Sunday, June 30, 2013

Lamoille Canyon

The glory of Lamoille Canyon! I made it all the way to Liberty Pass for the first time this year.  If you have never heard of it, it's in the Ruby Mountains east of Elko. The entrance is standard Great Basin fare. Sagebrush and other brush and grass.
Driving up, into the canyon. 


Then the hiking! Fabulous!
Thomas Canyon
Main trail to Liberty Pass. Starting at the back of the canyon, 8800 ft elevation (middle of the photo has the parking lot, not easy to see at this scale.)  


From Liberty Pass, about 3 miles in. Elevation 11,032 ft. 


Tonight's Sunset

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Green Mojave

It's a little scary when they aren't too bothered by a person walking by.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


I was going to paint, but instead felt like writing.

Chapter 1

The stone slabs were dark grey slate, cold and uninviting. They seemed a continuum from the swamps she had left, tracking her prey, nearly 4 days ago now. She followed the scent of the darquanion up the steps of the narrow spiral staircase. It scent was fading now so she did not pause, but lost it anyway at the next main level. She adjusted the cloak slightly so that it covered the thin armoured coating of her sleeve which identified her, to the conscious, as an outsider. She began a systematic survey of the castle halls, hoping to stumble open her prey or it’s scent. Several hours passed but she found only empty corridors or men and woman hurrying along passages in in a direction to her left to some sort of unknown event or a party. The occasional servant in uniform cleaning or carrying goods (meat cutlets, candlesticks, once a pair of red boots) quietly down back corridors. None seemed aware of their surroundings, and none stopped her. A conscious mind would have noticed someone out of place, even once such as her, good at hiding. Thus she presumed this to be a place set apart from war or assassins.  Not good news in her momentary mission to stop the darquanion; perhaps she could kill it and get out with the people not interrupted in their peaceful and happy lives. This was unlikely. We are all at war now, she thought blandly.

A small group hurried past and she caught another scent, strong, a boy in the group who smelled lost but not yet forsaken, the grotesque odor of the forsaken only lightly coating him. He was strong too, perhaps worth taking. She abandoned her fruitless search to followed the group, staying back and watching them from a slight distance. They joined others and turned to enter some room that seemed to open to the right.
She ducked to the side, finding a different and less public entry, and quietly entered the grand hall.

The hall was vast and crowded; vaulted ceilings and delicate white intricately carved stone structures that intertwined into peaks. The warmth and gaiety contrasted greatly to coldness of the outer halls, the dark grey slate from surface to to ceiling and tight narrow corridors of the halls she had been searching. She realized it was a perfect 21 for the full council, and the 21 peaks of Abudoun; and it could fit at least 5 of her own kind in full form.  Her mind spun, for a moment it was like being home. The room was crowded, a gathering of mportance as it appeared to be all in their finest. The noise was almost too much as people laughed and talk loudly, drinking and joking. In the background a harp played, contrasting to to the energy of the room which was more suited to pidoim with it’s drum base and strings.  She wished she could burn it to ash and provide the musician a proper instrument, and then it would be really like home. Her scanning eyes saw the boy again, and she was reminded of her purpose. This was an opportune moment for trouble. She began to circle through the crowd, lightly stalking her secondary pray- ready to abandon the chase in a second if the real target entered.

The harvest ball was in full swing, all in their finest. Kt'tan was laughing with Gordesn who had an uncanny ability to find sweeping truths that were embarrassing and funny, and bring them forth, lightly.  His sights were on the ministers, who where all taking themselves far too seriously for a gaious occasion, almost not aware it was a ball and as Kt'tan's laughed under his breath as his eyes lightly swept the crowd, taking in the nuances of dress and status. This had been a good year, all had on new attire and there was some sort of subtle fashion change for the ladies, with a higher waist and a tendency towards dark blues. He was about to ask about one of the Lord’s, whom should have arrived some time ago when his attention was caught by a figure moving through the crowd in a full cloak, rather than party attire. The movements were slow, but it was obvious the figure was not part of the party for it did not grab food or wine as the servants glided past, nor did it speak to anyone. The figure was very out of place, and he noted suddenly that few seemed to even notice it was there. For a second the face turned towards him and his whole body froze.  It was her. The one he had seen in his naming ceremony when he was a boy, after chewing the holy senecca vine. He was supposed to see his future, the key events to guide him in the path of being a good leader, and provide him signposts that all was going properly in his life. Instead he had had swalled the bitter vine and been taken with a vision so strong, he had collapsed. She had been sitting in a place that was some sort of library, with massive book shelves surrounding the table she bent over. She was sitting at working, leaning over with many books open around her, reading and taking notes. Some trick of the light
made it seem as though she was glowing, a pale color like the sky above the horizon and twilight. Until this moment, he had not known a woman could read or write.  Then sounds of battle had come to her and she had stood, suddenly. The strange illusion of glowing was gone and she moved quickly, not frightened, but no longer comfortable.  She went through what had seemed to him some sort of back entrance hurrying down light filled hills with delicate white stone and large windows that opened on a vista of mountains, just now topped with the light of dawn.  She broke finally into a run down the hall, into a large bed chamber where a man in a grey cloak was just then pulling a blade out of a body laying on the bed. She ran without pause to a second blade on the far side of the room, and drew it from the scabbard. The blade seeming to have an eerie pale light soft and golden. She and the he in the grey cloak said something to each other in a language he did not understand, then she moved forward with assurance and fought the assassin readily, dispatching him quickly. Until this vision, Kt'tan had not known a woman could hold a blade. Then she turned to the body, staring, and it did not move. The vision ended abruptly, and he came to in the priest’s chamber, bent over vomiting and gasping for air. This was not a normal reaction to the holy senecca vine, which usually induced a state closer to drunkeness. None of the priests had been able to make any sort of prediction from his vision, and all were shocked by the strength of it. His father had asked the wizard Tarmu to come. Tarmu could give no explanation, but seemed to think it was significant. He had moved much of his work to castle Tumear, and began to live in the tower reserved for his visits. He only left infrequently, to make sure Cair Tarmu was getting on well in his absence.

And now here she was, moving lightly through the crowd. People seemed to ignore her, so her movement through the crowd was stilted as non gave way. It was if she wasn't there all the way.  He realized she was stalking something and began to search the crowd to understand who, all the while keeping one eye to her.

Gordesn's voice was serious and low "What is it, what do you see?"

Kt'tan didn't answer for a moment, then spoke quietly "The woman in the cloak, do you see her?"

"There's someone in a cloak you say?" Gordesn sounded surprised, questing as if Kt’tan had been drinking too much. His eyes searched the crowd, not seeing anything, tracking Kt'tan for several minutes before he finally saw the cloaked figure moving slowly through the crowd.  "That is so strange, she is very obvious, but it was like I couldn't see her for a moment...." They both paused, instantly realizing that it must be some sort of spell or hex, noticing anew that she moved through the crowd as none acknowledged her presence or moved to accommodate her passage.
"She seems to be following the Jensen boy." Kt'tan's voice was now barely audible.  Tarmu was at virtually the other end of the hall. He had thought through the vision a thousand times, and as a boy decided she was good.  Now he was going to rely on his childhood instincts, he was going to go introduce himself before she completed her .... goal...  and was possibly gone forever.  He moved easily toward  her, moving with authority to not be interrupted. The crowd melted from his path, for all in the room kept one mind in the conversations or people around them, and a second mind on Kt'tan.  When he got within an arms length, she turned suddenly as if instinct told her that she had been seen.  His breath was gone again in the moment, so he stared without expression at the living face he had seen thousands of times, in inner vision only.

Her face was angular, her hair a dark auburn with unusual glints of red that seemed to actually sparkle, and blue eyes the color of the sky. It seemed for a moment that her iris was horizontal, rather than round. He wanted to ignore this, but knew that he should not. She seemed ever so slightly embarrassed, but did not move.  The embarrassment vanished and she grew quizzical recognizing somehow that he knew her.   He saw her shoulders relax slightly, and realized he was right to have approached her- she was intending to not be seen and would have been gone when her goal was completed.  But now he had her attention.  Being seen had her attention.

He came out of his revery to realize the entire room was almost silent. He had never experienced so many people become so quiet.  A set of footsteps approached, and the great wizard Tarmu, defender of the people of Tumear, was there. She turned her head to note him, and again he saw her iris flash from round to horizontal and back. Then she turned her gaze back to Kt'tan. He noted that she seemed to blink infrequently, and that even her breathing seemed to slow. The sparkling hair was the toned with the red of rubies or garnets. She was really here.

"Welcome." He was surprised at the strong, confident sound of his own voice, and the way it echoed slightly as if they were alone in the hall. "Entie prona fatale to na dorianae." He had never had cause to use the ancient words of welcome, but knew them by heart from his father. 'Remember my son, for it sets you apart to know the old ways. Remember you are Tumerean, but also member that you alone are Truleon. You must know Truleon manners as well, and remember the old ways."

She started at his words of welcome, and now turned her head questioningly, tilting it and lifting it forward slightly.  Her voice was also confident and strong, but had a tenor to it that was clearly not human, and confirmed the strangeness of her irises. It sounded smooth, almost like water moving over stone.

 "Entie prona fatale to na entroderie." She completed the formal welcome, with an accent to it that he had never heard, but immediately recognized was proper.

"We have awaited your coming for a time now, and welcome you warmly to castle Tumear. Our people walk well and strongly."

This definitely startled her. The watery sound of her voice was soothing, almost hypnotic.  "Thank you for the warm words of welcome. I find it strange to hear them, so far from places of comfort."

He wasn’t quite sure what to do next. "Forti, come forward." He command was met with a low murmuring that seemed more natural to the large crowd, and the Jensen boy stepped forward, clearly uncomfortable at being singled out during such a momentous occasion. Lord and Lady Jensen moved forward too, obviously uncertain at the prospect of their boy being called forward by the King and in front of a strange woman in a cloak. It did not bode well.  "It seemed you wanted something of the boy?"  

She nodded, stepping towards the boy and sniffing the air, smelling him lightly from a slight distance. Definitely not human. "When did you turn?" She asked Forti, and then turned her head in the same quizzical movement as before and added "and why?"

The boy stepped back, shocked. There was nowhere to run, surrounded by the crowd as he was. His always pleasant demeanor changed suddenly and an overt aggressiveness, a snarling anger suddenly came out. Too young and inexperienced to think of consequences, he outed himself. "Witch!!" He hissed, and then he raised his hands and black mist poured out, surrounding the she. It dissipated as it touched her and fell lightly to the ground, a dark ash that beared witness to the fact the boy had gone to the shadow.

The crowd shrank back, horrified at the presence of a shadow person. Lord Jensen let out a sound, a parent witnessing the loss of their child to the darkness. Tarmu took one step forward, protecting Kt'tan from attack without blocking his view. The she did not seem remotely perturbed, and seemed to lose awareness of the large crowd in her focus on the boy. "Wrong" she said, with almost a light.. Humor? "Would you like to try again?" Kt'tan almost laughed... She was treating Forti like a pupil, putting him through paces. Forti was embarrassed, and took a longer time to pull in the blackness. This time when he attacked her the black shadow attack was closer to solid, and focused to a point. It hit the she squarely, but again did no harm and fell to ash on the floor in front of her.  The boy was losing

steam and Kt'tan recognized that he could be destroyed at this moment with a regular weapon. Tarmu seemed to think the same, shifting slightly.  Forti, as shadow, would not be leaving this room alive.

Forti stood stiffly, young and proud. He glanced at the king. The she spoke "he cannot help you, you lost his protection when you sought the darkness in your heart." Forti stared at her, still not moving. There was along pause. "I give you a choice today, as you have some potential. You will swear soul allegiance to me, now, or I will eat you." Lady Jensen gave only the slightest cry at this, and muffled herself quickly. There was nothing that could be done for Forti now that he had sworn to darkness. It was a testament to the strength of the people of Tumear that the choice did not cause much reaction. They thought the shadow should be eaten, although no one was sure how it would be accomplished, even if it was a boy they had once loved and known named Forti. Forti did not answer for a long time. The she moved with slight impatience.

Forti cleared his throat. "I swear soul allegiance to you." It was a barely audible whisper.

"No." Said the she. She looked at him hard. "You have been traitor once, and I do not have time for that. When I say soul allegiance, I mean it."

Forti apparently meant his own choice, now. Without hesitation he crouched, hands down on the hall stones, and he began to speak the full incantation to have a swearing witnessed in the sight of the gods and spirit world. As he spoke, leaning forward slightly and rocking the entirety of his body, a mist began to rise slowly. The outline of blackness began to take shape within the mist, a very light black chain which seemed to come out of his throat, tied around him and off of him, heading to the south through the room and vanishing into the wall. His link the dark mage which ruled the shadowlands to the south. The crowd stepped away from the thing, which seemed to writh as if alive. Seeing this, for the first time Forti seemed frightened, he began to claw at his throat, trying to tear the chain he had brought upon himself off. The she raised her head slightly, turned it to the right, and took a large breath that sounded like water pouring over stone. As Forti finished his incantation and swearing she turned back and poured forth white flame as she exhaled. It consumed him but with no heat. Balefire. The black chain from his throat burned to ash and fell, lightly to the floor. When she released the flame Forti was now changed; his skin was translucent white like the flame had been, his hair and eyebrows white, and his eyes were pink as if the holy balefire had wiped away all color. "Thank you." He was earnest and changed.

The she did not acknowledge this. "Your first lesson," she said, and the boy Forti vanished from the room.

JAS (c) 2013

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Personal Vortex

I like to think of myself as a person who does fairly well coping with events as they occur.  Turns out I'm much like the rest of humanity, and I use coping mechanisms which get me to the other side of any given challenging experience, but without actually dealing with said experience.  So, my first sentence is accurate: I do cope; I don't deal.  If that makes sense. 

However, the weird fabulous thing in life is that once the veil is raised, I'm halfway to the answers! Yeah brain! 

Happy Father's Day (belated)

Friday, June 14, 2013

To be a kid again...

Dandelions were a weed where I grew up, always getting in the lawn. Now I look at them and think of endless hours of play. have a fun weekend!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Something Cold to Look at on a Hot Day

This is the mountain stream foam, during spring runoff.  This image just makes me feel cold.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Sunset in Elko

The storms really made for some beautiful sunsets







Sunday, June 9, 2013

Pet Cemetery

This isn't an art post, more of a moment in life post.  There is a little community pet cemetery between the fence and Mountain City Highway, heading north out of Elko.

It's not well kept up. Yes, that is a tumble weed in the photo. But, I think a community with a spontaneous pet cemetery seems kind.  It won't last forever, nothing does, but I took some photos to remember it by.