Edd Vick’s latest story, “The Corsair and the Lady” may be found in Talebones #37.

Alex Dally MacFarlane’s story “The Devonshire Arms” is available online at Clarkesworld.

Angela Slatter’s story ‘Frozen’ will appear in the December 09 issue of Doorways Magazine, and ‘The Girl with No Hands’ will appear in the next issue of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet.

Sara Genge’s story “Godtouched” may be found in Strange Horizons.

Archive for the ‘The Diplomat’ Category

The Diplomat Speaks of Heavenly Mountain

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

The Diplomat and I had walked so long through silent forests and babbling villages that my first city was a shock and an offense to me. Three times he gently took strangers by the shoulder and made them return my amulet pouch.

“Pickpockets, we call them on Gaia,” he said. “They think you carry money in that pouch.”

“Money?”  I asked blankly.

He explained about money, but that was not what I wanted to learn; I wanted to know how he came to be so wise, so clever to notice the pickpockets and to stop them with such peaceful firmness.

“…And please don’t say ‘experience’ like my grandfathers would,” I begged. “Please, I know you studied in special places.”

He laughed.

“I wasn’t going to say experience only. I did study on Heavenly Mountain. There are eight thousand and one steps up our mountain,” he said with love and memory in his voice, touching the long fold of his robe. “Carved in the face of each step, to read as you climb, are the words of the sages and oracles. There are temples on the landings, guarded by clear streams and bamboo forests, where you must serve and study before you climb again, until you reach the summit.

“There, where you can see the mountain ridges falling away to the horizon, the great masters give you your final lessons from mind to mind, without speaking, because by then you are ready.

“All this is widely known. What is not well known is the final secret: that you have learnt nothing until you have returned down each and every step and used your wisdom in the world beyond the mountain. It’s easy to be wise on that silent summit; rather harder in the shouting marketplace, among the pickpockets.

“I remember the climb back down. That’s when I noticed the other wise words, inlaid in lapis and jade on the top of each step, hidden right under foot. I thought to myself, ‘How did I never notice these before?’  I laughed, then, for I knew I had been too busy climbing.”

The Diplomat Teaches Oneness

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

The Diplomat and I sat with some thieves in their hot, stuffy cave. They watched us, unable to believe that we were who we said we were: the Gaia diplomat and his novice, traveling alone, and carrying or wearing all that we owned—clothes and begging bowls. Their eyes said, “how can you make us rich?”

We sat there while they tried to take our measure. At least there was a cat. That’s another good animal from Gaia. It let me scratch its ears, having already taken my measure.

I hadn’t wanted to go with the thieves, when there was still time to choose. The Diplomat had said, “they are part of us, we are part of them, we are all one with everything else,” adding, “whether we like it or not.”
Sometimes I thought the Diplomat was a naïve idiot.

“Rathand will take you some place while we talk it over,” said somebody who thought he was the Chief Thief.
So we sat outside in the cold, blessed air. Rathand let us sit against a big tree. He sat down facing us, his sword across his lap.

In the middle of asking Rathand about his family, the Diplomat paused as though he were listening. Then he stood up.

“We will be going now,” he said. “Though I would have liked to hear about your mother. Please don’t use your sword, it would be bad for you.”

Rathand looked down at his blade in surprise, then lowered it.

“You could come with us,” offered the Diplomat.

Rathand stayed, however, when we walked straight into the brush.

“I hope that boy is all right,” said the Diplomat when the shouting started far off, “but he had to make up his own mind. They were going to kill us, you see. Hang our bodies by the road to frighten people.”

I stared at him.

“I have had practice not fearing death,” he went on. “But I’m busy, and besides, you are here. So I thought we should leave.”

“How did you know what they were going to do?”

He looked at me, blinked, and grinned. “Haven’t you been listening? We are one with all creatures. When you know that, it is easy to hear what you are thinking in your other heads.”

Many footsteps later, though, he admitted he had preferred listening as the cat.

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