Three Kingdoms – Vol IV – Extract – Foreshortening the Land

The Chinese classic Three Kingdoms is one of a kind historical novel. An epic drama, mostly about warfare and governing; here and there we can find interesting fantasy tidbits.

As the Wei cavalry raced after the procession, they noticed a chill wind blowing in little gusts and an icy mist spreading around them. They pursued strenuously for another stage but failed to catch up with Kongming, The soldiers reined in and said in amazement, « How strange! There they are still –we’ve gone thirty li without catching them! What do we do? » When Kongming saw that the pursuers had stopped, he ordered the porters to rest facing the enemy. After a long pause, the northerners resumed the chase; and Kongming returned to his wagon and began moving with studied slowness. The northerners pursued another twenty li but never reached their objective. Dumbstruck, they watched as Kongming had the wagons turn round again and advance toward them. The Wei troops wanted to pursue. But at that moment Sima Yi arrived with a company and issued an order: « Kongming’s marvelous skill with Eight Gateways and the « Taboo Days » formula has enabled him to control the Six Ding deities and the Six Jia deities. As he is now using the technique « Foreshortening the Land » from the divine text of the Six Jia, the army cannot overtake him. »

Three Kingdoms – Vol III- Extract- Four Poisonous Springs

The Chinese classic Three Kingdoms is one of a kind historical novel. An epic drama, mostly about warfare and governing; there and there we can find interesting fantasy tidbits.

The first, the Spring of the Mute, causes loss of speech; whoever drinks it (though the water be sweet) will perish in ten days’ time. The second, the Spring of Death, is hot, and bathing in it leads to putrefaction of the flesh; death follows after the bones show through. The third, the Black Spring, has somewhat clear water, but a few drops can turn your hands and feet black, and death will follow. The fourth is the Spring of Languor, whose icy water takes away the drinker’s warm breath while his body turns limp as cloth and he perishes. Neither birds not [sic] insects live there. During the Han, the General Who Tames the Deeps passed through; after him, no one.

The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1974) – le meilleur film de Sinbad

Le second Sinbad d’Harryhausen est meilleur en tout point que le précédent. J’en avais gardé un excellent souvenir de jeunesse et, malgré que je ne suis pas très enclin à la nostalgie habituellement (arrghh la 40aine me frappe de plein fouet!), j’ai bien aimé le revoir en famille.

Et pas seulement pour zyeuter Carolyn Munro!

Clash of the Titans: La Méduse

Comme les garçons ont bien aimé Jason et les Argonautes, nous poursuivons dans la veine Harryhausen avec le Choc des Titans (1981). Et n’allez pas me parler du remake de 2010, d’une nullité sans nom… Toujours est-il, les enfants ont été impressionnés par le Kraken, ont détesté le méchant Calibos et étaient quelques peu apeurés par Méduse.

On peut les comprendre:

 

Three Kingdoms – Vol II- Extract- Vast the River

yangtse4

The Chinese classic Three Kingdoms is one of a kind historical novel. An epic drama, mostly about warfare and governing; there and there we can find interesting fantasy tidbits.

That night tremendous fogs spread across the heavens, and the river mists were so thick that even face-to-face people could not see each other. Kongming urged his boats on into the deep fog. The rhapsody « Heavy Mists Mantling the Yangzi » describes it well:

Vast the river! Wide and farflung! West, it laps the mountains Mang and E. South, it grips the southern shires. North, it girdles the nine rivers, gathers their waters, and carries them into the sea, its surging waves rolling through eternity.

Its depths holds monsters and strange forms: the Lord of the Dragons, the Sea Thing, the river goddesses, the Ocean Mother, ten-thousand-span whales, and the nine-headead centipede. This redoubt of gods and spirits, heroes fight to hold.

At times the forces of yin and yang that govern nature fail, and day and darkness seem as one, turning the vast space into a fearful monochrome. Everywhere the fog , stock-still. Not even a cartload can be spotted, but the sound gong or drum carries far.

At first, a visible gloom, time for the wise leopard of the southern hills to seclude itself. Gradually darkness fills the expanse. Does it want the North Sea leviathan itself to lose its way? At last it reaches the very sky and mantles the all-upbearing earth. Grey gloomy vastness. A shoreless ocean. Whales hurtle on the water. Dragons plunge and spew mist.

It is like the end of early rains, when the cold of latent  spring takes hold: everywhere, vague, watery desert and darkness that flows and spreads. East, it blankets the shore of Chaisang. South, it blocks the hills of Xiakou. A thousand warjunks, swallowed between the river’s rocky steeps, while a single fishing boat boldly bobs on the swells.

In so deep a fog, the deep-domed heavens have gone dark. The countenance of dawn is dull: the day becomes a murky twilight; the reddish hills, aquamarine jade. Great Yu, who first controlled the floods, could not with all his wisdom sound its depths. Even clear-eyed Li Lou could not use his measures, despite his keen vision.

Let the water god calm these waves. Let the god of elements put away his art. Let the sea creatures and those of land and air be gone. For now the magic isle of Penglai is cut off, and the gates of the polar stars are shrouded.

The roiling, restless fog is like the chaos before the storm, swirling streaks resembling wintry clouds. Serpents lurking there can spread its pestilence, and evil spirits can havoc wreak, sending pain and woe to the world of men, and the storms of wind and sand that plague the border wastes. Common souls meeting it fall dead. Great men observe it and despair. Are we returning to the primal state that preceded form itself — to undivided Heaven and earth?

In the Maw of the Earth Monster

51MihhqcmxL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

Some caves are truly awe inspiring and it’s no wonder people have so often associated them with the sacred. Needless to say, one can exploit such a rich domain to extract gameable/storytelling content…

51bfa5ef19de67ff13550d49bb8cc7d6

Inspiring tidbits:

  • Cave of the 4 Winds
  • Caves of the Earth Lord/ Earth Owner
  • associated with rain and thunder spirits
  • Caves of the Inner Maze
  • Lair of  soul-stealing sorcerer
  • the cave opens its mouth at midnight
  • sacred stalagmites (guardians)
  • stone idols
  • Land of the Dead
  • body preserved by fire and then mummified
  • the Mazatec fear the Masters of the Earth who live underground
  • it is said that thunders are controlled by little old men
  • access to the cave-tunnel is difficult as it lies in a deep, steep canyon filled with enormous boulders; its size dwarfs the human visitor
  • representation of a skeletonized figure whose heart is still in place
  • shell trumpet, incense burner
  • cenotes are sources of evil winds; plants and animals that inhabit them , especially tortoise, are sacred

 

On the matter of Ambivalent Entities

or how to say no to D&D alignment:

From the Nahua perspective, nature is not always beneficient, and absolute good or evil does not characterize the major entities. A benevolent manifestation of the earth mother, tonantsij, may kill if she feels neglected, while even the feared spirit of death, miquilistli, can be entreated to spare a patient’s life. In the Nahua view, nothing happens without a cause.

Extract from Chapter 2, Rites of Passage and Other Ceremonies in Caves, Doris Heyden.

The romance of archeology: extract – V

Magoffin, R.V.D, Davis, Emiy C.The romance of archeology, Garden City Publishing Company Inc., 1929, New York

Chapter Eight: Archaeology in British Isles, p 173-174

The stone huts cleared of sand are large, with ceilings as high as ten feet, but the doors are low, so that even a short man must stoop to enter. Inside a typical house were found stone tables, stone cupboard shelves, a fireplace, and scattered household articles of a seaside home of the Stone Age — bone laddles, drinking cups of whalebone, simple earthenware dishes, and polished stone axe-heads. in addition there were beads and amulets of walrus ivory, which the fishermen and their dark-haired wives wore to set off their costumes of animal skins or to ward off evil. An unexpected discovery was that huts were connected by a network of indoor streets made of roofed-over stone passages. The untidy villagers cast kitchen refuse on the roofs of these indoor streets, and at times even built campfire there and cooked their meals.

In the corner of one cottage the archaeologists discovered a mysterious grave containing two skeletons. These appear to be not the remains of inhabitants of the stone house but victims entombed by some gruesome rite when the house was built. Barbarians elsewhere have been known to sacrifice a victim at the foundation of a new building in order to confer a magic stability upon its walls. The meaning of the burials is carved in plain view on a slab in front of the grave; but the marks have defied modern scholarship. They are like, and yet unlike, runic letters.