Wednesday, December 14, 2005

City of Mages, Chapter VIII

Amora of Tiesan, Niece of Xindor the Incredible, stepped out the door of her dormitory and onto the roof. Vivacia Brown, her roomate, followed her. In sharp contrast to Vivacia's gaunt, willowy figure and mousy face, Amora was beautiful. Her wavy blonde hair fell in short curls around her face, which was beautifully constructed around a pair of round cheekbones, huge eyes, and a cute little nose. She was, perhaps, a bit plump for an elf, but not in an unattractive way. For a human she would have been downright breathtaking.
Amora liked it up on the roof. Technically she was still protected by the ancient magic, but she had a decent view of the city and some fresh air.
"So what did your uncle want to see you about?" asked Vivacia, trying to force her tangled brown hair out of her face.
"I'm not sure," answered Amora. "Something about 'conducting myself in accordance with my position', No doubt. That's what it always is these days,"
"I don't know," answered her friend, "He seemed kind of urgent for just scolding you,"
"I'm sure if it's important I'll find out sooner or later," sighed the elf maiden.
"Well obviously," replied her friend, "You can't stay in Tiesan forever,"
The two stood there for a moment, gazing down at the city below them. Suddenly three figures came into view - a familiar tall one in a maroon robe and two short figures in the bright-colored clothing of the hill gnomes.
Vivacia sighed dreamily.
"Are you still on about Bogue?" asked her roomate.
The girl smiled coyly.
"He's too old for you, V. And I think he's gay. Besides, a witch and a wizard? Never gonna work,"
"I know," said Vivacia, "But a girl can dream, can't she?"
As she looked over at her friend, an idea crossed her mind.
"We're up here," said Vivacia, grinning mischieviously, "If you fired a love bolt at him, no one would know where it came from,"
"It doesn't work like that, V," said Amora, "I can't evoke directed emotions like love for a particular person. Just general love for people in general,"
"That's a lie, and you know it," accused Vivacia, "I know you used it on guys back in school,"
"Ok, so it might have made them a little more... open to suggestion, but it's definately not foolproof. If he see's me first, he might just fall in love with me,"
"Fire one anyway, please?" pleaded the human, "Look, they're about to pass by, and then it'll be too late,"
"Alright," said Amora, "One romantic love bolt, coming right up,"
She stood to her full height, drew back both her arms, then quickly clasped her hands together for about ten seconds. When she pulled them apart, a glowing rose-colored sphere was floating above her right hand. She hurled it downward, towards the creatures who had almost passed out of view.

On the way to Margold hall, Erdyn watched the tall, sandy haired Wizard guide them on their way. He seemed to be in a world all his own, and Erdyn thought it best to give him his space. Tiryn, on the other hand, was bursting with questions. she was jumping up and down in an attempt to better communicate with the Wizard, who was around three times her size.
"Are you really a wizard?" she asked, as if ready to explode with energy.
"Yes," Replied Bogue, distantly.
"What kind of Wizard are you?" continued the twelve-year-old.
"A Rune Master," answered Bogue, still looking at something that didn't appear to exist.
"What does that mean?" asked Tiryn.
"Tiryn!" said her brother grabbing her arm, "Stop bothering the man. Can't you see he's working on something!"
"No, it's quite alright," said Bogue, looking at him for the first time, "I enjoy talking about my work. Helps me figure out problems," He went back to staring distractedly at the air, and speaking his light, floaty tone. "A Rune master is a wizard who studies the ancient magic of runes,"
"What's a Rune?" asked the little girl, shooting her older brother a mischievous grin.
"A Rune is an intricately drawn symbol with magical properties. These days they're mostly used for summoning but - duck,"
For no apparent reason, the man bowed. Erdyn looked around and saw a pink sphere fly over the wizards hunched figure and hit him squarely in the face.
Suddenly he felt happy. He looked up and saw the two most beautiful women in the world arguing with each other. One was a voloptous elf maiden with beautiful blonde hair, the other a tall, thin human with long brown hair. As if in a trance, he walked towards the building where they were.

"He ducked!" said Amora, "How is this my fault?"
"Well," answered vivacia, "You could have waited until he wasn't looking!"
"He wasn't!" answered Amora.
"Then how did he know to duck?" asked her irate roomate.
"How should I know? Look, that was a human sized dose. That little gnome is gonna be head-over-heels for the next creature he lays eyes on, regardless of gender. We've got to find him!"
And with that she rushed off and down the stairs.

Erdyn walked purposefully towards Tiesan Hall, but was stopped shortly bye a hand on his shoulder.
"No men allowed in there," said Bogue. He had now somewhat awakened from his trance and was speaking quite clearly to Erdyn, though his voice still sounded a bit distant.
"Now listen to me," he said, turning Erdyn around to face him. Erdyn hadn't remember how strong and muscular he looked, how perfectly defined his facial features were, or beautiful his piercing green eyes, "You're not in love with anyone. You're feeling the effects of a powerful spell for which our benefactor's ward has a natural affinity. Still it should pass within a few hours. I highly suggest you return your room, take a cold shower, and try and forget all about it,"
"B-but" began Erdyn, "They're so beautiful. I have to -,"
"No you don't," said Bogue, "This is someone's idea of a prank, though a not very funny one in my opinion. Now please, I have been charged to take you to your rooms and I have lot of work to- what are you doing?"
Erdyn had begun stroking the Wizard's hair.
"Your hair," he said, "It's so soft, and blonde, and-"
"Dear Lord," said Bogue, with all trace of airiness gone, "It's worse than I thought. We have to get you to a curse-breaker, here we go, the nearest one's up int the tower,"
"That won't be neccesary," said a voice from behind him. He turned to see Amora walking briskly towards him, with Vivacia in toe.
"I assume this is your handiwork?" he asked.
"Yes," answered Amora, "And if you don't want to suffer the same fate, you won't tell my uncle about it,"
Erdyn detached himself from Bogue and ran to Amora, burying his face in her stomach. A smile flashed briefly across Amora's face, but she pushed him away and held him at arms length.
"You really think you can scare me Amora?" asked Bogue.
"Yes," answered the elf maiden, opening her right hand. A yellow sphere flew out of it towards the wizard, but he reached out with his wizards staff and caught it on the end, like a bubble-wand catching a bubble.
"Fear?" he asked, inspecting the bubble. He blew on it and it popped. "I think not,"
"Fine," said Amora, "I was going to counter my previous attack with a blast of cold, calculated hate, but I think I'll just redirect all this -" she gestured towards Erdyn, who was kissing her left hand as it tried to holfd her at arms length, "towards you,"
A crowd had begun to gather, anticipating a duel. Magic duels were the main form of entertainment in Errilliance.
"You and I both know you can't do that," said Bogue, leveling his staff at the girl, "Now countercurse him,"
"Give up, Bogue!," counter Amora, "You can't do any more offensive magic than he can!"
"No," answered Bogue, "But I could summon something that can,"
"Given a few hours maybe," answered the girl, "Or you could just promise not to tell my father anything, then I'll counter-curse the boy. C'mon, can't you trust me?"
As she said this, she opened her right hand again, this time letting loose a deep purple bubble, which Bogue easily dodged.
"Was that trust?" asked Bogue, "YOu're so predictable,"
"Please," said Vivacia, taking Amora's arm, I'll take full responsibility for this, just reverse it?"
"I'm not backing down," said Amora.
"What's all this about?" said a voice from behind the crowd. Bogue immediately lowered his staff and turned to face the sound. Amora took this opportunity to fire a small light blue bubble at his back, but it was popped in mid-air by a bolt from her uncle's finger.
"Young Lady," said Xindor the incredible, "My office, now!" He zapped her with another bolt, and she vanished, "Now, what's the meaning of all this?"

Friday, December 09, 2005

City of Mages Chapter VII

Xindor the Incredible was feeling rather flustered as he walked out of the Sorceror's guild Pyramid, so he was happy to see an old friend approach him.
"Halyn!" He called, hailing the oldest of the three approaching gnomes, "Welcome to Erriliance! If I'd known your carraige was in I would have gone to greet you. How was your trip?"
He reached Halyn and they shook hands.
"Not too bad," answered the bard, "But long. And we only just got in,"
"And is this the boy you wrote me about?" asked Xindor, indicating Erdyn, who was staring awe-struck at him.
"Yes," answered Halyn, "This is my brother, Erdyn. We think he may have sorceror powers,"
"Well," said Xindor, "We'll see about that. I've set up a testing session for him tomorrow where we'll determine if he's powerful enough for us to take him in. But first, I need to talk to you in my office,"
"It's been a very long day..." Halyn began, "If I could just-"
"Time," said the sorceror, "Is of the essence. I'll have someone show your brother and sister to their rooms. You come with me. Bogue!"
A man who was passing looked up. He had short reddish blonde hair, and was wearing a maroon robe with white symbols all over it.
"Yes?" he said looking up as if coming out of a dream. He looked around, then saw Xindor, "Oh, Hi Xindor!" he said, unexpressively.
"Show these two to their rooms, will you?" asked Xindor.
"Where are their rooms?" asked Bogue, confusedly.
"I've had temporary quarters set up for them at Margold Hall, by the Tower," answered Xindor.
"Ok," said Bogue, staring intently at nothing, "I think I know where that is. This way..."
He wandered off. Halyn shot his brother and sister a look that said "follow him", which they did, a little reluctantly.
"Bogue's a bit strange at times, but nice enough," said Xindor, "Now come with me. We have much to discuss,"
Xindor led Halyn into his office and shut the door. Then he waved he hands over the door and muttered a few words, and a blue field surrounded the room.
"Sound-proofing," Xindor explained, "The walls have ears,"*
"So," said Halyn, "What's so important you sent me all the way from the hills of Gloob, and so secret even the rest of the guild can't hear about it?"
He stared intently at Xindor, who stared back.
"Four years ago," began Xindor, "You wrote a ballad about me. As I remember it was rather popular,"
'Oh, definately," said Halyn, "Really jump-started my career, that number,"
"Yes," said Xindor, "Did wonders for my P.R., too. And such a catchy tune," he began humming the chorus.
Several verses later, Halyn was getting a bit impatient.
"Um... Xindor?" he said.
"Oh, right," said the sorceror, snapping out of it. "While my defeat of the goblins of Kobor was admirable, it's hardly a good summation of my character. I want you to write me new ballad, longer and a bit more serious,"
"If you don't mind my asking," asked Halyn, regardless of whether he did or not, "Why does this have to be said behind closed doors?"
"Because this ballad will determine how I'm viewed by future generations. YOu see, my dear Halyn, I'm dying,"
Halyn looked a bit shocked.
"What are you talking about?" said Halyn, "You look great! You could have twenty, thirty more years left. You're not.."
"I am," said Xindor, "I have two and a half at the most. But of couse I can't let on to anyone... It'd be mass chaos. Still, I need a song about all the great things I've done... a song to remember me by. And you're the only person I trust to write it,"
Halyn was quiet for a while, as he contemplated the magnitude of all this.
"I'm honored," he finally said, "I'll need several consultations with you so we can- "
"Oh, you'll get more than that!" interupted Xindor, "I want you to stay here watching me and taking notes until the end! Only then can you get a really good feel for my character. And you can write about how I faced the last great adventure with my chin held high! Xindor the Incredible's final farewell! What do you say?"
"Live here? But I'm not a magician**. And my brother and sister, they'll need someone to care for them,"
"If your brother shows any aptitude I'll make sure the guild accepts him. Your sister can study with the witches if she wants to. The hills of Gloob have produced some top-notch witches in the past. I'm sure they'll take her on. And even if not, she can still stay here. There are a few non-magicians around, and no one will dare harm you if you're under Guild protection,"
"I'll need time to think about it," said Halyn, after a minute.
"Unfortunately," said Xindor, "Time is the one thing I don't have,"

*In fact, only one wall in the Sorceror's guild had ears, the left wall of the entrance lobby. No one remembers how they got there.
**Umbrella term for Wizards, Sorcerors, Druids, and Witches (and even Wytches.) Anyone who uses magic is a magician.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

An Open Letter to my Readers

Dear Readers,
A lot has happened since I shifted this blog purely into a story-telling tool. Earthquakes, Hurricanes, wars, birth, death, and everything in between. But a few things have happened which actually have something to do with this blog, and those are the things I need your advice on.
If you know me, you know that I believe my writing doesn't come from me - it seems to come from some mysterious outside source I've dubbed my muse. She's tempermental and demanding, but until recently, she's been working for me rather than in other way around.
At some point in the last couple months, that stopped happening. It's taken me a while to figure out what she's been saying to me, but now I think it's pretty clear: You'll write what I want you to write, or I won't give you any more ideas.
This puts me in something of a fix, because she wants me to start five or six different stories and not finish any of them. Day after day I'm bombarded with incredible new ideas which I don't nearly have the time to write. My "idea file" have grown enormous. And try as I might, I cannot write another dragon story post without her inspiration. (Actually I've written several. They all sucked and I deleted them.)
So the way I see it, I have several options, none of them particularly good. I know the few readers I still have (how many of you are there now, three?) will kill me if I start another story, but I'm afraid of losing all this inspiration. Here's what I propose - I take a hiatus from the dragon story during which I edit, rewrite, and divide into decent length chapters what I already have. While this is going on, I will work on City of Mages, which will, eventually provide an outlet for many of my other story ideas (they can be adapted to the COM world.) Until December 1st, I will also be working on College essays and the Mirror of Truth play, so things may not move along much. After that, we'll see. Please comment to tell me what you trhink of this, and also, if you read this at all please comment to let me know you do.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

City of Mages: Chapter VI

Yes, I'm breaking my own rule. The dragon story needs to take a little break, though. Don't worry, it's not over. It's just being fussy, and this story isn't.

Brandon Darkwood gazed at the parokeet. Until a few minutes ago, it had been his half-sister, Jiuni. And it would, he was sure, be again in an hour or so, but at the moment she was a parokeet. This might have struck Brandon as odd, if not for the fact that this was the sixth such incident he had witnessed in the past two weeks. The high priests had pretty much been stumped after the first incident, but after the second (and the realization that Brandon had been the only one present at both), they had immediately suspected him to be the source. The priests had always been suspicious of Brandon due to his unusually light skin, a pale brown in sharp contrast to the jet black of most Xarnipians, and had blamed him before for strange happenings in the village. Fortunately for Brandon, his mother, the Queen of Xarnip, had advised them to seek an alternative solution, if they wanted to keep their heads attached to their bodies. The priests had quickly come up with a whole host of alternate solutions.
The Queen, for her part, seemed remarkably unconcerned about this strange wave of temporary transmogrifications. Whenever one of her servants, advisors, or numerous children would ask her about it, she would merely smile sagely and say she was sure it would all work itself out soon enough.
Brandon privately agreed with ther priests. Not only had he been there for every transformation, they had all happened when he was especially angry, annoyed, or even just bored with the victim. Juini, normally his favorite half-sister, had been going on about all the people she'd turn into animals if she had this power, utterly refusing to understand how involuntary it was, and suddenly she'd found herself a parokeet. Brandon was trying to decide whether or not to alert anyone of this when he heard footsteps in the doorway. He looked up. His mother was staring down at him.
The Queen of Xarnip was an immense, dark-skinned woman, covered from head to toe in various types of jewlery her erstwhile husband had brought her from all over the world. Her wild, fluffy hair was currently tamed in what seemed like millions of tiny braids.
"Where did you get that parokeet?" she asked commandingly. She was not especially angry; that was how she always talked.
Brandon decided not to lie. "It's Jiuni," he said.
"I figured as much," answered the large woman. She turned to address the little bird.
"What are you still doin' here girl?! You can fly! Fly on outa' here!" She walked over, picked up her daughter, and threw her out the window with an amazing amount of force. Just before she hit the ground, she managed to get airborne and steady herself. She turned and flew away.
"Now don't you fly to high, lest you turn back into a little girl and break yo' neck!" her mother called back after her.
"Mother," asked Brandon, respectfully, but not timidly, "You seem remarkably unconcerned about all this,"
"Right you are," said the Monarch, "Right you are,"
"Might I assume you have some idea what's going on?" he continued.
"You very well might," answered the matriarch, "And if you'd stop interupting me I jest might let you in on it,"
Brandon wisely said nothing.
"Ma high priests may be mean-spirited and intolerant, but they's not stupid. YOu know as well as Ah do who's causin' all this,"
"Yes, mother," said Brandon.
"It's your father of course," she said calmly.
"What?" Brandon blurted out.
"Well, not directly obviously," she clarified, "He's halfway across the world. But he obviously passed some of his powers on to you. I was hopin' that wouldn't be the case, but now that it's happened, ain't nothin' we can do but take advantage of it,"
Brandon didn't know much of his father, the notorious sorceror pirate. He remembered anticipating visits from him, up until he was about six, when he had inexplicably stopped coming, and his mother had made a decree that no mention of him be made in the land of Xarnip. Naturally, his memories had been fading since then. His mother continued.
"Anyway, you'se a sorceror now, boy. Ain't nothin' for it but to send you off to live with yo' own kind. Clayton will be here in a coupla' days to take you down to Erilliance, the City 'o Mages, where you'se gonn start a new life,"
"That's it?" asked Brandon angrily, "You're just kicking me out? Just like you kicked out Father?"
He turned to face her, and was surprised to find himself facing an unusually large hippopotomaus, looking ridiculous adorned in his mothers jewels.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

City of Mages Chapter V

Simile drifted through the leaves, beating her tiny wings to keep herself aloft. She turned and dove headed for the sound of off-key singing in dwarvish coming from the opposite side of the forest. Finally, as she broke through the canopy, she saw it's source. He was well build but short man, no more than 5'2", with a well-trimmed red beard and slightly pointed ears. As he sang, he was sharpening his axe on a rock. She flew up behind him and landed on his shoulder.
"Boo," she said.
The man jumped and flew the axe into the air. Simile took off and caught it before it hit the floor. It was five or six times larger than her little purple body, but she didn't seem to notice this, a fact which made the sight all the more comical.
"Simile!" said the man, in surprise. Immediately, though, the surprise lifted and he put on an air of carefully calculated charm. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"
"I'm afraid this is strictly a business visit, Dukalb," said the Doom Pixie, "Thurigen requested your presence. He didn't seem to happy, either,"
"How could you tell?" asked Dukalb, "It's not like you could read it on his face,"
"I've known Thuri a few years," answered Simile, "I can tell"
Dukalb laughed, a loud, percussive laugh, typical of his dwarfish heritage. "Thuri? I hope you don't call him that to his face!"
"Of course not," said Simile. "But he likes me. Which is definitely more than you can say, especially after you hear what he has to say to you now,"
"So you know what this is about?" Dukalb asked.
"No idea," answered the Pixie, running a hand through her bright green hair. "But as I said, he didn't sound happy,"
"Well," said Dukalb, "Best get this over with,"
"This way," said Simile. She flew off. Dukalb followed her, running to keep up.
A few minutes later, they reached a clearing with an enormous tree in the middle. The tree was an Erillian Yew, one of about three in existence. It was nearly as old as the city, and was something of a sacred spot for Druids. Thurigen had therefore decided to use it as his headquarters (inasmuch as he had them)
Today Thurigen was, for no apparent reason, appearing in the form of a fountain in the small ceremonial pool at the base of the tree. This was not really apparent until he spoke.
"Dukalb Argoldson of Virii," said the fountain. The voice was a mixture of Thurigen's usual booming voice and the gurgling of a fountain. "Explain yourself!"
Dukalb looked at him confusedly. "Explain what, master?" he asked.
"Do not try to play dumb with me Dukalb!" cried the fountain. It swelled in size, splashing water on him. "I know every Nymph and elemental in this forest. I know everything that happens here! I know that a birch tree near your house was destroyed by lightning last night!"
"Yes, well that is regrettable," answered Dukalb, turning on as much charm as he could possible muster, "But you're the one whose always taught us to let nature take it's course. If the tree was meant to be zapped -"
"The tree was not meant to be zapped!" boom-gurgled (burgled? No, that's already a word) the fountain, "Some Druid zapped it! Some Inept Druid who has never succeeded in controlling the weather, but decided to try it anyway, and ended up killing a perfectly innocent young tree! Some Dwelven Druid, I would guess, an irreverent, unthinking Dwelf who wanted to practice calling lightning in the middle of a forest!"
Dukalb thought for a moment, looking for a way out of this.
"Okay, so you got me," he finally said. "But it was an accident, and while I suppose I could have been a little more careful, these things do happen from time to time, and isn't that what this whole place is for, to learn and practice? SO should I really be punished for -"
"SILENCE" burgled the fountain. "Yes, training is one of the main functions of the forest of Erilliance. But what you do is not training! You're just practicing skills you don't have and not making any effort to learn them! So you haven't really learned anything in three years! And you're destroying things in the process!"
"I'm sorry," Dukalb answered weakly, "I-"
"I'M NOT FINISHED" roared Thurigen. "I'm going to make you an offer, and you're going to say yes or no, and then leave. If you say no, you will pack up all your things and be gone from the city by tomorrow morning, and if you say yes, you will be allowed to stay. Nod if you understand,"
Dukalb opened his mouth as if to protest, then thought better of it and nodded.
"Good," said Thurigen, "Now, you have a natural affinity for trees and stone, and for some reason a bit of skill in weather control. There is one other Druid in Erilliance who shares these powers. I have spoken with him, and he is willing to take you on as an apprentice. Is this acceptable to you?"
Dukalb swallowed. "Yes, Thurigen," he said.
"Very good," said Thurigen, "Grosk will meet you here tomorrow afternoon,"

It wouldn't be a bad idea to reread the Doom Pixie stuff at the beginning of this blog. I know I'm introducing a lot of characters in this story, and I'm sorry if that's confusing. I'm working on a guide to help you keep the plotlines straight.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Chapter 39: Bureaucracy

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, everything just seemed to get worse. My parents were acting especially strangly around me, Jason had stopped talking to me completely, and Mora was having no luck at all on discerning the writing. I had also failed my drivers test, and despite my fathers encouragements, I had decided to wait a while before trying again. One of the few bright spots was my lessons. I was becoming quite adept at using my dragon form, especially my stinger and my claws, and I was eager to start flying and ice-breathing, the last two components of my basic training. Unfortunately, secret flying lessons required special facilities to which we didn't have access, and Teresa said I wasn't "ready" to start learning to use my breath weapon yet. I found this odd, considering the "time is of the essence" attitude she'd been taking lately with my training. One day, as we were drilling Wyr'kaka moves in the gym, I decided to ask her about it.
"Believe me, Skyler," she answered, as she swung her tail around to try and trip me, "If it were up to me, that's what you'd be learning right now. But the bureaucrats on the Council have certain rules about this sort of thing,"
"What kind of rules?" I asked, jumping over her tail and side-stepping her incoming claw.
"You know that purple card I gave you?" she asked, as she swiped her head towards me.
I had almost forgotten the ID card I'd recieved more than a month ago. I'd hidden the thing in my dresser without really a second thought about it. I jumped back and curved my long neck down, trying to use it to knock her off balance.
"Yes?" I said.
Teresa stepped to her side, grabbed my neck, and swept me into a headlock with one arm. As she held my face against her chest, I wish for a moment we'd both suddenly turn human.
"The single silver stripe denotes a recruit," she said. "Thanks to Fintan O'Connell, recruits are no longer allowed to learn how to use their breath weapons. But don't worry. As soon as Thadius has a chance to inspect you, I'm sure he'll grand you a second stripe, and then you can learn anything,"
She finally let go of my neck. I went over to the bench and sat down.
"What's so dangerous about breath weapons?" I asked.
"You can go ahead and transform," said Teresa, walking over to her clothes. She quickly became a beautiful young woman again.
"Ostensibly," she continued, as I transformed and got dressed myself, "It's so young recruits don't light themselves on fire,"
"Ostensibly?" I asked, "What's the real reason,"
"You want my opinion?" asked Teresa, as she pulled her tank top over her head, "I think they just don't want anyone becoming that powerful unless they know their gonna work for us. It wouldn't be the first time a draconic's turned informant on an MLF cell,"
"Really?" I asked.
"Yeah," she said, "Five years ago about two thirds of our New York City branch was wiped out that way. I'm sure you heard about it,"
I vaguely remembered hearing something on the news about a "large terrorist cell" being shut down in New York about that time, but I wasn't really sure.
"Anyway, technically you have to be approved by the leader of the N.A. and three other operatives. I'm one, and Quentin and Pat are also going to vouch for you, so that just leaves Thadius. With any luck he'll see you in about a week,"
I went home hopeful. I was going to get to learn how to braethe ice, Catherine was coming home in a week, and Christmas was coming up. Things were looking up.

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Mirror of Truth: The Play

I am adapting the Mirror of Truth into a one act play for a scholarship competition. If it's good, it could win $1,000. Unfortunately, the adapting will require a lot of extra writing, as the play has to be about thirty minutes long and the story is approximately three. Still, I think it easier than starting from scratch. This will, however, probably cut into any time I might have for my other stories. But then, I can't win $1,000 for them.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

City of Mages: Chapter IV

Although the Tower of Doom is definitely the most impressive building in Erilliance, it is actually not the oldest. Tesian hall, build some 12,000 years ago, holds that honor. Back then, Erilliance was nothing more than a battlefield for powerful sorcerors and wizards trying to exploit it's incredibly high magical field. It was a dangerous, chaotic place to live, and people often lived in fear of whoever the most powerful magic user happened to be at the time. So twenty young women decided to form a cooperative to protect themselves, and they build Tesian as a place for them to stay. After order was brought to the city, the hall remained, as a boarding house for powerful young women. A Beautiful, gothic-looking, semicircular building, it is protected by an impressive array of enchantments, making it the only building from the old city to have survived the meteor shower and the hurricane. No male has set foot in Tesian in more than ten thousand years - it is said that a powerful curse will befall any who do.
That last part was precisely the reason Xindor the Incredible had wanted his niece to stay there after she decided to go to Erilliance to study magic. And it was precisely what was causing him so much trouble now.
"Look, I'm sorry," said a pale, gaunt witch named Vivacia Brown, as she peered out her doorway at the most powerful sorceror in the world, "But the curse won't discriminate between her old uncle and some mischievous young suitor."
"Then will you please go in and get her!" insisted Xindor, "This is important!"
"I'm sure it is," said Vivacia, "And I'm sure she'll be happy to see you as soon as she's available. She is otherwise occupied at the moment, however,"
"I'm warning you," threatened Xindor, "Lady Cecilia is going to hear about this.."
"Here about what?" said a familiar old voice from behind him.
"Lady Cecilia," said Xindor, bowing, "What a pleasant surprise. Perhaps you can talk some sense into Ms. Brown for me. She is your charge,"
"Oh hello, Vivacia!" said Lady Cecilia. Then she turned back to Xindor, "Unfortunately, we witches don't have nearly as strict a chain of command as your Sorceror's Guild. Amora still refusing to see you?"
"Apparently." said Xindor. He sighed. "Why is it that the only sorceror or sorceress in the whole city who won't listen to me is my own niece?"
"Because you pampered her too much, Xindor," replied the old witch,"You've taught her too expect special treatment. But your failings as a guardian aren't what I wanted to discuss with you,"
"Well, what was?" asked Xindor.
"In my office please?" asked Lady Cecilia.
"Mine's a lot closer," said Xindor.
"Alright," answered the witch.
"Do you mind if I teleport us there?" asked Xindor.
"Not at all," said Lady Cecilia.
They vanished.
They reappeared in front of the large pyramid which housed the offices of the Sorceror's Guild.
"You must be mellowing out with age," remarked Lady Cecilia as they stepped through the door, "Last time you landed us right in front of your desk,"
"I've redecorated recently," said Xindor, "So rather than risk landing us inside my desk, I opted to go for in front of the building,"
"Reasonable," said Lady Cecilia, "Reasonable, I suppose,"
Xindor threw open the double doors to his office.
The office looked very clean. It was, in fact, a mess, but Illusion had been Xindors first school of magic and he was still rather adept at it. He stepped behind his desk and sat down in the large comfortable armchair that was sitting there. Lady Cecilia narrowly avoided slipping on an invisible sheet of paper and sat down at the similar chair across from the desk.
"Now," asked Xindor, reclining in his chair "What's all this about?"
"Clay Darkwood is coming to Erilliance," said Lady Cecilia calmly.
Most of the Sorcerors who worked in the adjacent offices had never heard Xindor swear before. This changed rather quickly.
After Xindor had calmed down a bit, Lady Cecilia continued, in just as calm and level a voice as she had used to begin with.
"Clayton is bringing his son here to study with you," said Lady Cecilia. "I expect you to consider him as you would any other student, without taking into account your relationship with his father,"
"Of course," said Xindor iciliy, "The boy's done nothing wrong,"
"And I'm sure you'll treat his father with the same courtesy and respect you always afford the parents of prospective students," said the witch, in the same calm, level voice as before.
"That's the first time I ever remember one of your predictions being wrong," said Xindor, with a hint of a smile, "Perhaps I will be alive in three years,"
"If you harm him-" began Lady Cecilia.
"My good Lady Cecilia," said Xindor, cutting her off, "Matters between Mr. Darkwood and myself aside, he has committed a number of crimes against the guild, and those he must be brought to task for. Thank you for alerting me to his arrival. Good day,"
"I'm afraid I can't allow that," said Lady Cecilia,"I promised Clayton sanctuary while he was in the city,"
"Did you now?" said Xindor, "Well, that was outside your authority to do. Technically, we should bring this before the council, but seeing as that would require a special session, I'll agree to abide by that promise,"
"You will?" asked Lady Cecilia, a bit surprised.
"Yes," said Xindor, "I'll have to take Mr. Darkwood to task before he reaches the city,"

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The non-humans of Mittelmarch line up before a battle. I'm the one with the quarterstaff (it's Rook's) but the sidearm in my belt is mine. (It's Norbert.) Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Chapter 38: Two Lessons

The next several days passed rather uneventfully. Everytime I saw Mora I would ask her if she'd made any progress, and she would say no, until we got to the point where she would say no before I'd even asked her. My Dad kept bugging me to take the driver's test, not realizing that I had.. other lessons on my mind. Christmas break was fast approaching, and everyone thought it was about time, seeing as it had started snowing in October. I was looking forward to finally being able to talk over everything with Catherine when she came home for the holidays. On Thursday, I had a good lesson with Teresa - she and Kevin both worked to teach me the basics of Wyr'kaka, a Draconic Martial Arts form that makes use of claws, jaws, and tails instead of fists and feet. Kevin wore a ridiculous looking pad on his stinger to keep him from accidentally killing us as we sparred, and he made one for me as well.
At the end of the lesson, as we were all getting dressed, Teresa invited me to the MLF Christmas party.
"Secret Organizations have Christmas parties?" I asked incredulously.
"No," she answered, "But the NPO's that front for them throw really nice ones. And the guest list tends to be rather selective - people we can trust. It'll be a good chance for you to meet some of the guys,"
"What about my parents?" I asked.
"Catherine comes home in a couple weeks, doesn't she?" asked Teresa.
"Yeah," I said, "Why?"
"Well, we invited her too," answered Teresa. "You two can just tell your parents you're going out for some brother-sister bonding event. It's the day before Christmas Eve. It's always a lot of fun,"
"It's downright stupid, that's what it is," said Kevin. In human form, he was a small, unassuming Jewish-looking man with a goatee. "If anyone from the government got ahold of the guest list for that party, it could compromise your whole organization. And if anyone was captured -"
"Don't start that again," said Teresa. "It's a risk, but I think it's a worthwhile one. We could all use an excuse to be cheerful for a couple of days, and Christmas is as good a time as any,"
"That sounds good," I said. I wasn't really sure it did, but somehow I didn't think Teresa would take know for an answer. Besides, it might be good to meet other Draconics.
Other Draconics, I thought. When did I start taking for granted that I was one? It seemed odd to me that so recently the idea had seemed impossible.
I decided that I should be able to drive before I learned how to fly, so I called the BMV and scheduled my driving test for the next day. I decided I should really go driving with my dad to make sure I was ready.
He was delighted when I asked. We weren't spending very much time together, and I guess he felt a cut off from me lately. My dad was a very good driving instructor -patient, unobtrusive, but he knew when to jump in (i.e. if I was driving in the wrong lane or making an illegal right turn on red). After I'd driven around for a bit, he suggested we stop for a warm drink. We found little cafe and went inside. I ordered a hot cider, he had a coffee.
"Son," he said, as we waited for our drinks to arrive, "Is there anything you'd like to talk to me about?"
"No..." I said, trying to look as bewildered as I could.
"I was your age once myself, you know,"continued my father, "Whatever it is you're going through, I've probably been through it myself,"
Oh no you haven't, I was thinking, Not this.
What I said was, "I'm sure you have, dad, but really, I'm fine,"
"Alright," he said, obviously unconvinced, "And are you doing any better in PreCal?"
For a moment this failed to register with me. I was good at PreCal, at least decenty enough. Then I remembered my lie.
"I think the tutoring is helping," I said, "I'd like to keep it going at least until mid-terms,"
"It's good that your not afraid to ask for help, son," he said, "I don't know if I couldv'e said the same when I was your age,"
The conversation dragged on uncomfortably for a while, but my father didn't manage to drag the truth out of me. I think he felt almost as bad about interrogating me as I did about lying to him. I hoped eventually I'd be allowed to tell him the truth. I wasn't sure how much longer I could conceal it.

Monday, September 12, 2005


This is my audition monologue for The Magical Lamp of Aladdin. It is from the novel Going Postal by Terry Pratchett. I have recut it rather liberally.

Ah, Mr. Lipwig. You are aweake, I see. And still alive, for the moment. Shall I tell you about angels? I know two interesting facts about them.
Oh, yes, you were hanged. A very precise science, hanging, and Mr. Trooper here is a master. The slippage and thickness of the rope, whether the knot is placed here rather than there, the relationship between weight and distance - oh, I'm sure the man could write a book. You were hanged to within half an inch of your life, I understand. Only an expert standing right next to you would have spotted that, and in this case, that expert was our Mr. Trooper. No, Alfred Spangler is dead, Mr. Lipwig. Three hundred people would swear they saw him die. And so, appropriatly, it is of angels which I wish to speak with you.
The first interesting thing about Angels, Mr. Lipwig, is that sometimes, very rarely, when a man has made such a foul and tangled mess of his life that death seems like the only sensible option, an angel appears to him, or should I say, unto him, and offers him the chance to do it all over again, only this time, to do it right. I should like you to think of me as... an angel.
I am offering you a job, Mr. Lipwig. Alfred Spangler may be dead, but Mr. Lipwig has a future. It may, of course be a very short one, if he is stupid. I am offering you a job, Mr. Lipwig. Work, for wages. I realize the concept may be unfamiliar to you.
Oh, and one more thing. Should you decide to take advantage of my generosity, I should like you to remember the second interesting thing about Angels. The second interesting thing about Angels, Mr. Lipwig, is that you only ever get just the one.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

City of Mages: Chapter III

On the deck of the pirate ship Abandon, Captain Clayton Darkwood, the notorious sorceror pirate, surveyed his new crew. He had taken them on a few months ago, on an island full of sentient apes and monkeys. At least he assumed they were sentient - they new how to sail a ship and seemed more than happy to take orders from him, which was all that really concerned Clayton. He did wish some of them were capable of speaking human, though. Occasionally the incomprehensible chatter and wild shrieking from the tiny, cat-like ones grated on his nerves. But they were efficient, and had he not found them he would likely still be stranded on the god-forsaken monkey island, so he counted himself lucky.
Still, the shrieking was giving him a bit of a headache. He decided to go down to his cabin and lie down for a bit. As soon as he got down there, however, he heard a familiar buzzing. He knelt, opened his seachest, rummaged for a bit, and pulled out his Crystal ball.
Clayton set the small glass globe on the table and stared at it, trying to clear his mind, until finally a hard, aged woman appeared in the fog.
"Lady Cecilia!" he said, turning on the roguish charm he'd been unable to use for months of having nothing but simian company, "To what do I owe the pleasure?"
"We'll get to that in a moment," said the old woman, "Where have you been? I've been calling you all day!"
"I'm at sea, my lady," answered the pirate, "We're even farther from the stargem than the badlands. You can't always get reception out here,"
"How far are you from the mainland?" asked the witch, with a questioning stare.
"A few days at the most," replied Clayton, calmly.
"What port are you coming into?"
"The Port of Tial,"
The witch looked up, as if consulting a map in her head.
"Then it should only be a few days out of your way," she said finally.
"What should?" asked the now confused sorceror.
"The Port of Xarnip," answered Lady Cecilia.
"It's closer, actually," said Clayton, suddenly perking up "But if you think I'm gonna risk my neck going back there..."
"Don't worry," snapped the witch. "I'll make sure your wife knows you're coming at my bequest. I'll make her promise not to behead you,"
"Why exactly do you want me to go there?" asked the man, quickly returning to his casual tone.
"I need you to pick something up for me,"
"I'm not your errand boy!" protested the sea captain.
"No," said Lady Cecila, "But I think you'll be interested in this proposition,"
"I'm listening," said the sailor calmy.
"It's about your son," said the witch, "Your wife has finally agreed to let him come to Erilliance,"
"No way," said Clayton, laughing, "You know how I feel about the sorcerors guild. I'm not about to let my some be kept down by that magic monopoly,"
"Of course you're not," said Lady Cecilia. "However, I'm offering to help him become the leader of thaty magic monopoly,"
"What do you mean?" asked Clayton, his eyes suddenly wide with interest.
"I can't say anymore," said the old woman, "Suffice it to say that if you bring your son here, he could easily be leader of the Sorceror's Guild in as little as three years. And if you don't, then Xindor the Incredible might get wind of the fact that you're still alive and practicing magic without a license,"
"So your blackmailing me?" asked Clayton.
"I don't know what you're talking about," said the witch, "We'll be expecting you and Brandon in a few weeks. I do so look forward to seeing you again,"
And with that, her face faded back into the fog of the crystal, leaving Clayton staring, bewildered, into the glass sphere.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Bad news

Ok, so apparently the dreaded blog advertisers have gotten ahold of this site too, now. They already got my dream log. If this post is met with five comments which turn out to be advertisements, I'm gonna have to find something to do about it, possibly involving the elimination of anonymous comments.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

City of Mages: Chapter II

"Xindor the Incredible! Xindor the Grand! Goblin Slayer, Dwarf-Defender, Hero of Elf and Man!" As Halyn's high clear tenor voice finished the song, applause errupted from the other two occupants of the carraige.
"Sing the one about the Ogre!" Implored Tiryn. She was a small girl of about twelve, small even compared to other hill gnomes. To look at her, one might have thought she was a house gnome. Like her brothers, though, she was dressed in the Gypsy like clothing of the hill gnomes.
"Another time," promised her older brother, "I need to rest my voice. I may well be asked to perform tomorrow. And if I'm lucky, I could walk away with a very well-paying commission. With a tune I can reuse to boot,"
"I can't believe we're actually going to meet Xindor the Incredible!" intuned the girl.
"And maybe he'll let me join the Sorceror's guild!" chimed in third brother, Erdyn.
"Oh, Erdyn," said his little sister, "It takes more than some dancing lights to qualify as a Sorceror,"
"But it's real magic!" argued her brother, "Plus I can do that thing with my face. And I know I have other powers! I just haven't discovered them yet. We have the bloodline.."
"There hasn't been a real sorceror in the family in three generations," said Halyn, "But stranger things have happened. We'll see what Xindor thinks of your little light show,"
"And it won't hurt that my older brother wrote the song that made him famous!" suggested Erdyn, hugging his older brother.
"C'mon," said Tiryn, "One more song,"
"Alright," said Halyn, "One more, but that's really it! I mean it,"
The elder Gnome pulled out his Lyre and struck a chord. He broke into a rousing ballad about the kind-hearted Ogre who loved to sing. By the time he had finished, the small carraige had come around the side of the mountain.
"Look out the window!" said Erdyn, excitedly.
As the carraige turned around the bend, the city of Erilliance came into view. The most noticible feature was, of course, the Tower of Doom. It was not nearly as imposing as the name would suggest. The name, in fact, was a holdover from an earlier age, when the word "Doom" had simply meant fate - either good or bad. Still and all, the tower was impressive. Easily ten times as tall as the surrounding buildings, it seemed to stretch towards the heavens themselves. Even in the middle of the afternoon, light seemed to radiate from it, originating of course from the stargem that was housed inside. The other buildings around it and the forest which surrounded them seemed tiny in comparison. A few buildings did stand out, though. Especially when a huge green fireball momentarily errupted from the large semicircular structure known as the Alchemy building.
"It's amazing," said Tiryn, with awe. "I'll be so jealous if you get to live there, Erdyn,"
"Don't speak to soon," answered Halyn,"There's not a lot of gnomes studying in Erilliance - you'd be a minority for sure. And the less powerful spellcasters tend to have some trouble adjusting, especially the sorcerors. If you do have powers, it might be safer to develop them at home,"
"And miss all this?" said Erdyn, "No way. The Gates of Erilliance are open to all students of magic. I'm gonna be a sorceror. And if it turns out I don't have the power, I'm gonna study and be a Wizard!"
"More power to ya, kid," said Halyn, reaching over to tossle his brothers curly brown hair.
And the Gnome carraige trundled down towards the city.

Chapter 37: Sibling Rivalry

As I was walking through the hallway the next day, Fay walked up to me. She looked frazzled.
"Has Jason called you?" she asked, panicking.
"Not that I know of," I said, "Why? Should he have?"
"I don't know. He's acting really weird. When I asked him for more samples to give to Mora, he went off on me. Started yelling about 'Giving away our secrets!' and 'getting us all in trouble'. I told him we weren't doing anything wrong, and that he was overreacting. He told me not to tell anyone else about any of this. Then he stormed off. He's taken all the post cards and hidden them somewhere,"
"Wow," I said. Jason was unpredictable, but I couldn't think of any way to justify this sudden change of heart.
"He hasn't told you anything?" asked Fay.
"No," I said, "I haven't talked to him in almost a week,"
"I bet this is about Marrissa," she fumed. "He probably thinks she'll find this whole secret writing thing too childish. She and her friends," She said this last word as one might say 'snakes' or 'cockroaches'.
"Whatever it's about, I'm gonna talk to him about it," I said.
"Good," said Fay, "Maybe you can talk some sense into him,"
She walked off.
I had PreCal with Jason second period. He was already sitting at his desk when I came in.
"Hey," I said to him.
"Hey," he said, noncommittally.
I wasn't really sure how to proceed from there. I didn't want to confront him about anything he'd said to Fay, or it would be immediately apparent that she had sent me to him. I had to get him to bring it up himself.
"How're things with Marrissa?" I asked.
"Good," he said. This was not going well. I decided to risk addressing the subject directly.
"Any luck on that writing?" I asked.
"No," said Jason, turning, for the first time to look at me, "I decided it's not really important. It's probably nothing,"
He was lying. But why? What reason would Jason have to keep this from us? I decided to push the question.
"How can you say it's not important?" I asked.
"I just think maybe we're a little old to be playing detective," He said, "Maybe my sister still likes that kind of stuff, but we should have better things to do with our lives,"
"Such as?"
"Schoolwork?" he suggested, "Friends? Relationships?"
The last word he emphasized especially. It certainly seemed to be about Marrissa. I wished I'd never helped him win her over. But it was too late. Faye and I would have to unravel this mystery without him.

Monday, August 29, 2005

City of Mages: Chapter I

It is often said that the sun never sets on the city of Erilliance. In fact, the sun sets on Erilliance as often as it sets anywhere else; this is merely not always apparent from inside the city, due to the light emitted by the star gem. This is why 200 years ago the decision was made to build the Tower of Doom over the star gem, in the hopes of allowing the people of Erilliance to sometimes get a little sleep. Still, the city of Erilliance, especially the central square and the tower of doom, are pretty well lit all the time.
Tonight at the top of the tower, the four most powerful magic users in the world were about to meet, as they did whenever half a moon was in the sky, to discuss matters important to the governing of the city, such as their were any. Tonight there were two matters on the table: the second was the Archmage's frequently heard petition to rename the Tower of Doom "Something a little more cheerful". The other was a matter of grave importance, the specifics of which were known only to Lady Cecilia, who had put it on the table in the first place. The other three members of the council were eager to hear what it was.
Lady Cecilia had arrived first; she always arrived first. She was a small, elderly woman who looked like she could be your Grandmother, the kind of Grandmother who always made you milk and cookies and played cards with you when you were little. She wore a conservative looking black dress, and had a marroon shawl wrapped around her. She was sitting in her customary armchair, sipping a steaming beverage and looking very relaxed when the Archmage came in.
The Archmage of Erilliance was by far the youngest member of the Council of Four; he was a portly dwarf with a full dwarfish beard and a typical dwarfish fondness for alchohol. He was dressed, as always, in shimmering golden robes with purple trim and a tall Wizard's hat in matching gold and purple. He came in, looked around, and sat down in the dwarf-sized chair next to Lady Cecilia.
"Gooday, Madam!" he intoned cheerfully, "Now what's this grave news we've been hearing about? Some kind of War? A Plague perhaps? It can't be another hurricane, Thurigen would have known already!"
"Nothing so dramatic," said the old woman calmly, "But perhaps something more important, in the long run. You'll hear about it when everyone else does,"
"Where are they, anyway?" asked the Dwarf, "They're late,"
suddenly a strong gust of wind came in through the window nearly blowing off the archmage's hat. Lady Cecilia wrapped her shawl even more tightly around herself.
"We Druids don't take nearly as regimented approach to time as you do," said a voice which seemed to come from the wind itself, "We tend to think of it in broader terms. Our final companion, I belive, is having a bit of trouble with one of his pupils,"
The wind had now formed itself into a small whirlwind, which quickly settled itself in the chair across from the archmage. Thurigen had not attended a meeting in person in almost two hundred years - in fact, only a handful of people had ever actually seen him during that time. There was some doubt as to whether he actually possessed a corporeal body - most of the time these days he was nothing but a gust of wind and a disembodied voice. But he was not dead, and therefor could not legally step down from the council without an undue amount of paperwork, so he continued to attend the monthly meetings in whatever way he could.
There was now only one chair empty. It was human sized, wooden, and somewhat plainer than the other chairs, but still comfortable-looking. For several minutes, the three in the room stared poignantly at it. Suddenly, Xindor the Incredible appeared, standing in front of it.
Age had not mellowed his heroic features - indeed, though his hair and his little goatee were now white instead of a shiny black, that was the only sign that he was pushing four hundred and fifty - in human years, this could be translated to about ninety. He was wearing a a tunic and cape that were currently dark purple, but appeared to be changing colors, rotating through the spectrum rather rapidly. He sat down as he addressed the rest of the council.
"Sorry I'm late," he said, "I had to deal with one of my students - rather severely. YOu remember the fire in the alchemy building last week? Well, it turns out it wasn't just a stray Pheodgin exploding. All dealt with though - on to business!"
"Yes," said Lady Cecilia slowly, "Business. As I told you all in my messages, I have grave news to report. News which, for the time being at least, cannot leave this chamber. I'm sure you all understand?"
"Of course," said the voice from the whirlwind, "Now get on with it,"
"I have been divining again," continued the witch. "An unreliable practice I know, you don't have to tell me that, but I've gotten rather good at it, and, for the most part, my predictions tend to be correct,"
She paused.
"Yes.." said Xindor, a bit impatiently.
"I had a vision," she said, "Of this council meeting sometime in the near future. I don't know exactly when, but I'm fairly certain it was around next winter,"
She paused again. Xindor and the Archmage gave her looks as if to say "Get on with it!". She stared back at them as if to say "I'm getting to it." Finally she continued.
"There were only three members," she said. She turned and stared straight at Xindor. "Your time, my dear," she said gravely, "Is nearly up,"
"Now lets not jump to conclusions," said Xindor. "There are plenty of reasons I might have opted not to attend a meeting. Besides, if I had been dead, a new leader of the SOrcerors guild would have come to power almost immediately - you know what we're like! I've had three assasination attempts this month - though none, I must say were very wel executed," he looked down and shook his head sadly, "They just don't seem to have the vigor the used to,"
"They like you," said the Archmage, "They have to keep trying to kill you for traditions sake, but none of them actually want to depose you,"
"That," said Lady Cecilia, "Is precisely what I wanted to address. You will be dead, I am nearly certain, in three years time. At the moment there is no other sorceror in the city capable of taking your place as leader of the guild. They lack the neccesary drive and the magical skill to succeed,"
"I fail to see the problem," said Thurigen. "If Xindor dies, another sorceror will step up to take his place. Maybe he - or she - will be up to the task, maybe not. But this is a matter for the sorcerors guild to deal with in their own way. We should not concern ourselves with it,"
"Besides which," said Xindor, "I'm not going to die! I'm a pictures of health. In fact, Lady Cecilia, I'm gonna write in my will that if I die in the next three years, I'll leave you money to take yourself out to lunch,"
"Then I shall take you to lunch in three years, if you are still alive," said the matron with just a hint of a smile.
"Now that that's over with," said the Archmage, "What does everyone think of 'Tower of Benevolence'? I was also thinking about 'Tower of Elation', but that is, I think, a bit too cheerful. Still..."
And he droned on, as he did everey couple meetings. The meeting was adjourned; nothing was decided. And Lady Cecilia sighed as she walked down the stairs toward her chambers. She knew what was coming in the next few years, had known for a long time, and the Sorcerors guild would need strong leadership if there was to be any hope. But as always, the old fools didn't listen. Aw well, she thought, nothing for it but to take matters into my own hands. And she set about concocting a plan.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Something new

I've decided rules stifle my creativity. From now on if I have an idea, I write it, and if it ends up I have five or six stories running at once, so be it. This story is completely off the top of my head. I do not know where, if anywhere, it is going. If you like it, or if you hate it, please comment - this will determine it's fate.

The boy looks to be about twelve. He's small, a bit pudgy, and has thick red curls. The overall appearance he gives off is that of a hobbit, albeit one who doesn't exercise much. He does not appear all that short, unless you know that he is, in fact, about to turn eighteen. He has probably been wearing the same pair of clothes for several days. His socks do not match.
The girl is nearly sixteen and nothing about her appearance seems to contradict that. She has longish blonde hair tied back in a pony tail and dark eyebrows. She is wearing just a little bit too much make-up, but not so much that it makes her ugly. Frankly, she doesn't need any - her face is beautiful. Her body isn't bad either, although she is, perhaps, a bit flatter in the chest area than she'd like to be. She picked out her outfit on Monday (It's Thursday now.) It involves a very short plaid skirt and a cute light blue top. Light blue is her favorite color - she thinks it brings out her eyes.
Judging from what you can tell about these two individuals, it seems strange to see them sitting together, huddled, as they are, over a large textbook and an open binder, entering equations which he finds facinating and she could care less about. Perhaps he is tutoring her, that would make sense, but it wouldn't explain the apparent closeness of their relationship, the repartee that seems to pass between them. They may be dating, but even the most open-minded, optimistic individual would find it hard to believe someone like her would endure the social taboo of being involved with someone like him, or that someone like him would have the confidence to even approach someone like her.
He holds in information like an airtight seal, and not just useful information - you can ask him what color pants you were wearing on a particular day two years ago, and chances are he'll remember. He's like a human recording device, and he has instant access to all the information stored up there. He's brilliant at math and science - he has taken every math class the school has to offer, and he hungers for more. He is also one of only a handful of human beings in all of history capable of percieving the universe in all five dimensions.
She has a mind like a sieve - at least as far as dates and formulas are concerned. When it comes to social graces however, the tables are turned. To say that she is socially adept would be like saying Stradivarius could make a decent fiddle from time to time. She is the undisputed master of fitting in; her reputation has been finely crafted andornately carved by six years of being with the right people at the right times. She can get anyone to do anything, simply by knowing instinctivly what a person wants and how to offer it to them, even if she doesn't actually have it.
He has trouble talking to people. He generaly finds conversations difficult and confusing, and, not knowing what to say, ends up saying nothing at all.
She could have any guy she wanted - not because she's particularly attractive, but simply because she could manipulate him into dating her - into wanting to date her. It would take her several months, but by the time she was finished, he wouldn't take no for an answer - unless she wanted him too.
He realizes, somewhere, at the back of his mind, that if he ever wants to procreate he will need to develop some sort of social skills (and a shower wouldn't hurt either.) But whenever a thought of that nature creeps toward the front of his mind, he pushes it back. Best not to think about such things - they'll only serve to make him unhappy.
Omnipotence is boring. After about a year, Alyssa (for that was her name) had realized that she could get just about anyone to do just about anything. And for a while it had been fun - for all of middle school, freshman year and most of sophmore year, in fact. She'd gotten whatever guy she wanted, but he always got boring after a while. So she'd break-up with him, but for some reason he'd always come out happy about it. She was passing all her classes despite not having a clue what any of them were about, and she had all the right friends. But she felt unfulfilled. She needed a challenge, something to test her abilities and take them to knew heights. But what? The most popular guy in the school, captain of the football team and in the running for valedictorian? She'd dated him for about a week freshman year. Popular guys were old hat. She considered turning a gay guy straight, but she wasn't sure it was possible even for her. Then it hit her. George.
She'd seen him around quite a bit, but she'd never payed him much mind. After all, if she could get any guy in the school, why should she waste her time with this geek? Two things changed her mind.
First was the idea of symmetry. If she had already dated the most popular, most athletic, and most attractive guys in the school, then why not date the least popular, least attractive, and least athletic? Especially if they all seemed to be the same guy. And maintaining her social standing while dating a geek like this would be an entirely new kind of challege. Alternately, although most of them thought quite highly of her, she realized that her social standing among the geeks was probably actually not as perfect as her standing among the popular people - perhaps ingratiating herself with an entirely new community was the next step.
George was also looking for a challenge. Having completed Calculus as a sophmore and Physics II and Chemistry II last year, he felt as though his mental faculties would decline were they not put to good use. He had decided, after some debate, to focus on figuring out how create a model of the five dimension universe that would make it possible for a mind less advanced than his own to cope with it. Of course he would need to choose the perfect test subject - someone with so little mental ability, he or she would be wholy incapable of concieving of the true nature of the universe. His photgraphic memory centered in on a girl in his PE class last semester. He remembered they had had to do a shuttle run three times and give the instructor their best time. He had been paired with her. After failing to work the stop watch three times, she'd asked him how to get it off of metric time. What had her name been? Alyssa.
And so it began. George and Alyssa. Both experiments, both subjects. Both thinking everything was going their way.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Chapter 36: Shameless Exposition

The weekend passed rather uneventfully; the only complicated thing I had to do was tell my parents another carefully prepared lie so I could get extra lessons from Teresa on Mondays. This time I’d thought hard about it, practiced, and come up with a difficult to refute alibi. I told them I was going to be getting tutored in PreCal. Not only were they satisfied with this but my mother actually commended me for not being afraid to get help when I needed it. I wondered what I would say when my PreCal grade inevitably failed to improve.
Because of the block scheduling, I didn’t have any classes with Fay on Monday. She tried to catch me in the hallway to talk to me about something but then the bell rang and we had to go to our respective classes. So it didn’t seem like long at all before my first Monday lesson with Teresa rolled around.
"We’re doing things a little differently today," she said as we walked into her apartment. She sat down at the kitchen table. There was a shoe box sitting in front of her.
"Pull up a chair," she said. "Banana?"
I sat down and took the banana. It was good.
"Okay, we’re gonna start with some conceptual stuff today," she said, "It might get a little boring, but bare with me; its important for you to know this stuff. OK?"
I nodded.
"Okay," she continued. "As far as we know, the draconics of the world represent seven species’ of dragons – there were probably many more, but only eight capable of morphing into humans and thus, of becoming draconics. These eight species have become what we call the classes of draconics, which are named based on their predominant color. You know about those?"
"Wait a minute," I asked, "I’m confused. You said seven, then you said eight,"
"Everybody’s pretty sure the Copper draconics are all dead," she answered, "Demetrius Kane was supposedly the last one. There’s no way to be certain though,"
"Gotcha," I answered, "Eight species, one probably extinct,"
"Good," said Teresa, "Now, the eight classes are, supposedly from weakest to strongest, Black, Blue, Green, Red, Copper, Bronze, Silver (that’s you), and Gold (that’s me). Got that?"
"If the coppers are supposed to be extinct, why keep mentioning them?" I asked.
"Cause we’re not sure," she answered, "There have been rumors. We won’t go into detail, but if you see one you should recognize him… or her. Now.."
She opened the shoe box and pulled out a small figurine about two inches high. It was a draconic, kind of like Teresa and me, but wingless, with an unusually long tail, two L-shaped horns that curved forward, and little spikes all over its body. It was jet black with a maroon stripe on its back.
"This is a black," said Teresa. "They’re considered the weakest because they can’t fly or breathe fire or anything. They do, however, have a pretty much instantly deadly poison in their stingers. They can fight pretty fiercely, too. And, like you, they can hold their breath indefinitely under water,"
She pulled out a second figure from the box. This one was much larger, still wingless, but bulky and muscular. It had a huge horn coming out of its snout and a tail like a spiked mace. It was colored electric blue.
"This is a blue," she said, turning it around in her fingers. She was eyeing it almost reverently, as if it were some sort of holy relic. "According to the government classification system, they’re the second weakest, but anyone whose seen one fight will tell you otherwise. They’re very strong, and that horn on the top of the head can shoot an electric charge a short distance. And although they can’t fly, they’re still quite a bit faster than they look,"
She stared fondly at it a moment before she put it down. It reminded me of the look on Jason’s face whenever he gazed at Marissa. She pulled out a third figure. This one was in flight. It was green, with large wings like mine, and a tail ending in a stinger similar to the one on the black. It looked very much like the dragon you always see in old illustrations for fantasy books. Then she pulled out a another figure, this one red. Though it’s wings were smaller, and it was slightly larger, it looked a lot like the green one.
"Reds and Greens." she said, "The two most common classes on the planet. Greens are the best long distance flyers aside from silvers, and they breathe this acidic gas that can eat through just about anything. They can also paralyze someone with their stingers. Reds don’t have the sting, nor do they fly quite as well, but they breathe fire in a wide spread and they don’t go down easily,"
She pulled out a copper colored figure with a huge head, set it down and then reached back in and withdrew easily the largest figure I’d seen yet. It looked like a huge man in bronze plate armor, with the head of an enormous alligator and a very short tail which barely touched the ground.
"Ok, I said I wouldn’t go into detail on coppers, so I won’t. That’s what one looked like though," –she indicated the copper figure – "just so you know,"
She picked up the larger one. "The bronze draconic is built like a tank. Just about everything bounces off that armor – bullets, fire, rocket-propelled grenades. They can also spit fire balls amazing distances. Unfortunately, they’re so weighed down they’re nearly incapable of walking, much less flying. Which brings us," she pulled out a familiar looking figure, "To you,"
"Any questions on what I’ve said so far before we go on?" she asked, standing up.
I couldn’t think of any, so I shrugged my shoulders.
"Okay then," said Teresa, "Let’s change,"
She pulled off her shirt, turned around and grabbed her battle garment. A few minutes later we were back in dragon form.
"I thought it kind of silly to use the models for this part," she growled, as I followed her to the bathroom, "Seeing as we have life-sized versions at our disposal. Okay, here we go,"
I found myself standing in front of the full length mirror. I took a moment to take in my reflection.
"You and I are pretty lucky, Skyler," roared Teresa, "Between us, we’re the two most powerful, dangerous classes of draconic out there. Those huge wings make you the fastest long-distance flyer in the MLF, as soon as you learn how to use ‘em. You’re also capable of breathing a steady stream of compressed cold air which if used properly can freeze a person alive. And the stinger on the end of your tail will put anyone into a deep dreamless sleep for hours. You’re definitely the most versatile type of draconic,"
"Does the stinger stay in someone after I sting them?" I asked.
"Like a bee?" said Teresa, "No. Actually your stinger is something we’re gonna touch on today. I need my moment of narcissism first. So enough about you, lets talk about me,"
"Okay," I said, "What can you do?"
"Shapable fire," she answered, "Watch this,"
A line of fire came out of her mouth, stopping when it hit the wall. where it stopped, it expanded into a large circle, about four feet in diameter, hanging in the air just in front of the wall. Then she turned it into a square, then a trapezoid, then it spread apart and disappeared.
‘Very useful, that," she said. "I’m not a bad flyer, either, although I’m afraid your always gonna beat me at that. Now just a moment and we’ll head to the exercise room for some stinger training,"
She headed to the entrance way and flipped a switch on her intercom.
"You’re all clear," said Pat’s voice on the other end. Teresa growled a ‘thank you’.
We headed down the hallway to the gym. When we got their, I was a bit startled to see it already occupied – by another draconic.
It was a black – only a little over five feet tall and covered in spikes, with a long tail that ended above his head. He was standing in front of a punching bag, thrusting his tail into it.
"Kevin?" said Teresa.
"Oh hey," he answered. His voice sounded higher pitched than any of the draconics I’d heard, almost like a small dog, "I was wondering when you’d get here. This the new recruit?"
It was actually refreshing to be referred to as ‘the new recruit,’ rather than "The great Skyler Woods Brimmer.
"Kevin has a stinger," said Teresa, "I don’t. So I thought I’d let him show you a few things,"
"Glad to help," said the small black, "I mean, say what you will about the Brimmers, a Silver is a Silver - Lord knows we could use the firepower,"
"So there aren’t any other silvers in the NA?" I asked.
"Aside from your sister," said Teresa, "And your mother if she’s still alive, there aren’t any other silvers in the whole MLF,"
"Like I said," said Kevin, "We could use the firepower. Let’s get started, shall we? Now, it’s a simple matter of thrusting your tail into the victim. That much you could figure out on your own, of course, but try it for me, will ya?"
I clumsily poked my tail into the punching bag in front of me.
"That’s a poke," chirped the small draconic. "If you want to poison someone, you gotta put some power into it. Thrust,"
After five or six more tries, I got it. Next, Kevin showed me how to feint with my claws, and strike with the tail unexpectedly. About half an hour later Teresa stopped us.
"You probably need to get home now," said Teresa, "We don’t want your parents thinking you’re too enthusiastic about PreCalculus,"
"I’ve taught him the basics," said Kevin, "It’s really just a matter of practice now. I’ll see you around, Skyler," He walked out of the gym.
"Does he live here?" I asked, as we headed back to Teresa’s apartment.
"Yeah, he just moved in about a week ago. He used to be one of the Knights of Ontario,"
"Knights of Ontario?" I asked.
"A Canadian sect of the MLF," answered Teresa. "He agreed to join the NA, but he wants as few people as possible to know it. He thinks are security is far too lax. Apparently the Knights never see each other in human form or use their real names so that if one was captured he wouldn’t be able to betray any others,"
We got to the door. Teresa immediately morphed back into a woman and began to get dressed. I followed suit. Once she was dressed, she put the figures back in the box and closed it. Then she took her car keys off the hook.
"Let’s get you home," she said. I followed her out the door.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Chapter 35: The Uncrackable Code

Second period on Friday I had to stay late to finish a test, so I came into the lunch room about five minutes late. I took my regular seat across from Faye. The seat next to me, however, was conspicuously empty.
"Where’s Jason?" I asked.
Fay looked at me sullenly and pointed back with her thumb. I looked over my shoulder. Jason was sitting there, with Marissa and her friends. He looked somewhat out of place with all the Jocks and cheerleaders, but less than I would have expected.
"Apparently sitting with his little sister just isn’t cool," Fay pouted.
"Oh, cheer up," I said. "Can’t you be happy for the guy,"
"I could," said Fay optimistically. Then back in her sarcastic, loathsome tone, "If she weren’t such a bitch,"
"Wasn’t," said a voice behind us. I looked up. It was Mora. "There’s only one of her, so it would be ‘wasn’t’ such a bitch,"
"Hey Mora," I said, "Any luck with that writing?"
"You have me intrigued," she answered. "As far as I can tell, that language doesn’t exist. It’s not anywhere. Even Mr. Terrell, the Etymology teacher hasn’t heard of it, and he speaks six languages!"
"So you’re giving up?" I asked.
"Hell no," said Mora. "This means one of three things. Either someone is playing you for a fool, You’re playing me for a fool, or this is a huge conspiracy with a massive cover-up operation,"
"And being Mora…" I began.
"I can’t resist huge conspiracies," she finished. "I could use a little more information, though,"
"No extra charge?" asked Fay.
"This is completely pro-bono," she answered, "I’m as curios as you are. I would like to know more about where you found the writing, and maybe see a few more samples if you have them,"
I glanced at Fay. She was looking pensive.
"Can I get back to you on that?" she asked after a beat.
"Sure," said Mora, "You know where to find me,"
She turned and walked away.
"Can we trust her?" asked Faye.
"Why so secretive?" I asked
"Someone obviously doesn’t want us knowing about whatever this is," said Fay, "I’d just as soon keep it low – profile,"
"I’m not sure how much I trust Mora," I said, "I’ve known her a long time, but I still don’t really know much about her,"
"Then we can’t tell her about the postcards," said Fay resolutely.
"I really don’t see where you’re coming from," I answered, "If she was gonna turn us into someone anyway, how much difference would it make if she knew where we got the writing?"
Fay weighed this for a while, then came to a conclusion. She stood up and slung her purse over her shoulder, then walked out toward Mora’s corner.
"I can definitely get you writing samples," She said, "I’ll bring them some time this week,"
"And the rest?" asked Mora.
"It was in secret writing on the back of a message in English. It might have something to do with knights, or motorcycles, or both, but then again it might not,"
"Knights or motorcycles?" asked Mora quizzically.
"Yeah," I said, "Well, armor anyway,"
The bell for third period rang. People started pushing past us to get out.
"Well, I might have a lead," Mora said, as she started walking towards the commons,. "Work on getting me those samples,"
"Will do," said Fay.
I turned the corner and headed off to my next class.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Chapter 34: Parental concerns

When I got home, I found the front door was locked. I didn't have my key, so I decided to go in through the screen door in the garden. As I approached the door, I heard my parents arguing in the other room. This wasn't too uncommon - I mean, it's not like they fought all the time or anything, but they had their share of disagreements. I stopped by the door, and listened. I didn't want them to know I'd heard them arguing, so I thought I'd wait until they calmed down.
"Look, Sylvia," said my father's voice, "It's not normal. It's not like him to hide things from us. I'm worried about him,"
"He's sixteen years old," said my mother, "That's old enough to be making his own decisions. I know my son isn't into drugs or alchohol or anything like that,"
"That's not what I'm worried about," said my father.
"Then what?" asked my mom. "If your worried he and Zhong were up to anything in that forrest..."
"No," said my father, "I know Zhong, she would never do anything like that. It's just..." he trailed off, as if lost in thought.
"Yes?," pushed my mother gently.
"No, never mind," he said, turning away.
"Tell me, Wallace," said my mother, putting her hand on his shoulder.
He turned around and wrapped his arms around her.
"He's acting like his mother," he said.
"What is that supposed to mean?" asked my mother, pulling away. "Have I ever been secretive with you?"
"His biological mother," said my dad.
"Oh," said my mom, a bit taken back.
"Before she disappeared Lisa would act... very strangely at times," he explained. Often she would go out after she thought I'd fallen asleep. She'd come back before I woke up and try to pretend she hadn't left, but she couldn't hide how tired she was. For a while I suspected she was having an affair, but it didn't seem like that - I mean, everything was fine, there was no reason to. And she was obsessive about what would happen to the children if anything were to happen to her,"
"None of this sounds too much like how Skyler is behaving," said my mother.
"She also had a propensity for ruining her clothing," my dad answered intensly, "In much the same way Skyler ruined those pants,"
For a moment neither one spoke. I was about to open the door when my mother responded.
"I'm sure it's nothing," she said reassuringly, "He probably just caught it on a snag or something. You know how kids are,"
"I'm worried about him Sylvia," said my father, "Worried and scared,"
I was worried too. I wasn't sure how much longer I could hide everything from my parents, but it wasn't going to be long.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Ballad of Xindor (COM Prelude 3?)

Well sit down children,
let me tell you a tale
'Bought a man whose nerve could never fail
The greatest elf I ever knew,
(and I've known quite a few)
Bravest of warriors,
Wisest of Sages
They'll sing his praises throughout the ages

Xindor the Incredible!
Xindor the Grand!
Goblinslayer, Dwarf-defender,
Hero of Elf and Man!

Deep below the mountains,
where the sun never shines
The Dwarves worked hard down in the mines
Two thousand dwarves extracting jewels
with finely crafted mining tools
Hardest of workers,
Loyalest of friends,
A good Dwarf's labor knows no ends.

In another mountain
not to far away
Goblins watched the Dwarves working all day
They wanted those jewels all for themselves
They were willing to kill both dwarves and elves
Vilest of villains,
Evilest of foes,
A Goblins treachery grows and grows

Wand'ring o'er the Mountains,
Sleeping in the trees
Xindor the incredible ate some bread and cheese
Such a powerful enchanter, such a brave young elf
Caring for others, but not about himself
Bravest of warriors,
Wisest of Sages
They'll sing his praises throughout the ages

Xindor the Incredible!
Xindor the Grand!
Goblinslayer, Dwarf-defender,
Hero of Elf and Man!

Xindor asked the Dwarves,
for a place to stay
seeing as he'd been wandering
around all day
But the Dwarves saw Xindor's pointy ear
And they said "No elves'll be staying here,"
Stupidest of idiots,
Blindest of fools
Nearly died for having such a stupid rule

Not about to argue
Xindor slept outside
It was cold and windy and
he might have died
And the goblins dug a tunnel way down deep
And attacked the dwarves as they lay asleep
Vilest of villains,
Evilest of foes,
A Goblins treachery grows and grows

Xindor was awakened
By the noise within
Saw the Goblins fight the dwarves and nearly win
But a grudge was something Xindor couldn't hold
Even thought they'd left him out in the cold
Bravest of warriors,
Wisest of Sages
They'll sing his praises throughout the ages

Xindor the Incredible!
Xindor the Grand!
Goblinslayer, Dwarf-defender,
Hero of Elf and Man!

Xindor grabbed a Goblin
kicked him out the door
Cast some spells and soon the Goblins were no more
And the Dwarves said "Xindor, you're our king,"
And they gave him ale and shiny things
And now people everywhere will sing:
(Don't hold back, let your voices ring)

Xindor the Incredible!
Xindor the Grand!
Goblinslayer, Dwarf-defender,
Hero of Elf and Man!

(repeat ad infinitum)

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Well, Here it is, at long last, Teresa. Special thanks to Evan for letting me use his scanner. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


Ok, update:
1. COM is being put on hold in favor of my contrast story, which is being written on old fashioned sheets of notebook paper with a pencil. I know, uncivilized, but what can I do.
2. The Dragon story is at a critical phase, and I've been scared to post any more updates for fear of screwing it up. But, I think I've now nearly caught up with my pre-writing, and I might just post something tommorrow or the next day, unless my computer crashes or the power goes out or my parents force me to spend both days cleaning.
3. Amy and I have finished a wonderful illustration. Unfortunately, I don't have access to a scanner, so I can't post it. I'm working on that, I'll have it as soon as I can.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Why *spoiler* *spoiler*ed *spoiler*

Same deal as before - If you haven't finished HP6, ignore this. If you have click the link in the previous post for my opinion on whether a certain character is really working for a certain other character.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


If you have finished Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, click here. Otherwise, don't, unless you want to get spoiled. This is the fan-art I am sending to J.K.

Friday, July 08, 2005

The Mirror of Truth

Once upon a time, there was a knight. He was in love with a beautiful princess, the daughter of the king to whom he had pledged his service. One day, as he approached the castle, he saw an enormous, hideous dragon carrying the princess away. He decided to rescue her. He knew, of course, that he could not just charge in and take on the dragon. He would need a plan, some clever way of defeating the beast. So, he decided to visit the famous Mirror of truth.
The mirror of truth was, as the name suggests, a mirror that would always show you things as they truly were. It was also said that the mirror would answer any question that was posed to it.
The knight journeyed many days in search of the mirror, but found nothing. Finally, as he was walking through the woods, an old woman approached him.
"You seek the mirror of truth?" she asked.
"Yes," answered the knight.
"Why do you seek it?" asked the crone.
"So that I may learn how to slay the dragon!," answered the knight.
The old woman laughed, high and mirthlessly.
"I will show you how to find the mirror,"she said, "But you will not like what you see there,"
"That's alright," said the knight, "I will go anyway,"
"Alright," said the old woman. "Walk east into this forest until you come upon a stream that flows into a cave. You must remove all your armor and your sword, leave them on the shore, and swim under water until you see a blue light. When you come up, you will be in the room with the mirror,"
So the knight went and followed her instructions. As she had said, he came upon a cave with a stream running into it. He dismounted, took off all his armor and his sword, and jumped in the river. Under the water, he swam. After a while he was almost out of breath, but he still swam on. His arms started to feel like they weighed a ton. Then finally, just as it seemed as if he'd lost all hope, he saw a blue light. Quickly he swam to the surface.
Gasping for breath, he climbed up onto the shore. He was in a dimly lit cave. The small pool of water he had come from was all that was there. Then he saw something that made him jump. Reflected in the pool was, instead of his own handsome face, the hideous face of the dragon.
"Are you the mirror of truth?" asked the knight.
"Some call me that," replied the dragon.
"But is it true that you cannot tell a lie?"
"It is true that that I can never intentionally deceive anyone, nor can I give blatantly incorrect information. However, I have found that the nature of the truth varies greatly depending on your perspective. So who can say if what is true to one man is also true to another?"
The knight was confused by this, so he decided not to pursue it any farther. Instead, he opted to pose the question he had come hear to pose.
"How do I destroy the dragon?" he asked.
"which dragon?" asked the mirror.
"The one that has taken my lady!" replied the knight.
"There is no such dragon,"answered the mirror, matter-of-factly.
"What?" asked the knight. "But I saw the Princess being carried away by a monstrous beast!"
"That she was," said the mirror. "If, that is, you are referring to Princess Isabella IV of Alvasia,"
"But I thought you said no dragon had carried her off!"
"I said no dragon had carried off your lady,"
"What is that supposed to mean?" said the knight, infuriated.
"It is supposed to mean," replied the reptilian face, "That she neither is, nor ever was in any sense yours. Legally, she is still her father's, and in spirit, she is her own. In a much more practical sense, she is the dragon's,"
"That as it may be," said the knight, gritting his teeth at what he clearly believed to be a waste of time, "Can you tell me how to defeat the beast?"
"Yes," said the mirror.
The knight screwed up his face, trying to come up with a question that could not being contorted.
"How do you defeat the dragon that carried off Lady Isabella IV of Alvasia nearly a fortnight ago?" he finally asked.
"I don't," answered the mirror, "I'm a mirror,"
"Ha-Ha," said the knight, "Don't you realize a woman's life is at stake here?"
"I don't," said the mirror.
Realizing there was no point in arguing, the knight asked, "How do I defeat the dragon?"
"Which dragon?" asked the mirror.
"THE ONE WE WERE JUST TALKING ABOUT!" yelled the exasperated knight.
"Oh sorry," said the mirror calmly, "I thought you might have switched dragons. Well the best way, it's generally agreed upon, is to kill him. However -,"
"However," continued the mirror, as if oblivious to what had been said, "You could try challenging him to game of backgammon,"
"Why?" asked the now quite frustrated knight.
"He's very bad at backgammon," said the mirror.
"How will beating him at backgammon help me rescue the princess!?" asked the knight.
"Who said anything about rescuing the princess?" asked the mirror.
"You're lucky you're not made of glass, you know that?" said the knight, angrily.
"Yes," answered the mirror.
"Am I going to get a straight answer of you, or should I cut my losses and just go challenge that dragon?"
The mirror pondered this for a while, than said, "That's all up to you,"
The knight decided to give it one more go.
"How do I rescue the princess?" he asked.
"Assuming," said the mirror, "That we have not changed princesses, than to rescue her, you will have to kill the dragon,"
The knight was ready to explode again, but he took a deep breath, calmed himself, and said, "How do I kill the dragon we've been talking about this whole time?"
"There are many ways," said the mirror. "The easiest it probably to use your sword and stab it,"
"Where?" asked the knight urgently.
"Oh, anywhere," answered the mirror, "Heart, stomach, lungs, all that. Though I think the easiest would be the throat,"
"But what about his scales?" asked the knight.
"They're hard," said the mirror, "And red, and shiny,"
"Yes," said the knight, "but how do I get past them?"
"Well," said the mirror, "Either stab straight through them with something really, really, sharp, or try and slip under them with something really, really, thin,"
"Are you going to tell me anything I couldn't have deduced for myself?" asked the knight, who had by now nearly given up hope of discovering what he was here to discover.
"I already have," said the mirror.
"What?" asked the knight.
"The dragon is very bad at backgammon,"
"Can I use that information to rescue the princess,"
"Is there an easy way to kill the dragon?" asked the knight.
"No," said the mirror.
"Is there anything useful about the dragon you can tell me?"
"Define useful,"
"Pertinent to helping me kill him,"
"Who's him?"
"The Dragon,"
"The Dragon in question is female,"
"Her, then,"
The mirror was silent.
The knight took a deep breath.
"Is there anything significant you can tell me to help me kill the Dragon who is guarding Princess Isabella IV of Alvasia?" he said, his voice level but obviously enraged.
The mirror thought about this. Finally, after several long minutes, it said, "Yes,"
"What?" asked the knight.
"Dragons breathe fire." the mirror began, They have sharp teeth, and scales, and -"
"YAAAAAAARRRRRGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!" yelled the knight. He plunged a fist into the face in the mirror, but of course it went straight into the water. His hand kept going and hit the rock on the side of the pool, scraping the knuckle so that it bled.
"Well that was productive," said the mirror.
"Hey," said the mirror, "Sometimes the truth hurts,"
The knight jumped into the pool. Two days later, the old lady who had shown him how to find the place was discovered, stabbed through the heart, along with two other peasants who had just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The knight was later killed after infuriating the dragon by challenging her to, and winning a game of backgammon.

The moral of the story is that some stories have no morals.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Chapter 33: Some Answers

By the time Thursday rolled around, I was so full of questions I was ready to burst. I was about to start questioning Teresa as soon as I got into the car, but she got there first.
"Did you listen to the tape?" she asked.
"Yes," I answered, "Of course,"
"Did you understand it?"
"Yeah, it only took me about three hours. How does that even work? I mean, I know you can learn a language quickly by immersion, but not that quickly,"
"It's your dragon blood. You're naturally inclined to understand Draconic. By the end of today, you'll be speaking it too,"
"So is that what we're doing today?" I asked.
"One thing, yes. Recent developments mean we need to... speed up your training a bit. Is there any way you could do a second day a week?"
"Would these... developments have anything to do with Senator Walsh?" I asked.
"That's part of it,"she admitted, "So is what happened to you on Friday. But it's a lot deeper then that. I wish I could tell you more, but I don't know all that much myself. When it comes to Senator Walsh, the fewer people who know the better - if he's to have have any chance of winning the nomination. Can you get off for another day?"
"I think so," I said, "But I think my father may be getting suspicious,"
"If Walter suspected anything, he'd have let us know," said Teresa, "He knows how to get ahold of us. So let us worry about that,"
We pulled up in front of her apartment building. We got up and made our way upstairs. To my relief, there was no sign of Pat along the way.
"He's working," said Teresa, when I brought this up. "Since that news story hit the air, Thadius has insisted on some new security measures, but they take a lot of people to orchestrate,"
"Am I getting more security?" I asked.
"That would draw too much attention to you," she answered. "Don't worry. You'll be fine. We just want to get you to the point where you can defend yourself as quickly as possible. Now, let's get started,"
Teresa pulled off her shirt. Then she started pulling down her jeans. She looked up at me.
"Honestly," she said, "If you want to go to another room, that's fine. I've pretty much lost all my reservations at this point. You'll only be a naked human for a few seconds - just strip and transform.
I turned away from her, a little embarrassed, and started taking off my own clothing. I was just about to pull of my underwear, ready to change forms immediately, when I heard Teresa behind me.
"Could you help me get this?" she asked. I turned around. Her back was now to me, and I could shee that her only garment was a gold, sequined thing with arm holes that went around her chest. There were two more holes in the back. It was clearly too large for her. It was fastened in the back with five large clasps, three of which had been fastened.
"I can't usually get those clasps with hands, much less claws," she said.
I reached over and clasped the other two. Immediately, the garment filled out as she transformed from beautiful woman to gold-colored lizard monster.
On closer reflection, she actually looked more like a cat than a lizard. Her face was distinctly catlike, and what, in the heat of battle, had appeared to be a mass of tentacles, now appeared to be almost hair, although very thick strands of it, that started gold and ended up turquoise. A strange turquoise marking, like a flame, was on the top of her her head. And a rainbow pattern on her leathery wings extended onto frills that ended at her tail. She was actually still quite beautiful, in an odd sort of way.
"What are you waiting for?" she asked in the same rough tongue he'd heard on the tape.
I turned around, pulled off my boxers and focused on what it felt like to have a tail, until I could feel the tail. Then I looked down at my new, silvery body and turned around.
"Good," said Teresa, "Much faster. I think you're geting the hang of it. The first thing we're gonna work on is communication, and maybe your motor skills a little more. Everyone who lives in this building either works for the NA in some capacity or has been vouched for by someone who does, so it doesn't really matter if we're seen. Lets take a walk, shall we?"
She opened the door and stepped to the side. I walked through.
"So how does this work?" I tried to say, but all that came out was "Ror horrir urur?"
"Don't try to talk yet," said Teresa. "Your grasp of Draconic is unusual. You have pretty much all the grammar and a fair amount of vocabulary, but as far as actually making all the sounds, you're at the level of a newborn. So we're gonna start with vowels. Most of them are pretty much like they are with a human mouth, with some exceptions..."
There's no point in my going on further. Suffice it to say, about an hour later I way speaking draconic, though with what could only be described as a thick human accent.