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 7–Rough Landing

NaNoWriMo 7

Well I am officially back on the wagon after taking Wednesday off from writing.  I did not really write as much as I had hoped last night but I am up to 13156 word count which still puts me a tiny bit ahead of the curve.  I hope to write quite a bit today, especially now that I have a decent chain of events I want to follow.  Oddly enough really looking forward to seeing some of the news out of Blizzcon today.  All the big announcements generally happen on the first day, so here is hoping that we see something cool.  Without further ado… here is the next chapter.  Again zero editing went into this as of yet.  I plan on sitting on this until maybe January and then working it over then, once I have some distance from it.

  1. Shadowed Stone
  2. Little Giant Girl
  3. Birthday Wishes
  4. The Gifts
  5. The Incursion
  6. The Watch

7 – Rough Landing

Jace awoke to a sizzling sound nearby and the smell of smoke drifting into his nostrils.  For a brief moment he thought about the breakfasts Uncle Benj would cook with heaps of thick cut maple bacon and huge stacks of pancakes.  For this brief moment everything was right with the world and he expected to hear Benj calling up to him to wake up.  The memories unraveled around him quickly and replaced as a sick realization that things were very not alright.  He gasped for air, sitting up quickly opening his eyes and looking around in a panic.

The world around him was a thick inky blackness perforated only by a flicker of light coming from a nearby fire.  Hunched down beside the fire was Kale, tending to what looked like a slab of meat cooking on a stone.  Looking around he saw absolutely nothing he recognized, the trees were not trees at all, but instead thick ropey tangles of vines leading up to what appeared to be a canopy of mushrooms.  He remembered the battle, he remembered Aunt Beth, he remembered Kale grabbing hold of him… then nothing.  Wait… not Aunt Beth, but mother…  why did she never tell me.  Jace felt tears welling up inside him but he tried hard to push them back down.

Kale looked over at him, hearing him stir slightly.  “Good you’re up, I was concerned.  We took a bit of a spill coming through.” she said quietly.  Jace stared back at her blankly, trying to pull himself out of his sudden onslaught of memory. “Where are we?” was all he could muster.  “I am not honestly sure what to call this place.  It is kind of a shadow of our world, so I guess that fits as good as anything.”  She cocked her head slightly as she thought about it.  “We aren’t too far from the Wildfae camp where Dobin lives.  Your.. Mother… said we should find help there.”  She stumbled over the words not really sure what to say about that.

“How long have we been here?”  Jace asked after sitting in silence for a bit.  “You’ve been out for roughly a day, best as I could tell.  Day and night are pretty different here, so it is hard to tell.”  She looked at him sheepishly as she pointed to a sharpened stick near the fire. “I got hungry waiting on you to wake up, and I figured you would be too.”  She looked down at the cooked meat sizzling on the stone “I am not really sure what this is, it looked like some kind of giant rabbit.  It moved fast but I moved faster.”  She tore off a chunk of a piece she had cooked earlier and tossed it at him.

Jace caught the meat and he had to admit it smelled pretty great.  He was far hungrier than he had realized because he had eaten most of it before realizing he never really said thank you.  “Thanks for looking after me” he mustered still half chewing.  “Why did you look after me?  You barely know me…  and definitely didn’t owe me anything” He said without really thinking.  Kale gave him a long angry stare before responding “She told me to protect you, and I did.”  Realizing he had offended her he stumbled over his own words.  “I’m sorry, I was never really good at saying the right thing.  I appreciate it, really.”

He got up and stretched, looking around the tidy little camp that Kale had built for them.  He had to admit it was pretty impressive.  On the far side of the fire there were two large packs sitting there, puzzled he asked “Where did those come from?”  Kale turned to look at the direction he was pointing “Those must have been sent through by your Mom somehow, they were there already when I recovered myself from the rough landing.”  Jace walked over to examine one of the packs and inside were all the gifts his aunts and uncles had given him.  Inside the other was a cloak similar to his, what looked like a small hammer that was cool to the touch, and a mirror.  Kale motioned to the dagger she was using to slice the meat “This was in there too, not sure what the other things are all about.”

Jace felt overwhelmed, this is the first time he had really been without Benj to tell him what he needed to do.  He knew that Bethilda would want him to be strong, and do what needed to be done… but he just didn’t know exactly what that was at the moment.  He thought back to what Kale had just said and remembered what Beth said before they made the leap to this world.  Seek out the Wildfae…  so that had to be what we were meanted to do.  Feeling a bit more confident Jace suggested “We should pack the rest of that meat and get moving to that Wildfae camp you talked of earlier.  Mom..”  he paused at the word it feeling odd in his mouth “thought we could find help there.”

Kale nodded in silent agreement as she stamped out the fire preparing to break camp.  She stowed her knife and picked up the back, beginning to walk towards what appeared to be a trail.  Jace fell in behind her as they walked together into the grove of treeshrooms.  “I really do appreciate your help” Jace added to break the silence.  Kale glaced sideways at him softening her gaze a bit and replying  “I said I would protect you, and that is what I am going to do.”

“Papa! How much further?” replied the small dark silver skinned boy as he bounded after his father, who walked slowly and deliberately ahead of him dragging his crescent staff through the loose ground.  “Not much further Bai” replied Oakswurv stopping to neal down to his son’s eye level.  “You see those fires in the distance, that is where we are going” replied the man smiling broadly at his impatient son.  Oaks could tell his son could barely contain the excitement of getting to attend a conclave.

When the pair arrived the other members had already seated themselves.  At the head of the table was the very formidable looking Burlguff, to his left Sarenth, and to his right the lady Morganth.  Together they represented the Court of Winter, one of the strongest of all the Elfen Courts.  Noting the arrival of Oakswurv, Burlguff cleared his throat chiding “So good of you to join us Oakswurv.”  He made a motion at Baigan “Why exactly did you bring your offspring?”  Oakswurv shrugged deeply “It is high time he see how the business of our Court is conducted” he said taking his seat at the end of the table opposite Burlguff.

“While I admire your civic duty, this is hardly the time to start.  We have important matters to discuss.”  With a motion of his hand, Burlguff summoned a retainer who took the young boy by the hand escorting him outside of the circle.  Bai hunched down on a stump outside the circle and listened as intently as he could, hoping to catch a glimpse of what was going on inside the conclave.  Within moments the retainer moved off to return to the circle, and the young boy ever so cautiously inched closer to the circle until he could hide behind a plant and hear the proceedings.

“No it is you who do not understand!” Shouted the loud booming voice of Burlguff.  “Too long have we suffered silently under the yoke of the Spring and Summer Courts.  Are we not as powerful as they are?  Is not the might of Winter even more powerful?”  Oakswurv shook his head and sighed deeply.  “Burlguff, we have had our generations… now is the time of Spring and soon it will be the time of Summer.  Just as surely it will be the time of Fall and Winter will rise after that.  You suggest a chance in the order of things that is just unnatural.”

Burlguff grew angrier as he rebuked “You are mired in the old ways.  The time for change is now, you have sold your people for a place at the council.”  He looked at Sarenth and Morganth narrowing his eyes.  “We will seek a new way, and new more powerful allies.  A power rises in the north, that if combined with our own might would crush Summer.  Is it not right that the most powerful lead the way?”  Oakswurv pushed his chair back from the table, standing up abruptly. 

“It is you who will lead us to our doom.  It is you who wish to break the natural order of things.  Each season has its place.”  Bellowed Oakswurv.  “If you act, you do so without my support.  Know that I will fight you every step of the way.”  He turned to walk out of the circle yelling “Baigan, we are leaving… the talks have finished.”  Seeing Bai sitting there in the bushes, he held out his hand and the young boy nervously took hold of it.  Burlguff stood screaming at the top of his lungs as Oaks walked away “You’ve signed your own death Oaks!  Winter is Rising!”

Baigan remembered looking up into his fathers eyes, worried about what was to become of the conclave… worried that he would never see his friends again.  In the coming months a war did indeed start, and the combined forces of Summer, Spring and Fall pushed the Court of Winter further into the northlands, eventually sealing them off by erecting the summer wall.  This was the moment that changed Bai’s life forever.  How could his father have turned his back on his own people, how could he have betrayed them?

Baigan pushed back the memories taking in the realization that he was now laying face down on the floor of the stone antichamber from which he opened the waygate.  A sudden rush of feelings washed over his body as his legs began to stir pushing off the ground with his hands into a kneeling position.  There was a sharp pain burning into his side, and as he looked down he saw one of Bemels arrows tearing into the flesh there.  As he allowed himself to breath in he screamed out in pain as the arrow seemed to have punctured one of his lungs.  Reaching down he grasped the shaft of the arrow and in one quick jerk he pulled free the arrow screaming again as the fletchings sliced into him.

Baigan reached inside of his jacket and pulled out a stoppered vial with a green-grey liquid.  With his thumb he popped loose the cork and put the vial to his lips drinking roughly half of it.  With the rest he pushed a finger into the vial coating it.  Biting his teeth, and closing his eyes shut, he rammed the finger into the pulsing wound in his side.  Screaming again he withdrew his finger, collapsing back down onto the cold stone floor.  Within moments a cool feeling washed over his body, causing every inch of him to tingle.  The bleeding slowed to a stop, and over the next few moments the wounds closed.

Finally he allowed himself to breathe in deeply.  While it still hurt quite a bit, the pain was subsiding. Now sitting up on the hard floor he frantically surveyed the scene.  It appeared the other had not made it through the portal after all. From the corner of the room there came a soft orange humming glow.  Baigan let out a chuckle as he realized he had succeeded.  He had trapped the queen in the crystal and gotten away with it.  The master would indeed be pleased, his father’s betrayal had finally been answered.  Now it was time for the courts to answer as well.

NaNoWriMo 6–The Watch

NaNoWriMo 6

I was a bad little monkey last night, and added nothing to my word count.  Thankfully I was a bit ahead of the game so I can recover from that.  Essentially a bunch of circumstances happened and last night was the collision of needs of my wife, needs of my friends and me being open to suggestion since I think I am coming down with a bug going around.  I knew it was bound to happen during the run and in part that’s why I pushed myself over the weekend.

However this is not to say I did NOTHING last night of value towards the NaNoWriMo path.  Basically I am at a point seven chapters in where I need a clearer path for me to take from this point onwards.  So I retrenched a bit and worked on some outline plans.  That way I can have a better goal in mind as I write additional chapters.  Hopefully it will pay off and today the chapters will flow more freely.  Yesterday I was two chapters ahead of these posts… now I am just one chapter ahead.  Once again… no editing has been done I am just posting as is to fullfill my daily blogging mission.

  1. Shadowed Stone
  2. Little Giant Girl
  3. Birthday Wishes
  4. The Gifts
  5. The Incursion

6 – The Watch

Farragut awoke to the god awful ringing of the warning klaxon echoing through the underground chambers.  He opened his eyes trying to bring the fuzzy picture of the bottom of the bunk above him into focus, and slowly he slid back the blankets before tentatively swinging over the edge of the bunk.  He muttered to himself “this better not be a false alarm again” as he moved across the room to pull on some clothing.  As he cleared the door to his cabin, he heard the chime of the secondary klaxon, at a slightly different pitch.  “Shit… not a warning” he mumbled as he picked up pace jogging down the corridor to watch one.

When he entered the watch room it was already a flurry of activity as the various analysts poured over the monitors tracking various indicators and colorful spikes of light.  About this time a rather rotund scientist spun around in his chair, and upon seeing the Farragut standing there reported excitedly “Lieutenant! err… Sir…  we have a big one!”  He closed the distance from his station to the Lieutenant while stopping to grab something off a printer that was furiously spewing out information to printed pages.  “We have over 30 class C signatures, and around a half dozen class A.  We’ve never seen anything like this!”

Farragut thumbed through the papers confirming what the little man had just told him.  “Have you confirmed with with the other stations Aimes?”  The little man nodded emphatically clearly about to the point of bursting with excitement.  The Lieutenant continued “What options do we have in the area currently?”  Aimes practically vibrated with excitement as he had apparently already forseen this question “We have an Mathemagus Strike Team 10 minutes out already on maneuvers, would you like to redirect them to the site?”  Farragut nodded in agreement “Get them on the Com, I will address them myself.”

Within moments the little man had done just that and the radio near the Lieutenant crackled to life.  “Mathemagus Strike Team Gamma, Chief Aimes reporting in.”  spoke the man on the other end of the speaker.  “Chief this is Lieutenant Farragut of the Lonestar Watch base.  We have reports of a breach in your vicinity.  Request that you move to intercept.  Over 30 class C signatures and at least six class A signatures.  This is not a training exercise.”  Farragut paused for a moment taking in the gravity of his words.  “I repeat this is not part of your exercise.  Close on the target and seal the breach.  Do you copy Chief?”

The coms were silent for a moment and then in a somber and deliberate tone the chief responded that he copied.  It had been fifteen years since the last reported incursion of this magnitude.  Then it was three strike teams against only 2 class A signatures, and even at that the casualties were massive.  They held the field and sealed the breach but at such massive costs.  Farragut hoped that they had prepared better for this one.  The infinity drive weapons were new, and had yet to be tested against in real battle.  He hoped that the calculation matrix would be enough to make the difference this time.  The lieutenant swallowed hard at the thoughts of what might have come through that tear.

Aimes clicked off the coms and let the headset fall to his lap for a moment, pressing the heel of his hands against his eyes.  By now the members of his strike team were watching every movement he made with tense anticipation.  Without moving his hands he spoke “I am sure you heard some of that.  Our training mission is being cut short.”  He opened his eyes to look out at the worried faces of the different members of his watch unit.  “We are minutes away from the drop zone.  We have reports of 30 class C entities and 6 confirmed class A entities.  We will intercept and make sure the tear is closed, and do our best to disable any hostiles in the process.”  Looking from face to face trying to present as confident a front as he could muster.  “Go over your gear and make sure you change out the core of your weapons to the calculation matrix generator.”

In the moments since the battle had begun Bemel, Josah and Benj had managed to make meager progress and more of them lay scattered around the farm grounds.  Morrow was badly wounded but seemingly stable, as the trio of men built a wall between the rampaging Orts and her slowly breathing body.  When Baigan emerged from the farm house, it was plain to see what exactly he was playing at as he held up the essence crystal.  Benj knew without a doubt that Bethilda had sacrificed herself in a bid to save them.  A deep boiling anger built up inside of him and started to overflow.

Breaking from the current conflict with the Orts, he steadied his shield and began to charge Baigan.  Seeing the big warrior closing in on his position the shade made a break for the upstream tear.  Bemel seeing the flight took up pursuit as well, fighting round after round of arrows in his direction.  “Benj, you have to go back…  you have to protect Morrow.  Josah can’t hold off against this wall of flesh alone.”  Benj grunted a disagreement and spat back “I failed to protect the queen, I must save her.”  Running desperately to catch up Bemel panted “She made her choice, now we have to protect what is left.  Besides…  my bow can reach the traitor faster than you can.  Go back I will run him down.”  Resigned Benj grunted a somber agreement and broke from the pursuit.

Bemel slowed steadying his aim and fired an arrow that dug into the shades leg, causing him to trip and tumble before regaining his footing and scrambling upstream with renewed fervor.  Mere yards away from the glowing purple tear Baigan picked up speed again heading straight for the event horizon.  The archer nocked another arrow guiding it with his unnatural vision, hitting the other through his core knocking him forward eventually collapsing into the breach and disappearing from sight.  Bemel ran with all of his might but arrived at the tear just as it was sputtering shut with a few pink sparks.

While he had struck the traitor with what appeared to be a killing blow, he had tumbled into the rift shifting to the other world.  He had no idea where the shade had tapped into the Way Willow from, nor how to get there, but he had to return to the battle and salvage what he could.  As her ran back towards his brethren, he heard a new sound… an odd hushed beating sound.  Looking up to track the noise he saw a great black shape gliding quietly above the treeline heading towards the pack of Orts.  There was a brilliant flash of light and the craft had dropped something upon the battlefield, sending a row of Orts flying off in different directions streaming.

Bemel watched as thin ropes streamed down from the craft sending armored men to the ground below.  With weapons they opened fire on the dozen remaining Orts, each one erupting in a violent display of light before simply fading out in a purple mist.  The remaining backbreaker charged a large man but was simply too slow because the brilliant fire caught him causing him to dissipate into the same purple mist.  Within moments the newcomers had one the battle and were turning their weapons to bear down at Bemel’s friends.  He screamed at the top of his lungs “Wait!”.

What appeared to be the leader of the group gave a signal and two of the troopers turned to face Bemel, who had slowed his run down to a walk.  He threw aside his bow, spreading his hands out to his side in what he felt was a universal sign of peace.  Seeing this Benj and Josah did the same in hopes of at least learning more about this newcomer who had so quickly claimed the field from the Orts.  The leader spoke “Halt!  You have violated the sanctity of this world.  State your names and your purpose for crossing the breach.”  Aimes turned to point his own analytic bolter at the entity that had spoken.  “We will not give a second warning.”

Bemel as calmly as he could muster responded “We mean you no harm.  We are members of the Unified Courts of Avalon.” Motioning to himself “I am Bemel.  That there is Benj and Josah, and the wounded one is Morrow.”  Aimes kept up his gaze nodding in understanding as each of the others were introduced.  “We were attacked by a backbreaker squad from the Trogjan Empire.  Does any of what I just said make sense?”  Aimes had heard all the terms before but never actually met a pan-dimensional entity before.  “I know of some of what you speak.  Why are you here?”  Bemel thought for a moment wondering just how much of what had transpired he should explain.

“Our prince of summer, is a being of your world.  We came here to visit him.”  Growing more desperate at the thought of it “The Summer queen was attacked and captured, and taken back through the tear just before you arrived.  We have to get to her, save her.  You must understand we mean you no harm.”  Aimes thought about the others words for a bit, wondering just what he should do, there were no protocols for this.  Hostiles were supposed to be big monsters, not reasonably talking human looking entities.

“I believe what you are saying, and that you mean us no harm.  But that is just not a chance I can take.”  Turning to his troops “Open fire, take them down”.  Bemel screamed but it was too late, as he watched white streams of light pouring from their weapons bearing down on them.  First was Benj that took a shot in the chest and faded into mist, followed by Josah who caught a round while leaping mid air towards the attackers.  Finally Bemel and Morrow were struck by the fire and disappeared as well.  Within moments the scene had fallen deathly quiet, with nothing but the rustle of the leaves.

“Survey the scene and secure the area.”  Motioning up stream “Chaco take a few troops and make sure the breach is sealed tight”.  Aimes looked around at the battlefield littered with the corpses of the giant creatures that were slayed before they had arrived.  He could not shake the feeling that he had done the wrong thing, that the entities really did mean us no harm.  The watch just could not take chances like that.  The repeated the mantra he had been taught so many years ago.  The watch protects those who don’t know they need protected.  If nothing else, the calculation matrix generators proved to be deadly effective in their first usage.

NaNoWriMo 5–The Incursion

NaNoWriMo 5

I really need to have another double chapter day.  I am still ahead of the curve at 11890 words, but it no longer feels like I am nearly as far ahead as I was.  I wrapped up chapter 7 last night and would have continued but I felt like I needed to mull over the direction things were taking a bit before continuing.  The first few chapters I had plotted in my head well ahead of time, now the story has a life of its own and I am just trying to tell it the way it should be.  Without further ado, here is Chapter 5, still in much need of editing and revision.

  1. Shadowed Stone
  2. Little Giant Girl
  3. Birthday Wishes
  4. The Gifts

5 – The Incursion

A bead of sweat formed on Baigan’s brow as he pushed forward with his outstretched palms forcing more energy into the opening tear.  The slit of purple light began to sizzle slightly as the influx of energy poured into it.  With a loud shaking thunder the tear cracked wide open, the room was bathed in a purple glow for a moment before the shockwave hit throwing Bai back against the carved chamber walls.  They were through, he could see the mortal world on the otherside of the now round and pulsing opening.  Looking around him he saw all the big dumb Orts looking down at him, confused at what he had just done.

“What are you waiting for you lummoxes… get through the gate before it starts to close” Baigan spit back with frustration.  Slowly one by one the thirty or so Ort Backbreakers pushed through the gap having to duck to clear the opening.  After a few minutes they were all standing together in a small cave at the head of a stream.  As they moved forward they saw that the opening was a root cellar of sorts underneath a giant Willow tree.  A sudden wave of realization hit Bai as he realized that this was in fact the fabled “Way Willow” he had heard stories about as a child.

That could only mean one thing… “The Queen will be at the end of this stream.  Remember… everyone dies but the Queen.  We need her alive.”  The breakers formed loose ranks and began marching downstream flanked by their unlikely leader.  Baigan felt absolutely tiny in this forest of 20 ft tall Orts, but also he felt the power that he wielded over them.  He was their key to taking the summer wall and pushing forward into the Americas.  The Trogish had a constant drive for warfare and that kept them constantly pushing the boundaries of their territory.  Little did they know that this constant push forward would eventually serve his masters plan.

Bemel strained his ears to hear what had just entered the world, and after a few moments he heard the slow rhythmic crashing of feet entirely too large to be here.  He glaced sideways at Benj whos cloak was slowly shifting around his body to form what looked like armor made of bark.  Benj nodded “It seems to be an invasion force…  no matter what we have to protect the Queen.:  The folds of Morrow’s dress began shifting slowly to form silver leaf scale mail, and from her pack a hand mirror began expanding until it had formed a gleaming silver hammer.  Josah was similarly attired by had a pair of gleaming silver handed short blades.  Oakswurv instead had taken up his own ironwood stave that had grown into a silver creset at its tip and was now humming with a cold blue light.

“We are horribly outnumbered, and trapped in this hollow.  They have the high ground.”  Remarked Bemel as his own wooden lyre had grown into a full sized longbow.  Benj nodded grimly at him “They don’t stand a chance.”  This caused a rousing chuckle to arise from the group, but as they watched the first of the Ort Backbreakers coming through the treeline the faces went solemn again.  Bemel knocked an arrow and let loose at the nearest Ort, hitting it square between the eyes causing the huge beast to fall sideways onto the next breaker sending both tumbling to the ground.

Morrow moved with a swiftness that you would not expect from a woman with her girth, and she lept high into the air bringing down her silver hammer upon a rock a few feet in front of the party.  When the hammer struck ground it sent up a great spark, forming a wall of fire that pushed forwards into the oncoming Orts, setting a few ablaze and knocking a few others down.  A purple bolt of light came leaping from within the ranks and it caught Morrow offguard knocking her back, the force of it extinguished the fire wall, letting the breakers push forward again.

“Morrow!” screamed Josah as he dropped his blades and rushed to his wife’s side.  With that Oakswurv stepped forward and planted his staff in the ground, bearing down upon it with eyes shut the little shards of frost began forming around the crescent.  Within moments the frost had become a swirling vortex of crystals.  Picking the staff back up he whirled it around towards oncoming horde letting loose a rain of icy flechettes.  While some struck deep into the hides of the encroaching brutes, they were for the most part ignored.  The pack came to a halt at the edge of the treeline as though waiting on an order.

Stepping out from behind the pack was a wispy man cloaked in black with his own version of Oakswurv’s stave.  A sudden wave of realization swept Oaks face as the man peeled back his hood and show a very familiar face.  “Baigan…  what have you done…”.he mumbled as he dropped his stave, pained look washing over his face.  The other started to chuckle and it echoed throughout the now silent hollow.  “I am freeing us of the yoke of summer father.” With a swipe of his own staff he knocked back Benj a few feet a with another swipe knocked away Bemel who had been readying another arrow.  “We were born to rule Father, not bow like subservient dogs.  I have found a way to be free of these fools.”

“Bai.. you don’t know what you are doing.” mutter Oakswurv his voice quavering.  A look of sheer hatred washed across the others face.  “No father… it is YOU who do not know.  It is you who have allowed ourselves to wither and die under the thumb of Summer.  It is you… that must stop” screamed Baigan who sudden thrust forward his staff with almost impossible speed.  It gathered the cold mist that had been hanging in the air and pushed it forward with a deadly purpose.  As it moved it coalesced into a large spear of ice, which struck Oakswurv in his chest, driving it forward into his heart.  “It is you that must die.” Baigan replied coldly.

Turning to look at the Orts, Baigan screamed “Finish these fools, I will find the queen” and at once the mass of blue flesh moved towards the others.  Baigan strode confidently and with another blast of force from his staff knocked the old farmhouse door from its hinges.  He pulled from underneath his cloak a crystal and cautiously strode into the house.  “Bethilda, I know you are in here… if you come with me willingly I will spare your precious council.” Baigan yelled into the house cloyingly. Bethilda heard the voice immediately recognizing who it was, who had betrayed them.

Beth looked at Kale, taking her squarely by the shoulders.  “I know you are special, I saw it the moment you stepped out of the house.  You will be a great protector someday.  No matter what transpires today… you must get Jace out of here.  Within him lies a very special purpose, one that he cannot realize yet.”  Kale gulped slightly, not really understand what this woman was talking about… but against her better judgement she nodded slowly.  These strangers had been better to her than anyone in a really long time.  She didn’t owe them anything,but she felt like she had to protect them.  “Jace doesn’t know what he is yet, I know you have dealings with the Wildfae.  Seek them out… they can help.” Bethilda pleaded.  “Whatever you do… keep Jace safe” looking over at him lovingly “he’s my son, and the prince of summer.”

Jace welled up with a sudden rush of tears…but all he could muster was “Mom…”.  She put her hand over his mouth.  “No, now is not the time, you have to leave, you have to go with Kale. We will see each other again.”  Bethilda begged as she pushed her son towards Kale.  The big girl grabbed hold of Jace with both her arms in a bear hug, and like she had done many times built the tunnel in her mind.  This time carrying Jace with her down the tunnel, and the world shimmered purple for a moment and then there was nothing but night time and the open plains that she had seen so many times before.

Bethilda steadied her rapidly beating heart and pushed away the wave of emotion welling up inside her as she watched Jace and Kale shift into the shadows.  “I will come with you willingly Baigan, if you spare my friends” Bethilda called down as she began slowly walking down the staircase leading to the room in which Bai had been standing.  “Well enough my queen, you know what to do… he said while stretching out his arm with the crystal held tight in it.”  Mused Baigan with mocked reverence.  Sure enough Beth did know exactly what to do, and as she reached the bottom of the staircase she very gently touched the tip of the crystal.  Within seconds there was a blinding flash of orange light, and when it faded gone was the Queen.  Replaced by an humming orange glow from within the depths of the crystal.

Baigan was a bit pleased with himself, this had gone entirely too easily.  He stepped back onto the porch of the old farm house and was greeted by the sight of the council desperately trying to fight back the backbreaker attack squad.  A few of the giant oafs had fallen here and there, but the majority were still putting up a fight.  Morrow had fallen and Josah was fighting with blind fury trying to all too obviously to avenge her death.  He looked down at the crystal “Oh you silly Queen, did you really think I would spare them” Baigan said dryly as he outstretched his arm and made a waving motion across the scene in front of him.  “They too will all die today, just like my father did.”

Yelling at the top of his lungs Baigan barked “Kill them! I am bored of this place!”

NaNoWriMo 4–The Gifts

NaNoWriMo 4

I had a relatively productive night last night.  I finished a chapter and it weighed in at roughly 1800 words.  That brings the total so far as of last night up to 9901 words.  So almost 1/5th of the way to the goal.  I should have probably written more last night but I was feeling a bit drained.  For anyone wanting to catch up here are the chapters I have posted so far.

  1. Shadowed Stone
  2. Little Giant Girl
  3. Birthday Wishes

4 – The Gifts

By the time that Jace made it out of the house with a pitcher of lemonade and some glasses, the warm light of evening was beginning to shower down on the grove.  As he had expected the family had more or less arranged themselves around a circle of logs that set beside the stream behind the house.  Uncle Benj was mussing with the fire pit to provide some warmth as the evening drew on, as this place had been the location of many a late night conversation.  Uncle Bemel was amusing the circle with a tale about some fantastical beast as was often the case.  Benj looked up from the firepit to notice that Kale was in tow behind Jace with a tray of cookies.

Kale had looked frail and weak when he found her in town trying to steal something to eat, but now she looked almost happy with the life seemingly restored to her cheeks.  Benj smiled as the pair trailed into the circle “I see you brought our guest as well, have a seat… everyone this is Kale she will be staying with us for awhile.  She is going to help me get the farm ready for winter.”  Kale nodded awkwardly to the strange arrangement of figures around the circle.  All of them looked as oddly out of place as she felt. 

For a bit she had wondered if she had stumbled into some circus family.  Bemel with his twiggy stature and busy red beard, Morrow with her heavy set earthen look and almost green cast hair, Oaks with his with his brown cast skin and grey mane of flowing hair, and finally Bethilda with her fine features and vibrant yellow hair.  None of them looked like they belonged in this world, but each and every one beamed a gigantic smile at her as they noticed her surveying them.  This of course made Kale feel more than a bit self conscious about her own visual oddities.   She took a seat on one of the stumps as the murmur of welcomes circled around her.

She was feeling a little odd, and not because of the awkwardness of being welcomed into such a strange setting.  That coldness she associated with the other world was growing inside her.  Based on the occasional worried look up the stream, she thought that maybe Bemel felt it too.  In the south along the stream there seemed to be a group of thunder clouds growing and slowly working their way towards the farm.  Bemel and Oaks motioned towards them with slightly worried looks, but these were brushed aside by a silent reproach from Morrow.  With that the group continued on their generally merry conversations.  Kale however could not shake the feeling that something was just wrong here.

As evening turned to night a cold wind began to blow in from the south, which caused the group to huddle closer to the fire.  Bemel began rummaging through his packs and produced a small wrapped present.  “Jace my boy, a little something in honor of your new year.” he said handing it over to the boy.  He unwrapped the delicate paper carefully and in the core of the package was a small pendant on a silver chain.  Kale looked at it with suspicion as it looked an awful lot like the waypass she had received from the Wildfae.  Mixed in with the silver were enabled gold, brown and red autumn leaves.

It was time for Morrow to rummage in her own pack to pull out a fine green cloak that looked horribly out of place, and something you would see in a Hollywood fantasy movie.  Jace however seemed to like it quite a bit and pulled it on to guard against the cold wind that had now picked up considerably and was causing the fire to dance wildly in the pit.  Oaks produced a thick and sturdy walking staff, which she assumed would be of use on a farm.  None of the gifts really seemed to fit a sixteen year old boy however, or at the very least they were a bit old fashioned.

Next up was Uncle Josah, who produced some sort of a wooden musical instrument that looked like a tiny harp.  “Let it’s music protect you from harm.” he said to Jace, which Kale remarked seemed a little odd.  Finally it was time for Bethilda who produced from the folds of her dress a small vial of some sort that was glowing with an amber red light.  At first she thought it was some sort of a firefly and then a wave of sick realization washed over her, as she saw a tiny woman with furiously beating amber and red wings inside it.  Almost falling off her stump she backed away from the circle.

Kale stood taking a scared defensive posture, and the group all looked at her with some shock at the commotion.  “wildfae…  you are all wildfae” she said with slow realization sinking into her voice with just an edge of fear.  Bethilda let out a long chuckle “No my dear we are not wildfae at all”, Jace looked rather confused at the whole exchange as well.  Not really understanding the gifts he had been given nor especially what this Wildfae thing was that Kale asked.  He looked down at the vial that Aunt Beth had produced and finally saw the small woman inside.  “Aunt Beth, what is that?” pointing at the vial.

“This my dearest Jace is a firespirte, her name is Dimcy.  She has served my court faithfully for years, and now I give her to you… so that she can protect the most precious thing in the worlds.  The vial is for her own protection, here on the mortal plane she would burn so brightly that she would extinguish herself.” Bethilda said as she carefully handed over the vial.  Jace looked at it for a moment dumbstruck.  He had so many questions and did not even begin to know where to start.`  All he could manage was to mumble a questioning “Mortal plane?”

“This new year of yours is a rather auspicious one, for you Jace are coming of age.  We are not of this world, and you are only partly so.” Bethilda continued addressing a rather confused Jace.  “We are of the Elfen courts of Avalon.  Your Uncle Bemel is from the Autumn Court, Your Aunt Morrow and Josah are of Spring.  Uncle Oakswurv is a shade and one of the last remaining loyal members of the Winter Court.  Finally I am a member of the Summer Court and Benj is my Woodsblade protector.” Benj fidgeted slightly and let out a disapproving clearing of his throat when Beth mentioned she was a “member” of the court, but was quickly given a stern look that caused him to back off the point.

Jace looked down at the ground for a moment, and then back his Aunt Beth with confused eyes.  Before he could think of a question to ask, there came a loud crash from upstream that sounded like the peal of a thousand thunderclouds.  Moments later the entire hollow was awash in this strange purple glow originating from what seemed to be the site of the sound somewhere upstream.  The loving eyes of Bethilda turned to sheer terror of realization at what was happening.  “Jace, Kale… Take Bethilda inside…  something is coming through!” Yelled Benj with more determination in his voice than Jace can ever remember hearing.

Jace did as he was told, dragging his Aunt Beth by the arm and tugging her towards the house.  He watched in amazement as his Uncle Benj picked up a branch from the ground and it began to transform to his touch shifting, elongating and within a few moments where once was a branch was what appeared to be a gleaming saber.  There were just too many questions and not enough answers.  Beth resisted slightly but within moments Kale was at her other side trying to drag her inside the farmhouse.  The terror on Kales face from earlier was replaced with a cold look of determination, as though she had seen things like this before.  This alone worried Jace more than anything.

NaNoWriMo 3–Birthday Wishes

NaNoWriMo 3

Still trucking along, have not abandoned this whole thing yet.  As of last night I was sitting at 8050 word count, so I managed to put a significant dent in this weekend.  That was my goal as I would really like to get to the point where I don’t have to write more than a chapter any given week night.  At this point I am five chapters in with a clear vision for the next three or so chapters, but past that everything is very fluid.  Once again… I am posting the next chapter completely unedited.  I figure December is a fine time for edits and rewrites.

Birthday Wishes

Jace awoke to the gentle rustling of the leaves blown up by a brief gust of wind.  He expected to open his eyes and see the low light of early morning, but instead was greeted with the high mid day light streaming blindingly in through his window.  He briefly wondered why exactly he had not been woken up by Uncle Benj to do his chores like he normally was, but then almost as a spark or recognition hit him he remembered.  Today was his birthday, and I guess Benj had let him sleep in for once.

How could he have forgotten, even if momentarily that today was his birthday?  This was the big one, sixteen, and finally he could turn the learners permit in his wallet into a real drivers license.  For the last several months Benj had been sneaking off to the old barn each night.  A few weeks back there was a loud peal as the old chargers engine roared to life.  Jace guessed the big secret was that Benj had planned to give it to him for his birthday.  He pictured himself roaring down the county roads and into town whenever he wanted.

Not that he disliked farm life, but he always felt so isolated from everyone else.  As a result he had a hard time forming ties to the other kids at school.  He was never able to attend the birthday parties growing up due to being so far out of town and the never ending string of chores needing to be done around this old farm.  After awhile the invites just stopped happening.  There was always a stream of family visiting, but never anyone his age.  As a result he spent a lot of time day dreaming about the day when he would get a car and his freedom.

He pushed himself over the edge of the bed and stood up stretching the afternoon light.  He was suddenly hit by a pang of hunger realizing that he was absolutely starving.  Jace wandered down the hall and flight of stairs leading to the kitchen below.  In the kitchen he rummaged around the cabinets for a bit before finally settling on a bowl of cereal.  On the door to the fridge was a short note.

Did your chores

Went to town for supplies

Benj

Jace wondered how long he had to himself before Uncle Benj would make it back from town.  No sooner than he had asked himself that did he hear the sound of the old farm truck rumbling down the dirt road towards the house.  He figured he at least had time to finish the bowl of cereal and run upstairs to put on some clothes before Benj would be walking through the door needing his help to carry in the supplies.  One of these supply runs normally meant Groceries, but since we were expecting company tonight for his birthday, he had no idea what all Benj might have picked up while in town.

Jace was only partly correct, about the time he had finished his bowl and walked over to the sink to rinse it, the front door creaked open.  He heard the gruff and familiar voice of Benj “Jace?  You up and dressed?”  Jace turned to face the voice, but before he could reply he saw his Uncle Benj standing in the door with someone extremely tall behind him.  Within a few moments the other stepped out from behind Benj and he could see that it was rather tall, but also rather lovely girl.  He felt a sudden wave of realization rush over him as he realized that he was now standing face to face with a stranger wearing nothing but his boxers.

She met his gaze and he could see her starting to blush slightly as well, eventually turning her head to be polite.  “Jace, get upstairs and get dressed, we have company” Benj scolded then turned to the girl and apologized “I’m sorry maam, I expected him to be up and dressed”.  Jace quickly darted back upstairs and rummaged through his room to find something to wear.  After a few minutes he had pulled on a pair of jeans and a red hot chilli peppers tee.  He stopped at the mirror and noticed he was still bright red from embarrassment.  He forced himself to breathe deeply and after a few moments he had calmed down and his cheeks were returning to their natural color.

By the time Jace had gotten back downstairs, the girl had taken his place at the kitchen table and was viciously devouring a plate of cold chicken and a few biscuits that Benj had apparently fixed for her.  He saw his Uncle out on the porch, and rather than risk further embarrassment he decided to join him out there.  Questioningly Jace gave his uncle a look that was quickly translated by the elder Waxwood.  “I met her in town, and she looked like she had not eaten in days.  Based on the way she took to that plate of food I guessed my assumption was right.  She needed a safe place to be…  and we could use another hand around here” Benj said in a rather plain and matter of fact way.

“Her names, Kale.  Something special about her… but she’s a bit twitchy.”  he said looking down the hall from the porch to the sight of her decimating the food. Changing the subject Jace asked “When is the family getting here?  I expected for someone to be here by now.”  Almost on queue Benj nodded to the lane, and coming into view was a group of figures walking down the lane.  Jace always wondered why none of his family seemed to drive cars, especially since most of them lived so far away.  Benj never really would explain much of anything to him, he would just clam up and get real quiet anytime he asked.

He outright refused to say anything about his parents, other than they died when Jace was really young.  He certainly had no shortage of family growing up, and one of them always seemed to be lurking around in the background.  As the figures came into view he could make out Aunt Morrow, Uncle Oaks, Uncle Bemel, Uncle Josah, and trailing behind the pack his favorite… Aunt Beth.  While he loved all of us Aunts and Uncles, there was just something special about Bethilda.  Whenever he was having a hard time, or feeling lonely, she knew exactly what to say to make him feel better.  Jace had never been able to figure out why exactly they walked like this, it seemed like it would be easier if we just met them at the bus depot in town.

By this time Uncle Bemel had pulled ahead of the group slightly and was walking down the path to the porch from the front gate.  With his great red beard wrinkling into a smile he yelled up at Jace with arms stretched out “Happy New Year Jace!”  Jace of course went out to meet him and returned with a big hug.  He never really understood why his family seemed to call a birthday a “new year” but he had gotten used to it.  He remembered the embarrassment the first time one of the town kids had a party at school and he wished them “Happy New Year”.  To tell you the truth there was a lot of things his family did that never really synced with the rest of the world.

The rest of his relatives had now made their way up the path as well and similarly wished him a happy new year and gave him a big hug.  Leading up the pack was Beth, she lingered extra long giving him a tight squeeze against his ribs.  “You are looking handsome as ever Jace, did you have a good year?”  It just hit him that sure enough… the last time he had seen Beth was on his birthday last year.  “Yeah it was, looking forward to finally getting my drivers license so I can leave the farm when I want to.” Jace replied.  Bethilda made a slight grimace when he talked about leaving the farm, but she quickly shrugged that away.

“Jace go in and gather up some drinks, I am sure they are thirsty after their walk” Uncle Benj bellowed from behind him.  With that Jace turned and wandered into the house, by now he had all but forgotten about Kale, so when he saw her again now sitting against the back of her chair slowly sipping a coke he jumped slightly.  “I’m sorry about earlier… I” Jace started to stammer but was cut off abruptly with a reply from the other “It’s fine…  you didn’t know” muttered Kale, to be truthful she didn’t even know she would be there.

She was surprised at the turn of events herself.  She had finally gotten up the nerve and saw that old farm truck sitting outside the feed store, loaded down with packages. She had only just begun rummaging through the bags, found a banana and cracked it open when she felt a huge hand on her back. “Can I help you with that miss?” grumbled a gruff voice of the hands owner.  She thought about shifting, leaping back into the shadow to get away, but something kept her from doing it this time.  She turned to face the man, sheepishly chewing on the stolen banana, surprised to find that he did not seem angry in the least.

“I’m sorry mister…  I haven’t…  it’s been days since.”  Kale stammered breaking down into tears still holding the banana loosely.  Benj wrapped his arms around the girl saying gently “It’s okay, we’ve all done things we aint proud of.  Tell ya what, I got a big farm not too far from here.  I could use some help preparing for winter.  We’ll give you a warm bed and warm meals for as long as you need them.”  With this Kale allowed herself to completely break down, despite everything she had been through the big man felt safe.  She needed work, she needed a place to stay, and it had to be better than the foster system had been.

She finished her banana as the big man finished loading the truck.  When he finally got in the truck he look at the girl with a sideways glance.  “You got a name?” questioned the big man.  “Kale” she replied rather simply “Just Kale”.  Benj looked her over for a bit before responding “and I’m Benjanatos Waxwood, but most folk just call me Benj or Uncle Benj.  You’re gonna be fine now.”  And with that they pulled out of the town and onto the long series of winding roads eventually leading to the farm.  Against her better judgement she felt a bit of hope creep into her… you know she thought maybe she would be fine.