Monday, December 31, 2012

The Winter Solstice Sacrifice

A lone young man strode down the corridor in solemn silence. He was dressed in white bodysuit with a crown of holy circling his brow. The suit was warm and padded to protect him from the cold outside and the beasts of the wild. He opened and closed his hands as he walked, trying to focus his mind and put aside his nerves.

Joshua was excited and terrified all at once. It was Christmas Eve and he was to be the community’s hunter this year. At seventeen years old it was quite an honor, and responsibility, to be chosen. If he succeeded he would bring the Lord’s blessing onto the tribe for the year. If he failed, he would have to provide himself as the sacrifice for the year.

He reached the end of the corridor and stood in front of the wall, waiting to be let through. After a moment the wall split in the middle and started to peel back. The little tiles that made up the structure rearranged themselves to create a portal for him to step through. He could see the rest of the community waiting in the room beyond. They were divided into two groups, one to each side so that he would have a clear path to travel down. Waiting at the end before the gate to the outerworld was Father Markus.

Joshua did not miss a beat and stepped forward. He continued down between silent crowd with his eyes set forward. He had to appear confident and self assured. It would not do for them to be able to see doubts and fears that filled his heart. Nor did he wish to look like a child that was too eager to be the hunter without understanding of what he was about to do. The weight of everyone’s expectations were heavy on his shoulders.

He stopped before Father Markus. The older man had long grey hair, but his eyes were alive with a piercing energy. It was the kind of gaze that made rock crumble. Below his left eye were seven light scars, one for each time he had been the Hunter. The hall waited in stony silence as Joshua was appraised. Whatever it was that Father Markus looked for in the hunters, he seemed to find it in Joshua and motioned for him to kneel.

“We are gathered on this holy night to make an offering to the Lord as an act of penance and a request of mercy,” Father Markus said as he started the sermon, “For long ago, man committed the greatest of sins. Men thought to be like God, to hold the power of life and death. They sought to change the earth to better suit them, ignoring the divine wisdom that had created the world. The Lord was angry and turned mens works against them. The life they sought to create was twisted and hateful towards them. Every living thing upon the earth that had been given to man was now dedicated to his destruction. Every beast that walks has the taste for the flesh of men. Every bird of the sky is poisonous to man’s tongue. The small things that creeped across the earth grew large and powerful to smash the cities of men under their feet.

“Man might have been doomed of not for the mercy of the Lord’s Son,” Father Markus continued, the crowd in the palm of his hand. Even though they heard it on every winter solstice, everyone was enthralled. “He beseeched the Lord to forgive man. In his wisdom the Lord agreed, but for this mercy He demanded that man make a sacrifice just as His son had.

“Now we make a sacrifice every year to the Lord on the night His son was born,” said Father Markus. His voice had become less grim, but no less solemn. “Tonight is the winter solstice, the longest night of the year. We will send young Joshua out into the dark where he will spill blood in sacrifice to wash away all of our sins. For this pious act the sun shall rise come morning and usher in a new year of growth and renewal.”

When Father Markus made a gesture, Joshua kneeled and bowed his head. Father Markus led him and the others through the Lord’s Prayer and then him alone through the Hunter’s Rite. He anointed his head in oil and bid him to rise. Markus held out his hands. In one was a curved knife. In the other was a long metal cylinder.

Joshua took the cylinder with the stone tip first. He gave the thought command that activated the device. The cylinder stretched out until it was nearly as long as he was tall. It sprouted a long, tapered blade with a small prong on each side. Hefting its weight in his hand, he tested its feel. He then recited the ritual words that he had memorized since he was a child, “May my spear be guided by the grace of God. I leave here cloaked in the sins of all. I shall walk through the valley of the shadow of death, comforted only by my spear and the Lord’s blessing. Before the sun rises I shall wash away the cloak of sin with blood so that the light of God Almighty shall rise in the morning and shine down on all to warm our hearts and the land.”

Father Markus raised the knife and pressed the hooked tip under Joshua’s left eye. He drew it across the young man’s face with a deft flick of his wrist, leaving a thin line of red that began to lightly ooze. Joshua for his part did not flinch from the cut. Father Markus handed Joshua the knife and told him, “You are now marked, Hunter. Return triumphant or do not return at all. Before the sun’s rays bath the land, you must use the knife of sacrifice.”

All were as silent as death as Father Markus stepped aside. The back wall parted and the chill of winter flooded the room. With nothing left to say, Joshua marched forward into the snowy night. The wall closed behind him and he was truly alone, left to wander as a dead man in search of life.

Wasting no time, Joshua trudged through the snow, heading for the forest. The snow was deep enough that he sank past his ankle, though the occasional drift put it to his knee. It was also wet and heavy. This would make for slow going, but also would make the trail of his intended prey clear. He was fortunate that the moon was nearly full. Its pale rays illuminated the land, giving it an ethereal glow.

His senses strained to catch any sign of life as he moved through forest of skeletal trees. Their frost rimed branches looked like ghoulish arms ready to grab him at any moment and they projected spectral shadows that haunted in the moonlight to haunt the ancient part of his mind that told him he should be somewhere safe and warm. The trees were dead and harmless, but not from winter cold. Living trees were to dangerous to build a settlement by. This was an old forest that had died off long ago. Still, beasts made their homes here.

Joshua paused to check the chronometer on the wrist of his suit. He was making good time. The ground was already starting to slope up towards the mountain. A halo of fog breath wafted around his head as checked his positioning and course before starting out again. He had only taken a single step when he thought he heard something.

He stopped dead still and strained to hear. His eyes looked around, straining in the half-light. Then he heard it again, the barest sound of wings flapping. He could think of only one thing that silent and would hunt on a dark winters night. He readied his spear in one hand with the shaft tucked under his arm for support. His other hand drew out his hunting knife.

The only warning was a high pitched attack screech from behind. Joshua flung himself forward into the snow. Glancing up he could see the dark form of a blood bat flying over him. The creature was darker than dark, like the night sky distilled of all its stars and the moon. It had a wingspan almost as long as he was tall. Its wings and hind feet were tipped with hooked claws that could slice through a man’s flesh with ease and dripped an anticoagulant venom so potent that even a single scratch could cause a man to exsanguinate. Two large ears like satellite dishes sat just above a maw of teeth made to crack bones so that the blood bat could suck out the marrow.

Joshua was back on his feet in an instant and put his back to one of the ancient trees. All around him he could hear the screeching of blood bats. They liked to attack in swarms of three to four usually. As he strained to sense where the next attack would come from he started to grow nauseous. The frequency the blood bats used for their echolocation had an unsettling effect on the human body.

The next attack came straight on. Gritting his teeth, Joshua ignored the bile rising towards his throat and thrust forward with his spear. He impaled the blood bat through the mouth and forced it to the ground. The beast flapped about in its death throes, spreading its blood on the snow.

The spear was still stuck in the first blood bat’s body when the next attack came. Joshua sidestepped the attack and hooked his knife upward to catch the bat’s wing. Bone and leathery flesh were cut clean through. The blood bat tumbled through the air until it crashed into a tree.

He drew the spear from the body of the blood bat and peered around, hoping to catch a shadow of movement. He saw a flicker in the darkness at his feet and realized that the blood bat was above him. Without thinking he thrust up and caught the attacker in the side with his spear. The bat continued down, however, and slashed at Joshua with its tearing claws.

The spear was of no use in close so Joshua dropped it. He used his free hand to grapple the blood bat and hold it away from him. He stabbed repeatedly  with the knife until he realized that the bat was no longer attacking. He let it drop to the snow then sagged against a tree. He panted from the exertion, his breath forming a haze in the air.

Once he had caught his breath, Joshua tended to his wounds. He took a small medical kit from his belt pouch and applied a salve to his cuts. It should stop the bleeding even with the bat’s venom hindering his body’s ability to form clots. It dulled the pain as well and would start the healing process. He cleaned his knife and spear on the snow then set off again.

The harsh environment of the last thousand years had bred a rugged and resilient people. The blood of survivors flowed in Joshua’s veins. He had been forged on the crucible of an unforgiving world until he was as tough as the world around him. Young and entering into his prime, he was ready for any to press forward with nothing held back.

He jogged across the frozen countryside until he had broken through the dead forest. He was entering the barren hills that led up the mountain. The terrain was open here and he would be more exposed. Any cover that could be found, a boulder here, a dead tree there, was to be taken with a small prayer of thanks to God. Joshua moved over the hills, climbing ever steeper slopes. His eyes scanned constantly for both his prey and any creature that would see him as prey.

He passed quickly through the hills and started up the mountainous slopes with only one small incident. A leach bush had been hidden under a snow drift that he had the misfortune of sinking into. The dormant plant animated when it sensed fresh blood. Thorny vines wrapped about his legs and pierced his skin. The hollow thorns started to feast on his lifeblood with a starved thirst. The blade of his spear was sharp to a micron, however, and severed the vampiric herb. Joshua made good his escape and started using the butt of his spear to check for deep snow drifts as he moved on up along the sharp cliff faces.

Pathways had been worn along the side of the cliff face by generations of men and beasts. They were treacherous, rimmed over by the freezing fogs that had swept through like life stealing spectres. Sure feet and good balance were all that kept Joshua from sliding off the edge of the mountain as he hiked higher and higher.

Joshua’s lungs burned as he breathed in the frigid mountain air. He had been traveling for hours now without break and it was nearing midnight. He was truly in the hunting grounds now. However, he only had a few hours left to find a ram to sacrifice. If he could not find a ram, his own life would be forfeit. He had known that going in, but it had not sunk in until he could feel the seconds ticking away. Joshua said a soft prayer and hardened his resolve.

A chill wind caused snow flurries to dance around him as he scampered over a few small boulders. The wind also carried the distant howls of viper wolves. It was eerie and unsettling, but they were far off and would not climb up into the mountains. After sliding along an ice sheet that nearly took him over the edge of a cliff, Joshua reflected that showed a great deal of wisdom on the viper wolves’ part. Why risk their lives on the icy rocks when they could wait at the bottom for some fool to trip and be delivered right to them?

As he neared the alpine zone, Joshua finally spotted the tracks he had hoped for. They were fresh and easy to follow. Gripping his spear tightly, Joshua followed the trail with all possible speed. He slid down icy embankments and leapt across crevasses. He was past the time of caution and fear could only serve to hold him back. Adrenaline banished his fatigue and the thrill of the chase carried him across the mountain like he had grown wings. Dawn was growing close and this would likely prove to be his only chance.

The hoof marks in the snow and scuffed ice and rock led him around a ledge with an overhang. He could tell that there was something waiting for him down in those beshadowed depths. Joshua crept forward with all the silence of death. Unfortunately the slope down under the overhang was covered with loose scree. No amount of caution and stealth would be adequate to stop pebbles from tumbling down the slope in a small avalanche. The noise seemed to echo like the roar of a thousand boulders bounding down a mountain.

Behind the rocky clatter came the sound of a great beast stirring. It snored from the shadows even as its eyes glowed in the slivers of moonlight that braved the dark depths of the mountain hollows. Mighty hooves raked the stone underfoot as the eyes settled on the intruder. Snorting out a frosty breath that was like blowing out the smoke of hellfire, the creature charged.

Joshua had his spear at the ready, but knew he could not stand against the creature on such unstable footing. He threw himself aside at the last possible moment and the creature lunged past him. He pivoted quickly and looked to see the ram bathed in the moonlight.

It was a massive creature that stood as tall as him. Two great horns rested on its head, curling  back and around. Small spines ran along the horns to ensure that anything hit by them would be shredded as well as crushed. It stood on six powerful legs ending in nimble hooves that could navigate any mountain as well as a man walked over a flat floor. Its white coat shimmered under the moonbeams. Joshua had never seen such a magnificent and terrible creature.

The ram scrapped at the ground with one of its forehooves and Joshua knew it was preparing to charge again. This would be a fight to the death. Joshua dashed downhill, sliding on ice and scree to put distance between himself and the ram. he shot an arm out to grab and outcropping of rock and change his direction. The ram followed close behind and smashed through the corpse of an ancient tree that had once dared to try and grow at the edge of the treeline.

Joshua ran as soon as his feet were on lichen and snow. With a bit of distance between him and the ram, Joshua spun and crouched with the spear ready. The ram came after him, turning with a nimbleness that would not have been expected from such a large creature. It crashed across the small plane towards Joshua. At the last moment he rolled to the side and stabbed up with his spear. The keen tip connected and ripped a red line across the flank of the mighty ram. First blood was his.

The ram rounded on him as it bellowed its pain. Joshua was forced to dodge away from stamping hooves and pulverizing horns. He thrust with his spear, but even its keen tip would not stab through the adamantine skull of the ram. He retreated and attacked, trying for distance. He could not go far, the ram was forcing him near the edge of the cliff. A few steps more and he would fall to his doom. The ram scrapped its forehoof on the ground and he could see that was exactly what was about to happen. It would smash into his chest and fling him off the edge of the world.

Joshua had paid attention when it had attacked before. The beast reared up on its hind legs before it charged forward, building up energy and aligning its spine. As it did so he  made a desperate lunge, stabbing up into its chest. The ram came down, its legs still kicking on instinct to launch it forward and drove the spear clean through it. Still, it struck against Joshua and together they both rolled toward the edge of the cliff, stopping not a hands breadth from going over.

Joshua stood up panting. He looked down at the graceful and powerful animal that kicked impotently in the air. He drew the ceremonial knife and slashed the rams throat as he said the ritual prayers, putting his foe, and salvation, out of its misery.

The light of dawn burst over the mountain and washed over the land. It illuminated the valley below. Joshua could feel the warmth and knew that summer would come and with it new blessings. He kneeled in prayer and thanked the Lord for providing him with a sacrifice and absolving the sins of him and his community. Joshua descended the mountain with his path illuminated by the light of the new year.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


The ambulance took a sharp turn then sped down the country road. The siren blared, though it was slightly muffled inside the cab and had to compete with the roar of the diesel engine. Ryan and Tim had just been sitting down to lunch when the call came in for a man suddenly feeling ill. As they raced down the road they took bets on whether the run would be something real or just BS.

They turned into a long driveway leading to a farm house. An endless sea of corn could be seen spreading out behind the farmyard. Parked next to the garage was a green John Deer tractor. It seemed to have been parked haphazardly. As they pulled up to the house Ryan could see a middle aged man sitting on the front porch steps. They parked the truck and Ryan told Tim to grab the bag as he approached the man.

The man tried to call out a greeting, but seemed to have trouble. Instead, he just waved for the EMTs to come to him. Ryan scanned over the man, starting his assessment before he reached him. The man was pale and sweaty. His dirty work clothes were covered down the front with vomit.

“My name is Ryan, I’m here to help sir,” he said as he put on his gloves, “Can you tell me why you called?”

The man let out a groan that sounded roughly like, “I feel like crap.” He grasped at his stomach in pain. Up close, Ryan could see part of why the man was having trouble talking was because his mouth was filling with saliva and he was drooling all over himself. The man’s eyes were watery like he had been crying. Starting to suspect something, Ryan looked down and saw that the front of the man’s pant were stained with urine. Ryan had not noticed until now that there was a strong chemical smell in the air, the diesel fumes had a way of masking every other scent nearby. A focused sniff told him the man had defecated.

Salivation, lacrimation, urination, defecation, gastrointestinal upset, and emesis. All the signs of SLUDGE syndrome. Something was stimulating the man’s parasympathetic nervous system into overdrive. That meant a nerve agent. Some kind of insecticide was the likely culprit on a farm. However, Ryan had also heard stories of farmers hitting buried chemicals or old munitions and releasing chemicals. Whatever the case, there was a good chance that something deadly was in the air.

Ryan fought down the urge to swear and instead turned to Tim who had just arrived with the bag, “We need to grab this guy and go now! We’ve got a possible Hazmat situation.” Tim looked stunned by the sudden pronouncement, but recovered and helped get support the farmer to the ambulance.

“Sir, is there anyone else here? In the house or the field?” Ryan asked as they loaded the man onto the cot. The man shook his head. That was a small relief at least. Ryan hopped in back with the farmer and Tim dashed around to the front of the ambulance to drive.

“Get us going, I don’t want to wait around if there are chemicals in the air,” Ryan called up to Tim as he put an oxygen mask on the patient and cranked it to sixteen LPM. The patient was breathing on his own so far and did not show signs of any physical injury. Ryan started taking vitals as the ambulance turned onto the road. “Get ahold of the fire department. Tell them to get the Hazmat team down here.”

Gathering information was not going well. The man was having trouble speaking and what he said was hard to interpret. Ryan worked fast to keep assessing the patient. He placed the heart monitor on him and got a cardiac reading. The man was slightly bradycardic. To Ryan’s way of thinking a slow heart beat was better than no heartbeat.

As Ryan started an IV in the patient’s left AC he could tell the man was starting to fade out of consciousness. “Damnit!” he swore as the man finally passed out. He connected the line and set the drip rate to keep the vein open then moved over to get the suction ready.

By the time he had it ready, he could already hear the start of the man gurgling on his own saliva. He pulled down the oxygen mask and opened the man’s airway. He slipped the yankauers suction tip into the man’s mouth. The saliva was sucked out and he put the mask back on the patient.

As he started to reassess the patient, Ryan made his call into the hospital, “We have an adult male, about forty, that has probably been exposed to a nerve agent. Have Hazmat precautions ready when we get there. His vitals are BP ninety over sixty, pulse eighty, and respirs twelve. ETA eight minutes.”

The ambulance bounced down the road as Ryan continued to monitor the patient. He had to stop his continuing assessment to suction the patient again. He took a blood sugar reading, which was normal, along with a temperature. He wanted to have a thorough assessment ready for the ER. Vitals were low, but mostly stable. As long as they were not getting worse, Ryan was happy.

The ambulance turned into the hospital and parked at the ER entrance. People were out and waiting, ready with the hoses. Ryan was glad this happened in the summer instead of winter. They unloaded the patient and rolled him over to be rinsed off. He was transferred to a clean cot and the nurses rolled the patient into the ER. With patient care transferred, Ryan and Tim went through decontamination.

“So, more interesting than it sounded when we got the call,” Tim said.

“Yea, yea. Hand me a towel,” Ryan replied. Interesting was good, not having to find dry cloths was better.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Sample Chapter: The Goblin King

While Fland fought the goblins, Elarr ran towards one of the buildings with a burning roof. He was no conjurer so summoning a ball of water was beyond him. He had never studied much of fire magics, seeing them as having little practical application outside of war. What he could do, however, was command the winds. He chanted and made a gesture with one hand the pointed the top of his crystalline walking staff at the flames.

The air around the fire condensed into a tightly packed sphere that centered itself in the flames. The dense orb suddenly expanded with the force of a cyclone. The explosion of air caused the flames to flare up and then sputter out like a candle that was blow on to hard.

It was a good start, but Elarr knew that he needed more. He watched as villagers bailed water from rain barrels to put out the flames. A burly man picked up one next to the tavern and emptied it directly inside of a burning house. The flood from the barrel inspired an idea in his keen mind. Elarr dashed between two buildings with the intent of reaching the next street where the town well was located.


Fland’s rag-tag group held the line as they forced the goblins to retrete. Some fled down alleys or climbed buildings. Most were fleeing towards the town square. The guardsmen hacked apart any goblin they could from their own position. Soon the two forces were meeting at the center.

“Those things are still in half the town,” Fland shouted as he turned down the intersection to the town square.

“We had to retreat this way,” one of the guards said as he took position next to Fland, “They burst through the gate with so many that we had to regroup. And there were other things with them, big and terrifying. They cut through the captain and headed straight towards the square.”

“Damnit!” Fland cursed as he turned towards the man, “Were they hairy with heads like a bear?”

“Yea, how did y-”

“Bugbears,” he replied, cutting the guardsman off. “I’ve ran into them before. Tough, ugly, and wholly unnatural.”

As they marched down the street they could see the village square ahead. A mass of disorganized goblins could be seen in the flickering firelight. There were a few bugbears mixed among them. The large brutes stood as tall as man, and would likely be taller if they did not hunch forward. Sitting atop broad shoulders was a large, ursine head with a short snout and big ears. When the monstrous creatures opened their mouths in violent roars, they revealed that their lower mandibles split open to reveal that it was lined with teeth that led into a spiked gullet. They radiated an unnerving presence, and when they got closer, Fland new the men would falter under the fear aura.

“Everyone keep together!” Fland shouted as he started towards the goblins, “They’ll scatter as soon as they know we won’t stop.” Fland charged and the rest followed behind him. The guardsmen raised their swords and spears. The villagers shook their pitchforks, clubs, and kitchen knives.

The goblins hooted and shouted obscenities in their debased tongue. The bugbears gave them strength, not to mention intimidated them into staying in place. The cowardly creatures’ resolve fell apart as the villagers fell on them. The front rank broke as the villagers attacked with savage ferocity, determined to save their homes.

The goblins might have been routed then and there if the bugbears had not stepped forward. The monstrous creatures strode through their smaller brethren, kicking aside any that did not part the way for them, crushing the dying under heel as they engaged their prey. They chopped and slashed with their weapons, cleaving into villagers with ease. Their unsettling presence sapped the rage from the villagers, dashing their momentum like a wave against a cliff. As a bugbear hacked off an arm or leg, opportunistic goblins would follow behind, delivering a cruel killing blow to the wounded or attacking someone that was put off balance by the death of a friend.

Fland could feel the unnerving aura that the bugbears generated. It left him, and everyone else within range, shaken. It stirred the instincts to flee not fight. He would not let that stop him. He knew that most of the villagers were not trained warriors. Some of the guardsmen seemed like they might have been soldiers in the army in years past, but even they were faltering. It was up to him to take down the bugbears.

That damn elf had better do something soon.

Fland spun and ducked under the swing of a bugbear’s ax and brought both of his maces hard into its side. He sidestepped behind it as he came up and rolled his maces to bring them down hard on the bugbear’s head. He spun one around to crack its neck for a final blow as the he brought the other around to block the attack of another bugbear. One of the men he had been dicing with stabbed a sickle into the bugbear to finish it off.

Spinning maces blocked the attacks of the new bugbear and slipped in one hit after another. The light maces were fast and let him put up a wall of steel to batter aside the unskilled, but powerful, attacks by the bugbear and any sneaky goblins that were feeling brave. Unfortunately, they lacked the power to kill such brutish creatures in a single blow. Each attack built on the next in a rapid succession that collectively pulverized the target. The tactic was working, but to slowly for such a mass battle. Matters only became worse as Fland saw another bugbear coming at him. It appeared that they had determined him to be the most worthy target.

That damn elf had better do something really soon.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

National Novel Writing Month Wrap Up

So, there were no posts in November as I worked on a book for National Novel Writing Month. The goal was 50,000 words. I worked hard, but came up quite short with a final total of 11,115 words. Still, that is a personal best for me and I am happy that I did manage to make a dent in the story.

There were a few factors working against me. The biggest was that November was a busy, tiring month for me. Work got change around, the holiday, and other things were all competing for my time and energy. The other big factor was that I did not have a good outline to start with. I had spent the months before trying to come up with the story I wanted to write, but I was drawing blanks until just a short time before. I did finally hit on some inspiration, but by then it was a bit too late.

Despite the troubles, it was a great learning experience. This was the longest continuous piece I have written. Even without a working outline I put the pieces together and came up with ideas as I needed them. It is important to be able to change plans, not to mention being able to throw away an idea you like when it doesn't work. So I got practice with working on the fly, I did learn about the importance of a good outline though. For next year's challenge I'll make sure I have one well ahead of time.

The Goblin King is still a work in progress and I will not be giving up on it. I am also considering making The Depths of Despair part of the finished piece. With a little luck I can have the whole story completed in a few months. After the new year, my schedule should become a bit more stable. However, there will be other writing competing with. I have a lot of upcoming short stories for the Lair, including a plan to have at least one flash story every month. So keep an eye out, and look forward to the next post which will include a sample chapter from The Goblin King.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Night Raider: Issue 2

It had been a week since Clarence had started his personal crusade to fight street crime. During that time he had taken down a dozen muggers, three rapists, and stopped one hold up at a convenience store. He had started out just using himself as bait, taking down anyone that was unfortunate enough to make him their mark. While he did not mind beating down thugs, he just wished there was a way to put them behind bars and get them off of the street. Killing them had occurred to him, of course, but he rejected that. There was no denying that he was a vigilante now, a criminal in his own right, but he was not going to become judge, jury and executioner.

Things changed, though, when he came across a mugging in progress. He came across an old man being held up by a young punk with a knife. A strike to the back of the head with an expandable baton was all it took to neutralize the mugger... the kick to the ribs was to remind the young man to respect his elders. After making sure the old man was alright, Clarence made a quick 911 call and told the old man to wait there till the squad showed up.

In the morning there was a small piece on the local news about what happened. The old man was being interviewed. He talked about how some mysterious stranger had appeared out of nowhere and saved him. Clarence had to laugh when the old guy compared him to the heroes from comics he read as a kid back in the forties.

The important part was that the criminal was going to be going to jail. After that, Clarence changed his strategy. He was no longer waiting for crooks to come for him, he was looking for crimes in progress, he was going back to doing what he was meant to do. After he took down a criminal, he would make a quick call for the police or have someone nearby do it then flee the scene. If he could he was grabbing pictures or video of the crime and sending it to news outlets when he got home. Spreading a little evidence around was helping to push the police to act, even the ones that did not want to.

He patrolled the rough streets of Crown City, keeping close to the shadows. He had become a hunter, a predator on the prowl. In addition to his long coat and hood, he kept a domino mask to throw on if he had time. A close call with a punk waving about a Saturday night special convinced him to wear his old bullet proof vest. He had learned to wear tactical combat gloves to protect his hands, particularly his fits. He kept an expandable baton, OC spray, and a few zip-tie cuffs on hand. He could not ignore the irony that it seemed like every night he added another tool from his old duty belt.

The last thing he carried was .357 SIG Sauer P226 loaded with fifteen jacketed hollow-point rounds. He intended to leave his prey beaten and battered, but alive. However, if it came down to it, he was making sure he was the one that went home at night. This was the one thing that had not come from his duty belt. Part of it was for the practical reason of keeping himself untraceable. A bigger part, however, was he did not want to drag his duty weapon into this mess. He was walking into the darkness, but his duty weapon, along with his badge, were suppose to be beacons of light. He did not want them soiled with what might soon happen.

As he passed under a flickering street lamp, Clarence heard someone shout. He dashed around the corner and peered intently down the street to where he saw two people struggling. Clarence pulled on his mask as he quickly crept down the sidewalk, blending in with the shadows. As he closed the distance the scene became clear. A woman, she looked to be in her mid thirties, had been bringing home groceries. The bags had been dropped, their contents strewn on the ground. A group of young men, four by his count, were dragging her back into an ally.

"No! Please stop!" the woman cried desperately.

"Shut up bitch!" one of the men shouted back before backhanding the woman hard enough to knock her to the ground.

He needed to act fast, but this situation required tactics. He would bet his last dime that they were all armed in some form and that at least one of them had a gun. They would have to be neutralized fast and by surprise if he was going to minimize fatalities. Clarence darted down an alley and pulled out his cell, making a quick 911 call. He estimated the best response time for this part of town, barring a cruiser happened to be nearby, to be at least two minutes away. That would give him just enough time to do something that most people would consider stupid and reckless.

The alley he had run down intersected with another that connected it to the one the gang had dragged the woman. He could hear the men talking while the woman pleaded. A chainlink fence cut-off the intersecting ally, but he was over it without even pausing. It had been a while since he had practiced, but he his body still remembered freerunning as a teenager. He landed as silently as he could and moved swiftly down the alley. He kept to cover provided by a few trash cans and old boxes. He crept forward till he was almost to the building's corner.

The gang had stopped just before crossing the intersection. From the cover provided by the building's corner, Clarence assessed the situation. All of the gang were facing towards the opposite building, meaning he would be attacking from the side and behind. One was standing right at the corner where Clarence could reach around and grab him from where he stood. The next two were standing in the middle of the ally, watching the fourth who had the woman pinned against the wall. Time to act was running out fast.

Clarence reached around the corner and grabbed the first thug by the hair. He pulled hard to crack the man's skull against the wall. He shoved the man to the ground as he moved out into the alley. The others had turned at the sound. One of the two in the middle started to draw a gun from his pants while the one that had pinned the woman threw her to the ground.

Before the gun could be draw, Clarence had already stepped forward with his arm extended. He pressed the button and a stream of OC spray caught the man with the gun in the face. Instantly the chemicals started to react, burning the man's eyes and setting his lungs on fire. He dropped the gun and grabbed at his face. Clarence turned the spray towards the second man as he continued forward.

The spray only glanced the second target, and he made a blind swing. Clarence blocked the punch then stepped inside the man's guard and wrapped his forearms around the man's neck. He brought his knee up in two hard blows to the abdomen then tossed the man to the ground. He then threw a hard kick to the knee of the man that he had blinded. The man went down with a scream. Clarence dropped the spent OC canister as he turned to the final assailant.

The man that had held the woman brandished a knife. He lunged forward, intent on burying his weapon deep in Clarence's gut. Clarence caught the man's forearm in both hands, then twisted the man's arm as he spun under it. The man was forced to bend forward and drop his knife. Clarence drove the palm of his hand into the back of the man's head and forced him down until his face was smashed into the pavement.

Clarence turned to survey the others. The first was starting to get up along with the one that he had only partially blinded. He leapt to partially blinded one, drawing his expandable baton in the process. He extended the baton with a flick of his arm then brought it down on the side of the man's head. The first man he had taken down was reaching for the dropped gun. As he picked it up, Clarence closed the distance and struck the man's wrist with the batton. He followed with a blow to the face that knocked out half of the man's front teeth and a second to the head that dropped him to the ground.

"Are you alright?" Clarence asked as he turned his attention to the woman.

"Y-yes, I think," the woman replied as she tried to stand up.

"Good," Clarence replied as he went from one man to the next, placing zip cuffs on their wrists. The blinded man required a punch to the side of the head. "The police will be here shortly to arrest the men and take a statement," he said in a stoic tone. To prove his point, the sound of a distant siren reached the alley. Clarence dashed down the alley, away from the approaching siren, and faded into the dark.

"Wait, but aren't you going to..." the woman stopped as she realized that he was not going to stay. "Thank you!" the woman called after him.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Character Overview: Elarr

As I was writing The Depths of Despair, I knew that I needed to add a second character. Dialogue is pretty limited if you only have one character...unless he is crazy. In my original concept I had a female aranea. For those unfamiliar, they are a type of shapeshifting spider from D&D that can cast spells. I've always been a big fan of them. However, since I am trying to avoid using things trademarked to D&D that idea had to be nixed.

I needed a character that was different from Fland, but decided I did not want something so strange that it would overshadow the intended main character. I also knew that I wanted the character to still be a spellcaster. I settled on an elf. A fantasy classic that got me something that was not human, but not completely alien either. An elf really fit the roll of spellcaster as well. In the world that I am developing and in which the story was set, one of the three races of elves is all about the arcane arts.

Because he was somewhat a spur of the moment character, I did not have a lot of personality planned out for Elarr. I did not even have a concept for him until it was time to introduce him to the story. For that reason, I started out mainly playing off his differences between him and Fland. Where Fland is reckless and direct, Elarr is cautious and methodical. In a lot of ways he is a very cliche elf wizard, aloof and arrogant.

As the story developed, though, he began to take on a life of his own. He started to take on professorial role. He was the knowledgeable one. I realized that Elarr was an academic at his core. However, later on he shows that he knows how to fight. So maybe he is a bit like Indiana Jones, though more on the professor side than the adventurer side. One of the earliest developments for him was early on when he was demanding formality from his partner. I started thinking about it and determined, this guy has to be a noble. That never really came out in the story though.

A lot of Elarr's dialogue was affected by characters I had played in a D&D game, who was in turn influenced by the characters Black Mage and Fighter from 8-bit theater. I was at Origins one year and ended up in a game where I had to play two characters, a human fighter and an elf wizard. To have fun with them, the fighter was always wanting to talk with anything they met or blunder into every situation. The whole time, his wizard friend was cursing him for getting them into trouble.

Designing his appearance was fun. I knew that he had to be wearing something that shouted, "Not a warrior!" but showed off some flair. At first I was going to do a robe, but that seemed a bit to like the usual, not to mention robes are not really the best garb for adventuring. A long tunic, however, gives the same impression. I thought it could be what elf mages wear instead of robes like a human mage. It needed color. Blue seemed to shout that Elarr was not a woodsman, while some green also was a reminder that he is an elf and is at home with nature. It was the crystalline walking staff that I considered genius. Its not the regular old wizard's staff and is very suggestive of power. At the time, I was envisioning the elves being very fond of crystal, living in castles with crystal roofs to let in sunlight.

While Elarr did not start out with much of a plan, he has grown on me. I have more than a few things to do with him still. He will be playing a big role in the novel I am hoping to get done next month. So if you are fan of Elarr, I am glad you enjoy and let me know what it is that you've liked about him.

Monday, October 15, 2012

A small update

Well, it looks like I will not be published to terribly soon. The short story I had submitted was rejected by the publisher. The specific reason mine was rejected was not given, but most likely it was because they were looking more for stories focusing on a wider range of ethnicity, sexuality, and gender identities. I guess I could have gone a bit more in some of those directions, at least so far as race or made the main character a man which would have added a bit of a different layer. I was short on time though, and some of that was just out of the area that I write. The only part that really annoys me though, is that for the kickstarter I pledged at the higher level to get the physical copy of the book encase I was in it. Seems less appealing now, but oh well. I will just post the story with some of my other erotica.

On a more hopeful note, I am working on the outline for my writing project for National Novel Writing Month in November. I have decided to make Fland and Elarr from The Depths of Despair the main characters. The plot still needs fleshed out, but I am confident I will have something come November 1st.

The last little note is that I hope to have at least one or two posts this week with a bit more interest than just news.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Night Raider: Issue 1

Clarence walked down the sidewalk with his mind focused inward. His mood was as dark as the night. He moved down a garbage strewn sidewalk with no particular destination in mind. He had been walking through one bad neighborhood after another for an hour as he tried to clear his mind. He was angry, and had a good reason to be.

Three days ago, Clarence had been a Crown City Police Officer. The department was going to Hell in a hand basket, but he felt like he was making a difference. Half of the force was on the take, while most of the rest just tried to keep their heads down. Clarence was determined to not only be an honest cop, but a good one too. That did not set well with some people though. An honest man is the biggest threat to the dishonest, so they were not going to let him stick around.

Following a drug bust, Clarence found himself being accused of cooperating with the dealers. Never mind that the two accusing him were two of the biggest dirtbags on the force. Then again, its not like the chief was any kind of a saint. So now he was stuck on permanent admenistrative leave until it could all be sorted out.

The thought of it was enough to make him grind his teeth in anger. Dirty cops like that were one of the biggest problems with the city. It was being over run with criminals, and the men that were suppose to stop them were the worst of a bad lot. Most took bribes, but it was an open secret that there were more than a few doing the dirty work themselves. He knew, even if he could not prove, that the pair that set him up were working with the West Park gang.

Clarence's sense came alive. He had been wandering and thinking, but part of his mind never lost awareness of his surroundings. Any officer that did that was a deadman for sure. His mind snapped to attention, some sound or other que alerting him to danger. He was passing by an ally that was deep in shadow. The nearest streetlight was a dozen yards away and flickering on the verge of going out. A vulnerable possition, that he should have known to avoid.

A man stepped out of the ally where he had been hidden behind a dumpster. In one hand he held a knife. A quick assessment marked him as one of the thousand young thugs that roamed the streets. The mugger barked at him, "Your wallet or your life!"

Clarence took a step back as the man stepped towards him. He did not want the mugger in too close. "Lets be calm about this, no one needs to get hurt." He knew that the odds of someone walking away uninjured during a mugging in the city were pretty low. Even if he handed his wallet over the mugger would likely cuff him for good measure. He was not just any other man on the street, and the mugger had made a poor choice for his mark.

"Only if you hand over that damn wallet. Now give it to me!" the mugger said as he advanced.

Clarence waited until the mugger was mid step and off balance. His hands shot forward. He grabbed the mugger's forearm to gain control with one hand. The other grasped the mugger's wrist. With a twist the knife was on the ground and the mugger was doubled over in an armbar. Clarence took the man hard to the ground, smashing his face against the concrete.

After pinning the man to the ground, Clarence intended to make a citizen's arrest. He put the call in. It was over half an hour before the promised cruiser arrived, and the two the officers that stepped out of the cruiser were not two that he would have hoped for. Johnson and Axelrod, the men that had framed him.

"Well, look what we have here," Johnson said with a smirk.

"Looks like we got someone pretending they're a cop," Axelrod laughed.

Clarence bitt back a sharp retort. It was not easy swallowing his rage. Instead, through gritted teeth he growl, "Just take this guy. He'll be in good company with you two."

They took the mugger, but did not bother taking a statement. They were barely putting in the effort to throw him in the back of their cruiser. Clarence knew that they would not bother taking him to lockup. As likely as not they would kick him out after a few blocks, maybe extort whatever cash he had gotten from earlier victims first.

Clarence started back towards his home with much more on his mind. He had just stopped a crime, not as an officer, but as a regular citizen. Something had to be done, someone had to take a stand.


It was two nights later and Clarence was again stalking down the streets of another crime infested neighborhood. Tonight was different. He was not trying to clear his head, walking aimlessly. He had purpose. All he needed was for a target to appear. He swept through the night in a hooded long coat, on a mission to find those that lurked in the dark.

He turned the corner and saw some shadows shift by a recessed doorway. For most people, that would be a sign to steer clear. For him, it was just what he was looking for. Clarence continued on his path. As he neared the doorway, two men stepped out. They thought they were ambushing him. The truth was the other way around.

When the first went to grab him, Clarence smashed his palm into the man's nose. The man cried out in pain as his nose was shattered. The man's partner took a swing at Clarence. A quick block wiht his forearm sent the punch wide and created an upercut to the thug's jaw. A strong knee to the abdomen followed, doubling the man over. Clarence had not forgotten about the first man. A kick to the knee brought the man to the ground as he tried to draw a gun from his sagging pants. A straight kick to the face finished the job of destroying the man's nose completely.

In a mater of seconds, Clarence had just incapacitated two robbers. What he wanted to do now was read them their rights and send them off to a lockup. Sadly, he saw that was not a real option. Instead, he stripped each of his assailants of their guns, administering further beatings as he felt necisary to keep them compliant, then unloaded their ammunition and several key parts into the sewer drain. To make sure neither was a threat for at least a little while, he smashed their hands. When it was all finished, Clarence continued on his quest, vanishing into the darkness where he knew evil lurked.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Depths of Despair Part 6: Run for the Light

Tendrils of black energy arced across the cave and singed the walls.The air seemed to constrict then expand rapidly in a pressure wave that shook the ceiling and sent Fland flying. He landed several feet away with his ears ringing and smoke wafting off of singed cloths and hair.

Fland tried to survey the scene as his vision came into focus. First, he looked to the hobgoblin. The hobgoblin was lying on the floor, not moving at all. Its left arm now ended in a singed stump. Fland quickly looked down to make sure his hands were still there. They were, though they bore burn marks. His light maces were mostly intact, though slightly melted. A glance to the side showed that the goblin that had been being lowered into the pit was most likely dead from the blast.

Fland looked about until he saw what had happened to Elarr and the bugbear. The bugbear had been knocked to his knees by the blast, but was quickly recovering, swinging his ax about wildly. Elarr was the least stunned. His magical shield had apparently absorbed much of the blast. Unfortunately, it seemed to have finally collapsed from doing so.

Fland hurried to regain his feet, moving unsteadily. As he stood, he drew the dagger from his boot sheath. Forcing his hand and mind to steady for a moment, he threw the dagger at the bugbear. The dagger was well balanced and made one full rotation as it sliced through the air. The point bit deep into the bugbear's meaty forearm, causing him to drop the ax.

Elarr was not of a martial mind, but was not unfamiliar with how to defend himself in close combat. He saw the opportunity to strike and took it. Gripping his crystalline walking stick in both hands, he swung it hard. The sphere at the top smashed into the bugbear’s jaw with a spark of arcane energy. The crack of bone and magic sang out as the monstrous jaw was shattered. Elarr used the staff to help himself to his feet and brushed some disheveled hair out of his face as he stepped over the felled bugbear.

We need to leave fast,” Fland said as he retrieved his dagger, “I’m betting that even with that sound ward thing, someone heard that.”

Elarr was stooped down and quickly gathering a few pieces of the shattered orb. “I really wish you had not done that, any of it,” he said with deep frustration in his voice.

Censure me later, we need to get out of this place now,” Fland responded with a rare amount of urgency. The goblin hole had proved to be fairly abusive to his nerves, far more than he had expected. He wanted to back in the fresh air and away from the malignant presence that still haunted the cave.

The pair raced back through the caves, all pretenses of stealth cast aside. Dashing past the mutating goblins, they saw the two bugbear guards from before approaching. Fland’s guess had been right, and the guards had come to investigate. The bugbears drew their crude swords and snarled as they opened their unsettling jaws then charged.

Fland struck first with a javelin. The tip pierced on through the belly. It slowed, but did not stop. He wanted the fight over fast, and preferably at a distance. Beyond their monstrous strength, something about the unnatural creatures shook him once they were close. He had felt it when he passed them earlier and during the fight with the others. It is hard to fight when your hand shakes your stomach is turning about. Better to attack these brutes from a distance as much as possible.

Elarr made a quick gesture while incanting a few arcane syllables. He pointed the tip of his staff towards the lead bugbear and a zigzagging line of silver lightning struck it full in the chest a few feet from striking distance. The monster was stunned by the sudden crater burned into his hairy chest. Fland capitalized on this and sprung forward to strike it twice across the brow.


As the lead bugbear dropped, Fland brought one mace up to block a clumsy blow from the one he had impaled. This close in, he could feel the unnerving aura that surrounded the creature, that made it more horrifying. To Fland's mind, that was just unnecessary. A quick exchange of blows sent the creature to the ground, though it had left a nasty cut to Fland's arm.

Damn these things are strong and they don't know when to bloody die!” Fland cursed as they set to running back down the twisting tunnel.

They are bred to be killers,” Elarr panted out as they ran. He was not as athletic as his companion and had to work to keep up.

They quickly passed by the fork in the tunnel. As they ran, behind them they could hear the sound of goblin feet slapping at the floor and goblin voices shouting. The pair ran faster, knowing that if they did not make it out of the hole quick, they would be outnumbered.

I think the wasps just realized that we've been kicking their nest!” Fland said with some of his cocky humor returning. They were only a short distance from the cave entrance and he could already smell the fresh air. He was ready to be away from the corruption of the pit and back in his element.

The goblin horde was closing fast. Despite short legs, the goblins were fast. As well, they were rested unlike the duo who had been through several grueling fights in a short time. Still, the head start was enough and Fland was at the crude ladder out of the pit after another minute. He was about to head straight up when he noticed that Elarr was not following. He turned and looked at his partner who was rapidly scrawling runes on the floor.

I don't think we have time for whatever you are doing,” Fland said as he hopped back down. Elarr continued to to draw the runes and ignored Fland. The elf rapidly worked his way along the floor too the wall and started up it. He muttered an incantation as he worked.

The first goblins rounded the corner as Elarr marked the ceiling. Screaming an obscene battlecry, one goblin hurled a spear at the elf. Fland leapt forward and knocked the spear aside before it could impale his partner.

Definitely out of time,” Fland said as he grabbed the collar of Elarr's robe and pulled him towards the ladder. The circle of runes was nearly complete and the elf mage hastily inscribed the last bit with the tip of his staff and shouted a single arcane syllable as he was tugged away and forced up the ladder.

Fland hurried up the ladder, half pushing Elarr as he went. Glancing back he watched as the lead goblin sharged with his stone tipped spear. As the goblin reach the line of runes he fell backwards as though he had hit a wall. He was then trampled by the next few goblins racing behind him, who were also knocked back by the invisible barrier.

Finally, out of the hole, Fland took in a deep breath of fresh air and tilted his face up into the sunshine. This lasted only a moment before they were both dashing for the treeline. Their horses were tethered a short distance back.

The barrier should hold them for a short time. If I had time to finish it properly it might have held them for a day,” Elarr lamented.

No help for it. Time was not on our side.”

We would have had more time if you had not been so reckless.”

How was I suppose to know about the damn trap?!” Fland shot back, “Besides, it all worked out. I destroy the orb that hobgoblin witch or whatever in the Nine Hells that thing was.”

I didn't want you to destroy it you fool!” Elarr shouted. The elf turned and saw the blank stare on the human's face. He gave a pained sigh and elaborated, “That was no goblin relic. Where did it come from? How did a hobgoblin get it? Who gave it to him? Worst of all, I fear you may have released...something.”

What?! You mean like a demon? I did not see a demon after I smashed that thing,” Fland replied slightly chastised.

No,” Elarr said as he climbed on his horse, “You noticed how corrupted it was down there,” he stated, “It was from the orb. That was just what was leaking out of it. I think that the orb was containing something, a malignant power, or perhaps a life force. When you smashed it, you let it out.”

That sounds bad.”

Indeed, but it depends on what was released,” Elarr said as they rode. His voice sunk into a lecturing tone that told Fland that the mage was now musing on the academic merits of what they had learned, not the practical effects. “If it is just energy, then it will just dissipate eventually. It will slow the healing of the land, but the scar the goblins put there will take time to heal even if we had procured the orb intact.

A life force, however, will need something to contain it. It could search out a new vessel. More likely it will seek to return to its source. The implications of which are hard to deduce at this point. I hope the few fragments I grabbed will provide some insight.”

Fland took this in and thought for a few minutes. Finally, he smiled and shrugged. “Nothing to do about it except wait and see. That hobgoblin is dead and I'm betting that means no more of those bugbears for the time being,” A nod from Elarr confirmed this. “We can get the militia and run down the rest of those cave rats without too much trouble. That is what we were suppose to do. Besides, I frankly would not want to travel with you if you were carrying that creepy orb around.”

Even more reason for me to regret its destruction,” Elarr said with a tired voice. Fland only laughed.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

All the News

So I have a few little bits of news to update those that follow along. Its been a very, very, VERY busy few weeks for me. I had hoped to have a few more things up this month, but while time is infinite, I am highly finite. Still, much has been done and will be done yet.

The first is that I am trying to get published again. I really meant to update on this one sooner, but was to busy doing the writing. This time in an anthology of geeky erotica called Geek Love. I have written erotica in the past, but generally keep that separate from my other writing. Since I'm hoping it may be my first published work, I thought it warranted a mention here. 

The story itself is about a researcher that develops robotic hands that can be controlled with a neurolink. Of course, sometimes we want things that we are not willing to say out loud...and that can have interesting results when there is a swarm of cybernetic appendages that will act out your true will. 

I have to offer a very special thanks to my supporters that helped me focused and did proof reading for me. If you are interested, here is the link to the Kickstarter. Sign up for print please. If they get pledges for 500 print copies they will add 100 pages, which helps increase the likely hood that I will be selected. 

The next big news is that I will be trying to write an entire 50,000 word novel in November for National Novel Writing Month! Obviously that is going to be a major time drain. Expect some updates and excerpts here during that time. I will be doing the outline in October, but right now I am trying to settle on what to write. 

I have a few ideas bouncing around. For a while I was thinking of doing an urban fantasy novel about a werewolf that I've had in my head for a while. I am not very familiar with that genre though, so I'm thinking I might be ahead to wait on it. I really should read some of those Anita Blake novels. Another big idea was to actually write a book about an EMT. I've wanted to do one of those. Most recently though, is an idea of writing a novel about Fland and Elarr. I'm certain that a few of their fans would be happy with that.

Speaking of Fland and Elarr, I plan to have the final chapter in Depths of Despair up by the end of this month if it kills me (and it just might). I had planned to follow with a few periodic shorts about them while focusing in on a few new stories. However, if they are selected to be my focus for National Novel Writing Month, those ideas will likely be merged with the forth coming story.

Finally, a little note on what is to come in the future. The next big story I plan to do will be of the Superhero genre. I have several to introduce, but the one that will have a big story arc is Night Raider (though the name is still subject to change). He is a police officer that is forced to become a vigilante after being framed by some corrupt officers. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Character Overview: Fland

For those of you that have been following my story, The Depths of Despair, Fland should be quite familiar. I have had a few people comment on how they have found him interesting. With that in mind, I thought he would be a good start for a segment on the characters I create.

The idea for Fland originates several years back when I was creating a D&D character. I had found a rather fun feat that would let a character wielding two light maces make extra attacks if he scored a critical hit. I realized that for a ranger it was pretty easy to get that fighting style early on. I started building the character so that he could really get mileage out of his fighting style. Light maces are low on damage, but with this feat I could build up a character that was very dexterous and make a lot of attacks. Sometimes quantity out wins over quality.

This of course led to Fland's signature fighting style. I always try to describe him as making rapid attacks, usually in pairs. I want readers to see him as making half-a-dozen rapid attacks before the enemy can react. I've always liked watching baton twirling, and that really impacts the descriptions of his battles. He twirls and rolls the maces, hitting once then spinning it in his hand to make another.

I knew that when I created Fland, I wanted him to be a very archetypal ranger and adventure. He needed to be good at all of those key skills. He can climb and jump with the best of them. Tracking a squirl in the forest is no big deal to him. Social charm and lore, however, are not his strong suits. He is direct and only knows what is in his area of expertise. This leaves him with weaknesses. Every good character needs to be bad at something.

The desire to have him be a ranger's ranger also helped to flesh out his look. A suit of brown leather armor so that he is mobile. A green clock to blend in with the forest. I have not really given a good description of him beyond that yet. So far, I personally have pictured him with mid length hair. Dashing, but not long enough for someone to easily grab in a fight. The rough face of a seasoned warrior, with an every present cocky smile.

Fland's personality was only partially formed when I started writing. All I had to begin with was this idea that he was at heart an adventure. What is an adventurer? Well, they are brave and driven. This is a guy that is smiling after a fight. He is a bit of a jackass. He's good and he knows it. That is what the first scene shows. However, as things go on, it becomes clear that he is a professional as well. He is going to meet his goals. Of course, not being well versed in lore and more than a bit impatient means that he is going to take the most direct rout, even if it is not a good idea.

Now, the final fun thing to know about Fland is his name. Originally it was going to be Flann. Its a medieval Irish name that I picked out of a book. Apparently I miss-typed it in the very first sentence (first word in fact). Now, that is the kind of touch that really adds some personality.