The Song of Derenemyn

My birthday was a few weeks ago, and I got some cool shit. I got to TOUCH AN OTTER’S PAW AND NOSE. I got a fire hook/marshmallow roaster that looks LIKE A FREAKING RAPIER. I got a mandolin that’s over a hundred years old because MY WIFE KNOWS I LIKE TO PRETEND TO BE A BARD. It was a good birthday, I’m sayin’.


I almost look like I know how to play!

But the greatest gift of them all was a song. It was a song my wife wrote for me, and she recorded it, and played it for me, and I cried like a baby. Derenemyn is the name we gave our home. It means Hill of Oaks in Elvish. We’re nerds. It is a song about us and our time together. I wanted to share it with the world, so here it is. The lyrics are below. (She also wanted me to apologize on her behalf for the shitty midi instruments. I will not. I love it.)

The Song of Derenemyn

Once before and long ago

A brave young man was made to know

A year of joy and bitter woe

In his loving of a maiden


He met her at an olden fair

With whipping wit and golden hair

Like magic, she did him ensnare,

This maid of Derenemyn


A year went by, and still he yearned

And when the fair at last returned

He told her how his heart had burned

For the maid of Derenemyn


In summer sweet, they planned to wed

They laid in groves as marriage beds

As fairies light around them tread

Midsummer’s joy proclaimin’


And yet one day, the maid grew ill

He held her, but it worsened still

He eased her and he tried to will

The balm of Derenemyn


But fear and tears and furrowed brows

Could not keep them from their sacred vows

So Summer’s beauty once more roused

And they wed on Derenemyn


Though Summer is not made to last

And yellow took the green of grass

So Autumn made the leaves of brass

And set the hills aflamin’


And as it did, they tried to find

A cure to ease her troubled mind

And leave this sickness soon behind

And return to Derenemyn


Though the crisp of air filled her heart with song

She knew the journey would be long

But with him, she knew where she belonged

To him, on Derenemyn


The bitter chill whipped in the air

The leaves turned brown and the oaks were bare

So he built a fire beside her chair

As the dark of winter came in


She struggled all the day and night

Her body weary from the fight

And all joy vanished from her sight

All joy but Derenemyn


So the hailing oak threw his arms up high

And touched his hand to the silver sky

And the snow came falling by and by

On the side of Derenemyn


As all things come and all things go

Like summer and like melting snow

So spring with creeping green did grow

The forest’s soul reclaimin’


And so her weary body healed

And spring in her was soon revealed

Her eyes glowed like the greenest field

In her home of Derenemyn


And they danced and laughed and they sang once more

Twice happy as they were before

And loved each other ever more

In the woods of Derenemyn


Once before and long ago

All things did come, and then did go

But lucky few will come to know

The joy of Derenemyn.

Where Do We Go From Here?

I wrote this nearly 7 years ago. Apparently, where we went from that point is straight into the shitter.

Me and My Shovel

According to Wikipedia, the United States is the world’s largest producer of corn and soybeans.  Although it doesn’t say, I am beginning to believe that we also lead the world in producing outrage.  I don’t mean that we make more people in the world angry than anyone else, which may be possible, but that the average American produces more outrage than anyone else.  Getting outraged is what we do.  It’s the new national pastime, which is fine because baseball is so horribly dull anyway.  What I wonder, though, is how much more polarized and outraged our society may become.  Will it get better, or will it only get worse?


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Mass Effect Andromeda First Thoughts and Speculations

At E3 this year, EA dropped a new trailer for Mass Effect Andromeda. It doesn’t explain anything, doesn’t show gameplay, and isn’t everything that I’d hoped would be released (by which I mean I want to know everything RIGHT NOW like the impatient petulant child that I am). There were, however, some clues and hints about what’s to come. I need to talk about it, just to keep myself sane, so this is just going to be a scattershot of thoughts and speculation about what’s to come.

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A Serpent in the Citadel, Chapter 7: Taking a Few Shots

This is the seventh chapter in what was originally going to be a short intro to the characters and has turned into a much longer story than the original story I planned on telling. Sometimes that’s just what happens. If you’re crazy enough to read it in order, you can find the other chapters here:

Chapter 1: The Big Sister

Chapter 2: Long Walks and Short Thoughts

Chapter 3: Time for a Drink

Chapter 4: The Turian Inquisition

Chapter 5: Watchful Eyes

Chapter 6: A Great Plan

There was no talking for the next couple of minutes, unless you count swearing. I did plenty of that for all of us. I leaned out whenever there was a gap in the gunfire and fired as many rounds as I could, but the pistol was heating up fast. I had all the ammo I needed, what with each shot being tiny, but the immense speed they were fired built up a lot of heat. Too much and the automatic failsafe would kick in, leaving it inoperable until it cooled down again. Five seconds without a working firearm was a lifetime in a firefight.

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A Serpent in the Citadel, Chapter 6: A Great Plan

This is the sixth chapter in what was once a short story that has morphed into a novella, which is entirely Corrigan’s fault and in no way mine, since I am the very soul of brevity. Unless reading it backwards is your thing, you might want to start with the earlier chapters:

Chapter 1: The Big Sister

Chapter 2: Long Walks and Short Thoughts

Chapter 3: Time for a Drink

Chapter 4: The Turian Inquisition

Chapter 5: Watchful Eyes


I’ve never had much luck introducing myself to women. In the last day alone I’d introduced myself to two, and one threw me into a wall and the other took me into custody. As things go, those were two of my more successful attempts. In retrospect, all of five seconds later, dragging my missing person into a rapidly-closing ambush and hinting that she was about to be arrested in the middle of a black market were both exceedingly stupid things to do. I’ve always listened to my instincts and trusted them, which has earned me more ass-kickings than I can count. Sucker me always ends up giving them another chance.

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Defending Ashley Williams of Mass Effect

Mass Effect, as a series, is probably known and loved more for the cast of characters Shepard pals around with while saving the galaxy multiple times than any other aspect. Other games do combat better (although I’ve never enjoyed any shooter more than Mass Effect 3, especially the multiplayer), or have better plots or storylines, but no game really comes close to having characters who grow and evolve during the series, in many cases shaped by their interactions the player has with them. Fan favorites like Garrus, Wrex, Tali (I even named my dog after her), Jack, Mordin – all of them are incredibly well fleshed-out, have real growth arcs through the series, and have real resonance. They are beloved.

There is one character, though, who is not beloved. She is rarely even be-liked. She is usually be-fucking-hated. She is Ashley Williams.

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A Serpent in the Citadel, Chapter 5: Watchful Eyes

This is Chapter 5 of my sci-fi detective noir short story. If you’re one of those weirdos who likes to start from the beginning, choose something earlier below:

Chapter 1: The Big Sister

Chapter 2: Long Walks and Short Thoughts

Chapter 3: Time for a Drink

Chapter 4: The Turian Inquisition

Either the bed was deceptively comfortable, or a day that included dealing with my sister, traveling millions of miles, and ending in a police station made me a lot less picky. My head was aching from my high-speed introduction to yesterday’s wall, but some painkillers, scotch, and a shower improved my outlook. I didn’t normally drink this early, but, to be fair, I wasn’t often up this early either. I suited up, wishing I was wearing some heavy assault armor instead. The message I got saying “Congratulations! Almost twelve hours before you got picked up by the cops – M” certainly didn’t improve my mood. I had a bad feeling about the day. That wasn’t unusual, because the days I woke feeling like life was great always ended up terrible. A bad feeling was almost encouraging.

I hit the streets and made my way back to Tranquility. The streets were busier than yesterday, the respectable folks and their opposites going about their business at the tail end of the Ward. I got propositioned twice for action, one that called for a bed and another that called for k nuckles, and passed on both. I figured I had enough problems already.

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The Brave Girl

This is the short story I wrote for my wife for Valentine’s Day. As I’ve said previously, it’s the first story I wrote after 4 years or so, and it was the first thing I needed to write in a very long time. She inspires me every day, and I wanted to share with her a little glimpse of how she is in my imagination. This is a small part of her, and since people asked to see it and she said it was okay, I’m sharing it here.

Also, the drawing is a sketch I made of Spaniel Day Lewis for the Valentine’s Day before this one, and since he also graces this story, I thought I’d share it, too. I’d illustrate the whole thing if I could, but I sadly lack that talent.

Once there was a girl who lived in a house that was down a hill and up a hill away from the woods. The girl loved the woods very much, and was often found there, exploring the hidden places and listening to the music of the trees. She was very bright and imaginative and kind and clever, and a million other wonderful things besides, but most of all she was brave. She felt no fear under the boughs and amidst the brush, even when the shadows lengthened, because she loved the forest near her home. There were always adventures to be had there, and she would run or skip or stalk or sit quietly, however the mood struck her, as a branch became a wizard’s staff or a wind-borne blossom sprouted fairy wings or all the birds gathered to sing her a lullaby.

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A Serpent in the Citadel, Chapter Four: The Turian Inquisition

This is Chapter 4 of my sci-fi detective noir short story. If you’re one of those weirdos who likes to start from the beginning, choose something earlier below:

Chapter 1: The Big Sister

Chapter 2: Long Walks and Short Thoughts

Chapter 3: Time for a Drink

On the bright side, I hadn’t been arrested. They drove me to their local station, took my pistol for safe-keeping, and had me cool my heels in a spare office. The small room made Madeline’s look ostentatious. I wondered if decorations were against the rules. The place was doing a brisk business, with a bunch of drunk and disorderlies along with some busted brawlers. It reminded me fondly of my military career.

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A Serpent in the Citadel, Chapter 3: Corrigan Goes to a Bar

This is Chapter 3 of A Serpent in the Citadel, a pulp noir detective story set in the Mass Effect universe. I try very hard to make it unnecessary to have played the games to enjoy the story. Let me know how poorly I’ve done so in the comments.

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

The bar was called Tranquility but Surly would’ve described it better. I’d envisioned asari dancing girls and a lively crowd of villainy, but the place wasn’t a wretched hive. It was barely a disheveled nest. The place wasn’t small, with tables and secluded booths in a large open area that looked like it could seat a hundred with more on the spacious elevated dance floor. It was, however, nearly empty. There was an asari but she wasn’t dancing. Instead she wiped a spot on the bar with a towel and seemed intent about it. A krogan sat on the right side of the bar, in heavy armor that looked beat to hell and halfway back, nursing a drink. On the left was a lone turian, female, dressed like a merc looking to get in a company. Ragged was too kind a term. A quartet of salarians sat at one table and a pair of quarians were at another, their environmental suits dusty and worn. The bar was quiet, except for a vague electronic dance tune that sounded like it was on a loop and the whispered conversations from the tables that stopped when I got there.

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