Archive for the ‘Writings’ Category

From The Desk of a Random Court Reporter

November 20, 2017

<INTERIOR: A well-adorned Courtroom in the middle of a busy city. The prosecution is sitting at their table on house right, facing the judge’s bench. The defense and the defendant sit at the other table on the left. A court reporter sits near the judge’s bench. The bailiff, a tall redheaded woman, strides into the room confidently.>

BAILIFF: All rise! Court is now in session. Presenting his honor, Judge Gallows.

<Both sides stand as does those seated in the packed gallery. Judge Eugene Gallows walks in wearing his long black robes. He takes a moment to look over his notes, looks at the prosecution, defense, and defendant. He then looks at the bailiff.>

JUDGE: Before we let the jury in, I have a number of motions that were submitted since yesterday and I thought we would take some time to review those so I can make some decisions. Is that fair?

<Both sides nod>

JUDGE: Of course it is. I’m the judge. <He takes his glasses out and pulls out a sheaf of papers which he squints at.>

JUDGE: I’m looking at a whole lot of motions here. I am going to begin with a few from the defense. Let’s see here. I have a Motion to Just Let the Defendant Go This One Time. That is denied because that is just not how we do things anymore. I have a Motion to Blindfold the Prosecution which I am still considering because it could be funny. Finally, I have a Motion to Alter Reality and Erase the Crime from Existence which I have to dismiss because They stripped that power from us in the recent legislative session.

<The defense nods, the defendant bows their head. The Prosecutor for the STATE raises her hand and the Judge points at her>

STATE: Thank you, your honor.

JUDGE: No need for that. Just doing my job. Now onto the State’s motions. I see a Motion to Read the Defendant’s Mind. Good luck with that, I can’t even read my own mind. There is a Motion to Shoot the Defendant in the Head but those pesky metal detectors made sure none of us have fun. I just have a pocketful of bullets myself.

<JUDGE starts lining those bullets up on his bench idly after an uncomfortable amount of time he seems to get startled looking at everyone staring at him and goes back to his papers>

JUDGE: Next we have a Motion to Let The Media Poke And Prod the Defendant and the Defense for 60 Minutes And Attorney’s Fees. I will dismiss this because I hate the media. They’re always finding things out about me. Finally, there was a Motion of the Ocean which I agree with and I have forwarded it to my ex-wife.

<The STATE nods. The defense lightly applauds. The Defendant remains silent>

JUDGE: OK. Please let the jury in and then we can begin.

<The BAILIFF goes and opens a door at the side of the room and there is a whoosh of air as she opens it. The jury stumbles into the room gasping for air, their skin a little blue. They all lie down on the floor for a few moments before getting up and slowly filing into the jury box.>

JUDGE: Please be seated. <Everybody sits> Bailiff, please make a note to provide the jury room with oxygen. Not the good stuff, though, we’re on a budget. Prosecution, call your first witness.

<The BAILIFF nods and makes a note on a small notepad>

STATE: The Prosecution calls to the stand Bernice Clevinger. I summon you forth!

<BERNICE walks into the room, escorted by a police officer to the stand. She flounces into the seat. She looks nervously at the JUDGE’s nametag>

JUDGE: Don’t be nervous. We don’t even do that anymore. We use needles.

<The BAILIFF holds out a bible to BERNICE>

BAILIFF: Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth or else?

<BERNICE places her hand on the bible and it starts to sizzle and smoke but she does not pull her hand away>

BERNICE: I so swear.

<The BAILIFF pulls the bible away with some difficulty as it sticks a little to BERNICE’s skin>

STATE: Please state for the record your name and age.

BERNICE: Bernice Clevinger of the Dark Abyss. I’m 99 years old.

STATE: Permission to treat this witness as hostile?

JUDGE: Not until she takes a swing at you.

STATE: Please tell us your relationship to the Defendant.

BERNICE: We live together.

STATE: Please clarify.

BERNICE: We both pay rent on the same apartment. Our agreement is that she gets the rooms and I live in the walls. We share the kitchen.

<The STATE walks over toward the jury box>

STATE: You. Share. The. Kitchen.

<The STATE hands juror number 6 a twenty, gets a box of girl scout cookies in return, and then pats her on the head before walking back toward the witness stand>

STATE: Permission to turn into a fox and bark at the witness?

JUDGE: I’ll allow it but watch yourself.

<STATE’s skin ripples and she slowly turns into a red fox which shakes itself and starts to yip at BERNICE who looks displeased but does not respond. This goes on for quite some time.>

DEFENSE: Objection!

JUDGE: Yes, yes. I think the State has made its point here. Why don’t we take a recess?

<The STATE returns to human form and walks back to her table. The Bailiff starts prodding the JURY back into the jury room. The JUDGE returns to his chambers>

<The names and situations in this teleplay are not intended to represent anybody in real life. If you feel that any fictional situations contained herein apply to you, please seek the help of a qualified professional or return to the alternate reality you come from.>

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Eloria

November 13, 2017

(This is an early draft of the basic description of the 5e D&D campaign setting I am working on)

Eloria Rough

Sitting on a huge peninsula at the base of the so-called Emerald Continent of Taldontei, Eloria is a jewel nearly surrounded by the Calm Sea. For centuries, it has been ruled by the Royal Family in an unbroken chain since Galen I led the armies in the First Great War, defeating the devil, Vistra, and his Orc/Fiend alliance. At that point, the borders of the kingdom were re-established with neighboring Shera and the castle was rebuilt. The people crowned Galen and he laid down his sword in order to lead and protect his people. The crown was passed down the line from King to Queen to King and so on. Now it adorns the head of the current King, Liam III. He is supported by his wife Gianna, his heir Ariana, and twin princes Galen and Bram.

The Kingdom of Eloria is divided into six districts that surround the capital where the royal residence is. The land was divided into districts by land type and each is locally managed by a noble house, supported by lesser noble houses. The King has full say but cannot micromanage and a lot of trust is placed on the nobles and the people to maintain both efficiency and harmony. To that end, the Crown took two major actions to make sure the kingdom was safe. Galen I established The Guard, a police force that is stationed in every municipality. These armored law keepers work with the noble houses and magistrates to mete out justice as fairly as possible.

Five years ago, Liam III established a new tradition with every intention for it to carry on into the future forever. Nine years ago, the Kingdom of Eloria fought in a war against the bordering kingdom of Shera to stop an invasion. Partway through that war, both sides were assaulted by an undead army lead by the returning devil, Vistra. Both armies, although weakened, campaigned to combat the horde and eventually defeated the threat. A truce was signed between Liam III and the new king of Shera.

Meanwhile, a large Chromatic White Dragon took the opportunity to try and make the royal castle its new lair. A band of adventurers sprang to the castle’s defense in the king’s absence and slaughtered the dragon after a lengthy, difficult battle. As a reward, Liam III named that band of adventurers as an official royal fighting force. He called them the Royal Arsenal. Each of them was given a commission in a district of their choosing. Officially, they are officers in the military and can be called upon to face threats to the kingdom. In everyday life, they are in command of the Guard of the biggest city in their district.

And now, the Kingdom of Eloria thrives. It is still healing the wounds caused by the war with Shera but relations have normalized. Vistra has been sent back to the Nine Realms of Hell again and no signs of him or any new armies (undead or otherwise) have been spotted. Since the Kingdom is once again at peace after a long war, it is once again a great time for adventuring as the armies recover and the wilderness remains unguarded. Also, the current king has a very favorable opinion of adventuring parties. So, go forth adventurers and face the challenges of Eloria!

Points of Interest:

The Battle Arts Academy

A sprawling academy located in the district of Stull outside of the city of Hurlock. This is where The Guard and the King’s Army are trained. One of the Royal Arsenal, Sir Havelock is a part-time instructor at the academy and several former Army officers, Guard, and adventurers make up the rest of the faculty. There are other fighting schools in the kingdom but this is the most famous and elite.

The District of Orden

Orden is the tip of the peninsula. Its coasts are heavily fished in seasons and they are home to many ports of call for trading ships. Chief among those ports is Whitecrest, the de facto capital of Orden. The Arsenal member Gareth Whispernight is in charge of law and order in Whitecrest. The noble house of Whitecrest, from whom the city gets its name, is in charge of day to day operations and command their own fleet of ships.

The District of Stull.

The District of Stull borders Shera and the rest of the continent. It is known for its rougher terrain and hardy citizenry. The Cascius Mountains are a major feature of the district. Nestled at their base is the town of Hurlock and the famous Battle Arts Academy. The Arsenal member that lives there is Sir William Havelock who is also an instructor at the academy.

The District of Channon

This district lies near the heart of the kingdom, but a little to the east. Its most dominant feature is the vast Fangleth Forest, a small percentage of which has actually been explored. On the northern border of the forest is the city of Woodright, the de facto capital of the district. The Arsenal member who lives there is Morgan Moonglow who eagerly tracks criminals and monsters in the region.

The District of Hasse

At the center of the kingdom is Hasse which is mostly full of vast plains. Its most dominant feature is, of course, the walled city of Flameheart which is where the Royal Castle resides. Herds of wild horses roam the district which is a major source of horses for the kingdom outside of domesticated birth. Hasse itself is managed from Callida. The Arsenal member there is Galath Wyndham.

The District of Etting

Etting is nestled just south of Hasse and north of Orden. It is small but densely wealthy. It is the main home of Eloria’s alcohol production facilities, most of which are controlled by famous noble houses. The city of Silverlight has somehow maneuvered itself to be the second wealthiest city in the Kingdom but also the center of fashion and entertainment. The arsenal member is Percival Stardane.

The District of Coppin

On the northwestern coast of the kingdom is Coppin. Its most notable for a collection of magic schools as it has cultivated the trade of magical knowledge and the training of innate skill. The main town is Braddish. Cassandra Oakspring is the Arsenal member installed there.

No Longer Samu

November 6, 2017

“Where is that child!?” Calo yelled. He was storming into the area in search of somebody. He was looking right and left with a wild look in his eyes.

“Who do you mean?” Akikka asked. She stepped in front of him, knowing the danger of getting in the way of a rampaging beast. She also knew full well to whom Calo was referring. Anybody with half a brain knew who was in trouble. Again.

“Your monkey of a son!” Calo shouted. There was practically steam coming out of his nostrils.

Akikka stayed absolutely calm. She even smiled slightly and cocked her head to one side. “Which son do you mean, Calo?” Akikka was a brave woman and more cunning than most of their kind.

“You only have one!” Calo shouted. “Samu!”

Samu stifled a laugh from his hiding place behind a rock. He was always getting into trouble but he had yet to be caught.

“Oh!” Akika said. “And what has he done this time? Explain it to me?”

Calo started to rant and rave but Samu just slipped away, slinking away low to the ground. Soon he was off to another place on the other side of camp. It had been clear from the welts on his face and the rage in his voice what had happened. Apparently, the honeybee nest he had carefully placed near Calo’s sleeping place had done the trick. Several others would have been hit as well but Calo was just too easy and too fun to wind up. He tried to stop himself from doing it but he just kept going back to it. He could not help himself.

“They’re going to hold you back from the ceremony,” a voice from behind him said. Samu froze and turned to see little Rena.

“What?” Samu had been preparing for the coming of age ceremony for months. He was absolutely scared of it but also excited. He was ready to earn his new name and leave the old one behind. He loved being Samu but he was excited to see who he could become next. He saw himself as a brilliant hunter and a hero like all the stories. He would strike from the shadows and win the hearts of his people, even the ones who he had played tricks on.

“If you keep playing tricks they won’t let you go until next time,” Rena said. She was only seven and would not be part of the ceremony. Samu felt a little bad about leaving her behind seeing as how she had been a constant companion. Finding somebody who put up with his crap on a regular basis was rare.

“They can’t keep me out,” Samu said. “My mother won’t let them.”

“You can’t rely on your mother forever, Samu,” Rena said with a smile.

“I know,” Samu said. “I owe everything to her and my father but I will earn my place now. They have to take me. What I do, it shows how good I will be out there. How I will be a great hunter.”

“So you keep saying,” Rena said. “And yet you spend your time sneaking around and farting.” She laughed and Samu frowned.

“Keep laughing,” Samu said. “I will be a great hunter.”

“Not greater than me!” Rena said with a laugh, pushing Samu slightly and running off so that Samu had to chase her.

* * *

Everything hurt. The three kids (or was it four?) had pulled Samu from the tree and beaten the daylights out of him. If the others had not shown up, he did not know what would have happened. He was covered in blood but thankfully it was not his own. It was the deer’s blood, the subject of his second successful hunt. He had dreamed of being a hunter like his father, like so many before him. He had seen the day when it happened and he knew everybody would be so proud. His parents would be so proud. Rena would be proud. Even Calo would have to be proud.

They were safe. The girl with the grandmother had said that they were safe. She did the ceremony with the deer and the axe and she declared that the members of the stone group were all safe. Being safe from the spirits had brought courage to Samu. More courage than he had ever had. It gave him the courage to be out in the forest by himself. He had scared so many all by himself. However, the ritual only protected them from spirits, not from angry members of the bone group. They had chased Samu up a tree and then pulled him out of that tree. They had given him the bruises he now proudly wore like a badge of honor.

And then the sky had exploded and the moon had disappeared. Rocks had sailed toward where Samu knew his parents were waiting for him, where he would earn his new name. He stood startled, scared out of his mind not far from where they had defeated the bone group. Fire had been something that had fascinated him for a long time but now it had filled the sky. The world was a different place than it had been when the ceremony had begun that morning. He did not know what it meant or what would happen next and that fear was like a stone in his stomach.

He kept repeating it over and over in his head. “We’re safe.”

Aftershocks: Demon Days 4

October 28, 2017

Aftershocks 2

When the three of them opened the door, there was an intense blast of heat. The furnace must have been in overdrive or something. It was like walking into the desert and it took some effort to keep walking down the stairs. Lydia was glad that she had her hair up as usual but she looked with sympathy at Nancy who had long, shapeless hair draped everywhere. Rob pretty much had a crew cut so he was fine. Why was she thinking so much about hair? It must have been the heat that was making her delirious.

“We need to finish this guy off quickly,” Rob said.

“Can’t take the heat, Rob?” Lydia asked with a smirk. Nancy tried to cover her mouth before she started laughing but she failed.

“Quiet,” Rob hissed.

“I think they know we’re coming, Rob,” Nancy said.

“I know,” Rob said. “Maybe I just want you to stop mocking me.” He kicked open the door at the bottom of the stairs. The three of them moved into the room and fanned out.

A man was standing in front of the furnace with his back toward them. The flames made his shadow dance around the room. He slowly turned to expose a manic but determined look on his face. He was stone still and his eyes looked and smile looked devilish.

“It’s over, Jack!” Lydia shouted out.

“I don’t think so kiddo!” Jack said. “Enough is enough, time for you kids to get punished.”

“Come and get it!” Rob shouted.

Jack chuckled and pulled out a bloody axe from behind his back. “Here’s Johnny.” He said softly. He ran toward them, swinging the axe in a wide arc. The kids scattered and readied their weapons again.

The first to attack was Lydia, running at the left side of Jack and thrusting her sword as hard as she could. Jack simply stepped back and swung the axe downward in one movement but when the axe would have hit Lydia’s back, she evaporated into mist and reappeared a few feet away. Jack roared at her, his eyes going blood red.

In the confusion, Nancy swung the iron poker hard at Jack from his right side with a yell of fearfulness that suddenly found courage. This was a demon and if they did not step up to the plate, they would die in a hotel basement and nobody would ever stop Jack. She put all the balled up fear of the day and all the days before into that swing. Unfortunately, Jack sidestepped that one as well. He struck Nancy in the back of the head with the butt of the axe and a bit of blood spattered across the concrete floor as Nancy stumbled into a corner.

Rob pulled out a pistol and fired point blank at Jack. The first two bullets hit Jack in the stomach and he barely flinched even as more blood hit the floor. The next two bullets struck Jack’s chest and he started to laugh. The laughter grew more manic as bullet five hit his cheek, tearing a little bit of it away. The laughter did not die when the sixth bullet hit Jack right in the middle of the forehead. If anything, it got louder.

“Holy shit!” Lydia shouted. “That should have worked right?”

“It was worth a try,” Rob said. “At least it was supposed to slow him down.”

“Man,” Jack said with a sigh. “You kids make me want to drink. Instead, I guess I’ll bash your brains in. That tends to solve problems.”

“You’re not hurting anybody else,” Rob said steadily. He pulled out the silver spike of a blade from his coat again. Jack’s eyes were immediately drawn to the thing.

“I’m supposed to be scared of that thing?” Jack asked. “I know what that is. Don’t know how you got it but I know what it is. Real fancy, boy. You still have to actually hit me with it and none of you have had a bit of luck.” He had a very demonic grin on his face, his eyebrows knitting together.

“Demons will never win,” Rob said. “In the end, demons lose and humans win.”

“Whatever, kid,” Jack said. “I’m not going to let another snot-nosed kid beat me this time.”

“I think we’ve had about enough of you,” Lydia said. “Enough talking, more killing.”

“I agree,” Jack said with a grin.

All of the lights in the basement suddenly went out including the fire in the furnace. There was an ominous silence. Lydia and Rob tensed, holding their weapons in front of them. This must be one of Jack’s tricks. The flame of the furnace restarted and once again cast light in the basement.

Out of the darkness behind Jack, there was suddenly the looming face of Nancy. However, just her face was about ten feet tall, her hair cascading into the shadows. Jack saw the astonished faces of Rob and Lydia but as he turned to see, giant hands floated out of the darkness. Those hands were the size of cars. One grabbed Jack’s right arm and the other grabbed his left arm and held him in place. Jack struggled as hard as he could but the now titanic Nancy was way too strong.

“Now, Rob!” Nancy boomed, fiercely serious eyes looking down at Rob. Rob snapped out of it and ran forward with his weapon and thrust it through Jack’s chest. Jack’s body lit up as if he was a jack o’lantern and a candle had been placed within him. After a moment, the light went out and Jack slumped in Nancy’s grip. The furnace light flickered again and Nancy was suddenly standing next to Lydia and Jack was lying on the floor.

“Is he dead?” Lydia asked.

“He’s dead,” Rob said and took a deep breath.

Nancy looked at Lydia, worry in her eyes but Lydia reached out and took hold of her hand and smiled and Nancy smiled back. Lydia pointed her other hand at Jack’s body and it turned to sand and seemed to blow away in a non-existent wind. They stood there for a long moment before all of them noticed that the furnace was starting to burn brighter and brighter. All of a sudden, ghosts started to descend through the ceiling, sucked into the furnace and seemingly burned up.

“We should probably get out of here, right?” Nancy asked, staring into the fire.

“Yeah,” Rob and Lydia said almost in unison.

“Let’s go then,” Lydia said and she pulled Nancy up the stairs with Rob very close behind. They ran from the basement and through the hallway and the lobby and out through the automatic doors. When the doors closed behind them, there was a harshness and a finality to the sound. There was the huge sound of an explosion from deep inside the hotel and the whole building seemed to go up in flames. After a few seconds, the building was completely gone. Nobody on the street seemed to notice.

“We’ve got a lot more work to do,” Rob said.

“Well,” Lydia said. “I think we’re up to it.” She looked over at Nancy.

Nancy nodded. “More than up for it. This time, it’s the demons’ nightmare.”

Aftershocks: Demon Days Pt. 3

October 21, 2017

Aftershocks 2

The three of them ran as fast as they could, blood sloshing at their ankles and their footfalls splashing as they ran. They ducked through a doorway and Lydia slammed the door behind them. All three of them held the door against the pressure of the flow of blood, breathing hard. They looked around and found that they were in what looked like a small ballroom with tables set up for some kind of party. There was a rolling bar set up in one corner. In the other corner, there was DJ equipment set up.

“What was that?” Nancy asked. She was looking down at her formerly white socks which were now red. Her sneakers were probably ruined.

“It wasn’t cherry kool-aid, that’s for sure,” Rob said.

They slowly eased off of the door and it held by itself. They made their way into the room.

“This place has some really creepy tricks,” Nancy said.

“I’ve heard some nasty things about the place they used to be. I think it was called the Overlook,” Rob said.

“I don’t think I want to know,” Nancy said.

“So, where is Jack?” Lydia said. She practically yelled it she was so mad.

“He is down below,” A voice from behind the bar said. “doing the devil’s work. He is not to be disturbed.” The man’s nametag read Lloyd and he was dressed like an employee of the hotel.

“Well,” Lydia said. “He’s as good as dead.”

“Yeah,” Nancy said. “We kind of want to talk about this place’s policies on demons and by ‘talk’ we mean stab.”

“I’m afraid that we can’t let that happen,” Lloyd said. “You’ll have to die and we’ll feed you to our new home like all the rest.” As he spoke, several other ghosts faded into view and surrounded the three young demon hunters. The three of them found themselves standing back to back to back, facing the threat.

“Try us, asshole,” Lydia said, practically bearing her teeth in defiance. The ghosts started to move toward the trio.

Nancy swallowed hard and gripped the iron poker tightly. She swung it at the oncoming ghosts and watched them flicker angrily and disappear as the poker passed through them. She kept swinging hard, thrashing around viciously. Rob aimed his shotgun and fired over and over. He wished that he had had time to shake out a salt circle around them to try and hold off the ghosts. He searched his mind for any memories of what his family would have done in this situation. When he ran out of shells, he pulled out a wicked silvery spike and swung that at the ghosts. Its impact made a burning line in each ghost and they flickered and disappeared. For her part, Lydia was also fighting hard. She swung her new sword at each ghost and its steel composition had a similar effect on the ghosts. Her slashes and parries made each ghost flicker and disappear.

After a while, the three of them started to get tired. They kept swinging and getting rid of ghosts but they were starting to notice that ghosts they got rid of earlier were only coming back for more. Lydia had had enough. She dropped her sword and flexed her magical will as she gestured her hand toward Lloyd.

“Back to Hell!” She yelled out. The words somehow sounded amplified and reverberated through the room. The ghosts all suddenly got very still and Lydia closed her fingers one by one. Lloyd’s form trembled and then started to smoke and then it burned up like a piece of paper in the fireplace. She turned to the other ghosts and gestured more widely and they all started to tremble and then burn up. In the silence that followed, she found that she was suddenly sitting in a chair trying to catch her breath. Nancy was kneeling beside her, holding her hand.

“Are you alright?” Nancy asked. Her eyes were wide and glimmered like a puppy dog’s eyes. Nancy was such a good person despite her lineage.

“Yeah,” Lydia said. “Sorry that took so long to figure out.”

“Don’t apologize!” Nancy said. “That was awesome!”

“It was really impressive,” Rob said.

“Thanks,” Lydia said. “It’s been something I’ve been working on for a while just in case you-know-who comes back someday. I’m just really glad it worked.”

“Where would you even learn something like that?” Rob asked. “My family doesn’t have a lot of good experience with witches.”

“She’s a good witch,” Nancy said. “Like Glynda.”

“Glynda with attitude but only because I was tired of being like Dorothy,” Lydia said. “I learned everything from reading and some coaching from some friendly ghosts. I could let you skim some of my books at some point.”

“Really?” Rob asked.

Lydia nodded. “Ever heard of the Handbook for the Recently Deceased?”

“No,” Rob admitted. “But I would love to see it.”

Lydia smiled. “Ask me about it later, then.”

“So,” Rob said. “Are we ready to go downstairs and deal with Jack?”

“I don’t know,” Nancy said. She almost seemed to shrink into her over-sized sweater as she frowned deeply with worry.

“Come on, Nance,” Lydia said. “We’ve come this far and if we don’t do this, then nobody will. Maybe nobody can.”

“She’s right,” Rob said. “Nobody is going to believe us about the demons. Believe me.”

“Alright,” Nancy said. She sighed and then took a deep breath. “Let’s get this over with.”

Aftershocks: Demon Days Pt. 1

October 7, 2017

Aftershocks 2

Lydia and Nancy decided to skip the Principal’s office since he had phrased it as optional. In fact, as weeks went by, they continued to give the principal’s office a wide berth. It was all too complicated at the moment and they still did not know who to trust. After they had defeated the demon Ley, the two girls hoped that things would calm down and stay calm. So far, they were half right but neither of them believed that it would stay that way for long. Ley had talked about the King of Demons being interested in them and Nancy’s heritage probably made her specifically the target. The two of them tried to do as much normal teenage stuff as they could but it never quite washed away the memories of what had happened in the gym weeks ago.

The normal stuff went out the window when they left their last class of the day and found Rob sitting on the curb, eating a piece of key lime pie. He was wearing the same over-sized trenchcoat but was not openly carrying any weapons this time. In the light of day, the pint-sized monster hunter looked a little funny. However, both of the girls recalled that the boy had powers possibly on par with Nancy’s undefined abilities. He was potentially dangerous but he seemed to be on the side of the angels for now.

“Hey kiddo,” Nancy said. “No car today?”

“I have it stashed away,” Rob said without looking up from the pie. He wiped his mouth with the sleeve of his coat. “I don’t drive it all the time.”

“Smart,” Lydia said with a tiny smirk. “It’s still years before anyone will issue you a license, kid.”

“My name is Rob,” He said. There was no frustration or anger in the words, just a simple reminder of the facts at hand.

“Alright,” Nancy said. She was back to being her usual sunny self but that facade was wearing at the edges in the face of a reminder of a very bad night. “What can we do for you, Rob?”

“Yeah, we actually have homework to do,” Lydia said.

“I wanted to talk to you both after the heat died down,” He said.

“Well, it feels like it’s dead as a doornail now,” Lydia said. “Did you want your sword back?”

“No, that’s alright,” He said. “I just wanted to talk.”

“I’m not sure I’m interested, Rob,” Nancy said. She was hugging herself so hard that Lydia feared her arms might start wrapping around her a few too many times.

“Let’s hear him out, Nance,” Lydia said. “He helped us out. It’s not like we owe him but so far he’s been alright to us.”

“Fine,” Nancy said. “Lead the way.”

Rob stood and tossed an empty pie tin into the garbage and wiped his mouth with his coat again. He led them down the street and into the public park. He led them into the woods where they stood in front of a metal door hidden under a rocky outcropping.

“Nice secret murder dungeon you have here,” Lydia said.

Rob gave her a look. “It’s just one of my mom and dad’s old bunkers. My family likes bunkers.” He shrugged and pulled out a key and unlocked the door. He walked inside, leaving the door open. Nancy and Lydia looked at each other for a moment before going in. How bad could it be? They stepped inside.

The interior of the bunker was actually pretty nice. There were couches and tables and chairs and rugs. When Rob reached over to the light switch, the lights actually came on so he had somehow gotten working electricity in the woods of a public park. Lydia was impressed, Nancy was absolutely confused. Rob kept walking, moving past what looked like a makeshift kitchen with a fridge. He sat down at a table which already had two chairs set up on the opposite side. It was weird to see somebody younger look so professional.

Nancy and Lydia carefully sat down in the chairs opposite Rob. “So tell me what your deal is?” He asked.

“We’re high schoolers,” Lydia said. “I’m not sure what you’re asking.”

“I’m a dream demon’s daughter and she almost married a ghost!” Nancy blurted out.

“Nancy!” Lydia yelped in surprise. “Why did you just tell a stranger that!”

“Almost married a ghost?” Rob asked.

“He was trying to escape the afterlife. It was gross. I’d rather not say his name. Why did I just say that?” Lydia asked.

Rob simply smiled and turned toward Nancy. “A dream demon?”

“He’s really nasty and now I’m afraid I might be a demon too,” Nancy said.

“You’re not. Otherwise, you would be affected by the circle you’re sitting in and not just the truth glyphs that my uncle carved into those chairs. That’s why you spilled the beans,” he said.

“That’s a dirty trick,” Lydia said. Her eyes narrowed.

“My family has a long history of getting crossed by demons and other supernatural surprises,” He said. “If we’re going to work together then I have to know what’s up.”

“Alright,” Lydia said. “I can respect that. So what’s your deal?”

“Yeah!” Nancy said. “We spilled the beans. Your turn.”

“I hunt things that hunt humans just like my family before me,” Rob said. “I’m alone but all the stories I’ve been told say things just work out better together.”

“Together?” Nancy asked. “What do you have in mind?”

“Yeah,” Lydia said. “We’re not agreeing to just anything.”

“After we got rid of Ley together, other problems have started to pop up. There are signs of other demons. The three of us are the ones to shut them down. We have the experience and the power,” he said.

“How do you know so much about demons?” Nancy asked.

“My family studied them. Also, they fought them directly,” He said. “A lot of the ancient demons are dead thanks to my family or people like them. But demons get created every day and some of the new ones have become just as powerful as the old ones. Ley was barely anything compared to these assholes.”

“So who are we going after then?” Lydia asked. “Which nasty thing?”

“They call him Jack,” Rob said. “He’s a demon of madness which makes him a loose cannon. He’s killed a dozen before I noticed but he’ll only get worse.”

“We have to help, Lyds,” Nancy said. She turned to give Lydia her best puppy eyes.

Lydia looked back at her best friend and fellow outcast. With her oversized sweater and her innocent smile, Lydia was weak to all of that. “Fine. We should use our experiences to do good in the world. Where do we find this Jack?”

“I’ve tracked him down to a hotel,” Rob said.

Bron: Neverwinter Arrival

September 25, 2017

It had been a long trip from where Bron’s tribe roamed to the outskirts of Neverwinter. Bron found himself hesitating to check out the city. The thought of it was a bit overwhelming. Bron had been pretty careful to avoid civilization up until that point. The tribe had rarely been in towns before, preferring the wide open spaces and the freedom that lifestyle provided. The humans and dwarves and little folk towns he had seen had only been during attacks. Bron had been in orc towns on a few occasions and one goblin settlement to guard his tribe’s trade delegation. It was not a pleasant experience but nothing was really pleasant back then.

The Noonday Witch had told him to go West and this was the end of the west as far as Bron knew. Even if it was not, he did not know anything about boats and did not want to get on one. He did not know what to do about a city. What few thoughts he could manage were so tied up in that problem that he failed to notice the guard approaching him.

“Hey there, big fella,” the guard said. The man had a wary but amused look on his face. Bron immediately enjoyed the man’s apprehension. “Why are you staring at the city of Neverwinter? I guess glaring would be a better word, actually.”

“Is there a law against that?” Bron asked.

“No,” the guard said. “I don’t suppose there is but it will make people nervous. We get a lot of visitors walking past here and most of them are relatively clothed and clean.”

“I will go in when I am ready.”

“Do you need somebody to hold your hand?” The guard asked with a smile.

Bron narrowed his eyes. “I am Bron. I am scared of nothing.”

“Good,” the guard said. “The gates are open. My name is Aroc Blackstone. You behave yourself, alright?”

Bron was so taken aback by his manner of speaking that he simply just started walking past the man. He did not care who this little man was, Bron would show that he was not afraid. Bron had truly feared little in his life beyond the dark power of the warlock who lead his tribe. And even then, anger could be so much more powerful than fear. He walked through the gates and although he got a few second glances, nobody moved to stop him. He thought there would be several people trying to repel him. He had been raised to be the enemy and yet a lot of people paid him no mind.

He walked down the streets and saw all sorts of new things. His senses were in overdrive as he looked around. There were vendors shouting for people to buy their wares. There were all sorts of exotic looking people. Bron almost bumped into a Dragonborn woman. The woman did not apologize and neither did Bron, they simply stared at each other. If she was waiting for an apology, she would be waiting forever. She finally stepped aside and walked on her way and Bron walked on his. That was the first Dragonborn that Bron had ever seen. It was strange and Bron wanted to fight one immediately.

He continued to walk down the street. He saw men and women creeping in alleyways. He saw women hanging in doorways, calling out to men. He saw warriors, heavily armored and carrying gleaming weapons. He saw temples for the first time. People honoring gods outside of Gruumsh. There were the smells of good food and fresh ale. It was all so interesting. Bron had little experience with all of it.

“Where are you headed to?” A dwarf asked from the open door of an inn. For the second time, Bron had been caught off guard.

“My business,” Bron said. He started to walk

“Where are the rest of your clothes?” The dwarf asked, spitting on the street to punctuate the sentence.

“What clothes?” Bron asked.

“You’re as dumb as you are ugly, aren’t you?” The dwarf asked, narrowing his eyes.

Bron grunted. “I don’t care about thinking,”

“Alright. I’ll try not to tax you. There will be no thinking necessary,” The Dwarf said. “How about a job? A place of your own?”

“A place of my own?” Bron asked. He had never owned anything besides his weapons and the food he hunted or took by force. The thought of his own territory no matter how small was an appealing thought. He could start to make a name for himself here. He could show his strength and earn the respect or fear of those around him. Through those two emotions, he could earn power. Power to do as he wished. The look in his eye grew far too excited and he could sense the dwarf move a little nervously, a little bit of doubt creeping in.

“There is a room upstairs. Unfurnished. I don’t suppose you need any furniture, though. You can stay here if you work for me as a bouncer,” the Dwarf said.

“A bouncer?” Bron asked. “What is that? Is it a kind of warrior?”

“You stand near the door. Anybody who is inside that I want outside, you make that happen,” The Dwarf said. “Anybody who is outside who I want to stay outside, you also make that happen. You exert my will on other people.”

“Will there be fights?” Bron asked with a smile.

“Sure,” the Dwarf said. “As much as you can handle and all the ale you can drink as long as you’re still standing enough to do your job.”

Sabin the IV

September 16, 2017

Cordell and Edmun were helping Sabin into his armor. This was nothing really new as Sabin had put on armor almost every day since he had turned twelve. Before that, he was often caught trying to wear his father’s armor or his older brother’s armor which was met with amusement and only a tiny bit of annoyance. His father had custom armor made with the family crest put on it and, as he grew, new armor was often given to him on his birthday. It was a comfortable second skin just as a sword was a natural extension of his arm. What was different today was that Lady Elena was trying to talk to Sabin during the process.

“Elena, please,” Sabin said, trying to turn his head to face her which made the rest of his body move which made the job of putting on armor more difficult for the servants. “It is immodest for you to be standing there while I am getting dressed!”

“But Sabin,” Elena protested. “You must speak to me. I have heard that you are going on a journey. Why must I learn of this secondhand, my love?”

“I apologize,” Sabin said. He walked to her, his armor half on and hanging off of his body. He ignored the frustrated sighs of the servants. “I did you a disservice but I have only recently resolved to go on this quest.”

“What quest pulls you from your home and my side?” Elena asked. She pressed her hand to his cheek and he placed his hand on her hand gently.

“It is a quest for you, my love,” He said. “You are the only thing that truly matters.”

“A quest for me?” Elena asked with a quizzical look on her face. “Why, I am right here, my lord. You did not have to travel far to find me.” She smiled sweetly and Sabin knew it was a joke but it was also partly earnest.

Sabin laughed softly. “No, my love. I am journeying for your hand, by which I hope to have the rest of you. Your parents have forbidden our marriage unless I prove myself worthy.”

Elena frowned. “And how will you prove yourself worthy? As if you were not already worthy.”

“Through adventure!” Sabin said with a smile. “Only through great deeds can a man (or a woman) be truly great. I will return with such tales that will spin the heads of your parents on their shoulders. They will beg me to marry you.”

Elena remained frowning. “As attractive as that sounds, could we not merely elope? I desire you as a husband and you cannot do that if you are carried back here a corpse.”

Sabin shook his head, his long brown hair shaking a little as he did. “Have a little more faith than that, Elena,” He said. “Besides, I want to do this the right way. I want your parents and my parents and all of our family to proudly stand by while we exchange our vows. I do not want our bliss to be a point of contention between our families. Moreover, I do not want to drive a wedge between you and your family.”

Elena sighed. Her blue eyes studied Sabin de Lesartesse carefully. Elena Loncroft was of a noble bearing, one of the richest, well-bred, and well-respected families in the area. Her family obviously had its doubts about most who pursued their crown jewel as such a marriage would be immediately advantageous to the suitor and those advantages would only increase after the natural death of Elena’s parents. Sabin was a young man in the prime of his life, a man who eagerly heeded any call to adventure. At a tournament, he had met Elena by chance and the two had talked so long he had nearly missed his turn. He dedicated the subsequent victory to her but in private so as not to put her on the spot. Since then, they had grown fond of each other and that fondness had turned to love.

“There is wisdom in that and it touches my heart,” Elena said. “However, I also surmise that you are eager to go on this adventure.”

“I cannot lie,” Sabin said. “The idea of the wide open world does excite me. My mother used to read me tales of epic adventure. I always hoped that one day I would be the one they wrote stories about. Perhaps, a bard will write a song.”

“My nanny also read me those stories,” Elena said. “Very well, if your heart brings you elsewhere then I cannot keep you here.” She turned away, reaching to wipe away a tear from her cheek.

Sabin wrapped his arms around her from behind and hugged her close. “My heart does draw me away but it will also be what brings me back to you. I swear it.” He smiled and leaned over her shoulder, his hair falling against her hair, blonde mixing with brown. They stayed like that for a moment.

“I am proud of you, my lord, my Sabin,” Elena said. “As much as I hate to see you go, and that hate is considerable, I know that your journey will benefit us. You will come back stronger so you can protect me and, perhaps, our future children.”

“Elena, I would very much like to have children with you,” Sabin said. “As long as they take more after you than me.”

“You are beautiful to me, Sabin,” Elena said. “I would request that you remain beautiful. Make sure the brigands and monsters do not harm your face. I cannot stress this enough.” She smiled brightly at her own joke.

“I will do my best to make that request, each and every battle,” Sabin said. Both of them laughed softly. The sound was a little sad. “Go back to your chambers while I finish getting ready, my love. I will come and say goodbye when I am ready.”

Elena nodded and then turned in his arms and kissed him. Sabin kissed her back, his arm instinctually supporting her lower back as she went on tiptoe. That moment would be burned into Sabin’s memory along with a whole chain of similar memories. She broke the kiss eventually and stroked his cheek before leaving him to put on the rest of his armor.

Redcross Pt. 10

September 9, 2017

Redcross

Sarah poked her head through the door to the street and saw Reverend Simmons on the roof of the church carefully unloading his rifle at even more beasts that were running in the streets. There were a few others firing from their windows in the night. She watched as a bullet landed on one of the beasts and it slumped to the ground but then it got back up again in a moment. She aimed her own rifle and started to fire but she worried it would not do any good. Still, she managed to land a few hits of her own which at least slowed the things and kept them from attacking anyone.

A single wolf’s howl rang out in the night and then a chorus of howls answered it. A pack of wolves ran into the town and before Sarah could aim, she watched one of the wolves slam into one of the mountain lions. The wolf sank its teeth into the hide of the big cat and there was a spray of blood onto the dirt. Sarah was astonished. Why would a pack of wolves run into town to fight a pack of mountain lions? That was stepping around the odd thought of why a pack of mountain lions would randomly storm a town like Essex.

Sarah raised her hand high and shouted. “Hold your fire! Don’t hit the wolves!” She could almost feel the confusion in the air but the gunfire stopped after a moment. She could feel the Reverend’s gaze all the way from on top of the church. She chose to ignore it at that moment and instead watched the wolves and the mountain lions fight. The fighting was fast and bloody as animals almost moved faster than the human eye at times.

After a few tense minutes, the mountain lions decided to turn tail and run out of town. The wolves gave chase, nipping at their heels. One of the wolves stopped in the middle of the town, a few feet from Sarah and looked at her. Sarah stared back into the eyes of the wolf, stunned. She held her hands up, knowing that accidentally looking it in the eye could be seen as aggressive. She tried to look as innocent as possible, holding her rifle above her head. The wolf cocked its head and then ran to catch up to its pack. Sarah let out her breath and looked around the town.

“Is everybody alright?” Sarah called out.

She could see a lot of the men and women of the town filtering out of their homes. They looked rattled but nobody looked injured. It looked as if the town had been very lucky. She scanned the buildings and saw that the door of the doctor’s house had been torn apart. She jogged over and made her way past the broken pieces of the door. She kept her rifle ready.

“Doctor?” She called out. “Are you alright?” Her heart hammered up against her rib cage and she took two deep breaths to calm herself as she made her way up the stairs. The doctor appeared at the top of the stairs.

“I’m alright,” She said. “The thing had just about gotten through the door when somebody shot it in the back. My guess is I have the Reverend to thank.”

Warren made his way through the door behind Sarah slowly. “Is everything alright?”

“We won’t be needing your services, Mr. Chilton.” The doctor said. Sarah had to smile at that little joke.

“I’m glad of it, ma’am,” Warren replied with a smile. “I don’t really want my skills to be in high demand.”

The doctor descended the stairs now that she knew that things were as safe as they were going to get. She was in her nightgown, her spectacles balanced on her nose. “Are you alright, Sarah? I can see the sheen on your forehead.”

“One of them attacked me outside of my home,” Sarah said. “It broke the back door of my office when I ran. I scared it off.”

“With that famous Redcross marksmanship, I suppose?” Asked Warren.

“Yes,” Sarah said. “But after I shot it, it had the nerve to get back up. It was not natural. I have never seen anything like it.”

“Curious,” The doctor said. “Healing of that magnitude is definitely not natural.”

“Do you not also find it curious that these beasts tried to get into the both the doctor’s office and the sheriff’s office?” Warren asked. “I have long scratches on my door that would seem to prove that these animals had an agenda.”

“What kind of agenda would a pack of mountain lions have?” Sarah asked. “And why would a pack of wolves have an opposite agenda?”

“There is more at work here than is normal, I believe,” Warren said.

“Are you actually considering he supernatural, Mr. Chilton?” Marion asked.

Warren waved the question away with his hand. “Ridiculous. There is still no proof.”

“I don’t know about that, Warren,” Sarah said. “Things are getting really strange around here.”

“And do you recall the wounds on our mystery body?” Marion asked. “I told you that I thought they looked feline in nature. Now we are invaded by wild cats. Is that merely a coincidence.”

Warren was about to say something but Sarah cut him off. “No, it can’t be,” She said. “I believe those animals are the same ones that killed the man. Now, what that means is still up for debate.”

“I agree,” Warren said. “Surely we must gather more evidence before making a conclusion.”

“Of course, I agree as well,” Marion said. “However, even though my hypothesis would have me laughed out of several universities, I still believe that we are dealing with the supernatural.”

“I don’t know whether I want you to be wrong or right, Doctor,” Sarah said with a shiver. “Either way, we better be on our guard from here on out. You should stay with me until we can get your door fixed.”

“You’ll get no argument from me, Sheriff,” Marion said. “I promise to be a good house guest. I know you have your rounds ahead of you, I will meet you back at your home.”

“Goodnight ladies,” Warren said. “And be careful.”

The Symbol

August 26, 2017

Victoria had lived with the symbol all of her life. It was hanging over the front door both inside and out of her childhood home. It was carved into the center of the family dinner table. It was carefully tiled into one of the shower walls. It had been imprinted on the fence posts bordering her ancestral home. At age four it was meticulously tattooed onto her shoulder. It was a very traditional symbol that had been in her family for a long time. Some now confused it for a family crest but it was far more than that. It was a demon ward. It was designed to ward against a very particular demon.

That particular demon would be Solantria and she was a wicked one. Victoria’s ancestor, Leonidas Heathrow, had made a deal with the demon in order to gain the power to save the local town from a dragon. Her many-times-great grandfather had been between a rock and a hard place but he made the sacrifice for the right reasons. When it came time for Solantria to collect, Leo was not available. He had perished after the deed was done but his spirit, his bright and shiny soul had been taken away by the Great Dragon. Feeling cheated, Solantria decided that the family would have to settle their ancestor’s debt. Until the symbol, too many of the family had fallen to the wicked demon.

However, with the advent of the symbol, the demon was kept at bay and the family had flourished. What had started with but one Heathrow had spread to many different kingdoms. Many of them were not even Heathrows anymore but Victoria was. She was proud to be part of the original line. They had taken Leonidas’ sacrifice as a symbol and they worked to gather mystical knowledge to keep the world safe. Some strayed from that specific path but, for the most part, the family loved to be of some service. They left the world better than they had found it. All done while keeping a watchful eye for the demon’s inevitable attempt to return.

For her part, Victoria had become an expert in mystical artifacts. She had collected quite a few after she had grown up and left the family estate. She was currently in residence in Callia, a lovely little apartment scattered with magical items. Some of them Victoria had not yet figured out but that was the fun of it. She tended to crack every puzzle put in front of her eventually and she loved that daily challenge. She was partnered with several magic schools and universities who either sent items to her or summoned her to exam problems. Most every librarian in the world knew her name or would soon learn it. She was happy with that.

She had been examining a ring sent from several towns over when a note had been slid under her door. She walked over and unfolded it, adjusting her spectacles. Her friends wanted to go out for a drink. Victoria looked out of her big window and was surprised that the sun had gone down and the moon was traveling through the sky. Where had the time gone? She could always figure things out the next day. Friends were important. They were just another extension of family which was the most important thing besides your health. Victoria grabbed her coat and slipped it on. Her favorite weapons were almost always tucked inside.

She made her way down the street which was dimly lit by oil lanterns but she felt safe enough in this part of town. Besides, the tavern was not far. The ogre of a bouncer opened the door for her and she thanked him with a smile. She walked into the bar but did not see a single one of her friends. In fact, the place was fairly empty. Victoria frowned and wondered just how late it had gotten. Her stomach grumbled. She moved to sit at the bar and the hawk-nosed bartender smiled at her. She smiled back at him.

“What do you have for dinner tonight, Abram?” She asked.

“Dinner, Ms. Heathrow?” Abram asked with a playful smile and a toss of his blond locks. “It is a little late for dinner. Did you just now come back from the clouds?”

Victoria laughed softly. “Yes. I’m afraid so,” She said. “I really should get better at eating at regular times.”

“Why do what regular folk do when you can be interesting?” Abram asked.

“Interesting is fine but eating is healthy,” Victoria said.

“I can cook up some sausage with some onions and tomato sauce?” Abram asked.

“It sounds great, Abram. I’ll eat whatever you put in front of me,” She said.

“We’ll see,” Abram said with another laugh. He headed just out of sight to fire up the sausages. Victoria could hear as the pan bang against the brick of the stove.

It paid to be a regular. People were happy to give you more than they would give a stranger. Victoria did not have a lot of friends due to her bookish life but she cherished the connections she had made. She smiled to herself as she waited for Abram to get done. Maybe he would chat with her over her dinner and she would tip him generously despite his protests. She liked that whole song and dance.

Victoria barely even noticed the hooded woman sitting next to her, at least not at first. She only noticed her when the woman reached over the bar for a bottle and two glasses. She had grabbed some really good stuff. It was an aged scotch/whiskey blend from the kingdom of Shahl. Very expensive stuff and this woman was just helping herself.

“Hey!” Victoria said. “You can’t just help yourself.”

The hooded woman said nothing but poured two glasses of the classy booze and pushed one of the glasses toward Victoria. Victoria just looked at the glass.

“I think you’re going to need that,” The woman said. “Drink up.”

“Who do you think you are?” Victoria asked indignantly. She wished Abram would come out and chase this rude woman out.

“I think you know exactly who I am, Victoria,” The woman said. She drew back her hood. The woman’s skin was light purple, her hair raven black, her eyes blood red. There was a horn protruding from the left part of her forehead and a broken off nub protruding from the right part. All of this was proper evidence but the woman’s smile was what really spoke volumes. The look in her eyes told Victoria everything she needed to know.

“You!” Victoria yelled.


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