Posts Tagged ‘Fantasy’

Undead Reckoning Pt. 3

September 26, 2020

Talbot arrived at the shop the next morning and was surprised to see a light already on inside even though the sun had yet to rise. He had thought he might have at least a few moments to himself to collect himself, but it could not be helped. He would have to tear the bandage off eventually so it might as well be right away. He pushed the door open and took off his jacket and hung it up. He turned and there was Cara Moonweaver standing there with a slight smile on her face. She always looked so fragile with her thin, willowy limbs but Talbot knew that she was sturdy and strong. She was the senior partner, having started the carpentry shop while Talbot was still in the military and before Silas had arrived from Corria. She was holding two cups of tea.

“Join me for a morning cup?” Cara asked. “It’s still a little chilly out there especially before the sun comes up.” Cara really did not complain about much but she did consistently complain when it was cold. She was very thin so it made sense.

“Thank you, Cara,” Talbot said, taking one of the cups. “It is a relief on an early cold morning.”

“It is early for you,” Cara said, narrowing her eyes. “Is something the matter? Could you not sleep?” Cara had always been extremely perceptive. There were times when Talbot wondered if she might have a slight psychic gift. Her keen insight was why Talbot often came to her for counsel.

Talbot sighed. “To tell the truth, I did not sleep well,” Talbot said. “I was wrestling with something last night.”

“Bad dreams?” Cara asked. “You haven’t had those since your early days here when the war was still fresh behind your eyes.” Over many years, Talbot had probably told Cara the most about his life. His emotions had been more raw when they met and her friendship and the routine and art of carpentry had eased his pain.

“Funny you should mention the war,” Talbot said. He rarely mentioned the W-word. “I received a letter yesterday afternoon that made my thoughts turn dark. My trouble continued into the night.”

“You’ll never truly be at peace until you leave the past behind,” Cara said. “time only heals wounds if you allow them to close.” It was something she had said many times.

“I know you’re not wrong and I thought I was past it,” Talbot said. “but some things tend to reopen those wounds. Like this letter.”

“Tell me about this letter,” Cara said and sat in a chair gracefully.

“Have you ever heard of a Lord Blackrance?” Talbot asked.

“I have not,” Cara said. “his influence has not spread down here. My family would have heard about them but I could put in some inquiries if you want.”

“Thank you but I don’t think that will be necessary,” Talbot said. “I’ll explain that in a minute. He sent me a letter trying to recruit me to take up arms again against a necromancer out in the wastes.”

“You’re not actually considering going out there are you?” Cara asked. “That sounds like a really bloody affair to get involved with.”

“I don’t plan on fighting anything or anyone anymore,” Talbot said. “but I do want to give this Blackrance a piece of my mind. I would like to do it in person. It only involves going to Fallshield so it would be a relatively short trip.”

“You feel that it’s necessary to turn this man down in person?” Cara asked.

“I do,” Talbot said. “If I simply turn away, I feel like I am running from my past again. If I go and talk to him, I will confront everything. It is not something I look forward to but, through our discussions, I think I need to do it.”

“A confrontation instead of merely sending a letter back, though,” Cara started, sounding like she was trying to be careful. “It is a big step. Do you think that it might be an inordinate response?”

“I don’t think so,” Talbot said. “You know me. I consider myself to be a man of honor. This Blackrance drug up a lot of dark things from my past but he also paid me several compliments. It is only right that I refuse him face to face. I could give him a few tips as well.”

Cara took a beat and then spoke calmly and even. “What would your brother think?” she asked. The question hung in the air. If it had been anybody other than Cara who asked, Talbot would have been angry. However, it was an astute question. Cara was incredibly wise.

“Honestly, I don’t know,” Talbot answered. “Barrold was always seeking adventure. He would have jumped on a chance to hunt down a necromancer.”

“You would have jumped on it as well decades ago,” Cara said. “You have an instinct to protect people and a necromancer threatens society itself.”

“Those days are gone,” Talbot said. “Besides, I made a promise to Barrold’s grave that I would give that life up and I would live for the both of us.”

“He never asked you for that promise,” Cara said. It was true, Barrold would have never tried to control Talbot’s life. He would have supported any decision that Talbot made.

“I still intend to keep it,” Talbot said. “I’m done fighting. I’ll go and close the door and then I’ll come back. It should only take a week at the most by train.”

“Do you need my blessing?” Cara asked, a small smile creeping onto her face. “You have it if you want it.”

“I don’t need it but it is appreciated,” Talbot said with a smile. “All I need is for you and Silas to watch the shop. I promise to pick up the slack when I return.”

“I do not think he will be as understanding,” Cara said. “but you will have to explain things to Silas.”

The shop door opened during that last moment and Silas walked in. “Explain what to me?” he asked. Cara and Talbot looked at each other for a beat.

SteamWorld Heist and Quest

September 21, 2020

Steamworld Heist

I have always been a fan of the Wild West or at least the mechanics and look of the film Wild West. The genre is kind of defunct now but there are some great movies that belong to it. Firefly was the first thing I watched that linked the Wild West aesthetic with space travel. This game is about a gang of steam-powered robots who have formed a pirate crew made up of “Cowbots” in a world after the Earth exploded. You primarily play as Captain Piper Faraday, an expert sniper. At the start, all but two of your crew have been scrapped (killed). You must recruit a new crew and work toward raising your reputation as you progress from rascals to heroes. You spend most of your time trying to pull off heists which are really smash-and-grab boarding missions.

As you can see in the trailer above, the game’s combat is turn-based. Each character has a class and is able to use different weapons. Each character also has their own skills which add more to the strategy of the game. For example, Piper has the ability to inspire or heal the bots around her. Sally Bolt can fire again if her first shot kills a target. There are tons of weapons and gear you can get from shops (mostly bars and bodegas). The other main mechanic is that all aiming is done manually by the player. That leads to fun ricochet shots and trick shots that are fun to try and wrap your head around.

Steamworld Quest

Fantasy is obviously a huge genre for me but this game is one of the first I have seen to combine fantasy with steampunk. You play as Armilly a young steambot knight wannabe who has applied over and over to the Hero Guild with no success. She is joined by an alchemist named Copperina and a Handyman named Galleo. The trio sets out to rescue the entire Hero Guild and fight a new evil empire. They are later joined by a knight of legend, Orik, and two shifty rogues named Tarah and Thayne. You explore maps while engaging other bots in battle.

This is a turn-based system with an interesting card mechanic. Each turn you get a “hand” of cards each of which has a character’s skill or attack on it. You can play up to three cards per turn. If you play three cards for the same character, they do an additional fourth ability or attack. Additionally, some attacks and skills require “steam power” to be used while simpler skills and attacks build that steam power. It is a constant strategy problem of proper deck-building and resource management. You need to optimize your cards in order to make sure you always have moves to make.

Both Games

Both games obviously share the same art style and writing. The art is cartoony yet detailed which gives each character a unique look. The worlds both games travel through are full of little background details and NPCs that delightful. Both games are full of dialogue which is cute and funny as the characters are allowed to be weird, flawed, and somewhat real. The heroes are allowed to make mistakes and even the villains can be likable. Both are goofy games that are not that long but are infinitely replayable.

Poor Unfortunate Souls: Atlantica Pt. 6

August 29, 2020

The kitchen had calmed down by the time that Esmeralda dropped her off at the kitchen although it showed every sign of the work that had gone into the meal. Esmeralda had impulsively handed Belle a tarot card before they parted. Belle was studying it as she ate her late breakfast ravenously. She felt a bit like Adam the way she was shovelling food into her mouth. The card was labeled as The Hermit. She had no idea what it meant but the art was pretty. She supposed Adam had been a bit of a hermit before they met, though. In a way, she had been a hermit when she buried herself in her books and shied away from people. The card depicted a supposedly wise old man with a lantern. He looked solemn and maybe a bit lonely.

“She gave me one of those too,” Tiana said as she walked up, wiping her hands on her apron.

Belle quickly chewed and swallowed quickly, just barely avoiding choking. “Oh?” she managed to get out.

Tiana pulled a card from the waistband of her dress and held it up. The card said The Chariot at the bottom and depicted a long-haired man being carried on a litter. Adam had long ago given up most of his royal trappings and it looked absolutely extravagant. It looked much more lively than Belle’s Hermit.

“Any idea what it means?” Belle asked. “I’ve never read about the tarot.”

“I have no idea,” Tiana said. “I knew a man who traficked in such magicks and it turned me off of learning anything about it. I don’t think this is really the same thing. Esmeralda is a nice woman, I am sure it does not mean anything bad.”

“Sure,” Belle said. “I’ll have to look it up when I have a chance. When this is all over.”

“Tell me before we return to our worlds,” Tiana said with a smirk.

“You could just ask Esmeralda,” Belle said. “We could both do that, actually.”

“There’s fun in the mystery,” Tiana said. “The journey is just as worth it as the destination even if it is hard.”

“That’s true,” Belle said. “Most of my life I sat around waiting for change but it didn’t happen until I made it happen.”

“You’re my kind of woman, Belle,” Tiana said. “I think we might have a lot in common.” Belle was starting to realize that this was probably true. Though their personalities were different, they might have gone through similar adventures.”

Belle smiled. “Did your fiance magically transform leading you through a chaotic adventure where you learned a lot about yourself?” she asked.

Tiana laughed and tucked her card away. “Actually, he did,” Tiana said. “He and I both transformed into frogs and got lost in the swamp.”

Belle was intrigued. “My fiance was cursed and transformed into a raging beast,” she said. “He changed back to human, though.” The events still felt fresh in her mind. The fear, the curiosity, and the love were still all mixed together. She and Adam were just starting to really connect now that the chaos had stopped. Of course, the chaos had started again.

“With true love’s kiss?” Tiana asked. Belle was surprised. Was true love’s kiss a common thing? It was something to weigh in her upcoming studies, she supposed. She wondered if the research should go beyond books. Books were always a good place to start but there seemed to be a lot of magical experience connected to everyone involved in this crisis.

“More or less,” Belle said as she blushed. “Oh and all of his servants had been transformed into furniture.”

“Alright, you got me beat there,” Tiana said. “That is absolutely wild. We’ll have to compare notes at some point.” Belle was amazed at how easily Tiana could talk to other people. Belle was still working on that aspect of her life. She and Adam were both working on it in different ways.

“I get the feeling that this place is full of people with interesting stories,” Belle said. “I wish I had more time but I need to be in the library to study how to beat this thing.”

“Good luck on that,” Tiana said. “As much as I like cooking for all of this royalty and fine folk, I miss my husband, my mother, and my home.”

“I miss my husband and my father,” Belle said. “We’re still figuring home out. We’re still figuring a lot of things out.”

“So are we but we were settling in. Again, I tell you good luck,” Tiana said. “I won’t keep you here. It looks like you enjoyed your breakfast, though.”

“It was so good,” Belle said. “I hate to rush off.” She pocketed her tarot card quickly.

“We all have our jobs to do,” Tiana said. “You’ll prove your worth when you help solve this thing.”

Koshain

August 1, 2020

(I thought I would update information on one of the fictional lands of my fantasy setting which kinda sort of is still a D&D campaign setting.)

Koshain is a desert nation in the middle of the continent of Aldona. The land of Koshain is cursed with a desert climate due to the fallout from the events that occurred in what is now the neighboring nation of Khull. The magical fallout created a harsh atmosphere full of sandstorms and cloudless skies allowing for oppressive heat. Lesser nations might have been driven out but Koshain adapted their way of life several millennia ago. Many residents of the nation fell back to live in the more stable city centers where they could find shelter from the wind. Farming moved underground where magic helped sustain a lot of agriculture. However, in the transition, insects native to Koshain went on the menu and remain a delicacy for the rich and a necessity for the poor.

Others set up a system of nomadic life where people keep moving to keep ahead of the sandstorms. The constant movement helped in establishing a massive trade network that was needed to obtain foodstuffs and goods that were no longer readily available in Koshain. Dwarven stone-cut outposts set themselves up as outposts and shelters for trading caravans. The dwarves also found rich deposits of jewels and ore that became very useful for trading, allowing the nation to have a chance of survival and eventually led to success. However, the trade-based economy led to a large gap between classes. City trade barons and aristocrats (often the same thing) became richer and their workers were stuck under their collective thumb. This eventually led to a large criminal contingent who view themselves as freedom fighters and revolutionaries instead of villains.

At some point, the Koshani people adopted specially formulated face paint to keep their skin from burning. The lower class just slathered on one color while the rich often painted their faces in ostentatious multicolor art pieces. Face painting has evolved into an elaborate social status ritual with different classes and families following different patterns. A millennia ago, Koshain suffered from a horrible plague that killed many of its citizens. To combat this respiratory sickness, Koshani people adopted face masks as protection. The lower classes strapped on cheap masks and soldiered on. Once again, the rich went in an artistic and showy direction and had beautiful masks designed to hide their faces away from the world. When the plague subsided, the poor discarded their masks (except when traveling in sandstorms) but the rich kept their tradition. Criminal leaders adopted masks that are almost parodies of the masks of the wealthy.

Because of the large criminal population in the cities, the capital of Corren is also the home to the world’s greatest lock designers (and consequently the greatest lockpickers). The criminal element is broken down into different guilds who have each declared themselves as autonomous factions separate from the governance of the rulers of Koshain. The various thieves guilds compete with one another but are definitely also aligned with each other against the upper class. Alliances are common between the guilds and crews often encounter each other while out on the job. For example, a second crew might show up during a heist and would decide to distract law enforcement to obtain a later favor from a guild. The enemy of their enemy is often their friend.

Speaking of the rulers of Koshain, there is a Koshani King that passes through generations through biological children (legitimate or not). The King is the ruler, never the Queen although the Queen is revered as a celebrity. The truth is that it does not matter as much who is King. The King often consults a council in order to make decisions which is made up of the heads of the most profitable trading empires. Aristocrats often buy their titles and pass them down through the generations. These titles are much less restricted by gender as it is recognized that women and nonbinary people can be shrewd in business. The King rarely makes major decisions without economic input.

Poor Unfortunate Souls: China Pt. 3

July 18, 2020

Mulan was a little surprised when Yao hugged her when she entered the hastily assembled war room of the fort. The usually grumpy Yao pushed away after only a moment but was still grinning from ear to ear. Mulan found herself smiling even though Shang was still down in the medical tent. Mulan, Shang, Yao, Chien-Po, and Ling had been through a lot of adventures together. It made Mulan’s heartache and worry about Khan and Mushu who were still missing in action. Still, it was good to be in a stable environment with a friend in front of her although they were not always exactly friendly.

“Mulan!” Yao croaked out in his somewhat raspy voice. “I am so glad to see you. I was worried about a lot of our friends and the Emperor’s forces. I made it here with some of our soldiers but I am out of my element in command.”

“You seem to have done pretty well,” Mulan said. “The soldiers looked orderly and the fort is running smoothly and is fortified.”

“Do you know where Shang is?” Yao asked. “He could take over. He could even counterattack through this chaos.”

Mulan took a deep breath. “My husband is in the medical tent,” she said. “He is injured and unconscious but I am hopeful that he will recover.”

“I’m sorry,” Yao said. “I have great respect for General Shang.”

“We all do,” Mulan said. “Is that white healer really any good?” She instinctively looked over her shoulder back toward the medical tent. Her husband had been in pretty bad shape but she had thought him dead before and had been glad to have been wrong. Shang was a fighter and she had to count on that.

“Yes,” Yao said. “I wouldn’t have put her in charge there if she wasn’t. Rapunzel has magic when it comes to healing and she’s so damned perky it’s hard to beat her optimism. It kind of gives me the creeps. We rescued these foreigners and they have come in useful. They all claim to be royalty so it made sense to let them make themselves comfortable. In return, they have helped us operate more smoothly without trying to take over. Believe me, I tried with that Aladdin.”

“He seems capable but I’m not sure if we can trust them that far,” Mulan said. “As far as we know this is the last major holdout after the attack on the Imperial City.”

“Then you should take over, Mulan,” Yao said. “You’d be a much better leader.”

“I’m not even officially in the military,” Mulan said. “I don’t know if that’s proper.”

“You’re an advisor to the Emperor!” Yao said.

“I turned that post down. Remember?” Mulan asked. “I’ve helped out in an unofficial capacity but I don’t really have the skills to lead here.”

“Who cares?” Yao said. “You’re a hero of China. They’ll accept you. Your country needs you Mulan and I know you have always stepped forward.”

“That’s hardly fair,” Mulan said. “I’ll do what it can but I’m not sure if that isn’t too far.”

“It’ll work,” Yao said. “You’ll be better at it than I am.”

“Fine. If the soldiers agree then I will lead until Shang can take over,” Mulan said. “He is much better in command and I am much better at doing my own thing. It’s how we work.”

“It’s a deal,” Yao said excitedly. “I’m sure you won’t have to shoulder the burden for long. Shang will be up on his feet quick. Where should we start boss?”

Mulan sighed. “I guess I should meet with these foreigners and get the lay of the land,” she said. “I have to admit to being very curious. How many are there?”

“Only four so far,” Yao said. “Rapunzel is a healer and spends most of her time in the medical tent although she’s handy elsewhere. Anna is a really hard worker and apparently really well-read and is always there with a helping hand. Aladdin is an accomplished fighter and he and his carpet have been going on scouting missions to bring back more survivors.”

“What about the one up in the tower?” Mulan asked. “The one whose speech I can barely understand.”

“Merida is a wild woman but is a crack shot with a bow,” Yao said. “She’s better than anybody I saw in the military and that includes you, Mulan.” He caught a look in her eye. “But not by that much.”

“She needs to learn more manners,” Mulan said. “but it is good to have an accomplished warrior keeping a wary eye on anybody who approaches.”

Hesper’s Web Pt. 8

June 13, 2020

Mariel, Asher, and Luther walked into the light coming from overhead. Directly in that light was the black crystalline form of the Thing that Had Not Been Gwendolyn. It was wrapped in heavy chains. Each link of those chains was carved with warding runes that would guard against magic and would limit the shapechanger’s abilities. The three surrounded the Thing with Mariel facing it directly. She smiled peacefully pretty self-satisfied. The Thing regarded her with malice so strong that one could sense it even though it had no face.

“I think you will find that you cannot move,” Mariel said.

The Thing tried to struggle regardless of Mariel’s warning and confirmed it. There would be no easy escape from this predicament.

“It doesn’t like being told,” Luther said. “Listen to her, she’ll only tell you the truth.”

“I think this discussion will go a little more smoothly if you have a mouth,” Mariel said. She waved her hand and the Thing’s surface ripple and it changed shape. It became a young girl, one who had teased and bullied Muriel back in school. It gave her some satisfaction to see the girl in such a bad way.

“Where am I?” The thing asked with a snarl.

“You are in my mind now, Devilspawn,” Muriel said. “You’ll find it is a lot stronger than the mind of a child. My mental defenses were well-trained by good education and experience. You are at our mercy.”

“You think I am afraid of you?” The Thing asked. She spat. “I’m not afraid of you, little elf.”

“We’re not particularly concerned with how you feel,” Muriel said.

“We’re more focused on your boss,” Asher said. “Hesper.”

“Hesper would devour you in but a moment,” the Thing said. “Do not look for what you do not want to find.”

“Oh we’ll find Hesper,” Luther said.

“With your help,” Muriel said. “Whether you like it or not.”

“You’ll get nothing out of me!” the Thing screamed. It spat and hissed.

“Oh? Is that so?” Muriel asked and then she laughed. “We already have the information we need out of you. You’re in my mind. I whittled down your defenses hours ago without you realizing.”

The Thing looked confused. “Then why am I still here?” it asked.

“You tortured a little girl,” Luther said. “You took days of her life for yourself and tried to take over her body and make it your own.” Images of Gwendolyn and her suffering floated in the air around the Thing. It looked at those images and felt pride at a job well done. Rage flitted across Muriel’s face but she maintained control.

“We wanted to make sure you died,” Asher said.

“And not quick,” Muriel said. “Slow and painful.”

“Do your worst,” the Thing said softly, staring defiantly into Muriel’s eyes.

“I will,” Muriel said. She walked forward and touched the Thing gently on the forehead. The point where she touched burned with green flame. A single candle-sized point of combustion and the Thing shuddered but remained defiant. Slowly the flame started to grow, surface skin started to flake and blow away. As its false face floated away, the Thing finally gave in and started to scream. The sound quickly went from human into something more shrill and inhuman. Muriel waved her hand and Luther and Asher disappeared. Muriel stood there and watched for quite a while as the flame slowly consumed the Thing and then she disappeared herself.

Gwendolyn was out of bed two days later. Everybody voted to stick around and make sure that she was going to recover and regain her health. She was able to walk to the gate where everybody was waiting. She had thankfully forgotten a lot of her experience in her long nightmare but she remembered the more recent positive memories of Muriel and her friends. She had asked them all a million questions as she started to recover but now it was time to go.

“Where are you going?” Gwendolyn asked. “Will you be back?”

“We’re going to go find the devil that hurt you,” Muriel said.

“We probably won’t be back,” Dina said before being elbowed in the ribs by her brother.

“Never say never,” Asher said. “You just focus on getting better. Alright?”

“OK,” Gwendolyn said. “Please get rid of the bad thing. Make sure it can’t hurt anybody else.”

“I promise,” Muriel said. “I promise you we will.”

And then they got onto their horses and they rode away.

Hesper’s Web Pt. 7

June 6, 2020

They all held hands and Gwendolyn wished them back up to the castle. Gwendolyn’s little eyes sparked with hope and relief to see that castle again. The adventurers gathered around the little girl as they approached the gates for the second time. Mariel put her hand on the girl’s shoulder.

“Gwendolyn,” Mariel said. “Things are going to get violent. We are going to have to fight that thing in there and I want you to be prepared for that.”

“I understand,” Gwendolyn said. “You guys are adventurers. You fight the bad things.”

“We do indeed,” Luther said. “We are here to protect you and that means getting that thing out.”

“If we could ask you to stay here, we would,” Dimitri said. “It’s going to be too dangerous.”

“But we need you with us because you have the power here,” Asher said. “You’re our back up, kiddo.”

Gwendolyn nodded timidly and smiled. “Okay,” she said.

Dimitri and Luther led the way but Gwendolyn nodded at the gate and it opened easily for them. There were no preliminaries this time. No mermaids. No unicorns. They arrived immediately in the throne room once again. The Thing That Was Not Gwendolyn locked eyes with Gwendolyn and, to her credit, Gwendolyn did not back down. Asher played a little tune to bolster Gwendolyn’s confidence. Everybody readied their weapons and there was a stillness. Sir Buttonface stepped into the middle of it all with his huge weapon. Something passed over the bear’s face as he saw Gwendolyn.

“Sir Buttonface!” Gwendolyn said with a pout. “You stop that this instant! You are my knight.”

“Master Gwendolyn!” Buttonface said. “What is going on?” He looked back at The Thing on the throne and clutched his weapon a little tighter. “Traitor! Abomination!” He raised his weapon.

“Sir Buttonface!” Mariel called out. “You need to protect Master Gwendolyn. We’ll take care of that thing.”

Sir Buttonface nodded but looked sad. “I apologize for what I have done earlier,” he said. “I will make it up to you.”

“You have nothing to apologize for,” Dimitri said. He was a man of honor and understood how the knight must feel having been fooled and controlled by something so foul.

“Speak for yourself,” Dina said. “Ouch.” However, she was smiling because what were they going to do? Hold a grudge against a teddy bear?

“Protect the girl, Sir Knight,” Luther said. “Let’s do this thing.”

Sir Buttonface scooped up Gwendolyn and lept to the other end of the throne room. She clutched his fur and brought herself closer to him to comfort herself. He shielded her with his body. Gwendolyn was safe and now it was time to get down to business.

The Thing on the Throne stood up and turned into a black, crystalline figure before multiplying into several creatures. They had sharp claws and glowing green eyes. Nobody had seen anything like them but nobody hesitated. They attacked as one but this time there was not an over-sized teddy bear knight in their way. With Gwendolyn returned to her palace, the scales were balanced once again. The battle was not short but one by one the creatures were shattered until one remained. The remaining Thing gibbered and cursed in some dialect from beyond. Mariel focused and summoned a chest and Dimitri and Dina dumped the creature into it. Mariel locked the chest and it disappeared.

“We’re done here,” Mariel said to Luther. “It’s over.” The two of them exchanged a look.

“I guess we can wake up then,” Dina said, looking around.

“I don’t think we got much rest,” Fern said as she stretched.

“We’ll get some soon enough,” Mariel said. “Ironically we have to wake up first.”

“Because that makes complete sense,” Dina said.

“Dream magic is strange,” Mariel said with a shrug. “It’s why people rarely mess with it.”

Gwendolyn and Buttonface walked toward them. “Is it over?” Gwendolyn asked. “Is the bad thing gone?” She seemed to be growing stronger, gaining her footing again in her own mind.

“We’re taking it away,” Asher said. “You can wake up now. We’ll see you when we’re all awake.”

“Okay,” Gwendolyn said. “Thank you.” Her smile warmed the hearts of the adventurers, really the only thanks they needed.

A bright white started to fill the chamber and everybody covered their eyes.

Music of the Sirens – A Witcher Story

April 15, 2020

Jaskier woke up in the middle night and could not get back to sleep. Something about the sounds that Geralt and Yennefer made him frustrated and restless. He could not get back to sleep. He decided to go on a little walk to clear his head. The noises happened a lot since the events in Rinde. Noises that Jaskier had made with many ladies but perhaps not so animalistic. It would not have been a problem if they were not roughing it. If they were in town he would have his own room or some pretty girl’s room and plenty of peace and quiet and maybe even a good time. Instead, they were off on one of Geralt’s adventurers which made some of the best songs but Yennefer had to tag along which left him as the odd one out.

As he got clear of the campsite, he heard the sounds of the forest again and he breathed in deep and let the breath out. He took a few more steps and he thought he heard music. He headed in that direction and then he was absolutely sure it was music. In fact, the song was very familiar. It was really old but Jaskier made it his business to know every song he could find in the world. He walked closer to the singing. He found it easy, each step felt like he was walking on air. He started to sing along with the beautiful female voice. His voice was joined with two other female voices in return. He happily headed that way to impress some young maidens.

Geralt pulled his clothes back on quickly, business-like as usual. Yennefer still lay on the bedroll on the ground, lounging luxuriously. She did not have the physical stamina that Geralt had so she was still on the ground for the moment.

“Was I that boring?” Yennefer asked. “You look like you’re about to run.”

Geralt let out one of his usual amused grunts. “Hmm. Jaskier is missing,” he said. “I should go and find him before he gets himself into trouble.”

“The little bard will be fine on his own for a little bit,” Yennefer said. “You indulge him too much. Have a drink with me.”

“He’s been gone for quite a while,” Geralt said. “Far too long.” He grabbed his sword and belted it on.

“You noticed him leaving during?” Yennefer asked, her eyes narrowing. Her pride was officially wounded.

“I notice everything during,” Geralt said. “Everything. A Witcher must remain alert always.” He was absolutely serious, not a hint of teasing in his voice. It made it sting all the more.

“I’ll have to try harder next time,” Yennefer said with a wicked smile. “I’ll make you forget the world.”

“Maybe later,” Geralt said with a slight smile. “For now, I have a bard to find and probably rescue. Stay here.”

“Stay here?” Yennefer said with a pout. “Do you know me?”

He started to move through the woods, looking for signs of Jaskier’s trail. He picked up the bard’s trail easily. Jaskier was not really subtle and he had left an obvious trail.

Meanwhile, Jaskier had joined the three beautiful maidens in the clear spring that they were bathing in. For some reason, it did not seem strange that they were bathing naked in a spring in the middle of nowhere late at night. He did not think it was strange that they wanted to sing with him and that they wanted him to join them instead of fleeing or covering their shame. He had plenty of experience with debauchery and he knew that he was quite handsome. He had slept with nobility and farmgirls alike. He was definitely well-traveled.

However, he was definitely confused when one of them seized him and started to drown him. The woman pushed him under the water as he struggled. She brought him up and passed him to another girl and then that girl shoved him under. They were laughing, nearly killing him over and over. These murderous harpies were having fun while he was choking on spring water. One of these times, he was going to go under and not come up.

Suddenly, the grip on him loosened and he surfaced to see the young woman being stabbed by Geralt’s silver sword. Blood sprayed everywhere and Jaskier scrambled for the safety of the ground. Geralt was already on the second woman and now Jaskier could see how monstrous they were. They were beautiful but they had scales and sharp teeth. Before the third woman could sneak up on Geralt from behind, Yennefer appeared and sucked the air from the thing’s lungs with a gesture. It was easy for Geralt to slit their throats.

“Sirens,” Geralt said simply, gesturing at the bloody bodies. Yennefer was standing behind him looking quite smug. Jaskier rolled his eyes at her.

Jaskier coughed up a little water and nodded. “You don’t say,” he said.

<Jaskier/Geralt/Yennefer was suggested by fellow BloggessFam member @aryooki on Twitter>

Follow the Yellow Brick Road – A Wizard of Oz Story

April 7, 2020

Dorothy stumbled out of the house. The inside looked like a bomb had gone off but somehow Dorothy had survived the fall. She leaned against the door frame, her hand clutching it tightly. She reached up instinctively toward a sharp pain on her forehead and she saw that her fingers were now covered in blood. Maybe she had not been as lucky as she thought. She heard Toto scramble out of the house behind her and felt thankful that the dog had survived. Then a sudden thought hit her. Where was Elma? She turned carefully and shouted into the wreck of a house.

“Elma!?” she screamed. “Are you alright? Where are you?” She and her sister had been unable to make it to the storm cellar and had instead ducked into the house. They had hoped for the best but the tornado had somehow lifted the house up. She had no idea how long she had been passed out on the floor. There was no answer. She did not have the strength to walk back in to check. She barely had the strength to remain standing. She started to cry.

“You killed the Wicked Witch of the East!” A voice said from behind her.

Dorothy jerked around and nearly fell down. “What?” she asked. “I didn’t kill anybody.”

Standing there was a young girl who was very short. Actually, she was incredibly short like a child but she had adult features. Was it some form of dwarfism? Dorothy remembered hearing about that in school. She had never seen anybody like that in person, though.

“No you definitely did,” the woman said. “Her body’s right over there.” She pointed over at the side of the house. There were two feet sticking out from under the house. Thankfully there was no blood visible but there surely was a lot of it under the house.

Dorothy leaned against the house and threw up all over the siding. She wiped her mouth and turned back toward the woman. “It was the storm,” she said. “I didn’t mean to.”

“No, it’s alright,” the woman said. “She was oppressing us. We had been engaging in warfare against the Witch’s forces for years now. You did us a favor.”

“I didn’t mean to,” Dorothy said. “Have you seen my sister?”

“You and this little fella are the only ones here,” the woman said, leaning down to pet Toto who seemed miraculously unharmed. “I’m sorry. Are you ok?”

“No,” Dorothy said in a whimper. “I’m really not.”

The woman gestured toward the nearby bushes and several people her size came out of hiding. “It’s safe!” she called out. “Come help me carry her. We need to get to the village. She needs a bed and medicine. My name’s Pippa.”

“Dorothy,” Dorothy said and her voice sounded weird.

It was at this point that Dorothy’s vision started to swim and her knees buckled. She could hear Toto barking as she fell towards the ground and then everything went back. She had the vague sensation of being carried somewhere. The little people were stronger than Dorothy would have guessed. Everything went dark and silent again.

She had no idea how long she had passed out when she awoke later. She was aware that she was now in a bed but she was also aware that her feet were hanging over the end. Still, it felt warm and soft and her head did not hurt as much anymore. She could feel Toto nestling against her side and that was a comfort. She tried to sit up and it went alright although she still felt kind of sore. A woman with pink hair suddenly appeared in the doorway, she was tall and thin and very pretty.

“Are you a good witch or a bad witch?” the woman asked dramatically.

“I’m not a witch at all,” Dorothy said. “I’m Dorothy Gale from Kansas.”

The woman glanced at the door and gestured and it closed on its own. “My name is Glinda,” the woman said. “I’m from Pennsylvania.”

“What?” Dorothy asked.

“Look, you’re like me so you must have come through one of the gates,” Glinda said. “People who come here from Earth absorb the energies between worlds and it allows us to perform great feats of magic.”

“What?” Dorothy asked again.

“One minute I’m a hairdresser in the Poconos and the next moment I’m a sorcerer here,” Glinda said.

“Where is here?” Dorothy asked.

“Welcome to Oz,” Glinda said. “It’s a really weird place.”

Hesper’s Web Pt. 6

March 28, 2020

Even though everything hurt, everybody hurried toward the source of the plaintive cry. They pushed through weeds and charged through the fog and found a small clearing. In the center of the clearing was a little girl in chains which were staked to the ground. Tears were flowing down her face but it was clear that it was young Gwendolyn. It was easy to believe that this one was the real one. She trembled as she looked up at everybody, frightened and defeated. It broke Mariel’s heart and she knew she was not alone.

“Gwendolyn,” Asher said softly. “Your mother sent us to find you.”

“R-Really?” Gwendolyn asked. “What about the monsters?”

“We’re quite experienced with monsters, young lady,” Mariel said. “We’ll protect you.”

“Dimitri and Dina, help me pull these stakes up,” Luther said. He and the twins moved over and started to pull on the chains. The stakes stubbornly stayed in the ground and Gwen cried harder, shaking like a leaf in the wind.

Mariel kneeled down in front of Gwendolyn and took the young girl’s hands in hers. “Gwendolyn,” she said. “I know that you’re scared. This is very scary. However, this is your world.”

Asher kneeled down next to Mariel. “This is your story, Gwendolyn,” he said. “You hold all of the power here.”

“What?” Gwendolyn muttered. “I have no power.”

“That’s what I thought when I was your age,” Mariel said. “Then I went to an academy and learned magic.” She was proud of her upbringing from a powerless place to wield the forces of magic effortlessly.

Gwendolyn looked up at Mariel again, the first glimmer of hope returning to her eyes. “But I don’t know magic,” she said. “I don’t have any magic.”

“Magic is in everyone,” Mariel said. “Some do it like me and use words but some do it with their mind and heart.” She punctuated this by pointing at the girl’s heart which filled the girl’s eyes with wonder.

Ashe nodded. “Gwendolyn, you don’t have magic in here,” he said. “In here, you are magic. Just think it and it’ll happen.”

“Really?” Gwendolyn asked. “For real?”

“Just give it a try,” Mariel said. “Get rid of these awful chains first.”

The little girl closed her eyes and her shaky breathing slowed. There was a near-blinding pink light and then the chains were suddenly made of flowers instead of thick metal. She shrugged off the flowers and clutched one of the flowers to her chest as she stood up. Her tattered clothing became a princess dress even more spectacular than the one worn by the imposter back at the castle. She opened her eyes and suddenly everybody’s wounds were healed. She smiled so brightly that Mariel and everybody else could not help but smile. Even the usually unreadable Fern was smiling an enigmatic little smile.

“I really am magic!” Gwendolyn said and giggled. “I did it!”

Mariel and Asher stood up clapping. Everybody joined in on the applause and the landscape around them seemed to become more green and colorful. The area just felt happier which would not have made sense back in the material plane but here it made perfect sense. Asher started to play a tune on his lute and the little girl clapped and danced a little and sang along. It was great to see.

“Do you think you could help us get back up there?” Luther asked. “Help us save your friends and get rid of the bad thing?”

Gwendolyn faltered. “The bad thing is scary,” she said. “I don’t know.”

“Normally we’d do it for you, Gwen,” Luther said. “but we need your help. This is all yours. Your mother and father are waiting for you. We just need to get rid of the bad thing. For that, we really do need your help.”

“You know how to do it now,” Mariel said. “You’re so powerful.”

“You’re magic,” Asher said.

“And we’ll be right there with you,” Dimitri said.

“We’ve got your back,” Dina said. “Don’t even worry about it.”

Fern gave a weak thumbs up and a slight smile.

Gwendolyn brightened up again. “We’re going to get rid of the bad thing,” she said. “But how?”

“First we need to go back to the castle,” Mariel said. “Do you think you can handle that?”

“I think so,” Gwendolyn said. “What then?”

“One step at a time,” Luther said. “Trust us.”


The Hidden Message

klaatu barada nikto

Growing a family

Im just trying to evolve

Panorama of the Mountains

Liam Sullivan's Ideas and Reflections

Adventures of a MathBrat

Random Things I Find Energy To Blog About

Boccob's Blessed Blog

A gaming blog with an emphasis on D&D 5e

wolfenoot.wordpress.com/

No Hate Only Snootboops

As Told By Carly

The Ramblings of a Geek Girl

Beyond the Flow

A Survivor's Philosophy of Life

Silvia Writes

Life is a story. Might as well write it.

An Artist’s Path

Art, Poetry, Prose, Spirituality & Whimsy

The Bloggess

Like Mother Teresa, only better.

Silence Killed The Dinosaurs

Comics, Stories, Dinosaurs, Cats

%d bloggers like this: