Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Kennari and Aemilia - short story

Short Story – Kennari and Aemilia

The cold foam of the waves wash up against my feet on the sand of the harbour as once again I picked up a piece of drift wood and threw it out to sea as my family’s dog bounded after it splashing with its legs, laughter in its eyes and a lolling tongue and wagging tail. I often wonder if that is why my father got a dog, to prevent bad daughters escaping away with unsuitable young men.
But regardless of that I still managed to meet such a man and spend short nights with him amongst the horses, insects and hay. We would lie there, wrapped in each others arms, murmuring sweet nothings into the night. If I was lucky sometimes I would borrow a flagon of mead and some bread or cheese from the kitchen so he could eat as more often than not he hadn’t touched food or human contact in days. He had no home of his own, no one to look after him. But that’s what’s to be expected when you are outlawed from society.
I still remember the day of the Althing when it was commanded upon him. I remember seeing him stand tall and silent. No glimpse of emotion upon his face. No sign of fear. No sign of worry. It was almost as if he welcomed it. Some say he did and I agree to an extent it was a deserved punishment, for rustling sheep from someone else’s land into your own is a dire crime. So it is fitting that the culprit returns the sheep, pays a fine and then is deprived of money, food and clothing also so they realise their ways.
He was only outlawed for a year as he only managed to steal three sheep and two lambs which was part of a much larger flock. Yet during that time he was forfeit all human contact around Iceland. No man should acknowledge him, talk to him or support him in anyway. If an outlaw was found on an individuals land it was that individuals right to chase him away by any means necessary usually meaning a sword in the stomach or an arrow in the back. That is the way outlaws should be punished. Yet the law states nothing of how a woman should handle such a visitor especially in my situation.
On the nights I found myself in the scoundrels arms I would wish time would stand still so the night would last forever. His voice would wash over me like the sea to the shore as he recounted his many adventures whilst he was away from me, how he evaded capture time and time again, how he spiked fish in rivers and brought down rabbits and birds with a mere stone and a sling. I would ask him where he went and the only answer I was given would be the words ‘far away yet nearby’. The words like the man who spoke them always appeared to be a complete mystery, a puzzle to me, one that would never be completely understood.
If anything was true about him it was that he was as good a story teller as any Skald I know. His tales were so captivating, believable or at least imaginative that even if they weren’t true I wouldn’t ask him. To know the truth would spoil the magic. When he talked it was like I was young again sitting round my grandfather’s fireside, listening to him tell me the great adventures of the Aesir-Gods in all their disguises, betrayals, thievery and blood shed. Perhaps it was that essence that captured my heart and mind, who knows, only Freya knows the true ways of love and the heartache it brings.
In return of his stories and travels I would inform him about how society carried on its daily routine. I would tell him about the markets in the harbour town of Black Sands to the south, of the many goods traded there ranging from small pieces of golden amber fit to be turned into beads down to the scraps of cotton and wool fleece available for making clothing.
The only real information I told him about that truly caught his attention was news about his family. How they fared with him no longer included in their clan. I know he missed them for when I spoke of them his rogue appearance softened to the extent of innocence and youth that made my heart weep for him all the more. To me at least, in those moments of weakness and vulnerability, he seemed to become someone else. A young man who wouldn’t have been foolish enough to steal another’s livestock to better provide for his family. A man who my father would have been happy to see me marry but unchangeable events shrugged away that dream.
It was a silent night when things truly changed for us both. Even now I can not say if it was for better or for worse. I had not seen him for a whole week and worry was already disturbing my sleep when out of the darkness came his owl call. I leaped out of my bed, grabbed my cloak off the wall and crept out of the stables after making sure the dog stayed in his bed without barking. Drawing out a candle, I kept hidden in a pocket I had sewn into my cloak; I put it to the brier torch outside the door and ventured into the stable shack. The horses blinked mindlessly at me whilst others merely swished their tails, I looked around and found the small milking stool I used for the cows, placed my candle in the small circular hole on its lid. Casting my eyes around me I noticed a more prominent darkness against the hay pile on the floor near the back.
“Kennari?” I whispered my hand was already reaching for a pitchfork leaning against the wall nearby. A groan came out of the gloom in reply. “Kennari? Is that you?”
“Aemilia…” the voice that had enchanted me so many times sounded so unfamiliar, so unlike him almost unnatural. Fear and worry quickly clawed their way up my spine and into my heart, filling my mind with imagined possibilities of severed limbs, open wounds, tongue-less mouth and gauged out eyes. All the injuries that had been inflicted on past outlaws when caught on now forbidden lands.
I grasped the stool and carried it in a rush to the dark mass before me. Only when I set the candles light against his body did my worst fears confirm themselves. The patch of darkness was Kennari lying milk white and his blood draining in a torrent around him. The source was a clogged black rag held tight by his trembling hands on his chest just above his waist. On instinct and vain hope my hands went to the rough piece of jet carved into a hare that I wore round my neck as a follower of Freya.
“Ken what has happened to you?” I whispered, swallowing hard in an attempt to control the wave of tears that longed to pour from my eyes at such a sight.
“Got caught…didn’t I?” He muttered back, his voice so weak and hoarse.
“When? By who?” As I asked I untied my cloak from my shoulders and began tearing strips from the bottom seam without a moment’s hesitation or thought.
“Uncle…Sven… I was trying to…steal some cheese…from pantry.”
“Oh Ken! Why didn’t you come to me? Why didn’t you come here for food if you were going hungry?” The frustration and disappointment acted as a firm barrier in my throat to the sorrow I felt inside. From the wincing look in his eyes it was hard for me to decide whether he was wincing at my anger or the pain.
“I couldn’t…you said your father noticed…the bread missing…last time. Didn’t want…to get you…into trouble.” At that response I bit my bottom lip hard trying to contain the growing number of emotions that tossed and turned in a vicious current within me.
“We’ll argue about this later. First you must let me put a clean swab of cloth in that wound.” He nodded slowly, swallowing hard himself as I gently prized his chilled trembling hand away from his chest. In doing so a fresh river of blood began flowing but as soon as I had gotten most of the rags out of it I pushed in my ball of stripped cloth into it, fixing his hand back on top. I didn’t want to leave any already soiled material in there in case the wound began to fester and become infected. “I can’t believe Sven did this to you. How did he do this?”
“His dogs…he let them loose…upon me.”
“Those two big black mongrels? How did you escape?”
“Dragged myself up…a tree. Sat there…till morning…then made my way here.”
“Was the wound this bad then?”
“No, only a small…wound. Opened up…when I fell on some rocks crossing the fjord.”
“Is this why you took so long to visit? I hope Frey curses Sven’s flock with disease for this.”
“Not his fault.” That remark surprised me because I was boiling over with anger and frustration at this unfortunate situation.
“It is his fault Ken; I doubt you would set your dogs upon your own nephew like this. Families should support each other not…treat others with such dishonourable behaviour.”
“I’m an outlaw Aemilia, I have…no family.”
I groaned to myself. “Don’t you start this talk again Ken, you do have a family but due to your own foolish actions they are forbidden from supporting you when you need it most. Just thank Odin you have me at least.”
A smile appeared within his eyes even though his own mouth was chattering with the cold. Very little of clothing was left upon him now. “I do…every day.” For that moment he seemed like the cheeky rogue I knew before.
“Right, you need proper medical help for this would Ken; it needs cleaning out and patching up. I can’t provide that care here in the stables. We’re going to have to take you into the house. Away from all this…”
“NO!” his voice bellowed out in a short burst before immediately collapsing deeper into the hay with the strain causing fresh agony upon his body.
“Why in Hel not? Ken you will die if you stay here and do not get that wound treated.”
“Your family…”
“My family will just have to either help or keep out of it. I’m old enough now to make my own decision and make my own mistakes. Personally I do not view you as a mistake Ken.”
“I don’t want…you to be…punished…”
“Ken shush! One thing at a time hey? First we need to clean you up and tend to that wound. Mother should have the right herbs to do such a thing. Can you stand or walk?” I demanded more than asked whilst staring deep within his eyes pushing my feelings of worry and determination to the front in hope that he could see I’m serious about my actions with no hesitation or regret. He nodded weakly. “I’ll get a pitchfork for you to lean on whilst I lift you under your other arm.”
With great struggle I managed to haul him to his now unreliable feet, locked the pitchfork under his arm and with me at his other side, stumbled and dragged him into the house. Carefully lowering him upon a bench against the wall before raking the fires ashes up for warmth and light. He had not uttered a word or groan since the stables, the only noise that came from his pale face was his chattering teeth.
“Do not worry; once the fire is alive you will get warmer. Here rest your head on this.” I whispered softly as a mother to an injured child, wrapping my cloak into a rough pillow and placing his head upon it. “Just try and get some sleep. I’m just going into the pantry to find some of those herbs and pieces of clean cloth. I will return shortly never fear.” I gave him a delicate kiss upon his forehead as he closed his eyes the weariness and pain of his travels sweep sleep across his mind.
Walking away from him gave chance to the rush of tears I had controlled before but I only wept once I was in the pantry and alone. I had brought the family dog with me for fear of it becoming curious and licking Kennari’s wounds which would not do him any good. When inside the small back chamber of the house I felt my spirit crumble and allowed myself to slide down to the floor. I do not know how long I knelt there crying. During those moments of despair I felt lost to all time and place, an oblivion of darkness and emotion. I only woke from the nightmare to the warm touch of my dogs tongue licking my face of tears.
Looking into the dogs shimmering eyes ignited a feeling of resolve and vigorous determination inside me with which I quickly searched and found the herbs and cloth I needed before striding smooth and quietly away from the pantry. When I stepped into the living area once more I stopped still as if I’d been hit on the head from a blow of Thor’s great hammer Mj√∂llnir. A figure was kneeling beside Kennari and ever so silently covering his body in wool blankets. Only when they turned did I realise it was my mother in her nightdress but I still did not move for I was unsure of her reaction to his presence.
“Did you bring some of the dried dock leaves?” She asked, holding out her hand as uncontrollably I walked towards her and placed the small pot jar into her hands.
“You’re not angry at me?” I asked my voice seemed distant with shock and a strange mix of surprise.
She raised her free hand and cupped my chin in it lightly, my eyes were transfixed in her own that shone ocean blue in the fire, that I had not noticed until then, which was quickly devouring kindling wood that wasn’t there before. “Dear child of mine, I would not be a good mother if I were not to know where you crept off too each night would I?”
“You knew?”
“Yes, I knew.” She turned about to face Kennari once more, pulled out the wooden stop in the top of the jar and gently pulled back the blankets to reveal his bloody chest, the cloth strips I had inserted into his body earlier already a dark red. “We can discuss this another time for now I will need your help to stop the bleeding. He has lost too much already.”
“What do you need me to do?”
“Get a bowl from the kitchen and place it on the floor here, that way any blood that comes out will be caught in the bowl and not stain the floor. Otherwise I don’t know how we will explain it to your father in the morning.”
I did so without question and continued to serve as my kind mother bid as we unplugged my ball of rags from the wound, dabbed it with clean cloth and hot water, causing Kennari to groan several times but I held and stroked his hand trying to soothe him, to convince him that things will be better soon. Once the wound was clean I held thick piece of leather to it whilst mother formed a paste out of herbs and fat which she then spread with her finger tips around the edge of the wound. Next came the difficult part. We had to lift Kennari up into a sitting position so whilst I held a mix of leather and cloth over the wound mother could wrap over it around his body long strips of wool and cloth before fastening it tight with an apron broach. Doing so was tough work for Kennari who struggled hard to not groan out loud in pain and somehow managed to contain it behind clenched teeth.
Once that was done we laid him to rest upon the bench once more, covering him in a thick layer of woven wool blankets and stoked up the fire some more. Mother and I cleaned up any mess as silently as possible, my father was only at the other end of the longhouse sleep, as of yet unaware of mother’s presence being absent beside him.
“He is a brave young man. He dealt with his pain nobly.” She commented to me as we both knelt by the fire watching Kennari breathing in his sleep, a lot more relaxed than before.
“He wouldn’t be in this pain if he hadn’t tried to steal some cheese from his uncle Sven. It was Sven who set his dogs on him and then he had to fall on some rocks when crossing the fjord making the injury worse. His blood’s all over the hay stack in the stable. Don’t know how we’re going to explain that to father.”
“Don’t you worry about that Aemilia I will tell you father I was just doing a midnight offering to Freya, he has no reason not to believe me.”
“It will have to be a big offering to leave such a lot of blood behind.”
“I’ll say I killed several of the chickens.”
“How will you make our chickens disappear then?”
“Kill them and give them to him. That way at least he need not risk his life again for food.”
“Why are you helping us? You know he’s an outlaw.”
“Yes I also know love when I see it.” I looked down into the fire overcome with a gush of embarrassment and guilt.
“Then you must now why I could not tell you about him.” I replied, looking at her once more sitting opposite me, her eyes sparkling in the light and her black hair glistening like jet brought up fresh from the sea.
“I know. But do not always presume I will be in the same frame of mind and thought as your father would be in this situation.”
“Then there is no chance Father will accept our love?”
“I’m sorry Aemilia but no. Your father does not dislike or hate Kennari but to have your eldest daughter announce her love for an outlaw and reveal she has been seeing him secretly would bring great shame and dishonor upon him. He would never want you to be unhappy my child but your father is a well respected farmer and friend to many within community. If your relationship with Kennari were to be made public your father would not only suffer great humiliation but you also would be punished equal to Kennari’s sentence. You must understand it is not the humiliation and shame your father fears the most but loosing you.”
“Then what are we to do but meet in secret mother? How else are we to be together?”
Mother was about to reply but she paused then stood up and went and collected something from a shelf nearby on the opposite wall. “Do you remember my brother Ragnar?”
“Yes but…”
“I received this letter from him a few days ago. He is traveling here, meant to arrive in Black Sands tomorrow I think, in order to deliver some cargo and trade. He has set up a large farming estate in northern Norway and is quite successful. He mentions in this letter how he is always short of workers as many businesses there like here are family run. If I write a letter to Ragnar explaining your situation I am sure he would have no difficulty accepting Kennari aboard his ship on the condition that Kennari works for him.”
“He would be so far away though. Father would never let me travel to Norway on my own. If he went to Uncle Ragnar it would be impossible for me to see him again.”
“Yes child but if Kennari were to work with Ragnar he would earn a good reputation and maybe enough money worthy of your bride price so when his sentence is over he can travel back here and propose to your properly without the stigma of his crime and having worked close to the family your Father would welcome him most easily.”
“But Mother…”
“I know it means spending many months apart dearest but wouldn’t it be worth the chance to spend the rest of your lives together at the end of this year? You know as well as I that if he stays in Iceland it will only be a matter of time before he is caught and suffers injuries far worse than this.”
Considering mothers proposal I glanced over at Kennari who lay so still and peaceful, his chest raising in jagged breathes as each stretch of his muscles still caused him pain. Memories of the past nights we met fluttered past my eyes, of all the chances we were nearly caught in the stables or myself stealing food from the pantry. Deep down inside I knew that our love wouldn’t last long in such trapped conditions.
So it was decided that me and Kennari should be separated in the hope of being reunited again on much more agreeable terms which conform to societies rules. The following morning at dawn mother and I helped lift Kennari who seemed to have much more colour in his skin into our cart, hitch a horse to it and set off at a brisk trot to Black Sands. Along the way I explained the plan to Kennari who agreed to follow it through but with as much reluctance as I. He told me how he feared that whilst he was away father might push me to marry other suitors that are bound to come along and he wouldn’t be around to stop them. I expressed the same concerning him in Norway. In truth we both swore to remain loyal to each other despite the distance.
I surprised myself for no tears came forth when we said our farewells. A gentle, tender kiss, a warm, comforting hug and then he was gone being led away aboard my Uncle’s ship who had proved as understanding as my mother was about the situation and promised to take good care of him until he was fit enough to work.
So it is that I find myself, nearly six months on from that silent night, walking alone along the harbor’s sands, throwing sticks for my dog to catch; whilst my eyes look to the distant horizon across the flowing and ebbing waters, waiting for my love to return home. My mothers words echoing in my mind as those memories fade to my hearts depths once more, “true love comes to those who wait.”

Monday, 7 April 2008

Exams on the mind: Student Newspaper Short Story

A hundred or so students sat each to a desk in the sports hall. Each head was down staring at the question paper, their left or right hand scribbling frantically across the page; almost as if the hand itself was in dire need to escape the exam, let alone the mind.

I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I can’t do this.

Yes you can, just remember, think, hard, harder!

I’m trying. I didn’t revise this bit.

Why not? What were you thinking?

I was having a final drink with mates. Thought I could skim over this the next morning.

But you didn’t, did you.

Of course not, thought that was enough on Lear and moved onto the next play. I was getting bored.

Well you’re lucky there isn’t a question on Volpone.

I know just one on the subject I didn’t do thoroughly. I’m such an idiot.

You’re right there. Shame this isn’t an exam for stupidity.

Shut it, you’re not helping.

Why? I’m right though. Besides Consciouses aren’t meant to make you feel better.

Go away!

Can’t I’m in you, part of you whether you like it or not mate. Can’t believe you got me this dirty. I’m so unclear. All those small hours revising and all those late nights drinking just don’t mix well.

Shut up!

I wonder what your parents will think when they learn you failed this entire module just because you decided the Fool wasn’t worth looking into.

They’ll understand. They’ll see it’s the pressure that got to me.

Yeah, the pressure. The pressure that was so strong that instead of forcing you to stay away from all distractions, such as drinking yourself to sleep each night, and study, it drove to you fail it? Yeah, they MIGHT believe that.

It’s only my first year. First year exams don’t really count.

Don’t count! Passing these is what gets you through to the second year. Or do you want to resit the first year all over again? Besides even if you somehow pass this exam and get through to the second year, if you think this is hard? Ha wait till you meet those exams. Call this the practise round at stage one.

You really are not helping.

I know I’m not but then again you weren’t exactly helping yourself were you? Oh you might want to mention there about the link with deceit and so on. And don’t thank me, thank the small piece of your mind which you did manage to revise with. Ah well you live and learn. Better luck maybe in the next exam which I’m sure you will throw all you got at, right?

Yes, definitely. I promise. Honest.

An hour and a half later the Examiners announced an end to the exam. All there sighed with relief. Yet all knew they had at least one more exam to face regardless of subject. One more exam to pass or fail. All knew that revision was the key to the door at the end of this tunnel.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

H.U.G.S - Corum - game adventure write up: Madness upon the island of Melhua:

A Mad World:

I can really only use one word to describe the vast experiences of my companions and I. Madness.
I do not know when it first set in or if indeed we are all turning mad. Perhaps it was when we crash landed in the forests of Lhaa and ended up being taken in by what can only be described as a superior race of Mabden which Ardan took great delight in discovering. Indeed if it wasn't for his presence we may not have survived this encounter, he became our communicator with this new race. Although I personally can not say if it was for better or worse as he ended up agreeing us all into performing some kind of rights of passage for the Na-og as they called themselves.
So it was that we were lead into the unknown, were harassed by large flesh eating creatures within a river and discovered the presence of three female Vadhagh yet they seemed unnatural compared to my own fair figure. Sadly Owain, who was the first to cross, had killed two of the females by the time the rest of us reached the small island which was our destination. He claims they were 'charming' him; well it is unlikely that his definition of 'charming' matches with my well scribed chronicles on the origin of meanings. He was very reluctant to express details otherwise. There was one survivor but just as I was to discuss with her about her apparent unusual situation Marrigan swiftly took her head off much to everyone’s displeasure.
It was then that our strange friend reappeared, Krem Skathar. He claims we have aided him yet again and so granted us all his favor if we should ever need it further convincing me of his unusual and mysterious ways. It is hard to truly apply the word friend to him. He gave us three tasks to do and said we need not look for them for we shall come across them without doubt. This statement puzzled me for surely he could not be suggesting that such a thing known as ‘fate’ exists?
So once our rather simple task was complete we made our way back towards the Na-og village, through a rather depressing landscape of horse bones. Even now I can not imagine a creature of any kind realistically able to devour so many beautiful and innocent creatures. Maybe that was indeed a symptom of madness, yes, for the events that soon followed clearly must have been chaos of the mind as our young guide was being some how mentally dominated by an elder Na-og who carried a staff and chanted enraged curses towards us. Then something unexplainable happened. My companions and I were separated by some fog like force that somehow repelled us all into different planes. It was truly confusing for I am sure none of us could come to any logical understanding of how the situation occurred.
Thankfully that nightmare was soon over and we were reunited with each other to find Bellar with his spear stuck in the old man’s throat. It is hard to clarify whether the old mans death ended the swarming fog or not for truly a merely intelligent Mabden could not conjure up such potent illusions? For surely that was all there was to it, an illusion, a trick of the eye upon the mind. Our guide thankfully seemed to gain control of his sense again and led us speedily back to his village where upon we were attacked yet again by the Denledhyssi – through later research with the Na-og I learnt that word meant ‘murderers’. It was a vicious battle with them as they had gained control of a stolen Vadhagh chariot which they used with some skill. Although the impression was lost upon me as I waged combat with one who had a most unusual weapon I had not come across before in training. It appeared to be a large ball adorned with spikes and fastened to a heavy chain which was tied around the man’s hand as he swung it challengingly towards me.
Eventually we won the battle as we should do being one of the Elder races and not the demons that the Mabden believe we are. So we were welcomed back into the Na-og society, however I suffered a very damaging injury to my back which needed proper Vadhagh medical attention and so my tall spear became more like a walking staff. Ardan received a great sword in our honour as we completed the given task without fail and had done a benefit to Na-og society by providing enough evidence against the Denledhyssi who were led by a foul big man who had enslaved nine poor chaotic souls to a chain around his neck. Unfortunately he made no visible or obvious threat against me directly so I could not have the pleasure of his head upon my spear.
Once we were all as recovered as could be we decided to carry upon our given quest to relocate other fellow Vadhagh and to visit Melhua. Thankfully Ardan’s sword proved useful in summoning great steeds which we used to find other Vadhagh settlements but these had been long empty of occupants – it seemed they had all faded away from at least 3000 years ago judging from the library records I discovered. I could not help but shed a tear for all the books that had crumbled to dust without much needed care and attention. Reminding me yet again of our noble library back home at Castle Karendeniz.
So having seen such a sorry state our society is falling into we rode across the seas to our final destination, the island of Melhua, island of flowers. Unfortunately Belar, who is becoming the most unreliable of my companions, despite his fellow love of words and language, somehow fell off his steed and was dragged many, many miles through the sea until we reached Melhua’s shores. We managed to revive him enough so he was able to walk as we headed towards the glittering and familiar marble structures of the city known as Henlis Thom.
Oh the pleasure, the happiness and the relief! To be back amongst Vadhagh society again was truly overwhelming on my part. For I could not stand with my back in agony much longer and here on Melhua I knew it would soon be remedied.
Yet again though madness seemed to have found us once more for not only did we re-encounter fellow Vadhagh, mostly inhaling some form of relaxant that would be found in the Chamber of Vapors, but also Mabden and not the Mabden that we had encountered before but Mabden serving Vadhagh as slaves. This to me was not completely impressive as I assumed they would be leading a much better life amongst us as servants then their counterparts in the forests. Ardan on the other hand was a water spout of questions, it was like his mind and mouth had no self control. I immediately asked a doctor be summoned who announced himself as Berlewen Jhaelan Kru, who as a Vadhagh should when a lady such as me needs attention, had me lifted upon a litter and taken quickly to the healing chambers where my back was tended to personally by him as he was the resident doctor.
Answers were soon provided when we met the Krem of Melhua, Krem Mulias and his daughter Princess Y’Chadee. Although they all too appeared to be heavily inhaling this new strange relaxant, I did find her pleasant company even though her ode on the morning lily was so unbearable and poorly scribed; luckily I was able to save her dignity by correcting the hundreds of mistakes in grammar, syntax, and poetics she had made.
Soon after I was refreshed, relaxed, free from pain and dressed in finest silks and glittering silver. My companions and I convened once more to discuss our plans for the future. In the end we agreed to try and relocate the survivors from our last adventure in the sunken city to see how they fared. The group that Armen had flown here himself seemed to be happy and content in their new home and too enjoyed the habit of Golden Lotus fumes as we learned it to be called. Owain though was the first to notice that although many of the Vadhagh had sworn Avocations they appeared to be spending more time drug induced than actually studying and doing something productive. Their library seemed to be quite out of order and ill used, pure signs of fading habits amongst them. This I feared may mirror perhaps the failings of the previous empty settlements we had visited. So in order to further understand the flaws of the Golden Lotus fumes I casually tried some and was quite stunned by the hallucinations it created before my eyes. It actually froze my mind in a vain struggle to think of words to describe the ‘free’ feeling which overwhelmed me even now it is an experience one must go through in order to understand my genuine loss of words.
It was in fact during my first drug inhalation that I had an interesting conversation with Taran, Prince of the Sea Green Robe. He revealed to me that he himself and Berlewen seek the hand of Princess Y’Chadee in marriage and he asked my opinion of Berlewen as a worthy suitor. I admitted quite openly without hesitation that if I were Princess Y’Chadee I would not consider him suitable simply because of the fact that he seems to have no focus in his academic life, he studies all sections of Avocations and not a chosen one. This is most uncoming of a Vadhagh I felt and expressed it so. Taran agreed with me also and so I agreed that I would support his suit for the Princess Y’Chadee.
However whilst I was enjoying the refined more suitable life back amongst our own civilization my fellow brethren were busy doing some investigation of their own regarding the origins and uses of the Black Lotus that was being grown in vast amounts equal to the Golden Lotus. I myself have enquired with other Vadhagh yet they remain adamant there is no such plant growing all around Henlis Thom, their great and beautiful city of marble and silver towers. This makes the presence of this dark plant all the more disturbing. Yet Ardan had a clever idea to our lack of information, he called upon one of the Mabden servants that have been following us and tending to our every whim and need ever since we have arrived here. His servant went by the name of Menda and asked him regarding the Black Lotus. At first Menda was extremely hesitant and I did what I could to ease his concerns about the truth which were already proving to be sinister to make a Mabden to hesitate when asked. Ardan promised Menda no harm will come to him if he told us what we needed to know. And eventually we learned of how the Black Lotus is harvested and taken to a tower called Roth Bogancas, it meant Fortress of Death to our surprise it was the residence of Berlewen. Menda went on to reveal that it was Berlewen who was the affective governor of the Mabden slaves and that old and sickly Mabden were taken to this tower and never were heard of or seen again.
All of us realized that something indeed was extremely wrong with the power behind Berlewen. Unfortunately much to my shock Owain got into his mind that poor shaken and terrified Menda would inform Berlewen of our enquiries even though he had sworn not to and so knocked him unconscious with his sword scabbard, tied and gagged him and then shut him in the wardrobe. After that disagreement we all discussed what our next plan of action was. We all agreed something must be done to help our fellow cousins to stop their drug habits and regain their passion for their Avocations. It was during this discussion that Ardan reminded us all of a dinner invitation from Berlewen the previous day in which Ardan had been rather bold and invited Princess Y’Chadee also to join us. It was becoming clear that my half-brother intended to claim the Princess for himself. Before we departed for the dinner Ardan made an unusual enquiry regarding the condition of my back which had healed remarkably well since our arrival within civilization. I agreed to show him under hesitation and in the privacy of a separate chamber from the others. I heard him grumble to himself when he inspected my back for I could not see and presumed he was merely noting the scars and bruise marks that I did not doubt still remained even though the muscles underneath had mended. We returned to the group where he quickly whispered something to Owain who glanced at me with a hint of surprise yet neither would inform me of what was intriguing them so.
So we attended the dinner although Owain and Ardan carried their swords upon them but merely based it upon formality as champion and Krem titles. We walked nobly into the tower where we were greeted by Berlewen and led into a vast circular chamber in which the centre stood a large statue in grotesque form with bat like wings. We enquired into its form and origins and Berlewen proudly told us it is his own design made from brass and glass; a figure of the mythical Shefanhow, to Mabden it means demon and they fear it greatly. In our previous encounters with the Na’og it is the name we were called until we had proven our worth as friends and allies.
So the meal began rather pleasantly, Ardan sat dominantly close to Princess Y’Chadee as I fear who was rather not present due to her constant inhalations of the Golden Lotus flower. Berlewen seemed slightly offended by such an act as my foolish half-brother had forgotten to officially declare himself as a suitor yet he was always a determined character. It was at that point that Berlewen summoned a Mabden who brought forth a slim box which Berlewen opened and brought out a fine, long rapier sword.
He announced its name as the ‘Red Poet’ and that didn’t take an established Philologist such as me to discern it meaning a writer of blood. During our noticeable interest and curiosity into the sword Armen enquired about how he created such a weapon as it is unlike common Vadhagh swords. Berlewen said he created it from the laws of order and the power of chaos. This immediately struck us as unusual for it as absurd as a Vadhagh declaring there is such a thing as ‘magic’ and ‘gods’. It was this comment which began a long and fierce debate regarding the subject of law and ‘chaos’. Berlewen offended us all by remaining adamant that the ‘laws of chaos were winning the eternal battle against the laws of order’ and how we should join him in ‘chaos’ for we are as refined and unique as he is compared to his family in Henlis Thom. Upon this remark Princess Y’Chadee expressed her weariness and was eagerly escorted back to her quarters by Ardan. After their departure I asked Berlewen about the population’s apparent dependence upon the Golden Lotus. He replied rather coolly that he implemented the inhalation of such a drug in order to sustain them as they were, apparently, ‘dying out’ in his words. I quickly retorted him that if he did indeed think the population was fading away then surely preventing them from becoming so drug induced is a better action to take. This he never game me a reasonable and logical answer to in reply but merely shrugged his shoulders saying he didn’t ever force them into taking the Golden Lotus and they do it of their own free will. Clearly such an answer doesn’t help his position in this argument. It appeared to me that madness had found us again in the more tangible form of a fellow Vadhagh no less. So the debate continued to become more and more agitated with our opposing view points. Owain finally called it to a head by requesting a duel between himself and Berlewen using his own sword as metaphorical representatives of law and ‘chaos’. After the two agreed the dinner finished and we all returned back to our quarters unsure about what now was going to happen.

The following day Ardan tried some experiments with the Black Lotus in order to discover its use within Berlewen’s tower. He didn’t learn much but understood enough that it was a Narcotic certainly suggesting an unnatural usage. I myself helped Owain, Tharis and Armen in the library looking for books, records, journals on the Golden Lotus as well as the Black Lotus. We find plenty on the Gold Lotus but nothing on the Black furthering our dark suspicions about its uses. Yet during the records of the inhabitants we learned that three Vadhagh were no longer counted for, we enquired with others about this but they all claimed the missing occupants were probably away deep in their avocation. This we greatly doubted and dismissed entirely.
Later that afternoon Owain called upon Berlewen for the duel to begin. I watched with some disdain as I did not agree with the idea of applying a logical debate to common violence. At the first blow Berlewen was easily defeating Owain’s defensive maneuvers with his thin rapier. Eventually after much effort he nicked Owain’s shoulder ending the match yet all was not over. Berlewen said he had a surprise for us and more evidence for his argument. Brought before us was a severely drugged Mabden strapped to a trolley. He claimed that the ‘Red Poet’ could prophesy when blood is drawn upon its blade. Apparently it was how he learned of our arrival.
Ardan became enraged! He spoke so defiantly and aggressively towards Berlewen that even I was impressed such a loud demanding voice could come from such a Vadhagh of short stature but then again our mother did always claim ‘big things come in small packages’ usually meaning that she could grow a large bouquet of flowers from tiny seeds. Ardan demanded the Mabden’s release at once and claimed that this was a clear act of torture and of holding the Mabden against his will.
What Berlewen said in reply further convinced me of his insanity. He claimed that the Mabden was willing to die under his command and would do so without hesitation because they believed him to be a god! I merely shook my head in utter despair at what I can only call blasphemy and implore him that there is no existence for a Vadhagh if we should stoop so low as to pretending to be something we firmly don’t believe in and so manipulate others by it. In the end we all firmly denied to witness such a horrific act of pretence and madness and so withdrew back to our chambers, myself privately hoping that Berlewen didn’t harm the poor creature once we had departed.

It was whilst I was enjoying a nice calming hot bath that same evening that things finally reached a climax. I heard a knock at the door and so hurriedly getting into my bathrobes greeted my visitor. To my surprise and shock I was met with the firm yet slightly anxious gaze of my fellows and Berlewen’s harrowing figure behind them with a most painfully pleasant smile. It seemed that whilst I was relaxing and pondering the events of the day my brethren failed to use the logic in their minds and decided to go gallivanting off to sneak into Berlewen’s Tower once more. Of course judging by their appearance at my door with Berlewen’s presence they had so clearly failed yet all were kindly asking, well pleading is a better word for their current situation but as we were the only sensible ones in the whole complex of Henlis Thom they appeared to be asking, me to join them for a contest Berlewen wishes to hold for our pleasure.
Of course I told them to wait whilst I assembled my things together, my dependable tall spear included for I did not fail to notice all were armed for a war rather than the secret invasion of a tower but as I said they seemed to have lost sense and logic at this point.
So it was that we were all led back into the Tower and down through narrow winding tunnels, turning in a wide spectrum of directions, in order to confuse any escape plan I believed. Yet we all noticed that there were strange, almost claw cut grooves lining these tunnels in the roof and floor. We soon learnt the reason for their existence as we passed what appeared to be a Mabden but his limbs were all twisted, converted and seemed to contain more bones under his skin than logically possible. Attached to his arms and legs were chains which were then attached to links connected to sliding pads upon the grooves on both floor and ceiling. Such a sight was not one I wish to behold again to see a creature so disfigured and enslaved was one of true desolation and made me all the more firm in my belief that no matter how long it takes or by what means Berlewen’s dark practices upon the Mabden species must be stopped and I am sure my brethren and half-brother felt the same.
We eventually came into a balcony of sorts over looking a rectangular arena. Berlewen went up to the banister and announced we were going to have another fight regarding the matters of Law and Chaos. He would pit his creature of chaos against, to my horror, Ardan who would represent Law. I could only hope that Ardan wasn’t being overly bold to show off at this point and truly realized what a great feat he was attempting to make for it was only then that I noticed his opponent on the arena floor. It was a cat like creature yet its head was that of a rook or even a raven with a jet black beak and feathers down to its neck line. Yet it too, like the Mabden previous to this room, seemed to have more joints than naturally required of such a beast. I shuddered to think what Berlewen must have been doing to create such a creature.
Ardan went to the floor below leaving us all tense upon the balcony. I noticed Owain have a quiet word with Berlewen which I am sure he was making his already apparent antagonism towards him all the more clear if any harm would come to my half-brother. Upon closer inspection Berlewen seemed more, excited is the only word suitable, regarding the contest giving me the impression he clearly presumed he was going to win. Obviously he failed to realize that even if he did defeat Ardan, harm him or indeed kill him, he would still not gain our consent to join his insane circus of experiments and sinister ways.
At first the fight was of the opponents weighing each other up on strength and weaknesses as they circled each other. It was the creature who made the first move, lunging right for Ardan with his claws outstretched and mouth open wide enough to swallow his head upon landing. Thankfully he rolled out of the way just in time but found himself backed up against the far end wall. The creature made another attempt and this time Ardan darted sideways creating a tear along the beasts front flanks. It was clear to all of us that each attack and defense was taking a lot of strength out of the fighters and soon one was going to fail. That point came soon when the beast made one great final leap, not following Ardan’s feign leap to the opposite side and collided with him and his sword against the wall. Belar, Merrigan and Armen immediately jumped down to aid my brother, Berlewen did the same but he ran to the side of his deeply injured cat. From the balcony I watched as Belar attended Ardan’s wounds, Berlewen interestingly enough doing the same to the beast, both opponents seemed to have only just survived the final collision. After seeing to Ardan, Belar walked slowly towards the creature and Berlewen, who upon noticing Belar’s tall spear stood up protectively over his beast. I heard raised voices between the group below upon which Berlewen’s seemed to echo unusually louder than the others around the arena. I heard him call names of unusual origin and meaning which was preceded by several large bangs against the shut doors upon the balcony. Tharis, always quick to respond to trouble leapt down into the arena heading towards the others. I followed suit leaving Owain who stood ready for attack by the door.
I arrived to find Belar’s spear stuck in Berlewen’s chest, a strange similarity to the fog creature’s appearance in previous weeks gone by. With Berlewen lying bleeding heavily on the floor Ardan managed to stand and deal the final death blow to the beast causing a great cry of anguish from Berlewen. I tried my best to staunch his wounds because none of us as yet wished him to die only to change, in his last breaths he whispered the words “death is only the beginning” at which he went deep into unconsciousness.
Unfortunately at the same time the doors of the balcony were thrust open, we all heard a large thud of metal and saw two more cat creatures come leaping over the balcony heading towards us. We all formed up for the attack when surprisingly enough another loud thud with the strength of thunder informed us all of the presence of another Shefanhow golem who came pounding towards Berlewen with his arms outstretched. Ardan who already had his slumped body across his shoulders tried his best not to surrender him to the golem but in the end strength won over size. With Berlewen in the contraptions arms it went crashing into one of the barred exits of the arena but instead of carrying on it went straight down with an even louder crash. But as I said, we didn’t exactly have time to run after him what with two half cat half bird things trying to claw and peck at us.
The first cat launched himself at Marrigan but it was quickly wounded by Armen and Tharis’s flying arrows into its haunches. The other one was a bit more cautious and missed my lunges several times. Quickly with a joint effort of more or less everyone else but Marrigan my foe was swiftly dealt with. I soon charged in to aid Marrigan and luckily just missed his own head as my spear point collided with his opponent who also soon perished at our hands.
Having finally time and chance to regroup we did so attending to Ardan’s wounds enough so he could work without sufficient pain. We decided to follow the trail of the Shefanhow golem in order to locate the body of Berlewen or at least to officially proclaim his death. We went towards the broken metal barrier and looked down upon what seemed to be a platform at the bottom yet could not find a button or switch in order to activate this lift. It was Marrigan who decided to go investigate the balcony for such a thing and low and behold he called back that he had found the button but it must be operated from the chair. After another discussion we decided that Marrigan should bring it just under half way up which was in safe jumping distance and close enough to the following tunnel so we would pass into it.
What we discovered in the tunnel and beyond was a sight so horrid, so uncivilized, no Vadhagh would believe one of their own would create and use such a place. The corridor as we found it was full of small chambers, small enough to only fit a mule inside let alone a Mabden as we presumed from the scattered groups of boned lying behind each locked door. Some clearly in huddled positions out of fear and isolation, others lay prostrate in a strange star like sign upon the floor and some even seemed quite formal in death lying out straight upon their rags. In some alcoves along the right hand wall were shelves containing instruments of pure wretched torture, not torture to bring about death but almost to prolong Armen reckoned when he was brave enough to inspect some closer. Tools to cause pain yet never release someone from it? At that point in time I truly wished death had claimed Berlewen for if we come across him again I will give him the same treatment I wanted to give to the so called ‘priest or advisor’ back amongst the Na’og who also displayed such cruelty, the point of my spear inside his corrupt and most foul head.
As we walked on Owain lost all track or sound of the Shefanhow golem, it had got out far out of our reach. It was as we paused to decided whether to carry on or not that we noticed that one of this inhabitants of these calls was indeed alive, if only just. We tried to get in but the door was locked but before Armen could have an attempt at unlocking it with his vast knowledge of contrivances Owain, always brutal to the point in whatever means, went and hacked the door handle away with his sword, breaking it in the process. However once we had shoved the door out of its frame and gained entry we discovered that this Mabden, although he seemed unusual to the other Mabden we had encountered for some indescribable reason, was wrapped entirely in vines with black thorns and flowering Black Lotus buds.
The person stirred beneath the horrendous vegetation murmuring the word ‘Corum’ before falling back unconscious again. It actually meant ‘champion’ or ‘champions’ but I could honestly not place such a word in that present situation. We all carefully helped cut away the vines entrapping him and gave him a rejuvenating drink to wake him up a bit.
We informed him that we meant him not harm and rescued him before asking the question of what he was doing here.
“I don’t….remember.” was his reply.
“What do you mean you don’t remember? Were you drugged before you were brought here?”
“Drugs? No, not at least this time. I have tried many drugs before but nothing like this at least not in this life time.” With that he quickly grabbed his belongings which were on a shelf behind him, adorned his long feathered hat, opened his bag and to my mutter delight but everyone’s bemusement a flying cat leapt out and onto his shoulder. “Ah Whiskers, there you are. No worse for the journey I see.”
“So how did you come to be here?” Owain asked a bit more firmly this time as all of us were completely curious and bewildered with this most unlike Mabden like character before us.
“I told you I do not remember. They just put me here. They fling me back and forth wherever the balance becomes unbalanced. Don’t tell me you guys don’t know who you are?”
“We don’t even know who you are.”
“Ah pardon me for forgetting my manners that drug is quite dominating you know. I am Jaree O’Connell, vagabond to the forces that be and Corum’s loyal companion.”
“Are you saying some great god like force put you here?”
“Yes entirely correct young sirs and madams. I am sent here in order to help you restore the balance. The things up there don’t like it when one side becomes to powerful.”
“Help us? We were the ones helping you.”
“That is often the case sadly; I haven’t been Corum for who knows how many millennia or worlds now. Sometimes I am you with a big sword and a young maiden on my arm but more often than not I am just a companion but a pivotal companion none the less for I am often the one that somehow manages to you lot smiling if not indeed laughing.”
“Other worlds? Don’t you mean planes?”
“Planes? Ah yes, they’re fragments of your world but I have been to many others.” He paused. “I’m guessing that isn’t making things any clearer for you so let me explain it simply and do try to understand that I am not in any way mad, just a bit drugged that is all. Right, Corum, champion of the forces that be, sometimes one man, sometimes a woman even,” He said so with a slight shudder as he looked at me. “Or most commonly, much to my private annoyance, a group of people who are really all the same person, the same Corum. The same champion. Corum is called upon, summoned or created when the forces of chaos, darkness, wrongness call it what you may becomes slightly more powerful than the forces of law, order, organization and general good people and things. This is what’s happening in your world. So that is why the great forces that are far bigger than the forces we will fight fling me here into this time, this moment, this place and in a most unusual situation, in order to aid Corum in his quest to restore the balance.”
“Have you by chance come across anyone known as Krem Skathar?” Owain asked interestingly for many of us were still wondering what on earth the drugs had indeed done to Jaree’s brain.
“Skathar? Can’t say I have but then again I may have done in another place, land, time or person as I said sometimes I am you but,” he sighed most mournfully. “It seems I am commonly with or at least part of you.”
“Well as much as this conversation has been the definition of the word interesting I really think we should start finding our way out of this labyrinth.” I suggested anxious to leave the smell of death, decay and pain which lingered on every surface in this corridor.
“Ah yes right you are madam, come on this way.” Jaree announced rather boldly before anyone could speak and quite nimbly for someone who was drugged for who knows how long, led us out of his cell and further down the corridor to a T junction.
I paused to only wonder whether the type of madness in this fellow with his adorable flying cat was better or worse than the type which had driven Berlewen to such a dishonorable death.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Witchrule Piece: Pirates VS Ninjas.

No, Polly doesn’t want a bloody cracker!

“Row ho! Throw your man down! A bottle of rum is a pirate’s life for me! *hiccup* what a lot of bat dung! *hiccup buuurrp*. They never tell you the truth when you take this cursed job *hiccup* you think you just have sit on the boss’s shoulder for a while squawking and being fed crackers *hiccup* they never tell you that you also act as a bloody messenger pigeon flying from ship to damned ship with commands tied to your foot. Or having no where to bloody hide when the cannons start firing, swords start slashing and your boss has to charge into the middle of the whole damned mess. *hiccup* I thank my feathers for rum, whiskey, gin and all booze in general. That’s one thing these damned idiots get right. But as their idiots they never think to offer me some so here I is in the cargo hold whilst the filthy beggars are asleep *hiccup* would you like some? No? Fair enough *hiccup gulp gulp gulp sigh*. I used to have a good life before all this rubbish. Used to be a fine bird me, had me own large cage, nice trees to perch on and no one ever said ‘Polly want a cracker?’ May the great skies curse thunder, hail and lightening upon the person who invented that damned cursed phrase. *hiccup* in all my flying days I have never met or heard of a parrot called Polly and no decent bird would give the name. My real name is Arkam but Polly or Claws or Rainbow tail! Yuk! Bloody horrible names that can force a bird to feed itself to a cat. *hiccup* maybe that’s why us parrots are always given these damned jobs, out at sea, cos Mr fur balls cant handle the water *hiccup* ah well *gulp gulp* once we harbour I’m off. I’m not having any more of this tripe. I’ll go find myself a nice place in the jungle somewhere then they will never find me. I’ll have sunny weather all year long, no more wretched sea storms that make me sick, no more left overs for breakfast. I will have lovely big melons and fruits and maybe even a female or two under my wing at night. *hiccup* oh that’s the true life for me, not this dank messy ship with men of disgusting habits. I’m not surprised you don’t see many female captains around these parts *hiccup* they would throw themselves over board at the sight of such a dung heap. Although the ones you do meet, well, their equal matches to the squalor of these men. You got Merciless Mary, Cursed Cathy and worst of all Bloodthirsty Bertha. *hiccup* all women who somehow converted to this stinking way of life, I’m sure their parents were proud of em that day. I know mine were when I first came aboard the Seadog. It was my dad who taught me how to squawk properly. We all thought I might have teamed up with a soon to be Pirate King HA! *hiccup gulp gulp* what a fool I was. It was only a matter of time before I realised that this lot were all washed out pirates, many from different crews and had been thrown out because of one horrid thing or another. The boss, well you only have to look at his name to know he won’t get very far fame wise. Gory Gary! Hahaha this guy must have been seriously messed up in the attic when he decided to be a pirate. It’s like calling a parrot Polly; you simple don’t get a pirate called Gary that will be the next Pirate King. All the other Pirate Kings had great names such as old Blackbeard and Davy Jones, now they were true pirates. My mum even claims to be a distant relative to the lucky parrot who served old Blackbeard during his day. I don’t believe her though. *gulp gulp gulp gulp sigh* ah well dawn is approaching and if I’m not back perched on the boss’s bedside then I might end up in the cooking pot. *hiccup* I bid farewell to ye young sailor and if you listened well enough you will get off and stay off this dung bucket when we hit harbour.

The Weather Man: Prologue:

Sadly this is a book I started a few years ago and I truly enjoyed writing it but then I got so carried away even I was confused by the plot I was writing and so abandoned the idea but you never know it may spark interest in me once more and so gain life again.

The Weather Man


Like every night the room he was in was of pure darkness, he sat silently before the large crystal globe before him, with every country shining brightly, as if shouting to be noticed first.
“Africa,” he muttered to the globe, the small continent glowed ever brighter yet his eyes did not see it. “I do believe it’s that time of year again for me to quench your growing thirst.” He closed his eyes firmly and began to concentrate on bringing images from Africa before his mind. He could see the Sahara Desert, its sands always shifting, he could see the many beautiful beaches along the coast, once a peaceful retreat for many but now spotted with tourists and surfers. His eyes then gazed upon the wonderful rainforests within the Congo Basin. Its ever flowering jungle, said to be one of the many places where ‘Mankind’ first originated, though what he knew was very different.
He can still remember how vast the jungles were in his younger years, nearly every continent along the equator had a jungle at least twice the size than it was today, that is, until ‘Mankind’ learnt the power of fire and used it to destroy many ancient jungles. Yes, he knew that fire did also have many advantages but he also knew that once they had control over one element they wanted power over the whole world. So they began by cutting down even more trees of the jungle in order to farm the land, but in doing so they made the soil weak and worthless. Next they began harnessing the wildlife, taking away their freedom and natural strength reducing them to slaves who didn’t get much in return. Soon they began to control the sea, constructing ample ships and learning how to steer from one island to the other. Though they really never gained control of the sea, it could still turn on them, capsizing their ships, cause tidal waves, like a dog snapping at its weak master. This was soon followed by taking control of the skies, though it was such a powerful element that it took them quite a few centuries to even get some stupid contraption a few feet off the ground, but sadly they soon expanded their flying ideas and now cover the air with the white lines of used up fuel from their huge planes and jets. He chuckled to himself at his own thoughts before quickly returning to the task in hand.
He brought the image of the Congo Basin firmly in his mind and pinned it there with all his power, he forced his being to be there, to scent the many flowers, feel the moist air against his skin underneath the canopy, to touch the bark of the trees and hear the scuttling and buzzing of the millions of insects flying around him. Yet something disturbed his meditation.
A presence? He opened his deep black eyes and glanced slowly around him; he could see nothing and hear nothing and returned his gaze back towards the globe.
Must be my paranoid old mind. He decided, delving back into his meditation. Probably a fly or something, there’s nothing there.
Once more he found himself within the Congo Basin, the sweet, moist air forming droplets in his grey silver hair. He began to chant the Rain spell slowly, hardly moving his lips while his hands performed intricate patterns above his head, leaving a strange trail of deep blue crystals which hung in the air from where his hand had moved.
There it is again! His spirit quickly returned to the dark room, all his senses were on high alert. I had definitely felt something move that time, but what could it be, no one is able to get in here? He opened his eyes and stared hard around the room, he still could see nothing but he was sure he could now here the silent panting from somewhere behind him.
“Come out! Come out from your hiding Demon!” he challenged the darkness, and waited for some sort of response. “Surely you have enough courage to face me! Or are all you Demons truly cowards at the heart!”
“I am no demon!” the voice had a certain ring of anger in its tone; he knew he had struck a nerve.
He carefully got up from his cushion seat, reached for his stick at his side, it was gone.
“So, you think by stealing a blind mans old stick you render him weak? You have not heard enough about me have you?” he answered slyly, a thin smirk forming across his aged lips. “I may be blind to you but I can see things you can only dream of! For instance …” he paused, taking a strong step forward, his hand outstretched. “I can see you!!” he swiped at the intruder but missed, he could make out the faint glow of the intruders body outlined in red, meaning this person or creature, whatever it was, didn’t have good intentions in mind.
“You got to be quicker than that old man!!” the intruder laughed, his voice now further to the left of him.
“We shall see about that soon enough!” he lunged quickly behind him, he felt contact with this persons hand but even more alarmingly he felt that this person was carrying some sort of weapon which his eyes could not pick out.
“I have more fun chasing High Flyers, even their faster than you.”
“Really, well don’t you know that it was I who won the Sky Race five centuries in a row? That’s the type of skill your dealing with so don’t be too sure of yourself just yet.” He stopped, gathering his strength once more while his senses sort out his attacker’s position.
“Then this should be an interesting fight then shouldn’t it?” the attacker quickly struck from above him, hitting him hard on the head forcing him to the ground. The shallow ring of struck metal ringing in the once silent room.
Damn! I should have thought about that position! He complained silently as his sense quickly gathered back together again from the surprise attack.
“I believe that’s one point to me.” His assailant giggled, their foot now deep into his back.
“Yes … so it seems … now how about letting me have a turn.” He cried out, the attackers heel had some sort of spike attached and it was now digging deep into his back, he could feel it beneath his skin. Attempting to swivel round underneath the foot only brought more sharp, agonising pain causing his to give in and hope for another chance to strike his attacker.
“Oh didn’t I tell you? In this match the first to strike wins.” Along came another punch, firmly at the back of his silver haired head, first he felt pain and then he felt sick.
Cheats! Bloody cheats! Were his last thoughts before both his sights blacked out, his body collapsed limp to the floor.
“I think in this case I win.” The attacker lightly stepped off the body on the floor, lifting the pale face up to check he truly was knocked out. “Right, come on out now, we better get his body out of here before the alarm is raised.”
A second being crept out of the shadows and cautiously approached his caller.
“Are you sure he’s unconscious? He could be faking it, I have heard he tricks many of his enemies.” The croaky voice wondered, still not daring to touch the body encase he was right.
“Listen, he’s as unconscious as he can possibly be! That was a Three Fingered punch I gave him and you reckon he’s not unconscious? He’s lucky to be alive! Most of the people I did this too never woke up.” Now that she had removed her mouth piece, her attack seemed even more powerful. Her voice was hard and cold, unlike most women’s who were sweet and soft. She untied her hair, letting it fall loose across her shoulders, its whiteness shone in the globes light making her face seem paler than it usually is. “You know I reckon he’s right, you Demons are cowards at heart!” she grinned, her fanged teeth glistening deadly making the creature before her wince slightly at the sight.
“We’re … we’re not cowards!” it protested hesitantly lifting the body across its small but incredibly strong shoulders. “We’re … just cautious that’s all.” It hobbled towards the arched doorway, a very thin light shining from the bottom; it was the only thing that made the room a room for without it you would feel like you are indeed stepping into a world dominated by darkness.
“Whatever you say, let’s just get away from here, that globe is staring to melt my frozen heart.” She chuckled to herself, pressing the certain symbols upon the door that will let them out of the tower and into the crisp night waiting for them outside. The most powerful being in the world, slumped silently over the shoulders of a low ranking demon. Once those two left the Elemental Tower, the forces of evil were equipped with the most lethal weapon of all and whom they could bend to their will, the Weather Man.

A short short story: Keeping With Tradition:

Keeping with tradition – 99 word count.

The Ferrari sped up the hill towards the tower. At the base of the tower Prince Charming got out.
“Are you ready babe?” he called up.
“Can you come up and choose my dress?” she replied.
“Do I have to? You know I don’t like climbing.” He moaned. “Very well, Rapunzel, Rapunzel throw down your hair!”
A long tendril came tumbling down. Prince Charming began to climb. He then became puzzled. The hair had started off golden blonde but it now changed to brown and to red.
“How do you like my new hair extensions?” a playful voice said.

Desert Cocktail: James Bond has just met his counterpart:

Desert Cocktail

The helicopter dropped me just outside the ten mile radius of the target. From the drop off point I was given a horse bought from a remote farm a few miles behind me. It was the horse that would enable me to get near my destination without being detected. Once the helicopter was far away I straddled my horse and began a quick gallop towards the rocky ridge that lined the southern horizon.
I had received the call three days ago. A member of the team had not reported back in nearly a week and I was given the task of finding out why. Once given the details of the destination and target the preparations and plans were made.
It was near midday when I reached the bottom of the northern slope and discover the hidden valley within a large cut upon the ridge that didn’t actually go all the way through but made its own mini version of itself. The horse shied nervously and refused to go further so I walked it back behind the smaller ridge slope so it was on the northern side and tied it to a small stand of trees. My destination was behind the larger ridge so I went back round and began to climb the sandy and rocky slope to my left.
The hot desert sun pierced the weak woodland canopy with its dazzling and hot beams. For a few minutes a small breeze began dancing with the scattered dead leaves before it got shot down by the sun’s rays and died to a whisper amongst the rubble. A place so barren even the wind doesn’t survive here I thought gloomily to myself.
I heard a bark below me and hid behind the nearest tree. Looking through my binoculars I noted two men with two mongrel dogs walking down the way I had come from. I smirked realising it had token a horse scared of dogs to remind me about area patrols.
Once I had reached the top of the ridge I took out the uniform I was supplied with and put it on over my thin hiking gear. From there I walked down to the bottom end of the ridge where I knew a road was located that was the only one taking traffic in and out of the smoke puffing buildings I could see three miles away in the barren desert.
Getting into the plant was comfortably easy as the man I had managed to hitch a lift with was middle aged and not that attractive and was perfectly willing to give me a lift whether he believed my story or not. Even if it was just to impress his mates back at the plant to have a beautiful woman sit in his car for the short journey.
The swipe machine and guards both accepted my entrance card without problem and so I was admitted into the main building. I smiled happily with myself as I darted into the throng of people passing the main desk from one sector of the plant to another and escaped my unwelcome admirer. I quickly found the digital roster board and began looking for my targets cover name. I never got the chance to reach the top of the position list as someone addressed me from behind.
“Excuse me Miss you are requested in the Manager’s office immediately.”
I turned to face two tall and black suited men eyeing me cautiously. I looked at each from head to toe weighing up my options.
I finally said. “Yes of course.”
So without a pause I was briskly escorted up to the top floor, getting many curious glances as I went past. We stopped before two big black metal doors.
I paused unsure of whether to knock or not until a stern voice suddenly boomed out of a speaker beside the door.
One of the men in suits pushed one door open beckoning me quickly in. I took one step in and the door shut again with a bang.
“Welcome Tara, so nice of you to come for a visit.”
I looked at the well dressed woman who sat behind a big oak desk which was half covered by a broad screen computer on which I could glimpse several images of the main building and the entry and exit gates. She got up and walked round to sit upon the front of her desk. She looked slightly different from her file photo, before me she was wearing glasses and her hair was black instead of brown.
“You know why I am here if you know who I am.” I replied simply keeping my expression plain yet serious.
“Yes I am surprised they sent you after me so quickly but as you can see I am in no distress so you may have wasted your time.”
“Why didn’t you report back to base?” I asked getting bored with her tedious and cocky nature.
She began to laugh. “It is a shame they didn’t tell you the truth but then again I am not surprised. I guess cases like mine are often hidden or kept unknown, gives them a bad name if higher powers found out.” A cruel chilling glint appeared in her snake green eyes.
That was when it all made sense. “You’ve turned. They want me to kill you not rescue you.”
She cackled loudly with a shriek of delight clapping her hands patronizingly. “Bravo! Bravo! Well at least they sent someone with brains.”
I glanced at the only window in the room which looked out over the main gates through which passed a slow stream of white barrel Lorries. I approached the window hesitantly and stared out with a look of curiosity and confusion.
“Why Rachel? At least tell me that before you get rid of me.”
“Why not Tara? Here I am my own boss, and a wealthy one at that. Six months ago I was posted here to try and work out what was happening and to stop it but I actually enjoy working here. I enjoy crunching the numbers in finances and as I became better I worked my way up the ranks and here I am. Manager of a high class chemical plant – unknown to the western world supplying the eastern terrorists with whatever chemical they desire. I am still amazed at how much they are willing to pay for even the weakest chemical cocktail.”
I glanced over at her, smirking at her golden necklace and earrings, her tailored suit and designer shoes. “You have made something of yourself haven’t you.”
“Yes Tara I have and I’m proud of it. I wouldn’t become this rich working in the team. The Lorries you noticed are on their way to Iran, all forty of them! Laden with enough chemicals to make over a hundred chemical bombs.” She paused and stared at me then. A strange expression coming over her face. “Listen Tara, I like you and I admire your strength and persistence. I always looked up to you in the team. If we can come to some kind of agreement I will let you walk away from here.”
I looked outside to think, watching the gate guard get the lorry driver to sign in the correct forms before opening the gates and allowing him out. “What kind of a deal do you have in mind?” I enquired.
“All I need is for you report back to base that I’m dead and the plant is deserted. Say my cover was blown so they took all their equipment somewhere else unknown to you. If you do that I will let you go. What do you think?”
I watched another lorry go out before I answered. “Ok you have a deal.” I held out my left hand. “Shake on it?”
Just as she was leaning in to do so I swung my right hand round and pierced her neck with the knife I had up my sleeve which was encased in a pocket that metal detectors couldn’t scan. Her arms grasped my shoulders in vain as I took a step back leaving the dagger in her neck. I watched with a smug satisfaction as she collapsed to the floor, her eyes wide and shocked.
“You really have lost your touch Rachel if you thought I didn’t come armed with something. Just proves why you never reached my standards in the team.”
She attempted to turn around and crawl back to the desk but I walked straight past her and unhooked the phone. She stopped in her struggle and glared up at me with her few remaining breathes.
“Don’t look so disappointed.” I said down to her, sitting in her big black swivel chair. “You’re getting what you wanted after all. At least now when I say you’re dead it’s the truth.”
With those final words ringing in her ears she stopped moving and her head collapsed to the floor. I retrieved my knife back, wiped it on her suit and slid it back up my arm into its pouch. Sitting back in her chair I took out my mobile, switched it to secure line and called base.
“Mission complete Commander. Request pick up.”
“Permission given Sergeant, Helicopter will pick you up at drop off point in thirty minutes.”
“One more thing Commander.”
“White lorries leaving plant contain dangerous chemicals destined for Iran. Suggest you send squad to stop and contain loads before they cross the border.”
“Threat noted and will be neutralised before the day is out. Job well done Sergeant.”
I cancelled the call. Before I left the office I pushed a chair by the window and put the body in it facing the window. I also unpinned her red hair and let it fall to cover the wound which still bled down upon her white shirt.
With clear up done as best manageable I walked out of the office receiving a curious glance from the two suited men and made my way back downstairs and towards the car park. I picked a vehicle at the back away from the gates and picked the lock open using a new digital device. Once I was in the drivers seat getting the engine started was easy and without further a do I drove happily out the gates giving the lazy guard a cheerful wave goodbye.

Whilst watching TV a few days later, as I lay in my hotel bedroom receiving a massage, I flicked onto a channel to find the news informing the world about the capture and destruction of a toxic chemical plant through a combination of American and British intelligence. I turned it off with a pleasant smile. Women really do make the world go round I thought personally picking up my cocktail off the floor and taking a well deserved drink.

A sneaky peek at my latest Book, Blood and Bone: Book One of the Bloodstone Saga:

As my book, although finished, is still in the earliest stages of editing I thought I would select a few peices out of the general plot line in their rough form (So apologies for any obvious mistakes that I didn't notice - an artist is always blind to them). Please let me know what you think for in some cases the plot and character involvement has changed but such is the method of re-writing as that is what writing is all about. Hope you enjoy.

“That would be a very wise decision indeed. Now I warn you dwarf that what I have just told you is secret information. I only told you because you are the best at your craft and I admire your work. But I advise you not to linger on the prospect of informing the Gods about this; if there is one thing Loki despises it is a traitor.” There was a touch of a growl as the Lycanthrope spoke though Finnr seemed not affected by that sign of aggression. “Apparently you dwarves are renowned for it.”
“Not all of us Lycanthrope not all of us, especially when there is a great deal of payment to be received for harbouring such a secret. Now leave before I start to like you. I hope you remember how to get out of this realm.”
“I will be fine trust me dwarf.”


Eventually they came to the edge of the wood and looked upon a small wooden longhouse; smoke was quietly drifting from the roof into the darkening sky. Something crashed inside the house. The body guards immediately drew their swords and equipped their shields. Albruna unwrapped her long staff from its blanket, the jewel on top radiating out a mix of colours. They left the horses to wait within the woodland edge as the three crept forward towards the house. It was silent now but already they could hear several voices, unusual considering they knew Conrad lived alone. They came to the front and discovered two horses, one Conrad kept but the other was obviously owned by someone else. The stranger’s horse became skittish at their presence and tugged upon its tied reigns trying to break free A horse frightened when the other one was calm told her what she had feared. Albruna stroked it once and it became calm and still. She motioned for the guards to position themselves either side of the door.
“He’s here.” She whispered her voice quieter than the softest breeze but among her kind it was plain to hear and understand. “One of you grab the mortal, the other find the Bloodstone, I will deal with the Lycanthrope. If he has indeed obtained the Bloodstone one must fight beside me, the other escort the mortal quickly to the woods and await our return. If our fate becomes ill retreat to the Ash Mound with speed and await further help. Those are your orders, fulfil them with me.” With those final words she pushed the door wide open and walked in briskly, the jewel on her staff glowing fiercely bright. “Let us hope we are not too late.”


They all sat down amongst the grass again, their thoughts deeply troubled and confused by what they had found. The only sound they could here was the rumble of fire and burning wood. The small breeze which stirred that night seemed cold against the heat of the fire.
“Why would four mortal men seek out a burning barn?” a voice spoke out loud and clear causing all four of them to jump, hands immediately grasping their weapons of sword or axe.
“Who are you?” Randi challenged standing up, his head looking quickly in a full circle around them but seeing no one.
“Who are you?”
“Is it you who showed us the way out of the woods?”
“Maybe, maybe not.”
“What kind of an answer is that?” Sven muttered, already not liking the situation.
“Is it you who set this barn on fire?”
“Yes.” Came the answer, cold and simple.

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