Been a hell of a week, hasn’t it? I’ve come to terms with it in my own way: by throwing myself at my work, and trying to create something good, entertaining, and yes, a source of a bit of the ol’ escapism.
With that in mind, I locked down my schedule, and was determined to have something good come out of this week, at least for my fellow asylum inmates who dig on my work. So, if you missed the announcement on Twitter of my Facebook page, I’ll repeat it here:
The Lexicon Calopa, the new collection from Xero Reynolds, will go on sale on December 1st, barring acts of a whimsical Universe.
“The Lexicon Calopa”
A brand new collection of tales from the steampunk fantasy world of Calopa, this collection includes:
A revised edition of “The Rhyme of the Golden Aegis”, book 1 of The Archetype Trilogy
A revised edition of “Tales of Calopa: Tuning the Orchestra”
A revised edition of “Tales of Calopa: The Fahlworth Papers” with a new narrative thread
A revised edition of the short tale, “The Lost Tragedy of Jacob Hadrick”, not seen in print since 2013
A brand new short story, “Chronometry”.
A Glossary of Terms and Characters
The Timeline of Historical Events on Calopa
And ten new internal story-specific maps illustrated by the Author
And, to celebrate that release date, I’m sharing the final excerpt from the collection today. Please enjoy this offering from Chronometry!
Excerpt from “Chronometry”
A lone figure approached the outlying dunes from the north; the dun cloak and hood covering him from head to heels blended in with the sand so that one might think the desert had just decided to go for a stroll. Both the blowing sand, and the figure who trod upon it, were arguably unnatural. And both, it seemed, were fixed on the notion of getting into the ruins of what had been a prosperous town, here in the southern reaches of Ayr. However, the figure lacked the slow patience to just let the arid, stale wind carry him on to his destination.
The dunes were left quickly behind, replaced with indistinguishable piles of debris and dry-bleached flotsam. The robed figure passed silently through dozens of broken towers that marked the remains of buildings; a hundred accusatory fingers pointing skyward, as if to seek out the culprit that brought doom to this place.
But the accusers here were dry, spent, and had forgotten who did this to them.
The town had forgotten its own name.
Long ago, it had a handle that was spoken aloud with pride from a multitude of smiling faces. Once. Even the latest offerings from Calopa’s cartographers were seemingly determined to let the ugly past go by without commentary, as both the town, and its name, were wiped from the latest maps. The geography scholars apparently felt it was past time to move on.
Time was funny like that. At least, it seemed to have a crude sense of humor where humans were involved.
For instance, it was a well known saying among folks that when one was about to die, Time itself would seem to stand still. It was said it was a cruel trick of The White Lady, who wanted plenty of time to settle one’s spiritual debt before she’d carry your soul on to whatever you’ve got waiting for you on the other side. So she would stop the clock to have some choice words with the soon to be departed.
As the figure navigated the tangle of shattered, weathered timbers, and alighted over the fans of broken masonry where entire walls had spilled out into the streets, he couldn’t help but smile ruefully at the old wisdom. He had faced death innumerable times over the course of his violent life, but he couldn’t agree that time stood still at the moment of one’s potential end.
In his view, it just slowed to a damnable crawl for no other reason than to torment the victim. If Time had a crude sense of humor, then Death in the guise of that woman in white was surely writing all the jokes. And every one of her punchlines was a killer.
For example, one need look no further than the mountain of twisted, scorched, and partially melted metal that jutted from the center of the former town. It loomed large over the sprawl of broken buildings surrounding it, and there was a ring surrounding it at least three hundred meters wide that had been scoured clean of anything, right down to the earth. Aside from the shy sand that had slithered in here and there since, the crumpled structure almost resembled a gargantuan piece of unconscious art. In truth, it was the punctuation point that ended the story of this place, and began another tale. The White Lady was capricious like that.
For that crippled leviathan was a testament to how badly the Azure Admiralty had failed in their charge, and how woefully they had underestimated their enemy. The skyholds were supposed to be the ever-victorious shield to the Grand Aeronaut Armada’s sword. But one need look no further than the remains of this skyhold, wedged forevermore in the dust and destruction, to see that that particular shield might as well have been wrought from plywood.
Aside from the hulking ruin in the destruction’s epicenter, the figure oriented himself amidst that sediment of pulverized civilization by focusing on landmarks that most any other soul would fail to recognize. He continued his plodding, careful way over the sand and grit and lost keepsakes until at last he arrived at a particular spot that was nearly on the edge of the desolation. This chaotic pile of refuse looked no different to any other from an outsider’s perspective, but for the man, it was as familiar as navigating one’s own bedroom in full light. And the glint of gold peeking out from beneath the wreckage of this once humble shop proved his suspicions correct.
The man adjusted his goggles against the glare of the noon sun overhead, and pulled back his hood, revealing a youthful face prematurely lined here and there with the weight of his experiences. He knelt over the find, and gently, almost lovingly, his clicking mechanical hand brushed aside the sand and pebbles to reveal that small bit of treasure in the field of garbage.
Quinton Graham stood, eyeing the curious prize in his clockspur grasp. It was a simple pocket watch. The gold had gained tarnish, and the glass face cover had been shattered, but the watch was unmistakably his own. The watch’s hands, now bent sharply away from the face, were frozen in place. Both minute and hour hand were fixed eternally on the moment in time when the world had gone hopelessly, murderously mad.
Quinton stared at that watch, remembering when he held it in fingers that were still flesh and bone, as warm as the golden afternoon sun that had spilled through the large window that had marked their shop. Gold-leaf letters affixed to that window had proudly proclaimed “Graham & Son, Quality Timepiece Repair and Manufacture.” Quinton’s mechanical fingers twitched, a spasm in response to the mental image, and they gripped tighter around the broken heirloom.
Quinton closed his eyes, took a deep breath of the air that was once heavy with the smells of life, and allowed himself for the first time in years to wander through his mind back to that day.
That’s all from me for now. Remember to be kind to yourself today. I think we all need it.
Until next time, Horns Up.