I put it half a day of work today and a full day yesterday. Today, I spent the morning snaking out a nasty-ass sink drain and getting quite messy. It wasn’t great.
This afternoon I dug out some DAS Modelling clay out of my craft supplies and started making stalagmites for the cave diorama. I haven’t done much with clay of any variety. I’m sure there were some school projects with regular old clay, Silly Putty was a thing as a child, and I used the Sculpey bake-to-harden stuff when I made that 3d map a few years back, but this is the first time I’ve used air dry clay for anything. The working time on this DAS Clay is very short. I’m making simple shapes and doing it pretty quickly and this stuff is becoming uncooperative in just that short a period of time.
As I write this I’m checking the package directions and it does mention using wet hands, so maybe working it with water would extend the working time. The other thing that I was disappointed by, was that it doesn’t have any tack or stickiness to it… I mean, it sticks to my fingers when I pull it out of the package, but it doesn’t stick to the foam or to the wooden skewers at all. I used white glue on it before it has cured. We’ll see how that holds up. And one other thing, it seems to be developing cracks as it dries… not sure that is a good thing.
I’m not sure this is a ringing endorsement for DAS Clay, but I also haven’t done much with it or done any research on air dry clays in general. I may be doing something wrong.
You can see in the picture that I’ve coated parts of the foam with something white. That white stuff is drywall mud. I just smeared it on and then spread it about with fingers, popsicle sticks, and a cheap brush. I’m not done. There are parts that are still uncoated and I want to put another coat over the whole thing. I’m thinking that two coats should hide most of the stuff I’m trying to hide.
Well, that’s an update for you and, I guess, a warning about air dry clay. Later.
I’ve been thinking about getting back on the RPG wagon and running a game of Dungeons & Dragons. It’s been a while, a long while, and first things first, I need to refamiliarize myself with the rules and then find three to five players. So, this is not a thing that’s going to happen tomorrow or even next week… besides, Covid-19. I’ve got friends that are willing and interested in doing an online game, but I’m really itching to play in person around a table and utilize props and terrain and what-not.
On Thursday, I had the idea to create a 3d map of the Dungeons & Dragons stater set adventure, The Lost Mine of Phandelver. So I grabbed some XPS rigid foam board from the garage and started crafting the cave system that is the goblin’s Cragmaw Hideout.
Taking inspiration from a bunch of YouTube channels doing this sort of thing–Black Magic Craft, Real Terrain Hobbies, Tabletop WitchCraft, Wylock’s Armory, TheDMsCraft, and a bunch of others–I’m jumping into this aspect of the tabletop RPG hobby. Sure, I could have started with something simple like maybe dungeon tiles, but no, I decided to start with a small cave system on a 22×30 inch board. Of course I did.
There are a lot of stairs on that map, which meant the first thing I had to do was determine how many tiers or levels I was looking at. I started by assuming that the exterior grassy area would be my zero point and that each step up would be a half inch slice of XPS. I had two solid height markers from the adventure; the bridge is 20-feet above the stream and the slope from first cave to the one above it is 30-feet. Using a 1-inch = 5-feet scale, I was able to figure some of it out and other bits I’ll make work. The highest level sits at 7.5-inches.
I quickly decided that I wanted to go with a wall-less presentation. The caves are pretty narrow and a typical miniature figure base wouldn’t fit in a lot of the passages, but without walls they will be able to set on the passage and overhang the edges. This also has the advantage of not obstructing sight lines for the folks around the table.
My initial idea was to make layers that I could remove to reveal the next part of the map, but that would involve covering up already explored areas that might still be in use. My second idea was to make the caves modular, so that I could add them to the map as they were discovered, but I decided this was more hassle than it would be worth. This is for a game that utilizes lots of imagination, the players will just have to imagine that they don’t know what the whole cave system looks like. And I’ll just add the extra bits (monsters, treasure, what-not) to each cave as they find it.
I spent a good part of yesterday catching up with friends on Discord, filling the house with toxic fumes, and working on this thing. It’s coming along. Between yesterday and this morning, I’ve put together the bones of the thing. Now I need to sculpt the foam into the slopes and transitions that will begin to hide all the individual sheets of XPS.
As I post this, all of the foam has been set in place and some of it has been sculpted a bit. I used some acetone to melt the foam where the river and pond will be, all the remaining wood skewers will be stalagmites rising up from the cave floor, and I built the wooden bridge out of some stir sticks. Up next is filling some of the larger gaps, sanding and smoothing the foam, and then coating the whole thing to protect the foam.
That’s what I’ve been up to. Hope you’re keeping busy, staying safe, and keeping up the social distancing. Later.
If you have seen the boxed set of 8 D&D mini notebooks… well, I want you to know just how small they are. They are mini. So small in fact as to basically be useless. They’re front shirt pocket small. I’d give you the dimensions, but that won’t really tell you anything. Let me show you a picture. You can see how it compares to a small notebook and my mouse.
This officially licensed 8-notebook boxed set with red foil stamping and spot gloss on the slipcase features some of the most iconic beasts and creatures of Dungeons & Dragons. It’s perfect for notetaking and world-building, a must-have gift for D&D players as well as RPG, sci-fi, fantasy, and horror lovers.
You get 8 notebooks–2 graph paper, 2 dotted paper, 2 lined paper, and 2 blank paper–they seem like they’re decent quality, but damn are they small. I should have paid more attention to the description. I’m going to guess that, given their size, they will be useless to me for anything other than a bit of memorabilia from the great, second renaissance of D&D.
Speaking of which… Here are a couple other products coming out in April that I think would be neat to have. You know, if you’re looking to buy me something 😉
Never would I have guessed, given the reception D&D 4th edition received, that they would publish a 5th edition and it would see this level of adoption and success. And that after a lifetime of being involved in the hobby, that I would drop out and miss this moment that will probably never come again. People. I have some regrets.
After another evening of watching Poledark with the lovely Lady Ronn, I was scrolling through Amazon Prime Video and came across something that I didn’t know existed. A documentary about the art of Dungeons & Dragons back in the old TSR days.
I immediately started watching it, which probably was not appreciated by everyone in the room, but whatever. It wasn’t great, but if you’re a longtime gamer like me and have lots of good memories about all that old D&D art, you’ll enjoy it. I know I did.
My favorite tidbit was that artist Jack Fred was a pseudonym used by the artists, when a particular piece of art was felt to be subpar and they didn’t want to be associated with it.
It was an interesting watch and it was interesting to see and hear from each of the artists, most of whom I only know from their art. Check it out if you’re into this sort of thing.
Eye of the Beholder: The Art of Dungeons and Dragons Documentary 2019 1h 31min A documentary that explores the history & stories behind the art that helped create the world’s most popular role playing game. The movie profiles artists – both past & present – & features former company insiders, game designers, authors, & fans.
Appearances by Larry Elmore, Jeff Easley, Clyde Caldwell, Erol Otus, Tony DiTerlizzi, Brom, Todd Lockwood, Tom Babbey, Peggy Cooper, Darlene, Jeff Dee, Randy Gallegos, Ralph Horsley, Jennell Jaquays, Tim Kask, Dana Knutson, Diesel LaForce, Brynn Metheney, Dawn Murin, Steve Prescott, Harry Quinn, Jon Schindehette, Chris Seaman, Matthew Stawicki, Margaret Weiss, Tom Wham, Ralph Horsley
In September of 1983 I was very excited about the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon. It took all of one episode for me to recognize that it was not realizing my vision for a saturday morning cartoon based on my favorite game. I was disappointed and didn’t much care for the cartoon. But through the lense of nostalgia, I’ve become more forgiving and the cartoon has a fond place in my memory. Mostly, because it was a thing. A thing I would have never thought would be.
The D&D movie… yeah, that’s still garbage.
But this commercial is very cool and I’d be up for seeing more of this. I cannot believe how mainstream D&D is right now. It’s crazy. It’s cool. It’s crazy-cool.
Also, those statues in the feature image, they’re real. I may be getting at least one of them. We’ll see.
Lifepath Results Family Ranking: Freeman (11). Parents are alive and family status is okay. Childhood spent in a seafaring pirate pack. Four siblings, two older brothers and two younger sisters. Brothers hero-worship you, one sister hates you and the other is neutral. Is shy and secretive, but likes almost everyone. Values a mentor, honesty, and his musical instrument most.
Life Events Found a Gaikahn trainer that taught you “improved unarmed strike”. Made a male friend who is like a foster parent, probably mentor from above. Most likely the captain or an officer of the ship on which he serves. Held hostage for five months by a rival pirate cell. Powerful guild leader owes you a favour. Made female enemy. Was a partner or coworker who deserted or betrayed you. Feeling of hatred is mutual. Would verbally attack each other on meeting. The enemy can bring a small guild to bear against you. Had a happy love affair.
Kaida was born and orphaned during the battle
of Belisk in 35,720. Both of her parents disappeared during the fierce
battles that raged during the short war between Belisk and Lenta. She does
not remember her parents and believes them to be dead.
A kindly (and opportunistic) muirhaut, Rykeir
Fancywhiskers, found Kaidachild lying amongst the dead in a village outside
the walls of Belisk and whisked her away from the battle to raise as his
Rykeir took Kaida in and raised her as he would
his own daughter, training her in the skills that he knew best; bobbing,
boung nipping, dub lay, and the art of being a knight of the post. Rykeir
was a thief and a con artistry, he taught these skills to his daughter
and she began to back him up on shams and hoists. The two of them would
travel from place to place, mostly at the whim of the local city watch
or town guard, posing as scouts or guides, earning some small amount of
legitimate cash as they planned their next big score. While on the road
they would stay with wandering muirhaut clans and would always settle into
the muirhaut communities of any settlement they happened to be staying
in. Kaida found that she frequently forgot that she was not of her fathers
species, until some uncouth comment by a human would snap her back to reality.
In truth, she found the camaraderie of her adopted species to be the most
Not until Kaida found love in the arms of a human merchant, Dursir Tarval, did the duality of her situation strike her. She loved her muirhaut father and the friends that she had made amongst his people, but also she was in love with Dursir who did not understand her relationship with the muirhauts. Rykeir disliked Dursir and did not approve of his daughter seeing this crass and arrogant human. It was not long before the struggle of two cultures and the disapproval of Kaida’s father resulted in the end of Kaida’s relationship with Dursir. Kaida broke off her relationship with Dursir and moved on with her father. Redoubling her efforts to find the big score.
In the city of Uric Kaida fell afoul of a local politician, who chose not to forget a scam that cost him nearly a passings wages. Fallon Redentor vowed himself to stopping such crimes and con artistry in Uric. One of the first victims of this vow was Kaida. The city watch descended on one of her simpler schemes with a fierceness she had not experienced before, and with a mockery of a trial she was thrown into the dungeons below castle Uric. Her sentence was to be for 5 cycles, but the skills that Rykeir had taught her and her own good fortune allowed her to escape within the second passing of her imprisonment. Fallon swore to see her put to justice, as none had ever escaped him before.
Returning to the streets she was greeted by horrible news… While she was locked away beneath Castle Uric her father had been killed. Apparently he had gotten involved in a false con, a set-up that was orchestrated by Fallons men. When the bust went down things got rough and Rykeir had taken three feet of steel in his belly. Though she was devastated by the news, she realized she needed to move on. She needed to get out of Uric and find someplace where the law didn’t know her. A place where the pickings were ripe and she could make a new start.
And thus she found herself before the gates of Teesh. A moody, headstrong girl looking to make a fortune for herself. Though life has taught her to be secretive, independent, and untrusting soul, here she may find those who can help her achieve her goals. With a look over her shoulder and a shrug she heads into the city, looking for that one big score that will satisfy her thirst for wealth.
Alora was brought up in a small farm community just on the outskirts of The Skorr. She spent a very happy childhood growing up in a loving, hard working home. Though she lived the life of a farm girl, she learned many important lessons throughout her short life.
Her parents, Rochelle and Derk, taught her the value of labor and a hard days work. They taught her how to think solidly and make and be responsible for her decisions. Alora’s 2 older twin sisters, Cordance and Kellie, taught her how to be kind and strong as well as the necessity of charm and grace as a young lady. But of all the lessons taught in the household, Kyle, her younger brother, helped her learn the values of patience, understanding and compassion. In fact of the family, Alora spent most of her time with Kyle, playing tunes on her lute, making up stories and then setting them to song. Often in late fall after the harvest, the two of them would sit and make up songs of adventurers, hero’s and of far away places.
As Alora grew to a young woman, her time with her family became less frequent. She found herself walking for hours through the wood and fields, off exploring new places, but never to far from home. During these short “outings” as she called them, she would always daydreaming that she was exploring some far away place and helping those in need. Most often she returned home that very day, but as she became more adventurous, she found herself to walk further and further from her home, but always sure to come home before to late. Alora would set off just before the red sun rose, rarely to return until the after the seasonal moon shone high in the night sky.
As her adventures took her farther from her home
and for longer periods of time, she thought it practical to take a pack
with a few provisions with her, and she always brought her favorite lute.
It was one evening as she decided to make a camp
did she hear what sounded like a struggle or battle. She rushed toward
the sound in time to find 2 men battling. She ducked behind some
thick grass and watched as the blows became more bloody and violent with
the men’s raging tempers. Swords reflected the early moons reflection and
made the darkening night look like slices were being carved out of the
air. Finally, in one swift, and cleaver blow, by the man who she
thought would for sure lose, the fight ended in the stronger looking of
the two collapsing into a bloody heap. She lay quietly in the
grass trying to not make a sound. When the voice called to her.
“Child” he called, “I know you’re in the bush”, she rolled onto her back
terrified, holding absolutely still, trying not to even breath. She
fumbled for her pack grabbing for the dagger her father had given her just
in case he said.
“I need some help child, could you please come”
the injured man coughed violently and spat, only what she could imagine
was blood. Alora rolled onto her stomach and began to rise to all
fours. “I will only come if I have your word on the Maiden of Arbil
that you will not harm me” Alora’s voice wavered.
“Child” his voice calming “I cannot not give you
my word in that context, but I assure you on all that it just and free
that I will not harm you unless you give me just cause”.
Alora wasn’t sure how to respond to that but did
decide that his need was great. She cautiously approached the man
and found him to be even slighter then had expected, but his body was very
well formed and his skin was taunt against slender, but strong muscle.
The second moon rose into the sky and the night
around them grew darker. Alora stopped several feet from the man
and lit a candle. “Child, I will not harm you, you have my word,”
the man sounded honest and trusting. Alora walked closer but hesitated
about 4 feet from him. “Do you have any bandage and ointment in your
pack?” he moved his hand from a wound on his shoulder and blood poor out
of it like water running down your skin in a bath.
Alora stood stunned that the man was still sitting
and not at all scared.
”Oh my, does that hurt?” she reached out as if
her distance from him would allow her to touch the wound. “Yes,
very much, and that is why I need your help, I am losing blood very fast
and I don’t have much time until I pass out from blood loss, if you could
bandage it for me, maybe it will help slow the blood.”
Alora new she didn’t have anything that would
really help, but she did know that she had to help so she tore a large
piece of cloth from her breeches and pushed gently, but firmly on the wound.
The man shuddered, and took a deep breath. She applied pressure to the
wound long enough for the bleeding to slow, but not without sacrificing
the better part of her pants and his shirt.
She took her leave from him long enough to gather
some kindling and wood for a small fire and some moss to put on the wound.
She laid her dagger blade in the fire and waited for it to become red hot.
She checked he water supply and saw that she had enough for him to have
a few sips and to help clean the wound. After cleaning the wound
with the water, she carefully removed the dagger from the fire. The
man expecting the pain braced himself against the tree trunk and bite down
on the hilt of his sword. Alora placed the hot blade over the skin
and the stench of burnt flesh penetrated into the air. The man shivered
and flinched, but didn’t make much of a sound. There was just enough
water in her flask to cool the seared skin she placed some fresh cloth
from her shirt over the wound.
After taking care of the man she settled her self
on the opposite side of the fire from him and began to strum her lute.
For a long while they sat without speaking, except for the occasional song
from Alora. Then she found the courage to ask. “What did you
mean by not in that context”
The man looked puzzled, then the look of
recollection came across his face. “Child, there are many things
in this world you do not understand, bad things that happen to good people
and good things that happen to bad” he began to lecture, “but even these
are more understanding and visible to you then the evil that befalls on
everyone and everything”
Alora sat quite for a moment, and then began to
hum a line from one of her songs. “I think you under estimate me
sir” she stopped playing and stood. “I have learned a many thing
in my short life, and have been an excellent student. I know that I have
freedom from oppression, good food, a wonderful family and a “goddess”
that protects us, don’t misunderstand, I am well aware of the evils in
this world, and though I am not the victim of it, it does not mean that
it doesn’t touch my heart to hear of those who suffer from its plight”
Alora walked toward the man and placed her hand on the sword. “I
also know that good people often do bad things which can blacken their
heart and lead them to evil” She looked into his eyes “I am not afraid
of what is out there, because I know I can overcome its spell”
The man laughed what started out to be a hearty
laugh, almost to big for such a slender man, but it ended in coughing and
spitting of blood. Alora kneeled beside him resting her hand on his
“You are sick with fever, come over here and rest
by the fire” she took his hand and drew him to the fire. She gathered
some grass to make bedding for him, then lay down beside him using her
body to warm his, also trying to protect her from the cooling night air.
In the morning, she went to find the river not
to far from their camp, she filled the flask with water and washed some
of the blood stained cloth. When she returned to the camp, she found
the man to be sitting up resting against the same tree as the night before.
“I have bandaged you, cared for you, and I still
do not know your name” Alora started working at removing the current bandages
on the wound and replaced them with the clean ones.
“Sage” the man stated “I am Sage, and who might
you be?” he glanced up into her young face and realized that she could
only be maybe 13. She was tall for her age and very mature looking
strength lay behind her bright blue eyes. Her hair was now laid loose
on her shoulders where last night it was held back in some type of knot.
She was very beautiful for such a young girl, and he knew that she would
grow to be even more beautiful. But of all the things that stood
out, was that strength and confidence she held in herself that impressed
upon him and he knew that she could very well help him in his cause.
“Alora”, she said as she sat beside him “that will take some time to heal unless you get to a healer” she fussed with the bandage a bit more “I put some more moss on it to help speed the healing, and keep out infection, but that is all I can do for you.”
Alora looked up toward the skies “I have to leave now otherwise I will never make it to my home before both moons are in the sky.” She picked up the lute then the pack and shoved the dagger into a pocket she had made for it on the inside flap of the pouch. Hiking it over her shoulder, she turned and started walking in the direction of her home.
Before she even got more then 10 feet away, she turned and looked at the man she had met “Sage, I have a long walk, but it is closer then any city, I think maybe you should come with me, I am sure my mother can help your wound along” She stared into his face for a moment searching for something, any kind of response to her suggestion “Or don’t” she stated matter of fact and turned and started walking.
“Hold up young Alora” Sage called, “I am wounded after all” he teased. Alora turned around with a stomp, and met his smiling face; she could feel the heat rising in her skin and looked down at her feet to hide the blush. Sage grimaced and almost fell to the earth. Alora dashed to his side to help him to his balance. “I will carry these for you” as she lifted his sword and a small pouch. “Under the condition you tell me of your adventures” she smiled up at him and he down at her. Her heart melted, and she had to turn away again quickly this time to hide the red in her cheeks.
No real mention of the battle except for once during the walk home Alora asked about the dead man. Sage’s only response to that was she would learn in time and that he indeed planned to share much with her. This of course made her blush again and pick up her pace.
It was late night when she finally reached her
home. From a distance she could see the candlelight wavering in the
windows. Rusty, the family dog lay on the porch and jumped to his
feet when he heard the sound of intruders. Barking furiously, he
charged toward Alora and the stranger. “Rusty, Heel!” Alora commanded.
The charge settled into a jolly romp run, his bark more a welcome then
a threat. The front door of the little farmhouse flew open with her
father Derk in its shadow. She could tell by his profile that he
was holding his rifle in his hand.
“Daddy, Its me, Alora, and I have brought someone
with me who need healing” Alora shouted to the shadow.
“Alora, what in the name of Brea…” he stopped the scolding when he finally found his night vision and could focus on the man walking with her. “Rochelle, get your kit we have a visitor who needs your help,” Derk called into the house. “You young lady have some explaining to do,” he said in a stern, but concerned voice.
“Alora Danielle, where in heavens name have you been!” Her mother came though the door and hugged her.” We expected you sometime mid Dae. “Rochelle,” she stated to the stranger, “and this is Derk, come inside and lets take a look at you”
Rochelle tended to Sage’s wounds and then fixed something for the two travelers to eat. After Alora was finished with her meal she was hurried off to bed “We have a lot of talking to do in the morning young lady” her mother lectured sternly, “Sleep well child” her father called after her. Derk turned to Sage to continue on with a discussion that started during the meal. The topic seemed all to political for Alora to take much interest in, but her father seemed to be enjoying himself and that made her happy so she just mostly listened.
After about an hour of tossing in her bed, Alora snuck out into the main room to check on their guest. She got to the corner of the steps in time to hear Sage offer to help the family prepare for the Harvest and Derk to happily except his offer. Just then, she saw Sage look directly at her nod and wink. Derk didn’t even turn his head instead said “Alora Danielle O’Donnall, you had best be in your bed young lady you are in enough trouble.” Alora ran over to her father kissed him on the cheek and ran off to bed.
During his stay, Sage worked as a farm hand, working
in the fields as well as doing some smithing. At the end of each
day, Alora would finish her daily chores and always make time to sit and
have lengthy conversations with Sage. During these conversations,
he would express the ideals of the Herald, romancing Alora’s attention
and guiding her in that direction. After realizing that Sage had
her attention, he decided that it was time to talk seriously with Alora
about training her as a Nehsurin apprentice.
He chose a time that he knew they would be alone,
away from everyone, even young Kyle. Alora had planned another adventure,
and Sage offered to go along to keep her safe, Derk and Rochelle knew that
Alora felt safe with him and agreed to the adventure, especially because
it was the longest one she would have gone on by herself.
Alora and Sage awoke before 7th lyt to head off
on their journey. Rochelle had made a breakfast for them and kissed her
daughter on the forehead. “Be safe my daughter” she said as the companions
walked into the early morning.
The first few hours were very quiet between them
and once they had decided to stop and rest, Sage sat next to Alora and
looked directly into her face. He couldn’t help but feel connected
to this child, she felt like a sister, but it was much more. He new
that it would never be because of their age, but the feeling was still
“Alora, I need to speak seriously with you right
now” Sage’s face looked stern almost like her fathers.
“Um, you have my attention” she spoke giving him
an odd look, “why are you looking at my like my father would?”
“Because this is a very serious matter and I need
your undivided attention.” He drew closer to her in order to better see
her eyes. He began “We have had countless discussions about many
things, most surrounding thoughts and feelings about my duties as a Harold.”
Sage took her young face in his hands and desperately wanted to kiss her,
but dropped his hand and went back to his speech “Alora, we are very few,
and have a huge burden to carry, when we find someone who has the ability,
we train them and make them one of us to fight against the aberrations
that are the regents, you, Alora, you can be a Herald. You can join
us in our battle for freedom. You have the talent, raw skill, and
you have the ability to see the Aura, if you would let me, I would be your
mentor, and you could be my Nehsurin apprentice.”
Alora sat with her jaw parted, disappointed that
he didn’t kiss her and astonished that he thought of her as one of his
“I don’t know,” she started to say “It sounds very frightening, what about Kyle?”
“No, I am truly sorry, Kyle can grow to be a strong warrior, but never a Herald, only you Alora” he was sad that he had to tell her this about her brother, but new that he could never be what she could be.
“What do I have to do?” she asked as she struggled to pull herself from the ground.
“You need to understand, that if you choose the path of the Herald, you chose a life of difficulties, but one that holds much honor. Most people are ignorant of what abominations the Regents are, and for your safety you would have to keep your identity from people.”
Alora stared into his green eyes and lost almost
lost herself in them.
“There is an oath you may take now, here with
me and there are rules we will discuss during training. You will
forge your own weapon and develop the skills necessary to wield it, you
will also learn how to use your natural talents and expand upon them in
time. For now, you need make the promise to be a protector of freedom
and keep the honor of the Heraldic code.” He stood and placed his
hands on her shoulders. “I promise I will not fail you Alora, I will
teach you what my mentor taught me as his taught him, and when the time
comes you will find one to teach and you will mentor him or her that is
how we survive. Each of us only know the true identity of two other
Heralds, the one that trains us and the one we train.” His eyes were serious
“This is for our protection, though never doubt that you will be in company
at a time or two with another Herald, but never ask for true names and
always accept the one he offers”
Alora began to feel overwhelmed, but made the promises he requested.
“Upon our arrival at home Alora, I will no longer be your friend, I will be your Nym’ra, you will have to listen to me and do exactly as I say, you will not always like what I tell you to do, but you must obey or it will corrupt the training. You also may never breath word of this to your family, not even Kyle, it may put their lives in danger as well as yours and mine.”
Sage sighed “Your training should have started
before your onset into adolescences, but your bright and skilled, and though
it maybe a challenge, I think you will be a great pupil.”
He smiled a warm smile and hugged her close to
himself, burying his face in to her hair. It was a shame he could
never have her, but he at least will be able to make her one of his.
Alora held on to Sage as long as he would let her, she pressed her ear to his chest and listened to his heart start to race. She felt the warmth of his breath on her head and dreaded ever leaving this moment.
Upon their arrival home, Alora learned of the
marriage between her sister Kellie to a Reeve in the city. Unexpected
as it was, it really wasn’t for Kellie, she desperately wanted out of the
farm life. She and her twin Cordance had always wanted to live in
the city. Cordance was granted permission to go and live with her sister
until she found a man to marry. It took only weeks for Cordance to
seduce a noble’s heart and was immediately engaged.
Cordance had a beautiful wedding, celebrated in
a temple of Brae. Alora played sick in order to not have to go. Saga
was really making his point about all of the regents, even the ones that
seemed helpful and considerate. Not to mention, it gave Alora time
to spend alone with Saga, even if being his pupil was nothing what she
During Tristkar, Kellie gave birth, but fell ill
due to an infection contracted during birth, so Rochelle and Derk went
to help care their daughter and new grandson. Kyle and Alora were
entrusted in the care of Sage, who gladly accepted the responsibility.
“Alora, I think you are beginning to master your skills, and you are now ready to fashion your own weapon. One special and specific to the Herald.” Sage took her into the smithing shed and handed her a small block of metal. “With your own hands, you will create a your own blade” with one swift movement, he pulled a sword from behind his back. He handed it to Alora and told her of its importance. “Once you have completed your sword and mastered it, you will be ready for real life training, but be patient Alora, you still have a long road ahead of you.” Sage took back his blade and slid it back into its sheath by touch. Alora stood in amazement of his skill but more struck by the grace in his movement. Even his sisters would envy his grace and beauty.
By the ages of 19 and 14, Alora, Kyle and Sage,
would take small trips exploring, and learning more about how to live on
the land. They would often be gone for at least 4 daes, sometimes
not returning for a few Decca. After a 3 Decca trip, upon their return
home, Kyle noticed flames licking up toward the evening sky. “ALORA!”
Kyle shouted, “That’s our home” Kyle took off running in the direction
of the fire, with Alora and Sage at his heel.
By the time they reached the small farmhouse,
there was nothing left but smoldering ash, soot and billows of smoke.
The fire destroyed everything they had owned, and all of the animals were
set free. A sign sat posted not to far from the remains. Alora walked
over to the sign and read it aloud “This house was condemned, in the name
of the Maiden of Arbil.” Kyle rifled through the remains for a moment
looking for something, anything he could recognize.
Sage found himself standing very close to Alora, close enough to smell the rosemary in her hair. She turned to him, not expecting him to be so close, her cheeks stained with new tears. Now that she was as tall as him, she met his eyes, “Why?” she looked into his eyes searching for some kind of answer. “My parents were good people, they did what they were expected” tears came faster, but her voice didn’t change “Why would Brae allow this to happen? How could she?”
“Where are my parents?” Kyle’s voice cracking with anger and sadness, “What did those bastards do to my mother and father.” Kyle charged at Sage, just directing his anger anywhere. He stopped and looked at the sign, “WHAT DOES THIS MEAN!” he shouted up to the sky. “I am going to kill the people who did this if I have to take Brae down myself” Kyle’s anger bursting through his body. Then he took off running down the road toward the Skorr.
Alora took a quick glance around at the house
and then in the direction of her running brother, whose pace had already
begun to slow. She darted behind what was left of the barn and found
a stone that had a mark on it. With her hands she began clawing
at the earth until she found what she was looking for. She pulled
from the hole what looked like a mass of blankets wrapped around something
long. As she unwrapped the blankets, the form became more apparent.
It was a staff that held the symbol of Brae at one end, the very one she
saw in the hand of the man who had died the night she met Sage. It
still in perfect condition preserved by the blanket and protected by the
Sage came up behind her and saw what she had uncovered.
“When and where did you get this?” his voice confused
“Just after you came to stay with us,” she
seemed distant and distracted “I took a trip out to where we had met, this
time on horse back, it took much less time”
“Why?” he asked
“I don’t know, something was pulling me there,
like something had called me, I know it sounds crazy, but its true” she
looked at him desperate for some understanding. “The body was still
there, and only feet from his body was the staff, your blood stained the
tip,” she looked lost in her memory, “I took it thinking I could bring
it to you, but instead, I cleaned it wrapped it and buried it. I
had actually forgotten about it for a long while, until today ”
Alora looked down on symbol then raised it to
the sky, standing in one swift motion. Her voice full of anger “We
serve them, and they can just take everything away…NO, I will not stand
for this. We have rights, and nothing but nothing will ever let me
be blinded again!” Then she threw the staff as far as she could, and it
embedded itself deep into the earth with it’s the mark of Brea still swaying
back and forth.
Alora turned and looked at Sage, her eyes full
of anger “It starts now” she demanded “You have taken me as far as you
can Sage, I need to start the second part of my journey, you can come if
you want, but I am going to find my parents and kill anyone who has harmed
them if it is the Regents themselves.”
Sage knew that it was senseless to try and calm
her now, and let her go to her brother.
“Kyle” she shouted after her brother. Kyle had
fallen to the road, his fist pounding the earth until dust clouds billowed
around him. Alora ran down the road after him, she pulled him to
his feet and hugged him close to her. He pulled away tear trails
stained his young face. “We have to find Mom and Dad” he said sick
with sadness “Alora, we have to find them,” he pleaded with her.
“Your right Kyle, we will find them, but we need
to make you safe first” She looked into his eyes her heart breaking for
his sadness. “I am going to take you to Kellie, she will look after
you for a while, then I will come for you and we will fight this together”
Alora’s eyes blackened for a moment, her heart full of anger.
“No, I want to stay with you,” he tried to argue,
“No Kyle, you will need to take care of our older twin sisters, they are need you more now, when I find out who and why this happened, I will come for you, this I promise” She looked directly in his young eyes, his only hope was to agree.
Sage, Alora and Kyle started walking toward the
city where their favorite of the Twins, Kellie, lived. It would
normally take about 10 daes of walking straight through to get to the city
where Kellie lived. But the three camped and explored, trying to enjoy
the last time they would be together. They would on occasion find
a farmer that would take them in and supply them with provisions.
The trio would stay a day or two, depending on the hospitality, but would
always get back out on the road on the 3rd dae.
Finally they reached the city and found Kellies
home. Alora took Kellie into a room and told her what had happened
and that her parents were missing. After a burst of hostility and
tears, she agreed to take in Kyle, with the understanding that if anything
ever happened to him, she was to be informed. Sage supplied Kellie
with some names and said that they would know how to reach him, and he
would know how to reach Alora.
Alora and Sage stayed with Kellie for a few daes.
During this time, Sage had made some contacts and found some information
directing them to a city called Teesh. There it was possible that
Alora’s parents may have been taken.
On the 3rd day just after first lyt, Alora and Sage headed out in the direction of Teesh. On this trip, Sage shared with Alora who and what he was, and that she was like him. He told what to expect in the next phase of her journey to being a Harold and made her promise to never lose sight of who and what she was.
Everyday she listened, both to his words and the sound of his voice. She found herself falling more in love with him then she could ever imagine. It was like a huge dagger twisting in her chest to know it wouldn’t be long until they would part ways.
In a small village just daes outside of Teesh,
Sage received a message from a strange man. Later that evening, Sage
came into Alora’s room and sat on the end of her bed and watched her sleep.
His eyes followed the length of her hair and how it caressed her face.
He was right all those 5 years ago; she had grown up to be more beautiful
then he even expected. He could feel his heart pound into his throat
and a terrible sadness came over him. He feared that this would be
the last time he looked upon her face.
In her sleep, Alora reached out for him and pulled
his hand to her chest. He could feel her heart beating under the
cloth of her nightshirt. He bent over to kiss her forehead, and closed
his eyes breathing her scent in holding her air like a memory. He
never imagined that he could feel such love for someone so much younger
then he, and yet here it was.
Alora stirred in her sleep and began to wake.
“Sage,” the sleep heavy in her voice, “what are you doing in here?” she
began to sit up slowly in her bed.
“I have to leave, I am being tasked” he spoke
quietly, but to try and hide the regret.
“I see” she stated the sleep vanishing “When?”
“I leave before 10th lyt” he struggled to get
the words out his pain getting harder to hide
“Can I come with you?” tears welling in her eyes
and sadness filling her throat
“No, you have a duty, you can’t and you know it”
his voice steadied, but still his heart broke.
Alora pulled his face toward hers, their lips just barley touching. She kissed him a chased kiss as first, drawing him in closer for a more full passionate kiss. Sage wrapped his arms around her and pulled her up to him. For the rest of that night, they shared a passion Alora was sure didn’t exist anywhere else on the planet.
The next morning, Alora knelt beside the bed petting Sage’s silken black hair, missing him already.
“I will never love anyone more then I love you, on this you have my word” she whispered into his sleeping face and kissed him so softly that it made a butterflies touch feel heavy. She sat there for a bit longer just staring into his relaxed face.
After a few moments, Sage opened his brilliant green eyes and looked on Alora’s face. He blinked and when his eyes opened, she was still there. Joy and sorrow filled his heart almost instantly and at the same time. “I have to ready to leave,” he said regretfully, and he sat up in the bed, his tanned body, lean but muscular. Alora took the privilege of looking over every part of his nakedness and her heart shuddered in her chest. She could feel the heat rising in her, and not just to her face. She stood and met his eyes.
“You promise you will come back for me” she said
and she laid her hands on his solid chest.
“My love, you know I cannot make such a promise”
his face turned from her because the pain in his heart was swelling.
“But I will promise you this” Sage pulled at a ring on his finger until
it freed itself. He took Alora’s hand in this “I promise that I will
never love anyone more then I love you, on this you have my word.”
He slipped the ring on her middle finger of her left hand “I may not be
with you in body, my love, but I will always be with you in spirit”
Sage softly kissed Alora on the lips then finished
dressing. They went down to the tavern where they had eaten just
the night before. They enjoyed the company of each other, but now
it was different, it was a celebration of their love and mourning of their
parting. They ate in almost silence, except for the last bits of
information Sage thought Alora would need to know. When the meal
finished, a man came to the table and motioned to Sage. Alora’s eyes
filled with tears and she choked back a sob.
“I know you can’t promise, but if you live, find
me” she embraced him so tight he laughed at her strength. “I promise,”
he said. He kissed her on the forehead then on the lips then walked
out the door.
“Be careful Alora” he said as he mounted his horse, “Find some company, there are those who will help you in your cause, you will come to know them in Teesh when you get there ask for…” He turned his horse and started riding off…He turned his head one last time and shouted, “I love you Alora Danielle I promise!”
“I will always love you” She could barley get
out the words. She watched as he rode down the road they came in
on until she could no longer see him.
Alora went back to the room, cleaned her self up, gathered her belongings and Headed in the direction of Teesh.
I am the fifth, and last, son of Doreius Kosmas. A moderately wealthy
minotaur who was not expecting another mouth to feed. My father says my
birth was an accident, my mother that it was a miracle and a
blessing. Children are rare amongst women of my mothers age, to have a
child so late in life is a somewhat auspicious event. Children born under
such conditions are said to be of strong seed, and many such children go
on to do great things, or to die trying to do great things.
You see, being born so late the family business, lands, and fortune have
already been divided amongst the older siblings. It was so unlikely that
another child would come from my parents coupling that no provision was
made for the likes of me. In fact most of my siblings have families of
their own. I have a niece, Aglaia, who is three eight cycles my senior. So
you see, there is really nothing left for me. This is the way it is for
those of us who are “miracle children.” There is nothing more for me to
do, than to strike out and make my own fortune, create a name for myself,
or die trying.
Which suits me well, as I’d rather not be tied to the brewery and
vineyards in the manner of my elder siblings. Life is for the living, not
for watching the slaves grow grapes and tasting the latest vintage. Give
me a fine aged wine and plenty of adventure.
I left Taureas at an early age, taking work as a sailor. Because destiny
decreed that I make a name for myself, and bring glory to Taureas, I was
renamed by my father. In order to free me of the guild bonds of our
family, he took from me the name of Kosmas and gave to me the name,
Ettaureas. A name that is given to all children thus “blessed.”
Should I find great glory, wealth, and fame, I shall return to Taureas
and present my case to my father and the elders. If my case is found
worthy, I will gain a new name, one that will be my own, one that I
shall pass down with my seed, this is the greatest of honors. With
such glory as my name will hold, I will have my pick of the most beautiful
women, and thus my descendants will be strong, and they will bear my
name. And so I will live forever in glory.
There is no purpose to my returning home until I have earned enough glory to be granted a name. There is nothing for me there, it would be better to have the tale of my glorious death told far and wide by minstrels and poets.
Glory at any cost, eh? Well at least that’s what I have been
told. I also have been told that my birth is a miracle granted by the
Urathear. Most tell me to thank Pleiades, and to take the opportunity I
have been given to bring greater glory to minotaur race as whole. Well,
that’s what the stupid templars would have us believe. Of course such an
honor for my family means they should contribute much more to
Pleiades, which I view as somewhat of a scam. Though my mother believes
that the more they give to Pleiades the better favor my journey will have
in the eyes of Pleiades.
Personally I am sold on the glory thing, especially the part where I get to go home and get the most beautiful girls. However, its personal and racial glory that I believe in. The Regents be damned. I don’t feel that blessed most of the time. If Pleiades got me born 5th son, fifteen cycles late, then SCREW HIM. Anyway with all the grandiose talk about the minotaurs being free I’d expect more from them. I see most of my folk as being under the chaffing yoke of the templars. Of course that’s my yoke as well, since that’s Pleiades baenrahl on the back of my neck. I understand why the lesser species can be such cattle, but I expect more than a simple dupe to fool the minotaur people. We have lived to much of our history as servants to bow to anyone, be they mortal or immortal.species.d but the Minotaur.
I have heard something of these Heralds and am not adverse to their ideas. However, like all good minotaur I can bide my time and do all that’s necessary to be a good servant to Pleiades, though it has become somewhat galling of late. Besides, on the off chance I can call on a Regent or a templar at time of need, there’s no reason to lose that unless I have a better ally.
It is time to find myself a name. So, being well provisioned, I set out
across the Eastern sea to find my fortune…
Growing up in the fisherman’s village of Tront
was not exactly an adventurers dream. But for the simple folk that lived
there, life was good. There was ample food for all seasons in the many
fish that lived in the seas. There were weekly festivals in the town square
where everyone gathered to celebrate their good fortunes. For those in
hard times, the people of Tront were always willing to lend a hand to those
in need. They had all they needed, and wanted for very little.
Sacris Fishersson was no different than any of
the people of Tront. He grew up the 5th child of Aldens and Kalida into
a life of fishing. He and his brothers (Kews, Donas and Sqos) went to sea
with their father before first lyte every morning, and came back at last
lyte every evening, their nets brimming with the seas goodness. His mother
and sisters (Kala, Mina, Aurennia and Brunia) would then clean and process
the fish for cooking and drying. Life had not changed for Sacris in the
12 years he had been born.
Then one day, a large sailing vessel came to Tront
to trade. Her name was the Waverider, and she was the biggest ship Sacris
had ever seen. With 3 masts and a crew of 30, it larger than even the largest
vessel in all of Tront. Sacris went to his father and asked to be part
of the crew of the Waverider. He knew as soon as he saw it that sailing
on this vessel was what he was born to do. His father could see his sons
face that he would probably leave with them anyway as a stowaway, so he
gave consent and went to the captain.
The Waverider captain happened to have use for
an able bodied fisherman, as the waters in Southern Golgotha were teeming
with fish, and as he put it: “The ‘lubbers always pay top dollar for a
fish!” So he went to work with the crew of the Waverider as their fisherman.
The crew was sharp, and he taught them many different techniques on how
to get the fish they wanted. Since they were able to get their fish on
their own, Sacris turned his attention to the topsman. He was fascinated
with the way these men would scuttle around the masts, rigging the sails.
He asked the captain if he could apprentice with them, and the captain
agreed. Sacris spent many weeks tottering on the masts, repairing sailcloth
and rigging. It was better than he had ever dreamed.
One day in port, and old wizard was brought aboard
the Waverider. The old man set sail with them that day, and when the winds
had died down to nearly a crawl, Sacris and the Master of the Tops went
above to change the rigging to get the wind. As they were changing, the
old wizard spoke a few words, raised his hand and the wind that blew up
nearly knocked them from the yardarm.
Sacris immediately went to the wizard and asked
him how he’d done this. Magic was not generally known on Tront, apart from
the few cantrips the witches used to light candles. They certainly knew
nothing that would be as remotely useful as summoning the wind! Sacris
asked the old wizard if he could teach him how to summon the winds and
clam the seas. The wizard took him on as his apprentice, and began to teach
him the art of magic. Sacris learned the early lessons quickly, and found
many useful spells in the wizards old book. He shocked the Master of the
Tops when he ran up the mizzen mast without using his hands at climb at
all. He also learned how to magically mend sailcloth, and could do repairs
in a tenth the time it took the other topsman.
Sacris proved his worth again on the Waverider,
and the crew was as grateful as the captain. Sacris had enabled them to
double their profits and hadn’t ever asked to be rewarded for it. That
crew made Sacris an Able Bodied Seaman, which meant that Sacris could now
get employment at any harbor in any land. The captain proudly handed him
his ABS papers. But that same day, the old wizard couldn’t be waked from
his sleep belowdecks. Sacris went to see him, but the old man had passed
on. Sacris was sad for the loss, but he was sadder still for his lessons
had ended. He’d now have to seek out another teacher, someone who could
show him how to bring the wind and send away the rains.
And once he learned, he’d return to Tront and show the village people, and allow them to be truly free.
Twenty-eight years ago, a babe was born to Charles
and Nancy Wagonwright. This child was destined to follow in his father’s
footsteps and build wagons all his life, it seemed. Then he would marry
and have children of his own and they too would build wagons all their
lives. This was how it had been in his family for more generations than
anyone could recall. And this was how everyone in the city of Clayton thought
it would be for generations to come.
The Wagonwrights were a fairly well-to-do family.
They owned a larger than average house in Clayton in one of the nicest
parts of the city. Being able to afford a home that didn’t also contain
the family business was quite a status symbol, and they held it. They were
not aristocrats and did not often behave as though they were wealthy. Even
so, they were often guests at Baron Connor Bildeborough’s estate. Charles
Wagonwright and Baron Connor Bildeborough had been close childhood friends.
Nancy Wagonwright would have been a loving mother
to her first son, Connor, had she survived his delivery into the world.
Connor’s father, Charles, lapsed into a deep depression when Nancy was
gone. He ceased taking care of even himself, letting his home and business
fall through the cracks. He certainly wasn’t fit to care for his infant
son he’d thought to name after his good friend, the Baron.
The Baron intervened at this point and adopted
Connor as his own son. Charles died a few months later when Connor was
less than a year old. The Baron told Connor about his parents as soon as
he deemed the boy old enough to understand the information. Connor, serious
even as an adolescent, took the information in stride and never for an
instant ceased calling the Baron his father. This was all he’d ever known.
Connor was raised throughout his childhood as the Baron’s heir. He was trained–among many other things–in languages, fitness, court etiquette, combat, swordplay, and dance. In his teen years he was somewhat of a rebel, at least he thought he was. He would venture out into the city, interacting under a false name with the common folk. He lived an entire other life out in the city than the one he maintained inside the Baron’s palace. He always thought that his adopted father knew nothing of his activities out in the city.
Later, Connor found out that the Baron was aware
of his other life and had been nearly from it’s birth. The Baron ran a
life of his own outside of the light as well. He led a resistance unit
against the local power. He was a Herald, in secret. And through the years
he had trained Connor to be a Herald as well. Connor just hadn’t know it
at the time. His prowess in combat, at court, in society, and in the underworld
beneath combined in him to make a kind of alchemy for freedom–a potion
the Baron hoped the whole world would be ready to drink one day soon.
So, as Connor matured into his late teens and early twenties his alter ego became a member of his adopted father’s resistance. He’d work for them under his assumed name and his father would lead them under his own false identity. In truth, most of the people in the organization had never even met the Baron and didn’t know who it was they worked for. Rather, he would lead them second-hand through his son and other trusted lieutenants.
Most and perhaps all of the lesser cities in the realm have underground rebellions brewing in them but Connor’s father runs one of the larger ones. Today, Connor is arriving in the town of Teesh, some leagues south of Clayton, past Uric. Teesh is far enough away from Clayton that its resistance, if it exists, doesn’t fall under the influence of Connor’s father. Connor is on a scouting mission to find what exists under the proverbial rocks in Teesh and make contact with them in the name of The Underneath…