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)