When Kris wants to write.

Hey ya’ll, Tina here kinda. Kris didn’t get time to edit or refine his post this week because of the madness of his first born child starting Kindergarten and all the craziness that happens with that. So, I am here to copy paste what he sent to me and leave it in it’s raw weird format for you all to enjoy. A little peek behind the curtains if you will. He wrote this story as a warmup before diving into writing on his main project. So without further ado. The children’s story of the Tiny Cute Puppy.

(Kris here – I changed a few words here and there, but I didn’t edit too much since I think Tina did a great job separating the word soup I’d sent her in the first place. Hopefully this story makes you giggle as much as I did writing it!)

One day there was a cute tiny puppy dog. But this dog had a secret. He was actually very, very big! He just told everyone he was tiny to make them feel big too and so everyone would think he were adorable. After all, tiny animals are adorable.

Then one day he met a grumpy frog. The frog was like “hey! You’re not tiny!”

The Cute, tiny puppy dog was taken aback. No one had seen through his ruse before, but he didn’t want the frog to give him away.

“What do you mean?” Asked the tiny cute puppy, “I’m obviously adorable, everyone says so. You don’t have to be mean to me because I’m adorable, you could just pet my ears. Or scratch my belly!” The puppy rolled over onto his back, his tongue lolling out to one side and his legs fervently pawing the air, this was a classic act. No one could resist!

“Oy! I’m not about to say you aren’t an adorable puppy after all ‘at rollin’ about young one, but you’re the biggest dog I’ve ever seen. I think you’re the biggest animal I’ve ever seen. I bet you could arm wrestle an elephant and come out on top.”

The frog was definitely weakened by the adorb-attack executed perfectly by the puppy, but it was too wise to be goaded by his cute words. “Tell ye’ wot  wee tyke,” continued the frog, “you tell everyone around town the real truth about your size and I’ll bet they’ll all rub yer’ belly without even thinkin’ twice about it.”

The frog gave the tiny cute puppy a pat on his upside down head and hippity hopped off to scratch some sick beats at the local dubstep club. This really vexed the poor puppy.

“But if I tell everyone the truth…will they really like me?” His curiosity was piqued, he had to know.

The tiny cute puppy bounded toward the house of his best friend Smooth Jazz Pincushion. This was of course his stage name, for Smooth Jazz was a saxophone player on Thursdays when the dubstep club was donated to aspiring jazz musicians as a romping ground to get together. Cute tiny puppy rocked the seismometers all over town as he leapt to a stop just outside Smooth Jazz’s hole.

“Hey Pincushion, are you home!” Tiny cute puppy waited and waited, he knew he had to have patience when visiting Smooth Jazz in case he was in the middle of a set.

He was dedicated to his craft and would keep playing until he perfected the song he was working on. Thankfully, Cute Tiny Puppy only had to wait about an hour before Jazz waddled out of his hole. Tiny Cute Puppy came here because he thought if anyone could identify an adorable puppy, it would be an adorable hedgehog.

“Hey Pincushion, whatchya workin’ on today?” Puppy knew to be polite if he wanted his friends to feel important. And he wanted Pincushion to feel important so he would be sure to give him an answer right away.

“Well today’s piece was a little number I picked up from an old bloke from back in the day. Very popular, very popular, you probably have a shelf dedicated to him at home even. Goes by the name of Ol’ Satchmo. My dear fellow what brings you to my home today.”

Tiny cute puppy was puzzled momentarily thinking about his record shelves, but came back to himself quickly.

“Hey Pincushion, I heard ’round about the pond that I would actually still be adorable if I were really big. Do you think I’d be a cute puppy if I were big?”

Knocking over  several municipal buildings in the process, Tiny cute puppy let his body crash to the earth, sending plumes of dust into the air with a shockwave.

“Hmm, well that’s an awfully good question cute, tiny puppy. I couldn’t imagine you big since you’re so snuggly and cuddly as a tiny puppy, but let’s have a look at you anyway.” Smooth Jazz disappeared inside his hole for a few seconds and reappeared wearing some reading specs. He backed up several city blocks waving his thumb in front of him and looking at Cute Tiny Puppy making all kinds of hmms and umms. Finally, he came back to puppy with his answer.

“Cute Tiny Puppy, I do believe I’ve accidentally discovered that you’re really huge. Like freakishly gigantic. Irresponsible for you to live in the city at that size even. I’m not sure how we missed it, quite an amusing oversight if you ask me. We’ll have to change your name!”

Tiny Cute Puppy was sad, he liked his name. “Aww really, what would you suggest?” Asked tiny cute puppy.

“I have just the thing don’t you worry.” Pincushion disappeared once more into his hedgehog hole to retrieve something.

This time puppy could hear the odd sound of a huge bellows being activated just as a giant blaze shot out of Smooth Jazz’s rooftop. Following were the echoing clangs of a hammer ringing throughout the tunnels, sounding like it came from everywhere at once. Finally, puppy heard the loudest sizzling sound he’d ever heard in his life. After several more minutes of beeping and mechanical grinding, Pincushion appeared in a great big excavator, tirelessly moving dirt to make the entranceway to his tunnel at least 3 times bigger than it had been moments ago.

Cautiously, the puppy asked “Hey Smooth Jazz, what’s the machinery for? I thought you were just picking out a name.”

Pincushion responded briefly before disappearing once more into the cave. “Oh puppy, sorry for the wait, I got distracted on the way to my library. I forgot I’d made a forge in this place a few weeks ago and I’ve been dying to try it out. I even had some sheet metal on the floor so I used it to make a splendid new nametag for you. Here try it out!”

Pincushion came back out with a nametag so big, he had to tie a team of horses to it just to get it out the front door.

“Thanks guys,” he waved the team of equestrians back across the street to their own homes.

With that, Cute Tiny Puppy laid on the ground so Smooth Jazz could fix the nametag to his collar. When he rose back up, he could see his new name.

“Gigantor Adorable Labrador? That’s a great name!” Shouted formerly Cute Tiny puppy.

“That it is my fine friend. That. It. Is.”

 

The End

Alma – Chapter 2

Ro’dan looked around the foyer as Alma closed the doors and bolted them. She quickly moved over to the windows to peek out them. Ro’dan was in awe of the large house. It’s grand stairs and large rooms that were open to the sides of the hall gave more merit to the high standing of this odd young lady. However, the rooms were completely bare but clean of any dust. She must be a street child like himself who happened to find an empty house that no one missed and had been using it as her own. Ro’dan thought on it for a moment more and realized that this new place could serve very well as a base. Allowing them to pull more elaborate cons on people. Maybe he could use this daft girl’s kindness to get her roped into letting him do as he pleased.

Alma pulled away from the window to face Ro’dan, “Well, it doesn’t seem to appear we were followed!” Alma looked at the boy as if taking in who he was for the first time. “Oh, um,” a sudden shyness appeared across her face. “I mean, I know I should have properly asked you over and had refreshments ready but I got so excited that I was going to meet a real life cutpurse that I just flew away with you.”

Ro’dan cocked his head to the side and smiled his most charming smile. This was going to be too easy. “Oh my dear, I can understand how excited you must have been to share this wonderful place with someone.” She seemed to shift her feet in thinking what to say next. “Did I remind you of an old lover? Perhaps of your father?”

Alma’s head quickly snapped up and she held rage in her eyes. “You would be nothing like Father. Never speak of him again.” and like that, the firm overtone and glare was gone and again replaced with the mousy looking girl again. “You didn’t remind me of anyone. I just got excited to meet someone I had only ever read about in Father’s books.”

Ro’dan smiled again. A learned girl huh? Not a street rat then. Even easier to fool. “Well, I don’t know much about books ma’am but I would be happy to help you, however, I can.”

Alma smiled brightly and nodded. “Yes, I think I could learn much from you. Come with me.” Alma turned and headed up the stairs. Ro’dan followed, keeping an eye out for anything that could be of value, but being sorely disappointed. This house was kept well clean but it lacked any kind of personal touch. He was almost ready to offer to bring Alma a chair when she grasped the handles to the closed off room at the top.

“This place means more to me than anything I could ever own. It stands to reason that, if you are foolish enough to harm, dirty, or steal anything in here, I will use all of my life in the pursuit of you and your kin for the rest of my days. I will haunt you from beyond my grave and I will lay claim to every generation that comes from your line. Do not test me, cutpurse, I know many a curse from wicked Voodoo priestesses from the swamps and dry lands. I will use them on you before you can blink.” With that, she waved a hand over his head and said a few odd words then spit on her thumb and touched the bottom of her shoe.

Ro’dan wasn’t sure if he really believed her but any man of his age knew better than to risk the eye of God or anything else that could ruin your life. She looked so determined that there was no doubt left in his mind that she meant every word she said. “I swear on my mother’s grave that no harm shall come to this house from myself.” He used his sweetest puppy dog eyes and that seemed to please the odd girl. She nodded and lead him into the room with a grand sweep of her arms.

“Welcome to the Library of Mr.Wonders.”

Alma- Chapter 1

Whenever Alma thought of an adult, she thought of the firm stiff nature that her mother possessed. Her mother was a force. She could hold people at bay with nothing but the sound of her firm voice. She never wavered when she had made up her mind and she never backed down. Alma often thought of her mother when she was out shopping and someone snagged the last roll of bread or butted into her conversation with the butcher to order their own meat. Alma never had to be hard. She was soft spoken and soft in spirit. She followed readily down any path that others had already made a trail for. Alma was soft in the ways of dealing with anyone. She often saw herself as a cloud and her mother as a tall mountain. The clouds would never break through the mountains, she just had to bend and split and make her way around them. Conforming to the needs and wants that lay before her.

It was a sad but easy life for Alma. Until the day mother died. The brisk men in dark suits showed up and demanded this or that. Stating that her mother had no right to keep them from it. Alma could do nothing but sit by as the men took things from her home to pay for the rest of the debt on the house. She would get to keep living there but with far less of the art and specialty pieces her mother had fawned over. She was left with her own meager mattress and the books. Her father had loved books. He had spent his whole life learning and collecting as many stories as he could. He was a dreamer and very soft as well. Alma supposed that is why mother was so hard, to counter father’s soft. Father passed away when Alma was only 10 years of age. Her mother had made talk of taking out the books and turning the room into a rented room for extra income. That was the only day that little Alma took a stand. Well, rather a sit. She sat in front of the doors to the office all day and night. Refusing to move, no matter the beating promised or candies offered. She sat there clutching tightly the last story her father had read to her.

If she thought back carefully she supposes that one could say mother was proud of Alma for finding something to hold on to. Even mother had hated the idea of getting rid of such a large collection that was such a part of their lives. So she gave in on this one thing, with the solid understanding that Alma was to be the sole owner of the office and as such, it was her job to keep it neat and tidy. Every morning Alma would set to work dusting off all the shelves of books, stacking neatly the last round of reading, shoveling out the ash from the fireplace and hauling it all out. She made sure that nothing was out of place or kept incorrectly. One small thing for her mother to latch onto and Alma feared she would take all of her joy.

The books were a shared world where Alma didn’t feel small. She felt as brave as the young lost boy on a magical island, or as fearless as the small girl who followed a rabbit. She would find herself wondering how such wonderful and amazing people were even thought up. The only people around her were all quite practical and reasonable people who kept to themselves and worked hard to keep their reputations quite high. She never was able to find people like in her book. Until the night she met Ro’dan. Ro’dan was a young boy who had attempted to cut her purse. Alma having read every book in the large office found many that talked about how to avoid such things from happening. She also realised that this boy likely didn’t have any choice in the matter and was doing so just to save his own skin. Alma caught Ro’dan’s hand swiftly and pulled him close.

“Listen closely, I will make it seem as if I am so upset at what you are doing and hauling you off. You must follow and make it look good for whoever might be watching you.”

Ro’dan was just confused and shocked at the speed of this younger looking lady. By the way she dressed and acted he had thought her to be a spinster for sure. Now looking at her closely he could tell that her eyes and face showed a much younger and lively looking young woman. He wasn’t sure what she was talking about but when she started making a fuss and talking about constables, he was pulling as hard as he could to get away from her shrill voice of alarm. However, her arms and hands were much stronger than he suspected and she easily pulled him down the street and around to an ally way out of sight of his crew. He looked up in worry as this crazed young woman watched people running around and looking confused. She had managed to cause chaos as people started to notice their own pouches emptied. She had a mad smile spread across her face and she turned to face him with those excited eyes.

“You are someone I have been waiting to meet for a long time. Please come with me and have tea.” Before Ro’dan could give a response, Alma took him once again leadingly by the wrist and dragged him all the way to her home.

From the outside, Ro’dan could tell this girl was well enough off. She should have been no different than the average victim of his snatches. However, this girl had reflexes too fast for him to see and a power that rivaled even his own master’s power. She was strong in a surprising way that kept Ro’dan silently waiting for an opening to get away.

The Grumpy Penguin

Kris here,

So some time ago while we were all hanging around and I was probably doing some manly dad things, like grilling outdoors or twisting off tight jar lids or something, when I had the bright idea “Hey Nik and I should write a story!” So I then said aloud “Hey Nik and I should write a story!”

Tina was totally down with this on account of it not including any work on her part, but Nikolai was apparently heartbroken. Do you know how long he’d waited to play with those toys? It might’ve been watching his tablet too but let’s go with the toys thing. He was yelling and crying and calling 911 and generally just making a ruckus that I don’t think was necessarily apt for the situation. So, of course, I sat down and started writing the story about him, out loud, while writing everything to paper. He gradually grew less and less fussy and started laughing because I’m the best and we all learned something at the end (dad had to google because he was making outlandish allegations that nobody was sure of.)

Right after we’d finished writing it down to paper, Nik and I read the story to Tina as a whole instead of the broken sentences I used while I was actually writing it down. Tina did that thing she does where she’s the best and there were suddenly illustrations! And now we have a brief and amusing story that still gets told before bed from time to time – we thought we’d post it on our blog here, in case anyone else was able to make their toddler giggle at the antics of The Grumpy Penguin.

Grumpy001Grumpy002Grumpy003Grumpy004Grumpy005Grumpy006Grumpy007Grumpy008Grumpy009Grumpy010Grumpy011Grumpy012Grumpy013Grumpy014Grumpy015

Inn Trouble

Kris here,

I started a short story from the world I’ve been building recently back in November and decided to finally wrap it up last week. Tina posted her story last week so I figured I’d follow suit! Critiques always welcome – enjoy!

p.s: don’t judge me, it was all written in notepad and I’m 100% I missed spelling or something crazy while editing.

______________________________________

There was a bite in the air across the plains this cold morning. The town of Altoon was still fast asleep, as it was even too early for the Sun to be awake yet. Thaddeus Mason slogged out of bed, knowing he was probably the only one that would be up for the next few hours, looking forward to not having to interact with anyone. He sat staring into the darkness for several minutes, reluctant to relinquish the wool blanket he’d draped over himself. Finally, heaving a huge sigh he forced himself to his feet and shook off the shroud of warmth.

He liked to rise early each day to get the days work out of the way before anyone wandered in for breakfast or gossip, or both. He wrung the wispy edges of a dream about this time last year out of his head sadly. The Inn had been his dream ever since he’d first met his late wife Margaret, the happiest adventure of his life. A dream that had twisted into a trap. He’d escaped his past and couldn’t go back, he and Margaret had thrown everything they had into this place. He would never abandon the last dream they had together.

Forcing himself into gear, he reminded himself that under no circumstances would the current state of the Inn be satisfactory to his wife’s standards, and so he’d resigned to getting up earlier every day to finish more. He hadn’t had anyone book a room in months, but that was beside the point. Thaddeus worked a few hours sweeping and dusting and mopping, glad for the exertion to warm him despite the chill air. Light began peeking through the shudders as he was just finished restocking the kitchen from the supplies in the cellar. Thad unbolted the shudders and locked them in the open position, more of a formality at this point but the routine helped him focus.

As was his custom, Thaddeus headed out the door, locking it behind him and not bothering to leave a note – everyone knew where to find him at sunrise. Thad headed to the outskirts of town, though it only takes about 5 minutes he finds himself lost in thought as his body navigates its way. He finds himself seated in his usual resting spot amidst a few other dilapidated and crumbling headstones, some even worn to the point where you couldn’t see the inscription. The one he sat next to was brand new, and had a few elaborate designs chiseled by his strong hands some months passed. Thaddeus rested and chatted to the empty air for a good while, letting her know that he’d caught up with the rooms in the Inn and that even the king himself would be proud to stay in them.

“Well I better get back,” he reluctantly rose to head back to his Inn. “Everyone in town is doing great, I know you’re happy to hear that. We sure do miss you though! He forced himself to say cheerfully, lapsing into a brief silence. “I miss you” he whispered quietly, turned and started the walk back. He hurried back to his solitude behind closed doors. The townfolk were his friends and family now, but he found himself wishing they would reminisce less and just let him stare into space a bit more. Still, they wouldn’t start rolling in for another few hours until lunch, it was time to get the kitchen started.

Thad was shocked upon his return! waiting at the door to the Inn was a stranger he hadn’t met before, a rare enough site as it was. This stranger also looked clean and groomed, though traveling alone so he couldn’t be too important. He didn’t look particularly young or old in any way, and was as outstandingly average as could be.

“Good morning!” he called to the stranger. “My apologies on the wait friend, I just had some business to attend on the other side of town. Please come in.”
Thad unlocked the doors and let the man pass, before going to grab the firewood to warm the room.

“No trouble at all, I’d only just arrived” the man stated dismissively. “I was hoping to find a place to stay a few nights while waiting on an associate, do you have any rooms available?”

Available was an understatement, Thad thought to himself. “Sure I do, Altoon doesn’t get many visitors so you’re welcome to stay as long as you like. Have you eaten today?”

Thaddeus and the man, a cobbler named Michel, discussed the price for the room and food for the next 3 days. They also discussed a few dishes the bigger cities were doing in the kingdom of Tyrel where he’d just come from, and Thad set about replicating a few. Breakfast was needed and he knew the townfolk were always happy to try out the latest fashions in food and wardrobe, albeit in their own ramshackle and discounted ways.

Michel thanked Thaddeus and complimented him on his rendition of the cuisine, and then retired to his room. Thad was glad for the silence once more, though he enjoyed working in the kitchen and was grateful to have an excuse to burn the next several hours away doing just that.

Kerrick the baker wandered in just before the sun started its downward descent, signaling the start of the rest of his day. “Hullo Thad, daily delivery for you, just brought this lot out of the oven before shutting down for the day.” Upon saying this, Kerrick heaved a heavy basket of crusty bread onto the counter, piled high with rolls. Margaret had worked hard to setup various partnerships around town. Now each night, everyone from town brought a small something to share and the all would eat and enjoy each others’ company for a few hours.

Sighing inwardly, Thad picked up the basket with a grin, turning to head back to the kitchen. “Thanks Kerrick” he said, gesturing at one of the stools. “Have a seat, you’re early as usual.” Thad and Kerrick chatted for a while about the upcoming farm season as it was only a few months off. A few others trickled in during this conversation and gave their input.

Soon, most of the regulars were there, which was at least over half of those living in Altoon. Conversations started branching and changing and getting louder, the dining room was alive with conversation and hazy with the smoke and smells of the roasting food.

“Oi Thad! The Inn looks marvelous lad!” Grohm, one of the elder men was lounging next to the fire, letting his gaze drift. “It reminds me of ol’ Maggie” he continued to numerous agreements from the others.
“Sure does, Thad. You’re doing so well, do let us know if you could use any help at all!” Grohm’s wife Lissette added.

Thaddeus smiled sadly. Maggie was Margarets nickname, first by the children and then adopted later by the adults in town. She hated it, he liked to tease her by using it when they were alone. “Thanks Grohm, Lissa, but I can handle this old place just fine, thanks. I’d never get any peace in the afterlife if I became a derelict as soon as she wasn’t watching me.”

The conversation cut abruptly as the front door banged against the wall. A middle aged man limped through the door, dust and mildew heavily wafted in with him. The ragged clothes and unkempt beard suggested at least a few weeks on the road. The room was as still as night as he scraped the floor to the counter in front of Thad, not seeming to see anyone as he pushed his way through the crowd.

“I need a room and whatever you’ve got to eat” his voice almost a growl, he glanced at Thaddeus and Kerrick who was nearby, returning his gaze to the counter.

“You the cohort the other guy was waiting for?” Thad asked, hopefully.
The newcomers’ gaze soured. “Ain’t nobody waiting for me I should hope” he rasped, tossing a Tyrel copper across the counter at Thad that he allowed to drop to the floor. “Just give me a room and shut up”

Thad could feel the room turning against the traveler and was starting to feel irritable himself. “Sorry stranger, I’m not taking a single copper coin. Ten copper for the food, 20 for the room. And your name for the book.” This was basically true, if you counted the insulting-the-Innkeeper’s fees.

The grizzled stranger slumped at a nearby table and scowled. “I don’t care, call me Gareth, give me the damn-” he interrupted whatever he was about to say by pulling a flask from his flimsy jacket and taking a swig, and visibly drawing a deep breath. Thad opened his mouth to reply when he realized the man had also flipped a coin through the air as it landed neatly in his apron pocket. Wide-eyed, Thad stared at the silver, easily worth all five of the meager rooms upstairs. Shrugging, he waved his hands gently to ease the townfolk. “Easy now guys, the old man’s probably just weary from travel. Let’s get him fed and slept and I’m sure it’ll be fine”

Pivoting his large frame, Thad inserted the silver into his secured chest and gathered up a dish for the angry man. Thad didn’t like his attitude of course, but he didn’t actually care either. It was almost like being offended out of propriety more than anything. Setting the food on the table, Thad let a key drop next to the plate as well. “Last room on your left, just up the stairs across the way” he directed.

Thad returned to the counter for some half-hearted conversation, but it seemed the townspeople had lost their luster by this point. Sullen stares and unspoken insults were flung in the direction of the newcomer, but everyone had too much respect for Thad to sully his reputation by accosting someone inside his Inn. Everyone drifted out a bit early tonight.

Thad chuckled. If some poor manners were all it took to get some time to himself in the afternoon he was going to have to take notes. The sun was even still up! There’d been no sign of Michel since that morning, Thad wondered what he was up to all day, normally guests would eat more than once. Thad knocked lightly on the door on the right at the top of the stairs, though the sudden stillness made it seem to boom and echo. There was no answer. He shrugged, who was he to judge someone for staring at a wall all day.

The stranger gruffly made his way up the stairs, shoving Thad in the process. He couldn’t tell if it were deliberate since the strangers’ walk was so accented by that limp, so he just let it go. “I’ll be shutting the kitchen down soon so let me know if you need anything, I’ll open it up again after sunrise, so if -”

SLAM

He didn’t bother finishing the sentence, instead returning to his melancholy desk behind the counter. The rest of the night was dreary and uneventful, Thad found himself getting drowsy before he’d cleaned up for the day. Well, best get to bed early, what was the point in cleaning now, what would he do when he woke in the morning anyway. Thad took special care to lock down anything that would be valuable and moved all the money from the chest behind the counter to the buried safe he kept in the cellar. He didn’t want anyone thinking about taking back their room fees.

Thad lie in bed a long time that night. There was a gaping chasm in the void next to him, the physical manifestation of loneliness sapping his will, yet refusing to allow him the sweet release of sleep. He allowed himself to breathe the smokey aroma of the fires he’d kept going most of the day. The thick smells of food that wafted through the rooms, hours after any food had been cleared away. He allowed himself to reflect on his breathing, smooth and steady. His heartbeat, steadily drumming away the night.
Thad bolted upright in bed. The room was cool, yet he was drenched in sweat, heart pounding. He listen silently for any sounds in the quiet night. Altoon was deathly silent at night and it used to unnerve him, but he’d grown accustomed over the years. Thad forced his heart to slow. He’d been dreaming of her again. Thad wasn’t superstitious, but he felt through the core of his being that she’d been next to him just now. His bed suddenly shuttered, a bolt of shock hitting him like lightning. It sounded like a battering ram out there!

Thad threw on some quick clothes and snatched up the large knife he kept in his room. Moving slowly and silently, listening after each step, Thad made his way upstairs. When he arrived in the main room, he recognized the the gangly strangers’ coat from behind, hanging in tatters. He was facing Michel in a threatening pose, whereas the cobbler seemed at ease.

“You’re a slippery snake, Mor’gard. I knew you couldn’t resist battering these folk some more, but I’ll be endin’ that tonight.” As he spoke, the scruffy man dug into a thin pocket and produced a transluscent sword. Fiery runes glowing down the sides that pierced the darkness as he brought it to bear, and then dimmed once more. The runes seemed to flicker hungrily, as though the sword were actually on fire. He loosened his stance and crouched a bit lower to the ground it appeared to be in preparation for a pounce.

Thaddeus made his presence known by clearing his throat loudly, taking care to keep his distance from the madman with the glowing sword. “I’ll not have you killing strangers in my Inn! This man’s name is Michel, what business do you have attacking others in this town!” Keeping his butcher’s knife held high as if to deflect any sudden blows, Thad inched to the quiet man standing in front of the attacker. “I’ll not have any bloodshed!” His voice became louder and deeper to feign the confidence he didn’t feel.

“Get away from him fool! This man will kill everyone without hesitation. He has been forsworn by my leigelord, and so his life is forfeit for his crimes.” Gareths’ eyes were as wild as his sword, focused intently on his target. With a fluid motion, he whipped a small metallic bead from his jacket and flicked it over Thad’s shoulder. He knew it missed Michel as he saw the man sidestep from the corner of his eye, but he wasn’t expecting the 6-inch hole that small bead left in his kitchen door.

“Reapers eat you, what are you?!” Thad demanded. He’d heard of mages who preyed on those who couldn’t defend themselves, but he didn’t think anyone with power would bother ever visiting Altoon. A sudden lunge from Gareth stopped his wild imagination. Before he had time to react to the movements, a cold numbness pierced him like an arrow. His back felt icy, then nothing. His legs and arms started to tremble violently, throwing him to his knees. “I. w-w-wha-” his throat convulsed, cutting off anything he’d been about to say. Thad leapt facefirst into the floorboards, his body tight and unyielding.

Michel chuckled softly from behind his field of vision. “His wife’s spirit has been…reluctant to let go, she was causing quite a delay in my work. I thought I’d bring them closer together and use them to feed my ghost-walker.”

Thad’s mind reeled, both from the inability to feel below his neck, and the words coming from this man. Wife? Spirit? Was it Margaret he meant? It was hard to focus as he fought unconsciousness. Thad fixated on the idea of his wife, the sweet smell of her after a hard days work. Running his hands through her silken hair. He wasn’t sure what was happening to him, and while Thad found it immensely easy to focus inwardly he was getting a bit concerned that he could no longer feel his heartbeat. Thad fought to focus his eyes to keep from dropping unconscious. The only thing he could see with any clarity from his vantage point on the floor was Gareth, though he wasn’t quite sure he could trust his eyes at this point. Gareth’s sword was shimmering in the air, washing Thad in waves of heat and seemingly lighting up the entire common room.

“Ghost-walker my ass, the only thing you’ll be feeding are the worms you demon!” With this declaration, Gareth seemed to scratch a series of archaic symbols into the air itself, leaving an electric taste in the Innkeepers mouth – the taste of the air before a storm.

Suddenly, Thad’s eyes were engulfed in the flames of the brightest light he had ever seen in his thirty years. Accompanying the light was an explosion to rival the sound of a thousand trees exploding at once. Ears ringing, eyes filled with painful dancing spots – Thad wasn’t sure if it was him screaming or someone else. The taste of copper triggered a small part of his mind that conjured an image of being nursed by Maggie after spilling facefirst into a pile of bricks a few years back. Was that his blood? Thad fought his arms, willing them to follow his commands. Move, damn you! He slammed his eyes open and closed quickly in succession to regain some semblance of sanity. His vision started fading back in, his eyes snapped to the first thing he could think of.

Gareth’s horrified expression looking over him was not reassuring.

Thad blinked several more times to clear his eyes, something sticky and slimy was sliding down his face and he didn’t want that blinding him again. Revolted, he noticed a coagulated pool of blood sitting under his cheek. Was that in his mouth! He did his best spitting out what he could, scraping his tongue on his teeth. A heavy foot trod suddenly on his ribs, smashing the air from him and it sounded like probably cracking a rib or two.

Gareth danced backward a few paces nimbly, sword held aloft.”What have you done?! Have you no sense of right and wrong? Have you no soul?!”

The shambling figure crossed over Thad leaving behind a fragrance somewhere between the weeks after a large battle and an infected open wound. Not for the first time, Thad found himself heaving, at odds with the lungs that wanted to pull more of this putrid air into his mouth. Two more figures slowly ambled to the side of him, allowing him to glance what appeared to be a rotting corpse on its own two feet. Blinking several times, the visage of horror remained. Was this real? His arms trembled violently as he tried to roll into a sitting position, though much stronger than before. One of the disgusting creatures turned to peer at his feeble struggles. Turning, it advanced on him with outstretched hands. The flesh seemed to melt from the bone, the horrid nails more akin to talons on this wretched thing’s gnarled hand. Thad recoiled backward, managing to scoot a few inches. The decomposing hands grabbed his face and hair firmly, dragging Thad by his face to meet it’s mouth. His entire body shuttered and threw himself backward, leaving quite a bit of hair with the monster and certainly losing a few pieces of his cheek.

That firey sword sang through the night as it cleaved the head from this monstrosity, Gareth leaping back out of range of the other two that were closing on him. Using the same technique from earlier, Gareth quickly scratched out new symbols into the dank night air and punched the one in the center with fury. With this final gesture, several tables splintered themselves against the abominations, hurling one through the wall of the Inn and the other flying close to Thad fast enough to feel the wind on his face.

“Mor’gard, not even your pathetic necromancy will save you this night. I’ll be taking your body and soul to my master, you’ll feed the dogs and your soul will clean the toilets! This is better than you deserve for your crimes.”

“Gerard my old friend,” Michel…or Mor’gard, sauntered behind the counter, putting one of his creations between him and the furious vagabond. The man calmly removed something from his pocket and snapped it, flipping the pieces away from him. As he did, the debris of the tables was flung into the air, joined by several more tables and all stacking neatly against the outside door and windows in the common room. “We have power Gerard, this means we rule the peasantry. I’m guilty only of using trash to fuel my work, of accomplishing something only I dare to accomplish. Does it matter if we have a few less rabble in the world?” Simultaneously to his last word, Mor’gard snapped his fingers, immediately igniting the tables against the exits. “I’m curious what happens when I use another mage. Please, die here. I simply must find out.”

Gerard jammed the sword into the planks at his feet and spread his arms wide, a foreign chant reverberating through his chest and bouncing around the room.

Thad watched in fascination, forgetting his mortality with the display of power between these two. Glancing to Mor’gard, he saw the man grimace and swipe his own knife along the entirey of his arm, blood fountaining and pooling under him. The room seemed to plummet as Thad’s stomache leaped into his throat, sudden blackness hitting him almost with a physical force. He noticed swirls of light surrounding him, staring into an abyss for what seemed like hours before realizing that he was actually seeing the fire in the Inn. The blackness was a fluid manifestation that encircled him tightly, but never seemed to touch him. As quickly as it came, the darkness vanished. Thad noted both creations on either side of Gerard and closing fast, the old man seemed not to notice.

“Look out!” Struggling to rise unsteadily, Thad wasn’t sure what he was even doing getting up but it was all he could think of. Gerard was still chanting in his impossibly deep voice, Thad swore his bones were rattling. Swaying on his feet and holding a counter for support, he made sure to back away from Mor’gard and not turn his back to anyone. Gerards’ sudden shriek pierced his head, his entire being shattered in an instant. Forcing his eyes open, Thaddeus witnessed Gerard radiating the same light as before, the two monsters on either side of him jerked up into the air before exploding, bones and organs painting the inside of the common room. Thad’s world spun as something heavy hit him in the face, knocking him back down and nearly out. A grotesque thud told him whatever it was landed right next to him. Opening his eyes, Thad’s world crumbled as he gazed into the smiling face of his wife. His mind whirled at the implications and questions, sweeping him away in a furious storm of emotion. He snapped back to reality to a gleeful cackling.

“This is delicious poetry, reuniting with your dead wife as she dies all over you once again” Mor’gard supported himself against the counter behind Thad, beside himself in his own twisted humor.

Thaddeus Mason was not and had never been a violent man. Drowning himself in the gaze of what used to be his wife, he severed the tide of memories that tried washing over him in that face. Thad’s vision trembled, his entire body felt on fire. Slowly rising to his feet, he tuned out the world to face his wife’s murderer.

Heaving to catch his breath, the evil mage continues. “I’ve been using villagers for years, but I don’t think I’ve ever gotten to laugh quite so hard. My thanks.” His smile soured into a sneer as he glanced to Gerard, kneeling on one knee and holding the pommel of his dimmed sword. “You’re weak Gerard, I expected to at least live a little tonight. It seems using your corpse would be the same as the rest of the trash after all. Let’s wrap this up and I’ll use this fat oaf to-HNG”

Thaddeus lifted the mage from the ground easily, squeezing his throat and crushing the windpipe with an inhuman grip. This man was the reason Margaret was gone. This man was the reason his beautiful wife was snuffed out like a candle. Thaddeus fed his rage with all the pent up frustration at watching his merry wife slowly waste away. Remembering her struggles to mount the steps from their room, her eyes pleading with him while she forced a smile to make him feel better. His arms began trembling, and he noticed suddenly that he was pouring blood onto the ground as Mor’gard stabbed his shoulders and chest time and again, more and more feebly. Thad renewed his crushing grip, satisfied by the grinding and snapping he felt under his hands. Thaddeus was not a violent man, but he would die this night with revenge.

The necromancer stopped flailing with his knife as his eyes rolled back into his head. He weakly drew his black dagger from its sheath on his chest and plunged it into his throat with a sickening squelch. The rushing wind and screeching howls comforted him as the ghastly shadows emerged from his body and greedily drank the blood flowing from inside him.

Thaddeus let the body crumple to the ground, staggering against an onslaught of raging shadows and doing the same. Lying on the floor and gazing into the flames which now engulfed almost the entire Inn, Thad drifted off to thoughts of meeting his wife in the beyond.

____

Thaddeus Mason lay silent, still. Was he dead? He tentatively tried raising a hand and shrieked in agony as his nerves lit themselves on fire. Heavy boots and muffled shouting lend credit to the not dead theory. How? The door is flung outward and Thad is slightly comforted to hear his old friend next to the bed.

“Thaddeus! Gods above man, are you alive?! Are you awake?!”

Thaddeus opens his eyes briefly, quickly squeezing them shut in the blinding presence of a single candle. He opens his mouth, but no sound emerges.

“Ye’ve been out over a week, son. Not rightly sure why or how you survived, but the shadows take me if I’m going to let you die now.” The old physician paced about the room, it sounded like he was opening and closing drawers and cabinets, the sounds were familiar, but amplified hundreds of times in his sensitive ears. “Here m’boy, let’s see about some water”

A wrinkled hand slide under his head and tilted him to the side. The water felt like ice sliding down his throat, but after a few sips he definitely felt a difference.

“What-” his voice was a croak, speaking was too much to bear. The old man recounted something to him but everything was hazy, and Thad quickly sunk back into darkness.

____

Thaddeus opened his eyes tentatively. The light no longer pierced him like a hot knife, so he blinked experimentally a few times. Taking in the room around him, he didn’t recognize any part of the dim furnishing. The bed he lay in was very low, and no windows were around to tell him what time of day it was. A single candle danced on a sidetable, illuminating the dark. Thaddeus tried speaking, but received a fit of coughing instead. The door opened immediately, Grohm’s concerned face materializing in the entrance.

“Thaddeus m’boy, you up again?” The old man hobbled into the room followed by his wife. “Well look, you can open yer eyes! This is wonderful progress lad.” Grohm went about the room pulling out wads of cotton and cups of water and settling everything onto the table next to Thad. “I was just thinking time was come to get those bandages changed, them holes in you been healing up right nice”

The following few minutes were extremely uncomfortable as Lissette held various clothes and bandages for Grohm and Thad discovered he was stark naked under the blankets. His eyes popped out of his head for a moment, drawing a chuckle from the old physician. “Don’t worry Thad, Lissette’s seen a thousand men or more wearing less than you are now, no need to be shy after this week.”

Thad winced as an icy concoction hit his skin over one of the puncture wounds.”What?” he croaked, nodding toward the jar in Grohm’s hand.

“Not sure, I figured you could tell me. Found you slathered in it on my porch about ten days ago now was it?” Glancing to Lisette for confirmation.
“That’s right dear, about ten days back we found you washed up on our porch in the middle of the night wearing nothing but this gel. We was hoping you could tell us what it was, since you wrote down the instructions to use it.”

Thaddeus let the soft pillows cradle him. Instructions? “The Inn?”

“I’m afraid it’s gone boy. Not sure what started the blaze, but it took the Inn and the garden both. Been treating burns all week for the lads who tried to save it, we’ve all been hoping you’d be okay”

Tears rolled unheeded onto his pillow as Thad took it all in. Why was he still here? What was even left? Thaddeus stared at the ceiling, sinking back into darkness.

____

Thad stood in his normal spot, right behind the counter in front of the kitchen. Well, what was left of them. Charcoal and ash littered the ground, lying where they fell some three weeks ago. He fought his way through debris down into the cellar he’d dug with his own two hands not even five years ago. Noting with satisfaction that the ground above his buried safe was untouched and unmarred, he decided to wait to dig that up until he could hold a shovel again. Grohm made it clear that in no uncertain terms was he to lift anything, touch anything, or even think anything. Thaddeus drifted among the ruins of his life for a few more minutes lost in thought. Margaret would have already had the Inn rebuilt by now, ready to accommodate friends and family. He’d decided from the depths of the darkened room the best thing to do would be to rebuild and share his life with the friends he had surrounding him. Moping and depressing himself was no way to honor the name of someone as great as Margaret Mason, and she would be furious if she’d have witnessed his behavior these last months. Heaving a great sigh, Thad allowed the smells to engulf him for a moment before turning on his heel and walking back to old Grohm’s house. It would be weeks at best before he could set about rebuilding.

____

Sweat stings as it pours into Thad’s eyes. Even in the mild temperatures of spring, the exertion of ripping the bones of his old Inn out was exhausting. Thaddeus found himself comforted by the familiar heft of his hammer, by the deep burning of his muscles as he grappled with the lumber being used to frame the new Inn. The last few planks were in place, completing the frame of his new Inn. Thad contemplated the new gardens’ location for a few minutes as a shadow fell across him. He and the stranger stood in silence a few minutes while he selected the best spot.

“Sorry friend, we’re all out of rooms for the night. You’ll have to move on to Tyrel to get lodging the next few months.” Thaddeus moved to wrestle another load of wood panels across the lot to get everything in place for rebuilding.

“I’m glad to see you well, Thaddeus”

The strangers’ gruff voice grated across Thaddeus as he recalled the owner of this voice. Thad whirled to face the man. He let his hammer fall to the ground as he remembered the shabby old man, now dressed fit to be king.

“I’m deeply sorry for your loss Thaddeus. I hunted Mor’gard day and night, chasing him all over the kingdoms for years. You helped me stop a monster Thaddeus.” A cloud of charcoal dust swept up as Gerard dismounted his mountainous horse. “It may not mean much to you lad, but you’ve saved a great many people by ridding the world of an evil man. My lord bid me return to you with your share of the bounty placed on Mor’gard. If you permit, I wish to help you finish this Inn as well.”

Thaddeus glanced between the stranger and the skeleton of his future home. “I’m afraid I can’t offer you anything in return, Gareth. No, Gerard. Is that who you are?”

The mage smirked knowingly. “Gerard is my name, in service to his majesty King Illiume III. I’ve been granted a year to myself however. I tracked Mor’gard for years, the things I encountered will haunt me a lifetime. I wouldn’t have brought you money if I’d expected to be paid for my services however, I wish to rebuild the lives I’ve touched, and I think the exertion of building an Inn will do me good.” With this, Gerard removed his brilliant and obviously magical cloak, setting it in his saddle and rolling up his sleeves. Pausing, he turned to his horse. “Gwenyvere, be a darling and take this with you back to Leariel, I’ll retrieve it upon my return.”

Thaddeus let out a low whistle as the horse galloped out of sight in less than a minute. He turned his attention to the task at hand, handing Gerard the hammer and picking up another set of panels. “Follow me.”

Story Time with Tina

Hey guys, Tina here!

So as I am getting ready to lay out the next GGGS, I wanted to take a break and share some of my own personal work. I like to write short stories as a way of dealing with my PTSD and bad dreams. I have been working with a Therapist on all of this and she agrees that writing the short stories that I just blast out are a great way to process my emotions and fears. So I am going to work on transferring some of my old work over to this blog but I wanted to see if I could work out a story for today’s post. So, without further ado, I give you my very short story.

Also note, If you want to listen to what I listen to when I write these stories here is the link. My Muse.

Trigger Warning: You are going to be reading something from a really fucked up mind. You WILL read something you don’t like or might make you feel uncomfortable. I want to take the time to say, If you have sensitivities of any kind to stories that have to do with things that might upset you. Don’t read this. Giving a specific would kill the mood of the story so just use your own judgment.

Also, apologies in advance for using ‘bad words’.

Deep Sleep

I sat up straight from a dead sleep. My head dripping with sweat, my hands shaking. The nightmare had pulled me in once again.

Dreams have always been a burden to me. Taunting me with wishes far out of reach or wrapping my deepest fears around me like a soiled bandage. All the pain and suffering, I could still feel on my arms as I looked them over in the dim light of my flickering tv. No scars, scrapes or bruises to mark the torture I had just endured. My hands were pale and stung from the returning blood. They had lost circulation as I had used them to rest my head on. I flung my legs over the side of the bed and waited a moment for the rest of my mind to understand what I was about to do.

Slowly I stood and started walking off toward the bathroom. I hadn’t pissed the sheets yet but I needed to go. I walked past the dim yellow nightlights that dotted the outlets of the hall. I lived alone so I never risked anyone laughing or questioning my need for light all the time. My feet found the cold, hard tile as I stepped into the bathroom. I reached around on the wall to flip the switch, looking forward at the mirror awaiting my reflection. With the sudden blast of light, I saw a familiar face behind my own just over my shoulder. The face of a very old woman who had lived near my family when I was a child. Her angry furrowed brow dipped down in disappointment.

As suddenly as I gasped at her face, I blinked and she was gone. My lungs were burning as I attempted to take slow steady breaths. I leaned on the frame of the door looking down at my feet. My eyes, searching the darkness behind them looking for any danger. After regaining my mind and breath, I finished walking in and pushed the door closed behind me. I didn’t need to be in there long but I didn’t want the darkness unshielded behind me. Standing over top the bowl with one arm braced on the wall in front of me, I let go of the flood. Wrapping up I tucked everything back into place and turned to the sink to wash up. The sink was filled with a sickly looking brown waste water. As though someone had connected it with a sewer. I shook my head and looked again to see nothing wrong. Fucking nightmares playing tricks on me even now. I couldn’t wait to get back to bed and see what they could come up with then.

I washed up and dried my hands on my towel hung from the door. I flung open the door to find the full figure of the same old woman standing in front of me. I blinked, but this time she didn’t leave. I backed up a bit and pushed the door shut. I moved backward until my ass came in contact with the counter of the sink. Feeling the wetness of the water I turned around to see her face looking back at me instead of my own reflection. Jumping backward, I slammed against the door. Her face had vanished. I felt something brush my foot and looked down to see grasping, bony fingers, skin loosely wrapped around them and wrinkled with age reaching out to touch me. I hauled ass into the tub and sat there crying like a fucking kid for a good half an hour.

Nothing else happened as I carefully maneuvered out of the bathroom and practically ran to my bed. No one to watch as I pulled out my childhood friend Bare bear. The same raggedy old toy I had been given when I was a small child. I sat on the bed, back to the wall, and watched the room for any signs of movement. I started to drift off here or there, shaking myself to be awake and watch for the bitch I knew couldn’t be real.

At some point I had lost to my body’s need for rest. Waking up with the sunlight pouring down on my face. I felt different, the overall heaviness that had been haunting me for days seemed to have vanished. My fears all melted away. I even left Bare bear on the bed, instead of hiding him from anyone who might come around. Not that anyone ever did. I made my way into the living room and sat down on the couch. My tv always on. Fuck the bills, I found ways to keep on lights all around regardless. I sat there for what felt like only mere minutes when I turned and noticed the sun had set. Where had all the time gone?

I walked back down the hall to my bedroom. Keeping an eye on the creeping corners of darkness that were starting to impose themselves. Turning into my room I saw it. The single thing that I had always feared to find. My own body laying on the bed with a rash of pill bottles laying all around and a note neatly folded on the foot of the bed. It had a tear-filled outline of my living horrors and my need for help but inability to find it. I smiled and laid down next to myself. Falling asleep and dreaming of the same nightmares as always. They couldn’t hurt me, cause they weren’t real, but neither was I anymore.

A tale of a new tale

Kris here,

I’ve been having a pretty tough time thinking of a topic to write about this week since Tina and I have been spending a lot of time writing a short story together. Well okay, I’ve been playing a bunch of Overwatch and Minecraft recently, and also working with Tina on a short story. But I’m not here to talk about my shortcomings as the worst battlemercy, I’m here to talk about the story! Recently Tina and I have joined the Fantasy Writer’s Undercroft on Facebook, a group maintained by two guys who make the Worldbuilder’s Anvil, a podcast I’ve been digging for the last few months. (PLUG! http://gardul.com/category/podcast/worldbuilders-anvil/) So like I was saying, we’ve been doing a huge load of writing, I figured hey I’ll write about writing again. We’ve been collectively working on a story that everybody takes a few hundred words at and passes it on, now we’ve started a new project.

Tina and I are basically the perfect pair to set together on a story because she cares about the people and stories, and I’m all about the world history and details – it practically takes care of itself! Except this writing exercise we figured should be a learning experience so that’s all out the window. The first decision we made was to write a story in first person because who in their right mind writes from first person perspective?? It can certainly be done, but I have a feeling it’s going to take some time to get the voice right and not sound like a robot with short term memory loss. The topic of course is going to be Sci-Fi so I can write about a computer while I’m on my computer. The goal here is to get a story from start to finish in roughly 10,000 words, which may sound like a lot to some of you but trust me, that’s like a 10 minute read. I can’t be dramatic in 10 minutes! I won’t give any more spoilers away because then everyone would yell “Spoilers!” and nobody would read when we posted it once it’s completed and then we’d all be sad.

So, anyone got any experience writing in the first person? If not, give it a crack! I certainly feel a lot more active since I started doing a lot more creatively, even though it sadly has prevented me from becoming a professional Gorilla Scientist. I’ll continue chasing my dreams to the ends of the Earth. Fictionally, I mean.