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Fixing Up

I realize that I need to update some of the links on the site. I also realize that I have a couple of unfinished stories lingering around out there. Ties That Bind is nearing completion and I have been putting off ending it due to the fact that I enjoyed the characters so very much. Demon Wrought is just getting started, and I am waiting until the summer to really try to tackle this more adult project. Zoe and the Outcasted will not take very much time at all, but I simply have not had time to run with it.

All in all, the site needs some love from me. I have sketches to add, and stories to link. I really want the site to be easy to access, with information no more than two clicks away. I will get there. Stay with me.

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Posted by on April 8, 2014 in From the Desk of the Author

 

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Snippet from The Council of Therian

attilla

               The only real haven for Attilla was at the Darvel home. He stayed over there a lot of the time, and was always treated kindly. Penn would read through books on the nights Attilla had to go home, searching for some kind of way to make his friend better. Things never got better for Attilla in Brentwood. In fact, things got remarkably worse as he got older.

One day while playing in the woods near Brentwood, Burge spotted two orcs with rusty swords drawn. He quickly got the other’s attention and showed them what he had seen. Six sets of gnome eyes were watching the orcs as they lumbered about. Suddenly the orcs stopped and squatted low, as if to hide from someone. Penn couldn’t believe what was happening. Popo, a girl that always wanted to hang with the boys must have followed them out into the woods. She was heading right toward the crouching orcs without a care in the world. Penn and the others were paralyzed with fear, but Attilla came out of hiding with a scream and ran straight at the orcs. Each footfall seemed to drive another quill out of his back, as his therian rage flooded over the gnome. By the time he got to the startled orcs, he was half gnome and half porcupine. It was the farthest any of his friends had ever seen him go into his hybrid form.

The orcs were not ready to do battle with a therian, even if they didn’t know it. Attilla jumped in between them forcing them apart. A few quills stuck one of the orcs, but that only seemed to make the brute angry. Popo, now seeing the danger, turned and started back for the safety of Brentwood. Attilla broke off a quill from his shoulder and used it as a dirk, stabbing the orcs repeatedly. The gnome had never been in a fight where he could truly die, not many of the gnomes in the area had. Orcs, unlike the gnomes, were brought up to battle. By the time an orc had reached young adulthood, he had most likely killed several of his peers just to survive. Attilla had courage, but the orcs had skill. The deciding factor, however, was the tainted blood that ran through the gnome’s veins.

The first orc tried to grab the little creature, but that only got him an arm full of spines. He threw the therian to the ground and cut him across the chest with his rusty sword. The battle should have been over, but it wasn’t. The wound closed itself almost instantly, but the orc paid no attention. He was too busy pulling the thick quills out of his forearm. So Attilla jabbed his makeshift dagger into the leg of the other orc, but that orc scored a hit on the gnome-porcupine as well. It was a kick into Attilla’s ribs, which sent him flying. The orc believed the fight finished, for he had felt the bones give way under the force of his boot. It was a gross miscalculation, and it cost him his life. Attilla’s ribs quickly healed themselves with a sick grinding sensation, but after the initial pain he was fine. The overconfident orc stood over the therian, stuck out his leg, and went to pull the quill out. Attilla jumped on his leg, grabbed his shirt, then tucked his chin and jumped right into the orcs face. His quills buried deep into the unsuspecting orc’s neck and face. The orc fell back, instantly dead, and took the gnome with him. Attilla used the momentum to roll off, and went right after the first orc. The orc wisely ran the other way. Attilla followed.

It all happened so fast that the others still hadn’t even moved. However when Penn saw his friend chasing an orc into the woods, he bolted after them. The others followed as well, but they were not nearly as fast through the woods as Penn.  When Penn got to his friend, Attilla was on top of the orc’s chest violently chopping him with his own sword. From what Penn could tell Attilla had been at it for a while. There wasn’t much left to identify it as an orc anymore. Tears were pouring down the therian’s face, and it took Penn a moment to determine if his friend was injured or not. He realized that Attilla was fine, physically at least. Penn went to his friend and gently, for he didn’t want to be victimized by the quills, placed his hand on Attilla’s shoulder.

The therian stopped his insane hacking, and collapsed into his friend. His rage had played out and he was ashamed. Instantly, for he was a true therian, Attilla was back in gnome form. He cried with heavy sobs into Penn’s chest. Penn didn’t say a word. Even at that age, he understood that sometimes just being there was enough. After a few moments, Attilla wiped the blood, tears, and snot from his face. He stared at his friend and thanked him without saying a word. By this time the others were finally arriving.

Rumors spread like wildfire through the small town. After the incident people started getting scared of the therian gnome. Parents instructed their kids not to hang around with him. Attilla was the hero that day, but people couldn’t accept that. Even the boys that were there, except for Penn, altered the story so that it painted them in a better light. Sometimes lies are easier to believe than the truth, especially when the truth goes against the natural order.

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2013 in Snippets from The Council of Therian

 

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Zoe and the Outcasted

Zoe

Zoe and the Outcasted

Chapter One

The Safety of Straw

Zoe had finally been allowed to return to her home near Pinevale, but it was a bittersweet homecoming. Her Pa had been killed or absorbed or whatever the cruel Rainor did to the magic users of Delphia. Zoe’s Ma fought beside the brave men of Pinevale as they battled the orcs of Locwood. She died on the battlefield. Zoe figured it was probably best; she wouldn’t have been much good without Pa anyway. Strange how war could make a fourteen year old girl believe that death was somehow preferable to life, but war changed a lot of things.

For the past three years, Zoe had stayed in Dundersnuff. The quick thinking of her Ma had gotten her into the dwarven city before they sealed the gates. She was eleven when she watched the mountain gates seal her in. Zoe knew how lucky she had been not to be on the other side of that gate. How many children my age are out there being hunted by orcs, trolls, and therians? The only thing she was unhappy about in Dundersnuff was the complete lack of magical learning. In fact, the dwarves seemed to almost frown on the use of magic; unless it was poured into an item. 

Zoe had been home for two full weeks, and she finally mustered up the courage to go into her father’s old laboratory. It was the only room left to be cleaned and cleared. She was not excited about entering the room where her Pa had been taken. At least her Ma had died a glorious death; but there was no way of knowing how her Pa had gone from the world. 

Was he tortured? Was he even himself when it was all over? What had Rainor done to him? 

There were no answers in the empty lab; simply heavy dust laid over a neat work area. Ma had not gone in there either, apparently. Zoe played out so many scenarios as she stood in the doorway of her Pa’s room. A light knock on the floorboard caused her to sink down into a squatting position and cover her mouth to keep the scream from escaping. She scanned the room, looking for some kind of weapon to defend herself. Nothing. Had Rainor taken everything? Rainor; the name caused her even more fear. No! He has not been seen or heard from in two years.

A second knock. This time Zoe was watching closely and was able to determine exactly where the sound had originated. A third knock caused the dust to separate; clearly showing the outline of a small hidden door. Hope sprang up in the young girl’s soul. Pa? Could he have survived? Of course he could have; he was a mage! 

Zoe ran to the small door, dug her fingers into the crack and flung it open. Inside the hole was a pile of straw. Zoe plunged her hand into the straw; not even sure exactly what she hoped to find. To her surprise, the straw grabbed her back. Zoe threw herself backward from the hole, but the straw followed. Once the pile of straw was out of the hole, it started to take the shape of a halfling. The creature’s hair remained straw, and it flowed down his back. He also wore a chest piece of thick straw over his dirty brown clothing. 

“You must be Zoe,” the straw groundling said in a whispered voice that sounded like the wind blowing through the leaves. Zoe was so confused, and it must have shown on her childlike face. The groundling continued, “I am sorry about your father. He was a great man.”

You knew my Pa?” Zoe asked, although she realized how stupid the question was as soon as it escaped her lips. Of course he knows Pa; he didn’t get under his floor unknowingly.

“We were friends. He asked me to protect you.” The groundling lowered his head and continued, “If you have awakened me, then he is gone.”

“He is.”

“Then these belong to you,” the straw creature reached back down into the hole and withdrew a pair of ruby encrusted gauntlets. He handed them over to Zoe and stated. “I am now your servant, in accordance with the covenant I struck with your father. I will guard you until you free me of that duty.” 

The gloves were way too large for the fourteen year old girl’s hands. They were obviously her Pa’s. The thought made her smile as she slipped her hands into the gauntlets. Immediately, they shrunk down to fit her hands. Zoe could feel the magic flow into her hands and then burst throughout her entire body. Since the war, magic items were almost non-existent; yet here she stood with her father’s magic coursing through her. It was more than she could have hoped for, but it was too much all at once. 

The straw groundling caught her before she passed out on the dusty floor. 

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2013 in Penn's Diary

 

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Escaped Prisoner

Amy

A man leaned against a tall pine; sweat ran down his face and dripped on the ground ferns. He gasped, trying to fill his lungs. The man even spared a few seconds to pull at the ropes that were knotted around his wrists. His reprieve was short-lived. The men chasing him were closing in once again. They would catch him, he was certain of that fact. He had been living on prison food for the past few weeks, and simply did not have the strength to run much longer. However, he was determined not to make it easy on his pursuers.

He headed deeper into the forest. The prisoner’s heart dropped as he heard the howl of an abyss hound. The giant dogs were bred as pets by the orcs of Locwood. He knew that he had been travelling in that general direction; had he already gone that far? The hound had found his scent. There was no longer any sense in running, so the man sat down and put his hands on his head.

The abyss hound stormed through the small green foliage and started barking at the prisoner. It circled the man until a group of three orcs appeared. They wore studded leather armor with the goat insignia of Locwood clearly showing on their arms. Each orc was armed with a shortbow. They also had shortswords strapped to their hips and shields upon their backs.

“Wat we got here?” asked the orc, who was obviously the leader of this tiny band. The abyss hound gave another howl. One of the orcs leashed the giant dog, and the beast calmed. The prisoner did not say a word. He was paralyzed with fear.

Just then a group of four humans burst into view. Three wore chain armor, while one wore plate with a plumed helmet. They all carried longswords and shields that were emblazoned with the pine tree symbol. “That man is our prisoner,” called the plate armored human.

“No,” stated Grug, the orc leader. “My prisoner!” He grabbed the man by the hair and yanked him up. The prisoner winced, but kept still and quiet. The other two orcs laughed. However, they readied their swords and shields.

The human leader took off her helmet and spread her arms; showing no aggression. Her name was Amy, and she knew that this situation could be very dangerous. “This man escaped from our prison yesterday. If you look on his left wrist, you will see the “V” branded there.” The other three humans kept their swords drawn.

Grug harshly grabbed the man’s right arm and turned his hand over. “I ain’t see nuthin.”

“Try the other arm,” Amy tried not to demean the orc.

“Still nuthin,” Grug stated without even looking again. The three humans took a few steps toward the orcs, but Amy held up her hand to stop them.

“This prisoner is to be brought back to Pinevale for trial. He is a criminal, and we ask that you allow us to return him so the he may receive what he deserves.” Amy was being very careful; a wrong move could send Locwood and Pinevale back to war.

Grug, like Amy, did not want to be responsible for starting a war. However, he could not allow the human female to dictate his actions. He would not allow himself to appear weak. “He ‘deserves’ his freedom. He escaped your jail.” The orcs could sense a fight coming, and the hound sensed the rising tempers as well.

“Are you not going to give us the prisoner?” Amy asked. She was willing to give the man over to the orcs if it would save a fight.

“Split him with ya?” Grug suggested, as he pulled a large knife from his belt. The prisoner went limp in the orc’s strong arms.

“No!” Amy shouted, which sent the abyss hound into a fit of barking. The orc was having a hard time holding the dog back. “No,” she said more calmly. “Keep him. He is your responsibility now.” She nodded to Grug in concession.

The orc leader was glad that the female had backed down first. He returned her nod, slightly.

Amy had to listen to the grumblings of her fellow guards all the way back to Pinevale. She knew that she had made the right choice; perhaps not for that day, but for the days which would have followed. Amy would be able to sleep soundly that night.

The orcs laughed at the retreating humans. They called the female weak, but Grug knew better. Sometimes walking away from a fight took more strength than drawing your sword. No, Amy was not weak; not at all. Grug understood, even if the others could not.

“Thank you,” the prisoner stated as he grabbed Grug by the leg. “Thank you, so much for saving me.”

“Oh, you.” the orc leader mumbled. His mind hardly registered the movement as he drove his knife into the prisoner’s skull. Too many other thoughts had erupted in Grug’s head to even care about the man. It ended up being a long walk back to Locwood.

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2013 in Penn's Diary

 

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Simple Leather Gloves

gloves

Every year for the Festival of Serynade, my dad would give me a new pair of leather gloves. I always knew what was in the box, but I would act surprised every time. As I opened my package, the smell of the fresh leather would come wafting out. I loved that smell. I would put the gloves on and cover my face with both hands. For several moments I would just breathe in the odor.

Now here I sit, readying myself to fight trolls with Jericho, the therian king. I watch everyone else as they prepare. Slanter is sharpening his phoenix-fletched arrows. Zipporah tries to appear confident, but I can tell in the tension of her hands that she is nervous. Syris, the dust elemental, is sitting quietly; a sure sign that things are serious. Pnils is burdened with a sadness much more cruel than any cut of a troll blade. He is a rock, though, for he knows that we need him. Tori is giving instructions to Master LePrius on how to care for each of the orphan children. King Jericho is lining out plans with Rasul, who wants to stay and fight so badly but refuses to even protest against the king’s wishes. Baron, the werebadger, is saying goodbye to his family.

I think of my family, and I wonder what they would have me do. Would they want me to go to safety with Rasul and LePrius, and leave the battle for those who are better equipped for such tasks? Would they want me to stay and fight alongside my new friends? I lower my head into my hands, at a loss. Then I smell my newly purchased leather armor. The sweet aroma of the Rosewood gauntlets take me back to those holiday mornings with my dad. I guess I will always associate that smell with him. I know what he would want me to do, so I go over to Slanter and ask him if he minds sharpening my axe as well.

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2013 in Penn's Diary

 

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Quoteable Quotes

War is the crucible which strips us to our core, leaving us to stand naked as the truest forms of ourselves. Those who do not fight against this dark tide are, and have always been, cowards. Those who do find within themselves the courage to raise arms, to stand against the enemy when it would be easier to bow; I proudly call you my brethren. I am not afraid to die with this hammer in my hand. I am not afraid to fall with this banner at my back. I fear no orc,halfling,troll, or giant. If fear has crawled upon you, then the war has already judged you and found you lacking. Go home. But if your fear has been consumed by rage; rage at the devastation this army has already wreaked, rage that they dared loose dragons in our home, rage at the innocent lives lost; then fight with me, my brethren. Fight with me. FIGHT WITH ME.      

-Ballack, second to the throne of Dundersnuff

 

When you can smell what the bastards had for breakfast, that’s when they are in range.  

-Randall

 

Truth is not empowered by your belief in it. Jericho holds the shield. Jericho holds the crown; no matter who sits on the throne in Shadowmire.    

 -Von

 

It was my idea.          

-Fare Fellraven

 

We can remain here and exist; or we can go back and make the world remember us.        

-Sepvul Sionnach

 

I will make them fear the light.

-Brooks

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2013 in Penn's Diary

 

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