“FOR LATHANDER!” An old dwarf woman roared from the back of a wagon, her voice carrying over the din of battle. She swiped her gleaming greatsword through the air, taking off the head of a Cyric fanatic climbing onto the vehicle. She whirled around and took off another head before turning to her squire and glaring at her.
“Don’t just stand there like a barrel of elf wine, Oakstone! Use yer sword, or fall on it!”
Trym’s shaky hands groped for her shortsword. The only thought running through her mind was how unprepared she was for this. Why hadn’t she paid more attention in class? Why hadn’t she spent more time on the training grounds? Why couldn’t it have been goblins? She was fresh out of the school. She wasn’t ready to destroy a human life yet. She wasn’t ready for hers to be threatened.
“Ya move like molten rock, girl… MOVE!” The old dwarf grabbed Trym by her small, Halfling shoulders, and whirled her around.
The dwarf woman froze and grunted. Trym watched in horror as her teacher’s eyes became hazy, her mouth falling open, the air driven from her body.
The dwarf grunted again as a sword tip punched through her chest.
A man dressed in black, wearing a grinning mask, stood up behind the dwarf. “That’s right, Dawnlord. Die like the dog you are.” He twisted the sword sticking through her.
Rage coursed through Trym. She stood and slashed her blade across the mask, breaking through it and cutting into the man’s flesh.
He screamed and leaned back, losing his footing and tumbling from the wagon. As a last ditch effort to maintain his balance, he grabbed Trym’s sword, but she turned it lose and let him fall to the ground where he was trampled under the hooves of a warhorse.
“Trym…” the old dwarf woman grabbed Trym’s small hand and pushed the oversized hilt of her greatsword into it, “Take Cultbane, lass… show them… the light… where it don’t shine.” She smirked, then slumped to the bottom of the wagon, eyes staring blankly at the sky.
Trym paused running her whetstone down Cultbane’s edge. She focused on the dwarfish runes engraved on its blade, a nostalgic smile turning up the corner of her lips.
Today is a good day for someone else to die. Is what they said.
Her first paladin master, Dawnlord Sorsha Flaskgranite, told her that Cultbane had been passed down a long line of dwarf warriors with “great senses of humor”. That line sadly ended when she died protecting Trym. It was something that had haunted the Halfling for a long time. No matter how much that thought haunted her, though, Trym loved Cultbane. Not only was it a piece of master craftsmanship, and an heirloom to boot, but it was her first sword given to her by her first teacher. That would always be special to her.
“A kind teacher guides you by the hand. A good teacher opens your mind. A great teacher leaves an impression on your heart forever.”
Trym’s nostalgic mood melted away, a dark cloud crossing over her face. Her eyes swiveled down to the ground beside her where another greatsword rested. It probably was not as old as Cultbane, but it was far more powerful… and intelligent.
“I don’t need daily proverbs like doses of medicine, thank you.”
Trym looked away from the sword as unwelcome memories came to her mind.
“Whew! That’s the last of them!”
A young human cleric dropped her hands to her side with a sigh, watching as a zombie fell motionless on the floor.
“Well done Mellona and Tasker. You handled that very well.” Trym nodded at the young lady, then at a young man who was also wearing the robes of a cleric.
The lad beamed at her and rolled his shoulders, “Zom-body never saw us coming!” He blew across his hands and rubbed them together.
Trym groaned and rolled her eyes.
“Curious that the Dawnlord herself wasn’t disturbed.” Mellona pointed at a decayed body lying on a table in the center of the massive tomb.
Trym looked at it, running her eyes appraisingly over the still shining plate armor and gleaming sword lying on the paladin’s chest. “Aye. Have a point there, lassie. Maybe we should do something about that…”
Three young paladin pushed zombie bodies off their swords before good naturedly punching one another in the shoulders.
“You were so scared.”
“Look who’s talking! I couldn’t hear anything over the shaking of your boots!”
Trym rolled her eyes again, lowering Cultbane to the floor, “Okay, okay. Put the good zombies back in their resting places, if you please. Then let’s be sure the Dawnlord stays dead.”
The paladin set to work, hauling bodies and bones from the floor and nestling them back into their hovels carved into the walls of the giant tomb.
The two young clerics struggled to lift one body, Mellona gagging as she grabbed the legs.
“Curse Cyric, they stink!”
Tasker grinned, “I’m not saying your perfume is too strong, miss zombie. I’m just saying the canary was alive before you walked in.”
Mellona snorted, then dropped the body, throwing her head back and laughing.
Trym grinned, but quickly wiped it off, “Okay, very funny, but wholly inappro…”
Suddenly, with a flash of steel, Tasker’s head went tumbling to the floor.
Mellona stumbled backward, batting at Tasker’s spraying blood. She looked down at his body, her face going white with shock. Her mouth fell open in a scream.
Trym lifted her sword just as the girl’s scream came to an abrupt halt. She watched as Mellona fell to her knees, hands clamped around her throat, ichor spilling between her fingers. She looked at Trym, her eyes full of fear, helplessness, and pleading.
“Yer not getting off that easy, lass!” Trym rushed toward the girl, lowering Cultbane and reaching out a hand to heal her.
Suddenly, the world turned red. Excruciating pain bit into Trym’s face. She felt her body lift into the air and tumble backwards. She fell to the dusty floor of the tomb and gasped. Instead of air, she inhaled thick, sticky blood. She gagged and coughed, gasped for another breath, but only choked on more blood. She opened her eyes and blinked as a curtain of scarlet washed over her left lid, burning it and blinding her. She spit, clearing her throat and finally taking in a breath of air.
She angled her face toward Mallona, and her heart broke into a thousand pieces when she saw the young lady lying on the floor, eyes blank, face ghostly white, amber hair drenched in blood.
A shadow fell over her and she looked up to see the sleeping Dawnlord’s blade flying through the air on its own. Runes pulsed brightly with a white light down its blade and on its pommel. It expertly attacked the three paladin, sweeping wide, making the three back up to avoid its deadly edge. It swung around and sped toward Trym, the tip aiming for her heart.
Trym cut Cultbane through the air just in the nick of time, averting the other blade. She flinched as it struck the marble wall next to her, causing sparks.
“Trym!” One of the other paladin ran up and slapped his sword against the blade, knocking it aside. The blade righted itself and parried his next blow, then cut off his arm, followed by a leg, and then his head, all before his body had hit the floor.
“No!” Trym staggered to her feet and hammered Cultbane down on the blade. The two other paladin rushed up behind it, each taking a turn hitting it.
The blade swiped in a wide circle, but the three paladin avoided it, then rained a series of blows down on it. It stabbed at one, swiped at another, but they parried it and continued to hammer their swords down on it.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, one of the young paladin slammed the blade downward where Trym batted Cultbane against it, sending it flying straight into the side of the Dawnlord’s corpse, skewering it. The runes on the blade flickered, then faded, and everything grew silent.
Trym looked back down at the greatsword beside her. It was called TillDawn. No one had told her it was sentient. She supposed no one knew. It was clear that no one had expected it to fly and kill innocent clerics either.
All Trym knew about TillDawn was that it was unpredictable. She had hoped to lock it away in the tomb and never see it again. The fates, though, had sick senses of humor.
Months later, the sword somehow ended up in a grubby merchant’s wagon who just happened to be in the same caravan as Trym. It called out to Trym, baiting her by saying it had “tasted her blood”. She didn’t realize what was calling to her, until her dwarf friend, Aldrik, helped her to locate it.
Upon finding the sword, her first reaction was to break it and throw it away. She was terrified of it, angry at it, and hated it. However, she knew she couldn’t destroy it, and she could not risk it falling into the wrong hands. So she took it.
The sword expressed a desire to see action again, stating that Trym was acceptable as its next bearer, though she “still had much to learn”.
Trym was carrying the sword and had used it once already, but she wasn’t sure she wanted to wield it. It was a dark ghost from her very recent past that she wished to forget. It was a heavy burden she did not want to bear, but felt obligated to.
“Admit it: I was right about the boy. Your boring sword couldn’t have done what I did to help him.”
Trym glared at TillDawn, then turned her back to it, resting Cultbane across her lap. “Help is a loose term. We skewered him, and now his mind is mush.”
“He doesn’t have a lich inside him anymore. That’s all I care about.”
“Of course it is. Your owner would've been proud, I'm sure.” Trym peered down at Cultbane, running her fingers over the dwarf runes. Instinctively, she reached up and touched a golden brooch pinned to her tunic. “Why is it that everything in my life is linked to a sad memory?” She whispered to herself. It hadn’t always been this way. Her life had been nigh perfect until this stupid sword carved a scar into her face.
“One is made wise, yea wiser, through the experience of dusky sorrow more than from the experience of ethereal joy.”
Trym closed her eyes. “I’m not asking for ethereal joy. Just for the ghosts to stop haunting me.”
“The ghosts of the past speak to those who listen.”
“Remember the daily dose of proverbs I talked about? You’ve overdosed me now."
I am oober frustrated with the little rural community I live in. There has been a lot of crazy stuff that has gone on this year in this little town I call "home", and it has opened my eyes to what a rotten little place this is, and what retched little people live here.
If you read my last blog post, you may have sensed my disgruntlement.
Don't get me wrong: there are a couple of people.... okay, a few people.... who are decent. They are good, hard-working, honest folk who feel just as used and frustrated as I do. Besides those few good apples, though, this community it rotten and retched to the core, filled with conceited, egocentric backstabbers. Filled with vampires.
This town needs help with so many things, but anyone who comes in and tries to help, to change things, or to better them, is burned at the stake.
The vampires here don't want anything to change. If something were to change, they might be exposed for the abusive, monstrous frauds they are, and that just won't do.
The only "change" allowed here is whatever will make the vampires look good - a new building, a new sign, new equipment, etc. - whatever stands out and draws attention away from their misdeeds is welcome. They are willing to make small, insignificant changes to keep "the peasants" quiet and content. After all, they can't have their food and footstools - aka, family, friends, neighbors, town citizens - move away from here. If people moved away, the vampires wouldn't have anyone to do all the work, to blame for their mistakes, to wipe the mud off their boots, and no one to stand on top of to look magnificent.
From a Christian perspective, this town needs exactly what it has repeatedly rejected: revival.
Though they wear the Christian symbol on their hats, shirts, jeans, belts, and shoes, the vampires spit in the eye of any true believers, because true believers make this a better place. If the believers don't get the point, then the vampires burn them at the stake.
Revival is a change they don't want. It would reveal their hidden sins to the world and force the people to "clean house". It would make things better... just not for the vampires.
The same rejection has been dished out to youth groups (christian and secular), domestic crisis centers, counselors, personal trainers, or anyone who might encourage "the peasants" to make themselves better.
Better is not okay for vampires.
Thriving here is not an option. Survival is all you are allowed.
I personally have experienced the spittle in the eye. I have done a number of things to try and improve life here, to bring hope and find some way for folk to thrive.
Therapy dog/school reading projects? - Yep. That was a nope.
Equestrian school that teaches kids good life skills and character development? - Yeah... nope.
Book club? - Forget that.
Organic green house? - "Nobody has got money for that kind of stuff."
A self-sufficient, off the grid farm? - "You're trying to ruin the economy!"
The list could go on...
All of it has been met with toothy smiles beneath masks, only to be cut down behind my back.
For a long time, I thought it was my fault. But then, I realized one day that Jesus, along with many great historical figures (Joan of Arc, Galileo, Martin Luther King Jr., etc.), were all met with vampires who tried to stop the change they brought to the world. They experienced many "failures". More often than not, things did not work out for them. And guess what? It wasn't their fault. It was the vampires who were rejecting the message they had to share that got angry and tried to destroy them.
I was reading Matthew 10 the other day and verses 14 & 23 stuck out to me:
So, when people reject the message and will not receive you, what do you do? You get the heck outta dodge and move on to the next town. Because, as Jesus pointed out in verse 15:
Seem harsh? Not any more harsh than the vampires when they step on the people surrounding them, devouring all love and kindness, leaving folk dried up like bitter corn husks in summer.
Honestly, what Jesus said was not cruel. It was just good ole self-helping common sense: wipe the dust from your feet and leave those retched people to burn in their own fire.
You are the only person with a beating heart. Everyone around you, hiding behind masks, elegant dancing, and fanged smiles, is just waiting for the chance to pounce and drink you dry. Don’t move. Don’t blink. Don’t breathe. Just return their smiles and act like nothing is wrong.
That would explain my community, the town I grew up in, and the people filling it.
The people surrounding you here are always watching, waiting for you to make a mistake. Because, let’s be honest, they aren’t human. They don’t make mistakes, like you. They aren’t a mess, like you. They don’t have imperfect families, like you.
They always go to church.
They never miss a football game.
They have a career, not a “job”.
What happens in the bar, stays in the bar… unless it’s something you did.
If they have a tattoo, theirs is better than yours, because their reasons for getting one were holier.
They support a cause more ardently than you do.
Their kids don’t make mistakes. It’s the teacher’s fault.
They don’t make mistakes. That’s your fault.
Oh yes, they look human, but God would not curse them to be such an imperfect being, like you.
Oh yes, they say they are imperfect, though it is a perfect kind of imperfection, one that you will never achieve.
You are the only human in a locality of vampires. How dare you flaw their perfect community? On the same hand, how dare you complain about being a part of their town? Even though you are a mar to their perfect society, you are clearly blessed to be a part of it. Though it agitates them you are here, they also like it. As long as you remain imperfect, unsuccessful, and unhappy, you make them look like angels. They smile at you from beneath their masks because your are their favorite stool to tear down to make themselves look mighty.
Heaven forbid the day that you do make something of yourself, imperfections and all. How dare you raise yourself from their level? How could you become impervious to their gossip and slander, and in so doing, make yourself better than them?
That is when the masks come off to reveal the true monsters beneath.
Fight hard. Run fast. Don’t let them put you back in that imperfect place they have set aside for you. That is where they will drain you dry.
This explains the community of people I am surrounded by. There are a few exceptions, but not many, and they are as hated as I am by the majority. We weren’t supposed to amount to a thing. We aren’t supposed to be happy and successful. Our very presence offends the vampires because we are mirrors that reveal them for who they are.
The vampire will read this and feel judged and spited.
The human will read this and know exactly what I’m talking about.
Wipe the dust off of your feet. Don't look back. Let them burn in their own perfect fire.
"Wait, you're a CO-AUTHOR?"
Yes. Yes I am. I know I haven't been keeping folks updated (for many reasons of my own), but it is true. I have spent the last year or so co-writing a book with a fellow author and close friend, F.P. Spirit, and now it is FINALLY PUBLISHED! And I am so excited!!
The book is titled "Princess of Lanfor" and it is available on Amazon as an ebook, and will be in paperback as well later this month!
For more information about this awesome book (and F.P. Spirit), please watch this YouTube video I put together to announce the book, explain a bit about it, and featuring me, myself, and I reading an excerpt from it!
When you are finished watching, don't forget to share it with your friends! Get the news out, because I think the world needs to see this book!
Friend: He opened the door for you! How sweet.
Me: Uh… no. It wasn’t sweet. It's what you call “being a gentleman”.
Friend: Well, I think it was sweet of him.
Me: ...there are two kinds of people in the world...
Friend: He got you flowers! AW! That’s so romantic.
Me: …Um. I suggested he get them, because I didn't have this variety yet and I'm a cheapskate...
Friend: OMG. (facepalm)
Friend: He sends you presents in the mail? AW! That is so cute!
Me: Yeah. Now I've got to find a way to get rid of all of it. I mean, a giant unicorn teddy bear? Seriously? How much do you think I can get for it?
Friend: ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
Boy to me: I’ll support you in whatever you want to do. ♥
Friend: (OMG, that was SO sweet! Why doesn't a boy ever tell me that?)
Me to boy: Aw! Thanks, dude! It honestly wouldn’t have mattered a hill of beans to me if you had or had not supported me, but the thought is really appreciated (gives him a punch in the arm)
Friend: (Facepalm. Why am I her friend again?)
Friend: You came over to watch Pride and Prejudice with me, and you spend the entire movie writing in a notebook?
Me: I'm writing P&P fanfiction.
Friend: Really? I'm... surprised. Is it about Mr. and Mrs. Darcy?
Me: No. It's about her sister, Kitty, accidentally getting stabbed repeatedly by a pair of scissors... and then turning into a vampire and getting her heart stabbed by vampire hunters.
Friend: (throws arms in the air, leaves the room)
Walking down the street with a friend and I see a man walking a puppy.
Me: OMG! A puppy! Eeee! It’s so adorable. I have to cuddle it!
After hugging the puppy and walking away…
Friend: He was hot.
Me: Who? What?
Friend: The puppy owner!
Me:… oh… yeah…
Friend: You didn’t even look at him did you? All you saw was the puppy, wasn’t it?
Me:......... I plead the fifth........
Friend: (Facepalm) I should’ve gotten his number!
Me: That’s creepy! Who goes around asking random puppy owners for their number? If you want to puppy-sit for him, hand him a card... or steal his puppy!
Friend: You’re hopeless.
Friend: So, you know that one guy? The really hot one? He said he thought you were beautiful.
Me: Well, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out. I realized I was beautiful the moment I saw myself in the mirror for the first time.
Friend: Why am I friends with you again?
Me: Because I’m beautiful.(Cheesy Smile)
Me while writing a romantic scene in my book.
Keegan looked at her, watching as she braided her long golden hair, and…. he....
He.... what does he feel? Twitterpated? Constipated? No. That's not it. He.... um...... OH FORGET IT!
Keegan felt something jump in his chest. Was that a heart? He had a heart? That was new… Wait… HE WAS HAVING A HEART ATTACK!!!
Keegan cried out and clutched at his chest, “ARHG! AAAHG! The agony!”
He fell to the ground, writhing in pain.
Erewhon ran up to him and pulled his head onto her lap, her eyes wide in terror. Tears started to stream down her face as she watched him take is last breaths.
“Don’t die. Please.” She sobbed, “You still haven’t paid for our meal!”
Random hot guy: So, what's a good lookin' girl like you doing in a place like this?
Me: Missing Dungeons & Dragons night and sorely regretting it.
Old man: Don't you have a boyfriend yet?
Old man: Your folks scarin' them boys away, eh?
Me: If you know of any tender young men who are desperate for a relationship, please send them my way. My dragons are getting hungry.
Me to a boy that I really like: So..... want to hang out sometime?
Boy that I like: Yeah! When and where?
Me: How about Saturday, at the park?
Boy: Sounds good. Cool! Can't wait!
Me: Actually, never mind. I just realized I'd rather stay at home and write books.
Boy: Oh.... Can I come over, then, and hang out?
Me: Because you would distract me from writing.
Boy: Oh. Well, that's okay. I'll just go hang out with this other girl then. No biggie! TTYL!
Me: (Why, Kat? WHY?........I hate myself...... now I can't focus on writing..... time to break out the cookies and play World of Warcraft by myself... again...)
I play a Bard in Dungeons and Dragons. She is smooth as honey and has a dozen boys on a string. I crack my friends up when I play like her because I am NOTHING like her when it comes to flirting.
Half-orc: I don't have many friends, because of my temper and bad looks. It's pretty lonely being me.
My bard: Take me out for a drink, love, and you won't be lonely any more. ♥
In Real Life:
Random dude: I don't have a lot of friends, 'cause of my temper. And I ain't that much to look at, so I don't have a girlfriend either. I'd just like to hang out with someone and not be so lonely.
Me: Well, don't look at me! I ain't a sympathy vending machine! Learn some self control, get a toupee, and put a smile on every once in a while, and you'll have a lot better luck making friends.
I cannot tell you how happy I am that the second installment of Tales of the Wovlen is FINALLY DONE and PUBLISHED! Can you believe that it's been 3 years since I published the first book??
I have been so frustrated with this book, because it took forever to get it written, edited, and formatted. And I know you've been frustrated because "What the heck is taking that author so long to get the next book done?!" and "She keeps setting a date, then pushes it back. What's up with her?"
But, the frustration is finally over. At long last, the book is published!
You can buy the paperback at CreateSpace (which gives more of the royalties back to the author).
Or you can Pre-order the Kindle ebook on Amazon.
Unfortunately, it will be a while before I can offer signed copies for sale.
If you would like to preview the story before you buy the book, that's not a problem!
You can read the prologue (chapter before the first chapter) here: Thank You For Loving Me
You can also read a snippet of chapter 9: Annaka & Arden
Please, please, PLEASE leave a review of the book on Amazon after you've finished reading it. Just a simple, honest review will be fine. Even bad reviews are helpful! Every review I get boosts my book's stats, regardless of how many stars they are.
So please, help this poor author get her belated book noticed by reviewing it on Amazon, blogging about it, making a video review, and sharing it with your friends via social media or in real life!
As a bonus, if you are a proud book worm, like to make book suggestions to others, really want to review my book specifically, and have a blog or Youtube account to share that review on, I will send you a FREE ebook of The Dragon's Due for you to review! Just send me a message on my Facebook page, and we'll iron out the details there.
You can also help out by sharing the image above! It can be pinned to Pinterest and I will be sharing it to my Twitter and Facebook pages, so please pop over to one (or all) of those and click LIKE and SHARE (or retweet... or pin it... whatever the case may be).
Thank you guys for all your help, patience, and support thus far, and please enjoy the continued adventures of Keegan and Pharrgon the dragon!
Why A Trick Dog?
What is the point of my dog becoming like Lassie?
Organize the Dogs
Now, where did that dog brush go this time!?
Why Dogs Need Manners
Does your dog bolt out the door every chance they get? Or jump on people?
3 Commands That Could Save Your Dog's Life
Stop the accident before it happens, and show what a cool team you and your dog are!
How To Help A Grieving Pet
Do pets feel loss and grief like humans do? How can you tell them it's going to be okay?
Building Your Dog's Self-Esteem
Pride, dignity, self-worth... does my dog really have that?
How Much Do You Know About Service Dogs?
Did you know that there more than just Police and Seeing Eye dogs?
This random little bit of writing I'm posting branched from a random dream I had a long time ago.
Yep. I had a dream about Ramen Noodles. And when I woke up from that dream, this runt of a story came to my mind. It's coming from the perspective of a girl who would be me, if I lived in an apartment. It was cute, so I wrote it down, then forgot about it... until I found it the other day and decided to post it on here.
So, here is your little bit of odd randomness for the day. Enjoy!
Ramen Noodles. They are the cheapest and easiest meal a person can get. You can mix them into new and exciting recipies, and you can pack a lifetime supply of them into a tin can (figuratively speaking, of course). That’s why I like them.
In the eyes of other people, though, if you buy Ramen Noodles, you are living under a bridge, wearing rags, and begging for money.
At least, I’m pretty sure that when people see when they see me buying Ramen Noodles... even though I live in a tiny town and everyone knows I don't live that way.
I suspect they all think this way, because:
a) the ladies at church are constantly ordering me to come get goods from the food bank and
b) the elderly lady who lives in the apartment under me keeps buying extra groceries and sending them up to me.
Honestly, I don’t mind people thinking I’m poor, even though I’m not. When people think you’re poor, you get to see the real person under the mask, and they treat you realistically. They hate you and leave you alone, pity you and leave you alone, ignore you and leave you alone, or they give you free stuff all the time!
Now, just to be clear, I don’t like getting free stuff. I am a minimalist. I hate having stuff. Stuff clutters up your life, makes you stress about keeping it organized, and when you die, all your relatives fight over it.
Stuff is not worth it.
Food, on the other hand, is consumable and surviving relatives don’t care who gets the food.
Which brings us back to the Ramen Noodles...
As I said, they are cheap (money saver), take up very little space (space saver), cook fast (time saver), and make a fair impression on everyone who sees me buying them. So, I have a cupboard full of them. And I eat them regularly.
I know, I know! Ramen Noodles aren’t healthy for you. Everyone in my life has told me that. But there is a lot of other food in the world that is even more unhealthy… like Twinkies...
But, to make sure I stay in shape and keep those Ramen Noodles from sending me to the cemetery to live with all the other victims of Ramen Noodle overdose (scarsm alert), I drink a bunch of purified water every day, take my vitamins every day, make my own fruit juice every day, and take my dog on long walks every day. How those things extend my lifespan, I do not know (because 100% of healthy people die, last I checked), but if it makes my mother happy to know that I am "living a healthy lifestyle", then that cures half my problems right there. Because, as everyone knows: if momma ain't happy, then ain't NOBODY happy.
Another snip from book #2 of the Tales of the Wovlen.
For those of you who are familiar with my book, this lends you a little backstory for a couple of the characters.
For those of you who aren't familiar with my book, I hope you find it interesting and enjoy the ride (but, if I were you, I wouldn't get too attached to the characters... Just sayin').
A dense fog lay strewn throughout a thick, black forest, blanketing the trees with its moonlit skirts. Two moons looked down, faces full and bright in the sky above. One shone in the East, the other in the West, giving the nighttime world ample light to see by. A tense silence hung in the air over the forest, giving the otherwise peaceful surroundings an eerie feeling. The fog stirred around trees before an unearthly shriek broke the silence and echoed around the forest. Two shadowy forms, clutching each other’s hand, darted around the tree trunks, labored breathing and fear lacing their movements. Both had drawn swords, and one of them, a woman, glowed as they ran in and out of the shadows of the forest. They paused, ducking behind a large tree for cover.
“They’re gaining on us,” a man said in-between gasps to the woman.
“They are shadows themselves. They are much faster in the nighttime,” the woman said. “We will be forced to fight them before the dawn.” A hint of sadness strained her voice.
“No.” The man rested his hand on her cheek and looked her in the eyes. “They’ll be forced to fight us.” He smiled and twisted his sword eagerly in his hand, though his eyes betrayed great fear.
Another shriek pierced the air. The man seized the woman’s hand with renewed determination and began to run again.
In pursuit were three darker shadows. They zipped across the ground, as ghostly hounds on the heels of prey. Only the sound of their smoky garb whipping through the air could be heard. The mist, excited by their presence, grew in size as they passed by, becoming more dense and climbing higher up the trees.
The light from the woman pushed the fog back and illuminated the path as they fled, keeping them from colliding with trees or tripping over logs.
The three black shadows spread out, and two of them surged forward. They dragged the denser fog with them until, in a matter of moments, it had surrounded the fleeing couple.
The man and woman slowed as they climbed up a hill and struggled to see. Even the woman’s glow was weakened by the growing fog now. Once on the hill’s summit, they stopped and stood back to back, each readying their sword. Everything became dreadfully silent again as the fog continued to grow thicker and deeper around them.
“Elarn.” The woman’s free hand found his and gripped it. “I love you.”
Elarn gripped her hand back.
“And I you, Venain,” he said, his voice tight, strained.
They released each other’s hands. Elarn gripped his sword securely, and Venain drew a second blade.
One shadowy figure appeared through the fog, gliding toward them. He was tall, his stride long and strong. He held a claymore sword of ancient make, and a large war crown adorned his head, resting over the top of a smokey blue hood that concealed his face. He raised the claymore higher and looked directly at the woman.
“Paladain…princess…” he hissed.
With an ear-piercing shriek, the other two shadows, shorter than the first, burst from the fog with raised swords and charged the couple.
Elarn raised his sword and turned, parrying the first blow before twisting out of the way as the shadow made a swift swing for his neck. Venain skillfully and lithely executed a series of parries and blows with the other shadow, quickly overwhelming it. She kicked it in the chest, knocking it to the ground. Jumping over the top of the shadow, she parried its futile attempt to nick her with its blade and stabbed her sword into its chest. With a scream, the creature exploded into a puff of black dust. With that, Venain turned to aid Elarn, who was struggling to defend himself. Blood flowed from several wounds on his cheek, arms, and side, gleaming in her fading light. He was beginning to stumble.
“Hey!” Venain shouted as she ran toward Elarn’s opponent.
The shadow turned, ignoring the man, and blocked her blows until Elarn stabbed it from behind. It unleashed a pain-filled shriek as black mist swirled from its wound. It swung its sword backward, nicking Elarn on the side of his neck. The dark creature twisted and leaned toward him, slamming the cross-guard of its sword into his mouth, knocking him to the ground. With incredible speed it turned and swiped away Venain’s attempt to stab her blade into its chest. It parried a couple more of her blows before backhanding her across the face with such force it sent her spinning.
"Venain!” Elarn attacked with renewed energy, swinging his blade for the shadow’s neck. The shadow parried his blow and made a counter attack, forcing Elarn away from Venain.
Venain righted herself, blinking the world back into focus just as the tall shadow with the war crown stepped into her vision.
“Princess…” it hissed.
She stared with wide eyes at the tall, king shadow and raised her swords in defense.
The king shadow arched his claymore around his head and beat against her smaller weapons, forcing her to bend under his powerful blows. He finally swiped away one of her blades. Before she had time to compensate, the shadow reached out with a giant gloved hand and wrapped his fingers around her throat. He squeezed and lifted her effortlessly into the air, letting her feet dangle..
Venain gasped and struck at him with her remaining sword, but he swiped it away and continued to hold her high.
The shadow stared at her, faint red lights flickering in the empty eyes of a metallic mask covering his face, deep inside his hood. He held her up in a conflicted fashion, seeming to sway and struggle with himself, compelled to do one thing, but wishing to do another.
“Venain!” Elarn screamed from across the clearing where he continued to struggle with the shadow from before. Making a desperate move, he sliced off his opponent’s hand, then jammed his sword up to the hilt into the shadow’s chest. He jerked his sword free and bolted toward Venain and the king shadow, leaving the other to scream and disappear in a cloud of dust.
Venain wrapped her small hands around the big gloved hand holding her. She looked past the shadow to see Elarn running towards them. The tall shadow pulled her closer to his face and spoke in a strangely remorseful voice. “Please, Princess. Forgive me.”
With those words, cold pain ripped into Venain’s gut. She glanced down as her body went numb. Crimson fluid flowed down the front of her dress, streaming from around the claymore blade jammed to the hilt in her abdomen. A cry rippled from her clamped throat as the shadow jammed his sword into a tree behind her, tacking her there like a rag.
Elarn screamed in rage as he came behind the creature. He swiped his sword across the back of the king shadow’s legs, chopping half way through them.
The creature fell to his knees in silence, his face turning up toward the woman. His shoulders were slumped as if in sorrow. Streams of black mist swirled from his wounds and circled around him like inky snakes.
Elarn pulled his blade back and roared as he thrust it forward again, sinking it up to the hilt into the shadow’s chest, giving it a vicious twist.
The king shadow arched his back in pain without a sound. He exploded into a pile of black dust which fluttered silently to the earth.
“Venain!” Elarn cried sorrowfully as he let his sword drop to the ground. He looked helplessly at her, tears filling his eyes. He wrapped an arm around her legs and supported her, removing most of her weight from the sword tacking her to the tree. He closed his eyes and gripped the hilt, tears falling down his cheeks as he tightened his muscles. Taking a deep breath, he ripped the sword from the tree, crying out as he felt Venain's body shudder in agony. He lowered her to the ground, cold chills rushing through his body as he looked at her glassy eyes and blank stare.
The sword in her gut turned to black dust, leaving an empty space where it had been. Almost instantly, Venain gasped for air and blood flowed freely from her wound.
"Oh, Venain!" Elarn mournfully scooped her broken body up onto his lap and pulled her close, clutching her in his arms. Tears streamed down his face as he put a hand over her wound, trying to staunch the bleeding. Her glowing, silvery-red blood squeezed through his fingers with ease.
He did his best to restrain a sob.
“You’re losing too much blood. I’ve–I’ve got to stop it. I can’t… I’ve got to,” he stammered.
"Elarn." Venain's voice started to fade. Using all her strength, she moved her hand to her chest and grabbed a black cord from around her neck, pulling a strange golden key from under her shirt.
"The key...it must go...”
“Don’t talk! Save your strength. You have to save your strength until I can stop the bleeding and find help.”
A tear slipped from Venain’s eye. “Elarn. My body…is dying. It cannot be saved.” She pulled the cord free of her neck and pressed it into his bloody hand “The key must…must go to Walneff…until Erewhon…is old enough.”
Elarn took the key and Venain’s hand, holding them both.
“Venain, you can’t die. Erewhon and Annaka, they are so young. I can’t raise them on my own—” His voice broke and he sobbed. “I can’t go on without you, my love!”
Venain, her eyes following her own movement, slowly raised her hand up to Elarn’s face, resting her cold fingers against his cut cheek.
“My loving Elarn. You must go on. Protect the girls. You must,” she whispered.
Elarn placed his hand with the key over hers, holding her hand on his cheek. “I will. I promise.”
A soft smile came to Venain’s lips. “Of all the long years I have lived, these few with you have been my happiest.” Her eyes flickered, but her gaze stayed on her husband. “Thank you for loving me.”
Elarn clutched her hopelessly, watching his beloved fade away. “Please, Venain, stay with me. Don’t go.”
Venain’s eyes closed, and her breathing slowed until Elarn felt the life leave her. He froze and stared at her peaceful face, searching for any sign or glimmer of hope.
“Venain? Venain?” He trembled as all his faith melted away. Horrible sobs ripped at his chest as he realized she was gone. He lowered her hand from his cheek and placed it over her chest. He stroked her cold face and brushed his fingertips over her soft hair. Finally, he pulled her in close, burying his face in her neck. He rocked her, clinging as he bitterly cried.
The key she had given him dangled from his hand, reflecting the highest moon in a single teardrop that slowly ran down the golden shaft.
After several minutes, a large, winged shadow passed in front of the light of one of the two moons and cast darkness over the mourning man.
You probably celebrate Christmas. I celebrate Hannukkah. Pilot celebrates a day when he gets to clean up gobs of delicious food from under the table.
Whatever day you celebrate, and whatever holiday comes your way, here is us wishing you a wonderful season and the best for the year to come:
Author of the fantasy series, Tales of the Wovlen, Kathryn spends a great deal of time in the world of her imagination, having tea with fire breathing dragons, writing books on flying space ships, and practicing her mad scientist laugh with gusto. However, on occasion,she returns to this world just to play with her dog and blog about her fun.
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