new phase begins ...
Mel and back
Our rumpled yellow-haired hero has been
through plenty since he lost his motel along with everything
else but his red hooded sweatshirt in a poker game. Then,
following a harrowing series of misadventures, Mel recently finished
up a relatively tranquil thousand-year sabbatical in a tropical
paradise. Now he finds himself living in a murky future with a whole
new set of otherworldly adventures about to unfold. Here's episode
sentry started his patrol by ascending the lighthouse. He was used
to the climb, but it was a long way regardless. Soon he was breathing
hard, pulling the yellow air in his nose and out his mouth the way
he had been taught. Then the climb was over, and he scaled a slimy
ladder to the upper platform.
He could see the lighthouse keeper leaning against the rail, and
in the gloom the old man seemed like a statue, carved to represent
an eternal vigil or some such. The sentry was prone to poetic reflections
such as those, and he chided himself for it. After all, he had been
born to the station he now held. There was no way you could just
become a Bard.
The keeper relaxed his watch and turned to be momentarily startled
by the sentry. Spitting over the rail seemed to satisfy the old
man and he smiled broadly. He was known to be a man of few words,
a trait well suited to his solitary occupation. The sentry clapped
the old man's bent back and the smile faded. He followed the keeper
as he returned to the rail and let his gaze follow a crooked finger
into the night.
Spread before him was the delta, stretching its rancid substance
to all points. Even on a misty dusk such as this, he could see its
nearest band twisting and oozing in what looked like current, but
what he knew wasn't.
That wasn't the object of the keeper's pointing, though. Just short
of the flimsy wall keeping the delta at bay was a narrow strand,
sprinkled with rocks and slime. Though the wall's wards made it
so the beach was technically safe, it was still kept vacant by law
Not tonight, though. Someone had built a bonfire.
Without sparing a farewell to the keeper, the sentry dropped down
the slick ladder and took the stairs in great leaps.
Once outside, he forgot all about being out of breath and sprinted
around the lighthouse, hurdling over worn heaps of rubble. As he
reached the relatively flat space of the strand, he paused for a
moment to pull up his hood and draw his twin straight swords. Then
he began again to run toward the bonfire.
In his admittedly short time as a sentry, he had never seen anyone
on the beach other than an alchemist, once, though even he had been
discouraged (at halberd-point) from gathering materials for his
phthisics there. What the bonfire meant was something he meant to
As he drew closer, he slowed his lope and began to curve around
the edge of the firelight. He could see no one and carefully drew
closer. The fire was burning much hotter than might be expected
from wood alone, so someone must have poured on pitch to have it
hiss the way it did. The sentry took another look around, and then
the hand fell on his shoulder.
To his credit, he reacted just as a soldier in the Duke's employ
should. He jumped backward with a mighty spring, landing about a
dozen feet behind, in a ready crouch with both swords extended.
Where he had stood a moment before, at the edge of the fire, was
a man who had not been there before.