Excerpts from the Rag & Muffin Lexicon

Acharya: Master, guru.

Alta: A red dye used to paint the edges of a woman’s feet during some religious ceremonies.

Angithi: A brazier made from a clay-lined container in which coals or other fuels are placed.

Antavasin: Pupil, student.

Arx Ciceronis: A large, walled fortress on Godtown’s west end. Home of the city’s more well-to-do Elysian expatriates.

Drug Doll: Slang, a disparaging term for a HYBRID.

Elysian Empire: A resurrected Roman Empire ruling approximately half the globe. The Elysian Empire formed out of the Holy League following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Lepanto, but did not attain worldwide significance until the late eighteenth century.

Heaven Seed: A potent entheogen produced in a gland attached to the visual cortex of a HYBRID.

Hybrid: One who is half human and half MARJARA. Hybrids are always female and have a maximum lifespan of approximately sixteen years. Frequently installed in temples as KUMARIS.

Kumari: Literally, “virgin.” A polite form of address for an unmarried girl or woman, equivalent to “Miss” in English. Alternatively, a HYBRID installed in a temple as a living goddess. Alternatively, a specific goddess, Kanya Kumari.

Lakh: A hundred thousand.

Marjara: Earth’s second sapient race besides the human. Unlike a human, who has an “invisible caste,” a marjara has distinct physical traits determined by his VARNA and JATI.

Paan: a stimulant created from a combination of betel leaf and areca nut. Produces a characteristic orange stain in the mouth.

Pishacha: A shapeshifting demon that haunts cremation grounds and feeds on the living.

Runearmor: An armor suit created with RUNETECH. Its operator must be temporarily dead in order to communicate with the unclean spirits trapped in the suit’s runes.

Sammohana: The power of a HYBRID to deliver mystical visions via her eyes.

Seed Sucker: Slang, a criminal who extracts HEAVEN SEED from HYBRIDS.

Skull-bit: A drill used to penetrate the back of a HYBRID’s skull to reach her HEAVEN SEED gland.

Tuaoi Stone: A magical crystal. Tuaoi Stones are found primarily in the Vindhya Mountains west of Godtown. They are vital in both YOGA and RUNETECH.

Varna: “Color.” The varnas are the four major caste groupings into which marjaras and humans traditionally fall: BRAHMIN, KSHATRIYA, VAISHYA, or SUDRA. The corresponding colors are white, red, yellow, and black, respectively.

Will Kill for Money, Part 4 (of 4)

From the Casefiles of the Ragamuffin

Featured image swiped from ENM.

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Hilscher, their host, quickly made his way to Lung and did namaste. Lung, without cracking so much as a smile, bowed in return. Both men were gigantic, though Hilscher was the more intimidating of the two, as Lung had put on fat in recent years.

Iron Lung was a notorious gangster who ruled the drug trade in most of Southside, especially the massive slum called Harijan Basti. He and Rags had tangled more than once—and it was a testament to his resourcefulness and power that she had always come off the worse in those encounters.

Rags slipped away from the ladies cooing over her and walked brashly up to the huge men. She didn’t bow, but merely placed her fists on her hips and gave the two of them a childish scowl.

Hilscher’s voice came through Nicky’s earpiece. “Ah, Fräulein Rags, you have met Herr Lung, I presume?”

“I have,” Rags said.

Now a small smile cracked Lung’s stony face. He bowed slightly. “Ragamuffin. I am … surprised … to see you here.”

Hilscher smirked.

So this was what he was after—sending a message to one of his greatest rivals in the drug trade. Word would get out quickly, if it hadn’t already, that Rags was in Hilscher’s pay.

“I’m afraid Fräulein Rags cannot talk for long,” Hilscher said. “She is working tonight, ja?”

“How unfortunate.” Lung reached into his jacket, and Rags tensed, but his hand came out holding a pack of cigarettes. He stuck one between his lips, and Hilscher offered him a light.

After a few puffs, Lung said, “The Ragamuffin and I have much to discuss—but it will have to wait for another time.”

Casually, Rags cracked her fine knuckles one by one. “Y’know I use riot rounds,” she said quietly, “cuz I got a rule for me an’ my guys: don’t kill nobody. That’s my rule. But I carry just one half-jacketed hollow-point. Got it with me all the time. An’ you know why?”

Lung took a deep pull on his cigarette and slowly blew out a thick stream of smoke, but didn’t answer.

“I got your name etched in that bullet, Iron Lung, an’ one o’ these days, I’m gonna use it.”

Lung leaned down until he was almost eye-level with Rags. His smile again broke through his stony face, like sunlight shining through a chink in a rock wall. “Oh, I’m sorry. It’s terribly rude of me to meet a child like this. Next time we see each other, Ragamuffin, I’ll bring some toys, hm? Sharp ones … but I’ll be the one playing, you understand?” Continue reading “Will Kill for Money, Part 4 (of 4)”

Will Kill for Money, Part 3 (of 4)

From the Casefiles of the Ragamuffin

Featured image unidentified.

FIRST | PREVIOUS | NEXT | LAST

This ballroom was not in the Arx Ciceronis, but it was in the swankiest part of Godtown outside the fortress. The décor was in a regional style blended with Western elements, the effect of which was jarring. The ceiling was a vast, honeycombed vault, each pit in its surface inset with a colorful mural depicting Rajputs hunting or in combat. A great crystal chandelier hung from the center of the dome; covered with candles rather than electric lights, it flickered wildly as the air played around it. Along the walls, horseshoe arches topped the tall, rain-drenched windows, between which were pilasters meant vaguely to give the room the appearance of a pillared courtyard. Most of the construction was of marble and plastered brick, but the ballroom’s highly polished sprung dancefloor was genuine hardwood, undoubtedly imported at great expense. On a raised stage, a light orchestra was already deep into a waltz. Several couples were dancing.

It looked simply like a wealthy party, but Nicky immediately noticed, against the walls, six stiff-backed, hulking marjaras dressed in long, maroon kurtas embroidered in gold. On their heads were high turbans edged with gold lace and decorated with golden brooches topped with white feathers. Each of these marjaras had the red fur, thick mane, and protruding fangs of a Kshatriya, a man bred for war.

As he had promised, Nicky made his way to the bar and threw himself down on a stool. “Hey,” he called, “drink-wallah.” Continue reading “Will Kill for Money, Part 3 (of 4)”

Will Kill for Money, Part 2 (of 4)

From the Casefiles of the Ragamuffin

Featured image unidentified.

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The home base of the Ragtag Army was the rococo parlor, decorated in the French taste, of Rags’s Victorian mansion high in the Arx Ciceronis. Having carted her favorite chair back from the godown in Godtown’s seedy east end to its accustomed place beside her round-topped fireplace, Rags was once again settled in its depths, idly wiggling her feet and pretending to peruse a dog-eared copy of Little Women. Muffin lay at her feet. Across from her, in a comparatively uncomfortable but more fashionable Louis XV chair, Suzie, the team’s radio operator, perused a picture book with a teddy bear tucked under her left arm. She looked bored.

In the middle of the room, sitting cross-legged on the floor with a blindfold over her eyes and a sheet spread before her, the tall and spindly Alex Taliaferro attempted to reassemble her M249 squad automatic weapon, a task at which she was failing miserably.

Nicky and Jeanne strode in through the double French doors. With them was the straight-backed Ryuji Fujiyoshi, who, at the age of sixteen, was the “old man” of the team. Clinging to his hand was his six-year-old sister Rika, whom everyone called Popkin.

Just as they entered, Alex threw up her hands and shouted, “Where in Jahannam is the gods-damned return spring?” Continue reading “Will Kill for Money, Part 2 (of 4)”

Will Kill for Money, Part 1 (of 4)

From the Casefiles of the Ragamuffin

Featured image unidentified, unfortunately.

This is a story I wrote as a test of a new character for the Rag & Muffin universe. It’s rather long, so I’ve divided it up. I’m not entirely sure what to do with it.

Just for the record, and for fair warning, R&M has content a bit harsher than what appears in Jake and the Dynamo.


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Edmund Hilscher’s physical bulk was enough to intimidate most people, and his keen mind and boundless energy were enough to intimidate the rest. With heavy jowls and shoulders a full meter across, he got what he wanted by getting in people’s faces—and sometimes by beating those faces in. In Prussia, he had been notoriously brutal in underground boxing before a mob offered him a lot of money to become a heavy. Five years of thuggery and a lot of ill-gotten coin later, he had left his boss with a slit belly and made his way to the ancient, sleaze-ridden temple city of Godtown. There, he carved out his personal empire in the heroin and opium trade.

He scared people. He counted on his ability to scare people.

But, standing in the monsoon rain late at night outside a rust-coated warehouse down by the docks, he knew he could not scare the people he was about to meet. He’d heard the rumors, and unlike the criminals who had learned better only when it was too late, he chose to believe them.

He couldn’t afford not to. Continue reading “Will Kill for Money, Part 1 (of 4)”

Progress on Jake and the Dynamo Volume 1

I have to apologize for my absenteeism, but the combination of work and school has left me little time to sleep, let alone blog.

We’re approaching the middle of June, which means it’s soon time to ship the current draft of the first volume of Jake and the Dynamo to my editor. At the moment, I am thinking I will change the title of this volume from Down and Out in Fifth Grade, which sounds like a Beverly Cleary novel, to The Wattage of Justice, which sounds more like a goofy superhero story.

The bonus chapter is drafted, though a reader in my writer’s group wants me to change some details, and I intend to comply. I’ve also just about decided that the bonus story will be a novelette entitled “Eye of Fire.” It’s set in the universe of Rag & Muffin, but I think it makes for a nice capper because of the way it ends.

Unfortunately, I’ve been neglecting my illustrator, and I’ve put off dealing with the cover art partly because I might need the book dimensions first. We’ll make all this happen, but I can’t give an ETA yet.

I’ve been toying with catchphrases and blurbs. I originally was thinking,

The universe is out to get him … but the universe didn’t count on her.

But that sounds kind of … what’s the Internet term? Beta male? I mean, the cover art is almost certainly going to feature a little girl standing in front of a much larger guy, and I don’t want this whole thing to end up like Joss Whedon’s profile picture.

Really, Joss?

I started this project in the first place because I wanted to see if I could create a magical girl’s male sidekick who doesn’t end up looking like a total wuss. So now I’m thinking,

He’s a teenage boy. She’s a preteen powerhouse. They fight crime.

I like it because it’s silly.

Smooth Criminal: From the Casefiles of the Ragamuffin

"Galaxy Magical Girl" by hello-mango
Featured image: “Galaxy Magical Girl” by hello-mango.

This is set in the same universe as my novel in progress.  I hope you enjoy. -D.G.D.

The sages tell us that time is a cycle. Epochs and eons arise and pass away, yet always return, for the universe is but one vast, slowly turning wheel. A man’s life is much the same: years flow by, but the same events happen time and time again. A personal example—days pass, and I grow steadily older, but I still regularly find myself flat on my back with a pistol in my face. Formerly, this happened once a month. Now it’s once a week.

The muzzle of the Jericho 941 dug into my forehead, and pain shot across my skull. The pain didn’t distress me, and the finger on the trigger didn’t distress me. What distressed me were my brand new gold-embroidered kurta and pyjama, pressed against the ground and getting dirty. I had just bought these clothes.

Well, “bought” is something of a euphemism. And that is why I was lying on the ground in the first place. Continue reading “Smooth Criminal: From the Casefiles of the Ragamuffin”