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.