Monday, June 27, 2005

Sleep Cycles

This is my first foray in a long time into the world of fan-fiction - specifically, a Harry Potter fanfic. It takes place at some point during Prisoner of Azkaban. Please comment on it - I'll be gone for a week, and I want to have comments when I get back.

"PARVATI! I've given you an extra five minutes already! Get up now, or I start singing!"
Hermione Granger awoke once again to the sound of her roommates' magical alarm clock. She'd bought the thing in Hogsmeade two weeks ago, and it refused to shut up until you were really out of bed. It was only a matter of time before one of the girls decided to throw it out the tower window.
Hermione did not feel like getting up. Even with just her class schedule, she'd had to be awake three hours longer than everyone else, so by the time she'd gotten through her last class yesterday she'd been ready to go to bed. Then she'd had another five hours of homework. After that she could have gone to sleep, but she'd felt obligated to finish up some work on Buckbeak's case first. When she finally got to bed, she only had three hours left until she had to get up.
In the four-poster next to hers, Parvati had finally succumbed to her alarm clock and had left the room. The rest of the girls had left some time ago. Hermione tried to rouse herself, but she just didn't have the energy. She remembered having a dream. This was odd, because she hadn't dreamt in months - she hadn't had enough sleep. She was about to force herself to get up. Then her eye caught the gleam of the time-turner on her desk.
I shouldn't, she thought. I promised McGonagall I'd only use it to get to my studies. I could get in loads of trouble!
But it is for your studies! said another voice inside of her. How are you supposed to get good marks if you can't get enough sleep? Just two more hours, it won't hurt anyone.
Hermione was far too tired to argue with herself, and the bed was so warm and comfortable. She reach over, grabbed the small gold chain, and through it over her neck. Then she gave the little hour glass two turns, and promptly fell asleep.
She awoke some time later. Something was pressing against her. It's only Crookshanks, she thought, Go back to sleep. Then she heard a muffled cry. Startled, she sad up and looked around. There was someone else in the bed with her!
Simultaneously, they turned to look at each other. As the Hermione of an hour and a half ago stared confusedly at her, she suddenly remembered the dream she'd had earlier that night - or actually, not earlier, but exactly then. Only it hadn't been a dream at all.
"What?" asked the other her confusedly.
"It's just a dream," said the more recent Hermione, "Go back to sleep,"
The other her, exhausted, did. The time traveling Hermione climbed over her own sleeping form, slid out of bed and tried to figure out what to do.
She glanced at her watch. The other girls in the dorm would be waking up in half an hour - and if they saw two Hermione's in the room, her days at Hogwarts would be over. She could go back to the common room - but then the other girls would wonder how she'd gotten there so fast. She could go straight to breakfast, but that would raise some uneasy questions about why she was up so early when she'd gone to bed so late. Eventually, she decided to hide under her bed until the other her left to go back in time and get some more sleep, then crawl out and run down to breakfast.
She waited under the bed for about half an hour, but she couldn't keep her eyes opened. After all, she'd still only had about five hours of sleep.
This time what awakened her actually was Crookshanks. She tried to sit up, and clonked her head on the bed. "
What am I doing under the bed? She thought. Then the events of the morning started to come back to her. It couldn't be, she thought, I can't have been that stupid. She decided it must have all been a dream. She glanced at her watch - It was 8:50. She ran out of the room and towards the North Tower for Divination.
She climbed up the ladder at 8:58, and sat down next to Ron.
"Hello," he said to her, "Where were you at Breakfast?"
"I guess," Hermione mused, "I just didn't have the time,"

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Teresa's Makeover

Ok, so here's the deal. I'm about ready to write the next chapter, but theres a problem. My illustrator and were sitting down trying to draw Teresa, and we came up with something really awesome which looked nothing like my description from chapter 17. So, as soon as Amy gets back from Spain, I will post the illustration with a modified chapter 17 (or was it 12? I can't remember.) Since Teresa is in Dragon form in the next post, I don't want to post it until I have access to that picture. Amy gets back on the 20th or so, so hopefully I'll have something up shortly thereafter.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Chapter 32: Politics

That evening, I was getting on my computer surfing the web, when Mora IMed me:
Dark_Lady_42: Hey you see this?
I clicked on the link. It took me to an article on Yahoo! news:
Senator Walsh Linked to MLF
Senator Sean Walsh (D, New Hamphsire) may have to change his plans for 2008. Shadows were cast today on his designs for the presidency when rival Democrat Jim Braxton (D, Indiana) accused him of having ties to the Magical Liberation Front, the magical rights group that has long been suspected of terrorist activity. Fowler stated in a speech to the strongly anti-magical Southern Baptist Convention that Consolidated Starches, the company where Walsh worked for several years and of which his uncle, Fintan O'Connell, is CEO, makes huge anual contributions to the MLF. "If this man is elected," said Braxton, "Magic will come to replace Christianity in American households. Our forefathers began the work of stamping out this scourge, and as president, I will work to continue it,"
"I believe in the rights of all Americans," said Walsh, in a special press conference to address these accusations, "Including those of Elven or Draconic heritage. I do not, however, support the activities of Draconic terrorists that may or may not be connected to the MLF. They have every right to expect the same rights and freedoms as other Americans, but they should strive to achieve them through legislation and due process of law, not brute force and terror,"
Mr. O'Connell was unavailable for comment.
It was interesting. I hadn't really been following the political struggles of the MLF. I guess I just hadn't yet realized they could apply to me. I almost started a web search, but then I remembered what Teresa had told me about my computer being watched. I decided to give her a call. To my surprise, she picked up.
"Yes," she said, exasperated.
"I was just reading this article about Senator Walsh, and I was wondering -"
She cut me off - "I know. We can't talk about it over the phone. Thursday. And please don't call me unless it's an emergency,"
She hung up.
The6th: Got anything on that writing yet?
Dark_Lady_42: Not yet, I'm working on it.
Dark_Lady_42: Give me some time.
The6th: Ok. keep me posted.
Dark_Lady_42: k
Dark_Lady_42: I g2g
Dark_Lady_42 signed out at 4:05:22.
;">I decided to risk it and click on the link to the MLF, which took me to their official website. The site showed pictures of friendly, happy looking people, and contained a bubbly mission statement about "helping Draconic-Americans, Elvish-Americans and others of magical heritage to adapt and fit into a changing world." No mention was made on the entire site of vampires. Most of the language was incredibly vague.
It was going nowhere, so I decided to sign off. I would sure I would find out the real story soon enough.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Chapter 31: Misinformation

At school on Monday, Fay nearly knocked me over coming down a staircase, then proceeded to walk next to me, even though I knew the class to which she was headed was on the other side of the school.
"Hey Skyler!" she said exuberantly.
"Hey," I said softly, somewhat bewildered.
"What happened Friday night?" she asked eagerly.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"You and Zhong were out together," Said Fay, talking very fast, "And now she's grounded for two weeks. Something more than what she told me happened happened,"
"What did she tell you?" I asked.
"If I tell you," said Faye, "You'll just make up a story to line up with hers. Zhong's a practiced and accomplished liar, and I saw through her, so you don't have a chance of fooling me,"
"Nothing happened," I said, "We went roller-blading, stayed out too late, and got lost,"
"Why didn't you invite me or Jason?" asked the girl.
I didn't really have an explanation prepared for this. We usually either all go along on something or else it's just Jason and me or just Fay and Zhong. I hesitated.
"You don't have to hide it from us," said Fay, "Jason and I think it's quite wonderful. In fact, if you'll admit it, I may be able to help you out,"
My mind was racing. How could they know about anything? Had Zhong told her? Had Mora somehow slipped up? But that was impossible, they didn't even know each other.
"How did you find out?" I asked, panicking.
"Well, you haven't exactly been doing a wonderful job of hiding it," she answered, "Besides, I'm an expert at this sort of thing,"
An expert? Where had she learned all this? And how hadn't he known about it? It seemed impossible.
"Wasn't expecting that much panic," said Fay, seeing my thoughts translate to my face, "Honestly, Skyler, have you never told a girl you liked her before?"
A wave of relief passed over my face. That's what she thought this was about? Me having a crush on Zhong? I opened my mouth to deny it, but then I changed my mind. It did seem a plausible explanation for things, and if I denied it, I'd have to come up with another one. So why not let her keep thinking that?
"I'd just as soon you not tell her," I said.
"I think she already more than suspects it," said Fay, "But whatever. Take your own pace,"
As she walked away, I thought about what she'd said. I'd meant it to throw her off, but the more I thought about Zhong in a romantic context, the more it seemed to make sense. She was very attractive - with her large blue-green eyes, her slightly pointy, elf-like ears, and cute round cheekbones. She had a certain unusual grace to her movements, and her smile could be downright bewitching. She was smart, I loved spending time with her, and we had a lot in common, in a way. We were both keeping big secrets. And it seemed only fair that since she knew mine, she should tell me hers.
But I soon put the thought out of my head. I wouldn't have time to date while learning to be a Draconic and trying to keep up with my schoolwork. She'd have to stay a friend for me to confide in. But still -it was nice to think about.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Final Entrants

We have finally managed to round up four competitors to round out the tournament, giving us an even 16! They are:

Bun-Bun (Sluggy Freelance)- The most dangerous mini-lop on the planet, Bun-Bun has taken on Aliens, Demons, Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny and there is not one of them who does not fear him now. His prowess with the switch-blade is unparralleled. His second is Torg.

Peter Pan (Peter Pan)- The beloved childhood character is far more dangerous than he sounds. He can fly and he's an incredibly skilled swordsman. Not to be underestimated. His second is Tinkerbell.

Corporal Delphine Angua von Uberwald (Discworld)- The only werewolf in the Ankh-Morpork city watch, Angua has proven herself in combat time and time again. Ironically enough, the only other woman in this tournament hunts undead. With any luck, the sparks will fly. Her second is Captain Carrot Ironfounderson.

The Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy)- The most feared creature in the galaxy. It's one weakness is that if you can't see it, it can't see you, but that won't help our competitors too much. It's second is another Ravenous Bugblatter beast of Traal.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

COM Prelude 2: Dukalb

You've all heard the story of how Magic came to the world, in the Dagger of Arconolia, and how the oceans churned, and the earth split, and the magic belts were created. And most of you probably know the story of how Fahren and her sister fought, and Fahren was expelled from the Citadel of Decorgio and led her people on a twelve year exodus to the forest of Virii. But this shoustory you have not heard. It takes place a few thousand years later, in that same forest.
Once upon a time, in the forest of Virii, there lived a fair elf maiden, with beautiful yellow hair. Now, for those of you less knowledgable in elf lore, yellow hair was the sign of the elven aristocracy among the elves of the citadel- among the children of Fahren, it is considered a curse, a reminder of the oppression they went to the woods to flee. So the girl was ostracized by her fellow elves, and when she came of age, she trained to become a ranger, spending her time defending nature, far from the disapproving looks of the other elves. One day, as she was patrolling the outskirts of the forest, she came upon a dwarf cutting down one of the trees.
This was exactly the situation she was trained to deal with, of course. She silently crept up behind him and poked the very tip of her javelin into his neck.
"Good afternoon, sir," she said, casually.
he jumped, nearly impaling himself on her weapon, then turned to face her.
"You are aware," she asked, "That logging in the forset of Virii is strictly forbidden?"
The dwarf looked frightened for a moment, but he quickly recovered his cool and launched into an elaborate explanation.
"YOu mean, I'm already in the forest of Virii?" he said, questioningly. "Well then, forgive me. I was under the impression it began some miles to the west,"
"You should have checked more thouroughly, then," said the elf maiden, "Though this is the outskirts of our land, you are still in Virii, and chopping down our trees is punishable by death,"
"Surely you would not punish me for that which I did not know I was doing?"asked the Dwarf, backing up away from the tree.
"I'll let you off this time," answered the elf, "But you'd do well to leave as soon as you can,"
For most this would have been enough, but this dwarf, an ambitious young entrapenuer, decided to push his luck one more step forward. After all, the trees of Virii are legendary for their lightweight but durable wood, and a single log would be worth it's weight in gold to an armorer.
"One more thing," he said to the woman, "It seems I've already made quite a dent in this tree trunk. Do you think it will survie?"
"Perhaps," she said, "With the minstrations of our Druids. There is a chance,"
"But not a large one," He said.
"No," she admitted, "Not a large one,"
"Then perhaps you should let me just finish it off," he said, "Seeing as I've come all this way and all. Otherwise I'd be losing quite a bit off of this whole deal - I mean, the time it took me to get out here, the price of my cart to transport the wood and the oxen to pull it, all of this was intended to make itself up when I chopped down a cart full of trees. But if this is one of the magic trees of Virii, well then one should be more than enough to make up my losses. So hows about this - I finish chopping this one tree, load it onto my cart, thne we forget the whole thing. Deal?"
The Ranger just looked at him, with a mixture of confusion and dismay. She couldn't believe a person could not only be this selfish and greedy, but also stupid enough to just admit his motives to her, a sworn protector of the forest. What an idiot, she thought.
"I was about to let you off the hook,"she said, drawing her sword and leveling it towards his head, "Thinking this an honest mistake. But you obviously have no respect for the trees of Virii, or for the gods you put them here. You don't deserve to live,"
"On the contrary," said the Dwarf, raising his axe to block her attack, "I have the utmost respect for the tree and the gods. That's why I want to use their gifts, instead of keeping anyone from having them,"
She pushed his axe out of the way with her sword, then kicked him in the face. Just in time, he ducked and rolled out of her way. She took the opportunity to draw her other sword.
"If you're type had their way," she said as he lifted his small axe to defend himself, "Ther'd be no trees left in this forest, and my people would have no where to live,"
"You think we're that stupid?" said the dwarf. "Look at all the forests that don't have your protection. Have we completely chopped them down yet?"
She pounced at him, swords drawn. He rolled out of the way again, and stood up.
"Obviously, it's a matter of supply and demand," he yelled as he tried to deflect the blows that fell from her swords with his axe, "If we cut down all the trees, we'd be out of business. Obviously, we'd work it out so there were always more of these things growing, and we'd plant new ones to replace them. The only differance would be that-"
He stopped talking because her sword had managed to chop the blade off of his axe. He was now holding a useless handle, two sword points poking into his neck.
She could have finished him then, but something about what he was saying intrigued her.
"Go on," she said, relaxing slightly, "But keep in mind I reserve the right to decapitate you,"
The dwarf was startled to be alive, and nervous as hell, but somehow he managed to keep his cool.
"Well," he said, "The way I see it, as long as you elves are protecting these trees with your lives, the wood will continue to be extremely valuable, and more and more people will come looking for it. Seems to me the best way to protect your forest would be to plant more of these trees elsewhere, thus increasing the supply and decreasing the value of your wood. You give me one seed, and I'll make sure that happens"
"And that you reap all the profits," she said.
"Or we could split them fifty/fifty if you like," he suggested, "I just didn't mention that plan cause I didn't think you'd be interested in it. Wood elves don't tend to care much about money, rangers even less so,"
A thought was now going through the elf maidens head. An evil thought to her, but probably a decent one to most of us. You see, having only become a ranger to get away from the other elves, she had never really been all that happy in the job. Now she was thinking she could go away from this place and live a much more comfortable life. And having never had more than the spartan accomodations of Wood Elf society, this is something that appealed to her.
She pulled her swords away from his neck and placed them back in their scabbards.
"We'll take the tree, and sell the wood," she said, "Then we'll use the profits to buy some land, and plant more of these trees there. We'll run the bussiness together, and split the profits evenly. Sound good?"
"Wonderful," said the dwarf. He looked down at the handle in his hand. "I'll need a new axe," he said.
She handed him one of her swords, then took out the other one and began chopping away at the other side of the tree. It felt good, to defy the elven authorities. She felt so rebellious - cutting down a sacred tree - and she loved the feeling. When the tree fell, they loaded it onto the ox cart and headed for a city to sell the wood.
They sold it for a good sum of money, bought a plot of land, and planted the young saplings in it. And as they waited for their fortune to grow, they fell in love, and built a nice house on the land. They got married and had a beautiful baby boy, whom they named Dukalb, after the Dwarf's father. All of this was on credit from investors who thought they'd be payed back in valuable Virii wood.
Of course, their plan eventually failed - it turns out it was the soil, not the trees themselves, that gave the wood it's special properties, and when they discovered they had been growing useless wood for five years they went into huge amounts of debt, and lived the rest of their lives in poverty. But that's a story for another time. What's important is the child, and maybe this insight into his parentage will help you to understand his actions a little better.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

ToSf/FC: Match 1

First, a note about how this match was conducted - I made Dungeons and Dragons character sheets for both characters, then DMed while Paul and Stephen duked it out. Ensuing matches will be conducted similarly. For the record, Bean was a monk.
"Good Evening everyone, Ladies, Gentleman, and androgenous creatures of all ages, and welcome to the Science Fiction/Fantasy tournament of champions. I'm your host, Zaphod Beeblebrox, and this is Marvin,"
"Brain the size of a Planet and they have me commentating some stupid sports match. Can you believe it? And I still have this terrible pain down all the diodes in my left side. OH, life. Don't talk to me about life,"
"Ok, Marv, can we stick to talking about the match please? Ok, it looks like the competitors are stepping onto the field, which for those of you listening on some sort of audio-only device, is a graveyard in the beautiful down of Sunnydale, scenically located just above a hellsmouth. In the Northwest corner, weighing in at 190 lbs, standing 5 foot 10, he's been called the Greatest Wizard of his time, let's all give a warm welcome to Albus Dumbledore!"
"Of course, normally he'd show some mercy, but just to make things more interesting, he think Voldemort is possessing the boy,"
*long pause*
"Uh... Marv?"
"Oh, right, in the Southeast corner, another truly pathetic lifeform. Brainpower nearly equal to mine and they tricked him into fighting in a stupid little tournament. Really makes you sick. Anyway, weighing in at a mere 50 lbs, and standing about 3 ft, let's all not hear it for Julian Delphiki,"
*uncertain applause*
"Ok, and it looks like Bean is making the first move. Using his battleschool training, the kid creeps up to the large tomb in the middle of the field and hides behind it,"
"Dumbledore seems to be casting some sort of protective spell on himself. A forcefield of some sort has appeared around him. How pathetic,"
"Look, Marv, if you're not gonna make this interesting, I'm just gonna do it myself,"
"Wonderful idea. I don't know why I put up with this in the first place. The toaster was more intellectually stimulating than you. Goodbye,"
"Okay, it looks like Dumbledore is readying some sort of spell, and yes he is, well look at that. A huge ball of fire has exploded just above the tomb. But Bean expertly avoids it, rolling out of the way. He's ok.
'And Bean is running towards Dumbledore, attacking him with his hands. And, it looks like he just hit himself in the leg. That's gotta hurt.
'Now Dumbledore appears tro be apparating to the other side of the field. Bean runs back to the tomb and hides again. And Dumbledore, not wanting to be hit again, has cast a shield spell out of his wand. Now he's launching bolts of magic through the tomb at Bean. 5 of them, and they hit right on target. Bean sneaks around behind the gravestones, using his small size to his advantage, then jumps Dumbledore, attacking him again. The shield deflects two of the blows, but two of them hit and it looks like the old man's taking quite a beating. But Bean retreats and goes to treat his wounds from the missiles, using part of his clothing to stop the bleeding.
'And it looks like Dumbledore has cast some sort of spell on Bean, who is now on the ground searching for something, and Dumbledore has apparating away again, back to the Northwest corner of the graveyard. And it looks like Bean has given up on finding whatever he's looking for, and he's running back to the tomb again. And Dumbledore fires off another fireball, which Bean again expertly avoids. Undetered, he fires five more bolts of magic. ANd oh, it looks like those stung.
'And Bean jumps Dumbledore from behind the tomb, and he knows just how to hit him to make it hurt. That old man is really taking a beating. But, the boy has taken off running. Dumbledore points his wand after him and hits him with a spell, and Bean is stopped in his tracks. He can't move. Dumbledore steps back and hits him full on with a fireball, and this time he can't evade it. He looks pretty bad, but just to be sure, Dumbledore hits the stunned
little boy with a lightning bolt and he's out. Our onsight medics are rushing out to give him some first aid. And Albus Dumbledore wins the first match of the Science Fiction/Fantasy Tournament of Champions! Tune in next week to see Worf take on Master Yoda - this is one fight you won't wanna miss!"

Chapter 30: New Perspectives

When I finally woke up the next morning, I went downstairs to have some breakfast. As I sat down, an article in the newspaper caught my eye. It talked about an unidentified man who had been found stabbed through the heart in the middle of the park. It was clearly the dragon hunter who had assaulted us. Fortunately, there didn't seem to be any suspects - it seemed too many people had been in the area that day. It was then that Teresa called me up.
"What happened last night?" she demanded.
"Huh?" I answered, uncertain of exactly what she meant.
"First off," she said, "Why were you in the woods at night? I mean how stupid can you get? I'm amazed you're alive and free,"
"I'm sorry," I said, "Time got away from me. If your friend had kept an eye on me like he was supposed to -"
"Bobby is being punished," she said, cutting me off. "He did a lot of things not exactly by the book. But you shouldn't have to count on our protection. Use some common sense, ok?"
"Ok," I answered.
"Thank you," she said. "Second thing: why are you still alive? Bobby said that you said those vamps vanished in a flash of light or something? We need more than that. Tell me everything you know,"
"That's all I know," I answered, "There was a flash of light, they turned to dust,"
"Who was the girl?" asked Teresa.
"Zhong Hua, a friend of mine," I said.
"She go to your school?"
"Your age?"
"A year younger," I said, "Why do you want to know?"
"Don't worry," said Teresa, "We won't bother her. You been listening to the tape?"
I had not. In fact I had completely forgotten it existed.
"You haven't, have you?" She asked, alerted by my stunned silence. "Look, you have until Thursday. Listen to it until you understand it - trust me, you will. I'll see you then, ok? And please try to be more careful,"
She hung up. I figured I'd better get to work on that tape, so I went upstairs and found my old tape player. I hooked up my headphones and turned it on.
It was growling. And roaring. I understood nothing at all. I took the headphones off - how was I supposed to do this. But Teresa had known what she was doing in the past. I put them back on. I forced myself to listen to a full three hours of roaring and growling, until finally I'd had enough. I was about to take them off when suddenly, something changed. While I could still hear nothing but growling, my mind was ssomehow interpreting it as words.
"And so Terelafon was slain, and in the kingdom there was much rejoicing. But in the halls of Ab-duruth, the tone was somewhat more melancholy. Who could this new enemy be? And which of them would be next?"
I rewound the tape to the beginning, and sure enough, I understood it now. It was a history of the arcane age - the same stories we'd grown up with, but from a completely new perspective. I listened with rapt attention as it told of how the Elves, far from the cruel slave-masters conventional folklore made them out to be, had been the kind benefactors of humanity, until the Necromancer created his army of undead and destroyed them, along with the Dwarves, the Dragons, and every other non-human race. It was an exciting story, and most exciting of all, it was told from the point of view of the dragons.
I had a lot of questions, but when I called Teresa all I got was her answering machine. It appeared I would have to wait until Thursday for answers.