Archive for the “PBeM” Category

Hello!

I’m taking a moment of your time today to ask if someone out there with the skills and the desire could help me out on a project related to the Converging Forces story I’m writing.

If not, I’ll tackle it myself of course, I’m simply hoping someone that already has skill and practise at this would be able to do it far faster and with less effort. Someone that wouldn’t be reinventing the wheel, or some other tired cliché.

What I’d like to do is have the Converging Forces story, as it stands so far, placed into a single combined form that I could post for download, suitable for reading on Kindle or another similar platform.

I’ve had a a few folks mention that they’d love to read it and get up to date, but even with a chapter page, it’s a bit… big. And hard to come back to. A portable version would certainly help.

Obviously, this isn’t a project looking for a finished ‘for sale’ kind of anything. I’ve been focused on speed writing when I’ve been doing the turns, not on anything remotely resembling a final polish. When what I consider the first ‘book’ of the storyline has been reached, that’s when I’ll go back and being, well, fixing the bloody thing so it’s actually readable without a billion jarring spelling and grammar mistakes, and terribly disoriented tense transitions.

I have NOT researched how to do it myself, not have I researched what it takes to format something so it can go on portable devices. Should you not have the time to do it for me, but DO know HOW to do it or where I can find a detailed guide, that would be awesome as well. 

Thank you very much again for your time, and have a great weekend.

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Hello, my friends.

This is for those of you that have been enjoying the ongoing adventures of Baron Terin Trendel and Jessie MacQuarrie in Converging Forces.

Things are moving ahead pretty rapidly now, and it recently occured to me that as a blog writer, I’m not really doing all I could to have the Converging Forces part of the blog be as interactive as the rest of it.

I view the blog as an ongoing chat with my friends, which all of you are if you’re a returning reader, and each new blog post is my seeding the conversation. I toss something out there and then we chat about it. I share my thoughts with you, you share yours with me… it’s all interactive fun.

Plus, it keeps me sane during long days at work, reminding me that the world isn’t actually 100% bloody idiots. Sometimes I need that, don’t you?

But the Converging Forces is so passive. I have two friends with characters in it, and they interact with me as I write the turns, and then the finished chapter is presented as something to read. There’s not interaction with YOUR ideas, there’s no place for you to get into the story yourself. 

Sure you can comment, but it’s not affecting anything in the story. It’s not the same.

Well, I’m gonna start thinking of ways to change that. :)

Manny, who plays Jessie MacQuarrie in Converging Forces, likes to tell the story of when his long distance friend was running a sci-fi role playing campaign, and had Manny role play the part of the big bad guy overlord boss the player character were working against, for well… years, I think, without them ever knowing that they were trying to outthink anyone other than the GM.

I’m not talking about going that far, at least not just yet. I’m gonna start a bit smaller first.

My first idea to implement is to see if any of my readers would be interested in seeing themselves as a non-player character somewhere in the story.

If you are interested, it’s not a contest or a competition, but here is what you can do;

Compose an email to me at thebigbearbutt@gmail.com with the following;

  • Title of the post should say “My idea for a character in Converging Forces”
  • The name you would like your non-player character to have in the story.
  • Whether you would like to be good, evil, or have some particular quirk of personality or motivation.
  • Describe in a short paragraph key points of personality and appearance that would help you feel as if the NPC shared something more with your imagination than name alone. 

You can add in anything you’d like AFTER that, but it’ll help me to get a quick idea of where you’re going with your idea, and how I might be able to fit it into my world.

An elven lass from distant shores, traveling the land and healing it of it’s wounds from the ancient devastation a thousand years gone by? A grizzled human veteran, now serving in some force somewhere, that had once ridden with Baron Terin during the wild days of the fall of Madrigal? A named critter that serves as mentor for a brief time, a barmaid making a brief appearance, a noble of a neighboring Duchy, or bad guy minions or even mid-level tough guys (and ladies) are not out of the question, just so you know.

Let’s have some fun here.

Email that in to me starting now, and if it’s something I can work with in the near future, I will email you back and let you know so you can watch for it in the weeks and months ahead. For this round, I will stop looking for submissions this next Friday, March 25th.

I have absolutely no idea if anyone is going to like the idea, but I think it sounds fun. I hope it does to you as well.

Disclaimer:

I do not promise that your named NPC will have a recurring role, or indeed anything other than a walk-on part as someone that appears briefly only to die in a horrible, gruesome death like any of hundreds of Red Shirted security officers in Star Trek. However, if I do use your proposed NPC idea, you understand up front that if I publish the final, much revised version of Converging Forces someday, that all characters appearing in the story are used by your implicit permission. So please, do not offer me your favorite character that is a key component of your own work, you may regret it someday when you go to publish.

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Terin climbed the stairs to the hunting lodge’s upper rooms while he listened to the muffled sounds of the argument raging down below.

When Terin had returned to the hunting lodge, the boys that had been sitting in wait earlier were long gone, and the only light came from the partially open doors to the planning room. The thin curtains that had previously concealed the doors were pulled tightly closed, but the thick smell of tobacco smoke permeated the entryroom fit to choke a man down. Whoever the Duke had in there, the Duke certainly wasn’t very pleased. 

Terin expected Duke Arneghast was going over the state of the supply lines from the flat lands. Nothing got the Duke quite as riled up as having to find sources for all the supplies his forces needed, and then getting them to where they were wanted in an orderly fashion. Many was the time when Terin was first tasked to attend the Duke at his residence that the subject of supplies came up; it seemed to be one of the few things the Duke would get irrational about, irritated all out of proportion to whatever concern there may have been. 

Whatever the current cause of the Duke’s anger, Terin hoped that his Grace Duke Arneghast would finish the meeting soon. Glancing back down, as if able to see through walls, Terin recalled the layout of the sandtable. He really wanted one last look at the sandtable, preferrably in the company of Redwulf while they went over the route he considered best.

As he reached the dark passageway at the top of the steps, he felt a sudden queasiness in the pit of his stomach, as if something turned within. For just the briefest of moments, as his thoughts touched on Redwulf, his bowels had felt as if they were filled with water from a mountain lake. Just as sudden the feeling passed, but he knew that feeling well; it was the same that he felt every time he allowed his thoughts to touch briefly on his daughter, Alise, the daughter he had never even seen with his own eyes, until he found her burned and broken body in the arms of his wife, Milia. Dead, dead the both of them and buried under other bodies, the end result of a raid by the Bleeding Bear deep behind the Madrigal forces of the high pass. Dead at the crushed command post of his father, Baron Martin, in the battle that heralded the beginning of the end for the duchy of Madrigal.

He paused for a moment, standing still and silent before the Sword Room door, as he took the few extra moments necessary to settle his breathing and bring himself back to a state of calm. Terin knew that animals could smell fear, they react to it, respond to it. Terin believed that an animal responded more to scents than to sight, and he wanted this first private meeting to set the tone for the rest of the time they would be together. Terin had to begin by ensuring that when Redwulf saw him, he saw the leader of the group that would set out in the morning. It would be a foolish mistake to treat Redwulf as a man that just looked like a dog, and try reason or persuasion on him. Terin was the leader of whatever group set out on the morrow, and one way or the other, Redwulf would have to accept that. Once they got into the mountains, if any of them were to survive what they were likely to find, then Terin had to be confident that there would be only one voice Redwulf would listen to; his own.

Terin forced himself to relax, and then broke through the instincts of his body to relax in truth, at rest but ready to flow in response to anything or nothing at all. The control that is not control, shifting mind, body and soul to an alert but relaxed posture, no fear to open the pores, no rush of blood to bring the shakes, no sweat to raise a stink. The heart of the Path of Mastery; to be clear, calm, and smooth as the flow of a mountain stream.

Riding within his circle of breathing, centered and poised to adapt to whatever lay ahead, Terin felt the underlying excitement of the moment. The unknown lay just on the other side of the door, lying there waiting to be discovered. Just there, on the other side of the door.

This was a trace of the same excitement, the same deep desire to learn that had brought him to leave his family and his certain future in order to take up training and study with the Order of Radiance. To be called a Knight, to stand in judgment over others or act as the law in rough places, to defend those that could not defend themselves and train them until they could stand alone, the romantic life he thought to live and the adventures he would have, all a small part of what had drawn young Terin to his calling with the Order.

But the greatest part of his calling had been the simple need to know. To get out into the world, where the libraries were, and the hidden stores of knowledge. To find the ancient journal a family kept in remembrance of their ancestor, or the ruins that yet held secrets to be discovered and restored. To seek out knowledge of what had gone before, of what men had known of the world, of what they could once do, and bring it back to the light.

Nowadays, Terin felt little of that old excitement. Excitement and enthusiasm had been burned out of him, and all he was left with his duty, and his determination to spare others from what the war had cost him if at all possible. Now, when he studied, it was to search out the ancient ways of war from before the Diaspora. It was to seek out the background and nature of any dangers that might threaten the lives of the common people of the Borderlands, and to see to it that as many as possible were prepared to handle those threats. 

Knight-Commander Geoff of the Caer Mordant chapter house had set him to attend to Duke Arneghal and obey his commands for the time being, but it suited Terin well. The Duke listened to the worn Knight that had, uniquely among the Borderlands, fought the Orcs for years in the highlands, and mastered the ways of the mountains. When Terin brought forth other concerns, such as the history of the Empire and the threat hanging over them from the Elves, Duke Arneghast listened, and took him seriously. Few other leaders among the various duchies would have been so patient with him, or have spent the resources Duke Arneghast did to watch for signs of those threats.

And yet, Terin felt this tremor of what could only be fear in his heart, a fear he thought he was far past. He knew he wasn’t braver by nature than other men, he simply felt no fear for himself because he no longer cared whether he lived or died. But he did care what happened to the people he was sworn to protect and support, and Redwulf represented something wholly new to him. Something utterly without mention in any record or artifact Terin had ever studied or read of, and that covered a great deal of ground indeed, from some of the most respected military collections in the Borderlands.

Terin pushed the door open without knocking or clapping. He was completely in the moment, feeling everything around him, and he knew that Redwulf was waiting patiently for him to open the door and enter in the same way that he knew that in the room just one space down the hall, the Duke’s pet wizard waited in secret, hoping to overhear something useful to him.

Terin stepped into the mean space under the eaves of the roof, and stepping to the side instead of deeper into the room, he pushed the door closed. The room appeared the same as earlier, but without a source for light; Terin’s vision was preternaturally keen in the absence of light, a gift passed down from father to son of his bloodline, one of the more useful gifts that could grace those of Borderlander blood that survived from the diaspora. Even in the near total absence of light, he could clearly discern the drawn curtain, the chair, and the pallet on the far side of room; and the body that sat up upon it, waiting for him.

Terin walked forward softly, and sat in the waiting chair. He was acting purely on instinct guided by his experiences of how to calm skittish animals and people both. He wanted to start by setting Redwulf at ease, to seem to be no threat, but to clearly be dominant and set the pace for the discussion, just short of being an interrogation.

Remaining loose, almost casual in his body posture, Terin asked, “Redwulf, do you feel strong enough to speak with me for a little while? I want to discuss the trip we begin tomorrow.”

There was a pause in the room as Terin waited for a reply, but it was a comfortable moment, not a tense one. Somehow, Terin felt that things were going to be as peaceful as he could wish, although he had no feeling for what he might be about to learn.

There was a low cough from the pallet, and the figure upon it sat up a bit straighter, stiffening it’s back where it sat against the far wall. The voice that came floating across the darkness had a breathy quality, and while Terin wanted to call it akin to panting, it was more like a labored effort to draw enough breath to bring out a complete sentence. “Yes, Baron Trendel, I am here. I have been waiting. I knew you would come.”

Yes, Terin thought, Redwulf spoke in short sentences that had each of them a definite rise and fall, starting out strong but drifting fainter, losing force towards the end.

Terin cleared his throat, and said, “Redwulf, if you would, I would like to know how it is that you speak so well. I had thought from earlier that you were but a short time ago a normal hound, and yet you speak perfectly clearly to my ears.”

The figure on the pallet made a sound that could only be a chuckle, although it seemed by half to be a low chuffing sound, likely to do with Redwulf’s muzzle. The sound felt friendly to Terin, welcoming and inviting him to share a private joke. “I can speak your language well. I offer my thanks to your Duke’s pet snake. It was the efforts of Malvoris that grants me these words.”

There was another of the low, chuffing laughs. “It is not what he intended. When I first came here, he attended me. He promised the Duke he would have my secrets revealed. He worked his arts, and touched his mind to mine.”

The figure on the cot leaned further into the room, and Terin could finally make out the remembered features, the muzzle, a shine off sleek fur, a gleam of the eye from a stray bit of light through loose fitting boards. “Malvoris expected his mind to be stronger than a dumb beast.” 

Redwulf leaned back again, still making his chuffing laugh, and despite the seriousness of the moment, Terin had to join him. Of all the things he had considered, the furthest from his thoughts had been that Malvoris would try to pull the dog’s secrets from him by magic, and have his own secrets taken instead.

Redwulf continued to speak, his words silencing Terin’s laughter of the moment before. “I expected to see you here, but I also wished you would not come. I wished I would be wrong in expecting you. I am sorry.”

Terin eased back in the seat, trying to use body language and scent to convey a reassuring gentleness. How do you smell reassuring? Is that the same as confident, or is confident more intensely physical and threatening? “Redwulf, I made the best time I could, once I received the Duke’s summons. I promise you, there was little chance that I would not come. The Duke has his mission for us, and I will be there beside you every step of the way. I will be there to defend you, should the need arise. You have my word on it, and I do not give my word lightly.”

Redwulf eased back, but his posture seemed touched with sadness, although it was hard for Terin to tell if he was imagining it. Master though he was at reading the thoughts and feelings of any person by how they moved and held themselves, Redwulf was just enough like a human to have him thinking one thing and having to remind himself he had no way of knowing if he was right. Dogs in general, and especially the breed by which Redwulf was descended, the golden retriever, had always seemed to Terin to be possessed of equal parts irrepressible joy and introspective sadness.

“Baron, I was hopeful you would not come, because I saw you here. The visions, the images dancing in my eyes in golden fire. I saw this, I saw your journey. I see you now, not as you are but how you will be, the scales rippling as your skin, the claws over your hands. I see the sword, and the hammer, the black and the silver. I see the flames within you and you are not burned. I am beside you, but I am consumed like a torch. I see these things and so much more, all the time. I have seen them since I was pulled through the fire, and I cannot stop them. Whether I am asleep or awake, the things I see dance before my eyes. I smell them, I hear their voices, they never entirely stop. Sometimes the things I see scare me, but they are true things, and scared or not, willing or not, I cannot turn from watching. Other times are the worst, though. The times when it is not the true images, the pure dreams, but the voice of the other, the one that has guided me here, the one that wants something from us both. The voice that talks to me, knows me, knows my heart. It seeks me out, it tells me what to do, shows me where to go.”

The figure on the bed sat up straight once more, and in the darkness Terin could sense it’s left arm and hand being lifted up from the covers. Of a startling suddeness, a gentle golden glow began to rise from the depths of Redwulf’s left hand, palm first. The glow seemed to start as a small dot deep within the flesh, the outline of bones visible in front of it. The light grew, from a dot to a spot, and on growing to encompass the entire hand much like a golden fungus or moss, the fur glowing from within, lighting the room like a warm summers day, and bringing Redwulf’s eyes into fiery prominence.

While the source of the glow grew larger, the intensity did not. Terins’ eyes were not hurt by the sudden illumination, and he realised that he felt actual warmth on his face and hands. He noticed immediately that Redwulf did indeed have opposable thumbs on his pawlike hands, but rough black pads covered the fingertips, surrounded by the thin fur.

“I am here because I was forced into the fire, Terin. They through me in, and it burned, it burned. They had a harness, ropes, and they pulled me to them through the fire. I had no choice, I was pulled where they forced me to be. I howled, I remember I howled, I was so afraid. I burned, I could feel it, I knew what it was. But as I burned, I felt… welcomed. Loved. I was loved, and it broke the bonds of my spirit. I was free. That is when I changed… and when the images began.”

In the golden glow, Terin’s eyes met the shining eyes of Redwulf, and he found he could not look away. Tears of his own sprang unbidden to his eyes, and he couldn’t for the life of himself have said why.

“When dragged towards the fire, I had feared, and I had howled, but I had still been my master’s hound. I knew it. I could never disobey. He was my master, he was my all. But the love in the fire, the heart of the gold – it broke my bonds. I was free of one master, and found another. A master within myself.”

Terin hated to break whatever spell had started Redwulf talking, but he was gathering up too many questions to hold back any more. “Redwulf, where was it that all of this happened to you? Can you describe what this fire looked like? Who was it that put you in the flames?”

Redwulf looked deep into Terin’s eyes, and said, “We were deep in a room of stone. Stone below, stone above, and secrets all around us. We had come from the master’s greatest hall, deep into his lowest rooms. There was a wall that had been cut into, an opening to grow the keep deeper into the stone. The workers had cut into solid stone, and found an opening that was worked in the rock. An old opening. Worked stone in the heart of the masters home.”

“Oh, sweet Tyr,” Terin murmured aloud, “You’re talking about Torr Baldwin, aren’t you? They broke into some kind of underground tunnels while expanding Mordant Keep, and found something down there. Some of the oldest writings I’ve seen, journals of soldiers that lived in that time, mention something big happening around a single great stone mountain like a fist to the skies. There are at least four great mountains I’ve studied that could have matched the descriptions, but it was Torr Baldwin, the heart of Duke Hope’s power all along.”

Redwulf’s muzzle opened, and he seemed to smile. A shadow passed over the hounds’ eyes for a moment, and then the colors within changed, instantly, flashing from the warm hazel of a moment before to a brilliant emerald green. Terin recoiled back in his chair, startled enough to nearly shout aloud.

The golden glow emanating from Redwulfs’ left hand changed just as suddenly, spreading in an eyeblink to a powerful golden aura that encompassed his entire body. Terin felt as though he were sitting on a chair outside on the brightest and warmest of summer days; he felt the skin on his face and neck, the backs of his hands begin to tingle, as he might if he were starting to get sunburned, back before his skin had weathered to leather.

Redwulfs mouth opened, but the voice that issued forth was in all ways unlike what Terin had heard until now. Redwulf had been speaking in short sentences, starting strong, forceful, but losing breath towards the end of each one. His voice had been rough, and breathy.

This new voice was warm, rich, and powerful in all ways. Terin had heard speeches and attended councils where some of the most powerful and influential leaders of the day spoke their mind, Duke Arneghast, Duke Hope, and Knight-Commander Geoff among them. He had heard men with great charisma speak, men used to command and to lead, men who had trained themselve to use their voice in negotiation as if it were just another weapon to be sharpened and used with cunning skill in battle, with all to win or lose.

This voice that he now heard come from Redwulf was somehow similar to all of those, but greater still, as the sun is greater in brilliance than the campfire in the darkness.

The voice said, “Terin Trendel, listen carefully. I have neared the end of my time with Redwulf, but you are here at last.”

“I am speaking to you through Redwulf. I am the last of the Loremasters, and I am imprisoned within what you call Torr Baldwin, as you surmise.”

“I guided Redwulf to you with very nearly the last of my focused will. He was thrust, an innocent, through the earth mother’s fires. He has been touched by Gaia, and she has chosen to stay with him. Her presence within him, her choosing him as a vessal has let me speak to him at times, guide him when I could, and so I have brought him here where he could meet with you.”

“I beg of you, let Redwulf guide you back to Torr Baldwin. Return to the place where the earth mother’s fire flows as if from a great fountain that never ends. Go there, and STOP THEM. Those who call themselves wizards, in service to your Duke Hope. They are twisting the lifeblood of the mother to become something they think they can use as a weapon, but they have no comprehension of how vast the power is they touch, how terrible the consequences should they meet with any success in changing her nature.”

“I am losing my hold on this world, Terin Trendel. I have held on this long by strength of will alone, but I have been without rest for too long. When I let go this time, I will pass beyond, and there is nothing that can stop that now. But even so, I cannot touch them or anyone else that passes through the fire so long as the darkness and hate is woven around it like a veil.”

“Please. Move as fast as you can, and do whatever it takes, whatever it takes, but strike hard, and stop those fools from succeeding in corrupting the earth mother. I should never have raised it, but in my youth I was proud of being chosen, and foolish in my pride, and I thought that the power I had was meant to be used. Please, don’t let my foolishness be the cause of something that would end in so terrible a fate for the land.” 

Terin sat up straight on the chair, and sought out any hint of deceit in Redwulfs’ eye. It was impossible; how to read the true intentions of a master orator speaking through a golden retreiver? Terin was loathe to accept everything he heard at face value, however.

“If you brought me to this place on purpose to meet with Redwulf and do this task for you, then you have had plenty of time to plan your moves. Why me, exactly? What is it that I can do, what skill do I provide that Duke Arneghast could not have had someone else do earlier?”

The golden glow around Redwulf’s body was fading slowly, but the voice was as strong as before. “You are Terin Trendel, and if you look at yourself as clearly as you see the people around you, you would be able to answer taht yourself. You are a leader respected by the men who serve him for doing whatever it takes to accomplish your mission, no matter the cost to yourself. You are a knight sworn to serve the commandments of the god of Justice, even though you no longer believe the God yet lives. You are one of the deadliest warriors in single combat currently alive. You are a scholar intimately familiar with what little your people know about the history of this land. Finally, you alone among the men of your land have spent years learning to move amongst the stone of the mountains as well as the Orcs and Dwarves can, if not better.”

“Why did I work to bring you together with Redwulf? Ask anyone that knows you for any length of time. You have the skills I need and you will let nothing stop you short of death. And you will open your ears and listen, which is in damn short supply no matter where you are.” 

The golden glow was noticeably dimmer now, and Terin was far from stupid. If the glow indicated how much longer he could expect this Loremaster to remain here, then he estimated he had less than five minutes remaining to get questions answered. But there was so much he wanted to know! Should he ask about the route? How to get in? Redwulf probably already knew that. But what?

Time was fast running out, but somehow he knew this was his one chance to get the answers he wanted  so very badly. Whatever was to happen next, Terin had to seize the chance, and make the most of the time he had left.

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Okay, here’s the straight scoop on my PBeM writing.

I’m trying to turn the PBeM into a once a week posted on Monday can just check in once and get it kinda thing.

I’m not saying I wouldn’t do it more often than that once things got rolling, but I would like to emulate the writers and creators I love by getting on a reliable schedule.

I was well on my way for this last Monday… but I play the game straight, and Jame’s character Terin had as his next goal to question Redwulf for insight and background.

I roll for the characters, and Terin rolled a crit. I do things a little wierd, a holdover from my gaming days that Manny could tell you… I do believe in freak luck, in real life as well as in the game. Good luck, bad luck, and FREAK luck.

So, when someone rolls a crit, I have this sliding scale on how significant the crit ends up in terms of affecting the game.

See, If it’s a crit, say the system uses a d20 and it’s a natural 20, I have ‘em roll it again.

Let’s use as an example of what I’m talking about, damage.

For a straight natural 20, that’s max damage no matter what. But I have them roll it again.

A low number, say below 8, and the max damage stands. An average roll, say 9 to 12, and it’s possibly double damage.

13 or above, and you start getting into specifics. The woulnd injures or destroys an arm, or blinds the target, or something. Or possibly it hits a vital spot and penetrates into the vitals, or bypasses armor.

And then there’s that rarest of rares, but it DOES happen, the second natural 20.

I let ‘em roll again, same deal.

Damage is just an example. It also affects things like… fate. Impressing someone. Intimidating someone. Trying to find secret doors. Looking for the pearl of great value hidden amongst the swine of crap the quartermaster has in his storeroom.

I rolled for Terin, to determine how favorable his encounter with Redwulf would be, a reaction roll coupled with how much Redwulf would trust him, and how forthcoming redwulf might be inclined to be.

Terin got a natural 20.

Followed by two more natural 20s.

So, I have been working pretty had at being honest with the results. That kind of rolling deserves a reward, you ALWAYS want to feel like luck can strike like lightning when you’re playing, and that’s a legitimate part of the game.

On the other hand, I ain’t Monty Haul, and I ain’t prepared to hand over the script and say “Here’s the entire story on a silver platter.”

So, I’ve been doing what has always worked well for me on a tricky creative problem. I’ve been doing other stuff and letting it all just sit in the back of my head, and stuff rises up, I examine it, and then it sinks back again. It’s all bubbling away while I turn everything in the game around, looking for that perfect middle ground between honoring the triple 20s, and keeping the suspense and flow of the story at the right level (by my standards).

Tonight, while drinking Red Dog beer and watching Death Race with Jason Statham, I think I’ve got the right middle ground. So I’ll be resuming writing tomorrow.

Apparently, I can’t just write this kind of stuff to my satisfaction at the drop of a hat. Funny, I never thought I’d get any form of writer’s block, but when it hit, it wasn’t that I couldn’t write, it was that nothing I could write felt… well, felt right. It didn’t feel like the right direction to take, the right thing to say, the right way to say it.

I finally understand that impulse to crumple up wads of paper filled with half written sentences because they’re crap. Granted, I didn’t use paper, but I came back a few times this week, started writing and just stopped, and walked away because it wasn’t right.

Anyway… I’m feeling that sweet spot that i’ve got the tone and the intent right now, and I can move on.

And it’s gonna be EPIC.

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Terin continued to smile as he leaned in closer to the young captain.

With a voice pitched to carry no further than the small room around them, Terin said, “Stop wasting my time and do something, Morgen.”

Something in Terin’s eyes shocked the captain, and he backed away quickly, stopped only when the back of his shoulders hit the wall. He looked more frightened than surprised. Clearly, this wasn’t going according to plan.

Terin gave him a few moments to take some kind of action, but it was clear the young man didn’t have a backup plan if his first one fell through, and was frozen in indecision.

“Morgen, I can’t help it if you’re stupid enough to act on what your friends tell you without checking the facts first, or foolish enough to follow the example of the hot heads out in the eastern kingdoms when it comes to your sense of honor.”

“You’re not capable of angering me enough to challenge you to an official duel, and I don’t have the time to waste killing you in a properly sanctioned fight anyway.  I have a journey I have to begin first thing in the morning.”

“So this is how it’s going to be.”

“You either prove you’re not all talk by taking a swing at me or pulling steel, or you get your sorry ass out of my way. Make a decision, right now. You are capable of making a decision, aren’t you, captain?”

A sudden rush of anger brought a crimson flush to the captains’ fair features, the red climbing high enough to show through the thin blond hair of his scalp.

With a scowl of rage transforming his face into an ugly mask, Morgen fumbled for the dagger at his belt.

Terin watched calmly as Morgens’ shaking fingers finally wrenched the blade from its tight leather sheath, a slight smile playing at the edges of his mouth.

Morgen shifted into what he must have thought was a knife fighter’s stance, then he launched himself at Terin, pushing himself off the back wall to get extra force for the lunge.

Without changing his stance, Terin reached out with his left hand, firmly grabbed Morgen’s outstretched knife hand just as it came within reach, twisted his upper body slightly to the left to twist Morgen off balance, and then used his shoulders to pull hard, keeping his left arm out to push the knife hand out of line and away.

Morgen, already moving forward as fast as he thought he could, found his wrist snatched out of the air with a movement too fast for his eyes to follow, and felt himself yanked forward, his body all twisted up, back arching painfully, flailing out of control, his knife hand pinned in a grip like steel.

As he tried to understand what was happening, flailing away at the air with his left arm, trying to regain his balance, he felt fingers grab a handful of his hair at the back of his head, and the last thought he had was a sudden awareness that what was about to happen was going to really hurt a whole hell of a lot.

There was a sullen wet sound followed by a crunch as Morgen’s face was driven hard into the rough wooden planking of the wall beside Terin.

Terin released his grip of Morgen’s head and hand, and watched with concern as the young man dropped bonelessly to the floor. Using his foot, he nudged the captain’s body around so he sat mostly upright, his unconcious body propped back up against the wall.

Terin leaned down and checked the mans face carefully, and listened for the wet blubbering of his breathing.

“Good, he won’t choke on his own blood. A few teeth lost, a crushed nose, mashed lips. Nothing too serious.”

Terin stepped out of the room, closing the door behind him. He glanced up and down the hall, but of course nobody happened to be there at the moment, as Terin knew from listening for the sounds the boards made when walked upon.

Terin strode briskly down the hall to the doorway leading to the main mission room, still bustling with activity. Corporal Garthan, the same energetic young man that had led him to the briefing room, was back at the desk along with his two comrades, busily working through the returned scouts.

Terin took a moment to watch the activity in the mission room.

From what Terin could see of the situation, someone here in a position of authority was either a graduate of Terin’s training, or had taken the advice of someone who was.

Captain Morgen was unfamiliar to Terin, so he hadn’t been directly trained in Terin’s methods. It was normal for each base or station to have people on duty at all hours to assign or receive missions, but they would all be of enlisted rank except for the one officer placed in overall command.

Any changes as drastic as what Terin had set in place would never have taken root this deep here without the willing and eager encouragement of the man in charge. Even if the Duke himself had lain down the order to adopt Terin’s policies, there were half a hundred ways a man set on blocking them could delay things if he really felt stubborn about it.  

So, what we had here was a man poisoned by ideas of honor from the coastal kingdoms, a man who believed he should hate me for what he’d been told by his peers concerning my personal actions during the withdrawal from Madrigal, but also someone who’s smart enough and open-minded enough to listen to new ideas and training, and use those ideas even if they come from someone he hates as long as the reason for them was something he believed in.

Regardless of what other problems the young fool had, that speaks of someone whose priorities were in line with Terin’s: to accomplish the scout mission of gathering information from remote and dangerous locations, and see those scouts return from their missions alive.

Terin thought over his own actions of a moment before, and nodded in satisfaction.

“A man who puts the welfare of his scouts over his own prejudice is too good to waste by killing out of hand. Much better to give him a lesson and let him decide what he’ll take from it. Next time, maybe he’ll think before he acts.”

“Then again, maybe next time he’ll leave off wasting time on words, and try me with a dagger in the back. Whatever he does, I administered the lesson, what he learns from it is on his head now.”

“And damn it all anyway, I don’t have time for this kind of foolishness right now.”

Terin moved smoothly forward and leaned down to speak closer to Corporal Garthan’s ear.

“Corporal, I’m done with the journals.”

Corporal Garthan jumped a bit as if startled, and whipped his head around to see who was speaking. “Oh! Sorry, your lordship, I’d forgotten that you were still at it. It’s gotten quite late getting this mob sorted out. If you’re all finished, I’ll get things straightened up then?”

The corporal’s voice ended in a question, and Terin nodded affirmative. “Oh yes, I’m quite finished. I think I’ve learned all I could hope to about the area I’m headed for. While you’re clearing the room, I’d also appreciate it if you’d look in on your captain for me. I left him with some serious issues to consider, and I warrant he’ll need some help working them out.”

Terin straightened up, and gave the young man a tired smile. “Please be sure and tell him that if he ever wants to discuss any issues with me again, I’d be more than happy to make time for him just as soon as I’ve returned from my current task. You’ll do that for me, won’t you?”

Corporal Garthan snapped off a sharp salute, and said, “Of course, sir, you can count on me!”

Terin smiled again, and headed for the door.

“I’m sure I can, son. I’m sure I can. Carry on.”

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