What me worry?

 

To change gears today I wanted to talk about MAD Magazine. I went to the local comic book store today (Yes, there are a few comic book stores in China, the only ones I know are run by laowai, but they are there), and they mentioned they had some new copies of MAD in the shop so I bought them up posthaste and took them home to read them.

While still funny, they are not as good as they were a while back. Sure you can say, you are just nostalgic or whatever, but just listen to my reasoning. Hang onto your socks, this is one of the only times this blog will ever get political. The great thing about MAD in its heyday was that it attacked anything and everything and I mean EVERYTHING. Blacks, whites, democrats, republicans, atheists, religion – you name it. If it existed, MAD Magazine parodied it in some way or form. But looking at the two issues I bought, it seems very heavy handed on the Trump spoofing. Lets face it, Trump has a lot to make fun of, but that is kind of my point. When I read MAD as a youngster, they made sure they harassed both sides equally. The only thing I seen about Hilary was this.
29624591

Which still is 50/50. Now I don’t want this to turn to a big Wah-wah cryfest about your political candidate. The point of this post is the theme of SATIRE. Satire works best when it does not play favorites, where everything is subject to ridicule. So what happened MAD? It seems the same thing that happened to the majority of the world. Everyone takes everything so seriously now. It is hard to believe there is any debt at all since most of the people can just jam a lump of coal in their backside and it will be compressed into a diamond in mere seconds.

Get off your high horse MAD and go back to your awesomely sardonic ways.

Okay, that ends the political portion of the blog, hopefully forever… Let us get back to reading the two issues of MAD I bought shall we?

524925194

The Star Wars Episode 7 spoof was pretty good. Much better than my picture taking ability(or the episode 7 movie itself), sorry about cutting off the left side there. Some of the humor was just ‘not there’ but all in all, 6 out of 10 lightsabers.

Next up is the Batman v Superman parody. Considering I thought the movie was a turd, I found the humor in this a bit better. 7 out of 10 angsty supermans.

And of course, what would MAD be with out periodical jabs at modern day society. These little ‘blurbs’ are where I found the most humor and where MAD still shines the brightest. I recommend picking up a few copies of the magazine just for these little funny tidbits.
8 out of 10 satirey satires.

That’s it for today folks. Join me tomorrow for … well, something else.

Hope you are having a great day.

I forgot a step. The 80’s.

Yesterday I posted a bit of a history of the world I use for my D&D world that has been around since ’83-’84. But I forgot a step (you will find I will forget a lot of stuff as this blog continues), the world took a huge change in the late 1980s, early 1990s. I apologize for the quality of the pictures, I had to take them with my phone, I don’t have access to a scanner here in China for some reason.

1602109819

You will notice a few things, first it is blurry as all get out. Apologies, I am HORRID at taking pictures of things. Second, the size, you can see the tip of my foot in the bottom of the picture. Considering I wear size 14 shoes in the USA (size 50 in China, a size they do not even make here, I have to get my shoes custom made), I did not crop the shoe off so you can gauge the size of the map. It is about 3-4 feet from top to bottom, so it is a pretty huge piece of paper. Lastly, you will notice that the other maps were longer from left to right and this is longer top to bottom, so what happened?

What happened with this (short lived, despite how much work my young self put into it) version of the map was that I got a bunch of this huge hex paper for free and I wanted to use it. In my young mind, free was more important than consistency, so why not! I was about 16-17 years of age when I made this. But you will see a lot more of the world get fleshed out and even some things that disappear in the later version you have seen yesterday.

Here we see parts of the map a bit closer, and think goodness, a bit more clear as well.

You can see a few things that have changed, for some reason, I put the Abysmal Swamp west, south west of the Apuno lands, and Middenlund is not even on here at all anymore, I just leave that area blank. I did add the Jupair-Gimesh Hills, mostly because I needed to add locations due to the fact this map was so much more taller than wider now. It was going to be a land run by beastials as a buffer between the Middenlund and the Apuno Lands. Honestly, I am happy this area disappeared, however I do like the name. Maybe, it will make a return some day, some way.

You can also see the original land that started this all, the barbarian lands of Guardias (shown in a blog post here about a week ago), is also not marked. You can see the city of Norcross, and even the tiny town of Blackwater – even the city of Kobur Nogan and the Rust River, but no title. I did include the Shard plains to the west though. I even included red dotted lines for political borders. No Guardias though. Sorry barbarians.

 

Here are some close up shots of the same map. You will see a few things here. First, in the north west, The city of Mikonec and the area of Ehee-cheeo, close by Yakpu-Qui and Uhili-Qui. This was a huge, huge mistake. Mikonec was the captial of the Miquatica (a race of Aztecs influenced people) surrounded by the lands of the Tian Tang (a race of people based on China. The new map for these lands will appear here some day). Eventually, the Miquatica got moved to the south lands now called the Ash Peninsula, but yeah… in my 16 year old mind, this was a good idea for some reason.

Here is where the human race of ‘Proth’ came from as well. But where the city was once called Proth and run by humans of the same name, the city is now just known as “The City at the Edge of the World” and is run by elves (Elves are hedonistic, arrogant jerks in this world and yes, these are the same elves that fought a war against the dwarves of Kobur Illid I mentioned a few posts ago).

In the center of the Great Inner Sea are two islands of note (The small island from yesterday becomes a few larger islands *face palm*) the Ram’s Head Isle: which is kind of like Switzerland, no weapons allowed by visitors and basically there for anyone from the Murk Lands to come and trade. The other isle is Voro’s Isle. Voro is the land’s ‘Gandalf’, or ‘Elminster’, accept he does not meddle in anyone’s business (That is ‘The Benefactor’s job. More on them later). He has had very little impact in any of the game’s I have ran over the years. Some of my player’s are unsure if he (or she) is still alive. Even the name changes depends who you ask. Voro, Vorom, Voromyr, are all names used to describe this enigmatic figure. Personally, I like that a lot better than someone like Elminster, who everyone in the Forgotten Realms knows everything about. Heck, some of my players even spread rumors about Voro in order to achieve things in the game, which is always clever.

The last thing I am going to talk about today is the Mer-Succhur Marsh. Named so for the plague of the Succhur. What is this plague you ask? Well, I will tell you. There are various bloated flies that are a bit more bloated than normal flies, and have a red mark on them somewhere (varies from fly to fly). If some one is bitten by one of these flies and is not treated they become a carrier. Eventually (1d4 days adjusted for CON), the character gets weak. At the end of the gestation period, the carriers head swells up like a pustule and bursts, revealing a mass of rope-like tentacles that are evenly spaced around the area where the neck used to be. The neck is now the mouth of the Succhur and the rope-like tentacles now attempt to entangle a near by victim and drag them into the maw (which now stretches to engulf any victim.

For some reason, my players only ventured there once and after meeting a Succhur, they never returned.

I could have added a LOT more detail here, but life calls. Would you like to know more? let me know. Is my grammar terrible? Let me know. Is there anything you would like to see me go over with more detail? Let me know.

Keep smiling everyone. Don’t get bitten by weird looking flies.

Central Murk Lands

As more and more people discover my book, “Castle of Blackwood Moors,” folks ask me for more details since they would like to run adventures there.  So here you go! Today’s post is for you.

CoBM takes place on the eastern central portion of the Middenlunds, a bunch of not-so friendly city states along the western edge of the continent east of the Great Inner Sea.
Make sense? Really? I am totally confused, so in order to un-confuse me, lets post some maps of the area I call the Central Murk Lands.

middenlund_small

Okay. This is from the map I posted earlier  (“What Else, What Else?”) of my old (1982-1983) world map. Damn I am old. Anyway, the point is here is where the kingdom arose. Something important to note is New Dundale, and the Kobur ____ was not part of the original map. It was written in later when some players of mine tried to form their own kingdom on the western edge of the island. Kobur ____ was a dwarven kingdom based on an outcropping of rock that jutted from the sea. The name was left blank since when I wrote it I did not think of a name for it yet and when I did, I never went back to write it in since I am kind of a scatterbrain at times.

Okay, fast forward many years….

middenlund-not-finished

This was created in one of the early versions of Flash (I made many maps like this, which you will see in later posts) in the late 90’s.  While this was created for a D&D campaign, to can see the beginnings of the map which was used for ‘Castle of Blackwood Moors’.

You can see I like things realistic. I hate straight rivers.You can get a sense of scale from the (unfinished) scale in the upper left corner. It is in miles, not kilometers, sorry metric folks. That said, I still was tinkering around with things like cutting the Abysmal Swamp (the land just north west of The Bandit Kingdom of Graennor) off with water, and some times it is not, shows I still try to tinker around with stuff.

Lets move on…. shall we?

the-isle

Asking my friends where they would like to start a game, I proposed a campaign anywhere in Middenlands but the players wanted to explore the isle, so that  is what I fleshed out. Kobur (yeah I know I spelled it wrong, I mentioned I am quite absent minded) Krogan finally gets a name on this map. I also make a HUGE mistake that drives me crazy. I have ONE river leading into the lake in the north east corner of the island, but TWO rivers leading it, which is not impossible, but very unlikely. If this map is ever redone, I will fix that. Now that I think about it, the rivers are a bit too straight here also. Bad me.

So while the dwarves reside in Kobur Krogan, there are elven lands on the east, north east. Now then, I need to mention that elves and dwarves in my world are similar yet still different. I will cover that in a future blog post since I don’t want to get that side tracked.
So, back to the island. This island also has a bandit kingdom in the western, south western part of the map ( I have a lot of bandit kingdoms since I envision that in a world with monsters and sorcery,  bandits and raiders would be organized, since small unorganized groups of bandits would be promptly devoured). Okay, AGAIN, lets go back to the island. You will notice that the northern, central and south eastern portions of the island are relatively unknown. This is where the majority of the beastmen live, I tend to use beastmen instead of orcs, ogres and the like. I will talk about that when I talk about elves and dwarves. Finally, there is a kingdom along the southern shores of the island, but it is a kingdom in only the roughest of words. Mostly, people from Middenlund reside here just to take advantage of the fishing waters and timber from the island. They get raided from beastmen, elves and other monsters often so the life expectancy is not great, but if you can survive, there is money to be made there.

Okay, the end of today’s ramblings.

players-map-of-the-isle

Okay, here is the (poorly pieced together) players map of New Dunndale. At almost the exact center of the map you can see a little square alongside a river, near the ocean. This is where the players decided to build their fledgling kingdom and it was here that “Castle of Blackwood Moors” really took root. Even though the book takes place to the south, my players brought up a lot of things not covered in a lot of RPG rules (that I have found). So how much wood does a timber mill produce in a day (realistically)? How many logs does it take to build a log cabin (again, realistically)? How many people does it take to minimally keep a timber mill working? How many logs does one person cut in a day? How many people does it take to keep a fledgling kingdom operational? You get the idea. But I am a sucker for details and the whole (It’s magic!) excuse drives me crazy.  But that is one of the reasons I started the “Dungeons to Dominions” series.

Finally, you can see the 1 inch = 6 miles scale on these maps, which should give you an idea how big the original map is. In future posts you will see many, many more maps of the world, I have three binders CHOCK FULL of maps as well as many books detailing the contents of those maps.

But until those days come, I think that is enough for today.
I have since created rules for how many logs one person can cut per day, but if you know of actual official rules from here or there, please free to drop me a line. I always like to learn as much as I can about this and that.

Hope everyone is having a great day.

The pictures finally showed!

The pictures finally arrived! Jeepy Creepys that is some SLOW internet….

Okay, here is the first of a few posts of an event I went to called Khankon (www.khankon.com) in Shanghai. It is a table top RPG convention mostly for Chinese folks (Table Top RPGs are gaining ground here but more on that later) with a smattering of board games and card games thrown in. First off, the place was VERY COOL. I was an old jazz club from the 60’s and 70’s. Very few bands still played there but the restaurant on the upper floors was still operational (I did not eat there so I cannot tell you how the food was), but the downstairs where the games were held still had original woodwork and everything.

 

As you can see, it got REALLY packed down there, and a lot of fun games went on both of the two days. One odd thing was the only a few Chinese players and western players would jump ‘borders’ as it were. Most of the English speaking people stuck together and most of the Chinese natives stuck in their own little groups. I was really curious to ask the Chinese gamers what they liked and disliked, but my Chinese is not that good so I didn’t. I also noticed that most of the western players were playing 5th Edition D&D and no one was playing Pathfinder… whereas most of the Chinese RPGers were playing Pathfinder mostly with two groups playing 5th ed and two groups playing Chinese created RPGs (characters will be posted soon).

 

 

Okay, here is the portion of the blog where I plug my book. Showing the book to many people at Khankon was a lot of fun. I am kind of an introvert so it was a big deal to approach people and ask them to take a look at something I wrote, but gamers are usually a pretty cool bunch of people (except in that first picture, that is the founder of Khankon being a smartass with my book *CURSE YOU DAN!**).

Luckily, everyone really liked it and I even got a few sales out of the deal. The coolest thing though was the direct feedback. When you write a book you do it mostly in a vacuum and hope people will like it, so when they say things like, “This is fun.” “Where can I get one of these?” and “I suppose I won’t beat you up with a sock full of quarters and ditch your body in an alley.” It makes a lot of it worthwhile (well, maybe not that last one, luckily no one actually said that to me though).

 

 

Finally, here is some left over random shots. The Game of Thrones boardgame which is a LOT of fun even though I got smoked like a cheap cigar. The Chinese character sheets I promised as well as the picture of the guy who ran the 5th ed game I was in. Lastly, this little girl that kept following me around and asking me what I was doing, and let me know how bad my dice rolling was in a game of Descent I was playing.

Thanks kid.

 

 

Oh, China. *shakes head sadly*

As some of you already know, this past July 25th, I have been in China for five years. There are some great things about China, some bad things, just like anywhere. This post is going to be about some of those things.

This past weekend was the Mid-Autumn Festival (do not ask me, since the first day of Autumn is actually September 22, just one of the weird things about this country), which were also the days of Shanghai Khankon (www.khankon.com) and I attended to show off “Castle of Blackwood Moors” as well as the computer game I am working on. It was a lot of fun! I got in on a game of 5th Ed Dungeons and Dragons, and I enjoyed it a lot. It plays a lot cleaner than 3rd edition or Pathfinder in my opinion.

But now the bad.
I took a lot pictures, mostly of people reading my book and trying the computer game, but the internet is so weird here. Copying the photos directly does not work so I had to email them… which I did three times since September 17th… and they still have not showed up.

That is all I am going to write about right now. Hopefully the pictures will show up soon so I can finally post them.

Have a good week fun friends.

What else, what else?

As I mentioned yesterday, another thing I am doing is working on a computer game. I wont give out many details since it is only about a month or two in development. But I included some screenshots on getting farming up and running. I cannot take credit for the coding that is the ever awesome Matt, but I do the design work and world building.  Also, ignore the art… we are using free stuff from Unity until we can find a decent 3d artist.

Here we see the overgrown field, with a ruined house to your left. WOW! That field is overgrown! Look at how high that grass is. Next, while attempting to cut the grass down, I have to stop to put down and attacking mutant.  The mutant is dead and I can finally plant some corn. After waiting a day or two, I come back to see my corn has already begun to grow. Finally, after a few more days, my corn is fully grown and ready for the harvest.

 

Another, ANOTHER thing I want to talk about is the world I use for my gamebooks and my first novel, is based on my old D&D world. So I hope to flesh it out more and more here.world-map

Even though it is the same world I have used since 1978, this map was drawn in about 1984. The premise of the world hasn’t changed (as my players can attest to), but as I grew older and obtained more knowledge, details of the world have changed. I wont go into detail now, since I can save that for a future topic.

Here is even an EARLIER map. This is the earliest map I could find.

guardias

This is damn painful to look at now, but see how the ‘Sea of Glass’ has moved from the top of this map to further west in the world map? I also heavily stole things as a lad. See Firetop Mountain (from Warlock of Firetop Mountain) and Lion Castle (From Ghost of Lion Castle)…  Yeah. I know I added those to the map a lot later since I bought those two things and wanted to add them somewhere so I just plopped them down at the top since my players haven’t reached those areas yet. I WAS 13!!! Cut me some slack! Jimeny Jeepers. Uh… let us continue… shall we? *hangs head in shame*

Oh, I should also mention, the second map’s location in the world map is toward the top just right of center. You can see the Sunken Lands just north of The Great Midland Kingdom.

This was pretty impressive for a 13 old kid I think. The idea behind the second map is that it is mostly a land of barbarians (hence all the open space). Off the eastern edge of the map was a great dwarven kingdom, Kobur Illud if i recall – I don’t have the notes in front of me, and they were losing a war with the elves. Who lived even further east in ‘The City at the Edge of the World’. Yeah, some of my elves were city dwellers, there is a reason for that. For now you will just have to wonder. DUN DUN DAAAAAAAAH! *Ahem* let us continue shall we?

The elves were winning the war, and were planning on making the dwarves extinct for all their mining and destroying of the environment. The dwarves would have been toast, if it was not for a group called ‘The Benefactors’. They used great magics to raise part of the floor of the Great Inner Sea so the dwarves could escape across it, fleeing the island of Hespae. Kind of like a reverse Moses. Except there was a group of them. The sea floor did not sink back right away, it began to sink a week after the escape, but slowly. The map takes place about ten years after the dwarves escaped, and you can see the land is a huge mire, but one can still transverse it.  Why did’t the elves follow? I actually do not remember anymore. Maybe they were microwaving a burrito and they forgot about it or something. They DID send halflings (who were elven allies) into the barbarian lands to spy on them. Forming the village of Brandy wine, but more on that later.

After they raised the lands for the dwarven escape, The Benefactors disappeared as quickly as they showed up. Whether they went back to their cities in the Broken Lands far to the west, or to somewhere else, no one knows. Actually I know, I am just not going to tell you since I am a jerk. HAW!
Anywhos, the remaining dwarves founded Kobur Nogan, I think the map here says Khazul Dum, which my players pointed out was stolen from Tolkien’s Khazad Dum (which is was. I WAS 13!!!!!), so I changed it. Kobur is the dwarven name for Dwarven made, and Nogan was the dwarven name for North, sad that I can still remember this stuff after so long.
ANYWAY, as I was saying, shortly after founding their city and they began mining, the river turned darker, since they used the river in their mining operations (one of the reasons the elves attend them, darn polluting dwarves), the river which was once named ‘The River of the Divine’ adopted a new name of ‘Rust River’ or ‘River of Rust’. The town on the southern edge was changed from ‘Sweet Water’ to ‘Black Water’ because of the color of the river as well.

There was only one real settlement in the area that some of the more ‘civilized’ barbarians used. Since they needed somewhere all the clans could go to trade goods with other civilizations, and some times set up raiding parties, but again, that is another post for another day. This was the city of Norcross, I actually have a map for that place as well. But again, another day folks, I don’t want to make this post a zillion lines long for those of you who have ADD or a two year old who just ate five bowls of Cap’N Crunch cereal (you and the Cap’n, make it happen!), so I will try to keep this short.

 

Eventually the halflings of Brandywine disappeared and to this day no one knows where they went (actually they do, but no one will admit they know. Again, another story for another time). The Shard Plains moved further west and off of this map altogether. They are named so, because of the strange, jagged, shards of rock jutting up into the sky. Some of them almost 60 ft high. Where they came from, no one knows. But no one really sticks around to find out since huge tribes of Beastials (wolf-men, cat-men, etc.) patrol the area, capturing and devouring all they come across.

Finally, the barbarians worship the all-Father, but they still pray to the spirits of the trees and animals as well. Once a year all the tribes head to the Forest of Whispering Wind, where they have a Wyrd, talk with other tribes about news, the latest movies they have seen, or whatever else is on their minds.

Did I miss anything? Is there anything I did not cover and you would like to find out more? Is there some of my grammar that is so terrible you would like to point it out? Please do!
As always, thank you for visiting my little hole in the wall and I hope your day goes well.

 

What’s up Tiger Lily?

What else is this blog about?

I plan on talking about a lot of the things I enjoy.

-Harassing others
– Dungeons and Dragons (OD&D, AD&D 1st ed, D&D 5th ed)
-Harassing others
-Mystery Science Theater 3000 (and Rifftrax)
-Harassing others
-MAD magazine
-Harassing others
– Monty Python
-Harassing others
– Muppet show (Those are the four ‘M’s of great humor by the way)
-Harassing others
-Assorted other junk that no one really cares about.

Speaking of which, in case you care, and cannot find anything better to read on the internet (really?) I am really bad about talking about myself but I suppose I have too.

Hmm. What else? I am left handed. INFJ Personality.
https://www.16personalities.com/infj-personality
Currently I live in China, where I am a game designer. Grew up in Wisconsin a few miles from Lake Geneva, where Dungeons and Dragons was born. Where as most people enjoy going to the beaches, or somewhere warm, I would rather go somewhere cold and with it piles of snow.

What else? Oh! I have currently written a gamebook. You know, like those classics such as the ‘Lone Wolf’ series and  “Warlock of Firetop Mountain” You can find it on amazon here

https://www.amazon.com/Castle-Blackwood-Moors-David-Konkol/dp/1535373644/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473756303&sr=8-1&keywords=castle+of+blackwood+moors

There is a sequel in the works as well. Also, a kind of a ‘guide book’ in the works that describes some of the towns and villages etc.

mappa-8

 

In this ‘primer’ most of the towns, forests etc. will be fleshed out a bit more. By the way, that is the cover of my first book.

Also, I am working on my first novel… on top of that I am working on a computer game.

Is that enough about me? I think it is for today.

 

 

 

 

Writing Sample. Part One.

 

Chapter One

 

A chill wind blew across the choppy waters of the Great Inner Sea. The sturdy ship, Wave Rider, cut through the waves like a knife, making good time heading southward… straight toward the approaching storm on the horizon. A low sea shanty rolled over the deck, sung by the veteran sailors to keep everyone rhythmically in time with each other as they hustled this way and that, performing their various duties.

The storm billowed like a cough of dark bile against the otherwise cloudless blue sky surrounding it, and the more veteran of the sailors noted how abruptly it had appeared. Some even whispered of sorcery or witchcraft, even though such storms were common along the Inner Sea, particularly during the later months of the year, like now.

Whether the result of sorcery of a natural occurrence, the ship was heading straight into the teeth of it.

Against this threat, the captain pressed the more able-bodied passengers into helping out. Tasks like battening down the foremast and keeping the decks free of debris, whether barrels rolling around after the rope that had secured them to the deck came loose, or the copious amounts of seaweed constantly heaved up onto the deck from the rising waves.

Vhade clung to one of these ropes while a wave of water washed over him, trying to make the furs he wore stick even closer to his sopping wet skin, but failing. Many of the others, having no sailing experience, were tossed this way and that. He was a brutish, bear-like young man, made sure to hang on even tighter whenever he saw the rising waves approach.

The gales came much harder now, accompanied by flashes of lightning dancing behind the clouds, though none of the actual peals of thunder could be heard. A wave smashed headlong into the ship, which Vhade thought would send them to the bottom for sure, but once again, the cork-like buoyancy of the vessel managed to surprise him. When it reemerged, all the crew remained in place, some of them even smiling, for they knew this was only the beginning.

The captain, a tall thin man, strode toward him, his sandy-brown hair plastered to his head from the spray. His long moustache dripped miniature waterfalls onto the deck.

“Get up on the stern deck, lad!” the captain shouted even though he was just a few feet away. “We will need your strength to keep those ropes leading up to the mizzen tight, as well!” With that he strode off shouting orders to others, determined to keep his ship and crew afloat.

As Vhade headed off to try and complete his new task, he did not fare as well as the captain. Trying to walk on something that was being tossed about like a child’s broken toy was not as easy for him. He gripped whatever he could reach to steady himself while trying to make it to the rear of the vessel. Another wave crashed over him, and as the cold water dripped down his back, he wondered why he ever left his people to the north.

He could almost feel the warmth of the fire in the hearth at his parents’ house when he was a youth. The ship and storm were now gone from his thoughts and he was running through the woods of Freilund, the land where he grew up. Because of his size, even amongst other Freilund children, they usually chose him to do the heavy labor while the others were allowed to help track and hunt. His brow furrowed as the memory of his past life burrowed through his thoughts as a maggot feasting on carrion.

This image fragmented as another wave of water washed over him, this time knocking him off his feet.

He failed to grab onto something to steady himself, and cursed himself for letting his mind wander. Something solid pressed against his right side and, still panic stricken, he lashed out with his hand and held on with all of his might. As the water drained away once again, he used his free hand to wipe away as much water as he could from his brow, and discovered he had grabbed onto the central mast. The wave that knocked him down had carried him a good ten paces across the deck.

He dragged himself to his feet and looked around to get his bearings. Thunder rumbled and, when the lightning streaked across the sky, he saw that many of the crew members were now absent. The few that remained were hanging onto whatever they could, their duties forgotten.

Remembering the captain’s order, Vhade struggled to continue his quest to locate the aft of the ship as rain pelted him in the face. Coaxed by the gales of wind, it began to feel like pellets of gravel striking his exposed flesh. The rain also reduced his visibility. With his free hand he grasped the iron circle of the All-Father he wore underneath the hides and furs, one of the only presents his parents ever gave him. It indirectly was responsible for this voyage as well.

As he struggled with each step, it felt more like he was climbing a mountain than crossing the deck of a ship. His arm and leg muscles began to ache from the constant struggle to stay upright and level on a surface that was constantly moving about. He swore again and again that if he ever made it back to land he would never leave it, no matter if his dream again led him to stray from it, which was why he was in this dilemma. Each step now took almost a full minute to complete. Why should you bother? His mind badgered him. You are out of your element completely you fool. Gritting his teeth he continued his trek, but his thoughts were relentless. What do you think you will do once you get there? Save this whole ship by yourself? You should have stayed in the hills and forests like the savage you are.

As if to punctuate his thoughts, the next wave brought the lifeless body of one of the other passengers that had been forced into service during the storm, his barren, empty gaze staring up at him. Vhade only got to ponder the unmoving form for a mere moment before the next wave carried it away, washing toward the front of the ship and out of the range of the limited visibility. Death was no stranger to him growing up in the wildlands of Freilund, yet he was out of his element here, on a floating cork caught up in a maelstrom that could throw those trapped inside anyway it pleased.

Pressing forward he felt a surge of pride as the wooden stairs leading up to the stern deck emerged ghost-like through the foul weather and he began the final stages of his journey that had begun forever — just a few minutes ago.

Using his last bit of strength, Vhade lifted his feet to each new stair, pushing himself with his people’s northern fury to overcome any obstacle with a fire in their souls. Rain pelted him. Lightning and thunder raged overhead and the gales pitched the ship so violently that if the visibility allowed it, Vhade would have seen nothing but the sea below him. Finally climbing the last stair, he saw the first mate at the ship’s wheel with a length of rope securing her to the wheel itself.

Vhade shouted, “The captain told me to assist you however I can!” to the woman wrestling with the wheel.

“What?” she screamed at him.

Vhade leaned in as close as he could and screamed with all of his might, “Passenger Vhade Vo’Kovan reporting for duty! The captain asked me to come back here and help!”

At this the middle-aged woman was taken aback and despite the discomfort of being tossed about, and red welts appearing on her face from the force of the rain striking her, she managed a smile revealing one of her teeth was missing. “Son, you are either the most foolish person I have ever seen in the twenty years I have been sailing or…” She stopped mid-sentence and a roar of thunder shook the entire ship which quivered like a leaf. “Nope. You are truly the most foolish person I have ever seen in all the years I have been sailing!”

Vhade smiled at the compliment. “Maybe so! But what do you need me to do?”

The first mate drew back her breath and managed a, “Well, we could–” And those were the last words said upon the Wave Rider before the hull cracked, sending everyone and everything onboard into the dark, churning waters.

Vhade’s legs burned with the frantic energy of survival as the seas tossed him about like a cork. Waves threw him around, making lose whatever progress he made is his attempts to move forward and soon the number of the times he was pitched this way and that as well as waves the size of a house pushed him under, threatening to fill his lungs with water. Vhade continued flailing his arms and kicking his legs, even though the soreness in his limbs was increasing, as well as the shadow of panic and the realization that he was most likely going to drown increased as well.

For a moment he thought he heard a voice cry for help off to his left, as Vhade tried to swim in the general direction to offer assistance, but with the water crashing over him and the storm around him, it was a full minute before he could stop and try to get the bearings of the cries. Vhade strained his ears again to try and locate the sound, but he heard nothing. Another wave rolled over him, and realized that he had his own struggle to survive to contend with.

By now Vhade was swimming for almost a full ten minutes in this storm and even his endurance was beginning to wane. With each passing stroke and kick it felt like heavy weights are tied to his limbs and it was becoming apparent that he was starting to lose his struggle to survive in this relentless storm. Yet another wave rolled over him while gasping for breath and he started coughing with violent heaves, not ready to give in to death just yet.

While still coughing and struggling, a large wave carried him up into the air and it felt like everything began to slow down and move in slow motion as panic began to set it. He was so high in the air it was at least twice of the high of his parents two story cottage back in his village. As he continued to be carried upward by the way, he glanced down a large dark shape moving through the water, its shape clouded by the waves and the low visibility of the weather. The wave was about at its peak but Vhade was fixed on the shape. A single, unblinking yellow eye could be seen, even at this distance. It appeared it was staring directly at him and the wave was just about to carry him right on top of it.

After a moment’s pause where it seemed that time stopped, the wave descended at great speed, dropping Vhade onto the dark shape in the water, a few paces left of the unblinking eye that he could now see was almost as tall as he was. He tumbled under water and everything was chaos. He did not know which way was up and he was uncertain which way was up. Logic told him to sit still a moment and his natural buoyancy will direct him to the surface, but with that great black shape nearby, panic had a firm grip on him. He picked a direction and began to swim, trying to not give in to panic, but when his left foot struck something solid yet yielding, like a rock made of flesh, terror finally took over and he began swimming in a direction away from it in all his might, the soreness of his limbs burning like fire but not ready to give in to his survival instinct.

As he swam, he felt something brush along his left arm. In the darkness of the storm and the salt of the sea made vision spotty at best so while he could not see what was there, he drew the dagger from his belt and lashed out. It connected with something soft and it fed his survival instinct. He lashed at it again and again. He felt something engulf his leg. Not a bite like a shark, but it surrounded the limb and burned its way through his clothes and pain was driven into his leg up into his mind. His endurance reserves were quickly exhausting and he was being driven by pure willpower alone but it not stop him from stabbing it again and again. While his right arm and leg thrashed with wild frenzy to keep his head above water, determined that his life would not end in the belly of some nameless sea beast.

Then, just as quickly as it latched onto him, the creature let go of Vhade. He instinctively knew that his adrenalin would be wearing off soon, and when it did he would no longer be able to keep his head above the rough waters of the Inner Sea. As he struggled, he believed he saw a light in the distance! It did not appear to be a lighthouse but he did not care, Vhade was determined to make his last drops of energy count. He only went a few strokes before he felt his head sinking below water. Vhade’s muscles were pushed beyond their limit at long last. His head started sinking below the wavers as he heard an explosion from the direction of the light, and Vhade felt tendrils surround him. Fearing another attack by a sea beast, he tried in vain to struggle, but he was so sore he could barely do more than strain his left arm a bit before giving in to exhaustion.

Instead of being devoured, he soon felt himself being dragged upward. Up out of the water and into the air. The light was almost on top of him now and Vhade saw he was now alongside a ship, dangling in the air held aloft by some strange types of cables of which he has never seen the like. As the odd apparatus maneuvered him so he was over the deck, he could see people running this way and that, and could hear them shout to one another in a language he did not understand. He was dumped onto the deck as the rind of a stale cheese might be discarded. Vhade’s whole body was wracked with pain and he began to cough from all the water he swallowed. He groaned in pain, half thankful to be alive, but a sliver of him wished he wasn’t from the agony he was in,

As Vhade lay on the deck of the ship a few of the people crowded around him, looking up at them he could see both men and women all armed with belaying pins. They both had long beautiful hair, facial features that appeared as if they were chiseled from the world’s most talented sculptor. They were tall and lean, and appeared to be very athletic. He would have thought they were just a race of the most beautiful humans he had ever seen, except for the long pointed ears each of them had.

“Elves.” Vhade whispered in his weakened state.

His reply came in the form of the elves rained down blows upon him with their belying pins, spinning him into a world of blackness.