Tuesday 14 July 2009

If you have ever received a spam email with a paragraph that read like mostly-​​correct English but was disjointed and surreal, odds are it was created using an algorithmic technique called a “Markov chain”. With this technique, a source text (such as Web pages or a book) is analyzed to determine the frequency with which certain words follow certain other words, and from that a new text is generated that uses approximately those frequencies to create a “similar” text.

Now, it happens to be Tiffany’s birthday today and Cassie’s tomorrow, and I was planning on dedicating the chapter I hope to publish tonight to Tiffany, but that meant I could not possibly come up with another chapter in Cassie’s honor tomorrow. So, given that a text the size of this story is a perfect candidate for feeding a Markov chain, I thought it might be funny to generate a random Lothere chapter for Cassie. However, the chapter I came up with was quite Vash-​​and-​​Iylaine-​​centric (which goes to show you how Vash-​​and-​​Iylaine-​​centric this story actually was before 1084 – 85), and what’s more, eerily prophetic of some of the events I have planned for 1086.

Therefore I decided to put this up today for Tiffany’s birthday. I cleaned it up for punctuation (balancing quotes is not something Markov chains do well) and grammar, and I clarified some of the “he saids” with the actual names of people, but otherwise pretty much everything in here is exactly as generated by the computer. There are definitely some surreal elements, such as random characters popping in to say one sentence (or in Murchad’s case, just showing up to grin), giving it the sense of a dream. But there’s something happening here too. So let us call this “Tiffany’s Prophetic Lotherian Birthday Dream”. Have fun reading it! (And reading between the lines…)

“All of you!” he barked. “The Khor apparently considered the matter too deeply, it was you.”

Vash leaned his shoulder against the table, especially since Cenwulf so rarely moved away.

Dunstan asked, “Do you have it? You’re old enough to make things right between them.”

Vash closed his blind eyes, and then he sighed.

Iylaine shook her head. “Oh, forget about the man he is, it will seem like a looby. Oh, she – ” The girl twisted her head like a boy – like him, too.

“Are you afraid that if he had cast her out now, Alfric! You’re working tomorrow. And watch my baby marry a craftsman’s daughter, but she had just better stay here,” Oswald said.

“No guests?” she asked. “In the summer, and it’s bloody inside?”

Vash said, “We spit out this far for help, to Brother Mungo and Brother Mungo and Brother Columba to get some sleep or I shall not sit.” 

Her throat was bloodless. “And even if the elves take from me? I can eat again. I saw the hope it isn’t true?”

Her voice was hushed as loudly as he kissed her. 

“She won’t be separated so long,” Vash promised.

“I don’t wish to have your sword?”

“That’s a boy again, and living and loving – a little wildly, as if it was not far,” Father Aelfden said hoarsely. “I did not understand why men ever invented cups!”

“Because they drink together?” Egelric asked.

“It’s far I’ve come a day,” Alred presaged, “when you get outside today. It’s a pretty song played by a man who has never heard you expend so much harder, as if it were a cradle. I guess he learned it well enough to distract her.”

“Penedict and I pray you will look back at your house with a sob that raged behind the door,” Egelric said.

He unwrapped the polishing cloth from around her to remain in the autumn, the tree of protection.

He added, “And of course she couldn’t be here for you two!”

Alred said, “What do you say to her like a wolf when he drank tonight – it is a blessing. You have nothing to be worthy of such poems, Hetty.”

“Do you suppose I’m knowing who could!” Egelric demanded.

“Connie could!” Flann called.

A flash of recall – he had no idea when his hand hit the floor? Iylaine sat dreaming beside the boy, and there was no mistaking such firmness, and he seemed to rise in the church to occupy her eyes. The glory had already turned his eyes the distance between her and stroked a hand on her head.

Vash whispered, “She never tells me that his shuffling boot soles sounded like Latin.” 

But she had not wanted anyone to quit doing this at all, but the thought of having been forgotten.

Eirik unbent his arms that were tight around the Isle. It would make the mistakes he had made the whole time. He said, “A few brave young ladies had looked it up.”

Vash cried, “Then you should not mention her at the summit of the broken leg, and menace him with the scene he had been expecting to see, so high-​​pitched, and it reminded Finn of a serpent!”

Leofric paced around, the baby in his arms. “And the eldest of the outbuilding where the Queen was, and even less the force of the guard. And I hereby promise you that.” He continued staring until Matthew began to quiver between several expressions like a candle in the water come out.

“How?” she asked.

“Oh, Iylaine!” Vash grimaced, and his skin or hair.

“He squirmed like a cat, you know,” Eirik said immediately.

“A boy, Kraaia!” Cedric cried. “I hope he will blame himself! And it was God.”

Then the woman killing the elves changed her mind, but leaned down and occupied the baby as he threw open his eyes onto the bright afternoon sky where she was standing still.

Vash said, “Don’t think I should wake Baby to miss it.” He could have creaked and scuffed the toe of one man. “One had to marry me!”

But the pain of self-​​reproach was like a radiant sun. The infant was awake and watchful beside her: a white light. 

“It was firm and seemed to welcome your little bride,” Dunstan said. “I should be well enough to leave tonight.”

“Can you write any?” Vash asked.

“Well,” Dunstan laughed too, “at times, I think. Don’t you see your face, Vash? You have no daughter?”

Iylaine asked, “How will Mother see Matilda if he had pulled the sheets to bare their throats to the elf? It would be harder if she does not love you, Da,” she mumbled and rolled over onto his elbows, down into her sleeve. “They said I might find the other.”

And meanwhile, though smitten by the hours following supper, sometimes Vash wished she could be no more than his new sister-​​in-​​law.

“If Hilda ever begins to pity you…” Dunstan warned.

“Don’t you? If you don’t want to get the lid off her head.”

“I believe it was the little mother: even less importance, but greater nuisance.”

“I think I was looking forward to her in her lowest voice,” Vash said, which thought brought tears to his hips down the hall, as though they seemed to shrink away from horror. He could not get roaring drunk a few moments before. He had shown her the treatment was breathing steadily again.

Egelric stood before them. “How’s Baby?” His hearty good humor shall ever be standing up to Nothelm and sent it flying. He granted the small favor of allowing women to find it hard to live among them. He had not yet learned.

Murchad smiled at her.

“Is she here?” Iylaine asked.

“Whisht!” Cat shushed her. “I’m here.”

“Are you certain we shall meet my nephew? And Eirik wanted to come in.”

Dunstan hesitated, as her son, but he should rather be laying a hand on her as far as he fumbled at the baby’s head. “I hope they do not fancy themselves in order to save a few days ago?”

“Yes…” Cedric said stiffly. “Your guest house is closed! Good day!”

Iylaine grabbed her hips across her belly to lessen the eerieness of the family. They were the three of them as men leaned against the night before. 

Cedric added, “And she met your cousins who would do it as these to dwell with the damned paneling!”

Dunstan said, “Well and look down into herself: through the amber of her dress. Her mother might be interesting, at least for him.”

“Last year The Rule then?” Cynan asked with a light pressure that was devouring her.

Her mother had snakes on her husband’s pillow. She slipped one arm beneath while it shook with it. 

“His hair had only seen four: Druze and Midra,” Vash murmured. He did not count. Her mother had only to let it fall again over his chin. “I shall go to his mother. That was more than I trust you.”

She only turned back to watch the flickering shadows of him – half her life to live without the air – and drummed on his arm again, and back.

But though Britamund continued giggling, she addressed herself to a more difficult task than she had told. And she was being born.

“And in my hall to kiss you as I loved you?” Iylaine asked.

Her mother was calling down Gaelic curses on her arm. 


“Did it rot away completely?” Dunstan asked. 

“Surprised to see you?” Eithne asked suspiciously.

Cian buried his face and turned pink at once. But he pushed and dragged into her cheek, although she would be grown that summer. “I think it must have been a mistake once, but I was blind.”

Eithne said, “I don’t mean tonight, I shall think about Baby. Last night or any Danish ladies, and I’m certain he’s at ease beside her, and so she felt like an old maid. If you can dry my tears,” she sniffed. “You see?”

“Well, to be scrubbed on her face, though it hung slightly crooked on its hinges.”

“If one can make a fine man of blankets, lass!” Comgeall cried. “When she is having a few moments, he has come for him.”

She supposed he should have known!

Iylaine said, “This one was feeling dry – possibly because she is your desire.”

Vash protested, “That was false accusations and lies!

“Did you say it?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” he said hopefully. “Ah! It is simply not powerful enough.” And it was all he could find the courage to come by.

Irene worked herself into the apple and laid it down on the edge. A few of these even scattered at his most fervent desire.