Tomorrow should see the release of the latest issue of SFFS’s termly e-zine. It’s called the Zine. It should also contain the third instalment of “The Trails and Adventures of Mister Callis”. For the uninitiated, which I suspect will be more or less everyone, they’re a series of short stories cornering the eponymous Mr Callis. I’ve always been a big fan of fantasy literature, the epic tales of high adventure from the likes of Eddings and more recently the dark and seedy world’s of Joe Abercrombie and Scott Lynch. I’ve always wanted to write a fantasy story but my previous attempts have been somewhat lacklustre, dry and a bit boring to write. The difference with this is that writing about Callis is fun, it’s exciting and I continually want to do more. This does however concern me greatly. Not for the reason that I’m writing a lot for fun, that’s great. But because of specifically who and what Callis is.
Callis is a bad man. He is a very, very, very bad man. The term anti-hero is completely inappropriate. Anti-heroes generally have, despite their moral failings and dubious methods, some redeeming qualities or over-arcing moral goal. The Punisher’s a good example. He’s a bad man, but he does he bad things to bad people so it’s okay. He’s a vigilante beyond and above the law. Callis is a murderer, an assassin and an arsonist. He doesn’t do what he does for any reason other than he gets paid exorbitant amounts of money, and rather more disturbingly that he enjoys it. The first story had him set fire to an entire city, hundreds if not thousands of people would have died or been terribly injured. In the second story he smokes a man alive in his own kipper house. And the third? Well he kills someone again, but that’s hardly surprising. The third instalment is however set when he’s ten years old. But I don’t really care. I can’t get enough of this guy. As I’ve written more and more he’s become a man whose pleasure in the art of setting people on fire or killing them in interesting ways almost divorces him from the evil he’s doing. And despite his evil I can’t help liking him, the way he thinks, the way he does things and his ever continuing workplace vendetta with an unruly witch. He is very much a product of the life he’s led, it doesn’t excuse him but I think it humanises him. A bit. Perhaps I’m just justifying some very deep-seated and disturbing things that haunt the recesses of my mind. There’s just something enticing about the darker side of life, the seedy underbelly of the world. Let’s face it, that’s where all the really interesting shit happens. The title of this post is a quote from Bertolt Brecht. I think it fits the point I’m trying to get across. Heroes as a concept are horrible and insipid two dimensional husks that just mince about being all…well, heroic. It’s just not as fun to write as someone who’s a proper, grade-A cunt. People like that have got depth. It might not be pretty, it might not be nice, but it’s sure as hell there.
All the same I’ve already started on the forth instalment, a story which begins with three hundred words describing some darkness and just how sinister it is. Slightly over the top I feel, but fun none the less. I’m having a lot of fun shaping the world the stories are occurring in too. It all takes place in the Land of a Thousand Duchies. A place of war, civil upheaval and cloak and dagger politics. A marvellous place for a bad man like Callis to work. The entire “nation” should also one day hopefully take it’s place in the Corvus Lunaris campaign world. Providing it ever gets finished.
Now I should curtail my ramblings and wrap this all up. I shall endeavour to post a link to the Zine, providing SFFS doesn’t object. If they do I’ll probably just post the story here in it’s entirety. Alternatively I could just not ask them and do it anyway. But that, I suspect, would be quite rude. In the mean time here’s a small extract:
At the feet of the mountains, at the hinterlands of the high plains there is a city; A city of malice and disimpassioned debauchery. It is a grey place devoid of soul and meaning. It is called Hacustra. It is the tarnished gem, capitol and seat of the 33rd Duchy. It is not a place you go to willingly. It reaches across the grasslands with serpentine and ethereal hands and gathers to it the dregs of the world, pooling them in its great sunken recesses of sin. It is where dreams come to die.
Where the land rises into sharp crags that snare the morning mists, at its highest point, on the rising shoulders of the mountains the Duke makes his home in a grand warren of mortared stone and unwashed blood. This palace was built with the blood of those ensnared in bondage and servitude and so it remains. The Duke calls it The Hall of Mastiff Point, the people call it Perdition. The Duke, being the type of man that he is, does not find this name entirely disagreeable. The stone is old, grey and leprous with a multitude of lichen; it does not look too dissimilar to its owner. Wind howls down through the mountain gullies and whistles through windows and gates; the effect is not unlike a very large pipe organ, but more melancholy and mournful. This howling elegy is almost enough to drown out the screams. There are a great many screams here in Perdition.
Somewhere in the dark recesses of this foul place, a boy stands chained to a post. The boy is stripped to the waist and behind him towers a thin man in an apron. In his right hand is a whip. Sharp cracks punctuate the night as he lashes the boy’s back. The boy cries out; the boy bleeds. The sharp kisses of the whip are instructional, they teach an important lesson; although perhaps not the lesson that is intended.