Saturday, May 8, 2021
Hello, my chuckaboos. Thanks for coming to the river. It’s good to see you, but I just didn’t have the energy to make a Delta Pearl post for today. Everything is fine, but the past seven days have been overflowing with… stuff. One good thing was that I was able to publish the fifth “Journey” in the Dead of Winter novelettes.
The steampunk riverboat will return next weekend.
Announcing the May Issue
Dead of Winter: Journey 5, Llyn Pistyll Falls
The titular dead of Winter begin this Journey in a collection of vignettes, before we move into the main story. The Veil separating the world of the living and the Realm of the Dead has indeed become thin. As feared the dead begin to enter the Realm of the Living. Small outbreaks of chaos are scattered across the world as spirits try to resume their old lives.
Also in those shorts, two characters are introduced who will come back into the story in future Journeys — Gregorios, and Mairead who recalls the circumstance that brought Zasha and Tajín together. The spirits also visit some characters from past Journeys.
Then Emlyn and company continue their travels. Emlyn and Boabhan uncover a clue about the ancient staff, and that leads them to a new location. They encounter the King of Hell, and this time, Arawn is not in a dream-like netherworld.
I haven’t shared many snippets from the Journeys of “Dead of Winter.” That’s partly because the volumes are short, but I don’t want to give spoilers either. However, today I have an excerpt that doesn’t give away any of the story. It’s one of the vignettes I mentioned in the blurb above. These illustrate the effect it has on Emlyn’s world, when the Veil separating the living from the dead becomes compromised. These vignettes also expand on the customs of the various countries in the story as well as the characters. Those of you who are already part of the Journeys, will enjoy this particular character’s misadventure more than those who do not know him.
A Dead of Winter Short
The buggy rocked and bounced as Elder Pwyll drove leisurely along the road. The ponies didn’t seem to have much fire, but he was in no hurry. As he held the reigns, the noonday sun caught the facets of his ruby ring. He gazed at the brightly glittering stone in admiration. He wasn’t paying attention to the road until one of the other clerics nudged him.
A funeral procession blocked the way ahead. There weren’t many mourners. It looked more like a burial detail, grave diggers and the like. A flat bed wagon bore the body, which was covered by a funeral sheet. A strange symbol was painted on the shroud.
Elder Pwyll had never seen such, but his oldest companion remarked that in days long past, such symbols were used for murderers. The symbol was meant to bind their evil. It was buried with them, and the symbol marked their graves as well.
“Now we know that such a practice is an affront to Un’Naf. Only He can bind the dead,” the old cleric commented with growing anger.
“How can this be? I’m not aware of any deaths in the area,” Pwyll remarked, looking askance at the elders of Penllyn and Llyn Crag.
The clerics climbed down from the buggy as members of the procession approached. Elder Pwyll buttoned his coat. He suddenly felt cold. A strangely dressed man walked up to the buggy and addressed Elder Pwyll.
“You should come,” the strange man told him. “I don’t know you, but the family is not from these parts. Besides, it’s clear that you are their kin. You have their features. You should come with us.”
At those words, Elder Pwyll’s companions stepped away from him. Their faces were painted with contempt. The oldest cleric drew a sharp breath. He eyed Pwyll the way he might stare at a dung beetle.
Elder Pwyll looked again at the odd symbol covering the corpse. He resembled a murderer? Pwyll was offended. Although he knew his family history was not without blemish, he would never admit as much. Could the diseased be a distant relative? If so, then how did he come to be in Llyn Crag — and dead?
The ponies nickered nervously. The elder patted one of the animals absently. A commotion began around the wagon that carried the body. Had the corpse moved? Elder Pwyll squinted and looked again. Men and women in the group began to scream and run away.
“You should come with us,” the man repeated. “It’s proper that the family attend the burial, even for one such as he,” the man said and firmly gripped Elder Pwyll’s arm. “You should come.”
The man’s hand was so cold the elder could feel it through his coat sleeve. Roughly, he pulled away.
The other clerics didn’t understand what was wrong, but none the less they hurriedly got back onto the buggy. Before the men were well seated, the ponies bolted, making directly for the funeral wagon.
The elegant buggy sideswiped the wagon, overturning both conveyances. The elders fell from their rig as it overturned.
The wrapped corpse tumbled from the flat bed wagon, struggling as it fell. Elder Pwyll watched in horrified fascination as the corpse shrugged out of the burial shroud.
The other two clerics cried out and ran away as fast as their feet would carry them. The corpse stood and leered at him. The dead murderer’s face looked just like his own.
“Yes,” repeated the corpse, “by all means, come with us.”
Elder Pwyll screamed. The pealing laughter of the dead man and the phrase “Come with us” rang in his ears. He ran, and did not stop screaming until after he overtook his companions and left them behind.
Remember, leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for a free e-book of Dead of Winter: Journey 5, Llyn Pistyll Falls. Also, click the link below to see an exquisite review of the previous issue, Journey 4.
Dead of Winter — The Other Journeys
If you haven’t already joined the journey, you’re just in time to curl up with a comfortably sized amount of reading.
Journey 5, Llyn Pistyll Falls
Journey 4, The Old Road
Journey 3, the Fever Field
Journey 2, Penllyn
Journey 1, Forlorn Peak
This is a work of fiction. Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2010 and 2021 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
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