NaNoWriMo 20–Hagengarde

NaNoWriMo 20

I ended up staying home again yesterday but struggled with the will to write.  I have to get over this crud because it is making me feel like doing nothing.  As a result my progress in NaNoWriMo feels like it has crept to a halt.  I am sitting at roughly 35,701 but I feel like I am behind the pace, or at the very least have lost whatever lead I had coming into the game.  Right now is the most picky stuff as well, I am trying to join up all the disparate threads into one narrative to set up for the final actions.

Here is the story at hand currently… remember super raw super unedited.

  1. Shadowed Stone
  2. Little Giant Girl
  3. Birthday Wishes
  4. The Gifts
  5. The Incursion
  6. The Watch
  7. Rough Landing
  8. Dragon Bone
  9. People of the Storm
  10. The Lady
  11. Cambridge Beneath
  12. Prisoner of War
  13. Woodbinding
  14. Parting the Veil
  15. People of the Earth
  16. The Pack
  17. Brittagus Escape
  18. The Lightskimmer
  19. The Nightlords

20 – Hagengarde

The skyship had been a far more pleasant place than she would have expected initially.  While the captain seemed gruff, she had eased over time the longer that Pico and Berrol were on board.  In fact she had taken while a shining to the little Berrol who she was now teaching about the main steering complex.  Pico was happy to see him smiling since he spent the first day on board sobbing over his father.  Astanax had not made it out with them, and it was uncertain whether or not he actually would.  While normally not the motherly type… Pico made adjustments for the little guy and tried her best to watch after him.

She sat down in the underbelly of the skyship and in this rare moment of private sifted through her pack.  There in a small grey box sat her escape plan.  She had done fresh calculations and was still completely uncertain that it would actually have the desired effect.  Normally in test firings the analytic weapons had no effect on human flesh, but she had no idea what it would do to magic flesh.  She also did not know if it would push her back into her own world… or if it would create a tear in the ward further complicating the problem.  She knew one thing, she could not leave without Berrol and she was certain the grenade would not be safe for him.

As she stepped out onto the deck she noticed a landmass dead ahead that was growing larger as they moved towards it.  She could see a near endless coastline and surmised that this had to be the eastern coastline of the United States, or what passed for that here in this world.  As they moved closer she could see little settlements dotting the coastline.  They appeared to be moving towards the largest of these clusters.  She thought to herself that this must be Hagengarde, the place that Karrek urged her to go.  The valkore were rumored to be dragon hunters, so she hoped they would be able to get her a piece of the dragon bone she needed for analysis.

As effortlessly as it had moved across the sea Pico was not prepared for the sudden lurch as the ship crossed onto the shoreline.  It glided its way along the coast until it reached a pier of sorts jutting out into the air.  On deck there was a flurry of activity as men grabbed hold of the deck with some sort of a wench, using it to tow them slowly into a resting position.  They deployed the same gangplank they had used before, but it felt far more ominous crossing a gap to this floating pier.  She was thankful she was not prone to vertigo, because this certainly would have triggered it.  Much to her surprise Berrol seemed completely unphased by it, and bounded down the plank and onto the stone pier waving for her to come on.  She crossed very slowly and deliberately but made it fine, taking the little boys hand into hers and heading into town.

Hagengarde was absolutely nothing like she expected.  After seeing the harsh majesty of Brittagus, she was expecting all of this world to look something like that.  The Valkore on the other hand, while masters of the sky seemed to be significantly primitive in other ways.  While the city was every bit the bustling metropolis that Brittagus was, it instead was made up mostly of these lodge like buildings.  Each was made out of wood or something that looked similar, with bits of bone and metal to embellish.  It all gave her the feeling of a holywood “wild west” town but with significantly nordic influence.  The people looked similar to her, but much more stout and sturdy.  Even Barret who apparently was slight for a Valkore, looked like a bodybuilder.

As she crossed the town something struck out of the landscape.  To the left and up a rise was a longer version of these lodges.  In place of a wood exterior was a bleached white surface held together with rivets of black iron.  If she was not entirely mistaken the building appeared to be made primarily of dragon bone.  She made her way across the streets and up the rise until she was standing next to the building.  Reaching out her hand she ran it over the smooth exterior.  It looked almost exactly like the ward she had seen.  It was joined in the same manner with the same iron craftsmanship.  It struck her… did the wards initially come from the Valkore?

As she was examining the exterior the door to the lodge flew open and a man was standing in the threshold preparing to exit.  She lept back taking shielding Berrol behind her, she recognized that face entirely too well.  It was one of the men at the farm house event, the one who had spoken to Aimes, with blazing red hair.  She didn’t know what this meant or why he was here, especially after taking a full strike of the analytical weapons.  She didn’t know if she and Berrol were in danger, as she looked him over assessing the threat he certainly did not seem dangerous.  The commotion had caught his attention and he was now staring blankly at her, quick Pico think of something to say.

“ugh…  Hi, you startled me” fumbled Pico.  The man looked her over for a moment before relaxing slightly.  “Torgos is out currently with the chief huntsman, if you needed him.” the man returned “I was just going out myself to get something to eat.  I am sure if you check back later he will be here.”  Pico thought to herself, he seemed friendly enough and he certainly had no idea who she was.  “Actually I came over here because this lodge appears to be made of dragon bone.  Do you know anything about it?” she said pointing idly at the exterior she had been examining.  “Huh, come to think of it yeah, I guess it is bone…  I had not really noticed.  I am not from around here.”  Bemel replied sensing something odd about the woman.

Pico had always favored honesty when possible, she made a horrible liar.  Even though every bone in her body told her not to, she found herself replying to the man.  “I’m not from around here either, I am not even from this world.”  With that the man gave her a curious look and then a sudden wave of realization washed over him.  “You are from the mortal realm aren’t you?  You have the smell about you.  At first all I could sense was the mage colony, but now I see an underlying smell of humanity.  What brings you to Hagengarde?  Better yet… how exactly did you get here?  You don’t seem like a halfkin.”  Bemel replied curiously.  He opened the door to the lodge and offered Pico entrance, thinking that while they were talking they might as well be comfortable.

Pico thanked him and she and Berrol entered taking up seats in the main room.  “It’s a long story…  I came here through a stable gateway underneath what you would call Brittagus.”  She explained about Berrol and Astanax.  She spoke about Karrek and the Inquisition, and why exactly she had to escape.  She spoke of the Order of Merlin and how Berrol represented the last of that line.  She had no idea why all of it came pouring out, especially to a stranger and a potentially dangerous one at that.  She talked about how she had sworn to protect Berrol, and make sure he was safe.  All the while Bemel simply sat there listening, not showing much emotion.

When she had finished he simply said “You are with the organization they call the ‘watch’ are you not?”  Of all the things she was expecting out of his mouth that had been the furthest from it.  How exactly did he know about the ward watch?  There was no real reason to deny it since he had obviously made that leap himself.  “Yes…  I’m Pico, Pico Cosgrove one of the engineers responsible for the analytic weapons.”  With that she could sense anger rising in him, maybe she had shared a bit too much there.  “So you are the one that built the weapons they attacked us with?  Do you currently have those weapons here?  Are there more of you?”  Pico shook her head slowly “It is just me, and no I don’t really have anything like that…  we couldn’t risk using them again.”  She let out a deep sigh  “The wards are falling, and those weapons damaged them significantly.”

Bemel looked shocked for a moment and then a wave of understanding passed over him.  “How long have they been weakening?”  She told him about the slow and steady decay over the last hundred years, and how the weapons damaged it significantly more.  She had thought the weapons would be their salvation, but instead it only seemed to hasten their demise.  “We have not been able to repair the wards, nor have we even come close to creating our own synthetic one.”  She rifled in her pack and produced the leather bound tome she had taken from the undercroft.  “But with this book I might be able to finally create one, I simply need a sample of dragon bone to analyze when I get back home.”  A sinking feeling settled into her stomach as she thought “If I get back home”.

Bemel looked very serious for a moment “You’ve picked a rather inconvenient moment to come here.  Were it another time I could have potentially helped you get back to your world.  Now however we are preparing for war.”  Pico gasped audibly, were they going to invade her world as retaliation for the strike against them at the farm house?  She remained silent as the man continued “Centuries ago the forces of winter rebelled against the natural order of the seasons, and claimed the northlands as their own.  In an attempt to halt their progress we created a barrier, much like your wards.  It too is failing, and the mean to use the power of our captured queen to destroy the barrier.”

“The Valkore were nearly driven to a point of extinction by the Trogjan, the ‘things’ that attacked us at the farm house.  We are planning a strike on Fort Kraken on the other side of the wall, hoping that we can disrupt the forces long enough for someone to get inside and rescue the queen.  Without her power they will not be able to bring down the wall.”  Pico thought for a moment, then summoned her courage.  “If I help you, can you get me back home safely?”  she asked the man.  “I can, but how could you help us?” mused Bemel.  Pico rifled through her pack and produced the small grey box holding it out carefully in front of her. 

“This is a prototype weapon, I brought it with me… as an escape plan.  I am not really certain how it will work in this world.  But I think it will destroy anything magical in the area of the blast.”  Bemel looked at the box Pico was holding and shrunk back in his seat a bit.  He had felt the sting of those weapons and remembered the bomb they had dropped that caused the pack of Orts to simply disappear.  “The skyships could get someone close enough to the fort to drop the bomb.  It should take out a fair number of enemy troops.”  Pico said carefully placing the box back inside her pack.  However unlikely this alliance was, Bemel thought that maybe the watch had just given them a fighting chance.  They would take Fort Kraken, and free the queen.

NaNoWriMo 19–The Nightlords

NaNoWriMo 19

Really feeling miserable right now.  I attempted to write last night but just could not seem to focus.  I managed to muddle through 1500 words, but I feel like I chopped this chapter off at a weird place.  I will continue on and finish it tonight, but for the time being here is what I have.  I probably should have stopped a long time ago, but I keep introducing new forces in the world as the various groups meander their way towards their destiny.

Here is a recap of everything that has come before, once again it is raw, extremely raw… especially this mornings post.

  1. Shadowed Stone
  2. Little Giant Girl
  3. Birthday Wishes
  4. The Gifts
  5. The Incursion
  6. The Watch
  7. Rough Landing
  8. Dragon Bone
  9. People of the Storm
  10. The Lady
  11. Cambridge Beneath
  12. Prisoner of War
  13. Woodbinding
  14. Parting the Veil
  15. People of the Earth
  16. The Pack
  17. Brittagus Escape
  18. The Lightskimmer

19 – The Nightlords

As they walked nearer to the wildfae enclave a sense of dread hung in the air.  In part the mood had simply not recovered from the ambush by the reavewolves two days ago.  This however was not the only reason.  As they moved closer and closer to what should have been a relatively large Wildfae concentration they saw none of the familiar signs.  When Jace and Kale had approached Dobin’s enclave they were traced by little green lights darting around just out of sight.  The fae should have made their presence know or at least felt in some way.  Instead they walked through the woods in a complete and eerie silence.

Merowyn grumbled to herself “We should be seeing sprites by now, welcoming us to the conclave.  I don’t like this one bit.”  She glanced over at Dobin and he face was worn by worry.  “This does not make sense at all.” he grumbled as he fluttered past the main group of the party to scout ahead.  He had reached the outer perimeter of the conclave and still not a single wildfae made their presence known.  It was not out of their nature to hide from strangers, but if that was their concern they could have cloaked the entire conclave.  This was something else, something had happened here.

Dobin with two fae that had buzzed up to join him flitted about the village, zooming in and out of huts each time coming up completely empty.  Where could everyone be, there were no bodies, no signs of a struggle.  The village was just completely and utterly empty.  The village seemed to have been deserted white a while.  As dobin fluttered into another cabin he noticed that the stones in the hearth were long cold and dormant with no signs of a recent fire  How did almost a hundred fae disappear.  It had been not two months since he had been up to this conclave to deliver a message.  At that time the place was a bustling hub of twinkles and wings.

Mero, Jace and Kale set up a camp of sorts in what had been a communal hall.  They gathered some wood nearby and within a short while the hearth was blazing with new life again.  The walk had been long so they would need to rest despite how downright spooky the village seemed without life in it.  Dobin simply could not rest, and nor could two of his guard Scree and Nera.  The two of them had family in this village and it was all he could do to keep them from rushing ahead without him.

In moments they had fluttered ahead beyond the north boundary of the conclave and on the road that lead to the Sunwall.  They were zipping ahead looking for clues when Dobin signalled a halt.  The fluttered over to a spot of ground and he zoomed down to examine it more closely.  Something had been through here recently, a large bipedal creature with claws on its feet.  It appeared to be dragging something that looked a bit like a large stick.  Pointing to places in the dirt he exclaimed “See how it drags the ground every few feet, that is the gait of someone walking with a staff”  Dobin said as the other two fae nodded appreciatively. 

The tracks continued up the road as far as he could see, but he did not want to stray too far from camp.  They would be needed if something attacked over night, so as hard as he tried he urged for Skree and Nera to follow him back to camp.  Finally he appealed to their sense of duty to protect the Lady.  That while they did not know what happened to the conclave, they could protect The Lady in the meantime.  By the time they reached the village the other two were full of patriotic loyalty and buzzed off to stand watch on the outskirts of town.

He returned to the side of Merowyn reporting back his findings.  “There are the tracks of something large moving away from this village north towards the Sunwall.  We followed it a ways, and they looked to continue down the road.  We doubled back to wait until morning before following them further.”  The little fae addressed the lady.  “We will find out what happened to them tomorrow.  We will get to the bottom of this.  While I chose your village, these fae are my children as well.”  Merowyn said with a look of distant determination.

The group settled in for the night, and while the tiny warders heard the occasional strange noise in the night as a whole the evening went without much event.  In the wee hours of the morning there was a commotion from the far side of the village, coming from the north along the path that the sprites had scouted the night before.  There came a fluttering and the occasional bumping noise, and as the sprites rallied to the noise, Jace could see that it was another sprite flying towards the camp in a very erratic manner.

The light that normally shone from each sprite had gone and replaced was a light dim glow.  As he flew towards the center of the camp a trio of sprite guards managed to intercept taking the beaten fae in their arms allowing him to collapse tired against them.  The trio flew the newcomer to Merowyn, who took the tiny sprite into her arms.  The tiny sprite sputtered and coughed and managed to squeeze a few words out.  “They came, made us do things” it stopped trying to catch its breath obviously wounded somehow.  A tiny rivulet of blood appeared at the corner of its mouth and ran down its cheek.

The tiny sprite seized for a moment in Merowyn’s arms and then was deathly silent.  Great tears pooled up in her eyes as she blinked furiously to try and stop the torrent.  With a quavering voice she decried “Whoever did this will pay.  Everyone gather up camp, we follow the trail northward.” With that the camp was broken and packed back into the various bags and the group set forth retracing the steps of whatever beast had done this.  The telltale dragging of the staff was relatively easy to follow in the soft loam of the trail.  It was not long until they had arrived at the end of the village and continued following it up towards the Sunwall.

When they reached the Sunwall something seemed off there too.  The path lead up to it and in what should have been a solid wall of fire there was a small empty space.  Merowyn thought to herself…  if the Sunwall had been breached there could be all manner of things that had slipped through.  She herself had never actually been on the other side of the wall.  It was the permanent line between summer and winter and had been that way since the war of the seasons.  To cross the wall meant certain death, or that was what the elfen told their children to keep them safe.

She could tell the other sprites were restless and uncertain of the path ahead.  All of them had grown up with similar tales of faceless demons on the other side.  If she was to find the source of that that poor sprites pain however, she would have to summon her bravery and cross.  For a moment she stood there breathing in deeply trying to forcibly calm herself, and then in the next she was moving forward towards the breach in the wall.  She felt the sensation of the warmth of summer, that was suddenly replaced by the bitter biting chill of winter… and she was through standing on the other side.

As if summoned by her courageous act Dobin and his retinue joined her first, soon to be followed by Jace and Kale leading up the rear.  The other side of the wall was a very different place indeed.  The other side was an endless blanket of shroomspire forests with only small paths carved out here and there for people to traverse the wilderness.  This side however was a barren and craggy plain with bits of ice and rock jutting up everywhere.  The earth was much more firm and for a moment she had a bit of trouble picking back up the trail.

She soon found the familiar staff drag marks lightly scraping into the ground, and they continued following to the north and east.  There was a slight path cutting through the terrain and she assumed that the nameless other had been following it.  Everything about the surroundings set her on edge, and this was not helped by the assorted bleached bones that lay strewn about the landscape.  She wondered if the summer side once looked like this too, or if this was simply the machinations of the Trogjan.

The path lead to a rocky cliff overlooking a valley.  Deep within the valley she saw a small keep of sorts.  Less a proper battle keep like she had heard tales of, but instead more a territorial watch post.  As she watched she noticed little shapes moving around shifting in and out of focus.  At first she thought it was her eyes playing a trick on her, but as she stared more intently she began to make out individual shapes and noticed the same dull purple glow emitting from each.  She was pretty certain they were the sprites of the conclave.  What were they doing guarding a Trogjan keep?

NaNoWriMo 18–Lightskimmer

NaNoWriMo 18

Yesterday as I said I was feeling like crap.  It probably would have been the ideal opportunity to write, but alas I did not until early evening.  I did however manage to make it through roughly 2000 words taking my total word count to 32,129.  I take joy in watching the “words per day” estimate on NaNoWriMo.org lower.  Last night I was at 1300 words per day to finish on time.

Once again here is the story to date, all of it raw and unedited.

  1. Shadowed Stone
  2. Little Giant Girl
  3. Birthday Wishes
  4. The Gifts
  5. The Incursion
  6. The Watch
  7. Rough Landing
  8. Dragon Bone
  9. People of the Storm
  10. The Lady
  11. Cambridge Beneath
  12. Prisoner of War
  13. Woodbinding
  14. Parting the Veil
  15. People of the Earth
  16. The Pack
  17. Brittagus Escape

18 – Lightskimmer

It was nearing high shadow when Josah first saw the familiar glow of the sunwall.  He and Torklah had travelled for for most of a day and he knew they had a quite a bit further to go before they arrived.  Looking over at the old sasquatch, Josah thought it was probably a good idea for them to make camp for the evening.  “Torklah, we should make camp here.  We will need our strength when we arrive at the river of sun.”  The elder shaman agreed rather easily, and he was showing the signs of the days journey.

The two of them made camp in a small grotto near the trail.  It looked as though others that had come before them had camped here.  There was a partial circle of stones that obviously housed a fire.  “My people uses this camp during hunting trips near the river, we should be safe enough here.” The shaman said as he settled down onto a rock leaning back against a treeshroom.  “The fire will keep away anything that might attack in the night.”  The elder sasquatched rifled through his pack producing a loaf of bread and some cheeses.

The two of them rested eating in silence for a bit before Torklah spoke up again.  “What is it that you intend to do when we reach the river?”  Josah thought for a moment and then responded.  “I should be able to summon a lightskimmer, and we can ride that to Valkore territory.  Once we get there we should be able to determine where the Trogjan will be attacking from.”  Torklah let that sink in “What is a lightskimmer?  I have never heard of that before?”

“Lightskimmers are magical craft that the elfen employ to traverse the river of sun.  While we call it the sun wall your name is actually more fitting.  It is in fact a road that connects every corner of the elfen lands back to the capiol of Avalon.  While there are hundreds of miles between us and the Valkore lands, it can get us there in less than a day”  Josah responded.  He thought that it must be an odd concept to a Sasquatch, even a Shaman.  As a people they actively shunned using magic to make their lives easier, and as a result they lived very spartan and simplistic lives.

As far as power goes, Josah was not really certain what the Sasquatch had.  He knew they were called the people of the earth, but he did not really understand what that entailed.  The elfen based their magic on life, or in the case of winter the absense of life.  The scions of summer could harnes the power of the sun to create great flame magics.  Regardless of the application every last casting was based on some aspect of the cycle of life.  It seemed odd to Josah that magic could exist that did not directly involve this cycle.

“Torklah, if you don’t mind me asking… .what is the source of your magic?”  Josah asked with honest and curious eyes.  The old shaman thought for a moment before responding.  “We draw our power from the earth.  The ground beneath our feet is alive and speaks to us.  We stand as a conduit for it’s will.”  Torklah concentrated closing his eyes for a moment.  “It’s okay little one, you can show yourself.  Old Torklah will protect you.”  The wizened shaman addressed an unseen force.

As the coaxing continued there was a stirring in the dirt at his feet.  It churned slightly almost like a whirlpool before the dust and dirt coalesced into a form.  It was of a crudely bipodal shape with stubby rock feed, a large dirt clod for a torso and bits of vine forming arms.  The little earth thing crawled up upon the shamans lap and sat down apparently rather at ease with the sasquatch.  “That’s it little one.  The earth has guardians with us always.  It is just that most cannot feel them like I can.”  Josah a little taken off balance stared at the rockling for a moment.  “Spirit of the earth I greet you.  I am Josah a spring scion of the elfen court of Avalon.”  Torklah looked down at the rockling as though listening to it.  “The guardian is please to meet you”.

Josah explained to the rockling his plight, how the events of the farmhouse lead him to see the help of the Sasquatch.  How he planned to rescue his queen and find his beloved Morrow.  When he had finished his tale there was a long and akward silence, once again the Shaman appearing to be listening to the rockling.  Finally Torklah looked up from the rockling to address Josah.  “The great earth mother has felt your pain, and feels the ripping and tearing of the Trogjan callously cutting into her crust.  She offers you her assistance in saving your queen, in the hopes that the cycle of nature and the cycle of earth can live together in harmony.” 

Josah was not sure what exactly he had expected, but he did not expect to get the help of a primal force such as the earth mother.  He had heard stories about her influence, but since the elfen were not able to commune with her he simply was not sure of her power.  It was said that the earth mother had the power to move mountains as needed and raise giant golems to battle her foes.  The thought of any assistance, let alone a force that powerful was beyond anything he could have imagined. When Josah finally spoke he addressed the Rockling directly.  “Guardian, I am humbled by the support of the Earth Mother.  It too is my hope to restore the balance of the cycle.”

The little rockling hopped down from the shamans lap and collapsed back into the soil at his feet.  By this time the coals in the fire were crackling low, and the deep shadows of the night wrapped in around them.  “We should get some rest, the river of sun is still quite a ways off”  Torklah finally mused.  He slid down off his rocky perch and laid a mat from his pack out alongside the fire curling up under a blanket.  It was not long before Josiah had joined him in doing the same, and the two of them drifted off to sleep with the low embers warming them.

The elder shaman was the first to rise and by the time Josah awoke, he was hobbling around camp tending to things.  “You should have woke me” Josah said stretching up from his mat.  The elder sasquatch gave him a sideways glance before replaying rather flatly “You are still under the influence of the poison, and needed your rest more than I did.  Once you pack your bedding, we can get under way.  I’ve made us a small roll that we can eat as we walk.”  Josah did just that and within a quarter hour they were back on the road.

It had been awhile since Josah had been this close to the sunwall.  It of course wraps its way around Avalon, but the walls and spires of the city obscure the view.  Seeing it stretching across the wilds, cutting a swath through the shroomspires was an entire different vista.  The walked mostly in silence, other than a few one or two word comments back and forth.  Josah was fine with this, he really didn’t have much to say, especially since in this thoughts he was still obsessing over the events of the farmhouse and the dread that something might have happened to Morrow.

The last time he had seen her she had been badly wounded.  Then they were both struck by the humans weapon that had flung them apparently in completely different directions.  He hoped beyond hope that she managed to land near another member of the council.  Josah was certain that if Benj or Bemel were near her they would have tended to her wounds.  He just realized… he had not thought at all what might have happened to Jace and Kale.  The queen sacrificed herself to save them, but he felt horrible that he had not once thought about their safety in this whole ordeal.

Kale looked like she could more than take care of herself, and hopefully she would watch after Jace.  In this most recent bout of obsession Josah had not noticed that they had arrived near the foot of the Sunwall.  He stepped up to the wall looking batch at Torklah “You might stand back, the Sunwall can be unpredictable”  The old shaman nodded and took a few steps back giving him a wide berth.  Josah held his hand out to the wall letting his hand dip into the flames as though they were skimming water.  He felt out through the surface of the wall and feeling the familiar resistance of a skimmer he gave a great tug with his mind.

The Sunwall began to churn violently like a roaring river.  To the east a shape appeared riding along the top of the wall.  As it got closer Torklah realized it was some sort of a boat.  It slowed to a halt hovering above them at the top of the wall.  Josah waved his hand up at the sun ship, and a ladder toppled down to the ground.  “My apologies friend, but we are going to have to climb.  This is why I thought we needed our strength”  Josah said hooking a foot in the ladder and pushing upwards beginning to climb.  Torklah thought that the elf did not realize that the Sasquatch were natural climbers, capable of scaling shroomstalks almost from birth.

While it took the Elfen quite a bit of time to work his way up the ladder the elder shaman managed to do it in what seemed like one fluid motion.  Torklah stepped out onto the deck of the ship and it looked much like he would have expected a water going vessel to appear.  There were a wide array of seats out on the deck under a giant sale like canopy.  There appeared to be stairs leading down into the body of the boat, which he assumed would have sleeping quarters.  “The lightskimmer is designed to carry both military and royalty alike, so you will find it suited for both purposes”  Josah pointed at what looked like crossbow stations up and down the deck.

The elfen walked up to a small perch with a crystal device set into the wall.  Reaching out with his hands he touched the crystal and it pulsed to life,  Speaking an audible command Josah beckoned the crystal. “Take us to Hagengarde, in the Valkore Territory”,  With that the boat lurched forward starting at first slowly, but accelerating rather quickly.  Torklah looked over the bow and immediately wished he had not as he watched the tops of shroomspires whipping by at a dizzying speed.

He took a seat towards the interior of the deck, trying to get his balance and calm his suddenly churning stomach.  Josah walked over to join him, retrieving a drink from a chest beside the seating and handing it to the big sasquatch.  “Drink this, it will help with the nerves.  It is a tonic of sorts that we keep on hand for those not used to Lightskimmer travel.”  Josah helped himself to a similar looking bottle and leaned back against the seat.  “We should be completely safe up here, as we skim along the top of the Sunwall.  According to the guidance crystal it will take us almost a days time to reach Hagengarde.  I suggest in the meantime we relax.  We have no idea what awaits us on the other end.”  The shaman agreed and slowly sipped his own bottle. 

NaNoWriMo 17–Brittagus Escape

NaNoWriMo 17

I still feel relatively horrible, in fact this morning it seems worse.  The crud that my wife and I have had for some time seems to have settled into my lungs.  I did not write nearly as much as I had hoped, however I did manage to knock out roughly 2500 words yesterday morning.  This takes me over the 30,000 word threshold at 30,154 wordcount.  So I may not be leaps and bounds ahead like I had hoped but I am still very much on track.

Here is the story to date if anyone wants to catch up.  Once again completely unedited and raw.

  1. Shadowed Stone
  2. Little Giant Girl
  3. Birthday Wishes
  4. The Gifts
  5. The Incursion
  6. The Watch
  7. Rough Landing
  8. Dragon Bone
  9. People of the Storm
  10. The Lady
  11. Cambridge Beneath
  12. Prisoner of War
  13. Woodbinding
  14. Parting the Veil
  15. People of the Earth
  16. The Pack

17 – Brittagus Escape

As the days went on, Pico spent an increasing amount of time down in the catacombs beneath Astanax’s home.  The presence of the Inquisitors made it such that she did not feel she could risk exposing Astanax, Berrol and the Order of Merlin.  This was fine to her, as it gave her time to pour over the various tomes on this side of the gate.  They all dated back multiple centuries to a time she could not even imagine, and many were penned by Merlin himself.  Over these days often times she would find herself joined by little Berrol, who it turned out was extremely curious about all things related to the order.

Pico had never really been one for children.  When women passed around pictures of their kids she always felt like her skin was crawling and it evoked a fight or flight response.  There was something about Berrol however that she really liked.  He did not act like the snot nosed brat she was expecting.  Instead he was more than content to happily pour over the thick leather bound books beside her.  She even took to employing her in the search for information “Berrol, the wards on my side are weakening.  I need you to look for any information relating to their creation.”  The little boy nodded with bright eyes “Yes miss Pico”.

While they were working on this little side mission, Astanax was moving cautiously on his own mission.  Turns out all of what would be the United Kingdom is made up of a vast colony of human magic users called Brittagus.  Merlin forced this fate upon every magic user, and as a result they rebelled against him and his imposed exile.  Where Merlin wanted to free mankind from the burden of magic, the Magistrate Council seeks to control it in every aspect.  Their brutal inquisition is there to ensure that there can be no decent among the ranks of the magic users.

The Order of Merlin is almost dead, thanks to the hands of these Inquisitors singling out and assassinating each and every member.  Astanax said he was the last of the line, or at least the last he knew about.  Before the purge they had stopped congregating, in a failed attempt to protect the members.  This worked for a time, but the purge swept through the land and with it went every member but him.  His assumption was that they somehow were infiltrated and betrayed from within.  Luckily because of his place as steward of the archives, his involvement had been kept a closely guarded secret and as such many Order members died without revealing him.

All of this meant that as Astanax moved throughout Brittagus, he had to do so ever vigilant of the Inquisition.  The Magistrate new something was happening however, because the frequency of the random Inquisition “visits” had increased over the last few days.  Pico wondered if they were able to sense the border between realms being breached, much the same way as they were on the other side.  If so they were obviously not as sophisticated since they did not seem to be targeting this location directly.  They were however canvassing this neighborhood, and with that she was afraid to let her presence be seen by anyone.

Astanax had been trying to track down a source of dragon bone for her, to very little success.  It was apparently common knowledge that it had been a primary component of the wards, and as a result was greatly restricted.  From the way he talked about dragon bone, it sounded much like ivory is in her world.  There were all manner of uses for it, very few of them legitimate but since the dragons were so powerful the bone must be as well.  She thought it was humorous that people on this side ground up the bone to take as a tonic, much like they do with rhino horn.  Just because a people have actual magic does not apparently make them immune to baseless superstition.

To her left she heard a series of excited noises coming from Berrol who was laying on his belly thumbing through one of the big books.  In quick order came “Miss Pico! Miss Pico! I found something” the little boy was pointing at a picture on the page of the book.  As she crossed the room and knelt beside the book she thought to herself… maybe he did.  It was a diagram of the ward that she had seen before, but beneath it was a list list of all of the components and their purpose.  Beside dragonbone there was the following description.

Dragonbone is among the rarest materials in our world.  It is special because of its great strength and flexibility.  In my experiments it has been showing to carry the vibration of the matrix core to the surrounding area.  Dragonbone is merely a conduit and has no real effect on the success of the matrix, but instead allows for the signal to be transmitted clearly.  It should be stronger than the black iron that holds the pieces together and as such last for a much longer time.  Iron construction alone would have been shaken apart by the vibrations.

So that was the key to the mystery…  Dragonbone is simply really good at taking vibrations and transmitting them.  She was certain that if she had a reasonably sized sample she could simulate this effect with either a metal alloy or ceramics.  Maybe they didn’t actually need to find all those dragons.  She just needed to find one, and even then just a piece of it to take back and run tests on in her lab.  She knelt down and kissed the boys head “You did really good Berrol, this will help me save the wards.”

As she thumbed through the rest of the book it gave a detailed description of every part, its function in the design and its limitations.  With this book she felt reasonably certain that she could replicate one of the wards.  Now she just had to find some dragon bone, and a way back home.  She thought about the little grey box sitting in her pack.  Inside of it was a tiny ball with a red button on top.  It was originally going to be a handheld “analytical grenade” but after the recent events and the damage in the ward caused by her analytical designs, she halted work.  She had tossed it into her pack as a “only in an emergency” weapon if she encountered something she could not handle on this trip.

She could not use it here, at least not within the presence of Astanax and Berrol and preferably not within Brittagus at all.  If the Inquisition had detected a breach, they would most definitely detect one that was forcibly blown open.  To be honest she had no idea what the device would do if used on this side.  She theorized that it would push everyone in the surrounding vicinity of the blast to her world, but that was not a certain thing.  In order to use it she needed off of this island nation.  Hopefully Astanax could help with that, but she did not want to put him or Berrol into any more harm.

There was a sound echoing down the passageway of stone grating on stone, a sound she recognized as the entrance hatch to the archives being moved.  Always before Astanax had yelled down at her to let her know he was coming down.  This time it was complete silence.  Fearing the worst she gathered up berrol in her arm, stuffed the book into her pack and hid in one of the side chambers behind some large urns. She heard footsteps echoing down the hallway, hard soles against the hard stone.  As the shape passed the doorway without pause she could see that it was a man in dark robes, shrouded in a dark hooded cloak.  She could not make out anything of a face, and he held in front of him an illuminated staff.

Pico carefully and quietly slid out a 45 caliber pistol from her pack.  She did not know how it would work, but it would be better than nothing if she got into a pinch.  Suddenly the man cried out “I know you are down here, I bring word from Astanax” he said in a kind voice.  She remained silent and placed her hand over Berrol’s mouth to make sure he knew not to respond either.  The man stopped in the hallway near her door “I know you are afriad, but I mean neither you nor the boy any harm.  Astanax has been captured.”

Something snapped in Pico and she leapt out from behind the urns pistol drawn and pointed at the man.  “What do you mean he’s been captured?  Who are you, how do you know this?”  The man lowered his staff and spread his arms out in a gesture of surrender.  “It’s okay, my name is Karrek.  I am a member of the inquisition, but before that was a loyal member of the order.  I joined to pass information to the remaining order members for their safety.  Astanax inquired about dragon bone to the wrong merchant, an inquisition sympathizer.”  The man said with a sense of honesty about it.  “I briefly was allowed to speak with him as they took him to the grey tower for questioning.  He pleaded with me to get you and his son Berrol out of the city.”

Pico thought for a moment, that did seem like something Astanax would want if he ever got captured.  He had made her promise to watch after Berrol if anything happened to him when the Inquisition patrols increased.  She lowered the pistol and the man visibly relaxed.  “We don’t have much time, the Inquisition will be here soon to search this place.  I have a carriage parked in the alley near the back door.  I will get you to the waterfront and onto a boat away from here.”  He looked around nerviously “Do you have any gold?  I do not have money to pay your transport.”

It was at this that Berrol came from behind the urns and spoke “I know where papa keeps some” he said sheepishly.  The trio rushed upstairs and Karrek stood watch at the front door while Berrol lead Pico into another room.  There the boy moved aside a painting and set into the wall was a safe of sorts.  Berrol spoke a series of words in a language that pico did not understand, and there was an audible click noise as the door to the safe swung open.  Inside were several heavy bags of what she assumed were golden coins.  She dumped all of them into her pack and rushed back to meet Karrek.

Opening her bag and showing it to him “We have this?  Will this be enough.”  He nodded “more than enough, don’t offer them more than one of those bags”  He knew their time was almost up “We have to leave now” and herded them out the back door and into his black carriage that was emblazoned with the inquisition seal she had seen elsewhere on the patrols.  As they rounded the building and passed the front of the house a procession of black robed figures was walking down the sidewalk towards the front of the house.  She and Berrol ducked down in the carriage to make sure they were unseen and for his part Karrek proceeded as though nothing was strange.

Within a few minutes she could smell the familiar salty air she associated with ports.  Risking a peek out the window she noticed they were riding along a wharf of sorts.  They sped past hundreds of boats moored on either side of the dock.  She wondered where exactly Karrek was headed as many of these boats looked seaworthy and available for charter.  The rows of boats parted and were replaced by something slightly different.  It looked in every way a boat but instead of sitting down in the water it floated high above the docks, with a little ramp leading down to the wharf for boarding.  The best she could tell they were flying ships, like she had never seen before.  It was near one of these that the carriage finally stopped.

Karrek dismounted the carriage and moved around to the door.  He opened it helping Pico and Berrol out.  “These are skyships of the Valkore.  As a people they are dragon hunters.  If anyone will have your dragon bone, it will be them.  Charter one of these and ask them to take you to Hagengarde.  This will take you far away from the reach of the inquisition.”  She looked at him with frustration “But what about Astanax?”  he looked back with sad eyes “I will do what I can to free him, but I am not sure if that is even possible.  The grey tower is our most secure prison.  The important thing is for you to get Berrol to safety, it is what he wants more than anything.”  Still not happy about it she nodded in agreement.  She would protect Berrol, even if it meant bringing him back to her own world.

Karrek waited until they were walking up the gangplank to one of the skyships before travelling on.  The ship was rather nice, far nicer than she had expected based on the ramshackle nature of the wharf region.  As soon as they had reached the deck she was met by a woman and two male guards.  The way the woman carried herself she assumed she was the captain of the vessel.  “I’m Captain Barret, and what are you doing on my ship?” she said in a rather callous tone.  “I’m sorry for the intrusion, my name is Pico and this is Berrol” motioning to the boy hiding behind her.  The removed from her pack a small sack of gold coins and held it out to the captain “We need safe passage to Hagengarde”.

The captain took the sack, rattled it around a bit and then nodded grimly.  The Valkore had no love of Brittagus or the inquisition.  Barret would rather never have had to come here, but they needed supplies and with the Valkore in impending danger, this was the closest place with something to spare.  The captain looked over Pico “Do you know what you are getting yourself into?  Hagengarde and all of the Valkore villages for that matter are under attack by the forces of winter.”  Pico shook her head, she didn’t know at all what she was getting into.  “Any place is better than here….  also I need dragonbone and I hear Hagengarde is the place to go for that.”

The captain nodded grimly once again “Yes I suppose that is the case.  Alright you can find someplace to sit down below.  We have just resupplied and are about to get under way.”  With that the captain moved to the great ships wheel and Pico took Berrol under deck, finding a quiet corner to sit down in.  “Miss Pico, I’m scared…  I miss papa”  she ran her hand through the small childs hair “I know Berrol, I’m scared too”.  The boy leaned against her nuzzling in and sobbing silently.  She leaned back against the ships hull closing her eyes.  This was the first time in a long time she was really and truly scared.

NaNoWriMo 15 – People of the Earth

NaNoWriMo 15

So another weekend, one which I hope I can push far ahead of the curve.  I’ve already written roughly 2000 words this morning.  My hope is that I  can do another 2000 or so tonight, then another 4000 tomorrow as well.  I really want to finish before thanksgiving madness sets in, though honestly this would be a good excuse for why I can’t stay around for too long after thanksgiving dinner.  Here is the story so far for anyone wanting to catch up.  Once again remember completely raw and unedited.

  1. Shadowed Stone
  2. Little Giant Girl
  3. Birthday Wishes
  4. The Gifts
  5. The Incursion
  6. The Watch
  7. Rough Landing
  8. Dragon Bone
  9. People of the Storm
  10. The Lady
  11. Cambridge Beneath
  12. Prisoner of War
  13. Woodbinding
  14. Parting the Veil

15 – People of the Earth

Torklah watched as the strange man thing thrashed against the leafcloth covering the mat he was laying on.  It had been three days since he had appeared delirious on the outskirts of the village.  The dim light of fireflies flickered around the hollowed shroomstalk home and bounced off of the strangers face.  He had collapsed upon reaching the village and had been in some sort of a sleeping sickness.  As shaman it fell to Torklah to watch over him, and either help him recover or ease his passing to the world beyond.

It was today that the man thing began to stir finally.  Torklah though this was a sign of him fighting the sleeping sickness.  He moved over to the man and smeared a smelly paste on his forhead.  It was a mixture his father and his father before him had taught him to prepare.  It was to draw out the sickness, capturing it in the smelly mixture.  “Morrow” the man thing murmured but this meant nothing to Torklah.  Maybe this was his name, or his tribe.

The shaman watched over him wondering where he had come from.  He looked elfen, but he did not know of any wilder that had them within their tribes.  It was nearing high shadow when the man began to jitter slightly.  Then came a violent series of convulsions and he was completely still again.  For a few moments he took no breathes and Torklah thought he may have passed on.  Then as quickly as the silence came it was broken by him sitting up on the mat and gasping for breathe.

The man looked around the room frantic, finally locking eyes on the thick grey-brown furred sasquatch shaman. “Where am I?  How did I get here?” the man pleaded.  Torklah thought about the questions for a moment before answering.  He was in fact speaking in Elfen, and while it was not as common to him as Saskalah, he could muddle through with it as the wildfae also spoke it.  Trying to speak slowly as not to distort the meaning he replied “You are in the village of the earth people, I am Torklah High Shaman.  As to how you got here, you stumbled here under a great sleeping sickness.”

The man thought on the Sasquatch’s words for a moment startling as though he had suddenly remembered something “Morrow! Where is Morrow, is she here too?” he said frighteningly peering around the corners of the shroom hut.  “You mentioned this Morrow in your sleeping sickness.  We found you at outskirts of village alone.”  The man tried to stand but ended up collapsing back onto the mat.  “I have to find my wife.”  The big sasquatch moved over to the mat and helped him to a nearby chair.  “What you need is more rest, you just beat the sickness.  Give your body time.”

The man leaned against the chair slightly resigned.  He was feeling more weak than he likely ever had, but he was thankful for the kindness the shaman was showing.  In his years he had very few meetings with Sasquatch, and had heard of the tribe of the earth but never actually met one.  He remembered his manners and that he had never actually introduced himself.  “Sorry for forgetting my manners,  I am Josah one of the Scions of Spring of the Elfen Court of Avalon.  Morrow is my wife, and we were split up.”

Josah began to remember how exactly he had gotten there.  He remembered the white fire that tore into him.  How it pushed him back into the shadowlands but set apart from the rest of the council.  He wandered trying to find his beloved Morrow but had the bad luck to stumble into a Vespid nest.  Stung he must have grown delirious on the poison and wandered into Sasquatch lands.  The meant he was somewhere to the north and west of the way willow.  How had he gotten thrown so far from where they were.  If he was here, he could only imagine where the others ended up.

Josah explained to the elder sasquatch the events of the farmhouse and how the queen had sacrificed herself in an attempt to save them.  “Your Queen was very brave to face death to save you.  She died with great honor.”  Josah flinched a bit at the words.  “She is not dead but transformed into crystal.”  After saying it he thought a few moments about just that.  Why was Baigan so determined to capture her, instead of simply kill her.  He needed her power for something.  Something inside his brain clicked as though opening a door.

“Torklah, does your tribe track the course of the seasons?  How many days do we have til the equinox?”  The elder shaman thought about this statement for a moment.  He had heard the term equinox before, and while his tribe did not have a term for that, he knew it meant the point at which the power of summer and winter are equal and with summer on the decline and winter on the rise.  He thought for a moment, then walked across the room to consult some glyphs marked onto the shroomstalk wall in red paint.  He gave a rather unsteady answer “There are thirteen high shadows, until the equinox” the word felt strange in his mouth.

“Thats it then, Baigan means to attack the summer wall at the point which summer begins the wane and winter rise.  He needs the power of both to do it., he needs them to be equal.”  He thought for moment not sure if the Sasquatch understood what the summer wall was.  “Torklah, do your people know where the summer wall is?  The great barrier of light that protects the north from the Trogjan.” Torklah thought for a moment, while he did not understand the name Summer Wall, he did know of a great river of sun in the north.  “Yes we know of it, the river of sun is north of our village.  Several days journey.”

“The man who attacked us at the Farmhouse, means to destroy the ‘river of sun’.  When he does this land will be invaded by the Trogjan.  They are a cruel empire of powerful warriors, with an insatiable desire for conquest.  No one in these lands will be safe.”  Trying to stand again Josah found it a bit easier and was able to support his own weight.  “If you can take me to the ‘river of sun’ I may be able to stop them.”  The great shaman could sense the weight and truth of his words.  He was a man who could be trusted, but it was a long journey to the river of sun.

The old sasquatch thought for a moment before speaking.  He knew as High Shaman, his word held weight and whatever decision he made was final.  He wanted to protect his people from the falling of the sun, but it was the time of harvest.  All of the strong warriors were needed to help bring in the large carrowmelons now bursting with fruit in the fields.  Each one could be as large as a brave, and it took multiple to bring each back to the village to be preserved for the winter months. Weighing the options he finally spoke “I cannot give you any of our warriors for your journey, but I will take you myself to the river of sun.”

Josah looked a bit relieved that the shaman was willing to help him, and he knew it would not be an easy journey for either of them.  “Thank you Torklah, you are a wise leader.”  The old shaman nodded slightly at the words.  “But now you and I must rest.  We will pack for our journey in the morning and leave as soon as it is high light.  I am old and need my rest, and you are not yet yourself”.  Josah nodded an agreement and leaned back on the mat sinking into the leafcloth once more.  Torklah moved slowly over to his own bed, reaching to the outcropping of shroomstalk beside it for a tiny whistle.  Giving it a short low trill he reclined back upon his bed as the myriad of fireflies that had lit the home flew out through the windows and into the night sky.

Torklah was true to his word and Josah was woken after what felt like only a few minutes of sleep.  He focused around the room trying to force himself to become cognisant.  He noticed that the old sasquatch had already gathered supplies and they were bound to two pack frames near the door of his hut.  “We should get started, it is a long ways to get to the river of sun.”  Torklah replied as Josah was lifting up off of the mat.  “We would normally take a kurz pulled wagon, but they are all needed for the harvest.  I am not old enough that I cannot walk it, and you look to have recovered from the poison.”  With that the elder shaman slung the larger of the two packs onto his back, and Josah followed his lead taking the other.  They walked through the village to the edge and began following a path northward towards the sunwall.

NaNoWriMo 14–Parting the Veil

NaNoWriMo 14

Last night was a pretty crazy night.  I had to go eat dinner with my mother-in-law… and her boyfriend.  The awkward was strong with that one.  So as a result I got started on my wordcount super late, but still managed to knock out around 1900 words taking my total wordcount at this point to 24,297.  So I am now within spitting distance of the halfway point.  Still managing to drum up something to write about, even though I keep deviating from the path I had set aside as it feels right.  It feels a lot like Doctor Who, with fixed points but everything between them is wibbly wobby timey wimey.

Here is the story to date.  Just a friendly reminder no editing at all has been applied.  That will start probably in January.

  1. Shadowed Stone
  2. Little Giant Girl
  3. Birthday Wishes
  4. The Gifts
  5. The Incursion
  6. The Watch
  7. Rough Landing
  8. Dragon Bone
  9. People of the Storm
  10. The Lady
  11. Cambridge Beneath
  12. Prisoner of War
  13. Woodbinding

14 – Parting the Veil

The sensation of passing through the portal was something that Pico was simply not prepared for.  It was like submerging yourself in a pool and then breaking the surface again.  There was a rush that came with the air pressure change, a burst of wind, and then a feeling of falling.  She had been unable to keep her balance when she broke through to the other side as she toppled over clumsily.  As she righted herself and climbed back to her feet she noticed that she was in a very similar circular room save for a few pretty significant changes.

Firstly there was no stone frame on this side, and even more shockingly no sign of the portal she had just come through.  Before stepping through she could clearly see the other side, but from this side there was absolutely no sign of anything even resembling a portal.  Slight difference number two, there was nothing that appeared to be a doorway leading out of the room.  The round stone dome appeared to be completely sealed.  Pico had done many foolish things in her time, but this may in fact be the worst.

She sat down on the cold stone floor trying to tell herself that she was not in fact now trapped in a sealed room in another dimension.  The two rooms had been connected at one point, that much was certain, but as she examined the floor around her she saw what appeared to be the remnants of the stone frame in the form of a thinly strewn line of rubble.  So someone or something had seemingly broken the frame, but the real question was why.  If they were trying to keep someone from travelling from her world they obviously had failed.  More likely it seemed to her that they were trying to keep someone from returning.

She laid down on her back and began examining the entirity of the room.  The shapes were significantly different from that of the dome on the other side, however after some time she started to piece together a sort of symbology.  She noticed there was this one shape that repeated itself at regular intervals around the room.  It was a sort of S shape with a bar intersecting it diagonally making it look like a really oddly formed dollar sign.  There was one place however where the symbol changed slightly.  In that location in the pattern it was upside down.

Pushing off the floor and getting to her feet again she moved over to the place with the upside down version of the symbol.  At first she tried to turn it but it seemed as though something was in the way.  Digging through her pack she uncovered a small flathead screwdriver, the kind that you would use to take apart delicate electronics.  She often found it handy if she got into a jam, and had used it to bypass more locks that she would ever admit.  She gently used the tip to work around the bevel at the base of the symbol.  She cleared a bit of debris that had built up over time, and when she tried the symbol again it began to turn every so slowly.

When she reached the upright position that the rest of the symbols were in there was a clicking sound and the room began to shake.  At first Pico thought a crack was forming along one of the walls, but as it grew she realized it was the edge of a doorway swinging inwards.  Within a few minutes the fissure was wide enough that she could pass through it.  She stowed the screwdriver and picked up her pack slinging it over her shoulder.  “That wasn’t so hard” she thought to herself as she inched towards the now open doorway.

When she passed through she saw a long hallway, that appeared to be a mirror of the one she had seen on the other side.  Similarly she passed along chambers on either side choked with dust and cobwebs but containing the same deep bookshelves as the ones underneath Cambridge.  The two bases had at one time or another been used by the same group.  She found the staircase in exactly the spot she would expect it and begin climbing up.  Wherever she was, she as now committed to the mission, as she had no real way back.

At the top of the stairs she saw a sort of hatch, and could see a thin line of light protruding around it.  She pushed up slightly testing it, and saw that she could push it open.  She slid it up and over to the side noticing that some sort of a rug was also covering the opening.  It did not take much to find the edge and roll it back as well.  She climbed up into what appeared to be a kitchen.  There was a great pot of something cooking on the stove and it smelt amazing.  Nothing in the kitchen looked modern, but instead something she would imagine as medieval.

The house appeared to be made from the same sturdy stone that the under chamber had been, leading to the appearance that the house itself was built at the same time as the other.  She had pulled herself out of the hatch and gotten to her feet when she heard a shuffling of feet off to the far side of the room.  Within a few moments a blond haired boy came bounding into the room making a direct line for a cupboard on the far side of the stove seemingly oblivious to the woman standing there.  He rifled through the cupboard for a moment producing what looked to be some sort of a sweet roll.

It was around this time that Pico must have made a sound, as the boy spun around quickly staring in her direction.  His happy face quickly turned to terror as his eyes widened to saucers.  At the top of his lungs he screamed and before Pico could react went running out of the room and from the sound of it upstairs.  “Shit” was all she could bring herself to say, there was really no place to hide other than to go back down into the chamber below.  However it was pretty certain that the houses owner knew that the chamber existed and would find her before long despite her best efforts.  No she thought, she would face whatever was to come and hope for the best.

There was a sound of footsteps rushing towards the kitchen door.  A similarly blond man wearing thick blue robes came rushing into the room.  He was holding out some sort of a staff in front of him, the tip of it emitting a bright green light.  “Who are you? Where did you come from?” the man yammered nervously all the while pointing the end of the staff in Pico’s direction.  “I came from a portal in the chamber below.” was the best explanation that she could muster.  She sheepishly raised her hands showing her empty palms “I come in peace?” she said with a slight shrug.

The look of surprise faded slightly from the mans face, but he no less continued pointing the staff at her.  “What do you mean you came from the other side?  The portal has been destroyed for decades.”  She shrugged again explaining “apparently it doesn’t work that way.  There was a giant stone frame with two crystals on our side.  I’ve come here in search of the Order of Merlin.”  With the utterance of “Merlin” the man’s expression changed drastically to a look of terror.  Looking around quickly he stammered “Never say that name.  Never say it again!”

“They have enchantments listening for that word, we can never say it.  We’ve created counter measures, but no place is safe.  Instead just say ‘The Order’.”  He furiously looked around listening for a few more tense seconds before relaxing again “Well… they would have arrived by now so I think we are safe.  I am Astanax the steward of the former order house.  There are not many of us left.”  She saw a look of concern flash across his face “I’m Pico, I come from the other side.  Over there we have a thing called the Watch, that guard the wards…  but they are failing.”

She explained how over the years the wards have continued to degrade in strength, and how her own analytical weapons had managed to damage them further.  “We need dragon bones to repair them.” she said without much thought to it.  With that the other started chuckling.  “So you ONLY need dragon bones?  You might as well ask for a diamond scepter or for a magical gold laying goose.  Dragons are extremely powerful beings, and even more so are extremely secretive.  It might take us years to find a single dragon, let alone the list of types that you claim to need.”

It was as though all the wind was let out of a balloon as Pico almost shrunk visibly under the news.  She was not sure exactly what she had expected.  To some extent she thought she would bumble over to this magical realm and ask to borrow a cup of dragon bone and be back by dinner.  Nothing was ever as easy as she made it out to be in her head, and now she just had to prepare a contingency plan. “Are there any dragon bones at all that we can get?” She mused looking at Astanax.

“I will have to make some inquiries, but in the mean time we have to get you into something less obvious.  You cannot be found to be from the other realm.  Merlin became a pariah when he built the wards, and inadvertently damned all magic users to exile here in this realm.  His opponents brutally hunted the members of his order, and now only a handful of us remain.”  Astanax leveled his eyes at her “You would be all the proof those same opponents would need to destroy my family.”

Astanax lead Pico upstairs to a large bedroom, as they went the young boy returned apparently changing from fear to amusement at the new guest.  “You should be able to find something here suiting you.  These wardrobes belonged to my wife.  She was…”  he trailed off but Pico could guess that she had passed on, and not in a pleasant way.  She thanked him for being so understanding.  “I will leave you to it, I have to go out now for fear I will be missed and they will get suspicious.”  There would be time for answers later, but she wanted to know who exactly “they” were.

Pico rifled through the wardrobe attempting to disturb as little as possible.  Before long she had found a rather lovely lavender gown.  She felt like she belonged in a period faire, but she supposed it did look nice on her.  Hopefully Astanax could help her find what she needed, and if not that a way back home.  She could only imagine how infuriated Farragut must be by now, but this was yet another in a long line of decisions she had made where it was simply easier to ask forgiveness.  As she sat down on the bed she wondered if maybe she had finally leapt one step too far.

NaNoWriMo 13–Woodbinding

NaNoWriMo 13

Yesterday was pretty busy but I managed to squeeze in some writing time before our 8 man night in Final Fantasy XIV.  I had started this earlier in the day in a lag between meetings but only made it a few paragraphs before having to stop again.  I have essentially lost the lead I once had and am hoping this weekend I can make it up again.  This week I have felt under the gun to produce something each day.  As always this is completely unedited and that will occur sometime in the future.  Here is a recap of the story so far if you are wanting to catch up.

  1. Shadowed Stone
  2. Little Giant Girl
  3. Birthday Wishes
  4. The Gifts
  5. The Incursion
  6. The Watch
  7. Rough Landing
  8. Dragon Bone
  9. People of the Storm
  10. The Lady
  11. Cambridge Beneath
  12. Prisoner of War

13 – Woodbinding

Jace sat on a rock near the campfire trying to piece together just how many days had passed since he had been drug into the shadowlands by Kale.  He found the day night of the shadowlands often times hard to perceive.  Night time looked like night time to him, and while the ambient light varied it very much felt like a single hellishly long night to him.  At his best guess he would say it had been three days since the events of the farmhouse.  Kale agreed that this was likely the case.  He would say they had been walking all day, but he was uncertain when the day actually began.

They had left the wildfae camp with Merowyn and a small band of sprites, comprised mostly of Dobin’s Wingard as he called them.  The made a hard march for as long as their strength lasted and finally had stopped to rest near this stream.  With the help of Dimcy they had a roaring fire in no time and Jace had settled down on the rock he was currently perched.  After some time staring at the crackling mushroom logs he broke the silence.  “I have no idea how we are going to find… mom” the word still felt odd in his mouth.  He still thought her as Aunt Beth even though he knew the truth.

Merowyn spoke up from across the camp “If we follow this stream it should lead us eventually to the wildfae enclave that borders Valkore territory.  From there we should be able to find our way to Hagengarde, and to the Trogjan forces on their border.  The Queens crystal will be wherever the forces are preparing to strike.”  she explained in a flat and even tone.  Jace sat quietly for a moment before continuing “Why will the crystal be there? How do you know that?”  Merowyn assessed the boy and spoke again in a very flat and even tone, as though this should all be common sense.  “The only chance they will have to strike at the summerwall is during the equinox, the moment which the powers of summer begin to wain as the forces of winter begin to rise.  With the combined powers of summer and winter, they should be able to take out the summerwall.”

Kale did some calculation in her head and burst out “But that is less than two weeks away!”  She had sat patiently through many of these conversations but time was running out.  “That doesn’t give us much time to get there, let alone do we really know how to defeat them.  I know I am strong but I don’t think I can take on a single Ort and we will be facing an army.”  Jace got animated chiming in as well “And I don’t even have half the strength Kale does.  Benj taught me to fight, and he was dead set on me learning to sword fight, but it is going to take more than that to defeat an army.”

“Do you know nothing at all?”  Merowyn exclaimed coldly “Jace you are the prince of summer, this makes you a formidable woodbinder.  You Kale are an ortkin, you are capable of possessing far more strength can you could even imagine yet.”  Mero motioned to the staff that was laying on the ground beside Jace “You use that as a walking stick, but it is a powerful weapon that you apparently don’t even know how to wield.  In fact all of the gifts you were given were done so for a very specific purpose, to prepare you for battle.”  Merowyn rose up from her seat “Put that cloak on, we will start with it.”

Jace rummaged in the pack and unfolded the cloak standing up, sitting the pack down on the rock.  He pulled on the cloak, wrapping it around him.  “Close your eyes, imagine yourself being wrapped in leaves.  Imagine them pressing upon your body forming a tight mesh”  Merowyn explained.  Jace did just that, he imagined a huge pile of leaves stepping into it.  He imagined the leaves flying up from the pile and coating his body.  He felt warm and safe and as his opened his eyes, much to his surprise the cloak was morphing around him, wrapping his body forming a mesh of tiny silver leaves.  The end result was a sort of scale male, with the tiny leaves making up the individual leaves.

Jace stood there a bit dumbstruck flexing his arms and watching the scales ripple to his movements.  “How did I do that?”  Merowyn laughed “Boy you are a wood binder and a prince of summer, you simply utilized the magic in the item to bend it to your will.  This is far from the only form that cloak can take, but we will keep it simply to the armored form for now.”  Kale watched in fascination wondering if her own gifts had a special purpose as well.  “What do the other things do” he mused.

“That staff can be morphed into a grand weapon, and that lyre can turn into a shield or a bow to protect you.  See if you can bend them on your own without my explaination.”  Jace picked up the staff and reached into the pack for the lyre.  He never really understood why they had given him a musical instrument, but if it was in fact what Mero suggested it all made a little sense. Once again he closed his eyes imagining the staff was a longsword and the lyre his shield.  When he opened his eyes he watched as the staff shortened in length and morphed into a long skinny blade with a curved handle.

He knew that the sword was called a Scimitar.  Benj had showed him about many different kinds of swords.  At the time he thought it was just a hobby, but he never could have imagined that all the sword fighting was an attempt to prepare him for something greater.  The blame gleamed in the firelight as he thrashed it back and forth.  The lyre had turned into a long pointed shield.  He knew that it was called a kite shield, and it was emblazoned with a ring of leaves that looked similar to the medallion that he was given.  The primary difference was that instead of fall leaves they were brilliant green with a ring of fire in the center of them.

Jace was beginning to feel like a proper warrior.  He knew how to wield the weapons thanks to the tutelage of Benj.  He held the broad kite shield up to his shoulder forming a barrier and practiced taking strikes around the shield.  While wielding the weapons he felt more powerful than he ever had in his life.  It felt as though his muscles and even his focus were tightening in preparation.  “So I really am a warrior aren’t I?”  Jace mumbled slightly slackjawed.  “Yes Jace, you were born to be a warrior for the court of summer.  Benjanatos taught you in the ways of combat.  He was the greatest court swordsman, so much so that he was given the coveted position of woodsblade, the queens protector.”  Merowyn explained.

Turning her attention to Kale she looked over at the tall ortkin.  “I believe you recieved gifts as well.  Your cloak reacts the same way that Jaces does, and similarly you can use it to protect you.  However the most special item you have is that mirror.”  She said pointing at that pack sitting at Kales feet.  “My sister had a mirror just like that, if I had to guess she left it for you.  Pull it out of your pack and I will show you out to use it.”  Kale did as the woman requested, reaching down and grasping the mirror by the handle.  She was not sure how the mirror could be of any use to her.  She was not really fond of looking at her own reflection, so she had almost forgotten it was in the pack.

She stood up turning to face Merowyn “What do you want me to do now?” Kale had serious doubt that she would be able to use the mirror.  “Hold the mirror with both hands out in front of you.  Imagine your anger welling up inside of you.  Imagine that anger striking down your enemies.”  Kale did as she said and remembered the way she felt the day the scatchers got to her.  She imagined the anger washing over her as she struck the gobbley in his head causing it to explode in a shower of ichor.  As the anger pooled up inside of her, the mirror began shifting in her hands.  The handled expanded in size and the mirror itself flattened into a square and them morphed into the shape of a great silver hammer.

She remembered catching a glimpse of Morrow wielding a hammer that looked exactly like this one.  The weight felt perfect in her hands and she swung it through the air like a baseball bat.  She imagined what it would feel like to bring it down upon her foes.  The anger still building inside her cascaded through her arms and she brought the hammer down on a nearby rock.  The campsite was showered in a blinding white light as the rock exploded into shards.  She stood there staring at what the hammer had just done, heaving slightly as she took long deep breaths trying to calm down.  She felt powerful.  She felt as though she had a chance against the army that awaits them.

“See, I told you that great power lay within you both.  You simply lacked the tools to free it.”  Merowyn returned to her rather flat tone.  “Now you should both get some rest.  We have a long way to travel before we reach the Wildfae enclave.  I am sure you both will see battle before this is all said and done”  Mero stood up and moved towards a canopy of shroomstalks where they had arranged some makeshift bedding.  Jace and Kale stood there for a moment, looking at each other, their weapons, and trying to wrap their heads around what had happened.  They managed to morph the items back into their resting form, stowing them away in their packs before joining Merowyn and drifting off to sleep.

NaNoWriMo 12–Prisoner of War

NaNoWriMo 12

I am still maintaining forward momentum, but yesterday was one of those “bare minimum” type days.  I needed to right roughly 1600 words and that is pretty much exactly what I wrote.  I feel like I could probably go through the chapter and fluff it up a bit if needed but I am trying my best not to go rework anything just yet.  If I reach the conclusion of the story arc and I am still shy, I will do that.  Here is the story so far for anyone who wants to catch up.

  1. Shadowed Stone
  2. Little Giant Girl
  3. Birthday Wishes
  4. The Gifts
  5. The Incursion
  6. The Watch
  7. Rough Landing
  8. Dragon Bone
  9. People of the Storm
  10. The Lady
  11. Cambridge Beneath

12 – Prisoner of War

The plan had gone extremely well, better than the master had expected, and as such Baigan had been richly rewarded with greater responsibility in the scope of the proceedings.  As such he was dispatched to Fort Kraken and had fancied himself a king over the Trogjan army that slowly began coalescing around him.  Morgo however had grown impatient waiting for the right moment to strike and on this day he had stormed his way into the keep demanding to speak with the self appointed manor lord.  “I demand to know the meaning of this delay.” the elder gorund screamed, a stark contrast to the calm he displayed in their first meeting.  “I have sent my forces, and here they sit waiting for you to give the order to attack.  Explain yourself shade!”

“Morgo, everything in good time.  Your Orts are no match for the summer wall, and regardless of how much ‘meat’ you choose to throw at it, it will not fall” Baigan raised up off the newly assembled throne so that he could peer down upon Morgo.  “It is by magic that we will prevail and this magic requires time.  The day of the attack draws near. You are of course more than welcome to wait here with me.”  Baigan made a mock gracious sweeping gesture.  In the weeks since the battle with his father, he could feel the power of winter growing within him.  When they first met Morgo might have been a match for him, but now with the combined powers of winter and summer he could dispatch the old gorund without breaking a sweat.

The fur on the elder bain rippled visibly as he fought every instinct to leap upon the throne and throttle the puppet ruler.  He forced himself to calm down, now was not the time to strike.  There was clearly an unseen force behind this throne, and until the Elfen had lead him to his master, he could not risk anything that hasty.  “When exactly is this moment you are waiting on?” Bain replied as calmly as he could muster.  Baigan took his seat again “We wait for the Equinox.  The moment when the power of summer begins to wane as the power of winter grows in strength.  It is then that we can destroy the summer wall and push forward.”

The more Bain thought about it the more it actually made sense.  Never once had he thought to time his attacks against summer to coincide with the waning of their powers.  He thought however that the shade had more planned than just to beat down the wall with brute force.  Rippling again, this time more with frustration “Fine, you have my forces until the equinox, but not one day longer.  That gives you two weeks, use them well.  I will not be taking up your offer” turning to look at the gobbley steward at his side “We return to Tjorba tonight, ready my caravan”  With that the white tuft strode out of the keeps main hall and out of Baigan’s sight.

“Who does he think he is, against the true might of winter” Baigan murmured beneath his breath.  The killing of his father had not only strengthened his abilities but also emboldened his appetite for power.  There was quite a bit riding on this plan working, but he had little doubt that he would be able to figure out how to tap into the Queens powers within the coming weeks.  He held the orange crystal with its glow out in front of him, twirling it around within his grasp.  From another pouch at his belt he pulled out a similar white crystal that made a slight crackling noise.  “Father if only you had known I would drain you, you might have guarded against it.”  He raised the white crystal to his lips kissing it lightly “You were always so short sighted.”

He slid each crystal into sockets at the tip of a newly carved staff.  He had been able to channel the white crystal with ease, but being able to also channel the force of fire had been a challenge.  Baigan raised from his throne taking the staff in his hand he focused on an unlit torch across the room.  He closed his eyes, and tried to push away the cold thinking on his warmest memories.  He found this harder than anything he could imagine.  From a young age he had insulated himself from the warm of the world, making his heart cold and brutal all the better to wield the power of winter.  His father had been so proud of him the moment he learned to channel ice magic for the first time, but little did he know how deep Bai’s font of power had grown.

Within a few short years he was able to summon snow, freeze rivers, and at the age of twelve he was able to produce his very first ice spear.  It was then that the master took an interest in his education.  He showed him the more subtle ways of winter, the ability to sap the life out of someone, drain them of all their energy and capture the results in a essence gem.  He knew his father was short sighted and could not see the true power of winter, yet he was the one chosen to represent its might on the council.  He remembered the day he was chosen by the master, to be his secret heir, to gather all of his knowledge and employ it to deadly purpose.

There it was, he had his warm memory.  The day the master chose him, was the happiest day in his life.  He dwelled upon the joy he felt, the exaltation of being looked so favorably by someone so powerful.  Inside his core the warmth spread flowing out from his fingertips into the staff and coalescing upon the summer crystal.  Baigan opened his eyes to witness a jet of flame spewing forth from his staff striking the torch and catching it ablaze.  From this warm core he thought about the power of frost, the majesty of ice, and the endless strength of cold.

The staff erupted in a subtle light as this new power poured through the white crystal producing something that he had only heard about in legends.  Stormfire, the merging of frost and fire producing something new like two storm systems clashing against each other.  From the tip of the staff shot a spiral of flame and ice bound together by white veins of lightning.  The powerful bolt lept past the torch striking the column of rock shattering it.  Beaming with pride he eased off of the staff causing the stormfire to die down.  He finally had done it, he had mastered both seasons and had become something more.

Exhausted he collapsed into the throne.  Baigan did not expect channeling both to have been quite so draining.  No matter how much so he had done it… he was now Baigan the Stormlord.  He very much liked the sound of that.  There were few things that could possibly stand up to him now.  He had even eclipsed the knowledge of the master, just as he had done his own father.  It was then that a sound caught his attention.  It was the sound of orts but with them was a metallic scraping.  He set up in the throne as he watched a procession of Orts leading a man bound in shackles into the main hall.

The four Orts parted allowed a shade to pass between them.  “Captain Wyrmspire, what is this that you have brought before me” Baigan echoed down at the shade captain.  Reaching down and lifting the head of the prisoner he Wyrmspire revealed a face Bai was extremely well acquainted with.  “We captured this one on the edge of the keep, doing what looked to be scouting.  He refuses to give his name.”  Baigan stood slowly descending the dias.  “Captain I am very well aware of who he is.  This is Benjanatos Waxwood, the Woodsblade protector of the former Queen.”

Benj looked up from his yoke a grimace echoed the churning anger he felt deep inside.  He looked at the shade and his eyes flickered upwards to the staff he held.  Much to his horror he noticed the familiar orange crystal that now contained his queen.  Thrashing against his chains he screamed “You bastard!  Free her at once!”  Despite his efforts he could not break the hold of the chains or manacles holding him in place, and after a brief amount of progress towards Baigan the orts had managed to reign him.  A long rolling laughter echoed through the chamber as Baigan savored the sight of the imprisoned protector.

“Captain Wyrmspire, drag him to the dungeon and chain him there.  I want him to witness as the power of his queen is used to destroy the summer wall.” Baigan motioned for the captain to take him away.  After a few guttural sounding gestures the Orts lead by the captain moved out of the great hall.  Benj had devolved into a stream of curses as he was drug from the room.  Baigan returned to his throne.  He murmured to himself “Yes, things were definitely going better than he could have planned.”

NaNoWriMo 11–Cambridge Beneath

NaNoWriMo 11

I am starting to embrace the fact that I am going to end up rewriting most of this anyway.  Yesterday was a real struggle to push through roughly 2000 words.  Its like now that I know roughly where I am going, this is no longer as exciting of an act for me.  Previously it is like I had been running off the adrenaline created by envisioning an entire world, but now that I know what is going on it is no longer as exciting to me.  It feels as though all I am really doing now is just documenting the thing I already created,  and as a programmer I tend to hate documentation.

However I have committed to do this thing, so onwards we go!  I figure I will let it sit for awhile after finishing and then revise the living shit out of it.  All the things need work, but right now I am just trying to brute force out the story.  As always take what I have written with a grain of salt because it is likely to change, but here we go with todays installment.  At this point I am just shy of 20,000 words.  Here is the story so far, if anyone is reading this and wants to catch up.

  1. Shadowed Stone
  2. Little Giant Girl
  3. Birthday Wishes
  4. The Gifts
  5. The Incursion
  6. The Watch
  7. Rough Landing
  8. Dragon Bone
  9. People of the Storm
  10. The Lady

11 – Cambridge Beneath

Pico had always been intrigued with the old tomes she found laying around the various ward houses she had worked out of.  She took every available opportunity to travel to a new one to see what great secrets should could unlock.  It was during a summer at the London house that she first found the library.  She had taken a day trip up to Cambridge to check the restricted section of the library for any veiled watch related references.  It was there that she had followed a series of watch symbols on the shelves and uncovered a hidden panel.  Upon opening the panel she uncovered a staircase winding down deep within the bowels of the earth.  At the bottom she found what appeared to be an ancient watch house.

She wondered why they had moved to the London house after having such a elegant and well hidden one at Cambridge.  The walls of the corridors were ornamented in various tapestries depicting creatures and places she had never seen before.  Each chamber was filled with thousands of leather bound tomes, depicting the history of the watch.  It would take her decades to pour through them all, she she grabbed a few of the more choice looking ones and carried them back with her to the Lonestar watch.  She was certain that the answer to how to repair the wards was laying somewhere within the walls of that catacomb.

She had teetered back and forth on how to explain to the watch that she had uncovered a vast tome of knowledge…  but had kept it completely secret all these years.  It is not that she meant to be selfish, or had wanted the glory of the discovery, it is more that she wanted to be the first person to have read it all.  It took her awhile to work up the courage to explain to Farragut where they needed to go and why she was so certain what she was looking for would be hidden within those chambers.

She had however explained and after giving her a stern scolding and a long speech about duty and honor, he agreed to send her to the archives.  The cost however was that she would have to also explain to the London house where the entrance was and turn over the contents to them.  While definitely not a complete history of the Cambridge house, the books she had been able to recover seemed to indicate that the Ward Watch started there.  If there was any place that would have the information on how to repair the wards or even where to find that knowledge it had to be there.

More importantly than that, she was hoping to find more information about the illusive Order of Merlin.  The tomes she had recovered made it unclear if this group was associated with the watch or not.  She pondered all of these things and more as she was trapped on board the disguised watch cargo plane headed towards the Cambridge airport.  As far as planes went this one was rather nice, and the inside was furnished out in a series of individual suites.  She was able to do some work while on board because unlike most airlines, this one had onboard wifi. 

No matter how posh a plane is a fourteen hour flight is enough to make anyone a bit claustrophobic.  By the time they landed at Cambridge she was up, packed and pacing the plane until she was given leave to depart.  She rushed out onto the tarmac and was greeted by a rather cheery fellow named Alfred Sterns.  She was reluctant to get back into another vehicle, but she knew that walking really was not that practical.  The van she was ushered into was marked like some sort of delivery company, which she assumed was a needed ruse to get them onto the Cambridge campus without serious questioning.

Thirty minutes later Pico and Sterns stood in the restricted section of the Cambridge library.  Once again her forged credentials had worked like a charm.  She followed the symbols like before that lead her to a false panel.  She explained how the process worked to Sterns, and pressed the correct inlaid panel.  There was a grinding sound briefly as panel swung inwards revealing a stone passageway.  The pair followed it to the staircase and downwards the eight flights of stairs to the ancient watch house.  It was as she remembered it exactly, in fact she could still make out her footprints from the last time she was here in the dust.

Pico had spent roughly five hours pouring over the books when she found something that looked promising.  It was a narrative description of the founding of the wards.  The watch went further back than she could have possibly imagined.  It seems as though the Watch itself was founded by the offspring of the order of merlin.  She had long wondered the significance of that name.  Growing up like any of us, she thought Merlin and King Arthur were just a myth.  But according to the tome Merlin at the least was very real.

Nearing the end of his unnaturally long life, Merlin determined that mankind was better off not living in the shadow of Magic.  The passage referred to him devising machines using the “Magic of Man”.  They were comprised of Dragon bone, that much she knew from the earlier diagrams she had found.  However it went into further details that included black iron, and sapphire and amethyst bearings much like the jewels in a watch.  The design itself was deceptively simple and from what she could see from the text it simply calculated the decimal places of Pi.

She had been to one of the wards before, deep beneath Dublin… the Green Ward as the watch called it.  The dragon bone was cracked deeply, and while at the time she did not understand what the material was, she assumed that this was causing the drop in the ward levels.  If all of the wards were suffering similar wear, she would need enough bone to replace them all in order to stop the decay of their power.  The problem is… Dragons were not real, at least not as far as she knew.

Reading further into the text she found the source of the wards names.  Each of the wards was named after the species of dragon that was slain to build it.  The first ward was built out of the bones of a green dragon.  She was afraid that this had significance and potentially amplified the power of the machines.  Pico sighed deeply… where was she going to find a single dragon, let alone green, black, white, blue, orange and blue ones.  She would have to find a way to cross over, and do so with a large enough strike team to be able to take down one or more dragons.

This was a puzzle she just didn’t have the answers to.  The analytical weapons did their job on the mortal plane, but it was completely unknown if they would have any effect at all in the shadowlands.  On top of this, she didn’t know if conventional weapons or even the laws of physics worked the same.  If she could contact the Order of Merlin, she might have a chance and they might be able to tell her just what she needed to do to accomplish her mission.  There was the sounds of movement in the hallway as Sterns entered the doorway of the room.

“Miss Pico, I believe you should come see this” Sterns had a look of concern on his face.  Pico nodded and followed behind him.  He moved down the hall to a chamber at the end.  She remembered on her first trip she thought the room was curiously sparse, but in the presence of so many chambers filled with books she ignored it.  Alfred it seems did not have the blinders on that she apparently did.  “I came across this chamber, and it felt wrong.  I followed the same pattern you did above in the library, and found that this panel opened in a similar fashion” Sterns explained triggering the switch and causing a stone doorway to swing inwards to another tunnel.  She followed him down the tunnel to a large circular room at the end of the corridor.

The walls of the chamber were covered in intricate carvings, the likes of which she had never seen before.  In the center of the room was what looked like a stone picture frame, free standing.  She wondered if maybe there had once been a tapestry hanging there.  Her eyes moved to stone chests resting on either side of the frame.  Above each chest was an indentation and running her finger over it she found no clear purpose for it.  “Help me lift the lid off this chest” she said crouching down to slide the stone slab off.  It was far lighter than she would have expected and between the two of them they removed it easily.

The moment the lid had shifted the chamber was flooded with a blinding blue light.  After removing the lid she saw that there was a small crystal pulsing with a humming blue light.  The stone case seemingly had muffled the sound, but now it was absolutely deafening echoing around the circular chamber.  She had a hunch and lifted the stone out, and it slid neatly into the side of the stone frame.  Alfred gave her a cautioning look of shock as he had not expected her to act quite so carelessly.

LIke an excited child on christmas morning, she moved swiftly to the second chest and found that she could easily slide the lid off without assistance.  Once the lid slid free this time a red light poured out of the chamber with a similar humming in a slightly different pitch.  Together the stones bathed the circular chamber in a purple glow.  Just the same as the blue gem, she was able to slid it neatly into the slot.  Immediately upon doing so the chamber was flooded with a blinding purple light and there was what she could only describe as wind.

When Picos eyes adjusted to the brightness she found herself staring at a glowing ring of purple light.  Shockingly instead of the other side of the room, she now saw what appeared to be a stone chamber on the other end.  It was similarly decorated but had completely different symbology.  She had read about these in one of the tomes she took the first time.  “It’s a waygate” she said half to herself and half for the benefit of Alfred.  “These used to exist as stable portals between the mortal realm and the shadowlands”.

She had found her way to the other side.  “Alfred, once I go through contact the Ward house.  We have to guard this.  Tell Farragut what I have done, I will take his scolding when I get back.” Alfred looked her over cautiously “Miss Pico, are you certain this is entirely prudent?”  She shook off his concern “We don’t know if the stones have enough power to open the doorway again.  I have to take this advantage while I have it.”  She grabbed her pack, not that she had anything in it that would help her slay a dragon, but she felt more prepared with it on her back.  Closing her eyes she stepped through the portal and vanished from the circular room below Cambridge.

NaNoWriMo 10 – The Lady

NaNoWriMo 10

Well in the important news, our little man Smokey seems to be recovering.  Still not sure what happened but Saturday night we found him in the cage, extremely cold and not very responsive.  He is roughly eight years old, so for a ferret an “old man”.  We lost his brother about this time last year so we figured it was the end.  We tried our damnedest to warm him up and hydrate him.  We spent yesterday feeding him duck soup and nutrical and throughout the day he continued to recover.  This morning he is pushing things around in the little “sick bay” that we created for him.  So I think today I will introduce him back into our main cage again.  But thank you all for your thoughts.

Onwards to the tale.  Yesterday I was a bit of a slacker and only wrote around 2000 words.  I am hoping to add to that this morning since I have the day off.  Right now I am up to 17190 word count.  Here is the story so far, for those who want to catch up easily.

  1. Shadowed Stone
  2. Little Giant Girl
  3. Birthday Wishes
  4. The Gifts
  5. The Incursion
  6. The Watch
  7. Rough Landing
  8. Dragon Bone
  9. People of the Storm

10 – The Lady

They had been walking for what felt like days when on the horizon Jace saw a glimmer of light.  Just as quickly as it had arrived it was gone again, but he felt that they were being watched.  He kept catching little glimmers of light to the left and right of him.  Brief flashes of green almost like the after images from staring into a bright light.  The grove of trees was filled with inky blackness of high shadow, were it not for the warm glow of Dimcy swirling around them they would have been unable to proceed.  The little firesprite landed on Jace’s shoulder briefly before buzzing off to take the lead again.

He turned to look at Kale who had been confidently striding towards some unknown destination, and she looked no less determined that they were going the right way.  He wanted so badly to ask “are we there yet” but didn’t want to seem like a child.  He trusted her far more than he should having only met her a very short while ago.  She seemed determined to fulfill the mission his mother had given her, and I guess that was good enough for him.  It still seemed to odd to say Mom… instead of Aunt Beth.  He would be angry about it… but he knew Benj was just trying to protect her, and him too to some extent.

He felt a sudden pang of fear as he realized he had no idea at all if anyone was okay.  Benj was strong, and he had no doubt he would have fought his hardest, but there were just so many of them.  Bemel, Morrow, Josah…  he didn’t know if any of his family was okay.  He hoped they would be and that he would be able to meet up with them again soon.  For the time being he had to focus on getting to his mom and helping her out.  What was he to do when he found her though.  He didn’t have any special powers like Kale did, he didn’t suddenly get stronger or quicker… he was just a boy.  Oakswurv had magic and he watched through the window as he was struck down.  How was he supposed to stop anything from happening.

While lost in thought he did not notice that they were inching closer and closer to a faint glow nearby in the woods.  Apparently Kale had known exactly where she was going.  Out of the darkness around them there came what looked like hundreds of fireflies circling them as they moved forward in a big wide ring.  Dimcy flew close to Jace, flying little circles around him in what he could only imagine was her trying to protect him.  She had not spoken much since he let her out of her vial.  When he had done so she stretched her back unfurling her wings and with a little smile on her face only said “Thank you my prince.”  From that point onwards she had simply been lighting the journey.

From the dim yellow glow on the horizon came a ball of green light, and as it got closer Jace could make out individual blips that added to the larger glow.  Kale had explained that we were in the territory of the Wildfae, and that they held no allegiance to any particular Elfen court.  She had been befriended by one of their leaders and had been granted safe passage through their realm, but she was not sure how they would react to Jace.  He could only assume that the ball of lights heading towards them was the “welcome wagon”, he felt a deep dread as he thought that they may not be welcoming at all.

Kale turned around to look at him raising her hand to signal him to slow “You better wait here Jace, I will go out to meet them.  Dimcy… you watch after him okay.”  Jace slowed and with this Dimcy sped up her circling forming what looked like a solid ring of light around him.  Kale continued along the path and as soon as she had moved a bit forward the various green blips from the sides of him formed a ring around him essentially pinning him in place.  They were not advancing but the provided a blurry green wall keeping him from moving forward.  As he could make out now, they were very much like Dimcy… hundreds and hundreds of tiny sprites.

Kale was getting a bit concerned, this was less than welcoming.  She neared the larger group of sprites and noticed the familiar outline of Dobin the chief of this little enclave.  Within a few moments he had flow up close to her and she stopped.  “Kale..  why do you bring an outsider to our enclave?” the little man said motioning to the wall of green behind them.  Kale swallowed the lump in her throat and spoke “We need your help.”  She explained to him over the next few minutes about the attack on the farm house, and that Jace was a prince of the Summer Court.  She explained how his mother the Queen of the Elfen Courts had sacrificed herself so that they could escape.

When she had finished explaining that the Queen had been captured into a crystal the little man spoke.  “She allowed herself to be captured?”  He stroked his tiny beard for a moment and then like a light bulb coming on he exclaimed “We need to go see the Lady, she will know what to do.”  Dobin muttered something in a language she did not understand and the sea of green lights parted freeing Jace from their cage.  He ran to her side glad to be free of that.  Dimcy eyed the little man, and there was what Jace could only guess was a look of distaste in her eyes.  This did not go unnoticed by Dobin.  “Your friend does not like Wildfae, she thinks we betrayed the courts.  To a certain amount she is right, we did leave the courts to find our freedom in the wilds.”  Jace looked at Dimcy “It will be okay, if he can help us, we need whatever we can get.”

With that the little spite and his retinue buzzed off towards the enclave.  Kale and Jace has to struggle to keep up.  Within moments they had cleared the part of the enclave she was familiar with and had gone into what looked like an older area of the shroomspire forest.  The mushrooms were more tightly packed and the vegetation more overgrown.  The air became warmer, more humid and as they went the night time seemed to lighten.  In the distance he could see a warm amber light. 

The shroomspires broke way to ferns and lush vegetation as the light became something akin to late afternoon.  In front of them stood a circle of fir trees, and in the center of them was a tall plant reaching at least 30 ft up into the sky.  The top of it appeared to be on fire with light and the amber castoff radiated throughout the area bathing everything in a warm afternoon glow.  Underneath the plant was a small hut which appeared to be the destination that Dobin was taking them.  As they got to the ring of fir trees the other sprites that had been following along with them, broke off forming a circle around the stand of trees.

As they reached the small hut, Jace realized that it was not a hut at all, but a large mat of naturally growing plants that had been shaped into the form of a house.  He could make out individual vines and flowers.  Where would normally be wood were trees grown into the shapes of doors and windows.  The entire thing was alive but also serving the purpose someone had intended for it.  Dobin pushed out in front of them, and clearing his tiny throat he bellowed “Lady, forgive us but we have visitors that need your assistance.”  There was a tinge of fear mixed with a clear tone of reverence.  He did not want to disturb her, but felt that he must.

The tree that would be the door creaked open revealing a tall slender woman with long flowing green hair.  She surveyed the visitors taking time to look deeply at Jace, Kale, Dimcy and then back to Dobin.  “Dobin, why have you brought before me a Prince of Summer, an Ortkin and a Firesprite of the Summer Court.”  Jace felt his jaw grow visibly slack as he wondered exactly how she had known when even he himself didn’t before the events of the last few days.  “Lady my forgiveness, they came to us seeking help.”

The woman waved off his apology “You were right to bring them before me, I can see to them from now on.  Please if you three will join me in my house I will tend to your needs.”  She motioned for Jace, Kale and Dimcy to enter.  Dobin who had been obviously been dismissed hung his head slightly as he flew off beyond the fir circle.  Kale nodded to the woman and entered the house, followed by Jace who did so more cautiously and trailing slightly behind him was the fire sprite.

“Has my sister sent you to retrieve me?  As I have told the others who have come… I am no longer a member of court and do not wish to return to Avalon.” said the Lady in a very clear and unmistakable manner.  It was clear she had delivered that message many times before, and she had long grown passed being aggravated by it.  “No maam… I don’t know who your sister is, but we need your help.”  Jace went through the events of the farmhouse and when he reached the point at which he explained about his mother and the crystal the other exclaimed “Bethilda did what?”  Jace was taken aback… he had not given her name.

“What of Morrow?  or Josah?” The lady demanded.  “I don’t know if they are okay…  when we escaped they were still fighting the Orts” Jace explained shaking his head slightly.  “My sister was always the strong one…  I have to believe that Morrow found a way to survive” The lady said sounding as though she was trying to reassure herself.  “I am Merowyn, her sister…  I was the one who was supposed to be the Spring Scion.  It was I who was supposed to marry Josah.  It was I who would have been fighting those Orts.”  She looked down at the ground shaking her head slightly.

“Morrow always was the strong one.  I couldn’t accept the responsibility being asked of me, so I ran away.  I came here and over time the little sprites looked up to me like some sort of a goddess.  They know my name… but they prefer to simply call me the Lady.”  She let out a deep sigh.  “I don’t deserve their reverence… I am just a coward… and my sister has suffered because of it.”  She sat back down “That changes today… I will help you and I will help my sister.”  Jace beamed because since shifting into this world that was the first really good news he had heard.

“The wildfae scouts have told me of a war on the north east coastline.  The summer wall has long protected the Valkore village of Hagengarde.  The forces of the Trogjan empire are massing on the border there.”  Merowyn paused for a moment before continuing  “I believe that the crystal was meant to break through the summer wall.  On the far side of the summer wall there is a place known as Fort Kraken.” she paused again slightly “I believe Bethilda is in that Fort, it is there we must go.  There is an enclave of wildfae near the border that may be able to help us.”