Have you met Met? That is M.E. Traylor, author of Guts and Sass. As both an established and well-written serial, Guts and Sass is a staple of the web fiction library. It’s also is a great intro to longer web fics. With manageably-sized chapters, it’s easy to read, and to keep reading and keep reading–and believe me, I know how it can be hard to catch up to established serials! But Guts and Sass is a pretty friendly place to start. Check out this bit:
Guts and Sass: An Anti-Epic
They were flying into her and there was no way to stop it.
Ashur pelted up the ladder to the stern deck as the rain finally hit and grabbed one of the lines from Lam. Litin and Alan were ready for wounded in the sick cabin, and the second storm crew waited in the hold.
“Can you help keep us straight?” Jeik yelled, fighting the rudder, legs tense as he struggled for balance.
“I have to talk with her!” he shouted over the wind, looping rope around his hips, over his shoulders, tying the strongest knots he knew at each point to bear his weight without crushing him.
A gust made the ship lurch onto its side, Jeik struggling against the the yoke to keep them from broaching against the heightening waves. Ashur clung to the stanchion until the deck leveled, edging down the steps and grabbing the wiry tension of each mast stay as he passed it. The deck bucked underneath him, and he stumbled to a crouch on one hand, forcing himself back up. He crawled past Gerril, onto the forward deck, rain dripping from his eyelashes, barely able to see his hands as he lashed himself to the beam. Vicious, jagged whitecaps frothed around them, pitching the ship higher and higher.
Water ran down his arms in sheets as he braced himself on all fours, staring into the blackening horizon, depthless, featureless. A silent beat of fierce, muted white resounded in his body like a drum, then another, another, revealing the mass of cloud that ate the sky. Thunder, too far away to be heard, danced along the nerves in his neck, pierced the inside of his skull.
Letting go of the eye-searing winds and darkening water, Ashur let himself expand out, outward until he met what he was seeking: A center of attraction pulling everything toward it, shifting the patterns of the world into its own. She drew her power from how many times she had come before, generation after generation, before the first woman bore the first daughter, before the River.
Colossal. Passing. Immortal.
And then he was caught, sucked into her inevitable attraction.
Join me. Join me.
Join me. Join me. Join me.
We meet and we turn.
I move. I turn. I am moving.
The wind pounded him flat against the deck, water stinging his skin, streaming down his face around his nose, swallowing air through his mouth.
You are moving. We are moving, he said.
It whispered along his skin, a caress into his body.
We could move part. We could move away.
Meet us. Join us.
They were joining the hurricane, being pulled into her influence like the ocean, like the sky, into the incomprehensible immensity of her power. He had no concept of how many heartbeats, how many breaths, how many nights had passed since he reached for the storm. The ship rode the peak of a swell as high as the mainmast and opening in front of him was the gaping trough before the next. Jeik took them down the slope of the swell at an angle, then turned them back up. The ship plunged nose-first into the wave, drenching him, drowning him, hurling his body against the strength of the harness, leaving him unable to tell the difference between the ocean and the rain, choking, gasping, burning, fingernails digging into the wood.
We could part. We could move.
Parting like streams of water, like long hair and the fronds of the trees with draping branches, like air, like the parting of brief friends on journeys. Apart growing together and apart again, a desperate flurry of images and feelings and thoughts from parts of his life that had never met, coming together in accordance to say this one thing, make this one plea-persuasion-bid.
Growing. Stretching. Reaching. Turning.
We reach and grow and stretch and all things become me.
Turning. Turning. Pulling.
All things to the center.
Around, he begged. Moving around, skirting, edging, like hunters and prey, like a stream bending around a rock, like clouds around mountains and siblings on the day the sharp flowers wilt.
Growing. Birthing. Reaching.
A silent flash of lightning brighter, whiter than day burned a roiling landscape that would never exist again into his eyes. He saw it, could feel it now, growing out of the thrashing ocean around them, a slippery ribbon reaching from the swells, flaring to meet the dense weight of the green-tinged clouds.
There was a yell, visible to his hearing for only heartbeat through sheets and sheets of noise, slicing water and ripping winds. There was no way to alter its course, no time to try to move what was immoveable, no surety he could try without breaking himself.
Where will you go? he asked, a steady whisper in the raging winds. Will you move away?
It writhing through the margins of the greater pattern of the mother storm.
Birthing. Living. Turning. Joining.
Move away? he asked.
The waterspout twisted along the edges of his senses, snaking through him, around his spine. The world lit white again, then a crack of thunder beat into his bones.
The presence consumed him, and he could do nothing but change himself, shift his pattern to match the storm. Terror thrilled through his blood, the inevitability of his helplessness.
The whirlwind was sucking the air away, drawing the rain and them with it, turning the ship parallel to the next deadly wave—
Already moving. Spinning. Turning. Falling. Slowing. Already moving.
He felt the waterspout collapsing, a brief, whirling life spent and ending, being swept again into the cycle of the storm.
We are moving apart?
Turning, moving, new meetings, new joinings.
He could feel an arm of the storm meeting land, could feel it batter sand and trees and rocks and birds and burrowing, skittering legs, all washed away, pummeled leaves ripped apart, roots gripping and holding and remaining.
When they broke into clear skies tinged pink and orange, there was a curling line of beach limning the east and north, barely visible against the morning sun. A breeze riffled the waves, a caress of leave-taking.
Words unfolded in his mind, not entirely his, not entirely tradition.
Bless the storm and her destruction. Bless her coming, and her going.
Bless her coming and her going.
May her passage cleanse the world.
He laughed, forehead pressed against the deck, hands limp beside his ears. Laughed again, the feeling bubbling behind his ribs as he shakily pushed himself up, flopping onto his back, rope digging under the lip of his shoulder blade. Crowed to the deepening sky and couldn’t stop laughing.
“Hey, Ashur? Ashur. Laberd.”
A hand pressed against his leg, firm and living, not wood not water not rope not wind. Jormrher’s pale, strong, sharp face and naked head, prickly yellow hair spiky wet and beaded with morning light.
The dawn turned the clouds pink and orange and purple in bands, like swirls of silt on the delta.
“He’s moving!” Jormrher called to a blur of voices and movement Ashur couldn’t quite see.
His voice was gummed up in his throat. “My mother’s father was a fish.”
“I was more afraid you’d break your—”
“Holy fucking shit! Motherfucking hell!”
They looked over to find the Crazy lashed to the mainmast, clothes plastered to her skin or about the fall off depending on where you looked, her dark hair a snarl over her face. They stared at her together for a breath.
“What is she doing up here?”
“I have no idea,” Jormrher said slowly.
“Holy shit man! Oh my fucking god!” Jormrher was turning back to him, jerking the release of the knot binding him to the beam, jerking it again when it didn’t loosen.
“Come on, let’s get you below.”
“No,” he said, and curled into a ball, dissolving into blankness.
Met likes to give away stories at metraylor.com. Met’s current project is Guts and Sass: An Anti-Epic, where you can read about all your favorite fantasy tropes and character types… not quite the way you’ve learned to expect them. Okay, honesty: You can read them without the bullshit.
Come back tomorrow for a great guest post by Met on Weblit as Gifting Culture. In the mean time, go check out Guts and Sass: An Anti-Epic!