A few thoughts on Charlottesville

[This is not related to my writing, but I have to say something about it, if only to set it in my mind for later… Shadow Wolf Sagas will resume on Sunday, hopefully.]

A couple of days ago, I watched with horror and disgust as the most powerful man in the world lied to defend racists and traitors.

That President Donald J Trump lies is nothing new or surprising. At this point in his career only a fool would stand up for his honesty. But in a presidency defined by its lows, lying in the defence of the KKK and American Nazis marks a new low and a dangerous one at that.

During his remarks yesterday President Trump doubled down on his original comments that both the left and the right were equally responsible for the grim actions in Charlottesville that left Heather Heyer dead, and dozens wounded as a white supremacist rammed a car into a line of merchers.

His most brazen lie, that the Left-wing protesters did not have a permit to protest, went unchallenged, mostly unnoticed in a stream of ugly half truths. The Anti-Nazis actually had two permits to protest, making their presence just as legal. And yet the President’s lie was picked up and spread by his surrogates and supporters and used to give the KKK and the Nazis greater legitimacy by creating the narrative that they were there legally, while the Anti-Nazi protesters were not. He lied to defend ideologies that Americans have gone to war to defeat. He lied to defend groups who spread hate and murdered a woman this weekend. He lied to defend his allies and in doing so condoned their actions and fanned the flames of further violence.

Perhaps even uglier than the lies he told in defence of the KKK and the Nazis, was his equivocation on their behalf. The stated term for their gathering was to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, the most celebrated general of the Confederacy. President Trump said that taking down Lee’s statue would open the way for the left to take down statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson since all three men were guilty of owning slaves. This argument enrages me. Comparing the first two Presidents of the United States to the leader of the Confederate army that sought to tear it apart during the Civil War is simply beyond the pale. Yes, all three men owned slaves and should be condemned for that, but two of them are proud figures in early American history, flaws and all, while Lee is a General of a hostile secessionist force, a traitor to the republic who sought to bring it down to preserve slavery.

One need only to glance at the founding documents of the Confederacy to know that slavery was the reason they broke away from the Republic, in spite of the popular fiction of state’s rights. President Trump does not care though; he needs allies and the Nazis and KKK are his most willing and ardent supporters at this point.

The further we get away from the weekend, the uglier the forces behind Charlottesville look. One need only read the words and look at the posters that were created to advertise the event to see that these were white supremacists. Richard Spencer, a Nazi by his own words and admission, was a headline guest. The protesters chanted “Jews will not replace us” and “Blood and soil”, lines which resonate with racist and fascist movements of the past. And yet, President Trump has dug in his heels and refuses to back off his equivocations and lies. While this has earned him a heap of criticism from most people, the Nazis and the KKK have praised him for his support; thus far he has not tweeted that he does not want their kudos. He has been far swifter and less equivocal in his criticism of everything under the sun (Except Russia), one need only look at his twitter feed to see the truth of that. He does not condemn them fully because he does not want to. It is sad and ugly, and it leaves me angry and deeply troubled.

Heather Hayer was killed at Charlottesville when a white supremacist rammed a car into a crowd of protestors. Nineteen more were injured. I have watched that terrible video and it will remain with me, as will the words and images of the vicious white supremacists who descended upon Charlottesville. As far as I am concerned the BLM/Antifa/Church Groups and others who showed up to confront them are heroes. I do not condone violence, but history has shown us what happens when you don’t stand up to Nazis.

The Shadow Wolf Sagas: The Whores’s War 3.50

This is my weekly serial, written raw as a writing exercise.

You can find the first post in the series here.

Last week’s post is here.

<>

As the first Sea Fiends heaved onto the deck, I silently thanked Hurn that the sea was now calm enough for me to keep my footing.

Drawing my axe and hammer, I strode toward the nearest of the beasts, It was better armed and bigger than any of its kind that I had seen before, sporting a kind of chitenous armour over its scaled skin and wielding a polearm like a hooked spear, Huge black eyes narrowed and it hissed at me through a oversized round maw full of jagged teeth.

It was still hissing as I slid across the deck, ducked the hooked spear and smashed its knee with my warhammer. The leg buckled, bone crunching under the impact of good Nordan steel, and then it fell. I came up behind it, kikcing it in the head with my hobnailed boots as it floundered.

The Sea Fiends swarmed the ship, but they were met with sword and shield-wall. I saw Thyra on the bow opposite, silhouetted by flash of distant lightning, heaving one of them overboard on the end of her spear,

Two more came at me, branding their strange spears. I sidestepped a series of thrusts and then knocked one of the spears upward and rammed my shoulder into the Sea Fiend wielding it. The smell of salt and fish washed over me as the sturdy body gave way before my strength. As he fell I turned parried the attack of the second Sea Fiend with my hammer, bringing my axe down, chopping into the flesh of its neck with a splash of blood. The fallen Sea Fiend scrambled to get up , but my hammer met his skull ere he got his feet under him.

Bellowing victory I strode toward the next Sea Fiend. All around me, the crew were driving the Sea Fiends back. I met the cold black eyes of my foe, but before I could close he turned and leapt back into the water.

“Coward,” I cursed, looking around.

The Sea Fiends were abandoning their attack. I saw precious few Nordan among the bodies on the deck.

Thyra strode over to me, grinning.

“They must have mistaken us for a merchant ship,” she said.

“How did they even know where to find us out here?”

“The gods favoured us with a chance encounter,” said Thyra. “Most of us, at least. The scaled fuckers roam the waters, following the cod, They attack lone ships and other vulnerable targets.”

“We never hear of them in Myrrhn.”

Thyra laughed. “I’ve heard that the merchants of Myrrhn actually pay them for safe passage. Can you imagine?”

“I can. I can also imagine them paying them to attack their rivals. Such is Myrrhn.”

We laughed.

<>

The ship’s rudder was damaged in the attack, and it took half-a-day to fix it. But after the Sea Fiends we encountered no storms and unusually easy sailing all the way to Nordan lands.

We began to pass other longships, flying the colours of many clans and kin groups. Some of them passed close, sharing news. More than a few them asked after me by name, hailing me for slaying Ulfgorr. The ships of my own clan, The Shadow Wolves, ignored us.

After seven days of good sailing I spotted the high peaks of the Giant’s Teeth mountains, and perched upon a cliff overlooking a mist-clad bay, the great fortress known as King’s Hall.

I was home.

<>

A Teaser For Tuesday

This week’s teaser is from my new book, Bloodlust: The Sum of Hate, which is out now on Amazon. This work sees the action return to the Arena as Sadira now faces a duel of honour against a fellow Chosen, prefaced by a full blown tournament where each Chosen fields a team, fighting to earn advantages in the final match.

Not all of the Stitched wore furs and leather, and when Green Glory cut down one of the Zombies that was wearing and iron breastplate, she saw her score jump by several points, briefly overtaking Kingblade’s. As soon as this registered she started looking for the metal-clad Stitched and pushed her way toward the closest one. A mace handed Zombie smashed her side as she pushed, but she sent it sprawling with a flick of her horn and then brought her axe down onto the armoured figure, cleaving through the helm and spilling its pickled brain.

Kingblade saw Green Glory’s score jump ahead of his, and he began to surge into the horde as well, cutting down Zombies with powerful strokes. As they closed around him, one of them gouged his leg with a jagged hook, slowing him down for a moment. He growled and crushed its head with a powerful backhand.

Both Gladiators were fighting hard now, drenched with sweat and breathing hard. Many of the spectators were on their feet, shouting praises for their favourite. In the Platinum Circle Lounge, a round of late betting was taking place, with princely sums wagered on the exact spread of points.

The undead, relentless and vicious, pulled at the Gladiators. Each of their steps became a burden. An especially energetic Zombie leapt onto Green Glory’s back, clawing at her head with the hooked blades that were attached to its wrists instead of hands. Reaching back, she tossed it into the fray and then pushed forward again, crushing more foes underfoot while she looked for more of the armoured Stitched.

Kingblade’s sword became a blur of steel and blood, chopping through every Stitched around him. Though he now realized that the metal armoured zombies were worth more points, he did not push toward them, opting instead to kill those within easy reach as quickly as possible. Every stroke brought two or more down, soaking the sands around him red with blood and littering it with severed limbs and broken bodies.

Green Glory saw Kingblade’s score surge upward; she was losing ground. She shouldered toward the closest metal clad Stitched, but the ranks of her foes did not buckle. Bellowing she pushed into them again, toppling and crushing some, but she was not able to get to her target. Then she pushed a third time, half pushing, half leaping over the wall of the undead.

The Shadow Wolf Sagas: The Whore’s War 3.49

This is my weekly serial, written raw as a writing exercise.

You can find the first post in the series here.

Last week’s post is here.

<>

After saying my farewells to Git, Murith, and Renoit I met Thyra at the Nordan port in the Shadow of Cassander’s shield. I was still favoured in the eyes of my Nordan brethren, who were alight with the afterglow of my triumph over Ulfgorr.

The Twins and Carmen escorted me to the dock. We talked of the Union and the need for healing along the way, The shadow of recent trials was passing, and there was a great opportunity for the Doxies to set a brave new direction for the future, one which balanced personal freedom with compassion.

“We will miss you, old wolf,” said Vethri after a farewell kiss.

Eiskra just clung to me, vacillating between indignation that I might leave and farewell sadness.

“Enough,” I said. “If all goes well I will be coming back before the winter storms. If I am lucky my exile will be revoked, but I will not abandon you if it is. Only death can keep me from you, ladies.”

“And perhaps not even that,” said Carmen.

“Alright, go,” said Eiskra, stepping back.

<>

The Longship I boarded belonged to the sons of Harald Magnisson, friends from a battle beneath the city, the same that claimed Madame Glorianna’s life. They greeted me as I boarded and gave me the best quarters that could be found on such a ship.

As we cast off, powerful oar strokes causing the boat to leap forward, I stood watching the docks. My sharp senses let me keep my friends in sight until we were far enough out on the water for them to give the sail full reign.

I was glorious to be aboard such a ship once again, agile and strong, riding the waves like a beast of the sea. Soon I found myself laughing with Thyra and the crew, enjoying the wind and the salt spray of the ocean as we cut through the water like a blade.

<>

“Shouldn’t we be closer to land for a storm like this?” I asked, nervously scanning the black clouds overtaking us. Lightning played in the distance.

Thyra laughed. “Look at those waves Ragnar. This is no day to be close to land; we would be dashed to kindling against the rocks.”

“Lovely.”

“Think of it as an honour, brother. Hurn has sent a mighty storm to speed you homeward!”

“Remind me to thank him if I live through this.”

Thyra laughed. Soon after the storm washed over us. The wind came first, howling and gusting, followed shortly by the stinging rain. Then the waves came, getting bigger and bigger until it seemed that we were riding up and down mountains.

Thyra and Harald’s sons were of clan Sea Wolf, and there are no finer sailors to my knowledge, but that storm was unnatural. I heard more than a few of those bold men and women muttering prayers to mighty Hurn. Thyra, of course, was perfectly amused and her laughter carried over the boom of thunder and the sounds of the angry ocean.

My stomach lurched at the peak of each wave. I’d seen my share of storms, but none like this. And then, just as the worst of it seemed past, lightning flashed above us, and in the brightness after I could see ominous black shapes in waters around us.

“Sea Fiends!”

“Thank Hurn!” shouted Thyra. “I was getting bored. To arms men!”

<>

 

The Shadow Wolf Sagas: The Whore’s War 3.48

This is my weekly serial, written raw as a writing exercise.

You can find the first post in the series here.

Last week’s post is here.

<>

Much to everyone’s surprise Diamond Silvermane did not pout or snarl when the vote came and The Twins defeated her handily.

While the Doxies’s did not like paying dues to the Union, they enjoyed what they got for their money. With my name cleared in the murder of Rake, the thoughts of the membership turned to less sensational interests, such as what kind of leadership they wanted going forward. The Twins offered compassion and unity. Diamond Silvermane offered lower fees and an organization that would help the very best achieve their goals.

In the end, trust carried the day more than any ideological message.

<>

After the vote Union Hall exploded into celebration.  The Whores’s War was over. The Doxies’s had been under a lot of pressure since the death of Madame Glorianna; I could feel it lifting as music, laughter, and happy voices filled the building.

The Doxies were all dressed in their finest, be it formal or flamboyant, and it was quite the sight as they got up and moved, conversing and dancing. The riot of colours, the mix of styles, scents, and sensibilities was almost overwhelming. I watched as high-class whores from Old-Town brothels danced with burly doormen from Cliffshadow, and Joyboys from Burning Hill laughed with dockside streewalkers.

I smiled as I saw Vethri and Eiskra engaging in animated conversation with Diamond Silvermane across the room. No doubt they were arguing about the direction of the Union, but at least no one was drawing weapons or taking out contracts.

The merriment lasted late into the evening, with ale and wine flowing freely. It was not the worst way to end a war, I suppose.

<>

Thyra arrived a week later, having born my gift to the High King, Skaeld, and his sister, Vidra.

“They were mighty pleased to receive the sword, Ragnar,” related Thyra. “They have invited you to attend them, as quickly as you can. You may not be an exile for much longer, my friend.”

I nodded, thinking about the identity of old Siggurd’s killer.

“You don’t seem happy, old wolf,” said Thyra. “What did you uncover?”

“I learned that the ambush might have occurred because my clan has a secret pathway through the Spearmarch that the Skraelings stumbled on.”

“Garm’s eye!” exclaimed Thyra. “I knew it! No wonder Wolki has been skulking about; the Shadow Wolves killed our king.”

“Wait, wait Thyra. Before you start a clan war, Wolki had nothing to do with High King Siggurd’s death. The treacherous blow came from someone else.”

“Who?” she asked.

“That is a message that I must bring to the High King and his sister. It is a sensitive matter, you see.”

Thyra’s brow furrowed and she fixed me with a baleful glare. I did not blame her for this; she still wanted vengeance for our dead king. Had she known what I knew she would have started a war.

“It is not as dramatic as you think Thyra. The drama ended long ago. I am not even certain that anything will come from what I know.”

Thyra’s jaw worked.

“Thyra, you will have to trust that Siggurd’s children will know what to do with what I have learned. They are good rulers, are they not?”

“Aye, I trust them. Truth be told they have better judgement than their father in most things.”

I laughed. Siggurd had been a great man, but his temperamental. “And so we owe it to them to decide how they will seek redress. It may not be directly.”

Thyra nodded. “I don’t like the sound of that, but I can see the right of it.”

<>

A Teaser for Tuesday

Welcome friends. This week’s teaser is from Bloodlust: The Sum of Hate, book seven of The Domains of The Chosen series.

Stormscream shouted and fell to the sand. Bloodfrost, sensing a chance to close in for the kill, descended upon him. Stormscream was not as wounded as he appeared though, and he stabbed her as she attacked. His right-hand blade pierced her side, and hot blood ran down the handle. It did not stop her though, and Bloodfrost leaned into her own attack, forcing Stormscream to parry with his other weapon. Heedless of the wound in her side, she pushed on her blade with both hands, trusting to superior position, driven by the strength of her rage. The tip of her weapon pushed into the flesh of Stromscream’s shoulder. Her opponent, knowing his fate if he did not escape, channelled a lightning spell that covered his hand in crackling electricity and he let go of the sword embedded in Bloodfrost’s side. Then, as her blade inched deeper into his flesh, grating past his remaining weapon, he grabbed hold of his opponent’s leg.

Electricity burned through Bloodfrost, filling her with searing pain much worse than that from the blade impaling her. Bloodfrost staggered and let loose a piercing war-shriek before gritting her teeth and bearing down on the greatsword.

“It will take more than that!” she growled, her voice like that of a beast.

Blood welled around the tip as she drove it deeper and Stormscream grunted in pain.

“How about this, bitch!” he snarled, reaching up between her legs and grabbing her groin. Electricity pulsed through his hand and into Bloodfrost’s groin, burning the flesh. The crowd gasped as the Gladiatrix howled and fell back, pulling her blade out of Stormscream and sinking to her knees in the sand, panting at the vicious pain.

Even on the fighting grounds there are lines you are not supposed to cross. Here we see a definite heel character engage in the lowest of low blows. I take great joy in writing such moments of over-the-top villainy at times 🙂

 

The Shadow Wolf Sagas: The Whores’s War 3.47

This is my weekly serial, written raw as a writing exercise.

You can find the first post in the series here.

Last week’s post is here.

<>

Carmen emerged from the shadow of a drainpipe beside a window ledge two stories above the cobbles. She grinned down at me and then dropped to the ground, making barely a sound as she hit the ground.

“Did you really hear me, or were you just guessing Old Wolf?” she asked.

“You are never as quiet as you think Carmen. Did The Twins send you to watch my back?”

“They suggested that they would be grateful if I did,” she answered, looking around the street. “But even without them, The Nightblades have a vested interest in seeing you survive until the Whores’s War is over and you have returned to the north.”

“Am I allowed to know that?”

“Yes,” said Carmen, turning to face me. “I took a risk giving you the sword. Had you died, The Guild probably would have discarded me.”

“Discarded is a nice way of saying executed…”

“It sounds worse to me, actually. Execution at least has a level of formality. But you killed Ulfgorr and disgraced Wolki and The Guild is very pleased with us both.”

“Did I earn you a promotion?”

“Yes, actually,” said Carmen, stepping in close. Her scent washed over me.  “Feel free to claim your reward… Vethra and Eiskra don’t mind, I asked them.”

I laughed. I was certain that Carmen was serious, but her motives were not nearly as transparent as her body language.

“I think I will, but that will have to wait until I return from the North.”

“You’re coming back?”

“I am. If I am able.”

“I’m intrigued,” said Carmen, stepping back. “Care to share what you know?”

“With you or The Nightblades?”

“Ouch. Point taken.”

<>

The days after my meeting with Lily were a frenzy of meetings with The Doormen and Bouncers of the Doxies’s Union. After my name was cleared, my former influence returned. Many of the old hands who provided security at the Union’s various brothels had trained with me in Madame Glorianna’s day. They were as loyal as you would expect, and it was not hard to convince most of them that Diamond Silvermane was not good for the Doxies’s. This was no surprise to me, in truth.

What was gratifying is how much my name meant to the newer Doxies. I was no longer old Ragnar the Nordan, I was Ragnar, the guy who killed a werewolf to avenge Rake. News of my deeds had spread throughout the Union and members greeted me wherever I went. My very presence helped our cause. That was gratifying.

<>