Monday, 4 March 2013

Short Story: The Street

            It used to be quiet on my street before they came. Over there, by the corner, I used to meet Arash and we would go down to the park, or over to the store for a soda if we had a dollar. I would wave to the widow in the end apartment, who was forever sitting on her porch knitting. I can just barely see her porch now, through the boards covering my window. Her old rocking chair is still sitting out there, sitting empty, slowly rocking and waiting for an owner whom isn’t coming back. She was one of the first to go when they came in there jeeps. Shouting orders at one another in strange accents I could barely understand. We all ran back into our houses then. I didn’t see what happened. I was cowering under the table. Arash said she just kept rocking, kept sitting there in that old chair, until one of them came over and screamed at her. And when she didn’t move he splattered her brains across that porch she loved so much and threw her body into the gutter.

They came into the houses, one by one, searching for god knows what. They took all the boys aside. They told us that it was time for change. That they were bringing us a new life, a better life. That there would be a life of peace, and we all we had to do to realize it was help them with there war. They told us to come with them. Arash said he didn’t want to. One of the men took Arash by the arm and led him away. I still don’t know what happened to him. Later, much later, I learned that boys who chose not to join were often killed. But I didn’t see it happen. When I’m up here, the cold rifle in my hands, peeking through the boards covering my bedroom window, I like to imagine that Arash is still out there somewhere. That he got away, that maybe he even found that land of peace the men are always talking about. That maybe on another street somewhere, things are still unchanged. But on our street the peace is gone. Shattered by the men who came and told us that we had to earn the peace we already had. And so I sit here, holding the rifle, watching the end of the street for the men in green and black. And waiting. Waiting for my street to change back to the way it used to be.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Story Hook: Tea Leaves

Story Hook: Gentlemanly cleric sends party on suicide mission to retrieve rare plant, makes worlds greatest cup of tea with it. Goes into berserk rage when a party member adds milk to the tea


"Two bloody weeks we spent in that jungle," the captain said, looking rather disgruntled. Truth be told, he was a bit of a mess. A long gash ran down the side of his face, neatly connecting his eye to his chin. It had a hint of infection about it, and looked like it needed to be cleaned badly. His left arm was in a sling, and the sleeve of his right arm was stained dark red with dried blood. The rest of the adventuring party looked no better. The parties rangers cloak was torn to rags and he was covered in dirt and mud. The hulking barbarian was covered in cuts, and in several places his clothing was stained black or muddy red. He was carrying the groups wizard, a frail looking man at the best of time, who had sustained a bad blow to the head. 

The group stood in front of a fairly nice looking hut situated on the seaside. A few boats were moored at the dock in front of it, and a couple traders stood on the dock talking. It was a trading hut, run by an old seaman who had seen the benefit of a trading hut here and did a reasonable amount of trade. The captain frowned at the other occupant of the hut, a cleric doing missionary work. Crisp white robes fluttered in the sea air. He looked like he'd never done an honest days work in his life.

"Two bloody weeks in the jungle," the captain reiterated, "So I hope this plant was bloody well worth it. We need medical attention, and bad. The wizard took a nasty hit from a goblin and my arm needs a brace." The cleric glanced across the party. "What happened to the guards?" he asked. "Killed by the blasted goblins," the captain spat, "and we lost two of our own to some damned snake twice the size of the outpost. Meanest critter I ever met, should have killed every one of us. All for a bloody plant." And with that, the captain passed the cleric a small pouch.

The cleric opened the pouch and smiled at the leaves inside it. "Your wounds will be attended to captain, please bring your men inside" he said with a smile. The captain and his party trudged into the trading hut. Inside was all bustle and the cleric led them through to the small chapel he maintained, where he found them beds to rest on for a moment, and then disappeared.

Muttering, the captain dug around for some bandages and began seeing to the barbarian. The wizard lay on one of the beds passed out and the ranger began seeing to her own wounds. A few minutes later the cleric returned, with a pot of boiling water and a tea kettle. "Water for cleaning your wounds," the cleric said, holding up the pot, "And tea for whoever wants some, made from the leaves you brought me." The captain stared at the cleric. "Tea leaves!" he yelled, "You sent us on that bloody mission for tea leaves!"

"Yes," the cleric said, "Its very hard to get good tea out here you know." And with that he poured several cups, and proferred one to the ranger, who sullenly took it. The captain stared daggers at the cleric. "Its tea," he said, "Surely you could have gone without." "Impossible," the cleric said with a smile, "A good cup of tea is quite important for a productive day." The ranger rolled her eyes and drew a flask from her pack. She poured a small amount of milk from the flask into the tea.

Seeing this, the cleric gave a shout and grabbed the tea from her hands. "You have defiled it!" the cleric cried, "why would you do such a thing to such a perfect cup of tea!" Dumbstruck, the party could only watch in awe as the cleric became angrier and angrier over the tea, screaming obscenities and smashing the teapot. The captain gave a laugh as the tea splattered all over the hut. "Right then," the captain said, "I think that's about the last time we do anything for you." And with a curt nod the captain grabbed the ranger and pulled her out of the chapel, followed by the barbarian carrying the wizard, and leaving the screaming cleric, who had begun throwing things at the walls.

Standing outside, the captain frowned slightly and searched the dock for a boat out of town. Screams could still be heard emanating from the chapel, and he watched with interest as the thugs employed to prevent thieves walked in to the temple, and then came out carrying the struggling priest, who, still screaming obscenities, was tossed into the water. The captain shook his head. This was the last time they traveled into the south, the people down here were all nuts.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Backstory: Vampire Counts w/ Mortis Engine

Sylvania is a barren, wind swept, backwater province of the Empire. Felix Jaeger described it as a place full of dreariness and a particularly brutish breed of peasant. Great packs of wolves prowl is snow covered moors and ghouls loot its cemeteries for flesh. Indeed, it says something about the land that so many of the peasants have reverted to cannibalism during the winter months. But food is scarce in Sylvania, the land poisoned by warpstone. No where else in the Empire is the concentration of this evil substance greater and this has led to a twisting of the land itself. Ghostly figures often walk among the living, or undead which are much less then ghostly. The terrifying ghouls, lusting after human flesh or the skeletons of warriors long dead, pulling themselves from the earth to steal the life from the living.

It has never helped Sylvania that it is also the home of the vampire counts, the strange aristocracy of the night who once almost destroyed the Empire. The foul magics and sorceries the vampires enacted in there castles can not even be imagined by lesser mortals. And certainly these castles still stand, resiting siege weapons and spell craft alike, left abandoned and avoided by the peasants. Yet some nights, one can still see the strange glow of magic from these castles, as one of there inhabitants returns once again to the send terror out into the world of the living.

At the end of the war of the vampire counts, in which Manfred Von Carstein was defeated, the Empire gave over much of Sylvania to nobles from other lands. The hope was, with the vampire counts destroyed, human rulers could supplant them and drive out whatever demons infested that cursed land. And so a call was sent out across the Empire for nobles who wished to rule these lands. Few answered this call. Among them, however, was a particularly unique noble by the name of Heir Morliac.

Morliac was a student of engineering in Talabheim who had studied and built steam tanks. While Morliac was certainly a noble, no one new much about him besides this. Certainly he was wealthy, and owned a large manor, and had a great library and laboratory. Most assumed that he had come from a foreign land, perhaps an engineer from Brettonia escaping persecution or from Kislev, trying to escape that frozen land. What was well known was that he was an excellent engineer and many were sorry to see him leave. He was given the castle Eldenheim, but in reality it was the Necromanse, the Empire had changed the name in order to obscure the bloody history of the place.

What the empire did not realize was that Morliac was a member of the aristocracy of the night, a dread vampire. Having fought for Manfred, Morliac had been sent into the empire to sow discord in its school of engineering. However Manfred was defeated at Hel Fenn before Morliac could ever effect the gunnery school, and so he had simply continued working there as a student, unsure of what else to do. Years later, when the Empire practically invited him back to his old home, he gladly accepted, excited to return home and put his knowledge to more practical use.

Morliac moved into his new home and his servants cleaned the place of the old bones and rusting weapons of its predecessors. Morliac began to create a powerful artefact capable of sustaining an army of undead far longer then any mage could. With this weapon, Morliac hoped to overcome one of the greatest problems of leading an undead army, keeping it together. Keeping undead risen required a small amount of focus from a wizard and Morliac knew that this eventually led to the wizards downfall. Such divided attention would be the end of any vampire on the battlefield and Morliac, while a talented wizard, was no match for many with a sword. For many months Morliac worked, in the secrecy of the Necromanse, creating his powerful new weapon.

When at last it was completed, Morliac traveled into the worlds edge mountains, seeking the graveyards of the dragons. Whether through luck or skill Morliac found the remains of one of these ancient beasts and reanimated it, riding it back to his home. There Morliac mounted his great machine on the dragons back, a suitable protector for such a potent device. Morliac used his engineering knowledge to reinforce much of the dragons body with pistons and supports so that the creature would be capable of carrying the machine. At last, having created a weapon of magic and science the likes of which the world had never before scene, Morliac activated his device, calling to him all the dead of the worlds edge mountains. His army consisted largely of the peoples who had once inhabited the mountains, scores of great warriors of the mountain clans, reanimated to serve his army as wights. The wailing ghosts and the souls of the necromancers which dwelled in the Necromanse were called to the machine as well, creatures unassailable by mortal weapons.

Morliac knew, however, that such an army would not be enough. He was but one vampire, and had no way to find and unite his scattered bethren again. And while his army was mighty, and contained a weapon of great power, it would take much more then that to threaten the Empire. His army would have to be much greater then Manfred's ever was, and it was currently but a pitiful fraction of that mighty army. So Morliac left the Necromanse and headed into the Worlds Edge Mountains, seeking the lost barrows and battlefields of the men who had once roamed these lands. He would swell his army with there corpses, and the corpses of the orcs who still lived in the mountains. Morliac knew that, eventually, he would rally an army of undead which would rival the armies of Nagash, greatest of all of the necromancers. And with such an army he would destroy the Empire, and the aristocracy of the night would rule once again. It would take time, but, Morliac thought, he had lived for many centuries. What was a few more in order to rule the world?

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Story Hook: Burning down the sun

Story Hook: Barbarians attempt to burn down the sun

Well, this can only go poorly


Thrug stood atop the mound of skulls his men had piled in front of the city. His men stood in front of him, thousands of barbarians, waving there axes and swords and banging there shields. And behind him the city burned. It made a rather nice tableau, though Thrug could not have defined that word if he tried. Thrug raised his mighty war axe, a great two handed weapon it would have taken two lesser men to lift, and his men gave a mighty cheer. They had burned down the this city, stolen the wheat from its granary and beer from its brew houses, and now they would celebrate. Thrug gave a might bellow and his men danced wildly, his horde of barbarians drunk with battle lust and stolen brew. Tonight they would make offerings to there mighty gods for bringing them this victory. And tomorrow, Thrug thought, tomorrow they would embark on the greatest quest ever. A quest so great that no one, not even the tribe of the shadow bear, would look down on his horde. He would make himself and the clan of the raven's talon feared throughout the world. 

"You want to do what!," Potus said, scratching his beard. "It is impossible!" "Nothing impossible," Thrug rumbled back at the elder. They stood in Thrug's tent, a massive canvas dwelling capable of housing ten men comfortably. A fire burned in a brazier in the middle of the tent and serving girl watched the argument with some interest, but otherwise the tent was empty save for Potus and Thrug. "Nothing impossible," Thrug enunciated again, making his point clear. Potus shook his head. "Thrug," Potus began, "You can not not challenge the gods. It is impossible." "Thrug not challenge our gods," Thrug rumbled, "Thrug challenge weak gods of men who build the cities we burn. Time to burn not just there cities, but false gods they build as well. Travel to great ball of light in the sky, where gods make home, and help our gods destroy them, that all of men know that clan of the raven's talon most fearsome barbarians in all of world. That the raven's talon clan so great, even the gods be afraid of them." "A noble quest no doubt," Potus said, "But how, exactly, do you plan to get a thousand warriors to the great ball of light?" "Ask god's for boon," Thrug said, "I help god's, god's help me. Now shaman, make it so Thrug can speak with gods." And with that Thrug left the tent to find something to eat.

That night, Potus enacted the sacred rituals of his clan. First he slew a great bull, with which to placate the gods. Next, he took a raven and cast powder upon it, and set it upon the bull to feed. As the bird gorged itself, he intoned the words taught to him by his father and grandfather and watched as the mystical energies of the gods began to swirl about the bloody scene before him. Many warriors stood watching impassively, Thrug at the front of them, as Potus enacted his sacred ritual. Under the moonlight the strange blueish mist emanating from the raven and the slain bull began to coalesce, and its pale glow lit there faces with its light. Thrug stepped forward, and Potus nodded to him and stepped back, so that Thrug stood facing the strange energies. "Oh great and wise raven, who guides the raven's talons, we ask of you a boon," Thrug began. The raven stopped eating. It was about four times the size of a typical bird now, a great black eagle with strange intelligence in its eyes. It stared balefully at Thrug with a sort of birdlike curiosity. Thrug continued. "Oh great and wise raven," Thrug said, "We wish your aid to destroy the false gods of men. Grant us a device that will take us to great ball of light in sky, so that, with your help, we may destroy false gods and show you are greatest god of all." The raven nodded once, and the energy flowed down from the altar and across the glade, where it coalesced into a strange looking boat, with a large tube on one end of it. The boat was entirely covered, so not really much of a boat, and made out more metal then Thrug had ever seen in his life. "Thank you raven," Thrug said and the bird nodded and flew off, diminishing in size as it flew away.

"We all get on giant boat, sail to the great ball of light in the sky," Thrug said. Potus shrugged. He wan't to sure about this, and was tempted to stay behind. On the other hand, he was the shaman, and somebody had to look after the tribe. More then a few of them looked unsure about this venture, but Thrug seemed to have most people convinced. And so onto the boat they all got. Once everyone wan onboard, Thrug closed the doors with a loud clang and, to Potus's great surprise, the boat began to lift them up in the air at a rather alarming rate. Great flames shot out the bottom of the boat, pushing it skyward. The barbarians, looking out the strange portholes covered by some transparent material Potus could not identify, whooped and hollered and screamed as the ground dropped away. Soon they were high enough that the trees were mere dots on the landscape, then the lake they had lived at there entire lives became a dot and disappeared. Potus stared in wonder as the continents of the world spread out before them and he could even see the edges of the world, surrounded by the black void of chaos. And coming closer was the great ball of light in the sky.

Thrug raised his war axe above his head. "Men," he shouted, "Today we shall best the gods." And with no further ado then that he turned a pointed with his axe out the great window at the front of the boat. And through it could be seen a great ball of fire. The great ball of light in the sky. It was on fire. Thrug stared at it in horror. His men pointed. Potus stood there awestruck by the great flaming orb confronting the chip. Thrug swore. "I sorry men," he said saddly, "But it looks like other clan got here first and....well...has already lit heaven on fire." And with that fine bit of oration, Thrug sadly and sat down near the rear of the ship, which had started to turn itself around and had begun to return to the Earth once more. "Potus," Thrug said so the shaman, "how can this be? We must find great barbarian that lit heaven on fire and defeat him. Only then can we be greatest clan ever." Potus nodded sagely. In light of everything that had happened, he wasn't really sure what else he could do.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Story Hook: What is Undeath?

Story Hook #10: Philosophical zombies ponder meaning of love, pester passerby


Dave stood at the edge of the cemetery, leaning on a solitary tombstone on which the words "Here lies Gorril, because he never told the truth" has been inexpertly carved. He looked about, his one good eye swiveling in a rather rotten eye socket. He was trying to find his fingers, which had fallen off again. While there were many advantages to being a zombie, Dave thought, having to find fingers was not one of them. He had already lost three, and it was getting more difficult to write. Dave sighed. Not so many advantages to being a zombie anymore he thought. Dave was a forgotten animated body, a zombie animated when the dread lord Knut Su Ded had invaded the city. At that time things had been much better. There had been more zombies, and brains had been more plentiful. Of course he had been enslaved to the dread lords will, but that was hardly a hindrance. It gave one a purpose in unlife, something a zombie definitely lacked. But now he and his few surviving brethren were doomed to do little more then walk about trying to get what they could. A zombie, of course, could not starve to death, but Dave would have enjoyed a nice brain. They were so nice, and juicy, and made him feel so wonderful. A low moan of 'Brraaaaiiiiinnsss" escaped from Dave's lists as he lost himself in thought.

Poe slouched over to Dave and lightly tapped him, breaking his reverie. "Now, now Dave," Poe said, "You don't want to end up like Fred." Dave nodded. Poor Fred. Consumed by the hunger. Now all he did was wander about the cemetery moaning for brains. It was rather pitiful. But, Dave thought, perhaps thats how we all end up eventually. Eventually the hunger gets to us and we become, well, zombies. It had certainly happened to enough of the zombies. Entire gangs of them wandered around, occasionally catching a wanderer but more often getting killed by rangers or clerics. Going full zombie, the other zombies called it.

Poe sat down on a tombstone marked "Here lyes Bodrick the Bard, who will play on in the afterlife." "Dave," said Poe, "Do you think there's anything left for us besides brains?" "What do you mean," asked Dave, continuing to look for his fingers."Well," said Poe, "It's not like there is anything more for us in the world. We're zombies. We can't exactly fulfill our dreams or find the loves of our lives anymore. Maybe we should just give up and join Fred." "Go  full zombie?" Dave said. He picked up a stick. It looked sort of like a finger. He tried to attach it to his hand. "Yeah," Poe said, a faraway look in his cloudy eyes, "Just give up. What is there left for us?" "What about the sunset," Dave asked, "What about all the beauty in the world. I doubt the full zombies can really see it anymore." "What about it?" Poe said, "Sure there is romance and beauty in the twilight but what is love to a zombie?"

Dave sighed. The stick would not stick in his hand. "Just because you will not be loved back doesn't mean you can't love," Dave said philosophically, "In fact, isn't the most beautiful love that which is unreturned." Poe snorted. "I think not," Poe said, "What sort of love is that. Sounds more like obsession to me." He turned and looked down the path. "Someone's coming."

Dave looked up. Sure enough, a little lantern bobbed along the path, illuminating the girl carrying it. She was dressed in robes, and for a moment Dave felt fear. Surely she was a cleric, come to banish them. But they didn't look like clerical robes. Poe started towards the girl, who gave a shriek at the zombie. "No, wait," Poe said, "We won't hurt you, you can come this way if you like." The girl stood on the path, frozen by fear. "Look," said Poe, "We just want to ask you a question. Braaaaaaaiiii, I mean, is unrequited love more beautiful then love which is returned." The girl stared at Poe in horror. 

"Well?" Poe said. The girl whimpered. "Fine then," Poe muttered, and then gave a yell of "BRAAAIIIIINSSSS" and began to shamble towards the girl, who screamed and began to run. Dave watched the girl flee. Perhaps Poe was right. And he did have a bit of a hankering for brains. Perhaps there really was no love in life for a zombie. Or perhaps all that a zombie could love, really, was a nice fresh brain.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012


The universe is thinning. Slowly. Imperceptibly. As the universe dies, so too do the walls preventing the other universes from getting in. Do you understand? Let me explain.

This galaxy is part of a universe, a vast collection of galaxies existing in a 4D space, the fourth dimension being time. Now imagine, for a second, a collection of 2D boxes, drawn on a piece of paper. We can collect all these boxes together by drawing another 2D box around them. We can imagine your planet as a 2D box. The 2D box collecting them is your galaxy. Yet another 2D box collecting all the boxes containing boxes is the universe. However, we can also collect these boxes in 3D. We can imagine a cube, into which we place all these boxes. And since the boxes have no width, we can place an infinite number of these 2D boxes inside this 3D cube.

If we imagine that these 2D boxes are universes, the 3D box is the multiverse, a container which can contain an infinite number of 2D universes. Now universes exist in 4D, but there also exists a box of 5D, containing all of the universes. We can refer to this 5D box as the multiverse.

As the 6th dimension changes, that being the dimension equivalent to time in 5D, the five dimensional box changes. And as it changes, the 4D universes are jostled a bit. The rub against each other and on there edges we can detect friction. And as change increases in the 6th dimension so too does the energy added to the universes through friction increase, until the universes start to melt together.

Now, I will admit, the language this universe has developed will not quite grasp these concepts. They are difficult enough to understand while trying to use a language designed to indicate to other monkeys were food may be found. However, hopefully you get the gist of it, because my message is important.

The multiverse is slowly melding all the universes. Those universes in the middle, packed tightly together, were the first to meld. And as the universes meld unspeakable creatures travel from one to the next. You can imagine it yourself. Here, everyone looks like you, but in another universe you are a creature of nightmares, a bedtime story written by madmen who have glimpsed what the multiverse holds.

You are lucky. This universe lays near the edge of the multiverse. However, a great danger awaits you. For in the melding of the universes there has come a creature from some desecrated world which is as old as the multiverse and quite capable of bringing about the apocalypse. With it comes its strange race, entities of energy made flesh and geometries impossible to describe. I do not know what they are. I do not understand even how they can exist. Perhaps they are the beings which live in the fifth dimension. Perhaps they are the result of some catastrophe which causes them to exist in a different form then typical life. I do not know. All I know is that the great black universe they have created is expanding, consuming universes as they meld together. And your universe will soon be threatened by them. It will take thousands of years for the friction to finally breach your universe, but it has already begun. How else do you think I got in?

At first, there will be only a few of them, sowing discord and lending truth to the old tales. But soon they will come. Make your peace humankind, and ready your armies for a foe beyond anything your brains can even comprehend. Watch for there arrival. Search for them in the stars. Because they will come. And they will destroy you.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Character Background: Young Farmhand

I will be the first to admit that farming isn’t really in my blood. But there aren’t too many options when you run away from home, especially if you do so young. It’s a decision I have regretted before, but some days it’s more difficult to remember what you were running away from then others. Life’s funny like that I guess. We only really remember the good things, while the bad slowly fades into oblivion. I guess it’s just a defence mechanism of sorts, our brains trying to pretend that life really isn’t so bad. But there are always fresh reminders of what I left. A crying child, a lost toy, or a drunk, stumbling home from the bar are all staunch reminders of something I have left behind.

            I hopped on the rails when I was 16 and, looking back, I supposed I could have been more prepared. At least I ran away during the summer months. It was warm, and if I could beg a meal I could always raid an orchard. That’s how I got my start in farming. I got caught once, stealing apples off a tree, and the farmer said he’d either haul me off to the police or I could finish picking the apples. So I picked the apples. And did good enough of a job the farmer kept me on, for a little bit at least, till the winter months.

            The farmer moved away in the winter months. I had helped him with his last harvest. Moving to the city, someplace warm where his old bones wouldn’t hurt him so much. I took what little I had saved and managed to rent a small ski house over the winter. It wasn’t terribly warm, but I learned to survive, which is important when your knee deep in snow.

            That spring I continued on. The townspeople were a little suspicious of me. Youths running away were running from something, and most people wanted no part of that. I went on to spend almost 3 years in the interior. I found places with milder winters and slept outside far more often then inside and made do with what I have. I stole and begged and rode the trains across the land. I probably saw more of nature in those three years then many people do there entire lives. I could tell stories of the places I saw, and people I met, but that isn’t really the point of this tale. The point of this tale is that this spring I arrived on the farm.

            I was a little sceptical at first, but it seems like a nice place. Most of the other staff are runaways too, ‘cept the old guy who owns the place. It is kind of neat though, I get to drive a tractor and there’s a nice pub in town, even if it is a little quiet. I like it here on the farm. I’m out in nature, and when I’m driving the grain down to the train station its neat to just watch the birds, or the setting sun. It makes me forget about home. It’s a nice feeling. I think I'll be staying for a while.