In the Marketplace: The Storyteller
Where do the people go when the cabbages are sold and the goldsmith has gone home? And the egg women? And the man with all the melons? They come to me, of course. I hold them with my eyes and I draw them in with my open hands as I speak the immortal words: Once upon a time –
Once upon a time – now, or yet to come – or once, my friends, long ago in the morning time of the world! After that, I tell them what they want to hear, for that is why they have come.
What do you want to hear when you are tired, careworn and beset by that Angst no man can lay his hands upon? When you have forgotten the tales you lived by once, when you were very young?
Oh I know you want me to distract you – to guide you into realms far from the market places of this world. You want to breathe the air of fantasy – to look upon what is beautiful or terrible or strange. You would live other lives, suffer other cares than those you know, and take appalling risks to grasp treasures as wonderful as they are intangible. And at the end, you will sigh with satisfaction and smile and throw me a coin along with all the others.
Surely if I give you no more than that – a few moments’ ease or a slight smoothing of the brow, I have earned my coins, just like the egg lady and the man with the melons. But when I reach out my hands and beckon you to me, I am not a farmer selling cabbages.
If I am worthy of my calling, I will present to you nothing that is new. I do not deal in novelties, my friends, and neither does any other storyteller worth hearing. You may be dazzled at the colors and the texture of my tales –at the moods and the words of heroes and villains and monsters who move about at my bidding. You may thrill at their daring, weep for their sorrows or laugh at their folly. But unless I tell you things you already know, my words are no more than shadows – the gibbering of ghosts, the blowing of the desert wind across a wasteland where nothing is or ever has been.
What I say to you now is true. My art is to remind you of what you already know – because you and I are so made that we must hear these things over and over for all of our lives. Only when our time in this world is finished, may we savor what is true and know that we will not lose it.
Like the beating of our hearts, which, should they take a notion to change rhythm, would soon falter and cease beating at all – so must I repeat for you the moral truths that underlie all things. So am I bound and such is my art.
If I say that wrong is right, that the laws of nature are ours to flout – if I say that we are all accidents of fate and that we live to no purpose – if I deny any of the virtues, then I lie. My tales would be but novelties. They would be folly or a few moments diversion to most of you and a deadly poison to the weak and the young.
Alas, I cannot even say that my art is my own. That would be the greatest folly of all – to lay claim to truths as though I grew them in my garden and brought them to you in a market basket.
We craft these tales together, you and I, for in your eyes I see what you would hear, what you would be reminded of. It is my gift to play upon the language as a harper plays upon a harp. And when I have done, if I have done well, you are not changed but only drawn closer to what you truly are.
And so I gather in the coins, not as a charlatan and not as one who sells a perishable thing. I have sold you nothing – and yet you are the richer for it and so am I.
Vessel of Darkness
In this sequel to Gelen, a new menace threatens the Drayak kingdom as old powers ally themselves with offworld rebels. Fighting for survival, the king and his boyhood friend, Render the pirate, take sides with Father Wolfbane to defend their homeland. Meanwhile, carrier of the dread command, the powerful gelen Dilich Hayan, as “vessel of darkness”, must come to terms with his own heritage and make choices that affect the welfare of the entire colony.
Doctor Marja Sienko, social engineer, arrives in Treelight Colony with a diploma and a chip on her shoulder. It is her first job – to prepare the colony for its emergence into the modern world of interstellar trade. Or at least that is what she thinks she has been hired for. The Star Brothers, who also have a stake in Treelight, suspect otherwise. But can they convince Dr. Sienko of the danger before it is too late?
Father Ruiz of the Star Brothers, sets off to convert the heathen of Fen Colony and finds himself in a moral rats’ nest. Dealing with a totalitarian government, an invasion of rebels, an entrenched native hierarchy and warring tribes, not to mention the gelens themselves, who turn out to be moon worshipping semi-telepaths, his difficulties multiply. When his first convert turns out to be a war criminal and the most powerful empath on the planet, things can only get worse.
Colleen Drippé[‘s] tales often straddle the line between science fiction and fantasy with a unique prose style that is at once down to earth and evocative. Under her pen, the realistic becomes otherworldly and characters’ personalities are cut in ever finer slices.