D1: Catherine meets Darren

The gentle echo of the doors resounded in the room against the silence so characteristic of inhabitant. The prince, a reserved and quiet man, reserved these chambers against entrance by even his cleaning staff, preferring to preserve his solitude. She must think of him as a man though despite his years. Fingering the stacks of parchment strewn across the small writing desk she attempted to puzzle out the language written there. No amount of tutoring would have prepared her for the ancient script of the gnomish. Catherine sighed softly. Most men of the capitol would have been much easier to woo. Even the former king regent had favoured her among the ladies of the court. A gentle pressure and creak of the wide door behind her caused her to turn, sweeping into a graceful bow. It was an expect courtesy, but one that Darren Stoneborn would recognize the subtly of. Having called her to his study, it was unexpected for his smile to tighten at her presence. She suspected the intrusion had not really crossed his mind.

Striding to the desk, he offered her a chair that despite its inviting comfort looked unused. She took it gracefully, resting her hands in her lap in the fashion of the age, open and showing a submissive posture. If the prince took notice, he showed no sign. Seated in a chair of his own design, a machination of gentle magic and the techne of the his master, Darren Stoneborn parted his lips.

“Many consider your role in the high court to be somewhat of a seasoned lady, prone to the. . .” He struggled with the word, “intricacies of court politics.”

He fingered a small note. “Born six months my senior, but yet already a notable companion of high lord Renault. Your place as his mistress is of little surprise to many, but his wife’s illness leaves you in a bit of a predicament. Should he choose a new bride from one of the noble houses you will be seemingly unattached.”

The prince had clearly set aside the pretense of formality or the courtesy of court intrigue, but her response had to be measured. “Your majesty, your interest flatters me. Through the graces of my tongue and beauty, I have been blessed with a comfortable living and the attentions of a wonderful man.” Her mind revulsed with the compliment. “You as well, have graced me with this honor of being the first of the court permitted in these rooms.”

“You may dispense with the formalities, Catherine. In private, I’ve little use for them.”

“Are we in private, your majesty? Surely the crown carries its weight despite its promise. I would be wise to continue to flatter a man so near the throne.”

“Raised beyond the realm of the court and its intrigues, I have little skill or patience in dealing with them. Call me Darren and my favor will be yours.”

“Darren, why am I here?”

“To perform for me an exacting service.”

Catherine’s mind raced to the rumors of sexual perversion that had crossed the court at the rejection of previous suitors. Many had put his lack of interest to the influence of his kidnapper, the Gnomish artificer Milltall. Rumors circulated that he had sexual liaisons with the wild women of the northern mountain clans. She could not refuse any such request he made, and she had certainly steeled herself knowing she had been invited to his private apartments.

“And what would you wish, Darren?”

“I need a tutor. Being untrained in the ways of the court has caused divisions to develop in the kingdom. I fear that despite my claim to the throne the people do not see me as legitimate, or even human.”

Catherine leaned back, for the first time in ages releasing the tension in her back. Relief and pity mixed in her thoughts.

“I’m afraid I am not much of a teacher. The currents of the Kardalan court are difficult if not impossible to traverse without years of experience. These years you do not have if the king’s deteriorating health persists.”

“It’s not enough I’m afraid. Your presence here has already been noted as I’m sure you are aware. I cannot take you as a wife. The discontent of the noble houses would erupt into rebellion. However, if you took a place as my mistress, you would gain considerable power at court. I need more than a tutor; I need a partner.”

Blood had drained from Catherine’s face as he spoke. She caught her open mouth as he finished. It was beyond imagination. “Your majesty.” Her mind raced. He waited with a considering glance. Before she could speak he prompted her, “This is, of course, your choice. Your refusal will simply be a sign that my research has been insufficient. I would not have an unwilling partner.”

Time hung in the air. The moment twinned the final ripening of the palace orange orchard.

“I will never beat you Catherine.”

Her throat caught and sobs racked her. To have her shame known by one so oblivious as this young prince. To have broken down in his private quarters. The shame and humiliation burned deep.

Darren stood, moving quickly to her chair. Grasping her hands so familiarly, he tried to comfort her.

“No one of the high court knows of his treatment of you. Lord Renault’s perversions are known to no living being besides myself and his confidants.”

How. How could he have known if the court hadn’t already been aware long before?

“How? You admit you know so little of the court. How could know know and they not?”

He twisted his head sharply and called out in the ancient language of the gnomes: “Bysen.” From a small niche in the room came the small clattering of near a hundred spined crawlers, sharp and a dull bone white.

“These are Ilden, devices of gnomish magic, and lost to the world beyond my knowledge. They are imbued with the a simple scrying magic that allows them to be my eyes and ears beyond the court. I’ve been watching Lord Renault intensely this past month. I have folder if you would like to see it.”

Her sobs weakened. “How are you so powerless with so much knowledge?”
Still kneeling beside her, he recited to the world. “Not even magic can control the hearts of men.”

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A Preface

In case anyone still uses WordPress, I’d like to give a brief notice. My computer is failing and I find myself without a reliable place to save working drafts of projects I am writing. While I will keep copies on external drives, I’d also like the opportunity to work on them if I find myself with a spare moment and inspiration. Why not just keep them private? I still like feedback. Publishing these is also a way to share my resolve to finish this story, because it wants to be told.

It is a world that has grown in many volumes without a voice. These posts will not be chronologically based in the plot. These are working drafts and as I become satisfied with their progress I’ll move them to other tags.

The loose title of the work is “As Kingfishers Catch Fire”, as the poem first inspired the characters to breathe. So without further ado, good night.

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Why Did We Become The Ones We Weren’t?

I’m writing this post in response to a piece I read recently by Rick Falkvinge. (Link)

The Cold War is a distant memory for some, many of the younger generation (myself included) are not aware of the fear of a real and present end of the world. The methods used by the Soviet Union are things we read about and for those of us who take note of history, see in our current world. However, those that remember the fear know best that the tactics used by the Eastern Bloc were those that worked for the purpose of controlling everything. Though we might cringe at that and hold ourselves above that shouting “Freedom” and waving our flags, we have become that which we hated because those in power can’t help see a system that was under control. In a world where the internet is a unknown mystery to many, a cornucopia of forums, boards and messaging services, we repress what we cannot control by any means necessary.

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On College Education

The modern world has come to see College as a necessary part of  upper class life.  Once a High School education was once deemed appropriate for business and many more jobs; now, due to the level of specialization needed in many fields, a bachelors degree is considered necessary. One professor of mine impressed upon me the difference between a high school and a college education: the teacher. College professors tend to have doctorates in a myriad of subjects and knowledge to back their titles. However, they lack teaching training and will therefore teach in the best fashion they know.

For some, the teaching is excellent. Rather than merely imitating their predecessors (who have imitated their predecessors), they have studied not only their art, but aspects of education. These teachers are what makes college a worthwhile experience, a combination of superior knowledge and a drive to teach well. On the other hand, there are professors that are fill-ins. They will drone monotonously over the material and when asked a question, divert the question to another subject to maintain lesson plan, or simply sit quietly while a student tries to explain. These are classes to avoid, if possible. Any college education requires General Education credits, and unfortunately some of these classes will have teachers like this. I encourage you to avoid them.

Taking a reputably harder class with a good teacher will be far more valuable than taking an “easy class” from a bad one. Therefore, I do not believe the quality of education in college always exceeds that of high school.

Before I came to Southwestern (SWAU, for those that know it as such), I was an academy student who deeply wanted to go into Chemistry. I’d taken my AP Chem class and enjoyed it, but I remembered one high school teacher that made a profound difference in my life, Alex Prouty. Sadly, he is no longer teaching, but English and History became interesting and enjoyable in his classes. Though I’d always been an avid reader, I hadn’t considered my current majors (and probably wouldn’t have chosen them) except for his influence. I suspect we all have a teacher that made a difference in our lives, and I’ll wager that a majority challenged us and we learned more.

A good teacher, whether in college or high school, or elementary for that matter, makes all the difference in education. So for those of you entering College, worried about your choice in life, I encourage you to find teachers that bring your subject from out of the textbook, even if it is more difficult. I personally can recommend a few teachers from both the English and History departments.

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Travel Journal – Christmas

Hello All,

“The holiday season is coming to a close. (Though it seems we are always celebrating something) This has been a very long break, and I use ‘long’ in the sense that it seemed very long driving 3700 miles. Although I could go into extreme detail about every rest stop we took I’ll spare you all but the summary: “We were tired.”

The one section I will elaborate on is perhaps the most interesting part of our trip. We set off from my girlfriend house, near Orlando, Florida, and we took 75 north till we hit interstate 10. About 6 hours into our trip we stopped to stretch our legs and pick up some light refreshment. Fortunately, this is where trouble struck. I say fortunately because of all the places to break down, a restaurant with bathrooms and free wifi is high on the list.

So, we are in the middle of nowhere (Jct 331 S and I10) and as we turn out of the restaurant, I hear a snap. Thankfully, I had the presence of mind to drive up onto the curb. Puzzled, I attempted to reverse back into the parking lot of a nearby Sonic. Nothing. The engine worked fine, but we weren’t even going anywhere slowly.

One of the Sonic employees came out to help us push the car into one of the parking spaces. And after 10 minutes of some difficulty we got the car back into the parking lot. Both of us hurriedly called our parents. After ruling out a dealership or mechanic in the area, my dad volunteered to drive the 12 hours from Texas to get us and the car. So we waited.

Around 1 am, after the sonic had been plunged into darkness and all that remained was the faint buzz of oldies on the sonic radio station, my dad pulled in with the car dolly in the bed of the pickup. I was a little puzzled at first, but I later found that it lacked lights so it couldn’t be pulled.

Around 2am we got the car strapped into the dolly and we were on our way in (relatively) high spirits. Then trouble began.

We stopped at a gas station to fill up the air on one of the back tires when we noticed something wrong with the car: We’d been so worried that it would fall off the back we didn’t consider it rolling over the front. And so, my car sprawled over the dolly, tires occasionally touching the ground. What to do? Well, It’s on there right? Take the front tires off.

And so we did.

Around 3am, we set off again, though in slightly lesser spirits and the near 24 hours without sleep weighing on both dad and I. (My girlfriend had fallen asleep in the back seat of the pickup) About 20 minutes later, we feel a *thump* *thump* *thump* *thump* from a perfectly smooth road. Looking back we see the car on the dolly, but sparks were shooting from some unknown place. Pulling over, we found the tire on the dolly had blown.

Using our sleep deprivation to our advantage, we decided to drive faster to see is we couldn’t “get the tire off the ground” using the height of the truck and and the other wheel. This was not, however, viable for long. We were soon forced to pull into a drainage ditch beside the road once the trailer began producing sparks.

Taking off the mangled tire, we were forced to dig up pieces of the culvert in order to prop up the wheel, which we removed after some effort, and to prop up the hitch. A few minutes after we left my father asked me if I’d gotten my papers from the car: I had not. So we drove backwards for a few miles and got the papers. Shortly after leaving a cop flashed his lights, and so we again drove backwards down the road. Through periodic spouts of chewing tobacco, the cop went through telling us the land was an air force base and that we’d better have the car moved by tomorrow.

At 4 am there was little hope of a tire store being open so we slept at a rest area till we were awakened at 7am by an ambulance and several police blazing by. After driving to a tire store in town we got the car dolly a new wheel and went back to recover the car, replacing the tire.

After going back to the tire place, we got the front tires reattached to my car and got the store to fix the short shafts. And we were back on the road.

Some people have asked after the events and so I believe I’ve given a full account.”

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Rebirth and Redesign

Greetings,

I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce the new NeuroReverb site. It has been redesigned in a few ways, some more evident that others. The obvious changes are the aesthetic ones: New layout, font, header, etc. What might be a bit more subtle is the focus this blog is going to take. I had originally envisioned this as a place to merely discuss matters pertaining to censorship and other matters. Now I’d like this to take a broader approach and discuss other matters that I find particularly interesting.

Over this past year I’ve learned many things and many of my outlooks have been altered or informed. This new year will be an interesting one and I look forward to all of your comments and feedback.

&c

Scott

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On Grades and General Education

Greetings,

To all of you out in the aether,  I’d like to muse on something.

Some of you might be students, and I’m aware that most of you will be now out of school.  For that, I will now breathe a sigh of relief.  After all the busyness of the semester everyone has a moment to, if not think on religious matters, to contemplate stillness. To sit quietly without the pressure of grades, or teachers, or peers.

Before you pass out, give me a moment. During this time especially, I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes, by the American author Mark Twain: “Never let formal education get in the way of your learning.”

Formal education has a place of importance, but what is often neglected is true learning. Break is a time when we, as students, can take time to learn what we actually want to learn. In our formal education there is a belief that everything we need to learn will be set down in a syllabus, but the most important parts of our learning come from life experience.

So I’m appealing to those of you that think grades justify your learning, School is not the summation of education, but merely an aspect. Learn how a car works, find out why the sky is blue, or why television can broadcast the same show over the world.

Off to read,

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