Monday, December 3, 2012

Day Three-Forty-One: Inter-character exposition

I sat in the dark for a long time before Pagan found me. I'd heard him stumbling, swearing at the lack of light, but I couldn't respond. I was numb, frozen by what I'd seen, by what I hadn't seen, and syllables had no place in throat.

Gods. The penguin. He's… I always knew he was a monster, but… he's a monster…

I don't know if I can explain it properly. Kierkegaard's presence… I KNEW he was there, knew exactly who it was behind me. But I knew, if I turned around, I wouldn't see him. I would see it. Something different, something hideous and monstrous and inhuman, something far more frightening than The Baron's half-missing face or the rip of Cedric and Bernard's bodies or any number of shadow things crawling out of a doorway buried in the ground. 

That voice. That happy, twisted voice. He sounded like the winter wind, the crumple of dead leaves, the howl of a wolf, the shiver of a spine after a midnight nightmare. He was everything that's wrong in the world, and I know now that, as much as I hate and loathe The Baron for what he's done, Kierkegaard's the real villain. He's the one to fear. I'm amazed he left me alive, let alone recalled his buddies from offing Pagan.

When Pagan lit the lamps and brought his manor back into the light, we noticed that snow had fallen on the rooftop. We've officially hit winter. Early this year, and it didn't happen at midnight. That's a queer omen indeed.

After Pagan checked me over for wounds and we tended to his - only some minor cuts from his battle with the shadowy whatevers, as well as the leftovers from fighting dad - we sat down and talked. With some minor edits I told him everything I knew about the creatures, the attack on the castle, everything leading up to the opening of the door, and what we've done since. I figured he might call me crazy, but he just sat back in a chair and listened. Didn't talk much until I was finished.

When I was, he nodded, lit a pipe for himself, offered me one (I turned him down - like beer, tobacco doesn't do much for me), and chuckled. "Hell of a story. I've seen a lot, and some of it comes close, but… not quite. Hell of a story."

I folded my hands in my lap and said nothing. My throat was sore. I wanted to leave the manor - even lit by torches it weirded me out.

"By all rights I should remove your head from your neck. You know this?"

I didn't, but I nodded anyway.

"Yeah." He took a puff from his pipe, blowing smoke into the air. "There isn't much point in that now, though. They know you live here, and they know I live here. If they plan on coming again, it's best we work together. I may be a gruff old bastard, but I'm not stubborn when it comes to the odds. You can leave your village where it is…"


"… assuming you can pay the rent. Five hundred gold a month, or the cash crop equivalent, will do. Is this acceptable?"

It wasn’t, but what choice did I have? I nodded again. I'll have to talk with Harold about wrangling the proper fees for Pagan when I get back. Best not flaunt the law any further than I already have.

"Very good." He sat back in his chair, tipped a few ashes from his pipe onto the flagstone floor of the main hall of the manor, and stroked his chin. "I imagine you'll want to leave for your village soon. Rest assured, there will be no further tampering with your houses when you get back. Expand as much as you like - just try and keep outsiders away from my manor, if you can."

"Yeah, we can do that." I scratched the back of my head, realizing for the first time that I'd completely forgotten my floppy hat in Pubton. "That… brings up something. How'd you do that? With the animals? You don't seem magicky or nuthin'."

Pagan smiled through his beard. It wasn't a pleasant expression. "Those services were provided by a third party. I think they'd rather remain anonymous, and I agreed to keep them a secret. If they show up to bedevil you again - and that's a distinct possibility, as they expressed a great deal of dislike for you in particular, Dragomir the Mayor - I'd suggest getting some able hunters."

"We have a few. One lady breeds foxes, of all things… has 'em trained to hunt…" I shrugged. "We'll be ready, I guess. Have to prepare for Kierkegaard 'n whatever he's got planned. You, uh, sure you can't tell me anything about the animal person thing…?"

"Your rent doesn't cover intel." Another unpleasant smile.

I stood to go, bowing to Pagan. He is, in a sense, now my lord, and seemingly a hell of a lot better than Jeffrey. Best to show him respect, even if he did lop off my dad's arm (and that fact doesn't much bother me). 

"One moment." The knight tipped out the rest of his pipe. "I have a final question before you leave. You told me this Baron fellow used you to get at your daughter, correct? That she was meant to be some kind of weapon?"

"Yeah." My fists tightened.

"Then he already has what he wants from you."

"… yeah."

"Yet this Kierkegaard… creature. penguin… whatever… mentioned that he'll be back. And he plans on ripping apart Pubton."

"… yeah…"

"If they already have your daughter… why would they bother? What more do they have to gain from pursuing you out here? The penguin sounds like a sadist, but this is a long way to come to kill one person. Are you certain he holds no grudge against you?"

I shrugged. It hadn't occurred to me that Kierkegaard should have very little reason to despise me. I've regretfully done much more in the past to further the bastard's little plans than I have to stop 'em, assuming he has the same things in mind as The Baron.

"If he doesn't…" Pagan stroked his beard. "Then might it be that there's something out here which they want?"

I had no answer to that, so, after some curt goodbyes and promises to send back the slaves, I left. I fetched you from your hiding place, diary, and now I'm pacing through the woods, on my way back to Pubton. I'm hoping to get back by the evening, though I may have to spend another night in the cold. Considering what I just went through, the forest isn't terribly scary.

I should be worried about a lot of things right now. Barrel is wounded somewhere out here. Pagan's slaves and my townsfolk could be caught in a pitched battle, spurred on by my bullish father. Any number of things could have happened to turn this happy chance for peace between Pagan and Pubton into a warlike hell. I can't worry about any of those things, though, because Pagan's last comment brought something else to mind.

June. June forced us to come out here. She chose the spot for the settlement. She told us when to stop. So if there IS something out here Kierkegaard and those things want… it's possible she wants it too.

Will she be willing to tell me what it is?

This snow chills me something fierce,

Dragomir the Mayor 


  1. :D My character was mentioned!

  2. The author of another webfic I enjoy just quit writing for lack of readership. Please don't quite writing! I don't know how much site traffic you get, but please know that those of us who visit get great enjoyment from your work! In fact, this is among my favorites.

    1. No worries, I intend to see this sucker through to the end. I don't think my girlfriend would let me quit - she doesn't really read Dragomir, but she'd still kick my ass if I dropped the story because I was discouraged. The readership is also healthy enough that I feel the urge to continue (though I'm always open to more people, MORE, MOOOOOOORE). I also have entries written through to January, and I'd be loathe to waste them.

      Also? I never get tired of Dragomir peeing himself at the first sign of danger. I make my characters suffer, I do.

      A word to web fiction readers in general: You don't need to go nuts with comments, but I encourage you to drop a kind note every now and then to your favourite online authors. I've been blessed with a highly-vocal and nutty fan base on Dragomir, and you've all helped me push onward and continue writing. I get the feeling that some other authors aren't so lucky, even though there are many readers out there who enjoy their work. A single jot of praise - like the one above! - is great for a writer's self-esteem. The best part of my days is reading the comments on these entries, even if they are just occasionally links to Forex trading sites.


    2. I'd like to take credit for being both vocal and nutty. Seriously, Matt, I love what you do, and I try to get others here without being annoying. If Dragomir goes away, I want it to be a logical end and not just him disappearing. At which point, I'd expect a book of everything, and I'd be first in line to buy it.

    3. Well the "logical" end of Dragomayor is, in nearly every forseeable timeline, his horrible demise.

      A demise made all the more embarassing by soiled trousers.

      See, the main issue with Webfics is that we, the readers, have to put actual EFFORT into enjoying it. I mean damn son, I have to spend all of three minutes a day reading these entries. I hope you understand the substantial sacrifices I make for you, Bird. I am working myself to the bone reading all these words.

    4. Eh, Dragomir'll be fiiine. His wife built the matriarch, his children have supernatural powers, his settlers are insane, and his settlement is built on a powerful ore/power source. Factor in some variables of random outside aid and add in some time to build, and I think the table is set for a Delicious roast penguin. ^^

      That said, I really enjoy watching the comic grow. The characters and the dominoes of the plot clearly take a lot of thought and patience to set, and for the most part I feel they have been set well.
      So good job on that.

  3. "Please rise for the national anthem of Matt"




    (And that's why I'm legally required not to sing within a 100km radius of any public place)

  4. See? SEE? This why y'all are awesome. And weird. And a combination of the two that I call aweweird. Awe-inspiring weirdness. I would not have my readers be anything less. Normal people are gross.

  5. Also, Steewpid, remind me to draw you a new picture some time. Whenever I see that tiny mug shot I ALWAYS think it's of Roger Ebert, which, as I recall, isn't what you look like at all.