8FOLD: Mighty Medley # 28, April 2016, by Messrs. Brenton, Perron, Russell, and Stokes

Tom Russell joltcity at gmail.com
Sat Apr 16 12:29:50 PDT 2016

-------------EIGHTFOLD PROUDLY PRESENTS-------------
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-------------- ISSUE # 28    APR 2016 --------------
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------------SAXON BRENTON--DREW PERRON--------------
-------------TOM RUSSELL--COLIN STOKES--------------
--------------- Editor, Tom Russell ----------------


"Beyond the Fields" Part 27
   by Saxon Brenton

On the disconcerting implications of force-fields, and the limits to
even angelic power. The Man With The Green Gloves speaks with our
favorite traitorous Nazi necromancer; the startling implications of

"Persuasion Check"
   by Tom Russell


"Empress of Pages" Part 13
   by Colin Stokes

Fn'ordh waits anxiously for the Librarian to summon him, and reflects
on his own limitations. The power of the one who sits the Jade Throne;
the summons that cannot be delayed; the smell of cold moonlight.

"Seven 'Gainst Thebes" Part 26
   by Tom Russell

The trap is sprung, and the villains snared. There's still a ways
though before our heroes go riding off into the proverbial sunset, and
things will get darker still afore they get brighter.

"Safe Disempowerment"
   by Andrew Perron

Two bells; where happiness is to be found.


Your humble servant wishes to record his excitement and anticipation
at the addition of a new serial beginning in our next number, "The
Science-Blades of Terra Alter", by Adrian McClure. This is welcome
news as the conclusions to our two oldest serials are just down the
road a spell.

-----------------BEYOND THE FIELDS------------------
---------------------Part 27------------------------
-----------Copyright 2016 Saxon Brenton-------------

   Marcus recognised Obergruppenfuhrer Dane, the Man With The Green
Gloves, and the necromancer's chair fell backwards and hit the floor
with a clatter as the he leapt to his feet. Deidre wouldn't have known
this intruder dressed in an SS uniform from the proverbial bar of
soap, but she took her cue from Marcus and stood up as well. She
didn't draw a weapon, not yet, but carefully kept her hands free while
positioning them to look as though she were fearfully using them to
shield herself.
   Joan did recognise the being opposite them, at least in general
terms rather than specific identity. The angel stood up with grim
determination and drew her flaming sword from its otherdimensional
   The Man With The Green Gloves gave the angel a glance that combined
mild surprise with a flicker of irritation. Her flaming weapon snuffed
out, leaving Joan holding a mundane looking short sword.  He then made
a brief dismissing motion with one hand, and there was an instant of
confusion of location.  Deidre found herself beside Joan, and together
they were standing a bit further away from the table as well as
encased in some sort of force field. They had not been moved far
across the kitchen, but had simply been relocated to where there was
enough space around them for the slightly glowing cube of force that
extended almost to the ceiling.
   Joan scowled and punched the force field, hard. Her attack had no
apparent effect on it. Deidre meanwhile was remembering something
nasty that she had once heard about what cubical force fields could be
put to, and scanned the corners of the cube for holes. Not air holes
for breathing per se, but gore drainage holes. Rumour was that
sometimes force fields were set up to constrict and pulverise their
captives as a grisly means of execution. And that some sadists did it
   However that didn't seem to be what Dane was interested in. He
remained seated, and had already turned his attention back to Marcus.
"I can't tell you how glad I am to see you alive, Sturmbannfuhrer. I
had honestly thought that you were dead."
   "And your rage knows no bounds?" asked Marcus warily.
   The Man With The Green Gloves raised an eyebrow. "I won't say that
I'm not angry. Your actions have caused the Scultzstaffel, the
Reichsmages, and the Many Angled Ones considerable inconvenience. But
rage? Hardly." He leaned forward. "We considered something like this
possible. Actually, very near inevitable. And we took steps to head it
off."  He gave Marcus an assessing look, and continued. "For what it
is worth, I am very impressed that you were able to work through the
problem as far as you did."
   Marcus gave the senior Reichsmage as quizzical look. "Oh come now,"
replied Dane  "You've just spent the last half hour complaining about
the way that you haven't been able to see the way that the world
doesn't function properly until it was shown to you by outsiders." And
here the Man With The Green Gloves gestured in the direction of the
two women. "None of that was happenstance; Frau Landowski has already
told you that. However here is the key point: In order to engineer
this world into an incoherent nightmare we needed to harness the power
of beings who could manipulate reality on a grand scale. These are
sorcerers that we call Anarchitects, and only a small number of them
appear each generation. They are a resource that must be carefully
   Marcus' mind was racing. "But if they have the power to shape
reality the way you want, they would also have the power to shape it
in other directions. Even to reverse the damage." He stared
Obergruppenfuhrer Dane in the eye. "You created that effect to numb
people's minds, so that they didn't realise that anything was wrong.
That this was the ways things were supposed to be, and in extreme
cases to keep them from noticing the contradictions."
   The Man With The Green Gloves nodded, pleased. "Just so. It was
very much like Frau Landowski's don't-notice-me effect, and of course
on a larger scale." Then his face went serious. "And just as she
discovered almost too late, no means of magical protection is totally
foolproof, either because of loopholes or from being overwhelmed by
opponents more powerful than yourself. You came at the problem
obliquely, focusing only on the magical contamination of humanity
rather than the metaphysical breakdown of the entire world."
   "But the end result would have affected both," said Marcus. He
looked stunned. That was an act. He'd already absorbed Dane's
implication that he was some sort of supremely powerful mage -
obviously the don't-notice-me-effect had kept him from becoming aware
of it up until now - and he had deliberately used the word 'they' when
describing the Anarchitects. However that wouldn't be worth much in
the effort to pretend to be out of his depth. He had to distract Dane
some more. He contrived to look puzzled. "Who are the Many Angled
   Joan spoke up in a stern voice. "Qliphothic demons. They are
abominations left over from when God created the universes."

----------------- PERSUASION CHECK -----------------
-------------Copyright 2016 Tom Russell-------------

Bunny twitches her pink nose at the weasel, Snuff. Mangy, scrawny
little thing, always hungry, always angling, perpetually on the make.
Nothing worse in this sorry irradiated excuse for a world than a mangy
weasel on the make. Snuff is trying to give her six tabs for clearing
out the bonesies on the far side of the brush. The deal was seven, and
that means Bunny isn't leaving with less than seven.
   There's a number of ways the weasel can play this. It was a
misunderstanding; there weren't that many bonesies there as he
thought; he miscounted his tabs this morning; he was robbed; he would
give her six now and the seventh in a few days. But he hasn't dealt
with Bunny before, doesn't know her, and so of course he goes from
zero to stupid in no time flat. His fur (or what's left of it) stands
on end, he hisses, his eyes go big.
   Bunny isn't impressed. Doesn't even move. Doesn't even prep the
pistol mounted on the left side of her face. She just stares at him
with her red little eyes. The weasel takes this as a sign that she's
scared of him. What it really means is that Pups is two steps away
from breaking his neck. Step one: Pups lifts the weasel in his jaws.
Step two...
   Long story short, the weasel gives Bunny eight tabs for the
bonesies. She paws them one after the other into her sack while her
basenji gently lets the weasel down.
   Snuff grooms himself indignantly, and then apologizes, or at least
does something that, in broad strokes, resembles an apology, if an
apology was something weasels gave. He indicates that he's been
counting his tabs of late, as he hasn't eaten in a couple of days.
Partially this was the bonesies roaming around, and partially it was a
lack of eggs to suck. He'd pay through the nose for some good chicken
eggs. Two tabs a piece. Pups gives a spirited yodel. Bunny's inclined
to agree: two tabs a piece! Sweet!
   There was a time when a weasel, even a mangy one, could appropriate
his own eggs, but that was before the Last Human War. Now that
chickens were radioactive, and grew to be five feet tall, and had two
heads, raiding the coop was more than any weasel would ever dare.
Point of fact, most animals were too scared and beaten down by life in
the wastes to do much of anything other than be scared and beaten
   But that just means more tabs for Bunny and Pups.

---------------- EMPRESS OF PAGES ------------------
----------------------Part 13-----------------------
-----------Copyright 2016 Colin Stokes--------------

Frustration, it seemed, was to be Fn'ordh's constant companion. Though
he had patience in abundance, as did most of his kind (there were
always exceptions), the experience of exploring all of his options and
being thwarted at every turn left quite a bitter taste in his mouth.
   Silently and slowly at first, and then with as much haste as he
dared, Fn'ordh had made circuit after circuit of the catwalk,
alternating his gaze between the bookshelves and the floor and wall
beneath. Yet after what must have been days, even weeks of thorough
analysis, he could find nothing new in the vault. Perhaps the
disabling of the barrier inscriptions would reveal something, but it
was too much of a gamble for the cautious daemon when he already had
one prize to deliver.
   Or was it even a prize at all? After his survey had turned up
nothing of use, Fn'ordh had turned his attentions back to the five
volumes he had slipped from the shelves, reading them cover to cover,
trying to discern some meaning or pattern or rhythm from the strange
writing. He could have memorized the text, given enough time, but
after the first few days of analysis, he found any desire to continue
had left him. There was no way to tell if they were meant to be in a
particular order, either; the only thing he knew for certain was that
they weren't identical.
   Once again, Fn'ordh found himself cursing his own weakness and
subordination to the Jade Throne. If not for those, he could simply
fight his way past the guards upstairs and be about his business - but
even with his cleverest tricks, he was no match for the elite warriors
when they would come two, perhaps even four at a time to apprehend
him. And if that happened, if they took him before the Throne; all
would be lost. The Throne's occupant knew the daemons' true names -
and knew how to leverage that knowledge in the most damaging ways. He
was fortunate that the Librarian either did not know, or had showed
restraint; Fn'ordh shivered a little as he tried not to think of the
golden-eyed nightmare completely unbound, knowing the things she knew
   Perhaps it was a coincidence that the very moment Fn'ordh tried to
push the thoughts from his mind, he heard his new mistress calling his
name across the planes of existence.
   There was no mistaking the curious kind of gravity that a summons
produced; he was finally being pulled back across the gap. And unlike
a normal summons, where he could choose to respond or delay, the
Librarian had used his true name; Fn'ordh had precious few moments
before the connection opened and dragged him through, regardless of
his will in the matter. He glanced around one final time, and quickly
shifted to his humanoid form in order to securely gather up all five
nonsensical volumes, holding them tightly to his chest to keep them
safe during transit.
   The air shrieked suddenly over Fn'ordh's head, startling him even
though he had known it was coming. A black void-circle opened up, its
edge dancing with crimson lightning, and the daemon jumped straight up
into it to start his journey without delay. He had that much say in
the matter, at least.
   As Fn'ordh began sailing through the blackness, he looked down at
the vault through the now-tiny circle - and was just barely able to
hear a shout of alarm, before the connection snapped shut. Well, he'd
just have to deal with that on his return trip, then. At least the
books would make it through, he reminded himself, squeezing his arms
around them once again.
   Not even half a minute passed before Fn'ordh faintly heard another
shrieking sound, and looked up to see a bright white circle above,
getting larger by the moment. The daemon smiled, quite pleased; he'd
made very good time on this trip. Securing his precious cargo one last
time, he felt the summoning gravity reverse, slowing his ascent,
little by little -

   And Fn'ordh emerged onto the physical plane once again, blinking a
few times at the uncharacteristically harsh lighting that greeted him.
No cave or altar, this; a box of stone and metal, instead, filled with
the smell of chained lightning and oil and - inexplicably - cold
moonlight. The last was unmistakable in its sharp, refreshing
sweetness, and he marveled at how it could exist in such a place.
   "That took a little longer than I expected," the Librarian mused
thoughtfully, standing up and tromping out from behind one of the
wheeled machines sitting against the wall. She had undergone a
transformation of her own, Fn'ordh noted; the long, fully-concealing
robe was gone, and in its place she wore a snug and sleeveless gray
jumpsuit, exposing the black and silver discolorations on her arms -
and of course a pair of sturdy black boots and mechanics' gloves.
   "Librarian," Fn'ordh rumbled, kneeling, "I have brought you a gift."

--------------SEVEN 'GAINST THEBES------------------
---------------------Part 26------------------------
------------Copyright 2016 Tom Russell--------------

   Adams rubbed the back of his neck with his palm, sheepish-like.
"Well, about that, boss. I felt for certain I could trace the steps in
the dark just as in the light. Turns out I can't. Awfully sorry, boss.
Sorrowfully sorry."
   "Not as sorry as you're gonna be," said Strife. There was a
finality in his voice that told Adams the discussion was at an end.
This gave Adams further time to ponder what on God's green earth that
Strife had that would turn a man like Jack Peake into a shivering
coward and toady.
   Presently, they came to the bottom of the hill, and neared the gate
to Thebes Ranch. Somehow it looked even more twisted and ugly and just
plain wrong in the morning than it did at night. As they came up to
the gate, a man who was crouching behind it stood up and motioned to
   "What the hell are you doing? You're supposed to be guarding my bride!"
   "Yes, sir," said the man, timidly. "Most like she's gone, sir."
   "Gone?" Strife's eyes went wide and wild. He pulled out his
revolver and pointed it at the man. "Then why are you still alive?"
   "Figured it'd be best to tell you who took her, and what else he done."
   "He wouldn't have done anything if you'd done your job, you miserable..."
   "Peake, sir. It was Jack Peake."
   Strife indicated his incredulity with an unprintable expletive.
   "It's true, sir. He walked up to us, blood on his knife, said he
was going to skin us alive." (The reader will remember that no words
were uttered by "Peake", but the night's ride had embellished the
man's memories somewhat.) "I told him, 'Jack Peake, you're not to
touch the boss's wife'," (also an embellishment), "but he said he
could do whatever he pleased, as he was the fastest man that lived. I
saw that I had two options, one being to die, and let him get away
with your pretty oriental, with you none the wiser, and trusting him
still, and the other would be to come tell you of his perfidy. Needing
to steel myself for the long ride, I went to the pantry for some quick
vittles, and I found Trumpet in there, freshly dead. Someone put a
knife in his neck, seems like. Seems like that someone was Mr. Peake."
   "Peake was with me the whole night," said Strife.
   "Not the whole night," said Adams. "Recall, sir, that you did bid
him circle 'round one way, while we circled 'round another. He was
gone ten minutes, if I recollect, and that's a whole world of time for
a man as fast as he is. But soft, the devil himself doth appear."
   Peake rushed up to the gate. "Boss, someone's slaughtered them all.
All dead, to the last man." He glanced at the ranch-hand disdainfully.
"Well, next to last. What happened here, Curly?"
   "You'd know that better than I, sir."
   "I don't follow your meaning, Curly."
   "But I do," said Strife. "Where's my wife, Jack? Where's my bride-to-be?"
   "She's dead too," said Peake. "Someone... someone killed her."
   "Show her to me."
   "I don't know if..."
   "I said show her to me."
   Adams thought he saw Peake tremble. Then, from behind his back, he
produced a wadded-up pale pink-white bit of flesh. "I know how this
might look, Ned, but it weren't me that skinned her! You have to
believe me..."
   "I believe him." Strife pointed at Curly. "He told me what you done."
   "Lying bastard!" Peake ran at the man with tremendous speed. There
was nothing left of Curly after the impact but a mass of red wet flesh
and cloth.
   "Now they're dead," said Strife. "To the last man. Jack. Jack..."
   "Ned, I didn't do it. I wouldn't. You know I wouldn't."
   "It's done." His rough meaty hands squeezed around Jack's throat.
Adams didn't understand how Strife caught him, or why Peake didn't
make an effort to escape Strife's grip.
   "Ned, please. Please. Don't make me do it."
   "Hate you," said Ned.
   "No. Please Ned. Not that. Anything but... ack!"
   "Hate you. Hate you. Hate you," Ned said, wheezing with every
syllable as he squeezed tighter and tighter. Then, Peake drove a knife
into Ned's belly, and opened him up. The grip loosened.
   Peake sunk to his knees, and stared at the body. "Ned," he said
softly. "Ned." It then occurred to Adams what kind of power Strife had
had over Peake.

--------------- SAFE DISEMPOWERMENT ----------------
------------Copyright 2016 Drew Perron--------------

  She didn't even know his name, just that he'd been doing his best to
smash his fists into every part of Project Green Future. "FALL!" Now
he was trying the same tactic on her. "FALL!" His fists lashed out
over and over, brutal, pounding force into her arms, her shoulders,
her head, hammers of an angry god. "Why... won't... you... just...
  Isobel Starhammer grinned. "Sorry, buster. There's only one person
who takes *me* to the mat." Her fist lashed out once.
  Ten minutes later, her unconscious enemy was out of the broken
building and strapped into the jump jet, and Captain Cymru slapped a
power suppression collar on him. "As ever, you're unbreakable," he
said, checking her vitals. "Hey, will you be in for movie night?"
  Isobel cracked her neck. "Nah, this is definitely an Annabelle night."
  CC smiled, fond with a hint of envy. "You take good care of your wife."
  Isobel laughed and shook her head. "She's the one who takes care of me!"
  It was sunset when they dropped her off in Llanfairfach. Thanks to
her regeneration, the bruises had already faded, but the impacts
lingered, a weary dullness permeating her muscles. Her fingers fudged
the entry code twice before the little door in the hill whooshed open.
  Annabelle was sitting in the foyer reading a book, but when the door
opened she dropped it and rushed to Isobel's side. "Oh, honey!" Her
gaze went past Isobel's skin and into her aura, into the imprints of
dozens of blows. She tsked. "Really!"
  Isobel bowed her head. "Sorry, ma'am, but I was the only one who could."
  Annabelle sighed, smiled, took her hand. "I understand. You're so
brave." She squeezed it. "But you're done tending to the world. Time
to tend to you."
  "Mmmmmm." Isobel grinned, biting her lip a little. "Thanks, sleighbell."
  "No problem, jinglebell." She walked, one arm around Isobel, the
other, holding her hand, into their bedroom and onto the wide, soft
waterbed. Isobel sat down, and Annabelle sat next to her, opening the
chest at the end of the bed and taking out what was inside. "All
right, dear. You're ready?"
  "Wonderful." Annabelle reached up and snapped the power suppression
collar around her neck.
  Isobel sagged, the weight of the world settling on her, and
Annabelle caught her, letting her fall gently on the bed. Her body's
density, the fatigue of battle, of regeneration, whisked away every
bit of her strength.
  "Are you okay?" Annabelle stroked Isobel's hair. She'd always been
okay before, but Annabelle took responsibility for every possibility.
  "W'nd'rful." Her muscles, knowing their job was done for now,
relaxed. Her nerves relaxed. Her brain relaxed. She was tingly and
floating and totally vulnerable and totally safe.
  Annabelle lifted Isobel's head into her lap. She took out the water
bottle of electrolytes she'd prepared, and gently pushed the nozzle
into Isobel's mouth for her to suck. She cradled her head, and
whispered to her of how much her bravery was appreciated, and how much
she was loved by all, and how she was safe and harmless and kind, and
a very, *very* good girl.
  And strength was balanced with weakness; and happiness was found between.

-----------------SEE YOU NEXT MONTH-----------------

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