Saturday, May 24, 2014

Return of the Ideas (6 for now)

I felt I over extended myself on the last one, so I'm going to try and set the bar lower but instead of 5 here are 6.

1. The Lone Space Ranger: A simple retelling of the exploits of the Lone Ranger set in the far flung future of space travel. The Final Frontier has finally hit its stride, but where there is great progress there are those who intend to take what is not theirs. Who will stand against these bandits and their ill gotten gains? A masked man with a ship called The Silver Stallion and his crew of fellow vigilante's that's who! (Crew members: Zorro, Green Hornet, Kato, Miss Fury, and the Green Llama as well as Tonto)

2. Solomon Kane the Game: A game based on the Solomon Kane series.

3. Exorcist the Game: There is evil in the world, and that evil seeks souls to devour. You take the cases that few would believe aren't a modern horror movie premise and perhaps you will be able to save the souls that need you the most.

4. The King's Gambit: You are the bastard child of the king, and though you are not the first in line for the throne your father has declared that whoever survives the trials will be declared the new ruler of the lands. Make alliances with your family, disrupt those that would abuse the power that could be granted, and perhaps bring a golden age for your people.

5. The Dimensional Negotiator: Every dimension has it's qualms and it is up to you to make sure there is balance between them. Help various deities, monsters, and rulers spanning across dimensions to negotiate various treaties and laws to keep their worlds separate or working together.

6. Dinosaur Rancher: Dinosaurs have returned and they are big business. For years your family has been raising various breeds of herbivore, omnivore, and carnivore. Now it's time for you to learn the ropes and take on the family business of ranching Dinosaurs.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A Dark Souls Story

                 Sometimes in the darkest of days, it truly is hard to see the light of hope in a place like Lordran. The heroes that once populated the land have been scattered, imprisoned, or killed and it is rare to see a self proclaimed "savior" that can live up to their title. The undead populate what was once prosperous cities, and they are ruled by unnatural creatures born and shaped by the darkness that plagues this land. Still, perhaps it isn't the noble warrior of truth and justice that should save us, perhaps what really is needed, is one whose basic nature to survive is strongest to save our land. Maybe save our entire world in the process.

            Draven was placed in a cell, his arms taken and his armor stripped from him. It wasn't his fault that he was given the dark sign in the first place, but the situation was long since out of his control. Now here he was, left to rot in a disgusting, cold, and very uncomfortable cell. It wasn't smelly surprisingly, which he counted as a small blessing but obviously not enough of a comfort to make him want to stay where he was. Rumors of escaping where he was placed, the "Undead Asylum" as it was called, were many but none were proven true. That didn't inspire Draven with enough confidence to be the one to be one of the first to try, especially with his body trained of energy and his stomach calling for food. The guards however were not human, in a literal sense. Undead soldiers with little to no trace of being human shambled about the scraping sound from the tip of their iron swords scratching the cold stone floor. Their armor looked worse for wear: rusted, dented, and plenty of holes from combat long past. Draven realized that perhaps the reason why the cell didn't smell bad, why all the other cells seemed empty for that matter and why of course there were so many undead guards roaming the asylum; was due to the prisoners becoming the wardens after they've shed their mortal coils. Well at least he'll be released when he's dead, again not really a comfort for him but in case he failed to try escaping he'll be in the company of fellow prisoners turned soldiers. Might have some good benefits: shambling along, no worry of having to eat or drink, and if something falls off you won't miss it if you can't put it back on.

           Draven hated it here. He hated that he was imprisoned and most of all he hated not having a single bite to eat since he got here. It had been about two or three days, and luckily for him it had rained in that time. He gathered as much water as he could and rationed it as best as he could but what he really wanted, was something to keep his stomach from growling. Warm meat, soft cheese, fresh bread, and a strong ale would be a feast for him right now. Draven was unsure about whether he could break the iron bars or not. They seemed weak and they were loose to a certain point, but they were not bendable and couldn't be dislodged so he could squeeze by. Saving his strength he slumped back against the wall that faced the bars, looking up and guessing that it was about late afternoon from where the sunlight was shining through the holes in the ceiling and the unreachable windows. He thought about trying to climb his way to the windows and see if he would have better luck with them but Draven could not find a foothold to start on. The Asylum was old but to Draven's chagrin, it was still able to fulfill its intended purpose of keeping the unwanted inside. Suddenly the room darkened due to a large shadow that covered the holes in the ceiling; only the window was uncovered and what little sunlight that was left barely lit Draven's cell. The sound of something small and metal hitting the cobblestone floor in the cell reverberated in Draven's ears while the shadow flew off in a loud sound of beating wings and the cry of what Draven thought was that of a raven? When the light had return and his eyes had readjusted, Draven looked around for what had hit the floor. After a few minutes of being on his knees and moving his hand around like a blind man searching for his walking stick, he found what he believed was the object that was dropped. Picking it up and holding it up to the light, Draven's eyes widen in surprise to see that what he was holding in his hand was in fact a key.

"Well, it wouldn't hurt to try it once."

       Draven waited for when the guards had shambled off before he reached around to put the key into the cell lock. Again to his surprise, the key fit perfectly and a simple turn made his cell unlock. A nice start to a stroke of luck perhaps? Slowly opening the cell door to create as little sound as possible, Draven pushed himself out and quietly crept across the floor, trying to remain stealthy until he found something to defend himself with. Moving through the corridors and using the open cells as hiding places, Draven had made it to what seemed like the exit to the outside. Torches lighted the hallway and an eerie rose colored light was coming out from the large barred opening to the left of the hall. As he walked cautiously, trying to place himself as close to the right side of the of the hall as possible, hoping to not catch the attention of any shambling guards. He wasn't sure how smart these zombies were, but he didn't want to take any chances regardless. As he made it halfway down the long hallway, the entire room began to shake and the sound of giant footsteps marching down made Draven freeze in fear. Looking behind him he thought he was going to have to run from whatever was making the sound but to his relief there was nothing behind him. Still the sound persisted and the shaking grew worse until Draven looked out to the left. He started to panic at the grotesque monster that trodding along below him. The monster had two large horns, a bloated gray body with comically small wings on it's back and a short but large tail coming from an even larger and more disgusting behind. Over it's shoulder the monster carried a hefty sized hammer that made Draven's legs start to shake. Anything that was smashed by that weapon was going to become a puddle of guts, bone, and blood.

       Speedily, Draven crossed the rest of the hallway to a room with a large door in front of it. Seeing the mechanism that worked the door, Draven activated it and waited for the doors to slowly, loudly open befor him. Seeing the gray sky and the bright sun, Draven started to smile at the site of an open gateway before him. Making his way towards the the courtyard, Draven noticed a small fire that seemed to glow brighter as he ran past it; he chalked it up to there being actual human guards that were off duty somewhere else in the asylum. He was about to let out a cry for joy until he heard a loud roar of anger from above him. The very creature he saw from the hallway had appeared on top of a rampart above the gateway. Draven was too afraid to make a run past the creature, but it seemed like he wasn't going to be given the chance anyway when the creature landed in front of him with a loud crashing sound like thunder. Swinging it's large hammer at him, Draven narrowly avoided becoming a pancake on the wall. Seeing a long sword and a dented, kite shield to the right side of the monster, Draven rushed towards them without thinking. Picking up the weapon and shield, Draven saw that the hammer was coming at him from above; he rolled on pure instinct to the right side of it, using the shield to help him roll on the ground.

"Alright you fat bastard! I'm getting out of here alive, and your in my w-"

      Draven had been knocked to the side, his bones crushed and his organs mashed when he made impact against the stone wall. The last thing he heard was the roar of triumph from the creature. For what felt like ages of drifting in complete nothingness, Draven saw a strange light in the distance. Believing it to be the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, he made his way towards it hoping for a wonderful paradise for him to relax in. Something with milk and honey or some shit like that; hopefully he'll be greeted by some beautiful women that'll cater to his every desire. To his surprise, disappointment, and relief...He was alive? Looking next to him, was the small camp fire that he passed and behind him was the entrance to the asylum. Behind him was the monster and his freedom. In his right hand was the long sword and in his left was the kite shield. However his body felt different, his armed looked shriveled and weaker yet he felt like his normal self. The curse mark glowed brightly on his shoulder and Draven realized what had happened: he was undead now. However unlike the shambling soldiers that infected the asylum, Draven retained what he assumed was his soul or consciousness, or whatever defined him as himself. Seeing a suit of crude but still in good shape armor, Draven donned it with haste and looked back to where the monster was standing. It seemed waiting for him, as if issuing a challenge for his freedom that Draven gladly accepted.

"Let's try this again...and this time I'm going to make your blood paint the walls."

       More confident than before, his fight or flight instincts switched to fight, Draven rushed towards the creature in front of him, letting out a cry of his own.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Another 10 Ideas

So lets go over it one more time: Ten Story Ideas. Some might be good, all might suck, but it's going to be ten ideas to get my creative juices going.

1. Dragons want to snuggle: a children's story about dragons looking to make friends with other creatures.

2. Sleep of the Damned: The murder of a high-ranking official on earth has caught the attention of those who rule hell.

3. Flight of the Maji: A comedy involving the three Maji from the Bible.

4. The Nightmares of Dryads: Progress, it comes at a high cost. Those who live in ancient lands guarded by the wards of their ancestor's magic, it seems that the progress of humans might cost them everything.

5. Kings of Space America: The space race has finally had a victor, and it was the greatest nation on Earth. However with new territory, comes new rules.

6. Magic on Jupiter: Magic has finally been discovered by Humanity...and the greatest concentration of it is on the planet Jupiter and it's moons.

7. Olympus, Asgard, and My Apartment: The apartment of Nikola Johan was a nice packaged deal. Two bedrooms, a stylish kitchen, and a spacious living room; all for a wonderful price. There was a catch that seemed ludicrous: The closet is a doorway to the mythical kingdoms of the old gods.

8. A Minotaur Named Joe: The Minotaur race has always been the go to for grunts and brutes. Joe just wants to be a wizard.

9. The Star of Dreams: A stone, a farmer, and a page.

10. Tarot Knights: Each aspect of the Tarot is a pillar of the world. These are the tales of the ones who protect those pillars.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

An Exercise

Right now I'm going to do a quick writing exercise: Come up with five ideas and their descriptions. So nothing huge here and not all of these are going to be good. My goal with this is to slowly work my way to ten ideas.

1. Sherlock Holmes vs. Cthulhu
-A string of murders has occult over tones and the great Sherlock Holmes has taken on the case. What follows is a decent into Holmes own personal demons as he digs deeper into his findings.

2. Dragons vs. Fighter Pilots
-Dragons have finally awoken, and they wish to start taking back what they believe is rightfully theirs: humanity. They allowed us to breed in hopes of revitalizing their food population, and we have given them exactly what they wanted. Now an elite group of pilots known as "Dragoons" and their jets are our only hope in keeping humanity off the menu and back on top of the food chain.

3. Demon/Dark Souls Pirates
-The sea is a harsh mistress, and in a world where there is little hope on land the sea's cruelties seem more like blessings. While gold and jewels are nice, true plunder for you and your crew are souls. Survival is more important and all that dwell in and on the sea are considered prey. However the horrors on the land have family in the depths of the ocean.

4. Space Vikings
-The cold, harsh planets of your people can not sustain your population. You have traded what you can, you have built what you need, but it is not enough. Other more peaceful planets prosper, their populations get fat, and become weak. Perhaps it is time to "liberate" their worlds and give your people a better future.

5. Kinkaid Nightmares
-What if Thomas Kinkaid's paintings held something? Something much darker that is slowly creeping back into our world. Find the original Kinkaid paintings and restore them...before whatever comes out plagues our world.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Hades Fall (Chapter 1)

Chapter 1

This is not the only world, and Kafir had no plans involving him staying on it. It’s been a tough road since he started with the Thieves Clan in the dessert. Kafir Saladin wasn’t exactly liked by them, even though by rights he was born into them through his mother. He wasn’t a full human though, no his mother was impregnated by a genie that was released by her husband in exchange for his wish. Her husband, Kafir’s “father”, was unable to produce an heir for his line and decided to look for an answer to his problem through magical means. Among the treasures that the Thieves Guild had gotten, a good portion of them were magical in nature. Finding the magic ring that had a genie bound to it was not difficult, but making the wish apparently was. The man had asked for an heir, he didn’t specify how exactly that was to come about nor did Kafir’s true father give the man time to clarify it. It only became worse as Kafir’s mother had died during child birth and the man that raised him was already less than thrilled by having to take care of the baby. He learned to survive, learned the ways of magic in the vain hope of trying to prove his usefulness to the clan and it worked for a time. Still it wasn’t enough to gain full respect and he had chosen to leave when he realized his talents could be suited elsewhere. That’s how he became part of the Shackles Pirates, how he gained a taste for adventuring on the high seas and exploring distant lands, and at last learned of the Storm Lords: the pirate council that runs the Shackles Pirates. This path had also led him to join a group of adventurers who were also part of the Shackles Pirates, and his talents were not only useful but appreciated by them as well. It’s been a tough road, but it had led him to this moment now.

“Are you sure this is what you want? A galleon is not very agile, and it’ll require more men; which means less money for you and with the loan you’re asking for from the guild, it’ll take you a while to pay off just from simple pirating. Plus I hear you want to be part of the Storm Lord council, which will also require a substantial amount of wealth to bribe your way into.”

             The old sea dog leaned against his cane while he spoke to the suli pirate in front of him. The young man was dressed rather oddly for a pirate, a combination of both wizard robes and traveler’s clothes, on his left side hung a sheathed gladius while in his right hand he was twirling a Morningstar by the leather strap. Out on the ocean was a large ship, still waving the colors of its previous owners: the Sargovans. It was recently acquired after the fight with the legion had finished, a nice group of their fellow pirates had managed to board and take her without much hassle. It was in good shape and for what the suli had in store for it, it was going to see more action than the ship builders believed it would.

“I’ll worry about that later. Right now I’m trying to enjoy the moment that I have my own ship finally and while I may not have much of a crew, I still have the most important part of being a pirate: the ship. Our business is done with as far as I’m concerned; you have my money, we have our copies of the paper work that show how much I owe, and of course the registration of what I’m naming her.”

“The Hades Fall? Not the catchiest thing I’ve heard of but it does have a nice ring to it. What exactly do you plan on doing about the lack of a decent crew?”

            The suli turned towards the old man, lowering his hood and giving a wide smile. Walking right next to him and putting a hand on his shoulder. The old sea dog noticed the mischievous look in the eye of the young man.

“It’s a good thing that we have some captured prisoners then. Especially some that will probably want a chance to escape this hell hole of an island…”

The Shackles Pirates’ camp was abuzz with activity. The events of yesterday had thinned the numbers of the camp, luckily not many of them were worth their salt for a good crew. The suli worked his way through the crowd, until he had found his way to the party that he joined a few months before. The dwarf cavalier named Bosephera was atop her large cat mount and was flanked by her small harem of male (and some female) pirates. Oliver (or Ollie as he preferred), a human ranger, was leaning against a large tree gritting his teeth at the sight of all the captives. He knew what was going to happen next, he just didn’t like what it was; however he was still going to respect the wishes of the head captain. Rovanaugh, who was a half-elf druid, sat on the shoulders of his animal companion Darwin, a large ape that he had grown up with since they were natives to the area, and watched with a large excited grin on his face. Darwin was stoic, as he usually was, but then he was a large ape so really it didn’t matter too much what was going through his mind. Rovanaugh had said he wanted to make Darwin “awakened”; a term used by druids who wish to make their companions as intelligent as actual humanoids, but was unsure if Darwin would willingly be his animal companion at that point. Darwin could communicate by doing sign language, but unfortunately outside of Rovanaugh, no one else understood it; much to the chagrin of Darwin, who wanted to carry on an intelligent conversation with someone else for once.  Then there was the Sorceress Airiana; she was also an elf whose bloodline mixed with that of air elementals. She was more interested in collecting some of the monsters that the group has ran into during their adventures, like the Manticore from two months ago, and less on the group of prisoners.  Still she wanted to be there, possibly to get some helpers with her pets or even food. Finally there was the Crush, the Orc Barbarian. Crush wasn’t smart; in fact he was even dumber than the normal archetype of barbarians. An example would be from two weeks ago, when they were trapped in the Harrow Plane, Crush willingly made a deal with a Succubus despite what his companions advised to the contrary. At the moment that Succubus is being restrained inside his tent by a series of magic circles and Crush decided to go visit his “friend” in the tent since he himself wasn’t officially part of the Shackles Pirates. Finally there was the suli himself, Kafir Saladin. Kafir was an Arcane Trickster, and he believed he was a damn good one at that.  Right now he was interested in the groups of captured prisoners that were gathered in front of the remainder of the camp. The head captain came forward and climbed onto a high enough point so that she could be seen and heard. A large series of cheers were raised and then silenced as she raised her hand. Straightening herself out and giving a wide smile she addressed the crowd of pirates and prisoners alike.

“Alright you scum, yesterday was quite impressive and while we didn’t come out unscathed at least we have more of this island under our control. More or less at least since we still have to share with those Pathfinder bastards and our ‘friends’ the Red Mantis Assassins; now some of you are probably wondering about the locals, but really if you haven’t tried making friends with them or left them alone then we’ll deal with them in time too. However, what we are here about is not of course those future problems, no we are here to discuss our latest haul: the prisoners.”

  More cheers aroused from the pirates, and Kafir could see Ollie’s grip tighten around his bow. He wasn’t much of a fan of humans himself, but he had grown to respect the archer and his skills enough to sympathize with how he felt. After calming the large crowd, the captain continued her speech, however she addressed the prisoners that were chained together. Kafir noticed that there were some families among them, something he himself didn’t much have when he was growing up but he wasn’t a cold hearted monster either. He knew the captain wasn’t either, and was slightly relieved to what he heard next.

“Alright then, you all are now prisoners of the Shackle Pirates and while many of you think this is terrible, understand that we have kept you in good health and you should count yourselves lucky you aren’t under the ownership of the Red Mantis. Honestly I pity those that are, the Mantis aren’t really known for mercy and keeping people alive. Also I have more good news for all of you: we don’t really deal in the slave trading business. Now that isn’t to say the whole guild doesn’t dabble in slave trading, but we on the other hand feel that keeping slaves when we need to replenish our numbers would be a waste of resources. So I have to power to authorize these terms to you: 1) those of you who are able bodied can join the Shackle Pirates as immediately as now. 2) Those of you who do not think you can pick up a weapon can offer your services in ways such as being part of our local brothel. Children are of course exempt from this, and will not be harmed. Should you neither of these options then….boys?”

             Two large men approached to the first prisoner in line, and everyone grew deathly silent to what was in their possession: a chopping block and a large executioner’s axe. The one that carried the block put a black hood over the other and the captain didn’t continue, seeing that the message was clear to all who were involved.

“Truth be told, we don’t have much supplies to go around to keep prisoners and members well satisfied. The time it would take to put you all on the ships and sail to friendly waters that’ll give us a good price would be time better spent in our excavation and exploration of the island. We also aren’t known for our spell casters, who we have precious few of and are already busy healing our wounded.  Giving you to the Mantis would be worse than what you’ve been offered, and trust me when I say the natives are not against eating you.” –Kafir cringed when he heard Rovanaugh say “I wouldn’t mind eating a few of them myself” while patting Darwin on the head. –“So your choice here is simple: choose to live or die.”

The captain motioned to her waiting subordinates who approached the first prisoner in line. The first was a man, a strong soldier actually that managed to survive the events of yesterday, and he seemed tired but defiant. However seeing that he was to be an example he weighed his options quickly and declared his allegiance to the Shackle Pirates. A quick cheer from the pirates gave the man a small amount of relief as his own manacles were being unlocked but the executioner’s axe being thrust in his hands made his look of relief change into a look of puzzlement. The captain approached him and gave him a stiff pat on the back.

“Oh right, I forgot to mention that to prove your new found loyalty and as a bit of an initiation into the guild, you all will kill the ones that choose death. Don’t worry, everyone will only have to kill one though.”

Kafir felt a cold shiver down his back. He was glad he wasn’t in that predicament but kept his eye out for anyone in particular that he wanted to make a crew out of. It wasn’t going to be easy, his plan to offer the prisoners freedom would get him in trouble with the guild, especially if he didn’t have the means to pay off the trouble that would come from it. The ones that would choose to be glorified “indentured servants” will probably be few and not able to sail a ship properly, while the ones that willingly went for membership of the guild will no doubt not trust his word of freedom. Shaking his head he noticed that Ollie had relaxed his grip a bit and that Bosephera was conversing with the captain herself over some arrangement. From what he could tell, Bosephera wanted to make an offer to the servants about joining her harem, potentially to start her own brothel for a cut of the profits. It seemed that the deal was acceptable and Kafir actually though he should go to the captain and explain his situation. However when Bosephera returned she had a look on her face that told him that the group will have a job to do. Once all the prisoners were taken care of the captain asked for order again and spoke.

“Now then, those of you that have joined our ranks; I would like to thank you for your cooperation. Hopefully you’ll grow to like the life of a pirate and if not you can die in battle or find a way off this island on your own. Those of you that didn’t choose to join our ranks but would like to work off your problem of being a prisoner, you will of course be propositioned by certain individuals. Those of you who chose to offer your bodies, the good news is that you can take as many comers as you can for the first 24 hours, no discounts will be given and you will be protected. Same goes to you gentlemen, though I doubt you’ll get as many customers. However, I would like to put a final word and order that no children be propositioned for prostitution. Any of you dumb enough to go against this order will soon find yourself being served for dinner to the natives and I will not hesitate helping the cooks themselves to prepare you disgusting asses. Families will not be separated, however if your spouse chose to sell themselves that is something you’ll have to work out among yourselves.”

To Kafir’s shame and disgust there were a few grumblings from the men. He was however glad that the children were spared of whatever the adults will put themselves through. Once things have settled and the crowds had dispersed, a few men stayed behind to help clean up the remaining dead bodies that were strewn across the jungle grass. Turning his attention to Bosephera, he noticed Rovanaugh had taken Darwin to talk with a few captives himself. Feeling a bit uneasy he put the thought of what the druid had in mind out of his head while he listened to what the dwarven cavalier had to say.

“We’ll I have got some good news and some bad news. The good news is that we found out that there is another untouched city here on the island, deeper in the jungle terrain. If we can lay claim there, we’ll be able to declare it for ourselves due to rules of the ledger. The Mantis and the Pathfinders are willing to keep that agreement since neither of them are in good enough shape to wipe out the other. The bad news is that we got word that the Gorilla King is a few weeks away, not enough time to also get a real fighting force together and we still don’t have any information on how large their force is.”

Bosephera, Kafir, and Ollie all noticed the strange creature that was observing them from above. It was a large gorilla creature with black wings circled in the air and landed on a large ruin. It was called a Derhii, they were sentient monsters that made up some of the forces for the Gorilla King. It appeared to be a scout, one of potentially several that were checking out what the situation was with the other factions. Rovanaugh returned with Darwin, he was trying to communicate with the gorilla on the ruins to no avail. The Derhii let out a large roar, signaling to its’ comrades on what he had observed and was responded to in kind. Spreading it’s large vulture like black wings, it took off and ascended.  The group instantly saw an opportunity to try and capture one of these beasts and force them to give information on it’s leader and his troops. Adriane casted the fly spell several times on Ollie and Kafir, while Bospehera’s mount and Darwin were also enchanted with the spell while their companions were atop of them. Without hesitation the group followed as Adriane took form as an air elemental and stayed close enough by.  Ollie fired a few warning shots over the Derhii’s head, the winged gorilla turned and gave a large cry of anger to the ranger; which seemed to also be a signal to the rest of it’s patrol to gather in the area. Everyone knew the fly spell only lasted for several minutes, precious minutes that would have to be spent to take down their opponents, who gathered themselves for combat. Atop the ruins of several tall buildings, the apes tried to surround the group but were clearly outnumbered: three Dehrii to the five heroes, plus the two animal companions. However these winged beasts look more than capable to take on the heroes, wielding large falchions over their heads as they worked themselves up into a frenzy. Rovanaugh once again addressed the monstrous humanoids, while Kafir cast the spell “Message” among his companions so that they all could listen to the translations that Rovanaugh would give. Ollie had chosen to take a position several feet behind him, using the higher wall as cover for himself and a way to align his shots. Sadly the cover worked both ways and he elevated himself using the fly spell that was cast on him earlier to get a clearer shot. Bosephera and her cat mount Tiberius, were a few feet in front of Kafir while Adriane had chosen her own position on another ruined rooftop not too far, facing a Derhii. Ollie messaged to the cavalier and trickster of the third that seemed to have chosen a lower altitude, while the Derhii that Rovanaugh addressed finally decided to communicated.

“Filthy foreigners…you are treading on our land, the land that rightfully belongs to the Gorilla King and our god Angazhan, who gave us this land and all of it’s inhabitants to our leader. You would be wise to leave, for if you do not we will gladly stomp you and the foolish tribes that decide to ally with you out of existence.”

The Derhii raised its voice and his comrades joined in chanting and pounding their chests. Kafir and Adriane both noticed that the Derhii was speaking in Abyssal, Kafir knew that Rovanaugh could understand it as well and the two of them quickly translated for Ollie and Bosephera. Rovanaugh responded to the threat in one of Kafir’s favorite ways:

“Darwin…Smash.”

          The large ape rushed towards the winged gorilla, delivering what would have been a large blow had the monstrous humanoid not dodged and moved to a lower rooftop that was across from where the trickster, cavalier, and druid were standing. Bosephera urged Tiberius forward, her larcene hammer at the ready to also deal a powerful hit, her mount flying through the air over the monster’s head which gave a satisfying thud against the head of the adamantine head. This staggered the Derhii but didn’t throw it off It’s game, as it retreated and narrowly avoided another attack from the hammer. Meanwhile the other two Derhii engaged: the one that had lowered itself among the ruins had maneuvered expertly to appear behind the cavalier, perfectly flanking with his fellow scout and attacked Tiberius instead of his rider. Unfortunately for the attacking gorilla, Tiberius was quick on his feet and his rider responded to the attack with her own which landed nicely.
                  The third Derhii, attacked Adriane, who met him head on in her elemental form. She attempted to try and control the violent monster mentally, but sadly it proved to be stronger willed than expected for something like that.  Ollie and Kafir were lining up their own shots on the monsters, Ollie with his bow and Kafir with his spells. Ollie, being the absolute crack shot that he was, fired a series of arrows into the head of the Derhii. While two missed, the rest hit their target and wounded the creature severely. Kafir finished the job that the arrows had done with a strong bolt of lightning, gambling that Bosphera would be able to maneuver out of the path of the bolt. One of the Derhii fell to the ground after being shocked to death in its heart, while its comrades were now between a rock and a hard place; one between Darwin and Airiana and the other between Bosephera, Kafir, and Ollie. Rovanaugh had enhanced his gorilla companion’s strength two fold, the giant ape and the air elemental formed Airiana were able to finish off the midair Derhii with minimal effort, pelting it with strong gusts of wind and beatings with the large club.
             The last Derhii, realizing it was now alone, decided that fleeing was his best option. Lowering itself, it maneuvered between the ruined buildings; while Kafir, Ollie, and Rovanaugh positioned themselves as best as they could to try cutting off the monster’s escape. Rovanaugh was flung by Darwin to a nearby rooftop, while Kafir flew behind the Derhii. Ollie maneuvered himself as he was shooting a few arrows, trying to shepherd the Derhii to his companions waiting arms. Kafir and Rovanaugh had caught off the flying ape from the front and behind, Kafir firing a series of scorching rays that wounded the beast and let it be hit by Rovanaugh’s own staff. The hit was strong enough, unfortunately, to knock the beast out of the sky unconscious and it hurtled to its death on the ground.

“Nicely done…shame we couldn’t keep him alive long enough to get information out of them.”
Rovanaugh smiled at Ollie’s comment. Kafir was less than amused and gave a heavy sigh of disappointment. Bosphera on the other hand seemed indifferent while Airiana, returned to her normal form, stamped her foot in frustration with the fact that she missed out on another chance to make a new pet to add to her menagerie. Darwin remained silent as he landed next to his “brother” Rovanaugh.

“Can’t be helped I suppose… Raising him would be a waste of resources and time if he doesn’t know anything, plus he’d only try to fight us for his freedom or even refuse to be resurrected. It’d have been nice to know how much time we have left to prepare everyone for the Gorilla King, as well as how many forces he has at his disposal”

Bosphera urged Tiberius as she spoke to start flying back to camp, the others not too far behind her. Airiana muttered how she wanted a flying ape even more now, even if it meant she had to learn a new language for it. Rovanaugh sat cross legged on Darwin’s back as his companion did all the flying for him, Ollie on the other hand checked how many arrows he had left as he flew.  Kafir crossed his arms in quiet contemplation as he flew, thinking what he’ll need to do in order to prepare his new galleon for planar traveling. As they arrived back at the camp Kafir went back to his tent to continue his first task for the group: wand making. He decided to offer his talents as a mage to craft a few wands for the group that was needed: a wand of barkskin (for the group itself), a wand of invisibility (for himself), and a wand of fireball (for Airiana).  The wands of barkskin and fireball he worked together on with Rovanaugh and Airiana, mostly because neither of them didn’t know how to make wands themselves but were able to cast stronger versions of the spells themselves. Getting the components were easy, the crafting would just take several days at the most per wand but it was worth the time and effort.
                He looked at his surroundings, while bare were still quite comfortable: a crafting area that consisted of a magic circle, transcribed with the proper ruins that would allow him to make wands and various other magical items when he had the time. A makeshift bed that he slept in when the group weren’t constantly running around and endangering themselves. Further back was a curtained area for him to get changed behind when he had guests but he rarely used it as it seemed rather pointless as he would rather be by himself most of the time. There was a small table where there was some food and wine (which was a bit hard to come by these days) prepared for him, probably by one of the fortunate slaves that were luckier than the others. The food was some of the more edible exotic fruit that they had stumbled upon, the wine looked like it was a generic brand that came from Sargova. Pouring a glass he took a whiff to judge the bouquet of the wine, then sipped for taste. It was a soft plum cordial, a hint of raspberries and blueberries mixed in as well. He liked it but wasn’t in the mood to spend the rest of the day drinking. He stretched his muscles out first before taking a seat at the magic circle to begin his projects of the day. Kafir started first with the wand of Invisibility, mostly because he wanted to get that one done the quickest, spending two and a half hours on it until messaging Airiana that he was ready to work on the wand of Fireball. When she arrived, Kafir finally noticed her now that they were alone and not constantly fighting enemies: she was quite beautiful. Of course it made sense, Airiana had the ability to talk her way out of and into any situation; her targets that she charmed were obviously more susceptible to her spells if she actually was more appealing. Her cleavage was exposed, which distracted him for a bit until she snapped him back into reality when she loudly called out his name frustrated.

“We don’t have all day, let’s get this going as soon as possible if you don’t mind.” “Sorry, I forgot I’m not supposed to stare at you. Can’t be helped when you dress the way you do and of course look the way you do.” “Flattery will get you everywhere Kafir, but now is not the time to discuss the possibilities of what I’m willing to do that might be floating around in your head; now is the time to work so that we can be on our way.”

            Kafir nodded and assumed a meditative position, holding Airiana’s hands in his as they encircled the wand and chanted: Airiana the spell while Kafir the binding aspects. Working together, they had managed to get the wand completed within two hours (they had started a few days earlier). Smiling, Kafir handed the complete wand to its new owner, who slid it into her robes. As they both stood up, Airiana began to thank Kafir to which he stopped her.

“No thanks are necessary. Just go find me Rovanaugh so we can get this other wand finished in time for our next expedition for the group.”
“Very well, but I will at least give you this.”

              She kissed his cheek and left, chuckling as Kafir stood dumbfounded at what she did. Kafir laughed a little at his own reaction, shrugged and waited patiently for the druid to arrive. It was about fifteen minutes later until the half elf druid made his appearance, Darwin being surprisingly absent. Kafir noticed that Rovanaugh was covered a bit in blood and felt disgusted at what he realized the druid was doing before he came to see him. Shaking his head he stopped the druid from making an excuse by raising his hand.

“I don’t want to hear it Rov, I just want to get this done so we can be on our way.” “Don’t worry, this is from yesterday’s kill, the two new guys are busy cleaning up Darwin at the moment.” “Whatever, let’s get this over with before Bosephera sends that cat of hers at us for taking too long.”

Repeating the process that he had done earlier with Airiana, Kafir concentrated harder due to the fact that he was trying to combine something that was less arcane and more divine into a wand. Normally a cleric or druid would be more suited to binding spells of a more divine nature to wands but Rovanaugh was not exactly the average druid. He didn’t have a strong enough grasp of what exactly his spells did, but he was powerful enough to make that fact unimportant. It took longer for them to get the wand completed, about three hours more than Kafir would have liked to have taken. Rovanaugh took the wand and started waving it around, about to cast a spell before Kafir stopped him.

“Don’t waste the charges on it yet you buffoon.  We need to make sure we conserve them until we run into trouble!”
 “Relax Kafir, I just want to test it to see if we got it to work or not.”
“Regardless, we should meet the others so that you have someone besides yourself to cast it on, had we more time I would have made a backup for Oliver to use so that you can spend more charges on yourself and Darwin, but this mission is urgent.”

                   Rovanaugh shrugged and walked out of the tent, Kafir following behind him after he stopped to take another glass of wine. He didn’t hate the druid, far from it actually, he just didn’t like Rovanaugh taking too much pleasure into devouring the flesh of other humanoids, even if he wasn’t a fan of humans himself. Still he was very good to work with and like Kafir, he got results when it mattered. Walking outside the tent, Kafir noticed that his companions had already started gathering around and discussing what exactly they wanted to do next. Ollie was the one talking at the moment.

“We need to make sure we have all the tribes willing to work with us, and unfortunately the Characar would make the bulk of the tribe’s forces if they would be willing to fight.”
“That’s the problem though isn’t it? The chief is willing, but that damn shaman of theirs refuses to disobey their faith, even if it means that they’ll all be slaughtered by their god’s ‘champion’.”
“We should probably get rid of her then Bosephera, and that’s going to be harder than you’d think. I did some research with Ollie on what that statue that they worship is: it’s an Arch Demon. A really powerful  one at that, and we know that the shaman has the ability to return it to its original form.  Turns out, our friend the Muse took her pet Basilisks and had them turn the Arch Demon into stone when he threatened to destroy her city and its inhabitants.  The shaman believes that the “calling” spell she has is something her god gave her, in actuality it’s a simple “Stone to Flesh” spell.” Airiana explained.
“That thing is going to cause more problems then, especially if we don’t do something about it. Obviously the Gorilla King will have someone that knows the same spell, so even if we took out the shaman, there is no guarantee that that thing will come alive and try to kill all of us.”
“Then…how about we get rid of both?” Rovanaugh asked.
“Is that even possible?” Bosphera interjected.

          Kafir looked towards Rovanaugh and the others followed suit. Rovanaugh gave an inquisitorial look at them until Kafir finally spoke.

“It’s very possible Bospehera; you see druid’s know the spell ‘shape stone’, it’s something they use to make it easier to pass through mountains, cities, anything that is made of stone they can use it on. It’s not dangerous unless you are made of stone…which is what our arch demon is made of right now. However the shaman would be our first problem, as without her we can easily get rid of the statue without any trouble from the chief. That however is where our best archer comes into play.”

Kafir put his hand on Oliver’s shoulder and gave a reassuring look, then continued.

“Ollie can you take a shot with a magically enhanced arrow from a safe distance that can guarantee a kill?”

           Oliver thought for a minute, doing the math in his head. When he was satisfied he nodded quietly and said he was going to need a very specific arrow. Kafir knew exactly the kind of arrow that he would need to help make: a “silenced” invisible arrow. As the plan started coming together, the group worked out the fine details until they noticed that the sun was going down. Adjourning for the day, they went to sleep in their quarters in the camp. Bosephera went to her large tent that served as her “house of harem” and Airiana went to her own tent to trance for the night. Rovanaugh and Darwin retreated to the jungle to find a tree to sleep in, while Oliver went to his own tent and was greeted by his lover Christina, a witch who helped create a specific race of fungi people that had prospered here in the islands. Kafir meanwhile returned to his own tent and flopped on his cot after he had stripped off his leather armor and clothing. The humidity was not uncomfortable for him, in fact he was used to it especially when he learned to control his elemental abilities to cool himself down. Tomorrow was going to be a long day: an assassination, an exploration of unknown ruins, and obviously a crap ton of traps and enemies for him and his group to face. He felt he’d almost miss this kind of thing, until he realized he was going to probably run through even crazier situations when he captained his own vessel and traversed the planes. He thought about how he came from band of thieves, to joining the Shackles Pirates, and is now with a group that almost felt like an actual family to him; a very weird but fun family.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Town of Unusual Middling


The Town of Unusual Middling
By
David Stout

You know in my life I’ve seen plenty of people come and go through this town. Merchants, settlers, soldiers; just about everyone has come through this town and have left something behind. That’s kind of the point to this town; it’s more or less a stopping point for most while for others it feels more like home than the very place they’ve grown up in. All kinds of people from just about every kind of place and every walk of life live here and at first you’d think we were a city but that’s not exactly how this place works. For those that have lived here the longest, they tell that the town shifts every now and then, as if to keep certain groups together, but every once in a while newer people from other points will come and visit. There are even specific buildings that are focal points, like the grocery store, the bar, and the local bookstore. I have friends like Jared the Centaur who follows a strange religion that the closest I could compare it to is a combination of Hinduism and Jewish mysticism, then there is Farlen, the wolf man who is a devote catholic, and Minerva, the actual goddess from mythology. She doesn’t believe in any higher power than herself, but that’s to be expected of an ancient being like her. Funny thing though is that none of them have a problem with the other’s faiths, mostly because they chose to live in this town. It’s more a less a safe haven for those who are open minded enough to find their way here, but that doesn’t mean that everyone gets along. Again just because the town shifts so that people can meet, that doesn’t mean this place is going to bring the most easy going people together; we’ve had our fair share of spats and they’ve all left their marks here. I’ve even been in a few of these scraps, though I’ve been lucky in making amends quickly and gaining a few friends. If you’re wondering how time works in this place well don’t worry because it seems it works normally, though people seem to be off by five minutes each time. You could imagine how annoying this is for those that already have a bad habit at being five minutes early or being five minutes late; though in truth everyone always seems to arrive on time regardless; unless you leave later than five minutes. Then you’ll be five minutes of one or the other, depending on how your feeling.

 Again some of the older members of the town had gotten together to try and make things easier for the residents by mapping the areas and how exactly they work. It’s also for any visitors that seem to come by; what is great is that everyone can read it if you speak at least one of the five most common languages: English, Klingon, Elvish, Infant, or Plant. Yes “Plant” is a language and you’d be surprised how common it is in other places. I don’t exactly speak it myself but my friend Joe the Elder Tree says it’s not hard to learn if you have a couple of centuries to spend.  He’s an expert in various languages actually, could tell you how to sit down in Gaelic, Spanish, Draconic, Quibble, and even Time Lord. He prefers English, but that’s just how it works. Don’t worry though if you can’t read it, there is always someone who can translate it for you. It’s the town’s way of being helpful and for introducing you to some of the colorful characters that live here. Ah my manners your probably wondering who I am and what the name of the town is since you’ve probably been curious of ever coming here. Well I can tell you my name, but the name of the town is something that goes unspoken of unless you plan on staying here permanently, it’s one of those “power within a name” kind of thing. For those that want to live here but aren’t here, you won’t find this town as it won’t want to be found if you know it’s name. Trust me, this is a town you’ll want to find when it wants to be found by you. Oh right I was going to tell you my name and how I got here.

My name is Joseph Sterling, and I came here a long time ago, I was actually looking for a new place to live but also wanted to travel abroad for a time. My head was full of ideas for stories but I wanted to garner some experience for myself, mostly to help influence my work and to of course be able to regale some of my travels to friends and family. I was traveling through the Midwestern states of America and was slowly making my way down south to the more desert regions to find some native artwork. I didn’t have much money left, and I was looking for a place to work for a while like a farm or a small shop, of course this was me being na├»ve due to lack of proper nourishment and having decent luck with people. Honestly had I been wiser I would have dragged one or two friends along with me just to keep the journeying from getting too out of hand, but I was a little too eager to start my trip and I had only been traveling for about half a year. I wasn’t exactly sure which state I was in, somewhere between Nevada and Arizona. I’m not great at geography in truth, so really in a sense I was meant to find this town and maybe you are too. I had both stumbled upon and literally stumbled into a diner, where I was greeted by what I thought at first was a hostess in costume. She looked like a witch, and I would find out later that she was indeed a witch. However I thought the diner was having a special theme day and it seemed like everyone was enjoying being in a costume. Then I got my first hint that all was not right when I met a centaur, someone who would become one of my first friends of the town: Jared. At first he and the others assumed I was from another part of the town and had just crossed a rift, and that I was making jokes about their appearances. Until I had caught the eye of a very open minded octopus and had caused a scene when I noticed that it wasn't a costume but actual flesh. That was my wake up call and after a quick mental break down, I had asked where exactly I was and if I was either dreaming or dead. From there you could guess how exactly I came to live here.

You are probably wondering if I miss my family, well that’s the nice thing about this place. You can still keep in contact with your home world, dimension, time, etc. and even visit whenever you want. After all, the town isn’t greedy and knows that if you like it here that you’ll be coming back in no time. Traveling to other peoples realms is a bit trickier but it’s not impossible, especially if you have someone from that place to guide you through. Some realms are more accepting of other beings, while others will see most species as a sign of invading forces, so really there is a list of what places to avoid or who to bring with you when you want to go on vacation.

Well it’s getting late and I really must be going but thank you for the time spent and for hearing me out. I hope you make your way to where I now live and hopefully we’ll see each other there soon. Have a pleasant evening.

Friday, January 25, 2013

A Bartender's Speech

A Bartender's Speech
By
David Stout

“I was once an adventurer like you, but then I learned that the world is a much crueler place to live in.”

The old bartender spoke as he worked at cleaning his bar top.  A female human mage fresh from her graduation at the local magic school and her two friends, an elven male rogue and a female half-orc barbarian, were listening intently after bragging about how they were going to start their first real adventure for the mercenary guild they joined together.

“Listen well young ones, and yes elf I know you’re still young for your race so that still applies to you, but the world you are so excited to be a part of is more dangerous than your illusions of grandeur have made you believe them to be. You’re bonds of friendship will be tested on a good day and that’s if you’ve been close to death more than twice that day. I recommend you find yourselves a good healer, or at least one of you knows the basics in first aid, but the good news is that you eventually get used to feeling sharp objects piercing your skin. Oh and that’s not including building a small immunity to fire, ice, and lightning spells, slowly building up a resistance to various toxins, and of course the sites you’ll see might even drive you mad. Death will be one of the most common things you see, to the point that you might even see the reaper itself at some moments in your travels, worse any gods you believe in will be so familiar to you in sight that you will eventually be able to correct various artist depictions when you reach some of their shrines.”
The mage looked uncomfortable, shifting in her seat a bit while her half-orc friend’s expression remained dour but interested in what the bartender had to say. The elf was nursing his ale, both interested but uncomfortable at what he was hearing so far. The bartender poured some red wine into a mug and placed it in front of the mage and nodded at her to drink.

“You’ll run into monsters that you’ve only read about, heard stories of, or even seen from a safe distance, and then there are the bandits of various races and genders who’ll be ruthless when in numbers, but cowards when their singled out.  You’ll need to rely more on your brain than just your skills with a blade or your fancy spells, tactics and team work will keep you alive longer than working and fighting alone. You may think you know that now, but you’ll lose your wits when the pressure is on and your mates are falling over due to various reasons. Never rely too much in your ability to fight, but remember that words can only go so far, and even coin will not get you everywhere you need to be. Sometimes you will run into allies that will turn out to be enemies and vice versa, so don’t always be too trusting to what you see or hear. A little digging goes a long way when you are doing research, but only make as much time for it as you can spare for it. If you feel you have no time for it then make the time as going into anything blind is guaranteed to end badly for you. Learn to go under different names and changing your appearances, as being heralded as you are can be bait for something sinister.”

The rogue motioned for more ale which the bartender obliged to grant. After he filled the mug he looked up when two more characters entered his tavern: a female half-elf bard and a male dwarven ranger, with a falcon perched on his left shoulder. The dwarf pulled up a stool next to the half-orc and was greeted by both a nod and the bartender placing one of his larger tankard filled with the strongest drink he had in the place. He then motioned towards the falcon on the dwarf’s shoulder towards a freshly caught mouse in a mouse trap for the bird to feast on. After a small exchange of glances between the bird and its owner , the falcon happily flew to its new meal with the bartender resuming to speak.

“There is so much reward though to be had though. I have many treasures of my own, enchanted blades that never need to be cleaned and still generate auras of their ancient magicks placed upon them, various bags that could hold almost an infinite amount of supplies, plenty of gold, jewels, and even special charms that will grant various boons to their holders. I have maps of the dungeons, ruins, and various palaces in this nation, charts that map out the vast number of planes that are filled with even more exotic  flora and fauna that could dwarf some of the these creatures in the world. I can tell you about the demons, dragons, ancient elementals and even dead gods I have helped put into non-existence, the various undead and abominations of the sea that could swallow a whole fleet of ships in one gulf, the machinations of evil tyrants, the hopes of noble leaders, the courage of greater heroes, and the cowardice of fools. Hear me well new comers, there is much to learn in this world and the ones beyond, but only if you survive whatever it throws at you. Remember the injuries you sustain and honor the friends that are lost, but don’t throw your lives away if it will not be meaningful in the long term. I wish you luck on your journeys but understand that even luck is something that can be controlled for both your benefit and your own downfall. The drinks are on me this time, but the next time around be ready to pay with either a good tale of what has happened to you or with the coin you have rightly earned.”

The bartender gave a hearty laugh and a few of the group joined him in their merriment as they raised their glasses in celebration. After they had finished their drinks and have left the tavern another small group of adventurers entered while discussing what they will do after they have gathered their reward for their first assignment. Some were talking about spending the gold on fancier gear, others on saving it for a place to call their own, while the bartender merely laughed at them. After they have quieted from hearing the laugh, the largest one of them, a male human paladin, walked up to the bar and asked what was so funny to the bartender? The owner smiled and motioned for the group to have a seat and began with these words:

“I was an adventurer like you once…”