23 November 2011

A Warrior's Motivation*

The beach sand was drenched in the blood of the fallen. the sky was orange and pink to the east, dark blue to the west, and in the middle above the sky was a beautifully eerie clash of colors stained with scavanger birds. Hungry and growing impatient the vultures and crows above began descending while the victors remained on the battle field collecting their dead and wounded. A vulture which was turned red with the blood of its frehly dead meal ate unaware of what walked towards him.

Nocking arrow to bow Perci took aim. He stopped; planting his feet into the ground he released the arrow. It flew straight cutting through the death clenched air. A second later the vulture fell to the ground twitching as it died from the arrow piercing its neck. Perci knelt next to his fallen comrade. 

The man who lay dead next to Perci, clad in leather armor around the waist, shins, and forearms, had been stabbed through his unprotected gut and sliced deeply in his chest. "Taamoiis, you fool. You weren't supposed to die yet. Well come here," Perci said as he picked Taamois' lifeless body up from the sand, "the collector's will see you home to your wife. You once told me it was unwise to talk with a dead man. I hope you were wrong friend. I'll send note back with you for Craddais and his sons that your grave is to be near your father's at your estate and not in the village’s cemetery."

Perci finished walking back to the camp and laid Taamoiis on the wagon with the fifty or so other fallen men of his army.

"You knew this man lord," asked a collector.

"Ha, yes I knew him. We suckled from the same tit. His mother was my nurse maid... many years ago," Replied Perci.

"My condolences lord."

"The title is Commander, collector, but thank you." Perci dipped his quill, which he kept as close to him as his dagger, in the blood of one of his own wounds and wrote on Taamoiis' leather. "Ensure the grave keeper reads that message when you return him to Chorian."

Perci turned to his men who were busy tending to their wounds and praying for the friends which they had lost. His beard was curly, long, and brown with gray scattered throughout. His eyes were green and surrounded with sleeplessness, a scar adorned the right side of his face surrounding his eye like a crescent moon. His hair touched the tops of his shoulders still pressed from the helmet and sweat.

He was adorned in Black leather armor. His chest piece was braided; the braids weaved from the edges and snaked towards the left side of his chest where the braids were tied to a circular steel plate with eight rings on the outside of it. The steel plate immortalized the face of his wife; gold fell from the top of her head depicting her blonde hair. The rest of his armor matched the braided leather and fully covered him overlapping at joints to allow for more fluid movement.

Although his body armor was leather his helmet and shield were both steel, forged from the same fire at the same armory where his chest plate was forged. The shield and helmet both depicted different parts of the same battle. The shield depicted his great grandfather's army shielding themselves from the onslaught of a barbarian horde. His helmet is to be read from the wearer’s right side around the back and to the left. It began with an epic battle depicting his great grandfather's army slaughtering hordes of barbarians until the last one was killed. Directly in the center of the back was his great grandfather stood beheading a barbarian chief. Continue reading and you see peace that eventually ends with the grounding of his families flag on the ground of what is now Chorian.

Perci's men stood in front of him. They were looking at their Commander who was holding his helmet lazily as blood dripped onto it from a slowing bleed. Perci watched them looking at him as they waited for him to speak. For the first time since he was a boy he was nearly brought to tears. He had never lost so many men in battle and never a man so close to him as Taamois.

He lifted his war hammer. "My Warriors!" He yelled as loudly as he could. "We've entered Hell. Those mountains to my back are the supposed back walls of Hell." The range he spoke of was still a three days march away and that would be without the barbarian forces blocking their way.

He continued, "For the first time since our ancestors built Chorian, Miklahid, and Gorf on the outskirts of the barbarian lands we venture further into the barbarian's territory. For years they've ransacked our villages, stolen our cattle like the dogs they are, on occasion raped our women, and killed our children or worse have stolen them."

Perci threw his massive war hammer into the ground so that the hammer stuck into the ground and the handle pointed towards the heavens. "Tomorrow we move deeper into these cursed lands, as we move south away from the ocean we go into a land in which no civilized being has returned from fully limbed. We don't know what evil magic awaits us. We don't know if the Gods will favor us; they've long forbidden us going into the forsaken lands, but the agony the people who live within them have caused us has finally called for blood. We still have much to conquer and if today was a taste of what's to come ahead we may not come back." The crowd roared.

"Those girly men that call themselves Intruian senators have refused to send us aid in our war. We will show those politicians with blood or victory what it means to love and protect ones home. As our wives long for our return our blades and arrows and spears will keep them safe. As our sons play among the pastures we will trample the pastures of our enemy. As our daughters pick tulips in our gardens we will set fire to the barbarian's. As our elders pray for our safety, our ferocity will challenge the gods to stand with us in battle."

Perci looked at the pile of bodies that swelled behind him. "Tonight warriors," he cried, "drink and eat to the fullest. For tomorrow we kill them all!"  

10 November 2011

Grimly Afraid

"Myra, I'm going down the street to grab some coffee, you want anything?" A thin, gray haired, sorrow eyed man yelled from the front door of his downtown apartment to his wife who was just exiting a steam filled bathroom.

"Iced soy latte please. Thank you John," She replied as she ran naked from the bathroom to the towel closet in the hallway just past their teenage son's bedrrom.

John shut the door behind him and mumbled to himself, "Damn woman likes everything hot except for her coffee."

He walked down the hall to his building's only elevator, it only fit four people and that's only if two of them were young children. The narrow hallways made him claustrophobic, and in the old fading paint he saw all the things he feared come to life, he shrugged it off not understanding this new found paranoia.

John made it to the elevator and pressed the down arrow turning it red, he watched as blood oozed from the button. He blinked and the blood was gone, just the red light shining through the plastic arrow in the button remained. Ding! The elevator door opened. A pitbull jumped up onto its hind legs barking at John while its owner pulled back on the leash laughing at John. The owner was shirtless with a beer in his other hand; he was covered in tattoos of skulls, dogtags, and rifles.

John jumped back and began breathing heavily, his heart dropped, and he would have sworn his life just flashed before his eyes. "I'll use the stairs," he said putting one hand in front of him as he stumbled to his left. He ran down the three stories to the ground floor hoping to beat the elevator.

Ding! John stopped in his tracks, the elevator was between him and the exit. He had watched a pitbull kill a boy back where he used to live. This image began to repeat itself over and over in his head. A young polish boy, his best friend and fellow adventurer, ran jumping fences not daring to look back as the dog chased them snarling and barking. There was a small opening in a chainlinked fence in front of them that other kids had made with bolt cutters, John ran through it slicing his left shoulder (he still has the scar). His friend jumped onto the fence, but the pitbull was fast to grab the boy's leg.

The dog who was later killed by an older boy continued to bite into the screaming boy until he stopped screaming. John yelled at the dog from the other side of the fence to stop as he screamed for help. A group of teenage boys nearby were smoking cigarettes leaning up against a 1960 cherry-red Austin-Healy and one of them saw what was going on. He quickly ran to the help the kid while another friend went to a nearby store to call for help. The older boy stabbed the dog in the back of the neck splitting its spine in two, but it was too late, the young Polish boy was lifeless.

A young girl stepped outs of the elevator, not a shirtless titan of a man. She was holding a puppy, a black lab. She saw John by the stairs and asked, "Are you okay Mr. Edwin." He didn't reply, he only stood there. "Mr. Edwin. Hello John. Anyone home up there?" She asked tapping the side of his head.

"Oh hi Kristen. Yeah I'm fine I uh."

"You sure you don't need anything I can go get Mrs. Edwin. You don't seem fine."

"No Kristen I'm good, I just had a bad memory resurface is all. Tell your parents I said hi when you get back from your walk."

"Will do if you tell Eric hi for me," She replied with a wink. "Oh and Happy Halloween." The young girl turned around placing the not so sure footed puppy on the ground. The young dog slipped as it ran to keep with its owner.

"Uh, Yeah you too, happy Halloween."

John Followed Kristen out of the apartment building, but turned right instead of left like she had. He found his way into the middle of a crowd of flowing people and his senses seemed hightened. He was aware that the lady next to him was wearing the same cologne that he wore back in the 1970s all through high school and college and that a bum sitting on the street curb had four kittens tucked into his jacket keeping them warm. A man bumped into him as they passed each other and as if a switch in his brain had been turned on he began to worry.

He was unsure of what he was worry about, but it soon became clear to him that something wasn't right. About twenty feet in front a man tapped a woman on her left shoulder as he walked around her on the right side. He blinked and the woman turned into a man. And when the woman turned into a man he looked back to his left. A hooded figure punched the man in the face forcing him to look down and to the right where, suddenly he wasn't in the city anymore.

He was in his old neighborhood watching another shakedown. A hooded figure punched the man in the face forcing him to look down and to the right where a pistol slowly pressed against his forehead. The hooded man went through the victims pockets and took everything. Bang! Blood flew everywhere and the man fell to the floor lifeless.

He was back in the city. The man turned back into a young woman who to her surprise saw a hooded man pointing to the ground in front of her. She turned foreward to see a young man on one knee in front of her. John couldn't make out what was happening, but it soon became clear.

The young woman jumped up and down in joy as she screamed, "I will! I will! I will!"

The young man placed the ring on his fiances finger and the two kissed as many looked on in a circle around them applauding the love of two strangers. John though couldn't stop looking around. It was as if he were being followed.       

Walking through the crowd and down two more blocks proved uneventful until he entered the coffee shop. It was empty. An eerie empty. This place was usually packed, but not this morning. There were three people in the shop. One barista stood at the register while another two strung black and orange decorations all over the inside of the coffee shop.

He walked to the counter to order his coffee. The girl at the register smacked her gum together occasionally twirling it in a finger as she hit the buttons on the register, "One black coffee and a loarge Soy-"

She was cut off when a teenage boy with guaged earlobes and a purple mohawk pushed John out of the way, "This'll only be a second old man."

John knew what was coming next. He was twenty five years old waering the white polo with the shell emblem on it standing behind the counter collecting money from the cute red haired green eyed Tracy Adams.

"Move," A man pushed the girl to her feet and grabbed John by the collar as he held a knife to his throat demanding the money in the registar. John fumbled as he managed to take the entire drawer from the register and handed it over to the thief. Tracy hit her head as she fell to the ground and had to take an ambulance to the hospital and John was fired that night.

John punched the kid square in the jaw sending him to the floor. A folded note fell from his hands as he went down.

"Oh my God!" The girl at the register yelled. "Stop it, that's my boy friend you idiot."

Several minutes later John was outside explaining to the police why he struck the teenage boy in the face. The kid helped John explain to the police the entire situation and how it was all just a big misunderstanding. The barista gave John his coffees for free after everything had calmed down.

John was feeling better now that he had his coffee and was on his way back to his apartment building. He turned to open the door to his building and just as he looked up he saw a black cloaked figure with a pointed hood. "I told you I'd get you, haha," A familiar voice came from the cloak.

John dropped his wif'es coffee and stumbled backwards tripping over a bike rack and he fell into the road. Eric threw his hood off and ran towards his father. "Dad!"

To this day John swears thats Eric's black cloak turned white and his scythe turned to wings and the hand that reached out was only using his son's body.

Eric grabbed his father's wrist and pulled him back onto the sidewalk just as a fast moving bus whizzed by them. Eric helped his father to the ground and offered him a bottle of water. John wiped the sweat from his brow as he tried to slow his breathing and stop his heart from coming out of his chest. He felt like both hugging his son as well as beating him. Soon his vision wasn't so narrowed and he could stand again.

John wrapped one arm around his son as they walked back to the apartment and said, "Son you're the first good thing I've seen all day."


Councils and Storms*

  -Before you read what is below I will let you in on a little something. The characters and story you see written below you aren't like my other fictional escape characters and stories. This story is only a chapter to something much greater. These characters hold a special place in my heart, some more so than others, but what writer doesn't have favorites? I hope you enjoy what you are about to read.- 

        Your Royal Elven Highness, Queen Lyla,
Picture property of http://fictionalescapes.blogspot.com
I feel the pressing urge to write to you explaining the horrible cause for my ordering of the kidnapping your youngest child. It has been brought to my attention that during the rescue of Prisoner Jamion of Calaprinia your services were rendered in his aide. I ask that you return the murderous traitor in trade for your daughter. If you choose to not return Jamion yet exile him from your realm with the written promise to myself that you will never render him aide for as long as he lives nor his children or grandchildren I will return you your daughter a defiled daughter. If you choose to keep him safe I will be forced by newly written law to behead her and not give her proper burial.
In case you wonder what the law is. It is written in the Punishment for Treason Vol. 2, page 658, paragraph 2. It states: Any man or woman who does not comply with the wishes of Nordian Royalty in matters concerning national security hence forfeit the right to life and of a proper burial. Any barters or negotiations in which Nordian Royalty allows his subject(s) to enter into will be done smoothly and within the realm of Nordian Royalty’s wishes and commands.
I expect a messenger on my doorstep with either Jamion in custody or a written compliance to exile Jamion from your realm within two weeks time. That is when I fetch for your daughters return to Nord and consequences taken whether they be simple exchange, defile and return, or the capital punishment for treason against Royal Majesty King Nord.

x. His Royal Majesty King Nord

“He’s brought nothing, but war and its horrible death to our doorstep. You’d think he’d be more of a help than a burden to our people. It was through our doing that he was rescued in the first place.” Darrian, the elven general’s eldest son and member of the Half Elven War Council spoke out against Jamion at the weekly meeting in Her Majesty’s chamber.

“How could you be so unfair, Darrian you appall me. Is he not the man searching for my sister at this very moment,” Love said lashing back.

Queen Lyla sat at the end of the table listening to the heated debates spreading like wildfire across her table.

“Like I said earlier, Princess. If not for Jamion she would have never been taken like this. You don’t kidnap royalty unless the ransom is royal itself.”

“So you would give into the demands of this sickening note Nord sent to us.” She scowled waving the oil stained parchment that was Nord’s letter.

“Better Jamion’s blood be on my hands then that of Princess Leah. Can you, her very sister, not see that? You’re a blind fool if you can’t.”

“How dare you speak to me-” Love calmed herself. “I love my sister far more than the lot of your brothers and father could ever love this entire tribe. Kingdom. Realm even. I trust in Jamion and his team. Is Dalia not the descendant of King Edward the very brother to our Queen Eve. Our two people belong together in harmony. And after all these thousands of years you wish to tear it in half and throw it all away. King Paua would turn in his grave.”

“Then let him turn,” The general interrupted the princess’s history lesson. “Let the dust that was once his body toss and turn until it is pure flesh and blood once again.” He paused, rubbing his head. “You must understand Your Highness that the life of one elven princess is worth a thousand King’s of Calaprinia. And technically the country does not exist. So Jamion and Dalia are naught but the Royal family that managed to lose a five thousand year old kingdom in the blink of an eye.”

Master Mage Longmire interrupted, “Now general that’s not fair to say. They were attacked on two fronts and fought relentlessly for years before the loss of the war, which was stolen from them a year after the treaty had been signed. Now as for the business of the present,” Longmire continued addressing Lyla, “Your Highness. I have spent sleepless nights trying to sight Jamion with far vision. Ever since they entered the sea storm I have not been able to watch him. I believe he may be a dead man at sea. Yet even if he is alive how can we contact him. So the real problem here is to get Nord to hand over the princess without the knowledge or whereabouts of Jamion.”

Lyla pushed her chair back and stood up slamming her balled fist onto the table, sending bits of golden dust flying from the table and slowly resettling. “Master Mage you tell me you can’t find Jamion and you think he is dead. Yet your far vision hasn’t been able to spot my daughter since the night you so graciously came from the Pearl City. What was that, three days after her capture? So do you think she is dead?”

“No your Majesty, I do not,” Longmire admitted. Even though his blood was pure elven, he respected the queen.

“Then can you honestly tell me and my council that you think Jamion is dead, because your vision fails you yet again. Is it possible that Jamion is in the same area as my daughter and away from your line of sight?”

“Yes Ma’am. That is a possibility, but a human out of my reach is not likely either, they‘re far easier to reach. Your Majesty we should tell King Nord that Jamion left that night out of guilt. Shame.”

Love looked at the Master Mage rolled her eyes and blew out a long steady breath. “And what will we tell him when she returns and he finds out Jamion and the others are out looking for her? What then sir?”

“We simply say we had not the slightest idea of the man’s intentions.”

“No!” shouted the queen. “I am no liar not even to my enemies. Giving Jamion up to Nord is out of the question.” She grabbed her ink and a piece of parchment. She scribbled for a few seconds, folded the paper and tossed it to the general. “Take that to the damned fool.”

Ronald read the letter aloud: “This is war you ignorant fool.” He shook his head. “Your Majesty, must we resort to such a temper when the life of our princess, your youngest daughter, is at stake.”

“He kidnapped my child for heaven’s sake! Yes, I will be blunt with the man!” She sat in her chair, rested her arms on the table and sighed. “Have that message delivered immediately. Spare no time telling Nord just how we stand.”

We,” shouted the general. “I will not have more of my men lost to this foolish, pointless war.”

We will do as our queen orders, general. Or do I need to find another person to lead my men into battle. For Leah’s life, do as I tell you and I’ll not hear another word of disagreement from any of my staff do you understand me.” The queen was harsh, harsher than anybody, even her closest subjects, had ever heard her before.

As the members of the Military Council and the master mage exited, Love walked to her mother’s seat to comfort her. “Mother, Leah will be safe. I know it in my heart Jamion will not rest before she is found and safe. Every morning he grows closer to finding her. I know it.”
Queen Lyla
Picture property of http://fictionalescapes.blogspot.com

“I just hope you’re right, dear.” A tear rolled down her face. “I love her so, very much. I love you all. It was hard enough to lose a husband and then have your brother join that school in Aurora City and I’ll be damned before I see my children pass before I do. Damned,” she finished in a whisper, a shallow cry almost. Regaining her composure she said, “Do those blasted fools who lead my men into battle not see that Nord is trying to rip us apart. Never in the history of our people have I heard or known an elf with such fragile ties and bonds. Could you imagine what our Great King would think of this blasphemy?”

“No mother I cannot. And I will not even allow you to think of inviting Great King Asher into this mess.”

“Oh Love, we will see. He may be our only hope. Can you be off to your business now?  I wish to sleep, dear.”

“Yes mother,” Love said, her hand slowly relieving her mother’s forearm as she backed away, nearly in tears as well.

She walked briskly to her room in the tower. Leah’s room was just to the right of hers. It usually was bright with pink and yellow fairies floating about everywhere. Not now. No, it was dark and plagued with quiet, dark emptiness.

As she walked past her sister’s room she felt the warmth of her sister’s embrace, though she knew it wasn’t there. There was nothing there and had been for over a month now.

She entered her own room. Rascal, her pet chipmunk, stood on his hind legs over her head board. “What trouble have you been into today Rascal? Giving the girls a run for their nuts I suppose.” She laughed, knowing the animal hadn’t the slightest idea what she’d said. But, besides Leah, he was her best friend.

She sat at her desk; Rascal joined her cuddled on her thigh. “I’ll show that damned Longmire a thing or two about the far-sight of the third vision, Rascal.” She took a dried sunflower petal and crushed it with a petal of dried dragonscale, a flower that bloomed only at night and only on islands that floated with their tops above the great sea and their bottoms beneath it.

She put the dried mix of flowers onto a saucer and added a drop of liquid that was from a mix of one cup water and one of her own tears. She used her index finger to stir the mix together. What she wanted to see most is what she would see if the watched party was either willing or unaware of the magic. In this case it was probably both.

“Jamion,” she spoke out loud to herself and Rascal, “Let me see you.” She dipped her finger into the dry leafy mix and licked it, swallowing. Her face cringed at the taste. She closed her eyes and concentrated on Jamion.

Picture property of http://fictionalescapes.blogspot.com
He sat high in a crow’s nest on a tall ship welcoming the salty sea air as they pushed north into dangerous waters. A storm was on the northern horizon. This storm would bring snow, hail and fifty foot high waves. It would test them, but it stood between the ship and Leah so that was the route they’d take.
An unexpected sight for the crew, Farra emerged from the water and circled the boat a few times and then flew north and a bit eastward as if she were leading them. It puzzled Love as to why Leah and Farra weren’t together, but she accepted it. No journey was without obstacles along the way.
Tony and Paul were at the helm arguing playfully about who should take the helm. The whole world would know by the looks of them that Paul was bred for such a task and that Tony hadn’t the slightest idea for life at sea. Zack held onto a mast at the head of the ship and looked north towards his secret love, Leah.

It had been two days of clear sailing since they left the tropical islands behind. They sailed fast. The winds were with them and Frollin had the anchor chain in his mouth pulling the boat as fast as he could to get to Leah.

Another day passed and rain began to drizzle on and off. Another day it began to get noticeably colder, the sky greyed and a steady rain saw them properly wet. On the last morning of the trip to the Arctic Circle a storm broke.

It was wild. No ordinary sailor would dare try these waters in this storm, but these weren’t ordinary sailors. They were tried and true, tested through, blood spilling pirates who everyday had to prove their weight against a man a third their own size. They didn’t just weather the storm, they welcomed it, challenging it head on. And they did so beautifully. As if the storm were naught but a sneaky gust of strong wind on a clear day.

Then it began to hail. They stayed their posts, most of them bruised and bloodied. Punishment for fighting fifty foot swells in a hail storm, but it was how they earned their keep. It was how they proved to one another that they belonged in this brother hood. Paul and Captain Rummy stayed in the elements shouting orders and steering the helm.

Tony had his eyes glued to the window amazed at the pride and joy these low-lifers had in sailing and overcoming Mother Nature herself. Every pirate knew that’s where a true treasure was buried, in the eye of the storm.

Zack cupped his mug of tea in both hands to stay warm. The expression on his face was dull, lifeless. But it wasn’t the weather, no. He had been like this since they set out to find Leah from the tropical island.

Concerned Jamion finally broke the silent lid on the topic. “What’s been bothering you so much lately, friend?”

“Oh me,” Zack replied after a few seconds. “It’s nothing. Getting old is all.”

“You’re three months younger than I am, we’re not old. We’re forty. So really, what’s bugging you?”

“Can you leave it be?” Zack finished his cup and filled it to the brim with rum seized from the other side of the world. He took a swig. It burnt as it went down his throat, but he liked it and liked the way he’d feel after the cup was finished and dry.

“No,” Jamion said firmly, “I will not let it go.” He calmed his speech. “You’re a member of my team, I need you on your toes and I don’t need you to fret. And I‘m your friend you can tell me what’s bothering you.”

“Ah, James. You think I won’t be swifter than a hawk on the kill, do you?” He said rhetorically. “After all we’ve been through together. Fifteen years of fighting side by side, imagine it’d been longer if you didn’t go and get yourself imprisoned. Tell you what James that rescuing you I did last year weren’t the only missions I worked out over the last five years. I didn’t go and forget how to fight.”

“I never thought you had friend, wouldn’t dare imply such a thing. Honestly I believe I know what’s bothering you, what with all the gallivanting you’ve been doing with her this last year. I’m not blind, just wanted to hear it from your own mouth.”

Tony looked back from rain battered window. “Her? What’s this talk?”

Jamion looked at his little brother. Thirty five years old and still just as nosy as the day he was born. “You mind taking off for a bit let us talk in private.”

His mouth dropped and head cocked. “You want me to go out there in that? Three waves have washed clear over the deck and they’ve all came from different directions. How in the hell would you expect me to survive that.” 

“Hold on to something. I was asking you to walk downstairs, Tony. Don’t want to go and explain to Sara how I let you die in a storm.” He snapped his elbow straight and pointed to the hatch in the floorboard leading to the winery.

“Oh go and get drunk. Tell me when I’m allowed back in… Y’majesty,” He added jokingly.

“Look,” Zack sighed as the word came out. “Just because Tony’s not in here, doesn’t mean I’m gonna spill my guts to you.”

He wanted to. He desperately wanted to tell his best friend about the feelings he had towards the elven queen’s youngest daughter. But there was that law, that stupid law: No Half Elf of half human and half elf will reproduce with any other race whether it be human or elf or dwarf; we will forever maintain are balance of half elf half human. He remembered the law to the tee. It went on to say something such as: our race will allow any mix of half elf and half human that is newly come to join are happy and blessed people… But that wasn’t the important part, it was the first part that concerned him.

“If it’s Leah that has turned your eyes to stars you could bring her home. That law only applies within the elven realm. You could bring her to Calaprinia.” Jamion threw an educated guess into the air.

“You know me to well Ja-” They were tossed from the seats when the ship was abruptly forced directly on its side. Everything that was not tied down or locked in a cupboard fell from one side of the cabin to the other. Tony yelled from the ‘liquor locker’ as they had grown to call it.

“Man overboard!” A voice called from outside.

“It’s the helmsman!” Another yelled.

Another powerful wave smashed into the front of the boat. The mast holding the crow’s nest cracked in half, splintering horribly. The crow’s nest fell forward slicing jaggedly through a sail. It crashed hard onto the deck splintering where it had landed. Wooden shrapnel flew in various directions. Still the pirates fought mercilessly against all odds.

When the ship became somewhat stable and Jamion was able to stand upright again he put a hand on Zack’s shoulder. “Go check on Tony, Paul’s overboard.” Jamion burst out into the wild weather. He ran to Bootless Bill a strapping young pirate who was always barefoot. “Which way is Paul?”

“He flew off the port side. I’d imagine he’s gone and dead to the storm-” another wave crashed onto the deck.

Captain Rummy shouted orders as he took over the helm. It was dark. Rain and hail showered the icy seas and the ship along with it mercilessly. Lightning bolted out from the sky above. Thunder roared tirelessly.

Frollin, where are you? Jamion asked as he ran portside and jumped into the icy cold water below. Before he was halfway down the side of the ship a wave caught him midair and threw him into the side of the boat.

We’re above the clouds where it’s sunny. There was no reply. Frollin looked at Farra and they dove. Lightning crashed into the bodies of the beasts sending sparks flying off of them. As soon as they were through the clouds Frollin and Farra saw the two bodies floating in the sea.

Farra dove towards a frightened Paul. Frollin dove towards Jamion who appeared lifeless and sinking, being tossed in the storm like a rag doll. At this time Jamion and the ship had separated by more than a quarter mile. Paul was even further. A wave hit Frollin in the back as he dove with wings by his side. Even the powerful dragon was pushed helplessly into the roaring waters.

After regaining himself Frollin looked around the icy water for his rider. There he was just coming to. Jamion kicked up towards oxygen. The waves continued to keep him under the water. Frollin dodged iceberg after iceberg until he finally came under Jamion and secured him in the saddle.

A rush of warmth overtook him. He was breathing. He now shared vision with his dragon and searched for Paul. They flew above the water still searching until they saw Farra floating in the water clenching onto a body.

Love sat in her bedroom viewing this terrible sight in her mind. She spoke words of the ancient elven tongue, magical words. Rascal Jumped from her thigh and ran under her bed. The mirror in her room turned to water and drenched her desk. The flame from her candles blew in all different directions. Thunder roared and a bolt of lightning shot from candle to candle.

The sky began to clear. Waves calmed. The temperature rose. Dumfounded, yet accepting Jamion flew in towards the unconscious Farra and Paul. With both talons extended Frollin Picked the duo up. Frollin sat Farra and Paul above the helm, an area not destroyed by the storm.

The ragged group of pirates cheered at the return of good weather and the brave Jamion and Paul. Even Rummy found himself shouting “Hoorays” and clapping.

Paul stood and ran to the unconscious Farra’s face. “Don’t die. Leah will have my head if she finds out you died saving me.”

Jamion jumped from Frollin to the helm’s deck. He touched Farra and she stirred.

“Oye, thank the gods,” Paul sighed. “She’s hurt, she might need to lay here a while, but she’s gonna come around.” He looked into one of her silver eyes. “Thank you.”

As the sun shined down on the crew they continued north while fixing the deck. They tossed unusable wood into the ocean below and lowered the torn sail. It was their sail. The jagged line ripped through the body of their mermaid.

Tony had gotten a horrible knot on his head from a bottle of gin that flew across the liquor locker. He sat upright when his brother entered the cabin. “Heard you nearly drowned trying to save Paul.”

“Probably more of a foolish decision then anything. I just jumped over board and got smashed into the side of the ship.” Jamion poured four glasses of scotch for his team from a bottle that survived the terrible storm.

“Much obliged,” Paul said, his thick northern accent breaking through as he took the glass from Jamion. “Don’t suppose someone was watching after us do you. I mean the way that storm just stopped was beyond miraculous. Those clouds extended further than the eye could see in any direction.”

Zack sat in a wooden chair with wheels on the legs. He rolled himself back and forth. “Maybe. We’ve gotten lucky in the past, but never like that. I never saw a storm that big in my entire life. What do you make of it James?”

“Can’t rightfully say. Either the gods have finally taken a liking towards us or there’s a mage somewhere who likes us. I sometimes think it’d be nice to conjure something out of nothing. Lucky bastards.”

The four continued to talk the day away until night fell and they let sleep take their bodies over.

06 November 2011

Red Snow

Red Snow

The pain in his shoulder kept him down. It had bothered him for years, but never this bad. This was the coldest winter he had been in since fighting his way through the arctic when he was still young, the summer after that winter is when he first injured his shoulder. Blood dripped from his mouth to the snow below him turning the snow below him maroon in the moon light.

"Leave him Sonny, he's not worth killing. He's worth leaving for dead; the wolves will get him if the cold doesn't," The old man with the scarred face called from the dog sled as he spun his .45 revolver around his finger.

Picture property of http://fictionalescapes.blogspot.com
Sonny kicked the man in his face one last time, "Come around my girl one more time ol' man, and I'll make sure I don't leave any room for livin' Hock."

Hock crawled through the snow to his jacket that was covered in Sonny's urine. Holding his shoulder he managed to stand and watch as Sonny and his uncle faded away into the white vail of slow falling snow. His blood began to freeze on his face. He limped around looking for the other clothes Sonny stripped him of and threw around the small patch of tundra that was striped with Hock's blood.

"Sarah!" Sonny yelled towards his house, "get the hell outside and get my damn dogs fed."

Warmly robed in the furs of many wolves Hock had killed over the years to keep her warm Sarah came out barefoot and stepped shin deep into the fresh powder. She kept her head down when she addressed Sonny saying, "I put their food in the barn tonight, it's warmer in there."

"Well take them over there, woman. Is this gonna be what marriage is like? Am I going to have to tell you to do everything or are you just going to do it?"

She remained silent, holding back tears she whistled for the dogs to follow her to the barn. One of the young huskies ran from the barn to greet his mother back from her day.

"Hey puppy," Sarah said through a knot in her throat as she picked him up, "you'll catch your death in this cold. Your food is on its way."

picture courtesy of http://www.zindy-zone.dk/
The inside of the barn was cold, but warmer than the inside of the house, because of all the animals. As she exited the barn and closed the lock Sonny's uncle surprised Sarah throwing her against the barn door. "Take it off."

She held her robe close, "I'm undressed underneath this Frank, I," she stuttered, "sir."

"I don't want anything Hock made in a house I built." Frank grabbed ahold of the robe and tried to rip it from her. He finally managed to get it from her. She fell to her knees trying to cover her chest.

"Stop it," she begged. "Please. Please, that is all I have left of him. That is it all and Sonny doesn't know that, please. He's already killed him, I'm begging you. I know you're not as cruel as your nephew."

As much as Frank didn't want to admit it, the girl was right. He mumbled curses under his breath. He threw the robe back at her. "Get to my nephew, he's waiting on dinner."

"It's been prepared sir."

"Prepared yes, but not served. He'll want his food warm, girl."

"Yes sir. Thank you sir."

She wiped tears away as she walked back through the snow. Sonny didn't like to see tears.

Hock watched the sunrise for the first time since it set in the middle of November. As the sun rose as he traveled south out of the tundra. Spring was nearing, but it was still winter and in winter everything froze. He thought of his Sarah to keep going. She was the only woman he loved for the last twenty three years. He knew of an old shack where he often stayed while hunting white fox and ice fishing; it was only half a day’s journey from where he was.

Hock limped through the vast open white. He was an expert in this area of the world, he knew exactly where he was and where he was going. Hours had passed, but he finally reached the shack that he called 'North Tree'. After changing clothes he went to the kitchen where he found a large pot. He limped outside and filled the pot with snow. He melted the snow over a wood fire and washed himself with the water.

He splashed the water on his face and winced in pain. He hadn't shaved in a week and so he spent many minutes scrubbing blood from his beard. After cleaning he slept.

Hock stayed there a few nights letting his wounds mend and hunting fox and rabbit with the cabin's bow. After a week had passed he took his shot gun and a box of shells from their hiding place underneath the floor boards. He walked out of the cabin with two days’ worth of food, warm clothes on his back, and his shotgun slung over his shoulder behind his back.

"Oh you must be so excited, Sarah," the seamstress Mary exclaimed. "Everybody in the entire village wanted to be Sonny's wife and then he leaves town for a few months and comes back with you. You are so beautiful, have I told you that yet." Mary rarely stopped talking.

"Yes Mary, you've told me a million times this morning," Sarah looked at herself in the mirror. She loved this dress. She dreamt as a child of wearing this dress, but feared wearing it now more than anything. Her grandmother wore this on her wedding day as did her mother, but she'd rip it apart if she could leave Sonny.

"Did you hear," Mary continued, "Mrs. Blumly walked in on her husband and sister in bed together last week. And the Sheldon twins got caught stealing chocolate from McFreely's store again, they're nearly fifteen you think they'd no better. Oh and look at that woman out there." Mary pointed her short chubby finger towards the window at a girl dressed as if it were the middle of summer and spring was only a week old.

"Aye, I see her Mary. Who is she?" Sarah hated the gossip in this town, but it kept her mind away from Sonny and her wedding that as only two days away.

"I hear she's a prostitute from down south. Came up here to see family or something. Now I know we've got a fair share of problems, but we don't have any whores in our families. I personally think she's up here with those business tycoons. You know the ones I'm talking about, they're always hanging around Frank. I guess that make sense seeing as Frank owns three quarters of the town."

Mary kept talking, but Sarah tuned her out. She watched the prostitute walk into Sonny's closed butchery across the road. She wasn't surprised or even disappointed in her groom to be. She knew Sonny was still sleeping around with every girl who threw herself at him. She even heard them coming in and out of the house some nights. She was trapped and in her head Hock was long gone and dead.

Hock was finally south of the arctic circle where the trees grew closer and closer together and the animals were more abundant. He walked the entire night until sunset revealed the village he was looking for. His Sarah was less than three hours away. He walked faster now. The snow was not as deep here and the ground was beginning show in some places.

Dong! Dong! Dong! Dong!

Church bells rang. What little snow hadn't melted from the bell was flung off of the bell as it swung back and forth.

The bells rang again. Hock knew this meant a wedding was about to take place. He entered the village. It was completely empty save for dogs running around the buildings looking for scraps of food. Hock walked down the center of Main Road heading straight to the church.

"If any man or woman shall object to this marriage, do so now or forever hold your-" The priest was interrupted by the abrupt opening of the church doors.

"I told you Hock that I would kill you," Sonny yelled down to Hock as he left the altar and stormed towards Hock.

Just as Sonny raised a fist to strike Hock, Hock put the barrel of his shotgun to Sonny's chest and pulled the trigger. The crowd mostly ducked behind pews and fell silent as their ears rang.

Frank yelled at the top of his lungs, "Hang the murderer."

The crowd began to grow furious and eventually fought the enraged Hock to the floor of the church as he yelled, "Sarah!" Sonny's dead body laid in the middle of the church, the crowd dragged Hock out the front door leaving the shotgun at Sonny's side, only Sarah and the priest remained motionless at the altar.

The moment Sarah dropped her bouquet the rest of time seemed to slow down to her. The priest tried to grab her and take her away from the angry mob, but without looking at him she rejected his offer and slowly walked to Sonny. Wordless she grabbed the shotgun and walked outside to see Hock standing on a stool with a rope around his neck beneath the hanging tree.

Sarah pointed the gun at the man tying Hock's wrists behind his back. "Let my father down ass hole or I swear on my mother's grave I'll end you," Sarah demanded.

"Sarah no!" Hock cried out jumping from the stool trying to save his daughter.


It was too late Frank pulled the trigger on his .45 revolver shooting Sarah point blank in her back, the bullet ripped through her heart. Hock tried to yell out and cry as he watched his daughter fall dead to the snow below them but the rope had a firm grip around his neck. He swung about like a crazed dog, but that just made the choking worse. Soon he calmed down and became still with the occasional jerk until he passed. The crowd, unsure how to carry on, circled around Sarah watching quietly as her blood stained her grandmother's dress and transformed the snow below them into red ice.

On that beautiful spring morning it began to snow. It is said that the snow that fell was red snow. The villagers called it Sarah's snow believing it was her heart crying for her father.