(reading time: 1 hour, 28 minutes)
Seven days passed from Rob’s bargain with Fixadilaran Bocculum. He continued his lessons with Ciamuse, but each time his mind drifted further from her lectures. He saw himself crossing the city, the river, and the bone powder dunes to arrive at the doorstep of Cloader of theft.
His plans had always had confidants. He could whisper to Teal. Discuss strategy with his grandfather and Oddball. Order Roary to guard the plans. Count on Alast to overhear. Execute with Dawn at his side, flattering him with exact mimicry of his bonepicking maneuvers. Now his schemes were all alone and lorded over by the soulless gel of a prosite. The plans were on the tip of the pirate’s tongue, and they scalded it with nowhere to go. He wanted nothing more than to speak with Vyra; she would appreciate it. Alas, Clix did not allow them to be alone together. The tilefolk was back to smiles and manners, but any time Rob approached her he found a hairy hand on his arm, pulling him away to a chore or conversation. Continue reading
(reading time: 1 hour, 9 minutes)
Red raw hands, some with spots of black frostbite, rose toward the sky in exultation. The starved men and women of the Greedy Old Mop flooded out of the smelly yellow caverns of the Winchar Straits and into the melt crater Ice Master Shuckr had predicted.
They spread out under the florent and frolicked like rabards in heat, jumping about and slipping onto their tailbones. The crater was massive, nearly a valley unto itself, and had a very round shape. Metallic trees and shrubs dotted the sides, a few even bearing rainfairies. Walls of ice, only occasionally stained with rings of the yellow flammable compounds, curved and rose on all sides. At its center there was a blue lake: a pocket of isolated sea that likely connected to the rest of the Snyre by a few narrow tunnels. Continue reading
(reading time: 1 hour, 18 minutes)
Graves of the First
Dinner in Infinicilia occurred at the same time each night, just before Fwa Nippr cloaked herself in a thick black robe to dim the light. The other eight members of the living sixteen arrived right on time to help prepare the meal. Rob was introduced to them all, but they didn’t add much to his evaluations. Argnaught was extraordinary. Vyra was aggressive and unpredictable. Clix fancied himself in charge. Fwa was the florent. Ciamuse was a beloved nutter. Continue reading
(reading time: 1 hour, 30 minutes)
The Living Sixteen
The marsh of gore beneath the Fith did not go on forever. The Fith only showed in patches in the Pipes, the rest of the ceiling composed of bedrock or rounded rusted metal. After two drops of walking Vyra leapt up onto a stone plateau with bonepicking. Rob followed.
“Private privies!” he exclaimed at the sight of it: a city constructed like no other he had ever seen. The buildings moved, the layered circles of their construction shifting back and forth like seaweed in a gentle current. Many had walls of perfect crystal clear as glass that sang along with the motion. The towers were taller than he could see and occasionally coupled with each other. Yet despite the constant activity of the stone, the place was abandoned. Continue reading
(reading time: 54 minutes)
There was a time in Porce where the tiles, toils, and sinks were not the height of civilization. Before the Age of Building, before the Age of Tragedy, things lived within the walls and pipes of Porce, feeding on moisture and lighting their way by thought. Modern tales spoke of the Pipes as the underworld: a pit of damp suffering where evil souls and bodies were stored for all eternity, denied the mercy of complete rot. Those who believed in the eight gods and those of the Toil Papers both believed this. They were only partly right. Continue reading
(reading time: 1 hour, 38 minutes)
Enough Stock for Soup
Veer Keystonr could not see much of anything from his place at the bottom of the lifeboat. He could only trade information with the other bodiless members of the Calcitheater Rob had rescued. (Blaine’s Note: Veer is a skull we mentioned earlier, recognizable by the iron crown bonded to his head. He tutored Alast in arithmetic when he first joined the crew. In fleshed life he was a human ledger, and his memory for numbers seems to have only improved since then.)
“It was Qliomatrok! Can you believe it?” one of them muttered. Continue reading
(reading time: 1 hour, 23 minutes) (reading time for entire novel: 12 hours, 52 minutes)
Blaine Arcade (in a sense)
The Second of Four Bathroom Breaks
As a child not quite out of diapers yet, did you ever have the fear that the toilet would suck you down into it and you would drown or be crushed, or both, in its pipes? I didn’t, but I’ve heard people say things like that. It’s always a joke; they’re always reflecting on how dumb they were, how frightening new things are, and how a toilet might carry with it all the fears associated with water in general. If you showed one to a small animal it would just think of it as another place it could potentially drink or drown. Continue reading