Lightspeed: Edited by John Joseph Adams



Series Archive: The Tales of Gorlen Vizenfirthe

The first Gorlen story was a novel, long since lost to time (written in the author’s teens and shredded in his twenties). In that novel of origins, the young bard Gorlen Vizenfirthe was given the typical task of saving the world. To keep him on track, one of his fingers was cut off and replaced with the stone finger of a gargoyle. As long as Gorlen kept on his quest, the stone was limited to his finger; but if he strayed, or tried to avoid his duty, the stone took over more of his flesh. By the time he had finished saving the world, the single gargoyle finger had become an entire hand. Assuming the corresponding gargoyle had seen similar transformations in its flesh finger, Gorlen sought this nameless goyle in hopes of arranging an exchange. The gargoyle’s name turned out to be Spar, but Spar had no ability to undo the magic of the priest who had done the deed in the first place. Together, they now seek this itinerant mage, hoping for restoration to their original forms.




“I have my limits,” said Gorlen Vizenfirthe, hooking a full mug of cheap brew toward him with one of the petrified fingers of his stony right hand. A coarse black strand of beard-hair poked up from the foamy head like a sick fern’s frond. “And you, sir, are quickly approaching several of them at the same time.”



They had struggled for days through a wasteland of broken rock, high in the mountains, on their way through a pass that maps had indicated would take them to a country of promise. The first of the rocks were chipped and quarried, and showed signs of having been worked by artisans as much as by nature. But after a time, the unfashioned stone gave way to broken figures. The general impression was that a nation of statues, its entire populace, had been carried to the heavens and then dropped, so that all were shattered. Fractured heads and torsos, truncated limbs, toes and fingers of every size, from gnomic to gigantic, lay strewn from peak to peak, as if spread across the high mountain valleys by glacial action.