, as though they didn’t know what I was going to do next.  Perhaps I was going to turn into a Turweef spider and begin lashing in every direction.  Truth is I had just had fallen hard from the rope branch that hung like a thick snake above my head.  So when it came to lashing out with anything, I could barely move.  Then two Jeekas did come close.  Dominion Red Guards.  Seeing those two standing above me with wands drawn to my face was enough to get my attention.  I shelved my snarkyness in an hurry.  The gemstones from both wands were close enough that I could almost grab them, which would be, of course, immensly stupid.

The gemstones swirled like eddies in a river, not pulsing but glowing steady with a heat that cannot be described in terms of temperature.  You just felt the fire within those pure shards of Si.  You knew about the power of rock-thrower, that could send stones beneath you into a hail of the fastest missles.  You knew that the guards simply had to touch your skin and let the power seep into your flesh.  The fire would reach your center like rot shredding its way into a trees very root.

“Get him up,” came a command from a gentle firm voice.

With wands still on my face, another set of strong arms hoisted me to my hindpaws.  Still feeling a bit shaky, I padded myself down for a moment and thanked them for helping me up, which did not receive much in the way of smiles.  In the crowd behind Readspa Weet and Dinnlen I could see some of the others moving their muzzles side to side slowly.  They weren’t eating.  That movement came from how we Jeekas chatter out teeth, which again has nothing to do with how cold it is.  It’s always the perfect climate in the Commons.  No, chattering our teeth is something we do when we are angry.  Well, that or afraid.  Or someone just sent a hundred foot tree rocketing from the soil beneath them into the sky like a ship crashing into a headland.  I was just that popular that day.

“You care to explain what happened Fleet Jeebles?”

I just looked at him.  I actually was trying organize my thoughts so I could work out where in the story should start.

Climbing the Tiki was a rite of passage for Jeekas my age.  You got to the top, took a rope branch down to one of the six trees, got the wand that decided how you would serve the Bly and then come down.  Dinnlen had just done it, as had Teekthie (from the Tikitaa district like Dinnlen.  Hated her.) Bithel (from the Heepata like me.  Nice guy, and I’m not just saying that because he was working class too.  Kind of dull though.  There, I said it.) and about forty other Jeeklings.  Jeeklings going up the tree.  Jeekas of the Bly coming down.

I was a Jeeka now.  And boy, was I in the deep fertilizer.

“I got in an arguement with Dinnlen, sir,” I managed “It was nothing.”

And that was a give my head a shake moment.  Why in blackness did I go there?  I could have just said that I didn’t know.  I could have said that it was the darndest thing.  But straight away with “Golden Trousers” himself leering, I knew that Dinnlen had told Readspa his version of our arguement on the top of the Tiki.  I was a bit of a fistfight in probably the most dangerous place in Tarsha to do that.  Not only is it high, high…I can’t even describe how high up it is…but the intense Si of that place doesn’t exactly approve of people fighting or indeed having a little sightseeing moment.  Everything started to sway and Dinnlen and I had to jump onto the first rope branch we could see.  Our harnesses clicked into place and down we went, flying and spiralling around through the clouds on our way back.  He vanished from my sight as I burst through one cloud and into another, the rope branch swinging and diving past others until it came to its end.  The end was still high off the ground and without a wand tree in sight.  I firmly believed I was fertilizer myself when…well…I made a tree.

I explained all this to Readspa.  At least I think I did.  No Jeeka, not even the red army could beat the Seat of the Tree for looking intimdating.  His purple stone wand could tell you if you told the littlest fib and he was a very tall elder with eyes that looked right into you.  He got to his position by his extraordinary insight and razor sharp wisdom.  I’m not being sarcastic there.  You would not want to play a game of stones with Readspa Weet.  He came from generations of great governors.  His great grandsire had been the one to settle the war between the Lotherans of Laboi Canyon and the Bly.  Their weapons still remained in the stone columns before the Clay City of Tercichio thousands of leagues away as a sign of peace.  I guess the idea behind that was that neither of us could get those great weapons back.  Only the immortal Vakkal could enter their home.  The Si energy in that place would drive any mortal Si mad if we tried to enter.

Anyways, back in the soft cool of the Commons, I couldn’t really look at Readspa as I explained what I think had just happened.  I told him about getting the wand in the empty round room.  I told him about the wierd inscriptions on the walls, running around the ridge between the round wall and the solid ceiling.  There was also the fact that the empty room was in a tree that came out of nowhere just moments before.  And there I was standing before him with a pure white wand in the wand-sheath behind me with no color at all, so it looked like someone had made some kind of mistake somewhere.  The wands were orange for a worker, green for a farmer (that was my father’s kind) red for a warrior, blue for a healer, purple for a governor, and yellow for a seer.  Mine was like some wierd kind of exclamation point.

Dinlenn said I threatened him which was kind of annoying.  We threatened each other.  Actually, we threatened lots of other Jeeklings because they had to get past us scraping to get to the rope branches.  That’s the kind of thing perfectly sane people do.

“Fleet, have you ever been outside of the Bly Forest?” he asked bringing his wand between us.  The light from its regal purple began to glow.

“Um…no…sir,” I stammered.  I hadn’t.  He knew that was true immediately.

“Have you ever been near the Southern gate?  Sands of Umahh?”

“No sir.”

He considered me for a moment and then, with his wands ability to amplify his voice he sent everyone on their way.  Dinlenn protested but he was met with the same authority from those sharp eyes.  Suddenly I had the very wierd experience of standing in the soft coolness of the Commons with Readspa Weet.  Well, and his gaurds.  He wasn’t that reckless.

“Follow me little one,” he said with a concerned face before leading me back to the Tiki Tree, to the other side where between giant natural curves in the grain we entered the Room of Roots.

I was made to wait in the that round lower room with its ceiling that was so high that you couldn’t actually see it, sunlight streaming in from where I had entered and through a similar entrance far to my right.   Guards stood by the door to the upper rooms across from me, the whole interior carved into the base of the Tiki Tree ages ago.

There were benchs all around the circular room with a darker wood star in the center.  The star had six points, one for each of the gemwands.  I sat with the quiver behind me holding the wand whose gemstone did not belong.  The thick cloth and metal hook still hung there on my back too from when it held me to the rope branches in the sky high above.  The guards did not look at me.  They stood like statues, hands behind there back, next to the skybug lite stairway that climbed out of sight.  I had never been in the room before.  I had spent most of my time in the working class district of the Heepata far to the southwest except for when I was born.  I was born in the Typlem Hollow on the north border where we had a grain farm.  That was before my father’s accident.  We had lots of food before entering the Bly-supported trees of Heepata.  I had been in that district for so long that I could barely remember those days of playing with my little sister in the tall grasses and the open sunlight that danced on the Dawzu River.  It flowed far from the Great Eastern Range and the eastern canyons before passing through the Bly and under it.  I had been in the submarine trails where some Jeekas lived below the surface.  Down there it was all giant roots and skybugs dancing above the white water and pathways.  On the wall above me was a giant drawing of the Bly Forest and it’s communities.  We rarely left the Forest other than in goodwill parties to the city of South Leah far away.  That didn’t happen that often.  We were still somewhat shy when it came to Lothrans.  I had seen one when I was a little Jeekling pup.  Or at least I think I had.  My father met someone on the northern road before the Bly Gate.  They talked and I watched from a distance with my mother keeping a firm grip on the fur behind my neck.  That was probably a very good idea at the time.  I’ve never been known for my self restraint.  That rumor wasn’t helping me much now.

“Meepsa!”

My sisters name.  My father’s voice!  I suddenly sat bold upright on the smooth ashwood bench.  Creet Jeeble’s voice came from the other door to my right, sunlight and tiny sparkles of air playing in its bright north western entrance.  That’s where suddenly I saw a very familiar sight.  The sight of soft white and hazel fur around black excited eyes.

“Big brother?” came her little voice, it’s little sound echoing into the vast chamber.

I looked at the guards, worried, and then back at her.  They hadn’t moved or anything.  I guess someone two and a half feet armed with a birchwood doll wasn’t a major threat.  Still, it was Meepsa, here, in the same room as Jeekas who could…I went over to her as quickly as I could within breaking into anything that looked like a run.

“Meepsa!” Father called again from somewhere close.

“In here!” I called out the window as the little Jeekling raced up to my legs and with her muzzle to one side which still pressed into my stomach, she hugged my legs with all of her might.

“Oh, there you are!” Creet Jeebles, that’s my Father, said “Are you ok?”

“I’m great, sir.  Um…” I said turning to the guards and motioning to the bench “Is it ok if my family sits on the…”

They didn’t move.  I guess it wasn’t not ok since they didn’t seem to be opposed to it.  I still felt nervous with those red wands near my family.  I felt nervous with them near me.  I mean I had been in trouble with the local governors for getting in fights with upper crush twits like Dinlenn, but I never had those guys around.

“Ok,” I said to the people I loved most in the world like someone at a district meeting “Try to keep it down a little bit.  I’m waiting for Readspa Weet to come back.  He told me to wait here.”

“Readspa Weet!” my Father said “And the Room of Roots.  You’ve had quite a day!”

“That’s right, sir,” I said “Let’s just sit over here.  Meepsa?  Can you let go of my legs now?”

“No.”

“Or we can stand here,” I agreed.

Oh yeah, I call my dad sir.  We all do.  It’s just a Jeekan show of respect to an elder.  Meepsa told me she was scared when I didn’t come down right away like everyone else.  That’s when they heard of a tree exploding from nowhere.  They had been on the other side of Tiki Tree so they got the information second hand.  That’s how big this tree is.  Even this room could fit a hundred of us in it easily.  And, fun fact, from what I’ve heard, you can actually see the Tiki from anywhere in the Tarshan Peninsula.

I heard that one from my Father.  He had been to the northern city of Moz once to sing with a choir for the Lothran’s midwinter festival.  He is where I got my musical traits.  My mother was always the pragmatic one.  I remember my father singing all the time when I was younger.  It was an unexpected treat to hear it these days.  It’s one of reasons I built my first clavacar.  The thing was terrible but when I strummed it I could make a sort of chord like sound.  Sometimes the thing even sounded tuned.

“What’s going to happen, son?” he asked as Meepsa looked up at me.

“Mr. Weet asked me some questions and…I don’t really know,” I replied, only to see Readspa Weet coming out of the stairway with two more guards and a Jeeka who dressed with a yellow sash around his frame.  A yellow wand.

“Fleet Jeebles,” the yellow wand said in greeting.  He did not hold his wand in his hand.  He didn’t need to be I knew it was on as he looked me up and down.  He walked around me before asking to show me the wand I had received.  I took it from it’s sheath behind my neck and held it up for him to look.  Everyone looked at it as though I was holding a rare bottle of Thorkberry.

“You can put it back in your sheath, Fleet,” the yellow wand said, apparently content.  He nodded to Readspa Weet before heading back to the stairwell with one of the two guards accompanying him.

“Creet Jeebles,” Readspa said to my father softly “How would you like if you and your family got to go to the Lothran city of North Leah?  And we will pay your way.  Handsomely.”

All three of the Jeebles family stared at him dumbfounded.

——————————

Thank you for taking the time to read this.  It’s a new spin I’m trying out on an older project and would love to hear any constructive thoughts.

Cheers,

Tom