Posts Tagged ‘Fiction’

When It All Ended Pt. 9

March 17, 2018

William Havelock and Garth Whispernight were sitting at the bar downstairs. During his exile from his homeland, William had learned to really enjoy a good tavern. There was usually fellowship, decent ale, and there was the possibility of a good brawl breaking out. William had earned his title when he was knighted. He did not come from nobility but he had instead made a name for himself in the tourneys all over Shera. He had fought threats to the land alongside prissy rich boys and girls and gained fame through hard work and bravery. However, it was not until he had officially become a full-time adventurer that he had downtime to discover the simple joys of drinking with friends. Of course, there was a time when it looked like William and Garth would never be friends.

Garth had come a long way himself, even farther than Shera. He had fled Kofrain himself when the desert had figuratively gotten too hot. When he had joined the party he would have been the first to admit that he was a scoundrel. He was proud of it. He called himself the world’s greatest thief but he had always done it for fun and not riches. William and Cass had been the ones to finally catch him and Morgan was the one who convinced him to join the group. What started as reluctant do-gooding turned into an exciting thrill ride which in turn led to him being as addicted to saving the day as the others were. The war of words between him and William had grown from animosity to petty fun and finally to real friendship. Garth had turned over a new leaf and while he still did not follow the laws of the land, he definitely used those powers for good.

“You are very quiet over there, Whisper,” William said, setting his mug down. “You also look a little green. You’re not scared are you?”

“Scared?” Garth asked with an incredulous look that had indeed been a look of dread a moment before. “Unlike you, I will never even be seen by the dragon. It won’t know what hit it when I get the killing blow.”

William laughed. “You? I’m sure you meant to say that it will be me who scores the killing blow and I will do it as I look that dragon in the eye. It will know who ended its life.”

“Will you two ever stop arguing?” Galath asked as he walked up and climbed up onto a stool. The older dwarf man had taken off his customary mail and cloak and he looked a lot more casual as a result. The party was used to him being so formal.

“I’m afraid not,” William said. “You and Morgan just might be stuck watching over us forever, old man.” He and Garth smiled at each other, they would be done sniping at each other for a while.

“True,” Galath said. “It’s not as if we’ve been able to unload either of you along the line.”

“We’re hard to get rid of,” Garth said proudly. “But who would want to get rid of a crack thief like me?”

“All of the nobles of Eloria for starters,” Galath said. “Usually I find your bravado a bit tiresome but we need your legendary confidence tomorrow, Whispernight.”

“I keep racking my brain for any more allies we could call on but I am separated from the Knights of Shera and most of the friends I personally made during our adventures are on the front lines,” William said. He reflexively looked over at the sword he carried with its hawk head pommel. He felt a brief guilt that he was not with his fellows in Shera or in the thick of battle with the brave Guard of Eloria. Then he remembered that if he had been, he would not be here to face the dragon and that was strangely comforting.

“Yes,” Galath agreed. “I too have been searching my heart for allies but to no avail.”

“What about Carania, Galath?” Garth asked.

Galath flinched at that. It was not a negative thing but just proof of how much that name affected him. “She would be very effective here but last I heard from her, she was dealing with a problem in the Underdark. Even if she was not down there, she would be on the front lines dealing with the undead that are rumored to be fighting in the war.”

“That’s a shame,” William said. “She really would be helpful even if this kind of strays from her mission from the goddess of death.”

“We all go above and beyond what we are asked to do, Mr. Havelock,” Galath said. “Also, I’ll remind you that she is no grim reaper but is as much a defender of life as she is a defender of death.”

“True,” William said. “I’m sorry for implying anything wrong with the lady. She has done right by us a couple of times now and I just wish she could be here now.”

“So do I,” Galath said. “But I’m sure that we will see her again.”

“I bet you will,” Garth said with an elbow to the dwarf’s ribs. “If you know what I mean.”

Galath coughed and shook his head. “I’m sure I have no idea what you mean.” The dwarf took a long sip of his tea, so much that the cup refilled as soon as he set it down. It was a bit of an irregularity for a dwarf to not be a drinker but Galath always wanted a clear head and sometimes drinking just reminded him of the friends he had lost when he had been petrified. He looked around and realized that all three of them were men separated from their original homes. While they were not the same, that thread had tied them together in the midst of a party of adventurers. “You know, maybe you two can go home after this.”

“Maybe I don’t want to go home,” Garth said. “Maybe there’s no real home to go back to.”

“Surely your home did not crumble to dust like mine did,” Galath said. “It is probably still there.”

“Not the structure, Galath,” Garth said. “Maybe I like it here better and maybe this is sort of my family now.”

“Has the thief grown a heart?” William asked with a smirk.

“No!” Garth yelled and then there was an intense silence. “I always had one, I guess.”

“Of course you did,” Galath said. “and I know how you feel. I will never forget the bond we have forged together.”

“Neither will I,” William said. “It is as strong as the vows I took as a knight. Maybe stronger.”

The three men drank to that.


Magical Earth Defenders Pt. 12

March 10, 2018

Magical Earth Defenders

Lennon, Natia, and Kelsey were already sitting at the lunch table when Margaret arrived. Kelsey and Lennon had brought their own lunches. Lennon had studied and planned what she should be eating and everything was just so. Kelsey had two sisters so she had what she managed to grab on her way out of the door. Natia was eating her fries from the cafeteria lunch line much like a great white or maybe a piranha. That is if piranhas could brood. Margaret walked up carrying a tray of cafeteria food. She looked a bit out of place with her clothes just so but the girls waved her over.

“Hey new kid!” Natia yelled out, loud enough that even Lennon gave her a look. “You might have made a mistake.”

“What?” Margaret asked. The usually poised young girl suddenly looked worried and an even paler shade of white. People never talked to her at her old school and now she was blowing it with the few people she knew at her new school. “What do you mean?”

“She means we usually avoid the cafeteria food if we can help it,” Kelsey said helpfully.

“Except the french fries,” Natia said, her mouth half full. The other girls rolled their eyes which made Margaret smile and calm down a bit.

“Sit down, Margaret,” Kelsey said. “I’m sure you’ll be fine.”

“At the very least, you won’t die,” Lennon said with a smile. “Most of us pack our lunches to guarantee edibility and nutrition.”

“And because it’s cheaper,” Kelsey said.

Margaret smiled and sat down. “Thank you, ladies. I’ll take that under advisement.”

“How are things going on your first day?” Kelsey asked.

“Things here are less complicated than the academy,” Margaret said. She smiled. “and more welcoming. The academics are comparable. I’ll do fine here as soon as people stop staring.”

“We’re happy to have you, Mar,” Natia said.

“So how was your talk with the Principal?” Margaret asked. “They whisked you away from us for quite some time.”

“What’s the damage, Natia?” Kelsey asked. By now, they all knew how often Natia had been skipping school and they knew the school would be displeased at the very least.

“I somehow got away without detention but I have a ton of work I have to catch up on. I have to get a tutor,” Natia said. She punctuated that last bit by grumpily dipping two fries into the ketchup before shoving them in her mouth.

“You’re lucky that you got off with just a tutor,” Lennon said. “Principal Evers can be strict. By the way -“

“I need a tutor too,” Maya said, interrupting. Nobody had noticed her walking up to the table. She sat down carefully, purposefully ignoring all of the stares she was getting. Margaret was briefly thankful not to be the center of attention before her empathy kicked in and she felt bad for Maya. She wondered how much worse the attention might be if Maya had not bespelled her tattoos away. Maya was thinking about that as well.

“Where did you come from?!” Natia cried out before Kelsey put a hand over her mouth.

“I came from the castle,” Maya said with a shrug. She had a brass plate in front of her that she was eating salad from.

“And grabbed a salad from the castle’s fridge?” Lennon asked.

“From the garden,” Maya said.

“Wow,” Kelsey said. “Good for you for eating healthy.”

Maya smiled. “Thank you. It’s the only way I survived so long on the run. At some point, I just became a vegetarian which was cheaper but hard on the run. Anyway, I don’t think I should invite a tutor over to the castle. Can I borrow space from one of you?”

“You can invite the tutor there if I’m the tutor,” Lennon said. “I can tutor both you both.”

“Don’t you already have special projects for independent study?” Kelsey asked.

“How did you know about that?” Lennon asked. She did not think taht a popular girl like Kelsey would know about that.

“I’m nosy,” Kelsey said. “I know things about people.” She shrugged with a smile.

“Well, I can still tutor them,” Lennon said with a smile. “You guys can be my new special project.”

“I’m not sure I enjoy being referred to as a special project,” Maya said.

“Yeah, watch your phrasing, Red,” Natia said.

Once again, Kelsey covered Natia’s mouth with her hand.

“Please don’t use codenames when we are in civilian gear,” Margaret said.

“I was just kidding,” Natia said. “Are those really our codenames? They’re only kind of cool.”

“We’ll have to discuss it at some point,” Maya said

“We have a lot of things to discuss,” Kelsey said. The girls all nodded in agreement. “Speaking of tutoring, we also need magic tutoring.”

“And superhero tutoring,” Natia said.

“We can do all the tutoring at the castle,” Lennon said. “It’s safer there and we won’t get interrupted.”

“Making a castle our hangout? Yes please!” Natia said with a smile.

“Just as long as you all stay out of my room,” Maya said. Natia stuck her tongue out at her which made Maya smile and almost laugh.

“We also have to keep all of this a secret,” Margaret said.

“Exactly,” Kelsey said.

“Duh,” Natia said. “Of course, that’ll be hard.”

“I have to agree,” Lennon said. “My parents seeing me walk again would make their year.”

“We’ll have to make sacrifices for this,” Kelsey said. “We’re trying to save the world.”

“You’re right,” Lennon said. “It’s definitely worth it. If we lose, extradimensional aliens take over the world. We can’t let our parents or the government interfere with that.”

“Wow,” Maya said. “I never thought that would be my life and I ran from the things for years.”

“Well you have real friends now, Maya,” Kelsey said. She looked out at the table full of former loners. “You all do.”

“I never thought that would be my life either,” Maya said.

“Me either,” Lennon said. “I was always too shy.”

“I’m too loud!” Natia said with a big grin.

“Too rich,” Margaret said.

“Well, none of you are too much for me,” Kelsey said. “We’re a team.”

“Aw, that’s so sweet blue!” Natia said and they all laughed.

When It All Ended Pt. 8

March 3, 2018

Morgan went to the chest in the bathroom and pulled out her pack and placed it on the bureau before she started to go through it. It was a small bag since they had a bag of holding for the majority of the items the team had picked up in their travels. Her personal bag was full of items she used regularly and personal mementos of their journeys. It was all carefully and efficiently packed so she did not have to paw through it too much to find what she needed. After only a moment, she found the side pocket with a smooth stone with runes scratched into its surface. According to Cassandra, the enchantments were very rare. The meaning of that was not lost on Morgan. She had to continue to be clear that she did not want anything romantic to do with Amien.

“Do me a favor?” Percy asked. “Tie your robe a little tighter? Maybe get your armor back on?”

“Sylvanus save me,” Morgan said but she was grinning and shaking her head. “You are really jealous, hmm?”

“Insanely,” he said with a smile. “I trust you. I just don’t want him getting the wrong idea.”

“Believe me, if I could have somebody else do this I would,” she said. “Here goes nothing.”

She took up the stone in her fist and focused her will into it. Thankfully, the stone did all of the work as Morgan did not have a great aptitude for spellcasting. The stone reached out to connect with its twin stone in the possession of Amien, a one time ally of their adventuring party. She had never used the stone before but she imagined or at least hoped that it would alert Amien in some way that a call was incoming so that he could make the connection. She half-wished that he would ignore it because dealing with romantic drama was not something she enjoyed.

After a moment, the air shimmered in front of Morgan and the lean, muscular form of Amien appeared, shirtless as always. At least, the upper half of him showed up, floating like an apparition in front of her. She could only assume that only the top half of her was showing up for Amien. She was definitely alright with that arrangement.

“The stupid thing doesn’t even work,” Percy said impatiently.

“Shh,” Morgan said. “It’s working fine.”

“Whoever is with you cannot see me,” Amien said. “The artifact projects my image into your mind and nobody else’s.”

“Understood,” Morgan said. Keeping things in a military tone felt like the right thing to do. “I guess you must be wondering why I am contacting you.”

“The thought had crossed my mind,” Amien said. “I left this line of communication open for you but you made it clear that it would only be used for business purposes. Did you run into something you cannot handle?” He grinned at her.

The teasing only made her bolder. “Hardly. We can take on a Green Dragon easily. We just would appreciate help with crowd control.”

“A green dragon?” Amien asked. “You are still as bold and brave as I remember. I feel that your team will have no problems but I would be happy to commit my family to your cause. What do you mean by crowd control?”

“We have a plan for the wyverns in the air but how are you with lizardmen?” she asked.

Amien laughed a deep yet feral laugh. “I have a pair of boots I made from a lizardman,” he said. “They are no match for our kind. Where is this happening and when?”

“We will be fighting at the Capital of Eloria, you will be fighting lizardmen in the shadow of the Royal Palace,” Morgan said. “The battle is set for tomorrow. I know you’re not exactly a city wolf.”

“I have never set foot on those or any other streets,” Amien said. “I grew up in a small town before the change came over me.”

“I didn’t know that,” she said. “But I suppose that there’s a lot I don’t know about you.”

“Indeed,” Amien said. “Our time together was brief. We will travel before dawn and we will assist you.”

“The crown will be grateful for your assistance,” she said.

“Will you be grateful for my assistance?” Amien asked. His ice blue eyes seemed to look right through her to the core of her being.

She swallowed. She was in a relationship, not dead. “I will and so will my team. Do you want to say hello to Percival?”

Amien snorted but then he smiled. “You’ve made your point. I will see him tomorrow, I imagine. I will see you too. May we meet again after that when the battlefield is decorated with the blood of our enemy.”

“Very vivid imagery,” she said. “I will see you in the morning then.”

“Yes,” he said and then his image flickered away and he was gone. Morgan hurriedly put the stone back in her bag in case he changed his mind and came back. She took a deep breath.

“Well? Percy asked. “What did he say?”

“He’s willing to help us out,” she answered with a smile. “We’re going to have a lot easier time if we don’t have to worry about getting stabbed in the back by a lizardman.”

“Or a lizardwoman,” he said. “Though, I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen a lizardwoman.”

“I’m sure we’ll see plenty tomorrow,” she said.

“Do you really think we stand a chance tomorrow?” he asked. He wrapped his arms around her again.

“I think we can do anything as long as we stick together,” she said. “We’ve been through so much and somehow we’re still standing.”

“I think so too,” he said. “It’s your determination that leads us. None of us would be here if it weren’t for you.”

“I’m not sure if you should be thanking me then,” she said with a smile. “At least not until the fight is over tomorrow.”

“Oh, I have plenty to thank you for,” he said. “Shall I thank you all night?”

“Unfortunately, we have to get at least some sleep,” she said with a smirk.


Mercer Holliday

February 26, 2018

Mercer Holliday was an android assigned to cleaning up sector 7G of the Haverford Complex for the Titus Corporation. Of course, that was not something that he had any interest in doing. Mercer was loyal and would never abandon his duty but he had different ideas. He knew that he had been constructed for this purpose or a purpose closely related to it. He knew that he owed his manufacturers his life. He had been happy to be a janitor for a long time, never doing a bad job and never leaving a single spot uncleaned if he could help it.

The question was posed a long time ago that if androids dreamed, what did they dream of? The cute answer had been electric sheep. Mercer could tell you that he dreamed of being a hero. After an efficient cleaning of his area of the facility, he would go back to his small home. He was an android and he did not need much which was good because he had very little. Still, when he returned to his abode, and before he powered down to recharge, he always watched a movie. He watched a lot of different genres but he had fallen in love with the ‘Western’ of the American Southwest of the planet Earth. He had never been there but he loved the tales of gunfighters who took on crowds of ne’er-do-wells with nothing but their grit.

He wished that was him. He did not want to be a war machine like those war droids who had been programmed for fighting. He wanted to be a defender, a seeker of truth like the gunfighter, the superheroes, and the knights from the stories he liked so much. He did not know if it was possible but he spoke of it whenever he had the chance to whoever would listen. He wanted to be the guy that people called on when they needed help when nobody else could help them. The dream burned within him and it perhaps once again raised the question whether androids had a soul and what that soul might be imagined as.

“Mercer!” A voice called out that broke Mercer from his reverie. He had been mopping on autopilot, an ability that made it obvious why you would utilize androids as workers instead of biologicals. It was Dr. Toma Wright, the young rebellious prodigy who had arrived a few months earlier. Unlike many, Toma did not ignore those around her and excitedly discussed whatever with the menial workers in her sector. That included Mercer.

“That’s my name,” Mercer said. He tried to blink realistically and Toma laughed, appreciative of his efforts to appear lifelike.

“Yes it is, Mr. Holliday,” she said. “I’m glad I caught you.”

“Holiday is not part of my official designation, Dr. Wright,” Mercer said. His official designation was Mercer-2547 after the scientist who had designed him, Victor Mercer. Most androids had no need for an original name.

“No, of course not,” Toma said. “However, I think it suits you after you recommended Tombstone to me. Doc Holliday was one of the most famous historical gunfighters of Earth.”

“I am aware, Dr. Wright,” Mercer said. “I admire him very much although he had many ethical failings throughout his life. In the end, he was very loyal to lawman Wyatt Earp.”

“That’s what you want, isn’t it?” Dr. Wright asked. She watched Mercer as if his face would give away some emotion. Of course, he did not even blink.

“Yes,” Mercer said. “If I had my way, I would be a hero like Mr. Holliday or Mr. Earp or Mr. Eastwood in his many roles.”

“Yes,” Doctor Wright said, cutting off a rant she knew might be incoming. “I’m aware you prefer Mr. Eastwood over Mr. Wayne.”

“I just find Mr. Wayne’s dialogue so stilted,” Mercer said.

Toma choked back a laugh and shook her head. There was something profound there perhaps but it was not worth pursuing. “Maybe I can help you achieve your dream.”

“How so, Doctor?” Mercer asked.

“Come with me,” she said. She led him back to her lab and she pressed a button and opened a few compartments. She pulled out a few chips and loaded them into a gun-like device. “Please expose your upper port.” Mercer trusted the Doctor and so he reached up to his neck and worked loose a panel and exposed a communication port.

Toma took up the device and plugged it into Mercer’s neck and pulled the trigger on the device. Information flooded into the construct that was analogous to Mercer’s brain. He suddenly knew how to operate weapons. Guns, knives, and hand to hand combat were suddenly second nature to him. He also suddenly knew more about computers and he had the first inkling about how to perform a ‘hack’, something he would never have even thought of previously. If androids could smile, Mercer would be grinning ear to ear. This was indeed a great gift.

“I’ve also included a program that modifies your hazardous materials containment device,” Dr. Wright said.  “It will now create a protective shield that will allow you to protect yourself and others.”

“Why have you given me these things, Dr. Wright?” Mercer asked.

“I want you to go out there and find some way to protect people,” Dr. Wright said.

“But my position is here,” Mercer said. “I must clean Sector 7G. Forever.”

“Somebody else will fill your position, Mercer,” Dr. Wright said. “I think that your passion will help you be a better hero. I think there are heroes out there without half of your passion. Besides, I have another gift for you.” She opened up another compartment and there hung a long brown duster. Mercer instantly grabbed it and put it on, a little unaccustomed to wearing actual clothes instead of panels that simulated clothes to make humans more comfortable.

“Thank you, Dr. Wright,” Mercer said.

“You’re welcome,” she said. “I have a few contacts that I can hook you up with and soon, you will be on your way. Meet me back here tomorrow and I will have your ticket to your first job. Once you have your foot in the door, nothing will be able to stop you.”

“I will be here as you say,” Mercer said.


When It All Ended Pt. 7

February 24, 2018

When Morgan and Percival got to their room, naturally the biggest one, there was already a hot bath waiting for Morgan. That had been a default setting on Percy’s mansion since he and Morgan had started their romantic relationship. Morgan was an ex-ranger from Eloria and she was used to roughing it so she would never say that she needed a luxury like a hot bath. Rangers could go weeks without bathing, partly because facilities could be rare and partly to mask their scent from monsters and vicious animals. However, a hot bath was a secret treat she gave herself at the end of long tours. Now, she took that luxury when she could, comfortable with the knowledge that it did not make her soft.

She shed her armor and the clothes under her armor and hung up her weapons and put her items into a small chest outside of the bathroom. She did not even react when barely visible servants grabbed up her armor and clothes and carried them away to be cleaned. The whole thing had bothered her the first few times but now she knew that it was foolish to be embarrassed. While she sank into the bath, she spotted Percival at his desk. At the end of each day, he had to write out the events that had occurred in the latest volume of his journals. He did it without fail, even doing it while injured on their adventures. Morgan often wondered how his journals from before they met read, when he was mostly alone working in a library.

As she relaxed, she watched him scribble. Previously, the mansion formed with Morgan and Percival each having their own private rooms, the same as the rest of the party. When the two of them started ‘dating’, the mansion spell had changed to form one room for the both of them reflecting both of their personalities. Considering that the whole thing kind of came from Percy’s mind, it showed how much he thought of her and their companions that it kept changing to match who they were. For all of his glib behavior, Morgan thought he might just be the most sentimental member of the group. His capacity for caring was part of why she had fallen in love with him. It was the adrenaline of so many battles that had pushed them together but it was who they were as people that kept them together.

“So, what do we do next?” Percy asked. He was leaning in the doorway and Morgan had not realized that he had finished writing. She was momentarily speechless as he smiled down at her.

“A lot depends on Cassandra’s success in contacting the Princess and negotiating with the Djinn,” She answered. “I have been racking my brain, trying to think about what allies and assets we can summon for the battle.”

“The more the merrier,” Percy said with a smile. “And just who or what are we considering calling on?”

“I’m open to any suggestions but I think it’s time to call Amien and his pack,” Morgan said and then watched as Percival turned away from her. “Don’t make that face.”

“It is impossible for you to see my face,” Percy said. “There’s no mirror on that particular wall.”

“I can imagine what it must be, my Percival,” Morgan said with a smile. “You’re upset that I even mentioned him.”

“He asked you to be his mate right in front of me!” Percy said in what was just short of yelling. “Do you expect me to like the guy?”

“Of course not,” Morgan said calmly. “I think some of his manners slipped out of him when he and his kin were transformed into werewolves. Regardless, I chose you. Remember that?”

Percy took a deep breath and turned around again to look into her eyes. The moment was all the more important considering Morgan’s current state of dress. “I do remember,” he said. “At a moment where you did not need to pick either of us, you chose me and I chose you back.”

“And where am I now?” Morgan asked with a smile.

“In a bathtub,” Percy said but he smiled because he could already see where she was going.

“In our bathtub,” She said and watched his face light up with satisfaction. “He is just an ally, nothing else. We need to use every advantage we can think of.”

“You talk about this like it is our last adventure,” he said. “Is that what this is?”

“Our last adventure?” she asked. “I’m realistic enough to know that going up against an ancient dragon could be the end of one or all of us.”

“But when we win and live on?” he asked. He always had such confidence which was kind of strange for a librarian.

“Eventually we are going to settle down, right?” she asked. “We can’t just keep adventuring forever. There are so many things that we have all set aside because there has not been time because we’re always off to the next adventure.”

“I thought you loved that,” he said. “This whole thing was your idea.”

Morgan nodded and rose from the bath and Percival handed her a robe after she had dried off. “It was and I have never regretted it. We have helped a lot of people and we managed to make so much money that at some point we started giving it away. However, we can only handle it so long. More than half of us have died along the way. You and I died together.”

He hugged her from behind and then allowed her to shift in his arms so they were facing each other. “Thankfully, or else one of us would have had to see the other dead. We got resurrected. We’re good as new. Better than new.”

She kissed him both because she just wanted to and because it was an affirmation of their lives being returned to them. “Still, it may be time for newer adventurers to pick up the slack so we can have our long deserved rest.”

“I can agree with that,” Percy said. “We’ve had our fair share of adventure and there are stacks and stacks of books I still wanted to read. I bet you want to reconnect with your mother.”

That insight struck Morgan like an arrow. “No,” she said and her face darkened for a moment and then she smiled. “and yes. You know how complicated that is but I suppose I should make time for family after all these years.”

“Then we had better win tomorrow,” he said. “Do you want something else to eat or drink?”

She laughed, seeing right through him. “Not right now. You’re just trying to delay me from contacting Amien. Come on, let’s get it over with.”

“If we must,” he said with a smile.


American Mages Pt. 1

February 5, 2018

As Abigail ran into the abandoned building, she thought she might have gotten away from the Strange Men. They had been hot on her heels and she knew that if they caught her, she would definitely be shipped off to the High Tower. That was where they put mages they disagreed with and without anything resembling a human trial. Sometimes the tower trip was accompanied by a very inhuman execution. It was either that or timeless imprisonment. Abby was not sure which one was worse. She did not intend to find out. She quickly climbed into an old cabinet and pulled her legs in before she closed the door. There was no way this was going to work.

The Strange Men, two of them, entered the building. Abby could hear the soft rhythm of their breathing devices. She focused on her own breathing, trying to keep it as quiet as possible. It was very difficult as panic started to rise in her chest. She did not have a lot of tricks left with her to get out of this situation and she did not want to waste them in case there were more obstacles. The cabinet was suddenly yanked open. She had totally been in her own head, forgetting to keep track of the Strange Men’s footsteps. She cursed herself as one of the gray-skinned goons grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her out. She tripped on unsteady legs and fell face first on the ground.

When she pushed herself up she could feel a trickle of blood flowing from her forehead and she sighed. She would have to use magick, there was no way around it now. If she made a break for it, the two would use one of their gadgets to make her stop moving, perhaps permanently. She quickly took inventory of what she had in her head and found something fun. It was not perfect but it would work. She deftly pulled a card from her jacket and slapped it against her forehead, soaking it with her own blood. She could feel the magick start to spark and she grinned.

“From dreams to thought and from thought to reality!” She called out and the Strange Men were confused. She threw the card down onto the ground. “Off with their heads!”

The card started to smoke but it was red smoke and out of the smoke rose a lithe, crowned woman wearing a wicked dress with hearts all over it. The woman smiled and an axe formed from the smoke and fell into the Queen of Heart’s hands. She swung at the first startled Strange Man and his head went flying. The other one was barely able to put up a fight before his head bounced on the floor as well. Their brown blood sprayed all over the walls and the floor and the Queen seemed to revel as she too was sprayed with it. Then, just like that, the Queen was gone again.

“Snicker-Snack,” Abby said softly as the card on the floor finished burning away.

It had only been ten years since magick had revealed itself in earnest to the human population of Earth. In doing so, the magick opened people’s eyes to the magical creatures that had existed in the world all along. Even then, it was only a small percentage of the human population who knew about magick. An even smaller percentage was actually able to perform spells. Only bargains with the fae unlocked the first spells, humans had to stumble around after that before eventually learning to create their own. Pockets of so-called mages existed around the world and traded secrets.

The Strange Men had first appeared almost a year earlier and stories were told of them hauling mages away kicking and screaming to a tower that was invisible to normal humans. Mages could see it, though, and it was terrifying both because of its size and the vibrations it gave off. Nobody knew exactly what the Strange Men wanted. Most people figured that they generally disapproved of humans gaining magick and were out to put a stop to it. The Strange Men were theorized to be a twisted offshoot of the fae even though the fae denied it up and down. Abby thought they were their own thing, but either none of her contacts knew or none of them were telling her the truth. It was probably both.

Abby got back on to her feet and dusted herself off. She reached into her jacket and pulled out a little antiseptic cream and rubbed it into the cut on her forehead and winced at the sting. The bleeding stopped and she hoped it would not scar. Not that she was entering any more pageants, she had kind of lost interest when she learned she could do real magick. She used the flow of magick to make things from books she had read come to life and serve her. In mage circles, this made her what was called a ‘summoner’. She called herself a ‘story summoner’ because it had a special ring to it. She had no idea if any other summoners were using her motif. She had not met any but it was a big world.

Thankfully, no more Strange Men accosted her for the rest of her walk. Jamin was standing just inside of the door of the safehouse when Abby got in. She did not see him while she was reapplying the wards which she did by miming tying a blue ribbon across the door. As she turned to move further down the stairs, she saw him and nearly jumped three feet.

“Jam!” She yelled. “You scared me! You can’t just stand there silently.”

“Sorry,” he said. “I was just watching out for you.” Jamin was a ‘transmuter’ and he did a lot of changing the form and composition of objects by touch. He was carrying a large, solid rod of metal on his back but Abby knew that it could change into any weapon. She also knew that he used his abilities to sense movement in the same way that a spider can feel the slightest movement in its web.

“Thank you,” Abby said. “I can take care of myself.”

“You sure can,” he agreed. “However, there is a new mark on your forehead.”

“Well, there were two Strange Men on the way here but the Queen took care of it,” Abby said with a shrug.

“Strange Men, huh?” He asked. “That’s the first sighting in a while now. I’m glad you got away but the Queen is pretty messy and kind of scary.”

“Yeah,” Abby agreed. “She’s not ideal but she is effective. Now, who summoned the summoner?”


When It All Ended Pt. 5

January 20, 2018

“Who are you?” Princess Cora asked, her voice still shaky. She was now sitting on the floor in a sort of daze as the dragon sat on her father’s throne. The dragon had taken the sword that the Princess had been wielding and had stabbed it into the seat of the queen’s throne. It definitely sent the message that the dragon was now in charge.

“You mean besides being a dragon? My name is Khandara,” The dragon said. “It’s so nice of you to ask. Most people either attack or run away screaming. Just a note: If you do either of those things then I will kill you.”

Cora swallowed hard and nodded. “I guess I’ll just sit here then.”

“Good girl,” Khandara said with a smirk. “And they say that royals are dumb.”

“But why are you here?” Cora asked.

“I heard that the King and Queen were away at war,” Khandara said. “They’ll probably die there what with all the demons and undead on the march. I thought I would upgrade from my old home. A palace is definitely an upgrade.”

“My mother and father will return with an army,” Cora said. “What will you do then?”

Khandara smiled and her form shifted into a mirror image of the Princess’ form except with green hair and green eyes. “I’ll welcome them home with open arms just after I pick bits of your guts out of my teeth. When their guard is down, I’ll eat them too. By then, this place will be quite inhospitable to any army. So many magical traps. Besides that, I brought my own fighting force.”

Cora just looked down and wished she was powerful enough to do something. Talk of being eaten by a dragon made her feel powerless and desperate and she was now spending most of her brain power on finding a way to protect herself from the dragon. Once she was protected, she could formulate a plan on what to do next. There had to be something. Ther Royal Family never gave up. They just figured out another way around a problem after defeat.

* * *

Morgan was in the lead as they reached the gates of the Capital at a fast trot on their horses. There seemed to be a small makeshift village at the gates and Morgan lept off of her horse and tied it to a post. A member of the Guard ran up to her.

“Miss,” the guard said, “The city is dangerous. There is a dragon present. I’m afraid whatever business you have in the city will be delayed. I would fall back to a safer position as well.”

Morgan held up a makeshift badge that all of her crew carried. It was modeled after her old Ranger badge as a sign of how she ran her group of adventurers. “My name is Morgan Moonglow and this is my crew, Moonglow’s Raiders. I’m afraid that the dragon is our business in the city. With everybody at war, this falls to us.”

The guard’s mouth hung open for a few moments. “Are you sure?”

“We’ve made up our minds,” Morgan said. “We have to at least try.”

“I’ve heard of your adventures and your victories,” the guard said. “If anyone can accomplish this right now, it is you.”

“Thank you,” Morgan said. She motioned for the Raiders to gather closer. “Now, please tell us what the situation is inside the walls.”

The guard took a deep breath. “The reports say that the dragon has disappeared from view. We believe that the only possibility is that it has somehow entered the castle. Outside of the castle, there are still lizard men and wyverns patrolling. If you are to reach the dragon, you’ll have to get past them somehow.”

“Will your forces be able to assist when we attack the dragon?” William asked.

“We can probably commit some forces,” the guard said. “I’ll have to send the message up the chain of command. Some of us have to remain at the perimeter to keep this contained as best we can.”

“Is the Royal Family inside the castle as well?” Cassandra asked.

“Only Princess Cora was in residence as of yesterday,” the guard answered. “We don’t know what her status is. We hold out hope that she’s alive.”

Cassandra turned to Morgan. “I know her, Morgan. She might be able to help her if she’s alright. We have to save her.”

“I know,” Morgan said. “I want to do that too but we can’t just charge in there.” She turned to the guard. “Thank you, please let whoever is in charge know that we’re here to help.” The guard nodded and walked off with purpose, leaving their compatriots to guard the gate. Moonglow’s Raiders walked off a ways to talk in private.

“So, what’s the plan?” Galath asked.

“Our obstacles seem too much for just us and a few Guard to handle,” Percival said. “I suggest we call in some favors owed to us.”

“For a dragon?” Garth asked. “We might need to call in all of them.”

“And use all of our assets,” Morgan said. “Percival, could you open your doors to us so we can eat and start planning?”

“Anytime you ask, my love,” He said with a wink that made Morgan smile but roll her eyes. He pulled out a small ivory door, a silver spoon, and a piece of polished marble. “Welcome to my mansion!” The items swirled a bit in the air and then the ivory door planted itself in the ground and grew to full-size as the other items dissipated. The doors opened and everybody walked inside. It was always a little overwhelming to step into Percy’s mansion no matter how many times the Raiders had done it. The style was reminiscent of the Grand Library in Silverlight where Morgan had first met Percival. In fact, there were shelves of books and scrolls scattered in most of the rooms. “The servants are already finishing up a feast for us.”

“Fantastic,” Morgan said. The mansion had begun to feel like the closest thing to a home over the years. Sure, it disappeared but it always reappeared looking the same and always welcoming. “We’ll eat and then we’ll start figuring out who and what we can count on.”


The King’s Arsenal

December 25, 2017

Garth Whispernight – Halfling Rogue

Born to nobility in a far-off country, he grew bored and disappeared and reappeared when he tried to pick the pocket of Morgan Moonglow. Instead of turning him in, Morgan recruited Garth on a quest to save the world. After the quest was over, he stuck with the party of adventurers who would eventually become the Arsenal. Learning that he could indeed be an honorable man, he slowly shed his criminal tendencies but never let the skills fade. He delivered the finishing blow to the Green Dragon, plunging a dagger into the back of its skull. When he joined the Arsenal, the King pardoned him for any crimes he may have committed in Eloria. He spends most of his time in a tavern in Whitecrest instead of his office. His home has many sentimental trophies of his past including a fake officer’s badge, forged identities, and various previously stolen items.

Cassandra Oakspring – Half-Elf Sorcerer

She was a very bright, resourceful young girl who showed some untapped magical ability. A local patron paid to send her to one of the magical academies in Coppin. Once there, she flourished and excelled in her studies. The once meek girl started to grow a spine. Morgan Moonglow showed up at the Academy, looking for somebody to release a curse. Cassandra was the one who unlocked the puzzle. She was given an expedited graduation from the Academy so that she could accompany Morgan and her team to help protect the world. An eternal student, she seeks knowledge from all corners of the world. She was delighted to retire near the old academy and is a constant visitor and consultant at most of the academies. When she is not fighting crime or studying, she socializes with whoever will have tea. She loves a good story and is eager to meet new people.

Morgan Moonglow – Elf Ranger/Druid

She was found as a baby on the edge of the Fangleth Forest and grew up never knowing her parents. As soon as she could walk, she started to carry a bow and arrow around and she showed promise. When she was old enough, she was recruited into a ranger school for the military. She served for some time before she was warned of a premonition of the return of an ancient evil. She moved to assemble a team to battle the cult who wished to remake the world in their image. Once the threat was defeated, she kept the team together to combat other threats to Eloria and even surrounding kingdoms. She asked the others to help her take on the dragon at the palace and every single one agreed to risk themselves for Eloria. She was assigned to her home district of Channon where she is reconnecting with her long-lost mother who is a druid. She also often plays host to Percival Stardane since the two of them have a growing romance together.

Sir William Havelock – Human Fighter

Chased out of his homeland by a feud with a rival family, Havelock sought a new start in Eloria. He met Morgan Moonglow under the assumed name of Calo Northwind and joined them as fighter and defender of their cause. As time went on, the group of adventurers was able to go back to Havelock’s homeland and help him sort things out so that he once again felt comfortable using his real name. With his plate armor and faithful steed Hengroen, he is always ready to charge into battle for a good cause. Both of his names were spread far and wide because he never shied away from announcing his presence in and out of battle. While Moonflow was arguably the leader and founder of their team, Havelock was often the noble face of the operation while Stardane was its voice. Havelock never sought his fame, he simply threw out his name as a calling card in case their group was needed again down the road. He is content to teach at the Battle Arts Academy but he also enjoys knocking a few criminals senseless when he can.

Galath Wyndham – Dwarf Cleric

While traveling through the woods, Morgan Moonflow and her crew found what they thought was a statue at first. To their horror, they figured out that the statue was actually a petrified man. A quick Greater Restoration spell from a local priestess woke him up. It was then revealed that he had been petrified a long time ago, during the first Great War of Eloria. He chose to travel along with the Moonflow crew so that they could help him adjust to his new place in time and he could rejoin the world. Along the way, his cleric powers were very useful in keeping the party alive. A quiet man, Galath often imparts wisdom at just the right time and he came to feel somewhat like the party’s older uncle. Having had two adventuring careers in two different centuries, he was glad to finally become semi-retired with the rest of the party. He spends a lot of time enjoying the fresh air of his district and reading books on loan from the Grand Libary in Etting.

Percival Stardane – Human Bard

If there was ever a know-it-all, Percival Stardane would definitely be a candidate. Stardane studied whole libraries full of lore in an effort to figure out what was important and unimportant in the world. If you do not know something, Stardane will be happy to teach you all about it at length. If he does not know something… Well, he will tell you that’s not very likely. Percival was left to his own devices in the libraries of Etting because his parents often had nothing to do with him. He was an only child and he barely had any interest in socializing with others when there were volumes of knowledge to absorb. All of that alone time with the great writers of the continent (and beyond) left Percival with some social peculiarities. While his father was a talented musician, Percival was an excellent storyteller but came off as too excited to tell his story. His brusk manner tended to irk and confuse people and he cannot sing a single note like his father. He seemed doomed to waste away as a librarian when Morgan Moonglow found him and he joined up to add his expertise to the team. He has since become much more well-adjusted and often chooses to live with Morgan rather than stay at his appointment in Etting.


When It All Ended

December 23, 2017

Hamm Stoutfire walked along the avenue with an armload of firewood in the satchel on his back. The Capital was freezing but, because of the war, the shipments of firewood were slowing down. Hamm had thought about closing his shop and joining the crews searching for fresh lumber. He would be saving lives as the temperatures dropped and there was probably some good coin in it. Also, it never hurt to get a little credit for civil service. His shop was sometimes frequented by less than favorable citizens and tourists as Hamm had never been picky when it came to less savory individuals. ‘Coin is coin and coin is good’ was Hamm’s personal motto. The Guard rarely came around to hassle him so he figured he must not be doing anything too wrong.

He could see his breath puff out before him as he walked down the street. He playfully pretended he was blowing out smoke like had done so many times as a no good kid. He wondered if he would get any customers today. Between the cold and the war along the border, people might just continue to huddle in their homes. Most of the day, only members of The Guard seemed to walk the streets. It made the city’s criminals cautious as there was no crowd to slip into and no pockets to pick. Picking a Guard officer’s pocket was often too risky even for a city whose belt was starting to tighten due to the war effort. If something did not get better, people would start dropping like flies.

Of course, the news from the war front was terrifying. The latest news was that the Sherans had joined their army with the forces of the ancient demon Vistra. Vistra was a name that most Elorians did not speak and barely dared to think. Now the demon seemed to have returned and things looked grim for the Elorian military. Hamm shuddered at the thought of the demons winning the war. He had made his peace with the possibility of the Sherans winning and taking the place over. He imagined that things would not be much different. There was no telling what the demons were capable of. He might end up getting skinned alive or they might all burn for eternity. Not to mention that one of the armies had apparently raised the dead en masse. It kind of felt like the end.

“Hey Stubby!” A voice called out. Hamm turned to look at an open doorway, a woman silhouetted by the candlelight behind her. He frowned. He had never liked how some people made fun of his Dwarven height. It was generally something not done in polite society but, of course, Hamm had never been a

“Moira,” Hamm said gruffly. “Kindly fuck off.” There was a long beat of silence. “And happy solstice.”

Moira laughed, putting her cigar out with the tips of her finger so she did not waste any while she was talking. The warmth of it still filled her lungs along with some illegal magical residuum. Hamm noted the telltale red, wispy smoke. “Give me one of those logs, Hammy.”

“I’m sure you don’t need it,” Hamm said. “You’ve got plenty of wood to keep you warm, don’t you?”

“Very funny,” Moira said. She spat on the cobblestones between them. “I haven’t gotten many customers these last two weeks and besides you know I specialize in female customers.”

“I am not sure I can spare anything, Moira,” Hamm said. “I didn’t get anything out of the last shipment and I’m freezing my ass off in the back of my shop.”

“Well, you know what you can do with those logs then?” Moira asked with a smirk.

Hamm couldn’t help but mirror that smirk though it was mostly hidden by his bushy beard. “What?”

There was huge cracking noise from somewhere in the air. By the time that Hamm realized that it had actually come from the palace, large stones fell and slammed into the homes he was standing next to. In the devastation that followed, Moira was nowhere to be seen. Hamm rushed forward, not wanting the last exchange between them to be disgruntled sniping. Dimly in the back of his mind, he realized that the stones he was scrabbling over were actual pieces of the palace. That thing was the sturdiest building in Eloria. He tried to shove aside wooden beams and smaller rocks as he moved.

When he shoved aside what appeared to be Moira’s wooden door head, he saw the horrible thing that was left of Moira’s body. He staggered back into the street without remembering taking a single step. He retched and unleashed his meager breakfast onto the cobblestones. She had been alive just moments ago. He felt dizzy, weak. Somebody bumped into him as they ran by. The empty street was now full of people running away from something. Hamm shook his head to try to shake away the dizzy feeling.

A flash of green caught his eye and he looked up as the crowd barely moved around him. He ignored the impact of elbows and shoulders as he tried to keep his stance, clutching his load of firewood as if it mattered anymore. He tried to look for the green thing he thought he saw and then there it was. It was a dragon. A huge green one and it had demolished part of the castle. It was not a Sheran, a demon, or a zombie and yet here it was the end at last. The dragon looked around as it crawled over the palace roof and for a moment Hamm thought it looked into his eyes and fear overtook him. He ran in a blind panic for the rest of the day.

When he came to it was because of a firm hand on his shoulder. He looked up at an elf woman with long blonde, almost green hair.

“My name is Morgan,” The elf said. “What are you running from and how can we help?”


More Common Knowledge (Elorian Campaign)

December 18, 2017

The Guard

The law keepers of the Kingdom of Eloria are comprised of able-bodied men and women who act as both patrollers and first responders for any crime and unrest. In a pinch, they also act as medical first responders. They are primarily stationed in the cities and towns but there are various rangers who are stationed in guard houses in the wilderness. These wilderness officers tend to be a bit more rugged as they spend a lot of time out on their own. These officers carry badges that are readily visible, clipped somewhere onto their armor. The badges are recognizable and known to all citizens of Eloria. Most municipal localities have a station or two depending on their size which includes some sort of jail for prisoners. What is most interesting about The Guard is that they are trained as both a police force and a military force. In times of war, most of the guard ship out to the front lines to fight in the war. The guard, along with the military members who patrol the Elorian border, makes sure that in times of war the fighting force is seasoned and experienced.

The Royal Arsenal

They are a legendary team of former adventurers, most of them Elorian, who have become agents of the military. The Arsenal is used as a forward fighting squad in military conflicts as they are experienced with tough battles. When there are no military conflicts, they are installed in various municipalities as heads of law enforcement, beholden both to the King and the local nobility. Their assignment to the military was done as a reward for killing an ancient white dragon named Kanaaq. They saved the royal family and the royal city from destruction and the King could not think of a greater reward than employing them. Thankfully, they all graciously accepted after a short period of reflection. Each member is renowned for their incredible fighting prowess and their legendary accomplishments. Each member of the Arsenal approaches their duties differently but all of them are dedicated to the greater good. Of course, they are all semi-retired which kind of took the edge off their former strength but none of them should be underestimated. They are often consulted by adventuring parties, as they have a lot of good stories and great experience to draw on. Also, it does not hurt to have a government official who has a sympathetic ear for adventurers.

The Demon Vistra

Vistra is the demon lord who tried to invade the kingdom of Eloria and also, at one point, the Kingdom of Shera. He has twice found some sort of exploit that allowed him to travel to the Material Plane from his keep somewhere in the Abyss. Both times he was able to bring an army with him full of both weaker and powerful demons. On both of these known occasions, he supplemented his army by forming an alliance with enemies of the Kingdom of Eloria. On the first occasion, his emissaries were able to help form an alliance with Orcs from the Kingdom of Khull and the two armies were barely routed during the origin of what is now known as Eloria. The second time, his armies raised the dead to create an undead army during the war between Eloria and Shera. There are rumors that a part of that plan was an alliance with the dragon Khandaaq, an agreement that Khandaaq could turn the royal capital into its icy lair but those rumors have not and can not be confirmed. There are also whispers of Vistra’s private war against an unnamed Devil in the Nine Hells which is also unconfirmed. Finally, there are rumors that not all of Vistra’s army went home and that there may be remnants stored somewhere in Eloria. There are three generals under Vistra and they are named Balor, Abraxas, and Halfrek.

The Republic of Shera

Once known as the Kingdom of Shera, this place is mostly farmland, forest, and swamps. That is not to say that it is not civilized, it just lacks the diversity of biomes that Eloria has. Sherans are not completely unlike Elorians. The main difference has been formed by their more recent history. Years ago, the King of Shera decided to forgo all previous treaties and attacked the Kingdom of Eloria in a bid to gain all of the shipping resources of Eloria.  As has been stated, that war was interrupted by Vistra’s forces and those forces killed the entire royal family of Shera. Liam III, the King of Eloria, decided not to annex Shera in the absence of their royal family. The grateful Sherans formed a Republic and they are now ruled by a council made up of the Mayors of their cities and various intellectuals. The new government reestablished treaties with all of its neighbors and work toward a brighter, more peaceful future.

The Kingdom of Khull

The Kingdom of Khull is a large country full of desert and scrubland near the middle of the Emerald Continent of Taldonta. Since Orcs are almost certain to maintain a constant violent relationship with the other races on the continent, many decided to seize land inhospitable to less rugged races where they formed their own Kingdom. This Kingdom is undoubtedly ruled by one person, the King, and everybody else is more or less on equal footing. With Orcs, the strongest often rules and makes the rules so aside from the King, the most brutal often keep the others in line. Their thoughts are constantly bent on war with their neighbors but it has been a long time since an actual war has taken place. Their southern neighbor is Shera which has built a tall wall all along the border to provide some relief from these vicious creatures. After its founding, the Kingdom of Khull opened its borders to any Goblins and Kobolds who wanted a new home. The newborn alliance worries the rest of Taldonta.


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