Rated PG. Contains Dying Worlds, Flying Monsters, and Other Fun Stuff
The Ascent of Unreason
by Marie Brennan
“I want to make a map of Driftwood.”
Watching Last cough up his wine at the words wasn’t the only reason for Tolyat’s declaration, but he had to admit it was part of the appeal. The man was a guide, and had seen so much, experienced so much, gone so many places, that it was hard to crack his shell of burnt-out weariness. One pretty much had to say something so outrageous it should never be uttered by a sane man.
Tolyat leaned back, and nearly fell out of his hammock. They were in Kyey, where the local people had given over most of what remained of their world to the cultivation of some plant with an unpronounceable name, whose chief virtue was the production of tough fiber. The Kyeyi ate a little of it, sold a lot, and used the rest to make practically everything around them. Even the walls were mostly fiber, woven between the occasional piece of imported timber.
Despite coughing, Last balanced on his hammock like he’d been born Kyeyi. He wiped his chin and set his wine horn on the table — more fiber, mixed with mud and baked hard. Even the wine was a byproduct of that damned plant, from the liquid drained off during fiber extraction. Tolyat thought it tasted like fermented rope, but Last, for some inexplicable reason, liked it.
Last said, “Only idiots bother trying to make maps of Driftwood.”
About the Author
Marie Brennan is a former anthropologist and folklorist who shamelessly pillages her academic fields for material. She most recently misapplied her professors’ hard work to Turning Darkness Into Light, a sequel to the Hugo Award-nominated Victorian adventure series The Memoirs of Lady Trent. She is the author of the Doppelganger duology of Warrior and Witch, the urban fantasies Lies and Prophecy and Chains and Memory, the Onyx Court historical fantasy series, the Varekai novellas, and nearly sixty short stories, as well as the New Worlds series of worldbuilding guides. Together with fellow author Alyc Helms, she is the author of the upcoming Rook and Rose epic fantasy trilogy, which will be published under the joint name of M.A. Carrick.