this is some of the fiction that was cut from Denizens of the Dreaming, courtesy of the wonderful Chris Howard

Christopher Howard

May 8, 2000 (11:29)
A large amount of fiction was cut from the final draft of Denizens for space reasons. (Fiction is always the first stuff to go. Sigh.) This posting includes an extended version of the fuath piece which appeared in the book, as well as information on a possible White Court incusion into the Autumn World, a piece of short fiction for the Oneiromancy Art (never try to sell a lemon to a denizen), and information on King Harroth Balor and the mating habits of ogres...

-The forest dared not whisper. Not a bird call, nor insect song or even the sound of the wind in the trees disturbed the rite. Half chant, half animal-howl, the voice was ragged and razor edged with pain, its staccato intonations rebounding throughout the fog shrouded woods. "I bring you the heart of a Son of Adam, treacherous enemy of the Mother. And see, I choke his soul with foxglove and ergot and wormwood. Accept my sacrifice and hear my loss." The chanting form who prostrated herself before the great, rotting tree was neither woman nor animal, but the grieving spirit of both. Fuaths, herders of cattle, guardians of the Winterweir and implacable force of avenging nature. Never more so than now, when one of their own lay dead. A month ago there was a great storm which brought rains of black blood and strange flying creatures with translucent gelatinous bodies and long tentacles which stung with poison. And these were not the worst of it… They were barbarians: large and lumbering, their faces broad with sloped brows and topped with great stag antlers. They struck without warning or mercy in a part of the forest which had always been the heart of the fuath freehold. She had been in the misty gorge collecting mushrooms when she heard Evangeline's horn. She had run to the scene, her goat legs handling the treacherous terrain with ease, but she was not fast enough. She found her tribal sister, her love, body broken and lacerated by a hundred cruel cuts. "Oh, horrible. Brutish. Brutish." Now, she could not remember the better times. Evangeline's daffodil gold tresses, the curve of her shoulder or the magic shiver she invoked with her harp, these images paled and turned to ashes, only adding additional fuel to her hate. Eyes limned red with madness and hot tears, the fuath conjured the cruelest spirits of the forest, those darkling spirits who waited and watched in the Forest of Lies. Once she fought against them with all her strength, but now she welcomed them. "By the old Pact of Samhain-Ostara I beg of you a boon. Give me strength and cunning to strike down my foes. Cloud their eyes with terror and let them know my loss. Oh, Ardat Lili, Old-Dark-Willow-Mother, avenge me of my sister-wife's loss. Oh, hear my plea." The forest held its breath and then from all around her the fog began to move, though there was still not the faintest hint of wind. Dense patches of white, osseous figures and eyes which glowed icy-blue caressed her, whispering promises of blood and murder and revenge.

-Mark Gatner put his face up against the vaulted door as he had done so many times before. He knew a secret horror lurked within. Twisted and frozen inside were dozens of bodies - his friends and neighbors, dead but alive. It had begun when many of them simply disappeared last July. Together with several other townsfolk, Mark had found them and wished they had not. Melted together in a conglomeration of red and white fluid, men and women writhed in a frozen amniotic sack, waiting to birth some unknown horror into the world. Beautiful and sensuous, horrid and obscene - bullets and fire failed to destroy the creature, but luring it into the old defense shelter had done the trick. Walls of steel and reinforced concrete, over five meters thick, it had been in there for six months now. It was the town's dark secret and Mark was one of a select , damned few who, well, protected the world really. "Only the entire world," he repeated for the hundredth time that day. All that was required was guard duty twice a week and that he kiss any semblance of a normal life good-bye. One of the faces in the fleshy mass was particularly familiar to Mark. Her name was Anna. She had captured his soul with a mere smile a year ago. She was in there too -trapped within that horror; still alive and very afraid. He knew because she had told him so in his dreams. Her pleas for salvation and promises of untold pleasures soothed his conscience a little as he aimed his .38 point-blank at poor Wayne who also shared his guard shift. Mark's blood-stained hands pulled the trigger a second time, shattering the feeble lock which sealed the shelter. The door swung open easily and his ragged breath obscured his vision with little white explosions of steam as the mortuary cold enfolded him. Visions of bare bone, gristle and congealed meat flashed through his mind, but when his eyes adjusted there was only Anna. She stood there, naked and smiling, and his heart beat in his temples. "Only the entire world," he thought as she embraced him. Her cold but supple body pressed against him, stealing all physical warmth, but his passion for her burned.

-Lenore stabbed out her cigarette in the ash-tray of her customized Jag. Top down, music blasting into the Parisian night, her sunglasses reflected aspects of the City of Lights visible to no human eye. The car painted a neon red ribbon behind her which scintillated for minutes after her passing - at least for those not too jaded to see such things. She was already late for the opening curtain and if she missed the first set, Stephano would be crushed. Poor baby. Stephano headlined for a group called "Werk Krew" and was the only real talent in the combo. He was brilliant and charmingly mercurial, even if he was a dud in the sack. Disappointing, but this too could change with the proper instruction. He was perhaps the best artistic find she had discovered in over two decades and she had met, and made, many in her time. Wrangling him from under the fangs of the local leeches had been quite a coup. Under her careful tutelage, he would light up the sky and create dreams that would last a generation or more (if she didn't burn him out first). Ah well, the candle that burns twice as bright… Taking a narrow corner at more than 65 kmh, she answered the cell phone which vibrated insistently on her lap. It was Mesmer, a sluagh "changeling" of her acquaintance and one of the best connected fae in Europe. Cursing, she turned off the blaring music and switched the phone's volume up to its maximum. Mesmer tended to mumble and it wouldn't do to miss his call. "Mesmer, dahling, whisper sweet nothings in my ear." "Charming and ever to the point, muse. You query; I answer; it is confirmed. The tenebrous roads from the Otherwhere have opened once again and mighty Oslon has fallen. It has begun; may the news profit you. Click - " "Oh, God." Traffic was at a standstill near the Arch. It was just as well. Lenore rolled to a stop, trying to catch her breath. As a muse, she and her kind had stayed in the Flesh Realms, wrapping themselves in human Glamour since the Shattering while others had departed. But now, they were coming back and she could almost see their dark magics volcanically seething behind the thin membrane of reality. Lenore liked the world the way it was: its people, its places and its music. The rest of the denizens saw reality as some sort of tumble-down-shack to knock over in their lust for revenge. Philistines. Well, not without a fight from her they weren't. Stephano's opening set would have to wait. The curtain was going up on the final act and there was much to do.

-Sam Bliley couldn't believe it. The foreigner (Swedish, Sam guessed), sounded like such a sap - the perfect mark for Sam's used car patter. A little sawdust and the engine would run smooth as silk for days, but after… The "mark" wasn't pleased when the car broke down in the middle of rush hour. He wanted his "dollabucks" back and became quite agitated when Sam explained his strict "no returns" policy. The Swede gave Sam the evil eye and Sam just laughed in his face. He wasn't laughing now. Monsters from a nightmare he had when he was seven chased him through dark alleys and even his best friends pretended not to notice him when he screamed for help. Having a nightmare? Hell, he was living one.

-Cyrrax the ogre, scourge of the Bullydale highlands and troll-killer feared in six counties, sweated and squirmed like a small child. How? How could creatures, so pink and frail and small put such fear in him? There were only two of them and the female (she had taught him the differences between the sidhe sexes) was concentrating her discomforting gaze on him and ignoring his lieutenant, the redcap Viktor, who was no doubt smirking behind him. "Kiss-ass, sycophantic little futhermu - " "The thing of it is," said Lady Eithlinn, burgundy and black voile draping her slender frame. Her black hair glistened and shimmered in the firelight; Cyrrax liked the hair. Her sharp crimson lips bowed in a sardonic smile and her scarlet eyes bored into his brain. "The thing of it is that King Harroth has been more than generous with you in terms of time and resources," she said, eyeing the silent, sickly looking man (also draped in red) who sat languorously behind her wearing a pale silver circlet around his brow. "It was a simple enough matter: find a single box which is of… sentimental value to his majesty and return it, unharmed and unopened, to this place. You had twenty redcaps - twenty ! - and still you failed. What do you think we should do about such gross incompetence? What would you do?" Cyrrax knew. He had seen this scene played out before with this former commander, Umlaut o the Pretentious, and was not about to end up in the Tower of Screams like him. Besides, he had had quite enough and, in his slow ogrish way, felt these were insults that no self-respecting troll-slayer should tolerate. He decided, what the hell, maybe he should just roll the bones and take his chances. In his heart of hearts he had always suspected the sidhe were soft under their fearsome exteriors. Maybe he would have a chance to find out. There were only two of them, small and frail, and they did not seem so fearsome here in the so-called "Near Dreaming" as they did in the deeper realms. Two swift sweeps with his great ax and it would be King Cyrrax (The Stout? The Big? Well, there would be time for that later.) who ruled this freehold. He had never e't sidhe before, and they looked tender and sweet. He'd take the man's silver crown for a bracelet and make ogre-mittens from the woman's pretty, pretty hair. The woman arched her eyebrow and awaited his reply. Cyrrax wanted to say something clever, to show the two Kithain how he had outsmarted them, but he couldn't think of anything. With a bellow he drew his battle-ax and charged. The woman simply stood there as he closed the distance between them, probably paralyzed with fear. He hefted his ax, but something was wrong. Great arms that could fell a tree with a single blow could barely lift the weapon. His stomach felt all queasy and watery; his vision blurred, fixating tunnel-like on the pale king. Cyrrax spied his hand, once pulsing with endless strength, thin and so frail that his brass gauntlet slid down around his bony, wrinkled arm. Excrescence and putrescence, his flesh rotted and withered as a hundred seasons passed in mere seconds. The wailing of time outraged rang in his fleshless skull and gnawed at his pitted, yellowed skeleton before his spirit was finally able to go on its way - to reincarnation, damnation or whatever fate awaited an ogre's soul. As Cyrrax collapsed into a pile of dust, Lady Eithlinn turned her charming smile on Viktor, scion of the Hand of Vengeance. His toothy smirk had turned into a wan little frown. "Never send an ogre to do a redcap's work," she sighed. "My apologies to you and your corbey for having to tolerate the lout. We have new information on the box's passage and you have our full confidence. We will speak again anon." A stiff but obsequious bow saw Viktor from the room. Lady Eithlinn considered her lordly guest, sitting on cushions now frayed and molded with age. Mute as ever, silent as death, his intentions were nonetheless clear. Nightmare made flesh, he was perhaps as old as the High Lord Li-Tili himself and a true child of the fomorians. It was only the unbelievable failure of the keremet Soul Bearer that forced him to hide his light under a bushel so far. Still, she meant what she said. Viktor was competent and tenacious; recovering the box was just a matter of time. She would tread carefully, for here was old power. The Evernight approached and Lady Eithlinn smiled.

-- Christopher Howard

Copyright © 2000, Beau Brown