Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Invoking Tash after the battle

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings. Rabadash makes a big deal about being decended from Tash. He's not the only to have such ancestry, though.]
[Underlined text is taken from the original book. I'm trying out a new thing to see how it looks as I've traditionally used bold italic for that.]
[Reverted to using bold italic for text directly taken from the original.]

"I know you. You are the foul fiend of Narnia. You are the enemy of the gods. Learn who I am, horrible phantasm. I am descended from Tash, the inexorable, the irresistible."

"As am I!" shouted Aravis.

All heads turned to Aravis, Aslan's with an eyebrow raised.

"You have come into a foreign land, made war upon it, and lost," Aravis said, walking toward Rabadash as she did. "You are now counted amongst the battle spoils and can be dealt with as the victors please. The only claim you might have laid is that you are the son of the Tisroc, may he live forever as his son is an unworthy successor, but that claim was eradicated when you set out to abduct, with the intent of raping, the ruler of another country: High Queen Susan of Narnia, ally to Archenland."

Aravis and Rabadash were now scarcely more than an arm's length apart.

"I am still the descendant of Tash, traitor," Rabadash spat, "and if you side with these barbarians then the curse of Tash is upon you. Lightning in the shape of scorpions shall be rained on you."

"No," Aravis said firmly. "No, I call upon our common ancestor --Tash, the inexorable, the irresistible-- to deal with you. If you wish to bring our gods into this land then let them come. If you wish to act as though we are still within Calormen then you will answer to the authority that can lawfully destroy even a Tisroc.

"Tash, inexorable and irresistible, I, Aravis bint Kidrash ibn Rishti ibn Kidrash ibn Ilsombreh ibn Ardeeb al-Tash, call on you to judge Rabadash,"

"Judge me!?" Rabadash shouted.

From the clear blue sky a bolt of lightning in the shape of a scorpion descended, followed almost immediately by a bone rattling crack. It was so brilliant every mortal was dazzled for a moment, and when they blinked the visible world back into existence they beheld a figure floating above where the lightning had struck the earth.

It seemed to be made of smoke rather than of solid flesh. Its shape evoked, rather than resembled, creatures more familiar. A head that called to mind some bird that rent flesh with its beak, a body not entirely unlike that of Dionysus or his ilk, arms that would not have been out of place on a satyr, though four in number, long slender fingers that brought forth thoughts of the toadstool people, each finger tipped in a wicked claw that called to mind the talons of a hippogriff.

That hippogriff talons would never fit on the fingers of a toadstool person, and the hands of a toadstool person did not belong on the arms of a satyr did not seem to matter. The smoky figure was a model of perfection, looking at it one couldn't imagine it being shaped in any other way. Every aspect of it was clearly exactly as it should be, indeed the only way it could possibly be.

Rabadash was first to speak. "Tash, inexorable / inescapable, show these barbarians the price for acting against your scion!"

Aravis looked on with a satisfied smirk.

Tash and Aslan looked to each other. Some wordless conversation took place between the two gods, then Aslan bowed his head and took a step back.

Many there assembled gasped. Neither Narnian nor Archenlander expected to see Aslan simply back down. While he had surrendered once before, that was after parlay and with clear concessions made to him in exchange.

Tash approached Rabadash, and only then did those watching realize how much larger he was than a man. He was no giant, yet adult humans seemed as children when he stood near them.

"Rabadash," Tash said, his words seeming to echo forth from within the skulls of those looking on, "I have come. Do you, mortal who shares my blood, truly wish for me to act regarding this matter, or were your words empty?"

"I truly wish you act, Tash, the inexorable, the irresistible," Rabadash said.

"And you," Tash said, turning to Aravis, "Aravis, also of my blood and devotee of Zardeenah, who have called me forth into a foreign land, wish me to act regarding this matter."

"I do," Aravis said. "Prince Rabadash has refused local judgement, and far away armies may support his refusal, but judgement must be rendered. He, and his father across the sands, must both accept the judgment of Tash, the inescapable.

"I believe this is fitting, my lord," Aravis said as she knelt down and bowed her head, in a show of submission to the will of Tash.

"Very well," Tash said, "mortals of my blood."

Tash returned his attention to Rabadash.

"You have annoyed me, future Tisroc," Tash said, and a feeling of dread radiated from him until it seeped into everyone's very bones. "I will not bend my will to your command and attack those you were unable to defeat yourself.

"No, I see no reason to make war on strange lands with strange gods," Tash paused for a moment, "but I do see reason to deal with you."

Rabadash seemed to shrink in fear for a moment, then the moment passed and he exploded in outrage. But no sound came from his shouting mouth.

"You have used your voice unwisely, so I have taken it from you," Tash said, almost casually.

The feeling of dread deepened, now accompanied by a growing horror.

"I do not think this is enough," Tash said. Then he looked around as if noticing his surroundings for the first time. His eyes settled on the donkey, which Shasta hugged tightly in sudden fear. "Yes," Tash said, then looked back to Rabadash and added, "that will do nicely.

"Strange, inexplicable, undeniable, arbitrary," Tash continued; "it will do nicely indeed."

Tash touched a talon to Rabadash. Rabadash seemed to turn into smoke, which dispersed into a cloud and then reformed into the shape of a donkey. When he became solid again, Rabadash was indistinguishable from an actual donkey.

Seeing Rabadash as another of its kind and taking no heed of Tash, the donkey gave a bray of greeting and tried to approach Rabadash. Shasta, recovering from the fear that Tash would do something to the donkey, loosened his hold on the donkey but pet it in a way that meant "stay".

Shasta pointed to Rabadash and said, "Bad donkey," to the donkey, then stroked the donkey and said, "Good donkey," to the donkey.

Some of those standing very close to Rabadash, Aravis, and Tash thought that Tash made a slight sound of amusement, though none would ever be able to agree on what that sound had been. Neither Rabadash nor Aravis ever commented on it. Tash has, likewise, maintained silence on the matter.

"You have annoyed me," Tash said again, beginning to move in a casual, random way (which some would call pacing, while others maintain that one's feet must touch the ground for that), "but I am not without my share of mercy. When you stand before my altar in Tashbaan at the Great Autumn Feast this year, I will return to you your form.

"As for your voice, which you used to call Aravis, descendant of mine, a traitor," Tash said, "it shall be returned to you when you pay tribute to her patron, Zardeenah."

Tash looked about, this time his eyes settling on Aslan. The sense of a smile, one at having an idea that pleased oneself, was conveyed to all who could see Tash's face, though Tash obviously did not smile. A beak cannot create a smile. Yet all those who could see his face felt as though Tash had smiled.

"For all the remaining years of your life you will give Zardeenah a tithe, delivered to her temple on the longest night of the year, however on the longest night of this year you will do more. You will give a tenth of all that you own to the temple of Zardeenah. When you have done this, your voice will return to you.

"Do not worry that you will be taken as livestock or slaughtered for food," Tash said. "I have placed a mark upon you that ensures none shall hinder your return to Tashbaan. You will come to no harm, save that which you bring upon yourself.

"As to how you will make the journey," Tash said, "I care not. Perhaps you should throw yourself on the mercy of foreign powers," Tash glanced to the present royalty, "or foreign gods," Tash glanced to Aslan. "It matters not how, but if you wish to regain your former form, get there you shall. My altar in Tashban at the Great Autumn Feast. Remember this. Remember also that you have an appointment with the Tashbaan Temple of Zardeenah on the longest night of the year.

"Oh," Tash stopped moving about, "there is one more thing. Tash locked eyes with Rabadash, "there are limits to my mercy. Once you have regained your form and voice, you will never again venture more than two parasangs from my temple in Tashban. That is the extent of my mercy."

Tash turned his back on Rabadash and faced Aravis. Placing the first non-opposable talon on his lower left arm under her chin, he lifted her head so her eyes met his own. Then he addressed her, "You have not annoyed me. You have, however, called on me. A payment must be made. It is simple, and it is small, yet it is as great as any task one can be given.

"You will ensure that any children you may have know the ways and gods of your homeland. Likewise for any children, not your own, that you may raise."

Tash looked to the south, and his smoke-like form dissipated on the winds.


Ok, that was way longer than I expected. Original concept was more like:

Rabadash: I'm a descendant of Tash!
Aravis: Well, so am I.
Rabadash: Whatever, you're not awesome like me.
Aravis: Why don't we have Tash decide what to do? Then you can't make such a fuss.
Tash: Hey, I'm here.
Aslan: The jerk's yours, do what you will.
Tash: Rabadash, I'm the creepy god. You could have called on any of the gods of Calormen and you picked me: the creepy god who doles out death and punishment. So, you know what I'm going to do? Creepy punishment.
Rabadash: Woo!
Tash: To you.
Rabadash: What!?
Tash: Be happy it wasn't creepy death.


[other parts of this story can be found here.]

Friday, January 19, 2018

I have oil, may it last

I said that the oil situation wouldn't be truly resolved until the oil was paid for and delivered on the 18th.  It was and is.  Unfortunately I forgot to take my medicine yesterday and so wasn't really in the right frame of mind for accomplishing anything (like, say, writing a post saying that it was resolved.)

On the one hand, even if the previous oil hadn't burned way faster than it should have because of a critical insulation failure, I'd still need to buy new oil eventually.  So it's not like I would never have had to pay this money.  More that when oil needs to be filled has been eternally moved up.

On the other hand, it's stopped me from paying off the house insurance (I'm not overdue in a late fee kind of a way, more a straining the generosity of the family member who effectively made an interest free loan by paying the bill and then deferring collection in order to help fund heating oil) and the purchases of small amounts of stopgap oil to keep everything from going catastrophic while I waited two fucking weeks to get a respectable amount of oil in the tank cost a metric fuckton.

That means that even with help I'm pretty well tapped out with respect to money right now (I will be able to pay the remaining bills of the month) which shouldn't have been the case and will be a problem when non-monthly bills roll around, I believe, next month.

So, basically, the oil problem may have bridged the gap between the ongoing financial crisis that was the final months of last year with the first crunch time this year, and that would suck.

In the middle of February I broke my foot, that and a couple of unfortunate coincidences led to the distraught slog through looming financial collapse that defined the final months of 2017.  It, however, did more than that.  It put everything on hold.

One of the things that it put on hold was dealing with the insulation problem in two parts of the house.  You know: the very thing that would have stopped this whole oil mess from happening.

The two areas of the house are an addition and the hall under the addition (which had to be added to make it so the basement door still reached the outside.)  Whoever built them didn't insulate them.  As it turns out, sealing them off delivers decent insulation.  (Stagnant air is actually a fair insulator, whereas moving air is the polar opposite of insulation.)  This is a working solution, and for the addition as simple as sealing the door.  (The underhall is more complicated.)  The thing is, the reason that this isn't inconvenient is circular.

It's not a problem having those areas of the house non-insulated and closed off instead of properly insulated and open because neither I nor anyone else ever uses them.  The reason that neither I nor anyone else ever uses them is because they're non-insulated and thus need to be closed off (plus they're cold in the winter and warm in the summer.)

That is utter bullshit, in fact it's the single largest problem with the house itself*, and so when planning out what to do with my year a year ago, fixing that was one of the first things on my list.  While the addition, which is a furnished room, would bring the most utility in terms of using space, the underhall would bring the most savings in terms of oil burned.  It is, unfortunately, beyond mere bad.  The door doesn't fit quite right, I think a minor window might be broken, and as such, when the air is allowed to flow instead of kept in a state of enforced stagnation, it might as well be a hole in side of the house when it comes heating and cooling.

Thus, one of the things at the tippity top of the list of things to fix.

I'm not planning on breaking a foot this year, hopefully this is when I fix these two areas.  If it is, then nothing like this oil crisis of mind will be happening agiain.


* The fact that the house is a mess, so much more so since I broke my foot, a big problem too, one that I plan to solve, but it's a problem with the stuff in the house instead of the actual house.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Never-mind, nothing is good.

So remember the whole "If the stopgap oil lasts" bit?

It lasted about a quarter as long as it needed to.  Now I'm struggling to get money into the right fucking state because I'm not there right now, but even if I can do that and stop things from rupturing between now and when the actual lasting oil arrives, I'm still completely screwed because the money I'm spending on stopgap oil is coming straight from money that I need for the god damned regular oil order.

Among the myriad reasons why one gets regular oil from people who deliver it in trucks with one giant tank on the back instead of a handful of five gallon containers is this:

The amount of stopgap oil it will take to last the nine fucking days from now until when the regular oil arrives will cost (this is a very rough estimate) about $200.  Now with the price of oil at better than $2 a gallon, I couldn't actually make a $200 order from a regular provider given a minimum order of 100 gallons, but if I could I guarantee you it would last longer than nine god damned days.

Oil from non-traditional sources is expensive.  (Think of it as a bulk discount when buying from actual heating oil companies.)

So, I'm utterly screwed.  I'm going to pay to keep the heat going (and thus the system from rupturing) but it means that I've got nothing to pay the actual ordeal-ending order with save faith.

I'm tired.  I'm sad all the time.  I'm low on energy.  I'm out of faith.

To the people who helped me out, thank you so much.  I might have only gotten around to making the update earlier today, but I've actually had hope for days.  It was nice while it lasted.  You did what you could, and at any other time it would have been enough.  I'd have had my tank more than half full days ago.

The fact that the problem wasn't, ultimately, solved doesn't make me appreciate what you did any less.

A generally positive update

If the stopgap oil holds out, which it will need to do until the 18th (the 15th was the most optimistic estimate) then I will be getting a respectable amount of oil and I will have the money to pay for it.

I screwed up something somewhere so I'd be a bit short in spite of definitely having enough, but Christmas was recent and that resulted in some incoming funds.  Not much, but enough.

If the stopgap oil holds out.

I haven't been well.  I've been stressed and tired and low on energy and I still want to curl myself up into a ball and cry until the world leaves me alone, but that doesn't detract from the fact that the previous is a very good thing.  Another disaster (probably) averted.

Arisia starts Friday.  Given that every penny I have needs to be saved to pay for heating oil (in cash, if you were wondering) on the 18th, I'm not exactly going to be able to buy anyone a stuffed squid this time around, nor make children's short sighted dreams come true.

That's fine.  Keeping my house livable (the boiler would burst without heating oil to keep it from freezing over at night) is more than worth not having little things like . . . what did I even pay for?

I've still got the pendant watch I got myself.  It's an owl, which means Athena, which reminds me of a friend from university since she's his patron.  I think I loaned money for the munchkin weasel to get that brass telescope.  Like the pendant it has yet to be lost.  She still uses it.

There were other things.

I . . . feel so fucking useless.  I'm not going to look at how long it's been since I wrote fiction because I think it'd be too depressing.

I'll see what I released first-on-patreon and then never got around to releasing over here.  Then I can get some content to whoever still follows this.  You deserve content, even though I'm not producing anything.

Friday, January 5, 2018

I ran out of heating oil again.

[Note: this was written yesterday. Apparently I forgot to publish it.]

There's a blizzard.  If not for the blizzard I would have left today and not realized I ran out of oil.

If not for an appointment yesterday, I would have moved up my travel plans because of the blizzard and likewise not noticed the problem.

At the same time, I knew full well that something was wrong.  Coldness has had a foothold in this house that it should in no way have.  Given where I sleep this has meant enduring frigid conditions every morning and night.

What I couldn't find was the source.  It's not like a window was open or a door was ajar.  There is not some giant hole in the side of my house letting heat out and cold in.

I think I finally found the source.  After running out of oil.

I didn't see this coming at all.  I never burn through oil nearly this fast, even with the obvious heating difficulties, I didn't expect to be out again so soon.  Not even close.

So, I'm kind of fucked.

Minimum order is $289.90 (if the price remains the same) I have $246.44, and of that $275 is already spoken for.  In other words, I have about negative thirty dollars with which to pay a bill that's about three hundred dollars.

If I can postpone paying a bill that's already a month late, and I cash in some Christmas presents, I think I can make that minimum order work.  Maybe.

Or maybe not.  I'm going to need to get some stopgap oil in the tank right now so the pipes don't freeze between now and when the order (the one that I can't place because I can't afford it) is filled.  That costs money.  Money I don't have.


I think I'm going to cry for a bit.  And sleep upstairs for a change I guess.


There's a fucking blizzard.  How the Hell am I supposed to clear a path to the oil intake between now and when I have to leave tomorrow when the pre-blizzard snow level was nearly enough to bury a car?

Fuck fuck fuck FUCK.

Fuck all this shit.


My original plan for today involved writing out all of the bad shit that happened between my last post and today, thus getting it out of my system, putting all of the stress and fuckiness behind me, and hopefully having some kind of light and fluffy post in the next couple days to end the god damned dreariness that's descended on my life in general and Stealing Commas this past year.

Not only did I not do any of that, I ran out of oil and am now facing . . . I lack the profanity to adequately express the current situation.

That gives me an idea.


In today’s modern Galaxy there is, of course, very little still held to be unspeakable. Many words and expressions which only a matter of decades ago were considered so distastefully explicit that were they merely to be breathed in public, the perpetrator would be shunned, barred from polite society, and, in extreme cases, shot through the lungs, are now thought to be very healthy and proper, and their use in everyday speech is seen as evidence of a well-adjusted, relaxed, and totally unf [bleep!] ked-up personality.

So, for instance, when in a recent national speech, the financial minister of the Royal World Estate of Qualvista actually dared to say that due to one thing and another, and the fact that no one had made any food for awhile and the king seemed to have died, and that most of the population had been on holiday now for over three years, the economy had now arrived at what he called, “One whole juju-flop situation,” everyone was so pleased he felt able to come out and say it, that they quite failed to notice that their five-thousand-year-old civilisation had just collapsed overnight.

But though even words like “juju-flop,” “swut,” and “turlingdrome” are now perfectly acceptable in common usage, there is one word that is still beyond the pale. The concept it embodies is so revolting that the publication or broadcast of the word is utterly forbidden in all parts of the galaxy except one - where they don’t know what it means. That word is “Belgium” and it is only ever used by loose-tongued people like Zaphod Beeblebrox in situations of dire provocation.

Belgium man, Belgium.