Archive for » December 31st, 2007 «

"Orkjager: The Dwarves of the Midden Alps"

I wrote this after being inspired by one of the other characters in our party. I stopped writing this because the gamed ended. There is a lot of DnD’isms that I am not going to explain, click but I may someday try to explain or add definitions to it.

The Story

Fluffy white clouds are plentifully interspersed amidst the snow covered peaks that cut into the blue sky like razor sharp knives. The clouds block direct sunlight in a playful game of tag. In the distance you can hear the deep throaty screech of great eagles soaring on the mountain wind searching for all those that invade its domain. Here, far above the treeline, there are no trees and very little plant life to be found, you might find and occasional scrub bush and lichen or moss but that is about it. Barren, sharp, jagged and stark is what life is like here in the Midden Alps, not to say that there is nothing here, because there is… Life here is cold, harsh and deadly and you need to be tough as the mountains themselves to survive. Tough as mountains is exactly what the dwarves of the Blackhammer Clan are.

“The Midden Alps…such a wonderful place to call home.” Brogan AxeSpitter thought to himself as he smiles to himself. “Cool, crisp mountain air to energize the lungs and keep you going.” Brogan’s mid wanders some more, his face a mask of deep concentration, but his brother knows better. The whipping mountain wind throwing his 4 braided short black beard to and fro. His thick winter cloak keeps the biting wind mostly at bay and rest has been taken care of by a swig of Blackstone Blackmead. His expression turns from deep concentration to one of surprise and mild pain as the trail-chanter Mrodgar, his older brother, whacks him on the back of the head and bellows out a trail-chant to everyone in a deep rumbly voice

“Hrruuummmmm… Hrruuummmmm…..

Deep inside the dark’s tuuummmmm…. tuuummmmm”

“Earth-rush is found and the glory
of making rruuummmm… rruuummmm”

All people within earshot of his chant, which is about eveyone, come to a dead stop in mid-march to look at him. A look of complete disbelief and shock fills their faces.

“What!!” he said surprisingly and with a hint of fear. “A real dwarf does not drink rum, that is for those tree-hugg’n elves to drink.” is what is father has alway said with disdain at the mere thought of any dwarf drinking rum, let alone his own sons. Mrodgar liked the taste of Faule Starshine Rum. He did not understand what the big deal was.

Their father, Gargarock Axespitter, lowered his head in disbelief and walked slowly forward toward the confused Mrodgar. Gargarock patted him gently on the back and ushered him forward back in line with the other dwarves. Mrodgar, now cowed and embarrassed at his chant, walks slowly with his head down, like a dog with his tail between his legs, back in line. Gargarock clears his throat, straightens himself out, and then takes a deep breath slouching his shoulders slightly.

As he straightens himself out beginning to chant a low rumbling that seems to come from every direction at once and emanate from the very mountain walls rolls forth. A gravely, earthly tone spoken in the language of the mountains fills the air and permeates every dwarf there. All dwarves close their eyes and take in the very essence of the mountain instilled into them by Gargarock’s mountain chant. They turn back to the path and begin to march forth to their destination; the new found earth-rush on the border of the Greyfang ork tribe’s territory.

Earth-rush in the form of a vein of rubies was found by a daring and adventurous scout looking for earth-rush in places he should not be. The clan elders chastised him for endangering himself and possibly attracting the attention of the Greyfang tribe with which they war with constantly. After the stern and unabated lecture finished, a look of greed and potential crept into their eyes. A larger scouting part was sent to verify the earth-rush vein and the returned without incident. The team reported the vein looks promising and there has been some Greyfang activity in the area a while ago, maybe 2 fortnights or more.

Following that news the clan elders arranged for a larger party to go to the earth-rush vein and determine its potential to be mined – to see if the vein will be worth the risk and possibly set up a mining camp. They assambled some of there best warriors, miners and scouts to go survey the new earth-rush vein. Mrodgar and Brogan were Gargarock’s sons and were among the fifty some dwarves making the journey. Brogan just came of age in the last few months and was eager to join such a company. He was promising and talented miner – having quite the nose for gems.

Mrodgar and Brogan have heard stories about the adventures that survey teams have had in the past and were eager try their hands at one. Looking forward to seeing the greatest and largest vein ever know in clan history; blooding their war-axes, which are gifts forged by their father, and any other of the wonderous variety of adventures that survey teams have. The pair have been looking forward to this for a long time and begged and pleaded with their father to let them go with. Garagarock relented the night before the survey team left as he found out that two of the miner’s became sick and could not go.

The earth-rush is about 4 days travel marching by foot, one of which is through the FangHammer sub-range of the Midden Alps where the Greyfang tribe calls home. They patrol ceratin areas vigilantly – the areas nearest where our lands border. This cavern, named Dwal Mown which means ‘Dwarf’s promising vein that amounts to nothing’ in the common tongue, is in an area not well patrolled by the Greyfang tribe. Hopefully we can arrive at Dwal Mown and setup a small mining operation before patrols come around. After we get rooted in we will be able to take care of any Greyfang lime-rock that come a patrol’n.

Forty members strong all armed with studded leather to breastplate armor, crossbows, axes, picks, hammers, and trap setting and mining equipment. We have well bred mountain goats as pack animals. You laugh now at the thought of a war-goat, but imagine a war-goat charging you and pushing you over a ledge falling to your doom. Horses and other traditional beasts of burden are too big for this terrain and mountain goats jump and maneuver around the jagged rocks as a well as halfling walks through the meadows. Imagine a hellish bleating swarm of cantankerous, fearless beasts ramming foes into an orchestrated chaos with dwarves as the maestros. There is nothing like the sound of a bleating war-ram followed by crack, and then the sound of a scream fading into the darkness below.

We dwarves tread slowly but steadily, undeterred by all but the mightiest of hazards. Our path to Fools Vein will take us quite a bit beyond our normal patrol borders and just inside Greyfang territory. We do not fear them, it is they that should fear us. A dwarven mining party and earth-rush can be a dangerous thing to be standing between. Some of us are a little bit nervous, not that we would show it, as there are those that think something vile is a brew’n because the Greyfangs have been quiet in the last few months.

"Orkjager: First Two Rounds of Combat"

I wrote a small narrative to the first two rounds of combat/ I was inspired so I started to write. There is a lot of DnD’isms that I am not going to explain, this site but I may someday try to explain or add definitions to it.

The Story

After a long hard day with the trudging caravan train, your mind feels the tiredness of watching the same thing all day – morning, afternoon, and into the night. You have seen the same on all sides of you trees to the left, trees to the right, wagon in front of you and wagon in back of you. You hear the rhythmic squeaking of not so well fitted axles of wagons, the clomping of hooves of horses pulling wagons or carrying a sagging rider, and a short conversation that rarely pops up. Most have succumbed to the mind numbing pall of monotony to not speak and just trudge on hoping to soon see the end of their journey the frontier city Faule.

Towards early morning ominous dark gray clouds quickly take their place over the caravan and seem to follow a cruel script to ensure a miserable journey. In a way you welcome the clouds as they bring a change, a little something to break the sameness of seeming to march on for the sake of marching on. The temperature drops noticeably and it cools down quite a bit; enough to make you want to reach for some warmer clothes, and clothes possibly better suited for the coming rain.

Black clouds have shrouded your day in darkness so now everything is even more the same than it was before. There is darkness and everything is darker. There is less to see now and that which you do see is covered in the shadows of the foreboded rain. Sunlight occasionally peaks through the black clouds in an almost divine moment. As if Pelor himself is granting relief from the darkness, coldness, and storm to come. That is but a brief moment as the sun loses its epic battle with the storm clouds and shadows once again cover the land.

The rain starts to pour down as if the world is trying to purge itself of the putrescent will of settlers looking for a new start, the desire and hope of something new. It seems as if the very world is against you trying to keep you from change; wanting to drown you in a sea of water, cold and a nothingness. The temperature drops even more; a cool breeze starts as the rain falls. A cold wetness permeates your very being and the sound of rain drones out all else and it is hard to see anything more than a few feet in front of you. The oppressive darkness, rain and cold turning the world into more of the same. You close your eyes and attune yourself to the will of the march, the rhythm of the caravan and you march on. Drear and gloom are your companions; isolation and nothingness are the gifts they bear.

It rains and rains for most of the day, from mid morning and on into the early night. You thought that it might never end just as Pelor himself wins a great battle seeming to banish the clouds; the temperature rises and the rain is reduced to a fine mist. The temperature rises quite a bit, enough for you to want to shed you warmer clothes and take in the warming rays of the sun. A warm mist replaces the rain and a fog seems to roll from the ground as the sun begins to warm the ground. It seems like a strange combination to you, the warm cloudless mist and rolling fog. The sun cuts through the fog and mist like a beacon of joy and warmth. Your bones seem to drink it up and you can almost feel the bitter cold and wetness start to recede. The sun reflects off the fog creating a wall of fluffy whiteness making hard to see more than a few feet ahead of you. You rely mostly on feeling the rhythm of the caravan to guide you forward. You find the ground muddy and wet as those wagons, horses and people that have come before you tear up the ground and let the water create a long trail of mud two or three inch deep for you to muck through.

A cooler light rain starts again and seems to dampen the fog a little bit as night seems to slowly creep upon you. Darkness firmly set itself upon the caravan and you find yourself cold, tired, and your body aches from walking or riding and you wish a reprieve from the endless march to the glory of Faule. A whistle pierces the silence and echoes from group of guards to group of guards. Like a wave of sound starting from the front of the caravan and rolling all of the way to the back bringing the promise of rest and an end to the march. The Caravan Master’s call for a halt and rest for the night was welcomed by everyone and you could feel a large weight being lifted, and the air seems to clear as sprits are lifted with thoughts of rest and sleep.

When the whistling resides people start to move about, welcoming the change in movement. Instead of a forward walk permeated by an unending cool dampness we get to stop and mill about, pick things up and talk. The settlers stretch, yawn, sigh, and slowly break out the gear for night time; fires are started, bedrolls and rolled out, and tents are set up. Guards work on setting a perimeter and assisting people in setting up camp. Some settlers go out to search for more food and wood to be dried for the next time the caravan stops.

The poised relaxation and contentness is broken by primal cries and screams as new creatures charge in to fill the empty spaces. Large brutal creatures wielding huge axes with doom on their breath and in their eyes. Axes fall and horses whinny and rear up as an orkish horde charges into the midst of the caravan in a howling frenzy of violence. You hear women screaming, children crying, and the dying screams of men cleaved asunder. The orks attack the nearest person they see and try to carry off women and take horses. The moment of such a severe change from a bland nothingness to pure chaos catches everyone by surprise. Your senses having been dulled by the march and you find it hard to process what exactly is happening. Through the mist and darkness you can see less than a handful of raiders doing their business and seem to be unconcerned that there might be someone here that could pose a threat to their orkish invasion.

A slight smile crosses Franky’s face as the realization that boredom has just been banished. He looks to the wet and dour Dagmar whose face instantly changes from a wet tactiturness to an almost maniacal glee as the realization that Orks had come for their death. Franky’s smile grows even larger and he says “Here we go…” while looking to Felicity and Dagmar, and he is curious to see what his new found companions can do. Franky’s hands, slick from rain, wanders to his saddle bags and pulls out his crossbow and readies it to be loaded. He begins and old chant about a dwarven warlord hoping to see the glory of the axe wielding dwarven heroes in Dagmar’s arm.

With great enthusiasm Dagmar pulls about his Dwarven waraxe and charges the nearest ork and completely over shoots the creature, his zeal getting the best of him. The ork passing by him seems to take no notice of the dwarven fury that could have just ended its existence. The dwarve’s axe bites into the ground and its cold-iron blade sparks as it catches a rock.

In an excited and worried rush Felicity pulls out her crossbow and fires at the nearest ork she can see, missing completely seeming to underestimate the speed of the orkish attackers. A concerned frustration sets upon her face as she drops the crossbow to the wagon seat. Her practiced fingers seek something more comfortable and familiar – her pouch of spell components…

At the head of the caravan the simultaneous reaction of Koric and Percy is uncanny and empowering. They react to the orkish invaders in very similar ways, knowing that there is strength in numbers, they seek to strenghten the many to ensure they can last the fight.

Koric’s powerful voice booms “Lo, I hear the roars of the orken hoards! Steady yourself, Percy, for this day many orcs will rue the day they face us!” Koric brandishes the symbol of Pelor as if it was reason enough for the orks retreat; a fierce resolve that all salvation lies in the glory and light of Pelor. Koric roars “Pelor, heed my call! Grant us a swift and rightous victory in your name!” and the very air seems to be filled with energy and people in the area seem to feel as if the very will of Pelor guides them and gives them strength.

Percy says more to himself than to anyone in particular “So much for this being a safe area; and for our flankers.” He pulls his mind from focusing on the world at large and concentrates in the way that he has been taught. He draws confidence and an air of command seemingly from nowhere and shouts “Strike hard lads and take your openings”. His command of the field battle and the shout of a commanding prescence on the field pushes the guards and settlers on. He yells “Come on, give ’em some back.” not wanting to speak with too much military jargon as few here would understand. Percy’s tactical minds seeks a common ground from which the orks attack hoping to find a weakness in their plan. He pulls his bow about and fires towards the charging wave of orks. The arrow loses itself in the night and seems to give the viewing settlers more confidence and pushes them to hit harder.

The effect of a the commanding prescence of Percy and the blessing of Pelor fills the battlefield and the settlers fight on knowing that there are competent adventurers about.

A slience falls over Lindal as he quickly and carefully weaves his way through the scattering settlers like a hungry cat hunting his prey. Determination fills his eyes as he deftly slips his quarterstaff from its back holster and attempts to crush the ork’s skull in one smooth movement. His staff slams into the ground and dirt shoots up all around as it misses its target, his eyes never leaving his prey as the hunt has not ended. The speed of this ork is deceiving and it is not a mistake he shall make again.

After seeing Dagmar of the Clanging Armor swing and completely miss the ork Franky thinks to himself “…born to such weapons…?”

Dagmar swirls his dwarven forged death-dealer menacingly through the air as he snarls at the ork and then shouts “That’s your last warning ork, release the woman or the next one takes your head off.”.

Worry continues to distort Franky’s cherubic face as he fumbles around to load his crossbow and continues the Dwarven Chant of the Valar Dwarves. His keen eyes searching for the biggest threat to the struggling threesome and levels the crossbow marking his prey.

Not taking kindly to being ignored by the ork, Dagmar follows through on his threat taking a big two-handed swing partially severing the orks neck. Its body slumps to the ground with the face stuck in an expression that is half snarl and half confusion. Blood splatters on the ground and on dwarven armor; it spills onto the ground forming a crimson pool of the orks life essence.

“I warned ye!” Dagmar said confidently with a smile.

“Come on ye cowardly sows! Leave off the wimmen an bairns an face a real dwarf!”

Dagmar says to himself “I’ll need to ‘ave the lad, Lindal, teach me orkish. It’s not worth taunting opponents in combat who cannot understand ye.”

Felicity’s hands weave through the air, as if she is gathering floating pollen. Swirling motes of light begin to coalesce in front of her as she concentrates on the weave and the spell pattern she instinctively understands. The motes of light concentrate into a single bright point and she lets out a wild shout, “Bite of the Rat!” The light seems to scurry through the air like a thousand tiny ravenous rats rushing to eat the only slice of cheese left in existence. You could swear you heard the scurrying and gnawing of rats as the light impacted the ork’s shoulder causing it to visibly give under the force of the spell. The ork grunts loundly and turns toward the source of its pain eyes flaring with savage rage. The ork, seeming not to care, lowers its wounded shoulder and rushes towards her.

Felecity looks at the frenetic melee surrounding her and begins to worry. Her left hand grips the handle of her scimitar so tightly her knuckles turn white. “Franky! Where are the others? Can you see them? Should we run?” With the satisfaction of the success of Rats Bite her right hands goes back into her component pouches, preparing to unleash more of the wrath of the Green Path.

“Fear not, Percy, for my arm shall aide yours!” Koric roars as he raises his heavy mace in the air and swings it in a deceptive and seemingly wide path from the upper right. The ork does comprehend the what is about to befall and dodges to the left just a little thinking itself safe. Koric’s mace smashes against the ork’s ribs in a crushing horizontal slant. The ork folds over the force of the blow and slumps hard to the ground. Koric’s eyes light up as he quells his foe.

“Friend Dagmar!” he yells hoping that his dwarf friend can hear him. “Everyone! Protect the women and children!” He looks around for the next target who wishes to experience Pelor’s wrath. Koric raises his mace to the sky and shouts “Praise Pelor! First blood!”

“They bleed like anything else!” Percy states in a matter-of-fact yet jubillant manner as he sees Koric’s ork fold to the ground. The cleric’s display of martial prowess is enough to distract him from his own oppenent and his arrow goes wide. “Focus, focus.” He says quietly to himself.

Lindal’s eyes were full of an anger that none of his companions from last night would have recognised. His quiet demeaner belies a silent rage within. The hunter spun around swinging the quarterstaff over his head like a two handed sword, never missing a beat. The resounding sound of a sickening crunch announced the staff as it connected with the orks head crushing it, not stopping untill it reached the collar bone. The ork’s corpse slid silently down the length of the staff leaving a bloody trail and silently lay to rest on the ground.

"Orkjager: A New Beginning"

I wrote this as an introduction to a Play By Post game that I was in and it quickly died during March of 2005. I was inspired so I started to write, pancreatitis and this is much better than the Ceramic DM entries that posted earlier. At least I hope it is. There is a lot of DnD’isms that I am not going to explain, diagnosis but I may someday try to explain or add definitions to it.

The Story

The 9th of Sutar is a day like any other spring day in Vormarsch. The sun rises early, as it always does in the spring, and the sky is moderately clouded. The birds are singing and flying about on the cool breeze that carries the smell of spring tainted by dried fish, leather, horses and freshly cut wood. The sounds of creaking wagons, whinnying horses and the chattering voices of many people can be heard outside of the South Gate. The Markin Company’s caravan gathers outside and eager voices full of anticipation and a tense excitement fills the air. Small pavilions are setup for the caravan masters to answers questions and to decide on the logistics of their forthcoming journey.

A voice that reminds you of circus ringleader carries over the dim roar of talking and movement to announce “The time to start life in a new place is what living is all about, ladies and gentleman. Change!! Here is you once in a life time chance to start over…and the Markin Company’s caravan is your answer!! You…” The rest of what he says is drowned out as the crowd starts to clap and begins to talks amongst themselves.

Morgan’s form gracefully weaves his way through the crowd to a particular pavilion to register his family and wagon. He finishes this then quickly and quietly finds his way back to the wagon with his wife, son, and Phaelis. They appear somewhat distracted and nervous and try to use some small talk to break the tension. Phaelis is dressed very conservatively, not at all in the luxurious formfitting manner that she wore before. She now wears clothes that you would expect Endar to wear – muted, dull and not at all memorable. Her hair is pulled up and hidden in hood of her cloak, and not a trace of perfume to be found. This is an entirely different look for her, very different.

As the train starts out people are excited and talk about how starting life in Faule will change their lives and how it will make it better. Children playing in the wagons are soon chastised by their parents for fear of them breaking something. Lone travelers that happen to be within a conversation’s distance of someone offer a few moments of small talk and then gravitate into familiar groups. Settlers that see people they know arrange to change positions in the wagon train to maintain some sense of familiarity. As the day goes on the duration of the trip settles on everyone and a tense quiet hangs about the caravan. All that can be heard is the squeaking of wagon axles or the occasional whinnying and snorting of horses.

As you move farther and farther from Vormarsch the lands become rougher and more wild. The scenery moves from small rolling fields and small copses of bare trees to broad expanses of hilly plains and small forests full of bare trees. The roads become progressively worse as the distance increases from the capital city. A smooth hard-packed road becomes a rocky, muddy, jutted wagon path that has barely seen use. Your smooth ride becomes a bumpy and noisy and your butt becomes numb as you fidget to try to keep some feeling. Naked forests, devoid of leaves, seem to be alive and watch you curiously as you pass by hoping that you might bravely venture into their midst to an unknown fate.

The caravan stops several times to take care of problems that pop-up – a stuck wheel, a pet that becomes restless. In these moments caravaners take the time to adjust the order of wagons as some have requested and to give a small speech to pick up everyone’s spirits. The caravan guards help to quickly resolve problems and they watch everyone carefully looking for signs of trouble. Their wary eyes keep a careful watch on the surrounding lands for problems like the ever growing wolf population and ork raiders.

The sun wanders in and out of the clouds all day long giving you warmer and cooler moments.

It seems to take an eternity for it to travel across the sky to the western horizon. It feels as if it is intently watching the caravan, not wanting to miss anything that happens, trying delay the inevitable sunset. The sun finally relents as white clouds thicken above before it starts to dip below the horizon. When the sun starts to set the temperature drops sharply reminding you that winter has recently ended. A chill runs down your back making you desire to pull out warmer clothes to stave off this nights coming chill.

"Orkjager: An Introduction"

I wrote this as an introduction to a Play By Post game that I was in and it quickly died during March of 2005. I was inspired so I started to write, order and this is much better than the Ceramic DM entries that posted earlier. At least I hope it is. There is a lot of DnD’isms that I am not going to explain, capsule but I may someday try to explain or add definitions to it.

The Story

Morgan found the cool spring air refreshing as he stepped out of his house in the port city of Vormarsch. A breeze gently rustles his short, drugstore straight brown hair and cools an always cleanly shaven face that is commanding and strikingly handsome. Deep brown eyes take in everything and a keen mind that is not easily fooled keeps him safe and out of trouble. His strong and lithe body belies a surprising strength which is something that he has always used to his advantage. Morgan carries himself with a sure grace and presence that few common men will start a problem with. From his time growing up on the streets and his time in the militia he has seen a lot and not much surprises him. Today, however, he had a feeling that this all will change.

The sun has been out for almost a ten-day melting the snow that has accumulated on rooftops from a rather harsh and deep winter. The temperature has been wavering around the ice point keeping the snow around for longer than he wished. Morgan found the sun comforting and breeze gentle. The streets are wet and muddied from the melting rooftop snow. Ships bound from all over the known world have been bringing cargo sporadically for a little more than four ten-days in preparation for a new season of trade. The birds were singing and it was almost warm enough to wear a short sleeved-shirt. Morgan took a deep breath and slowly exhaled enjoying the scent of spring in the air. Life is picking up here in the capital city.

The town criers and the Fleeters were out and about doing their work. A dark blue tunic with the livery of a golden winged boot hails the coming and goings of the Fleeters and one just happened to be passing by. Morgan waved and said “Good morning, Faranis!”

“Hi Morgan! Happy sunshine!” the Fleeter responded and never lost stride to continue on about his delivery. Morgan smiled at this. A sense of familiarity and loss crept into his thoughts.

It is often said that Fleeters are the true harbinger of spring and trade and not the birds. The migrating birds have been early and late, or decide to settle elsewhere, but the Fleeters always seem to know when it is safe to start business for the season. They deliver packages and messages all around the city, or even to other cites if the price is right.

Morgan is one of the best Fleeters around. He knows how to handle himself and can swing a sword pretty well. Morgan carries and equips himself well enough that he does not have many problems, and if he does, he can take care of it. As the most senior member he is hailed by most Fleeters as almost a legend.

Endar hired him 4 years ago, during the first 2 months of Fleeter operation, after he saved one of his couriers from doom at the hand of one of Praga’s thugs. He is sad to see his prize Fleeter go, but the thought of expanding his business to other regions made him giddy and annoyed at the same time. In their time working together they have become friends of sorts, not close friends, but friends nonetheless. Endar respects Morgan’s common sense and clarity, while Morgan respects Endar’s business sense and influence. They have worked well together to build the Fleeters to what it has become today, and Morgan leaving is a great loss to Endar personally and professionally.

Saerra, Morgan’s wife, had just given birth to their baby boy, Shraen, a ten-day ago at the season’s first sunshine. He has talked it over with her and they have decided to make for Faule when the roads open for trade again. In preparation for this journey Morgan has saved some money and has purchased a wagon, begrudgingly, from Saerra’s parents. When the time comes they will pack up all of their belongings and head off for Faule to start a new life. He has made an arrangement with Endar to start a group of Fleeters in Faule, and then try to open a semi-safe route to Vormarsch. Besides, no matter what happens there it will be more than worth the trouble to get away from his in-laws.

Saerra’s parents do not approve of his occupation because he does not manufacture anything. Her father is a carpenter and carpentry has been in their family for generations. He can go around the city and show where his family has had a hand at helping to build the city. He says that “You will never be able to do that. You will not have anything to pass on to your children. No legacy! You will never have anything to show for your work At the end of a day you have nothing. Nothing.” her father says. “ I have a well provided for family, what more do I need to show for my work?” is what I say. Whenever I see them, which is not very often, they always look at me with eyes that are searching for news of a job change. They also worry because I take some of the more dangerous jobs. “Why not? Better pay and I am damn good at it!” Our home is in a better part of Griffon Ward than theirs and I think that contributes to their disapproval as well.

“Ack!!” A startled Morgan shouts, as he is yanked from his thoughts, as a smiling Fleeter appears in front of him. “Moooorgan!” croons the long haired blonde half-elven beauty that he has had not so innocent thoughts about. “Luria! It is good to see you!!” They both smile wide, obviously enjoying the untold knowledge of their mutual feelings. Her face shifts to a pout. “Endar told me to tell you that Vormarsch will announce that the roads will soon open for trade to Faule.”

“Great news! Thank you, Luria.” Morgan smiles warmly to her.

“You are crazy for leaving us… To Faule?.” Her pout grows deeper hoping that her concern will convince him to stay, but fully knowing otherwise.

“I know, but my family’s future is in Faule.” He smiles with a hint of playful regret.

Luria defiantly sticks her tongue out at him so hard that her eyes close in a wrinkled mass and then she gallops off out of sight. Morgan smiles, sighs, and then heads off to see Endar to prepare for his journey to Faule.

The streets of the Griffon Ward where Morgan lives are fairly clean, free of undesirables, and is lightly bustling with activity. People shopping for various supplies and seeking various services re scattered about the streets. The seasonal shops and businesses are gearing up for traders and travelers that frequent this city in transit to other destinations. His destination, the Fleeter Center, was on the other side of the Griffon Ward. The Fleeter Center was located at a very convenient spot – at the intersection of the Scepter, Griffon, and Candle Wards which are the areas from which most business is garnered. These three wards have modest prices for delivery and the prices to the other wards are a little higher, as is the risk.

The Fleeter Center is a busy building of people coming in and Fleeters running out. It is made of a dark unfinished drab wood and two double doors; one is used for entering and one is used for exiting. There is a double side-door for employees and cargo to be brought in. The double doors are rough and unfinished like the exterior, yet functional. The walls are thick and reinforced to prevent ‘trans-loctation’ magics from working. There are two magically reinforced windows in the building. A Fleeter talks behind one pane in the lobby and there is another pain in a client waiting room.

There are Fleeter guards milling about appearing to be not so vigilant, but their eyes and ears are always seeking for trouble. There is a single sign adorning the side of the Fleeter Center. It is of a modest size bearing a dark blue field with a golden winged boot in the center – the coat of arms for prompt and safe delivery. We Fleeters pride ourselves on the prompt secure delivery of our charge and proudly bear this as our coat-of-arms.

Morgan enters the building from the side door. The guards nod to him and clap him on the back welcoming him. He passes by several Fleeters which greet him and shake his hand. He sees that Endar is waiting for him as his corpulent midsection is the first thing Morgan sees as he rounds the corner to Endar’s office. Endar’s clothes are drab and functional just like his building. Made to not stand out and to just do its job. His short, straight black hair appears almost greasy and possibly combed. His face is chubby and wide, his fingers short and stubby, bearing but one gold band on his left pinkie.

Endar’s office is the size of a very large closet. Shelves line the walls are cluttered with papers and ledgers. An overflowing garbage is to the side of his desk and smells faintly of rotting food. Sitting not so comfortably in the chair next to his desk is an attractive female with long fine golden waves of well groomed hair. She wear is wearing a long, form fitting, red dress that compliments her voluptuous physique and she smells faintly of perfume. Definitely not Griffon Warder, most likely she is from the Scepter Ward. Morgan smiles and nods to the lady whose return smile is of a pleading polite nature, and then he nods to Endar.

“Morgan, welcome!” Endar smiles broadly and affectionately! Not wasting any time he motions to the lady. “This is Lady Phaelis.” and then he motions to Morgan. “Lady Phaelis, this is Morgan.” ‘This’ caught Morgan’s attention. He looks at Endar with confused and concerned eyes.

“As…we have agreed, Endar, at the first moment that roads become open to Faule I will be free to prepare for my journey.”

“Ye..Yes. Yes, of course my friend. My prize Fleeter.”

“He is perhaps the best Fleeter I have.” Smiling again hoping to appease Morgan’s fears. Endar clears his throat and a look of caution and hope cover his face.

“Morgan, we have an offer for you. One last job and you will not regret it!” Endar smiles broadly hoping that Morgan will play along and not make a scene.

“Oh, no! I will be transporting my family! I am not going to agree to anything that could endanger them! The last time you looked like this I was creeping around the Carrion Ward delivering a small unmarked package to an undisclosed location. I had to take a month off to recuperate from dispatching some of Praga’s thugs.” Morgan’s sarcastic smile made Endar scowl. Phaelis’ smile turned to surprised approval.

Praga is an infamous mafia boss trafficking in black-market goods and general thuggery. His code is brutal and so are his thugs. He is not a man to be trifled with unless you enjoy pain, suffering, and death. Fortunately, Endar smoothed that whole situation over so as to not start a war between the two organizations. Endar has tried hard to maintain his business as a solid neutral party so that everyone will feel safe using his service. Having Praga’s thugs following or accosting your delivery members or clients would not be good for business. “Taking care of it is just good business sense.” Endar said, and for that I am thankful.

Phaelis caught the moment of uncomfortable silence and began to speak to Morgan. “Mr. Ashfall. All I need is to be escorted to Faule. I do not, in any way, expect problems. I have lead a modest and quiet life as have my family. There should be nothing that you should have to worry about. I will ride on a horse separate from your family’s wagon if you are concerned. I will just feel… better… if someone is watching over me. A woman of my station does not travel alone, and it is hard to put a price on peace of mind, don’t you think?” Definitely a Scepter Warder, her tongue silvered probably from practice at court. Morgan scrutinized her looking for any form of deception….. None to be found.

“Why, in the name of all that is holy, are you going there? I could not imagine a reason that a ‘woman of your station’ could find anything in that frontier town.” Morgan’s look of distrust and scrutiny did not phase the woman in the slightest. Her face remained calm and unmoving. It then melted into sadness and despair, her eyes begin to tear up. Phaelis is quiet for a moment and then slowly her face begins to return to a practiced calm. The tears that welled up in the corners of her eyes are the only thing that betray her now serene face.

Phaelis’ voice cracks a bit as she starts to speak “My little brother has run away to relatives in Faule. I seek to bring him back where it is safe. We have family there that will escort us back. Please Mr. Ashfall!! Please!!” Seeing such a beautiful woman in such pain caused Morgan’s stalwart walls to break down. Even through the suspicion his mind caved in and that very moment irritated him This feeling was plainly shown his face. Phaelis smiles pleadingly and thankfully with a look of hope in her eyes.

“Promise me that he was not kidnapped. Promise me!!” His eyes were stern and seeking any untruth in her following words. A wide and very relieved smile washes over her and she says “I promise you! You have my word.” She sighs and takes a few breaths. “Thank you!! I will give you the full two thousand gold pieces now, Mr. Ashfall!! I know that I can trust you.” She hands Morgan a dark velvet jingling pouch. He looks into it and sees 3 smaller pouches containing gems, platinum, and gold and silver respectively.

She lightly courtsies and then quietly begins to leave, a trail of delicately sweet perfume dances in her wake. She stops at the door and then turns to Morgan “I have made the arrangements for us to join a caravan leaving to Faule in a fortnight. We will be leaving with the Markin Company’s caravan. I will seek you out the night before.” She smiles again, nods good-bye, and then leaves.

Morgan looks to Endar. “If anything happens to my family. I will hunt you down and……” He let that thought trail off. Shaking his head, he turns and leaves. “What have I done?” He asks himself quietly… Saerra is not going to be happy.”

The night sky is clear and full of stars. All is quiet in Griffon Ward except for the lone sound of a horse cantering on the cobblestone street. A brisk breeze pulls at the rider’s hooded cloak which is pulled tightly about its body and face keeping the cold night air at bay. The rider goes on for quite a while and stops at a tavern, tethers the horse, goes inside and melts into the boisterous crowd. After a while it melts back into the street seeming not quite the same as it did before it entered the tavern, somehow smaller and its clothes have changed colors and style. The figure walks down the street into the night leaving the sounds of talking, drinking, and the clanging of glasses in the distance. The path it follows weaves and wanders in a seemingly random path throughout the Griffon Ward sometimes crossing back on itself. The meandering trip finds its end at a familiar home, the home of Morgan and Saerra Ashfall. The figure cautiously looks around and knocks on the door.

As the door opens the figure’s form, melts into something more familiar, to that of a taller, well-dressed, blonde haired, perfumed, noble woman named Phaelis. Morgan opens the door to see the familiar sight of Phaelis and in a nonchalant manner says “Come in.” There is a tension visible in the air as she slowly enters. Phaelis smiles, nods and then brightly says “Greetings Saerra!” who looks up from tending to the baby. She looks at the baby laying quietly in its crib and says “How beautiful!! Congratulations.” Saerra smiles proudly and affectionately says “Yes. Yes, he is.” Out of the corner of her eye, Saerra spots Morgan cautiously looking out of the window. After a few moments of that he seems to be satisfied that there is no trouble following and returns to stand before Phaelis.

“Have a seat and make yourself comfortable. Would you like something to drink? We have water, a little bit of honey ale, or Black River Tea?”

Phaelis’ friendly smile turns to something more sinister and arrogant. Saerra and Morgan let out a muffled yelp as short blades quietly sheathe themselves into the flesh of their backs. A look of shock and utter horror fills their faces as they look to each other and then to their new born son, their life slowly fading from them. The bodies of Saerra an Morgan slump quietly to the floor to reveal two figures enshrouded in shadows behind them with bloodied blades in hand. They soundlessly sheathe the blades and their forms shift to that of Morgan and Saerra. They pickup the two bodies and lay them in bed covering them in blankets. Their movements making not a sound. When they finish with that they return to the main room and all three surround the baby, Shraen, laying wide-eyed in his crib. Soundless moments pass as the three do not move, their eyes fixed on Shraen. Phaelis passes a hand over the quietly cooing child and it falls asleep.


I wrote this for for the first round of what is called a Ceramic DM’ contest via ENWorld from August of 2007. A Ceramic DM contest is where the judges give all contestants the same 3 or so pictures with which they have to write a story around, no rx and then are judged on writing content and style as well as our use the pictures in the story. There is 72 hours from the time the pictures are posted in a round until the stories are due. Pertinent Links: Original Story Posted; links to pictures are included in the text. I left the judges comments at the bottom and I agree with pretty much everything they said. I wrote a lot for 72 hours.

The Story

And the answer was right in front of me the whole time.’ Anton thinks to himself as he looks at the mural in the lobby of his uncle’s office building. ‘How could I have been so blind. He is so arrogant.‘ as he continues his internal monologue. ‘I am, rehabilitation now, not surprised that he has not removed this archaic art as most everyone else has – vying instead for holographic banners and art.

The mural depicted the villagers of our great, great, great, great grandparent’s hometown to meet the priest who came as ‘angels’ descended from the sky to supposedly consecrate the horrible burning of his great, great, great, great grandparents alive for crimes against the church which included witchcraft and heresy. That’s what the history books say. Just below the mural were supposedly the last condemning words of the priest “By the flame of the righteous, I consecrate thee.”

Our family history paints a slightly different image. The local priest desired Anton’s great, great, great, great grandmother, Dorus’, recipe for her spiced kelp balls and she would not acquiesce a treasured family secret. Her rebuffing naturally earned the priest’s ire and then he condemned the pair to death for it. An annoying part of their family history, but that year marked the beginning of their family’s success and rise to riches. Shortly after Anton’s great, great, great, great grandparents’ immolation the spiced kelp balls started to sell like wild-fire and the money started to rolling in. The family has been rolling-in-the-spiced-green ever since.

This building has been in Anton’s family for a little over 2000 years and has had quite the history of violence, war, and disaster but yet it still remains standing in one form or another. Part of the building has been burned down to the ground in a freak candle fire. It has been bombarded by cannon fire during a civil war. It has been the home of human and halfling sacrificing religious sect that killed their members in a group pixie juice suicide. The family has kept this as their seat of power in spite of the many problems that it has had. Someone in the family has always owned it either personally or by a business that they controlled.

Anton is abruptly brought out of his thoughts as his shoulder is not so gently shoved forward. Behind him looms the chimpanzee brothers who look like two very tall, strong, dark haired, West Virginia, back-hill, inbred hillbillies with large ears, slightly protruding forehead, large mouth, and wild eyes that scream ‘I am my own Grandpa.‘. If you know what I mean? The not so bright and not so occasionally drooling half-ogre brothers that are errand boys for my uncle have bent sent to bring to Anton at his whim. His uncle is comforted in knowing that he receives a tax break for their full time employment.

The brothers shoved Anton from his thoughts about the mural and into the magic suppressing elevator a few feet away . Once they were inside the simian brothers looked at him and then at each other, furled their brows, and then grunted in unison. Brother number 1’s big hands mashed the controls for the elevator and they started to ascend to the top floor. Brother number 2 snapped out his stun baton and played with it menacingly behind Anton. He could hear the its quiet hum as well as the smell the ozone in its wake. He felt very naked without the charge pistol that they confiscated from him during his impressment.

Anton tapped his left arm a few times trying readjust the servos back into place. His cybernetic arm has been recently damage in a ‘misunderstanding‘ and he need to have it adjusted. The arm suffers from occasional spasms or ticks that have caused him to break a few peoples noses. It is the strangest thing. The random ion pulses discharging has not helped his case either.

Anton’s uncle is the current patriarch of the Seven Swords family and all of its estates. It is hard not to admire and loathe his rich and successful uncle. He has never met the man and as far as he has heard no one can remember seeing or meeting him either. As it is often said the rich are often eccentric, especially with our family. It is hard to argue when their leadership is so profitable.

The Elven Clan of the Seven Swords was very keen to keep their bloodline pure and looked unkindly upon the genetic stain that Anton was. The family was above having Anton killed or neglected outright as he is literally the red headed half-elven step child of this family. It is difficult to find a place in the various businesses that his family owns or is involved in so he am usually moved from place to place and business to business as problems occur due to his bastard origin.

As the elevator came to a stop and doors opened Anton looked quickly back trying to hide a smirk as he remembered that he broke brother number one’s arm as he left an elevator once. Brother number one squinted his eyes, grunted, and shoved the half-elf from the elevator and into the foyer.

The foyer room’s walls and ceiling was composed of a dark and shiny blue marble. It was an immaculately clean room that contained a small stand with the Xcentar 2000 Bionetic Verifier and the door. The X2BV appears more like a 4-person game controller because the manufacturer’s original chassis was destroyed in a freak fire storm at their factory and they conveniently found a rather strange and convenient replacement in the game controller that the owner’s son used for his virtual science simulations.

The X2BV is made for high capacity bionetic security points identifying 4 people at a time via a hemoscan, thermoscan, as well as a electro-resonant brain scan. The three of them approached the device and grabbed a hold of the handle and spoke out their names. Following the slight prick into their palms and the line of light that passed over their bodies quickly the light on the top of Anton’s handle lit up green and the other two lit up red.

The chimpanzee brothers scowled and walked their seemingly simian gait back to the elevator, mashed the buttons, and then disappeared as the doors closed and the elevator descended. As they left Anton began to feel really anxious and alone. He had never met the head of the family and he really had no weapons with himself. ‘You never can be too careful.‘ He had no idea what to expect, but assumed that it had something to do with his snooping around their family’s history and private archives, as well as asking meaningless questions about a long lost past. ‘Perhaps, my moment of reckoning had come.‘ he thought to himself as he tried to suppress a smile.

Once the the elevator had left this floor the light above the door that led to where the patriarch lay turned green. He could hear the heavy ‘chunk’ of presumably metal locks opening. The double doors quietly slid open little bit so that a dim light could be seen emanating from with in. Quiet sounds of microfans and, most likely, the glow of computer monitors seeped from the room beyond. Anton stood their and tried to slow his breathing and to keep his pulse from racing as this could be the moment when all is righted.

Anton walked slowly forward while nervously running his left hand through his hair. He used his right hand to open the doors and look into the room to try to assess the situation. Whether he should run or whether he should get ready for the showdown.

The half-elf walked slowly into the darkened room and he looked at the sole occupant in the room a woman not too much older than him – 24. She had long brown hair with delicate pale skin. Her eyes were wide, confident, and full of concern and fear as she sat in a bed with the covers pulled up to her bent knees. Anton was shocked. ‘This is no patriarch. But everything made sense in light of it.

The window was open behind her and the curtains were laying still with no breeze coming in. There was not a lot of light here as it was night time and the only light that was available was from the picture of the family crest on the wall screen behind him. His keen partially-elven eyes allowed him to see well enough and he stared at her. She stared at him as did her black cat who sat quietly at the foot of the bed and indifferently looked at him and then looked away at something obviously more interesting. The darkly wooded bed was contrasted by the statue of three scowling bulldogs’ heads with wide eyes that was made out of a light marble at the foot of the bed.

It was an all together surreal moment and it is nothing like he would have imagined. He expected to find a man here, his uncle who bore the family secret, but instead, he found the family secret. He imagined an epic battle to the death with thunder, lightening, storms of acid and hell-wrent flames. But there is only this. This moment looking at each other. Rather anticlimactic after a few years of searching for the truth, and for the right of ascension.

Anton cleared his throat and began to speak in an ancient tongue that has long been forgotten. “In the name of the fathers of Auld I command you, Dorus Seven Swords, heir to the patriarchy and secrets of the Seven Swords of the Fathers, and to the fabled recipe of the Spicey Kelp Balls to abdicate you throne at the head of Family.”

At that moment a great wind blew the curtains opened and it started to rain. Thunder and lightening ripped across the sky as the flash wrent the magics in the room. The cat bore the antlers of a hell-bound servant and the three dog-headed statue at the foot of the betrayed something more insidious – a Beyhound with swirling red enthralling eyes that beckon you to doze and relax. Its greenish skinned tentacles and toothy maw lashed out from under the bed and poised to strike.

‘This was more like it.” he thought as he readied the appropriate spell and incantation to take his place as the head of the family. The Beyhound’s eyes called his attention and assaulted his will. The hellbound cat glowered at me with a vicious and uncaring indifference while its horns pulsed and throbbed with electricity that lanced out toward Anton seeking his flesh.

The electricity arched to him and found itself drained by latent protective magical field that emanated from his cybernetic arm. Anton smiled and pulled out a black sapphire the size of a human fist and presented it as he continued “In the name of the Elders and the heirs of the Seven Swords I command you to relinquish.” The Beyhounds tentacles lashed out to him but he was not there, at least not physically there to extradimensional creatures as they were.

The wind howled and blew hard and lightening struck not too far away outside. The woman smiled and said “Thank you, my love. I am ready.” The black sapphire flashed and the room was empty of all creatures save himself. He could still smell the aroma of her perfume on the now still air. His heart sank.

The room was quiet and the tousled bed was wet from rain coming in from the open window. He could still see the impression on the bed from where the woman sat. He whispered to himself “By the flame of the righteous, I consecrate thee.” He sighed in sadness and a longing that no one else could ever understand, but this is necessary for the family line to continue appropriately. The surface of the Black Sapphire was warm to the touch and seemed to flare at small moments like flame was trying to free itself from within.

The mural at the entrance to the building fade slowly away and all that remained the phrase ‘By the flame of the righteous, I consecrate thee.‘ below was a clean blank wall.

Judges Comments

This is an interesting story. The circular use of the mural works quite well. When I first saw a picture used as a picture I went, “uh oh,” but you made it work. The other picture use is adequate, but nothing really knocked my socks off. Also, unfortunately, I am a grammar freak, and you have again broken my cardinal tense changing rule. Several times. The most obvious time was:
“Anton tapped his left arm a few times trying readjust the servos back into place. His cybernetic arm has been recently damage in a ‘misunderstanding'” Tapped, trying and has do not agree. His arm had been damaged. I hate to sound like a broken record, but a good story will only get you so far. Writing is a craft, and as such has rules. You have a great imagination and some really fun ideas, but the mistakes really pull me right out of the story. It also has a meandering quality which can work under some circumstances, but not in a story where you’re trying to build suspense. The payoff, the protagonist getting trapped, is great, but the suspense got diluted. I really got jarred by the story going from first to third person or maybe I was just never clear who was telling the story… and I don’t think I ever quite recovered.

The warhammer has been humming something that resembles a cross between an 80’s hair band anthem type song and the Battle Hymn of the Republic, but is now revving up to its keening scream. I’ll be glad when this competition is over. My poor old dog is in the very back room of my house howling, and the ancient cat is hiding under the bed. The hammer is only happy when it’s reducing someone to jelly. Sorry, FreeXenon, but you’re the flavor of the night. Squish.

FreeXenon’s story had a little more emotion to it. There seemed to be a little depth to the main character, and some sense of a greater story. The writing was very uneven, though, and it could have used another pass to clean up some of the more obvious shifts in tense and what have you. The McGuffin was a little off-putting, too — the frivolity of ‘spiced kelp balls’ seemed out of place with the rest of the tale. (At least they weren’t ‘Schwetty salty balls’ though), The descriptions were very good, though, and the pacing was tight and consistent. Picture use was pretty weak. The painting as a mural skirts way too close to the edge, and the others seemed merely descriptive and not essential to the tale.

"Children of the Henge"

I wrote this for for the first round of what is called a Ceramic DM’ contest via ENWorld from August of 2007. A Ceramic DM contest is where the judges give all contestants the same 3 or so pictures with which they have to write a story around, no rx and then are judged on writing content and style as well as our use the pictures in the story. There is 72 hours from the time the pictures are posted in a round until the stories are due. Pertinent Links: Original Story Posted; links to pictures are included in the text. I left the judges comments at the bottom and I agree with pretty much everything they said. I wrote a lot for 72 hours.


The time has far past when pixies, neuropathologist dwarves, physician elves, and dragons dwelt upon the lands. Everything magical has passed from the world for long last leaving but humans, and the animals, and the plants. Magical things that were a part of the very fabric of life are no longer, and relegated to parts of bedtime stories read to children before they go to sleep. Magic was a spell that brought flames, or allowed one to travel great distances in a mere thought, to cause the one person to fall in love with another, or bring a kingdom to its knees. Now magic is but silly slight of hand. True Magic has left the world.

The gods had come to pass as well in these times. There were but a few that remember the influence and worship of the gods, and even they do not speak of them for fear of being labeled a witch or demon speaker. These are godless and fearful times, yet innocence and purity can still be found. There is still the spark of good to be found in humanity, yet one must still be careful.

The power and strength of the sword is what rules humanity now. Kingdoms and fiefdoms are conquered and controlled by the trickery or those with a hefty sword arm. We will now set our story outside of the small agrarian village of Dunmare.

The Henge


She slept there in a small clearing in the middle of a haunted wood – alone and serene. The grass was soft and full. There was a break in the canopy of the forest’s trees here where the twinkling stars far above could be seen in the clear night sky. The air was cool, but not too much so as to be uncomfortable or to chill the skin. The fresh scent of roses and a fresh dew was in the air and is a idyllic setting for a summer night.

The young lady, barely of 16 winters, slept. Her long, golden hair was splayed out above her, and her pink courtly dress seemed rather out of place with the dirt on her face and leaves in her hair. To those who knew not better might think that by the way the roses and the plants have come to embrace her that she has been sleeping there for many years. A crown of roses grows carefully about her head. A few roses and vines have grown about her as if they wish to caress her or watch over her. The soft pink of the delicate rose petals accents her dress and the slight blush of her cheeks.

This little clearing was surrounded by large rough stone pillars 5 men high by 2 wide – and there were 6 of these pillars arranged in a perfect circle. The stones were old – far older than any living creature may remember, and far older that any historian may have written about. Know one remembers for what they would have been placed here for even if they could find it. This was a holy place to some, and a place of evil and fear to others.

She begins to rouse from a deep sleep as the plants, crown and all, move slowly away from her and back to where they belong, as if they were never there about her. The roses went back to climbing the stone pillars and the vines as well. The young lady’s head moved to the other side and then her arms moved closer together to rest on her stomach. She slowly opened her bright green eyes to look into the stars above. She smiles happily and contentedly while breathing in fresh air.

Uncle Sarris

The young lady looks about the stone pillars and her eyes search about as if she is looking for something. She carefully stands up so as to not stain her dress and then she brushes the what grass and dirt remained. “So, why is it that only my Uncle Sarris can find me here and no one else?” she questions seemingly to no one in particular as a darkly clothed man walks from behind one of the stone pillars.

His cloak and clothes were black as the night and the silvery hilt of a sword poked out like a single star against the dark night of his clothes. He had short dark brown hair and piercing icy blue eyes. His strong jaw and muscular frame gave him and air of authority and presence that few would question. He had the strength and prowess of warrior and the wisdom of a priest.

He smiles affectionately to her as he walks forward to her and says “Perhaps a better question is ‘Why can you and I find this place at all and no one else can?’.”

“Now I know that you are not my real uncle and those people that I call family are not my real family, so why do they insist on calling me their daughter?” she continued.

“Why do you insist on remembering that they are not your blood-kin?” he stated as he smiles wryly enjoying this game.

She was rather use to this process, but has always hoped that he would relent and actually answer a question with something of meaning and substance instead of his fancy question-answers. “Why do people not like us and treat us differently, Uncle?”

He smiled remembering the path that she will walk in a few hours. “People fear us because they do not understand us. We are different. We see the world differently than they. We know things that they do not know.”

“Why are we different and what is there to not understand? Do we not bleed and breathe as they do? Do we not need food and water? Do we not think and feel as they also do?” she countered knowing full well that she may as well have been speaking to herself.

“Why can we find the this place as no others can?” was the circular answer that told her that there were to be no more questions and that he was definitely not going to entertain the idea of pseudo-answers anymore. Sarris was more like a father to her. He helped her to understand and put into words that which her ‘family’ could not.

Sarris sighed. “We are the same, Delia, You and I. We are but one in a couple of generations. We see and understand things that others do not and that is our place in life – to be misunderstood and to know that which they cannot. To act in moments that none can see the right action. We are here to work the gods’ will amongst the mortals even though they are no longer”

“The gods have long since past but there are places where their energies linger and hold on to very fabric of existence. We are their children and this is their place. Do you not feel at home here?”

Delia frowned in frustration as she does not really understand. “I know that is what you keep telling me but it does not make sense. No one worships the gods anymore. They do not exist. No one even remembers them. They do not matter to people.”

“The gods of auld may not matter to them, but you matter to them.” He walked over and embraced her. Delia hugged him back but she was still no closer to understanding her place in all of this.

“My dear Delia, you need to go back to town now. Your village needs you.”

“Uh-huh” she says sarcastically. He smiled enjoying her attitude.


Dunmare was a fell miles away from the henge and Delia walked quietly and nonchalantly through the forest towards home with her thoughts lost into her uncle’s ‘answers’ to her questions. The path to the henge was not worn or even bore a hint of passage no matter how many times in her life that she has traveled it. Uncle Sarris has been here countless times and no one at the village can remember a time without him. He was always been there in one form or another. Since he showed her how to find the path to it she has been traveling there herself as she desired. She would go there when she needed time to think or a place to win at hide-and-go seek.

Dunmare was a small agrarian village of about 60 people. Most farmed and few hunted, but everyone had there place in the village’s survival. Everyone, that is, except for Sarris and her. Sarris was only about when he chose to be and no one questioned him and pretty much no one even talked to him unless he spoke to them first. The people seemed somewhat flighty and frightened around him.

She came and went as she pleased. She helped with farming or hunting as she pleased and no one said anything to her about earning her keep. She had two ‘brothers’ and a ‘sister’ who were always busy doing something around their little farm and the parents were quite insistent about them doing their chores and schooling and such. The raising of Delia was left to Sarris and the rest of the time filled in by them. He was definitely more gone then around but he handed out lessons as needed to keep her on the straight path, so they hoped that is what their infrequent time together was. She was a well behaved young girl, but odd – very odd and blessed, but they knew not by who or what.

As she approached the village center she found the village meeting building (which no one remembers was a former temple dedicated to the gods) with lights ablaze on the inside and she heard plenty of murmuring and shouting coming from inside. Many a saddled horse is tethered outside which was a rare occurrence as most horses are draft horses and used for wagons or plowing and not so much for riding. It appears that the town has gathered to discuss something and there are visitors involved.

The Temple

The temple is a tall stone building with murals on all the walls above where any man’s extended arm could touch. The walls were probably 3 men in height and the murals were of natural scenes and of divine beings lost to time. Deep blue skies, crisp green trees and bright white sheep as well as others were found in this mural. As she has been taught the creatures and beings depicted represent the natural cycle and the ascendance of the divine and her guardians. The history and story of this mural is complex and long and they have not gotten far into it yet.

She approached the temple door and allowed her eyes adjust to the light and the sound of the people talking. There was a throng of people here many of which she knew and many that she did not on the far side raised podium and a small raised dais that were the only dominate item typically present here. On the near side there were many of the young ladies of the village all dressed up in their finest dresses sitting down and preening themselves.

The Neereman

Delia listened a little bit and it appears as though they village is attempting to marry off their daughters to wealthy noblemen that is passing through. A Neereman noble – dark skinned and of a painted face of blue, purple, white and black markings. The higher status a Neereman the more painted his face was and this man’s face was full and bore feline qualities. Neereman were very uncommon about these parts and she has never see one herself.

They were a tribal and cast people. They had nobles who ruled there tribes and the tribes swore fealty to a a king who ruled them all. They had peoples that were serfs and destined to not be more than that, and the those that were destined for all of the finest things in life. Breaking through the cast system was not impossible, but very rare. Neereman nobles lived well and usually had a lot of land and serfs. They were a kind but stern people. Neereman Criminals, no matter what there previous status, were generally reduced to serfs and left to a serfs life. In rare cases the offender was made a slave to the offended party. Non-Neereman were sometimes made serfs or many times they were exiled without anything to survive on. Most died within a day or two of exile.

The villagers were all about as the women went up there one by one and there family members went up with them to tell and display of the virtues of their daughters. This was a moment for these families that meant that their daughter might be given a life of splendor and riches the likes of which that they, themselves, will never see. The Neereman brought gold, furs and other sundry items to pay for the daughters hand. They were a generous people when they had it. Generous with their dowries and generous to their serfs.

The noble man was surrounded by 6 other Neereman warriors who kept the villagers at bay as they hawked their daughters on the dais. The warriors were strong and significantly less painted. The sides of their faces were covered bore paint and that is it. They wielded spears and had longs swords by their sides, and chaimail for armor.

Delia entered the room and the villagers after a few moments quieted down a little and they looked at her. She looked at everyone else not sure what she was doing exactly. She walked into the room, passing daughters that were waiting there turn, and right up onto the dais with a father who was previously testifying to the virtuous qualities that his daughter had.

She looked hard at the noble man for a few long moments and he looked back to her – never moving or responding in any way. She reached down deep into herself and brought out ancient words “Erigthiena Thslisthan”. The power of the elder words filled the room and everything was dead silent. Now, before her, in place of the dark skinned Neeremen were bipedal Yak men. Dark furred, broad horned, dark eyed, strong men whose furred faces are painted. She saw this and no one else did for the ancient words worked only for those who utter it.

She smiled at the Neereman noble knowing that he knew that she knew the truth, and for the first time, the Neereman smiled. He then said matter-of-factly “I will take her.” The whole crowd of villagers gasped and started to murmur. None of them were quite sure what to do.

“If that is what you and your family will, they so let it be done.” were the words that were emitted from him even though his yak lips could not actually mouth the words. His ensorcelled disguise could not fool the power that she could channel, yet it was very competently woven about him and his minions.

Judges Comments

Technical Writing(4/10):
You jump continually between past and present tense, sometimes even in the same sentence. You miss some words, and misuse some phrases (as … as, etc). You also use the wrong words in places (their turn, not there turn).
Creative Writing(6/10):
The story had an interesting premise – I liked some of the central ideas. I was left with some questions, though. More info about the young lady and uncle Sarris would have been nice. The community was established pretty well. The ending confused me a bit. The visitors were…actually yaks? Sent by whom? And who made them look like people and able to talk? And why?
Picture Use(8/10):
Young lady(8/10): Central character and opening scene. Well done – good description and led into the story. Could have used the crown of flowers or dress more, but good job.
Temple(9/10): Central location and scene. Good description, lead-in and use. Great job!
Painted Face(7/10): Supporting character. Nice description, though a bit more about the face-paint and design would have helped I think.
Total: 1/2(4) + 6 + 8 = 2 + 6 + 8 = 16/25

Comments – Combined:
freeXenon’s story had interesting ideas, but was a bit difficult to read due to grammatical errors, and left a lot of questions and holes. Great picture use! I don’t think the story was too long, but some parts were drawn out (the discussion between the girl and uncle) without much point, and some parts needed more flshing out. Round goes to freeXenon by default.