Catching Up

Writing has still been relatively sparse. Have had a great time doing a lot of fun stuff with the kids though, so it evens out. Took the kids up to Racoon State Park on Monday and had an awesome day at the beach there. Doing all kinds of fun stuff like that.

On to the great news: Found a job! Starting with Ariba on August 9th. Really looking forward to getting started as a Data Manager. It seems like it will be a great place to work and a good challenge for me every day.

And now a funny side note. In Dragon Lords, I had named the MC Daernol. I was never really happy with it, but figured I would just use it until I found something and then do a massive find and replace. Well, I found that name, Tirnan. I like it a lot more. A variation on a celtic name. The funny thing is that I have done so much work on my ipod touch that when I am typing just on the touch, my brain does some kind of weird loop and puts Daernol back in. It’s weird. I don’t do it on my laptop, just when writing on my touch.

Well, the kids are playing quietly in their room, Jenn is off getting her hair done and stuff, so I am going to see how much more writing I can get done.

The Battle of Tragon Keep, Part 3

And now, the conclusion to The Battle of Tragon Keep. Here is Part 1 and Part 2. Hope you all have enjoyed the story.


The Battle of Tragon Keep, Part 3

John sat with his legs crossed, axe before him on the ground. He caught movement in the skies above him, a darker outline against the soot clouds.
“Coward,” John spat. “Their champion won’t even face me on even ground. Time to change that.”
John brought his shield to bear before him and counted the seconds while his enemy flew closer.
#
Shadowfluff moved faster than Wil thought possible. It snapped it’s wings outward to level off the dive and Wil caught site of his enemy for the first time. A hulking green brute stood upon the wall, a shield braced before it. Wil steadied his spear to strike at the center of his targets shield. Faster than Wil thought possible the orc spun at the last moment to deflect Wil’s spear. The orc leapt back to avoid Shadowfluff’s claws that raked the ground where the orc once stood.
“Back around Shadowfluff,” Wil called into the wind.
Three strong flaps took the pair back into the sky. Shadowfluff looped once back onto the path of the orc. The pair launched into a dive, Wil intent on finishing this and getting back to his family. The orc dived at he last second and threw himself under Shadowfluff. Wil grinned as the orc let out a pain laden cry as his mounts razor sharp claws raked across the creature. He had no time to enjoy the small victory. Shadowfluff veered toward the ground and Wil felt the saddle sliding from the fur covered back of his unicorn pegasus kitten. Shadowfluff’s momentum was halted by a tower that stood as sentinel on the wall. Wil tumbled from the kitten’s back in time to avoid be crushed by Shadowfluff’s weight. Momentum took him over the crenelations. Wil’s grip on the golden spear kept him from falling to his death. The haft of the spear was caught on two ancient stones.
“I hope dwarven stone work is as great here as it in is all the stories,” Wil gasped. He kicked his feet against the wall trying to gain purchase and climb back up. A shadow blocked out the hazy red of the sky above him.
“Now you die, coward,” Scalzorc spit. He raised his axe to strike a final blow to his trapped foe.
Wil closed his eyes.
“Just get this nightmare over with,” Wil shouted. His shoulders ached from holding his body against the wall.
“Wil?” the Orc said.
Instead of an axe as he expected, the orcs green hand reached down to grab his wrists. Wil was yanked effortlessly through the air.
Wil stood there on shaky legs and gawked at the spectacle before him. The orc was huge, blood coursed down muscles from the cuts Shadowfluff gave him. He recognized his friends features behind the green skin, pointed ears, and double headed axe.
“Scalzi?” Wil asked. “What is going on?”
“I was going to ask you the exact same question.” Scalzorc said. “Where did you get that hideous shirt?”
“Me? You’re the one with green skin and a loin cloth.”
“Not–“
Shadowfluff mewed pitifully behind the two friends. Scalzorc turned to see the kitten with a great gash across it’s belly where his axe cleaved it. John couldn’t believe he did that to the kitten.
“I’m sorry,” He began.
Shdadowfluff had some strength left. The unicorn Pegasus kitten lashed out with it’s paw and rended Scalzorc’s abdomen. John flailed away from the kitten, his axe cutting deep into Sir Wheaton’s shoulder. Both heroes tumbled from the wall into the blackness below.
#
John awoke with a start. He jerked back from the kitchen table and noticed a puddle of drool on his character sheet. Across from him, Wil Wheaton dozed with his head over the back of the chair. He sat up straight, his stomach muscles crying out in protest. He lifted his shirt to see four angry red lines across his stomach.
“What the he–“
John’s phone rang.
“Hello?” he said. He looked down at his watch and grimaced.
“Crap, sorry Athena, I’ll be right there to get you.”
John took one more look at Wil. He placed his face next to Wil’s mouth to make sure he was still breathing and then swiped his keys from the hook and headed out the door. There would be tine to try and figure out what happened later. Right now, he was late to pick up his daughter.

4814 words

4814 words over the last few weeks. While that isn’t terrible, all things considered, I think I could have done better also. Time to change that. After we take a walk down by South Side Works.


Working almost exclusively on Dragon Lords at this point. The theme has not been more readily apparent than now while I am out of work and concerned about certain realities we are facing. That just means more fuel for the fire, right?

The Battle of Tragon Keep, Part 2

Be sure to read Part 1 first.


As promised, here is Part 2. Check back tomorrow for the gripping conclusion!

The Battle for Tragon Keep, Part 2

Wil awoke, snapping up from the ground. He looked around the room. The last thing he remembered was reading from ‘The Battle for Tragon Keep’ with John at his house. Now he found himself on a short bed only half a foot off the ground. Everything was short in the room. The door, the desk, the chair. He looked down to find himself wearing his clown sweater? And blue short shorts? He knew he wasn’t wearing that earlier.
“What the hell is going on here?” Wil asked out loud. “If this is someones weird idea of a joke, I’m going to be pissed.”
Why was that module so awesome? He couldn’t remember now. Wil slid his feet from the bed and pushed himself up. He walked across the room and tried the door. It opened with an ease that belied the thickness of the stone portal. Outside, two short men came to attention.
“Sir!” they shouted in unison. They slammed the end of their spears against the floor.
“Wow, this is amazing,” Wil said as he stepped out of the room. “Your costumes are truly fantastic. Your makeup work is incredible.”
The two short men both sported bushy beards and eyebrows, round cheeks and gnarled hands gripped the haft of the spears. The chainmail they wore looked hand crafted, not some online knockoff. Flat metal helms covered their heads while heavy leather boots protected their feet.
“Sir?” the one on his left asked. His beard deep coal black. “What costumes?”
“Sir,” the other man said. The only difference between the two is this fellows beard was a deep burgundy. “The king awaits your presence in the war room.”
“The war room…” Wil said absently as he took a look around him. He was standing in a stone corridor that ran off to his left and right into darkness. He wouldn’t have the slightest idea how to get out of where ever he was.
“Yes please, take me to the king.”
The two short men fell in to step next to each other and marched down the hall. Wil followed them silently while he considered his situation. Was he in some kind of crazy LARP? Some weird dream? The last thing he could remember was being at that con where that fan had given him a module to try. Then he showed up at John’s house.
“Here we are Sir Wheaton,” one of the men said. “King Ironfist and his generals await your arrival.”
“Thank you,” Wil said as he stepped up to the door. It was ornately carved with a bass relief picture of a great battle with a dragon.
The door swung open to reveal seven short men standing around a table appropriate for their height. Cheers of huzzah met him as he stood framed in the door. He reminded himself to close his mouth. He hadn’t seen this many little people since he watched ‘The Wizard of Oz’.
“King Ironfist, I presume,” Wil said. He tried his best to remember his manners in spite of the insanity Wil was sure consumed him.
The man Wil addressed could be nothing less than their leader. His complexion and beard were both dark. Silver jewelry wrapped around each wrist. They looked like baubles compared to the heavy crown that sat upon the man’s shaven head. Fine scale armor covered his body. More than his appearance though was the way he carried himself amongst the others. There was no doubt that he lead these men. If he ordered them to cut Wil’s throat they would do so in a moment.
“When yer order said they would be sending their best,” Ironfist started, “we had no idea it would mean they were sending you, Sir Wheaton.”
“I must beg your pardon King Ironfist,” Wil said.”But where am I? My journey…”
“Aye, it is indeed a long flight,” Ironfist said. “You are in Tragon Keep, at the base Mount n’Gor. This is the greatest of the dwarven mines. Don’t worry about payment, your Orders weapons will be on their way as soon as you have wiped the orcish threat from the foot of our gates.”
“My Order?” Wil questioned.
Ironfist broke out in a deep booming laugh.
“Ye do yer kin justice Sir. Yer a member of the Knights of the Crazed Clowns. Greatest band of mercenaries in the land.”
Things started to click into place. It explained his shirt at least. What would they do when they realized he had no idea how to fight? Wil stepped up to the table to see the map spread out before then. It outlined the valley in which the keep rested. Mt. n’Gor was too close for his taste. The top of the mountain was flat on the map, flames sprouting from the top. He hoped that didn’t mean what he thought.
“What seems to be the problem?” Wil asked.
“The orcs sieged our keep over a month ago,” Ironfist began. “We would have handled them just fine. We were killing ten orcs for everyone of our kin that fell. We couldn’t count for the trouble n’Gor gave us.
“She blew her top, spewing fire all down her sides. Destroyed our outer gates and all the kin that fought within the walls. Less than five hundred dwarves remain now.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Wil said.
“Time enough to mourn them after this treat is gone,” Ironfist said. “Seems their warlord isn’t as bloodthirsty as most orcs. We must have hurt his people pretty bad too. Offered to duel us for the rights to the Keep.”
“That is my job, defeat their champion?” Wil asked.
“Aye,” Ironfist agreed.” My greatest warriors are slain in a river of fire. We need yer might to go to battle.”
“I will do my best,” Wil said. He had no idea what he was doing here. His acting career seemed to be paying off. “You mentioned my mount? Can I use it in battle?” he hoped it was a dragon or some other creature that could fly him away from his doom. But to where?
“Aye Sir Wheaton, right this way,” Ironfist gestured to the door. “The duel begins in an hour, we must get you ready.”
#
John groaned and wondered what the hell happened to him. The last thing he remembered was sitting at his dining room table with Wil Wheaton trying to listen to the most awesome gaming module ever. He found the game to be dull but didn’t want to crush Wil’s enthusiasm.
John opened his eyes slowly to see the tan canvas of a tent over his head. He could feel warm air beating on the tent outside and wondered again what the hell happened to him.
He stepped from his tent into the set of an apocalypse movie. His tent was the only one in a sea of blanket shrouded sleeping figures. This was set against the backdrop of a great walled keep and to the left of that a mountain that still sprayed ash and molten lava. A river of liquid rock flow through a gully that cut around behind the sleeping men.
“What is going on?” John said aloud. His voice was deeper than he usually heard it.
John rubbed his hands over his head and down across his face. He wanted to wipe this sight from his mind. What he saw startled him even more. He pulled his hands away from his face to see it covered with rough green skin. He looked down to see a bare green chest (well muscled!), a loin cloth and long green legs. His hands end in sharp nails that he was sure would easily tear flesh if he wasn’t careful.
“Boss, no word from the dwarves yet,” said a voice from behind John. “We should just split their skulls for wastin’ our time. The orc clans are thirsty for the blood you promised them.”
John spun on his heel. Behind him stood a figure not too different from himself. Only this orc had bones braided through his long hair and stood six inches shorter than John.
“If this is some dumb joke Wheaton is playing on me to get back for the Velvet Wesley…” John mumbled.
“What’s that boss?” the orc asked.
“Nothing,” John answered. “What is going on?”
“Some of the clans say dat Scalzorc’s plan is dumb. We just crush da orcs. No time for duels. They not too happy.”
“Where are we?” John asked, looking around. Something about that volcano looked familiar.
“You get hit on da head yesterday boss?”
“Must have been hit pretty hard,” John said. “Just tell me where we are.”
“Da foot of Tragon Keep,” the orc said. “You planned all dis Scalzorc. Take back da home da wretched dwarves stole from us. You remember all dat?”
John shook his head, sweat flying from his scalp in tiny beads. His mind reeled. This sounded vaguely like the module Wil ran for him at his kitchen table. He wished he payed more attention to what Wil said. There didn’t seem to be much alternative for him but to follow this through to the finale.
“You have my weapons?” John asked.
“Just cleaned dem boss,” the orc said. “I get dem.”
The orc loped a few feet to a blanket on the ground. He threw back the cloth to reveal a shield with spikes protruding from the surface and an axe with wicked curved blades on both ends of the haft. John took the weapon and swung it before him in a wide arc. It felt right in his hands, comfortable.
“Where is the battle to take place?” John asked.
The orc at his side pointed toward the wall that had been half destroyed by their–his– orc army.
John began to weave his way between the sleeping orcs. The orc who helped him let loose a deep guttural cheer. This woke the orcs nearest him who stood and echoed the first orc’s cry. If this was a joke Wil set up, it was damn elaborate.
#
“That is my mount?” Wil asked. “Seriously?”
“No beast is more feared Sir, than the unicorn pegasus kitten,” Ironfist said at his side. He stroked his beard while he admired the creature.
“Did I tell you his name?” Wil asked.
“Ye did Sir Wheaton. Shadowfluff.”
“Of course. Shadowfluff.”
Wil never once imagined such a creature in all his years. The gray furred kitten was huge, easily the size of a lion. From it’s back sprouted two feathered wings. As implied, a great horn as long as Wil’s arm extend from the middle of the kitten’s forehead.
“Are there many of these beasts in the land?” Wil asked.
“Yours is the only one of it’s kind Sir Wheaton,” Ironfist answered.
Wil approached the kitten slowly, his hands out in front of him. Belatedly, Wil wished he brought a treat. He could hear the kittens rhythmic purring over the constant thunder of the active volcano that loomed in the background. The kitten nudged him with it’s soft furry head as Wil threw a leg over the creatures back and pulled himself up to settle into the saddle. Wil almost jumped back off immediately as he envisioned Shadowfluff plunging it’s horn right through his chest. A dwarf thrust a long golden spear into his hand before he could back out.
“My clan is in your debt, Sir Whaeton,” Ironfist said as Wil’s mount flapped it’s wings and lifted them both from the ground. “Their leader, Scalzorc awaits you on the ramparts of the lower wall!”
Ironfist and his dwarves dwindled below Wil as Shadowfluff circled higher and higher into the ash filled sky.
The kitten let out a mewing battle cry that sounded cute and at the same time bloodthirsty. Wil shivered at the sound, chilled to his core.
“Best to end this quickly,” Wil said aloud. “We’ll swoop in and run this Scalzorc through my spear.” And hopefully end this nightmare, Wil added silently.
The unicorn Pegasus kitten flapped it’s wings once before tucking them against it’s sides. Wind whipped against Wil’s bare legs as his mount picked up speed. Their target grew closer by the second.
#

Here is Part 3.

The Battle of Tragon Keep, Part 1

Not too long ago, John Scalzi posted a fiction contest. He commissioned a picture to be made by artist Jeff Zugale. This picture to be precise. Don’t worry, you can have a moment or to take that all in.

A thing of beauty, isn’t it?

John’s contest was to create a story behind this picture. It sounded like fun so I jumped right in. Blazed right through the word count and finished the story. Then I realized John wanted stories around 2000 words, and I turned out 3700 words.

Oops.

That was a lot of editing. Took out some huge sections, condensed some others. Then sent that bad boy off. I hope John and Wil enjoy the story. Who knows, maybe it will even win. But if not, I had fun anyway.

John’s just a cool guy though, and he said to go ahead and post your stories online. So here I am posting part one of the story that I wrote. The longer version. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.


The Battle of Tragon Keep, Part 1
John’s Tesla Roadster screeched to a halt outside his house in rural Ohio, dust kicking up from the wheels. The sun overhead. It would have been a nice day to lounge on the porch but a writing deadline would keep him in his office most of the day. A hunched figure banged on his front door.
“Hello?” John called out. “No one is home.”
The figure turned, a wild glint in his eye. It took John a few moments to realize behind the unshaven face was his buddy Wil Wheaton.
“Wil? How did you get here?” John asked. “Does your wife know you’re here?”
“It doesn’t matter John,” Wil said, his voice rough from lack of use. “I had to show you this.”
For the first time John noticed the package clutched under Wil’s arm. He held a large manila envelope that looked like it was an inch think.
“What is it?”
Wil glanced back over his shoulder, his eyes darting left and right.
“Not here,” Wil whispered. “Inside.”
“Uh… Sure Wil,” John said. He stepped up to the door, slid the key into the lock and pushed the door open. “Come on in.”
Wil nearly ran into the house. John took another look at the area around his house. He could only see open fields. Nothing that could have Wil on edge. He closed the door and locked it behind him just in case.
“So what is the big deal?” John asked. “Are you hiding from some crazed Trekkie?”
Wil looked through the blinds. He closed them abruptly before he turned back to John.
“Look,” Wil said. “This is awesome. More awesome than bacon.”
“Man, I stick bacon to a cat one time and I never get to stop hearing about it,” John muttered.
“What?” Wil asked. He was struggling to untie the strings that held the envelope closed.
“Nothing,” John said. “So what is so special in there?”
“The best module ever created,” Wil said reverently. “Look, it says so right there on the cover.”
Wil handed over a hard cover book. A volcano filled the background and in the midst of a rock strewn valley orcs and dwarves battled. It was title ‘The Battle for Tragon Keep’. Just as Wil pointed out, Gary Gygax was quoted as saying ‘Best module ever created’. The art looked fresh, current with today’s standards.
“Are you sure about this Wil?” John asked. “It looks pretty old. Gygax passed away over two years ago.”
“I started reading a little,” Wil said. “I didn’t want to ruin it though. It is definitely awesome.”
“Cool,” John said. “What do you plan to do with it?”
“I’m going to run it for you of course,” Wil grinned. “why else would I come all this way? I had to share the awesome.”
“Where did you get this thing anyway?” John asked.
“Some guy handed it to me at the last con.”
“Just like that?”
“Yeah, a tall guy in a black wizard robes. Gray scraggly beard, bloodshot eyes, gnarled hands,” Wil said. “It was an amazing costume.”
“I don’t know Wil,” John started. “I have deadlines to meet.”
“It will just be a few hours,” Wil said. “Everyone needs to take a break some time.”
It sounded like a nice break. He did a few calculations in his head. No more breaks for the rest of the week and he could still finish his writing projects.
“O.k. let me go tell the Internet I won’t be around today. They can be jealous I’m hanging out with you.”
John headed to his office while Wil went to the dining room table. Wil pushed aside a few papers and bills to make room for the game and began to methodically set up the supplies from his backpack. Dice bag. DM screen. Extra paper. Everything was set when John came back in the room.
“Want a Coke Zero?” John asked.
“Coffee is great if you have it,” Wil said without looking up.
“Sure,” John said as he walked into the adjoining kitchen. After a few minutes he returned with their drinks.
“What now?” John asked as he sat down at the table. “It has been years since I played one of these games.”
“I just need you to roll a character real quick before we get started.”
John reached our for Wil’s dice bag. Wil snapped his hand down before John could touch them.
“Hey man,” Wil said. “Get your own dice.”
John stared at Wil for a moment. Wil’s eyes sank promptly back down to the page he was reading. John thought Wil seemed off today so he decided to ignore the response.
“Uh, sure, let me see if I can find my old dice somewhere.”
John left the table. If Wil heard the rummaging through boxes, he didn’t notice. After a few minutes John returned with small bag in his hands.
“We can’t go too long,” John said as he sat back down. “I have to pick my daughter up from school later.”
Wil nodded his head once in acknowledgment and then walked John through character creation. Wil started the adventure, describing what sounded like a fairly cliché war between the ancient rival clans of dwarves and orcs. John tried to keep focused and give his friend his attention in the hopes that this module reached the really awesome part soon.
“Roll a D20,” Wil called out.
John snapped out of the fog when Wil addressed him directly. He picked through his dice until he found a matte blue D20 that looked it’s age. He rolled the dice, not even bothering to check his roll. Wil continued on with the adventure. Weariness snuck up on John like a stalking kitten. He reached out for his can of Coke Zero. Sleep took him into the black depths of unconsciousness.

#

Here is Part 2!