Friday, December 28, 2012

The King Reigns.... And His son!

The Kingdom Series has been one of my absolute favorite fantasy series' since I was twelve years old. We recieved the first editions of the series one Christmas from our friends, and I read each book aloud to Percy and Seph for the next few months. Now, we have both the Kingdom Series, the Knights of Arrethtrae series, and all the audio books.

The author, Chuck Black, has gotten better at writing with each book, and while Arrethtrae may not be comparable to Middle Earth (I'm told not much is), I love it. Not because I'm cheap or have no taste -- which would be a cruel thing to say considering Mr. Black has worked so hard -- but because I fully appreciate the kind of stories he has written. Chuck Black has been an amazing inspiration to my own writing. My very first, and ongoing, role model as an author. If you haven't read the Kingdom Series or the Knights series, go read them.

Recently there was a video contest. Entrants were required to choose a scene from one of the Kingdom Series' books, and make it into a short film. Here I'm posting the first placer's entry because it's quite good. I was impressed. And that takes some doing.


Not only are these two fairly good actors -- something hard to find in ametuer short films of this sort -- but good cinematographers, as well.

If you have a short film you've made, put a link in the comments! I love watching the work of aspiring filmmakers or writers. Maybe someday I'll post some of the movies PenKnights Studios has made. We shall see.

Dia duit,
~Penny

Monday, December 17, 2012

Farewell to Florida



Farewell to Florida, farewell to the sea;
Farewell to winter weather averaging 65 degrees....

Farewell to the sunsets, the birds, breeze, and sand.
Our stay with you has been truly grand.


Now you see why I write novels and not poetry.

For the whole two years that we lived here, I've wanted to get to the beach and watch the sunset. Usually the whole family would drive out to one beach or another during the daytime, and leave before supper. Yesterday after church, however, we drove to Indian Rock Beach near Tampa just before dinner and watched the sun go down over the water. We collected seashells, sand, saltwater, and took a few last pictures of the state we've called home since 2010. It was quite a surprise that my father got stationed here, and it's been everything I imagined it would be. I'm going to miss it.

I know it may sound a little silly, but I adored the weather. Really. When it gets cold outside, my body gets cold right along with it, and I have a hard time keeping warm during the winter. But with Florida, it never got too cold. Even when things became a bit chilly, I could throw on some socks and a cardigan and be just fine. It was very pleasant.

And on the good days, the sun and the breeze and the lovely clouds made for a cheerful atmosphere that often lifted my spirits. I was able to take my dog for a walk whenever I wanted to, no matter the season, instead of having to suffer through sporadic winter walks in the snow and ice.

The people of Florida are fascinating. There is a wide variety of ethnic roots here because of the snow birds, the proximity to the various islands and Mexico, and those native born to Florida itself. To say the least it's a fascinating place. We also haven't lived near a good honest American metropolis for years. Every visit to the city of Tampa was captivating.

Then there are the people we've come to know that have been a true blessing. Our neighbors, our church, and the family we have nearby. Leaving them is the hardest part about moving. Truly, they have been some of the most beautiful people we've had the pleasure of living near. I couldn't even go into what it was like saying goodbye the church here without tearing up.

But now the time has come. Tomorrow, we shall be gone for good. While we will assuredly visit when we can, this life we had here will be gone forever. A tiny part of history, the course of the lives of a few, will die from reality and become affixed in memory, never to return.

But that's what makes life so precious, isn't it? If we never lost anything, nothing would be worth gaining.

Dia duit,
~Penny

Monday, December 10, 2012

For The Greatest Good -- History and Special Features

'Cause I feel silly for not posting anything worthwhile, even though we're ridiculously busy and I'm tired and my teeth hurt.......

I have a first draft of a paper Dana wrote about his history in the Realms (the story world for FtGG). I might even pull some emails I wrote with Siani talking about the various gifts of the Knights.

I'm afraid my mind isn't in the most organized state at the moment, so this post could very well end up being rather haphazard. I may attempt to edit it later on if I have time, but then I again I might not. Blogging is going to be very touch and go for at least the next month or so.

So. Random FtGG stuffs.

Siani's Questions, and my answers to them:

Siani: I was reading through your two latest FtGG posts this morning (I will scrawl down notes to send you about them, just btw) and then the wheels started whirring and now;
The gifts/abilities/whatever you call 'em: how are they gained? Are they a symbolic gift, as in a gift from Jesus, or a part of the knights of the order or whatsitcalledsy...
The knights: what's their role? What's their purpose? Who ARE they?
The order or whatever it was: what is its role? What is it fighting for? Who is included as their 'knights'?
 
Me: Okeydoke, I shall answer your questions to the best of my ability. As I've said (somewhere....), Dana and I are making up a lot of this story completely on the fly, and that includes most of the development, as well.
Powers
1. These abilities are genetic and hereditary. They are symbolic in their own way, but mostly they are literal.
2. The Order has existed in some form or other over the centuries of this land that called The Realms that we all reside in. However, at the point in time the story takes place, there hasn't been an organized Order around for at least several decades, maybe a century. A few years ago I started rounding up descendants of the last Order and formed a new one, the one that's in the story. It's well known that true members of the Order (Guardian Order, Guardian Knights, there are various nicknames) possess special gifts. That idea has become more of a legend, and there are divided views as to whether they ever really did, if they still do or if the genes have died off, or if there were never any special powers to begin with.
3. These powers are, as I say, genetic. But they remain dormant until activated, and if the person does not recognize that they have these powers, then it is very difficult to activate them. They are activated usually under extreme pressure, as part of an intense or sudden fight or flight reaction. That's also usually the time when the gift is first used and when the person becomes consciously aware of it. From there the use of that gift has to be practiced for the person to become good at it, but it comes naturally so it doesn't take long.
4. The pattern we've been using for these gifts is that they're subtle, easily ignored, and mysterious. As you've seen with Dana's power, it's a little difficult to grasp, but at the same time it's too coincidental to ignore. My gift is telepathy. Also slightly hard to grasp right off, but there nonetheless. Seph's gift is in having a certain amount of control over sound. He can harness it and move it around as he wishes, as well as absorb it so that it can't be heard to anyone but himself. He can throw it, concentrate it, and hear it very well from distances. Some of these gifts are inspired by the names of the allotted swords. For example, Dana's sword is named PathSeeker, mine is named RuneBinder (which goes well with telepathy, having to do with words and such). Seph's sword is called FableBlade, so that doesn't have much to do with his gift, but Percy's is MythForger. Percy's gift has to do with fire, so that fits. Either way is fine.
The Order
1. What they do. This is another aspect that Dana and I are still figuring out. I believe that The Order is doing a sort of Christian type thing where they are not bowing to the 'Lords of the Earth', as it were, which would also explain why all the villains have the title 'Lord' and not 'Duke' or 'Count'. We acknowledge the reign of a King that is not in the land at the moment but will be returning someday. This means that any land we hold is under his name and not the control of whoever happens to be nearby. Obviously this makes things irksome for some of the more greedy lords around, like Ross and Campbell. But what makes things worse is that we recruit others to come live on our land with us under our protection from other Lords. One could call it incredibly subversive insurrection. I believe we do some of this with story, or with our various talents in the arts, but also with other means.
2. Each member of the Order is considered a sort of guardian. If there is land to be held, one of us would be the ones to live in the castle and govern it in our King's name for as long as we should so be in that position, or until He returns, depending on which came first. Our job is to protect the people from the Lords of the Earth, and govern and serve them according to the King's precepts. Unlike the Lords of the Earth, we consider ourselves to be the greatest servants to the people rather than rulers over them. Placed in a position of authority in order to do them as much good as we can rather than to have them do us the good that would normally be considered due to a ruler. In our ruling positions, we refer to each other as Stewards rather than Lords.
3. What we're fighting for right now is, I believe, to get the land back that Ross took from under Percy, Seph, and I's protection. He found an excuse to attack us, as our little section of land was growing larger and more prosperous, drove us out, and took over our castle, lands, and people. Now I've gathered what members of the Order I can in order to retake that land. That's what this little dispute with Ross is about. Ross is trying to wipe us out or at least control us because he knows we're not going to just sit by and concede defeat.
Members
1. The only people who can truly be members of the Order are people who are direct descendants of other Order members. This can be proven through credentials, or through the use of their gift. All Order members have a gift. If they don't, they're not direct descendants. Obviously this idea has been disputed -- as evidenced by my initial disbelief in the story -- but even with that it has always been that, gifts aside, only direct descendants can be a member. It's more like you're born a member, you're not made one. It's believed, I think, that the hereditary system is one the King put in place. Anyone can help the Order, and join them in their mission, but they can't be a member of the Order itself unless they're a descendant. Make sense?
2. If you are a member of the Order, it is considered your duty to fulfill that role. It's uncertain, now, as to how many members there are spread throughout the kingdom over the last century, but one of my goals in the story is to locate all of them and get them doing what they're meant to be doing. I think that this quest is what led me to all you guys (except my brothers, of course). That's how we all met in this story world. I'm constantly searching old records and following leads in search of new members, as well as travelling all over to check on the ones I've already found.
3. There is a certain hierarchy within the Order, but for the most part it's unofficial, and based more on the particular natural talents and Gifts of each individual. I'm the acknowledged founder, and as such I have a certain amount of authority, but this is more out of necessity to keep the Order running smoothly than much else. Since I travel a lot, I'm the one who's heard about the most, and as such I've earned leadership labels from various places, hence why Set (or Ross?) called me the 'Queen' of the Order.
4. Also, each member has the right to raise and command an army. Indeed, this is the only way armies get raised in the Order; there is no specific army that serves us. Each member must create one of their own to guard the areas under their protection. However, unless a member needs the army to protect a group of non-Guardians, they are not meant to have one. The armies are there to serve the people, not the members. An army is only allowed for good reason.
Hopefully that answers your questions. If you have any more, please feel free to toss them at me. ^.^
 
Siani: As for the questions, whilst just copy down what I've got and see where it goes from there.
Are there certain parameters for the gifts? Do they have to meet a specific requirement of non-weirdness or some such or is it whatever strikes one's fancy?
If you're a descendant of the Order, does that automatically throw you in a position of leadership or is there some choice on your pat?
Does the gift always have to feel like a gift or is there definite room for it to feel like a burden?
I'm thinking of basing Siani's (my?) gift on the major traits of an ISFJ. Specifically, the defender part. A) do you mind if I do this (assuming you're fine with my delving into everything in the first place)? and B) if it's fine with you, how much leeway is there when it comes to the function of the gifts?
Does it have to be all "for king and country" or can it have a more personal role? (I have no idea what I'm trying to ask with that.)
What role do the swords have? Are they specifically commissioned by the Order members as needed or are they passed down from generation to generation or both, perhaps?
Is the land ruled all by various lords or dukes or are there other kings besides The King?
Would you say there are some overly zealous to the point of corruption Order members or would her highness not allow for it?
Are all gifts easily ignored/vague or is it possible that a certain personality/character trait could make it stronger/amplify it somehow?
 
Me: 
1. Parameters: The gifts are generally non-physical. As in, no mutations, or things requiring some physical alteration of one's body. No shape shifters or people with the ability to set themselves on fire or turn themselves into another substance, etc. Here are the three categories so far:
   1. Manipulation: Manipulating things that already exist in various manners. Examples: I manipulate
brainwaves for telepathy; Jos manipulates sound, either absorbing it to silence it to anyone
else's hearing, or throwing it to another location to give the appearance that the sound came
from a different direction. While he cannot enhance the individual volume of a sound, he can
concentrate sounds from various places into one place, combining them into one loud sound.
   2. Generation: Creating substances, with the ability to enhance or decrease it, not violating the
substance's natural makeup. Example: Timothy can generate fire, but only on flammable
objects.
   3. Enhanced Instinct: A keener ability with a certain natural instinct. Example: Bryan is able to
sense the right or wrongness of certain courses of action in relation to a chosen end goal.
Basically an enhancement of the "I've got a bad feeling about this" and the "This is right, I can
feel it in my bones" sensation.
Some other gifts we've come up with are these:
Induced Emotion through Song: A Manipulation gift. Rosie's ability. She can induce emotions in someone by singing, humming, or whistling tunes appropriate to the emotion she is trying to induce.
Lie Detector: An Enhanced Instinct gift. Open. The ability to sense when someone is lying by asking them a direct question.
2. Descendants of the Order are expected to step up and play their part in whatever way they believe the King is telling them to. One isn't given these wonderful gifts so that they can be squandered. A more leadership type role is common, as the Guardian Knights are considered the stewards of the King'd land while He's away, but that's not a requirement. The aim is just to put one's gift to good use in watching over the realms in the King's absence. Within those parameters, there are many options.
3. Gift or curse? Could go either way, depending on the person's perspective. The gifts are subtle enough to where they don't have a constant, draining effect, and they can be turned on and off/left unused, as well. They also tend to play to the individual's natural tendencies, so they're generally pretty inoffensive to one's self. Obviously gifts can be misused -- Set's an example of that -- so the gift could become a burden if the individual struggled to restrain urges to misuse their ability. Though that's more of a self control issue, which can apply to anything in life, rather than an issue of the power itself.
4. A) I don't mind at all, and B) define what you mean by 'leeway'. As long as the gift remains within the parameters described above, you have as much leeway as you could possibly want. One goal is to make sure that each gift isn't too powerful. They tend to be on a more subtle note. Something that helps, rather than the thing that defines, a Guardian Knight. While the Order is known for the special gifts each member has, that's not how the Order defines itself. It defines itself as a group of Knights serving the King first, and then as being given these gifts by the King in order that they may be aided in performing the unique tasks the King has laid out for them.
5. Not quite sure how to answer that.... The Guardian Knights are expected to work for the good of the King and the Realms He has placed in the care of mankind, but that mandate can be fulfilled in an infinite number of ways, so...
6. I'm not entirely certain about the swords. It's possible that they're both of the things you mentioned. Since the Order hasn't been around cohesively for some time before I revived it, there are probably several swords that survived as family heirlooms. However, I believe if there were any who did not possess such an heirloom, I had a sword made by the descendant of the Order's official swordsmith construct swords specifically for each member. He may have repurposed any heirlooms, as well, to strengthen them and tweak them a little to be more tailored to the owner. They're named by the swordsmith, who may have a hereditary gift of enhanced perception. Meaning he can guess as to a Knight's gift, and names the sword somewhat in conjunction with the gift.
7.  The Realms are ruled by Lords and Ladies. It's based off of feudalism, but the various medieval titles don't really carry over. A King is the equivalent of a god, in The Realms, while a Lord is the equivalent of a reigning monarch. It's got a symbolic aspect to it, which I think I mentioned briefly in my previous email.
8. Well, technically I'm not a queen in the Order, just the Order's Head. At the moment, though, I don't think there are any over-zealous members of the Order. If there were, I would do my best to calm them down, as being over-zealous can lead to obsession, gross imbalance of priorities, personal damage, recklessness, and insubordination. All of which are breaches of our code of conduct, and detrimental to our mission in The Realms. Although, the same is true in reverse of Knights who are extremely unzealous and apathetic to the cause, which can lead to laziness, selfishness, uselessness, depression, and bitter attitudes. In either case of imbalance, I as Head of the Order would be responsible for making an effort to rebalance the Knights involved.
9. The gifts come from a person's personality rather than their presence being the cause of certain personality quirks. With that in mind, I do believe having the gift gives the individual a noticeable quirk that wouldn't be as strong if the gift wasn't present. But these are still subtle enough to be considered just part of one's personality rather than some freakish tendency.
Okeydoke, hope that helps some. ^.^ Email me with more questions any time.


There, question thingies all done. And now here is a blog post done by Siani on her blog related to The Realms.

Last but not least, here's Dana's pre-story. Dana, if you read this and want it edited, just let me know and I'll repost the changes.

My name, Dana MacDonald. I was born on the Northern coasts, in a small fishing village of an equally small region. Our region had no official leader, but were led by guilds set up by representatives from each village, in place of the order, who once led us long ago. Our region were primarily believers in the legends of old, and sorrowed that such times seemed to be past. The only knight among us was Sir Thomas, a man far out of his prime, and thus unable to effectively travel as a knight would. His gift, of accumulating knowledge; he could not forget anything he looked upon or read, and had put this knowledge to good use. In our region alone, he had set up three libraries with a great store of the order’s history, and their works of writing, especially of their knowledge of the king. This knowledge he would speak of, but as he grew older, his ability to do so grew less. Our people sorrowed, again, for with him ,we feared any influence of the order would die, and our region would eventually darken, like much of the lands abroad.
However, that changed. One day, when I was ten years old, my father had taken me on a hunting trip during the winter months. A great storm came up, and we were separated. In my blind travel in an effort to stay moving, I came across a large building, in which I took shelter. I came to find that it was one of the libraries the old knight had once maintained in his younger years. The storm still raged outside, and I passed the time reading the closest book I came across. The story it told intrigued me, for it spoke in greater detail of the legends that I had been told of by my elders of time past, when the guardian order sent by the great King led the people in peace and justice.
When the storm abated, I realized the library was not far from our village, and I returned, to the relief of my parents. Now knowing the library’s location, however, I returned there frequently and in secret, for I did not know if my presence was allowed. After my fourth such visit, I was caught, or rather found, by Sir Thomas himself, who had traveled to inspect the old library. Amused and touched by my interest, he offered to teach me of the order’s history in my spare time, and I heartily agreed. At the same time, he also playfully sparred with me, to give life to what he would teach. After a month or so, out of curiosity, Sir Thomas pored over the records of our village to find my ancestry. To his surprise, or more his confirmation of a thought, he discovered that I was, indeed, descended of one of the order. And not only that, I was also of age to begin proper training. Sir Thomas spoke with my parents, and they in turn offered me the choice to remain home and live a normal life, or to depart with Sir Thomas to become a guardian knight. Even with the visions of knights and swords dancing in my mind, leaving my parents was enough to make me realize how important a choice this was. In the end, I chose to accompany Sir Thomas, and we left soon after. All this had transpired within my tenth year.
The next five years were devoted to many things. Sir Thomas and I traveled across the region from village to village. Though it was a small region, and few villages and towns to speak of, Sir Thomas’s age made our travel slow. It was worth it, though, for the time was spent heavily in training. Sir Thomas began to train me seriously with the sword of the ancient arts he recollected, and even as an old man, he was a worthy fighter, and taught me much. He taught me courtesy that was required of a knight, of leadership, and of our order’s history, especially of my family line. But most importantly, he taught me of the King, who he served, and who I would come to serve as he did. The years passed slowly; in that time, I saw what a guardian knight was meant to do through how my mentor acted and helped those around him as he could. In the middle of my fifth year with him, we were midway between two villages. A terrible storm, such as like in my youth, came upon us, and we could not see our hands in front of us, and could barely hear one another. I expressed my terror, for I knew how deadly these storms could be. The words that Sir Thomas spoke to me were mighty in their impact.

   “The King will be with us.”

I had heard the same words many times from his lips, but they never hit home as they did at that moment. And I believed him.

At that moment, I felt it for the first time. A path, in my mind’s eye, like a compass had just been placed within me. And that compass was guiding me, somewhere. I could not explain what I felt, not in that storm, but I could not remain idle, for I had no other choice. I gasped his arm, and followed where the compass guided me. The next thing I remember, we both woke up in a cave, sheltered from the elements, our horses patiently waiting for us to come to.

Upon explaining what had occurred , Sir Thomas realized what had happened. In that moment of faith, I had received my gift from the King. There and then, Sir Thomas knighted me, as a member of the Guardian order, as was proper.

That moment was one of joy to me, but it was tainted with... something. A shadow was on my heart for some reason, stilling the fullness of my joy, but I did not speak of it, merely shaking the feeling off, and it eventually passed.

Sir Thomas took me to the most skilled smith in our region, and had my sword crafted with a red jewel he had been preparing for this day placed in the pommel. From there, he sent me back to my village. I questioned his action, wondering why he was sending me away from his side. But as he explained, he deemed me ready, and told me that “the region needs us separate, not together. And the King has prepared you for this day.”
 
So I returned to my village. My people were amazed to see me again, for I had certainly grown since I had left. They were delighted to have me serve, and serve I did. For three years, I fulfilled the duty of a guardian knight. I used my gift of path-finding whenever it was needed among my people, served as defender if needed be. I was not lax in what Sir Thomas had stated was my greatest duty, however, in that I retrieved documents from the library near our village, and would read to my people the words of the King, and the history of the Guardian order, that knowledge of it might not pass on. Those times were wonderful, for I felt I was doing what I was meant to do, and it was immensely fulfilling. The people enjoyed the time, for with knowledge and law of the King came order, life and joy to their lives. But three years alone was how long this time of peace lasted.

Early in the fourth year, following my eighteenth birthday, a shadow of trouble again fell upon my heart. I tried to dissuade it as before, but it would not be shaken. For several days I endured it, until one day, I went out with several of our village folk to located a missing child, who had gotten lost a few hours before. All seemed to be going well, and despite my tinged mood, nothing seemed wrong. But things were worse than I ever could have imagined. My path I followed led us far, far out into the wilderness, until we were lost ourselves. Night fell, and snow fell. I tried to find the way back, but my skill seemed tainted. We gained no ground, and merely became more lost than we had been. One by one, the men of my company froze to death, and only my training kept me alive the longest, and somehow, I found my way back to our village, weary beyond sorrow. But the sight that greeted me instilled that sorrow I had lost. My village was burned to the ground, its inhabitants scattered in death across its grounds. As I beheld the site, agonized by it, I deduced they had been slain in battle, for many were armed, and our warriors were dead near the outskirts, as if in defense. But none had survived. Women, children, all were slain, even my own family. I was devastated. Not even the enemies of lands abroad were this cruel, and I could not guess who would have done such a deed. But I did not have to wait long to find out.

Staggering out the village, barely alive, I found myself surrounded by warriors  garbed in dark armor, bearing cruel weapons. I could not even stand, much less fight, but before I fell unconscious before them, I beheld a sight I would come to loath. My own face, staring down at me, a smile upon its features as the face, my own face, spoke, with my voice.

   “Greetings. Brother.”

And thus was how I met Set. He and his warriors brought me to Set’s fortress high in the mountains beyond the coasts, and there, I was tortured. At first, Set did so to discovered the limits of my gift, probing my mind with his own. But as time passed, it was merely for his own sport. Day by day, it passed. He would speak at length of how he personally slew my family, whispering doubt and seeking to undermine me faith, and it nearly worked, for I began to despair that the King could hear me where I was. But in one of my moments of reprieve, chained as I was, I recalled knowledge that I had read in the library near my village, the knowledge of the Shadow knights, the order’s dread enemy from ages past. I realized, Set was a Shadow Knight. But he was my own image. And he could not kill me. From then on, I realized his one ultimate weakness, and I used it to regain the hold on my mind. During his sessions, I began to fight back, learning to quell the probe of his mind and the suppression of my gift. It took time, and the knowledge was dearly bought in great pain, but I learned to fight his seeking, choking grasp, all the while keeping what knowledge I had gained a secret from him. I bided my time, until one day, I made my escape, retrieving my sword and fighting my way out. His warriors were no match for me, and for a short interval, Set, who had yet to develop his own gift fully, was cowed by my mastery, and fled before my fury, for above all, he feared his own demise.

I had escaped, but I knew I had little time to act. From what knowledge I knew, Set would seek out my own destruction, and of those I sought to protect. Therefore, I went abroad in my region, raising the countryside in a call to arms. With Sir Thomas’s help, the entire region flocked to our banner, to support us. It was then I realized what power the guardian knights must have wielded, for they were willing to die for us, believing that we did the King’s will. And such was so, for we did. We marched upon Set’s forces in open battle, outnumbering as well as outmatching them, for his followers did not know the land as well as we did, being natives. He fled to his fortress, and we pressed the attack. Many dear lives were lost, but we finally breached its walls, cleansing the evil within and destroying and resistance. But Set was not to be found. He had fled the battle in the last defense, taking with him what forces he could muster, and headed south, not to return.

The battle was won, and though we had lost many lives, our people rejoiced, for we had purged the land of a great evil. But I was disheartened, for I knew Set was out there, and would return, always hunting me. Therefore, I resolved to hunt him myself. I knew what it would mean, but upon remembering my fallen family, my village, I did not want any others to fall to his cruelty because of me. I would stop him, capture him, and kill him if need be.

Sir Thomas and our folk were sorrowful, but could not dissuade me. Taking my sword and supplies, I purposed to leave. Before I did, however, the village guild assembled and asked me to be present. Upon my coming, they informed me that they had elected me as their region’s steward, in accordance with the law of the King. While they could not stop my coming, they promised the aid of their swords, should ever the time occur for me to call, four cohorts strong. I was humbled, and promised to send word should I need it. The following day, I departed, following my inner compass, ever mindful of Set’s possible interference. I had heard rumors of trouble southwards, and I was certain Set would be involved somehow. I hoped to encounter other knights abroad, but Sir Thomas had warned against it, saying,

   “The world has changed much, Dana. Your sheltered life on the coasts is unique, for people here know your story, and the story you tell. Abroad, many will not know the story. Many will not want to hear it, some will even seek your death for it, for the story itself is power. But go you must, for you have been called.”

   “Are we alone in the world, then? Is the order fallen, save here?” I asked.

   “Never,” he replied. “The King always has his servants in the most likely, and unlikely of places. But these will be few, far between, and some... sadly... will not believe as you. It is both to them, and to those they serve, that you will go, for it is with the gifts we bear that the King is shown forth, for the gifts we bear are both His strength, and ours. Do not forget it, and do not forget that the King will always be with you, no matter what path you take.”
 
Well, hope you enjoyed this completely random, very long, and highly disorganized post about The Realms. I'll attempt to do something more logical at a later date....
 
Dia duit,
~Penny

Saturday, December 1, 2012

For The Greatest Good -- Intermediate II

Intermediate II -- Compensation

 
As the last of the guards marched out of the throne room, Lord Ross clasped his hands behind his back. Behind him, Lord Campbell stepped forward.
  “Now, Ross,” The fair haired ruler’s tone commanded the attention of Ross and several of Ross’s men nearby. “About my compensation you promised.”
  Ross smiled, and abandoned his contemplations to face the castle’s owner, putting his hand on Campbell’s shoulder. “Of course. Do not worry, my friend, I had not forgotten.” He motioned to the guards. “Give him his compensation.”
  With a nod of gratitude and satisfaction, Campbell turned to the three soldiers. He paled in horror, just as the captain gave a savage thrust with a long knife into the lord’s chest. Campbell managed a strangled cry, eyes bulging, and he grasped the bloodied hilt. When Ross’s captain withdrew the weapon, stone faced, Campbell collapsed motionless on the ground, his expression of terror still etched on his face
  “My Lord, Campbell’s men are with us.” The captain reported, cleaning his blade on the edge of his victim’s cape before straightening again. “Those who disagreed were dealt with.”
  Ross smiled, eyes glinting in satisfaction as he walked towards his new throne. “Very good. I chose wisely when I promoted you, Wesley. Have one of your underlings send someone to clean up this mess here before something gets stained.”
  Captain Wesley bowed, then gestured to one of the other two men to do as Ross had said. “Thank you, my lord. If I have merited your trust to venture, might I question one of your recent decisions?”
  Settling into the simple, but commanding seat, Ross waved his hand in approval. “By all means.”
  “Thank you, my lord. It is about the hiring of the warrior Set.” Wesley said. “By our deductions, when we captured MacDonald in the halls, I believe his original intent had been to slay the lady Kearney. Besides that, though, I do not trust him; he is….difficult to fathom in his methods. I fear his intentions will not always mirror what my lord has in mind.”
  Ross steepled his fingers, tapping his chin in contemplation. “Why would he seek to kill Kearney? Why not MacDonald?”
  The captain frowned. “I….hadn’t thought of it, my lord. Set seems to enjoy inferring pain upon the Guardian Knight through life rather than death. There seems little other explanation to his hostility to him, and yet his reluctance to slay him outright. Macdonald’s death would damage our cause little, after all, his forces being destroyed.”
  “Indeed….” Ross fell silent for a few moments, then settled further into the throne. “Well, keep an eye on Set, if you wish. At present, he is a valuable asset against the Guardian Knights that we cannot afford to lose, or we will diminish our advantage. If he becomes more of a danger than a help, however, inform me, and we will decide how to deal with him. Does that satisfy you?”
  Wesley nodded. “It would give me pleasure to be the one to deal with him at his usefulness’s end, my lord. Thank you.” He bowed, and at Lord Ross’s dismissing gesture, he exited the throne room with his one remaining guard behind him.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Life and Links

Well, as Siani pointed out to me earlier this morning, it's been around ten days -- that's over a week -- since my last post. I feel bad about that, especially considering I used to post almost every single day. You may have also noticed that I'm absolutely horrible with schedules. My music and legend posts have gone from regimented, to haphazard, to nil. Which I also feel bad about.

So, partial explanation. Aside from having a hard time sticking to schedules, there are also several big things going on over here. First is Walk Thru Bethlehem, which our church puts on every year in December. If you live in Florida around the location of Kings Avenue Church, definitely look into coming to this event. It's free, well done, and boatloads of fun. My family and I will be helping out every day there, which is going to keep me pretty busy.

The next part of the excuse is that shortly after WTB, the lot of us will be moving out of Florida. In light of all these things, I'm thinking blog activity will be somewhat limited. I'm going to make an effort to post some more music, the last few transcripted parts of FtGG, and a legend post or two, but I'd like to make it known that life's going to be a bit full so things won't be as regular.

For other news, I started reading False Prince. I haven't gotten very far yet. Still in the first chapter. However, I'm enjoying it so far. The author appears to be character oriented (like me!) which I enjoy. I've decided I need to read more, so I've charged Seph with the duty of nagging me into reading for at least half an hour a day.

I got a new costume! I ordered this dress from yourdressmaker.com. I've been trying to get pictures of it, but technology hates me at the moment. The camera has gone missing and just when we got the camcorder set up, it ran out of batter completely. Which is typical. I will have pictures to post up here (hopefully) soon, though. It's an awesome outfit that merits a blog post all its own.

Last thing: Archives of Xystia. Xystia is the setting for the trilogy I'm currently writing (which is also on hold due to the end-of-the-year's activities) and it's become so vast and complicated that in order for people to get a good grasp of it, a website is needed. Originally I had a website using webs.com, but it was dark and cumbersome. I very much like the blogger format, and I would love to write blog posts on whatever random Xystia thing comes into my mind, so I made Archives of Xystia. Now, it's still under construction, but there is enough content there for it to be worth checking out. There is also an Archives of Xystia Pinterest board, now, too. If you like my personal pinterest account, then be sure to check out the Xystia one.

So! That's been my life for the past more-than-a-week. How was yours?

Dia duit,
~Penny

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

SqueeCough

Oh, my poor neglected blog! I haven't posted a song or a legend post in simply ages! I feel slightly consoled by the fact that I posted a how-to-ish thing on costuming, but still.

To explain the title. First, Squee! My best friend, Siani Delaney, has a blog. This has me smiling rather ridiculously inside. The addy is http://www.writingwanderlust.blogspot.com/ . So go look at it. Go on, shoo. You can finish this post when you get back.

Back now?

Okay.

You checked out the blog first, right? Hm.

Alright, I believe you. You can move on.

Second, Cough. As I have explained to Dana a few times, my bed and I have been rather chummy for the past two days as I've been down with some sickness or other. I think it's just a cold, or.....something. Whatever it is, it's left me achy and exhausted, so I haven't been able to get out of bed for more than a few minutes. As such, I have subsisted off continuous episodes of Star Trek, a lengthy adventure game, lots and lots of sleeping, and a nice chat with Ani, then Dana, then my siblings.

Also, I bought a new costume a little bit ago and intend to take and post pictures of it. That is, as soon as I can stand. Which isn't yet.

I hope y'all are doing a little bit better, health wise, than I am.

Dia duit,
~Penny

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Resourceful Costuming for the Non-Seamstress

Though I've done a little bit of costume sewing in my time (wow, that makes me sound old...), I am certainly no seamstress. Nor do I have the patience or time -- hello, I'm writing a novel -- to become one.

But I'm picky. I like things to be nice, and while I'll put up with a slightly lower quality when it comes to costumes I make, I like them to at least be worth the ammount of work put into them, and very much dislike tackiness. Cheapo costumes sold at Wal-Mart or Target during Halloween are pretty much out of the question. Those things just scream cliche. There's little to no creativity when it comes to those.

Those two reasons -- my lack of sewing skills and my dislike of cheap storebought costumes -- are mainly why I will spend a little extra on tailored costumes like the ones from armstreet.com and yourdressmaker.com.

However! There is another option I haven't yet mentioned when it comes to costuming. And that is normal clothing. You would be simply amazed at how well a properly matched outfit bought in the regular clothing section in a store can play the role of a quality costume for a given occasion. You just have to know what to look for.

Before I give a few tips, you'll have to understand that these are regular clothes. They're not top notch specialized costumes, so there's only so close you'll be able to get to the 'real thing'. But you can get pretty doggone close if you're creative and, yes, a little lucky.

Medieval/Fantasy

Girls
~Peasant tops. These are great as a base piece, though be sure to get them in solid colors and not modern patterned fabric.
~Ankle length tiered skirts. These are full and swingy and are also great as a base piece. Once again, solid colors; no modern patterns.
~Woven belts
~Gold or silver bangles
~Hoop or feather earrings
~Medallion necklaces
~Another cool one is taking a plain solid color mini-dress and wearing it with brown or black pants underneath, a belt, and boots.

Guys
~Oversized solid color t-shirts (best colors are brown, dark green, and black). Worn with a belt, these resemble medieval tunics, especially if they're a little long.
~Courderoys in black or brown. So far courderoy is the most medieval looking pant fabric, even over khakis.
~Since men's boots are very modern looking these days, with the laces and combat boot feel to them, we've found that wellies -- or golashes, as Americans call them -- work pretty well. Yes, they are made out of rubber, and may be pushing things a bit, but hey, that's what imagination is for. Besides wellies, boots or all black sneakers work well. Sorry, guys; you don't get as much fun with footwear.
~Belt. Almost any kind of guy's belt will work.

Accessories

~I've seen leather bracelets of various types in stores nowadays, and though I haven't bought any yet, they've always struck me as awesome unisex costume accessories.
~Shoes. Like I said before, boots are great, but another option for girls is to wear plain brown ballet flats.
~Bling bling! Silver and gold make for great jewelry, especially for a gypsy.
~Consider sashes as a substitute for belts.
~Leather string. I can't think of the proper name for it... Anyway, I found these things at Jo-Ann's craft store in the very small leather working section. If you use these to 'lace' up the bottoms of your pants, it looks really cool. Same can be done for sleeves.
~Use your belt to go diagonally across your chest like a bandolier.

Weapons

Most of these do actually have to be made, but you can find some fairly cheap daggers online.

~Swords.
~Daggers.
~Bows and arrows.
~Axes.
~Spears.
~Poisons. Vials can easily be bought at a craft store, then all you do is fill them with water and food coloring of various types.
~Slingshot.

Sci-Fi

Okay, I actually have pictures for this one. My siblings and I have come up with our own knock off of Star Trek. So we needed uniforms.

Since we were taking off of a uniform design that was already made up, our job was much easier. Especially since this design happened to be fairly simple. We followed the basic uniform concepts from The Original Series (which happens to be my personal favorite series of Star Trek), which consists of a solid color top and black bottoms. That's pretty easy, but it's ridiculously easy when you consider buying those clothes from a regular clothes store instead of trying to make them or buy the 'official' Star Trek merchandise from online. That's also where a little bit of luck comes in. We found a shirt at Target that was so amazingly close to the gold/yellow shirt Captain Kirk wears in TOS that we were practically squealing with excitement. It's perfect.

Anyway, we actually began with assigning colors to the various divisions on the Penterprise (it's a PenKnights ship, we decided), then assigned each person to a division, and that's how we knew which shirt color to buy for who.



Command Uniform


Security and Operations


Cadet


As you can see, they're not perfectly Sci-fi, but they are pretty doggone close. And a great thing about these outfits is that they can also be worn as proper clothes. Because of that, they will last quite a while and look good.

Here are also a few other ideas of what to wear while playing Sci-Fi Imagination Games.

Girls
~Surprisingly, many of the base medieval costume pieces will work for sci-fi, as well. Look at some sci-fi; a lot of the clothing -- when not completely outrageous -- has a slight medieval tone to them. Especially clothes for royalty. The trick is changing the color theme from forest colors like brown, green, orange, and so on, to colors like black, grey, and other deep colors, and adding the right accessories.
~Black, grey, or deep colored mini-dresses make for good tunics over black or grey pants. Go for trim, clean lines.
~Black belts with silver or gunmetal accents.
~Boots or sneakers work better than ballet flats when it comes to look.
~Metal jewelry rather than beads.

Guys
~Black or grey pants.
~Trim shirts that don't look like tunics.
~Black belts, or utility belts for those with a more mechanic type job. Like the ones handy men wear.
~Boots or sneakers, though not wellies.

Accessories

~Wristbands. Leather is best, if you can find them.
~Fingerless black gloves.
~Drop holster. I am honestly not quite sure where to find these, and I don't know how expensive they are. We use one of my Dad's old ones.

When it comes to sci-fi, there is less of a specific style to follow. With fantasy, we go off of medieval stuff. With sci fi, what is there? It's the future; you have a lot of freedom. It's up to you to design your sci-fi culture and thus the rules of clothing. The one guideline I know that helps keep things looking more sci-fi than modern or fantasy is to keep things sleek, trim, and clean. With fantasy there are a lot of layers and 'frills', if you will. With sci-fi, things are very straightforward with fewer layers, and only a few accents.

Weapons

~Nerf guns! While not exactly colored correctly, these are the weapons we use for every one of our sci-fi IGs, both with and without darts.
~Daggers.
~Slingshots. Yup.
~You can also use storebought lightsabers, if you like.
~PVC guns. Yes, it can be done.
~If you have some creative energies left after all this, try your hand at creating something like the Covenant Energy Sword from the Halo series. If you do this, give me pictures. Because that would be seriously one of the coolest things ever.

That's all I've got for you, folks! Putting together costumes from normal clothes is great fun for those who have a mind for it. It involves a lot of creativity and resourcefulness. I've given you some ideas to start with, but you're going to have to come up with many more of your own.. Unlike with sewing, we're restricted to what the stores have to offer, so consider every angle, keep your mind open to possibilities as they present themselves, and don't be afraid to try something that you hadn't originally thought would work. You never quite know what the end result will be.

Have fun!

Dia duit,
~Penny

For The Greatest Good -- Part XII (Dana)

Part XII -- Dana


    The guards marched us up the passageway, keeping their swords raised and following us in a close formation, to assure we did not attempt any escape. I looked forward, searching for some chance I could retrieve my weapon, any weapon. But no such luck; Ross’s captain marched some distance ahead of us, bearing my sword as well as his own. Cast ahead as it was, my gaze passed over Set. His head turned, just enough that I could catch the slight smile on his face. I ground my teeth, forcing my expression to remain stolid.
   This close. I had been this. Close. To finally ending it all, ending him! And Kearney just had to be so sacrificing and understanding, didn’t she? Of all the crazy stunts…
   Enough. She doesn’t understand, and she doesn’t know. And for her sake, she never will.
    I took a deep breath and tried to quell the bitterness that roiled within me, fighting with resentment.
   Come on, focus. This isn’t getting either of you free.
    I stared ahead, attempting to discover the elusive scent of a path I had felt. But whatever path it was, it did not require any actions soon.
    Our travel in silence through the castle lasted longer than it had felt. Not five minutes had transpired before we were marched into Campbell’s throne room, which at the moment was occupied by Campbell himself seated on his throne, Ross, who stood several yards away from him, and a small force of guards. Campbell rose from his seat at the sight of us, and a smug smile of malice spread across Ross’s face. Our company came to a halt, the guards forming a tighter circle around us as Ross’s captain stepped forward, offering my sword to his overlord.
   “Well, well, well…” Ross said as he took the blade in hand, admiring the light dancing across the polished blade.
   “My lord, the final guardian knight to oppose us was caught attempting to free the lady Kearney and kill lord Set. His sword, pathseeker, the last of the blades, I believe.”
    At this comment, I raised an eyebrow. You wish.
    Campbell smiled, folding his arms and stepping down from his throne with a confident gait. Ross spoke with exultation.
   “Brilliant, Set, brilliant!”
    The captain stepped back with a slightly annoyed expression, but said nothing. Ross finished admiring his prize and walked toward where I and Kearney stood with our hands bound. I watched him, keeping any emotion from my face.
   No spike; we should be fine. He means to gloat, not execute.
    The smug look on Ross’s face spread to his tone of voice as he spoke.
   “So you’ve failed again, MacDonald. Not the nicest feeling, hm?”
    I allowed a small smile to touch my face.
   “As they say, lord Ross, the day is always darkest before the dawn. I would ask, however, what you plan to do with us?”
    Set stepped forward, but did not interrupt. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Kearney give him a particularly nasty glance, and I restrained a smile.
    Ross raised my blade, letting it rest on my shoulder, lightly, but I knew all too well how dangerous the weapon could be, so close to my throat.
   “You, I plan to deport. Your power, while not directly dangerous, irks me greatly.”
    I raised an eyebrow, keeping my voice as respectful as I could manage in my reply.
   “I do hope you won’t allow me to escape so easily next time. I had to restrain several laughs at the blunders your guards made, in their… “deployment”, to assure I remained a captive.”
   Ross did not respond as I’d hoped, merely answering my question.
   “Oh, no. No such mistake will be made again, I assure you. Your ever present shadow will be right beside you the entire way there and back,” he said as he motioned toward Set. I glanced in his direction, and Set gave me a devious smile. Biting back a response, I asked my next question with a guarded tone.
   “What of the lady Kearney, then”
   Ross turned to look at Kearney, appearing to think on this question. Kearney narrowed her eyes into a dangerous glare. However, Ross did not speak, but Campbell did for him.
   “Her, we will need to… extract…. military information from. While you, with your forces fled or destroyed, pose no threat to us, she still has half an army out there. What’s left of it, that is. Knowing where it is will make removing the threat so much easier.”
   Campbell had stepped forward to give this answer, and I fixed a steady stare on him. For a few moments, he stared back, but glanced away, unable to hold it. Ross nodded in affirmation of Campbell’s words.
   “For the lives of her brothers, I’m sure she would pay any price.
    Kearney stiffened, even as I glanced at her in an attempt to warn away any visible reaction.
    Ross gave a slow smile that spoke of cruelty in mind.
   “Ah, I see… there I can see fear.”
    Kearney shifted her gaze from the warlord to the wall behind the throne, assuming an impassive stance.
   “Small wonder; you are no stranger to it,” I retorted.
   Ross gave me an annoyed glance before walking past me to stand in front of Kearney, to speak to her directly.
   “Perhaps I should kill one of them just so your debt is paid. Then you can bargain for the life of the other.
   My ears perked up at this comment. Debt?
   Kearney turned her gaze to look at Ross and responded with a tense tone of voice.
   “His death wasn’t my fault.”
    Ross’s stare hardened, as did his own tone.
   “He would not have been where he was that night if it were not for you. I will have justice!”
   “You had justice with the first life you took from our ranks!” Kearney responded with equal heat.
   “This isn’t about justice, this war itself is NOT about justice. This? This is greed.”
    In a snap of anger, Ross slapped her across the face. Kearney dropped to a knee at the blow, swaying, and I jumped forward to keep her from falling any further. Ross’s fists clenched, fury showing plain on his face. I stared at him coldly.
   “The path of vengeance holds no resolution, Ross; only destruction. And with it, loss of honor.”
   A blow to my back sent me reeling to one side. I coughed, struggling to rise, and heard Set’s voice above me.
   “Another word, captive, and your companions will suffer for it. Lord Ross did not give you leave to speak.”
   I glanced up to look at Ross, but found no change on his face.
   “Ask your pathetic rulers about ‘honor’”, he growled.
Kearney remained as she was, recovering fully before moving. Ross seemed to regain, at least in part, his lost composure, and turned to Set.
   “I want that one deported as soon as possible. Put the ‘queen’ in one of our special cells. She won’t take long to break. Oh, and send out a messenger to tell Sir Damien to kill one of the brothers, I don’t care which one.”
   “No!”
   Kearney jumped up and leapt toward Ross, but two of the guards reached her first, restraining her attempts to reach him. Ignoring her outburst, Set bowed to Ross.
   “We can leave as soon as my forces fully return from routing the rebels that fled to the valleys. Where do want him kept until then, my lord?”
I rose to a crouch, but made no interruption. Any outburst now would only result in further forceful silencing.
   “Put him somewhere nearby. Maybe he can convince her to give up the location of the army before we have to waste too much energy. But keep a guard by both of them.”
Set nodded. “I will see to it. Guards, take them both.”
I felt two pairs of hands grasp my arms, and I allowed them to pull me to my feet. This was still the way, I could feel it, and I did not fight their grasp. Kearney, however, struggled against the guards dragging her until another joined them in an attempt to restrain her. I smiled slightly, but it was dampened by what had just transpired. Even if I could feel it, I could not see how we would escape now.

NaNoWriMo -- The End

No, I'm not residing in a time warp that allowed me to reach November 29th sooner than the rest of humanity. It is day 15, and I am calling it quits.

Wait, what? I'm just quitting?

Believe me when I say the decision wasn't exactly easy. But the thing is, some big things have come up in 'real' life that demand my attention, and I just don't have the time for NaNo anymore. My family is moving much sooner than we originally thought, and there are many things that need to be done, on top of the responsibilities I already have around the house. I just cannot focus on both NaNo and life right now, and I do not feel justified choosing NaNo over my family.

So here I end, with 17,540 words of Dagger Quest completed. That's more than I've written in such a condensed ammount of time in my life, so it counts for something, even though I didn't make it to the finish line itself.

I want to say a specific thank you to R.G. Nairam, Wynter Croix, Siani Delaney, and Mrs. Havig for encouraging me on NaNoWriMo. Even though I didn't finish, I really, really appreciate all the support you gave me. I would have given up much sooner if it hadn't been for you, and I think it is good that I at least came this far before winding down. Thanks, guys. You're awesome.

Don't worry, I didn't forget you, Mom. I started a whole new paragraph to say thank you to you. You ready? You sure? Okay. THANK YOU! ^.^ I couldn't have done this without your support throughout.

I'll be rooting for all you NaNo-ers who are still in the game. Keep writing, folks! Remember to enjoy the ride, and keep an eye out for my return next year.

Dia duit,
~Penny

Friday, November 9, 2012

NaNoWriMo -- Day 9

In regards to wrimoing, today is a fail of epic proportions. Although in my defense, I did sit down to write once. But then Dad got home.

Then there was this other event...

I'm officially twenty now. Today is my birthday. I got at least a hundred 'happy birthday's from friends and aquaintances, an adorable e-card from Siani, and a lovely afternoon out at Menchies (if you live in Florida, definitely look up Menchies) with the family.

As a result of the day's activities, and my desire to spend more time with my family rather than hermited up in my room wrimoing, I have gotten exactly 0 words written. It's also movie night tonight, so if the movie runs real late, I'm not sure I'll get to wrimoing at all today.

And you know what? I'm completely unrepentant. So ha. ^.^ I've been in a spritely good mood all day, and haven't let anything spoil it. Tomorrow I will go back to being a hermit and attempt to churn out three thousand words in order to catch up.

Dia duit,
~Penny

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

NaNowriMo -- 10,000 Words?

Goal completed.

Last night I decided to aim for achieving 10,000 words before bed and I did it. Not only that, but I did it without running into ridiculous overtime. I think I got to bed around 11:30 or 11:40.

So yes, I'm quite proud of myself. Even if it was only 2,000 words that I needed to finish in order to reach 10,000, it's more than I'd been able to write in a row before that, so it counts.

Not it's back to normal until next week, when I'll have to make up for Sunday again.

Dia duit,
~Penny

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

NaNoWriMo -- Day 6

At the moment my stats on nanowrimo.org are saying that at my current rate, I should reach 50,000 words by December 4th. That's actually an improvement on the previous projected completion date, which was December 12th.

As you can see by my nifty little WriMo gidget there on the sidebar, I'm at around 8,000 words. Today I've written 1,608 words, which is only a few dozen words short of the target average. Easily achieved before 'bedtime'.

However.

I have decided to shoot for 10,000 tonight before hitting the sack. I think I can do it if I put my mind to it and don't run into any major story snags (lol), so I'm going to do my best.

I'll report on progress tomorrow. Here's hoping I don't run too late into the night because I have to be up in the morning to chat with Siani on skype.

Dia duit,
~Penny

For The Greatest Good -- Part XI (Penny)


Part XI – Account by Penny Kearney


“Dana, leave me; it’s too late.” My words poured out in a rush. “Get Percy and Seph out, crown Percy, and keep the Order from dissolving. Ross is counting on the Order becoming weak if I am dead, but you must not let that happen.”
  “Over my dead body.” Dana’s voice sounded in my mind as well as my ears, followed by the echoing ring of PathSeeker being withdrawn from its scabbard somewhere down the hall.
  With a snarl, Set drew back his sword to strike me. I restrained the urge to shrink back.
  “Set!” Dana came into view just outside my cell, sword ready, stance coiled, and gaze intent. “If you kill her…. I will kill you. And you know I can.”
  “No!” I cried.
  Set stayed his blade. He stared at me for a long moment, then, at the sound of Dana’s footsteps, he stepped forward, grabbed my shoulder, and shoved me to the ground.  I landed on my hands and knees as he whirled to face Dana, holding his sword above me.
  Dana slowed, stopping a few paces in front of us. His gleaming silver blade contrasted the ebony one hovering over me. Goosebumps prickled my skin.
  Run, Dana.
  “Well, Dana,” Set said. “This is a bold move, even for you. Do you really want to do this? For if you’re wrong on your level of skill….” I felt his blade come near my neck. “…I beat you, and she dies anyway.”
  I reached up to push the blade back a few inches, but Set pressed it against the back of my neck, forcing me lower further lest the edge sever my skin.
  I clenched my fists. “Blast it! Dana, back off!”
  “Yes, Dana, save yourself.” Set mocked. “Leave your petty little leader to her decided fate. Go on, I’ll catch up later, don’t worry.”
  I closed my eyes. No matter what I hoped, Set’s words as much sealed Dana’s reaction. Whether he would reach Set before—
  Set’s blade lifted from my neck, but instead of it sinking into me from above, a rush of footsteps then the resounding clash of steel rang through the chamber instead. Jerking out of the way, towards the side of the cell, I leapt to my feet.
  Black and silver met time and again in a blinding flurry of strikes and slashes as the twin enemies maneuvered the duel into the hall, expressions intense, eyes burning with a depth of mutual hatred.
  No!
  This was a duel to the death. And I had no weapon to stop it. I watched, frozen, thoughts racing futilely, and moved to the entrance.
  Dana’s attacks became more aggressive, and, if that were even possible, more powerful. Set gave ground, then in a flash finished a deflection and dodged around Dana to reverse their positions and stand near the cell entrance. I pulled back. Dana recovered in an instant, his momentum intact, and bore down on his foe with still yet renewed energy. This time Set held. Had I had a knife, he’d have been an easy target, caught unawares, and so close in range to me. But had I had a knife, I would not have used it, for doing so would have meant Dana’s death, as well. Assuredly, Set knew this.
  A blurring combination from Dana, and Set gave one step. He blocked each attack, but the last one knocked his sword to the side further than Set could help. Dana landed a savage kick to his twin’s chest, knocking him completely onto his back on the stone floor. The black weapon flew from his grasp and skid out of his reach down the hall behind him.
  Dana put his foot on Set’s chest to keep him from rising, and jabbed the tip of his weapon against Set’s neck, glaring down at him and breathing hard.
  “It…is over, Set.”
   He was going to kill him.
   Not today, Dana.
   I darted from the cell. This caught Dana’s attention enough to postpone his action, and allow me time to snatch up Set’s sword, and use it to whirl and slap Dana’s blade from its threatening position on Set’s throat.
  A stutter ran through Dana’s muscles as he, I could tell, restrained a reflexive counter attack. He switched his gaze to me, nearly glaring. “What are you doing?” He hissed, returning his blade to Set’s neck.
  The second he did, I deflected it again, and this time followed through with an offensive combination. Dana gave ground under my short onslaught, more out of surprise than any real need for safety against my action. He was the better swordsman, but I knew he would do many things before ever harming me of his own volition.
  As he stepped back out of reach at the end of my combination, he retained his guard stance, roiling confusion and near fury in his gaze.
  I met it, dead serious about my intent. “You are not allowed to die.”
  “I cannot allow him to do anything else to you all.” Some of the edge in his tone evened. “It is better this way, and it is appointed a time for everyone to die. Let me pass. Please.”
  “I will not!” I kept Set’s sword ready, listening for movement behind me, also, in case Set decided to get involved in the argument. “We are not cowards; we will find another way, but not one that costs your life. Appoint some other time because unless you go through me, I will not let you kill yourself this day.”
   He stared, eyes hard and cold. But I meant every word, and remained as I was to prove it. If he made a move to kill Set again, I would fight him until he either gave up, or took my life.
   Footsteps sounded from down both ends of the hall. Guards. Soldiers. Hemming us in. No doubt summoned by the jailer, who wisely decided not to involve himself directly in the altercation. Dana glanced in each direction, at me, then at Set, who I’d heard get up and move to stand a distance behind me. The chance to kill him was disappearing rapidly. I braced myself in case Dana decided to take it.
  Suddenly narrowing his eyes, Dana’s gaze flicked back to me. I hesitated, suspicious.
  The soldiers came into view around the corner behind Dana, drawing their weapons at sight of the scene before them. They wore both Ross and Campbell uniforms, and the captain – wearing the livery of Ross -- at the head of the group took in the situation with some measure of perplexity creasing his brows as he and his men came to a halt.
  “Uh… you two! Drop your weapons!” He motioned threateningly with his own sword.
  Biting his lip, Dana caught my gaze, and nodded. I knew that look in his eye. While still frustrated, I could see, he’d sensed another way. I hoped it was a way to get us out of the dungeon, not one to kill Set.
  He turned, and I stepped forward. The guards approached and relieved of us our blades. I bumped into Dana as Set brushed roughly past me to address the captain.
  “Captain, thank you.” He said, standing beside the man. “Now, if you please, kill the girl. I’ll take the other to Lord Ross.”
  The captain shook his head. “Your pardon, Lord Set; Lord Ross wants all the Guardian Knights alive.” He motioned to his guards. “Bind them and bring them both. Lord Ross will be most pleased.”
  I could have smirked at Set, giving him a taste of his own smug expression, but I didn’t. The adrenaline coursing through me had finally caused my muscles to quake intermittently, and my heart still thumped at the fact that I’d just crossed swords with one of my closest friends. I had no desire to ever repeat such a scenario, but as I glanced sidelong at him while several guards saw to binding us, I didn’t know if I would be able to avoid it. The image of the pure hatred on both Dana and Set’s faces seared itself in my mind.
  The only thing I could think was that I had a lot of thinking to do. Right now, my thoughts were in such an uproar as to prevent me from coming to any logical conclusions. So I stopped trying, and followed our armed escorts down the hall, avoiding any more glances in Dana’s direction and fighting feelings of betrayal.
  He’d only been doing what he thought was right. I knew him well enough to know that. But rationality had left me along with my energy, leaving emotions to roil inside, and at the moment, all I could do was try to hold everything back.

Monday, November 5, 2012

NaNoWriMo -- Day 5

FREAKING OUT!

Okay, technically I'm meant to be wrimoing right this second, but I needed to vent a moment.

Mom and I decided I'm not going to write on Sundays, so I'm officially behind schedule. It's only day five and I'm starting to see myself looking like a writer-hermit by the end of the month in order to complete this thing. Bllleeeeeaaaahhhhh......

I wish I was one of those super organized, super focused people who could do NaNo like it was no big deal, but I'm finding that when I have a wordcount to fulfill, my mind suddenly decides to find a million other things to tease my attention. I can't rearrange the beginning, spend five minutes trying to decide whose POV to start the next section with, go back and edit in something that came to light as I was writing along, or fix any glaring plot holes I suddenly discover.

So far I positively despise the opening for this novel. Blech blech blech. I have no time to make the prose work well, and it bothers me.

My Inner Drill Seargant keeps yelling "wordcount!" in my ear, while I'm pretty sure my Inner Editor has curled up and died somewhere on my mental writing desk.

And it's only day five.

I feel like such a wimp.

Dia duit,
~Penny

Saturday, November 3, 2012

NaNoWriMo -- Day 3

Went a couple hundred over the word target today, so that feels nice. Once again I'm finding I slightly overestimated how quickly I can write a set ammount of words. I think it's mostly because I don't measure writing progress in numbers, I measure it in scenes. So whether I write a long scene or a short scene or several scenes consequetively, as long as I've finished the scene, I'm good.

'Course that doesn't quite work with NaNo, does it? It's all about the numbers.

I told my friend online, "NaNo's going pretty well so far. The lack of time I have to improve the quality of my prose is nagging a little, but I'll survive."
"You just basically described NaNo." She replied.

So there you have it. It's fun, but it has a decided undercurrent of work to it that isn't always present when it comes to writing on my own time schedule.

I would say that I think this is good for me, but then my Mother would say "I told you so" in the comments.

 Hee hee.

Dia duit,
~Penny