Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Who Is This: A Response to Dansumption

Over at Peakrill Press, Dansumption has issued a challenge to tell him about some AI portraits he generated. Here we go:



In his callowness a tradesman with no hand for his trade, fingers peeled by rope-hauls never hardening to callousy. By nature soft, he grubby-hid with shady sorts in shaded spots, padded digits counted stacks of bullion through their graspings.

Neither and never to the stocks nor the gallows, Melanogredo's grub hatched unfolding schemes, for a torch was bearing swift into his shadows. From o'er saw-backed waves rambuctive rowoars pushed uncedeingly; up river-in-vales sails flew en-gorged - the navy of Marlo, semper vicit, semper vincens, here to settle the piratical distempers of these coastal waters. Once ingrate to his sailing days, now they made the stock for his new work as a trade-man - he sold the sites of smuggle-coves and made way on routes now cleared of any else who'd known them.

Lips pressed tight sealed secrets shut - old and honourless friends not sold out to Marlo enjoyned Melanogredo under his entreupid captaincy. This son of iniquity spun wholecloth and heroic tapestries for his facade - he would be not merely Melanogredo the sailor, Melanogredo the mountebank, Melanogredo the merchant, but Melanogredo of the House of Albuminauc - a truly noble diction which sweet-talked a devil's dowry from his wife's father (a commonbred Marloan of uncommon bread).

Together married, their fleet knew stormy seas. A commissioned portraiteur put horns on Melanogredo, and skipped away with his wife to Gherriot (where their love soon turned stony and sunk the both of them). He swore off women and painters alike - for what was their beauty but an opaque curtain - and made to curtail their influence.

No son of woman born had he, but two sons born of alchemy. Vat-grown and levin-quickened, his own image reproduced by physicianical processes - though stripped of the delicacy which had been his own and only regret. Melanogredo's health herenow ailed him, perhaps tarnished by the fumes of his patronage, and against it he resolved to see his seed sprout . He quaffed potions to prolong life, potions to preserve life, potions with miscalculated miscibility which fermented rebellion within his guts. His final years saw him dissolved from within, slosh-headed and losing his previous acumen. Melanogredo transacted inadvisably, peeled the gilding from his self-raised house. Alast terminally softened, Melanogredo collapsed into sludge before he could tear up its last timbers.

This empty house passed to his first son, Leucocal. To his second fell not right but duty, to remember, to depict, to cut down the curtains of art and time. I, Grall, have borne it, though winters have weighted my tongue and pen, I, Grall, bear it.


Leucocal made real what Melanogredo imagined - the architect and the architecture of his desire. Albuminauc coffers clinked hollow at his inheritance, and so Leucocal made his salt in Marlo's army, instead of upon its seas (for it's hard-scrabbling to make money as a merchant without money to begin with).

Deftwise did his spear split the space between reavers' ribs, and his marching-boots trampled reeking terror in pursuit. He vaulted into an officer's crest in momentous time - just as Marlo was to be swept up in the tide of an unwholesome war.

For it was custom in our forefathers' day to give the dead to the lurking things in the deep, that they might walk and sing as we do in their lightless halls. To Marlo this was the utmost breach of the relational propriety between child and parent, king and country, that those who've passed should be denied rest in its mountainous catacombs, to dream, and one day awaken once more. Forbiddance was laid heavy on the practice to its acquired citizens.

Corpses crusted by abyssal growths breached wakes all'ong the coast - slime-soaked knots pulsing in their holey chests - haggearts, in the term of the banned rites.

To fight a haggeart was a much-different fray than against men - and Leucocal stalthwarted their advance all the same. In the darkling pitch of battle he saved a prince of Marlo, who'd been reborn in the head of a well-couched host, and won brief adulation court-side for it.

The House of Albuminauc bleary-blinked beach-sand from its eyes to find itself stood among fields of glistering molly-combs, swathed in blossoming-indigo ivy. For exemplary service was land awarded to it, and on this land the House was transcribed from fiction into deed. Leucocal continued his father's work in the flesh, and without labour his son Tasanthos was birthed in that House.

A life lived awash in blood and rotten mobs left Leucocal unmarred save for a long line hooked from mouth-corner to the end of his cheek - such was his tempered ferocity. He never awoke from his nightmares with a scream, but with a slight smile, that quivered at the edges. He was not ended by sword-point or the cold comfort of a death-bed. In armour swaddled, over-board tipped by a sudden storm, Leucocal dove to shudder the fear of him back into his waterlogged nemeses.


Though his father and grand-father had in their latter days fallen victim to the reaper of men's hair's harvest, Tasanthos came into this world without a strand on his body. This was the least of his afflictions - his blood was pale, he could scarcely walk a mile, and yellowed veins crept from his crown. As an aging amanuensis might err in his passing of words from ear to paper, so too was the old branch of Melanogredo blemishing in its autumn.

Melanogredo had loved his accounting-books, and Leucocal his romances, but no Albuminauc before or since loved books as widely and as deeply as Tasanthos. He amassed library-piles, oil-stained and wax-dribbled, and studied alongside the alchemists who midwifed him.

This virtue was his burning moth-light. The war waged against the haggearts by his father's generation planted dubiousity in his own - knowledge that should have been left to its cultic dusk was dredged, and Tasanthos was helpless against seeking knowledge. Serpents came to coil in the cellar of this House, and spiders wove plots among its rafters. Mawkish rakes milked venom from each other's mouths against their betters.

Saviour-counsel whispered its way to Tasanthos from a comrade-in-arms of Leucocal - a man high-ranked and far-sighted. He gave warning that Marlo weary-wared towards the festering heathenry of the coast, and would soon lance it. Tasanthos came sober-light to his senses immediately. He uncovered the occulted vermin to Marlo, and was made its eyes and ears in the underworld.

Though he brought servicial glory and the wealth of a rich stipend to the Albuminauc name, Tasanthos died by treachery, by the dividing line of this House. It was his firstborn, Aurandudate, too hideous for even my recollection, who fed the draught that poisoned him. I swear it was Aurandudate's hand that fed him.


Tasanthos's second-born, leal, lamb-bent though shining eyed, the heir whose birthright was stolen, posed as Aurandudate's opponent in every fashion. He was the first Albuminauc since Melanogredo to be born from the union of man and woman, never knowing the flasks and flumes of his forebears - a wizon'd choice on the part of Tasanthos, to rejuvenate the souring fruit of this House.

That he remembered anything of his father's House is a credit to the sharpness of mind in his blood - for he was chased out milkling-young. His mother was a fisher-woman before she was the wife of an Albuminauc, and he was raised as a fisher-man.

He would not, could not remain a fisher-man til his greying days. Rud's skin tore like thin paper - though this never pained him - and his blood gleamed in the fissures of these tears. The mark of true lordship was upon him, not granted by Marlo but welled up from within. When the sky glowed with sailor's mourning, a globstrom serpent writhed ashore in Rud's village - and kissed his wounds, and returned to the water when he so commanded it. He was crowned with sculpted fish-leather before the sun set.

It was at this moment when Marlo was o'erthrown in these parts, conquered, yet never to conquer'ere again, mist-fade revelation to settle in. The village became a militia, which spread to many villages and became an army. Haggearts piled in the harbours, more thoroughly defeated by Rud than even mighty Leucocal had accomplished, for now they were not simply slain but subjugated - swarming into battle alongside his followers. The enemy-fallen were cast like tears down cliff-faces into the sea.

A haggeart with Leucocal's face was seen leading a force into the very halls of this House, and dragged Aurandudate jiggle-chinned and blubber-screeching into the star-winked night, and indeed... and indeed...

Indeed I must pause here, for the ridges of my brain grow hard and dry and rankle against the innards of my skull.

Remember always the motto of this House... remember always... remember always... remember always... remember always...

O brother, good brother, why me?


  1. I love the writing style here to bits. Fantastic stuff.

  2. The rise and fall of the House Albuminauc, and the strange circumstances of its scions' births, puts me in mind of Jodorowsky's decades-long and slightly-insane saga of the Metabarons. A good thing to be compared to, I think.