Home > Uncategorized > Belated Joesky: the haunted swamp

Belated Joesky: the haunted swamp

With apologies to Land of Nod, Tim Powers, David Byrne and Fatboy Slim, all of whom I am ripping off unmercifully:

We’re talkin’ about the whole man
When he’s whole we see him smile
But take just one part away from the rest
And he’s a a crocodile.

The trouble with magic is, we really don’t know what it’s for. Oh, certainly, its effects are useful: those everlasting lights, the firebolts, the purses that can hold a horse or a house or a dragon’s horde of treasure. But why were these things made? Was it for the effects we know? Then why are there so many spells that merely unmake things? That send, for instance, gold or food or water or dead bodies away? Or that subtly change their weight or colour or nature? Take that spell that turns men into animals, for instance. Why do they never turn back? Why does one man turn into a ram and another into a jackal?

That one, at least, we know some little thing about. Because of that village in Sweetmarsh where they found the scroll and before anyone knew, every last soul had been turned into some creature or other, except four little children locked in the root cellar. It seems that spell sheers off some vital piece of the soul, the one that makes us human. Perhaps one of the five essences from which we are all made. And what’s left is an animal. An enraged, confused, miserable animal. And the piece, shorn away, goes drifting about the swamp, possessing the weak, scaring the tired and unwary with visions, and maybe just maybe attaching itself onto the animals of the swamp, to make those abominations we hear about, from time to time, lurching out of the marsh, frightening the village’s new inhabitants out of their houses.

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