WARNING! Lengthy story!
This is 2766 words of rubbish that I made to express what grief feels like to my Dungeons & Dragons character, Trym... and to me as well. It's a long piece, and I just wanted to wanted to warn you of that so you are prepared to grab something to drink while you read!
Other stories to also read: Two Blades (another story about this same character!), Thank You For Loving Me, Annaka & Arden
Darkness enveloped the world like a dark blanket. Pale mists swirled from unseen places and wrapped themselves around a Halfling, whipping at her, making her blink her sharp green eyes as it tangled her long golden hair around her neck and face.
The mists whispered, their words jumbled and overlapping one another. Only a few words and names stood out to the Halfling. With each name she heard, she experienced pain, such pain that she could barely breathe or stand.
The mists hissed the name of her father, who she had lost so long ago, then the name of her first teacher, who had died only a few years ago.
Trym grabbed her head, her fingers groping at her scalp, pulling at her hair. She stumbled a few steps as her vision tilted one way, then the other, overcome by the throbbing pain.
The mists wiggled between her fingers, sinking into her ears. They whispered the name of her dearest cousin, a cleric who had suffered a fate worse than death before ultimately succumbing to death itself.
“Enough! Stop it!” Trym swiped at the mists as more pain pounded inside her skull.
The mists grew thicker around the Halfling, tugging, clawing, and biting at her before saying one final name.
Trym opened her eyes.
The mists repeated the name in a cruel, mocking tone. It was her mother’s name.
The dark world turned red in Trym’s eyes. Her hands clenched into fists. Her muscles grew taut and began to quake.
“I said…” She grit her teeth together and drew her arms in close to her chest, red light glowing in her fists, “ENOUGH!” She threw her arms open. An explosion of red light burst out from her entire body, burning the mists, making them shrivel and fall to the dark ground in liquid puddles. There, they twitched and writhed before standing up and taking on humanoid shapes.
One was a blue half-dragon. Trym barreled up to the beast and took a swing at him. Before her fists connected with him, he sneered and disappeared in a puff of smoke. She snarled like an animal and spun around, watching another mist rise up and take the shape of a cultist woman in purple robes. Trym charged the woman and jumped into the air, arms open, ready to grapple her and choke the life out of her. Just like the half-dragon, the woman smiled and disappeared, leaving Trym to fall to the ground, empty-handed.
“Awww… the little paladin can’t catch her quarry? Struggling to fit into your own armor, I see. What a pity.” A masculine voice sounded from the darkness. Trym vaguely remembered the voice, but could not place it. It stirred burning hatred inside her. “I know! The church has been too tough on you, expecting you to haul in fish that are too large, if you know what I mean. Let’s try something easier, shall we?”
One of the mists stood up and took on the form of a sour-faced old man Trym recognized as Nix Stonehill. How she disliked him! In fact, as she stared at him, she felt anger well up in her chest and turn to hatred. She opened her mouth, unleashing a bestial roar that turned into a burning wall of fire. The old man’s eyes went wide just before the wall slammed into him, punching him backward. He slammed into something, then crumbled into a smoldering heap on the floor where he did not move again.
Trym winced as more pain bit at her temples. Why had she done that? She didn’t really hate that crabby old man.
The voice laughed. “Well done! That was easy. Let’s try another one!”
Trym whirled around and watched as another mist took the form of a dwarf paladin she knew: Onthar Frume. Once again, anger welled up inside of Trym, this time turning into a burning rage. It boiled inside her, coursing through her veins, making the red world turn a shade darker. A dragon-like roar erupted from her mouth before she charged the paladin. With each step she took, she grew several feet taller until she was towering several feet over the dwarf.
Frume fell into a defensive crouch, raising a shield, but he could not stand against the monster Trym had become. She beat her giant fiery fists against him relentlessly, one right after the other, her knuckles ringing on his armor like a hammer on steel, the force of her blows crumbling his shield into scrap. Finally, he fell to the ground, arm broken. But Trym couldn’t stop herself. She beat him until he was little more than a bloodied pile of broken bones.
As he died, pain exploded in Trym’s chest, like a red hot sword piercing through her. She stumbled back and groped at her heart with a gasp. She stared at the broken paladin lying on the ground, terror rushing through her at the sight of what she’d done.
She didn’t hate Onthar! He was a decent dwarf that she respected. Why had she killed him?
The voice laughed. “Oh, that was fun! Feeling that energy rushing through you? The terror and excitement? Let’s try something a little more exciting!”
The darkness bent, then shifted, tendrils branching out from it. They pierced a twitching pool of mist and mixed together until they formed into an older man wearing the red robes of a wizard.
“Gaku…” Trym snarled, her hatred returning and coming to a full boil.
The wizard spread his hands with a smile. “Come and get me!” With that, he shifted into the form of the young boy, Connite, the smile remaining on his lips.
Trym stared at him, teeth grit, rage pulsing burning her insides. She clenched her fists, then unclenched them, her muscles quaking as she struggled with both the urge to kill and her sympathy for the boy. She knew it really wasn’t Connite, but it wasn’t right for her to murder him.
“Trym… don’t do it.” She turned her head and looked at Alvin, her monk friend. “Con is my friend.”
“Oh, come on! I’m right here! Poke me!” The wizard’s voice came from Connite’s mouth. “You know you want it.”
“Let’s think about this for a moment, Trym, before we do anything rash.” Aldrik, the dwarf cleric, appeared on her other side, raising his mace and shield defensively.
“Why does everything we do turn into such a mess? I don’t like this!” Robin walked up behind the cleric, folding her arms, staring disapprovingly at Trym.
“I mean, he’s a kid, Trym. We don’t actually kill kids, do we?” Kale hurried up to Alvin’s side, looking at the monk and shrugging, “I mean, do we?”
“How could you even begin to consider such a heinous thing? He’s just a boy!” Acodo appeared next to Robin, weaving his hands in preparation for a spell.
“This is low, even for you Shortstuff.” Trym’s good friend, Toralei, stepped up to Alvin’s side, folding her arms and narrowing a tiger-like glare at Trym.
“Your friends are noble, but so naïve,” the wizard crooned, “They mistook me in the caravan for a simple old wizard. Some actually thought me an ally when I spoke up in your defense once! You let me slip right through your fingers, because of your noble, lawful little friends. Now, I’m offering you a free shot.” Connite’s form smiled and spread his arms, “Come on! Give me your best! Anything has got to be better than what your mother or cousin gave me! They were a disappointment on so many levels.”
Something snapped inside Trym, unleashing an ocean of rage. She roared as the wizard laughed, then charged, not caring what innocent guise he took or who stood in her way.
“No Trym!” All of her friends converged on her at the same time, tangling themselves around her feet and slowing her down.
The wizard laughed as Trym grabbed her friends in her giant hands and hauled them into the air. She raised them above her head and aimed them at her enemy.
Suddenly, a bright flash of light pierced the darkness, blinding Trym. Searing pain bit at her muscles, making her drop to her knees and release the deadly hold she hand on her friends.
“That is enough, young lady!” A familiar feminine voice shouted.
A blast of harsh wind slammed into Trym, pelting her with rocks and sticks. She bowed low and covered her head, crying out.
As quickly as it came, the wind faded. The whispers of the mist were replaced by the songs of birds.
Trym opened her eyes and saw lush green grass under her. She sat up and blinked as the light of dawn burned her eyes. She sat in the middle of a small garden, under a beautiful mimosa tree. Surrounding the garden were rolling green hills filled with all manner of flowers and wildlife.
“Well I never! Did beating the pulp out of everyone make you feel any better?”
Trym stood and spun around, coming face-to-face with an older Halfling woman. Her curly honey hair glinted with traces of silver and her green eyes were narrowed at Trym accusingly.
“Well? What do you have to say for yourself?” She put her hands on her hips and tapped her bare foot on the ground.
A lump formed in Trym’s throat, her eyes stinging. “Momma?”
Her mother huffed and grabbed her apron, wiping her hands on it. “Trym, I taught you better manners than this. What did any of those people ever do to deserve such a temper tantrum?”
Trym glanced around herself, then back at her mother. “I… I...”
Her mother spiked an eyebrow, frown deepening. “The answer is nothing. You are just out of control.” She walked away to a bare patch in the garden, picking up a trowel and using it to dig a hole where she placed a petunia. “This isn’t the way I raised you!”
Trym clenched her fists, “If ya had yer way, I would be stuck in a cozy hole in the ground with a fat husband and a mess of wee ones runnin’ about while I tilled a garden and worked in the kitchen all tha live-long day!” She unclenched her hands and shuddered, realizing she had slipped into an old, pointless argument she used to have with her mother regularly.
Her mother sighed, “Stop using that ridicules Dwarfish accent! Just because you have dwarvin blood doesn’t mean you can talk like you crawled out of a dark hole in a mountainside! Speak properly.” She turned around to peer at Trym. “And the same goes for your manners lately. Whatever happened to good old fashion Halfling curtesy? The little folk don’t go around starting fights. They might finish them, but they never start them. You’ve been doing just the opposite. It’s downright improper and embarrassing.”
Trym felt her lip tremble. She glanced up and around, trying to bring herself under control, but all she could think about was how perfect the garden was and how much she missed her momma. Before she could stop it, cruel sobs tore past her throat and a torrent of tears flooded from her eyes.
Her mother’s eyes went wide with horror, “Trym! Trym darling, what is the matter?” She dropped her trowel and hurried up to her daughter, “Whatever could make my stoic paladin girl cry her eyes out?”
“I love you, momma. I never told you how much I loved you.” Trym covered her face with her hands as the sobs refused to show her mercy. “Only now do I realize how pointless my priorities were before. I wish I had spent more time with you in the garden. I wish I had listened to you talk during teatime, instead of arguing with you. I wish I had read more of the books you wanted me to read. I took you for granted!” Her mother wrapped her into a comforting embrace and guided her to a little bench where they both sat. She rubbed Trym's back and held her close until the sobbing had quieted some.
“There now, Dawnbringer. No sense in crying your heart out for spilled milk, eh?”
“You aren’t spilled milk! You’re my mother and I want you back!”
A sharp pinch in the elbow made Trym look at her mother, blinking the tears from her eyes just in time to see that warm, comforting smile she missed so much.
“Everyone passes on, Trym. You couldn’t keep me forever. Punishing those around you because you feel empty without your loved one is no way to live, and it’s downright selfish. You need to let me go.”
Trym wiped her sleeve across her dripping eyes. “I don’t want to. I never stopped to tell you how much I loved you. You were gone in the blink of an eye. I want to make it right.”
Her mother stroked a strand of Trym’s hair behind her ear. “You never made it wrong to have to make it right, sweet one. I never doubted that you loved me. Not once. I saw it in the quiet moments when you thought I wasn’t watching. Remember the time you secretly planted wild iris around my picket fence to make it pretty for my birthday? Or when you gave me your salary instead of using it to fix your armor? And that time you got me a new tea kettle when my old one was stolen? It was the little things that meant the most to me.”
“Oh. Well… I have to confess… the tea kettle wasn’t exactly new...” Trym sniffed and wiped her sleeve under her nose.
“For heaven’s sake, girl! Where is your handkerchief?” Her mother admonished as she pulled out her own lacy handkerchief and pressed it into Trym’s hand.
“What am I gonna do without you, momma?” Trym’s lip trembled as she spoke.
Her mother laughed softly, “Get your own handkerchief, I hope!”
Trym reached out and grabbed her mother’s warm hand, holding it tightly. “I feel lost without you.”
Her mother’s smile grew and she placed her hands on Trym’s cheeks. “All these years, as you’ve blazed your own trails, you’ve had your family right there with you. Now, you’ve finally set out on an adventure without your cousin tagging along or your mother coming to find you. You have to find support from others now, from friends, not family. Setting out on your own is a scary thing, and goodness knows that asking for help has never been your strength, but it’s about time you learned how to fly without me there to hold your kite strings.” She leaned forward and planted a lingering kiss on Trym’s forehead, “Now, close your eyes.”
Trym did as she was told, reaching out and resting her hands on her mother’s shoulders.
“I’m in a good place, Trym. I’m happy and safe. I love you and I am proud of you. Now, with this knowledge, I want you to go and show the world what I’ve always known: that you, my daughter, are amazing.”
Trym felt her mother slowly fade away from beneath her hands. “I love you, momma.”
She could feel the warm glow of her mother’s smile fill her heart, even as she woke to the dark ceiling of her room in the Yawning Portal Inn. She rolled over and saw her bard friend, Robin, sleeping peacefully on the other bed near the door.
Trym sat up, wiped the tears and sleep from her eyes, then wrapped her blanket around her shoulders and curled up at the head of her bed. She stared out the window beside her, watching as the pale light of dawn brightened outside world. Her mind wandered to those last precious moments she had with her mother. She wasn’t sure if it had been real, or only a dream, but it was exactly what she had needed. In her attempt to ignore the pain and deny her loss, she had taken her grief out on everyone around her and left her heart broken and empty. Now it was time to come to terms with the fact that she had lost someone dear and fill the empty space with the sweet memories. The process would hurt, but it would make her a better person.
Trym smiled as she thought about these things, peace filling her soul. As she crawled out of bed and dressed for the day, she remembered something her mother had once told her. It was something she had brushed aside, only now realizing the wisdom behind it: Death is not the end of life, but a part of it. It only becomes a tragedy if the living let it destroy what’s inside of them.
“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."
"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!
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!
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.
When I tell people that I play Dungeons & Dragons, it is not uncommon for me to come across skeptisism. I'm sure many of them visualize pentegrams, evil chants, demons, holocost cloaks... maybe a wheelbarrow or two.... (Princess Bride pun).
I won't say that you can't summon satan through a D&D game, if you take it too seriously. But, really, and as I have found for myself, D&D is a way for the players to participate in social experiements... aka, "playing pretend". It's just like what kids do when they play house or go on imaginary adventures, learning how to react to different senarios, people, and problems, but D&D's "playing pretend" is in such a way that an adult can enjoy it and feel "adulty" doing it.
I'll not use any more time to detail what this TEDx Talk explains so beautifully, so I'll just leave this video right here and let you guys check it out and form your own opinions.
I was cleaning up my documents on my computer when I ran across this random story. I have no idea where I was going with it, I don't even remember how I came up with it, but it had a certain charm to it that prevented me from deleting it forever. So, I brushed it up and decided to post it on here.
“They’re going to lock me up. I’m going to be locked up. I’m a freak. I’m the stuff horror stories are made of. They’re going to lock me up.” She kept repeating the last part over and over again in whispers.
He thought a moment. He could feel her fear. She was overwhelmed with it. He knew how she felt: in her mind there was no end in sight.
“Yes, they will lock you up,” He said.
She went silent instantaneously.
“If you continue to submit to your fears, your nightmares, and your anger, then yes; they will have no choice but to lock you up. But,” he added “If you step out of your comfort zone, take control of your fears, learn how to be yourself again, and use your power for good, then no one will ever be able to lock you away. Not mentally. Not physically. Not ever.”
A blue dinner plate sized eye looked out at him, moist and glassy with tears, and the serpentine slit contracted, focusing on him.
“But… I’m so, so…” The curtain she hid behind shivered as she did. “I don’t want to be locked up again. I don’t want to be a monster. I’m so scared.” She whispered the last part.
He nodded. “That’s to be expected. I don’t believe anyone blames you for feeling that way.” He held his hand out toward her. “You don’t have to face this alone, Nova. You have friends, and they are ready to help you. I’m ready to help you.” He added the last part slowly.
She stared at him for a long moment, then she shifted and moved. Slowly, a giant, clawed, scaly paw moved out to meet his. As soon as the light hit her paw, she froze, staring at it in horror. He pushed his hand out farther, drawing her attention back to him. He gently wrapped his fingers around one of her massive digits, giving it a reassuring squeeze.
She swallowed hard, loud enough to plainly hear, then she took a deep breath. “Okay. I can do this. As long as someone is willing to give me a little help, I can help myself.”
He smiled, “That sounds like the Nova I know.”
A faint smile spread over her features, then she moved out from behind the curtain and into the open.
Her scales glittered as the light touched them and the wings on her back trembled lightly. The end of her long tail twitched back and forth anxiously. She crouched low on her four powerful legs, and her head hung close to the floor.
He reached down and put his hand under her jaw, gently pulling her head up. “A dragon does not bow her head so low to the ground.” He said as she slowly lifted her head to his eye level, “She carries it tall, with a grace and strength and confidence that will make her ancestors proud.”
“I don’t feel very confident.” She said in a soft, quivering voice.
He nodded. “You know that. I know that. But nobody else has to know that, right?”
She stared at him for a moment, her eyes twitching as she thought about his words, then she lifted her head and stood to her full height, pushing her chest out and folding her wings in tight.
He smiled at her. “That’s what a proud dragon looks like.”
I am getting oober excited about book number 2 in the Tales of the Wovlen! It won't be long now before it hits the printing press!
Today I couldn't think of anything else to post, so I decided to share a small snippet from book #2 featuring one of our favorite and most endearing characters, Annaka.
Annaka carefully walked from the kitchen with a tray full of food in her hands. She made her way toward the stairs that would lead up to the guest quarters where she would find Keegan’s room. She saw a movement out of the corner of her eye, and she quickly picked up her feet, determined not to get caught. Before she made it to the stairwell, however, Arden darted in front of her and blocked her path, planting his fists on his sides.
“And just where do you think you are going?” he demanded.
Annaka’s mouth flew open, and her first thought was to cross her arms and stomp her foot. When the tray almost toppled from her hands, she quickly corrected her posture and pulled the tray in close to her, gripping it tightly.
“I am…going…nowhere. Nowhere of your immediate concern anyway,” she replied.
Arden crossed his arms. “You’re taking that to Keegan, aren’t you?”
Annaka gripped the tray tighter and raised her chin, looking at Arden with defiance.
Arden dropped his arms to his sides. “Aw, Annaka! You’ve taken Keegan his meal two turns in a row! It is my turn now, so hand it over!” He reached out for the tray, but Annaka swiped it sideways, almost toppling the soft-boiled egg. “Hey! Watch it!”
“Be careful now! You almost made me spill the whole thing,” Annaka said.
Arden rolled his eyes. “You can do that all by yourself. You don’t need my help. Now give me that tray before you really do spill the whole thing.” He reached out for it but paused when Annaka pursed her lips and raised her eyebrows and shoulders, moving the tray back a little further.
“Don’t touch it, or you’ll wear it!” she warned.
Arden’s shoulders slumped forward. “Aw, Annaka! Come on! Don’t be like that. You promised this would be my turn.”
Annaka stood straight and raised her chin. “I did not. I promised I would consider it, which I did, and decided I liked my way better. A girl is so much more polite and dainty when presenting someone with food. You boys just seem to drop it into the guest’s lap and expect him to hork it down.”
Arden grit his teeth. “What? You sneaky, conniving girl. See if I ever take your promises for face value again!”
Annaka’s mouth dropped open. “Calling me names? How rude!” A smug smile played on her lips. “But, you should have known better after you gave me your hard-boiled egg. They say it’s all downhill after the first boiled egg.”
Arden narrowed his eyes. “You weaseled me out of my hard earned, hard-boiled egg.”
“Which just proves you are gullible, my dear boy, of which I forgive you. Now, step aside and let me do my duty,” Annaka said.
Arden snatched out his hands and latched onto the tray.
“Give me that tray.” He pulled it sharply toward himself.
Annaka glared at him. “Never!” She yanked the tray back her way.
“It is my turn, Annaka!” Arden snarled.
“Not by my royal opinion, Arden!”
“Whoa, whoa! That’s my egg you’re threatening to flatten!” Suddenly Keegan came between them both, swept the tray up, and began walking away. “Buttered toast and fresh juice as well! How nice!”
Annaka and Arden stared at each other in shock for a moment before simultaneously turning and running after Keegan, who was sauntering straight for the stables, picking food off the tray and eating it as he walked.
“Are you supposed to be up and walking?” Arden asked.
“It’s so wonderful to see you doing so well, Keegan!” Annaka exclaimed.
Keegan took a bite from his toast and slurped down half of his juice before replying.
“Ah, thank you, Annaka. And I am not for sure, Arden, but if I can walk, then I see no reason to stay locked up in my room.” He drank down the rest of his juice and finished off his toast. Just before they reached the stable doors, he stopped and turned around, offering the tray back to the young couple. “Here you are. One of you can have the egg if you so wish. I don’t really care for soft-boiled anyway.”
Annaka blinked, taking the tray awkwardly. “But, Keegan, you haven’t even…”
“Wait! I’ll take that egg!” Arden snatched the egg from the cup before Annaka could finish her sentence. He then smiled at her slyly.
“Oh, I’m sorry I argued with you, Annaka. I stepped out of line. To show my sincere regret, you may carry the tray this time.” Arden clutched the egg close to his chest as he made a low bow with a spark of mischief glinting in his eyes.
Annaka clamped her mouth shut, her whole body stiffening as she glared at the older boy. She whisked a bowl of porridge off the tray and slapped it over Arden’s head with a messy splat.
“Here! Eat that too you uncouth scamp!” With that, she turned on her heel and stomped away with the tray.
Keegan had a coughing fit as he laughed, holding his ribs tightly.
Arden pulled the bowl from his head and wiped the dripping porridge from his face.
“Keegan, I’ve known girls who were hard to get along with, and I have known girls who were tricky and spunky, but Princess Annaka is queen of them all!”
Keegan put his hand on Arden’s shoulder, clutching his ribs with the other as the pain cut him short of breath.
“Well, Arden, all I can say is that you have finally met your match. Now, go clean up before I crack some more ribs just by looking at you.”
Arden shook his head as he walked away, holding the empty bowl in one hand and the egg in the other. He mumbled something about how unfair it was that girls could get away with being brats while boys had to be mature.
“The red dragon knows we are here...”
A witch on the hunt.
When the Princess Erewhon is taken captive, Keegan must set out to rescue her. Little does he know that he is playing into the witch’s hand.
Nightmarish monsters, dead dragons, dragon slayers, and insane warriors are nothing compared to what lies in wait – a red dragon so terrible, even Pharrgon and Walneff dread to face it. If he somehow survives, then Keegan must still face the witch who has sworn to kill him.
It seems the only way for Keegan to win this battle is to die.
He must pay –
THE DRAGON’S DUE
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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