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The everything board / The inn a chapter from Swords and Tomes pt. 7
« on: February 15, 2014, 05:45:13 AM »
The Knight nodded and shook Scotty's hand as she continued.  Ina laid her hand gently on the knight’s arm, whispering.  “We should go outside and talk for there are many strangers in the hall tonight, and I think we do not want to be overhead.”

The knight gestured toward the door and got up.  Ina and Scotty stood and started to leave the table.  Rule vaulted to his feet,  “Where are you going?  It’s early! Please, stay for some Trull or wine?"

Ina chuckled.  “Trull, if you have any fit to drink.” 

The big man’s arms flopped over his massive chest.  “I’m shoulder deep in fresh casks.  We’re never short of Trull or wine.”

Ina laughed with her eyes and said,  “Don’t worry old friend.  We’ll return shortly.  The drink is fine, the food is outstanding, and the company is delightful.  We just need some air.” 

When they were outside, and had walked a ways into the thick darkness void of moonlight, the three talked in the hushed tones seasoned fighters use in the dark.  Ina and Scotty took turns attempting to explain why Scotty’s predicament.  Confusion stained the River Knight’s face. 

Ina continued.  “Scotty this man is what we call a Knight of the river or a River Knight.  It’s not commonly known but this man is the champion of the esteemed River Knights.  Through a special magic known only to the Knights, they can breathe both on land and under water.  So, great knight, what brings you away from the grand keep and your teachings?”

“The rivers are being polluted.  Not that this is a new problem.  The problem comes in identifying what is causing the pollution.  The rivers are increasingly carrying more blood than they ever have before.  Some of the blood is foul. Some of it can’t be identified.  It’s not Troll blood, as we thought it might be given the clans fighting as they always do.  The river scholars and clerics want to know what the situation is, and what’s causing the increase in blood levels.  They’ve given me the task of cleaning up the river, plus identifying and ending what’s causing the pollution.  Is this stranger causing the pollution?”

Scotty huffed.  "I’m offended!  Let me tell you this: I’m not responsible!  Many rivers in my dimension are polluted.  Sometimes it’s impossible to find the source.  How will you find the source, and how do you know this pollution is evil?”

The River Knight turned his whole body toward Scotty and stared gravely.  “I beg your forgiveness.  It’s that I don’t know where to start to solve the problem.  I can’t determine what has changed.  You are my first clue as to something different.”

‘There are always rumors of change, and frequently it isn’t for the better.”  Ina said.

The knight continued.  “The main concern is that the crops nurtured by these waters from the mountains are failing, the fruits aren’t as sweet.  The produce is smaller than usual.  All of the region’s crops are not doing as well as they should be.  People are getting sick from drinking the water.”  He paused.  Serious changed to a smirk on his face as the river knight looked at Ina.  “Worse for this woman warrior, the Trull isn't fermenting correctly and the drink is often soured.  This will severely distress her if it continues, and let me assure you, stranger, you don’t want to see or be around this she-demon when she’s upset.” 

Ina eyed the sky.  “The rains are almost here.  Not a good time to start any kind of an undertaking. Travel will be hard and fighting difficult.”

The River Knight caressed Ina’s shoulder as a father touches his daughter.  “It’s never a good time to fight or kill.  Sadly, I believe we can’t wait for life to happen.”

The everything board / The inn a chapter from Swords and Tomes pt. 6
« on: February 01, 2014, 11:56:11 PM »
“Gamblers all, as you are, hold on to your money.  Don’t I get a throw?”
“Yes, but it’s impossible to win.”  The man’s tufted ears wiggled as he spoke. 

“I don’t agree with your assessment of the aging warrior’s throw.”  The challenger said as he flipped the axe from hand to hand.  “Yes, I believe it’s impossible to win if my axe is thrown overhand and the handle lands facing the floor.  All can see there isn’t room as the handles would touch, and my axe would fall to the floor.  However, if you’ll look, you can see there’s room for the point of a well thrown axe to fall between the bottom point of the aged warrior’s poorly thrown axe and the mark if I throw my axe underhand.” 

Everyone laughed and continued to pay off wagers.  The man flipped his axe underhand. 

The axe ripped through the air. Splinters and sparks sprang from the wall as the axe crashed into the wall.   

In’s eyes bugged out in disbelief and bedlam ensued.  The axe had embedded itself significantly deeper into the wall than had Ina’s axe.  As suggested, the bottom point split the distance between the lower point of her axe and the mark.  He had hit a target less than a half-inch in diameter. 

Rule threw up his arms.  “She’s been beaten!”  He pointed to the axe.  “The stranger has bested her.  Never has this tavern seen the casting such as this tonight, and it’ll be unlikely that anyone will ever witness the likes of this again.” 

Rule pulled a handful of stones from a purse on his belt.  “I’ll buy the axes for the mementos of this night.  I’ll nail the axes where they fell.  I will tell the story repeatedly, until my grave has turned from dirt to fresh grass.  Even then, I’ll retell it to the gods.  Food and drink is free for everyone, for tonight is a night which will be sung about for many generations.” 

Wanda’s arms flew over her head.  “Never, in all my life, have I seen such.  Minstrels can’t enhance the story.  This casting story is as good as any story ever told.  Those here will tell their grandchildren that they were witness to the greatest casting ever.  As to the money lost, that’s nonsense, husband.  People will be coming here for months, if not years to see the axes and the mark.  Each will pay to hear the story and see the truth in the legend.  The Broken-Tooth Inn is now famous for the greatest casting challenge ever seen.” 

The challenger moved to the table as Ina, Rule and Scotty pulled up four three-legged, backless stools.  Removing his ponchos, he sat boldly, without the ceremony of an introduction.  He moved with an unnatural air of self-confidence and with infinite authority. 

His hidden facial tones were light with a blue tint. When he removed his hood, Scotty gasped loudly enough that people glanced in his direction fearing some disaster.

The man's hair was light blue, brighter and more natural than any old blue haired retiree transplanted to Florida.  It framed his large eyes.  There were no whites in his eyes.  They were a bright multi-toned blue. 

Scotty skin crawled.  The eyes were so fluid and translucent they gave the impression of a disembodied spirit. 

Scotty tried not to stare.  He leaned back and put his feet up on the table just as he had done when talking with Doran.  He careened to the floor as Ina struck his anklebone with an inflexible fist. 

Confusion flashed in Scotty’s eyes.  “Now what?”

She hissed.  “Where do you think you are?  This is an eating table, not a talking table.  We don’t talk business at an eating table, and we do not eat at a business table.  The pain you are barely enduring is nothing compared to how this disheveled traveler would have corrected your insolence.  If I remember correctly, he prefers to cuff an offender on the side of the head always involving a bit of the ear.”   

The stranger’s blue eyes brightened.  “There’s been many a night when you went to your bed with reddened ears from abundant slaps to your obstinate head.  Warriors all, let them be praised; it’s good to see you.  We’ve not heard anything of you for years now.  It was rumored you had turned outlaw and joined up with Pike’s band.” 

Ina bowed her head.  “You are too much misinformed, oh great Knight.  I’m still alive, and I’m not an outlaw.  Likewise, Pike isn’t an outlaw.  Pardon my manners sir.  I’d like to introduce you to a stranger to our ways and to our land.  Scotty, this is one of, if not the most renowned of the River Knights.  His name should not be spoken yet.  Just know he was my weapons trainer, as well as my life guide and friend.  This stranger is called Scotty." 

The Knight nodded and shook Scotty's hand as she continued.  Ina laid her hand gently on the knight’s arm, whispering.  “We should go outside and talk for there are many strangers in the hall tonight, and I think we do not want to be overhead.”

The everything board / The inn a chapter from Swords and Tomes pt. 5
« on: January 31, 2014, 05:55:30 AM »
Ina withdrew the borrowed axe from the wood and let fly to the other side of the tavern. A smirk rested on her lips as she said,  “Scotty, it’s a courtesy to offer a mark to any others after you’ve won.  No one here has ever challenged me.” 

The night’s gathering quieted as wagers were paid and collected.  When the din had diminished, a man, seated in the darkened corner of the room, rose. “I accept the doddery woman warrior’s challenge.” 

The lone traveler must have been blind; Ina woman was far from doddery.  Flabbergasted, Ina’s chin fell as she regarded the challenger in disbelief.  “What do you wager?  What can you afford to lose?  By your look, you can’t afford the cost of a dribble of trull.” 

Unlike other patrons, his clothing consisted of two ponchos made from plain and simple blankets, with rough holes cut for his head and arms.  The ponchos formed a cross falling below his knees.  A separated hood shadowed his face, covering his upper back, shoulders, and arms.  Dark, stained gloves encased his hands like a second skin. 

The crowd stared as the apparent pauper spoke.  “My wager is a simple one for such a gifted warrior as you.  The river stones in this sack against your company for this evening’s meal.”  Stones poured onto the small round table in front of him.  Gasps and murmured exclamations filled the room. 

Scotty glanced at Ina.  "Those stones are worth a bit?"

She nodded.  "A very large bit." 

The stranger crossed his arms over his chest.  “I warn you. You’ll have to throw a much better axe to beat me.  Of course, this depends on if you feel sure enough of yourself to accept the challenge,” He paused, as the hint of a smile brightened his features.  “And of the luck you have always depended on.  Do you take this wager as an aging warrior too proud to stay home and tend her garden or do you not take it at all?”

“Done!”  Ina hissed as she drew back.  Scotty caught a look of pure firmness of mind and a little anger in her eye.  Absolute determination flared in her face as the axe whistled through the air.  Wood splinters flew as the axe landed so close to the mark that there was no room for her opponent’s axe to land. 

Ina’s eyes went to the challenger.  “Scotty, that’s what’s called the advantage.  He can’t throw closer.  It’s an automatic win.”

Her smugness betrayed her as again the gamblers started to pay and collect. 

The challenger bent toward a short stocky man with huge tufted ears.  “Kind sir, be sympathetic to a fellow patron and let me borrow your axe."  The stocky man shrugged and nodded.  The challenger raised the axe and shouted. "Gamblers all, as you are, hold on to your money.  Don’t I get a throw?”

The everything board / The inn a chapter from Swords and Tomes pt. 4
« on: January 29, 2014, 01:29:48 PM »
Scotty shuffled his feet, and scanned the room for the possible live-in lover.  He picked her out immediately.  She was the short, stout woman behind the bar swinging a double bladed axe over her shoulder. 

Her chest swelled with a long breath.  She whipped her arm forward and let the axe fly.  Scotty flinched into a crouch; breathing again as the axe thudded into the wall. 

Ina laughed, asking a nearby patron as she hefted his axe.  “May I?”

“Yes, without a doubt.  We need some excitement tonight!”  The man turned to the patrons yelling.  “Two wetsells on the warrior.” 

“Done!” A cry echoed.

A slim, dirty-haired woman in a brightly colored peasant dress screamed “6 more on the marker.” 

“I’ll take two of that,” cried another as the wagering continued for over five minutes. 

While the wagers placed their bets, Scotty moved to Ina’s ear.  “What’s the axe throwing all about?”

“It’s a simple game called casting.  The marker throws an axe.  Then both individuals throw axes at the first axe or mark as it’s called.  The caster, the person challenged, always throws the first axe at the mark.  The winning cast, or throw is the axe closest to the first axe.  However, neither axe can hit the first axe.  That’s an automatic loss.  The caster, in this case me, names the stakes.  The marker accepts or withdraws the challenge.  Watch and learn from a master.” 

A grin edged across Ina’s face “Free food and drink for the two of us, or I pay triple, Wanda.”

Wanda’s muscles quivered as she removed her simple white shirt.  The nakedness of her upper half revealed more muscle than fat.  Sweat ran down between her breasts, “Agreed!  The advantage of the first cast is yours.”

Ina, flipping the axe into the air, caught it, and in one sharp move brought it dangerously close to her ear.  Then with a flick of her wrist, the axe sliced the air, tumbling end over end toward the wall.  The thud brought cheers as the axe fell inches away from the other axe. 

Wanda smiled like an overindulged cat.  “You are toying with me.”  She whipped a second axe into the wall. 

Rule examined the throws.  “Wanda’s axe has fallen to the right of the mark axe.  Ina’s had fallen just to the left and it was the same distance away.”  His face beamed with pride “You must throw again.  I can’t see a difference.” 

Rule pulled the axes out of the wall and returned them.  He smiled at Wanda.  “Throw well my love, and good luck.  You need all the luck you can wish for, even though you’re one of the best, you know you’ve never beaten her.” 

Ina turned to Scotty.  “Wanda now throws first, which gives her the advantage.” 

“I’ll just watch and pick up the rules as you go along.” Scotty said as he watched the woman heft the axe, sensing the balance of the weapon.

Again, Wanda’s axe split the air, and landed not three blade’s width from the mark. 

The floor trembled as patrons stomped their feet, cheering.  Rule nodded.  “Nice throw my lovely, and let it be known that if Ina can best your throw, I’ll buy all the help a bucket of Trull.” 

“Pay up, big man,” Ina stated as she deftly lobbed her axe.  “I misjudged the range on that last throw.” 

The patron’s cheered, clapping as Ina’s axe split the difference between Wanda’s well-thrown axe and the mark axe. 

Wanda shrugged.  “With the help all drunk, there’ll be no money made in this place tonight.”

Ina withdrew the borrowed axe from the wood and let fly to the other side of the tavern.  “Scotty, it’s a courtesy to offer a mark to any others after you’ve won.  No one here has ever challenged me.” 

The everything board / The inn a chapter from Swords and Tomes pt. 3
« on: January 26, 2014, 01:05:51 AM »
She glanced at him then turned away.  “It’s harsh to those that don’t understand.  Those who understand accept that life is very precious and treat any incursion on our lives as threatening.”
Envatti shuffled back, and without speaking, pointed to a door.  He dipped his head in some sort of salute to Ina as she passed.  He glared at Scotty. 

Scotty put on his best assurance smile.  “Not to worry. I’ll behave myself, and your job, or I guess your life, isn’t in any danger from me.”

Envatti frowned and hissed back.

Scoitty turned to Ina.  “How is it that you have changed how you are treating me?”

Ina’s scowl chilled the air between them as she herded him through the doors.  She gestured with her hand to move forward.  Scotty strode down a wide passageway into a room with low-beamed ceilings smudged black with grease and grime. 

He scanned the situation before entering.  A utilitarian board counter, balanced on two large casks sat along the rear wall.   All sorts of sizes and shapes of deeply scared tables, chairs and benches lay scattered about.  Heavy unidentified aromas filled the air.  The place was clean and the polished stone floor was immaculate. 

Along the walls, individuals of different genders or same the gender occupied the smaller tables.  Most were touching or kissing.  In a few cases, they were more intimate.  Scotty’s expression did little to hide his amazement. 

The large room was packed.  If everyone had taken a seat there wouldn’t have been enough places. There were patrons of all different colors, sizes and textures.  Their facial features varied and they were all conversing loudly.  Many had pointed ears that were too large in proportion to their head.  Some even had scales. 

Scotty shivered as he noticed that most of the patrons had weapons resting near their hands.  Scotty made casual eye contact with a patron.  A dirty bandage draped over one eye intensified his good eye stare.  His stained vest failed to cover fresh cuts and bruises on his naked arms. 

He slurred as if he had had more than one too many trulls.  “Close the door, idiot.” 

Black teeth dotted his smile as an emaciated woman came up to him.  Her cruelly bent back didn’t bother her as she kissed him full on the mouth.  She seemed to enjoy it.  “Come with me before you make a fool of yourself again old man.” 

Another man with multiple rolls of fat sat at a large table and smiled at Ina as she walked past him.  “What brings you here, warrior witch?”

Her eyes flashed a warning at him.  “Would you believe madness?”

He shook his head, side to side and beamed at Scotty.  Scotty sensed he was pricing a fine piece of beef hanging in a meat market.  The big man rose and toyed with a knife wedged in a rope-belt that held up a thong.  The thong was lost between two scaly legs as thick as tree trunks.  He made a face, as if he had smelled rotting fish.  Ina ignored him and the mountainous man shuffled away. 

Ina looked down her nose at Scotty.  “Don’t let that man ever catch you in a place where you can’t get away from him.”

Yes, there were some individuals recognizable as human.  One was the monstrosity of a man charging at them from across the room.  His bellow and thundering footfalls stopped the Inn’s banter. 

“Ina!  You daughter of a virgin-warrior-witch, conceived by witchcraft for reasons beyond human fathom and for reasons understood only by the most ancient of the spirits and demons.” 

Ina held her arms open.  “Rule, my good friend.”

Battle scars marred his unshaven face and deep lines indented his massive forehead. His towering 8 feet plus and coppery skin stood him apart from the others patrons.  Scotty grabbed Ina’s arm and whispered into her ear.  “How big of a fairy sired that giant?”

Scotty blinked, as Rule ran up to them and into Ina’s open arms.  Rule lifted Ina in his bear-like arms, as if she were a small child.  He laid a kiss on Ina, which she returned with enthusiasm.  Rule bore a striking resemblance to Scotty's friend, Deek. 

In less than a heartbeat, Rule and Ina were wrapped in a second and third tight embrace.  Rule was dressed in what appeared to be sweat shorts, and wore a light leather shirt. It was similar to the one Scotty dressed in, except lighter in color and without fringe. A heavy leather apron hung around Rule’s expansive waist.  Hanging on his hip was an unsheathed knife tucked into a wide belt.  His belly lapped over the belt.  He didn’t look as if he’d never harmed anyone.  But it was a simple assumption, that anyone who had crossed this man would be dead  from non-natural causes.

The everything board / The inn a chapter from Swords and Tomes pt. 2
« on: January 24, 2014, 06:27:33 AM »
Scotty beamed with anticipation.  “We call it ale in my dimension.  I may enjoy this trull.” 

Ina squeezed his shoulder.  “We can have plenty here stranger.  Anyone who likes his trull lives life as the Gods intended and will die a jolly man.” 

"I love the attitude Ina.  We may have a lot more in common than you think.” 

The pair entered the Inn through double doors wide enough and tall enough to allow a man mounted on a horse to enter.  The entry hall led to another set of shorter doors.  An older man with glassed over eyes sat in a chair tipped back against the wall.
A wide diagonal scar destroyed his face.  An empty tunic sleeve tied in a knot, hung limp against a wide torso.  Age and the cruelty of life had left only a shell of what once must have been a very muscular man.

The man spoke, but his voice was dull and broken.  “Hello, Ina.  It’s been a while since you visited us.  You look well.  Who’s this?”

Ina put her arm around Scotty's shoulder.  She pulled him to her.  “He’s a stranger from a faraway place, and not familiar with the ways of civilized folk.  Scotty, this is Envatti.  His task here is to assess the customer and determine if he or she will be allowed entry to the Inn.”

The man put his face close to Scotty’s.  Envatti’s foul breath overpowered the eyeball to eyeball stare.  Their noses touched. Scotty fell back.  His voice was uneasy.  "I just don’t like people getting that close.  Especially staring at what’s behind my eyes."
Evantti’s eyes changed color as he glared at Scotty. His eyes molted from a pale greenish gray to blue-black to a scarlet red.  He spoke slowly, his gaze still fixed on Scotty's eyes.  “Do you vouch for this man, Ina?”

“Yes why?”

The man looked away and spoke to Ina as if Scotty was not there.  “I see trouble deep within.  He’s slow to anger but when angered he’s deadly.  He has the heart and soul of a man who does not know where he needs to be in life.  He’s a traveler in life but does not know his destination.”

Envatti put his hand flat against Scotty's heart and the man’s eyes crossed as he continued his evaluation.  “Others seek to challenge him just because of his proximity to them.  The thing that disturbs me, and causes me to not let the man enter is the fact that he has developed the ability to kill without remorse.”

Ina hugged Scotty playfully and he responded with a smile to the warmth of her body.  “I’ve never felt that in him.”

Evantti’s hand fell to his side as he opened his eyes.  “However, I do feel a strong undertone of good.  I’ll allow him to pass.  Please wait here for a bit.”

As the man walked away, Scotty whispered to Ina.  “That was a strange assessment and I don’t agree.”

She smiled.  ‘You don’t have to agree stranger, but you have to accept his decision to let you enter or not.  He’s the first wall of protection which provides safety and security to the people using the inn.”

“Ok, when in Rome do as a Roman.  Do you know how he lost his arm?”

Staring at nothing, she answered.  “I do not know of Rome or Roman but I do know how he lost his arm.  When he was in training to become a judge of character he made an error and the trainer cut of his arm.”

Scotty's mouth dropped open.  “Isn’t that a little excessive evaluating?”

She shook her head.  “No, my safety and the safety of the other patrons depend on his judgments of character.  I understand that the trainer thought he showed great potential or he would have killed him for his error.”

Scotty entire body shuddered.  “This is a harsh land you live in.”

She glanced at him then turned away.  “It’s harsh to those that don’t understand.  Those who understand. accept that life is very precious and treat any incursion on our lives as threatening.” 

The everything board / A short contemplation
« on: January 19, 2014, 01:45:16 PM »
A short contemplation

It was asked at the Wisdom Project to define what wisdom met to each of us.  I defined wisdom as the ability to accurately interpret the everyday experiences in life.  One of those experiences happens at the start of every day for me.   I believe that one’s biggest and most powerful critic glares back at us from the mirror every morning.  Is the reflection our biggest supporter or a feared assailant?  Is that reflection our own “pity-party” planner or our strongest ally?  Do, we give that critic too much power?  I believe the power we give that reflection has the ability to create the life we truly desire.  It has the power to put each of us in alignment with our personal values and priorities or to throw us into a private pandemonium  No matter which common life values one cherishes and pursues, our personal power controls how we perceive life. I strongly believe that a positive personal power is acquired through a wisdom of cultivating freedom, harmony and balance in our daily lives.  How would I suggest we accomplish this?  The first and foremost way is to stop, or at least control emotional reactions.  Secondly, I suggest we continually re-examine our core beliefs.  Then my own personal hurdle, quieting that censuring and critiquing voice in my head.  Finally, make every effort to develop communication and respect in relationships.  As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to look past the fog and deeper into what I see in my own reflection.

The everything board / The inn a chapter from Swords and Tomes pt. 1
« on: January 19, 2014, 01:41:20 PM »
Dirt fell from her shoes as Ina kicked at the ground.  “The Inn was a fortress long before my grandparents were born. Now it is a refuge for a good meal, an honest drink and a clean bed operated by a noble man named Rule.  It’s the safest place to stay within 40 days' march.  The food and drink prepared and served by Rule’s lover, Wanda is exceptional.  She’s like the sister I lost.”
Scotty’s mouth opened to ask about the sister, but Ina held up her hand and continued.  “The rooms are kept clean and chores are done by a staff of various halves.  Each one of them pledged their loyalty to Rule.  In return he offers them an honest job as well as a place to stay with their own kind.”

Scotty shrugged.  “I don’t understand halves.”

Ina's face softened.  “I must apologize.  My world isn’t perfect.  The people in most towns don’t like anybody who’s different.  They don’t want them to love each other and have offspring.  They especially do not like it when the mother or the father was only together once, most often not knowing each other’s name.  Shunned from birth, these halves often leave their towns.  They become professional travelers or worse they become outlaws robbing, as they need to.  Here at the Broken-tooth Inn a half of any kind can find a job and live without fear.” 

Ina’s chest puffed with pride.  “Rule, a huge mountain of a man, insures their safety.  People say he can crush a man’s skull with a squeeze of his massive hand.  It’s rumored that he’s the offspring of a woman warrior from a faraway island and a tiny male fairy from the Promised Land.”

She bent her arm flexing the biceps.  “He has the physique and training of the warrior and the loving spirit of the fairy.  The fairy granted his first child the gift of inner peace and told him the perception of death and pain is always much worse than the fact of actual pain or death.”

She continued after pausing to avoid a dog running after a ground squirrel that could have fed four people.  “Whenever there is the slightest hint of a problem, he inhales loudly, expanding his barrel chest.  His impressive height and size puts a cooling damper on a hot-tempered discussion.  However, I’ve never heard a tale or a song about Rule using his strength to injure or maim.”  She grinned.  “The tales and songs don’t say that about me stranger.”

Ina rubbed her stomach.  “You will be pleased with the food that Wanda will fix for us.  I’ve known her and Rule, the owner, ever since I completed my training.  I’ve shared their pain and joy on many occasions.  I held Wanda’s hand tenderly when her daughter was born dead.  I was there when their son came to life.  I feel their son is the one I’ve never had and I’d die for him without thought.”  She paused then laughed.  “I think maybe the Gods got tired of waiting for me to choose a man and gave my son to them.” 
Then there was a change in her attitude as her smiled broadened.  “Ha, can you smell the trull stranger?  It will be good this time of year.  The herbs will have had some time to blend but still hold on to their character.  In a few weeks, the trull will blend and each batch will have a unique flavor.  However, I’ve never had a bad mug of trull.”

The woman licked her lips, sensuously.  “It's said that the taste of trull is all in the heart and soul of the drinker.  If you dying of thirst or if you are truly dying, and you are told this will be your last mug, it’s guaranteed that batch will be the best you ever tasted.  Its only when you have too many choices that you can note one better.” 

Scotty beamed with anticipation.  “We call it ale in my dimension.  I may enjoy this trull.” 

Ina shook her visitor awake.  “Should I call you Scotty?”

“I guess so.  I need one thing that I can be sure is real.” 

“You can be sure of me, stranger.  I’m a pledged warrior.  The River Knights, the greatest of all fighters, trained me in a faraway land in a better time.  As my companion on a journey that may turn bad, you must know I’ll give up my life for us to succeed.  For me, to die for a cause that’s just and righteous, is the highest honor a warrior of my training, and stature can achieve.  I have a talent for dealing out death.  It’s said, my friendship is a prize beyond compare.” 

"I need to ask you a question then.  If you were trained by knights, are you a knight?” 

She flushed and her facial muscles tightened.  “That’s none of your business, and we won’t speak of this again.” 

She spun away from Scotty, grabbed a black leather purse and slung it over her shoulder. Her sheathed sword hung at her side in a black scabbard.  Ina handed Scotty a similar purse, and led the way out the door as Scotty slung the purse over his shoulder. 

"This way."  She commanded as she led him down a narrow hall.  The warrior opened the door and ushered Scotty outside. 

Scotty gasped as he stepped onto a small, wooden porch aged by time and heavy use.  The house rested in a small clearing, heavily planted with all sizes and colors of flowers, shrubs and small trees.  A thick forest with heavy, lush, impenetrable undergrowth surrounded the entire clearing. Some of the vines twisted and entwined as if they had been growing for a few hundred-years.  The age compacted undergrowth was a fortress as defendable as a great citadel.

 Ina put her lips together and whistled a short tune with very low notes.  Her legs buckled and she plopped down on a lawn of grass more blue than green.  “Sit. It may be awhile.”  She instructed. 

Scotty obeyed.  “Is there any chance we can eat before we go?” 

“You really don’t know anything do you?”  Reaching over her shoulder she picked a rose like flower from a tall, slender bush.  She handed it to him.  “In your bag are some rough dried yellow leaves.  Think about what you want to eat, sprinkle the leaves on this flower, and eat them.   Use only a little, because it may be a long journey and we may not always have time to cook.  Besides, meat and forage are often hard to find in the hinterland.” 

He opened his bag.  Inside were dozens of clear bags containing all kinds of what looked like spices?  He grabbed one that was yellow.  It was not a plastic bag; it was clear cloth.  With a questioning look, he held the bag for Ina to see.  She nodded 'yes'.  Intrigued, he opened the bag, took a pinch of the yellow spice and sprinkled it on the flower. 

She raised a finger to her head.  “Now, think about what you want to eat.” 

He paused, again doing as she directed.  His face reddened as he coughed and gagged.  He gasped for breath, coughing the stuff out of his mouth. 

“Ina looked down at the mess in front of her.  “You thought of too much.  Your thoughts are bigger than your mouth can handle.  You’re only supposed to think of what you can eat in one mouthful and only one thing at a time.  The magic of the flower transforms itself to whatever you are dreaming.  Think of a tiny piece of meat and try again.  If you don't understand the basics of living in my world, having you along on this quest may be interesting.  On the other hand, it might be fraught with terror.” She looked up to a cloud bank.  “I wonder which it will be.”

The steel whirred and flashed in the sun as it spun the short distance across the field.   The Red Raven made a scared whimpery sound as he fell to his side.  His body rolled to the left and his head rolled to the right. 

Pisces bolted to his feet, and retrieved his sword.   His breath, rumbling and labored, stressed the pain in his voice.  “I should kill you!”

Scotty backed away screaming, “What? I just saved your life.”

The knight’s sword arm fell to his side.  Disappointment spread across his face.  “But you have killed my honor.  For two to fight against one is an unpardonable disgrace.  A knight who lives in disgrace and shame does not live.  He only exists; taking up space on the earth.”

“Existing is far superior to dying.” Disgust highlighted Scotty’s words. “Life trumps a righteous death in my book of battle rules all the time.  If you are alive, there is always hope.  Dead is dead.  Dead is finished.  Dead is giving up.”

Flare pulled his fingers through Crazy’s mane.  “It all depends on the perspective, Scotty.  It all boils down to the quality of life for some warriors.  To Pisces living in disgrace is far worse than a noble death.”

Scotty nodded.  “I understand quality of life.  I know many a warrior, as you’d call them, who are existing on machines.  The circumstances are different.  This involves someone else’s opinion.  I’m sure there are a quantity of individuals that feel the same way about this living in dishonor.   However, there are some that would say you walked a winner.  This evil Red Raven won’t hurt anyone else.  That’s a good thing, a boom mankind.”

Mattchu walked up and put his arm over the knight’s shoulder.  “You live for a greater good.  It doesn’t matter to the final quest, which I have confidence in, is a better place to live.”  He turned to Flare.  “If no one speaks of this, or sings a song to tell the story, it didn’t happen.”

Ina nodded.  “We will bury the Red Raven and his horse in an unmarked grave. His name will still carry fear but the bite of his sword will never be felt again.  In the future, the myths will turn to dust.”

Flare nodded and started to speak but Scotty interrupted him.  “Why do we have to kill the horse?  We can take it with us.  We can let it go free.”

Ina shook her head.  “All traces of the man must disappear.  His horse, without its owner, would breed questions. To make this work, we need to erase his existence.”

Scotty shrugged.  “I’ve heard that a few times before and in my experience, it never works.”

Ina glanced at Pisces.  “Is this good with you?”

He nodded.  “I can live with it because the stranger doesn’t understand.  I will pray for his forgiveness.”

“Forgiveness! Forgiveness! I saved your life and the quest.”  Scotty screamed as he threw his arm in the air and stomped away. “I want to go home.”

Flare brought Crazy to Scotty and said, “Let it go.  Forget it happened. It is the best for all.  I feel badly because it would have been a great story.”

Scotty sighed.  Flare gestured at the dismembered body.  “I will take care of all this.  You all ride on and I’ll catch up in a few days.”

Pisces shook his finger at the troll.  “Don’t dishonor the hose by eating him.  Kill him quick and bury him deep.”

“Done.  Now journey on.”  Flare said through a grin.

Scotty, shook his head, drove his heels into Crazies side and commanded, “Ride!”

The everything board / New members
« on: January 05, 2014, 01:13:26 AM »
I've invited a few friends to experience this site.  They are looking for help in their writing and I couldn't think of a better place to recommend.  I hope they enjoy the ride.

Pisces nodded.  “Yes.  See the red bird on his breast plate?”  The knight continued without an answer from Scotty.  “Meet the Red Raven of a thousand tales of murder and mayhem.”

The Red Raven’s horse sidestepped, blocking their path.  Mud splattered the horse’s legs as the rider plunged his standard into the earth.  The Red Raven backed his horse away from the standard and nodded. 

Pisces nodded back and dismounted.  Scotty watched as the knight tore open his saddle bags.  Ina was at his side in an instant.  Without comment she unloaded one of the pack horses. Scotty sat glued to his saddle as Pisces, with Ina’s assistance, readied himself and his mount for combat.

Flare moved to Scotty’s side and grabbed Crazy’s bridle.  Scotty gestured toward the Red Raven.  “What is this all about?  Can’t we have a bit of a chat or something?  Are they just going to fight?”

“It is about a blood feud as old as the land.” Flare said as he stroked the horse’s neck.  “There will be no chatting, as you call it.  They will fight, and one will die.”

Scotty stood up in his saddle and screamed, “Why?”

Pisces turned to Scotty.  “It is all about good versus evil.  I must kill him if we are to continue on this track.”

Scotty jumped to the ground.  “Stop.  We can go around.  Nobody needs to die.”

Pisces shook his head.  “No.  He has challenged me.  He would follow us like a hunting hound till we fought.  This is a good place for fight.  The ground is firm and it wasn’t anyone’s choice.  If I am to die, let it be here.”

Ina nodded.  “You will win.  If fate lands him a killing blow, I will kill him for you.”

“This is preposterous and ludicrous.  Flare, why aren’t you saying anything?”  Scotty demanded.

Flare shrugged.  “If they both lose, I’m up.  The question then becomes do you continue the quest with Mattchu, or do both of you quit.”

Mattchu strode up to Scotty and Flare stating,  “I will fight also.  My father has been killed.  I will do whatever to make the world right.”

Scotty jumped up and down.  “Make the world right!”  Before he could speak another word Pisces had mounted his now armored warhorse and was advancing on the Red Raven.

Pisces rode up to the standard and halted his mount.  His eyes bored into the Red Raven.  He drew his sword and slammed it against his chest.  The Raven answered his challenge with the same crash of his sword on his chest plate.

Shattered pieces of the banner pole filled the air as Pisces’ pale sword shivered through the air.  His war horse pawed at the cloth resting on the ground.  The Raven drove his spurs into his horses flank.  The animal reared up and hurtled forward, throwing mud and stones as the assault began.

Pisces launched his own attack.  Even in the sucking mud, the horse’s hoofs resounded. Pisces ripped his sword over his head and slashed.  The Raven met it with his own steel.  The ring of metal against metal sent a flock of frightened birds out of the woods.  The riders spurred their mounts around and galloped into a charge again.

Pisces dropped the reins and took his sword in both hands. His arms strained to hold the sword as he swung it over his mounts outstretched neck.  Pisces slashed at the Raven’s chest.  He hit him high and the Raven’s sword tumbled to the ground.  A bright streak of blood blossomed below the Raven’s helm as he managed to stand.

Pisces swung down from his mount, sword in hand. “Pick up your sword, Raven, and prepare to die.”

The country side rang with the clash of swords.  The Raven defended himself confidently as he said,  “Dance with me Water bug.” 

A swift deer, quiet as a shadow, bolted from the woods at Pisces’ side.  The knight lost his concentration and his parry came a heartbeat too late.  The Red Raven’s sword crashed into the side of Pisces helm.  Pisces reeled, grabbed at his head.  His sword arm fell then came back up slowly.

The Raven swung wildly. The Raven charged.  Pisces swept aside a blow with his arm and slammed a mailed forearm into the Raven’s throat.  Pisces checked a second blow, and then a third.  He fell back amid another flurry of blows.   He took another step back and stumbled. The Raven knocked the sword from Pisces’ hand that brought a cry of pain.  With one quick move, the Red Raven was standing over Pisces with an upraised sword.
Without comment, Scotty drew his sword.  He whirled and heaved it into the air, putting his entire body in the throw.  The steel whirred and flashed in the sun as it spun the short distance across the field.   The Red Raven made a scared whimpery sound as he fell to his side.  His body rolled to the left and his head rolled to the right. 

“Mattachu, what do you read in the cards this day?”

Mattchu refused to raise his eyes from this cards that decorated the ground in a half circle in front of him as he ate.  His answer was normally a consistent, “Some bad, some good and a lot of unknowns.”  On this particular morning, his answer strained his voice as he added, “Dreadful, repulsive and excruciating to one of us.  Confusion to another and upsetting to another.  However, there will be some joy and celebration of a minor battle won with consequences.”

“What consequences?” Scotty questioned.

The boy shrugged.  “I don’t know.  I have said before that I foresee events that are generalized.  I can’t read more than I see.”

“And often you see things in the wrong light,” Ina added.

The boy shook his head violently.  “I see them in the right light.  I just interpret them wrongly.”
Flare slid his battle axe into its position across his back.  “So, today is just like the rest, some bad, some good and a lot of unknowns; only worse.”

The boy nodded as he moved to clean up breakfast.  “That’s about what I see.”

The knight donned his full armor under his cloak instead of just his normal attire of only a breast plate.

Within the hour, the horses were saddled and packed.  The group was mounted.  Scotty gestured down the cart-track that was to be their boulevard for the day.  “Let’s ride.”  Crazy shook his head as he recognized the rare anxiety in Scotty’s voice.  A smile of anticipation crept across the face of an unseen shadow lurking in the tall grass watching it all. 

The sun was high in the air, however the wind had turned frigid as they rode north.  The troop took up the habit of eating a cold lunch in the saddle and they rode easier and longer between breaks.   Scotty and Crazy led as always.  Crazy weaved his way around a blind corner.  There, twenty yards ahead, a figure materialized out of the thick fur-trees that lined both sides of the cart path.

The man’s unpolished armor was discolored, scorched and blackened by fire. His helm rested in the crook of his arm.  A red plume rose from the apex of the battered helm.  Scotty stared into a grim, traumatized face, entirely sacred by flames.  The individual’s eyes glowed cherry-red.  It was as if they were on the brink of incinerating into ash within the next moment.  Scotty frowned as Pisces rode up.  Pisces was fixated on the other knight.

Scotty pointed a gloved hand at the knight who had donned his helm and flipped down the shield.  “I would guess this might be the battle that Mattchu saw in the cards?”

Pisces nodded.  “Yes.  See the red bird on his breast plate?”  The knight continued without an answer from Scotty.  “Meet the Red Raven of a thousand tales of murder and mayhem.”

The day started as so many had before.   The whinny of the horses being tended drove Mattchu’s breakfast preparations over the small, smokeless fire.  As the last animal settled into its feedbag, Mattchu yelled.  “Come eat.”
The troll, took his ration before unfolding a short story regarding some ancient hero, or historic event between huge mouthfuls of food.  His well-narrated stories kept Scotty transfixed as the troll entertained with gestures and changing intonations.    His timing was unflawed.  He customarily completed his tale as he dumped his plate into the cleaning barrel of water and soap with the words. “And that was how it was.”

Ina’s excitement animated her movements as well as her speech.  She gulped her breakfast, barely chewing, and only pausing to breathe, or to interrupt, and comment on the troll’s story.  As she tossed her plate into the cleaning barrel, she would draw her sword.  The tension in her demeanor visually lessened as she pulled her sword and gazed with loving eyes at its shine.  She ran her thumb cautiously along the blade’s edge, as she inspected every inch of the glistening steel.  Her eyes fixated on the weapon as she slashed, parried and thrust repeatedly at the air.  Every morning, she moved away from the group as she stretched and drilled her body and mind to ready herself for combat.

The knight’s silence said considerably more than any spoken words.  He wore his integrity and morality like a scar of battle on his face as he prayed over his first drink of water each day.  He listened to the troll’s stories without criticism or commentary.  Pisces ate with a delicate precision, and when he had finished, his question was always the same and directed at the same individual.  After his final bite of food, characteristically he would lean back and balance his body on a stiffened arm. “Mattachu, what do you read in the cards this day?”

The everything board / Swords and Tomes chap 3 part 1
« on: March 30, 2013, 11:01:09 PM »
Scotty arrived at the Hole within minutes.  He paused by habit, to admire the doorknob the pub’s owner advertised as having decorated the heavy, iron-banded, oak door since Paul Revere’s ride.  At first glance, it resembled two fancy “S’s.  However, a close inspection exposed a dragon battling a huge snake.  Scotty opened the door to the Watering Hole Inn and stepped inside.
His gaze traversed the overall scene to the long, age-stained bar with all its brass trim.  Deek, the owner and bartender nodded, acknowledging Scotty’s arrival.  Deek was more than the simply the owner, he was Scotty’s one true friend and confident.  They had been friends since they played football together in High School.  Deek was a running back that hadn’t changed much physically since those days in the early sixties.  Deek had stayed in the town while Scotty traversed the world before coming home in the mid eighties.  Across it all they remained psychologically attached. 

Scotty smiled to acquaintances and newcomers alike as he edged sideways around small groups of folks and the scattered tables as he made his way to his favorite seat, the lone barstool against the wall.  The wait station separated the other barstools from his favored perch.  It stood removed from the often-loathsome patrons that sought something and normally found nothing, –either in the person on an adjacent stool or in the alcohol staring up at them from the bar.  Tonight, Scotty’s favorite stool was thankfully empty.  He needed to cope, not to connect.

Judy and Anna traveled between the seats and tables encumbered with trays of food and drinks.  Judy’s dark hair bounced and bobbed with every step.  Nevertheless, the woman portrayed faded, from her skin tone to her black jeans.  Everything about her sagged.  She had been through the wash too many times. Her mental capacity did little to improve her attributes.  Everything she did and said rivaled the punch line of every blonde-joke ever told.  Her sister married Deek, ensuring Judy a lifetime of small tips but a job.

 Anna’s persona said the exact opposite.  Patrons thronged to the Inn to be close to her.  Her charming, sexy and fun to be around attitude presented a wonderful option to those attempting to avoid boredom. The curving bends of her body slithered under clothes that always highlighted her best features.  The red headed, green-eyed server of dubious Irish descent knew every patron by name on his or her second visit.  She recalled their children’s names and routinely asked how the offspring was doing in their activity.  Ninety-eight percent of the patrons knew nothing of Anna’s relationship to Scotty.  Of the tiny number of people that knew about the on and off adult sleepovers, fewer still understood it..   

 The regulars stood around or sat at the bar chatting, while a few idled away the hours at the well-worn, wooden tables.  Five senior women sat involved in a game of Mahjong and a table of elderly men threw dice for nickels.  Half a dozen younger folks lingered around the pool table.  The scene represented any one of a million local taverns across the country.   

Deek, watched as Scotty swung his hip onto the stool.  “Aye yes, take notice for yonder approaches the Knight or the Pirate of The Water Hole Inn.  He never can decide which to be or when to be it.”

Deek was a retired actor who missed the excitement of the stage.  “Take my advice people,” he bellowed, and then paused until almost everyone was looking at him.  “Be mindful and watchful of your heart, your wallet, wife, grandmothers, daughters and granddaughters.  Whichever man he be tonight, he was born centuries too late.” 

A tight, squeaky voice interrupted Deek.  “Knight my ass; he’s a liar and a cheat.”  A man, barely a month over twenty-one, stood in a darkened corner next to a much younger woman.  He shouldered past her and moved into the light of the pool table.  He puffed out his chest.  "He’s a pool shark and a con-man."

Deek stretched to see the young man.  His voice rang playful as he hollered over conversations.  "Hey kid, he beat you fair.  It isn’t that Scotty’s a good pool player, it's that you’re not so great"

“Hey, I won your money, and that’s the end of it. Time to move along.”  Scotty said over his shoulder as he turned away from the kid.

Deek nodded.  "Yes.  If I remember right, he bought you and your lady friend a drink, which you left untouched."

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