Thursday, November 19, 2009

I blame my Husband

Not getting much writing done these days. Work has been hectic, and I admit, I have this weakness for a good fantasy RPG. So, my husband went and got me the Dragon Age computer version RPG and well... it is simply fantastic! Can't say as though I agree with their Dwarf culture. Why would a race concerned with honor and warrior prowess play politics so viciously? Especially if their race is in decline and oppressed by enemies with little hope of allies? Doesn't make sense and annoys me, but other than that, the storyline and interaction is well done. The game has a bit of problem with my audio and widescreen video, but for its flaws, I still like it. If you liked neverwinter or baldur's gate, this game is very much like them, but better.

So I blame Jim for getting me hooked on this game instead of finishing up the rewrite of Valkardain (Sorrow's Bane).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Abernyth Revisited

A while back, I worked on a storyline and campaign for some gaming friends. Two nights ago, I had a dream that sort of brought it all back to me with inspiration for more and a great novel plot line to follow. So I've started character writing, and setting the framework for the novel.

The premise is as follows:

Invasion of Abernyth Campaign Background

From the Mountains of Eternal Sorrow he could see it, the massive explosion that devastated the tower where he spent most of the year in the Supreme Council. Cold shakes chilled through every nerve he possessed as the magical shockwave washed over him from the backlash. Power was torn from him with the force of a hurricane, tearing his soul to pieces! What had they done!? Ten thousand years of history, of their civilization wiped out in a matter of seconds! But it was worse than that, he could feel the malevolence from where he knelt in agony still a hundred miles from what was his destination. Unadulterated chaos seeped from the weeping wound in the fabric of the universe. Demons raged with delight as they were unleashed and unfettered among his people, and he knew that he was the only Member of the Supreme Council left, the only one with the knowledge to control the forces of the Abyss. But one was not nearly enough to seal the rift he felt beating at his magical senses with the force of a mighty hammer, nor to vanquish the guardian he could feel formed of the souls of his fellow sorcerers, especially when he had been all but drained of power!

The demons came on him while he slept; screams in the night woke him like a bolt of thunder. The arcane phrases flowed from his lips, phrases once meant to conjure hellish creatures to serve his whims, now used to keep them from consuming the life-force of his people and feeding their souls to the Guardian of the Rift. The bodies of the weak willed littered the ground as he strode like an avenging angel of destruction, banishing the creatures that slew indiscriminately. Thousands of slaves had already perished; his tribute from a year's worth of warfare by his Clan, Blackheart. So much potential wealth destroyed! The anger was short lived as Zhorvan realized what it meant.

A rift had been opened to the Abyss, a rift that allowed all the minions of hell to run rampant and there was no one left that could stop them! Return to the City of Fire was impossible, and so he turned his eye to the coast. Wealth and power became meaningless in the current task of survival. He was the last of his kind, the last of the Dorakannan Priest Lords that had been chosen to sit on the Supreme Council of Sorcerers, and the whole of his people were in danger of extinction!
"Send messengers throughout our Empire! Gather all the survivors to the City of Skulls! Muster every ship in our Black Fleet, every vessel worthy of sea travel! This world is doomed and we must find the ancient gateway of Dolamakduum or we will all perish!" To the skies lit his acolytes aboard their bonded lammasu mounts as they went to spread the word.

The Doradzhor Empire was no more and those that were able marched with all haste to the City of Skulls. Black talons bit in to coppery palms, and drops of dark ichors made sable stains upon the iron deck of the ship as the priest scryed out the events that lead to the destruction of their home. The Supreme Lord had ordered it, the summoning of their God, the Dark Father Marduk. Ten thousand slaves were sacrificed upon his altar, the power beyond the measure of the entire council. It was no surprise the arrogant Supreme Lord had been unable to contain it all. It burst through him, consuming the other eight members of the Chosen in the resultant magical explosion. What had been meant to bring forth the champion of the Father of Darkness became a random rift to all the Abyss, and collapsed the pseudo plane The Black Forge.

Tusked jaw set in a scowl, Zhorvan turned the images in the obsidian globe to the future, his taloned fingers manipulating arcane forces beyond the comprehension of his remaining acolytes. A gesture to a nearby slave brought the towering orc closer.
"More blood ale, slave." He mumbled as he focused on events yet to occur.
The demons covered the world, all life perishing beneath their ministrations. They fed off the living essence of all in their path, leaving a drained husk of dusty nothingness behind them as tormented souls wailed in the aftermath. Even the fish of the sea died in droves, and within the space of a few short years, nothing lived. An entire thriving world completely drained of life became another hell chained to the Abyssmal Plane.

"Lord Zhorvan, what does it mean?" The black eyes of his eldest living sorcerous son pleaded for some sort of hope.

"It means that we had better find the path to Dolamakduum, and very soon. Our supplies will last hopefully until we reach the continent of Dunloring, but we will have to restock as we search. At least we have enough slaves to sustain us until then." Khazzikhar's nose wrinkled in disgust at the thought of eating the meat of the slaves, but he refrained from comment. "The past will return to haunt us, and now we must face our betrayers."

"Do you think they will muster against us?"

"Not if they are already distracted. I have given this much thought. Our spies in Dunloring report that humans have taken over most of the northeastern portion of the continent, the more fertile of the lands. They have displaced many of the Betrayers' holds, and they might already be hostile towards each other. I have ordered one of their High King's sons killed in the human lands, and by the time we reach them, we can arrange to seize and kill the other. Humans are hasty and the betrayers are suspicious creatures. It will not take much to incite war between them. We can also seize some of their lands in order to restock ammunition and supplies as well as gather more slaves. If the humans prove to be a greater force than we anticipate, we can always play upon their sympathy for our plight, and reveal the nature of the betrayers to them. With such primitive minds, they should be easily manipulated and/or controlled."

"What if the betrayers make an alliance with the humans?"

"We will simply have to ensure that does not happen. Revealing the fullness of our history to the humans once it seems apparent that they may side with the betrayers will ensure that the humans will never trust them. Their shame will become our benefit, and perhaps in this, we can find vengeance before we leave them to their deaths."

"What of the elves?" His patience near its limit, Zhorvan's scowl silenced the youth.

"The elves are of no concern to us. We will leave them be as long as they remain consumed within their self-admiration. They will perish from the daemons soon enough." A knock on the door interrupted his revere and a breathless messenger entered, informing him of a lone survivor from one of the scouting parties.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Dog Who Beat the Radio Fence

The Dog Who Beat the Radio Fence

When Valkrys was almost two years old and feeling spunky, she would hop the fence and peruse the neighborhood. She was pretty friendly to one and all, but not too far away was a four lane thoroughfare as well as an interstate highway. Being a responsible owner, I wanted to prevent her #1 getting hit by a car, and #2 scaring anyone who didn’t know her, after all, she was a big girl weighing in at 55 pounds.

Back then, the newest and greatest thing since bagged kibble was the radio fence. One weekend, I spent many long hours digging a trench around our house and laying down wire for the radio fence, inserting dozens of little white flags, wiring in the power supply, and fussing about actually having a collar shock my dog. I was not too keen on the idea, but neither was I fond of putting her on a chain. The next several days were spent teaching Valkrys about the little white flags, the beeping sound, and the need not to ignore the beeping sound. Valkrys learned all this very quickly, and was happily perusing the yard within three days, patently avoiding the beeping sounds when I was watching her.

The next test was to let her out for an hour on her own to see if she would attempt to cross the fence. She didn’t try it, but unfortunately I didn’t have many more days left to simply test her ability to stay within the boundary. With high hopes, I left for work with her happily playing with Thor (our other dog) in the back yard.

My hopes were dashed, though, when she greeted me in the driveway when I came home. My husband didn’t know how long she had been out of the back yard (it was not attached to his computer). I checked the batteries in the collar, and sure enough, they were dead. I went to the store and picked up a brand new set of batteries and installed them. Fairly confident, I headed off to work the next day, expecting to see Valkrys in the back yard when I came home.

Not so! Again she greeted me on the driveway, and mysteriously, the batteries in her collar were again dead! Now I know I have a tendency to drain the odd watch battery, but I had never heard of such a thing from a dog. But, radio fences and shock collars were quite new to the dog training world. I was still rather suspicious of the notion, though, so asked my husband to watch her carefully the next day when he put her out.

This is what he saw. Valkrys had learned very well about the warning beep. So well in fact that she sat exactly five feet away from the buried wire until the collar stopped beeping. She would then, very casually stroll across the buried wire and jump the fence.

Valkrys beat the radio fence hands down.

Valkrys a Heroine with Fur (True Story)

It was a dark and stormy night back in April of 1992 when I woke at 3am to the cries of fear from a young puppy who had been lost. He was curled into a tiny white-yellow ball outside my window, yowling for his lost mother and siblings each time lightning flashed overhead and the thunder roared. It was pouring down rain and the poor little guy was soaked through and through. I picked him up and he shivered as I placed him inside my raincoat and I searched up and down the street for close to thirty minutes in the torrential downpour for the mother to no avail. I brought the little guy inside, and he snuggled up close to me with a sigh of contentment, and we fell asleep.

When I woke the next morning, I fed him some of our old dog's food and gave him some water. It was bright and sunny, a big contrast to the night's storm. The air was crisp and clean, and the ground was wet and steaming. The little white-yellow shepherd followed my every move and footstep, making sure I was not going to leave him, and happily licked my chin when I picked him up and took him outside. He was very cute, but I knew someone would be missing him.

I asked my neighbor if they knew who owned him, and I was told there was a white shepherd adult male around the corner and they might know. With the little boy trotting behind me faithfully, I headed in that direction, only to see some folks heading my way down the street calling out at least six different names I assumed were more puppies. With a large smile they saw my young visitor and called out to him. Oddly enough, he sat behind me, cocked his head and wagged his tail. I asked them if he was for sale, and they said no, that he had already been spoken for. I liked the little boy so much I asked if any of the other puppies were for sale, and they said yes, they had two girls left.

They told me the mother got out of the fence with five of the six pups last night, and they had been trying to find them. They were happy to find that the bundle of white fur had been well cared for, but I was sad to give him back. I followed them back, though, to view to the two girls. Valkrys was beautiful, a spunky little twelve week old black and tan pup who took one look at me and yapped happily before trotting over to paw at my leg. It was love at first sight.

Seeing her brother and her other sister, I asked what all she was mixed with and got a funny look before being told they didn't know, not that it really mattered to me. Almost immediately Valkrys took to my son, and they became best buddies.

She was a happy puppy, played fetch and tug-o-war, and had the cutest move ever. When you tugged lightly on her tail, she would hop backwards three times and yip, then run forward. We laughingly called it puppy-reverse.

As she grew older, it was apparent that Valkrys was no ordinary dog. At around nine months of age, she was still a bit clumsy, growing in to her large paws, but she was a very smart girl.

One night in the fall of the year, my husband and I were watching TV in the den which was on the bottom floor of our split level. It was a large carpeted area with bookshelves and a door that opened out to the fenced in back yard. Ordinarily, when Valkrys wanted out, she would go to the door and whine. On this night, though, she ran up the stairs, whining, then ran back down, yipping and whining urgently. Puzzled, I asked her if she wanted out, which she barked at me, but instead of going to the door, she ran back up the stairs.

Knowing better than to ignore her plea, I immediately followed, and she ran to our son’s door. She frantically started digging at the carpet underneath it, and realization dawned on me there was something seriously wrong in our son’s room! In the next fraction of a second, I could smell the smoke, and cleared the last couple of stairs and the intervening distance in one leap. The handle was cool as I yanked open the door in rising fear. To my horror, flames were leaping up the wall not more than one foot from my son’s head where he was sound asleep! One more leap had me at the bedside, picking him up and handing him to Jim as he ran up behind me.

“Get him out!” I ordered as I turned to deal with the fire.

Grabbing a blanket from the bed, I smothered the flames, and pulled the cord of the transformer that had started it. The plastic was so melted the wires pulled free easily, but left the rest of the transformer in the wall! Grabbing a dustpan, I levered the rest of it out of the socket and wrapped it up in the now half-melted blanket, took it all outside and doused it with the hose.

Only then did it occur to me what would have happened if Valkrys had not warned us, and I sat down shuddering, as I praised and petted our heroine.

Valkrys went on to do many wonderful and amazing things, such stories as “The Dog Who Beat the Radio Fence”, and “The Ninja Pizza Thief”. She has always been close and dear to our hearts, well loved and well looked after.