Strategic Meeting

Candles burn low on the aged oak table, casting alternating light and shadow on the faces gathered around it. A solid man with long, graying hair braided in a tight rope down to the small of his back leans over a frayed map spread open on the table. Piles of coins hold down ragged corners which curl tighter than a sea serpent preparing to strike.

The man looks up at the slender, cloaked figure standing across from him. “I take it that all has been set in motion?” he queries.
“Aye,” comes the husky reply. “The bait was set and they couldn’t resist it. Even now, they feed obsessively on the decoy. They were quick to reveal themselves, emboldened as they are.”

The man gives a harsh, humorless chuckle. “Good.” He glances about at the four others gathered here in the abandoned barn, his grim expression mirroring theirs. “We must move swiftly, then. Some must leave tonight, the moment this meeting is concluded.” No muttering complaints meet this announcement. They have all been expecting this over the course of the past few months and are prepared to act.

The man leans over the map again. “One is already established in the lands to the north, here.” A blunt finger indicates the port city near the smoldering volcano. “She will be joined by her scholar-in-training to ensure that her disguise and story are compatible and raise no suspicions.”

Next, he indicates a mountainous area in the northwestern part of the map. “Two others are making their way to the land of the Orcs as we speak. They have lodgings ready at one of the strongholds there and will present themselves as apprentices to the new king when he makes his request a fortnight hence.” He glances at the others again. “They will be our eyes and ears there, as we expect new movement from our foes.”

Looking down at the map again, he continues: “Another will set sail to the south from here.” His finger stabs at a port city on the northern tip of a long island. “We expect a great deal of activity there soon, so a coordinator in that strategic location is of utmost importance.”

He gathers up the coins, allowing the map to furl as he distributes the gold to the others in attendance. The amount is not insignificant, as this meeting had been called in haste. The urgency and seriousness of it had been established by the location and sealed with the amount of coin paid.

He puts the map in its special case and re-seals it, tucking it back in the enchanted coffer it normally resides in. Crossing his arms, he meets the gazes of the others again. “The rest of us will set sail from the port to the south and should arrive within a week. With the eyes of our enemies cast elsewhere, we have a short interval to establish our observation posts where we know they will gather next.” He grins, white teeth flashing in the candlelight.

“Staggering our respective arrivals should go unnoticed, but always remain alert. We cannot afford to be as sloppy, lazy, and careless as they.” His expression turns serious again. “Their numbers have rendered them so,” he says softly. “Still, one slip on our part will make this entire operation a worthless cause.”

He casts a meaningful gaze on each face present. “The spies which haunted our guilds were identified and scattered. That important step made this moment possible. Let’s make the most of it, shall we?”

The candles are extinguished as traveling clothes are donned. The guests depart at varying intervals and in different directions. The merging of the three guilds is complete.

The next leg of the journey begins…

Private Audience

Author’s Note: Now that I am free to post my excerpts again, here is the first of many. They will focus on some of the side-stories in my fan fiction.

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The inn is dark and sparsely populated on this wet evening. The lute-player has retired early, as the few patrons present are disinterested in music or entertainment. Dark dealings are rife across the land and many are determined to teach some harsh lessons to those engaging in them.

Such has been Liliorra’s fate. She has lost count of the days which have passed since her capture. Each day that has passed has caused what little hope for rescue existed to dwindle. I have failed you, Lord Draven, she thinks during one of the rare lucid moments when she can endure the never-ending pain.

So foolish. So stupid. Her thoughts move through a fog and her head lolls forward. Another wave of pain bears her backwards in time. She had been certain to follow his instructions in the private missive he’d sent.

Meet me at my private room at the Gnarled Oak in a fortnight, the letter had said. We will depart for the isles under cover of darkness. The ship and my skeleton crew will provide the shelter we need while we rebuild our numbers. I long to see your face again, lovely Lili. Soon. Your lord consort, Draven.

The Gnarled Oak had been bustling and crowded when she arrived, offering safety and potential thralls. Always was she on the lookout for strong, healthy flesh on which to feed. The tall, broad-shouldered man with a wild shock of white hair and an intense gaze drew her attention immediately. He stood silent in a corner, drinking deeply from a large tankard and surveying the room. His eyes fell on her and didn’t look away.

Liliorra had slowly made her way in his direction, confident in her abilities. “You’re quite the sturdy one, aren’t you?” she had inquired, glancing at him from under lowered lashes. He’d merely smirked as she eyed his physique. Draining his mug, he motions to one of the servant-girls. “Would the lass care to join me?” he inquires as his tankard is refilled.

Pretending to demur, she requests a deep red wine from the girl and sips it while moving closer to her target, watching his eyes drop as she leans near to offer a better view of her décolletage. “Are you here for the evening?” she asks in a low whisper and offering a sultry smile.

The big man grins and turns toward the stairs. “Join me on the upper level, if you will.” He stops and glances back. “Fewer eyes and ears there.” She watches his retreating back. Quite fine from the front and very appealing from the rear, she thinks. She follows, smoothing her bodice and skirt and taking her time. She doesn’t want to startle the prey and she doesn’t want to let the opportunity slip through her fingers. If she stays close she should be able to utilize the enchantments that Draven had graced her with…

Another wave of pain brings her back to the present. She screeches helplessly, unable to clamp her jaws shut. The heat of the midday sun bakes down on her patchy skull, wisps of what used to be long, lustrous hair whipping in the breeze off of the ocean. She slumps in the cage, unaware of the cries of the gulls.

A lone form watches impassively from the observation tower. The thing in the cage will try to escape at nightfall. It always does. Gloved hands curl into fists, knuckles cracking.

The entertainment provided by those attempts is quite enjoyable.

Creativity & Cosplay

I have a number of awesome ideas for future cosplay percolating. My creative spark has been reignited and I’ve been sketching out some designs. Quality costume-creators are as difficult to find as quality tattoo artists, but the right ones can work magic if they can see your vision clearly.

My fan-fiction is officially completed so I can start posting some new excerpts. Character development and back-stories are some of the more enjoyable parts of writing for me.

Time for a bit of gaming! I need to re-do the schedule of my live broadcasts for maximum viewing. Some in-game guild-mates are helping out with that.

It’s nice to deal with reliable people, for a change.

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Excerpt: Welcome Respite (Re-blogged)

I had a lot of fun writing the TESO fan-fiction for the 2016 NaNoWriMo and posted some of the excerpts on the official gaming forums.

This is one of my personal favourites.

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Eyrie Of An Aries

*** 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…

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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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Eyrie Of An Aries

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.

Protected: 5 On Friday: My Excerpts!

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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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Eyrie Of An Aries

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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Protected: ESO Fan Fiction: Scenes From the Battle, Part II

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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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