“One Shadow, to Another” – an interlude to Waves of the Tide Part II: Shadeshifter

What are we?

“I hope this question plagues you, Roam, as much or even more so than it brings me such delight. Yet, I know your mind or, better, your habits, and so any recognition or interest in others is a vain hope.

“Ah! You don’t deny it. Good. Your failures and rampant self-absorption continue to fulfill my expectations. You are a glorious force of disappointment.

“Oh, but by all means do not disregard my sincerity and admiration. Consider me a devout pupil. You have left truly inspiring wreckage in your wake, Uncle, and kept myself and mine very well fed as we’ve trailed you.

Devout pupil? But you see through me, and I shall not deny … yes, an eager parasite, reveling glutton…

What are we?

“My dear lost Uncle … but there it is, in fact, that I might so confidently apply this familial appellation to you…

“But what of before? So few of us have been among humanity as long as I and my Abysmal troupe. What will the Tide be transitioned into, assuming enough of our kin survive being sluiced out of the Grey when the Cradle … hemorrhages…

“Or perhaps I misuse this word, and some others? Yet, perhaps also any lingual misuse is symptomatic of our condition … we outsiders, as we imbibe the raw ideas and implications of Meaning, itself.

“We, as we assimilate, provide our inborn Truths to the transition, we become … emissaries of a new reality … evolve, yes, and turn to our ancestors and descendants alike … become embodiments of the acts we who remain must perform…

“We must … staunch the wound … we must become the scars upon the body of this new Thing we will become…

“Here you’ve chosen a fitting location to dwell, Uncle. What is a cemetery to humankind but a shrine to insurmountable failure? Oh, and you can be sure I am aware of the woman you so recently stalked, for even now, her … spirit? No … but there is no consistent idea … I will say, her energy lingers. A disappointing word in the context of the banquet she must have been, while alive

“She is … on you, Roam … her essence coats your form like an arachnid’s silk. Yes, and like the web, strands of her, of what she was, spreads out into … newer life…

“Ah! At last, you react!

“Only a flinch, a flicker … and is that protectiveness? Possessiveness? Compassion? No … it is guilt … a delightful opportunity you offer me, Uncle! A rare expression on any of your many previous façades. This is powerful guilt, as well … delicious…

“Oh ancient Wanderer, through what conduit did such wounded virtue shed its skin upon you?

“What … no flinch?

“What … no flicker of concern for him? To be expected, I suppose, for also do I tend to emerge from the husks of my own mediums with little care for the detritus left behind.

“Still … yours … your most recent … he has … left something with you. Or more to it … I do believe he has emerged from you, Roam, just as much, perhaps more so, than you from him…

“Is this your weakness now, Uncle? Are you the shed husk, thusly left hollowed out … thusly discarded, and, dare I observe. deservedly so?

“This man … this … Shadeshifter? Do you know this word? Title? I pluck it from the pregnant ether of this place … the fruit of some new … species of tree

“Forgive my rambling, eldritch Uncle, regarding my own personal potential pursuits. I am well aware your grand apathy.

“So … what are we, Wanderer Roam, my savior, my inspiration and my salvation?

Yes … I see it now, at last, in your eyes … the true question … dare I suggest, the correct question…

What … am … I?”

 ©2020 Kenneth R. Gerety

Lyrics – “Got Nowhere” by Balance of Thieves

“Got Nowhere”
-as performed by Balance of Thieves, original lyrics by Josephine LeHera, of Them Thieves

“Nowhere anywhere left for me to go,
No forward backward left or right to roll.
Got nowhere anywhere left for me to go,
No forward back or left or right I roll
I got nowhere anywhere left for me to go,
So nowhere anywhere on and on I roll.

“No one anyone left for me to know,
No man or woman left to care for my soul.
I got no one anyone left to get to know,
Not a man or woman to save me from my woe.
Got no one anyone left for me to know,
No man, no woman to save to save my soul.

“Nowhere no anywhere left for me to go,
No stake no claim to reap the seeds I sow.
Not anywhere nowhere left I want to know,
No claim, no judge, no jury to weigh my soul.
I got nowhere anywhere left for me to go,
So on, and on, and on, and on I go.”

©2018 Kenneth R. Gerety

Lyrics – “Useless, Limitless” by Balance of Thieves

“Useless, Limitless”
Balance of Thieves, original lyrics by Penelope Kenaden

“I … feel … so useless,
full of misunderstandings,
All that’s left,

“I don’t know what it is in me
that draws you so close to me.

“I’m clueless,
afraid, powerless,
and faithless,

“I’m confused by whatever Love is,
but you and me baby, are

totemic, my goodness,

“I don’t know what it is in me…
I’m clueless,

“My goodness…
useless excuses,

“I can see myself better through you,
so baby…
baby I need you.”

©2020 Kenneth R. Gerety

Timberdam Lore: “The Sangrael Cult – 05”

Transcribed from original document by: ___Suzanne Peshung tiro scribe, Beacon Foundation, Timberdam Branch  

October 14, 1935


Had I not already known the bitterness of Siberian winds, these seasons ahead would hold dire surprises.

Why, truly, does anyone willingly travel hear, much less brave the deeper darkness, Winter, the harsh, unmerciful?

Oh yes, I’ve learned quick and easily the answer, and not only is it gold, timber, the raw material resources. There is peace, albeit one of a raw, Primal nature. Nothing can be spared, so nothing can be spoiled.

Life is precious, survival the basic necessity, so what vices there are seduce with less cruelty, heal more than harm … though of course there may yet be pain, and peril.
At the least, this peace serves as mirage well enough to lead us through to Spring, even more so, as here we have Legend Thomas to aid in the illusion.

I mentioned her singing at tavern previously, and she indeed continues this habit. More, she has begun to also tell stories, of her past, or what she might offer as such, as well as fables, even events from the wider world she reads about.

But she also listens, one-to-one conversation, and in groups as well. I would almost swear she speaks with and attends to a different citizen each time I see her.

And before you make assumption, the people are not drawn to her due solely to her attractiveness, though I sense with more than my eyes the lust of the men … even women, as well…

To the point…

Something about Winter which calls forth the tellers of tales. Fellowship in this fashion is what maintains the community. As such, I am crafting designs for something in addition to the tavern for social gathering. Father James agrees, although it takes more and more to motivate him towards projects beyond his sermons, and running the chapel, modest utilitarian structure that it is.

Yes, I would prefer the tavern not be the primary communal center in part due to the Reverend’s frequency there.

I digress. By way of providence, I am not alone in this vision. Albert Magruder has begun funding a variety of projects designed to strengthen the settlement’s infrastructure, as well as attract other business and industrial interest from points near and also beyond. I intend to approach him with my ideas, offer what experience I’ve obtained building communities, establishing relationships, cultivating non-material resources.

Miss Thomas has already done much of this work for me, yet hers is ambition without aim, and I must assist in clarifying her potential.

Father James will be an integral aspect, as perceived spiritual authority, as long as his faith remains steadfast as I’ve witnessed during .. dare I state it … worse times than these.

Lastly, regards relationships, I would work a simple miracle of my own, if only I could, and have Morn Cloud by my side again..


©2020 Kenneth R. Gerety

Lyrics – “Reciprocal” by Balance of Thieves

Balance of Thieves, original lyrics by Penelope Kenaden

“So, as far as I can tell,
you know me so very well,
and I’d have sold my soul long before now,
but I knew it wasn’t mine to sell.

“From near or far you’ll toy with me,
and I ain’t in any way complainin’.
My offer to you is reciprocal,
so let’s express our shared condition.

“You try and leash me when I run,
end the fight when it’s just begun,
and I’d have given up long before now,
‘cept this play’s a little too much fun.

“Come closer now and toy with me,
and you’ll never hear me complainin’.
My offer to you is reciprocal,
so let’s see a little more conviction.

“You’ve impressed me once or twice.
We’ve been naughty but oh so nice,
rolled the dice, and won, but before it’s done,
you may need to take a little advice:

“Come near to me, I’ll toy with you,
and I better hear no complainin’.
My offer to you was reciprocal,
so let’s recognize my condition:

“From near and far, you’ll toy with me,
and I ain’t in any way complainin.
My offer now is reciprocal,
better give what you’ve been given.”

©2020 Kenneth R. Gerety

Timberdam Lore: “The Sangrael Cult – 04”

Transcribedfrom original document by: Suzanne Peshung tiro scribe, Beacon Foundation

September 15, 1935


You know me still so well dear friend, despite the many months and miles distance us from our last gathering.

You knew this girl would intrigue me, as well as frustrate me, and not the least because there are aspects about her and her history I would’ve been better armed to be aware of, aspects I can only assume you deliberately omitted from your letter of introduction.

Of Irish heritage, but born in Australia, an ancestor of hers found guilty of murder in England and sentenced to the penal colony once found on this continent. Her accent does tend to fluctuate more towards Ireland, but I hear enough of the Outback in her speech to not question her origins.

It is her presence that puzzles me, Casaban, the effects of her affectations, to state an awkward phrase. When I was a girl, the Elders in camp had this same power, demanding attention and respect without words or even actions. Only as concerns Miss Thomas, I’d replace “respect” with “reserve,” as I do not and will not offer her the respect of deference, though I as much do not present myself as an obstacle to her goals, or desires.

To the point, obviously there is something of the Bright in her, and make no mistake, I am honored you would send her to me, old friend, rather than take her on as your own Tiro.

Yet, what to mold of such a power as hers? Yes, as Brightened we are capable of subtle, but wondrous, miracles. I feel it myself, still, not as a resource I’ve used up dry, rather as a reservoir of unknown limits, I need only reason or await access to…

Limited, nonetheless…

Miss Thomas? Wait for a clear night sky, Casaban, and wonder at its limitations…

I should note, she does nothing to flaunt her abilities, nor is she in any habit salacious, overtly craving attention. There is confidence, unwavering predetermination … a faith in Self, rarely witnessed, and for this I fear for her, while also fearing how she will ease this concern of mine.

She has taken to singing in the saloon some nights, accompanied by only a pianist at first, but time has brought a few others with instruments and ability, inspired, yet still in constant awe, of her voice. Here is where the Emerald Isle echoes most resonantly. Here is where no fire need burn in the saloon’s hearth.

Yes, she carries blessings of the Bright within her blood, and oh, how it does boil…



©2019 Kenneth R. Gerety

Timberdam Lore: “The Sangrael Cult – 03”

Timberdam Lore

Transcribed from original document by: Suzanne Peshung, tiro Scribe, Beacon Foundation    


August 13, 1935


Your associate arrived safely a week ago. Or protégé? How exactly should I address your relationship to this girl? In similar vein, how should I address her? For all her youth, there is something deep it would seem easy, even natural, to sink within.

Easy also, and perhaps too natural, to ascribe the attention paid her by the male majority to her vibrancy, the exotic crimson hair, emerald gemstone eyes.

Even I of the same gender as she cannot deny her appeal, nor the subtle promise of reciprocity in her expression when we speak..

I’ve made it a point to not edit these letters, so I apologize if I seem to ramble. But I must assume you are aware of Miss Thomas’ enchantments. Even her name is something of a mystery, for unless you have done some of your own editing to the truth, her letter of introduction bearing your signature dubs her as “Legend Thomas.”

Legend? What riddle have you sent to me, Casaban?

Adding to the excitement this mysterious Irish creature of yours has brought, one other traveler also arrived on the same caravan. Albert Magruder, a man of some means I would say, and with some previously established connection the Tinhisker clan, specifically its patriarch Evgeni, credited as one of Timberdam’s founders.

There is nothing random in this. Magruder brings resources rarely seen this distance from civilization, and a businessman of his supposed reputation would not waste time, nor coin, on such a relocation without legitimate rewards.

Something in this … Tinhisker seeks and discovers the location … Magruder brings the means with which to exploit its potential…

I feel there are other elements to this formula still missing, and foresee just as clearly they will reveal themselves in time, and all I can and must do is watch, wait.

Watch, and mentor young Miss Thomas. Strange just now, how much I debated writing her first name rather than “Miss.” I will likely become accustomed to her unique title … certainly this will be easier than accustoming myself to her character, the uniqueness of which goes beyond anything I may have expected when first you proposed this arrangement.

An arrangement, I am mischievously pleased to add, which has Father James rather flustered. Man of God he may be, but “Man” he remains, awkward as a fledgling boy upon first acknowledging the charms of the female.

How does our tribe fair? Research into the Rot? I look forward to any news, even the most mundane, my dear friend.

-G. V.

©2019 Kenneth R. Gerety

Timberdam Lore: “The Sangrael Cult – 02″

Timberdam Lore

Transcribed from original document by: Suzanne Peshung, tiro Scribe, Beacon Foundation             

May 18, 1935


As I wrote previously, the trading post is the center of activity in this village, Timberdam, acting as a central hub for prospectors and travelers of all kinds, at least those of the mind to brave this so-called “Last Frontier.” Though indeed, it does have that feel about it, of being the last in what has been centuries of exploration by so-called “Civilized” men. Such is the character of this population, predominantly Male, certainly, and many possessing the demeanor of one who seeks more than the conquered lands offer, perhaps because they have nothing left to lose.

There is a desperation here, yes, and I agree with Father James, they do and will need something more to lift their spirits, maintain their ambition.

But what form, Casaban, should this inspiration take? Father James comes with Christ, yet these hardened men, even those raised here and elsewhere in this religion, are not as welcoming to salvation as they are, say, to the very tangible arrival of fur traders or other such salesmen.

And what would I offer them? What is this that comes with me? How to define the Bright, especially after yourself and I uncovered the Rot on the Tree?

While there is a general atmosphere of satisfaction and prosperity, a perhaps Puritanical devotion to working the land for its resources, it is still felt as if through a cloud, a mist, muffled and subdued. The ask for nothing, and certainly do not beg for anything. They are not the kind to ever do so, most likely for fear of exposing some weakness to others, or likely worse, to themselves.

I feel, even in the warmth of Spring the Summer to come, a cold dread .. or yes, a dread of the cold come Winter. They have obviously endured a number of years and the seasons such a climate as this has to offer, but none would boast to thrive during the worst of it. Lives have been lost, due to death as well as “simple” disappearance.

And here I arrive, boasting myself of .. what? Again, what is this I bring with me? Visions born from questions, skills amenable to survival and to aid others in surviving amid the wilderness and yes, the fulfillment of a promise to Morn Cloud, for as we suspected he and his people .. what is left of them, I must specify .. have immigrated here, and like many others, having nowhere else to travel..

Forgive my shift in topics, though it likely shows just as well my busy and wandering thoughts. Still, in regards to Morn Cloud, I should be meeting with him soon, and I will only write this because it is to you, my oldest friend .. I am afraid of him as much as I am anticipating to be near him again..

As with other aspects of this place, I do not know what it is I fear, only that the fear is necessary, and I must use it, instead of any blind faith or unrealistic hope, as my guide forward.

You mentioned your “own progress” in your letter. I am excited to reading more, and to continue our research, and even more so, our dialogue.

-Grenadine Velorna


©2019 Kenneth R. Gerety

Timberdam Lore: “The Sangrael Cult – 01”

Timberdam Lore

Transcribed from original document by: Suzanne Peshung tiro Scribe, Beacon Foundation         

May 15, 1935


We arrived at dawn, trading post very active, as you suspected it would be.
Will be staying at local Christian Mission, with Father James and his entourage.
Will also be meeting Tribe Chief, if rumors are proven true, and will send word soon.
My friend, there is much already to inform you of, but for now, know I am safe, and also, though I hesitate to write this, I do believe it will be here, at last, we will find answers.

-Grenadine Velorna


©2019 Kenneth R. Gerety

Lyrics – “Plaything” by Balance of Thieves


Balance of Thieves, original lyrics by Penelope Kenaden

“Come here, show your smile.
Come be my plaything awhile.
How could we let this be any other way?
Come … as I beguile.

“This sin, not for the guilty.
This thrill, untouched by your fealty.
How would you resist when I mean just what I say?
Come … bring yourself to me.

“You crave, crawl at my command.
You, stand tall when I demand.
You’ll never need anymore and you’ll never stop wantin’ me.
Come … risk my reprimand.

“Not bad, put you to the test.
So sad, you’re just like the rest.
Why would I settle for anything but the best?
Time to go … leave you to obsess.”

©2019 Kenneth R. Gerety