Thursday, May 31, 2007

Clog Post 3 with What's Blood Got To Do With It?


Clog Post 3 -- LANDS OF MY EIGHTFATHERS (Part Two)

First Clog: "We wuz robbed"

The journey so far:
Breakdowns 7
Beers consumed 133
Substandard lodgings 2
Highway robberies 1 (if you don't count what we were charged for our overnight stay in Burnt Hedge)

We got rid of Rudney! Not until almost at Slake, but I wanted to start this post on an up-note. Naturally, the multiverse has its way of, well, let's say there seems to be a law of conservation of unpleasantness everywhere, so we were delivered as a replacement one Certainty Niblik, a third-year technomancer who's almost as obnoxious as the late unlamented Urch. Young Master Niblik, who prefers to be known as "Cert", is an improvement in one sense -- at least he likes to get his hands dirty. Unlike Rudney, whose idea of springing into action always consisted of standing just out of working range and spouting nonstop monologues about wheel things and suspension things and harness things and tool things and methodology things ("...and the crenellating wheelbrace, which as we know was invented in 1610 by Stirrup Likely, late of Quirm, at the Wayside Forge in Much Mucking at four twenty-five on Spune fourteenth..."), our Cert rolls up the sleeves of his robe and gets stuck in. Less happily, what he gets stuck in to -- apart from clotted road-dung -- is testing his pre-diploma research theories of magickal reconfigurations of machinery. This means repairs now take twice as long, but the good side is that we now have a suspension that suspends (!!!) and our progress is much faster between breakdowns. Yesterday we reached 34mph on an uphill slope! Burk and Dennis have been strangely glassy-eyed and quiet since then. So have the horses.

But I'm getting ahead of myself, even without Cert's assistance. Continuity, that's the thing... after we left Burnt Hedge, we struck out across the Middling Wastes, a desolate mountainous borderland -- have you ever noticed how the inner parts of the continent seem to be made up of nothing but desolate mountainous borderlands? -- that includes the fiercely independent Un-Confederation of Litigia. Litigia is a proud and ancient land (lots of those around here, too; why is it that countries and tribes are never modest and ancient, hmm?) traditionally ruled by a Bandit King -- the tradition being that the most successful bandit gets to be King; rather like ordinary royalty, except with no messy family genealogies to clutter up the line of succession. Litigian bandits are notable for their high standard of legal education (I suppose it balances their low standard of legal behaviour) -- they may rob and pillage like other bandits, but they're the only wandering highway robbers outside Ankh-Morpork who present you with itemised receipts (capital acquisitions, pillage depreciation allowance, crossbow maintenance deductions...) and who resort to legal harassment of uncooperative victims. Travellers offering armed resistance, or publicly claiming ill-treatment, are liable to be served at the next border town with a summons for a Defamation of Character suit!

The current Bandit King of Litigia (yes, of course we met the Bandit King. At swordpoint. Litigian kings believe in the hands-on approach to reigning. And much brandishing of swords. You can't beat Litigian bandits for a good brandish) is an imposing (well, he certainly imposed on us) gentleman (note careful lawsuit-avoiding phrasing here) by the name of Hans Sallow. Big in all directions, with an even bigger moustache and old-fashioned courtly turns of speech (think of an amorous walrus) and an accent that even my accent-sensitive ear can't quite place, he came to power only a few years ago but has a lot of influence on the local style of banditing... apparently he used to be a smuggler and is converting the Litigians to non-violent fraud, but still leads raiding parties to, you know, keep his image up (I later discovered that Hans Sallow may not be his real name -- some say he used to call himself Mudd. That sounds Morporkian, but the accent...hmm...Cert -- after we told him the story of our mishap and described King Hans -- said it sounds like he drifted in from some other reality through a wormhole in the space-time continuinuinuum. All I can say is, it must have been a really big worm).

We were ambushed only a few hours out of Burnt Hedge. Right after a breakdown, too -- if only the bandits had come along thirty minutes earlier, they wouldn't have had to chase us, bad luck for them. So after they did the surrounding-the-cart thing and the stand-and-deliver thing (I've always thought that "stand and deliver!" sounds like a rather curious midwifing method, dreadfully intimidating one at that) and the show-us-your-valuables thing, and after we'd done the meekly complying thing, and after Rumbustia had done the "ooh-you-bandits-are-so-firm-and-manly" thing (and yes, King Hans actually said the "Oi-loikes-a-girl-with-spirit" thing) and Papa Verdant had to physically restrain her from running off with the bandits, they decided our valuables weren't valuable enough and that we had to also hand over one of our party to be trained up as a slave-cum-apprentice-bandit. We went into a huddle, held the shortest consultation in the history of besieged travelling companions, and offered him Rudney by unanimous vote (Rudney voted no, but his vote doesn't count). They would've probably taken my lute, but that's the nice thing about having a sapient pearwood travelling-case -- it hops out and runs off to safety at the first sign of danger and doesn't come back until the all-clear.

Honour and tradition satisfied, receipt issued, we were allowed to go on our way, safe in the knowledge that we were "the best behaved victims in months". And so it was farewell Rudders -- the last we heard of him, as he faded into the distance, was an ever fainter lecture about how the mountain ambush was invented by General Tacticus during the War of the Lost Kebab. I hope those bandits suffer as much as we have.

Here endeth this post.


Second Clog: "Untitled"

V. stressed. Hurried. Dictating in shortmouth again. In U'wald now, turns out Elena should've taken mountain air for longer. We were chased by werewolves. V. angry werewolves. Also chased by wolf-type wolves, poss. yennorks. Also chased by flock of angry bats. Also chased by angry villagers w/ flaming pitchforks & some angry baron's angry mercenaries. Escaped, thx to Cert's cart mods, 1 mod last-second w/him hanging on back of cart tweaking stuff, nearly ended up w/dead Cert. Haha, dead Cert. Tired. Made inn in Bonk suburbs, not chased by barmaids. Sleep now!


Third Clog: "They did not drink...vine..."

So much to write about Uberwald! Unfortunately, no time right now, as we're finished with Burk and Dennis for now - packing to transfer to a Zoon barge heading down the River of Blut. Hopefully I'll get a chance later, but for now, just one highlight and one quick song. Ask me later about DownTown and the kinky Dwarf cobbler and what became of Elena...

I couldn't possibly have done my tour of Uberwald without attending the traditional yearly Sleilidh (that's pronounced "slay-lee"), a celebration of storytelling, booze, song, dance - and vampirism. This year's Sleilidh was held in Bad Schuschein on the banks of the Blut and featured, for the first time ever, International Tag Team Vampire Staking. There was also the first-ever Dry Pride March, featuring a huge presence of Black Ribboners, and lots of Blut Best blutwurst and Blut blood sausage and fatsup that probably had Blut in it. There was also Blut Best Vino Sanguino. I passed on that, even though I was told it was an especially good vintage, and stuck with various beers, none of which had the slightest reddish tint. There was also an open-air market, first I've seen that sold no garlic and no silver jewellery. One stall, run by a Mr von Dibblerov, had a good selection of slightly shop-soiled Sleilidh merchandise; I got a souvenir smock embroidered with I WENT TO THE UBERWALD SLEILIDH AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS LOUSY THROAT PUNCTURE.

I also joined in the busking competition and got a non-garlic non-silver rosette and badge, awarded by the famous Lady Margolotta herself. This was my winning song, What's Blood Got to Do with It?:

    You must feel the pangs
    When the touch of my fangs
    Makes your heart attack
    But it's only the thrill
    Of drinking my fill
    You're my favourite snack
    It's mystical... haemo-physical
    You'd deny me my gore?
    Then you're dins for a bat, ohhh

    What's blood got to do, got to do with it?
    What's blood but a slick and handy ocean?
    What's blood got to do, got to do with it?
    Who could refrain when a vein can be opened?

    It may seem to you
    There's an excess of grue
    When you're thrall'd by me
    If I tend to drink deep
    And put you to sleep
    It's sanguinary
    There's a cure for it
    Til you're truly bit
    And whatever the season, your fluid's for me, ohhh

    What's blood got to do, got to do with it?
    What's blood but a slick and handy ocean?
    What's blood got to do, got to do with it?
    Why stop at pecks when a neck's there for broachin'?

    I've been thinking 'bout some vivisection
    For amusement's sake
    Hold the garlic for my own protection
    It scares me to see that stake, ohhh

    What's blood got to do, got to do with it?
    What's blood but a sweet sustaining potion?
    What's blood got to do, got to do with it?
    I need a slug of that jugular motion...

All the Black Ribboners bought me drinks and made me write down the words of my song!


I decided not to go back to visit Borogravia after all. Things are ... uncomfortable there since the Slovenian Entente Barely Cordiale, and what with my maternal great-uncle having been a major player in the Battle of Braz Kneck and the Rout of Shear Kneck, and what with our strong family resemblance, my plan of travelling to Brindisi via the River Kneck and the Sea of Landlock has lost some of its appeal. Instead, I'll be heading next for Genua; the River of Blut connects with the Vieux River somewhere in the (yes, again) desolate mountainous borderlands, so that's my new plan.

Anyway, they say you can't go home again. So I'm going to Genua instead.

-- Alice.

Note for Roundworlders (with apologies to Tina Turner): What's Love Got to Do with It? original lyrics can be found at:

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