Morning Pages 11/10/19

When he found the woman’s body it was unrecognizable. The smell of burned hair and clothes the flesh rose from the scene like mist of a dew-drenched field, but with none of its beauty. The husky corpses were all smoldering.
“Check them!” he called to his men. And they went to work checking for survivors. Byers knew they would find none.
He looked down at the skeletal head of the woman and his eyes strayed to her bloated belly. It had boiled and cracked open from the heat within it. Amid the blood that flowed warmer now for the fire within her, he could just make out the smallest of fingers. Had her whole body fissured?
It had heard of children cut from the wombs women in times of modern war. But he was no frontline soldier. No crazed beserk. He was a man of Arifel. A man of a God-Angel, and even Arifel, he knew, would not look kindly on this.
“What do you see?” he asked his men.
“Dead. Their all dead, Sir.”
He nodded and looked to more corpses and as his men said, they were all dead.
“Do you see the children?” he asked.
“Aye. Each one, aye,” said Worsten and captain Byers looked up to see the young soldier.
Worsten’s sandy hair was a mess of sweat and his smooth cheeks were streaked with dirt and grime and smoke from the seething bodies. He looked not a boy at all.
As Captain Byers approached the other bodies he examined their strange and distended stomachs. Each has burst even down through the womb and inside each, he could see a couple fingers of a tiny clenched fist. Even the men. Even the children.
“It is not possible,” said Worsten, behind him. “Men and children with child? It is not possible.”
Byers straightened from the corpse he examined. He had been burning witches since–since before Worsten was born. He thought he’d seen everything, and more than once. Aye. And now this. This. He looked at the young soldier and he saw the same fear and doubt in the boy’s eyes that filled his own heart. That the world was not neat. Not orderly and that there would always be magiks and gods unknowable to him was the only certainty.
He ordered his men back to their horses.
They road out not one speaking to the other. Each in his own thoughts. Each with the weight of an unknown world within.

Evening Pages 10/31/19

Their stomachs were distended. All of them. The fifty or so wuddies, as Worsten called them. Even the men looked to be pregnant. Or were they starving? No, couldn’t be from the cows milling in the small clearing, the chickens cluckin’ round their roost.
“Who’s in charge here?” asked Captain Byers, astride his horse.
the wuddies didn’t say nothing. They all looked at the Captain. In stark contrast to themselves, he wore shining armor, emblazoned with the fiery crest of Arifel. The town folk, by comparison, wore grubby sacks for tunics and if any knew how to sit a horse with any grace Byers’d be damned.
“I said, who’s in charge here?”
The congregation didn’t say a word.
They hadn’t since the soldiers rode up. Not a one had made a noise.
It’d been eerie riding up through the trail, their horses clipping along loose rocks and the occasional root and year no sound of talking, only the wind in the tress the occasional patter of water dripping from the trees as the wind blew the settled rain from branches. Byers didn’t like it. No more did Nemeth, his second, or Worsten, the young recruit they’d picked up a town or two over some days back. Right holy child he had been.
And they had ridden right up and seen all the wuddies working without a word. Some milked the cows, others tended the potat beds, and some simply nursed children or wove baskets. But no matter the job they did, Byers was yet to hear them speak a word.
The captain drew a scroll of parchment from a satchel at his side. He spread it open and read.
“By the law of the order of Arifel, I hereby order you to reveal and deliver unto us, the witch or warlock who has taken residence in your community. Failure to deliver and any attempt to conceal said individual shall be seen as a crime against Arifel himself, and merciless justice shall be carried out upon you.”
Byers folded the command and put it back in his satchel.
The wuddies exchanged glances. A middle-aged man looked to a young woman who was believably heavy with child. But the middle-aged man with red hair and beard carried the same strange and bulbous bump in his stomach. It seemed that his breasts had come swollen just as his woman’s had.
A couple rows back an old man with a staff pushed and prodded his way forward. He stood straight enough but leaned on the staff as though he carried a great weight on his shoulders. When he came to the front of the congregation and inhabited the space between the mounted soldiers and his own people he opened his mouth to speak.
At first, no sound came out. And then, slowly, as though he’d long lost the habit of using it, he spoke.
“Our people have no leader,” he said, like dried being set alight.
“Come now,” said Byers. “Even in primitive cultures like your own, someone makes decisions. Let him step forward.”

D&D Planning Morning Pages 10/24/19

The bag is pulled from your head. You feel it, but the light doesn’t register at first. It’s blinding and you shut your eyes before it.
“He’ll be down to see you soon,” said the voice of the guard that brought you here.
The light wavers in front of you and the shadow of the man, the guard, this fire-wielding demon, fades away and you are again, left in darkness.
Then the sense comes back. Dark as any tomb the room is. The cell. The dungeon. You wave your hand in front of your face but can see nothing. The drip-drip of water overhead is all you hear other than ragged breath. The stone under you is hard and cold as death. You stand up in the void and place your hands out in front of you and walk forward. You are greeted with a wall. It is as cold as anything else in this place. It is rough and dirty and you know not what your hands might feel if you continue. The smell is sweet and putrid, like fruit gone to rot and meet lain out in the sun. The only upside is there are no flies down here. Too damn cold. But how is that? How can that be? Floors above, you know that outside, out there, it is summer and dry and the sun beats down on every back and head and threatens to burn them raw. So what then is the place? So cold and dark and dank.
You hear a clink and swivel around. Then a hard grating comes and light spills into the cell from a whole in what you now see is a door to your left.
“Hi,” says a thin voice, full of courage and knowing. “As you might have guessed–I am Dandil Sharpeye.”
“What are your names?”
The hole in the door, blazing with flame, begins to die. The torch is pulled back, your eyes adjust and you see a calm smooth face, elven and pure and perfectly chisseled from porcelain.
“Why are we here?” asks the wizard.
The elf on the other side of the cell door gives a chuckle. “Oh, you already know. I know you do.”
“We didn’t kidnap your daughter,” says the bard.
“Didn’t you?” asks the elf. “Then how did she come to be outside the gates? the gates, I may add, that were shut to all?”