Saturday, October 24, 2009

Dancing Edge

I looked over my shoulder at my friends and giggled despite myself. I needed to be stealthy as I hunted the dragonflies, but I was really having a good time. I had forgotten how much I loved working in a team with friends. The party was nearly finished killing the giant dragonfly they were attacking and I was already crouching in the brush eyeing my next prey. Our goal was to kill the seventy-pound insects as fast as we could without getting anyone seriously hurt, but I wanted them to feel pretty dang close to death. It made it more fun for me.

Even before the party's fly started to tremble and fall to the ground , my crossbow bolt was flying to another one. I missed. I squinted and rawred in frustration. A good marksman I am not. I just hoped no one had seen me miss; it was so embarrassing.

The bolt whooshed by the giant flying bug and it took notice. Buzzing furiously, it came after me and on long fast legs I sprinted back to the protection of my friends. Once I raced passed the paladin, I skipped back to the group and took my favorite place, right behind the wall that was Gurok.

"Oh come on!" the Jenjen complained, "Can't we at least catch our breath?" The group had not quite finished off the first fly and I had already brought them another. Jenjen jumped up and down on the first struggling fly and it took its last breath.

Gurok laughed. "She's having fun and we can handle it. No one has even hit the ground from blood loss yet."

I took notice of his "yet." I would have protested, but I could get carried away when I was in a good mood and sometimes people were... damaged before we finished. I glared at him anyways, as if he could feel it through the back of his head. He swished his tail at me playful as I stood behind him and tried to execute my sneak attack combos on the fly without being tripped.

Garness' wyvern Rover seemed to be having a good time too . He was breathing fire on the hopeless fly and toasting little holes in it's wings. In his zealousness, he also managed to singe Martin's arm. "Careful!" Martin hollered and whacked Rover across the rear with the flat of his broadsword. That did not make Rover happy. In a red whirlwind, Rover had attacked Martin and rolled him to the ground in a heap.

Garness wrapped his arms around his body and laughed a huge rolling galka belly laugh without offering Martin any help. "Rover doesn't like to be spanked."

The angry wyvern bit holes into Martin's heavy warrior armor and shook his lovely head enthusiastically as he growled. Letting Martin go he glared and bore his teeth as if to warn him to keep his weapons to himself next time then flew back to Garness' side. Garness petted Rover's scaly head and the wyvern nuzzled his master’s hand affectionately in return.

Gurok was handling the brunt force of the fly's powerful attacks while half the party was distracted by Rover and Martin rolling around on the ground. His face was getting moist from the effort and I could tell he needed a hand. The fly was turning the tide of the battle and pushing Gurok back towards the tree-line. He could take a lot of hits but when he was armored up like a tank, he couldn't swing as hard to do a lot of damage. That was our job, if anyone was paying attention. "Not to rush you..." he complained.

Zerokb shared a little healing magic with Gurok with a quiet smile of amusement. I jumped up behind the fly and slashed it back and forth with gracefully lethal slices before killing it with one final powerful gouge up forcing the fly to give up the ghost. "Lovely." I complimented myself.

I didn't go for another victim quite yet. Instead, I flopped down in the grass nearby and rested my hands in my lap. After Rover and Martin's little wrestling match and killing a respectable number of dragonflies, I thought we could take a break to laugh and eat a snack. Gurok didn't look like he was ready to quit, but I was in charge of picking the fights today so he shook himself slightly to get his mind out of fight mode and smiled as he relaxed.

"I guess that means it's break time." Martin said as he jumped up in the air and fell onto a pile of leaves then pulled out a piece of jerky. Rover, still angry from earlier, stole Martin's jerky and flew off with it. Martin stood to his feet awkwardly in his heavy armor and chased the wyvern into the brush out of sight. We were rolling with laughter as we listened to the shouting and rawring not far away.

Wiping a happy tear from my eye, I hugged Jenjen. "I'm sorry." She looked confused. I pulled everyone else within reach towards me and tried to hug them all at once. "Oh," she said as she started to understand and hugged me back. She grinned. "You're you, and we love you and I'm glad you're feeling better today," she purred as she nuzzled.

Martin stumbled back looking a little singed and out of breath. "I missed something." he said flatly and looked disappointed. Then he grinned mischievously, ran, then jumped on top of the group hug nearly breaking my head with his big body. Gurok grabbed him by the back of his armor launched Martin out of the huddle. He got some impressive air before rolling to a stop on the ground "Ooowww..." he groaned as he laughed.

Rover flew back to Garness’ side looking very very proud of himself. I smiled as I looked around at my friends. Today was a good day.

(Thank you to Stephen for another educational editing session. You rock. Check out his blog at Oh and sorry this one took so long. My pc died and I had to wait for a new hard drive and motherboard to be installed. It was painful.)

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Friendly Nudge

I was hypnotized by the motion of the water and the musical sound of the water drops falling from my finger tip into the dark reflective fountain. I was just daydreaming again. With my knees pulled up under my chin, I dipped my finger into the dark water and watched the rings ripple away from me making the reflection of the red moon dance and shimmer.

I imagined his face in the water staring back at me. I wondered where he was and what he was feeling. I hoped his spirit wasn't miserable like I had been lately. He always had a knack for remaining cheerful even when things looked grim. Could I love him as much as I thought I did or was it just the misery of having him ripped away from me that made me feel this way? It had been one year, four months and six days. Would I ever be able to let him go?

I was fine while I was desperately struggling to protect my daughter Hope from the politicians who feared her birth, but once things settled down and she seemed safe my emotions caught up with me and flooded my mind. The pressure was crushing me. The more my life stood still, the more my own thoughts and feelings seemed to cripple me. I knew I needed to do something but I just couldn't yet. I felt like I could sympathize with this frustrated fountain shut off for the night. What's the point without flowing and motion?

Leaning my forehead on my arm, I watched the tears roll off my nose and puddle on the stones. Then my hat flew off my head and an unseen attacker started beating me with it.

“Don’t be such a weak Elvaan fool! Pull it together. You’re embarrassing me just to see you embarrass yourself.”

I turned to see Foxx glaring at me with my hat in his hands. Throwing it at me in fury he asked, “What’s the matter with you? Have you no pride? Get up, form an experience party, and stop wallowing in self-pity when there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. Your legs aren't broken. Work them.”

I wasn’t sure what to say. He definitely caught me off guard, something I would have been humiliated about if he wasn’t him. He could sneak around anything undetected.

“I’m a woman. It’s my prerogative to be emotional if I please.” I said with a glare.

“Well it’s my prerogative to want to kill you for it.” He retorted with a bit of a snort.

“Look at you. You have good friends who love you, you’re a reasonably respectable thief when you’re not so distracted by your emotions and you have a long life ahead of you to try to make this perfect life you think you're entitled to. Be bold and stop being such a ninny.”

“What kind of man uses the word ninny?” I said with a grin.

With that he clutched his dagger and stabbed me in the leg. “Get up, get up, get up! It’s time for you to do something productive. This overindulgent self-pity is disgusting me.”

I yelped in pain and held my hand over the gushing wound. Pouring a potion over it healed the injury, with the temporary side effect of feeling like a hot iron poker was knitting the edges of my tissues back together. I suffered this kind of blow many times but the treatment still made me whimper a little. “Did you have to stab me?”

“Do you have to ask? Look at yourself. Stop asking stupid questions and go buy some arrows. Your marksmanship is shameful.” With that he bounded off in half-airborne taru strides without even looking back. There was a time I would have gotten up and followed my old trainer to battle to study his every technique, but not tonight.

I swirled my hand in the the pool and splashed away the glassy stillness. I would find my way in life. I just wouldn't be pushed into doing it any way but my way. Grinning, I played with the gold coin I had just lifted off Foxx. I was not as crippled and useless as he thought. I was still a master of distraction enough to steal from a infamous thief. There was hope for me yet and I could feel the gentle swish in me of the only constant in life, change. This time I welcomed it.

(Thank you Stephen for being my editor and teacher on this one through two versions. Check out his blog at )

Sunday, August 09, 2009


With lightning speed, he instantly blinded my view of the goblin in front of me and with a thundering crack broke the goblin shield in half. Leaping just in time, I avoided being swiped over by his great white tail. I knew him well enough to know he had tried to trip me on purpose and he knew me well enough to know I wouldn't lose my balance that easily.

"Careful there Gurok; your tail is going to be the end of me." I growled as I pushed on him in protest without actually moving him an inch springing myself back instead.

"I'm pretty sure it's the end of me and if you prefer I could let them keep stabbing at you until you black out." He grumbled but defiantly not under his breath.

"I had it under control. I wanted the hate." I assured him. "I'm trying to improve my dodging skills."

At this he roared with laughter, pinning the gasping goblin under his foot while he doubled over to make all the more show of his amusement. I scowled. "You're dodgy enough already my dear." he said with a mischievous grin.

It had become a game or maybe a dance between us of playful fighting with a mockingly serious face. For months we had traveled like nomads together. I had become reclusive and he had become my great looming shadow. He would leave on occasion for the usual obligations of our modern day heroes during this time of unrest, but I didn't vanish from him as often as I did with some of the other people I loved lately. I'd wait patiently pretending not to wait at all, but be busy with my leather crafting hobby, or fishing or meditating or whatever struck my fancy that day.

I guess it was only a natural evolution of a rogue thief to keep to the shadows, watching the world around her, and waiting for her opportunities or desires to drive her out like a mouse to cheese ever cautious of the inevitable trap.

I smiled as I watched Gurok hang the goblin up in a tree by his belt. When he woke he would be in for a nasty surprise. I did pick this fight when I stole his coin purse, so this encounter wouldn't be fatal for him. I just wanted to hone my skills and keep my daggers lightning fast. I had become a little more sensitive about delving out death and Gurok indulged me quietly. It was an uncharacteristic move on his part that I took for affection and I wasnt about to ruin it by asking him about it.

"Enough exercise, time for lunch." Gurok chuckled as he started walking towards the lake. He was always in a good mood after battling any enemy he could find though he very much preferred the larger prey that could be made into lunch after.

I watched him walk away without following him. He was tall as any galka I had ever seen and that was saying something. His skin and hair matched in snow white softness and his head was covered in a thick soft mane that framed his huge wide thin lipped mouth. His eyes where blue and bright when he smiled and icy dark when his ungalka-like natural tendency to rage caught him. He was built like a wall, square shouldered and thick with muscle like all of his kind were. They moved slower but they never went unnoticed.

He didn't turn around to see if I would follow. I don't even know if he wanted me to but he knew I would. He drew me like a moth to a flame. I didn't know why, but maybe it was the way his huge frame could physically block out the world that made my spirit feel comfortable and safe. As powerful as I knew he could be, I never feared harm even when I knew I had excited his temper. Other things might be broken because of me, but he was my paladin and protector and would always keep me safe.

I don't know how I earned his loyalty, but in this time when a storm raged deep within me like a hurricane tearing and breaking my very soul I was grateful for a shelter.

He was laying down on the sandy shore of the large lake with his hands behind his head when I caught up. I sat down next to him under the tree and searched my bag for what I had packed this morning. "It's about time." he complained. "I'm starving."

I set out a few fruits and a crisp crusted half loaf of a dark bread. He looked over at me and raised an eyebrow. "That's not food, that's what food eats." he said with a grin as if that were the first time he had said that to me. I reached in and pulled out a huge piece of cured meat that had weighted me down all morning. "Carrying this thing made for good strength training. I guess I can let you eat it." I chuckled.

We ate in silence, and I watched him in my usual creepy manor that didn't seem to bother him as I thought. I couldn't figure out why he followed me. I felt consumed in pain but I couldn't bare to let it out so I tried to hide it inside though I know it showed in my eyes at the least. I felt like an ogre was constantly standing on my chest, crushing my heart and forcing the pain to ooze out of every pore... not to be too over dramatic about it but it was what it was.

I tried to talk some sense into myself but I couldn't seem to shake it. My dreams woke me in cold sweats at the image of death and screaming. Images of past and feared futures haunted me in the day and night. I was losing my mind and I couldn't bare for those who I respected so much to see me like this so I hid.

Kjarbo was the one I felt the worst about avoiding. His heart was so kind and generous it pained him to see me hurt so badly that it just added to my pain to hurt him so I started slipping away from him more and more often until it had been over a month since I had come out of hiding to let him know I was ok. It was a cruel attempt at mercy that ended up just being selfishness. Still, though I told myself to stop and just calm down and let myself heal, somehow I couldn't. I was broken.

In Gurok though somehow I felt peace. He didn't try to fix me. He didn't want to talk it out, he was just here eating lunch with me and keeping me company while I obsessively practiced my skills and trained my body. It was peaceful.