Friday, August 6


Hello my blog readers! I am saddened by the announcement that my stories have come to a halt. I have had a lot of fun writing them but now it is up to my blog readers to show their support and stop lurking and please give me some feedback!

Jenny Blackbirch the pirate has just been taken to the Windriders Guild in Sharn... is she going to be honored, tortured, imprisoned? What is her fate... it is in YOUR hands!

Zan, Beasley, Solcloud & Jenny stand at an ornate door, what lies on the other side? What does their future hold? that too is in YOUR (my readers) hands.

Please leave feedback here as well as email me at TheExperiencedNoob AT Gmail DOT com.

Friday, July 9

The Eternal Flame (Original Fiction by Xan)

They moved on up the tunnel to a thick oak doorway. Beasley had commented on the skill and mastery of the handle and lock on the door. Jenny retorted with the design of the ornate hinges designed to look like flames licking across the wood. Zander noticed how sturdy and well built the door was as Solcloud listened to the chanting coming from the other end of the door.
“Who cares about the workmanship of the door?” Solcloud whispered exasperated. “There are some evil rites happening on the other side and we need to stop them.”
“Mmmm, yr rite.” Beasley mumbled. Solcloud looked down at the halfling who was already trying to unlock the complicated lock with his nimble hands as he pulled various pins and wires from his pursed lips.

Thursday, July 1

Sharn, the City of Towers (Original Fiction by Xan)

They arrived in Sharn only a few days later with their captive ship and crew securely locked away in the brig. As they approached the harbor two small Deneith mercenary airships approached along each side of the Dryad Duchess.
“Jenny Blackbirch,” the loudspeaker from one of the airship boomed “you and your crew have been allowed safe passage into Sharn due to your ‘cargo.’ You will make your way to dock number fourteen and tie up there.”
The Dryad Duchess pulled into dock number fourteen and a small airship pulled the Onyx into the adjacent dock. Half orcs and bulky humans tied their ships off. Jenny walked to the side of her ship and noticed three official looking humanoid figures waiting at the bottom of the loading ramp. She walked down to greet her welcoming party.
“Hello there,” she started, “I assume I have you three to thank for the escort into port without confrontation?” As she got closer to the three individuals she noticed they had slightly pointed ears and fair complexions as well as strange tattoos that seemed to glow on their bodies. One half elf, a male, had the tattoo on his right cheek; the other two females had beautiful dresses with plunging necklines that revealed a similar tattoo on their chests. The taller of the two females began to speak.
“Jenny Blackbirch, daughter of House Lyrandar excoriate Theala, you have been summoned by Lord Toansus d’Lyrandar of the Windwrights Guild. Please come with us."

Friday, June 25

Resurfacing… (Original Fiction by Xan)

The party of adventurers continued down the corridor. Beasley scurried around like a mouse searching for a bit of cheese. He darted back and fourth examining each wall, every crack, and all questionable spots of dust throughout the walkway.
“It feels as though we are slowly rising.” Beasley whispered.
Following the small halfling, Solcloud trounced along proudly, not caring about what may approach or what could hear him approach. His immaculate sword still secured in its fine scabbard and his polished shield upon his flawless back.
“I feel nothing, Thief.” Solcloud scoffed at Beasley. “You must be disoriented, we are on the level.”
“Would you be quiet,” ordered Jenny in a half whisper.
She stalked behind Solcloud listening to every echo his loud armor made. Her Drow blade drawn and in perfect ‘Spada Libera’ or free for an advantage. She moved with such grace, her footwork moved in a way like a swordsman would advance slowly on a retreating foe. Her body moved like water, no sound came from her, not even her chainmail made a sound.
Lastly came the giant, Zander. He did not lumber like Solcloud, nor did he stalk like Beasley, but he moved carefully and as quietly as he could down the hallway. His hammer firmly gripped in both hands. The large oak chest strapped to his back made him look like he had twice as much of an upper body than he actually had. His dim shadow flickering on the wall looked even more intimidating.
“I agree with the little one, we are slowly moving up.” Zander growled a whisper. “It seems that was the dungeon, and wherever we are going was where they came from to be forgotten about.”
“Or held until they were sacrificed.” Jenny interjected. “Those acolytes came to drop off prisoners and left with living,” Jenny cleared her throat. “Well, barely living sacrifices.”
“Did you see this corridor when you were brought to the holding cell back there?” Beasley asked.
“No, I woke up down there.” Jenny shivered as she remembered the small, cold cell.
“Messy business, sacrifices.” Solcloud piped up. “Much better to sacrifice time and money to your god than living, bleeding victims.”
“Absolutely right brother,” Zander piped in. “No use dragging someone to the altar when they will walk into the church willingly right?”
Beasley and Jenny looked at each other as they fought back the urge to fall to the floor laughing.
“Yes, quite right.” Solcloud didn’t even notice the suggestion about his methods made by Zander. “Teach them the philosophies and then guide them into the temple.”
“Guide them with a strong shove?” Beasley accused Solcloud. Jenny and Beasley used the opportunity of conversation to drift back towards the giant and allow the knight to take point. Jenny just smiled and winked at the small thief having played this game before with other ‘proud’ people.
“Well if a good ‘nudge’ is all they need then I am happy to be my Gods hand.” Solcloud seemed to puff up with pride with that statement, not noticing too much the change in marching order. “If He can use me to direct people into His holy places then I will do so.”
“I prefer to teach them with my actions and tell them my beliefs over a tankard of strong ale and let them make the call.” Zander winked to Beasley as he sensed the rouse taking shape, but making sure to keep a watchful eye on the puffed up evangelist. “If they want to join my faith, they can ask me more.”
“Do you feel you gain many converts that way?” Jenny asked as she took up her new position just behind Zander. The bittersweet feeling and familiar hum returned as she passed him again.
“Well, there is a whole caravan of halflings out there who could drink even you under their tables.” Zander laughed.
“I find that hard to believe. I mean my father and I stayed up many a night drinking the finest wines when I was but ten years old.” Jenny interjected. “But I suppose a faith in a God who can drink the oceans could help you take a few intoxicating drinks. But why did you teach halflings?”
Zander smiled. “Well, I don’t know how to speak halfling just out of coincidence.” His face softened as he though back on the moment. “They helped me and I in turn showed them my appreciation with my faith. They all accepted the gospel and Othr has a whole caravan of small ones with big hearts doing his work.”
“I never thought it possible for a halfling to be a drinker AND a wrestler.” Beasley said confounded. “I would have left that up to the larger folk.”
“I find it better not to assume anything,” Zander smiled at Beasley and then turned to Solcloud. “Especially on first impressions.”
Solcloud acted like he didn’t hear the comment of his fellow evangelist but decided to keep moving forward. He kept his eyes fixed forward and walked a little more puffed up
“Solcloud don’t…”
Beasley reached forward as if to try and stop the knight from taking his next step but it was too late. The stone that Solcloud put his next step on began to sink. In less time that it takes to blink, the ground at Solcloud’s feet instantaneously dropped out from under him and he began to fall. Luckily Zander had been expecting a trap to be set off by the preoccupied paladin seeing how easily Jenny and Beasley had set him up. Zander dove to the ground, sliding over to the pit as his massive hand shot out like a lion pouncing on a helpless animal catching Solcloud by in his armor. The half elf now dangled sheepishly by the scruff of his neck like a puppy in its mother’s mouth. About five feet down from the tips of his toes lay a spread of rusty swords and rotting wood spikes.
“Good show, old boy.” Solcloud tried to hold his voice steady as the shock resided. “Now could you be a lad and pull me up?”
“It seems that our company does not agree with your attitude, Sir Knight.” Zander groaned a bit as Solcloud twisted in his grasp.
“Quite right, I can see that we are at an impasse.” Solcloud retorted.
“Maybe you should keep the religion to yourself.” Beasley shouted down the hole.
“But that is what I do, my boy.” Solcloud said as he looked up at the three above his head.
“How about you just lay off it a bit then?” Jenny compromised as she admired Zander’s massive five-foot arm dangling the shiny knight in this hole.
“Point taken madam.” Solcloud conceded. “And I will trust your judgments in battle and I will redouble my efforts to understand your ways in ‘stalking.’ Now Brother, could you please hoist me up?”
The giant struggled to his knees and hoisted up the knight with both hands without any visible strain. Jenny just stood there amazed by the hulking frame that was this humble and mild priest.
Solcloud took a quick assessment of his armor and provisions, making sure none were lost in the fall. He noticed a scuff on his shield and tried to hold back a gasp but it still escaped as a whimper. Jenny and Beasley only smiled at each other. Beasley looked at Jenny in a way that only thieves could communicate. A few small gestures, almost imperceptible, passed between them as if to say “Good work.” Beasley climbed across the small ledge against the wall where the trap door connected and found the reset switch. The large slab slowly clinked back into place and they proceeded on their venture up the hallway.
Beasley, now back up front, noted to the rest of the group that the hallway was becoming steeper and the stonework and masonry was becoming cleaner and more ornate.
“We must be approaching the sacrificial chamber.” Jenny gritted her teeth.
“Shhh!” Beasley chided. “Can you hear that?”
Everyone stopped dead in their tracks and began to listen intently. A popping and crackling like flame burning moist wood could be heard in the distance. Along with that was the sound of chanting and hollering. The damp air in the hallway seemed to be drawn towards the sound. The cool, damp air in the corridoor rushed by them and was being replaced by cold and dry air.
“Whatever it is,” Solcloud mused, “It seems to be drawing all the heat and air toward it.”
“Let’s go.” Beasley looked up at the giant and the knight. “Let’s go quietly.”

Friday, June 18

Truth is Discovered (Original Fiction by Xan)

Blackfin waved his arms in large arcs as his giant Balka Whale tooth blades glistened like polished pearls in the setting sunlight. Jenny, with the grace of a dancer, moved in fluid motions to avoid nearly every swing of the massive blades. Countering the attacks with a silver cutlass in one hand and a small dagger in the other hand Jenny tried to advance on Blackfin. The two captains matched one another blow for blow never allowing the other to gain the upper hand. Blackfin knew his ship well and was leading Jenny back towards the bow where he had a winch with a line attached ready to allow him the upper hand. The evil captain reached for the line, kicked Jenny, and took a swipe at a parallel rope which counterweighted his massive frame and launched him up to the topsail boom. Jenny looked for a way up to Blackfin and yelled to her crewmate Maccus who was standing in the rigging firing his guns down onto the deck of the ship.
“Mac!” she yelled.
Without hesitation or another order Maccus saw a rope on a pulley near him that led down to Jenny. He jumped into the rope and cut one side. Maccus and Piper were more than enough weight to catapult Jenny up to Blackfin’s perch. Jenny and Blackfin continued their duel, this time always being mindful of their footing on the boom. Blackfin dropped one of his blades as Jenny struck a lucky blow to his right hand, but Blackfin countered it with a swift uppercut the knocked Jenny directly onto her back. Luckily Jenny kept her balance while prone on the boom.
The fighting on the deck of the chip had slowed down as both sides watched this epic battle amongst their captains take center stage. Both sides knew that the battle would only be decided through this mighty duel.
“Looks to me I will be taking yer ship after all, Blackbirch.” Blackfin laughed triumphantly as he made his way towards his powerless victim. “You know your father had the same look on his face when I carved him up too.” He lunged at Jenny.
Jenny lifted her left hand up as if to try and stop the blade coming down but as she did so a burst of blue light appeared to shoot out of her hand as a massive wind seemed to come out of nowhere and push Blackfin off balance. He wobbled on the boom and slipped from the boom. As he fell more than the fifty feet to the deck of the Onyx he closed his eyes before impact and then he felt the joints in his hip, knee, and ankle crack grotesquely. He opened his eyes and screamed out in pain only to realize he had stopped a few feet from the deck, his foot had been caught up in a rope that now held him suspended from the foremast boom.
“Looks like we won this fight,” Kilzar walked up to the dangling shark captain and slapped him on his broken leg, “and we even have ourselves a piñata to celebrate with.”
Jenny’s crew laughed as they surveyed the damage to the Onyx and watched as the remaining members of the crew threw down their weapons in surrender to these brave sailors. Jenny made her way down the rigging by sticking a dagger in the sail and sliding down to the deck.
“What are we going to do with them now?” Salt belted from the Duchess helm.
“We are going to take them to Sharn to stand trial as pirates.” Jenny laughed at the irony of her words.
“What about us, ma’am?” Piper queried. “Won’t we be hung as pirates too when we make port?
“I have a feeling that bringing in the notorious Blackfin and his now crippled Onyx will redeem us.” Jenny assured the smallest member of her crew. “Hoist the white flag and make way to Breland and her home city of Sharn.”
“AYE CAP’N,” was the reply of the entire crew.

Friday, June 11

A Strange Feeling… (Original Fiction by Xan)

Jenny stuttered in her stride as a small shock coursed through her body when she passed by Zander. The hum through her body buzzed all the way up to her head in a bittersweet rush of elation and sadness. She shook off the feeling with a confused look towards Zander and continued walking down the hallway. Zander and Solcloud followed closely behind her as they spotted Beasley down the dimly lit hallway. Beasley was waiting just outside the trophy room, leaning on the wall and carving a leg of the broken chair with his dagger.
“It’s about time you showed up.” Beasley said as he sliced a large chunk out of the piece of wood. “I was starting to get curious.” He looked up at his towering friend. “And you know what happens when I get curious.” He cut another chunk of wood from the leg effectively making the piece too thin to work with. He tossed it over his shoulder and proceeded to the only door left closed.
“Well, I figured you’d come running back if you got into too much trouble friend.” Zander chuckled as he patted the halfling on the head. “I had a talk with Solcloud.” Zander spoke in halfling. “I hope he realizes that he is losing great allies for his cause.”
Beasley just spit on the ground as he checked the solitary doorway for traps. “We’re clear to continue.” He turned to the giant and motioned him to open the door as he slid to the side; his tiny sword ready to strike.
Zander, with a small grunt, pushed the heavy wooden door to reveal a smoky corridor with dim torches about every fifty feet or so. The small flames seemed to go on forever.
“Well, looks like it is a long walk.” Solcloud pushed through the group gathered by the doorway and within a few moments was easily passing two torches between himself and the group.
“Let’s get going.” He yelled back to the three of them.
“What about Mayvn?” Beasley looked to Zander.
“Well,” Zander shrugged as he drew his hammer. “We know he isn’t behind us in those cells. Let’s go.”
The giant moved cautiously into the long hallway. Jenny drew her new blade and a faint hum could be heard as the steel brushed upon her makeshift scabbard. She moved up in front of Zander and winked as she passed by him, the same bittersweet feeling rushed through her body again.
“I think you aught to cover the rear Zander.” She winked at him and glanced down her body. Zander’s ears burned as he realized he had followed her eyes and found himself looking at her backside.
“Y-yes, of course m’lady.” Zander tried very hard not to let on his sidetracked thoughts. He tried to refocus thinking about the battle with the dragon or with the troll; anything to keep his mind focused on battle. Everything he tried just came back to gazing at the cat-like movements of the atypical barmaid stalking the corridoor in front of him.
“Get a room already you two.” Beasley stormed past them as he jumped from shadow to shadow.
Zander continued to walk a few steps behind Jenny. His mind wandered back to Jenny in that robe, then to thoughts of her milky bare shoulders with that dark elf chainmail resting on them.
“Doesn’t it hurt Jenny? Zander said curiously. Jenny slowed her walk as she contemplated exactly what Zander was asking. Did he know about the feelings she got when she was around him? Did she do something to tip him off? She had been a barmaid for some time and could hide her true feelings under a mask of flirtation, but never was she able to flirt and have it feel real.
“Does what hurt?” She asked elusively, trying to cover up any hint of guilt in her voice.
“That chainmail you are wearing.” Zander pointed with the head of his hammer.
The hum pressed further inside Jenny, her knees nearly buckled. She feigned a smile. “Not really, feels lighter and smoother than silk.” She reached up and touched her shoulder. “Everything from the elves is more beautiful and delicate than it appears.” A coy smile curled her lips as she slowly slid her hand down the chainmail to her breast. Instinctively, Zander’s eyes followed her hand until he realized where he was looking.
“M’lady!” Zander tried to rebound from his apparent embarrassment of the situation. “It is true what they say, elves are more than they appear. “Let us press on.”
Jenny giggled playfully. “Yes, let’s.”

Friday, June 4

Attack on the Onyx (Original Fiction by Xan)

With the six guns on the starboard side loaded and ready to fire with a flip of a switch and a run of fuse Maccus and Piper remain below decks for their captains’ orders. Kilzar sat in wait on the steps between the gun deck and the main deck to relay the order to fire. Salt stood in a crouch at the helm of the Dryad Duchess ready to flip the switch to release the air elemental that lay dormant in the bindings of the ship. Jenny stood at the forecastle deck ready with a hatchet in her hand to cut the tow line connecting the crippled Duchess to the dreaded Onyx.
The crew aboard the Duchess lay in wait, they were so quiet and still they could hear Blackfin barking orders to his crew over the crashing of the waves on the ship.
“Tighten the Fore Sail you mangy sea dogs!” The gurgle and the coarseness of the voice could only be accredited to the dreaded shark known as Blackfin. “Keep that Jib tight you bilge rat!”
Jenny’s stomach turned as she reflected on the visions of her father bleeding out in that Inn over a year ago, branded by the Black Delta, the light fading out of his eyes as he gasped his last words, “Promise me you will not go looking for Blackfin, but you will RUN and take the Duchess far away from here.”
“He came looking for me, Father.” Jenny mumbled under her breath as she tightened her grip on the hatchet. “He took our ship and it is time to take her back.” She took a deep breath and barked the words that her deck hands had been waiting to hear. “NOW!”
As if the crew were one being everything happened at once. The fuses started sparking and spitting as they slowly crept like a fiery snake towards the six guns on the starboard side of the Duchess, the windy roar of the air elemental could be heard as it ripped in a circular motion around the bindings encircling the ship, and the mooring line holding the Duchess hostage by her bow dropped into the water. The Duchess leapt forward in the water like a horse rears up on its rear legs before bolting. Just as the elemental brigantine drew up along the port side of the Onyx the six guns thundered to life raking it with splinters of wood and steel bursting into the air. The schooner lurched and stalled as the main mast took a direct hit and came crashing to the deck crossing the gap between the two vessels and creating a perfect boarding platform for the crew of the Duchess.
Without so much as an order to board the Onyx, Kilzar had already fired his blunderbuss into the disoriented crew of the schooner and was on his way across the fallen mast. Fire of his fallen ancestors burned in his eyes as he pulled out a second hand axe and ran into the fray yelling out battle cries in ancient dwarven. Salt was standing at the helm as he reached into an iron chest at his feet and pulled out what looked to be a small rusty cannon barrel the length of his forearm. Within seconds Salt’s right forearm had been replaced by this cannon barrel and Salt was firing fist sized cannonballs at the opposing vessel taking down two or three crewmen at a time. Maccus had strapped on a leather harness in which Piper could easily sit and cover his massive friends’ backside as they traversed the ship in great spans. Maccus scaled up the Duchess’ foremast in seconds and traversed to the Onyx in a blink of an eye, his massive ape-like arms propelling him with supernatural speed all the while Piper was raining down a barrage of pistol shot from his harness. The pirate crew of the Onyx was in disarray not knowing what had happened only seconds before now they were fighting for their lives in a seemingly losing battle against a massive army of six.
Amidst the shrapnel of exploding ship and musket balls Jenny made her way to the deck of the Onyx and after cutting down many rogue pirates she had located Blackfin near the foremast. Their eyes locked and it seemed that the world slowed down as the two engaged in battle.

Friday, May 28

Prejudice never led to happiness… (Original Fiction by Xan)

Jenny shrugged her shoulders and rolled her eyes. “But I don’t see how a theological discussion would have put him in such a foul mood.”
“It seems he didn’t like what I said about the Drow.” Solcloud shuddered a bit. “Devilish creatures the lot of them, especially their wretched infatuation with spiders. It’s disgusting.”
Zander could see the muscles in Jenny’s jaw and knew he had to speak quickly. “Do you think he could have been upset with the way you talk about someone strictly on their appearance, brother?” He placed a hand on Jenny’s arm.
“Whatever do you mean, Zander?” Solcloud acted a little hurt as he slid his breastplate back on, the reflection of the firelight reflected perfectly on it.
“Well brother priest,” Zander tried to choose his words carefully. “You have done nothing but judge on outward appearance.”
“What?!” Solcloud seemed to step back. “Judgment is up to St. Cuthbert himself; I merely bring sheep into his fold.”
Zander could see the conversation was going nowhere. “Brother, we are all creations of a divine entity. We move and breathe because of the special gift of divine creation. Someone of a different profession or bloodline should not judge what profession we choose or our heritage to be ‘evil’ or wrong. If we do so we may find ourselves judged incorrectly.”
“Truer words could never be spoken, my friend.” Solcloud clapped Zander on the back as Zander turned to pick up his large treasure chest backpack. “I would never dream of finding anyone guilty without proof to sustain the guilt.”
Zander just slung the chest over his broad shoulders. Closed his eyes, shook his head muttered a short prayer to Othr and kicked out the burning embers of their small campfire. He turned an apologetic look towards Jenny; her jaw set fighting back the urge to lash out at the paladin.
“Let’s go.”
Jenny adjusted her belt, the drow thinblade nestled through a small loop made of the discarded shirtsleeve. She proudly walked past the paladin who gave her no notice as he picked up his polishing kit and backpack.
“Yes, it feels a little dark in this room.” Jenny said softly as she moved towards Zander who was politely holding the door open for her.

Thursday, May 27

Dr. Heckyll, Mr. Jive, or Poole

To be Worgen or not to be Worgen? That has never been the question for Ol' Xan. The question is what to name said Worgen? Based on one of my favorite songs growing up, as well as one of my favorite books I have come up with three candidates:

Dr. Heckyll

Mr. Jive


Male or female, doesn't matter... so please vote and help me decide.

Friday, May 21

Taking Back the Duchess (Original Fiction by Xan)

Like a water strider bug across a still pond the crew in their elemental powered row boat skidded across the water in a perpetual pool of still waters upon the rougher waters of the Thunder Sea. Maccus’ arms bulged as he held onto the side of the small vessel to look under the boat he was shocked to behold what he saw. Beneath the ship was a humanoid form of a large ogre-like figure but made completely out of the waters of the surrounding sea. Like Atlas holding the world on his shoulders this gargantuan watery ogre held the small ship on its shoulders.
“My god, Jenny,” Maccus exclaimed, “I had no idea your father had friends such as these!”
“Neither did I, Mate.” Jenny smiled at her good fortune.
“There she be, Cap’n!” Kilzar pointed to the horizon as his mechanical eye whirred as it retracted back into his head like a spyglass.
“Shu’ei,” Jenny hollered, “slow down slightly so that we may board the Duchess quietly and not raise suspicion.
“Aye, aye Cap’n,” gurgled Shu’ei in a burbling rumble like a geyser about to erupt.
The small rowboat started to slow down in the water and settle back onto its surface. The waves of the Thunder Sea still did not come within five feet of the small vessel even though the seas were experiencing waves larger than a small gnome. As they approached the Duchess Ol’ Salt commented on the fact that Blackfin’s schooner had to resort to towing the brigantine because he was missing Red Dog’s hook to control the bound water elemental within it. With the considerable size difference between the two vessels and Blackfin’s ship being controlled strictly by sail and oar gave Jenny and her crew a speed advantage.
The small boat pulled in beside the Duchess just as the sun began to set on the Thunder Sea. The beautiful reds and oranges reflecting off the water and the sun at their backs gave them the upper hand as they boarded the ship and took care of the few guards riding on the sleeping vessel.
“Maccus, Piper, n’ Kilzar” Jenny began to whisper her orders to her men, “go below and get the cannons ready to fire.”
“AYE!” they whispered back with gusto.
“Salt, take the helm.” Jenny pointed to the elemental controls of the beautiful brigantine as she tossed him the hook of her father.
“Where is Rum?” Salt queried.
Jenny looked around and drew her sword. “I have not seen him since we took out the guard on the deck.”
“Shall we look for him Cap’n?” Kilzar had a gleam in his mechanical eye as he too pulled out his hand axe and small blunderbuss pistol.
“No time,” Jenny ordered. “We will have one shot to drop the sails, spur on the elemental, and rake The Onyx before Blackfin will be onto us. We have to make it quick.”
“Aye, aye, Cap’n,” was the reply of the crew in unison as they took their positions.

Friday, May 14

After Breakfast (Original Fiction by Xan)

“Way to go, smart guy.” Beasley hit Solcloud in the gut just right to score a hit under his breastplate, knocking the wind out of the half elf. “She was about to change again in here.” Beasley stormed over to his pack, pulled out a roll and his water-skin, and slumped down to eat his tasteless breakfast.
Beasley coughed as he choked down the rest of his dry biscuit and took a long draw on his waterskin.
"Honestly, I don't understand you." Beasley glared at Solcloud as the paladin was polishing his breastplate. His undershirt of chainmail reflecting the dim firelight. "You religious types always ruin the best moments in life."
"Excuse me, son?" Solcloud looked up from his work. "What do you mean 'religious types’? And I find nothing better as the moments I spend in a chapel of my God."
"That is exactly what I mean." Beasley tied his waterskin back to his tiny backpack. "By 'religious types' I mean YOU and YOUR profession." He accentuated those words as he tightened the tied on the backpack. "You always think everyone should subscribe to your beliefs and no one is truly happy unless they feel the same way you do about your God."
"Well, it is true St. Cuthbert has blessed me." Solcloud tried to defend himself. "And I feel that everyone deserves the same blessings I have obtained through serving him."
"Hogsmuck!" Beasley countered. "You push your beliefs on others. I have seen you try with Zander and the comments you said to Jenny a few moments ago were offensive. Even to my religiously neutral ears."
Beasley's face turned beet red as the rage filled up in him. Zander just sat there in awe as the little thief pressed on in his tirade.
Beasley continued, "I will be happy when we find our way out of here and we can go our separate ways. You and I can honestly not work together."
"It is just as well, my little one." Solcloud had a cold, emotionless tone in his voice. "I don't think stealing from the dead or delving into a cave for profit is the life of a preacher such as myself."
Beasley just looked to Solcloud shocked at his apparent disinterest in the whole situation. He stood up, slung his backpack onto his shoulders and began walking out of the room. "Zander, I am going to check on Jenny. I'll wait for you to join us when you are through here."
The door opened, a beautiful red haired woman stood in the doorway, Beasley hardly took notice as he bumped her knee as he stormed out the door. "Jenny, I'll be in the trophy room." And the little halfling disappeared.
"What is wrong with him?" Jenny seemed to float into the room as Zander took in the sight before him.
Jenny had removed the shirt and replaced it with the chainmail shirt from the swordmaiden. It seemed to hug every curve of her body with a deep "V" in it exposing her magnificent cleavage and milky skin. She had left the pants on, although the chainmail still hung over the pants finishing just above her knees. She was a stunning figure of a warrior now, not just a helpless barmaid.
"Zander?" Jenny stooped to look into his glossy eyes.
"What?" Zander shook his head to regain his focus. "I'm sorry m'lady. What did you say?"
"I said," Jenny blushed. "What's up with your tiny friend?"
"Allow me to answer." Solcloud interjected. Jenny turned around to see the paladin busying himself with polishing his armor, not bothering to look up at the other two.
"It seems the little one doesn't care for us, "Religious Types." Solcloud nearly choked on the words.
"Well I can't say I blame him." Jenny retorted. "I find religion a bit too constrictive for the most part. Although a good prayer can get you out of a real spot."
"Indeed." Solcloud's voice turned emotionless once again.

Monday, May 10

Ret Pally needs some love...

It has been a while since I have done a post other than my fiction posts. With my new job taking me away from home Monday mornings through Friday afternoons I will probably have more times to post as things come up. Being able to listen to podcasts on my long drive has definately come back into my life and I am happy to say that it feels as if I am going home to distant friends and family.


Missed you all!

Last Wednesday night I was able to go on a guild run into ICC. They made it all the way to Sindragosa prior to last night's raid. Well to make a long story short, my Ret Paladin main Xandarr (Lovingly referred to as Double R, for reasons I might explain if asked) has a gear score of just over 5100 but could not do the DPS needed to really assist the raid. Now everyone knew this going in, and the guild said that they would help me to gear up or do whatever to make my DPS crush all others. But I am trying to do what I can and asking the experts what can I do as far as spec builds and gear that could make me better for ICC?

Here is my armory page:

Talents , glyphs, gear... I am asking my readers to tell me what I can do and what the guild may be able to help me do to be better DPS for them. Also, is there a different spec that I might need for Raiding that my current Ret spec I use for dailies and PUG instances?

I am putty in your very capable hands so please reply and let me know.

Sunday, May 9

Nerdtacular '10

Wow, wow, wow!

This was my second year going to the greatest event I have every attended in Utah. Nerdtacular 2010 at the District in South Jordan, UTAH. Viewing one of the greatest movies of this year, IRON MAN 2.

I went with my friend Matt, AKA "TURGID" whom I went to High School with and have had a distant but solid friendship for many, many, many years. He was actually the one that originally told me about WoW when it was in it's early development stages. so I would have to credit him for my addiction.

Anyway, my family had a yard sale planned and they just happened to fall on the same day as Nerdtacular. Luckily I don't have to travel out of the state to go to the event. Unfortunately after the movie I was unable to stay for the after party and hook up with fellow gamers and bloggers. (ON A POSITIVE NOTE... we made $350 at the yard sale and plan on extending the yard sale to next weekend if you want to raid my 'bank' email me if you would like directions) But there is always next year. Because this event will only get bigger and better every year I will FOR SURE make sure to be there!

I went to the event and received a copy of WoW magazine Issue #1. That was pretty cool. And as I said the Movie was SPECTACULAR! The two minutes at the end of the movie after the credits were the highlight for me though.

To all those I missed... sadly we will have to hook up next year. For those I met... I hope to see you again next year and keep in touch!

Friday, April 30

Fire, Ice, and Spirit… (Original Fiction by Xan)

The morning arrives with the sweet smell of maple and bacon; once again, Zander is up before the rest preparing his sweet salted pork and maple. The giant crouches next to the small cooking fire made from the bottom couple of rungs of the driftwood and rope ladder.
Jenny rolls over and sits up, realizing her tattered clothes had been removed she examines her bare flesh to find not even a small blemish to her milky skin.
“I wondered when you would awaken, my lady.” Zander did not remove his eyes from his pan, giving Jenny time to bundle herself up in his blanket of a robe.
“Did you do this?” She softly spoke as she raised a smooth arm into the firelight showing the unbroken skin that used to be full of festering sores and bruises. “I am impressed by your skill; you seem more apt for destruction than repair.” They both shared a soft laugh.
“Yes, it is true my blood causes more harm than good.” Zander poked the bacon around in the pan with a small knife.
“Did you also do this?” Jenny let the robe fall off her shoulder to reveal the smoothness of her bare skin. She looked to Zander with playful eyes.
“It was to see to your wounds, nothing more.” Zander assured her. “It was after all had gone to sleep, we were alone.” Zander’s face turned a slight hint of red beneath the green skin tone. Jenny stood up, wrapping the robe tightly around her slender frame.
“I’m not embarrassed,” she said as she walked towards him. She slipped her arms into the sleeves of his large robe, whipped the robe open, closed it tightly around her, and tied it tight around her waist. Zander averted his eyes after he accidentally caught a glimpse of her natural form. He blushed again as Jenny continued. “Although I cannot walk out of here in this, no matter how elegant you may think I look.” She lifted her arms out and the sleeves nearly touched the ground and fell past her hands as she placed them on her hips.
“Beasley and I procured you some breeches and a nice shirt. There is also a nice chain shirt and a sword you may be interested in as well.” Zander looked up at her. She looked like a high priestess of Sif. Sif is Othr’s golden haired warrior wife. The priestesses of Sif and the priests of Othr regularly performed rituals together. Often these rituals were ones of fertility and for harvest. Zander’s heart skipped a beat as he gazed upon her form, her beautiful Gaelic red hear cascaded off her right shoulder.
Jenny looked at Zander and smiled. “Where are they?” She folded her arms in front of her, well aware that Zander was staring at her with his mouth open wide. “Or do you want me to stay in your beautiful robe a while longer?”
“They are over on my chest.” Zander pointed with his cooking knife to a large chest with the leather shoulder straps harnessing his large hammer, it still glowed slightly. The breeches and shirt were surprisingly soft, with a small bloodstain on the left shoulder.
“What is this?” Jenny held up the shirt for Zander to inspect.
“Oh, I didn’t think your captors would need it anymore.” Zander smiled and winked at her.
Jenny smiled and tossed her hair back. “Well then, I suppose that these clothes should be put to better use.”
“That is exactly what I say!” Beasley rolls over from his comfortable sleeping corner and sits up reluctantly. “You two need to learn how to be quieter when someone is sleeping.” He scratches his head and rubs his eyes.
“Sorry little one.” Jenny said jokingly as she slipped on her breeches while still wearing the robe, seeming to not care that two sets of male eyes were on her as she did so.
“M’lady, do you think it wise to dress in front of such roguish company?” Zander said as he looked to Beasley with a protective glare. Beasley just sat and stared at the beautiful human woman before him as she turned her back to them both and dropped the robe exposing her athletic build and strong bare back.
“Don’t worry Jenny,” Beasley grabbed his blanket and threw it over Zander’s head. “I’ll make sure he doesn’t see you change.”
Beasley winked at Jenny as she glanced over her shoulder at him and just giggled. “Why thank you Beasley, You are such a gentleman.” She slipped the shirt on and rolled up the sleeves. “Not a great fit, but it may do the job.”
Zander pulled Beasley’s blanket off his head and glared at him. “Jenny, there is also a thin blade and a chain shirt there as well.”
“I hope you don’t mind,” Beasley piped up as he kept his distance from Zander. “But the chain shirt and thin blade look to be Drow made.”
“Oh?” Jenny held up the chain shirt. “Have you ever seen a dark elf wear anything under their armor?” The chain shirt seemed to make a perfect V-shape starting at Jenny’s shoulders and coming to a point just above her knees.
Zander and Beasley just looked at each other and smirked. Zander cracked a smile, winked at Beasley, and cleared his throat. “Actually, I have never even seen a ‘dark elf.’ All I know of them is they are as beautiful as other elves only with black skin and silvery white hair.”
“They are also evil by nature.” The cold voice of Solcloud seemed to nearly thunder through the holding area where they camped. “Zander, your breakfast is burning.” Solcloud pointed to the unattended pan in the fire, the pork now blackened and smoking was burned to the pan.
“DAMN!” Zander cursed as he hit the pan off the fire.
“I guess we are eating rolls and water for breakfast.” Jenny laughed. “Good morning Sir Knight.” Jenny flopped the chain mail over her arm and bowed gracefully.
“Good morning, my lady.” Solcloud did his best to bow in his full armor. “Glad to see you are well, but do you feel it necessary to don that hideous and evil armor?”
“HIDEOUS!?” Jenny nearly jumped across the room for Solcloud making such a remark. “By the looks of those ears you have elven blood in you too.”
“I am not remarking it as hideous because it is elven,” Solcloud retorts in a haughty tone. “I refer to it as hideous because it was made by dark elves, DROW.” He curled up his nose at the mere mention of that black race.
“They still be elves,” Jenny said defensively. “We will see how hideous it looks on the right person.” Jenny just looked to Zander and Beasley, winked, and then returned Solcloud’s disgusted look with one of equal disgust. “You should take pride in the craftsmanship, no matter if it be DARK elf or WOOD elf. WE are all ELF.” And Jenny stormed off down the hall to the trophy room to change.

Friday, April 23

Calming the beast within… (Original Fiction by Xan)

Beasley sat on top of his last kill and wiped the blood from his blades on his scarlet leather clothing. “That is three for me, two for Zander, and how many for you Mr. Nice Guy?”
“It is not about killing my little friend.” Solcloud chided the small thief. “I assisted in your last one, and I slowed their approach into the room. Now what about our raging storm?” Solcloud looked around trying to find Zander.
“I…am…here.” Zander faded into view in the corner of the room. He was slumped into a mound, witting on the ground with his knees drawn up to his chest. “Did you…find…a key… little friend?” Zander observed the small halfling already looting the guards.
“Not yet, my friend.” Beasley barely batted an eye as he looted each body and spoke to Zander simultaneously. “I am still looking, you just rest and relax.”
“Do you really have to pocket everything you see on the bodies?” Solcloud shook his head as he too pulled himself up from his prone position on the floor.
Beasley stopped and looked at the knight with a look of disgust. “You don’t have to benefit from our efforts,” his voice nearly dripped with spite. “Zander and I could keep it all for ourselves.”
“Well, as you said my little pirate,” Solcloud dusted off his armor as he examined his now scratched armor. “We are putting it to better use.”
Beasley just huffed and threw anything of value into a pile as he looked for any clue of keys or anything. A couple precious stones, some polished coins, a shield with a slight red tint in the silvery sheen, and a few bottles filled with a deep red liquid. However, one bottle piqued Beasley’s interest; he stared at the seemingly empty bottle with a cork on it. He popped the top and was blasted in the face with a torrent of fresh air. Beasley’s hood flopped of his head and his hair blew back from his head.
“Must be a magic bottle, meant for breathing underwater or saving you when air is pulled from your lungs.” Solcloud again fascinated by the simple things.
“Or…perhaps…meant for…making your hair stand up.” Zander chuckled as he messed up Beasley’s hair.
“Or something like that.” Beasley tried to press his hair back down. “I found no key, Zander. Shall we try the other room?”
“Yes, let’s…” Zander’s voice faded as he walked through the door at a slightly slower pace. The doorway at the end of the hallway was open. The other guards must have come from this door; a small bell could be heard ringing just inside the door. This room was a bit statelier than the other was. A rack on the wall had a nice chain shirt hanging neatly from it, deep green and royal purple ribbons woven throughout fine links. A glass case with a lock was attached to the wall just under the ornate armor. Within the case lay a fine thin sword; black engravings along the blade and the hilt had a spider motif. Hanging from the handle of the blade was a white tassel. Beasley anxiously scurried into the room and directly to the rack and trophy case.
“Drow made,” he announced. “Too big for me, too small for you and too black for the goody-goody here.” Beasley pointed to Solcloud as he came walking through the door. “Not much for selling them on the surface either. Looks like it isn‘t a full chain shirt anyway. Seems like a lot has been cut out or destroyed.” Beasley didn’t even bother with the lock on the case although his fingers lingered on it, itching to try his hand at even the simplest puzzle of a lock right now.
He walked around the room some more and examined every little nook. He stared at a stone that seemed a bit out of the ordinary in the wall. Beasley took out a small dagger and tapped the stone, it moved slightly. His eyes glimmered and pushed his finger to the stone and it depressed, a series of clicks could be heard echoing through the chamber. Without a word, Zander rushed from the room back towards the cell. Not a moment later, a roar could be heard echoing through the hallway.
“JENNY!” Zander rattled the bars, as they did not even budge. Dust fell from the ceiling but the sturdy iron bars did not move.
Beasley rounded the doorway and saw Zander reaching trough the bars, tears filling his eyes, as his fingers were mere inches from Jenny’s bruised and blackened feet.
“Zander?” Beasley softly touched the heartbroken giants back. “Are they magic bars?”
“Why?” Zander sniffed as he leaned his massive body against the bars.
“Have you tried your ring?” Beasley pointed to the cat ring on Zander’s left hand.
The giants’ eyes glimmered with a sign of hope as he twisted the ring and vanished, a moment later he appeared again inside the cell with Jenny. He reached down and scooped her up in his arms, brushing her dingy red hard from her swollen face. Her eyes and cheeks swollen beyond all recognition, her clothes torn and bloody clung to her back. The bloody welts had long since crusted over and began to seal up, while yet others seemed to be fresh and oozing. As Zander examined her back, she did not even stir as he looked at each infected welt. Zander grimaced at the sight of Jenny’s bruised leg as the tattered sackcloth blanket fell from her body. Her dress shredded revealed many black, blue and red contusions.
Zander tried to cover her near naked body with the sackcloth blanket and turned his ring. Both of them vanished and then reappeared on the other side of the bars. He gently lay her down on the cold floor, wrapping her legs with the blanket. He knelt over her with his hammer in his hand, he mumbled softly and his hammer began to glow with an electric blue light. He touched the hammer to her legs; the welts started to fade. He slowly moved the hammer up her body to her stomach and her ribs, small snaps could be heard as her ribs set and mended themselves. As the last snap occurred, Jenny gasped for breath, coughing blood she began to speak.
“No more, please.” Jenny mumbled as she had so many times the days she had been down in this foul holding area.
“Jenny,” Zander spoke softly. “It’s your colossus.” Zander referred to the term of endearment Jenny had given him back in the bar as they exchanged drinks. The reference shook the cobwebs from Jenny’s mind as the familiarity of the voice and that word ‘colossus’ shook her back to reality.
“I knew you would find me,” Jenny sighed. “Even if you weren’t looking for me.” She slowly reached up to his pale green cheek covered in coarse black stubble. “You need to shave.” She forced a smile on her face as her tear filled eyes looked to the giant cradling her in his arms.
“Rest now, you are safe with us.” Zander held her gingerly in his arms, like a large bundle of eggs and slowly began to slip the large chest off his back. It landed on the ground with a thud and the lid popped open. “Beasley there should be my bedroll and a spare robe of mine, please retrieve them for me.”
Beasley swiftly made it over to the chest that towered in front of him; the opening of the large chest was about eye level to the small burglar. That did not stop him from scampering his way inside the chest. Finding the robe and bedroll, he reached out and handed them into the massive waiting hands of the giant.
“Thank you,” came the quiet tender voice of Zander as he cared for Jenny. He rolled the bedroll and placed it under her head. Zander then unfolded the robe, this one was a more ornate robe meant for special ceremonies. This white quilted robe had designs of rams and mountains quilted onto the back the gold borders were covered in dwarven runes. Zander disregarded the beauty of the cloak and mumbled something about how this covering would not do for Jenny. Beasley gawked at the majesty of the robe and was shocked that Zander didn’t wear it more often.
“Paladin!” Zander shouted as he looked around for Solcloud who was still in the other room. “Damn him and his speed.” Zander cursed in giant.
Solcloud made his way into the room; he gawked at the sight that Jenny now laid on the floor with Zander’s robe over her sleeping softly.
“You got her free?” Solcloud said astonished.
“Is not sloth a sin in your religion too, paladin?” Zander preached angrily.
“Isn’t wrath?” The paladin retorted. “You called for me?”
“Please watch her while the little one and I find some supplies.” Zander gently smoothed Jenny’s hair as he spoke. Jenny nuzzled his large hand and slightly smiled as she slept, like a child nuzzling a teddy bear.
“So we are stopping for the day?” Solcloud sounded a bit upset at the thought of spending the evening in the middle of a prison.
“Yes,” Zander looked up to the knight.
“You want to carry her out?” Beasley looked to Jenny and then to Solcloud. “She will be well in the morning enough to travel. Can you handle that?”
“Yes, and if she needs healing I can help her as well.” Solcloud said as he knelt beside Jenny.
“She will be fine,” Zander said defensively. “Othr will watch over her.” Zander stood up, leaving his glowing hammer on the floor near Jenny’s head for comfort and warmth. He turned to the small halfling who barely came up to his thigh. “Now, did you say something about dark elf gear earlier?”
“In the other room.” Beasley scampered out of the room pointing like a child who wanted to show his parents a discovery they were sure his parents had never seen before. Zander trudged reluctantly out of the room behind the halfling.
Beasley was already anxiously working on the glass case as Zander entered into the room. “I think that these may actually do Jenny some good.” Beasley said between twists of his lock picking tools. “They must be more valuable than I thought because this lock isn’t a simple one.
“My hands are too big to manipulate tools like that, my small friend.” Zander spoke back in halfling as he pulled up the padded chair from the desk close by and watched intently as Beasley worked.
“What’s wrong, friend?” Beasley took the signal of the giant that he wanted to keep this conversation candid.
“I am beginning to think that this torture chamber is only part of a bigger plot.” Zander whispered.
CLICK! “Great Dallah, I knew this lock would have nothing on this old lock pick!” Beasley waved his hands and the picking tools seemed to vanish, but due to the training Beasley gave Zander, she could see the tools slip into Beasley’s sleeves.
“One day you will have to show me how you do that, little teacher.” Zander laughed as he pointed to Beasley’s cuff sleeve.
The small halfling flipped the latch on the glass case, reached in, and pulled out the sword. “Not bad for a Drow weapon.” He tested the weight of the blade and then examined the tassel of silvery white on the handle.
“What is this?” Zander too saw the tassel and began to examine it, but he paid more attention to the small red tips of the tassel rather than its silky white braid. “It looks to be… blood.”
“Not surprising,” Beasley held it up to the torchlight. He then looked closer at the braided tassel on the handle. “Oh my goodness…” Beasley stopped to catch his breath. “This is hair from a Drow Swordmaiden, not exactly easy to obtain, Zander. This must have been her sword and armor, whoever captured this, is an amazing fighter. Swordmaidens don‘t exactly take too well to being captured.” Beasley changed his vocabulary into the human tongue and took a more serious tone. “I’d imagine that blood on the tassel is her own blood and to add insult to injury, I’d wager my share of our treasure that her hair was taken with her own blade.”
“Great Father Othr, we are dealing with someone who shows no mercy. One who takes pleasure in the pain of others?” Zander’s eyes began to pulsate with anger as tears slowly welled up in his eyes. He stood up, took the chain shirt off the rack, and wrapped the sword within it. “This blade and armor would best serve those that would stop the one who removed them from their owner.” Zander looked to Beasley. “Don’t you agree?”
“I do, perhaps Jenny could use them to protect herself?” Beasley replied. “Albeit, barmaids are more adept to their fists than a blade.”
Zander laughed at the comment and began to walk out the door. His voice echoed through the hallway as he made his way towards Jenny. “Most barmaids, yes. But I think you may be surprised by Jenny’s ability with a thin blade like this.”

Friday, April 16

Deeper into evil’s den… (Original Fiction by Xan)

Beasley examined the latch to the trap door. If it had not have been for Solcloud’s prayer and St. Cuthbert’s answer with outlining the hatch, they probably would have never located it. Beasley bent over the latch and slowly picked the release lever, lifted the rusty ring, and waved to Zander to open the doorway. With his massive arms, Zander reached over the small lock pick and flexed his massive muscles. The hatch groaned with its own weight as Zander snarled with the effort as he lifted it open.
Solcloud slowly inserted the torch down the opening, a crude ladder made of ropes and driftwood could be seen swinging gently in the flickering light as a small rat jumped from the bottom rung and scurried into the darker shadows. Zander began down the hanging rope ladder, gingerly stepping on each gnarled driftwood rung. After the giant was about twenty feet down the ladder Beasley followed swiftly and with ease like a spider on a web. The armored Solcloud had as much difficulty as the giant as he started, but Zander held the ladder steadier as the knight made his decent. After reaching the bottom, the trio assessed their new location.
“It looks to be a prison.” Solcloud speaks the obvious, as the others look roll their eyes at him.
“You think?” Said the small halfling already running around examining each cell. The smell of rotting flesh, moldy cloth, and refuse filled their nostrils as they looked around the room. The rooms’ walls had a slight curve; each cell’s door seemed to be within a step or two of one another. The circular room held ten cells set up around the ladder that they had descended down, the ladder seemed to be a constant reminder to the occupants how close to escape they were, but unable to grasp the ladder that dangled just out of arms reach. One heavy wooden door lead out of the room between two rusty iron cells.
“Zand..!” Beasley choked on his own words as he stood by one cell and looked between the bars. His face drained of color and his hand over his mouth in shock. Zander slowly approached the cell. With his keen eyes he blinked to adjust in the darkness and looked into the darkness in the back of the cell, what he saw nearly stole his breath away.
“Jenny?” Zander’s voice quivered as he held the bars in his hands, his arms flexed and knotted as he attempted to break the bars, they didn’t so much as creak under the great strength of the half-ogre. The barmaid lay motionless in the back of the cell huddled up in the dirty rags and refuse of the cell. Her beauty dimmed by signs of abuse and neglect. She was not moving.
“Jenny, are you OK?” The giant struggled to catch his voice as he wrestled to open the door his muscles ached from the strain but these bars were meant to hold beasts stronger than even he was.
“It’s no use.” Solcloud said softly as he tapped sympathetically on the giants bulging shoulder. “We will have to find another way in. I have discovered something; come over here and see.”
Solcloud turned with the torch and held it to the opposite end of the circle of cells. In the dim torchlight, the feathered plume of ‘Betty’ could be seen in the cell. Most of Mayvn’s other personal effects could be seen strewn about the cell as well. The bard was nowhere to be found. Tiny eyes glared in the torchlight under the hat and then a large spider about the size of Beasley’s head skittered out from underneath into a crack on the far side of the cell.
“There is more going on here than a contest of strength and survival.” Solcloud snarled in a vengeful tone. “It seems we have stumbled onto a torture chamber holding area. The slaves on the surface are more than just slaves; they were the survivors of torture.”
“I don’t care much about these empty cells.” Zander spat out a primeval growl from deep inside his soul. “I only care about getting Jenny out of here alive.”
The giant pushed his way through the two other adventurers and through the door. Looking to his left and right he observed a hallway with a door directly across from the holding area, as well as two wooden doors to his left and to his right. A light could be seen flickering underneath the door to the right. Zander wasted no time in taking out his hammer, twisting his cat ring and faded from sight.
A whirlwind of fury, a primeval roar, and a rush of teeth were all the guard could see as Zander burst through the door and clubbed the guard standing next to the door before he could blink crushing his skull. The second guard who had been sitting lazily at a table in the center of the room tried to jump to his feet. As all four feet of the guards chair rattled to the ground a hammer appeared out of nowhere shattering his left shoulder and sent him flying across the room.
“Zander!” Beasley shouted as he rounded the corner. Another guard, who had been standing on the other side of the door, rounded the door and swung his long sword at the small halfling as Beasley tumbled through the door and under the table. The momentum carried him under the table and he slammed into a lever protruding from the ground.
Solcloud followed the two into the fray. “There are more coming!” He looked to the chaos as he entered the room. “An alarm must have been triggered. Hurry, prepare to defend yourselves!” He grabbed the off balance guard who had missed Beasley and threw him to the ground. The guard easily fell with a thud.
Solcloud took a defensive position by the doorway, surprising entering guards with a quick swing of his sword or a slam with his shield. Zander faded in and out of the material plane roaring and whirling with rage. The guard slumped in the corner shook the cobwebs from his head and nursed his shoulder as he stood up limply holding his longsword in his hands.
“There are three of them!” The guard shouted as he spotted Beasley under the table. As the guard dove for the small halfling, Beasley twisted to his left and slashed at the guards’ good arm.
“Ha HA!” Came the gleeful cheer from the small thief as this small sword struck true. The guard dropped his sword and the halfling finished off the guard and dove back into the shadow of the table.
Zander’s hammer and face seemed to fade in and out of view as he whirled and roared like a raging ghost. The whirl of air and the smell of ozone filled their nostrils and it seemed like a thunderstorm were brewing in the room. The knight swung wide with his sword at an entering guard. The guard ducked below the long arch causing Solcloud to slip and fall with a metal crash. The hammer appears in front of the guard and just before impact, it vanishes. The guard blinks and says a small prayer to an unknown god, but to no avail as Beasley leapt from his hiding place under the table and drives his sword right into the heart of the guard.
“Zander, you had better control yourself, or I am going to kill them all myself.” Beasley jokes as he dives again back under the table.
“One more!” Shouts the fallen paladin. Solcloud takes his shield and slams the back of the guards’ knees as he steps through the door. The guard yells in agony as his knees crack. Beasley, like a stalking cat, leapt from under the table and drove both swords into the felled guards back.

Friday, April 9

Grumpy Idealist… (Original Fiction by Xan)

A familiar voice echoes up the corridor followed by the clatter of plate armor. “I am seriously beginning to think those three don’t want me to be around.”
The crash of every step gives away the cantor of someone bumping around without much light. A dim light flows up the cavern in the direction of the two companions. They both twist their rings and vanish into the background, just as the light touches their hiding spots.
“I swear by St. Cuthbert that they really need a good talking to about leaving someone alone in a monster filled cave, especially while they are sleeping.” The soot covered knight dusts some ash off his arm as he stumbles along the dirty path. “Leaving a note and traipsing off like nothing is going to happen to those they leave behind. As though they could just come back and the whole world revolves around them…
A small snicker echoes as if from another plane of existence.
“Who’s there?!” The knight freezes in his footsteps, the torch flickering as he waves it about frantically. “I am a crusader for St. Cuthbert; I am sworn to deliver Justice and Right. Prepare yourselves for battle!”
The laugh turns into two and the echo seems to amplify the sound to two thousand laughs. A rap on the poor knight’s armor makes him turn swiftly; the torch dimmed then flickered back to life.
“I am more than a match for all of you; now show yourselves to Solcloud Genus, deliverer of justice! Evil bewares!” Solcloud sputters out in fear.
“St. Cuthbert, these evil beings will not show themselves to me, reveal them to your servant, Solcloud!” A flash of light bursts from the holy symbol emblazoned on his breastplate. The cavern lights up in an explosion of light and sound. The light dimmed in every direction except for a trapdoor on the ground.
“Solcloud…” Zander’s voice seemingly jumped from corner to corner of the cavern. “Are you still looking for us?”
Solcloud drew his sword and gripped his shield tightly. “SHOW YOURSELF DEMON! I will not be deceived by your trickery, reveal what you have done to my companions.”
The laughter doubles as Beasley melts into sight from a shadow behind a stalactite. Zander steps from his hiding spot as though walking out of the wall. Just as the giant steps from the wall, Solcloud swings his sword at the emerging cleric. “En gardé, monster!”
Zander whipped his shield around just in time to block the large arc of Solcloud’s broadsword. The force of the hit knocked Zander to the ground, his wooden shield vibrating on his arm.
“I knew you had it in you, but you need to be using that kind of energy on your enemies not your allies.” Zander sat on the ground looking up into the enraged paladin’s eyes.
“What do you three think you are doing? This is not a laughing matter. You three left me alone while you ran away to get yourselves into more trouble.” The knight’s face continued to grow redder as he reprimanded his compatriots. “Where is Mayvn?”
Zander looked at his small brother in arms and then up to the paladin standing over him. “I thought he was with you. We left the protective spell over both of you.”
“I even checked the outskirts of the spell,” Beasley confirmed Zander’s story. “You were both covered when we left.”
The two pranksters’ hearts dropped as they looked to one another, feeling the loss of their mistake start to sink in. The paladin sheathed his sword and helped Zander to his feet. The three stood there for a moment assessing their next move. They had left a seemingly helpless poet and writer down here to fend for himself while they went off alone. Thoughts of betrayal, fear, and anxiety leapt into their minds.
“Justice will be done,” mumbled the dimmed knight. “We must find him. He is down here somewhere, and I will bet that he is in the way that St. Cuthbert has laid out for us.” The knight nodded, pointing to the glowing trap door on the ground with his cleft chin. “Evil will always show the way to justice.”

Sunday, April 4

An Unlikely Partnership (Original Fiction by Xan)

“I think the first thing we should do is find fresh water, Captain.” Bad Rum looked to his captain with an air of cruelty in his voice.
“You are right, Rum,” Jenny looked to him with a hint of disgust in her voice. “You always had a thing for self preservation.
“While you were taking a nap I found a natural spring on the rocks just a few hundred paces within the darkness of these coconut trees, Captain.” Bad Rum hissed as he pointed to the North.
“Well then, we should waste no time gathering provisions. Then after we gain our strength we shall look for a way off this rock and gain our precious Duchess back.” Jenny beckoned her crew to follow her as she made her way in the direction of Bad Rum’s footprints on the beach.
The rag tag group of pirates hiked into the trees and they discovered beautiful spring lined with black lava rock. Without skipping a beat Kilzar ran to the water, stripping his tattered clothes and dove in. He vanished in the crystal clear water and bubbles ceased to float on the water where he entered.
“KILZ!” roared Salt.
Jenny started stripping off her coat and sashes to dive in after him when like a shot out of a cannon Kilzar flew out of the water and slammed into a nearby tree. The crew ran to the slumped over dwarf and lifted the broken tree off his limp form.
“WHO DISTURBS MY WATERS?” roared a voice like the sound of a waterfall on boulders.
Jenny stood up with a coconut in her hand ready to defend what remained of her crew. “My name in Captain Jenny Blackbirch of the Dryad Duchess, daughter of the late ‘Red Dog’ Blackbirch, marooned on this island by the foul fish Blackfin. To whom am I addressing? Friend or Foe?”
A roar of laughter softened the roaring waterfall to the sound of a babbling brook. “THE Red Dog,” burbled a softened reply out of what seemed to be the water itself.
“Yes,” Jenny replied. “Who are you stranger? Show yourself!”
Within the water a giant shape formed out of the center and moved towards the pirates. “I am called many things, but I prefer Shu’ei.”
“What are you?” Maccus asked respectfully.
“I am a water elemental,” Shu’ei proudly boasted. He moved closer to the pirates and as he got closer to the edge of the freshwater pond he shrunk to no taller than Piper.
“How do you know my father, Shu’ei?” Jenny asked respectfully.
“He and I spent a lot of time together ages ago, right at this very pond.” Shu’ei mused. “It seems the Blackbirch family is drawn to this island. And I assume your next question will be…”
“How do we get off?” Jenny asked without provocation.
“HA!” Shu’ei wave-like form lashed out a whip of water and slipped back that seemed as if he slapped his knee. “I knew it; you are exactly like your father!” A rush of sound like the rolling of waves on a rocky shore made the sound of a deep rumbling laughter. “You know if your child comes to MY Island I will not have any more boats to get them off the island.”
“You have a ship on this island?” Jenny gasped. “How?”
“You would be surprised what washes up on my shores.” Shu’ei said in a matter of fact tone. “And I didn’t say it was a ship, I said a boat. Follow me.” The water flowed out from the edge of the pond onto the rock and continued deep into the trees.
Jenny looked at her crew; they in turn looked back at her and shrugged. The pirates followed the small wave into the trees to a small river deeper inside the forest and there lay a small rowboat with only one paddle.
“Here is your boat, Captain Blackbirch.” The small wave tittered as if it had just told a joke.
“How are we supposed to navigate that tiny boat in these seas and find our beloved Duchess?” hissed Bad Rum from behind the rest of the party as he emerged in the clearing.
“Perhaps you can turn yourself into a mermaid and push us, Rumsy!” Kilzar roared in laughter at the expense of their changeling crewmember.
“Very funny little man,” Bad Rums face contorted and shifted to that of a feral shifter with long teeth. “How about I just bite out your other eye and be done with you?”
“Enough!” Salt interjected. “You two will someday learn to cooperate, especially in the presence of our captain.” He then turned to the small wave perched at the bow of the small rowboat. “Perhaps you can help us, little elemental.”
“And what would you have me do?” Shu’ei scoffed at the notion of doing more than it had anticipated. “I already am providing you with a boat.”
“As you can see this boat is without propulsion.” Salt began to weave his deal with the elemental. “If you are able to get us back to our ship, you may have your boat back, plus a ship of your own.”
“You plan on giving Shu’ei the helm of Blackfin’s Onyx,” Jenny laughed. “Brilliant!”
“What do you say little elemental?” Salt stated respectfully, “Do we have an accord?”
“Indeed we do!” The small elemental dissipated underneath the small rowboat for a moment then by some unnatural means a roaring water could be heard upstream.
“Everyone in the boat quickly,” barked the bosun.
Just as everyone had boarded the small rowboat a large wave rolled from out of nowhere to sweep the little boat out to sea.

Friday, April 2

Master and student (Original Fiction by Xan)

The two adventurers did not seem to mind the quiet as they prowled the smoky, torch lit caves. Zander was starting to pick up some tricks Beasley tried to show him with hand gestures and facial expressions. They seemed to speak volumes without a noise exchanged between them. Beasley held his hand up with his open palm toward the giant, Zander froze.
The rogue slipped quietly in the shadows and approached a bend in the tunnel. Like a cat stalking a mouse, Beasley crept close to the wall on his hands and knees slowly and steadily pulled out his tools from his belt and began working on something invisible to Zander.
“What are you…?” Zander began to speak in halfling with a very hushed tone.
“Shhh!” Beasley snapped as he continued to work on the invisible wire. “I am working on a tripwire and I need all of my focus on…” Before Beasley could finish his statement there was a whoosh of air and a small needle hit Zander in the neck as he stooped over Beasley.
Zander began to swoon and waver, as his vision seemed to fade to black. With a thud, the giant collapsed on the wire releasing another hail of darts that flew over the little thief and the downed cleric.
After a few worried moments in the darkness, Beasley held a bag of strong smelling herbs to Zander’s nose. The giant jumped back as if a dog had attacked him.
“What happened?” Zander shoot his head and then pulled his knees up to his chest and leaned up against the rough rock walls.
“You failed to see a trap I was working on.” Beasley smiled. “Next time you will have to observe me from a distance. But I am proud of how you are trying to stay in the shadows.” The rogue continued to beam with pride over his large pupil. “But we need to be quiet, I think something is coming. Hide quickly!”

Friday, March 26

A giant and a sneak attack? (Original Fiction by Xan)

Zander just shook his head as they began back down through the swamp water and through the passage on the other side. He gave his small friend ample room to run off ahead but still kept him just within his sight. Beasley seemed to dart between the darkness and cracks in the cave wall like an animated shadow. Zander was amazed to see how skilled his little friend was.
The halfling froze a few paces ahead of the giant. He held his hand up in a fist and the lumbering tower stopped in his tracks. Beasley tapped his nose and winked at Zander. Zander took a deep smell through his large nose. A thick musk filled his nostrils and almost immediately he turned his head and his last meal nearly topped his throat. He quickly put his hand to his mouth and slowly moved to where his small friend was trying not to laugh at his lumbering friend turning greener than normal.
Zander peeked around the cave corner and viewed five slender bipedal lizard-like creatures. They seemed to be arguing with each other, creaking and croaking like a couple small tree frogs in the summer night’s warmth. The smell emanating from these dirty creatures was nauseous and Zander was astounded that Beasley shrugged off the smell but he was having a hard time keeping his eyes from tearing up.
Beasley put his finger over his mouth as he put his hood over his head and twisted his ring and vanished as a cloud of smoke dissipates in the wind. Zander looked at the ground and watched the dirt on the cave floor smash in small footprint like patterns. Zander tried to hold his breath as he twists his ring and flickers out of sight.
“You can’t have all the fun little friend.” Zander scoffed in halfling in a small whisper.
“Shhh… you need to learn how to prey on those not paying attention.” Beasley said in a tone like an aged instructor says to a pupil.
Quietly, like a couple of lions hunting a pack of gazelles, the two slipped unnoticed around the clutch of troglodytes while they continued to chatter and groan at one another.
It seemed they were arguing over a steel pot, probably discarded or lost by a traveling band of gypsies or ‘confiscated’ from an adventuring party who had descended into the pit. Unknowing to their surroundings the troglodytes did not even notice the two lions stalking them. The biggest of the three lizard kin was standing by as the smaller two fought. Without warning one lunged at the other, the two flailed on the ground lashing at one another with claws and crude knives.
“NOW!” Beasley shouted as he appeared on the back of the top troglodyte and made quick work of one with his sword and it went limp falling on top of the other. The second one, dazed by its victory, pushed the dead body to the side and tried to get up. As it started to stand, it stiffened, gurgled, and dropped to the ground. The crazed eyes of Beasley glowed with a fire of adventure as he stared at the larger troglodyte clutch leader.
The clutch leader stared in awe at this small man appeared out of nowhere to drop his two clutch mates with not so much as a blink. The large lizard man growled and drew its crude stone axe from the leather belt slung crudely from its waist. The stench of the leader filled Beasley’s nostrils as he raised the axe. Beasley felt his stomach turn as the noxious fumes paralyzed him. The toothy grin of the clutch leader seemed to grow larger as he ominously approached the frozen halfling, the glint of the stone blade glimmered in the torchlight. In a blink of an eye, the clutch leader flew across the tunnel and fell in a slump. The crushed head gave no hint that it had once been a troglodyte had it not been attached to his body.
“You aught to watch out for yourself.” Zander chided Beasley as he lay on the cave floor still covered in the gore of the two slain troglodytes and the grey matter of the clutch leader. Zander appeared like a reflection on a pond after ripples subside. He was holding his large hammer in his hand and was wiping the blunt face with his cloak.
“You have room to talk,” Beasley sputtered in the common tongue. “I scotched two of them before you decided to come out of hiding. You big yellow brute!” Beasley stood and wiped his face with a scrap of cloth from his pack.
“You got the two smaller ones,” Zander growled. “I was just waiting for my moment to strike, unlike you I don’t have size on my side to hide.”
The small man looked up to his large compatriot and laughed a hearty laugh loud enough to make even the giant proud.
“Come on, let’s get going.” Beasley slapped Zander on the knee with the gore-covered rag and laughed again.

Wednesday, March 24

Before the Attack (Original Fiction by Xan)

“Father,” Jenny roared through the thick oak door of the inn’s finest suite, “you had better not be in bed with that sweet young barmaid you was flirting with all last night!” Her voice began to show signs of impatience as she pounded on the door with more force. “That’s it! I’m coming in!” She screamed as she backed away from the door and across the hallway. She huffed a deep breath and charged at the door with her shoulder. The door crashed open as it broke of its rusted hinges. The sight that Jenny expected to see was not the one that awaited her in the suite of her father, Captain “Red Dog” Blackbirch.
Jenny nearly lost her footing as she slipped on the crimson pool developing on the wooden floor. His signature black and red coat lay on the bed at the far side of the room folded eloquently, probably from the night before. A man lay on a table in the middle of the room gasping for air, his white shirt stained burgundy by his own blood lay torn open exposing his red curls of hair matted with blood as well and a strange marking carved into his flesh.
“Jenny,” he gasped.
“Who did this to you father?” Jenny dashed to his side, bundling his shirt on the wound and trying to stop the blood.
“It is too late for me Jenny,” the fading captain gurgled out. “The Dryad Duchess is yours. Take her crew as your own. Leave here, now.”
“Father, what happened?” Jenny sobbed “Who did this to you?”
“Not… much… time…” he garbled out between coughs of blood. “Blackfin marked me with his Black Delta. He wanted me dead, and my ship to be his.” Jenny tried in vain to keep him breathing but the brand carved into his flesh ran to the bone. “You musn’t go after him, Jenny. Promise me!”
“Father, what will you have me do? Run from him like a coward?” The fire of revenge burned in her tear filled eyes as she hung onto her father’s final words.
“Take me hook, it controls the Duchess. You know that the elementals bound to its hull will only be controlled by its power.” He gasped. “Promise me you will not go looking for Blackfin, but you will RUN and take the Duchess far away from here.”
“I promise.” Jenny sobbed as her father’s last breath gurgled from his slack jaw. “For now…”

Sunday, March 21

This I Believe

So before I post this I wanted to say that I don't post much on this blog, I leave that to Maggie. But every once in a while I think I need to post a thought or two.

This I Believe is based on a 1950s radio program of the same name, hosted by acclaimed journalist Edward R. Murrow. Each day, Americans gathered by their radios to hear compelling essays from the likes of Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Robinson, Helen Keller, and Harry Truman as well as corporate leaders, cab drivers, scientists, and secretaries—anyone able to distill into a few minutes the guiding principles by which they lived.

I hope you enjoy mine.

I believe that if you don’t want to get your hands dirty, don’t. My father taught me that. I don’t want to say that hard work doesn’t profit you or benefit you, but if you are opposed to working in the trenches and getting your hands dirty then aspire for something better.

As a child I went to work with my father, the general contractor, to ‘help’ him on his jobs. During the summertime, when school was out, and sometimes on weekends I would climb gleefully into his truck. The smell of sawdust wafting into my face as I bounce on the seat, the same sawdust covered the dashboard and console of the truck. Our first stop of the day was at a gas station where my father would fill up his mug with his Diet Coke and purchase a sweet roll, I would follow him to the fountain and grab me a large cup to fill with my Root Beer and then over to the pastry cabinet for my chocolate cake doughnut with chocolate frosting. My father pointed out to me that the glazed doughnuts are so much better and sweeter. My comment, as a child at that time, was simple in my mind “I hate getting my hands dirty, Dad.”

My father proceeded to take the rest of the day and the rest of my life reflecting on my comment and taught me a valuable lesson. He explained to me that he has worked manual labor his whole life. He never graduated High School and was a misfit in his younger years. He was lucky to be taught by his Father-In-Law a trade in construction and he is grateful for that. He learned the value of working hard and having a strong work ethic. Be good at your job, do it well, do it better than the other guy and do it faster. Be paid by your ability and not by your time. Many times my father explained to me that if I didn’t want to get my hands dirty with something as sweet as a doughnut then I definitely don’t want to get them dirty with manual labor. He taught me to work hard in school, develop my skills in such a way to be paid for my mind and not by my strength or the sweat of my brow.

I appreciate the blue collar worker. I believe myself to be from a great strong stock of hard workers who made it possible for me to be white collar because of their example. I worked harder in school to get better grades and learned from my father that I have a choice in my life to get my hands dirty in jeans or get my hands dirty through sales in slacks and a tie.

Friday, March 19

On their own once again… (Original Fiction by Xan)

The large missionary is interrupted from his alms to Othr by a nudge on the shoulder. He neglects to open his eyes, as he already knows who has become familiar enough with him to attempt such an act.
“What is it my small thief?” Zander speaks halfling in a hushed voice.
“I am not a...” Beasley replied back in his own tongue but with a slightly aggravated edge. “Oh, never mind. “Call me whatever you want, but right now, you can call me ‘bored.’ I can’t sleep, and those two are out cold again, can we go? They are too loud and they are slowing me down with their complaining and ‘righteous admonitions.” Beasley waives his hands and puffs up his chest in an attempt to look like Solcloud.
“Very well little one, we can go again. Valhalla forbid you should get yourself in trouble with no one to pull you out.” Zander’s face curled with a slight smile and a wink. “But I do not want to leave them unprotected, give me a moment.”
“Hurry up; I smell adventure just down this hallway!” The hooded halfling said nearly jumping out of his skin with anxiety.
Zander looked around for a decent sized stone and placed his hammer on it. He knelt down and Beasley could see the head of the hammer begin to glow slightly and in the dim light, he could make out the giant’s lips moving but could not hear him speak. The hammer then dimmed and Zander stood up and walked a few paces away from the stone, it looked as though he had passed through a smooth waterfall. A sparkle of light washed over him and was gone.
“What was that?” Beasley looked up to his large companion.
“An insurance policy that our friends will be safe while they slumber.” Beasley looked to the cleric quizzically as the giant spoke to him. “Not to worry, Solcloud will know what it is and will know how to pass through.”
“Well I hate to think they may think the ‘thief’ ran off alone again. I penned them a small note to let them know where we went and they should catch up.”
Beasley had another stone with a piece of parchment tied to it with a bit of twine. He tossed it up in his hands as if to judge the weight and then tossed it towards Zander’s ‘magic rock.’ As the stone flew through the air it stopped and dropped to the ground where Zander had passed through his magic.
“What the…?” Beasley jumped a bit. “That is a protection spell of some kind. I like that. Now let’s go, we are wasting time.”

Friday, March 12

Digging in the Trash (Original Fiction by Xan)

“Well boys…” Beasley trots over to the pile of junk in the middle of the pond of black water. “Let’s see what this Dragon has been holding onto down here.” Without a moments notice he begins digging through the tattered clothing and bones of adventurers past who had become the unfortunate dinner guests of the young dragon.
“There is nothing but junk and tattered clothing.” Solcloud scoffs. “Why waste your time digging around in such filth? Can we just continue? I feel evil radiating here. This place must be cleansed.”
“I couldn’t agree more, my somewhat dimmed knight.” Mayvn takes his damp sleeve and rubs a chunk of slimy filth off the paladin’s now grimy armor. “Besides, it’s dark in here, the smell is awful, my shoes are soaked clear through, and my lute is beginning to warp.”
Beasley barely pays them heed and continues to dig through the refuse. “By the smiling face of Olidammara!” He stops digging in a gasp and waves his hand beckoning to his large friend but never taking his eyes off his find. “Zander! Bring me a torch quick!”
The half-ogre quickly does as he is told and rips the torch from Mayvn’s hand and trudges through the muck towards the mound and his small friend. “What is it?” He leans in over the small halfling, completely engulfing the tiny man underneath his enormous body. The torchlight flickers as he holds it close to the halfling.
“Back up a bit, Zander!” The small bandit elbows the half-ogre in the chest. “You’re crowding me.” Zander moves back a small bit, but continues to hold the torch close to the tiny man in red.
“What is it?” Zander says curiously.
“It’s a small jackpot, my oversized associate, a small jackpot.” Beasley reaches into the small hole he made and begins to pull out items to be of some value.
“Did I hear 'JACKPOT?'?” Mayvn begins plodding through the muck towards the two treasure hounds. “I think I am only entitled to MY share!”
“Oh how quickly we disregard our silks when treasure is involved.” Beasley takes a stab at the lyricist as the murky water splashes on all three of them when he approaches them.
“Well, I did cause a distraction.” Mayvn’s eyes gleamed with anticipation. “What did you find?” He flops on the sullied mound of bones, tattered clothing and twinkling metal beside the halfling.
Beasley just rolls his eyes as he reaches into the hole he has dug. He pulls out a diamond bigger than his tiny fist. “I didn’t find much.” He turns to Zander and smiles. “But it should pay the bills.”
From across the cavern Solcloud’s voice echoes. “I hope you plan on giving some of that as a donation to the poor! The church always needs financial support.”
Beasley only huffs and buries his head back into the refuse.
“Our patrons also give us blessings to pay for the quests we must go on.” Zander harasses Solcloud. “Don’t you think they guided us to this trove to pay for a greater mission?”
Solcloud slinks in his armor as he folds his arms with a huff. “I doubt St. Cuthbert would appreciate us keeping this fortune to ourselves.” He skulks off down the passageway a bit to leave the raiders to their dirty work.
“DON’T MOVE!” Beasley spurts out to Mayvn with his arms straight out and his hands out. “Since when did you find silks to lie on?”
“What are you talking about my boy?” Mayvn looked at him quizzically. “I just dropped on top of some old rusty armor.” Mayvn pats his ‘bed’ he had been lying on while watching the small burglar work. To his amazement, he was not on rusty armor anymore, but on a bed of silky robes.
“My goodness!” Mayvn jumps to his feet, the silks disappear, and the rusty armor reappears.
“Touch it again.” Beasley prods the bard. “I have a thought.”
Mayvn slowly extends his hand to the armor and with one extended finger touches the armor. The armor again turns into silks before the three raiders as they all gasp.
“I have heard of this before,” barks Mayvn. “It is glammered! It appears to be whatever the host wants it to be. Zander, you try!”
Mayvn removes his hand and the rusty armor returns. Zander hesitantly does the same and touches the rusty armor and it turns to chain mail armor. Zander jumps back in astonishment and pushes the rusty armor away. “No Thank You! I do not want something like that; Othr likes things to be as they appear. Nothing to hide.”
“It is too heavy for me to be walking around in full plate armor.” Mayvn scoffs. “Besides, it wouldn’t feel like silk against my delicate skin.”
“Well,” Beasley shrugs. “I am too small for it, and it will make too much noise for my tastes. By the looks Mr. Shiny was giving us about keeping this stuff, I doubt he will want it. However, it will bring a good price at the market. Zander, can you boot it in your backpack please.”
Zander slings the giant chest off his back and loads up the armor that looks like chain mail as soon as he touched it. “I just can’t get used to armor doing that. Makes my skin crawl.” Zander shudders as he turns his head towards something flickering in the torchlight. “What’re those?” Zander points to a couple bottles with different colored liquids in them. Beasley hops up, runs nimbly across the loose treasure mound, and scoops the bottle up in his arms like firewood.
They look like potions or poisons or something.” He gently lays them down at Zander’s knees. “Can you tell what they are?”
Zander pops the stopper on the first one and takes a deep sniff, smacks his tongue to the roof of his mouth and makes several clicking noises, rolls his eyes back and then exhales.
“This one is a restorative brew…crude but not bad when we are in a pinch.” Zander smiles as he puts the stopper back in the bottle and does the same smelling technique on the other two, devising they are an anti-poison and a curative potion for disease victims.
“We aught to keep all of these.” Zander gently tucks them into his belt. “Feel free to take them if needed.” He winks at Beasley as he pats the belt. “What’s this?” Zander notices an intricate stick tucked in with the pile of bottle when Beasley brought it over.
“Looks to be a wand!” Mayvn’s eyes begin to sparkle. “I am schooled in the ways of magical items; shall I give it a wave?”
Zander and Beasley gather up their things and begin to back off.
“Maybe you should identify that one some other way than giving it a flick.” Beasley says with an edge in his voice. “You are not exactly followed by good luck or anything.”
“Oh, very well.” Mayvn begins to mumble under his breath and wave his hands about as if to weave the very air over the item. The wand glows a light bluish-white and then dims. “It is a wand that cures moderately damaging wounds. Definitely a keeper! Well, I think we aught to find old Mr. Grumpy and settle down for a bit of rest.”
“I agree,” Beasley stands up and stretches in a long cat stretch. “It feels as though it is to be late.”
“I will take last watch so I can pray for help from Othr in the morning.” Zander opens his toothy mouth in a large yawn. The low rumble echoing within his cavernous mouth nearly took the color out of Mayvn’s face.
“I am sure glad you are a man of the cloth,” Mayvn hesitantly smiles and pats Zander on his cold chain-mailed arm. “You could frighten even the biggest things in here.”

Friday, March 5

Reunited… (Original Fiction by Xan)

“Zander?” Solcloud waives his torch around in the looming darkness. “Drat that big oaf and that thief friend of his too. St. Cuthbert would never approve of such shenanigans, regardless of the bounty.”
The heavy breathing and purring continued to echo in the darkness. The chill of the shallow, murky water seemed to permeate even the walls. Solcloud’s torchlight seemed to dance on the walls, reflecting the small streams of water soaking through the rocks and collecting on the cave floor into this underground swamp-like environment.
“We should be dealing out justice to the rank beasts living down here, not sneaking around them.” Solcloud continued to stand on the bank of the small swamp waiving his torch from side to side, trying to spot any sign of movement. The water rippled slightly, but not enough to suggest something concealed in the darkness. The silence was almost tangible except for his torch burning and flickering, pieces of cloth and rope sizzling in the water as they fell off the torch.
“I say!” A voice shatters the silence as Solcloud nearly drops the torch from the unexpected boom of sound. “Is that you Solcloud? I thought you were dead?”
Solcloud turns on his heels swiftly, draws his sword, and nearly lops Mayvn’s head off had it not been for his quick reflexes.
“Goodness that is a fine how do you do!” Mayvn bends down, picks up his hat, drops his shoes, and slips them back on. “I thought I was lost down here for good, alone.” He shakes at the thought of such an idea. “What are you doing here, were you separated as well?”
“Would you be…?”
Before Solcloud could chide Mayvn for making so much noise, Mayvn had already alerted the presence hiding in the darkness.
“You have come to take my horde, and no doubt try to kill me Paladin!” The words all seem to drip with poison as they are growled out in the deepest part of the swampy cavern. Greenish eyes seem to glint to life from the back of the cavern. “Well come on now, deal your justice on the darkness Paladin; let your silly bard there record your exploits!”
Suddenly a splash of water at the banks near their feet bursts a long black tail. Masked in the darkness the massive tail swings through the air, splashing water and flinging the surface scum around the darkened cavern. The immense tail flailed around in the darkness nearly flinging Mayvn across the room. Solcloud was not so lucky; his torch doused by the watery tail fell to the ground where he used to stand. Solcloud lay in a heap on the other side of the cavern, a good thirty feet from where he once stood. The scum and filthy water lapping over his scratched armor, he shook his head glad that he was wearing it. He rolled to his hands and knees in the water; he wiped a small bit of blood from the back of his head as he slowly made his way to his feet.
“Fowl wyrm, you deserve the justice St. Cuthbert will deal you through my blade!” Solcloud reached around in the bog and fumbled for his sword, once found he held it at the ready.
“Ha!” The dragon, still masked in darkness waived his tail in warning. “I will have you and the bard here as a pickled snack!” The green of the dragon’s eyes flickered briefly then it roared in defiance at the two would be horde snatchers. The dragon swung its tail again splashing a wave of fowl smelling water at Solcloud and roared but this time the swing went wide and the roar was not one of anger but one of pain.
“Get to higher ground!” The small yelp of Beasley came in the direction of the dragon. “You kept him busy long enough for me to find him. RUN!”
The dragon flailed around as the small halfling had dug his short sword into the knee of the giant beast. The great black monster turned its head towards the pain scorching through its leg and snapped at the small attacker, but he seemed to have disappeared.
“Show yourself thief!” The dragon snarled with rage, nursing his fresh wound. “I know you are here, in the shadows, lurking in my waters!”
“You will have to find us.” The haunting voice of Zander booms from the shadows, echoing in a distant ghostly tone.
The dragon roars again as the crunch of scale and bone mixes with the sound of flesh and sinew. The dragon turned to the site of impact just in time to see the half ogre fade from view. “Your tricks will not work on me thieves! I have your paladin!”
Without warning the sound of air, being drawn into powerful lungs was quickly replaced by a sticky muck that burst from the dragons’ mouth. Hissing and putrid smoke followed in its wake as it splashed off the walls in a deadly line towards Solcloud. The knight, now back on solid ground behind the dragon leapt to the side just before the stream of vile goo hit the place he once stood.
“You see dragon,” Solcloud scoffed. “St. Cuthbert protects me from your vile ways, you have been judged. Now you must be executed!”
Mayvn, cowering in the corner heard those valiant words and stood up gallantly. “That was great; it will go in my next sonnet.” With that, Mayvn began to strum his lute and began playing a tune with a fast-paced rhythm and a strong backbeat.
Solcloud concentrated on Mayvn’s tune and lunged towards the darkness. “Fall before St. Cuthbert’s might!” He swung his sword wildly in the darkness, trying to locate exactly where the beast was.
The dragon, also blind in the flicker of the small torch near Mayvn, swung his great claws and flapped his mighty wings. Solcloud continued to parry the hidden onslaught of attacks, hacking at the beast with great fervor.
Dodging another swipe of the dragons claws, Solcloud scoff at the dragon and steps in to strike. “My lord protects me, vile harbinger of the mire. But who protects you?” He slashes at the dragon, connects with the dragon’s front leg, and spills more blood. The dragon roars in agony but continues to fight on.
“You are persistent Paladin! Between your travel companion and you against me... you are out measured!” The dragon swipes again and flings Solcloud across the cavern once again. The dragon turns to the sound of the lute and the only light in the cavern. The beast trudged towards the silky bard strumming his lute.
“Stop that annoying screeching!” The dragon breathes in and let’s loose another spray of the vile acidic ichor.
Mayvn quickly dodges the spray; hissing and smoke fill the air as the acid burns the rock wall smooth. Mayvn continues to hum his tune as he does a quick assessment for holes in his silks.
“Whew,” he sighs. “These clothes sure are durable. I will have to refer all my friends of my wizard tailor.” He snickers.
Again, the dragon roars with pain, attacked again from the shadows by one of the unseen opponents.
Beasley’s voice echoes underneath the dragon. “Mayvn, you had better move, he sees you and he likes your gift wrapping!”
The dragon barely slowed down from Beasley’s cut to his rear leg. It roars with anger and continues toward the silk-garbed minstrel. Slowly increasing its advance to a trot then to a run. Nevertheless, yards away from Mayvn another hollow thud filled with the crunch of bone echoes through the underground waterway.
Zander’s voice can be heard in that unearthly tone. “Don’t mess with what you cannot see!”
The dragon falls to the ground, splashing the stagnant water in all directions. The tidal wave covers Zander and Mayvn in moss and mud. Mayvn just stood in awe like a rain soaked scarecrow, wishing he were in some tavern or court singing tales of other adventurers, not being in one himself.
“I sure hope this is all worth it.” Mayvn flaps his soggy arms like a bird, flicking slime and muck everywhere. “I say my lads, why did you leave me up there while you were down here? I could have been killed, or worse, my clothing could have been ruined!” He looks at his dingy silks and sighs.
“Looks like you have now been blessed with adventure.” Solcloud seemed to gleam in the faint torchlight; his armor seemed to still be polished to perfection.
“How did you…?” Mayvn’s jaw dropped to the floor never imagining a knight so quickly after a battle would have time to polish his armor. “Oh never mind,” He pouted. “My clothes are now officially ruined! I will never be allowed back into civilized society again. It will take months soaking in rose oil to remove the smell of this place.”
“Othr has blessed us with great wealth!” The ethereal voice of Zander seems to echo from behind the two. Without another word, the giant appeared before them as a reflection in a pond materializes after the ripples from a stone begin to smooth on the surface, his hammer swinging lifelessly from the leather strap off the bottom of the handle to his massive wrist. Twisting the newly acquired ring on his finger and a wide grin on his face.
“You like that ring, eh Zander?” From the shadows, the small halfling materializes with not even the slightest hint of water or muck on his deep red clothes. “Next time I tell you to hold back while I look ahead…. Listen to me.” He slips his sword back into its scabbard and glares at the giant. Zander looks to the small companion like a dog reprimanded for barking at the neighbors’ children and frightening them.
“Sorry, sir.” He wrings his hands together and looks down in humility. Nearly a blink of an eye later he pirks up and slaps the small halfling on the back, nearly knocking him face first into the stagnant water. “But we sure showed that black beast not to mess with what it can’t see.” The towering clergyman bellows in a howl of laughter.