Sensitive Songs: Metal Ballads

I was putting the finishing touches on tomorrow’s post, and happened to hear the first song in this one just a few minutes ago. So, I was inspired to throw this one together and mash the ‘Publish’ button! Saturday song offering consists of three ‘power ballads’ which have always been favourites of mine…enjoy!

😎

Excerpt: A Good Deed (Pt. II)

*** Author’s Note: Part I of this excerpt can be found here, in case you missed it. I think I will do a ‘Top 5’ of my personal favourite excerpts or posts, soon!

“I’ll be brief, friend Grush. Do you know, or have you heard talk of, an Orc woman calling herself Baghzragh? The coin here will be yours either way, as you have been honest and true in the past.” Grushtakh’s shoulders slump as he bows his head and looks at the floor dejectedly. “Aye – that I do,” he says, a bit sadly. Sepultur’a cocks an eyebrow questioningly, nodding at him to continue. Grushtakh sighs. “She’s my blood-kin, so I know her all too well – and yet, not well enough – else, I wouldn’t be in this predicament! Being here in this…” he raises his head and looks wearily around, running a hand over his bald, horn-stubbled pate. “…in this den of iniquity was not in my plan.” He meets Sepultur’a’s gaze. “To use the vernacular of you humans, she is both my half-sister and my cousin. My mother is sister to her mother, and both of them are wives of the chieftain in the stronghold of Yol Karzhagum. My mother is the forge-wife; hers is the hearth-wife. I had no hopes of being a chieftain there, as the hunt-wife is mother to the first-born male.” He chuckles ruefully. “Truth be told, I admit that being chieftain wasn’t something that I desired. Part of the reason I ended up here, I’d wager.”

Sepultur’a listens intently, making the coin dance across the backs of her fingers. It’s a small trick she learned during her time with the caravan, which relaxes her. “It sounds as if she played a role in it, as well,” she states, which draws a mirthless chuckle from Grushtakh. “Aye…that she did. She always had a high opinion of herself, solely based on her mother’s place in the stronghold hierarchy, but never availed herself of the tutelage or apprenticeships provided by the others in the clan. You humans pay a fair price to learn valuable skills; we Orcs are born and taught them from the moment we can walk, talk, and pick up a hammer!” He chuckles again, this time with genuine good humour.

“One day, not long after her 19th birthday, she decided to hop aboard a Breton trading-vessel which had been in port for a week. Not a word to anyone! Father said that she’d best not return unless it was on the arm of a respected war-chief, as that would be the only one able to pay a worthy dowry!” He chuckles again, remembering the scene in the dining-hall when Baghzragh’s disappearance was discovered. “At any rate, I was surprised to get a letter from her a couple of months ago, as none of us had heard from her for three years, at least.” He rummages around in a battered satchel at his side, pulling out a folded parchment. Carefully unfolding it and smoothing it out, he hands it to Sepultur’a. She takes it, then presses the coin into his palm and folds his fingers around it. “Wait a moment,” she says and then quickly reads the letter. Once she’s digested the contents, she re-folds it and hands it back. “She promised you a lucrative business deal, using a lot of flowery language which gave no details,” Sepultur’a states, folding her arms and leaning back against the wall. Grushtakh hangs his head again. “Aye,” he sighs miserably. “I was a bit in my cups when I got the letter, and didn’t read it as carefully as I should have. I came here believing a lie, and feel quite the fool at being duped. Bad enough to be deceived at all; even worse to have it done by your own kin.” Sepultur’a nods in agreement. She knows all too well the pain caused by deception, especially when done by one who was trusted.

Grushtakh looks glumly at the coin given him by Sepultur’a, brightening a bit at the way it glints in the light of various candles and torches flickering here and there throughout the refuge. “This, at least, will get me a decent meal and a room at the inn! It will be nice to sleep in a cot, at the very least.” Sepultur’a smiles. “Indeed,” she says, glad to be able to offer payment of some sort. She knows that he is too proud to ask for help or take any charitable offer; it is almost an insult to his race to do so, and she doesn’t want to add to his wounded pride. “I think that you’ll find that coin worth quite a bit. Take it up to the banking-house and see what exchange you get, why don’t you?” She moves away from the wall and pulls her cowl over her face again. “Thanks again for your help, my friend. There might be another reward in this for you if all goes well. Even if it doesn’t, you will be able to return home with your head held high and reputation intact and unsullied. If you choose to return, that is!” She clasps his hand briefly and exits the refuge.

Grushtakh inspects the coin closely. On one side is the diamond-shaped emblem of the imperial army, while the other shows an image of the three alliance banners ablaze from the fires of war. He lets out a soft whistle of admiration. What she gave him was part of her earnings from the battlefield, and a generous one at that. He knows enough about currency to see that she gave him a war-chit worth 5,000 pieces of the universal gold coin exchangeable throughout the different lands and provinces. This would be more than enough to get a fresh start, right here in this city, if he so desired…

To Be Continued…

Last Week Tonight: 23 April 2017 Episode

In today’s installment of “Last Week Tonight,” John Oliver talks about the ramifications of nepotism and cronyism with the current regime. And people convinced themselves that Hillary Clinton would, somehow, have been more corrupt.

Fascinating.

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…

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!

XD

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!

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!

Midweek Musings…20 April 2016 * Re-Posted *

This was deserving of a re-post; multiple factors contributed to the decision! I also put the links of a couple of my past posts here, since re-blogging is only allowed once. I think that bloggers should be able to reblog our own posts as many times as we want, but that would probably contribute to laziness – and there are plenty of people who use that excuse far too often, LOL!

BOOP!!!

XD

Eyrie Of An Aries

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Last Week Tonight: 16 April 2017 Episode

I pay attention to the politics and elections of other countries, too. In this edition, John Oliver talks about the upcoming elections in France. Germany’s happen a few months hence; it will be interesting to see what transpires between now and then.

Tuesday Tuneage: Happy Dance Time!

Ah, life is sweet!

My Seattle Mariners have been playing better and pulled themselves out of last place in the AL West. Their sweep against the Texas Rangers was delightful to watch, and seeing Ichiro Suzuki back at Safeco Field, even wearing a Miami Marlins uniform, was awesome.

That’s genuine loyalty. When a phenomenal athlete has been long gone from a team, yet are still given the red-carpet treatment when they return to a baseball or football field, even as an opponent. Ichiro was a monumental part of the Mariners team for quite a while, and his outstanding performance is still being honoured and celebrated.

I also received a fantastic bit of news yesterday, which was added to earlier this morning, so I’m in a mood for celebrating. Things like this should be savoured like a perfectly ripe peach, a fine wine, a good book, or a nice piece of chocolate: just sit in the moment and enjoy it.

Here are five celebratory songs to get the party started. It’s dancing time!

😎

Talkin’ Baseball: Jackie Robinson Day 2017

Today marks the 70th anniversary of Major League Baseball’s colour barrier being shattered by the late, great Jackie Robinson! From MLB.com:

Saturday will mark the 70th anniversary of Jackie Robinson taking the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers and breaking Major League Baseball’s color barrier, and special activities planned for this Jackie Robinson Day will include the unveiling of the Hall of Famer’s statue at Dodger Stadium, the introduction of a “Trailblazer Series” for girls, the annual donning of No. 42 by all active players and a lot of buzz about the upcoming Jackie Robinson Museum.

In what promises to be an emotional ceremony before the Dodgers’ 9:15 p.m. ET home game against Arizona, Robinson’s 94-year-old wife Rachel and their children Sharon and David will be on hand for the unveiling of a statue depicting Jackie in his rookie season of 1947, sliding into home plate in his signature style. Dodgers owner Magic Johnson, Dodgers President Stan Kasten, and legends Frank Robinson, Sandy Koufax, Tommy Lasorda, Don Newcombe and Vin Scully will among participants in that invitation-only dedication a few hours before the game. The first 40,000 fans in attendance will receive a replica Jackie Robinson statue, with seats available at dodgers.com/tickets.

As has been tradition each year since 2009, MLB will celebrate Jackie Robinson Day with all players and on-field personnel wearing the now-retired No. 42 during all Saturday games. One jersey will be signed by each member of every club and auctioned live on Saturday at MLB.com/42jersey, with proceeds benefitting the Jackie Robinson Foundation.”

This man has always been an admirable individual, displaying the attributes of courage, strength, dedication, selflessness, and humility. According to his official website, he was born to a family of sharecroppers in 1919. His mother single-handedly raised him and his four other siblings. They were a close-knit family, united against the prejudice and hatred they faced from their neighbours as they were the only Black family on the block in the area in which they lived:

Growing up in a large, single-parent family, Jackie excelled early at all sports and learned to make his own way in life. At UCLA, Jackie became the first athlete to win varsity letters in four sports: baseball, basketball, football and track. In 1941, he was named to the All-American football team. Due to financial difficulties, he was forced to leave college, and eventually decided to enlist in the U.S. Army. After two years in the army, he had progressed to second lieutenant. Jackie’s army career was cut short when he was court-martialed in relation to his objections with incidents of racial discrimination. In the end, Jackie left the Army with an honorable discharge.

In 1945, Jackie played one season in the Negro Baseball League, traveling all over the Midwest with the Kansas City Monarchs. But greater challenges and achievements were in store for him. In 1947, Brooklyn Dodgers president Branch Rickey approached Jackie about joining the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Major Leagues had not had an African-American player since 1889, when baseball became segregated. When Jackie first donned a Brooklyn Dodger uniform, he pioneered the integration of professional athletics in America. By breaking the color barrier in baseball, the nation’s preeminent sport, he courageously challenged the deeply rooted custom of racial segregation in both the North and the South.”

There will be many events at baseball parks across the USA commemorating this historic day. On Thursday, 13 April, the Seattle Mariners unveiled a statue celebrating our own hometown hero, Ken Griffey Jr. A little-known fact: Ken Griffey Jr. was a prime motivator behind getting all players in the MLB to wear Jackie Robinson’s number, 42, on Jackie Robinson Day. From the Seattle Mariners website:

Ken Griffey Jr. takes immense pride in the fact his retired No. 24 hangs alongside Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 in center field at Safeco Field. He relishes his role in getting every Major League player and coach to wear No. 42 now every year on Jackie Robinson Day.
So yes, as MLB celebrates another Jackie Robinson Day on Saturday, Griffey fully appreciates his latest link to baseball’s African-American pioneer as part of the intricate detail of the new statue of his likeness that was unveiled Thursday at the front gate to Safeco Field.

Sculptor Lou Cella included a Jackie Robinson patch on the right sleeve of the seven-foot bronze statue, much to Griffey’s approval. “Like I tell everybody, if it wasn’t for him, when’s the next time somebody would have played?” Griffey said. “For him to sacrifice pretty much his life and go through the trials and tribulations that he had to go through [is greatly appreciated].” Griffey’s home in Orlando is 35 minutes from Sanford, Fla., where Robinson lived during his first Spring Training in 1946 with the Montreal Royals, the Dodgers’ Triple-A farm club, in a time of considerable racial tension…Griffey was the first player to wear Robinson’s No. 42 as a tribute on Jackie Robinson Day, having the Mariners flip-flop his normal 24 to 42 on the 50th anniversary of the day Robinson broke into the big leagues on April 15, 1997.

Ten years later, when Griffey was with the Reds, he called then-Commissioner Bud Selig to ask if he could again wear No. 42 on the 60th anniversary of Robinson’s historic day since MLB had by then retired the number throughout baseball.

Selig not only granted his approval, he liked the idea so much that the process began where now everyone wears 42 on Jackie Robinson Day.”

Here’s to Jackie Robinson on his day in history. His contributions were many, and should not be diminished.

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