Saturday, September 29, 2012

For The Greatest Good -- Part VII (Dana)

Part VII -- Account by Dana MacDonald

  Throbbing pain, relentless, like drums behind my temple pounding in ceaseless rhythm, was my first sensation. It took a while to push through the feeling, all my other senses still swimming. Over time, however, I regained my awareness, thoughts formulating, but in a jumbled mess.
  Can’t… sleep now.  Got to… get… to Percy. Left flank’s… crumbling, they’ll… break... the shield wall…
  I forced my eyes open. Dawn’s light lanced into my vision, and I shut my lids against it, allowing myself more time to collect my scattered memories and thoughts.
  No… we lost…. Can’t… stay for long, have to keep traveling, find… the others…
  I groaned and rolled over onto my stomach. Pushing up against the ground with my hands, I managed to lift myself off the ground. Fighting a wave of light-headedness, I staggered to my feet, swaying. I immediately missed the weight of my sword. Glancing down, I saw the weapon lying on the ground next to where I had been prone a few moments before.  The steel glittering with reflected sunlight. I stared at the sword for a moment, confused.
  I always have it sheathed and near at hand. Why…
  Clear memory flooded into my mind, and I shut my eyes once more, sinking to my knees.
  I had failed.
  Once again, I had failed the order. Opening my eyes, I looked around at the silent ruined camp. The evidence of my realization was all too plain, written in the accusing faces of fallen warriors scattered about the charred and scuffed earth.
  Be proud; this loss compounds even your previous failure to them.
  The hated voice echoed in my head, and I clenched my teeth, willing it to be gone from my thoughts, but as always, it stayed, mocking and arrogant.
  They do not trust you. You saw her face; she does not believe. None of them do. And now, they never will.
  I reached out and grasped my sword, staring at the simple blade, yet deadly and elegant to me for its use. The red pommel stone glittered as I sheathed the weapon, standing. I turned my back to the camp and began walking toward the tree line, following the trail Set and his followers had left. It was not a hard course to follow; Set had made no efforts to disguise their course, which led into the forest toward Campbell’s fortress.
  I began to run, following the path of beaten vegetation and boot-marked earth. No heed did I give any more to secrecy, speed was what I needed now, so that I would have time to…
  To do what?
  I tried to ignore the thought, but it would not be silenced. I skirted tree trunks and burst through shrubbery, growing ever closer to Campbell’s castle. Purposely, I gave no heed to my inner compass. I knew that it could find no path now.
  Pushing through a confused mass of branches and thick leaves, I came out quite suddenly into the morning sun. I was standing on the hilltop that I and Penny had traveled only the previous night. Campbell’s fortress reared up from the still moat waters, back dropped against the mountains behind it that formed the Scar range of mountain peaks. I took the time to recover my breath and surveyed the view. Peering across the moat to the castle’s ramparts, I could just barely make out the movement of guards, and the early light caught every so often on the blades of swords or spears. Direct approach was no longer an option here. I sighed; there was nothing else I could do, save one thing only, and that had little hope. I let my eyes drift half-way shut, and let my mind focus, willing something, anything, to deny what I felt innately.
  Find her. Come on…
  Nothing. There was no path.
  It took a moment for the thought to sink in; only once before had this happened, and that had been when Set had…
  I shook my head. There had to be another way, there always was! I tried to focus once more, but I could hear Set’s mocking laughter from some time ago still echoing in my head.
  Go on, try. I dare you. I’ll be waiting.
   “No. won’t win this, not again. You may have taken me, but I was not broken. I am still your greatest weakness, and you mine,” I murmured under my breath, but I could not sustain such false bravado.
   “There must be a way,” I said to myself, and again surveyed the castle and its surrounding grounds.
  There is… the final path.
  The thought came unexpectedly, and I would have brushed it aside, had I not been certain it was my own. And I was certain; no influence of Set would ever draw forth such a notion.
  I lowered my head. Yes, it was an option, but would even that path be enough to get in? I turned to the castle once more, and let my focus, my desire, settle itself on that one thought, the final path.
  Almost at once, I felt it. The way was laid out in my mind’s eye, and I felt the security in it, even in so dread a path. I turned back into the trees and began walking the tree line just inside of the forest, so as to avoid being sighted by a guard from the castle’s walls. Based on the direction I was currently traveling, I suspected my entrance would be through the old dungeons, the same path I and Lady Kearney had originally planned to take. It seemed ironic at the moment, but I felt no humor in it, only bitter sorrow. Still, one thought kept me consoled, and I gripped the hilt of my sword as I traveled.
  I am coming, Set. And this time, this final time, you cannot stop me.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday Music #9

And so I ressurrect once again to write a long overdue blog post. Today's music is a piece that hints of hope for freedom that is then hunted by an powerful opposing force trying to tear that dream asunder.

Dia duit,

Monday, September 24, 2012

Technical Issues

For some unknown reason, my blog was having some technical issues that prevented me from posting anything. Thankfully, though, it's back online. Really had me worried there for a litte bit. I like this blog too much to lose it...

Dia duit,

Thursday, September 20, 2012

For The Greatest Good -- Part VI (Penny)

Part VI – Account by Penny Kearney

  I swallowed, my throat sore from the lump there that refused to leave. On the walk back to Campbell’s castle, the loss of my troops sank in even deeper. My stomach had finally stopped churning, my head stopped spinning, leaving now just a steady smoldering in my heart – sparks waiting to start a fire.
  The cry of the trumpets died down as Set led the way with swaggering steps into the throne room. The four guards surrounding me gave me my space, one sporting a blotched bruise on his jaw, and another a red streaked scratch over his eye. However my little victories against their previously overbearing escort style came at the price of a still tender bruise on my side. The leather breast and back armor I wore had kept the blow from doing more damage than it could have, and consequently Set had ordered it removed in case I should have a sudden change of mind about our ‘little agreement’. Even still, the guards now afforded me the distance I’d wanted, and thus I considered the bruise and loss of my armor worth it. Anything that made my captors regret having to look after me – without inciting them to kill me – I counted as a win.
  Ross and Campbell stood by the dais at the end of the long, blue edged red carpet. A fireplace roared on the left, permeating the chamber with warmth to drive off the autumn chill.
  Set halted near the two nobles, I and my escorts doing the same.
  “My Lords Ross and Campbell,” Set bowed to each of them. “My assault has yielded double benefits. Not only were the rebels destroyed utterly, I managed to capture another of the esteemed enemy order. Their head, no less.” Moving aside and making a dramatic gesture, Set announced, “Lady Kearney, leader of your famed insurgency and head of the guardian order.”
  As the nobles turned their attention on me, I met their scrutiny with a kindled gaze. I had hoped the next time I would see either of those men would be with a sword in my hand. But here I stood. Their prisoner.
  A smug expression crept onto Campbell’s face, while a cross between a grin and a sneer widened on Ross’s.
  He clapped his hands together. “Set, you outdo yourself!”
  Set shrugged. “Oh, no need to thank me, my lord; I enjoyed it heartily.”
  I clenched my jaw to keep from saying what sprang into my mind.
  “Well done, Set.” Campbell agreed, stepping forward at last and eyeing me for a moment before looking to Set. “But where is the other one?”
  “He was left alone,” A slight smile quirked the edge of his mouth. “To think on what happens to those who resist their rightful rulers. He is alone, and unaided.”
  Ross nodded in approaval, clasping his thick hands behind his back once more. “Brilliant. He can relate firsthand what transpired, should he come across any more of their supporters.”
  Campbell retreated back to the throne, but I caught his slight frown before he turned away. How much of this alliance had been his idea? It occurred to me suddenly, considering the interaction between the two so far, that Ross appeared to be far more enthusiastic about this situation than Campbell did…
  But why? Why was Campbell letting Ross take control? Didn’t he see that that’s what was happening here?
  Retaining his dramatic flair, Set knelt before Ross and held out my sword to him. “Lord Ross, to add to your collection, I humbly present RuneBinder.”
  Again, I tensed. The urge to dart between the guards and give Set a good shove and ruin his little show rose up, but I quelled it. Right now, I needed to wait.
  Ross’s knifelike grin returned as he grasped RuneBinder’s hilt and raised it before him. He turned it so the blade glittered in the firelight, and the ornate inscriptions that ran two thirds along the shining steel almost glowed. Pleasure gleamed in his dark eyes as he gazed along its length.
  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the smile Set cast my way. A shiver ran down my spine unbidden, and I pretended to ignore him, clenching my fist. Adrenaline still coursing through me with every heartbeat made my muscles quiver at intervals. Fear and anger battled in my mind for dominance.
  Ross approached me. I kept my eye on RuneBinder. I’d known Ross for a while, and wouldn’t put the ironic idea of killing me with my own weapon past him.
  “It is said that members of your order have certain…..powers.”
  Campbell perked at Ross’s comment, and Set chuckled.
  “Indeed they do, my lord.” Set folded his arms. “Fortunate for us, otherwise we’d not be in this position. I made sure to thank the last for that factor.”
  Ross raised his caterpillar brows at me. I glanced up at his face once, but then returned it to its averted position, clasping my hands behind my back to restrain them. I knew what he wanted to know, and I debated an answer.
  But he became impatience in the silence. “Well?”
  I shrugged. “I have nothing.”
  His brows now furrowing, Ross narrowed his eyes, but before he could conjure a suitable reproach, Set tapped his arm to move him aside, and stood in front of me. I bristled at his proximity, meeting his probing gaze with a glare.
  He tilted his head, then seemed suddenly to look beyond me. My breathing stopped. My glare faltered. Something in my head began to throb, then—
  His gaze focused. The throbbing withdrew like a splinter from flesh, and I drew in a sharp breath. My heart hammered.
  What did he just do to me?
  A smile touched his mouth. “No…. she does not. She does not believe.” He glanced at Ross, stepping back again. “And by extension, hers is rendered inactive.”
  He’s crazy. I narrowed my eyes at him. All of this is crazy. Why is everyone suddenly so obsessed with these old legends?
  I felt cold steel against my neck, and swatted it away on reflex. RuneBinder’s blade bit into my fingers, and I cried out, pacing away and gripping my wrist.
  Ross snorted behind me. “As their leader, she is useful whether she has a power or not. However…. See if you can ‘activate’ hers.”
  I didn’t need to turn around to know the smirk that crossed Set’s face.
  “As you wish, my lord.”
  “Will you need this?”
  “No, it is merely a piece of fancy steel. My lord’s collection would do best with it.”
  “Good.” His tone emanated smug satisfaction. I kept my back turned on him, pressing my hand against my tunic to stay the bleeding. “Good.”
   This seemed to be the end of the conversation. Set snapped his fingers, speaking to the guards. “Take her to the cell prepared for her arrival. I will be along momentarily.”
  The guards fell into their positions around me once more. I gave them looks that told them they would not have to drag me; I would walk. So I followed them out of the throne room, not even affording the three men behind us a final glance.
  Our footsteps echoed in the halls, boots against stone, an irregular pattern. The warmth from the fire in the throne room dissolved, leaving now the whispering dank chill of the castle to taunt me. My cloak still lay at the bottom of the moat where I’d left it without heed. The gentle throb of pain from the cut on my fingers distracted my mind from considering my predicament too deeply. We wove through a maze of halls, then finally descended a winding staircase down into a haze of blackness beneath the castle itself. Only a few torches lit the way at the bottom of the staircase, where two lanky guards stood flanking a massive wooden door, making them look like ghouls guarding a gate to some ancient tomb.
  “Set’s orders.” The guard escorting me on the front stated. “This one for the cell prepared earlier.”
  With a nod, the ghoul on the left pulled out a ring of keys, inserted them and twisted them in the lock, and grasped one of the two ring handles. His fellow ghoul assisted him in hauling the wooden door open on hinges that groaned but once.
  The guard behind me gave me a shove. I stumbled through the entrance. The scent of mold and water penetrated my nostrils, and tightened my throat.
  “Well, well.” A burly figure appeared at my side, grasping my arm. This time, I didn’t fight the intruding touch.
  My escorts still stood on the other side of the threshold. “This is the one Set promised. Put her away. He’ll be along shortly, he said.”
  The jailer grunted, nodding, then stared at me as his ghouls heaved the dungeon door shut once again. I stared back. His eyes were wide, his jaw square, his shoulders broad, and his wiry hair pulled back in a ponytail. His skin was pale, even in the darkness, making it impossible for me to tell if his hair was black or if that was just the lighting. Or rather, lack of it. An ambiance of light filtered in and mingled with the shadows, though I couldn’t tell where it came from.
  Releasing me, the jailer plodded down the cell lined hall. The keys jingled on his belt. “Come on. There’s nowhere else to go.”
  I glanced back at the closed door. He was right, there wasn’t anywhere else to go. I watched him go a few paces before, and considered staying put and making him drag me to the cell. But I was tired. Tired from the fight, from the walk, from the roiling emotions in the throne room. If he turned out to be a harsh man, I wouldn’t stand a chance. Warily, I trailed him.
   In here, our footsteps sounded damp, unlike in the halls above us where not a move could be made without the sound bouncing off the walls. Here, each step scraped, muffled.
  As we walked, I glanced side to side at each black barred cell we passed.
  “There were prisoners from the battle.” I said.
  The jailer grunted.
  “Where are they?”
  “Some fifteen of them over there in the West Wing.” He replied, as if giving directions on where to find a certain stall in a marketplace.
  I hesitated. Did I really want to know? “What’s their condition?”
  “What’s their condition? They’re in the dungeon, everyone here ends up in the same condition eventually; it doesn’t matter.”
  I swallowed, trying to dispel the moldy taste on my tongue. “There were two special ones. Drake and Armstrong; generals.”
  “Here we are.”
  The jailer stopped in front of a cell and used his keys to open the door. Without waiting, he grabbed my arm and shoved me inside. He shut the door with a bang, jingle, and click, and vanished into the darkness.
  “Hey!” I shouted, coming to the bars. “Where are my brothers? Answer me!”
  His only response was the gradually fading shuffle of footsteps.
  I stood there for several long moments, staring into the murky darkness. Not even torches warded the chill here. Not a single soul occupied the cells around me. Not a single sound except the scuttle of mice, and the whirring of thoughts inside my head.
  Now what are you going to do, Penny?
  Now what?

For The Greatest Good -- Intermediate I

Intermediate I -- The Throne Room

  Two men occupied the throne room of Campbell’s castle. It was not a large throne room, simple and just large enough to comfortably fit the throne, a few courtiers, and whoever else holding an audience with the castle’s owner.  Tapestries displaying past battles hung along the walls, and on the wall behind the throne hung the blue and red standard of the Campbell house. Torchlight chased shadows around the stone chamber, the sun having set some time ago.
  One of the men in the room was, indeed, Lord Campbell himself. He was a lean man, dressed in a tunic of colors that matched the standard behind the throne. His blond brows furrowed over his muddy brown eyes as he paced back and forth at an even pace in front of the dais holding the throne. He’d dismissed the servants some time ago, as he usually did when he spoke for an extended amount of time with Lord Ross.
  “Your forces better know what they’re doing, Ross.” Campbell cast a glance towards his companion. “Even in defeat, those rebels can still strike a bitter blow.”
  Lord Ross himself possessed jet black hair, beard, and brows, all as thick as his broad build. He waved, dismissive of Campbell’s comment. “They will not be able to strike for some time, and by then my secondary army will have arrived and they will be as ants beneath our boots.”
  To this, Campbell stopped pacing, and arched his eyebrows. “Like your glorious victory last time? If not for my help, you wouldn’t even have one of their order captured. And what happened to the one you did manage to capture? Oh, that’s right. He escaped.”
  Ross snarled at the mockery in Campbell’s tone. “That was the point of the plan.”
  A trumpet blasted, drowning Campbell’s rebuttal.

Introducing Robert Carter

If you've read the About Me page (which, admittedly, is not only about me), you probably already have an inkling of who Robert Carter is. Younger brother of Dana, and excellent photographer. As well as photography, he also draws and plays around with digital art, including book covers and posters for our stories. When we made our movie over one of the three weeks of vacation we took up by them, he was in charge of the cinematography and directing. That's normally what I do, but his eye for angles is ten times better than mine, so we ended up with a far more interesting set of perspectives once all was said and done.

Of all of us, Bob is the most outgoing. He holds the rank of Ambassador in the PenKnights order, and performed it quite well during the OYAN Summer Workshops in Kansas.

I asked Robert the other day if he would make up some posters/covers for For The Greatest Good. It didn't take him more than a couple days to come up with these:

As per usual, he did an excellent job. And he also created this little ditty on photoshop, as well.

There, that's a nice, bright post for you! And now you know more about Robert Carter.
Dia duit,

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Personality Fun

So lately I spoke with a good friend of mine, R.G. Nairam, and the subject of personality types came up. We didn't go that far into the topic because at the time we were discussing more important things, but later she sent me a link to a website where I could take a personality test. Being rather a curious person by nature, I followed her suggestion. People and personalities have always fascinated me to no end.

This is what I got:

So now I've had every friend possible who hasn't taken the test take the test, including several of my siblings and even my Mother. It's been loads of fun comparing the various types, seeing how they match up in real life, and how there are variations even within the specific personality types. For example, my Mother is ENFP just like me, but her Thinking/Feeling ratio is almost exactly half and half, whereas mine is, obviously, not.

It may just be me, but I find all of this intriguing. It really helps, also, when it comes to creating and writing characters in stories, acting, and even role play. Check it out, even if you don't use this specific website or do a test for yourself.

Dia duit,

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Legend Post #10 -- Rahab (Guest Post by Wynter Croix)

Since I'm still waiting for an approved picture from Wynter, I'll introduce her in another post. But for now, I'm tired of waiting to post this.

Salmon, the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab.
Boaz, the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth.
Obed, the father of Jesse.
And Jesse, the father of King David.
                                                                                ~Matthew 1:5 The Genealogy of Jesus
                At the beginning of the summer, my mother plopped an
intense, twelve week discipleship course called Godly Character
by Vinnie Carafano in front of me. I’d known it was coming for a
month or two, and had picked out who was to be my mentor –
Lindsey, my voice teacher and brand new mommy to baby Eli-, but
that was in May.
I panicked.
                I love being a Christian. I love Jesus Christ, I love
praising Him, and I love my faith with every fiber of my being.
There’s nothing like popping in my Casting Crowns CD or turning
on K-LOVE and singing along, my way of prayer. Or just talking
to God while I clean my room or walk down the little back roads
around my house.
But I am so not a Bible reader.
                This is… less than desirable. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes
I feel the urge to open that really, REALLY big, INTIMIDATING
book and just read. But I also have the urge for structure.
Chaos is cool, if I have structure to go along with it. I’d had
no idea where to begin reading. To me, that was utter chaos.
                Godly Character begins with the New Testament. (There’s the
structure I was looking for!) I opened my book to Matthew and
started reading, prepared to (I’ll be honest) completely skim
over Jesus’s genealogy.
Until I saw the name Rahab.
                Back in the winter, when I actually had time to read, I
came across a book in a mega-church library called Pearl in the
Sand by Tessa Afshar. It was the love story of Rahab, the
prostitute who had been saved because of her faith, and Salmon,
leader of the tribe of Judah. I loved the book. Girls out there,
if you’re fluffy like myself, and love Biblical love stories, go
for this book.
                At the end of the book (No spoilers! I promise!) they
mention Boaz, Rahab and Salmon’s first son and later, husband of
Ruth. When I first finished that lovely piece of romantic
literature, it didn’t quite register. Until I read the first page of Matthew months and months later.
Jesus’s ancestor was a Canaanite prostitute.
                  Ms. Afshar provides some insight to what might have been
Rahab’s past and historical truth. In Jericho and other
Canaanite cities, many fathers sold their daughters into
prostitution when times were rough. Whatever money the daughter
made, a portion of it was given to the family. Sometimes, this
situation was considered an honor. This easily could have been
our heroine’s story.
                The Bible doesn’t tell us exactly how Rahab’s faith came
about. We just know that this was a faith we all should admire
and strive for. She risked her life for two men, whom she had
just met, hid them in her inn, and asked that they spare her.
How could she have done that without faith? For all she knew,
those men could be lying. They would forget about her. Her faith
kept her strong. God showed himself to a prostitute, a Canaanite
And she was richly rewarded. After Jericho was demolished,
Rahab and her family were accepted by the Israelites, and she
became an ancestor of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
Let’s switch to Salmon, her husband for a sec. This guy was
the leader of the tribe of Judah. Yet, he married Rahab, whom
everyone knew was a famous prostitute in Jericho. This wasn’t a
marriage to gain wealth. This wasn’t arranged. This marriage
wasn’t for political power. This was love. An unconditional
love. Why else would a great leader, a friend of Joshua, a
commander in the Israelite army, marry a former prostitute? 
Salmon was deeply in love with this woman. 
This wasn’t just love, it was grace. God’s grace long
before Jesus came into the world. The Israelites had incredibly
strict rules about who they associated with, what they touched,
and who touched what they touched.
We think of the God of the Old Testament as strict and
angry and jealous, sometimes forgetting He’s more than just
hellfire and instead, filled with fiery love. Rahab was His
child, just like Salmon was, like Joshua was. And He loved her,
as He did His chosen people. This broken woman was indeed a
pearl in the sand, a lost treasure.
We’re all sort of like that, lost treasure. Pearls in the
sand of the world. Like Rahab, the sand around may be deep and
thick, and it takes drastic measure to dig us out. Some are
blessed with wind to carry away the light grains, allowing them
to be revealed in the sunlight.
We’re all pearls. We’re all in different sand. But it takes
a loving God and his gentle touch to show us there is more than
just sand. It won’t always be a Salmon, or spies, or the
freaking tumbling down of Jericho. But He’s there. He’s digging
us out, even if we sink deeper.
We’re not just any pearls, we’re His pearls.

Dia duit,

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

For the Greatest Good -- Part V (Penny)

Part V – Account by Penny Kearney

  The sound of that voice sent chills through my blood. On my feet in an instant, RuneBinder firm in my grasp, I located Dana. He stood a few paces out of the cave, but the expression on his face made me halt. In all the time I’d known him, I had never seen such fury – nay, hatred – burning in his gaze.
  “You…” He rose from where he knelt by a dead soldier, his attention fixed on the owner of the chilling voice, who stood somewhere out of my sight. “You did this!”
  Even without seeing him, I knew who it was Dana spoke to. I adjusted my grip on my RuneBinder.
  Laughter rang above the crackle of dying flames. “Of course I did, you fool! Did you think you escaped because of your charming little ‘inner compass’? Hah!” The unseen figure’s tone dripped condescension.
  Though Dana had mentioned Set had the same voice as he, hearing it in reality near stung my ears. It was like some sort of blasphemy, or the ultimate form of mockery.
  “You did exactly as I knew you would. For that, Lord Ross sends his thanks. Otherwise, this battle might have been a costly one.”
  A cold fire coursed through my veins. Dana clenched his fist, not noticing me as I stepped out into the clearing.
  I had never seen Set before, in spite of all the ominous things I’d heard about him. He stood several yards away, amidst the bodies of my soldiers, with his hands clasped behind his back. In physical appearance, he resembled Dana like a twin – eyes, skin, face, build. His hair, darker than Dana’s, though, matched the shade of his sable armor and black clothing.
  At the sight of me, Set smiled, and paced several steps closer to where we stood, confidence in every footfall. In that moment the resemblance to Dana died like a strangled fawn. Every fiber, every movement, every glint in his eyes whispered of an evil so deep set as to make one think that evil had spawned him itself. And that smile…
  “Ah, the Lady Kearney graces us with her presence!” Set said, stopping and spreading his arms. “Such a thing she is; small wonder you lot follow her like blind idiots. I do hope you’ll excuse the mess, my lady, though I expect you have your good friend here to thank for it. Had he not come, I would have never put a thought to this action.”
  Dana drew his sword.
  Set snorted. “You think you can defeat me? Don’t make laugh, Dana. Your mind is open to me; you can do nothing, nothing that I cannot anticipate.”
  I shifted my gaze from Dana to Set, skin hot with anger. “You miserable devil….” Raising my sword, I moved towards him.
  “No, don’t!” Dana grabbed my arm, and jumped forward.
  The whistle of an arrow reached my ears before the shaft impacted Dana’s shoulder, knocking him backwards onto the ground. He landed with a thud on his back.
  “Dana!” I dropped my sword and knelt next to him.
  Set burst out into laughter. Not evil laughter, but genuinely amused. “Such loyalty! Too bad you acted before you thought, Lady Kearney, else that might not have happened.”
  Dana coughed, grasping the shaft.
  I reached out to stop his hand. “No, don—“
  He jerked out, gritting his teeth against a cry. “Just a scratch; leather took most of it.”
  I took the arrow and tossed it aside, but not without observing the bloodstained tip.
  “Hm…” Set’s tone shifted my attention as I helped Dana get to his feet. “Rex, was it?” He kicked a limp figure at his feet. I froze, gaze fixed on the lifeless face of my trusted captain. My friend. “A worthy fighter, but the fool had no thought of surrender. Pity, I might have spared some of your warriors.”
  I couldn’t take it anymore. Set stood in the midst of a massacre he had ordained with the air of one who’d just won a mildly enjoyable game of cards. My troops, the same men who’d sworn they’d give their lives to protect the innocent, lay slaughtered in their sleep, and their killer gave no more heed to their lost lives than he did to that of a dead animal. No respect, no justice…. My mind rebelled.
  I put no thought to the action of snatching up my sword and attacking Set with a cry of rage. He met the arc of my blade with the blade of his own weapon, a near exact copy of Dana’s in a splendor of sharpened onyx metal. Though he gave ground under my advance, I could feel skill through the blades as they collided in rapid succession. Between us, Set was undoubtedly the better swordsman. But as long as he was going to give me the chance to get lucky, I would take it. I’d have an even better chance if I could maneuver him back around to where Dana could get a strike at him.
  Set jumped back over a splintered crate. I followed without giving him pause, lashing a crosscut  towards him. He deflected it and caught my sword in a bind, holding it there and watching me with glinting eyes.
  “Tell me, lady; how much did your men mean to you, hm?”
  Ignoring his taunt, I jerked my blade free and advanced with a tight combination. Once again, Set allowed me ground before coming to a halt and switching to offensive. I whipped my sword to defensive, but he pressed hard. I blocked a downward slice, stepping back a pace, and Set grasped the crossguard of my weapon with a gloved hand, peering around the crossed steel.
  “Quite a lot, to provoke such a reaction.”
  The sound of clashing steel pricked my ears. I wrenched from Set’s grasp and stood back out of his reach before allowing my gaze to flick towards Dana’s position. Four warriors had engaged him while I was fighting Set, a whirlwind of blades flashing in the moon and firelight.
  My anger abated. “Call them off.”
  “Of course,” Set raised his hand to his men, sword lowering, but still ready. The four warriors paused with obvious reluctance. “As long as you’re quite willing to accompany us on a lovely walk to replace him. Knights of your order are so hard to come by. Fair trade, and all that.”
  “No!” Dana shouted. “Set, Leave her, I will go!”
  One of the four took advantage of Dana’s lowered guard, and slammed the pommel of his sword over his head. Dana crumpled to his hands and knees.
  “Dana, shut up!” I snapped, my pulse racing. I looked to Set again, giving him a hard look. I’d lost many friends today. I was not about to lose Dana, too. Not again. “I will go if you give me your word, such as it may be worth, that if I do, you will leave him alone. And I mean alone.
  Lowering the tip of his sword to the ground and resting one arm on the pommel, Set nodded. “Of course. I always keep my word. After all, I would hate to break that reputation.” He glanced over to his men. “Guards, leave the wretch, he has…. much to think on.”
  I watched, tense. The soldiers hesitated, then backed away, and came to join Set. One of them reached for my sword. I gripped the hilt, forcing him to yank it from my grasp in order to attain it.
  Set smiled, good humor appearing to have returned in full as he waved quite cheerfully to Dana, who struggled to remain conscious. “Have a nice night, Dana! I do hope you’ll remember this is all your fault. Always makes the rain fall harder, doesn’t it? Right, my lady, on to a meeting with Lord Ross, shall we?” He lifted his sword and sheathed it with a clank. “He’s always fond of visitors of such lovely appearance.” He gestured to his men, who took up guard formation around me, and walked towards Dana.
  Set knelt, grasping Dana’s collar to keep him upright, and whispered something in his ear. For a sudden moment I wished I could hear what it was Set told him. Set had taunted him from the start, so what was so special about what he said now that he had to say it to Dana alone?
  Set released him, and Dana collapsed. A pit tightened in my stomach, watching him struggle to push himself up again as Set returned.
  I’m sorry, Dana. But you better not do anything stupid when you wake up.
  “Now,” Set stood before me, satisfaction in his slightly downward gaze. “Shall we?”
  That smile was now officially on my nerves. I backhanded him across the jaw. My hand stung, but seeing him flinch in pain at my blow sent a spark of pleasure through me that outweighed the pain. Set held up a hand to restrain a reaction from his guards.
    “Lead the way.” I said, as his gaze came to me again.
   Though the smile still lingered, it had diminished. “Of course, my lady.” He gestured towards the forest. “This way.”
   Rather than waiting for the order, the guards gave me a shove in the right direction. I caught my balance before falling, and took my position in the center of the four man formation, giving them no more reasons to touch me.
  “There is always a way!” Dana’s voice rose from the receding camp. “I will find it, Penny, be ready with the others!”
  Annoyance passed over Set’s expression. “Come, faster. We don’t want to make Lord Ross wait, do we?”
  He strode ahead of the guards, leading the way. With his gaze off me, I glanced back to catch sight of Dana. All I could see was his form dropping fully to the ground, unmoving in unconsciousness amidst the smoke, embers, and bodies of what used to be our hideout.
  Then the forest engulfed us.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Inspiration from an Unlikely Source

But then again, when is inspiration from a likely source?

Just as a disclaimer, I am very much not a video game person. I don't own them, I don't play them, I rarely look into them. I'm a writer, I don't have time for video games.

However. There are several games that I know about vaguely that have always struck me as interesting. Both these games contain content I likely wouldn't be comfortable with even if I did play video games, but since this is my blog, you won't have to worry about that in regards to why I'm even writing this post in the first place.


-Sigh- It's late. Bear with me.

I found these two very awesome, video game themed videos on youtube that I wanted to share. The first one is Assassin's Creed meets Parkour. The bits and pieces I hear about Assassin's Creed intrigue me, story wise, but since I don't play video games, and have no intention of starting, I haven't actively sought to learn more. However, it does mean I don't turn away select things associated with it that I find interesting. Now, parkour, also known as free running, is probably one of the absolute coolest sports ever. So when I see both of them in one video? Um, I think yes.

This next video I actually have to give credit to Dana for finding. He sent it to me just a few minutes ago, and I loved it. Like Assassin's Creed, Skyrim is a video game that has my stand-offish admiration, though I'm fairly certain it has even more things I wouldn't like in it than Assassin's Creed does. But I like the (very) basic concept of it, and in spite of what it may really be, it did inspire this mini-story and soundtrack that, on its own, is pretty awesome.

Well, that's all I have for now. As you probably noticed, my words begin to get a little jumbled this late at night.
Yup. Time for bed.
Dia duit,

Monday, September 10, 2012

Saturday Legend Post Explanation

Short explanation.

Missed last Saturday's legend post again. Obviously. But! There's good news. I'm having a good friend of mine -- Wynter Croix -- write a guest legend post for me that will be done in time for this week's Saturday Legend Post.

So hang in there! The legend posts are coming.

Dia duit,

For the Greatest Good -- Part IV (Dana)

Part IV -- Account by Dana MacDonald

  We traveled in silence, keeping close to the tree line to avoid casting shadows in the moonlight that shone around us. It was a cool night, not yet chill, but a hint of fall laced the air and the slight breeze that touched the trees and stirred leaf and grass. After several minutes of moving in this manner, dodging from tree shadow to tree shadow, I stopped, holding a hand up to signal my movement and crouched near the bole of a tree in the midst of short shrubbery. Kearney did the same, her gaze drawn to the same image mine was. To the right of our path of travel we had taken so far, lord Campbell’s castle could be seen, rising up out of the still water of the moat spread around it. I studied the layout, as well as our position, for several moments, recalling the paths the guards took. Kearney sat in silence for several moments before she said in a hushed tone,
   “Alright; your cue.”
I gave a slight nod, and took a deep breath, half closing my eyes as I focused. I brought to mind the place I desired to be. My eyes closed even further as images flashed, memories of Campbell’s castle, both inside and out.
  Though to me it felt like a longer duration, it was but mere moments from when Kearney had spoken that my eyes snapped open. I could feel it; the sense of direction, an innate notion that I knew, instinctively, where I wanted to go. I pointed to a spot near the back of the castle, where it joined into the stone of the mountain.
   “There,” I said. “We need to travel right until we hit the ridge that his castle is built into. We’ll find the tunnels there.”
  Kearney rose from her crouched stance, staring down at the castle with a set expression. “Lead, and I shall follow.” She murmured.
  I stood, and began to walk once more, continuing to use the tree cover and moving to the right along the forested ledge down towards the valley.
  Kearney matched the pace I set, alert as I was and softer on her feet. Night flowed onwards, stars twinkling and the faint sounds of forest life reaching my ears. The hoot of an owl, crickets in the grass around us, occasionally a breeze ruffling the greenery.  Minutes slipped by; the castle, and the mountain it was built into, came ever closer as we walked. It reared like an ominous shadow against the moon, though lit every so often by pin-pricks of light shining from windows.
  I drew a deep breath of the night air, letting it wash any weariness I had away,  then I felt it. A sudden pang in the pit of my stomach; my inner compass swung, and I stopped in a sudden motion, breaking the silence with a single word. “Wait…”
I glanced around with sharp twists of my head, trying to pinpoint where the sense of… danger, something, was coming from. I caught the subtle movement of Kearney’s hand sliding over her sword hilt out of the corner of my eye as I looked about. Suddenly, I felt it; urgent desires to be out of sight, to be away, off of the course we were taking. I veeredoff of the path I had formerly chosen. The feeling heightened, almost seeming to shout, and I obeyed the silent command as it gave mute voice to one word: run.
   Kearney following behind as I sprinted toward the moat, no longer heeding silence, for I knew somehow that if we did not get out of sight soon, it would make no difference. We reached the water, and I tore my cloak off, tossing it aside in my haste I as I began wading into the water.
   “Hurry, we’ve little time before…” I grasped for anything to explain it, anything to convey my feeling in words I could muster in so short a time.  “Before something happens. Don’t worry, the water remains shallow enough throughout the bay.”  To my surprise, Kearney did not react in confusion, but nodded as she crouched by the water’s edge,  and located a sizable rock, one she could lift with one hand. She unfastened her own cloak,  snatched up mine, and bundled the two around the stone. She  walked out into the water, dropping the bundle after  wading about knee deep , and then  followed me as I headed deeper into the moat’s water. I turned  around to watch her  draw closer to my position, but a sudden spike warned against any more activity.
  “Get down!” I hissed, before sinking into the water, staying high enough above the water to keep my nose above. Kearney lowered into the water, disappearing as I did. To our luck, we had reached far enough into the moat to be hidden from moonlight by the castle’s immense shadow.
  I had not long to wait to see what it was I had been disturbed by; creating enough din to be heard long before they were seen, a large force of soldiers marched past, traveling on the same path we had been taking, just outside of the tree line. Their voices and the tramp of their feet sounded harsh on the night air.  It took a full three minutes for the column of soldiers to pass out of sight ,  and two more for the sounds of their movement to die off.  As it did, so did the feeling of discomfort within me, and I breathed a sigh of relief as I rose a touch from the water, holding my head above the water and murmuring,
   “Good show we were on this side of the castle, else the moon would have shown us. We’ll have to swim for it if we’re going to go on, I don’t want to risk meeting anyone else.”
Kearney rose from the water to my level, brushing a strand of wet hair from her face.
   “I didn’t get a good look at the emblem,” she said, “Were they Campbell’s, or Ross’s?”
   “Ross’s, I’m certain. Campbell’s men would not make such a din. They know the area, and despite their allegiance, they have more care for their forests.”
   I peered out into the forest, stilling a tremor in my muscles from the cool water. A troubling thought came to my mind, and I voiced it.
   “It seemed a large force for a simple scouting party, though… do you think…?”
Kearney glanced at me, traces of uncertainty coming into both her voice and expression.  “They can’t have found out where we’re staying…”
    “Unless I was being tracked.”
    Kearney looked at me sharply, and I met her gaze as steady as I could.
   “I didn’t detect anyone, but it’s a possibility. I took all the precautions I could, but even still…”
   Unable to bear her stare any longer, I looked away. “I must have been a fool to try and find you all.”
   Kearney rose fully, water dripping down her armor and clothing as she stood half out of the water, staring back the way we’d come. The way the soldiers appeared to have traveled.  
  She sloshed back to shore, and I followed, though with a wary eye on the trees; my sense was still pinging enough that we might not be yet out of danger. When her feet touched the firm sand of the shoreline, Kearney began to run, back the way we had come and after the soldiers.  Again, I followed, and we jogged up the slight  embankment to the tree line, retracing our steps. 

  The pace she set was swift, less heedful of stealth, but I did not voice any complaint. Steadily, as we traveled, a feeling of ominous disquiet settled upon me, growing with each step I took . But I knew it would be useless to say anything .   I pressed on, following her form,  moving through shrubbery and around trees.
   We did not stop until we had reached the place where the skiff had been hidden. Kearney halted, leaning over as she took heaving breaths. Though I was in better shape than she, I breathed heavily,  glad for the respite. I took the time then to attempt to reason with her, but I had little hope of succeeding; she could be quite stubborn if she had her mind set to it, and especially at a time like this.
   “We… can’t go back,” I said, between the breaths I took.
   Kearney did not respond for several moments as she regained her own breath. Even as she  did at last speak, she began walking, past the bushes where the boat was hidden and onward to the camp on an overland route.
   “Why not?”
  I sighed, unable to explain to her what I felt,  and trailed  her once more. “I don’t know. All I know is that little good will come of that path.”
   “There’s no other path that leads back to the camp,” she answered. I did not respond. The night air was still, I noticed while we walked. The sounds of the forest had fallen silent, even more so than their usual wont.  No crickets. No birds. Even the trees dared not give to the breeze’s enticing.
   We should not be returning.
   I ignored the urgent sense. This way was wrong, I could feel it, terribly so. But Kearney walked ever onwards. We topped a small hill, and I noted that the underground tunnels we’d taking earlier must travel underneath. Kearney halted at the crest, peering  over the forest from our vantage point, searching for any movement, I surmised.  I stepped a few paces ahead of her, crouching and taking note of the marks crossing the ground in a wide swath.
   I spoke over my shoulder as I traced one of the marks, a footprint. “Boots, many, some iron shod. And fresh.”
   “Then they did find the camp…” Kearney breathed out.
    I jumped up, attempting the quell the disquiet in my stomach.
   “We must be quick. I can’t tell how many have passed, but maybe they still fight on as we speak.”
   Even before I had finished talking, Kearney  dashed ahead, and I hastened to keep up, loosening Pathseeker  in its sheath as I did, ready at hand to draw. Smoke tinted the air.
   Kearney did not hesitate in her direction, even in the shadow of the trees, as she plunged forward. 
  Gradually, the path we sprinted on was obscured less by trees and more by stone outcroppings as we came to the ridge that encircled the camp. Kearney turned aside from her course and entered a dark opening  between two boulders that led into one of the camp’s back tunnels. I  ducked through the low entrance after her. Torchlight dimly lit the hall, showing the path ahead to be fairly straight. The smell of smoke was thicker, and Kearney coughed once as she drew her sword, leading the way down the passage.  I kept close behind her, my hand on my sword hilt. Ever inwards we walked, the smell grew stronger .
  Then I  heard the sound of burning. But nothing else could be heard. No sounds of battle, crying men, neighing horses or clashing steel. Just an eerie silence that settled throughout the caves, even as our hasty passage echoed down the tunnel. The sense of danger ahead increased, and I drew my sword, fighting away a horrible thought of what we would find as we passed chamber after chamber, each empty of any signs of life. We finally reached the main cavern, and stopped . Like the other chambers, it  lay empty. The feeling of danger was almost throbbing now.  
   “Where are they?” I said, not heeding the echo of my voice. “These caves could have been held long against an attack with the barricades up.”
    Kearney did not answer, but gripped her sword as he walked with measured steps to the cavern  entrance,  then into the clearing.  We both stopped at the same time.
    Fire  burned unchecked on tents, wooden buildings or anything that could burn. Strewn all over the ground, in varying positions…
   Kearney gasped.
   I choked back a cry, gripping the cave wall for support. “No…”
   The missing warriors lay scattered on the ground throughout the camp. Some had their eyes closed in the sleep of death; others stared out, silent, lifeless.
   Kearney retreated a few paces into the cave. I glanced back, watching as she sank to her knees, her back to the gruesome sight. I forced my limbs to move, and staggered  out into the clearing, managing to crouch without falling beside the body of one of the fallen warriors. He was young, barely past twenty, by his  looks. My eyes misted as I covered my face, unable to look the dead man in the eye.
   “Like what I’ve done with the place?”
   The harsh voice cut across the clearing like a knife. It was familiar, very familiar, for it was my own voice, save laden with contempt.  My hands fell away, and I looked to the sound, a feeling of hate surging through my being and showing on my face.