Dojo Darelir, the School of Xenograg the Sorcerer

Tag: fiction

Prayer for Forgiveness

March 20, 2022
Ahmed ibn Fahdlan:
For all we ought to have thought, and have not thought;
For all we ought to have said, and have not said;
For all we ought to have done, and have not done;
I pray thee, God, for forgiveness.

— “The 13th Warrior” (1999)

Then You’ve Learned Nothing

March 20, 2022
Jenner:
I’ve learned this much: take what you can, when you can!
Justin:
Then you’ve learned nothing!

— “The Secret of NIMH” (1982)

Cowardice, Sloth, and Mendacity

February 2, 2022
Thetis:
What a dangerous precedent! What if one day there were other heroes like him?
Hera:
What if courage and imagination were to become everyday mortal qualities? What would become of us?
Zeus:
We would no longer be needed. But for the moment there is sufficient cowardice, sloth, and mendacity down there on Earth to last forever.

— “Clash of the Titans” (1981)

Unarmed Combat in Full Armor

January 28, 2022

…In fact, if there was one thing I thought they needed, it was more drill in full gear. A [modern] soldier in the field would probably be wearing body armor that weighed about twenty-five pounds. Plus a field pack and other equipment that could mean he’d be carrying sixty pounds. Throw in gloves and goggles, elbow and knee pads, and what you got was someone who had to move in completely different ways. Balance would be a problem. Nobody was going to do much kicking—it’s hard enough to carry that weight on two legs, never mind one.

I was reminded of one of the more obscure kata in judo—kojiki no kata. The moves are odd and stilted, very different from the other forms that judoka practice. But that’s because that particular kata rehearses movements that would be made in full armor. It’s a holdover from the days when the samurai in armor still stalked the battlefields, and a recognition that the mechanics of fighting can change technique considerably.

Tengu, Chapter 9

Unseen But Nonetheless Real

January 25, 2022

It may be that all this training is paying off. I went home that night uneasy: I felt some sort of psychic barometric shift taking place. It was not a good thing. The Japanese describe seme as the type of pressure and intimidation a master swordsman can force on a lesser opponent, without seeming to do anything. It’s unseen but nonetheless real. I had that sense of something pushing against me, probing my weaknesses.

Sensei, chapter 10

Don’t Look For Your Opponent

January 12, 2022
Stick:
Don’t look for your opponent. Know where he is. I’m blind, and I see more than any of you. Because I don’t look.

— “Elektra” (2005)

Use Your Weakness

January 12, 2022
Max Suba:
Make yourself aware of your own weaknesses, as well as those of your opponents. The good ones try to cover theirs up. The great ones use theirs. Use your weakness.

— “By The Sword” (1991)

Being Willing

January 12, 2022
J.B. Books:
It isn’t always being fast or even accurate that counts. It’s being willing. I found out early that most men, regardless of cause or need, aren’t willing. They blink an eye or draw a breath before they pull the trigger. I won’t.

— “The Shootist” (1976)

Fire Is a Living Thing

November 15, 2021
Rimgale:
In a word, Brian, what is this job all about?
Brian McCaffrey:
Fire.
Rimgale:
It’s a living thing, Brian. It breathes, it eats, and it hates. The only way to beat it is to think like it. To know that this flame will spread this way across the door and up across the ceiling, not because of the physics of flammable liquids, but because it wants to. Some guys on this job, the fire owns them, makes ’em fight it on it’s level, but the only way to truly kill it is to love it a little….

— “Backdraft” (1991)

Sandmagic

November 9, 2021

Word spread through the tribes of the Abadapnur that a would-be sandmage was loose in the desert, and all were ready to kill him if he came. But he did not come.

For he knew now how to serve the desert, and how to make the desert serve him. For the desert loved death, and hated grasses and trees and water and the things of life.

So in service of the sand Cer went to the edge of the land of the Nefyrre, east of the desert. There he fouled wells with the bodies of diseased animals. He burned fields when the wind was blowing off the desert, a dry wind that pushed the flames into the cities. He cut down trees. He killed sheep and cattle. And when the Nefyrre patrols chased him he fled onto the desert where they could not follow.

His destruction was annoying, and impoverished many a farmer, but alone it would have done little to hurt the Nefyrre. Except that Cer felt his power over the desert growing. For he was feeding the desert the only thing it hungered for: death and dryness.

He began to speak to the sand again, not kindly, but of land to the east that the sand could cover. And the wind followed his words, whipping the sand, moving the dunes. Where he stood the wind did not touch him, but all around him the dunes moved like waves of the sea.

Moving eastward.

Moving onto the lands of the Nefyrre.

And now the hungry desert could do in a night a hundred times more than Cer could do alone with a torch or a knife. It ate olive groves in an hour. The sand borne on the wind filled houses in a night, buried cities in a week, and in only three months had driven the Nefyrre across the Greebeck and the Nefyr River, where they thought the terrible sandstorms could not follow.

But the storms followed. Cer taught the desert almost to fill the river, so that the water spread out a foot deep and miles wide, flooding some lands that had been dry, but also leaving more water surface for the sun to drink from; and before the river reached the sea it was dry, and the desert swept across into the heart of Nefyryd.

The Nefyrre had always fought with the force of arms, and cruelty was their companion in war. But against the desert they were helpless. They could not fight the sand. If Cer could have known it, he would have gloried in the fact that, untaught, he was the most powerful sandmage who had ever lived. For hate was a greater teacher than any of the books of dark lore, and Cer lived on hate.

And on hate alone, for now he ate and drank nothing, sustaining his body through the power of the wind and the heat of the sun. He was utterly dry, and the blood no longer coursed through his veins. He lived on the energy of the storms he unleashed. And the desert eagerly fed him, because he was feeding the desert.

Orson Scott Card, Sandmagic

Emphasis mine.

Weapons Are Not Everything

November 5, 2021

The Vulcans’ trading ships were still unarmed, but they did not stay so for long. The chief psi-talents of the planet, great architects and builders, and technicians who had long mastered the subleties of the undermind, went out in the ships and taught the Duthuliv pirates that weapons weren’t everything. Metal came unraveled in ships’ hulls; pilots calmly locked their ships into suicidal courses, unheeding of the screams of the crews….

Spock’s World, Chapter 6

Always a Toll in the Underworld

November 5, 2021

I entered the underworld, and did so with unease.

I had read books, perhaps too many, and could easily recount the many myths of travellers who ventured into underworld realms. It was said even Orphaeus himself, whose name ran through the very fabric of the world, had made a pilgrimage into darkness. Such journeys were fraught. In not one single myth did the traveller undertake a crossing without paying a toll or making some sacrifice. There was always a price for admission, and another price for exit.

Penitent, Chapter 8

A Locus of Strange Energy

November 5, 2021

For the Japanese, all things have a spiritual essence. And the power and beauty of swords make them a locus of strange energy. Folktales tell of swords that hum to warn their masters of danger, that leap of their own accord to battle. Of swords that can make a warrior great or that can drive the bearer mad.

Tengu, Chapter 7

Transporteer

October 31, 2021

“…I’m your Transporteer. Do you know what that means?”

“…No. Will you tell me?”

Tirian nodded gravely. “Of course, zan Vrenn. My duty is to keep you safe while you are aboard any vehicle. If you travel by particle transporter, I will set the controls, that you may be properly reassembled. It may also become my duty to inform you of desirable or undesirable actions while in transit; as my master, you must decide how to act upon this information. Is this explanation sufficient?”

…It was more than sufficient. A Captain lent his life to the one he trusted as transporter operator, each time he used the machine: the one chosen must be of special quality. It was reasonable that an Admiral should have a special officer for the purpose—and a kuve one, who could have no ambition.

The Final Reflection, Chapter 2

Allowing to Live

October 8, 2021
D’Artagnan:
When I became a Musketeer, I was told that each time I drew my sword, I should consider not what I was killing but what I was allowing to live.

— “The Man in the Iron Mask” (1998)

May Thy Knife Chip and Shatter

October 7, 2021
Jamis:
May thy knife chip and shatter.

— “Dune” (1984)

This is a common Fremen taunt. In a magical world, this could be a proper curse—speaking it to make it happen.

A Khyber Knife

September 29, 2021

Rung ho!” Narayan Singh shouted again. A tremendous overhand cut knocked his opponent back on his heels; the Lancer took the instant to pull a Khyber knife from his girdle and flip it through the air toward King.

“Here, huzoor—for you!”

It flashed through the air; a genuine Pathan chora, a pointed cleaver two feet long with a back as thick as a man’s thumb and an edge fit to shave with….

S.M. Stirling, The Peshawar Lancers, Chapter 4

Such a brief but vivid description.

There Comes a Time

September 22, 2021
King Osric:
There comes a time, thief, when the jewels cease to sparkle. When the gold loses its luster. When the throne room becomes a prison. And all that is left…is a father’s love for his child.

— “Conan the Barbarian” (1982)

Our Swords Against Their Swords

September 22, 2021
Jack Gretsky:
Remember that night in the hills of Mae [Hong] Son, when the Hmong warlord sent his assassins? They had us cornered in a temple…like this one. And we lay there waiting in the dark…and the air was so thick and ancient, you couldn’t breathe it. And when they came, we stood in the middle of the floor; leaning with our backs to each other. It was our swords against their swords.
We shoulda died then.

— “Bushido” – Miami Vice, Season 2

The Demon Who Makes Trophies of Men

September 22, 2021
Anna:
When I was little, we found a man. He looked like…like butchered. The old women in the village crossed themselves, and whispered crazy things—strange things: “El diablo cazador de hombres”. Only in the hottest years this happens…and this year, it grows hot. We begin finding our men. We found them sometimes without their skin; and sometimes much, much worse.
“El que hace trofeos de los hombres” means “the demon who makes trophies of men”.

— “Predator” (1987)