Chapter 34: Falling

Hello Readers,

Chapter 34 of Lead Heart is up, please enjoy!

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The world around Leliana slowed to a standstill as she sailed over the safety of solid ground. Colorful patches of bright blue and dark green zoomed in to sharp focus far below. She could pick out individual details in a the stone clearing against the cliff face she’d just hurled herself off of.

Jagged rocks cradled a medley of decayed vegetation and gave way to a gentler, still rocky slope littered with debris. The crisp, blade-shaped leaves of coniferous trees contrasted sharply with the darker pine needles interspersed randomly between the waiting giants.
Every heartbeat stretched into an eternity while she hung, weightless, and decided which boulder she wanted to decorate.

Suddenly she had a better idea.
The momentum of the jump was just enough to get her as far as the first or second tree beyond the clearing. Her eyes snapped between the trunks. An interesting idea struck. She’d look pretty cool if she landed it, though she would look like an idiot if she didn’t.
If I’m going to die, she mused, might as well do it in style.
Leliana folded her legs and wrapped her arms around them. Muscles twitched and strained while she inhaled and bore down. Hard.

Another heartbeat, another eternity. A series of mostly bad decisions sprang to mind to remind her of why she was here.
She released the built-up tension into a swirling somersault mid-air.
The instant she made contact, a crater exploded into the strong dogwood. She ran down the rough bark and her knees nearly buckled when she made the push off to the next tree, a dark-wooded fir. The leap took her face-first through a viper nest, surprising the both of them. She ricocheted between trees at breakneck speeds, instincts driving while her conscious mind struggled to comprehend. One desperate, last minute leap to shed the downward momentum flung her at the rock face itself.
One quick gyroscopic movement and the stone splintered beneath her heels.
One more excruciating heartbeat stretched into eternity.
Finally, she let gravity drag her down until she collapsed with a cheer. “WOOOO!” She was still grinning like an idiot when a thick leather boot planted into the gravel beside her.
“What a reckless child you are. Though I am glad you did not die.”
The frown showed disapproval, but the look in her eyes when she observed the cratered trees held a different meaning.
Leliana’s heart still hammered a hundred times a second and she could only sigh with relief. “It was amazing. You have to put that on your to-do list.” She winced when the older woman plucked a few thorns from her poor face.
“I will pass. You are impulsive and unsound of judgement, yet bid to meet the protector by the seeker herself.” Arms crossed and the woman towered over the sprawled girl. “I find this difficult to believe, but easily enough disproven. If you are eager to see your last day, I will not stop you from following me to my brothers in arms. I cannot guarantee your safety, however.”
Leliana bounced to her feet. “Fair enough.”
Then the monk did something unexpected.
She smiled.
“Besides.” She continued. “I have a funny story for them thanks to you. You should be there to see their reactions.”
Leliana coughed. “We can probably skip over some of the details on this one.” She felt her face flush and cursed her traitorous body.
The monk gave a short bark of laughter before disappearing into the dark shadows. “Keep up!” Was the only thing Leliana heard before she realized she’d been abandoned.
“Not again!”
Trees were a blur as they whizzed by, her feet somehow managing to stay upright. The telltale snap of a twig or rush of leaves was all the clue she was offered as the monk sped unbelievably fast through the shadowy forest. More than once Leliana found herself pushing off the sturdy trunks to prevent herself from running into them with her face.
She burst into a small clearing to a chorus of laughter. No more than 100 feet across and dotted with tall grass and bright flowers, the clearing was currently home to a bizarre contraption. Brass wheels supported the wooden frame of what appeared to be a smaller version of the huge wagon she’d woken up on just earlier that day. The dark wood was rimmed with a brighter set of troughs filled with dirt and various plants and herbs. The most notable feature was of course the thick metal column running through the front and rear of the wagon. The bottom of each column was buried into the soil beneath the vehicle, and each were topped with a metal orb.
“And here she is.” The large woman gestured to Leliana while she skidded to a stop.
There were three others in the clearing, all sitting atop the weird looking wagon. The first was giant of a man, as big as Gib and likely twice as strong, a dark and untamed mess of a beard adorning his otherwise bald head. An extremely lithe man lounged against the first, his light chuckle all but drown out by the guffawing giant. His silver hair cascaded over a shoulder and his blue eyes lighted on Leliana for just a moment before he returned his attention to the woman. Lastly was the blue-scaled and winged lizard standing as high as the big man’s torso as it stood on two hind legs surveying the scene. Mottled blue and green patterns swirled around the creature’s body in a way that she knew would’ve been impossible to see if it wasn’t sitting inside the wood and metal box.
“Uh, hey! I’m Leliana…” Was all she could think of to say. She moved to step toward the group when she was caught in a crushing grip from behind, pinning her arms in the process.
“WH-”
“Who. Are. You.”

Chapter 15: Not quite flying

Hello readers

Chapter 15 of Lead Heart is up! I wanted to give her some fun before she was cramped into a stuffy airship, but she’s unfortunately pretty bad at decision-making. Please feel free to comment any suggestions

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“Ow!”

Leliana bounced around, flailing her hand in pain.

“You bastard.”

She loomed over the aggressor. Then bent down to try again.

The last hour, by her estimate, she’d spent trying to snap a stubborn glider wing back into place so she could play with it. So far, the only thing she’d managed was to snap herself repeatedly with the elastic band and, just now, punch herself in the eye. “Hnng!” She’d started initially stealthy and quiet, a shadow in the night. Something about giving yourself a black eye made it harder to care about being heard. The streets were quiet this time of night, naught but the occasional fight among the homeless or tavern-crawlers getting sick between the buildings.

She sat atop the highest building she could find in the dark fighting with her new toy. Well, one of them. Coincidentally the structure she’d chosen was an apartment, and at this point she almost hoped someone would show up to fight her, damn stealth and silence to the 9 hells!

Snap

“Hot steam in the jimmies!” She hopped enthusiastically as the wing snapped into place. “This thing is pretty cool.”

She waved it through the air a few times, watching the flexible metal arms sway and bend as the breeze caught the smooth material. A rope harness toward the back, metal handle and rope toward the top, and a metal frame around which the stretchy fabric-like wing itself slid into place – it seemed pretty straightforward to use.

The door to the rooftop thumped against the rope she’d used to lock it. “What the devil’s goin’ on out here?!”

“Whoa someone’s grumpy. Time to go!”

Leliana tucked the gear into the back of her new suit and hopped into the harness. She secured the fastenings, then remembered that the bit to hold her top half was currently irritating one of the locals. “Yeah, yeah, I’m coming already.”

“Eh? Who the blazes-.” He cut off as Leliana yanked the door open, hands on hips.

“Excuse me, can I help you?”

“Wha-? Help? Well I-I just…Now wait just a blasted minute I’ll do the questionin’ ’round here missy. What are you doing up here in the middle’a the night?” It was hard to make out any details against the small lantern swinging behind him, but she definitely caught the limp as he hobbled on a wooden leg in her direction.

Ugh.

She definitely wanted someone to beat up on a few minutes ago, but she was not fighting a guy with one leg. It’s not like she hadn’t already taken her share of killing for the night so this was probably for the best. No need to risk losing control. She secured the rope around her chest to the wing while the grumpy resident continued his rant about manners and rooftop criminals.
“Ye damn thieves wouldn’t need to use the rooftops if you’d any respect and common sense anymore. My day, we used to pick scraps off the caravans that hauled-”

“Thanks for the lesson dad. I gotta get going, you get back to bed okay!” Leliana teased lightheartedly, then sprinted at the edge of the building. The edge came up a lot faster than she’d anticipated, and suddenly she was taking the leap over the side. Did I tie this thing right? Wait how do I know this even still flies? How far is it to the ground? How do I stop?!

She was assaulted by dozens of questions it was too late for in span of a heartbeat. The next beat, she spotted a flickering candle at street level some 50 feet down. Everything else shrank away from that small light, making it zoom up and fill her vision as her own stomach fell out from under her at the same time.

Her breath caught at her lips, everything slowed for a split second.
“Holy sheeeeeeeeeeeeee” Leliana launched herself from the rooftop, letting the wings snap into place behind her. The wingtips whistled as she plummeted toward the streets. “Aaahhhh!” Screams of terror she didn’t know she could make -“YEAH!” changed to screams of exhilaration as she pulled the nose up, the rest of the wing following. She split the peak of a fountain in an instant, street-lanterns blurred past at a dizzying speed.

“Shut! Up!’

The same tavern patrons that were puking all over the city fell back as she whizzed by, but the normal residents took to screaming from their windows. She didn’t care, this was the most she’d felt her blood race in the last decade.

Suddenly, the wide streets turned sharply, narrowing into a few scattered alleys. She nicked a window, shattering the thin glass and snapping off the end off the wing. “Wait!” She didn’t want to stop already! She fought a wave of nausea and the whirling descent she’d gotten into simultaneously, all while the ground hurled itself at her. She flipped the unbroken wing down and let it spark against the stone road, bowing and bouncing and finally snapping – sending her sliding across the street. The reverberations jarred her to the bone before she remembered she was wearing a brand new, very expensive armored jumpsuit. She bucked into the air, landing on hands and feet before sliding to a hasty stop against a lamp post.

“Owww…” The pain flared up like she’d accidentally went swimming in fire. At least she didn’t need to come up with a story about all the blood now.

Cuts and scrapes dragged up and down hands and face as she detached herself from the mangled contraption. Her breath ran wild for a few minutes. That thing was. Amazing. The sting of the wind and rush of the blinding speed was intoxicating more than any ale she’d ever had. “I wonder if Jovi has any of these.”

She looked sadly at the wreckage. It’s probably just as well, she thought. There’s no question that I’d have thrown myself overboard at one point. This might actually make my doom less inevitable.

She trudged through the night, leaving the glider where it broke and a trail of blood to shock the residents in the morning.

Chapter 13: The Crew

Leliana’s eyes rolled back as she lost consciousness.

Almost.

She jerked upright just in time to miss indenting the deck with an imprint of her face. Teena, the tiny engineer, had just given Leliana the most complete and brutal verbal beating of her life. But at least she momentarily knew everything about flying ships.

“Goodness, are you okay?” Teena didn’t even halt mid-sentence, she just transitioned what she’d already been saying into concern for Leliana as she lost her footing. “Sorry you’ll have to watch your feet until I’ve had a chance to clear up all this grease, it can really be quite slick if you’re not used to it I know.”

Leliana fought back a sudden wash of nostalgia, irritably wiping a tear that almost slipped out. Teena was a miniature version of Tilly, whom she didn’t realize she’d been missing. I wonder if he got in trouble after I got out. Her thoughts were interrupted by the most hideous screech she’d ever heard in her life.

“What the-”

“Oh woops! Gib!”

A billowing explosion of steam popped the propeller out of its base along the side of the ship, dissipating once the shaft drove back into place. This sequence played over and over, getting faster and faster. Teena flung herself at Gib, who in turn hefted her onto his shoulder. He got a good grip on the girl, then spun a few times and launched her across the ship.

Leliana’s jaw dropped while Teena’s screams of glee –

“Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.”

Turned into screams of woe.

“eeeeeooooohhhHNNOOooo!”

Fading quickly as she sailed over the rail.

Leliana bolted, hitting the same railing a few seconds later. She was about to leap when she noticed a grappling hook already wedged into the side, right where she was about to go over. She peeked over the side, coming face-to-face with a smiling Teena. The girl was perched atop a nest of red hair belonging to a pale, freckled young lady climbing a rope.

“Catch me!” Teena bounced to Leliana, hands out. Leliana caught and hauled her up, and the girl hopped into the round propeller base and started hammering away.

Leliana helped the other girl to the deck as well, who gladly took the offered hand.

“Thanks. She’s a lot heavier than she looks!” She gasped between breaths, letting herself fall to the deck with a spatter of sweat.

The hatch next to the cabin slammed upward, and an old weather-worn face slowly materialized from below. The old man slowly walked on deck with a squinty smile. “Ah, Karina you’re back. You look dehydrated, drink some water.”

“I’m not dehydrated gramps! I just like to sprint long distances sometimes for no reason, and then catch stray women who can’t keep their hands off my tools.” Karina went to grab some water as the old man joined the growing party on the ship.

“Hello Sekkel, and Kari I’m glad you made it back as well. I wanted to introduce you to Leliana, she’s the second half of our security force. She’s already agreed to hop onboard with the same terms as the first gentleman, any objections?”

Leliana started when she heard her own name. So much went down in the last two days that she forgot she was supposed to be disguised. “Hey actually, I was using another name in this town. Is it alright if I keep an alias, or….?”

Jovi panned slowly to look at her. “Why, exactly? Are you wanted?” Those wide eyes narrowed in suspicion.

“No, no. Nothing like that, I just was toying with different names, that’s all. It’s a good way to test ’em out, don’t you think? Just announce it at the gates and, you know.” She trailed off, feeling the eyes on her. “Or not, I don’t want to complicate things.”

“We’ve had a bit of bad luck with false names historically, Leli dear, let’s stick to normal ones if it’s all the same to you.”

“Yeah, that’s fine then.” Leliana hoped.

“Hi Leliana pleased to meet you, I’m Kari.” The redhead shook her hand excitedly. “Teena’s responsible, older sister.”

Teena’s ears perked up. “Wait, what. Older?! You’re 3 years younger than I am!”

“Being responsible makes you prematurely old, so I’m basically older.” Kari shrugged and hopped side to side while Teena tried to tackle her knees.

“Get back here you rust headed b-”

“Greasemonkey!”

The two pounded across the deck, playfully knocking each other down and yelling mild obscenities.

Jovi pointedly ignored them.

“Sekkel, Leliana mentioned that she still needed to make a pick up from the market later, have you already inventoried the supplies below?” Jovi’s booted food already jammed in door of the only room above-deck and checking items off of a clipboard.

“Yes, I have. The only thing I should need is a pin-up of her gloriou-”

“Did you know she beheaded a man last night. Lopped his head right off I was told. Big guy too. An interesting anecdote I thought you might appreciate. On that note, Kari, can you show her below-decks where she might store her belongings, point out a free hammock? Best show her where all the peepholes are while you’re at it.”

Sekkel rumbled a deep, gravelly laugh with no hint of shame. “I haven’t opened up any new ones since last time.”

What in the world was she getting into?

***

A pair of eyes watched the merry crew onboard from darkness. They narrowed as Leliana slunk below.

Chapter 9: Reacquainted

Hello internet,

Please enjoy chapter 9 of Lead Heart!

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“Of all the people I’ve ever met in the field, it’s hard to think of many I’d’ve liked to run into less.”

Leliana laughed as Antros stiffly took the seat across from her. The door squeaked shut.

She couldn’t stifle the smile. “And yet here you are, sitting at my table. You can’t resist me.”

He scowled at her brazen reply.

“In the collective fifteen minutes we’ve known each other, I’ve witnessed three deaths and lost over five hundred silvers. Honestly I’m impressed, but you can’t blame me for being cautious. It’ll be easier to dodge a bullet if I see you aiming”

She liked the way he glowered when he spoke. Like his face realized the monotony of his voice, and wanted to place emphasis on the words anyway. “Hey, hey. I only killed one guy, don’t pin those first two on me. They jumped on their own, I wasn’t even close.” She shrugged, finishing the rest of the warmed brew in front of her.

“So did you pinch enough for me?” He waved his hands over the empty dishes.

“No! I paid for this, you..” Her nose scrunched up for a second, “whore’s ass.”

He held back a smile.

“Where’d you get the cash?”

Leliana crossed her arms and stared at a fat guy licking a stack of plates. “I earned it, basically.”

Gravelly laughter erupted from Antros and he relaxed visibly, uncrossing his arms to wave the waitress over. “I’m surprised to see you here though. I thought you were heading South last I saw, figured you’d head to Bolton or Chadwick. Barley’s not really a good place for petty thievery.”

“Petty thievery? That makes it sound small and weak. That stone your boy yanked was hella heavy and you should’ve seen the moves I put on to get it. Petty would’ve been something like surrounding the first team with guns and just demanding it.” Her narrowed eyes glared pointedly at the mercenary.

He smiled good naturedly. Well, she thought it was a smile.

“Alright, alright, fair enough. Creet was a slag sucker to be sure. But he was financing my trip to Triad, so I’d rather he sucked a bit longer at being alive instead of feeding scavengers under a bench.” Coins clinked as he dropped them into the Innkeeper’s pocket. She dropped a plate with a steaming mountain of vegetables atop, next to a glass of clean water.

Leliana flipped another coin at the woman and asked for a second beer. It wasn’t the best she’d ever had, but it had something of a spicy and sweet aftertaste and she was into it. The smell of the wood fire and the din of the others eating in small common room had an invigorating effect on her appetite. She was looking forward to drowning it. “I don’t really have a direction. I had a bit of a…strict upbringing, Now that I’m free I just wander around looking for things to get interested in. What about you though? You’re the only guy I’ve seen more than once out here.”

He waved the question away with a handful of purple broccoli. “I’m a bodyguard, I go where the work is. You have a knack for stealing from my clients. It’s not unusual for me to brush up against gangsters more than once.”

He stared into a fire across the room as he worked through a mouthful of food. Leliana finished her second cup and looked around suspiciously. Her gut was calling her attention, and not for more beer.

“I’ve spent a couple cozy years around this place,” Antros turned back to finish a thought, “but truth be told, the cannons popping off at all hours is almost as bad as the mosquitoes nowadays. So where’d you grow up? It’s pretty uncommon I run across a professionally trained ass kicker with no affiliations.”

Leliana looked away from the balcony above him for a moment to answer. “Oh, a small place over the mountains. You probably wouldn’t have heard of it. Also, I watched those cannons kill some freaky lizard thing outside town. They probably don’t just shoot off randomly. You have any luck finding work in this place?”

“Just because they’re useful doesn’t mean I can’t hate them. And you killed my last paycheck, I’m not about to tell you who I’m working for two days before I sail out of here. Meet me in Triad and I’ll tell you all about it.”

Sail

Leliana felt her breath catch as she eyed him. “You got a job on the flying boat!? Scat and slag take me with you!” She smacked the table for emphasis.

“No.”

“C’mon I’ll be good. I promise.”

“You give that ship a wide berth until it takes off, you hear me? They’ve paid half my fee already. If I see you skulking around I might have to kill you.”

She was incredulous. “I don’t want to kill the boat, are you crazy? That’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen, I never even knew you could sail a boat in the sky. I just want to stand at the top and look at the ground.”

“I have no interest in being murdered after I finally get a way out of here.” He finished the food on his plate and drained his cup. Then he rose.

“Killing you in an enclosed space in the middle of the sky on a vehicle I can’t operate would be suicide. Surely you can’t think I’m that stupid.” She reached into the canvas bag behind her, sliding the hunting knife from its sheath.

“I don’t know anything about you kid. Sorry, but I’m not hiring, and I don’t trust you enough to let you that close to the captain.” He did seem mildly apologetic, which she appreciated.

She smiled and narrowed her eyes.

“If I can protect you right now, will you think about it?”

He glanced around skeptically. Everyone was absorbed in their own world, nobody was even looking this way. “Protect me from what exactly?”

Tss

Tss

Tss

He jumped back as the table smoked and sizzled. Leliana dropped the bag hiding her blade and glanced up.

Chapter 5: Camping

Lazy smoke curled around the campsite as Leliana’s eyes slid lazily down. She slumped a bit and then jerked up, slapping at her cheeks to help wake up.

“Smoking meat is so boring, ugh, why does it taste so good.”

Three of the legs she’d swiped from the tiger the day before hung from a makeshift wooden rack to dry and smoke so she didn’t have to waste any. The last one had been devoured, having been the first meat she’d seen in months. She stood to yawn and stretch, jumping a bit as the fire crackled behind her.

Dammit fire.

The dense forest was a cacophony of freaky noises as it turned out. She almost wished something would show up to fight just so she could stop jumping at her own shadow. Well the campfire seemed to keep most of the irritating things at bay for now, so she tried to relax. She cast her eyes around for something to do. The small pile of debris next to the dead tree she’d used as a chair reminded her that she already crafted as many sniper shots as she had material for, another 10 or so. It wasn’t a lot, but she didn’t need a lot.

She ran her hands across her pockets briefly, and discovered a shattered glass tube in a small leather pouch fitted to her belt. Well scrap, there went the last antidote she’d taken from the lab. With an irritated sigh, Leliana realized it was about time to try her luck in town to refresh some supplies. Hopefully a small town. Bigger cities were cheaper by far, and had access to more variety, but that convenience was nestled among too many police for her taste. The only “family” she’d ever had used her as a convoy guard during their regular trips to the nearest towns, and the police were by far the worst part of the trip, pushing and shoving and demanding her about while the quartermaster sat in a steambuggy lying about on pillows. Well, okay they were all bastards.

Though, she recalled the disgruntled mercenary earlier and his…advice? Being a muscle for hire would probably be pretty easy money. It was probably more likely to find that kind of work in the bigger towns. More people, and more need. Though in her experience, a lot of people underestimated just what she could do based on her outward appearance., so she may not even find any buyers. Antros’ bulging muscles, scarred eyes and gravelly voice probably got him all kinds of work.

 

Then again. If she were still in reach of the facility, she couldn’t afford that kind of leisure.

She’d run for a week after she slipped out, and had kept moving the same direction ever since. The mountainous path was her best bet due to the limited driving space for the buggy, meaning they’d have to follow on foot. Not many people back there would expend the effort of walking on their own legs, not while they could invent something to do the work for them.

Leliana snorted and laid her dirty blonde head on the now-empty bag. It smelled like crap, but at least the sand from the river had done a good job removing the viscous blood.

Come to think of it, she could probably dye her hair with blood, would that just make her smell like a snack out here though? She felt herself drifting, crackling fire and the buzz of the insects dragging her into unconsciousness.

Lelianas eyes snapped open after the cracking of a twig all too close.

The cold remains of the fire and the ever so slight brightening of the sky hinted at the time passed while she slept. The crisp air felt good and she filled her lungs quietly, holding it in for a second before jumping off her back into a crouch. The atmosphere was pleasant, the early morning birds chirping and a slight breeze rustling the canopy above was normally a nice wake-up.

The guttural growl behind her, however, THAT wasn’t her favorite.

Frozen in place, she slowly formed a plan, casting her eyes around the vicinity and making a checklist.

Knife? Check, she couldn’t sleep without it.

Something for cover? This big log she was using as a chair seemed fine. Check.

She heard up a faint scuffle as whatever it was eased forward in the tall grass beyond the clearing. Nerve to fight off a scary forest monster?

That was a negative.

Clawed feet scraped against rock as the animal leaped from its hiding place, carving a jagged gash in the soil she’d been sitting on moments ago. She felt the breeze of the swipe against the nape of her neck, heard the snapping jaws as it tried grabbing onto her while she darted away. Leliana tucked the blade in her left hand safely under her arm, vaulting over the fallen tree and turning just enough to toss her throwing knife from a vest pocket before raising the knife as she landed. The knife dug into the terrifyingly close face of a gigantic black cat, which halted its charge and sprang back in surprise. The panther had gorgeous, jade-green eyes and narrowed, slit pupils looking hungrily through her. A line of sharp, bony spikes dotted its spine through the velvety black coat, which itself looked clean and smooth.

The clean coat was bad sign for her. This one was either too young to know when to back off, or good enough at killing not to care who it went after.

She kept the 30-inch blade between them, the log protecting her lower half. The cat was pacing on the other side, waiting for a gap in her defenses to open up. Though, that didn’t seem quite right. It wasn’t advancing or prowling or stalking, it was just walking back and forth…directly between her and the smoked elk legs hanging over the fire.

“Ohhh, that’s what you want.” She giggled and stood a little straighter. This slag sucking-

Swapping the knife to the other hand, she took a few steps back and plucked one of the newly made bullets she made yesterday. The barbed point stuck out an inch or two from the tip of the narrow, 5-inch bullet. Hopefully this cat had never been stung by the giant fire wasps further south and this was going to be a big surprise, enough at least to run it off. She made a mental note not to throw all her weapons away or have them stolen in the future.

Her grip tightened on each weapon, and her stocky frame launched over the fallen tree. “No! Bad kitty!”

A feral hiss set her hair on end, but therewas no way she was giving up this much meat. She caught a heavy paw with the flat edge of the knife, deflecting those sharp claws away from her face once, but was forced to retreat as two new swipes breezed by less than an inch from her eyes. She feinted in and jumped back, leaving a deep cut between two clawed toes. The scariest sound she’d ever been subjected to leapt from the cats’ mouth and she went on the defensive under an angry onslaught. She wouldn’t have called it holding her own, but she did manage to just avoid a brutal death by mauling as she slipped out from under leap after leap of a snarling hellbeast.

She ducked right again and again, the panther seemingly getting faster each time, until they were actually just running in a circle. She sliced at it with her own blade, cleanly cutting the air as the cat let the swing go by.

Those beautiful green eyes watched the sharp knife in her right hand as she hefted the rifle round in her left, then chucked it as hard as she could. Barbed wasp stinger pierced deep into its left eye as it turned back to face her and the cat went wild. Spitting and clawing and screaming in a fit to dislodge the bullet.

Leliana bound behind the dead tree to avoid the maelstrom of murder going to town on the campsite, though she couldn’t help feeling a little bad. The fire wasp venom wasn’t going to kill this big, beautiful hunter, but it sure was going to hurt. Well, it was trying to steal her food, she couldn’t feel that bad. The panther probably got to eat meat everyday, but it had been months for her. The yowling grew more frantic and panicked, the smoke rack and campfire in shambles, and the leopard smashed through the thick underbrush as it fled.

That was a lot of noise and blood she just threw out into the wilderness, and she had learned that to be a good way to meet new friends. Friends with teeth and claws and appetites. The sun was basically up, so it was time to go. She tossed the weapons where they belonged and crammed the legs into the bag, sealing it tight. A once-over of the camp confirmed she wasn’t missing anything, she took a step to leave when-

“What the hells!?”

The clearing around her turned black again, just a few seconds before brightening again. She watched a patch of inky blackness move away in confusion, before realizing it was just a huge shadow. Unable to fight the curiosity, Leliana climbed the tallest tree to check it out. She popped out of the canopy and blinked in the early sunlight, eyes adjusting just in time to watch a ship smoothly gliding over the top of a huge hill.

A ship? What the FU

In which Kris organizes…something probably.

Hello Friends!

Tina and I have decided to spare your delicate ears this week and just do a regular, written post. It’s like we’re back in the stone age!

We’ve been hard at work this month with our November writing shenanigans, as I know you all are as well. How’s everything going so far? I’m definitely behind, personally. I believe I’m sitting around exactly 50% of the suggested word count for the month as a matter of fact. It’s FINE, it’s all fine everything is fine. I’m sure one or two of you are getting a bit behind too, right? That’s alright, I know you can push yourself to do great things, even if they happen in December or January. Remember, those word counts are just suggestions, the spirit is in the writing itself!

I’ve made some pretty good progress on my first draft I started coughcough last year coughcough. After restructuring my outline a bit (mentally of course, never write anything down. It distracts from the now,) I’m thinking I may follow Tina’s lead here and cut the whole into a few smaller segments. When I first started the story, I wrote a brief outline that’s served me pretty well – but I’m also more of a discovery writer most of the time. That means you sorta just write and discover the story along the way. I managed to get passed that bump that slowed me down earlier this year, so I’m tentatively optimistic I can blast through this bad boy at least by the end of the year. Only 500 more revisions to go!

Let’s not get distracted from what I originally came here to write about though.

While we were taking some downtime from our hectic, future-authorly lives, my dear wife proposed to me. An idea that we keep ourselves some bullet journals. Now I know what you’re thinking. I know! Me too! But no, it’s not like a diary you shoot at.

A bullet journal is basically a daily planner and a journal, scheduler, calendar and a sketch pad in the same notebook as far as I can tell. Which is fantastic, you guys know I love multitasking. I carry like 4 notebooks at all times, this whole ‘single-notebook’ business seems way cooler if it works. I started writing in it 24 hours ago (probably closer to 40 when you’re all flocking to read this as soon as it drops,) and I can say I’ve probably filled up about ten pages already. Also, I’ve organized a hundred things, started planning Thanksgiving, and obviously drew a picture of a buff cow.

Okay the cow picture was there a while ago and I forgot all about this notebook, but I found it again and it made me laugh so I’m keeping it. Maybe I can make it the featured picture for the post, it won me a drawing challenge against Nik some months ago.

I ran across the info about these actually independently of Tina, I just never gave it a thought until she demanded it. I first found the info, and later referenced the same info, by watching a lot of “How to ADHD,” which is a delightful channel on YouTube I’ve been getting a lot of great information from. I’ll toss a link to the video I came back to when I was making the journal last night in case any of you are interested in organizing your wild lives, or just want to watch some fabulous adult ADHD videos yourselves. The basic idea is that you A) Number all the pages, B) Write an index, and C) Use the journal. It’s a great tool and I know some of you will put it to great use,

 

 

Good luck to everyone getting ready to prepare for Thanksgiving next week, and I wish you all merry…weekend!