Excerpt: A Good Deed (Pt. I)

“Here it is, milady – the receipt for the bank deposit, and the sum total of your current balance. Always a pleasure to see you, although it’s been some time!” the lizard-woman moneylender is saying as she stacks the paperwork. “Aye,” Sepultur’a acknowledges. “I appreciate you keeping such orderly and precise records, especially during my long absence!” She thanks the moneylender and tucks the receipt into her journal after jotting down the sizable number indicating her personal bank balance. She is pleased with what she has earned on her own recently, as there is much coin to be earned in many places – both on and off the battlefield. Her savior had taught her a few things that dusty books on shelves could not, and she is grateful for the knowledge imparted.

Stepping out of the banking-house, she stops on the steps, stretching in the light of the setting sun. It has been some time since she last visited the bustling city of the Dark Elves, as she had joined the caravan here not long after leaving home. The cobbled streets are clean, as usual, and townsfolk stroll along the overpasses and walkways. The small inn and tavern are just across the way from the banking-house, and she finds herself walking through the front door without really giving it much thought. She nods to the innkeeper and enters the dining area, taking a spot at the counter where she can watch everyone who comes and goes. A bottle of wine and a glass are slid over to her by the chef, who drops a sly wink as he goes back to basting a haunch of venison. Sepultur’a smiles and toasts his health after filling the glass, and leaves a few coins on the counter as a tip for his generosity. Sipping her wine, she looks around at the other patrons. One in particular gets her notice: a wood-elf wearing the garb of a merchant, sitting alone at a table with his head in his hands and an air of defeat hanging heavily over him. He heaves a sigh and shakes his head in abject misery. Curious. Taking up the bottle and an extra wine glass, she strolls over and sits at his table, pouring a generous amount into the glass and sliding it in front of him. He looks at her incredulously, removes his hands from his face and takes up the glass, smells the bouquet and sips lightly.

“I thank you for your kindness,” he says, “but I cannot pay you for the drink, and drink will not help me with my problem. When the drink is gone, the problem will still remain!” He laughs a bit too loudly, with the edge of hysteria making the laugh mirthless and shrill. Sepultur’a leans back in her chair and sips her wine. “What is your problem?” she asks simply and directly. “Perhaps I can be of assistance.” He looks at her cautiously and a bit more closely. She is young, but her eyes hold much worldly knowledge. She sits in a relaxed and easy manner, but her movements as she seated herself and poured the wine make him think of the great reptiles in the swamps to the south and in his homeland. He shakes his head in negation, stating: “You might be able to assist me, but I hold no hope that anyone other than a magister or the king himself would be able to do so successfully.” He drains his glass and puts his head in his hands again. “I’ve been approached by too many mercenaries already, and they have all demanded a far higher price to ‘solve my problem’ than it requires.” He heaves another deep sigh. “I came to these lands to start my business, but the dishonesty of my partner is ending it before it can begin. I have no money to pay anyone unless I recover some necessary items from that…piece of troll dung, and nobody will help me unless I pay them first!”

Sepultur’a refills his glass, leaning forward and staying his hand before he can pick it up again. This movement causes him to start and look up, forced to meet her gaze squarely. “I can be of assistance,” she states firmly, “and it will cost you nothing. If you choose to reward me, it shall be your choice. My services are free when I make the offer.” She releases his hand and leans back again. “If you had approached me, then I would have asked for recompense. As it is…” she trails off and sips her wine, a secretive smile playing across her lips. “Oh, well – I suppose I have nothing to lose, then!” he bursts out, taking a healthy drink. “I’ll try to be brief – my name is Canthiorn, by the by – and I came here with my business partner last week. Her name is Baghzragh – an Orc wench, obviously – and she was supposedly going to meet with some Breton to buy the building that was to be our storefront. Foolish me, I let her walk off with the coin and didn’t even think to send along a bodyguard to hold it and keep an eye on her, as I was busy with many different negotiations. That was two days ago, and here I am with no money, no partner…and, no business!” He drains the glass again, filling himself up as fast as he empties himself of words. Sepultur’a finishes her drink as she listens to his tale, refills both of their glasses, then sets the empty wine-bottle aside.

She appraises Canthiorn’s appearance. On closer inspection, he does seem to be a bit worse for wear. His clothes, while well-made and of high quality, are slightly dingy and look wrinkled, as if they haven’t been changed for two days. His face seems leaner than usual, for one of his race, and his eyes are tired and full of despair. She would wager that he is just as hungry as he is tired, as the wine has made him quite talkative in short order. The few wood-elves she has met in her travels usually hold their liquor quite well, and the standard brews of humans and the other elven races aren’t known to intoxicate them at all. A serving-girl walks past with a tray of appetizers for patrons drinking in the entry-hall, and Canthiorn’s eyes follow helplessly. Sepultur’a stands. “Wait here a moment,” she says. After a few quiet words with the chef and the inn-keeper, she returns to his table. “You have a place here for the night, as well as a hot meal tonight and a hearty breakfast in the morning.” He stares at the young woman, speechless at her generosity. She smiles, donning a cloak and pulling the cowl low over her face. “I will help you regain what has been stolen from you. Put worry out of your mind, good Canthiorn. Eat and sleep – your mind, body and soul are weary.” She turns to leave as the serving-girl places a heaping plate of wood-elf delicacies in front of Canthiorn. He is so ravenous that he doesn’t even think to ask the name of his mysterious benefactress.

Sepultur’a exits the inn and walks back towards the banking-house, but bypasses the building and enters a small gazebo behind it. There are many of these secluded seating areas and various locations around the town, but this one holds a secret known only to a few. The statue honouring the god of finance is also the doorway to an underground refuge which provides shelter for the indigent and a hiding place for those of ill-repute.

Grushtakh gro-Karzhagum starts awake at the feel of a booted toe nudging his nethers, and he scrambles out of his bedroll, ready to shred someone’s face over the indignity. The angry roar that was building in his throat fades to a squealing whisper as he sees who was doing the nudging. “Um…uh, er…I…” he stammers, realizing at the same time that he wears nothing but a thin loincloth. As he turns slightly sideways to hide his dream-excitement from the unexpected visitor, he is certain that he had at least a pair of breeches on when he had gone to sleep. Damn this so-called refuge for outlaws! The other residents would steal the clothes off of your back or arse given the opportunity and the experienced thief or cutpurse could literally do so even if their target was awake. “Uh…” he starts again, and the visitor’s throaty chuckle builds to hearty laughter. “Ah, Grush – you sleep too soundly for your own good!” Sepultur’a turns her back, tossing his breeches over her shoulder for him to catch. “Cover yourself! I have am in need of information, and you have proved to be a good source of it.”

Grushtakh hastily pulls on his breeches and a simple tunic for good measure, returning to his bedroll and sitting comfortably. “So, the Flame-Serpent returns!” He spreads his hands, gesturing for her to sit in the sole chair that he owns. “I’ll do what I can and tell you anything I know – if I’m able to, o’ course,” he finishes as she declines the chair and leans against the damp stone of the underground refuge. She takes a coin from a hidden pocket and begins to flip it idly, casually, as she frames her next question.

To Be Continued…

Mandarians in Baden-Baden~

Beautiful Mandarin ducks – lovely to see!
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These guys weren’t part of my plan for the day!


I was going to show you Baden-Baden,

but the Mandarins got in my way!

Why are Mandarin Ducks swimming wild in Germany you may well wonder?


Although Mandarin Duck populations are dwindling in their native Russia and Asia, some escapees from captivity are breeding in the wild in Germany and The UK. I happened upon these guys today on the Oos River in Baden-Baden Germany.


So, it is cheers to you, and Happy Spring, from the gorgeous Mandarins in Baden-Baden Germany~

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Georgetown University Renames Building after Isaac Hawkins, an Enslaved Person Sold in 1838 to Pay Off School Debts

Things such as this don’t get reported as much as they should be, so I decided to share it.
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GOOD BLACK NEWS

Georgetown’s Freedom Hall Renamed Isaac Hawkins Hall (photo via thehoya.com)

article by Brittney Fennel via jetmag.com

The effects of slavery are still being felt in 2017 and, in an effort to make amends for profiting from the sale of 272 Maryland enslaved people in 1838 to pay off school debts, Georgetown University has renamed two buildings on their campus to honor those who were sold.

The slave sale was conducted by two Jesuit priests and was worth about $3.3 million in today’s dollars. They have renamed one building Isaac Hawkins Hall to honor the first person listed in documents related to the sale. Another building was renamed after Anne Marie Becraft, a free Black woman who taught Catholic Black girls in what was then the town of Georgetown.

This is just one of the many steps the university is taking in order to make amends for the part they played during a painful…

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Scenic Sunday Screen-Shots…

I’m having a nice, relaxing weekend and decided to post some recent screen-shots taken in-game. My next excerpt has to be broken up into two parts, and the screen-shots help illustrate the “lay of the land,” so to speak – so, I was sorting through a batch and decided to post them.

The screen-shots are the way that I keep the locations fresh in my mind as my characters travel about during their adventures. It’s not a cardboard cut-out or other tangible, physical rendition of a locale as other authors create, but it works for me!

I think that I’ll do a bit of live-broadcasting today, as well – most likely after noon PDT. It’s been a while, and I need to do a bit of ye olde AvA now that the campaigns have restarted. Gotta stay sharp against the no-sleeping, diaper-wearing, basement-dwelling “no-lifers!” Other genuine gamers know what I’m talking about, ROFLMAO!

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Gifts from the Speaker after a dark assignment

Who’s this bloke, then?

Hmmm…an interesting bit of information!

Standing at a transitus shrine

Relaxing in the courtyard

A bit of primping and preening

Should I wear this? It looks nice…

…the robe is more appropriate, though – it might rain!

A tender moment…

…followed by a soft serenade.

A toast by the well – cheers!

FEEDING DONE………NAP TIME

You know that spring has sprung when Nature’s little ones make their appearance. These are some lovely, tranquil photos of a mother bear with her cub.

Welcome to Tofino Photography

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HOW TO GET A HUMMER TO LAND ON YOUR FINGER

I don’t use a feeder as large as this, but I have had the pleasure of hummers landing on the feeder while I was hanging it, and have held one in my hand twice. Such charming, lovely little critters!
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Welcome to Tofino Photography

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I’ve noticed that the Hummers go into a feeding frenzy near sunset.I suspect they do it at sunrise too but I’m too lazy to find that out?

I wondered If I could get one them to land on my finger? Hummers have to be one of the most skittish creatures out there! The slightest movement can make them take off in a blur!

So I tried to think of a way I could get one these beautiful creatures to land on my finger?Holding ones arm out is difficult after a few minutes.So you need a brace for your arm.I used a monopod but you can use a tripod or a pole.

I’ve noticed over the last few nights that they go into a feeding frenzy around 7:45pm.So I set up some lights for filming earlier & waited.

Once I saw them starting to “flock”I turned on the camera & placed…

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Happy Earth Day…2017!!!

Today marks Earth Day, the one day per year in which many people pretend to care about the home that we all share: our beautiful planet Earth. There is apparently a “March for Science” going on in Washington, D. C. – throngs of people littering the streets with themselves and their Unicorn Frappuccinos as they make certain to take endless selfies to show everyone how “aware” they are.

If you treat every day as if it were Earth Day, then you would be moved to action, even if only in the smallest means, and that action doesn’t include posting on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Doing something for our planet doesn’t involve self-absorbed narcissism!

I always maintain that being part of the solution is much better than being part of the problem. Little things like “reduce, reuse, recycle” are important to incorporate in daily life. Instead of always deciding between “paper or plastic” at the grocery store, why not bring your own, reusable shopping bags?

Bees are rapidly becoming endangered, and that means our food supply is threatened. Why not plant bee-friendly herbs, shrubs, and trees wherever possible? Spend a day at an apiary, if possible – learn what you can about those marvelous little critters upon whom so much depends.

When’s the last time you volunteered at a local outdoor cleanup activity which wasn’t driven by politics or making yourself look good amongst your office or personal circle? When did you do something good for our planet, simply because it needs to be done?

This planet is our home. It’s the only one we have, for the far foreseeable future, so we are responsible for its health and well-being as surely as we are our own. We cannot be parasites – we need symbiosis!

That’s my small, soapbox oration for today. I did a little bit of beach cleanup yesterday, since the weather was perfect for it! It always feels good to DO good. My “deer” friend, Spot, just hopped over the fence and headed to the backyard, so Mother Nature is already paying me a visit and saying “thank you!” With that, please enjoy the five songs which, to me, always symbolize Earth Day.

Friday Fun: Miscellaneous Memes & Music!

I think that it’s time for a few Friday memes, followed by a bit of music! The sun is out today, so it’s time to ride over to the beach and take a walk on the sand. Later, ‘gators!

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14-Year-Old Cello Prodigy Ifetayo Ali-Landing Wins Coveted National Music Competition

This is too awesome – this young lady rocks!
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GOOD BLACK NEWS

14 year-old cellist Ifetayo Ali-Landing (photo via blavity.com)

article via blavity.com

While most teens are consumed with navigating puberty, Ifetayo Ali-Landing is busy being a cello master. A student at the Hyde Park Suzuki Institute in Chicago, IL, Ali-Landing recently took home the coveted 1st place prize in the 2017 Annual Sphinx Competition.

Along with a $10,000 cash prize, the young prodigy will also have an opportunity to feature as a soloist with major orchestras and perform with the all black and Latino Sphinx Symphony Orchestra. This, along with a nationally-broadcast radio appearance on the prestigious NPR and PBS broadcasted talent showcase From the Top, the 14-year-old competitive musician is making her mark as a premier cellist.

Ali-Landing began playing the violin as a toddler before deciding to switch to cello at the age of 3. Since then, she has received numerous awards and performed in several showcases…

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Random Thursday Ramblings: 20 April 2017

Well, the post I was writing yesterday will have to wait! The unexpected interruption of a power outage yesterday made it impossible to finish my editing and revising. That post will have to wait until tomorrow, which is good; I’ll have more than one post to publish, this way! I can tell that people are unenthused with my own posts, but that’s fine – my blog isn’t just a hub for spitting out other people’s blogs, especially when they’re disinclined to return the favour. Funny how there’s so much talk about driving traffic to blogs, but one can easily use all of the tricks in the book and still not attain the massive levels that others accumulate. I guess I just don’t have the collector / hoarder mentality, which isn’t a bad thing!

Anyway: back to yesterday’s power outage. It happened at around 1152, according to the time / date stamp on the document I was working on. No warning, just *FOOMP* out go the lights and everything else! I went around the house and unplugged some of the surge-protectors (force of habit), turned off any lights that were on, then opened the sliding-glass door to the front deck and stepped outside to listen.

A few minutes later, the sound of emergency-vehicle sirens were rising, seemingly from all directions. It was as if every one of them on the peninsula had been activated and mobilized, and were all converging in one location. After 20 minutes passed, the beating noise of a helicopter could be heard at a great distance. It slowly got closer, and finally the machine itself hove into view. It moved over the treetops, descending at a low rate of speed, and finally dropped out of sight. About 15 minutes later, the helicopter took to the air again and sped off. Conclusion? An accident of horrific proportions had taken place, resulting in a power pole being taken out. Nothing for me to do but make a quick brunch out of my leftover breakfast and finish my coffee before it got cold.

After eating, I got dressed and walked outside to take a stroll around the property. The hubster has branches stacked by the fire-pit to burn later in the week, and I made note of the shrubs near the house and garage that need to be cut back and cleared. The lawn needs to be tilled; I’m hoping that one of the neighbours will lend us their roto-tiller so we can shred some soil – it’s overdue for some earth-turning!
The sun even came out for a while, just as it’s doing right now. It was nice to walk around and enjoy the silence; the only noise was from a few cars passing on a side-street, but other than that, birds and squirrels were my companions.

After about an hour, I went back inside and checked my phone. At least there was a cellular signal, so I was able to send a few texts and keep updated on the Seattle Mariners game. They beat the Miami Marlins 10 – 5 and won that series after being trounced on Tuesday. Almost a dreaded “no-no” game, there! Since there was nothing else that could really be done, I popped open a bottle of ale, sat down in my rocking-chair, and picked up a Stephen King book which I hadn’t finished: a collection of short stories titled The Bazaar of Bad Dreams. I haven’t quite finished it; I marked some of the stories to save for later so that I have some reading to look forward to, and having a nice stack of crossword puzzles helped me not totally devour the book. My mother-in-law sends me some from time to time, and they’re always a nice form of relaxing brain exercise. Still, I need to order some more books soon! See if Kellerman, Coben, King and Koontz have any new offerings out.

The power finally came back on at 2030, but the cable and internet didn’t return until after 2200 or so. It came on fairly late, as the Conan show was on my DVR this morning, recorded as scheduled – I was in bed by then, since I’d woken up early when the hubster headed out for his own truck-hauling adventure. So, that’s what my Wednesday was: a day without power, but it was perfectly enjoyable!

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