Comments made easier! Feel free to try!

Monday, 31 December 2012

Eddard's Diary: Chapter 3 (Con't)

Eddard's Really Bad Day part 1

Punching an Innocent
In the morning, after an uncomfortable night spent sleeping in the loft area of the warehouse, Wren asked me to go keep an eye on the orphanage while she and her charge lay low in the warehouse.  After what I saw last night, I knew that sending Wren  out today would be extremely dangerous as it seemed half the city was looking for her.  I knew that, by now, there would be a bounty out on her.
I changed my appearance slightly from the body guard persona.  I wore one short sword, instead of the pair, and carried the short bow.  I muddied my cloak and wore it with the hood up to conceal my identity.  Not being an expert in disguise, I didn't know what else to do, so I left it at that.
I made my way to the orphanage, by a round about route.  I didn't dare take a direct route for fear that I was already being followed.  I found a wall to lean against a little ways up from the street entrance of the orphanage.  It wasn't long before I saw a mercenary type- someone I thought I recognised from Minx's the night before- walk into the place.  I waited outside, and when he came out, I followed him.  He went out to one of the caravan holding yards outside the city proper.  The area he went into was obviously rich, likely Amnite, and extremely well guarded.  I noted where this camp was.  It wasn't long, though, before the mercenary I'd been following came out of the camp and made his way back to the orphanage. 
This time, when he came out of the orphanage, he wasn't alone.  With him, was a very young girl that bore more than a passing resemblance to the girl in Wren's care.  I didn't believe the girl was a relative of his.  I believed the headmaster had sold another one, because the first had yet to be found.  This belief forced me to do something about it.  I can't stand by and allow a young girl, whose only crime was having no parents, be collected for slavery or prostitution.  I had to act.
The problem was, how?  I was alone.  No back up.  No way of getting back up.  If I merely followed, and he made it back to the Amnite Merchant's camp, I'd lose any opportunity.
I saw where they were going, into a market square.  I moved down a street, confident of their travel path and ran to get in front of them.  I came to the entrance of an alley that led back onto the main road.  I waited, catching my breath, preparing mentally.  And then they appeared, walking together up the street.  I walked out of the alley mouth, headed for the mercenary.  As I came within half a metre of him, I shoulder charged him, knocking him off his feet.  I scooped up the girl and ran.
Behind me, he was calling for help, saying I had taken his daughter.  The girl's shock at being taken was quickly wearing off and she started to fight me.  I dodged with her down side streets, I tried to tell her she was safe.  She wasn't buying it.  When I could see one else around, I clocked her one, hard enough to knock her out, if I didn't do something, the mercenary or city watch would catch me for sure, and the girl would be at the mercy of whatever fate awaited her at the hand of these slavers.  I had no choice.  I also wasn't happy about it.
I ducked into a small one room hut, grabbed an old blanket, wrapped her up in it, and took her, again by circuitous means, back to the warehouse.
I wasn't followed.  I entered the place and took her up to the loft.  I gently placed her in the blanket on the straw.  Wren was no where to be seen, but the first girl was still there.  I started to explain the situation to her, telling her what happened, when there was sound of a search party in the building. 
All I heard was," I bet the bitch we're looking for is in here."
Terrific.  I got my bow ready.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Quick Notes on Eddard's Diary

There are a few things followers of Eddard's Diary need to know. 

The most important is the idea that I'm four or five posts away catching up to the current game timeline.

The other thing to note is that Chapter 4 ends with a massive fight, and I suspect that combat will take two posts by itself to write.  I am going to try to describe it as much as is practical- but there were large portions of the fight that my character couldn't see.

I hope you are enjoying Eddard's Diary as much as I am enjoying bringing it to you.

If any of you have ideas on how Eddard's might be better presented, feel free to email or comment.

Eddard: Chapter 3 (Con't)

On The Run

As soon as that thought entered my head, I knew it was the right one.  Mystra's Tears, what did you do Wren?
I knew I had to get out of there.  But instead of leaving right away, I pretended like I found her when I entered an empty room.  I stayed there for about a minute- long enough to check in on my client.  Then I walked down the stairs, and straight out of the building, taking only a quick detour to walk past Ulf, who looked completely unaware something was up.  All I said to him was "trouble."
I walked out of Minx's.  It took a heap of effort to keep from running, but I knew that would only draw attention to me.  It wasn't long, however, before the city watch was headed past me to the festhall.  I had made my getaway.  I headed straight back to the Inn where the party was supposed to be staying.  Garrus and Logan were in the taproom with Thoram.  Of Azzarak, Wren, or Ulf there was no sign.
I did what I could to alter my appearance, and then sat with the others.  Ulf did arrive very shortly later.  No one knew where Azzarak was.  As we sat there debating our best option, a street urchin arrived and gave a note to Garrus.
"It's from Wren," he said," it's directions to a warehouse."
"Let's go," I said rising immediately.
We walked through the streets, trying not to make ourselves conspicuous because of the late hour.  As we neared the place, we were stopped by the city watch. 
"We're looking for a young half-elf female.  You seen her?"
I let Garrus do the talking.  I suspected that my presence as her bodyguard would have been noted, and the watch may soon come looking for me.
"No, we haven't," Garrus replied.
"Do be careful," the guard said,"she is a murderer and a thief.  She is extremely dangerous."
Garrus nodded, "we will."
The guard called over to his comrades,"C'mon boys, lets try over here."
As the guards moved away, Garrus said, "We need to get in here,"
I didn't see how we were going to get in, without Wren to pick the lock, but Garrus produced a key and unlocked the door.  I never asked. but the key must have arrived with the note. 
We went inside the warehouse.  It looked disused, almost derelict from the inside, but once the door shut behind us, she told us what happened.
She came across a deal being made for a 12 year old girl- being sold by a guard Sergeant named Rogan, all happening on the second floor of Mother Minx's.  She felt she had to act, to spare someone from the life she had in Amn as a slave.  Rogan was killed, and the girl taken into Wren's protective care.  According to Wren, the girl was sold by the headmaster of a local orphanage.
Committing murder to save someone from slavery, it seemed a fair trade to me, somehow.  I was just happy I got out of Minx's before they got onto me.  It was because of this, that I was nominated to stay with Wren and the child. 
I felt obligated to try to save them all from slavery, but I wondered if it was possible.
I also wondered how this little escapade of Wren's would affect our chances of rescuing the others.

Eddard: Chapter 3 (Con't)

Mother Minx's Part 2

Murder by Death
Eventually their conversation came to end, mainly because it was time for to take the stage again.
When she took the stage and began her dance, I glanced around the room to check out the crowd.  As the evening wore on, I saw more and more Amnites enter the room.
A funny thing about Amnites, their society seems to favour ostentatious displays of wealth, and the more ostentatious, the more wealthy, generally speaking.  Where a wealthy man in Waterdeep might wander the streets merely in clothes of good quality, an Amnite will wear piles of jewellery, use expensive perfumes, and surround themselves with bodyguards.
I saw one such Amnite begin to make the approach to my table.  Of his six bodyguards, only two approached with him.  I didn't rise from the table, despite his station.  He was being a supplicant to me, for something he believed I had, and I wanted him to know I knew it.  Its business, not a social meeting.
Still, he had more questions than the last.  Took far more interest in her history than I thought was necessary.  I knew Wren was an escaped slave from Amn, and I knew better than to tell him the truth.  I told him she hired me as protection.  That her last contract ended, and she left Waterdeep, believing the city had no others that would be interested in her abilities, hiring me just before leaving the city.  That's all I knew, I told him.  Other questions would have to be asked of her, for I knew not the answers.
He was a gruff, arrogant man, one used to commanding power simply because he commanded wealth.  The more I spoke to him, the less I liked him.  But I could not turn him away, or aggravate him, that would blow my cover.  He eventually left, sliding me another piece of paper for Wren to look at.
The first merchant stopped back at my table, he asked me,"Do you know what my chances are?"
I said,"That might depend on what you could tell me of the Amnites in Scornubel."
He smiled, and told me a little of the gentleman that just my table.  He said that he was in weapons as well as rarities, but that his tastes in certain things tended towards Sadism.  I nodded, not quite believing him, but then I asked him about the slave trade in Scornubel.
He said "That's illegal." 
 I said, "Okay hypothethically, if anyone traded in that commodity in town, who would it be?"
He gave a name.  "Denthos, without a doubt."
Denthos.  I had the name.  "Is he here?"
"No.  Not yet at least."
Wren's dance came to an end, and I asked him to leave me so that Wren and I could converse in private.
Well she didn't come down.  And soon I noticed bouncers making for the stairway.  As soon as I saw that, I leaped from my chair and ran to stairwell.  I asked the bouncer,"What's happening?"
"There's been a murder."
"I am a bodyguard of the dancer Shara," that was Wren's alias,"I must check to see she is okay."
He nodded slightly.  I ran up the stairs.  I didn't see her with the crowd in the hallway.  Nor did my calls of Shara get an answer. 
It was then I realized that Wren had committed the murder- most likely at least.  If I stayed much longer, I would likely be arrested as an accomplice.  Mystra's Breath!

Friday, 28 December 2012

Eddard Chapter 3 (Con't)

Mother Minx's Part 1

The Game Begins


Wren and I started by going to a dockside establishment that had a seedy reputation, but apparently too seedy.  When we approached the operator about our routine, we were told we could, but the place for us was Mother Minx's.  We wanted to appeal to wealthy Amnites, because we needed to know who of them was in the slave trade.  Minx's was where they went for entertainment, so Minx's was where we went.
The place was big, especially for Scornubel.  In Waterdeep, the place would be considered sizable.  I was somewhat taken aback by the place, but Wren was suddenly all business.  She approached the owner. 
"I want to dance here," she said to him with a smile.
"You any good?"
She gave him a two minute display, and was hired on the spot.
She told me I was to act as a filter.  She knew she would get offers from wealthy Amnites for temporary employment.  I was to select the offers that would require her attention.  As her bodyguard, my role was also to intimidate those who would approach her with other intentions.  I didn't know if I could pull that off, I mean I suppose at six feet I was tall, and fairly well muscled.  I also knew that the two swords I carried made me look dangerous, but I also knew that I was not the biggest man in the world, hells, I wasn't the biggest man in the party.  Still, maybe I was the best choice.  Certainly Ulf couldn't entirely be trusted, Garrus would give himself away- not to mention die before he was seen in a place like this- but me?  I was smart enough to pull this off, and capable enough to operate here.
We went to the main room, she told me to find a table near the front, while she would go and prepare herself for her performance.  She told me before she went upstairs that once her performance began, I wouldn't be waiting long.
She was right.  I tried to do the right thing when she was on the stage, but I have to admit, her moves and timing was exquisite.  And she was beautiful, sexy, and alluring.  I had never seen anything like it.  In the end, I could hardly take my eyes off her.
"Excuse me," said a voice that drew my attention back to the table.
I started at the sound as a very obvious Amnite came to the table.  I quickly recovered.
He continued,"Are you handling her?"
"I am not, exactly.  I'm her body bodyguard.  I handle initial contact with clients, she makes the decision as to what, if any contracts she accepts."
"I see.  I would like to hire her for a week.  I'm sure she will find the pay more that acceptable."
"I'm sure she would," he was finely dressed, and obviously wealthy, but it was early in the evening, and I suspected his would not be the only offer on the table before long.
As she danced we talked some more, he even bought me a drink- a fine, expensive spirit, but I merely sipped it, being careful not to get drunk.  The conversation turned away from the immediate business, as I enquired as to the nature of his business.  If he balked, I would merely explain that as a bodyguard, it was my duty to understand somethings about the client.  I didn't have to explain, he seemed to grasp that.
"I have a good reputation in the town, and I am not known violence or hurting those I hire.  My business is largely in weapons, and as the Goblin war draws to an end, I suspect I'll only be here for a few more weeks, I am hopeful that she may ascent to my contract so those last weeks pass pleasantly."
Indeed, we did have a great conversation, and as her dance came to an end, he rose from the table, passing his offer on a folded piece of paper across the table to me.  But by the end of the conversation, I also knew he was not the one I wished to meet.
When she came down for her break, I briefed her on him.  She agreed with me, but met with him anyway.  That would enhance her reputation as someone for hire.  I thought about the conversation I had with him, and resolved to enquire a bit more about the Amnites in general, maybe find out who was known by them to be in the slave trade.  If I could get them talking about it, I may well learn a name or two that would bear checking.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Eddard: Chapter 3 (Con't)

The Weapons Shop


Being from Waterdeep, I was used to large settlements, all the hustle and bustle.  People moving this way and that all on mysterious errands, conducting their business in the secrecy that only large crowds can give.  Being from rural areas, others were more taken aback.
I was astonished to note, Scornubel being what it is, how simple it was to enter and leave the town.  With merchant camps surrounding the place on three sides, and the river on the last, there was so much coming and going that we weren't spare a second glance upon entering the town proper.  Even though we were heavily armed, and on horseback, we entered the town without incident.
Thoram's business friend had his shop near the riverfront. We went straight there.  The shop, naturally, was run by a dwarf, and after greetings, we questioned him about any Dwarven weapons making an appearance in town. He hadn't seen a thing.
I gave the shopkeeper the armour we took off the bodyguard of the slave merchant, asking if it could be modified to fit Ulf.  This was relatively simple, but as there other orders, the refit and repair was expected to take up to two weeks.  This was acceptable, and he was paid in advance for the work, largely by trading the jewelled dagger I was using.
I was looking for a better set of short swords, given that one had already broken in combat.  All of the swords on display, while of decent quality, didn't seem to be an improvement on the one I already owned.  And then he showed me a blade, somewhat shorter than I was accustomed, with metal that seemed to shimmer in the light.  He told me it was a vermin slayer's weapon, but that the metal cold be forged for a more standard sized weapon.  I lifted it off the counter.  The balance was exquisite, and metal felt marginally lighter.  And its ethereal beauty.  I wanted them.  I thought that those weapons would definitely be for me.  He told me 120 gold.  I didn't have it, but I did give him a 40 gold deposit.  He even asked me if I wanted them inscribed.  I gave him the holy symbol of Mystra, to put both on the pommel and on the blade.
In the meantime, I purchased a serviceable short sword to replace the dagger.  I felt better fully armed.
Everyone had a good poke around his shop.  Azzarrak wanted to use his services as an armourer to reduce the cost of whatever he bought.  The shopkeep, unsurprisingly, wasn't interested.
We left the shop and went to nearby inexpensive inn, so we could plan this leg of the investigation.  Clearly, the party was going to have to split up.  Thoram and Azzarak would try to find work using their "talents," I suspected that would  mean working the docks as labourers, certainly in Azzarak's case.  Wren and I would work as a team.  She was playing the of a high cost dancer, and I was to be her bodyguard.
But what we would learn would set everything everything spinning out of control.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

How the Klutz Killed Christmas

Or.. Slaughtering the Spirit of the Season
Or.. What Not to do at Christmas

There's a lesson here I'm sure.  Too bad I'm an idiot.

You see. it started yesterday, with an accident.  I wasn't the one who caused it, but I made the situation worse.

We were using a somewhat iffy table to have our Christmas tree in the window shining out over the driveway.  Near the table was a fridge and freezer.  In searching for the Christmas ham in the freezer, my wife bumped the table and the leg gave way.  This smashed a couple of porcelain cookie jars, but it didn't collapse the table.

I decided to help.  I noticed the power cords for the tree slung over the curtain rod.  I thought this was a bad thing, so I went to grab the tree.  I lifted it off the half collapsed table, not realising there were gifts under it.  These were more porcelain cookie jars to complete the collection and were for my wife.  Naturally, the tree was only thing holding them up, removing the tree meant they too smashed to the floor.

Well, it went to shit from there.

To make matters worse, on an extremely limited budget, I bought her a gift that I thought she would both appreciate and use, completely forgetting that we had already obtained one several months back.  I had forgot because I rarely ever see it.

She did extremely well.  Gave me a gift that I will always treasure, and one I am proud to call mine.  If I ever get another desk job, its going to occupy a prominent place on my desk.

I singlehandedly destroyed the Christmas spirit at my house, as completely as if I'd shot it repeatedly with a tommy gun.

Sometimes I wonder why my wife still stays with me, and I'll wager she's wondering why too if the silence tonight is any indication.

She's been with me ten years.  Christmas and I have never really gotten along, and I have never learnt from my Christmas mistakes.  I suck at it.  I always have; its my worst holiday.  I'm much better at national holidays, where independence or nationhood is celebrated.  Or Halloween.  Or Thanksgiving- though I moved to a country that doesn't celebrate it.  If I have a bit of cash, I'm even good at Valentines day.

But Christmas?

Bah, Humbug.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Eddard: Chapter 3 (con't)

Rude Awakening


Whatever was going on, it was serious.  After explaining to us that she was forced to kill the garrison commander, she showed us the documents.
They showed clearly that Garrus' father, the Baron Redhand, was involved in the slavery ring.
Garrus was the first to voice his disbelief.  I was quick to follow.  These papers ran opposite to everything I knew about how Redhand ran his territory.  His followers and even is people loved the man too much  They were too loyal to him.  This had to be a fabrication.  The question was, why?
We decided there and then to make or next stop Castle Redhand.  We marched as quick as we could to his castle.  It was more of a fortified manor house.  His was a minor holding.  A full castle was too much to expect.
When we arrived, we discovered that we were just ahead of the Count's Sheriff.  He had come to seek evidence of the Baron's involvement.  We attended the meeting in the Baron's hall.  It was clear that they already suspected him, and were going to pin the slavery on him, true or not.
We met with his father immediately following that meeting.  We showed him the evidence we collected at the depot, and told him of everything else we had accomplished.  We even showed him the map with the dates on it that we had acquired at the bandit camp.
Someone was determined to divide the baronies and destabilise the area.  Again, we didn't know why.  I suspected that the people who organised the goblin war, that mysterious cabal of evil mages was behind it.  Wren believed the Amnites organised it all to conceal the slavery operation. Whatever the reason, Garrus believed that his father would not surrender his holding to anyone.  It meant war.
I wanted to prevent that, at all costs.  Whatever was going on, I became more determined that ever to put a stop to it.
His manner grew serious during the meeting.  He asked us to keep everything we had on us.  Garrus told him about our intention to go to Scornubel, to free more of the people taken from the area and he agreed.  We even managed to get horses from him.  Half trained and bit wild, but good quality.  Someone o the Baron's staff knows his horseflesh.
We left the manor without further adieu, knowing that the Sheriff would soon be marking everyone coming and going from the house.  We needed to be gone.  Our time was limited, we believed that the slaves would eventually be shipped downriver to Baldur's gate and then onwards to Amn.  We still had to discover how and when they'd be moved. 
Scornubel wasn't Waterdeep.  Even so, the traffic going through the town made it one of the richest in Faerun, and finding them in that movement would be akin to getting the needle out of the haystack.  A tall order.
We weren't going into the city completely blind.  Thoram knew a Dwarf who ran a weapons shop down near the waterfront, and since we also wanted to locate his weapons and armour, we thought we may as well start there.
It was a three day ride to Scornubel, and despite all the warnings, it was an uneventful trip.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Surviving the Apocalypse

My Choose Your Own Apocalypse  Blogfest entry

So what have I done to ensure my survival to fast coming apocalypse? 

I uprooted myself from my homeland to move to the most geologically stable continent on the Planet.  I have, therefore put myself out of harms reach of earthquakes.  I reside in the lightly populated area of North Queensland in Australia, a full two hours drive from the largest city in the area, Cairns.

I have put myself behind the great barrier reef and live 900m above sea level (about 3000ft), 60 km inland, limitng the impact of both flood and tsunami.

I live in a tropical area thereby bypassing the need for heating my home, and keeping myself out of harms way for any sudden beginning to a new ice age.

Also, by living in the southern hemisphere, the trade winds will keep the bulk of the nuclear radiation away from my house, should the northern hemisphere self destruct in a series of nuclear fireballs.

By moving to an underpopulated area of the globe, I also don't expect the Aliens to bother targeting this area, they'll be after the military and nuclear powers.  Australia doesn't rank.

Geographically, I have done well.

However, the Apocalypse won't be any of those.  The way my luck runs I'll be attacked by an army of starving man eating zombies. 

If that's the case, and I'm facing down such a horde, I suspect, to quote one of the post WWIII films to come out of the eighties, the survivors will envy the dead.  In order to ensure that I do not suffer long from such unfortunate envy, I have kept myself nice and fat, to be an attractive feast for such an army.

I also hope to meet a vampire first, so that instead, I'll be commanding the horde instead of being eaten by it.  To that end, I'm using my blog to advertise for such a meeting.

If you are a vampire and are in need of a reasonably smart, problem solving lackey, be sure to contact me through this blog, so that a meeting can be arranged at your earliest convenience.

The truth is, this end of days will be probably be marked by the birth of the antichrist, or peraps its creation- either through genetic maipulation, natural evolution or even the construction of the first true computer AI.  Which means we still have time to do something about it.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Eddard Chapter Three: Raid at the Depot

We struck, as usual, at night.  Logan and I approached the depot weaving and staggering a bit, speaking with slurred words.

"Thish ya place?" Logan asked me with some pseudo-drunken trepidation.

"I don't undershtand," I said, "My housh was here this morning.."

A Hobgoblin poked his headabove the gate.

"That your wife?"

"Nahh.. my wife's uglier.  Hey!" I said staggering around a little,"who are you and what have you done with my wife?"

"You!" A human called down from the walls,"Get out of here."

"Waffor? This is my house."

"Yeah," Logan said," Who are you and what have you done with his house?"

"I want into my house! I want to speak with my wife."  I said that with all the inane billigerence of a drunken man.

"Go away," the human guard said, "you don't live here."

"Oh but I do,"  I said stumbling closer to the wall, "its my house."  And then I urinated against the wall.

"Get out of here!  Now!" and then the gate opened.

I drew my swords and jumped to the attack.  My concern was the gate.  I wanted to secure it before they could close it.  As the gate opening was the prearranged signal, the archers let fly with fire arrows.

Logan cut his man down, and I took care of the hobgoblin on the battlements.  But we had made a critical error.  We estimated about 20 enemy were here, but there was more like thirty.  Still, we carried the attack.

Garrus and Ulf charged in horseback even as the hobgoblins in the yard formed a first line.  Thoram and Azzarrak came running as fast as the could to join the fight.  Once I secured the gate, I poured oil across the front.  I didn't light it yet.

Garrus rode in and smashed the first line, I charged after him, with Ulf and Logan.  But arrows began to fall on us, as a second line was forming.  I then saw horsemen riding from the stables on the other side of the compound.

We cut down the first seven or eight quickly, but a second line of 15 was forming, egged on by human sergeants.  I took a bad arrow in the side, and fought on, hurting, and I must say not very successfully. 

About 2 minutes or so since the battle started, and 3 of us were wounded.  The battle was not going our way.  with more hobgoblins joining the archers second rank, we sounded the retreat.  And all of us pulled out of the compound.  Miracle of miracles, we didn't lose anyone during the combat.  I was the last to clear the gate, and lit the area on fire.

The party scattered, all heading back to the rendezvous point by their own ways.  It was better that way as we figured if they caught one or two of us, the others would at least get away.

And we all did eventually meet there.  No one from our side was killed.  Wren was the last to meet, but the papers she found on the leader of the fort implicated Sir Garrus' father.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Eddard Chapter 3: Adventures in Scornubel

The Depot

The morning confirmed my belief.  We were leaving to investigate the depot we spied upon earlier.  Garrus thought that we may be able to obtain evidence about the destination of the unaccounted for slaves.  I wanted to put that place out of action.  I thought that with the addition of our mercenary friends, we had a good chance of doing just that.

Tia wasn't working that morning, but I tracked her down at her room behind the Inn.

"I have to leave again," I said," we're going after the others who were taken."

"Please take care of yourself," she replied.

"I will.  I am coming back, I promise you."

"How long will you be gone?"

"I may be back in a few days, but I suspect it won't be for very long.  I'll have to leave again."

She nodded slowly, and we kissed again, but it was lacking the raw passion of the previous night.  I think neither of us were really looking forward to being apart again.

I bought some pies for the road and we marched out.  Garrus and Logan in the lead, on horseback.

When we returned to the depot in hills, we had to devise a plan.

After much debate, and Garrus and Logan doing most of the planning, we devised a way to draw their forces to fight us.  The archers would should over the low wall with fire arrows, setting the grass and hay on fire, forcing the livestock kept there to panic.  Logan and I would approach the front gate, pretending to be drunks on our way home.  I was to mistake the depot for my house.  As part of the lure, I'd flash that jewelled dagger around a bit, hoping to get them interested in a foray.  All of this was so that Wren could slip over the wall on the opposite side of the depot, to take the boss alive, or failing that, obtaining any documents that may shed light on the who and why.

If it all went south, I devised a retreat that involved laying oil at the gate and setting it alight after the last of our people got out.  This would frustrate any pursuit, hopefully long enough to make our getaway into the night.  We set a rendezvous point a few miles away.

Despite the opposition numbers, we believed that we would win.

Eddard Chapter 2: Conclusion


We returned to the temple, taking those we freed from the Amnite slaver.  When the high priest learnt of what we accomplished, a celebration was the order of the night.  I wanted to mark the occasion with someone special, so I returned to the Troll and Maiden.
I approached the innkeeper, as when I entered the taproom, Tia was hard at work serving.
"Is there anyway I could arrange the night off for Tia?" I asked him.
The Innkeep was pleasant in his response.  "As you can see, the bar is rather busy tonight, I don't think I can afford to be without her."
"There is a special celebration at the local temple, as many thought taken as slaves have been returned."
"That's good news, but we are so busy." He said, perhaps a little annoyed that I was still talking to him.
This was going to be difficult, but I thought I had an ace in the hole.  "As you know, my friends and I have been staying here quite often in recent days, and as we need base of operations in the area.  We were thinking the Troll and Maiden would be ideal.  Letting Tia have the night off, might help convince us."
The Innkeep looked unsure.
"Remember, Thoram travels with us."
He considered for a moment, but not for very long.  "I think we manage without her tonight. "
Tia was surprised when she was called over, and given the night off.  We strolled arm and arm back to the temple.
In my absence, they had gotten the feast ready.  They sacrificed a cow, and prepared vegetable dishes of amazing complexity and variety.  Bread, beer, and wine were served with the feast, and nearly every local resident attended.
We were treated like heroes.  Thoram ate everything they put in front of him, and the more he ate, the more was placed in front of him.  Ulf bailed early, preferring to chase the wenches at the inn, but the rest of us stayed.
But before the night  broke up, I walked Tia back to the Inn.
In the light of the lamp at the taproom entrance we stopped, Contented and happy,  I looked into her eyes and she in mine.
"Freeing slaves," she said, voice dancing across my consciousness like a song of intense beauty," I hadn't realised your work was so dangerous."
I nodded, "Its what I do, but, Tia," I said with emotion than ran from my heart," You've come to mean so much to me in such a short space of time, I don't know why, but, no matter the danger or the situation, I still find a moment to think about you.  I will do the things I must do, but I need to know you are here."
Her answer was a kiss, long and hard in the lamplight.
We said our goodnights, kissed again.  Tomorrow, I knew, I would be off again.  But I would tell her in the morning.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Christmas Music Overkill

It's that time of year again, by now your ears will be overwhelmed by the continual assault of this "music" all month long.

And must we start slipping Christmas music into the shops and malls as early as November?  Is the 31 days of December not enough? I mean hell, that's 744 hours with which they can numb the mind, make us forget the meaning of Christmas, and turn us into shopping automatons.

Look, I'm not trying to be a complete scrooge, but honestly people, there's 31 days and there are not that many Christmas Carols.   How many times must one endure the tired strains of Deck the Halls, Jingle Bells, or Silent Night?  This last in particular sung by anyone who reckons they can sing, including TV stars.

Thus far this year, I have been fortunate to avoid much of this mind numbing, desensitising assault by virtue of my job.  Working outdoors hath its benefits, though not many, for my face looks like someone mistook it for lobster, but perhaps its a small price to pay.

I can point out, happily that all is not lost.  There are a handful of people that have produced excellent Christmas albums, and or songs.

Chris de Burgh wrote a song postulating that perhaps the star of Bethlehem was actually a UFO and it was an alien that marked his birth.  I reckon that's believable.

Mr. Hanky's Christmas Album is worth a listen.  There are a couple songs that do make me laugh.  Laughing is good at Christmas.  Take "Christmas Time in Hell", or the message from "Dead, Dead, Dead" or the slightly goofy "Carol of the Bells"... There are other songs on that album that make me laugh, but somehow they are not quite as Christmassy....

Twisted Sister made a Christmas album I genuinely like.  Heavy metal music and Christmas go together surprisingly well.

And, last but not least, I must mention Sarah McLachan's Wintersong.  A beautiful collection of songs, some favourites, some written specifically for the album.  Including a song about death.