Chapter 6: A Cry for Help

Hello internet friends,

Here’s chapter 6 for Lead Heart – any feedback is definitely appreciated as I’m always hoping to learn something,

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A strange wooden ship, like the Galleys from her history books, glided smoothly into the sunset. It was difficult to make out much detail while staring into the setting sun, but she didn’t really care about that for now. It was a flying freakin’ ship, how long had that even been possible. How many times did she watch the birds enviously while she plodded along. Off in the distance she made out a bit of geometric shadowing on the horizon, probably a city, in the path of the airship.

Well that’s perfect, she needed to go there anyway.

She dropped a couple of branches before realizing it was about bedtime. She’d spent all day crossing this valley to get another glimpse of that amazing ship. Well, she was out of steam, so at least falling asleep wouldn’t be a problem. Leliana munched a bit of smoked meat while she surveyed the surroundings and picked a spot to nap. A couple of firs entwined their limbs with each other making a few cozy nests where she didn’t need to worry about falling, She picked a spot and made herself comfortable, or as comfortable as you can be in a tree with no blanket, and drifted off.

The next morning was cool and clear, with a brilliantly blue sky overhead. The sounds of the early morning woods were becoming a music of sorts, something to look forward to. Though, compared to waking up in silence on a steel mat to stare at some concrete, it was likely literally anything would become music to her ears.

“SOMEBODY HELP”

A panicked cry for help cut the air. The sound had carried quite a distance, but she was pretty sure it came from the direction she was already headed. Might as well check it out and see what was up.

A few minutes and a few miles down the scraggly dirt “road” she found an interesting situation.

Two women hid behind a tree in front of her, and a younger man crashed to the ground just as she came into view. Three men loomed in the shadows, one sidling down the path while the other two joined from the forest. Cruel grins and missing teeth marred their otherwise hideous faces. She almost gagged just imagining the smell.

“Heh heh heh, ain’t you a firecracker. Too bad you’re such a little-”

“You leave Leon be, you..you cowards!”

The younger of the women grit her teeth and gripped what appeared to be a kitchen knife in both hands. Her mother, Leliana guessed, was as white as snow and stood tight-lipped, wide eyed and silent.

The boy was a teenager, or had been recently. He scrambled to his feet with balled fists. “Fine, just take it!” He heaved a bag and hit one of the men square in the chest with a clink, though the robber ignored it outright.

“Oy kid, that’s not enough. What about them things you said about my mother? I’m hurting real deep inside, I’m gonna need some…healing.” His greasy face looked the two women up and down with a sick grin, before scowling as he spotted the newcomer.

“Who the hells are you?” His cronies noticed Leliana for the first time with a start, the lankier of the two moving toward her.

She glanced over to the uptight mother; well she was useless. “Hey,” she waved to get the others girls’ attention, “how much money is in that bag?”

The young woman was bewildered. “What!? I don’t know, like 100 silver dollars I guess, what the hells does it matter run away!”

“Is that a lot? How much food would that buy?” She had no idea what a silver dollar was, but if it was equivalent to the dollar notes the quartermaster carried, it was enough for a few comfy days in town at least. Some actual bullets might be nice. “Never mind, I’ll figure it out.”

All eyes were on her now, so she might as well use that to her advantage. The loudmouth had a knife in his belt, but the other two appeared unarmed So she targeted them first. If they were comfortable robbing people bare-handed, they were either stupid, strong, or had something to hide.

She sauntered as she closed the distance to the tallest of the three men, hips rocking side to side. “What’s your name big boy?”

His face held the same, “Did I step in something?” expression while his mouth opened to reply, not even changing as her fist drove his front teeth from their sockets. She followed it up with a couple knocks to the head and then swung him into the stabby guy who was advancing with his knife. The two smacked together, flying into the overgrown weeds next to the road from a heavy roundhouse from Leliana. The third, and biggest, moved to crouch in front of them with his hands ready.

They rose after a minute of yelling and bleeding and drooling. The last thing she wanted was to give them time to regroup, so she stalked menacingly at the big guy standing and almost missed the toothless one raising a hand to point at her. She barely had time to gasp and duck aside at the last second before –

*BAP* *BAP*

The gunshots set her ears ringing and the big guy still on his feet cowered out of the way. “Oy you idiot, watch it!” He fled aside, leaving Leliana and the gunman clear.

Damn, she’d bet on the other one having the gun.

She faked left, then dodged right a few steps and slung the knife from her vest pocket at the big guys’ face before ducking left again.

The small guy hopped up in front of his friend and plucked the blade from the air, landing with a tucked roll to keep out of the way. This forced the other to stop shooting momentarily, giving her time to close the distance – large hunting knife at the ready. He pulled the six shooter back hastily but missed and took a knee to the groin as Leliana heaved her full weight into the strike. She tried to lash out with the knife, but bowed backward just quickly enough to prevent being skewered by the second assailant.

Her larger knife deflected his blows easily enough, but he had two, including the one she’d thrown earlier, and he was fast. Once, twice,thrice the hot sparks flew as she blocked just in time. He wasn’t the only one she had to worry about though, and she was forced to split her focus to keep him between her and the one with the gun. The other big guy kept trying to get-

“Gotchya!”

His arms encircled her from behind, yanking her off her feet into the air. She huffed and went limp to try dropping to the ground, but his meaty fists grabbed hold of her hands before she’d slid all the way free.

Leliana flipped backward and used his face to launch herself at the ground, expertly breaking his grip. She caught herself on both hands and used the forward momentum to jump onto the knife guy feet-first. He’d relaxed when his friend grabbed her a moment ago and didn’t brace for the weight of the impact, so he tumbled backward and grunt as the air whooshed out of him. Leliana was caught off guard by how easy he was to knock over and fell forward, tucking into a roll to bound back up facing the trio again.

She was surprised to see the gun-wielder lying face down on the ground, that little kitchen knife sticking out of his back near the neck, and the young man holding the firearm 2-handed.

“Get back!”

The atmosphere shifted and other two raised their hands in a gesture of peace. “Aye kid, you’ve got the gun now. Let us grab that meathead on the ground and we’ll leave.”

They advanced slowly, the young man uncomfortably shuffling backward at the same time. “Fine, but I’m..I’m warning you!”

Leliana watched suspiciously, monitoring the two and counting back how many times the gun had already been fired. Hmm. She caught the one on the ground looking up at his team, the smaller man giving an almost imperceptible nod.

She narrowed her eyes and ran to catch up. She was about 10 feet away still when they stooped to pick up their friend, the small man palming a knife as they rose. She knew it! The two others covered his movement. She bounded forward in two strides and yanked her knife out of his hand as he pulled back. The two large men made way for the throw. The teen caught sight of the knife and fired wildly, gunshots ringing in the still morning air. An explosion of blood erupted from the the small guy.

He screeched and yelled incoherently, grasping at the other two and they carried him hastily into the forest.

Leliana smiled and moved toward the trio. “Good thinking, getting the gun. You three alright?” The youth swung the weapon in her direction, his panicked breathing running ragged. Sweat dripped off his face like he’d just taken a swim. “Relax, I’m the one who saved you remember?” Besides-” she reached out to grab the gun as he fired. Well, clicked.

“It’s empty.”

She pocketed the gun and sheathed her own knives, setting off toward town again. “And by the way,” she kicked their bag up off the ground and poured its contents into her own, the three watching in shock. “You’re welcome.”

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Waiting for the fall

So often my life has been full of great chances or experiences followed by huge falls. I often tell people that I don’t have a fear of heights, just a fear of falling, because I know how much it hurts when you land.

I find that this has slowly been changing for me. As I work on bettering myself for me, I have found that I take great pride in my ups and lessons in my downs. No longer do I fear the fall because it will hurt. I understand that falls happen and that if I breath and use my tools I can learn from them and grow in a new or better way next time. So, Let’s talk about what I am pumped about doing.

So far I have lost over 10lbs. Which is amazing for me. Not just a loose it and gain it back like normal but a good month or two of being down in my weight. Or as my handsome husband likes to say, “Making new lows and lowering our highs.” He is right. When I stopped looking at it as a loose or you lose, I started noticing that yes sometimes I go up, but I have been rocketing down so even as I gain a little here or there, they are my new high which is still much lower then my old high. With that I have been pushing on. Focusing on my body and what I eat. Pushing myself to do more and move as much as I can without hurting myself.

Another thing I have going is my business. I started a new company called Mochi Photography. I had an idea a year and a half ago to have a booth where cosplayers or families could come and take pictures during their convention. I am also selling plushies and other crafty things I make in my spare time. I am now working on my sales pitch to get into daycare centers and other children rich areas where I can take pictures for them.

My other ongoing project is school! I am now in my second year of school to get my business degree. I am proud to say that my grades are awesome, my work is…. in by the due date, and I have really enjoyed the classes so far. I am so proud of myself for having stuck to my schooling and keeping up with it regardless of how I am feeling that week. I keep reminding myself that I started this school at the same time as Nik to keep me accountable. If he can do it so can I!

And one of my greatest ongoing joys is that Nik is doing so great in school. He is even leading the pack in the emergency drills and keeping focused on his work without a teacher or helper around to help. This is a big change from last year at the end of the year and a huge relief to my anxiety!

With all that said, I still have one more thing I am picking up in the next two months or so. I will be doing NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. I am going to focus down and split up my current novel work into a few novellas. So my project in November will be writing every day, and a deadline to finish the first draft of my Novella by the end of November.

So much to do, I am feeling a little tired just talking about it. Guess I should take a nap really quick before getting back to my homework, Mochi plushie making for this weekend, and taking care of Nik…… Nahhhhh I got this!

Kris finds more things online to take up all his time

Kris here,

Sorry we went totally AWOL last week – we had a crazy week and the 4th of July was just all up in our grill. Haha! Grill. We didn’t cook outside because it started raining and I’m already 90% inept in the ways of starting fires as it is – thunderstorms truly are my kryptonite.

 

For those not living in the US, the 4th of July is where we celebrate not being blown up by trying to blow ourselves up. It’s a great pasttime, very traditional.

 

This week I thought I’d plug a couple projects that have been taking a bit of my time recently and probably a lot more time in the near future. Project Gutenberg and Librivox. They’re both sites dedicated to crowd-sourcing the digitization of public domain literary works, but the former works in print and the latter produces audiobooks.

 

I know a lot of public domain works get a lot of bad rep sometimes, but spend some time perusing the libraries and I’m sure you’ll find something interesting. The part of the sites that has such a draw on myself personally is the contribution bits. I don’t mind reading something from a hundred years ago or some dry piece of information, but I have a really hard time focusing on one thing at a time. In this case, you get a chance to read a bit and help preserve at the same time, and that’s totally great by me.

 

Librivox is a little different in that they need listeners to help listen to recorded works and make sure nothing is amiss, but you can do some of the recordings yourself. I’ve always been a huge fan of audiobooks, helping to make them personally sounds pretty interesting. Give them a look the next time you’re bored and check it out – the worst that could happen is that you get to read or listen to free books!

Kris’s game design ramblification

Kris here

Last week was a bit hilarious and a lot tardy, sorry about that! By the time Saturday rolled around, we were off gallivanting across the state to visit dear friends and eat all the food they had.

I tracked it!

Some of it.

So here I am today just chatting about more game design stuff. I’ve been doing a lot of digital legwork and game designing can be an interesting experience, so I figured I’d lay down a few “why the hell didn’t they tell me this earlier”‘isms. Not everyone is interested in game design and that’s fine because the first rule of game design is that you don’t talk about game design it’s super hard.

Thinking about designing an entire game is a daunting aspect and it requires a few key points that aren’t necessarily obvious, but they’ll hold you back until you figure them out. Since I’ve spent a few months spinning my wheels and having a ball thinking about ‘bell curves’ and ‘probabilities,’ I think it’s safe to say I’m now an expert in the field. Don’t worry, you’ll all get the life-altering chance to play my amazing game once I find a better expert to tell me what in the hell I’m doing. It’s right around the corner.

At the beginning of my journey, I looked at the tabletop games I was playing and thought to myself “yeah this is good, but it’s not great.” You ever get the feeling? Yeah this salad is pretty good, but that pizza is great. Sure my car is okay, but that monster truck is AMAZING. I don’t want to drive a good RPG, I want to drive a monster truck RPG!

Okay, but that’s wrong – you don’t make a game because you want a better one. Trust me. You won’t play that sucker for a year. Or years! There are thousands of every kind of game you can think of – pick one at random for a weekend get together every week for 10 years and you won’t run out of material, I promise. This was a tough lesson to swallow because I just want to play my game why can’t it just be done. Nope. You have to work first. I know!

The second thing I did was to create some mechanics to judge how to, you know hit stuff and scale walls. Not the actual actions or why’s, just the mechanics.

“But Kris who are you hitting? Why? What’s the deal with climbing walls, what kind of mechanics are needed there?”

I donno :<

That’s right, my second step and I was already into my second mistake. You probably think I’m really bad at this by now. Ha! And you’d be right! Then I stumbled around the Googles for a few days hours and I discovered that this wasn’t exactly undiscovered territory. There have been people who made games before. This bro even put together a list of questions out of a different set of questions which is an amazing tool to outline if you can think  of the answers.

http://socratesrpg.blogspot.com/2006/01/what-are-power-19-pt-1.html

And that’s from 12 years ago! So my third step was when I reached out to a few game design communities across the tubes – Reddit, StackExchange, Giant in the Playground forums. Yeah that’s right, mistake! No just kidding, this was actually fabulous. You never realize how stupid some of your ideas are until you find a group of peers and explain to them why having people do long division is an enjoyable experience. Every time I’ve hit a slump where I kind of stopped and whined and fidgeted about something not being right, I’d hop on one of those boards and tell everyone what a great idea I’d had. They were brilliant – less than 2 hours each time to convince me what a mistake my mother made when she released me into the world with such naivete and misunderstandings. I can’t say it’s always easy taking criticism, nor should it be. Heck, I had to dig into more than one persons’ questions just to actually figure out what they didn’t understand, why they couldn’t understand it, and why past me wrote his descriptions in such a dumb way.

Designing games is a lot of work, but it’s a good time you can share with a partner or even just do in your spare time to mess around. If the SocratesRPG guy was a bit too much of a read, just make sure you think through a few ideas before you get too far into the process:

1. What experience does your game provide. People scared of the dark for a week, looking over their shoulders and nervously laughing the whole time? Riddle solving, pitting spouses against each other in mortal combat!?

2. What do the characters, or the part of the game the people playing the game interact with, do. Why, how, and when do that do that. Is it a fantasy game and you can pretend to be a buff macho dude, or is it farm simulator 0018?

3. What do the people playing the game actually do to interact with the characters mentioned in question 2. Pushing buttons, rolling dice, drawing cards. Strip D&D?!

4. Play your game every time you make any change and play it again because you didn’t do it enough the first time.

Okay number 4 isn’t really a question, but you have to play the game you’re building. Really, play it all the time, you have to know how everything is working. And when you think you have it down solid, give it to someone else and have THEM explain it to yet another person and you’ll be well on your way to starting the design process. And if you’re married, your spouse might even buy you a brand new blanket to sleep on the couch!

Dang it Kris!

Tina here.

Whatever Kris let in to this house got me bit bad. Metaphorically speaking of course. He has chatted my ear off about his rpg and his back and forth on setup and how it works. Last night he gave me a break and picked up a YouTube video by a guy documenting his progress in making his own rpg. Well damn if I didn’t make him pause and start over after fetching my notebook cause I had an idea.

That’s right. I am also making an rpg. However mine is aimed at nerdy families with younger kids. So if your friends are to busy trying out that new beer place in downtown Austin, you can just rope your family into game night in the guise of family time.

Really I know so many parents who are gamers and would love to play something like the established rpgs with their kiddos but the setup and explanations seem a bit daunting to explain to someone who you just finished explaining why you HAVE to wash your hands after you poop.

Now not to get you all hyped but I am excited and after I make a working model I will need a cast of various kinds of kids to be sacrificed to my little game. I promise to return them eventually. So yeah be on the look out for that and if Kris hunts you down to talk about magic vs physical fights, take a deep breath and enjoy the math and science he is about to throw at your face.

Better Late than Never

Tina Here!

Sorry about that lack in post on Wednesday. It was my day and although everyone around me has said, “Why don’t you pre-write the posts?” Well, I am an authentic writer. I like to write something that is relevant to what is going on with me at the time. However, this leads to some of the same issues we just had. I was bogged down with Doctor appointments of various kinds on Wednesday, which is also my Pathfinder game night where I am the DM, and it was the last day of the week for my online school to turn in work for that week. So I thought, ehh, I will be a day late. NOPE! My life had plans.

One of the greatest things that has happened this year was the meeting of my amazing friend Gen. She is a freaking god send. She loves the same stuff I do, she is right on key with goals and life goals. She is, as one of my favorite books Anne of Green Gables, would say, my bosom friend. Someone that it seems like my life was never whole without. She understands me, she listens and I love her to pieces. Gen has, above everything else she has done for me, inspired me to follow my dreams of owning my own cafe. A dream I have held in my heart since middle school. The reason she comes up now is because yesterday she came over to work on homework with me and we got sidetracked and started talking about my plans for a cafe again. She started asking me some really tough questions about funding and where I was going to get the money for start up and such and it got us cooking on how to make this thing really happen.

So, I would like to introduce Keyboard Crafts. My new craft Etsy store. I am working on finishing up things like logos and other set ups, but I will be crafting for my cafe, using the money I make to fund my dreams. I enjoy making all kinds of crafts, from crocheting cute little dolls, to making notebooks, soaps and custom designed shirts. So keep an eye out for that stuff and a link to the store to come up soon.

In other news, I am now in my 4th Term of school! I have almost finished my first year!!!!! I am so freaking excited and can’t wait to look back at everything I have done and use it as fuel anytime I start feeling low. I got this! We got this! YOU got this! Let’s go make stuff happen!