Monday, November 16, 2009

Chapter 6. A day late and a dollar short.

I've been busy being all crunchy and stuff, so it took me a while to get to actually, you know, posting this. But here it is. I don't have any other cool stuff for right now, but maybe I will next week. Enjoy more pirating.

Voosh said, "It's all about the money." But his heart wasn't in it.
This by way of explaining to Reed why becoming a privateer was a good idea.
Voosh said, "Do you know how hard it is to even be a pirate? I mean the ocean's a big place. You've got to find other boats to, you know, pirate."
"How do you do that?" Reed asked.
"It ain't easy."
Mumphrey nodded in agreement.
The three of them sitting on the deck of the "Green Squid" sipping rum and smoking cigars. Voosh had given the rest of the crew a couple of days of leave, so there was no one else even on the boat. They watched other ships crews, legitimate ships, Mumphrey called them, as they worked through the night, loading boxes of cargo and cleaning barnacles off the front ends of their ships.
Voosh pointed one of them out. "See that one? They're loading boxes onto their ship. What do you think is in those boxes?"
Reed craned his neck to watch four guys struggling to get a giant wooden crate up a gangplank. He couldn't see anything written on the side of it. He couldn't tell how heavy it was because the four guys weren't straining, but then again, there were four of them. He shrugged, said, "I don't know."
Voosh looked at him. "Me neither." He said, "Could be anything. Food, grain, paper, gold coins, diamonds. Might be swords or shields. Might be strips of leather."
Mumphrey said, "The whole thing could be filled with dirt. Remember that?"
Voosh rolled his eyes and said, "Ye Gods, what a haul that was, eh?"
Reed said, "Dirt?"
"Boxes full of it." Voosh said.
"Dozens of them." Mumphrey agreed.
"Why?" Reed wanted to know.
"We still don't know." Voosh said. "But that's the point. A ship rolls out of port, we don't know what's on it. Unless you wanna pay someone works in the shipping office a bribe to tell you what every ship's carrying."
"Better be someone you trust." Mumphrey said.
"Damn right." Voosh agreed. "They get pinched they're not going to be so cavalier as to keep your name out of it. Not to mention it's a pain in the ass getting the information anyway."
"Why's that?"
Mumphrey said, "You got to pull into port just to find out. By the time you know the ships are halfway to where they're going. It's a waste of time."
"So you take a chance." Voosh said. "Hit a ship and hope. But sometimes you get dirt."
He took a sip of his rum and looked off wistfully at the moon over the dark ocean. He took a long drag of his cigar and said, "And that's not even the hard part."
"What's the hard part?" Reed asked.
Voosh said, "You hit a ship coming right out of port? You sit out there in the dark and wait? You got to be careful. You come up on em too fast, especially in the dark, you could ram em. Damage your ship and theirs. Not a lot of good being a pirate if you sink your ship."
"So you go slow." Mumphrey said.
"Ah, but then if they see you," Voosh continued, "Then they start firing. They know what you're up to. If you're too close to port the King's Ships start sailing out and next thing you know you're surrounded."
"They'll bust holes in your ship and sink ya." Mumphrey said.
"They don't arrest you?"
"Why should they?" Voosh asked. "You're a pirate. What do they care if you live or die?"
"That's..." Reed had to think about it. "That's not what I thought it would be like."
"Things are different on the sea." Mumphrey said.
"Very." Voosh agreed.
Reed's head was spinning. It was probably the rum. And the cigars. They were pretty strong. But there was a lot of pirating that he didn't get quite yet. The stories made it all seem so easy. All you needed was a sailing background, the ability to fight, and an inability to care about stealing other people's stuff. Seemed there was a lot more to it than that.
Reed said, "How'd you become a pirate?"
Voosh chuckled. "Stupid really. I was pinched for stealing a bag of salt from a local merchant. He was going to cut my hands off, but instead he decided to put me to work swabbing the ship he traded on."
"You know, mopping the deck. Keeping seagull poop off the railings. Basically keeping the ship clean."
"It's a terrible job." Mumphrey said.
"The worst." Voosh agreed. "But I learned all I could. Sailing, knots, navigating by the stars. Everyone on the ship was basically a slave who owed the Merchant, an old guy named Taggart, some amount of money or something. Or was a thief he didn't turn in, whatnot like that."
"So that's how you learned about sailing?"
"Where I learned everything. See, we're out at sea once and one guy had just had it. Taggart had been riding him, so the guy just goes berserk. Kills Taggart, throws his body overboard, and now we're pretty much all free. We didn't know what to do. We couldn't go back to Taggart's home port, cause people would be looking for him. We didn't want to go back where we'd been. They'd ask questions. So we stayed out on the sea. Fished for food, drank all the water and liquor that was on board, and then we decided to become pirates."
"So you just became a pirate?"
"Something like that." Voosh said, "We had to learn on the job. We found out all kinds of things. Like how hard it was to actually overtake a merchant ship. How much harder it was to just get the people on that ship to hand you their stuff. How it was even harder once people got back to port and started saying, 'Hey, there's pirates out there.'"
"Huge pain in the ass." Mumphrey agreed, finishing off his rum.
"So what happened?" Reed asked. "How did you end up here?"
Voosh shook his head. "That was twenty years or so ago. I guess things just worked out."
"What happened to the ship? The merchant's men?"
Voosh looked at Mumphrey and Mumphrey just smiled.
Voosh said, "This is the merchant's ship."
"It is?"
"The very one." Mumphrey said.
"So, what happened to the guy that killed the merchant?"
Mumphrey nodded at Voosh and said, "We made him captain."


It was almost dawn. Reed was leaning against the main mast, snoring, and Mumphrey was starting to doze off.
Voosh said, "Here they come."
They could see the torches coming down the road, heading to the docks. Three of them. The only people awake this time of night. They made their way to the pier and started coming up the gangplank of the "Green Squid".
Voosh said while they waited, "What do you think of the kid?" Nodding at Reed.
Mumphrey said, "He looks familiar to me, somehow, but I can't place it."
Voosh just said, "Hm."
"He'll be all right, I guess."
The three men were at the top of the gangplank now, looking around. Voosh decided he'd better take care of things. He said, "Keep an eye on my back."
Mumphrey said, "Aye."
The guy in front was tall, with a long black beard that he kept braided neat. He stood nearly a foot taller than Voosh, making Voosh have to crane his neck to look in the man's eye. He had two body guards with him, all of them carrying torches. The bodyguards were big, Voosh thought. But not tall.
Guy liked to keep people around he could look down on.
The guy looked around the ship, glanced at Mumphrey and the sleeping Reed and then back down at Voosh.
He said, "You're the captain?"
It was the tone Voosh didn't like. Such disdain. Like the guy was mocking him.
"What do you want?" Voosh said, deciding there was no reason to be nice about this.
"Here." The guy stuck out a parchment folded and sealed with wax. Voosh looked at it. No seal in the wax. Nobody wanted their sign on a paper for some Privateers. Especially if things went bad.
Voosh said, "There's money too, right?"
The tall man looked down at him. He said, "Oh yes. Pirates."
One of the bodyguards handed the tall man a bag that jingled with coins. The man passed it to Voosh.
Voosh said, "It's all here."
"I'm not going to stand around while you count it."
Voosh eyed him warily.
The tall man sighed. "If it's short then consider it free money and you don't work for us. That's how confident I am in it's contents."
Voosh said, "Fine."
They stood there a moment longer.
Voosh said, "Is there a reason you're still on my ship?"
The tall man smiled at him. Voosh wondered for a moment if they guy was going to do anything, but at the last minute he appeared to decide to let it go. He turned and walked back down the gangplank, followed by the two bodyguards.
Mumphrey walked up to him and said, "What was that all about?"
"That was Guard Captain Varin." Voosh said.
Mumphrey looked off into the darkness at the torches. "Really?"
"It really was." Voosh said. "I guess they're serious."

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Chapter 5. And we're back to the Orcs.

I had a lot of fun writing this chapter for some reason. I hope you like it.

On the non-novel front there's Flood Fill to play. And Kurt Russel's Han Solo audition to watch.

Have fun with those. On with the book:


Loro and his orcs spent the better part of the day hiding in the field, watching the little farm house from the safety of six to eight foot tall stalks of corn. Moving between the rows to keep out of the farmer's sight, and avoid the god-awful scarecrows the man kept in his field.
"They stink." Pakk said at one point. Pakk was a burly orc, with a scimitar hanging from his belt. "Like there's rotting meat inside."
Loro agreed. They did stink. So they avoided the scarecrows and watched the farmer as he tilled away at his task. They considered briefly killing the man out in the field. But there were possible problems with that.
"We don't know if he only has one child." Akar said, remembering Loro's rules of engagement.
That was true. They hadn't seen any children yet. But these were farmers. All farmers had kids, right? So there must have been at least one.
"There's no one helping him in the fields." Boga pointed out. This was true. If he had kids wouldn't they be helping?
Mull pointed out that perhaps the children were too small. "Maybe his kids are young."
The man didn't look young. He looked older. Perhaps his children were all gone away. Grown men.
Loro didn't know for sure what kind of man this was, just that he was a farmer, his farm was far enough away from anyone or anyplace else for them to get ambushed suddenly by a neighbor, and that farmers usually had kids.
So they waited and they watched.
Eventually the man finished up his work, in the early afternoon, and headed to the house.
Probably for lunch, Loro thought. Or an afternoon snack.
An afternoon snack sounded good. Loro hadn't eaten since the night before. None of them had. They didn't have any food they didn't have to cook, and building a fire in the man's cornfield to make lunch just seemed like it was asking for trouble..
When the man entered the farmhouse Loro said, "All right, let's go."
He felt a surge of energy then, and something in the pit of his stomach. They were doing something. This was the beginning. It was exciting. Would there be anyone else in the house at all? Maybe the man lived alone. Maybe he was a great warrior who had retired and only now tended a farm since he could no longer adventure with the younger warriors or fight alongside the king in epic battles.
Maybe they'd have an epic battle right there inside the man's house, swords flashing and fists flying. Bloodshed. Things he'd grown up appreciating. How long had it been since he'd been in a good fight? A while.
The orcs were swift and silent. They moved through the cornfields like a pack of wolves through a forest, coming upon a lone deer, ready to feed on it's corpse, ripping it apart savagely, tearing it limb from limb, rending the sweet meat from the bone.
Loro sent a couple of the orcs around to the back, to make sure there was no one behind the big farmhouse for one thing, but for another thing, to pen the man in. Come at him from two sides. A classic pinch maneuver, Loro thought. It had been a long time since he'd gotten to use battlefield tactics as well. He hoped he wasn't rusty.
Before he knew it he was in the small yard that led to the front door. A big window looked out on the yard, but the glare from the sun kept him from seeing inside. He wondered if the man was there, watching them approach, ready to take action.
There was no time to lose, don't let the man get prepared, he thought.
His hand on the front door knob, he turned it.
The door swung open, creaking ever so slightly, and he stepped inside, noting first the smell of something cooking, and then the darkness of the interior of the little farmhouse. His eyes took a moment to adjust to the light, but he stepped inside quickly to be out of the doorway, not only so the sun at his back wouldn't silhouette him and make him an easy target, but also so his band of warriors could follow him inside. He took one step, then a second, and then there was someone in the doorway.
A woman, old, sweet looking, with gray hair done up in a bun on her head. She looked at him and at Mull and Boga coming in behind him and said, "Oh." Putting her hand to her mouth and jumping back, startled.
Loro thought he should use his gruff voice, and careful not to show any sign of emotion he said, "Where are the children?"
The woman glanced off to the back of the house. She looked at Loro and said, "No! Not the children!"
The man's voice came from the back room then, saying, "What is it?"
He appeared behind her and said, "Good Gods!" His eyes going wide as he stared at the savage orc standing in his living room, holding a short sword to his wife's throat. Loro said, "The children! Bring them out!"
The man moved towards his wife, but Loro was faster, pulling her towards him and spinning her around so he could put his blade at her throat, using her as a shield in case the man were armed.
He waved his sword in a vaguely threatening fashion at the woman's throat and said again, "The children!"
"There!" Akar shouted. Loro looked towards the back of the house and saw a small boy, maybe five or six years old, with black hair coming out of a room. He looked tired, like he'd just woken up, but now his eyes had widened as well, seeing his mother or his grandmother being held hostage by a six foot tall, green skinned monster with a sword. The boy started to say something but his voice wouldn't come out of his mouth for some reason.
Loro thought the situation was perfect. He'd slice the woman's throat, stab the man in the chest, skewering him, and they would move on. Leaving the poor kid to become an orphan. A powerful orphan who would one day come for revenge on the orcs. Perhaps as a wizard or a knight, ready to do battle with the forces of evil. Yes, he'd be perfect.
He almost did it then, killed the woman and the man, but he hesitated, seeing the look in the man's eye. He didn't look angry or bitter, just scared, and Loro didn't want to do it for a moment. He felt a twist of conscience and didn't know for sure what it was. It wasn't something he'd ever felt before.
Before he could steel his nerves and do the deed though he heard a voice in the back of the house say, "There's two of them!"
He looked back at the kid. Jeru had come up behind him and picked him up by the back of his shirt. He was holding him like a mother cat holds a kitten, Loro thought, looking at the boy sitting there helpless in Jeru's massive green hand. And in Jeru's other hand, another boy. The same size and shape as the first, with the same dark hair, wearing the same blue clothes.
The two boys watched their parents about to be mercilessly slaughtered and he realized then he couldn't do it. One of the kids started to cry. Loro sighed and released his grip on the woman. She fell forward into her husband's waiting arms, and he closed his eyes and hugged her tight to his chest.
She said, "Please don't hurt the children." Her voice tearing up.
The man said, "What in the Nine Hells is going on?"
Akar said, "I think you mean eight."
Loro looked over at Akar who was holding a curved dagger in one hand and looking at the farmer. He glanced at Loro and shrugged. "It's eight." He said.
Loro said, "Eight?"
Boga, standing behind Loro, said, "It's nine."
"Eight." Akar reiterated.
Loro looked at the man and woman. They were staring aghast, though in different directions. The man was staring at Akar, holding that wicked curved blade down at his side as he argued with one of the other orcs. The woman was still staring at Jeru holding the twins.
Loro looked over to see Jeru hold one of them up to his nose and sniff. He pushed the kid away, a sour look on his face. He looked over to see Loro looking at him and said, "This one's peed."
Loro said, "Oh."
"He's scared." Loro looked over to see the old woman. She was trying to move in that direction, but fear was holding her back.
Loro said, "It's ok." He nodded at Jeru, and Jeru put the kid down and let the old woman have him. He held the other kid almost casually at his side as the woman and the child hugged each other.
The woman looked at Loro, figuring him to be in charge, and said, "Is it all right if I get him some clean pants?"
"Please." Loro said. "Go ahead."
Jeru moved out of the doorway to let them pass, and bumped the other kid's head on the wall.
The kid said, "Ow!"
Jeru picked the kid up and turned him so he could look directly in his face. He said, "Sorry."
The kid was rubbing his head now. Loro turned his attention back to the other orcs, the ones that had followed him into the front door.
Akar was saying, "Look, you don't count the first part. The part right outside. That's purgatory? Or Limbo? I forget. Maybe it's both. But Hell itself, that is, the eight hells, they don't start until after that."
Boga was counting on his fingers. He was saying, "There's the frozen part, there's the buried up to your neck part, there's the lake of fire..."
Pakk said, "I thought it was a pit of fire."
"It is a pit." Akar agreed.
Boga said, "It's a lake."
"Pit." Akar said.
"I say pit." Pakk said.
Loro turned back around to the old man, the farmer, still standing there, awed and amazed by this scene taking place in his living room. He said to Loro, "You won't hurt the children then?"
Loro said, "No. We won't."
He looked back at the rest of the orcs and they were putting their blades away and still babbling about the eight or nine hells.
Boga was saying, "Look, you dig a pit, you put water in it, it's a lake. You put fire in it, it's a lake of fire."
Akar said, "It's not a lake of fire, it's a pit of water. You call it a lake if it has water in it and a pit if it's full of fire."
"That's ridiculous." Boga argued. "That's like saying if I put water in a cup it's a cup, but if I fill it with mead it's a jug."
"It's a tankard." Pakk said. "Filled with mead."
Boga rolled his eyes. "Ok, look, that's not important. We're up to seven, right? Frozen, buried, firey pit or lake, lost in the dark, tortured by demons, covered with ants, what else was there?"
Pakk said, "I think it's covered in honey."
Akar said, "And that's all with the buried part anyway, you get buried up to your neck, they cover your head with honey, then they bring out bees...or ants...or something."
Boga pointed out, "Bees aren't attracted to honey. They make it."
Akar said, "Oh, that's a good point."
Pakk said, "Bears are, though!"
"Oh, that would be good, huh? Put honey on your head, and then the bears come-"
Loro shouted, "Enough!"
They all stopped talking and turned to look at him.
"We're going." He said, simply. He turned to look at the farmer and nodded. The farmer, completely confused about what to do nodded back.
Jeru handed the other twin to the old woman who had come back with a freshly cleaned first twin. Everyone else had made their way outside.
He looked outside at Akar, waiting for him to come outside. The others milling around in the yard, wondering which direction they'd head off in next.
He said, "Hang on." To Akar.
Loro looked at the old woman standing there, still staring at him, and said, "Do you have any food? We're starved."


Later on, when she told the story, Agnes would tell the other women at the farmer's market that the orcs had actually been very pleasant. They'd sat quietly while she fixed stew and they ate very calmly, without making a mess. When they were done they thanked her and actually put their dishes in the sink.
She'd say, "I don't know what it was that happened, but it was like a miracle." And she would say, "And they didn't smell near as bad as those scarecrows Ollie put out in the fields."


Loro led the orcs out of the farmhouse and into the darkness of night. He'd told the man not to mention them being there and the man had readily agreed, happy to have his family in once piece. Things could have gone a lot worse. It was only by the grace of the Gods that Loro hadn't killed him and his wife.
When they were safely away from the farmhouse Mull said, "That was pretty good stew."
"It was." Boga agreed. "I could have eaten another bowl."
Akar said to Loro, "We couldn't have killed them anyway. Two kids, right?"
Loro said, "Yeah, I guess. But I just don't know. I don't know that I could have done it anyway. It just felt so wrong."
Akar nodded. "It did, didn't it."
"It's one thing to fight on a battlefield." Loro said. "To know that your opponent wants to kill you as badly as you want to kill him. But those people. They were just minding their own business. I mean, they were farmers."
Akar nodded again. "And they were actually pretty nice."
"That was good stew." Loro agreed.
Something was happening. He didn't know what it was, but he could feel it coursing through him. He didn't want to murder people. This might not have been the best plan. He looked up at the stars and wondered what the Orc Gods thought of him right now. Probably thought that he was losing it. That he was showing too much compassion for his enemies. But were those people really enemies? He couldn't think of them that way.
They'd surely never set foot in the Northern Wastes, or tried to attack an orc village. They'd never raided or pillaged an orc community. They were just farmers.
He didn't know if he had it in him to keep up this plan.
Looking around the rest of the group he didn't know if they did either. They all seemed to be very relieved that they hadn't killed those poor people. Their kids were nice too. They sat quietly at the table next to armed men who had threatened their family and just ate dinner. It was all so very confusing.
Loro said, "We'll try again tomorrow." But his heart wasn't in it.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Needs a title. Chapter 4 today!

There's nothing I love more than random movie trailers, except maybe when somebody goes out of their way to mash up a movie trailer with another movie trailer. Like this Pulp Fiction/Alice in Wonderland crossover.

And speaking of Pulp Fiction, here's somebody with way too much time on their hands.

Apparently last week's chapter was too graphic, or something, since no one bothered to comment on it. But that's ok. I have no shame, and nothing better to do than post Chapter 4.



Shonin Lord Gahn-Jihan, Emperor King of Isterak, was half a world away, being whisked through his own palace by his personal security detail, a group of a dozen highly trained swordsmen, wearing pale white masks to hide their identities, and speaking with his favored adviser on all matters relating to foreign policy, Kotero. Kotero was listening faithfully, without prejudice, to what his master was saying.
The Emperor King was saying, "That man is a fool if he thinks there will be no retribution for this injustice!"
Kotero said, "Yes, master."
"He thinks he can do whatever he wants! Because he is called king in his own land? He is a mindless idiot who thinks only with the organ between his legs."
"Yes, master."
The Emperor King held the gaze of his adviser and said in a hiss, "He looked at her breasts!"
"Yes, master." Kotero repeated dutifully. This had happened. Kotero had witnessed it himself.
It wasn't the looking that had been such an affront, at least not in Kotero's mind. This might have passed unnoticed. It was certainly on pain of death that anyone in Isterak would have done such a thing. When any of the Emperor King's several wives was present each man averted his eyes, as they had always done in the presence of any royal female. Indeed, Kotero thought, it would be nigh on impossible to find a man in the entire kingdom of Isterak that could pick one of the Emperor King's wives out of a line-up of women. There were frequent rumors that some of the women didn't exist, or that the number of women was actually misreported. Perhaps there weren't dozens. There may have only been one wife as far as the men in the kingdom were concerned.
But Kotero knew that there were at least six that he had been in the presence of personally. They were used for different things. One was brought to state dinners held in the Emperor King's palace. One was specifically designed to teach the Emperor King's children their duties as a court officer. One was brought along on foreign affairs. This one, her name was Yahn-Theil, was the one that they were speaking of currently.
Yahn-Theil was a beautiful woman. Kotero knew that he could be killed if he even hinted that he were aware of such a thing, but living in the palace he had opportunity to see the woman on several occasions, what with him being the adviser on foreign policy. And whenever they went abroad she was there with them. It was unavoidable. But he also understood that part of his job was to make sure that the Emperor King never caught him looking at her, and that he never mentioned that he'd seen her. The truth and the visibility of the truth were often two seperate things.
This was what made Kotero such an invaluable adviser on foreign affairs, his knowledge of the visibility of truth. Stated another way, perception is reality.
But what had set Gahn-Jihan off was not just that King Otho had dared to stare at his wife (or more specifically, her spectacular breasts) but that he had openly commented on them.
What King Otho had said, as far as Kotero could remember, was "Good Lord, those breasts are spectacular!"
He'd actually leered at her.
And Gahn-Jihan had been furious.
But he'd contained himself for the rest of the visit, never commenting to King Otho that this was unacceptable behavior. Only now, on the other side of the world, did he let his wrath show. That was the sign of a good leader, Kotero thought. Never let the enemy see just how pissed you are.
But now, there was nothing to hide. His master's anger was brought to the forefront, and it was time to deal with it.
The only question was, how?
Full scale war?
That seemed ridiculous. Especially now. The rest of the trip had been a complete success. He'd gotten exactly what he'd wanted from Grandview's officials. Trade would start booming soon, with Isterak sending silks, spices, and alcohol across the sea in exchange for grains, iron ore, and sturdy wood that could only be found in Grandview's lands. It would be an economic boon for both sides. Things had worked out perfectly.
But now? With the Emperor King turning red and ready to explode?
No, there must be some other way to deal with this situation.
Something that wouldn't destroy the trade agreements that were already in place. A war would be disastrous.
Any overt action would be disastrous.
This called for subtlety.
And subtlety was how he planned to handle his master.
The fine art of manipulation was another credit to Kotero's ability to advise his Emperor King.
"We should bring in Lanto." Kotero suggested. "And see what the law says we should do."
Kotero already knew what the law said. He just needed to remind Gahn-Jihan before he made a sudden decree that couldn't be overturned. Once the Emperor King made his statement out loud there would be no going back on it. It would be put into effect as law. If he said the man had to be eviscerated by a blind donkey than Kotero was going to spend a lot of time trying to find a blind donkey, trying to find a donkey he could blind without killing it, and then figuring out how he was going to get either King Otho to the donkey or the donkey to King Otho. Not to mention trying to figure out how to get a donkey to eviscerate someone.
Better to jump in early and keep Gahn-Jihan from saying something dangerous.
Gahn-Jihan said, "Lanto? Do we really need to check the laws?"
"It's a matter of foreign diplomacy, my master. The laws are advised. We should at least see what they say. Perhaps they will find a way to appease you."
Gahn-Jihan thought on this. He had some sincere ideas about how to deal with a lecherous foreigner like King Otho. Someone who would so brazenly look upon his wife's form and comment on it for all to hear. His imagination ran wild with the things he could do. Places to put the man's head. Places to spray the man's entrails. Something about donkeys. But Kotero was right. It was best to check the laws. Perhaps they could find something suitable to do to the man.
"Very well." Gahn-Jihan said. "Have Lanto brought to the court."
And with that the Emperor King whisked away, his brightly colored cape fluttering in the wind, and his pack of trained guards surrounding him on all sides, anticipating their masters every move, like a well armed school of fish.
Kotero was left alone in the hallway, wondering how he managed to stay alive every day.


Lanto was, as usual, reading the great stone tablets that stood on the walls of the Room of Law. This was his only duty. A young girl, naked from the waist up, was feeding him grapes as he read, and occasionally rubbing his shoulders as he oohed and ahhed and spit grape seeds on the floor.
Kotero motioned for the girl to leave and she did so, smiling at him as she passed, noting that he saw nothing but her bare breasts. Kotero had to regain his focus before speaking, and this gave Lanto an opportunity to speak.
"Yes?" Was all he said, his gruff voice echoing around the stone chambered room.
Kotero spent a moment studying the giant granite walls. Twenty feet tall, Covering every wall of the room, words carved from floor to ceiling, these were the laws of Isterak. The law itself forbade writing them down on anything else, decreeing that the stone tablets must be kept where they had been written, in the room of Law. This had presented endless problems early on, until someone clever, someone probably not unlike Kotero himself, had devised a way to make the laws mobile.
"Make someone memorize them." This early Kotero-like advisor had decreed. And someone had. Throughout history there had been nearly a hundred men who held the job that was now Lanto's. To live in the Room of Law, and to memorize every piece of information carved there.
There were perks to this job, to be sure. Like bare breasted ladies feeding you grapes while you "worked". And all the food and drink you could stomach. And freedom to do whatever you wanted. As long as when the time came you knew the laws you were supposed to memorize. And knew them well.
More than one reader of the law had been beheaded by an Emperor King for stumbling through a difficult phrase, or saying "I'm not sure..." or muttering "I think it says..." You had to know it and you had to know it well. Lanto knew it well. He'd been born and bred for this job.
Kotero knew the law pretty well, too. Well enough to advise and guide and point the Emperor King in different directions. Well enough to know when he needed Lanto to verify the specifics of a law. Lanto for his part knew that it required someone like himself and a willing partner like Kotero to keep a lunatic Emperor King from bringing the entire system crashing down on itself.
Lanto said, "What's he done now?"
"Nothing. Yet."
Lanto had learned early on that it was wise to make sure there was no one in the room save himself and the occasional half naked girl. He could talk freely to Kotero without worrying that some guard with half a sense of civic duty would go wandering off and tell Gahn-Jihan what had been discussed behind his back. Kotero thanked the Gods every time he needed Lanto's help that the man had been blessed with such foresight.
"I need a passage." Kotero said. He always started this way. He needed Lanto to point him to something that either was the legitimate rule, or something that sounded enough like it that between the two of them they could push Gahn-Jihan into what they needed done, or at least keep him from declaring war on the moon.
"What is it?" Lanto said. "Something happen on your boat trip?"
"Our master was offended by the offhanded comment made by a foreign king."
"Wants to declare war, does he?"
"I think he wants to rip the man limb from limb, but I've set into place several trade agreements that would vanish into thin air if such a thing were to happen."
"You need this to be quiet." Lanto said.
"Something that will make him feel vindicated."
"Go on." Kotero urged.
"But keep this country we're trading with from declaring war back at us. Or perhaps even knowing it was us that did anything."
"That would be ideal." Kotero agreed.
"I have just the thing."
Kotero nodded. "Where should I start?"
This question was also customary. When Gahn-Jihan held audience in the court, Kotero and Lanto would put on a two man show that would rival even the most practiced actors performances. They just needed to know their cues.
Lanto scanned the laws on the wall. He used his finger to keep his place. Finally he said, "There."
Kotero read. "Laws of justification of force on Foreign Rulers?"
"He'll have to be assassinated."
"King Otho?" Kotero asked.
"Indeed. But the law requires that it be done quietly, and with no evidence of Isterak's hand."
Kotero nodded. It was regretful. He didn't necessarily dislike King Otho, but better he die quietly and the next king keep the trade agreements in place than start a messy and bloody trans-oceanic war.
Kotero said, "Audience in the court this morning."
Lanto waved him out of the room. "I'll be there."
Kotero wandered off to try to figure out what the best way to assassinate a foreign king was. Did they have any agents on that continent? Not any that he could think of. At least not assassins that he could think of. They'd have to send someone.
Best to go see the assassin's guild before court, he thought. To see if he could find someone suitable for the job.
It would take the better part of the day.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Chapter 3 - In Which We Meet Our King

And find out some other stuff. I'm enjoying this once a week chapter posting. I hope everyone else is too.

Additionally we have this awesome Lego pop up book (kind of), this awesome Star Wars Re-edited scene, and one of the strangest, oddly offensive, books ever, published in 1962 about marriage. What are the Swedish doing wrong in 1962?

Oh, well. On to Chapter 3.


King Otho was doing his regal pose, standing at the top of the stairs, the sun streaming in behind him through a stained glass window. Light glinted off his crown. His perfect white teeth beamed through his thick, rugged red beard. He was portrait-worthy. Looking down at his faithful advisor Sedrick he said, "Welcome to the life of a King! Women! I need more women!"

Sedrick sighed and said, "Yes, sire. Only it's payday, today, and you have to make at least a brief appearance."

"Payday?" King Otho descended the stairs. "Is it really?"

Sedrick said, "Not actual payday, sire, but, um, children's payday?"

"Oh." King Otho said. "Oh."

"Yes, and they're lined up in the vestibule outside the throne room, and we're paying them, but they wanted to see you. At least some of them did. Anyway, I thought I'd mention it."

"Say no more!" King Otho said. He hurried down the halls, and into the vestibule just off the main throne room to find a line of women and children, a large wooden table with a book and a quill, and each woman signed her name as she went past it, and a man on the other side of the book handed her a gold coin. King Otho's entry took everyone by surprise.

"My Lord!" Several of the women shouted. All of them young and attractive in different ways. Each of the children, a little regal in their bearings.

"My Lord!" This was Guard Captain Varin, who had been standing by the table. He put himself between the King and the line of women and children, who were starting to gravitate this way. The King was looking over the women in line and remembering each one.

"Varin, how are we today?" The King said, absent-mindedly.

"Fine, my Lord, but you should be more careful. This room isn't secure."

"The entire castle is secure." King Otho said.

A look passed between Sedrick and Varin. The king didn't catch it.

Varin said, "Perhaps we could bring some of the children by to visit with you, perhaps arrange for some sleepovers?"

King Otho smiled at the idea. "Yes. Yes, that is a good idea."

"Yes," Sedrick said, "A good idea for another time. For today, you do have a special visitor." Something about the way Sedrick said "special" caught the King's attention.


"A dark skinned exotic beauty. You remember the visit from Shonin Lord Gahn-Jihan? His wife? The long dark hair?" Sedrick was leading the King back up the stairs, thinking to himself, look how easy it is. He moves towards the description of a woman, he's so lost in thought he could be stabbed in the back by his own guard captain, he'd never know it.

King Otho said, "Yes. Yes, I do remember her."

"You asked us to find a girl like her? I believe we've done well, my Lord."

King Otho looked into Sedrick's eyes. He said, "Where?"

"The red chamber, my Lord."

King Otho turned to give a good wave to the women and children. Most of them smiled, some of them cooed. Only one or two looked perturbed by the whole situation. And like that he was gone, leaving Sedrick standing on the top step to speak with Guard Captain Varin.

"Where the hell did you find a dark haired girl with features like Gahn-Jihan's wife?" Captain Varin asked.

"We didn't. We found a brunette. He'll be disappointed for roughly three seconds and then she'll drop her top and he'll forget why he went up their in the first place. The man's a lech." Sedrick didn't bother to hide his contempt.

Varin said, "I heard you were in town last night."

Sedrick gave him a wicked look.

"In a bar, no less." Varin continued. "Talking to suspected pirates."

"Your spies are very good, Varin, I'll give you that." Sedrick said. "I was converting pirates to privateers, though. We'll need more of a Naval presence after..." He let the sentence trail off, looked around the room to make sure no one was listening to them, and then said, "Well, you know. After."

Varin said, "How many children are there? Twenty? Thirty?"

The line of women and children just seemed to keep going. They came in, once a month, and were paid a gold coin, by executive order of the King, for, what he called, services rendered. Sedrick shook his head. This was the straw that broke the camel's back, he thought. This was what had finally pushed him over the edge.

Sedrick said, "Our last count was thirty-seven."

"Thirty-seven!" Varin could barely keep his voice down. Women and children, and even the guards assigned to make sure each woman signed her name and took her gold coin all looked over at him, surprised.

Sedrick said, "Calm down."

"Thirty-seven? That can't be right." Varin said, lowering his voice.

"Come on." Sedrick said. "Let's get out of here."

They walked up the steps and through a large wooden door back into the interior of the castle, and walked the halls, back towards Sedrick's office.

"Thirty-seven?" Varin kept saying.

"Why is it so much of a surprise? To be honest, I'm surprised it's not higher. What's he with, three, four women a week? There's bound to be ones out there we don't know about. And seriously, he's probably up there with thirty-eight right now!"

"It's staggering." Varin said.

"I agree. And it's costing us money. Thirty-seven gold a month, to be exact."

"We bring in more than that." Varin said, dismissively.

"It's good money we're just throwing away!" Sedrick looked pissed. Varin knew he'd hit a weak point. Sedrick was always worried about the money.

"Why do you care, Sedrick? Do you want a raise? Don't you have enough?" Varin decided to push Sedrick's buttons a little. See where he went.

"What could we do with that money?" Sedrick asked, returning the question. "Hire more guards? Make more weapons?"

"What do we need with those?" Varin replied, not letting Sedrick drag him in.

"Grandview is constantly over run with invading forces. But we never do anything about it!"

"If you mean Gandermere, they camped on our northern slopes for about a week while they were sieging the Northlander's capital."

"That's exactly what I mean." Sedrick said, his voice hissing like a snakes. "And don't tell me that doesn't bother you."

"I serve at the King's pleasure." Varin said.

"Don't play coy with me." Sedrick said. "You and I have been through this."

They went into Sedrick's office and he slammed the door shut.

Varin said, "Very well. We shouldn't let them do that. I agree. But what can I do? You know he doesn't care."

"That's just it." Sedrick said, sitting behind his desk and smiling. "He doesn't care. But I do. You do. And once he's gone, we're going to make sure Gandermere doesn't ever do that again."

"And we're going to stop paying all those women and children?" Varin asked.

"Trollops and bastards." Sedrick answered. "Yes, that money would be better spent on military matters."

"And a bigger office for you?"

"Bigger office?" Sedrick asked. "The biggest office in the land." He chuckled to himself.

"The king has lots of friends." Varin said.

Sedrick gave him a funny look. "I thought you were taking care of that."

Varin said, "As much as I can. I've done things I'm not proud of."

"Don't worry about that. History will forgive you. The man we serve is incompetent, and the whole Kingdom would do better to have someone else running things. Someone who thinks about how to keep an empire running for longer than it takes to bed a woman."

"Someone like you?" Varin asked.

"Someone like that, yes."

"What about the kids? The mothers? We're just done with them?" Varin asked.

"I'm taking care of that. Don't you worry."


"Don't ask questions you don't want the answers to." Sedrick said, a dark look covering his face.

Varin stared him down for a couple of seconds, but decided he didn't really care. He said, "Fine." And exited the room.

Sedrick had already decided how to deal with the prostitutes who came begging at his door once a month. And that's really what they were, wasn't it? Hookers? Whores? Women who had slept with the king, and now were paid a monthly stipend? The idea of sleepovers had come to him just this morning, and he could see it to, the King making time with one of the women he'd already sired a child with, while the kid played next door with a nanny and a room full of toys.

Yes, Sedrick decided, that was never going to happen. The King would be dead soon, and he'd be taking over. Getting Varin on his side had been his stroke of genius. He just had to play to the man's military background. Make everything about the fighting, the soldiers. The war. He needed a war. It would ease the transition. Yes, when a King was assassinated a Kingdom went to war, and he would come out the other end of that war as a man of honor, worshiped by the people for guiding the country through the troubled times. And then, King for life. It wasn't a bad dream.

Gods, it was better than working for this man. This lecherous old idiot.

He couldn't die fast enough.

But he still needed to engineer a war. Who would be the best candidate for that? Gandermere? They were close by. And had used Grandview's lands too often without compensation. Yes. He thought he could just about pull that off. At least technically. But it wasn't enough, was it? No, there were complications.

For one thing, Gandermere was too close. Gods, the names actually sounded the same. Gandermere. Grandview. Was it any doubt that the two countries had been founded at the same time by a pair of friends.

No, he'd need something else. Something more exotic.


Shonin Lord Gahn-Jihan.

Yes. Emperor King of the land of Isterak.

A land halfway across the world.

That would make things easier.

Grandview and Gandermere? It would never work. Too many people had friends in one place or the other. Too many families spread across both lands. Pitting brother against brother wouldn't help him. People would just start asking questions, and that could get messy.

But a fight between King Otho and Shonin Lord Gahn-Jihan?

Of course that would work. No one would even ask questions. The cultures were so different, who'd even know why we were fighting them?

Another day, another great idea. Sedrick thought.

Gahn-Jihan had been here only a few weeks ago. And while that dinner with foreign dignitaries had gone all right, who was to know that besides himself and those who were inside the castle walls? All the people knew about the dinner, but would they know what was talked about?

No. It was perfect.

War with Isterak.

A grand idea.

Now, if only he could think of something, some reason to go to war, some slight that the Shonin Lord had made...anything to cause a war to break out.

Well, that brilliant idea could be left until tomorrow.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Chapter 2 - Stories Need Pirates. Sort of.

Ready for chapter 2? It's down at the bottom somewhere. I was thinking what a good idea this was so that I wouldn't have to actually bother finding links or stuff to post, but of course since I did that someone sent me a good link I have to post.

This is Dungeons and Dragons on the Microsoft Surface. Pretty cool.

Well, ok, I had one link. No wait, I have two.

This is some thermal imaging of bats flying out of their cave. Again, pretty cool.

Also, I enjoyed these ridiculous and unnecessary product reviews.

See, I totally give up trying to find links and I have 3 of them without trying.

OK, on to Chapter 2:


On the deck of the "Green Squid" Captain Voosh looked out at the country side as they sailed into the harbor of Grandview and said, "Someone's built a fire out there."

His first mate, Mumphrey, took a look and said, "Probably orcs."

"Or hunters." The Captain said.

"Hunters don't build fires. Scares the animals away."

Captain Voosh got out his spyglass and tried to see if he could spot any orcs, but it was getting dark, and all he could see was a small campfire with some shapes around it. He said, "You're probably right."

Mumphrey didn't bother gloating, just shrugged and said, "We're going in tonight?"

"Landing on the docks. Like a legitimate ship."

Mumphrey's face soured. "This is no way to be pirates."

"We're not going to be pirates for much longer." Voosh said. "They're giving us a conscription."

"What does that mean?"

"It means we'll be legitimate. At least as far as Grandview is concerned. We'll be privateers."

"What the hell is a private ear?"

"Privateers. Like, legalized piracy."

Mumphrey said, "I don't like things that are legal."

Voosh shrugged. "It won't make much difference. There's not a lot of ships on the sea to rob anyway. At least this way we get paid a stipend."

"What the hell's a stipend?"

"Cash. Money. Gold. They'll pay us once a month."

Mumphrey said, "What for?"

Voosh shrugged. "I don't know. I guess for not attacking Grandview ships. And for attacking ships Grandview is at war with."

"Who's Grandview at war with?"

Voosh shrugged again. "No one as far as I know. But if they're signing up privateers then you can bet they're gearing up for one."

"Gearing up for a war." Mumphrey said, mulling it over. "Hm. Interesting."

"Is it?" Voosh asked. He was trying to put his spyglass back in it's case and was watching the black cat sleeping on the deck rail. "Doesn't that cat worry about falling off of there?" Roll over the wrong way, Voosh thought, and boom, a forty foot drop to the ocean. He didn't think the cat would like that very much.

"They like heights." Mumphrey said, looking at the cat. "It's interesting, the war thing, because I can't imagine anyone our king would want to go to war with."

"Our king?" Voosh asked smiling.

"Well, he's going to be paying us. Plus, I was born in Grandview."

"Oh." Voosh continued to smile. "I think the problem is, he's asleep. I mean he's not going to know if he rolls the wrong way, is he?"

"The king?"

"The cat."

Mumphrey said, "Oh. If it bothers you so much go move him."

"It doesn't bother me. I mean, he can sleep where he wants right? As long as he keeps the rats off the ship."

"He has been doing a good job of that."

"Gandermere, maybe?" Voosh asked.

"I think his name is Midnight isn't it?"

"No, I mean the country. Would Grandview go to war with them?"

Mumphrey frowned. Sometimes Voosh made it hard to follow along a single line of conversation. "Why would we fight Gandermere? Over rye bread? Do they even have any other resources?"

Voosh didn't know the answer to that. He was still watching the cat, sleeping soundly as the sun set behind it. He thought of something else and said, "We're supposed to get a new guy, too."

Mumphrey said, "New guy?" Not sure whether this related to the sleeping cat or imminent war discussion.

"Yeah, a sailor. I talked to him before we set out last time, told him to meet us here tonight. Midnight at the Frozen Parrot. Today is Tuesday, right?"

"Yes. It's Tuesday. Who is this new guy?"

"Thought he could be a good replacement for Xarot. Not sure what the hell happened to him."

Mumphrey said, "Probably somebody's husband caught up with him and strung him up."

"Wouldn't surprise me." Voosh said, "Probably the only person that has more girlfriends than the King."

Mumphrey shook his head. "So, this new guy, he's a sailor?"

"Young guy. Maybe sixteen? Seventeen? Got the look about him, though. And he says he's always wanted to be a pirate."

"We're about to not be pirates anymore, remember?" Mumphrey said.

"Oh, right. I hope that's not a problem."


Voosh didn't like to walk into a bar through the front doors. He'd explained the reasoning to Mumphrey once, and it went along the lines of this: If everyone looked at you when you came in, that was a bad thing. It meant you were getting too famous. You couldn't be a good pirate if everyone knew who you were. If no one looked at you, that was a bad thing. Bad for the ego, he'd told Mumphrey. It meant nobody cared.

So when they went to the Frozen Parrot, Voosh always insisted on slipping in through the back door, up a flight of stairs, over the alley, and taking one of the tables on the second floor balcony. They usually didn't have trouble finding a table, even when the place was packed. Not a lot of people liked to sit upstairs because it made it harder to run if someone came in looking for you. On the first floor you could always go out a window.

Voosh and Mumphrey took the table closest to the back door and sat down, ordering a pair of drinks and waiting.

Mumphrey said, "What does this kid look like?"

"I believe the word you would use to describe him would be 'strapping'."

"So a big kid?"

Voosh nodded. "Not huge, like that guy that used to load crates by himself, remember him?"

"Something that started with an A, or an M. Not sure, but I know who you're talking about."

"Yeah, he's not that big." Voosh said. "But he's tall and in pretty good shape."

Mumphrey said, "I think he's coming this way."

Looking up and seeing the kid coming Voosh thought, he's not as big as I thought he was. Young, definitely, and perhaps strapping, but he looked younger than Voosh remembered now that he was actually looking at the kid. And he was healthy, but certainly not strapping.

Mumphrey said to the boy, "Sit down. You're Reed?"

"Yes. Indeed, I am." The boy said, taking a seat.

"We should get some drinks." Voosh said. "Are you even old enough to drink?"

"I'll just have some ale, if it's all right."

Voosh said, "Son, you could order Dwarven Whiskey in here and they'd serve it to you, long as you have money."

"I have a little." Reed said, seeming embarrassed.

"First round's on me." Mumphrey said.

"Thank you very much, sir." Reed said, bowing his head a little towards Mumphrey.

"You're going to have to cut that out." Voosh said.

"I'm sorry?"

"You're far too polite to be pirating, lad." Voosh said. "Relax. Be yourself."

"Right. Sorry." Reed shook his head. "I mean right."

"Right as rain." Mumphrey said, though he couldn't imagine why. Voosh was looking at him funny, and he shrugged.

"Stuff goes right into your brain, doesn't it?" Voosh asked, still looking at Mumphrey. He turned to Reed then and asked, "You ever killed a man?"

Reed looked concerned, shook his head and said, "No. I don't believe I have."

Voosh knocked back the rest of his drink and started looking for a barmaid.

Mumphrey said, "Don't worry about it. Most people haven't. Not even some 'real' pirates. You ever stolen anything?"

"Bread?" Reed said, like he wasn't sure if it was considered stealing if it was food.

"Did you need it, or just want it?" Voosh asked.

"I was hungry."

"S'not stealing if it's for need. It's provision procurement."

Reed said, "I'm not sure what you mean."

Voosh said, "Forget it. This stuff is going through me, and I can't seem to flag down a wench. I'll be back with some drinks. You said Ale, right?"

"Yes, sir. I mean, yes."

Voosh left and Mumphrey leaned back away from the table, studying Reed. He didn't look like much. A dirty white shirt, long scraggled hair. He could already pass for a pirate if he were armed. He was certainly dirty enough.

Mumphrey said, "Why do you want to be a pirate, again?"

"I hate this place." Reed said. "I want to get away."

"Where are your parents?"

"Mom died a couple of months ago. I've been on my own since then."

"Where's your father?"

"He hasn't been around for years." Reed said.

Something about the way he said that made Mumphrey pause. He said, "What did your mother do?"

"Ran a jewelry store."

"Jewels?" Mumphrey asked, his eyes widening.

"Not real ones. Fake. Costume jewels. Paste and glass and gilded engravings. Cheap, is what it's called." Reed said. "When she died I sold everything, even the store, and didn't make enough to live for a week after I paid all the outstanding debts. I'm not sure how she did it."

"And you think pirating is the answer?" Mumphrey asked.

"When she died, I decided right then and there, I was going to be a pirate."

"Voosh said you told him you'd wanted to be a pirate all your life."

"I did. I mean, I never thought I'd have the chance. But when she died, I decided to do it. You know. To go for it. Live out my dream."

"Of being a pirate?"

"Why do you keep asking me that?" Reed said.

"Pirating isn't fun. It isn't rescuing damsels and swinging from chandeliers. It's mostly dull and uninteresting work. It's sitting on a boat on the high seas, watching for another boat to come near, not too near, so that it sees you and runs, but near enough that you can catch it, after half a day's sailing, and if you don't manage to get blown apart by it's cannons, you jump on board, kill a few people, and take what they have, which isn't usually much. I've never in my life known a rich or a happy pirate. People get into this line of work because they have nothing else. Some survive, and some don't. The ones who do will tell you, if they had it to do over again, they'd do something else. Probably open a costume jewelry shop."

Reed just looked at him, unsure of what to say. He hadn't thought it would be all chandeliers and damsels, but he'd hoped there would be some of that in there somewhere. Something in the back of his mind told him he hadn't really considered the whole thing. Being on the run. Wanted by the law. What would happen if he were arrested? What would happen if he ended up in a dungeon somewhere because he'd tried to rob a ship and failed?

He started to ask Mumphrey why he became a pirate, but was interrupted by Voosh coming back to the table. He sat down with four drinks and said, "Met our new boss at the bar."

"New boss?" Reed asked. "You're pirates. You don't have a boss."

"We do now." Mumphrey said. "Oh, we forgot to mention. We're privateers now."

"What's a private ear?" Reed asked.

"That's exactly what I said." Mumphrey told him. "Exactly."

"It's true." Voosh said. "Ah, here's our man."

An older man, short and bald, skinny and angry looking, sat down at the table. He had a hood over his head, and he spoke from the shadow it cast over his face. "These are your men?" He seemed to be talking to Voosh.

"Yes, this is Mumphrey and this-"

"I don't need to know their names!" The old man said. "Just take the marks and sign the paper."

Voosh looked vaguely annoyed as he took the paper and a quill and signed his name to it. The mark was handed to him and he folded it up and put it in his jacket pocket.

The old man said, "There. Now you're official privateers in service of King Otho." He started to get up.

Voosh said, "Your drink?"

"Keep it." The old man said, and he disappeared into the crowd.

"Well, that was certainly exciting, wasn't it?" Voosh asked.

Mumphrey looked over at Reed who was frowning. He said, "Welcome to the life of a pirate."


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Surprise! You wonder where I been?

I been working, but sounds making danger,
and black bird's chirping

That sounds a lot better in my head because those are lyrics from an EPMD song. I had all these reasons why I hadn't posted yet, one of which was I been working. But that said I didn't really have that much to post this week. Or at least I didn't *think* I did. Til my wife reminded me (inadvertently) that next month is National Novel Writer's Month.

That reminded me that last year I did actually finish a book, but I never let anybody read it because I thought it was terrible. That reminded me that I thought I had lost it when my hard drive crashed sometime in February? Which turned out not to be true because I had a backup of it on a thumb drive I'd forgotten about. Which reminded me that I'd told Travis that I'd let him read it, which in turn reminded me that I had forgotten to do that.

Follow all that? Good.

But the practical point of that is, I had thought a long time ago about using a webpage to write a story on that would just be continuous, because I like things like Order of the Stick, where the guy has been telling a great story for a few years now, and it always makes me wish I could draw so I could have a webcomic, but I can't draw, so having a webcomic just isn't gonna happen.

But then I thought, I could have a webbook instead. And so, while Allie reminded me about NaNoWriMo being next month, it occurred to me that I could just post my terrible book here, one chapter at a time, and possibly drive you all away in a few weeks. So we're gonna give that a shot.

I may have some preamble before chapters or something (like this one, only not as long) and if I find any nice links I'll drop them in there, but for now there's only one thing I want to link (the most awesomest game ever, called Miami Shark) and then chapter one of my "new" book, Skullduggery.

"Listen, I'll explain it. What we're saying is this, you find parents, particularly ones with only one kid. I mean, there could even only be one parent, as long as there's only one kid. Got it? Ok. So what we're saying is, that kid has enormous potential, you just have to let it out. You got it? So you kill the parents."

The other orc said, "I don't get it."

Loro sighed. "You kill the parents. This unleashes the pent up potential inside this kid. The one kid. The orphan."

The other orc said, "I still don't get it."

Loro said, "We're both orcs, right? How many Orc Champions have their been since the Battle of Dungore?"

The other orc, younger than Loro, still fresh faced and unscarred thought about that. His name was Akar. He was holding his hand up, looking up in the sky and raising and lowering fingers as he counted. He had three fingers up for a while, then put up a fourth, then put it back down to bring his total back down to three. Then at the last second raised it again and said, "Four."

"Right. Gagnar the Invincible." Loro held up one finger. Akar nodded. "Grush." A second finger, another nod. "Kolo the Black Blade." Three fingers now, and Akar waiting expectantly. "And Grimfist."

Akar said, "That's right. That's the four I got."

Loro said, "And what happened to them?"

"What do you mean?"

"They're all dead. What happened to them?"

"Well, Gagnar was killed by a wizard, I think."

"That's right." Loro was nodding his head, smiling now.

"Grush was killed by Kolo, and then Kolo got killed by a knight, didn't he? A human one from that place in the south where they make that bread."

"That's right, Gandermere's that place. That bread is something with an 'R' I think. Rye?"

"That's it. And then Grimfist was killed by a horse."

"Not just a horse." Loro corrected.

"Oh, right, a horse with a guy on it."

"A guy?"

"What was he? A ranger? He wasn't a paladin was he?"

"Cavalier. The humans call them cavaliers. Come on now, he had a flag and everything."

"I heard the horse did all the work."

"Well, the cavalier trains the horse, so, you know. It's pretty much an even share of the killing."

"Ok, fair enough." Akar had forgotten where this was going. "What was the point of all this?"

"The wizard, the knight and the cavalier, you know what they all had in common?"

Akar shook his head.

"Orphans. All of them. The wizard, Gagnar killed that guy's parents when the wizard was a baby. Kid grows up with vengeance on his brain and becomes one of the most powerful wizards in the world. What does he do? He hunts down Gagnar and kills him."

"Seriously?" Akar was a bit shocked.

"This is what I'm saying. That knight? Kolo killed his mother. Father was long dead, but killing his mom? Kolo made an enemy for life. That kid trained with the sword and shield, found Kolo out in the frozen swamps and put a blade right through him. That cavalier?"

"Grimfist killed his parents?"

Loro shrugged and said, "Well, you know, we're checking on that. I mean we don't really know much about that guy, he just sort of showed up and ran Grimfist over and then left, you know, but it's a pretty safe bet."

"So what you're saying..."

"Of the last four Orc Champions, three of them were killed by humans, two of which were for certain revenge killings, and one is a maybe. Only one of them died like he should have. Killed by another orc in battle."

"So what you're saying is, orphans are what, powerful?"

Loro nodded. "They can be. They get powerful, you know, for vengeance. They get mad, they want revenge, they train themselves, push themselves harder than normal, those guys, they become like death incarnate. They become true warriors."

Akar was starting to catch on but had some questions. "Why single kids?"

"You got two kids they're sad, but they have each other to lean on, you know? They don't get the crazy like a kid left alone."


"You got your wizards, your knights, your cavaliers, apparently. They get tough, they go looking for the killer."

"And our plan is to be that killer?"

"Our plan is to create those orphans. We go around every place we can, we create some orphans who have revenge on the brain. Then, later, when they're trained up they come looking for us."

"And then what?" Akar was still fuzzy on the end goal.

"By then the dragon will be back. And when they find us, they'll find the dragon. And when they find the dragon, they'll kill it."

"But the dragon didn't kill their parents." Akar pointed out.

"No, but humans and dragons, you know, it's all historical. They're always killed by a human."


"You ever hear any stories about dwarves killing dragons? Elves? No, it's always a human. But this dragon, this is a big one. We're going to need more than just one guy out there hacking away at it. We're going to need an army."

Akar said, "And we're going to create that army."

"Now you've got it."

"By traveling around the countryside killing kids parents."

Loro nodded. "That's about the size of it."

"How many have you done so far?"

"Well...we haven't really gotten started yet. I wanted to wait until we had a full group. But now there's like six of us, including you."

Loro and Akar were on a small hill and Loro nodded down to the hill's base where the rest of the orcs had set up camp. They were waiting for Loro to explain the whole thing to Akar, the youngest, who had just joined them. His uncle had sent him to find Loro and join up with the group.

Akar looked off to the north and saw lights. "What's that?" He said. The sun going down was making the lights more visible.

"That's the big city. Grandview. Human city. Where their king lives."

"Are we going there?"

Loro snorted. "Gods no! We're avoiding it. We're going to stay out here in the open country. Hit some of these farm houses around here. See what we can find, you know, kid wise, with orphan potential."

"Tough city, huh?"

"Thousands of people. We'd be slaughtered. They kill us on sight, don't forget that."

Akar nodded. He sat down and Loro sat down beside him and they looked at the lights. Akar said, "How do you get to be an orc champion?"

Loro shook his head and said, "You have to kill lots and lots of people."

Akar looked off dreamily at the lights of the city.

After a while Loro thought they should go back down to the camp, but before he could say so Akar asked, "What do you know about the dragon?"

Loro had to think. He said, "I saw it once, when I was a boy. Scared me to death. Flying over a village I was walking to with my parents. It was huge. Bigger than the hill we're standing on."


"On my honor."

"No one knows what to do. The shamans say you're the only one that's come up with a decent plan. That's why my uncle sent me to find you. He says if anybody's going to get anything done it'll be you."

Loro took the compliment and smiled. He said, "What are things like back at home?"

"You mean when I left? They say it's going to be a while before the dragon comes back, so there's not a lot to do. They're making weapons though."

"They're always making weapons."

"True." Akar said, "But they're making bigger ones."

"That's a start."

"When will the dragon come?"

Loro said, "No one knows for sure. They say it goes in cycles. It comes and burns down some villages, and eats the burnt bodies that get left behind. Then it goes off somewhere to sleep, or wreak havoc somewhere else. Who knows?"

Akar said, "But it's a long time between them."

"Like I said, last time it came I was a little boy. Now we have to wait a while. Long enough for some of these humans to grow up and not be kids."

Orcs have no concept of years, or seasons. In the far north the weather's always the same, so they measure time from battle to battle and not from season to season. If Loro had known how he would have told the young orc that the dragon came to their neck of the woods every thirty years or so, but since he didn't have the vocabulary to do that it seemed pointless to even try.

Akar had worked out the time in his head though, and he told Loro, "I'll be your age when it comes then, yes?"

Loro nodded, impressed with the boy. "Yes, something like that."

"How long will we be out here, then?"

Loro said, "Could be a while. Don't know how long it will take to find enough kids to orphan. We may need ten? Twelve of them?"

"And we're going to stay down here in the human lands until we do?"

"That's the plan. We stay out of sight, you understand? Guerilla tactics, we keep to ourselves we stay out of the humans way."

"Except the ones we're killing." Akar said.

"Right. Except those. That's why we have no fire for the camp."

Akar said, "Ah."

From the shadows at the base of the camp an orc voice called up, "We're building a fire."

"All right then." Loro shouted back down.

"But you just said-"

"I know." Loro said. "But no fire? That sounds terrible, doesn't it? Besides we're not where anyone could actually see it. And if they did, they'd probably think we were just hunters out, you know, hunting."

Akar said, "Oh."

Monday, October 5, 2009

Lots of stuff, for some reason.

This is gonna be a big one, I think, so take a deep breath and let's get started.

This game is called Huje Tower. Not Huge Tower. Huje Tower. I haven't figured out why. But it has adorable little bacteria from the sewers that are trying to reach the sky. Yeah, you read that right.

Ok, this is on a beer page (I think. Is Tuborg a beer?) But it's a name that tune game that's actually pretty well done. And I like name that tune.

And this game is called Growbox. And it's cool. I like puzzle-y games and it's very puzzle-y. You have to cruise around through little mazes eating things, and sometimes they make you bigger and sometimes they make you smaller and sometimes they change your shape completely. And if you get too big in some places you get stuck. It's like a metaphor for not overeating or something. But it's fun.

Ok, no more fun for you, now we're on to things that annoy me. Remember this? Of course you don't, you're not 135 years old. But you probably know what it is. And you probably saw this (and really, was Billy Zane ever in a more terrible movie? Oh, wait, scratch that). Well now there's this. That's right, somebody's gonna take another shot at it. Oy. Listen, don't get me wrong, I'm all for comic book characters getting tv shows and movies. I love them. But the Phantom, well, it's just never been done well, and I'd love to see it done well, and it's gonna have to be reimagined to get it done well, but...this ain't it. In particular I like that there's a scene in that clip where they imply that part of the problem with the Phantom is that ridiculous looking suit. And then they go on to give the new guy an even more ridiculous looking suit. High comedy.

Speaking of high comedy, remember when Tim Burton was going to do Superman with Nic Cage? Good times, good times. Here's some pics so you can see what might have been.

Again with the Oy, this remake doesn't need to happpen. Ever. But thank God the director from Fast and the Furious Four is still getting work, am I right?

Hey, in the list of things that don't need to get remade, where does this rank? I'm gonna say it's top 100. Wolverines!

Hold on, I'm feeling a little ill. Seriously? Somebody's doing this? Oh. My. Lord. STOP IT.

Really James? The movie's not even out yet and they're already talking sequel. I can't wait to not sit through that either.

Ok, I think we're through the annoyance part of the show. Here's some pics of Seth Rogen as the Green Hornet. Well, some are stuntmen and some are Seth, but it looks, um...ok?

And weirder than weird, here's some pics from the A-Team movie. This is a good list of them. This looks like actual set pics. Isn't Liam Neeson weird with silver hair? That's just odd. Oh, and the guy playing "Howling Mad" Murdock? That's our old friend from District 9. That guy was not even an actor when District 9 was done, he was just like a buddy of the director or something. (*Note: on further review he was a producer. He'd been in one thing before District 9, something called Alive in Joburg, which upon further research turns out to be a short film that the guy who made District 9 made that was the basis for District 9. So, yeah). Anyway he was awesome in D9, and now he's in the A-Team movie. The world is a strange place.

Speaking of strange...Opie Cunningham is making a Cthulhu movie. There's really no comment I can add to that.

Robert Rodriguez Predators movie might not suck. They're doing a most dangerous game thing where predators nab some of the most awesome warriors on earth (which it turns out are serial killers, gang enforcers, assassins, etc.) and then hunting them on the predator home world with predator falcons and predator hunting dogs. Sounds predator-licious.

Other things that might not suck include Gentlemen Broncos. I think I put a trailer up for that before, but check out Sam Rockwell talking about working with Tim Allen. Amuses me.

Things that look cool: the Batman Superman Animated movie. They got Tim Daly and Kevin Conroy back to voice Superman/Batman respectively. Sweetness.

Also in animated movie news, sequel to War of the Worlds that looks cool.

Video game news, Crackdown 2. There's some cool stuff going on in this video.

In more interesting video news, John Lasseter, the awesome guy from Pixar who did Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Cars, etc. talks about how they came up with Buzz Lightyear for Toy Story. Fascinating. (Also, how they picked the colors for Buzz's suit. Neat.)

Other things that fascinate me: 50 extraordinary and attractive billboards. Some of those are very clever.

And speaking of clever, HBO has an impressive thing called HBO imagine. It's like a little puzzle of movies and sound clips that tell a story, but the most interesting to me were the movies that you can watch from 4 different angles.

And just to round things out, trailer for The Crazies. Horror movie. Don't watch if you don't like crazy horror movies, but I find this intriguing for some reason.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Very Little Excuse for a Post This Week

Johnny Depp is apparently now not playing the Riddler. Which I predicted a few posts ago.
Somebody sat down with Michael Caine and had an interview and basically debunked all those rumors he started after the last batman ended.

Meanwhile Jackie Earl Haley *is* playing Freddie Krueger. Prepare yourself for a rarity, because for once, Hollywood has backed into agreeing with me, albeit most likely accidentally. Even a broken clock is right twice a day and all that jazz. See, there's a lot of complaining going on that Freddie doesn't do funny in this movie and it's all dark and scary and taken too seriously. And I say, huzzah. Finally. One of the things I've always hated about Elm St. Movies is the stupid cheezy dialog (which for the record is almost completely absent from the original movie, which is dark and scary and...well, good.) So, I say bravo. I'd much rather have a scary Freddie than a bizarrely punny Freddie, and I think Haley was a good casting choice. Of course, just to make things sacrosanct in the universe and to annoy the living *#!? out of me they'll make 9 sequels to this dark scary Freddie filled with bad puns.

Not Safe for work language in this video about cell phones in horror movies.

You want bizarre? How bout a museum full of stuffed gophers. That good enough?

Enjoy Cube Colossus if you can. Too much talky for me. Though I kind of like the weird control scheme.

There's another game here called Thunder Attack, that's supposed to be good, but so far I haven't found a browser on any of my machines that has the right plugin for it. Can anyone see it? Maybe it's a hoax. "Haha, remember that time we pretended to make an awesome game and there really wasn't a game? Good times, good times."

William and Sly. I can't even tell you how much I like this. It's pretty, has great sound and music (I leave it on while I work because it's like great white noise) and it's just kind of neat to cruise around and explore.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Things that happened over the weekend.

Let's see, I moved all the computers around, including swapping hard drives for 3 hours so I could get my Mac back, and ostensibly so I could give Allie the good machine to play WOW on. Really it was to get the Mac back. Going from a 17" monitor to a 21" eyes still haven't readjusted to the awesome.

Note, also, that if you have a monitor with a DVI-D and a D-Sub plug, and you have a DVI-D and a D-Sub wire, and the computer has only a DVI-D plug on it, don't use the D-Sub wire with a DVI-D adaptor on it. It just make things look fuzzy, right up until the point where you realize you're an idiot and you plug the DVI-D wire in and things go back to normal. Just saying.

Saw Jennifer's Body with the kids. Funnier than I thought it would be. Actually didn't annoy me. And I don't really care for Megan Fox that much, so seeing her as a bad guy was all right with me. Not sure how that worked out. Definitely rental material, or maybe dollar theater.

I'm gonna do a little different format for the links here, just bear with me.

The Beatles Rock Band Intro - Looks awesome. I would totally watch a movie or a cartoon done in this style, especially if it was about the Beatles. Does the game have any of this in it, or is it just the intro? I assumed it was just Rock Band with Beatles songs. Is that not true?

Ingrlorious Basterdz Villain - This guy is awesome. He was great in Inglorious Basterdz and now he is going to be a villain in the Green Hornet movie with Seth Rogen. He should be a villain in the Green Lantern movie (which we discussed last week may or may not get made). Wouldn't he be a great Sinestro?

Pictures of the Green Hornet movie - With Seth Rogen. Yep, it's apparently shooting. Enjoy the pics and then wonder if it will be awesome or terrible. I kind of like Seth Rogen, but this seems like it might be fail. Maybe Green Hornet is just one of those properties that you can't make a serious, dark movie out of like Batman, or maybe this is just a bad idea. I'll wait for a trailer to make a decision. Maybe the dude up above will make it awesome.

My new favorite trailer mashup - Just full of win. Dark Knight vs. Toy Story.

Ridiculous Japanese Game Plot - This game might or might not be about porn. I have no idea. It's just ludicrous though.

Scariest Movie ever? - Supposedly. This is what they're saying. Everyone seems to think it's awesome. I'll have to check it out.

Gentlemen Broncos - Seriously funny. Like Sam Rockwell, like the guy who plays the writer (from the fabulous Flight of the Conchords). Looks great.

Robots shoot Pool - Slowly. But still cool.

Guitar Hero for the C64 - Now this is funny. That's totally what it would have looked like too.

Hotel made out of hotel key cards? - Strange. Very strange.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Football Season Begins. I write blog post.

Yay, football. I watched a lot of it today.

Also, I started this post on Wednesday I think, so check when it's posted, because right now I'm about to post it and it's Sunday night. (EDIT: I started it on Tuesday. So apparently Blogspot just takes whatever day I start editing a post and marks that as the day it was posted. Fantastic. I could make it look like I posted every day. I'll just start a post every day and...who am I kidding, I'm too lazy to even do that.)

Ok, we good? All right then, let's get started.

Some kind of parkour game here. You're running on building ledges, jumping over things, through windows occasionally...I don't know. It's kind of addictive. But it will give you a headache. The screen shakes a lot. I mean like your monitor is stuck in one of those things they have at Home Depot that shakes the paint cans up. It's kind of annoying. And it seems to never end. But I click on it and play it again occasionally...

Super ultra violent video. Starring 12" GI Joe figures. Kinda creepy. I think it's the unchanging expressions on their faces. Bizarre and fun.

Holy Kri-zolie! Solomon Kane Trailer! Somewhere in the recesses of my mind I heard this movie was being made but I had little hope for it because...well, lots of reasons. First of all you may or may not know who Solomon Kane is. Well, he was created by Robert E. Howard, who had a much more famous character, that got not one, but two movies (the second of which is, how shall I put this, not good. I mean it's fun in a cheesy way, but really, just kind of crap, as Eddie would say.) So I thought, Oh, it'll be terrible and they'll screw the character all up and I can rant about it later if anyone ever notices the movie's existence, but here, now, they've gone and intrigued me. That trailer looks, um, decent. Like I really want to see that. I love Solomon Kane. He's awesome. (Hint, hint, someone buy me a book for Christmas).

More Awesome HERE! That's the trailer for the movie Plan 9. That's the remake of the Ed Wood Classic, Plan 9 From Outer Space. How cool is that? Plus the original was delivered in 1959, so this is like the 50th anniversary celebration. Nicely done. See, I view this differently than the knuckleheads trying to remake The Birds, because here's the thing: both movies are classics, but they're classics for different reasons. The Birds is like Steak and Potatoes. It just goes together well. Plan 9 From Outer Space is like Ketchup on Eggs. Some people really love it, but most people just kind of go, "huh" and then eye you bemusedly while you eat it, tolerating without hate, it's just kind of a weird thing that's there. So, I think the remake of Plan 9 will be like Salsa on Eggs, cause it's a little updated, and now a lot more people are like, "oh, that sounds good." So, yeah. There. The Plan 9 remake is like salsa on eggs. Bow down before my mad simile-constructing skills.

It's awesome movie week here at Madtoad Enterprises, apparently, so yeah, I'm gonna throw a little Black Dynamite your way. (Thanks Travis). Yes that's a real movie. Yes it's coming out soon. Yes they're serious. (That's acutally Michael Jai White playing Black Dynamite. I love that guy. First he was Tyson in Tyson, then he played Spawn, and then he kind of disappeared. But I've always thought he was a good actor. And in the last few years he was the voice of Green Lantern in the incredibly awesome Justice League cartoon, and then he had a nice cameo in what should have been the Oscar Winner for Best Picture Last Year, and now he's going to be in this and in Robert Rodriguez's Predators, coming next year, so I'm kind of stoked. By the way, he's credited as a writer on this movie). By the way, how lame is it that in the movie TYSON the guy playing TYSON got 3rd billing? That's kinda messed up.

Thanks to B-Fish for the following: Cat can't figure out how to get a drink. Kitty has a drinking problem.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Laborious Posting

It was all you could do to think that I'd use the fact that it's labor day as an excuse to not post today, effectively killing my monday posting ritual that has been going for an astounding, what, 5 weeks? 4? I don't even know. Travis, how many weeks in a row is this?

See, it didn't happen. I posted anyway. So bleh.

Clearly Hollywood will pay for any script that allows random B-list actors to shoot at each other for whatever the heck reason they can think of. Can you imagine this? All the world's greatest assassins get together to battle for 10 Million dollars in some random sleepy town? I'll probably watch it though. See, this is how they get me.

Disney buys Marvel. Can't wait for the Micky Mouse, Spiderman crossover comics.

Adopt-A-Dog segment goes horribly awry.

A brief primer on dimensions, up to the 10th. Apparently this has been floating around the internets for a while, but I had never seen it.

For those of you who love fast food, here are 10 secret menu items you can get at, perhaps, one of your favorite places. Mental Floss, by the way, is one of those pages I can get lost on pretty easily for hours.

How to destroy the Earth
. You know. If you need that kind of information for any reason.

First Citiwide Bank. How do you make money?

So A-Team casting news is apparently being scooped by the MMA now, since this guy was apparently going to fight this guy (I don't know any of these guys. The only MMA person I know is Kimbo Slice and that's only because his name is Kimbo Slice. I don't even know if he's good.) But now, instead of those two guys fighting those two guys are going to NOT fight so that that first guy can play B.A. in the A-Team movie.

Um. Ok. Sure.

That IMDB link for A-Team is another place where I should point out that they have ludicrous and conflicting information all on one page. According to that page both Common and the Game (both rappers, incidentally) are playing B.A. in the A-Team movie. Clearly that's not true. Unless both of them and the MMA guy are all gonna play B.A. at different parts of the movie. Maybe they play him at different ages or something, or maybe the plot involves B.A. having his brain transplanted into different bodies. Come to think of it, I'd watch that too.