I write better when I smoke. Don’t ask me to reduce it to a science.


People like to think that everything can be categorized into good and evil. Duende – the earthpeople who live under ground and in the nightmares of pregnant women – defy that kind of categorization. The duende are neither good nor evil; they are simply as their motivations make them to be. There are duende who today, even after several thousand years, still long for the lands above ground that they lost to us. Deep in the dark places of the world, these duende still plot and scheme to destroy everything we have built.

There are duende who have ceased to care. In the bowels of the earth, these ones have found enough to keep them satisfied. When they aren’t farming insects and cultivating green things, they build labyrinths for their children to play in and to learn the dangers of living under the surface. Many labyrinths have caved in over the millenia – most of them with children still inside. Sometimes, if you listen hard enough and put your close enough to the ground, you can hear them.

There are also the duende who have forgiven us for our trespass and have come to accept us as a necessary part of the life of this world. They imagine that the angry duende will someday have the power to retake the surface, and against this day, they seek to arm some of us with knowledge.

And then there are the duende who believe that the ancient losses were a judgment on their fitness to continue serving as the mortal servants of the one they call Behal – the first duende who, in defiance of the old gods took clay and fashioned it in his own image. In those ancient days, Behal stole the breath from a sleeping god and gave it to his earthen servitors. These worshipers of Behal spend their time plotting to free their master from his chains and thereby win back the favor they believed they had lost. In their mortification, they call themselves the Betrayers.


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