Still Working On Guardian

I’m still working on Guardian, and I’d really, really really like to get it done today.  (I have been benadryled (totally a word) a lot for the eczema etc, and it’s taken a toll on work that’s detailed and fussy.

I promise not to make this an habit, but one more Saturday, have some pics to play with:




66 thoughts on “Still Working On Guardian

  1. Yeah! Our Esteemed Hostess is still working.

    (As opposed to being otherwise distracted by illness or disaster.) 😉

  2. For the Second Picture.

    “Grumble. Why did you have to shrink me to the size of a dog? I’m a lion not a dog.”

    “Oh be quiet. At least I didn’t shrink you down to the size of a toy dog. My teacher will fix the mistake in my spell.”

        1. Since some of those walls are probably load bearing, easier said than done.

          What about structural forcefields which allow designated amounts of biomass to pass through unimpeded?

          1. And in this place, bearing the load of the universe. It will make Fluffy unhappy if the load is threatened. Also the sea serpent in the minion pool. Also the aardvark.

  3. Nerathiel was a Cherub of The Sword. The vessel she wore today was young and blonde. I’d hit my head so hard that I could see her Celestial form trailing behind the vessel as she walked.

  4. On the streets of Paris she sense it again.  In the stories her grandmother Susan had told her she had hung on the words.  If only it were so.  She wondered, if she turned would he be there?  Would she go through a gate and find herself a queen? 

    1. Don’t worry, I’ll get you back to the library steps before dawn.

      Heh, heh; I read that at first as though it had a comma to indicate how close to the dawn ([just] steps [ahead of the] dawn) the lion would be returned to the library, not to which part of the library (the steps) the lion would be returned.

  5. Ela was startled to find a psiprint of her first visit to the Barrens in his effects. Was she really that young, or so totally unprepared? No food, no water, and that dress hadn’t survived her first encounter with a landshark. But the SunDrenched lands had no such hazards, and the iron gate have no clue of the dangers to be found one step past the wall. Sighing, she put the print into his pack that was to be returned to his family. She added a small bag of coins as a death-gift: a poor replacement for the life of a son who would never walk the Home Forest ever again.

  6. She was too perfect. Lovely straight red hair. Gorgeous body. Beautiful face. Gentle smile. And a Lion Spirit following just half a pace behind her soft suede boots. Bit I’d been on this ride before, and I had scars that still ached when it rained.

    I lit my cigar puffed once or twice, and said, “You look like drama and a headache. I don’t suppose I could talk you into leaving me alone?”

  7. “Are you sure this will work, Leo? I mean, this could be Home, except for the lack of weather control.”
    The shapeshifter sighed. “Don’t get distracted. Where are the small people who tend the Ways? Or the pixies? No, your lack of concentration has brought us far from your Uncle’s plane. Getting back will not be easy.”
    “It can’t be that bad,” retorted the girl. “The streets are well lit, and clean. I think-”
    “-we’ll find the trains run on time?” Asked her guardian. “Child, you have no clue how far we really are from safety. The fact that this is the closest analog to my natural form should tell you something. And no people on the streets? I fear you just may get that ‘adventure’ you wanted.”
    The tramp of well-disciplined men matching in formation announced the coming of denizens of this Plane, and Leo worried for his charge. Machinery and oil smells told him this was a land of Science, and his Magic would be severely limited here. But Leda showed no sign of listening to his concerns, and he hoped he could get her Home alive. Safe? He shuddered. She was in for a shock.
    Glistening bayonets rounded the far corner. He pushed her to the nearest wall. “Shield, now!” He roared in her mind!

  8. A simple iron gate. Its like could be found throughout the mortal realm. Commonplace, one could say.
    But here, in the realm of fairy, they had been trapped by this mortal wrought cage. They’d retreated for safety, and been captured by a humble, scorned blacksmith.
    But his great granddaughter had returned, carrying the elven blood he had so cursed. She would bring either salvation, or destruction.

      1. I see one foot but not the other.

        Can’t tell if anything is unusual about her foot.

          1. Ah, I see that now. I just thought the “bottom” of her dress was “see through”.

              1. Oooh, huh.

                Well, now I’m trying to percolate something where she’s anchoring herself with it because the rules of the Neighbors are trying to write her out of existence.

                1. I had seen it as an image of something that had happened in the past and ran with that.

          2. I’ve seen a cat without a grin. But a catty woman’s grin without the catty woman would be a new one.

      2. I was looking at the bottom of the gate. It looks like the stone circle is fairly wide, and that the gate is set in the middle of that with. The bottom of the gate is both a circular segment and flush with the stone circle. I don’t see much evidence that the open side of the gate is much different than the closed side, so the geometry kind of jumped out and distracted me from the rest.

  9. Puts me in mind of Deionarra.

    “I will wait for you in Death’s Halls, my love…”

    The architecture probably wouldn’t be too out of place in Sigil, either, come to think of it. The foliage can’t be razorvine, though. That’s black.

    1. One thing I’ve learned from watching SF movies is that it’s never a meteorite.

      1. Now, there’s a story idea; the aliens come to warn us that a dinosaur-kiler is headed for Earth and a to of time gets wasted because the tinfoil hat brigade thinks they are threatening us with the thing.

        The Usual Suspects would probably cast the military as the Bad Guys in that, but I think it likelier that the military would be the ones saying “Hey, they’ve made no demands. If they just wanted to wipe us out they would have kept their mouths shut. Listen to them, damnit!”

      2. SG1, XCOM and Delta Green are real.

        Rogue elements within the Coast Guard have acquired certain samples, and grew something in a vat. Which was then frozen, coated with a protective shell, and dropped. All operators be advised: for the next six months at all times carry upon your person one blessed silver cross, one steel horseshoe, one container of six ounces yellow sulfur, two forms of photographic identity verification, and one 1976 Richard Nixon for President campaign button.

        1. “Did they say Nixon ‘76 button?”
          “But President Nixon resigned in 1974. Please tell me that’s a typo!”

          1. If you are in The Organization, you know that ’76 Nixon campaign buttons are one of the better sources of *redacted* energy, which comes from timelines which are better than this one.

  10. Picture 1:

    I am the Gatekeeper. Are you the Keymaster?

    Picture 2:

    Some girls take their dog for protection when they go our for an evening stroll. Of course Samantha was seriously into the “Top This” game. Not only did her lion keep the bad guys away, but he also ate their pit bulls for a snack.

  11. The reality streams had gotten foggier. Paige deliberately did not look down as she went through the gate, though her feet said she was walking on something much mushier than the garden path.

    The garden became a city. She looked at the fashionable girl walking towards her, with a most unusual pet.
    If that was her half-brother in this world, Aaron wasn’t going to be much help. She didn’t much miss the engineer Aaron she’d started out with, but she knew the physicist Aaron would be looking for her. If he still existed in any world.

  12. Jim Minz (and Larry) was/were pre-promoting Guardian today at the Roadshow in Indianapolis (I am currently at what will probably be my last GenCon, at least for a while), so keep writing!

    Seriously though, while it was a small crowd, folks in it seemed happy that Julie’s book is on the way.

  13. Find out what John Wright drinks…then pour yourself a gallon of it. You’ll have the book done in no time. 🙂

  14. The images formed the moment he finished the Target cadence. He focused on them, beating the maintenance by habit. The gown was strange, a form and color he didn’t recognize. And the white hair, the unlined skin –

    “Old one.” He couldn’t disagree. The words were behind him, carrying over the drumbeats of Souma casting Memory on his own drums. The strange female opened the iron gate, stepped through, and the image went out.

    Souma hadn’t finished yet, which hid the timer beats.

    Ser Mogra’s tight voice broke the silence: “When was this?”

    “Lets find out. Souma, beat Recall.” The short Recall took little time, and the images even less, and then his smaller kettle sounded the timer.

    Eight beats, then silence. Just eight.

    “Souma, again, please.” Again the Recall, again the images, again the eight beats.

    He turned to his client, voice grim. “Ser Mogra, those beats at the end are a time counter. I can give you the math later, but eight beats means about five days. That Gate last opened five days ago.”

  15. “Hello, Animal Control? There’s some crazy bitch running around with a lion!”
    “One lion and one rabid female dog. Got it, we’ll be right there.”
    “What?!? No, I mean a crazy WOMAN!”
    “Oh, well we’re not touching that. Let us know how it works out.”

  16. “We have a lady with a manticore,” Catherine pointed out.

    “Could be worse,” Sayuri noted, and checked the seating of her rifle’s magazine.

    “How so?” Catherine asked, checking Joyeuse’s draw in

    “No Regalia, no weapon or Device. Rough guess, she’s a Sol with a Servant out for a walk and we’re only seeing her Servant because we’re looking for prana signatures,” Sayuri shrugged. “She can’t see us because we have an area veil cranked up to the sort of levels that we can’t be seen unless she is actively looking for us.”

    “And, the wind is to their backs,” I chuckle.

    “And the wind is to their backs,” Sayuri agrees.

  17. Elwyn paused, before closing the gate, to reflect on her life up to now. She thought she understood her life at last. The hardships and challenges she had endured had prepared her. And she knew that even if she was ever able to return to this gate again, everything would be irrevocably changed. That the fabled portal to the Golden Lands was real after all said much. That it had opened practically on her doorstep told her that her life was about to change in ways she could not yet imagine. Steeling herself, she closed the gate gently, turned, and stepped through.

    Six months later, she was walking with Isslander, whom she had just met the evening prior when he arrived directly in front of her in the lobby of the library, seeming to come through the doors without opening them, and she had been shocked when he spoke, then more shocked when she realized she could understand him. Reaching out to put her hand on his magnificent mane, she stopped, remembering that he had already told her he disliked that, she told him, “The Golden Lands are so much different than I expected when the portal arrived just outside my gate. It opened out into a forest, yet just a few short miles away, this city is like nothing I had ever seen before.”

    “I was surprised at my arrival as well, as you know from seeing my reaction. I walked into a library, which was normal enough for me, but yes, the city is incredibly unexpected.”

    “Well,” she replied, beginning to walk again, “let’s go find our contact, and see if he will tell us why we are here.”

  18. He blinked, then blinked again. “Uh.. may I be of assistance, ma’am?”

    “You haven’t run away. Are you used to gateways suddenly appearing in your world?” she asked in reply.

    “No, ma’am. But after some… experiences… shall we say, one learns that panic isn’t productive. What I see is a gate, you, and you seem to not have fully materialized here yet – your dress, your feet – and, at a guess something like a dimensional gateway behind you. Could be good. Could be bad. Could be strange. Could just.. be. You have no obvious weapons, but that doesn’t mean you are harmless. For all I know you are a scout, or are here by purest accident, or even are here to simply escape ‘there’. Or most likely, I am wrong about all of that.”

    “You are. Wrong about how and why I am here, that is. You are right not to panic, George.”

    “Alright, now that worries me just a bit.”

    “Good. I’d be worried if it didn’t. Call me Julie.”

  19. (For the second picture.)

    I’d only been awake for two hours, and already it was proving to be an unpleasant night.

    First, I was jarred awake by Camille and Rose arguing about whether Robert should be kicked out of the pride, despite being not quite three-years old yet. Robert, of course, was not helping the situation, alternating between male aggression and kittenish playing whenever doing so would add to the tension.

    Then, heading to work, I was assaulted by one of the neighbour’s pets. Betsy not only lets them wander the streets, but lets them wear clothes. She thinks it is “cute” when they put on pants. Betsy can’t be bothered to teach her humans about personal space, but whines most annoyingly when I eat one of them.

  20. Rategan Garry stared.
    The rubble *was* moving, here in what used to be the transgate room. He pressed the first call button on the comm box, then went to… help?
    A slender, grimy hand poked out, followed by another. They pushed chunk after chunk of concrete and limestone as the hole got bigger and bigger. Then it disgorged a rifled musket, its powderhorn and bag; a bow almost as long followed by its quiver; then a knapsack in the old milirary-issue style…
    Then a slender, grimy woman in a worn, darned uniform of a few years past.
    Who looked at him and stood to attention. “Ilana Korvik, ready to report.”

    Ilana Korvik. One of the Scouts. He’d watched her go, with a crowd of others, back in the days the Gate Room was filled with bustle and hope, not rubble and despair. But just in case… “Rategan Garry. And, ‘Does the flag still fly?'”

    “Long as the twin suns shine.’ Or at least till the bugs tear it down.” At last she shaded her eyes against the glare of the overhead, improvised lights. “Looks a bit worse for wear in here. Hope I’m not too late.”

    He grimaced. “Too late for the whole transgate project, the Bugs learned how to drop rocks at cometary speeds. Concussion waves travel through the stone above and spall the ceilings, and this cavern is too big to reinforce.
    “But — so *how did you get back*?”

    “Gradually. If a transdimensional gate is a royal highway, then there are back roads and cowpaths and deer tracks too, though we’d never have guessed it from here. Except of course for the legends. Fighting half the steps of the way, and” — her voice caught for the first time — “everyone always telling me, no, don’t worry Ilana, you’ll get through Ilana, you’re smart and quick and tough.. Till there was nobody else left to tell me anything. Except Augarin Rakozy, and he stayed behind to help with the reciprocal Gate, he is — used to be — one of the Operators. So coming back it was just me.”
    She smiled the facial equivalent of a thousand-yard stare. “‘You might well be journeying into the landscape of myth and legend,’ they said. Check-mark the box on that one, for sure. And ‘Here be monsters’ rather understates it.”

    And then her expression went back to matter-of-fact. “But if this cavern is stable and I do everything right in the next few minutes I can still finish my mission. If you don’t stop me, and especially if you help me.”

    Hope re-ignited like a Bug meteor crashing, or one of their runaway-reactor bombs exploding. “But your mission was to reach…” His words trailed off.

    “So help me.”

    She opened the large backpack and half-dumped it, carefully but not slowly, on a slab of concrete that was large and almost level. She took out a leather bag and laid out a dozen shining parts that looked heavy, probably because they were red gold. She assembled them like one putting together a puzzle with the practice of long repetition, or more like someone reassembling some quick-firing rifle or energy pistol by touch in the dark.

    And when she’d done, though there was no visible light or sensation of heat, the feeling from it was like sitting in front of a warm wood fire, back when such things had been real. (The bugs had come with gifts, and philosophy. But once “Each gives what he can spare, each takes what he needs” had begun to show irs uglier side — beautiful wise generous beetles turned into belligerent bugs with guns and bombs and rocks to throw and a tall pile of “needs” — even the sight of the suns was a rare and precious thing.)

    “It’s not a gate. Think of it as a homing beacon, though there’s more work to do. Now while the tides of interdimensional, ah, energy, are flowing hgh.”
    And she smiled quite dazzlingly. “But at least they’ll know I made it.”

    He watched, speechless, as she picked up three bottles, maybe a half-pint each and full of what looked like sparkling water. “Three points determine a plane,” Ilana said, as if that explained much of anything, and climbed to the top of the rubble pile to the left. And threw a bottle at the wall.
    Where the dark splash of water glowed like trapped starlight.

    Did the same on the right, near the corner of the old room, against the western wall where the transgate itself had been made.
    Took out a flashlight, found a hole in the rubble near the center, and dropped a third bottle down that one. “Took me an hour, scrying from the old generator room back there, to find that chimney, and a tilted rock at the bottom to kick the splashing water inward.” The two visible water-stains burned blue-white.

    “And now” — she looked directly at him — “we have to burn a hole right through the rubble to the center of the old gateway. So I have to draw my pistol, and use it and hope my saved charge is enough, or you have to do it for me.”
    “Show me where.”
    “Right through the center of the old circle.”

    He stood near the bottom of the rubble pile and held his energy rifle steady and fired for a dozen seconds or more, till the hole had been vaporized and fused right through the rock and concrete into the old generator room beyond (where, like this one, everything worthwhile had long since been salvaged).

    “Perfect. Now try *real* hard not to go all freaky on me.”

    She drew the rapier that had always been by her side, levelled it at the hole, and started chanting or singing something under her breath.
    Bl;ue-white light condensed on her blade (or maybe it was water that glowed like the rest), and dripped… sideways, into the hole he’d made.
    Toward that “plane” she’d defined.
    Rategan tried, hard, to remember how magical the transgates themselves had seemed, back when there had been such things.
    Instead of remembering how the legends said iron was a bar and a bane to all lesser magics, but a vehicle and a tool for the very greatest.

    And there was a familiar soft, low-pitched hum,, which he’d always thought of as the song of the gates, even though it had *seemed* to be the generators.
    No hymn of salvation had ever sounded better.

    “Next, I have to stabilize the frame. Is there anything worth saving in this, broken stuff?”

    Ilana sheathed her sword and held both hands out at arm’s length, fingers curved like claws, and breathed slowly out.
    *Something* invisible chewed into the rubble in front of them, as if literally eating it. In the space of ten seconds half was gone; within half a minute the invisible “claws” were scoring the old wall itself.
    And next *something* did the opposite, as if spreading mortar or cement that hardened as he watched. Like an invisible paper wasp, on stone.

    She looked matter-of-factly sideways at him. “Out there be monsters.”
    And then continued, “Bring me one of those bottles of water and that gold thingumabob. Be *really* careful and don’t drop them.” Suddenly, Ilana looked about ready to drop, herself.

    She took the puzzle-bauble in her left hand, and threw the bottle with her right, saying as it flew, “Stone, recall your auld lang syne.” The bottle impacted the dead-center of the restored circle, shattered, and the glowing water spread sideways and up and down as if the plane of the gateway was the floor…

    And the gateway cleared to show a forest, shining in a yellow sunlight that had been legend ten thousand years, and someone who looked *exactly* like Lady Elleonara, Queen of the Faery of Elfhome, where legend said all mankind had once lived, standing behind an ornate iron barrier.
    And where, to Rategan’s possibly-greater amazement, Augarin Rakozy waved madly and impertinently in the background.

    “Lady Elleonara, well met,” said Ilana Korvik, bowing parallel to the ground.
    “Lady Ilana, may I have the privilege of entering your domain?”
    “Since all of us are come from yours as children, yes you may.”

    She unlatched the *iron* gate, and walked easily through the gateway, though the visible realities blurred a bit at the transition, as they often did.

    He couldn’t help it. He just couldn’t, though he knew his words were seized at once by history. “Can you help us, Lady Elleonara,” blurted Rategan Garry.
    She smiled a smile as comfortingly terrifying as anything and everything Ilana Korvik had done since her return. “Bugs, I know how to stomp, young man.”

    (Write short? Who, me? Maybe someday )

  21. “Madam, while you have done an excellent job on disguising yourself for this realm, your efforts have been somewhat undermined by your choice for my camouflage.”

    “Nonsense, Atherton. Cats are a common and well-loved companion animal here.”

    “Yes, Ma’am. Housecats, Ma’am. Twenty pounds max, Ma’am. Not 400 pound apex predators, Ma’am. And most certainly not with wings. Ma’am.

    “But if you don’t have wings, you’ll arouse suspicion when you fly.”

    “Ma’am, cats in this realm, house or otherwise, do not fly. With or without wings, Ma’am.”

    “I don’t get this many ‘Ma’am’s out of you unless I’ve really screwed up.”

    “Yes, Ma’am.”

  22. And the Lion stepped out from behind the redhead and asked Lewis, “Can we talk to you for a moment about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?”

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