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Friday, 31 August 2012

Meeting the Final Party Member

He came back after lunch.
"There are a couple of candidates in the area," he said sitting down,"but the one I've heard the most about is Wren."
"By Tempus' hairy balls," Ulf said, spitting out some ale,"Not her!  She's an uptight bitch."
I turned to look at Ulf.  I hadn't known him long, but I think I knew why he said that.  "Turned you down, eh?"
"Not just turned down," he said."She actually led me on for a bit.  Got real close to me like she was going to take me up on my offer, right about then I realised that there was a dagger aimed at my scrotum.  I mean, she coulda just slapped me."
I nearly spit out my wine.
"Anyways," continued Logan," We will have to go and meet her.  A bit of a loner, she has a camp about a half hour's walk from here."
"How good is she?" I asked him.
"She's an excellent scout.  She had great success in the recent campaign.  She also is known to use magic.  There is something else.  She doesn't like knightly types."
That left Garrus out of meeting her.  He is too well known and a proper knight.
"I'll go." I said.
"But you're a paladin."
"I know.  But we can't send Ulf.  There's negative history there.  The half orc could give her the wrong impression.  I'm actually not sure how she'd take to Thoram.  With them out of the picture, that leaves us.  Less than ideal, but, I am not quite as knightly as Sir Garrus.  I'll also let you do most of the talking."
And so we left the inn.  We eventually came to a clearing about a half hour away.  It had but one occupant, a very attractive half-elf with dark skin.  It gave her an exotic appearance, and one I can honestly say would have drawn me to her, but somehow, I wasn't interested.
"Who are you," She said, angry that her solitude was interrupted.
"Hello," Logan said," We are very sorry to have interrupted your day, but we would like to discuss a matter of some urgency with you."
She still looked annoyed, and to tell truth I don't think she liked the look of either of us.  "Make it quick."
"I am Logan, a priest of the Red Knight, and this is Eddard."
"Well met," I said quickly.
Logan continued,"We are embarking on a mission to wipe out a known goblin/hobgoblin bandit group that is looting, killing and taking people from the area around the village of Halfbrook.  The Mayor of Halfbrook has been seeking someone to come and help him, and we have decided to aid him."
"What's that to do with me?"
"We need a scout," I said," and you are the best one in the area."
"Thats true," she said, but her tone hadn't softened at my attempt at flattery.  Still she hadn't told us to leave.  Yet.
"May I lay it all out for you?" I asked.
When she nodded, I said, "Defenceless people are being killed, and the bandits are doing it.  It isn't right.  We want to end it.  We offer you what we've offered everyone else.  Equal share in the treasure."
She thought about it for a while." Okay, but there's something you need to know.  I do my job, I do it well.  I don't take orders and no body tells me how to do my job."
Logan seemed a little put out.  I just smiled, inwardly wondering if I've opened a can of worms.  "Agreed," I said," We can certainly live with that.  We are leaving in the morning from the Troll and Maiden."  I expect we simply caught her between jobs, or maybe she'd pissed everyone off with whom she's previously worked.  Doesn't matter.
"Agreed." she said.
We had a scout.  I was happy with that.  I think.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Songs About Death

**Warning! Contents may depress!***

As I have mentioned previously, I seldom talk about this, but a number of circumstances have crossed my path in last week or so that has got me thinking about it.  So, in order to put some of it away, I'm going to talk about it.  A little.
My first wife, may she rest peacefully, passed away some time ago.  I rarely talk about this because revisiting the emotions, even now, is difficult for me.  Reliving the events is something I rarely ever do.
But I do remember becoming somewhat obsessed by the reality of inevitable death.  This obsession, and her funeral, led me to listen to what other people were saying about death.  Through the poetry of music, the loss that death brings is heartbreaking, and seeking to understand my emotional distress, I thought I'd listen to what the others were feeling through their poetry.
I amassed quite a collection of music by assorted artists and bands.
There are the obvious songs:
Hurt, by Johnny Cash.  And When I Die, Blood Sweat and Tears.  Seasons in the Sun, Terry Jacks.  In the Air Tonight, Phil Collins.  Painted Black, Rolling Stones.  Green Green Grass of Home (I can't remeber the artist).
Pink's Who Knew is beautiful song about the loss of a lover.
Wallflowers One Headlight is a lovely song in Cohenesque style.  Beautifully put together.  I think the song is about suicide.
Rush's Afterimage which opens with the powerful line "Suddenly you were gone, from all the lives you left your mark upon.."  In many ways the song, memories of the time they had together mirrored my own.
Frank Mill's If You Love Me Love Me Love about an old man who sang about his loss until the day he died (I, in romantic fashion, though of myself as the old man, in the future, but was saved from that by my meeting The Wife).
Emerson Drive's Moments If this song means nothing to you, I have to wonder if you have lived.  Its not a song about death, per se, but about the contemplation thereof.
Brad Paisley and Allison Krauss Whiskey Lullaby:  I can't even describe the depth of this song.  Its heart wrenching. Like Moments I cried when I first heard it.
Live's Lightning Crashes.  I first heard this song on the cult TV show Strange Luck.  Powerful, emotional, and a statement on the circle of life, and death.
Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue's Where the Wild Roses Grow.  From Nick Cave's The murder Ballads Album.  A must hear, and by far the best song on it.  About murder.
Alannah Myles The Last Time I Saw William.  About the senseless tragedy of man's life who could have been so much more.  "I saw love, loss, and loneliness in the corner of his eye, I never did see William cry."
Loreena McKennit's version Carrighfergus. A lament from a dying man who would rather be with his love, who I think is dead.  It explains the Marble Stones as black as ink line.
Sarah Mclachlan has written many, but she has two I consider more beautiful than the others.
Drawn to the Rhythm.  A song about suicide, the first two verses explain the emotions, but the last explains the result.  At the risk of getting in trouble with Nettwerk, the last verse is:
In the still and the silent dawn, another day is born.
Washed up by the tireless waves, body bent and torn,
In the face of the blinding sun, awake only to find,
That heaven is a stranger place than the one I left behind...
But the most beautiful and emotionally charged song for me on the subject is Ben's Song.  From her first album Touch.  There is no substitute for her subdued piano and purity of voice in the song.  It is a powerful lament, or a dirge, and one, that for me, is the ultimate on the subject.  It is still hard for me to listen to, but again, at the risk of offending Nettwerk and the artist who penned it,  I'm going to give the entire lyrics.

On the hills of fire the darkest hour
I was dreaming of my true love's pyre
Who will bring a light to stoke the fire
Fear not for you're still breathing

On a winter's day
I saw the life blood drained away
A cold wind blows on a windless day

Hear the cry for new life the morning's flame
You were the brightest light that burned too soon in vain
Who will bring you back from where there's no return
Fear not for you're just dreaming

On a winter's day
I saw the life blood drained away
A cold wind blows on a windless day
There is a genuine sense of loss conveyed in this song, and Sarah conveys it on more than one level.  This song clearly marks her as one of the most powerful and beautiful voices in the last 25 years of music.  If you have never heard the song, you should listen to it at least once.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

The F Word At the Football

Yes, it was time to watch the cowboys in action once again.  Last home game of the season, and sitting 5th on the ladder, I gathered The Wife and jumped in the car, to see the boys play at home.

And what a game.  The home side took the game by 8 points in a grinding battle.

I had a great time, and kept Cadbury Corner alive as when I arrived, the cheering section was sorely depleted.  The 2 guys I usually cheer myself to a sore throat with weren't there.  So, it a was up to me.  And you know, I believe my cheering made a difference.  When I started, the entire bay picked up the call.  And it was on.  What a blast.

But I am left to wonder.  

Some kids near me, in their enthusiasm to see an away team's line break come to a quick end, yell things like "Kill him," or "put him down," so be it.  That's part of the fun, part of supporting the home team.  There's nothing wrong with that.  And if you happen to barrack for the other side, well, you're in hostile territory, get used to it.  But make a complaint?  Why go to the game.  You have that same right to cheer your team, and in the same manner.  I'll respect it.  I won't like it, but I'll respect it.  If you're that easily offended by it, don't go hostile home ground.  Sit in your stadium, surrounded by the people who cheer for your team.

There's also a big thing about the use of the word fuck at the game.  Not just in cheering, but in conversation, they don't want it because "football is a family event."  This fucking word comes up all the time, not just at the footy, but in shops, movies, restaurants, music and even TV.  What the fuck is the fucking problem with saying the word fuck?

You can't protect your kids from it.  They'll hear it when you're not around and will be using it themselves before the fucking age of seven.  You can't protect em.  They'll fucking hear it whether you want them to or not.

So why even try to fucking regulate it?

Is speech in this country no longer free?  I should be able to fucking the say the word whenever the fuck I want.  If you don't want to sit near 15,000 people, all saying whatever it is they're saying as is their right, then stay the fuck at home.  Put on Foxtel, and watch it on TV.  But you'll soon work out that the players say it on the field and the coaches say it in their boxes.  You can read it on their lips.  I highly doubt they are bothering to moderate their language by saying "freak."

The fucking word is part of the game.  Its part of the emotions, the thrill, and especially the disappointments. 

If you don't like the fucking word, maybe it's time you followed a different fucking sport.  Harden the fuck up, and get over it.

They should be fucking grateful it's only that word they hear.  They could instead could be listening to the tuba section of the Sydney Orchestra and smelling the local sewage treatment plant if I decide to eat 2 bowls of chilli before coming to the game.

That'll fuck em.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Eddard's Diary 6

When we reached the inn, Tia went back to her room to get ready for her shift.  I went back to Thoram.  

When I got inside, Thoram wasn't alone.  Aside from the plates surrounding him (the stacked empties numbered more than a dozen), the amount of food had seemed not to change, and he had a fresh pitcher of ale.  He was joined by Azzarak, Garrus, and another figure.  The quality of his equipment rivalled Garrus'.  He was built more like me, Thin, yet strong looking, and intelligence shone from his eyes.

Thoram smiled when he saw me, but it was Garrus who spoke first,"Eddard, I'd like you meet Logan.  He's a strategist that my father was kind enough to loan to me indefinitely."

"Well met, Sir Logan," I said, taking him for knight for his manner was impeccable was he stood to greet me," I am glad to have you with us."

"Well met, indeed, Eddard, but I am no knight.  I am a priest of the Red Knight."  The Red Knight was the right hand to Tempus, the strategist to the Fury of the God of War.  It was then I saw his Holy Symbol.  I was a little embarrassed. 

I nodded as I took my seat.

Logan began,"Before we begin on our mission, I thought we should put together a list of skills of the Party members." He consulted some notes.  "Thoram is a fighter, and handy with an axe.  Garrus is a knight, trained in the use of sword and shield."  When I nodded, he asked me,"and you?"

"I am a good fighter, trained in shortblades, and I am a fair shot with the bow.  I have most of the usual paladin abilities, including that mysterious hesitation by those who have given themselves to evil, giving me a slight advantage in combat.  But I do not heal, nor will I be able to invoke Mystra's name against undead.  I am an inquisitor, a paladin trained for combat against rogue mages."  I kept my voice down as I said the last, for while knowledge of my order was uncommon, those that needed to know knew, and I didn't want them to know I was here.

He nodded, making notes.

Suddenly from dark corner of the room, there was a crashing sound of a stone mug smashing to pieces and noise of wood being dragged across the flagstone floor.  Ulf struggled to his feet, looking confused and a little under the weather.  "Mornin'.. oh shit..."  He somehow stumbled to a cleaning bucket, toppling a couple of chairs in process.  The sound of retching followed.

When he finally stood, colour had returned to his face, but his voice was like gravel.  "Barkeep! Hair of the Dog! Ha, Ha, Ha!"  The last 'ha' was more of croak.  He sat down at our table, smelling like someone pissed up the brew he consumed last night, maybe it was him.  "Garrus, who's your friend?"

"He's a priest of the Red Knight." Garrus said.  I don't know if he was slightly repulsed by Ulf's display, or amused.  I hadn't learnt to read him yet.  "He'll be travelling with us."

"Cool.  Hey Eddard," He said looking around,"You remember that pair of tits last night?  I can't remember who she is.  So much of last night is an alcohol haze,  maybe it was her," he said, sizing up a barmaid,"No couldn't be, they look too small."

"Ulf," I said.

"Eh?" His hair of the dog arrived.  He gulped it, made a face, shook, saying,"Ahh, that's more like it."  And indeed, he did look better.

"This man wants to know your skills."  I said and ordered more watered wine.

"I drink.  I fight. I wench," He roared with laughter.  His hair was long, in the Northern Style, a barbarian through and through.  His massive chest shoved the air out his lungs with each laugh. He wore a longsword, and a spear and daggers galore.  He also had a bow.  I noticed Logan didn't miss any of it.

"Excellent," he said, smiling," but we may be light with missile fire."

Azzarak came in through the main doors.

"A glorious morning, Tempus has smiled on us," he said, sitting down.

"Good morning, Azzarak." I said, and turned to Logan," He is a priest of Tempus.  And an excellent fighter."  I had figured that much out after last night.  My drink had arrived, and I took a sip.

Logan took it all down. "Is that everyone?"

I nodded. 

"Hmmm.  We'll need a scout before we can do this.  I'll be back later, I need to see who is available."

All business.  I guess that's Logan.

It was after lunch before he returned.  I think its fair to say that the only time I saw Thoram without a plate in front of him was when he went to the bathroom.  Ulf spent the time sizing barmaid's bosums.  He didn't recognise them, however even when she served him his lunch.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Eddard's Diary 5

I awoke to brilliant sunshine streaming in my window.  My first good night's sleep in a week.  The suite was on Rygor, so I ordered breakfast and took it in my room.  Eggs, bacon, fresh bread and watered wine.  I was pleased with myself and the world.  I lost a fight last night, true.  I also probably made an enemy.  But, in the end, I prevented a crime, more serious than murder in my opinion, from occurring.  And that meant much to me.

Lighthearted I went down to the taproom.  At the bottom of the stairs,  I looked at the remains of the previous night's revelry.  Bodies and vomit lay strewn all over the floor.  The inn's staff was already hard at work, shooing the revellers out, or waking for breakfast and hair of the dog.

In a clean corner, I saw Thoram already seated.  Ulf and Azzarak were no where in sight.  Thoram was almost invisible behind mountains food, and neatly stacked to one side, empty plates.  Last night's late feast had no visible impact on his appetite.

"Eddard, Good morning.  Tia was looking for you," he said amiably, full of good spirits.  I supposed his capacity for drink outweighed the possibility of a hangover.  Or maybe it was simply legendary Dwarven constitution.

"Tia?" I didn't know the name.

"The woman you saved from that barbarian last night.

Oooh, that Tia. "Where is she now?"

"She had to go out."

I looked around.  There was no sign of Ulf or Garrus.  I turned back to Thoram.  "I think I'll go look for her," I said rising.

"If the others show up, I'll let them know," said the dwarf.

After inquiring with the innkeeper, I learnt that Tia was at a morning service of thanks at a nearby Temple devoted to Chauntea.  It was only a few minutes walk from the Inn, and was a major temple in the area.  I decided to go for walk.

I arrived at the temple.  The scent of a rich earthy garden filled my nostrils even before the temple grounds came into sight.  The service, led by the priests dressed in the plain brown robes of Chauntea, were leading the worshippers.  Planting, gardening, weeding, and praising their Goddess.

I was familiar with the religion, but I am a servant of Mystra, and so decided not to interrupt.  I watched the service with some interest, and waited for its conclusion about an hour later.

As the service wound down, I looked for Tia, and approached her.  In daylight, and up close, I could see very clearly the beauty that shone from within her.  Before I could engage her in conversation, I was intercepted by a priest.

"An offering for the Goddess?" he asked holding a seed and a small garden shovel.

I honoured the Deity into whose temple I strode.  I planted the seed, with sombre reverence.  When I finished, I said," My name is Eddard, of Mystra.  I have actually come to speak with Tia, a member of your flock."

He smiled at me, and let me pass.  I caught up with her.

"Hey Tia.  I heard you were looking for me."  Her beauty had not faded up close, but instead became more enchanting.  She is tall, brown haired but with shining green eyes.  She wasn't slim but she also wasn't fat.  The extra weight only enhanced her curves.  It was then I realised she wasn't alone.  She had a daughter with her.

"You didn't have to come all the way out here," She said," I just wanted to thank you.  For last night."

"You don't have to thank me," I said.

"But I want to.  I want to let you know that for the duration of your stay, the staff at the inn will be making special meals for you and your friend."

I wouldn't have called Azzarak my friend, I thought, I only sided with him last night,  Still, I hoped as I got know him better he might become one.  Though I knew it would take a bit to overcome his appearance.

"I got my ass kicked last night, and but for the timely intervention of Stormhammer, I would've died, and you..well.."

"You took that risk for me." she said.  There was a look in her eyes that I didn't recognise that day.  "Please accept."

"I would be honoured."  What else could I do but accept?

The wagon that the worshippers used to go to and from the temple had started to leave.  She made as if to get on it. 

"Let's walk back together." I said.

Making small talk, we walked back to the Troll and Maiden together. Tia, her daughter, and I, though I confess I barely noticed the daughter.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Eddard's Diary 4

Author's Note:  You know, this is going to take quite some time to write out.  I'm only on the second game in the writings- if that- not that I'm complaining mind.  I am learning heaps about Eddard as I write this, the whys and motives of his actions.  I am actually surprised at myself.  I am a player in the game. not the DM- so the shit that the DM throws at me I have to deal with as best I can.  I also have no prior knowledge of what that shit might be until it appears in the game.  The reactions of my character will be explained in these writings,  Using those explanations I hope to be able to play the character more realistically.  I hope to eventually catch up to the game progression, but I can't see that happening.  What you are reading is actually as I recall the games of several weeks ago.  My apologies to the DM if things aren't "quite right."  I will be writing in the first person.  Everything will be from Eddard's point of view.  What he doesn't see, won't be written about.  And now, I've delayed the this installment long enough...

"Sir Garrus!" Said the dwarf again,"The deputy myor of Halfbrook told me you were going to help.  I want to know how you intend get my stuff back."

"Your stuff?" Sir Garrus, asked.

"My name is Thoram, I am an armour merchant, and I was in Halfbrook when it was raided.  I was assured, before staying in the village that my gear was safe.  Needless to say, it wasn't.  They assured me they did everything possible during the raid.  What I saw was the two militiamen hiding while the goblins ran rampant.  I am offering a reward."

"Ahhh, Thoram, I..."

"I need it, I was entrusted with its sale.  Weapons and armour..."

"Thoram, you mean to tell me that Dwarven weapons and armour have been taken by the bandits?"

I sank in my chair a little at the news.  That was bad.  Dwarven gear was good quality.

"I am assembling a crew to do just that," said the nobleman," but its not going to be easy."

I looked at the dwarf.  For all his size, he looked strong.  I interrupted,"Actually, the best way to get your stuff back is to get it yourself."

The conversation stopped.  Everyone at the table was looking at me. 

"Besides," I continued," you'll need to identify your stolen goods. Why not come with us?"

The conversation went back and forth for bit, but somehow he agreed.

I think I impressed Garrus.  "That makes four," he said.

"I can get another," I said rising. 

I went to Ulf's table.  I thought him a capable fighter.  He was drunk, but he had a barmaid in his lap, a breast in his mouth, and a hand on the other.

"Ulf," I said.  "Ulf, I have proposition."

The breast popped out of his mouth," Oh hey, Eddard."

"We've got some fightin' to do!"

"Fighting?" It almost looked like some sobriety returned to him. "What's it pay?"

"An equal share if the loot and the dwarf," I made a vague gesture to our table," had offerred a reward if we can get his goods."

He checked his purse.  It looked light to me. "When do we leave?"

"I don't know." I replied.  "You in?"

He looked mournfully at his purse." See you tomorrow."

I took that as a yes. "I'll leave you to a most impressve pair."  I smiled as I returned to the table.  "Five," I said sitting down.

"Six actually," said Garrus," I have.. a friend that will be coming."

The dwarf, during my fairly short conversation with Ulf, had already obtained several plates of food and was busy eating them.  I ordered another drink, my final for the night.  Mulled wine.  I never drank much, preferring a clear head and fast reflexes, but I had been drinking more than usual.

Young Redhand told me his story.  The second son, he wasn't goig to inherit, and tired of house sitting while his father and brother rode off to war, getting the glory, decided to do something about it.  He made a deal with his father.  He would forego any claim on the estate to be able to make his own way.  His father agreed.  He would go, and make no further claim.  I did notice that Garrus' equipment was of excellent quality.  I also expected him to have a pouch full of gold, or maybe platinum.

I went up to the suite.  It's opulance was impressive.  And it was fully staffed.  I did one final thing before bed. I had a hot bath.  First one in 7 days.  By Mystra, it felt good to be clean.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Eddard's Diary pt. 3

"HOLD! Your life depends on his!"  I couldn't see him, but I heard the voice of the Black sword wielder.

The dagger stopped a hair's breadth from the throat of the half-orc.  The fighting fury behind the eyes of the mercenary went out like oil lamps in the storm.  But the raw hatred that fueled it never left.

"You've won.  Leave it at that!  Take your men," the contempt in his voice was unmistakable,"and go!  NOW!"

The Mercenary, struggling to maintain any dignity, did as ordered.

I blacked out, unconscious.

I came to under the healing hands of priest of Tempus, going by the Holy Symbol visible on the man's armour.

"Please join me at my table." It was more like a command than a request, but the big warrior was smiling, and friendly.  I took him up on his offer.  The half orc was already seated, somewhat in awe of the man.  "I am Rygor Stormhammer."

The half-orc said, "I am Azzarak."  And then they turned to me.

"I am Eddard, of Mystra," I said, a little overwhelmed by the sheer force of the man's personality.

He laughed, "By Tempus, I never would have believed the two of you to have such fight, and you nearly took him down!  A great fight to top off a great victory!"  He heaved a great big jingling bag of coin onto the table."  Barkeep!  Drinks for all, until the bag is empty!  Spoils of war!"

Cheering erupted in the inn as the bar was overwhelmed by people ordering drinks.

"That man has spoiled many a good night.  And no one stood up to him.  But you two!  Tempus!  I offer you the use of my suite for night."

I wasn't proud.  I was footsore and fight weary.  It sounded great.  I accepted immediately. 

The half-orc politely declined, claiming it would interfere with his morning rituals.  I shrugged.  I wasn't comfortable around half-orcs anyway.  Though his motive for getting involved was noble, I had to consider who he was versus what he did.  His refusal suited me.

"Drink my friends, drink!"

He showed Azzarak his blade, by request.  "This is Stormhammer, a holy Relic of Tempus.  I took it in battle from its last holder, killing him in combat.  I used the blade to great effect in many combats, but I did get it identified, and took it to a temple.  They told me it was mine, and to keep it."

The half orc studied the blade, in more awe than before.  "May I handle it?"

At Rygor's nod, he lifted the blade, ugly features obviously radiating something resembling ecstasy.

The Squire returned, with the son of Baron Redhand.

"Sir Garrus," roared Stormhammer.

I turned to see a well muscled man, in shining plate mail make his way over to the table.  I stood up to greet him formally, but he was intercepted.  "Sir Garrus,"  said a thin man.

"Deputy Mayor," He replied, stopping a feet from the table.  Even over the noise of the celebration of victory, I was close enough to hear the conversation.

The deputy mayor said,"Are you ready to help us as you promised?"

"I will help, and in fact, my next meeting is to discuss, in part, just that.  Rest assured, sir, I will assist the village,  A Redhand keeps his word.  I will speak to you further, tomorrow."

The deputy mayor, perhaps because he needed Redhand, opened his mouth to say something, but changed his mind mid breath and instead nodded and let Sir Garrus through.  I shook hands with the nobleman before he took his seat.  Stormhammer made introductions around the table.

Garrus got right down to business.  "What is it that you hope to find at the fort?"

I told him why I was sent to the area, about the suspicions of the Temple.  I wanted to keep a low profile for the moment, but being that he was a noble from the immediate area, I also felt obligated because of my position, to be honest.

Throughout my abbreviated explanation, he nodded, or asked the occasional question.  When I was done, he said, "I can help you.  But I need you to help me."  He was matter-of-fact in tone.

I was a bit surprised, "How so?"

"There is a village about a day and a half from here, it's called Halfbrook.  A gang of humanoid bandits have taken to raiding the village and its surrounds.  The area has been looted, valuables taken. Livestock and people have gone missing.  They need help, but village is, apparently, outside claimed land of any nobility and because of that, they won't help.  Neither my father no the Baron to whom my family thinks the village belongs will assist as both warrior pools have been depleted because of the war, with men stationed elsewhere.  The village militia is completely inadequate to the defence of the town, let alone mount any kind concentrated effort to purge the bandits."

"A noble conflict!" bellowed the half-orc,"To save the innocent and engage in just combat.  Here is Honour!  This will add to the Glory of Tempus, I will help you."

I wouldn't have phrased it quite that way, but I did agree, more or less, with the half-orc.  Still, I had been ordered on a mission.  I had to make sure I could carry it through.

"I help you.  You help me, agreed."  I said.

"But we will need more people," said Garrus musing.

Just then, and if on cue, a Dwarf approached.  He was 4 foot tall and nearly 6 foot wide, made his way to the table.

Friday, 17 August 2012

An open letter to Automobile manufacturers in the Australian market:

Dear stockholders, directors, owners, and designers (you know who you are),

What did you do?  What happened?

Australian cars used to be cool.  Used to be.  the monaro, the valiant, the XB coupe.

Today's list is all about front wheel drive hatches, with the odd front wheel drive sedan thrown in.  Or about big fuel drinking four door sixes that are too heavy, too thirsty, and too expensive to appeal to the average fun seeking driver.

Hatches.  Hate em.  The bubble back to me is ugly, and four doors?  Why the Hell would I want four doors?  I do not encourage passengers.  They only distract me from driving.  Or complain.  I don't want to hear it.  If I had four doors, I'd have to have a 1000w stereo system so I couldn't hear em go on and on about shit I don't to hear.  And certainly there is no new car being made with a stereo that will do this for a reasonable price.

So basic design is going down the toilet.

What about the necessary?  Car pundits are claiming the manual transmission is on its way out.  What?  Sports autos are autos.  It took me years before I learnt the stick.  I can only say now that I wish I had done it years ago.  The control.  The thrill.  The working of gears.  Twenty years of driving autos was 20 years denying myself the true driving experience.  I will admit I was idiot.  I wasted 20 years of my life driving automatics when I could have been having fun.  Ignorance breeds stupidity.  I hope you all know how to drive manuals.  If you don't, learn.  And flappy paddles on the wheel don't precisely replace the stick.  Even the Top Gear guys have said that.

The rear wheel drives are dying off.  What?  You want to make cheap cars, but you kill the rear wheel drive.  Chrysler went back to the rear wheel drive for one simple fact.  Its cheaper to make.  Additionally, much of Australia doesn't suffer from ice and snow, conditions which can, admittedly, challenge a rear drive wheel train.

Where are the coupes?  All over Japan, North America, you can get a coupe.  In Australia?  They are there, but they're rare.  And the bulk of them are crap.  Also, "coupe styled hatches" (Barina Spark, Civic, Veloster)  are NOT coupes.  They are hatches.  Stop wasting money on advertising that claims otherwise.  That money could be better spent bringing real coupes into the market.  I might be calling a spade a spade, but how stupid do you really think we are?  A coupe has a proper boot.  A coupe is impractical, but that's sort of the point.  Impractical sells.  Look at the Mazda MX5.

Okay, so maybe I'm insane.  Maybe the Australian market doesn't like coupes.  Or maybe you've biased the marketing.  Maybe its just been cheaper for you not bother with the coupes in the Australian market.

Kudos to Subaru and Toyota for developing the BRZ/86.  But the price, over 30k?

Would it be so expensive to send some Altima or Accord Coupes down here?  They are as common as blades of grass in other markets.  But they aren't sold here.

You guys can save us. Please.  It can be done.  Lest Australia be cursed forevermore with the eyesore that is the hatchback.  It doesn't have to be difficult, unless you make it so.

I know that my next car will likely be used, because a good coupe I can afford isn't available in Australia new, and the truth is, I don't  expect it to change.  By the way, I'm 42, and my perferred body style remains the coupe, it's been that since I was 14.  It'll be that way until I'm dead.




Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Diary of Eddard Pt. 2

A commotion in the corner of the inn's common room drew my eye.

A powerful looking barbarian had taken a barmaid and held her forcefully on his lap.  It was her cries of protest that drew my attention.  The rest of the inn, from staff to customer's were ignoring the scene.  Even as I stood up, one other in the common room stirred.

I had seen him come in.  Hood up, face well hidden, I assumed him to be just another warrior, and because of that, dismissed his presence.  He moved into the scene even before I rose from the table.

"Stop!" He said, throwing off his hood.  The man wasn't tall, but heavily muscled.  Chain mail armour added bulk to his size.  Then the light allowed me to look at his face.  Noticeable Orc features decorated it.  Half-Orc?  "She is unwilling.  There is no honour in that."

Unlike the crowd of inn, I could not ignore the scene.  It turned my stomach to think that someone would take an unwilling woman.  I felt it necessary to intervene as well.  A quick size up of the opponent, however, and I knew that certainly alone, I would get my ass kicked.  Turned out I wasn't alone, but even so, I doubted our chances.

"Do you know who I am?" asked the barbarian with a sneer.

"I don't care," I replied quickly.

"There is honour in battle.  The fight is worthy.  So Tempus says.  This is not battle.  This is not worthy."

"Spoils of war," The barbarian replied, laughing.  The woman cried out as he kissed her, violently and without care.  He made a motion and several men, dressed similarly to him rose.

I then knew him for a company commander.  Doubly cautious, I was still compelled to act.

A big man pushed through the crowd as the mercenary commander rose.  "Anyone interferes will die," he said, brandishing a massive sword, with a blade the colour on night. 

I heard the half-orc cast a spell.  As the mercenary cast aside the woman, roughly.  He laughed again, "Don't go anywhere.  I won't be long."  He leered.

The half-orc hit him.  Hard.  I think the mercenary was surprised by the hit, and shook his head to clear it.  He took a swing back, barely missing.

I got the girl out of harm's way.  I told her, as the sound of another hit on the mercenary seemed to echo around the room, "stay here, you'll be safe."

The half-orc landed another massive hit, but the light of combat lit his eyes.  He didn't seem to feel it.    He swung for a third time, a wild blow that didn't touch the half orc.

The next swing of his connected, and the half orc staggered.  Even though I had flanked  the mercenary, I missed my first swing.  I wasn't trained in brawling.  The half-orc hit him again, another massive blow.  Then I landed one, and the mercenary commander looked as though he was starting weaken.

The mercenary, desperate now, looked for an opening in the half-orc's guard.  Even has he took his fifth hit,  the half-orc's swing left his face unguarded.  The mercenary took full advantage, and hit the half-orc hard.  The light left the half-orc's eyes as fell, spinning to the floor, unconscious.

He turned to face me, and swung.  I took a hard hit that sucked the wind from my guts, spoiling my aim as my own hit went wide.

His next swing missed me as I popped him one in the belly.  He hit again, a step forward uppercut that caught my chin and lifted me off the floor to land flat on my back.  I wasn't unconscious, but I couldn't move.

The mercenary whipped out a dagger and moved on the unconscious half-orc.

Monday, 13 August 2012

The Diary of Eddard Feldicar: Entry One, part one

It had been about eight days.  Eight days of constant walking, but I knew I was only about a day from Hill's Edge, and my meeting with the temple contact there to discuss the situation in and around the Reaching Wood.  Goblins and hobgobins had banded together en mass to to raid the settled communities in and around the wood.

The temple believes this rare occasion of cooperation to be the work of spell casters acting with malicious intent.  They sent to investigate.  Not to engage, investigate.  Fresh out of training as I was, they believed the powers at work to be above my ability to dispatch.

Which left me with the walk to Hill's Edge.  I had to walk, I couldn't afford a horse.  I briefly wondered if every paladin started without a mount.

And then, footsore as I was, I came across an inn, at about the halfway point between Hill's Edge and the crossroads.  Nightfall was still a few hours away, but the clouds were gathering, and the first drops of rain fell from the sky.  A storm was brewing, and the darker it got, the more inviting the structure became.  I thought a hot meal, and a dry bed was my best option. and quit the road.

Already there were people everywhere, and the storm was likely to bring more in.  I entered the smoky, though cheerily lit tavern room.  People, mercenaries and fighters mostly were singing and drinking.  There was a celebration already long in progress.  I found a vacant seat at the bar without  upending a single full drink.  The mood was clearly jovial, and more than one person slapped me on the back good naturedly proclaiming "The war was over."

I pondered this over a hot mulled wine to warm myself up.  I went over to a Northern barbarian, bought him and ale and got the whole story.  He was big strapping man, blond and wild, and armed to the teeth.  He spoke to me between ogling the bar wenches and drinking ale.  I learnt his name was Ulf.

"Two nights ago, their fort was taken," he said,"they scattered to the forest, and all that's left is clean up.  We are victorious!"  As he made the pronouncement,  a number of fighters nearby took up the call.

I had my doubts, and thought that even if the goblin incursions had stopped, it may well be only the beginning for troubles in the area.  I needed to get to what was left of the fortress.  I wanted to see this for myself.

I stood up and drew the attention of those nearby.  " I would like to go to this fortress and see this defeat for myself.  I believe that this is nowhere near over. Who would like to come with me?"

Naturally, my request was greeted with jeers.  "What for?"  "Everything worth taken we took."  "No point in going back!"  Those were the nicest comments.  There were many more, not so nice.  The appeal was almost useless.  Almost because a squire did manage to make himself heard over the catcalls.  "Sir, my lord would to talk to you."

He was greeted with snide comments and snickers.  Being a squire, apparently, isn't considered a manly profession to the roughnecks and mercenaries that populated the inn.  I ignored them.

"And who is your lord. sir?"

"Son of Baron Redhand."

"I would be delighted," I replied.

The squire bowed and the room, to more jeers and snickers.  I went back to my table.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

A Driving History 14: The 89 Honda Prelude

That's my car.  All the right lines in all the right places.  Add a sports exhaust and sub for a doof and that's my car.

She generates 100kw (144hp) from a 2.0 litre fourpot, 0-100kph (0-60mph) in about 9 secs on a 5 speed manual.  The car is surprising comfortable for me to drive, now that I'm used to the stick, I don't like driving automatics anymore.  There was a time in my life when I believed I could achieve as much or more control of a car in an automatic.  I know now this to be complete and utter bullshit. Just quietly, manufacturers, don't ditch the stick.  Somehow it makes driving real.  She has 381000 kms on the clock, and still runs strong.  Given her 23 years of age, the coupe has a few small problems- but nothing that has thus far interfered with its drivability- except for a fuel pump that shit itself and died.

There are 2 very particular things about this car.  Back in 87, when the gen 3 prelude was introduced to the market, it accomplished something amazing.  In the slalom, it defeated all comers, including supercars.

It also something that no other car has: fully mechanical 4 wheel steering.  Other front wheel drives have 4 wheel steering, but only this generation prelude has fully mechanical 4 wheel steering.

Recently, this car made the top 25 Japanese collectible cars list.

Why do I say that?  So I can claim I drive a collectible car.  As war marked as she surely is.

So when I roar up in town, I do feel a little like Peter Falk's Columbo- The car is a beat up, and I'm in fashionably rumpled pants (too damn hot for a rumpled raincoat).

I love this car, in case that's somehow not clear.

Even for a car of this age, it handles beautifully.  I take this regularly on the Gillies highway.  This pass in 20km long and loaded with hairpins, blind corners and other challenges.  There's also three distinct passing sections.

Put this car on the downhill and its truly superb.  The uphill, however, does demonstrate its lack of power.

I bought this car down Brisbane way.  I flew down with The Wife, got picked up at the airport by the sellers mom, driven to the car, test drove it (took The Wife's word for it being a good car) and promptly bought it on the spot.  Drove it all the way back.  The Wife had to do most of the driving though.  I wasn't confident or even competent with a stick.

But we enjoyed the car.  And the Drive.  After the fire, I had moved into a rental in town and parked it on the street.. Some cocksucker came along and kicked the rear fender of my car by the gas tank access,  put a big ass dent in it, cracked the paint, the whole nine yards.

I called the cops, made them come out and attend the scene.  They basically told me there was nothing they could do.  Whatever.

If I should ever learn who, I'll willingly put one more dent in my car.  I have yet, after all, to get the body work done.  Today, she needs some significant exterior cosmetic work done.  There's also niggling electric issues for the accessories.

But I turn the key.  She starts up.  And she's fun as hell to drive.  This is my favourite car on my list to date.

But I do recognise that I will have to replace it.  When the lawsuit settles, I'm giving myself up to $15000 to buy.  Even though this is years away, I'm already looking.

You know my driving history.  What do you think I might buy?  Should someone actually pick the one of three cars I'm seriously considering, I'll send you keys to my car.  I'll get it cut and mail it to you.  Just to be clear.  You don't win the car.  You win a key.  To guess, leave a comment.

Backstory: Eddard Feldicar

from the records regarding active members of the order of paladins of the Temple of Mystra, Waterdeep

Born Eddard to Tasha Feldicar nee Deshkin and Ilvaz Feldicar 19 years ago.  Ilvaz was a longtime priest of the temple, an adventurer of some success.  Tasha was a practising mage of the same party. After sharing adventures for some time, they fell in love and the union produced their only known offspring, Eddard.

At the tender age of 4, his parents, retired from the adventuring life, left the child in the care of the temple, to take care of "unfinished business."  They haven't been seen in Waterdeep since.

(note:  Because of the passage of time, his parents are presumed dead, whatever called them away from their only son remains a mystery to the temple.  Their assets, in accordance with the will registered in the temple records, written just before they left (perhaps they knew the risks of what they were facing), were to be claimed by the temple to offset the cost of rearing and educating their son. Also, in accordance with their wishes, knowledge of the circumstances of their disappearance, as little as it is,  was to be denied to him until he came into his own)

Because of Eddard's parentage, and the terms of the taking of assets, the temple invested time and education into the child in the hopes that he would become a mage.  Sadly, he lacked the intellectual capacity to become a mage of great talent.  But because he showed remarkable dexterity and and talent for weapons, the Mystran order of Paladins undertook his training by the age of 8.

His attack speed, and will with the blade had him squired to the small, little known order of Mystran Inquisitors.  These paladins are trained specifically to deal with rogue mages who use magic to enslave, control, or destroy for personal gain.

"Magic is meant to serve man and not to Rule over him"  So reads the sign into the commanding Inquisitor's quarters.  This is the first rule of the doctrine that guides the Inquisitors in their appointed tasks.

His formal training ended one month past.  He was shortly sent on assignment, as rumour has spread that the recent humanoid incursions from the Reaching Wood are being directed by a Cabal of evil spell casters.  Eddard, fresh from training, was sent on the journey to investigate.  The last of his parents assets were used to equip him and he sent with enough provisions and money for 3 weeks.  The understanding was to investigate and report, not to engage.

He was to meet a Mystran agent in Corm Orp two weeks ago.  Thus far, he has failed to arrive at his destination.  It is presumed that he has stumbled upo something enroute, and at the moment, is undertaking the investigation.  It is too soon to assume some evil has befallen him, and we await word from our man in Corm Orp before undertaking further action.  We are watching the situation closely.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Proofs of my Personal Creedo

I had 2 very critical, and very cynical maxims when I was driving cab so many years ago.  Today, in spades, the first was proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt.

I believe, as cynical as they are, my actions as a result of this statement may have saved my life at least once, possibly twice in the cab.

My first, and most critical maxim was "people are stupid."  This is a broad generalisation.  Please don't it personally, and bear in mind, it doesn't apply to absolutely everybody, or necessarily, yourself.

I work as a traffic controller for areas where roads are under construction.  Today, it was highway work.  Now, we had one lane blocked off for construction vehicle access, and to provide a buffer for the public, so that they are not put at risk by things like reversing equipment into traffic.  And for the workers, to minimise their risk of exposure to people who race through the zone.

Sounds good right?

I was physically standing, blocking traffic in the eastbound traffic lane.  Further ahead of me, visible in the zone was a concrete truck, a traffic control ute, and workmen working.  Blocking that same lane.

As it was my turn to send traffic through the zone, I turned my bat to slow, and directed traffic into the westbound, without moving, thereby forcing traffic into the directed lane.

Initially it was all good.  I released the vehicles and they swung into the directed lane, and I thought, no worries.  They'll be right.


Without exception, every single car, there was around ten, went back into the eastbound lane despite the obvious obstruction further up the road.  The senior traffic controller had to redirect them back into the westbound lane to get around the vehicles.

Once again proving...

People are stupid.

Further evidence of this all too common phenomena will be presented as it is made apparent.

Maxim Number 2:  People are assholes.

I have yet to experience this phenomena directly on the worksite, but when I do, rest assured, You'll know!

I won! I won!

Kate Omara has nominated me for:


Kate,  Thank you.  Check out her awesome blog at  you won't be disappointed.

So, what is the award for?  Up and coming bloggers as:

Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing and welcome.”

I'm not sure I fit the bill, but I am honoured absolutely to receive it,  As with all awards, there is a requirement:  I have to answer some questions.  So, here goes:

1. Who is your favorite author?
George RR Martin.  Has to be, followed closely by Robert E Howard.  I haven't lost my love for his writing in thirty years.

2. What is your favorite book?
Storm of Swords, George RR Martin.  Book three of A song of Ice and Fire.
3. Do you give books as gifts? If so, how do you decide which book to give?
Usually they have to tell me they want it.
4. Who is your favorite up and coming author?
Hard to say, I haven't read a new book by a new author in quite a while.  All the up and comers are now established, and no longer qualify.
5. What music do you love?
Sarah Mclachlan.  Enigma, Basil Polidouris, Delerium, Big Wreck, Rush, Blues...  I guess the music has to be good.
6. What art do you love?
The written word, and landscapes.  I can lose myself in a decent landscape.
7. Coffee or Tea?
Does Pepsi Max count?
8. Vanilla or Chocolate?
9. Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn?
I live in the tropics now.  All I know is summer...
10. Beginning or End?
The end is often just a beginning.
11. Why do you blog?
Possibly to justify my own stupidity, but more likely to sort my shit out, and discuss things I love.
I would like to nominate 11 other blogs, but I'll have to postpone those nominations until more research is accomplished.
When Kate Blogs.  Check it out if you haven't, and thank you Kate.  I'm amazed that someone of your personal calibre has nominated me!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

The Inquitisitor Paladin

If you are not a fantasy lover or D&D geek, you may wanna pass on this post, and move on McDuff...

A while ago, I mentioned that I am something of a D&D geek.  I am not ashamed of this.  In experimenting with playing via Skype,   we discovered it was doable.  So after a one off adventure with an all dwarven party (at the end of which my character died, I sort of expected him to and, the death was epic, an explosion of violence, but the adventure was successful),  I was asked to come with a character with a solid armour class.  This, according to Second Edition rules limited my character to either a fighter or priest.

This was not at all what I wanted to play.  I wanted a mage-thief type, because I have never played one.  So I scoured the books- and I mean books- for a character type that sounded interesting.  I discovered a character type that no one in my circle has tried.  The inquisitor paladin.  My interpretation of the character is of a paladin, but with a longer leash than the typical.  He doesn't fight with the typical lance and longsword. Because he is a Paladin of Mystra, he is a fighter designed as a mage killer.  His weapon choices are selected for speed over damage- to interrupt spell casting.

He is devoted to his goddess, and the doctrine is that magic is tool for creativity and growth.  His mandate is to take care of those who would use it to enslave, conquer or destroy.

The beauty of this is it gives Eddard- named for Eddard Stark from the book Game of Thrones by George RR Martin- a clear mission.  There are limitations.  I can't play this character like I played my favourite character of all time- Torggil, an almost insane priest of Tymora (goddess of luck)- who was as evil as he was good, and was played genuinely chaotic.  He was also weirdly successful, and remains the only campaign character of mine to take on a dragon, and win (with the help of a party, naturally).  But that was Torggil.

This is Eddard.  As a Paladin, he has restrictions.  I intend to explore their limits. 

I think for my own entertainment, I will recount selected events from the game here,  In the form of unofficial diary entries. This may help me write more, and with Justin's permission, actually pen to paper some of his incredible imagination.

I'll start with the background story, mainly because I've not written it yet, but I'll need to.  So thats next.

Thursday, 2 August 2012


Well, I like being a traffic controller.  I like being up during the day, I like working outside and away from people who would make my life miserable.

Or, at least, I think I do.

I have been working in the field now 4 weeks, but, I have only worked 12 days.

My boss says "No need for you to drive 2 hours to the worksite."  I say, I knew I'd likely be doing that when I started.  No issues for me.  So thats gotta be bullshit.  Where's the work?"

"Next week," says she.

That was last week.  I'm still waiting.

Maybe I'm being paranoid, but I wonder if I have done something wrong.  I'm new. I''ve made the odd error.  So has everyone when they are new.  No cars have been wrecked, and no one's been hurt.  So what the fuck?

If don't work, I'll never be good.  Simple as that.  I need the experience.

I have never been to the worksite late when I have been in charge of my own transport.  I am usually early.  I have also never knocked back any work, regardless of distance travelled to and from on my own time.

When I asked about work this week, she again says, "next week."  I'm not holding my breath.

I told her if I knew I would be working in an area for prolonged periods (4-5 days) I'd rent a room to forego travel.  Right now, I rely on a day-to-day update on whether or not I'm working the next day,  I'm not going to rent a room for a week if I'm only working 2 days.  I sent that in an email. 

Naturally, she has not replied.

I'll give her one more Monday.  If I've not 4 days work, I'm gonna hafta quit.

I know, I'm whinging...