The Great Unweaving

The most ancient days of the Realm, when the Stewards walked the earth and tended the many worlds of Story, have been separated from us by the event known as the Great Unweaving.

Much about this time in the Realm’s history has been lost, but most loremasters and enigmatists agree that the Great Unweaving was brought about by the war between the Stewards and the Night King, Malabron. Naming himself the Lord of Story, Malabron attempted to draw the threads of every tale into his own, so that if he was victorious the realm of all stories would contain only one story, his own, a nightmare of endless grey sameness and despair.

Along with their allies  the Tain Shee and others, the Stewards resisted Malabron’s campaign of conquest and destruction. But as these two mighty opposing forces clashed, the weave of things was warped and twisted and torn out of its harmonious shape. Gaps and holes appeared, stories fell into darkness or were changed into bleak and violent versions of what they had been. It was in this lost age that storyshards first appeared.

Even time itself was affected by the Great Unweaving, and this is why we cannot be sure how long ago these events happened. Loremasters call the ages between the Great Unweaving and our time the Broken Years, because time itself was literally broken. Seasons no longer followed their ancient cycle (in some places winter might last for years, or summer would draw on so long that crops would wither and rivers would dry up). All the ways in which people counted and measured time became faulty and unreliable, and so there is a gap, a blank space, in all histories and almanacs between the ancient days and more recent times. Those who tend to such matters dated the New Era from the moment that the star known as the Great Waylight first appeared in the night sky, and from that event began a new count of years. Their dating became the Realm standard, and by its measure, for example, the year that Will Lightfoot first came to the Perilous Realm was the year 2021 of the New Era.

Some inhabitants of the Realm, like the Tain Shee, live far longer than mortal folk like you and I. The Shee may in fact have been immortal before the upheaval of the Great Unweaving. All they will say about the days before their war with Malabron is that “time was much wider and deeper than it is now. A moment was a lifetime.”

Even the lifespan of the Shee, then, was changed by the Broken Years, and although they still appear to have some power to slow the passage of time, they can grow old as we can. Moth and Morrigan, the Shee whom Will Lightfoot met and befriended, seemed to him both young and ancient at the same time. One can be certain that they (as well as Shade the wolf) are older than 2021 years, but how much older, no one can say, for the Shee do not measure the years before they stood with the Stewards to defy the Night King (at least not as we measure them).

The Telephone Ghost

a true story

Back when I was a student I rented a tiny bachelor apartment where I spent many long winter hours cooped up with my books. Due to some mysterious quirk in the telephone system (at least it seemed mysterious to me), it sometimes happened that when I picked up my phone to call someone I could hear other people’s conversations. I would usually hang up right away and then try the phone again a minute later, and there would be no voices. I wasn’t sure if the other people on the line would have been able to hear me if I spoke, because I never did. After this happened a few times I began to look forward to it. Listening in secretly on someone else’s conversation had a sort of illicit thrill to it, even though what I heard on the line was never very interesting (this was when I first realized that some people will talk on the phone for ages without having anything to say). It was more fun than studying, at any rate, and besides I thought that others were probably listening in on my conversations from time to time, so what was fair was fair.

Late one evening I picked up the phone to call a friend and I heard two women chatting with one another in a language that I guessed was Italian. I listened for a while, but since I couldn't understand a word they were saying I quickly got bored. Then the question occurred to me again: would the other people on the line be able to hear me if I spoke? I waited and listened for a while, wondering whether I should say anything or not. I felt that it would be awkward to suddenly introduce myself.

Then I had a better idea. Without any warning I let out a deep, long, throaty, perfectly evil laugh.

There was a moment of silence. Then, much to my delight, the women started jabbering at each other in shrill, frightened voices. I couldn’t understand a word, unfortunately, but there was no doubt they’d heard me.

I don’t know if this sort of thing still happens to phones. It hasn’t with mine ever since I moved out of that apartment, at any rate. But it still tickles me to think that somewhere out there two women may be telling their grandchildren the scary story about the night that the Devil got on the phone with them.



Blood-hobs (also known as story-suckers) are some of the truly shudder-worthy creatures in the Realm.  Blood-hobs are difficult to see, since they only come out at night, but even more than that, they’re not fully solid, material beings. Enigmatists say that only the circulatory and lymph systems of a blood-hob exist in the realm of matter, while most of the rest of them lives in the spirit world, and so their contact with creatures of flesh and bone like us is tenuous. You may think you see a blood-hob in front of you, but if you try to grasp it, you’re usually left with a sensation that your hand has passed through some damp miasma that’s left your skin unpleasantly cold and wet.

Blood-hobs are drawn to storystuff. What loremasters call innumith, or the fathomless fire. It’s the spark that starts deep in the mind and grows into a story. That’s why sometimes, late at night, if you’re listening to someone tell a story, or telling one yourself, you may have the sense that someone or something else is listening, too, over your shoulder. What these creatures want from our stories is not clear.

Sometimes the fathomless fire burns out of control and becomes werefire, the flame of hallucination and obsession. Blood-hobs feast on this stuff. And sometimes they attach themselves to people who spend too much time around the werefire. They invade such a person’s mind, and feed off their fevered dreams and fantasies.

The Fathomless Fire heats up

 The Fathomless Fire, the second book of the Perilous Realm trilogy, is now – or will soon be – on bookstore shelves!

When a strange messenger from the Perilous Realm foretells danger, Will Lightfoot realizes his friends, Rowen and her grandfather, the loremaster Nicholas Pendrake, need him in the land of Story—a world where nothing is as it seems. And so Will returns to the Realm and begins a dangerous search for his former companion, the wolf, Shade. Meanwhile, despite the overshadowing threat of the Night King, Rowen ventures into the Weaving, the mysterious source of all stories, to find her grandfather and discover what it really means to be a loremaster…

The Shadow of Malabron was very much Will’s book, as it concerned his journey to return home from this strange and terrifying world he’d stumbled into. In The Fathomless Fire, Rowen begins a difficult quest of her own, and takes a central role in the story. Some of the other characters from the first book return as well, as the threat of the Night King grows, and the threads of his own dark, ruinous story weave more tightly around the city of Fable.

The Fathomless Fire will be launched at Greenwood's Books in Edmonton on February 1st at 7 PM.