We all have fantasies most of which we outgrow. One of mine was
a Porsche 911 GT2 RS (about $350K all tricked out, 0-60 in 2.7 sec.). Another BEFORE
I met Mrs. Jester were the Asian Twins, Fire and Ice. With their thigh-high
leather boots and black fingernails filed to a point. But I digress. My current
unachievable fantasy is to publish a novel based on Styr-Leng, the fair to
middling warlock. I have been putting the warlock’s adventures on the New Age Jester
blog (www.newagejester.com) as they
were drafted. Then I looked up SF/Fantasy publishers and they frown on potential
works being previously published in any format. So, Styr-Leng will have to take
an extended vacation from the internet world while I continue to work on his
adventures at an excruciatingly slow pace (which is why I haven’t posted on other
topics). But to keep you up to date, here is the developing pantheon of characters:
Main Characters So Far:
Styr-Leng: A warlock not without some magical talent or charm.
Bob Zimmerman: There is more than meets the eye to our part-time
barkeep and up-and-coming poet/bard.
Vander Wanderwood: A sanctimonious, ill-tempered paladin,
but what can you expect from someone who wears Underpants of the Holy.
Secondary Characters So Far (Will they become more
Axel: Rather dim-witted logger of the Alder Tribe.
Utrich: Crabber who’s always trying to run out on his bar
Thomas A’Pinus: Loves to narrate bar brawls.
Jesus: A guest appearance courtesy of THE HOLY TRINITY, INC.
(THEY required that THEY be in all caps.) Perhaps HE’ll come back. People say
it’s hard to keep a good man down.
Edgar the Ball Scratching Troll: What more can I say.
Actually, there’s about 1000 words more, but you’ll have to read the story.
Nicodemus: Bob’s black cat (and what other color were
expecting for a night cat?) who’s always trying to get into Styr-Leng’s magical
Druantia: Celtic tree goddess. One of Styr-Leng’s deities with
Taylor Swiftness: The singing witch. Who knows, perhaps she’ll
compete with Druantia for Styr-Leng’s attention. Perhaps she and Druantia will
get it on. Who knows?
The baloi ba bosigo: The Night Witch. No one’s friend and no
Characters On The Horizon:
Styr-Leng’s Mother: A retired witch. Does she have a
husband? Perhaps four or five exes, I’ve been told that very smart people are
hard to live with.
The Vandals: From the North Country comes ominous sounds of
heavy metal thunder and that little metal ball rattling around in the bottom of
spray paint cans.
Fiona The Nose Picking Troll: Edgar’s more refined sister.
To the Styr-Leng fans across the globe and even further, this is much improved version of “The Occasional Adventures of Styr-Leng, a Fair to Middling Warlock – Memories of a Carpenter’s Son” (Dec. 13, 2018). More raw emotions! More sex!* More words! Fewer typos! (*: Actually that’s a later story, so think of this as foreplay.)
It was an ill night, miserable rain and even more miserable
sleet blowing off the bay. Angry white caps spewing salt into the air. As you
might imagine, even if you’re of only average imagination, Styr-Leng was
miserable. Drudging through mud-strewn paths looking for shelter. Pulling
stones from well-worn sandals. An irritable stomach refusing to be ignored. Spotting
a dim light through the tempest, Styr-Leng hoped, “May the deities smile on me
tonight.” A futile plea by the warlock since, at best, the deities smirked at
mortals. With special mortals – wizards, warlocks, and whatnots – they found great
amusement in tinkering with their fates. Except for fairies. Bad optics
screwing with fairies. And at worst, the
deities would, well, we don’t even want to go there.
Leaning into the heavy door, Styr-Leng entered the dimly lit
tavern, evaluating his surroundings in hope and a degree of apprehension based
on his experiences in entering other dimly lit taverns. A waist-high counter constructed
of thick lumber dominated the room, running across one side of the tavern. Old
growth lumber from the ancient forests once common in the realm. Lumber with
memories of times long before humans infested the region. Above the majestic
counter hung the remains of a battered dinghy. A tribute to the lost Albatross
and its crew on an ill night, much like the storm blowing outside. On such
nights, seafarers raised their tankards to lost friends near and far invoking one
deity or another in a hope to avoid a similar fate.
Pulling his attention away from the local ambience, a
repugnant smell assaulted Styr-Leng’s nostrils. Not the usual sawdust soaked
with stale urine and worse beer. More pungent. Pungent with a hint of rosemary
and thyme. Searching for its source, he spied a large pot of stew brewing in
the corner. For two nano-moments, Styr-Leng’s stomach did its happy dance. Though
not widely known, warlocks need to eat frequently to maintain their occult
energies lest they get cranky. And cranky occult energies are best avoided. A
happy stomach till he realized the stench emanated from the stew. “It’s going
to be one of those nights,” moaned the waterlogged warlock.
The diminutive barkeep behind the counter sized up the
stranger. Tall and lanky, fair skin turned red from exposure to the frigid wind.
Shoulder length silver hair water dripping rain on his tavern floor. The
stranger held himself upright with a bearing of confidence but without his
shoulders hunched forward in an overt threat. Not the run-of-the mill riffraff
so common in the area. Based on his assessment, the barkeep was comfortable in
addressing Styr-Leng in his troubadour’s voice. “Come in,” he said, “I’ll give you shelter
from the storm.” After a dramatic pause, “My name is Robert Zimmerman, but
everyone calls me Bob.”
Shaking the rain off
his cloak of many colors, assuming mud is a color, Styr-Leng sat at the nearest
table, with his back to the wall as was his habit and ordered a beer. A local
brew for the warlock could learn much about the indigenous people from what
passed for spirits in a region. Then in the universal need to state the obvious,
he added, “It’s really crappy out there.”
Getting his beer, Bob volunteered, “Yeah, it’s gonna get
worse. It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.” Pleased at what just came out of his
mouth, Bob exclaimed, “Oh, that’s a good one.” Pulling out his dragon-skin
notebook of lyrics, verses and odes from under the bar, he scratched, A severe storm is a-gonna fall. “Yes, I
can work with that.” Then he carefully slid the notebook back into its hidden
Being trained in the art of observation and general
sneakiness, Styr-Leng caught a glimpse of the dragon-skin book. A rare and
dangerous commodity. About to quiz the barkeep when Bob said, “You look hungry
stranger. Help yourself to the stew. It’s free.” Distracting the warlock from
what he really, really should be paying attention to. “Free?”, exclaimed
Styr-Leng. For this was a word seldom heard in the realm.
Bob, “Yes sir. We’re a friendly bunch here at the Haven by the Bay Tavern. Just grab the
ladle and scoop yourself a bowl.”
At the mention of “free”, Styr-Leng’s brain commanded his stomach
to reconsider. Perhaps “repugnant” was a bit pejorative. “Objectionable” or
even “subpar but edible” might be a better descriptor given the circumstances. Hunger
overtaking common sense, Styr-Leng grabbed the ladle strategically placed next
to the pot. Instantly, tsunamis of pain shot through his burning hand. The
warlock screamed. Not sufficient to raise the dead, but more than enough to
scare the bejeezus out of the living.
Bob displaying his face of utmost concern, “Oh, no, not that
ladle! It’s hot!”
Styr-Leng screamed, “Shit!” Then proceeded to jump around
the tavern blowing on his hand, yelling, “Jesus! Jesus! Damnation that hurts!”
Bob, “Oh, you picked up the wrong ladle. Don’t worry, we
have fair-trade boar-fat lotion infused with lavender and frankincense for
burns. Quite effective. Would you like some?”
Styr-Leng yelled, “Jesus! Boyd, hurry!” as he continued to
blow on his offended hand in a blind hope his breath could dissolve the pain. As
he pulled out an ornate vial from under the counter, Bob added, “Just so you
know, the boar-fat lotion is 40 copper pieces.”
Even through the pain Styr-Leng protested, “What! Jesus,
forty copper pieces?” The warlock’s outrage was quite understandable, forty
copper being a sizable amount. Equal to a week’s lodging at an inn. Not the
best ones, of course, but one step up from Madame Bovine’s Discount Flophouse. But
then, Madame Bovine’s was on the low end of flophouses. Nonetheless, the
warlock’s outrage was well justified.
Offended at Styr-Leng’s tone, Bob replied, “Boar fat is ridiculously
hard to come by in these parts. Boars are quite dangerous you know, especially
the fat ones. I could tell you about the time I was almost gored to death in
the Numyon Forest. Almost gutted. Forty copper is quite the bargain given the current
state of affairs. But if you don’t want it.” With a practiced shrug, Bob began
to slowly return the vial back under the bar.
Giving into pain over economics, Styr-Leng yelled, “Jesus,
this burns! Yes, get it. Quick Boyd!”
In frustration, “My name is Bob. I’m going to be famous
someday.” Pulling out the vial again, Bob poured some of the healing lotion on Styr-Leng’s
offended hand. While one can debate the morality of inflating medicinal prices
under such dire conditions, the boar-fat lotion actually reduced Styr-Leng’s pain
from brain numbing to merely intolerable. As pain released its all-encompassing
grip on his psyche, Styr-Leng realized he’d been duped. With his blood rising
he growled, “You put that hot ladle there on purpose!”
Shrugging, Bob replied in a practiced tone, “Oh no, sir. I
thought a man of your intelligence would understand that the ladle next to the
pot was too hot to handle. The ladle for the stew is kept underneath the sink.
Right behind the pots. And pans. All the way in the back.”
Styr-Leng for the first time displayed his waist pouch covered
with ancient runes, a warlock’s signature. Embedded with black gems indicating
a mid-level skill, not a master but fully capable of much mischief. The warlock
then threatened, “I should turn you into a toad.” Blowing on his hand, he added
“Jesus, this still hurts. A toad is too good for you. A three-eyed dung slug. You,
Recognizing real and imminent danger, Bob began to run
different predicament probabilities. Though not educated even by local
standards, Bob had a sharp, if devious, wit about him. In another life, he
likely would have been a court jester; his deft manner bringing truth to mad
kings, or more dangerously idiot kings, with only a moderate probability of
being beheaded, gutted, or generally put upon. Now he needed these wits to
divert the irate warlock from pushing him far, far down the evolutionary chain.
“Sir, if it pleases you, answer one question before you use your wizardly
powers. A doomed man’s last request. Surely you can grant me that.”
“What? Be quick,” patience not being the warlock’s strong
Quickly reviewing their interactions, Bob begged, “Kindly
sir, who is this “Jesus” you talk about?”
In an abrupt tone, Styr-Leng responded to the curly-haired
barkeep, “What? What are you talking about?”
“You invoke this Jesus. So, who is he? Enlighten me please,
before you turn me into some vile creature even my dear mother, bless her
ailing heart, couldn’t love. I’m my mother’s only source of income. She can’t
work because of the crippling pain in her hands from when she rescued two, no wait
it was three babies, mere infants, from a burning hut. Pulled them out of the roaring
flames at great personal risk and asked for no reward for her sacrifice. And my
dad. My dad was a hero. Killed defending the realm from marauding bandits.
Singly handedly repelled an entire horde of Goths with just a salad fork. The
state would have given him a hero’s burial if not for all the budget cuts. Then
there’s my blind aunt. She …”
Growing impatient, Styr-Leng commanded, “Stop!” Judging the
situation, Bob gave his monologue a rest and waited for his next play. With the
break, Styr-Leng remarked, “Jesus you say? I do not recall the name.”
“But you just mentioned him. Several times.” Emphasizing the
point, Bob jumped up and down in mock pain blowing on his hand. “You know, “Jesus!
Jesus!” All the while moving closer to the front door, for when his words
failed, feet were Bob’s preferred backup plan.
Styr-Leng, “No I … What the …” Stopping for a moment, staring
off, “How’d that guy get in my head?”
“So, who is this Jesus? An evil sorcerer you had to defeat
in a monumental battle? I bet you have a really fascinating story, esteemed
sir. A story of adventure and delight. Of your heroism, a tale of light and
dark, and of course fifty shades of gray. A tale of great …”
With furrowed brow, Styr-Leng interrupted, “Wait, it’s
coming back to me.” Speaking in a slow cadence, pausing between each word. “Okay,
I was in Lower Capernaum. A fishing village down south. I was completing my
community service by working with Hovels for Humanity.”
“Oh, community service.” As a collector of barterable
information, Bob instinctively knew this tidbit had great promise in future
dealings with the warlock. “What’d you do? Confession is good for the soul. If
you can’t confess to your barkeep, who can you confess to? I could tell you
some stories from what I’ve been told. But I won’t because of barkeep – inebriate
confidentiality. I mean I really can’t go into how Sigurd Aamot was carrying on
with Fukuda Yuuto’s wife when he was off on fishing trips. I mean I understand,
what with Hirata’s big, bouncy orbs. But talking about that would break my
solemn oath. So, don’t worry that I’d ever repeat your misdeeds. Share with
your friend, what’d you do?”
After filing Hirata under “tits”, the warlock brushed off
the barkeep, “Never mind, it was a total misunderstanding about some priest’s
daughter. Anyway, there were several other indentured volunteers along with
some contractors working on the hovel. One of the contractors was this Jesus
guy. He was a crappy carpenter. Couldn’t even nail two pieces of lumber into a
cross if his life depended on it. Must’ve got his job because his father was in
the Carpenter’s Union.”
Putting on his most sympathetic face, Bob commiserated, “Life
is so unfair. I could tell you about the time when I was thrown out of the
memorial service for Gregorian Gingerdwarf for talking. I mean, talking. Come
on. I was just reminiscing about the time when Gingerdwarf came into Haven and
accidently peed on Tag Lucidflute. Not even ten minutes into my story when Mrs.
Gingerdwarf began hushing me. Really, all I was doing was adding some context on
why Gingerdwarf got his head smashed in.”
Dismissively, “Later. This Jesus had this nomadic crew of
twelve homies. Bossing them around with a holier than thou attitude. All of
them prattling on and on more than hammering. Then out of nowhere, Jesus drove
a spike through a guy’s hand. I think his name was Judas something or other.
Blood spurting everywhere. Turning the walls red and staining my robe.”
In his best display of horror, Bob responded, “Gruesome.”
“What’s amazing is that instead of apologizing, Jesus yells
“Pay back is a bitch.” Judas didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. As
far as I could tell, he was just trying to earn his 30 pieces of copper.”
“Damn, that’s harsh. Reminds me of the time when I …”
“Yeah, yeah. And then get this, Jesus says to Judas in a
soothing tone, “I forgive you my son.” I forgive you? He just drove a spike
through his fucking hand and he forgives
Nodding, Bob interjected, “What you don’t know about me is
that I’ve been fully trained in the Chungian Typology Theory of Personalities.
Not to mention, but let me mention anyway, the range of characters I’ve had to
deal with as a barkeep. Not to brag, but I consider myself an expert on the
human psyche. In my learned opinion, I think this Jesus is transferring his masochistic
tendencies to Judas. A classic response of an only child with unresolved daddy
issues. Do you know anything about his father?”
“Not really, but I got the impression his father was
distant. In any case, I don’t know why anybody would hire him as a carpenter. This
Jesus definitely needs to find a new mission in life.” Looking down on his
scarlet hand, Styr-Leng groaned, “This still hurts.” Louder, “Boyd, get me some
more bear lotion. Quick!”
“It’s Bob damn it! I don’t know why no one gets my name right.
People need to focus, it’s Bob. And that’ll be another 40 coppers.” Upon
hearing 40 coppers, Styr-Leng stared at Bob with an intensity that would freeze
Medusa’s hair. Again, calculating predicament probabilities, Bob grasped the vial
from under the bar and offered “Since you’re such a distinguished guest, this
one is on the house,” and he proceeded to pour a minimal amount of ointment on
Styr-Leng’s hand. As the warlock’s shoulders began to slacken, Bob saw a way to
end this unpleasantness. “Here, sit by the fire. Let me get you some stew while
you rest.” Bob then proceeded to pour him a bowl of stew, using the ladle hidden
under the sink, in the back. All the way in the back.
With warmth and something akin to food, Styr-Leng began to
feel more charitable towards the barkeep, anger taking too much of his energy.
He didn’t even mind the fish eyes staring up at him from the stew, though he jumped
when one of them blinked. “Boyd, get me a flagon of ale.”
“Jesus, it’s Bob!” Realizing what he’d just said, “Damn, now
he’s in my head. This Jesus must be a Meme Mage. That’s why he’s in our heads.”
Then to himself, “I might have a potion for that around here somewhere.”
Taking a moment to survey his surroundings as Bob leisurely poured
his ale, Styr-Leng eyed a scruffy looking patron. An event well within the
probability field for the Haven. But Uther looked sneakier than average. Had
the scent of thievery about him. After noticing that the barkeep was occupied,
Uther gestured towards the front door, yelling, “Is that Vlad the Inhaler? Alright!
Party on!” A classic drink and dash distraction. In the resulting hubbub, the burgeoning
brigand slid out the back door, the one reserved for emergencies only.
Calling out, “Hey Boyd, you’ve got a slacker trying to run
out the back.”
Sighing on hearing Boyd, Bob just stared forward. The front
door opened, and a very confused Uther walked in. After looking around for a
few moments, Uther shook his head, swore he wouldn’t smoke the cheap shit
anymore and shuffled back to his seat. Turning to Styr-Leng, Bob said, “I heard
about that trick from a hotel in California where you can check out any time
you like but you can never leave.”
Confused, Styr-Leng asked, “What’s California?”
“Well, I’m glad you asked. Most people think it’s a hoax.
But I think it’s a paradoxical paradigm displacement. A place where fantasy and
reality collide under the warm summer sun. Anyway, you can leave the Haven
anytime you like but not before you pay your bill. A neat security system. Of
course, I could give you more details if you like.”
Styr-Leng looked Bob up and down with a warlock’s intuition.
Short with curly dark hair. Rather rumbled in dress. No burning coals for eyes.
Not imposing at all. Still. Styr-Leng commented, “Boyd, huh Bob, you’re an
interesting fellow. I think there’s more than meets the eye.”
“Not really. Just a bard doing some temp work.” Preparing to
probe further, Styr-Leng attention was diverted when Bob spun a shiny silver
coin on the bar counter. Just watching it spin round and round and round, never
falling over. “So, warlock, why don’t you tell me why you ventured out on such
a miserable night.”
Still focused on the spinning coin, the warlock volunteered,
“Well, Boyd, I’m on an occult mission of the utmost urgency.” Bob started to
protest about the warlock screwing up his name yet again but then closed his
mouth to hear more about this mission. Styr-Leng continued, “I’m looking for a
troll I hear is in these parts. Edgar.”
Bob’s face immediately scrunched tight, “Oh no! Not Edgar
the Ball Scratcher!” And Bob’s spinning coin fell with a thud.
As if given a cosmic cue, the heavy tavern door burst open. In
the entrance stood a tall majestic figure, outlined by thunder and lightning.
In a deep voice, the stranger boomed, “I’m looking for a troll.”
In the soon to be published chapter, the continuing saga of Styr-Leng, well, continues with the fair to middling warlock meeting Jesus. And a surprisingly interesting barkeep at the Haven by the Bay Tavern. In case you have even more time to waste, you could review the previous installment when Styr-Leng and Druantia rock the earth (available exclusively on newagejester.com at least until I can find someplace else that will post it).
It was the morning after a dark and stormy night. A morning of Unicorn rainbows and fairy dew drops. A time when the moist Earth exhaled gossamer mists only broken by the rising sun. An occasion to write “I Love You” across the sky in cirrus clouds.
“Yes”, thought, Styr-leng “I definitely should write “I Love You” across the sky. In bold Warlock Font. With an exclamation point! Or perhaps, “You Put A Spell On Me, But Fortunately I Had The Antidote”. On reflection, the second option, though more accurate, wasn’t as likely to get a repeat performance.
Spells aside, he couldn’t shake the memory of Druantia’s long iridescent hair. Or the tramp stamp of an ancient oak tree just above her amble, but not too amble, butt. A rune symbolizing her power. As a warlock, power turned Styr-leng on big time. Not to mention her pointy tits. Tits that almost poked out his left eye when she rode him in the cowboy position. Though on reflection, Styr-leng realized he had no idea what a “cowboy” was.
Their night together had been memorable, with love spells and groans. With sweat and blood, and dragon wings on fire. At their climax the Earth moved. Literally. The ensuing earthquake leveled the surrounding peasant villages. One more time, the dirty, half-starved peasants wondered what they had done to piss off their benevolent gods.
Yes, mused Styr-leng, it was a good night. But little did the young Warlock know that their earthly excitations had awoken something