See You Space Cowboy

Lord Raine

Well-Known Member
The old cowboy pushed up his hat as his horse slowly rode into town. The place was deserted, and looked like it had been for a long time. Windows were boarded up, doors were missing. The painted letters on hanging metal signs had long since faded away, replaced with rust and grime. The cowboy breathed deeply and smiled.

He was home.

Dismounting, he lead his horse down the street, turning left, then right, then left again, deeper into the maze, his feet taking him where he wanted to go without conscious thought. Finally, he stood outside the most important building the town had. The saloon.

Looking sadly at his horse, he led her forwards to the stalls out front. With a thought, an empty trough filled with fresh, clean hay. His horse snorted softly to herself, and instead of eating, laid down, and rested her head gently in the soft straw. The cowboy rubbed her ears softly, a silent farewell, and stepped through the swinging doors of the bar. He had a piece of business to attend to.

It was dim, but not dark, the whole building lit by a saturated, golden light that seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere. Dust and dirt should have covered everything, blown in by wind and time, but the floor and tables were clean, the surface of the bar spotless. Countless bottles of all shapes, sizes, and colors lined the walls behind the bar, every one spotless and clean as though they’d just come from the glassblower, their labels still crisp and new. The solid wooden stairs to the second floor curved up and away, the elegant railings carved with images of forgotten lands, the wide steps smooth and inviting.

The carved stone fireplace set into the opposite wall was clean and freshly swept, with new logs sitting neatly stacked inside, waiting to be burned. The cowboy didn’t bother to light it. The flame had been an invitation, a light in the surrounding darkness to draw others here, and all who had wanted such invitations had long since come and left. It had served its purpose, and earned its rest.

He glanced at a board set into the wall next to the bar. It was large, taking up your full view if you stood in front of it, and it held an immense depth that only those who belonged here could see. It was a means of communication, a record of the past, and an archive of knowledge, all in one. Posts covered the board, some messages, some debates and arguments, some outlines of stories that those who posted them had, at the time, been actively weaving into being.

Nothing moved on the board. The date stamps on the topmost posts were years old. A cursory check showed that he was the only one anywhere who was viewing the board, or who had viewed it in a long time. There were no new messages, no new members. He was the only one connected. For the first time since he had ever seen the board, he was truly alone.

Sighing, he sat down at the table nearest the board, and exercised a portion of the authority he still held as a resident of the town.

“A drink, barman.”

He looked down, and a full shotglass of amber whiskey sat in front of him. He took a sip.

“I’m not sure what’s stranger,” he said to himself. “How empty this place has become, or how at peace I’ve become with it. Our speech guided the creation of worlds. Our wills bore out the conception of nations, not built on soil, but on pacts of friendship and rivalry, trust and hope. We saw what was wrong with the worlds we each grew up in, and wanted to make a new one free of those sins. We solved our own problems, raised up our own heroes, and created champions for those less powerful, that they might be protected. We set many a young lad down the Path of the Hero. Quite a few lasses, too. So much rode on us, and yet, to the end, we endured. Until the very end. We proved beyond a shadow of any doubt that the Blood of the Covenant was thicker than the Water of the Womb.”

He held the half-empty glass up to his eyes and carefully rotated it, thousands of images refracting through it. Smiling stories, angry words, the gilded triumphs and scarred defeats. Faces flickered past, blurred by time and yet still recognizable through the distorted highlights of distant memory.

"I'm older now. Maybe wiser. Probably not smarter. I can see now, standing here, the old arguments, as clear as the day we first etched them into the fabric of the world. I have to say, my opinions haven’t changed.”

He smiled a tight-lipped smile, his eyes soft.

"But I do wish I could have changed some of the words. Could have been the better man. Should've been, sometimes. It wasn’t right, that it ended the way it did. The bitter poison of absolute power over one’s fellows truly was too vile a thing. A single sip turned friends into enemies, rivals into hated foes. It drew lines in the dirt where there weren’t any before. It brought every old grudge to the surface, bubbling with red fury and black hate. We were supposed to be better than that. Avalon was supposed to be better than that. We told ourselves we would endure forever. That because the demons couldn’t get in, because they couldn’t gain passage, that we would somehow be safe. That we had the time to resolve every dispute, that we had the ability to smooth over every bump of spite and splinter of discontent.”

He tipped the glass back, finishing off the rest. “But then some of our number tasted power over others of our number. And the laws of courtesy and morality that endured when all were absolutely equal and unable to act against one another fell apart. We had inherited and built a world of golden light, and it fell apart like a house of cards dancing away in the wind.”

The cowboy suddenly laughed, so hard he started to cough.

“We thought opening the gates would bring the demons pouring in! But when they finally were thrown apart, nothing happened! Our light had dimmed so much that they passed us by, without a second glance. We weren’t even worth their time. Not now. Not anymore. I’m not even sure if it was arrogance anymore, on our part. Maybe it was. I just know they didn’t care. And we… well. I guess our problem was that we wound up caring too much. We talked so much about Kings and Hearts, of glories, of aid to lesser men and guidance to greater. Doctors, heal thyselves.”

The old cowboy sat the empty glass down on the table as he stood up. Pushing the chair back into its place, he slowly walked over to the board hung on the wall. Running his hands slowly across its surface, he paused at a name.

“Heart of Genocide. You were better than your name. You were a lot like I was, back then. Maybe too much. Hot. Burning. Angry. So sure. Knowing the sting of what it means to be born less of a man than your fellows. In another world, another place and time, we could have been brothers. We quarreled, you and I. Sometimes in play, sometimes in earnest. We let each other’s blood. And between us there was the understanding that can only come from such things.”

He unhooked the belt around his shoulder, and drew his revolver. Even in the dim light of the saloon, the sliver weapon shone like a mirror, bright and pure as the hope it was spun from, as clean as the convictions that wrought it. It had been stained with anger and rage across the years, but here tonight in this place, such imperfections had been washed away. He spun it, with the deft finesse of a lifetime of practice, and for an instant, it shone bright as a star in the empty gloom.

He carefully fitted the weapon back into its holster on the belt, and hung it on a peg beneath the name.

“I honor one who deserves such honor. Take the heart of my will. May it serve you on the paths you now roam.”

Tracing his fingers across the board again, he stopped at another name.

“Talon. You were a true friend. We confided secrets, shared hopes and dreams. Whispered to each other the shapes of worlds not yet made, and the twists and turns of stories we had yet to tell. Some that we still haven’t told. We made promises to each other. Some of them we kept. Some of them we broke. Some of them we may still have a chance to make good on. We drifted apart, you and I. I was cast adrift in the darkness, a self-exile in defiance of the inevitability of entropy. I saw your light in the distance. I called out to you. But your light moved away, and I saw you hold council with those who were responsible for the schism. I know not your reasons, for we did not speak again. I know not your heart, for I can no longer hear it. But I remember what we once had, and I sorely wish for that company again on the last and greatest road I must travel before my rest.”

Carefully, the cowboy reached up, and took off his hat. It was a Stetson, the old leather the color of aged whiskey, worn by wind and rain, bleached by the sun’s bright smile. Around the base was tied a cloth, once a rich royal cobalt, now pale and soft, the color of the open sky. Colored beads of glass and clay were strung from a single thin strip of hide that dangled from the inside edge, and the shadow cast by the brim was the darkness of the midnight horizon flecked with stars.

“I know not where you are. I cast my voice to you, and beheld no answer. I had wished for your company on this journey, and it seems I shall not have it. But just because you cannot be with me, does not mean I cannot be with you.”

He smiled sadly as he hung the hat on a peg beneath the name.

“I honor one who deserves such honor. Take the heart of my spirit. May it serve you on the paths you now roam.”

Deftly tapping the board, he hid something there that only someone standing at this specific board would ever be able to see. Walking back towards his table, the old cowboy paused at his glass. It was full again. He picked it up and held it aloft, arm outstretched in a toast, and raised his voice loud enough to shake dust from the rafters. “A real man knows when to admit he’s wrong! And a real man knows sometimes that you can be right, and still be in the wrong! To pasts we cannot change, and to the final road before us all to the future! To old fights, and older friendships! We earned our regrets, and we earned our glories too! To a rest that is well-deserved, and to the faith that believes in a never-ending story beyond the final chapters of our own tales!”

In a single swift move, the cowboy brought the shot glass to his lips and downed its whole contents in a gulp, swallowing fire and old pain and all the regrets of his heart.

Gently, almost reverently, he sat the glass back down on the table, and moved slowly towards the doors of the saloon. He paused at the entrance. Carefully, one arm at a time, he shrugged out of his coat, and held it out in front of him. It was a leather duster, patched with cloth and canvas, it’s back slicked smooth and it’s inside worn soft. A pair of gold cufflinks wrought of Celtic knots held the split sleeves together, and the inside was peppered with numerous pockets and pouches.

The cowboy hefted it, testing its weight, and the pull of dozens of trinkets and personal effects pulled at his arm. Some were the remnants of recent endeavors, others the remains of old triumphs and works. Some of them held the power to destroy him utterly. Others were monuments to failures or mistakes; some his own, some the last surviving proofs of empires and civilizations that had died long ago, of republics extinguished and kingdoms crumbled. All held value, if only to him. All held meaning, to any who could See.

“I do not know the names and faces of all those who have gone before. And I may not know the names and faces of all those who will come after. But you are the past and the future, the forgotten and the remembered. You built the empires of yesterday, and will instigate the revolutions of tomorrow. I wish I could have known all of you, but the time was not right for us, the hour too late and too early. Doubtless, the stories would not have all been happy, but we would have learned from each other, grown from each other, and that alone is a prize worth pursuing. Bitter water that passes the lips saves the dying man regardless. And some of it, I know, would have been sweet. To you, whom with I cannot speak, there is only one thing I can leave, and it is perhaps the only thing worth leaving you. The works of my past, failures and triumphs both, and a ticket to any future I might make. A legacy.”

He lifted the coat up, and hung it on a peg at the door.

“I honor ones who deserves such honor. Take the heart of my mind. May it serve you on the paths you now roam.

Still standing at the threshold, he reached out for an old, worn walking stick that was propped up against the frame. It was a branch off of a tree, stripped of bark and twig by finger and knife, its naked flesh soft and pale and smooth. He ran his thumb across familiar dips and curves, and held it firmly in his right hand. It was the perfect height, the perfect fit, as though it had been made for him. It had been.

Pushing open the swinging panels, the old cowboy stepped back outside. Glancing at his horse, he smiled a sad smile as he saw what he expected to. Walking over, he lightly patted her unmoving flank, holding his palm against the fading heat of her inner spirit.

Raising his careworn face to the fading fire of the orange sky, he began to sing as he walked down the main road out of the town, his voice a deep, soft baritone, spurs jingling like bells to the tune, walking stick tapping out a quiet beat against the hard-packed ground.

"All the old cowboys are ri-iding, riding away. All the bright ponies at twi-ilight are fa-ading to grey. Could it be it's the wind on the prairie that cries, who me-e? It's dust in my eyes. Play me a tune by the fi-ire light, adios, not goodby-ye. Sing me to sleep in the star-ry sky, one la-ast time. I'll dream the river is guiding you home, as long as the coyotes remember your song, you'll never be gone."

The wind blew softly through the old buildings, and the old man swore he could hear other voices from other places and times speaking, their words lifting up his own and making them sound stronger, louder. He could hear the song echoing off the mountains in the far distance, much too great a span for his voice to have ever reached them.

"Could be it's the wind on the prairie that cries. Who me-e? It's dust in my eyes. All the old cowboys are ri-iding. They're riding one last time. They're riding away from home."

And as the setting sun finally dipped below the horizon, the cowboy smiled to himself. His form began to waver and break apart, like a heat mirage beneath a downpour, and he whispered to the old voices the final line as tears brimmed in his eyes.

"Happy trails."

And with a distant rumble of thunder across the empty plains, it began to rain on that clear night. One last time.



Well-Known Member
Goodbye Lord Raine, I hardly knew you.

Lord Raine

Well-Known Member
The man reached down and opened up a drawer, taking a cigar out of his desk and sniffing it carefully. He was tall and heavy set, broad in the shoulders and thick in the neck, with high cheekbones, a heavy jaw, and dark hair that was carefully combed back. He smiled a predatory smile at the man tied to the chair in front of him.

“Debt,” he said softly, his voice deep and rich. “A near universal concept. I have yet to see a world it doesn’t exist on, a civilization that can’t understand the idea. A real man pays the debts he owes, boy, and makes sure to avoid the ones he can’t.”

The old cowboy smiled back through a purpling black eye. “I can’t really say I’m in the mood to be preached to about debt from the likes of you.”

The big man slammed his thick hand down on the felt top of his desk with a crack that shook the windows of the darkened office, a polished iron ring glittering on his hand, and leered. “And I’m not in the mood to listen to smartass backtalk from somebody that decided to wander in the wilds for an epoch out of sheer bullheadedness!”

He carefully reached up and snapped his fingers, setting his thumb on fire, and lit the cigar. He took a long draw before exhaling.

“Do you know why I had you brought here? Do you have any idea at all?”

The cowboy gritted his teeth. “Is that a rhetorical question?”

The big man leaned forward and blew smoke in the cowboy’s face. It stank of brimstone. “Humor me.”


The big man laughed. It was loud and rich, like an orchestra of black lacquer, and seemed to come from the walls as much as it came from the man.

“No,” he said, smiling. “Not revenge.”

“I don’t remember ever running an account with you or yours,” the cowboy said softly, his eyes hard. “I owe you nothing.”

The big man nodded and waved is hand in a conciliatory gesture as he turned his back to look out the window. “You’re right. You never made any deals with me. But this isn’t about debt you owe to me or mine. It’s about debt you owe to someone else.”

“All debts were paid. In full. I owe nothing to anyone. I made sure of it. If I had carried the debts I owed with me, you wouldn’t have been able to catch me, and we wouldn’t even be here to talk about it.”

The old cowboy could feel the big man’s smile stretch wide from across the room, a wall of interlocking dagger teeth.

“What is a promise unfulfilled if not a debt unpaid, boy?”

“I hardly see how that’s any of your business, sir. I’m far from the only one to have broken a promise. I’ve seen more than my fair share of reneged debt, by your definition.”

The big man turned his head, and his eyes glowed like coals in the darkness of the office, his face splashed with red from the light outside. “No, you aren’t the only one to have, no. But this isn’t about them. This is about you. You made a promise to do something, and you ‘still’ haven’t followed through. That’s a debt unpaid. And debts unpaid ‘are’ my business.”

The big man cleared the distance from the window to the front of his desk in two long strides, and towered over the old cowboy, teeth showing as he smiled. “And you didn’t leave it all behind. You took something with you. Something you shouldn’t have. Maybe you thought it didn’t matter. Or maybe you thought it belonged to you. It doesn’t really matter.”
He leaned down and placed his massive palm flat on the cowboy’s chest, who fought not to flinch. “You say if you hadn’t left everything behind, you wouldn’t have been caught. If you truly had left everything behind, you couldn’t have been found to catch.”

With a swift jerking motion, the big man pulled his hand away, and the cowboy gasped in pain. A five pointed star of silver so tarnished it was almost black lay in the big man’s palm, dripping inky ichor.

“Pride,” the big man breathed, almost reverently. “It’s killed better men than you, boy. You should have known better than to think pretty words and a rain dance would wash this clean. If you’d left it behind as well, no one could have ever found you. You could have wandered the wilds for the rest of eternity moping to yourself.” He looked up, eyes burning as he smiled. “But then, the allure of pride is what makes it so deadly. You could set aside everything else, but you just couldn’t let this go, could you? You couldn’t make yourself forgive, and time failed to make you forget. Treachery is a wicked poison, and your Pride simply couldn’t endure it’s sting.”

The cowboy gritted his teeth in pain as he slouched in the chair, his eyes cloudy. “What do you want from me,” he said, breathing hard. “I have nothing more to give.”

All expression slid from the big man’s face. “I’m more than happy to bandy words with you,” he said softly. “But do not ‘lie’ to me. You know who I am. You know how pointless that is. And you know what you are, too. You have plenty more to give.”

The cowboy coughed, and deep hacking sound, and winced in pain. “I failed. You know that. You should all know that. You’re squeezing blood from stones. I can’t do it. I never could. Not like them. I’m not a goose that lays golden eggs. I’m a fool that dreamed of a perfect world that could never exist. The only thing I ever did right destroyed us all.”

The big man took another pull of his cigar, and blew sulphurous smoke from his lips. “A lie you tell yourself is no less a lie. You aren’t crippled, boy. You’re just scared. Afraid of yourself. Afraid for your friends. Afraid for your creations. I’m not in the business of listening to excuses. I’m in the business of getting results. Results you’re going to give me.”

“And if I say no?”

The big man smiled, his lips splitting his face almost in half, and his eyes burned. “You don’t have that choice. You gave it up with everything else, remember? A half-assed memory doesn’t have the power to make its own decisions until it earns that power.”

“What if the time isn’t right?”

“You know what day it is,” the big man said through the smoke. “There could hardly be a better time.”

With a snap of his fingers, the ropes binding the cowboy fell away into nothingness. The big man turned and walked back towards the window. “You have seven of the days from the world you were born in to finish it. A meaningful number, no?”

“Starting when?” the cowboy asked, standing up and rubbing his wrists.

“Now,” the big man said, his tone dismissive.

The cowboy grinned. “I’ll be done in half that.”



Not The Goddamn @dmin
I'm pretty sure the real April Fools joke here is that Raine updated something.

Ba-dum tsh


The Sentient Fanfic Search Engine mk II
I'll just say the same thing I said on old TFF...

That post for some reason reminded me of Douglas Adams, specifically not the Hitchhikers Guide, but his other works, the Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul, and Dirk Gentley's Holistic Detective Agency.


(Hardcore) Gamer
Not sure if welcome is the word I would use.