Posts Tagged ‘dragons’

The Dragonsong

April 4, 2019

Akhona paced in the hall, the marble echoing under each of his steps, the claws of his feet clicking against the stone. He was nervous, far more nervous than he had been since he could remember. In fact, he did not really ever remember being nervous. He was part of the third generation which meant that he had never known any other world than this one. He liked his life, it was fairly peaceful. He was in training to be a knight like his uncle, a great warrior who protected the peace. He worried that that peace was now in danger. Which is why he was pacing. Finally, the door opened and his uncle, Mpendulo, stepped out into the hall looking very perturbed.  Akhona paused for a moment but he could not hold in his excitement.

“Uncle,” Akhona said. “What is going on? The palace is abuzz with rumors.  Please tell me.” He perhaps got too close to his uncle and had to be pushed back to give some personal space.

“Walk with me, nephew,” Mpendulo said and gestured for Akhona to follow before he started walking. Akhona hurried to keep up. “I apologize for having to exclude you from the meeting, you are not yet allowed to sit in the room during such conferences.”

“I know, uncle,” Akhona said. “I am still in training.” He lowered his eyes to the floor. He knew his place even if he longed for more responsibility, more acknowledgment. He was caught between respect and excitement.

“Yes, my young squire,” his uncle said. “And yet, I am not forbidden to fill you in on what I know.” Akhona looked up with a slow smile and met Mpendulo’s smiling eyes.

“Is that so?” Akhona asked, easily keeping pace with his uncle. The question was tentative as his uncle did sometimes test Akhona by dangling a learning opportunity in front of him.

“It is up to a knight’s discretion to pass on information that might help in their mission,” Mpendulo said. “As my squire, I need you to know what I know in order to keep the peace. If you live in ignorance, you are of no use to me.”

“As you say, uncle,” Akhona said. “My eyes are your eyes, my claws are your claws. My mind is receptive to your teaching.”

“Thank you,” Mpendulo said. “It relieves me some to hear you say so. As golden dragons, we are often given the hardest tasks but there is nobody I trust more than family.” The two of them stepped out onto one of the palace’s balconies. With the additional space, the two of them changed shape from two-legged beings to their full dragon forms. Mpendulo paused and looked out over the beautiful land of Dragonia. It was a rich yet varied land due to the many energies of its denizens. Swamps, mountains, plains, forests, and more had been gifted to their kind to live in.

“Please tell me everything, uncle,” Akhona said. “The anticipation is killing me.”

Mpendulo laughed at that, savoring knowing and holding the power in the situation for a moment. “There is a rumor,” Mpendulo said. “It is a very believable rumor. A strong rumor that a faction is preparing the Dragonsong.”

“The Dragonsong!?” Akhona asked. “That is forbidden! So this faction wants to open the gate wide? They want to return to the land of elves?”

“Yes,” Mpendulo said. “At least, that is the easy assumption. As you know, many of our kind are content with living in this new land. However, others desire to return to our ancestral lands for conquest. Some have managed to slip back there on their own but such travelers are few and far between. With the Dragonsong, they could march on a world that is no longer ours.”

“But those who want to go are undesirables,” Akhona said. “Would it not be better to see them go?”

“We made an ancient promise,” Mpendulo said. “We must make sure they also keep that promise in order to make sure the elves and other races stay safe. It’s their world now. The elves, the humans, the gnomes, and so on.”

“I suppose you’re right, uncle,” Akhona said, backpedaling from his statement and puffing out his chest. “It is our duty and we must do it. We should do it. So how are they meant to do it? What is our first step?”

“Well, the first thing we know is that the song can only be sung from the throat of a small one,” Mpendulo said. “A halfling.”

“I’ve seen those things in books,” Akhona said with a shrug. “I cannot imagine how they would convince a halfling to open the gate.”

“Indeed. The rumor is that the black dragons are abducting halflings to study,” Mpendulo said. “They are taking them by force. Once they have figured out the halflings, I suppose they would find one among them who could change their form to suit their needs.”

“The ability to use our shape change ability to that level is rare, no?” Akhona asked.

“Yes,” Mpendulo said. “Incredibly rare. I’m almost more nervous that the black dragons have somebody with that much ability. I suppose anything is possible in this brave new world but that is for the scholars to figure out. Your sister perhaps.”

“Where do we start?” Akhona asked, both nervous and excited at the same time. He was still a young dragon, merely a hundred years old.

“We find isolated black dragons and we start trying to get information out of them,” Mpendulo said. “We work our way up the chain and we find whoever is doing this.”

Akhona cracked his knuckles and flexed his claws. “So we do this by force?” There was very real excitement in his eyes.

Mpendulo chuckled. “If we have to,” he said. “As always, if we can use or words instead, we will. We cannot be quick to strike when we can persuade or intimidate.”

Akhona took a deep, centering breath and tried not to be disappointed. “You are right as always, uncle,” he said.

Mpendulo actually fully laughed this time. “Not always, nephew,” he said.

(Written 3/26/19)

How to Train Your Dragon

April 9, 2016

So Dreamworks Animation is kind of hit and miss. I loved The Prince of Egypt and the Road to El Dorado which were both movies that kind of glommed onto the Disney style. Antz, although it ended up being similar to a Pixar movie, was actually really good. Shrek was good and Shrek 2 was actually better. I really liked Kung Fu Panda as I felt like it had a lot of heart and more substance than flash. I also liked and reviewed Mr. Peabody and Sherman and the Penguins of Madagascar right here on the blog. There are a lot of clunkers between those. The Madagascar franchise and the latter half of the Shrek franchise especially, are not good. So it is with a 50/50 track record that I approach a movie about Vikings and dragons and hope it’s as good as people say.

Let’s approach this one first from a technical standpoint because I used to want to be an animator and I still study it. Even six years ago the animation is a little stiff but still very fluid. The cool stuff is really subtle, like hair moving with people’s movements or excellent lighting. The character models are really neat looking. So neat that they kind of re-used the same style for The Croods. I haven’t studied Vikings so I don’t know how accurate it is but that doesn’t matter. They created a look and feel to their world that is consistent and interesting looking. Even the drawings and writing we see is really neat to look at. The “camera work” is really fun and exciting especially during action sequences. A lot of it looks like a live action adventure movie. Throw in a good score and excellent foley and creature sounds and we have a movie.

The movie starts with what looks like it will be a literal hero’s call to journey. We see a warrior culture fighting against the only threat they have ever faced. There are too many tropes going on to name. We have the misunderstood outcast, the father who loves but doesn’t understand his son, the intellectual in a world of brawn and so on and so on. Each of these is taken in a slightly different direction though and most of them are only noticeable in the early parts. Instead, we get a movie that extols the virtues of being smart and kind and that sometimes it’s braver not to fight. These are great messages to teach these days as some groups try to prove that this is a weakness. It also throws in the easy message of the power of friendship and forgiveness.

The star of the movie is voiced by Jay Baruchel whose most famous role is arguably the one where he goes on a rant about HD-DVD versus Blu-Ray. His voice isn’t really suited for his character model and doesn’t really fit the body of a preteen but it grows on you eventually. They really should have picked somebody a little more boyish but I get that they were going for nerdy but snarky. America Ferrara is especially good as the tough and driven Astrid and I loved every bit of her strength mixed with very reasonable insecurities. Gerard Butler and Craig Ferguson play really fun Vikings who manage to be kind of touching too. Everybody else is pretty good too.

Overall, the movie is a good family movie that has a lot of heart and a good message. I laughed in all the right places and I felt in all the right places. It’s a little paint by numbers but it’s definitely worth your time if you’re interested.

Brofka the Wise

April 11, 2013

If Sabin wanted to be exhausted and covered in mud, he could have stayed back home in Sodor.  Sometimes herding pigs sounded like a pleasant alternative to dealing with Brofka the Wise.  Brofka the Bully was a better nickname but Sabin dared not say it out loud.  Of course, he had said it out loud earlier that morning when Brofka had woken him up before sunrise.  Sabin was sporting a bruise on his left cheek as a result.

 

The rain was still drizzling down on Sabin and the surrounding yard but that was fine since it had been pouring earlier.  Thankfully, it was midsummer so the rain wasn’t cold especially since Sabin was soaked to the bone.  By this point, Sabin was taking any wins he could get.

 

With all this water around, of course Brofka had Sabin working on his fire magic.  He was supposed to be lighting fires but the most he could get was puffs of steam.  It was really hard to concentrate with all of the rain and it was well past time for lunch.  Brofka had made it clear that he could not come inside and eat until he lit a fire.  Sometimes he hated that old man.

 

He turned from glaring at Brofka’s house to focus on the little lean to he had built so the wood was at least not getting directly rained on.  He pointed the palm of his right hand towards the wood and brought up his will, focused it and attempted to will the logs to light on fire.  All he received was a slightly encouraging billow of steam.  It was bigger than the little puffs he was getting earlier.  He sighed and sat on a damp stump and wondered if this would ever work.  He had done it before but often it was not on purpose.

 

The back door to the house opened suddenly and Sabin jumped to his feet and pointed his palm at the wood.  He could hear Brofka groan in frustration behind him.

 

“Have you not set the wood on fire yet?  It’s been two hours!” He bellowed from the doorway.

 

“I’m trying!” Sabin responded roughly without looking at his mentor. “Sir.” He added as an afterthought.

“Trying isn’t going to cut it; actually succeeding is the only way you’re getting a midday meal. Well, at this rate it will be a mid-afternoon meal.”

 

Sabin only tried to ignore the old man and focus his will on the logs again.  Brofka put the hood of his cloak up and walked towards Sabin.  He was carrying a very familiar short stick.  Sabin tried to ignore this as well and desperately tried to focus on setting the logs ablaze.  Of course, Brofka was so close that he was really hard to ignore.

 

Brofka laughed and pointed at the lean to and the logs. “It seems you’re a better carpenter than you are a sorcerer.  Believe me, that is not saying much.  Can you even get anything more than steam?”

 

Sabin turned to glare at Brofka. “Sir, I lit it earlier.”  He said simply. He was trying not to lose his temper.

 

“Yeah?  What happened?  Why didn’t you come get me?”

 

“I was about to but the rain put it out.” Sabin admitted.

 

“It doesn’t count then.  Focus and get it done. I’m waiting.” Brofka folded his arms across his chest and stared.

 

Sabin pointed his palm again and began to focus his will.  Of course, this is when Brofka drove the short stick into Sabin’s side. Both men could hear the soft crack of a rib breaking.  Sabin nearly sank to one knee but barely stayed standing. The pain was intense, and for a moment all Sabin could see was stars.

 

“Focus!  In battle, you’d never get this moment to recover!  Light the fire!”

 

Sabin grunted and focused again on the wood. “Shut up, old man.”

 

“Light the fire!  Get your worthless peasant ass in gear!”

 

Sabin turned to face Brofka, his eyes ablaze in a vicious glare. “Shut up!” And with those words a jet of flame erupted from Sabin’s palm and lit the logs and the little lean to on fire.  The fire felt nice, as damp as Sabin was.  There was a long silence as Brofka stared at Sabin and Sabin glared at Brofka.

 

It was Brofka who broke the silence after several tense moments.  “It’s about time.” He picked up a bucket the rain had filled with water and used it to put out the fire. He took a deep breath. “So, do you understand?”

 

Sabin thought about that question. “I think I’m starting to… but I don’t think the lesson is ‘get pissed to cast spells’, right?”

 

“No, Boy.  The use of magic does not come from emotion. It comes from will and it comes from belief.  You can focus all day on those damned logs and it won’t mean a thing unless you believe you can create fire.  You have to believe that you can do it, picture it in your head.  If you hold that belief in front of you, nobody will be able to stop you. I’ll make sure that I train you to be better than I was, yeah?”

 

“Yes sir, I guess no gambling away my money then.” Sabin said with a smirk.

 

“You are an ass.” Brofka’s slight smile didn’t match his words.

 

“So… can I go inside now?”

 

“Sure.” He turned to lead the way inside. “By the way, Boy… good job.”

 

Sabin smiled and stepped into the dry interior of the little cottage.

Sabin de Lasartesse

August 29, 2009

This is the character backstory for upcoming D&D adventures.  Sabin is a human fighter with a swordfighting leaning.

Sabin de Lasartesse was born to a family of great importance.  Or rather, it had been a family of great importance.  As generations had passed the family had been slowly stripped of title and wealth.  While still well off, the __ clan was far from its glory days.

Still, Gene de Lasartesse was able to to teach his five sons the family tradition of sword fighting.  Thrown in duel after duel with his brothers, Sabin was forced to either excel in his training or suffer humiliating defeat.  This high pressure training worked and soon he was matching his brothers’ skills with the blade. Even though they competed against one another everyday the brothers grew close.

So it was that Noah de Lasartesse got into a dispute with a neighbor and when words failed to satisfy they drew blades and dueled.  Noah fell to the neighbor’s blade and an enraged Sabin stepped in to avenge his brother.  Sabin struck a fatal blow, sending his enemy to his death.  However, Sabin had broken the local law and was forced to flee.

His only hope is to achieve such success that he raises his family’s status back to where it belongs.  With his home at his back he looks for that one golden opportunity.  If he helps people along the way, all the better.

Appearance: Sabin has blue eyes and dirty-blond hair about mid length that he ties back.  He keeps his beard and mustache well-trimmed.  He wears decent clothes and is embarassed when something is out of order.  He’s 6′ 2″ and is lean and fairly muscular.  All of his gear bears his family crest.
Traits: Sabin is brave and tries his best to be an honorable human being.  He tries to emulate all the heroes he read and heard about as a kid.  He is a true friend given a chance.
Disadvantages: Sabin definitely can have a temper when it comes to button issues.  Some examples: Family, Honor, his Intelligence.  He also isn’t exceptionally intelligent.

Appearance: Sabin has blue eyes and dirty-blond hair about mid length that he ties back.  He keeps his beard and mustache well-trimmed.  He wears decent clothes and is embarassed when something is out of order.  He’s 6′ 2″ and is lean and fairly muscular.  All of his gear bears his family crest.

Traits: Sabin is brave and tries his best to be an honorable human being.  He tries to emulate all the heroes he read and heard about as a kid.  He is a true friend given a chance.

Disadvantages: Sabin definitely can have a temper when it comes to button issues.  Some examples: Family, Honor, his Intelligence.  He also isn’t exceptionally intelligent.


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