Excerpt: Seclusion (Re-blogged)

I’m putting the finishing touches on a few posts that will be published on a schedule over the weekend, since gaming will be of primary importance. Enjoy this re-blog of an excerpt from my 2016 NaNoWriMo fan fiction!

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Random Ramblings; Myriad Musings

She jolts awake. The nightmare, again. It haunts her, as it has every night for…how long has it been? Time has gotten away from her.

She rolls over on her back, staring at the root-canopy that forms this sizeable, yet well-concealed, den. It had been inhabited by a troll until recently; she had seen to its unceremonious eviction. Its pelt makes up the rough bed in which she was sleeping, while its decaying head rests on a boulder about five feet from the front entryway to the den. The presence and stench of it keeps away all intruders, including the nearby band of giants. They are only eight in number, so tending to their small herd of mammoths is of more importance than a dead troll. It is one less troll that will attempt to prey on the calves, and the smoke from their massive communal fire eliminates the stink…

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Excerpt: Welcome Respite

*** Author’s Note: This is the first of some new excerpts of my fan-fiction, which was written during the NaNoWriMo challenge for 2016. I’m still debating on whether or not to participate in this year’s challenge, but I’ll be certain to let you know if I do!

© GDH 2016

Thunder rumbles overhead. This third storm in a fortnight heralds the changing of the seasons here in the tropical southwest of the continent. Steady rain falls and patters on the canvas tops of the merchant wagons at the trading post, the roofs of the various businesses and residences surrounding the merchant’s circle, and the carved stone top of the local transitus shrine.

Water runs down the curved stone pathway near the gated wall separating this province from the adjoining one; the extra security has been a necessity since the onset of the war. This pathway leads up the hill to a cozy cottage, which is nestled behind a stout wall comprised of well-laid stone and intricate steel latticework. Inside this cottage, coals burn low in the fireplace. A crystal glows with a soft, blue light in the corner closest to the door. This light is muted for the person slumbering in the canopied bed in the far corner, as it has been placed just behind a grand vase bristling with a large, healthy aloe-type plant.

A black cat stirs itself from under the bed, yawning and stretching as he emerges from the shadows. He looks up at the sleeping figure, then prowls to the door and exits through an opening which has been fashioned solely for his entry and egress. The figure in the bed shifts slightly, turning from her side onto her back, left arm behind her head and right arm resting across her chest.

A louder peal of thunder sounds. Sepultur’a’s eyes open to mere slits; she blinks a couple of times, smacks her lips, and stretches. The fine-woven cotton sheets are smooth on her freshly-scrubbed skin, both a courtesy of the laundry and spa in the distant city of the Orcs, far to the north. Her hair is bound in a silken snood, a small luxury item she allowed herself after weeks of wearing roughly-sewn jute under her heavy helm.

She remains in bed for a few moments, listening to the sound of the thunder, enjoying the soft noise of rain tapping on the peaked roof. The privacy and quiet is welcomed, and she smiles as she thinks again at what a wonderful gift this house is. She has heard that Canthiorn’s business is booming and thinks that paying him a visit is in order, as a hall for her own growing guild will be needed soon.

She pulls back the covers and sits up, stretching again. Standing, she moves to the fireplace and squats to adjust the flue, adding fresh kindling to the smoldering coals. As the fire takes hold, she prepares a kettle for tea and then tends to the meats which have been hanging and slow-cooking overnight. She bastes the hunks with the drippings captured, then turns them in a clockwise direction so that they will spin gently and roast to juicy perfection. Slicing off a strip of flesh, she nibbles it as she kneels near the cedar trunk at the foot of the bed. The cat slinks back inside, shaking water from his paws in an almost prissy manner, then saunters over to his mistress with a purr and curls around her ankles, clutching them with soft paws. “Good morning to you,” Sepultur’a says, rubbing one of his ears and sharing some of the meat.

After wiping the grease from her fingers, she opens the trunk and pulls out a tunic and a pair of soft, loose-fitting trousers. Her underclothes are draped over the back of the chair at her desk; she pulls them on, dons her outer garments, and pours a cup of tea. She moves to the door, opens it, and steps out onto the covered front porch, leaving the door ajar so the fresh air can circulate throughout the cottage.

A bright flash of lightning lights up the courtyard, the reflection caught in the windows of the guard-towers above. Sepultur’a begins to count, barely getting to the number five before a deafening clap of thunder sounds. The storm is nearly overhead. She sits on the steps, just out of reach of the rain, holding her mug of tea in both hands. The mug is warm as she inhales the delicate scent of the tea. She blows over the top of it and sips at it lightly, enjoying the minty taste.

The courtyard has flourished with life since she took ownership of the house, with unique blooms cropping up in various corners. The dark plant with glowing fronds of deep purple still has its place just inside of the courtyard gate. The glow is now captured and refracted by bits of crystal which have mysteriously appeared, seemingly of their own accord. Another odd plant has begun to grow near the well. She has seen many like it in the lands of the Dark Elves; tentacle-frond plants which seem to possess a rudimentary sentience. This one waves its tentacles at Sepultur’a whenever she draws water from the well, as if saying “hello” to her. On one occasion she had extended a hand towards it to see if it would respond, and the tentacles had clasped her fingers with a gentle caress.

A winged toad creeps out from a crevice in the wall of the cliff, regards Sepultur’a for a moment and then hops to the well. With a clumsy flapping of its stubby wings, it perches on the edge and sits, blinking in a slow, sleepy manner. It puffs out a bit of flame to toast a large dragonfly which buzzed within its range, then flicks out its tongue to catch the smoldering husk as it falls.

Sepultur’a leans her head back against the wooden railing of the porch, holding her mug of tea and closing her eyes, listening to the thunder and the soft sound of the falling rain. It is good to be home.

5 On Friday: My Excerpts!

Happy Friday, everyone! I’ve selected five excerpts from my fan-fiction-related short story for today’s installment of my “Five on Friday” posts, in preparation for a more regular schedule of my writings. I also added a few new screen-shots for the viewing enjoyment of all!

I hope that your respective weekends are off to a great start. Mine certainly is!

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Festivities: This excerpt details some of the goings-on during a celebratory dinner.

Comeuppance: Revenge is a dish best served cold, as detailed in this brief tale.

Seclusion: Self-driven solitude is a necessity, at times – for the protection of others, as well as oneself.

The Wild Hunt: A cure for an illness comes in an unexpected ritual.

The Entertainer: Confidence can be earned, and learned, from the most obscure sources.

ESO Fan Fiction: Search For the Sky-Crystals – Part I

Here’s a bit of my fan-fiction, originally posted in 2015. Chronologically, it takes place after the events I’m writing about in my NaNoWriMo short-story.
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Random Ramblings; Myriad Musings

Tur’a wakes in the Warrior’s Rest Tavern, yawning and stretching in her bedroll. She has returned to Cyrodiil at the behest of her sister, who left a cryptic message before leaving to roam the desert sands with Dar. The message simply reads: “Remember the Chalamo.” Tur’a is still unfamiliar with the war-torn land, having only recently completing basic training there. She has used the siege machinery at the practice field, but that is a far cry from using them in the heat of battle. Rubbing her eyes, she sits up near the fire-pit. She is clad in a simple tunic and breeches; modesty and practicality dictate sleeping in light clothing, at the very least. She rummages through her bag for a quick meal – she has been cooking more and more for herself, finding hearty soups and stews more to her liking than the sugary-sweet fare her sister used to…

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ESO Fan Fiction: Scenes From the Battle, Part II

*CRASH*

The battering ram smashes the inner gate – and two of its wheels fall off. The warriors using it move it aside and in a matter of moments, the machine is disassembled. The parts will be used to repair the two ballistae which are making quick, short work of the inner gate. Inside the assaulted fortress, the quartermaster bawls instructions to his assistants as they rush to outfit and defend the battlemages and sentries. The now-useless transit shrine has been abandoned as these stalwart few stand at the ready. Tur’a and Baragon remain crouched and ready at their positions, not bothering with the oil-pots any longer. Tur’a eyes the enemy troops swarming in and hopes that Lotharr and his small crew have managed to evade detection. They are quite skilled, but the sheer numbers they face are daunting…any stealth attack they may have planned would have to be swift and enormous in scale.

Tur’a glances over at Baragon, who gazes intently down at the enemy numbers. She has seen him on the battlefield more and more lately, and his fighting is impressive. Such skill! No wild flailing about with his broadsword, as she has seen many others do. No, he wields his blade similarly to the way she was taught; the art of sword-play that was nearly lost to her people when they were driven from their homeland, so long ago.

*CRASH*

She snaps back to attention, surprised at being distracted, and sees Baragon smirking at her as shouts and the clashing of steel resound from below. They turn their attention to the stone stairway, standing to join two archers and a mage. Lotharr and his team barrel back in the door they had crept out of moments before, tabards ablaze. They move to various positions around the stairway and hold fast while the quartermaster replaces the oil-pots near them. Working swiftly, his assistants have managed to erect a catapult near the empty scroll-bier. The stench of rotting meat mingles with the smell of smoke, hot oil, burning cloth and leather, and charred flesh. The real battle will soon begin. Tur’a welcomes it…her heart is racing. She feels the wrath of her fellow knights of the dragon, their combined quiet rage feeding hers. Blazing runes dance at the edge of her vision as she grasps her sword tightly and raises it high. Flames lick the edges of the brutal blade as it takes on the appearance of molten lava. Beside her, Baragon draws his bow. Elves and their bows, Tur’a chuckles to herself. They come in handy, there’s no denying it…

*WHUMP*

She’s hurled backwards by a massive explosion! Dazed, flat on her back, helpless…GET UP! her mind screams – she rolls to the side, narrowly evading the mighty swing of an enemy’s maul. Her vision clears in time to see a flash of blades as Ildris opens the throat of the warrior with brutal precision. She re-cloaks and vanishes, but not before wreathing her younger sister in some healing magicks to cleanse the effects of the concussion. Tur’a smiles in relief and turns her attention back to the stairwell. Her sister is here! Ildris always brings heavy reinforcements. The battle is far from over…it can now begin in earnest. Baragon moves back to her side, closer than before. His face is a mixture of anger and…is that concern that she sees? No, that’s not possible. Just a trick of the eyes, she figures, as he draws on his own inner fire. His face becomes a blank obsidian mask with one blazing eye – he reminds her of a statue she saw as a child.

Tur’a shakes her head again, slightly, thinking that she must still be feeling the effects of the spell. These distracting thoughts aren’t helping! She feels foolish and disconcerted as she returns her attention to the fight. It needs to end swiftly…time to get serious.

ESO Fan Fiction Friday: Outpost Observation

Dusk. She relaxes on the second floor of the outpost, looking at the stars as they wink into existence. She picks out a few of the constellations, idly wondering how Dar is faring with his family. She smiles at the gifts he’d left for her; they always leave small tokens of affection for each other at this specific outpost.

A sound breaks her reverie…the telltale noise of a sorcerer’s lightning. Quietly and carefully, she stows the trinkets and crouches in the shadow of the outpost wall. Shoom…shoom…shoom…the sorcerer is close, but she can’t see where they are. She creeps silently to the edge of the ramparts and looks around. There – she sees the ball of lightning the sorcerer leaves in their wake. They are scaling the hillside nearby, getting just above the second floor of the outpost. She edges back, finding the ideal location to make a quick getaway if needed, as sorcerers never travel alone. Still, she is curious: what is the mage doing? She hides and waits, watching.

The mage eyes the wall of the outpost, assessing the distance from the hillside. Surrounding himself with lighting, he blasts forward – once, twice…then falls heavily to the ground. The fall kills him instantly; he resurrects himself quickly, using the arcane magic of soul gems. She watches intently as he runs back up the hillside, certain that he isn’t alone. Anyone traveling with him would remain in hiding until he achieves his goal, slaughtering any who would dare to attack.

Again. One bolt-step, two…another fall. Death and resurrection, and the run back up the hillside. Ah… Realization sets in. She knows what he is trying to do, and she knows for certain that he can’t be alone. She is impressed by his tenacity, and marvels at how close he gets to the edge of the outpost before falling. She is impressed; he would be a worthy foe to face one-on-one. She hopes that the chance to do so will be soon.

On the fifth attempt, he is successful – he stands on the ramparts just above her hiding spot. She remains silent, listening. His soft footfalls move slowly away; he avoids the guards on the upper level and creeps down the stairs. She hears the quartermaster cry out a warning, which is cut off swiftly as the mage’s conjured minions kill her quickly. The mage’s power is revealed as he begins calling down cold fire from the skies – the outpost rocks with the force of the meteors as they blast the guards below.

She drops silently from the wall. The outpost will shortly be in enemy hands, and she needs to get word to the generals at the keep to the north. The thunder of the sorcerer’s fury continues, and she hears triumphant shouts from the main door as his cohorts wield a battering ram, creating further chaos for the few surviving guards. Their deaths are inevitable, and there is nothing she can do but flee.

Her escape route is treacherous, but as familiar to her as the halls and rooms of the home estate. The moons are dark this evening, further hiding her getaway. She runs swiftly and silently, shrouding herself with her own magick. The keep finally looms into view, but she doesn’t unhide until she is safe in the outer walls. Lotharr and his crew are there, waiting for word from the group that had gone to scout an outpost to the west. He turns and waves her over. “Report, Lieutenant?” She chuckles. “Wait until you hear this…I wouldn’t have believed it possible, had I not seen it with my own eyes…” They listen, eyes growing wide. Time to strategize.

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