Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Short Story; Story Time, pt 1

"..And then we saw it, an army, ten thousand strong, hopping towards us, yelling their.."
"Hold it lady, did you just say they were 'Hopping'?"
"Yes I did, rather quickly too.  You could feel the ground shake as they came, the fall of every paw matched by a hundred others.  And they were quite large too, and armored.  It was one of the..."
"What's wrong with hopping?"
"Its just, normally people charge or run towards things.  What kind of army hops?"
"The Harakai kind, now as I was saying.."
"You mean those big, fuzzy monks you see in the movies?"
"Yes, only with armor instead of robes and ruled by instincts instead of chi or karma or whatever they're calling it these days.  As I was.."
"You expect me to believe that an army of Nielda was actually afraid of giant bunny rabbits?"
"Do you want to keep interrupting me or can I finish the story?"
"There is no way that a Nielda, let alone a Secloran, would ever be afraid of a giant, fluffy, bunny."
The story teller sighed and waved for the child to lean in.
"Would you like me to introduce you to the curvature of the planet, or will you shut up and listen to the damn story.  A lot of good friends of mine died fighting Harakai, and I'll not see you make a mockery of their sacrifices just because you can't get your puerile little mind around the idea that those 'fluffy bunnies' were once the greatest threat the galaxy had ever encountered.  If I told you that right now, this very minute, there are things out there in the universe that shiver at the mere sight of the common house-cat, you wouldn't believe me, but that doesn't mean it isn't true.  And I say that as someone with a personal relationship with people who would literally rather fight demons than admit that they'd flunked out of their ninth year at the Academy.  What you believe, is irrelevant to the truth.  Now sit back down, and listen closely."

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Short Story; Just a Game

"Hatsfel, take your men and secure the mountain on the left flank.  Shirley, Rothbert, Deidrick, armor up and hold the center.  Arasa, the forest on the right flank, you know the drill.  Everyone else get ready to press the assault once Hatsfel is in position."
"And what about you Captain?"
"Just watch."
 All of his lieutenants followed their commands perfectly.  He sent Raithe to reinforce Hatsfel once the mountain was secure.  Her Artillery batteries would be the perfect support to the coming assault, and the two of them had always worked well together.  He watched the enemy forces disappear into the forest, laid low by Arasa's hunters.  Rothbert went down in the face of their enemy's captain, but he managed to quickly shuffle the men into Shirley and Deidrick's commands in time to retaliate and hold their positions.  But the true masterwork of his plan was one they'd never see coming; his own force advanced under the cover of the river on the right flank right into the heart of their encampment.  He ordered the reserves into the center to draw their attention, and then armored up to join his men.

"Hail commander."
"Right, are we all in position?"
"The men await your orders."
"Good, good, then lets get started."  He stood up and raised his sword.  The men began to climb the levee and scream their battle cries.  He pulled himself over the top and was preparing to join them when he saw one of the most dreaded things to ever grace the battlefield.
"Aren't you cute?  I bet you think you're awful clever, sorry to prove you wrong.  Men, dispose of the soldiers."
He managed to catch the sight of spellflame before finding himself back in the lobby.  He cursed and looked over at Rothbert.
"You too?"
"Nobody told me we were fighting HER.  I'd have never signed up for this if I'd known, I'm so sorry."
"Nah, I'm just amazed we've done as well as we have."
Arasa walked in from the command chamber.
"You too?"
"Nope, they silenced my communications ages ago.  I just got bored of sitting there and went in myself just after you did.  It was this white haired girl that did it.  She made the trees eat my entire command without a trace.  We were outmatched from the start."
The battle continued over the rest of the day.  By the end he realized that it had never been about beating them, it was all about how.  Shirley and Deidrick faced a cloaked man with a purple sword who seemed to step through the shadows.  Elsa was still confused by how her men had all simply commited suicide out of sudden crushing despair, and Olan reported that his men had begun to dance uncontrollably until collapsing from exhaustion.  And the rest furiously reported how a single man had walked silently into the middle of the camp and mesmerized all of their troops with a recitation of poetry; to their knowledge he was still reciting it.
The last to go were Hatsfel and Raithe.  Hatsfel confirmed what he and Rothbert had seen; their opponent was the Dark Lady herself, Empress Thalia Immersfeld.  And as he completed the thought they found themselves face to face with their foe.
"Evening; I just wanted to thank you all for your participation.  You put up a better fight than most, and for that, here is your reward."  A satchel of coins was deposited on the table.  "Have a lovely life everybody."

Short Story: Ski Trip

[Might be PG-13, would definitely be by my rating system.  ]

Cast: Rea, Krell, 

Fresh powder showered Rea, adding insult to her already embarrassing predicament.  
"Are you ok?" Krell called as he hurriedly stumbled to her side.  
"I'm embedded in a tree, what do you think smarty-pants?"  She was in fact embedded in a tree, a Nepalyan Scrimul to be specific.  Now Rea would be the first one to admit that it had been a while since she'd been skiing, but when you'd lived for as long as she had, a few decades was nothing, especially compared to how long it had been since she'd ridden a bike.  
"Stupid question, would you like some help getting out of the tree?"
Wasn't that sweet of him?  Not that she couldn't do it herself, but it'd make him feel better to help.  And It'd probably be good for her to show a bit of trust.  Thalia had always been telling her how she needed to let other people in, how she was so closed off.  
"Not that I couldn't get myself out, but yeah, that'd be nice."
"Ok."  He took her hand and braced himself against the tree.  She'd rather expected him to use magic, but apparently he didn't think it necessary.  Maybe she hadn't been as embedded as she thought she was.  
"Thanks," She brushed herself off and pulled a spar from her leg.  "I don't know what happened, I must have miscalculated my momentum."  
"Here, let me fix that."  He sat down and rolled the leg of her pants up.  She barely even noticed the pain, not so much out of the numbing to the sensation born of her many years of experience as out of shock at his boldness.  And yet it was a..pleasant sort of shock, and she found herself anticipating his actions, rather than frightened by them.  He lowered his hand onto the wound, the cold mountain air being driven off by the warmth of his spellcraft, and she felt her flesh weaving itself together beneath it.  He didn't utter a word until after he'd gently rolled the heavy garment back down to her ankle.  "Better?"
"Yes, thank you."  She swallowed her breath, trying to hide what she'd just felt.  He rose, not noticing, and held out a hand.  She took it and joined him.  "I don't know what's going on with me lately.  I'm tripping over myself all the time, I broke that man's arm on accident in the hotel the other day, and now I slide out of control into a tree.  What's going on?"
"You're...your body changed a fair bit recently, and with as accustomed to your old, younger body as you were you're probably having to adapt a lot to the new height and..uhm..proportions."  
Proportions?  "Are you calling me fat?"
"No.  Nothing like that, have..I mean your..nevermind."
"Oh."  She blushed, and tore them through space back down the mountain, a safe distance from the hotel, and started walking towards it.  "I'm sorry for snapping at you like that.  I've just been so moody lately."
"Its ok, I understand.  Let's go get some Hot Chocolate."  
"With whipped cream?"  She stopped and smiled back at him.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Other Witch; The Armorer

Krove was the intellectual heart of the universe, home to the legendary Arcane Academy.  It was, not coincidentally, also used as the geographical heart of the known universe.  Part of that was because there were so few natural boundaries around it preventing travel to other regions, but it was also because all of the great explorers had started their journey from the little mountain strewn world.  Tala, the Storm Mage and founder of the universe's political heart, Stormgarde, had studied here.  Arcania, the queen of the frostbourne, had also studied here before ultimately wandering into the reaches of space.
Indeed, most Immortals had been here at some time, and certainly those with the most time under their gilded belts.  Petra, the paladin spoken of in as many fairy tales as historical accounts, was said to keep a home here, near the Academy.  Prior to the Frostbourne War the Pantheon had met here, and all Immortals had kept at least an apartment somewhere nearby.

Salvia could have told anyone that, if you had the money, the best enchantments and equipment were to be found on Krove.  Logic alone would have indicated that much, even if popular knowledge didn't, which it did.  The man calling himself, falteringly, Hack, had landed at a small space port several miles outside of Death's Nave, the largest of the towns that had grown up around the academy.  It had been named for the most influential immortal of the day, a princess of the Empire and necromancer of great power claiming to be Death Herself; some said she truly was, others dismissed it as idle boasts and the ravings of a mage consumed with power.  All Salvia cared for was that she had nearly destroyed the Empire and that there was a severe lack of evidence pointing to her actual death; the sort of thing that made her wonder how long it had been before she'd come back and been put down by some poor sap who couldn't have told you what enchantments his own sword carried.
"We're here.  Zinarth, manor of the fell angel, home of one of the most powerful beings in the universe, and beyond."
"And a close personal friend of yours I'm sure."
"Not particularly, we've met once or twice.  Usually ended with harsh words relating to the nature of evil and the virginity of others, can't say either of us were particularly welcome in the other's home.  But that's never stopped me from going anywhere or doing anything before so I daresay it won't now."
Salvia paused to contemplate how she had ended up involved in this mess in the first place.  As she did the door opened to a dark young man in a light tunic.
"Morning sir and madam, are you here to see the teacher, the enchanter, or the hero?"
Hack stared dumbly at the young man on the other side of the door frame.  For someone claiming to be familiar with the house's occupant she had expected a more..confident reaction.
"Are you?  I mean to say, I thought she never...Bother it all, who the devil are you?"
"Not the devil, nor any friend to those who serve him.  Can I help you, or would you prefer to stand there all day.  Or you could leave, that option also exists if you wish."
"But Issues?"
"Honeysuckle, I think you have visitors."
A girlish giggle came from deeper within the shadows of the house, "I'll be right there, my love" The woman who had spoken came from the left and paused to kiss the dark, and Salvia had to admit it, handsome man who had first greeted them.  She was nothing like what the voice would have made her think; her skin was tanned and her hands rough from work.  She bore the faded mark of one who had seen many battles within her eyes, and her hair was tied back in the braid of those Nielda who have pledged themselves to battle.  But she was softer than she had clearly been before, and there was a spring in her step still stiff from lack of use.  And the stains on her knees were clearly more vegetable than animal or mineral.
"Good morning Old father, good morning Young sister; what can we do for you?"
Salvia decided to eschew Hack's continued attempts to take charge and do so herself.  "I need a weapon.  Something that will befit in battles against well equipped armies or powerful mages.  I would prefer a pistol if you could, and I can demonstrate my abilities if need be."
The woman didn't let go of her partner's waist as she looked over his shoulder, surveying her as though she were more portrait than person.  She seemed to seize her up like a gem,and Salvia could feel the stranger's mind weaving through every crack and crevice of her own without any regard for privacy or decency.
"Yes, I think trueshot, variable element, transastral summoning, bottomless quiver, modified of course, and maybe," she pasued for a moment, "maybe flair of the bard or runeweaver's clarity.  What do you think Love?"
"Witch's Nocturne."
"Ah yes, of course, how silly of me; Witch's Nocturne.  I'll get started at once.  When the old man wakes from his stupor tell him that she was right, it really has helped a lot.  Toodles!"  And the door shut without another word.