New Story: Untitled – Chapter Six

Kelle wasn’t entirely sure who her guests would be, but she was correct that they would be coming to her door relatively soon. Already her eyes in the city had warned her that a few strangers were already in Skilla and would soon be at her door.

She was wearing a crimson lace dress which glimmered with sparkly faceted garnets and showed off all her plump curves. She wished the dress was adorned with rubies instead of far less expensive garnets – but a girl had to be frugal once in a while. It had a long cutout back which showed off her beautiful rose tattoos along her spine and enough skin to hopefully play on her skills of persuasion.

Along her silken neck she wore a beautiful leather and garnet choker along with fancy chains of gold, garnet and onyx along her wrists and a few elegant rings adorning her fingers.

Her hair when straight draped all the way past her rump in a gorgeous deep reddish auburn. Normally when she was working she would simply roll and tie it up into a tidy bun which was her usual hiding spot for a thin long dagger.

This however was a special occasion and she had painstakingly soaked her hair in special oils, curled large sections, and then pinned it up in elegant broaches and hairpins. It looked damned near royal and the dangling jewels on the end of the various hairpins made soft tiny chimes when she turned her head. It was certainly heavier this way but sometimes comfort suffered for beauty.

There were at least two different knives hidden in this hairdo. Essential precautions.

By the time Du’Mas had informed her that two strangers had indeed arrived at their doorstep and were waiting in the entrance hall she had just finished the last careful job of applying her homemade makeup to accent her bright eyes.

Alright, let them in! And remember, be on your best behaviour!”

Du’Mas looked concerned for a moment as he was unsure what his best behaviour was supposed to be. After a few moments of stalling and a sharp glare from Kelle he bolted for the main entrance and fiddled with straightening out some of his chest fur under his more formal assistant robe before he popped out of the room to get them.

A few moments later the large Du’Mas led in the smaller decrepit Orc and the strange woman into the parlour.

Kelle was planning on carefully lounging against the edge of her wooden bar and batting her dark thick eyelashes when they had first walked in but the moment her eyes took in the guests she did something random and unexpected instead.

She screamed and pointed at the decrepit Orc and let out a shrill sharp ‘EEEK!’

Things moved very quickly then. Du’Mas had thought that green thing had somehow offended or hurt his Mistress, so naturally he gripped the old crippled man by the back of his robes and was about to chuck him off towards where the fireplace was located only to suddenly find himself grabbed rather tightly by the back scruff of his large neck. The only one tall enough for that must have been the woman stranger, but wasn’t she just beside him a moment ago? Could she move that fast?

All this happened rather quickly and the events happened pretty simultaneously.

Kelle was horrified to see her old dear friend Tusk dangling by the back of his robes a foot from the ground. Tusk was shocked to suddenly be dangling a foot from the ground with his fingers still jammed in his large pointed ears where he had put them when Kelle had started to scream. Du’Mas was shocked at the strength of the tightening at the back of his scruff and was already lost on what to do now. And Krill was wondering just what kind of mess they had all fallen into.

Enough! Du’Mas you put him down right this instant!” Kelle shouted.

I will not!” Snarled Krill who was certain the woman had said ‘dumbass’ and assumed the angry woman was referring to her.

Du’Mas was shocked and confused about the entire situation and wondered if it were possible the thing holding him also had been named Du’Mas. He decided to hold very still and wait to see which one his Mistress referred to.

Du’Mas I said let him go!”

Krill was about ready to tell this woman where she could stuff her demands when the creature in her grasp suddenly released his grip which caused Tusk to drop down and stumble face first towards the floor. Krill instinctively let go of the creature in order to try and help Tusk from falling, but she was already too late. Kelle was far faster then all of them and with keen reflexes she zipped forward with alarming speed and helped catch the old man from landing with his face on the stone floor.

Du’Mas was sniffling back anxious tears and rubbing the back of his now tender neck. Krill was ready for a fight as she glared at both the woman and her minion. And Tusk was managing to catch his breath just in time to break the awkward standoff with a sudden wheezing dry laugh. “What an entrance!”

I’m sorry Tusky, I didn’t know it would be you! Du’Mas means well.. he’s just an idiot!” She glared sharply at him but decided it was not helpful to keep yelling at him just in case he burst into full on messy sobs.

Tusky?” Krill grinned and her attitude softened. Obviously the danger had passed.

You look as gorgeous as ever, Kelle.” Tusk replied rather dreamily as she helped him to his feet. “But then, I suppose that is to be expected. I on the other hand? I am as old as dirt.”

Wait, that is Kelle? Mistress Kelle?” Krill looked over the somewhat short voluptuous woman who couldn’t have been too much older then herself. There certainly was no Elf in this woman yet she certainly wasn’t human either. Then again, Krill wasn’t much to judge.

Oh, yes sorry let me introduce you two. Krill this is the Mistress Kelle. As beautiful as she is powerful.” He brushed his robe off as best he could. Straightened it here and there over his thin arms and his squat porky belly. “And Kelle, this is my companion Krill. She happens to be the reason why we’ve come here.”

Ah. It’s silly but part of me always assumed I would get a visit from you earlier. I had never taken my offer off the table, Tusky. Although I feel you may have waited far too long…”

No. I stand by what I told you years ago, love. I was born a CullBreed and I shall always be a Cullbreed. And one day when I’m good and ready, I’ll die a Cullbreed. This body is frail and broken and broken things aren’t meant to last forever.” The reply seemed tired and rehearsed as if the argument was old between them and an act of social ritual to perform.

I had hoped one day you would stroll up to my door and tell me you found an answer to your aches and pains. I think you have somewhat – at least you should have been dead by now. Or so crippled you couldn’t walk and look at you! You were always the surprise. I just… you deserved better. You always deserved better.”

Well it’s true that I spent painful years of my youth trying to fix this aching relic of a body I was given. I guess I finally came to the understanding that some things just are. It’s in the blood and the bone and the soul. I accepted that a long time ago and I’m at peace with it. A bit of magickal help and a lot of luck has given me far more time then I probably deserve. I’ve had a long, adventurous life and I’ve gotten into my share of trouble.” He chuckled and removed his spectacles a moment in order to clean them off and adjust the lenses. “I’m not ready to give up yet.”

I’d expect nothing less. Giving up was never in your vocabulary.”

Oh, I dunno. I gave some things up.” His smile was far more pained.

Krill and Du’Mas glanced at each other a moment and gave a small nod. It was a familiar understanding known only to those stuck in awkward situations of being in the room during private conversations. A silent unconscious conversation seemed to transpire between them in which both apologized for the very uncomfortable positions they were in right now.

Kelle leaned forward and kissed Tusk on the top of his forehead. What remained of his white hair had long receded back and there was ample space to find. It also gave him a rather glorious look down her cleavage which he felt she subtly intended.

With the return of a blush and a new shaky feeling in his bones, Tusk returned the sweet kiss on the back of her flawless hand he grinned past his ivory tusks. “Now where is the good alcohol? I think we could all stand to drown ourselves in a bit of drink. We have business to discuss.”

Everyone agreed that alcohol sounded like the best solution.

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New Story: Untitled – Chapter Five

At approximately the same time Krill and Tusk had arrived in Skilla and Mistress Kelle had finally chosen out her outfit for the evening, Dean Prime Marthis was standing in an intimidating office with a scowl etched out on his rugged face.

The office he was standing in looked simple enough. There were no rich flourish like most of the College. Where as most of the rooms and hallways tended to try and outdo each other with elegance and prestige this room was rebellious in it’s simplicity. It had a simple wooden desk, a simple wooden chair, a small bench, a mirror, and two doors. One to lead into the office and another leading out. The door coming in is where Marthis stood, the door leading out was behind the simple desk and chair. Both seemed far too common for a place like this.

In fact the entire room made Marthis himself feel far too common.

The rugged man pulled at his robes and belt, trying to readjust the markings of authority. He absently shined the jewel encrusted Deans Seal on his right shoulder. Anything to make him feel less ‘common’. He disliked the feeling so immensely that he was just turning to storm from the room when the other door opened and a firm calm voice followed.

Dean Marthis. Sit please. I was held up for a moment on other pressing business. How good of you to wait for me.”

His hand dropped from the door and he carefully brushed his palms on his fancy steel blue robes before he sat uncomfortably on the bench with his impatient arms crossed. He hoped it made him look more stern and strong, although in reality it made him look only more awkward.

The man taking a seat behind the desk was known as Vesper. He was clearly of High-born Elven descent. His skin was a deep rich mahogany brown which looked as if it were naturally dusted with the finest glint of gold powder. His large copper-coloured almond shaped eyes had a certain unnerving intensity to them when set against the dark warmth of his skin tone. Soft and clean shaggy gold spun hair draped in soft curls over his shoulders.

Dean Prime Marthis wondered what it feel like if he brushed his fingers through his hair, then shifted ever so slightly and cleared a small lump in his throat.

Vesper was a stunning beautiful representation of Elven good genes and should have been wearing the finest of robes and most intricate jewellery like most of the High-born; yet there he sat across from him in the plain office wearing a plain hooded tunic and simple pants made out of plain old charcoal monks cloth. Peasant clothes.

How could that damned man stand all the plainness? Why was he even bothering him? And why did the sight of him always make him think inappropriate thoughts? Then he wondered what he would look like out of those plain looking clothes and had to quickly change the direction of his wandering thoughts.

Why did you summon me here Vesper? I have a hundred other things to be doing.”

Indeed, you are a busy man.” he said with a nod.

Vesper had a voice that seemed to never raise or lower from it’s calm and inviting tone in any conversations they had ever had. Because of that quirk it was near impossible to tell what kind of mood he was really in. It was intelligent vocal subterfuge that made him all the more mysterious.

He could have been an Adviser, or a Dean, or High-council member with a voice like that. He could probably be a King. An elected ruler of the people. Marthis was suddenly reminded how thankful he was that he had already purchased his own job security. He was also reminded how envious he was of the man’s various skills and influences.

Once he had tried to speak only in moderate hushed tones to try his hand at the sultry verbal skill and was forced to claim he had a head-cold after repeatedly concerned comments by faculty members.

Yes well, I’m sure you have your reasons.”

Indeed but I will try to not keep you long. I understand that there was an incident a few days ago with a woman being sentenced after being found in the restricted holdings section of the College?”

Marthis scratched the stubble on his beard and thought carefully. There had been a few intruders recently, also a few assassins, a few disputes among rival Mages, and of course the odd summoned daemon to dispose of.

“It’s been a busy week.”

Yes, I’m sure it has been.” Vesper carefully leaned back and opened the top drawer of the desk to remove a large journal. The cover clunked against the desk with disproportionate weight as he opened it and scrolled through pages. “She was sentenced to death, which seems slightly excessive?”

Ah. That one.” a sneer followed the recollection. “I remember her now. It was her own fault really – I wanted to just scare her a little and send her packing but she had such an attitude! I warned her to just keep her mouth shut. She just kept on with her mouthing off and goading me. She’s not laughing now!”

Vesper didn’t seem to be nearly as amused as Marthis was. After a few uncomfortable moments of silence Marthis struggled to explain himself with a certain amount of defensiveness thrown in.

She broke into the restricted area of the College! What’s worse is I’m sure she’s a repeat offender and she was being downright insulting and offensive. She probably had some sort of deathwish anyway!”

I do believe you are partially correct. It says here that there was nothing apparently missing from the holdings?” He seemed to be reading over some sort of account. Dean Prime Marthis stretched himself up a little to try and glance at the writing but saw only scribbles and runework and cursed his lack of knowledge of Elven language.

Nothing was taken.”

Are you certain?”

We took a quick inventory, nothing was missing!” Now his cheeks were starting to flush with the presumed accusations. This conversation wasn’t going anywhere he had hoped it would. “We caught her here. Nothing was gone. She is dead. Open and shut.”

Vesper ran a finger down the journal, slowly closed the book and clasped his long fingers on top of it’s closed surface. Two copper eyes narrowed to watch him carefully and he spoke slower as if the other man might have difficulty understanding.

The Oracle is missing.”

The what now?”

The Oracle.”

You expect me to know the names of every bloody antique we have down there? We did a count, it was all there. Everything was accounted for.” The larger man in steel blue robes laughed. “Look no one even uses any of that useless junk anyway! Most of it’s been disabled for years. It’s just a lot of old junk that the old blighters used to toddle around to impress the students once in a while. We fired the old librarian Books in place of the new system and haven’t had a problem yet! The system manages itself! Everything is written into a special ledger that does it’s own inventory check once a month and informs us if there is any issues. It hasn’t been wrong yet!”

I suppose this mistake would have been sought out quicker if you had not chosen to fire every competent Mage that held a seat of power.”

Times change! Some of those prats were ancient and should have been retired years ago! This has got to be a joke then right? This is a test or something? Jen’Rar put you up to this nonsense did she? Crazy ol– URK”

Before he could utter another word there was a tightening sensation on his throat, his legs, and his arms. At first he thought he was having some sort of medical emergency and was about to signal to the Elf to call for help when he realized Vesper’s hands were no longer clasped neatly on the cover of the book and instead two fingers were motioned towards him and the remnants of a spell glowed faintly in the air between them.

Vesper had barely moved but was still able to utter a full on binding spell on the larger man while Marthis seemed oblivious and waiting for a presumed punchline to a joke no one was telling.

He might have been rather embarrassed if he wasn’t also impressed and thinking of other possible uses for this interesting development. The finer aspects of spellwork were never the larger mans speciality so this kind of subtle manipulation of energy was beyond his own particular set of skills.

I did not want our conversation to devolve into this, but I am afraid that time is not on our side. Now I am going to say this slowly and clearly. Once I have finished talking I will release you, so please be patient and listen closely. I looked into the matter myself and examined the holdings. I found a facsimile of the Oracle… a bad one in all honesty, in place of where the real one should have been. It seems to reason that your woman was the thief. She must have hidden it on her person. I wish it back. Immediately. What you will do is retrieve her body and turn it over to me immediately.”

The tightening of the invisible magick vines pulling at his extremities and throat helped to make the point. It felt like an anaconda giving an unwelcome squeeze.

With a flick of his fingers Vesper followed through on his promise and released the other man who rather immediately coughed and sputtered. He rubbed his throat with his newly released hand.

Although his wide eyes stared daggers at the handsome Elf there was also a lingering tightening sensation in other places. It would take a long cold shower for all the side-effects to diminish.

It’ll take time to thaw her.” Marthis hissed out.

Then I suggest you hurry. I’ll give you one hour.”

New Story: Untitled – Chapter Four

[ Just a warning, things edge into more mature territory. Some language and questionable content ahead!]

This seems like a bad idea.” Krill muttered those words for the third time in the many hours of their trip as they rode hastily by Tusk’s small rattling wooden cart. Both the ancient looking horse named Edgar, and the rickety cart he was pulling looked just about as old as Tusk himself. Which was to say, very old.

The two companions were headed eastward towards the coastline harbour town of Skila and away from the safety of the western mountains where Tusk had made his secluded cavern home. In fact they would be heading back in the direction towards the capital city of Crestfall and the Mages College. Which seemed to be a bad idea to Krill no matter how many times Tusk had tried to convince her.

Luckily the main road would keep them a few hours distance from the main city and hopefully safe from being noticed. Plus there was the added benefit of just how common the two uncommon people could look, if they had to.

Going the long way by cart was far less obvious and in a lot of ways it was also less complicated then travelling by any magickal means. Although it could be argued that the long stretch of hours by cart was harder on the old Orc’s bones it was far less risky then subjecting his body to a blind teleportation spell. Those things were often times much harder on the body then people assumed.

Wrapped in his travelling robes, pouch belt, floppy hat and scarf he looked less frail and far more common. It also helped that the sly and cunning old hermit had enchanted his travelling robes long ago with a slight illusion charm. It had cost him more then a few coins, blood, sweat and tears to do so – but it had proved to be his most valuable asset.

To to small minded (and thus majority) of people he looked common enough to completely overlook. While not a true invisibility effect it worked well enough to keep certain people from asking the wrong questions.

Krill had no enchanted travelling robes or illusion spells to help her case any. Magick was always fascinating to her but relatively out of her reach. The few trinkets and spells she came across were usually pieces she found or stole or things Tusk had gifted her.

The only true magick Krill had ever managed was in her slick wit, unusual luck, a reputation for being unkillable, and a very good sense of stealth. The latter would be a bit more difficult now since her charcoal black eyes and short spiky white hair wasn’t exactly on trend. It made all of her other strange characteristics a bit more noticeable unfortunately.

Luck won out however and the roads had been relatively quiet and Edgar was keeping a good pace even while complaining much of the way.

Krill spent the majority of the trip keeping one arm on the seat and the other on the brittle reins while her partner in travel had his long pointy nose stuck into his journal as he scribbled away. He was likely taking plenty of meaningless notes simply to pass the time.

I can’t believe we are on the bloody main road like this. Are you sure this woman of yours knows anything?” She shifted on the seat. Her left hindquarters felt like it had fallen asleep again.

Look, Kelle is a brilliant woman with a keen mind and an expertise in all things alchemical! She’ll be able to tell you how best to use.. or not to use.. that damned Oracle without blowing your foolish head off your even more foolish shoulders!”

I’m unkillable, remember?”

Do you really want to test that theory? I mean we don’t know if you can grow body-parts back. We haven’t tried that yet…”

Good point. You said yourself she deals with the College, what’s to keep her from ratting us out before we even get through the door? She’s probably one of their pawns they keep available in case idiots like us try to get advice!”

She glared at him when he didn’t answer and was about to repeat herself a few octaves louder but it was clear he had heard her. A wide crooked grin had developed on his usually grumpy looking face. It looked rather out of place, even aside from his bottom tusks.

One thing you will learn about the esteemed Mistress Kelle… she is no one’s pawn. She has various customers all around the map. The College is just one of many clients she keeps on the books. So to speak.”

So she works for them, right? See where the problem is? She’s probably a pawn and we are going to end the day in irons!”

Every day has the possibility of us ending up in irons. That’s sort of our thing isn’t it?” She didn’t disagree as he had quite the valid point.

Look,” he continued. “She doesn’t work for them! At least not anymore. They are one of her many clients. She’s far more likely to back-stab them then she is to back-stab us since she’s always had issues with authority. Well unless it’s her own authority… Mistress isn’t just a nicety after all. It’s official.” There was a coyness to that crooked grin which became more evident by the odd purplish hue developing on the apple of his cheeks. It looked ridiculous with his tusks which made it suddenly clear why most Orcs looked grumpy all of the time. “We can trust her.”

…you are blushing?!” Krill yanked the reins which nearly broke as the elderly horse gave out a half startled neigh in protest. “Stars above! Tusk how long have you known this woman? You didn’t mention any Kelle before.”

He rolled his eyes and dramatically flopped his journal down upon his lap and motioned with a flourish at the reins with his calloused hands. “It’s none of your business. Are we stopping for any reason? Or do you want my old bones to wither to dust before we get anywhere?”

It took a few moments for her to coax the horse to return to it’s pace before she cleared her throat and tested the waters once more.

So… exactly how much history do you have with her? I mean, if we are to trust her and all I should know a bit more about her.”

I met her at the College actually. In my third year.”

Oh, classmates?” she grinned. “You sly green skinned–”

Teacher actually.”

What?”

She was one of the teachers.” He cleared his throat and turned his head as if he had suddenly found the foliage beside their cart far more interesting. The purple hue on his olive skin grew a bit deeper. “But I mean, we saw each other a little socially as well. I mean it was very– nothing ‘obscene’ happened in class. For Powers sake girl, watch the road!”

The cart had drifted off to the right and Krill quickly corrected with a firm pull on the reins that nearly flipped them both right off the substandard cart seat. Edgar, the ancient draft horse let out another snort of annoyance.

I’m sorry, it’s just– I mean, there are so many questions.”

Yeah well, you can keep most of them to yourself!” he picked up his journal again and stuck his nose into the pages at a failed attempt to end the conversation entirely. This time he made no scribbles, but instead pretended like he was engrossed by reading his own notes.

I bet she was an Elf. Maybe a High-born? That seems strange, I mean they don’t tend to date outside–”

What? No! She wasn’t a High-born! She wasn’t of Elven blood at all that I know of. And we weren’t dating! We.. just.. why are we even talking about this!”

A long pause.

It’s a long trip.” Krill of course was right. They had left mid-morning and had been on the road for most of the day. The trip had stretched over a few river crossings and taken them past the High Gate Woods and into the Eastern Valley. Possibly there was at least another few hours of travel time to get through, more if Edgar and Tusk needed another half dozen rest stops before they got to the village of Skila. Horse and Orc both seemed to have remarkably tiny bladders when travelling.

Seems to be extremely long now.” he chided back. The horse let out a whinny in agreement.

Okay, okay… who cares what she is. I’ll meet the old fossil at some point anyway.” She grinned at his snort. “Actually I’m surprised she’s still kicking around is all. I know you’ve aged far better and longer then anyone expected – not sure even those in the best of health could hope to keep up. You’ve outlived plenty of your classmates so it’s just a lot to take in.”

The path of Magick leads to some very dangerous professions…” he used a thumb and pushed his spectacles up the bridge of his nose. The added weight of the various contraptions kept them sliding down once in a while. “The smart ones tend to survive longer.”

I don’t know. I bet my money more on dumb luck.” she chuckled.

Well thank you for being so considerate! Considering it’s -you- giving your advice on lifespans–” he arched a sarcastic eyebrow. “How old are YOU again, Krill? I seem to have lost count…”

She shifted uncomfortably. The truth was that clearly neither of them had any idea how old she really was. They had known each other for close to forty years now and she didn’t look a day older then when he found her badly injured and lacking any real memories. Sure she healed quicker then anyone expected but the memories had never returned.

It was another quirk to her already quirky set of circumstances in her life that she hoped to sort out. It was a bit of a touchy low blow that she grunted at and redistributed her weight once again.

How is your backside not bruised by now? Anyway… the point is,” she cleared her throat. “Did you care for her? I’ve known you a long time my friend. I’ve never seen talk of a woman make you blush. Is this going to be hard to see her after all this time?”

His crooked grin waned slightly. It settled back into his usual thinking grimace as he continued to bury himself in his own ornate and complicated words written in his leather-skinned journal.

We were all young and foolish once.” The answer he didn’t need to give was; Yes. It would be hard.

As for the backside.” Tusk continued with a louder exclamation. He braced a hand against the cart, lifted, and showed a small round cushion squashed and hidden under his robe. “I planned ahead.”

You sneaky bastard…”

The last few hours of the trip was spent in a volley of sarcastic retorts and spurts of tired laughter before the smell of salt water revived the stale country air and the harbour town of Skila opened up before them just before the darkening hours of the evening.

Some Literary Halloween Treats..

For all you book loving gremlins and ghouls out there I thought I would share a small list of some strange and  relatively obscure novels with Halloween type themes for you to take a closer look at.

I completely understand that everyone has different tastes in their wordy appetite – so these are just my personal picks from some weird and wonderful books I’ve read over the years that reside in the creepy awesome section of my ‘favorite reads’ bookshelf!

I’ll include the Amazon.ca book link, and a mini review of each one, just so you can take a closer look and get a general idea of the book theme, cadence, and tone.

Shakespeare Undead: Lori Handelhand : This isn’t a complicated read, nor is it a literary masterpiece. It is however very entertaining, amusing, and satisfying. I finished it very quickly – but it was also a book I found I couldn’t put down.

It has been a while since I read this one, but it still brings back the warm-fuzzy tingles that twinge in any book-lovers soul when they recall the memories of a good read. If you were a fan of Pride Prejudice and Zombies the movie, or Warm Bodies – give it a look over – has a similar feel in parts though manages to hold up on it’s own.

Fat Vampire: A never coming of age story.. : Adam Rex : A mix of Parody and completely original comedy – this story is gold. It takes the current media portrayal of glamour-vampires (please don’t mention sparkles…) and flips the usual story on it’s head. Instead of simply pushing for the allure and romantic idealism of tween vampire captivation – it instead tells a hilarious, but far more impactful story. It is raw, brutal, light-hearted and in spots very touching as well.

This is a movie I would see, and Adams story flow and character development was well executed! I haven’t picked up any other books by him yet, but he’s definitely an author to look for if he keeps pumping out such raw and unique stories like this one…

Brains: A Zombie Memoir: Robin Becker : Zombies became real popular, real fast. With the popularity of ‘The Walking Dead’ and movies like ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ and ‘Warm Bodies’, we kind of got a lot of them all of a sudden filling the market. (Almost as if it were a plague… *bad rim shot noise in the distance..*)

Robin’s book however differs because of the story-telling position of the characters, as well as the unique way in which she tells their story. The main cast of characters are actually Zombies, and they are complex beautifully flawed individuals. It is a generally light-hearted, strange, sometimes gory tale – but it also has a slight undertone of sadness as well.

If you are anything like me, you will end the book rooting for the troupe of characters and feeling a twinge of remorse that the difficult journey is over. It will be a story, that although simple and unpolished in spots – it is definitely thought provoking and will leave you with a sense of completion, curiosity, and perhaps a bemused smile as your root for the underdogs.

Well those are my three picks for some spooky interesting fiction to take a closer look at this October season. Maybe check your own bookshelves for some spooky favorites that you can share with those you love this holiday season.

Sometimes some tricky tales are the perfect treat to curl up with on a dark and scary night!

 

 

New Story: Untitled – Chapter Three

Kelle hummed to herself as she deftly moved a few glass bottles this way and that while examining the various coloured hues of the scents and essences inside.

A particular amber coloured one had her attention at the moment as she squinted one green eye and peered at it through the light coming in her workshop window. The label had long since decayed from the glass, but her expertise and memory served her better then any scrawled label could. She knew these herbs, vials, pieces and essences better then scholars at the Great Library knew their books.

And to her at least, these arcane ingredients were far more interesting.

Seemingly satisfied with the look of the fluid she nodded and set the other competing bottles aside before she popped open the small stopper on the amber one and breathed in a large waft of perfumed scent. It smelled of cinnamon and clove and she added it carefully to the stone bowl in the middle of her alchemical station. It swirled and mingled with the fluid already in the bowl until the entire colour seemed to rest at a strange dusky rose liquid that smelled sultry and brisk.

Another order to fill. This one would be the essence of an oil used for some of her favourite girls at the bathhouses. A speciality of hers as of late and one of her reoccurring orders. It was playfully called ‘Ladies Leash’ and had saved more then one of her clients lives by keeping customers happy, pleasant, and much less dangerous.

The legality of a seducing mood-altering massage oil was hotly debated among the Mages College in which she graduated. Luckily Kelle cared little for the laws of most people. She also knew that her usefulness far outweighed a few minor indiscretions. She could get away with murder. Most literally on some occasions.

The bowl of ‘Ladies Leash’ sparkled slightly in the mixing bowl as she stirred it with a long gold mixing spoon and waited for the little amber bottle of cinnamon and clove smelling fragrance to empty it’s last few miniscule drops into the mix. “Waste not, want–”

Mistress Kelle!”

It was such a loud yell and unusual clatter at the door that the short curvy woman nearly toppled her whole small table as she snapped her head towards the chaos. The bowl jolted and the liquid slapped around dangerously threatening to slosh out of the bowl and across the floor.

In one hand she gripped the small now empty bottle, in the other she braced her whole alchemical station from flipping, and in the same breath she cursed a large assortment of swear words in a very short amount of time. Kelle was nothing if not skilled at multi-tasking. It was one of her better qualities.

What in the blazing hells!” She snarled out loudly when she had used up most of the more creative words in her vocabulary. “What do you want?!”

After a few more rampant poundings and scraping noises her assistant Du’Mas finally realized the door was actually unlocked and managed to turn the handle and topple inside. He looked ridiculously awkward as usual – but also a dash more panicked. It made his fur rise in a strange poofed out way that was reminiscent of static cling.

I’m so sorry to bother you Mistress, but it’s extremely important!”

I should hope so considering!” she snapped back.

Du’Mas had once been a slave, found by Kelle on the underground market while she had been searching for nightcaps and glowing myst moths. Both ingredients were highly difficult to attain and forced her to look in some strange places in order to get her hands on them.

Slaves however were far more common to come across so she was surprised to see the caged creature being offered up for a relatively inexpensive price. The scrawled label on the terrified boy’s cage read “Forest Night Troll, answers to Dumbass, please take him off our hands!”

When she purchased him on a whim he had been only a boy. A strange boy creature with long black silky fur on most of it’s body, and a relatively imp-like face with crystal pink eyes. He was certainly a scruffy flea-bitten mongrel at the time, but proved to be quite the eager and harmless pet. They had called him Dumbass so often that the poor creature would answer only to it.

When the amusing novelty of yelling ‘Dumbass’ around her home wore off she was kind and managed to alter it to something a little less harsh and with a bit more flourish. Thus Du’Mas got his name. Yet on some days it seemed the former name was still far more fitting.

She found herself grumbling loudly “Dumbass!” under her breath while he picked himself up off the floor, whimpered in his usual way and looked at her with the large pink and pleading eyes. This was an occurrence that seemed to happen quite often.

Yes Mistress?”

Adorable but stupid. For a moment it seemed he had forgotten why he had even barged in.

Come now, out with it! What is this blasted emergency then, hmmm?”

Oh! The Mages! They said tiny bottle was stolen, was very important. Said I need to get you right away. Said that bad things might happen! Mistress will be safe, yes?”

The short woman tapped her long sharp nails on the alchemical station and arched a sultry brow. Very little things seemed to really surprise her. Living such a long life tends to take the surprise out of a lot of things. This however was quite the welcome shock. She relished in this new flutter of excitement as it passed through her chest.

Oh.. now that is very interesting. Someone has stolen the Oracle? My, they will be in a right tizzy then. My my…” she abandoned the bottles, charms, herbs and potions for the time being and wandered towards her large and dumbfounded assistant. “I need you to gussy yourself up and get the staff informed that we will be having guests.”

Guests?” Du’Mas blinked and tried to adjust the makeshift bow hidden in his neck fur that always made him feel a bit more fancy. “Who guests? Mages left. They expect you to go there!”

Phff, they can wait. It’ll be good to see them stew a little. No, I do expect we’ll be having other guests arriving. Guests I don’t want the College to know about.” she wandered across the room and felt around the ornate dark wood panelling for the right hidden handle.

Pulling it opened up a large tall door which revealed a hidden room.

Brocade silks, lavish tapestries, beautifully carved book cases, and a large wardrobe dripping with rich clothes and jewels. The only thing that seemed off in the richly decorated sleeping quarters was that the large four poster bed was stripped of any sheets and seemed relatively unused. It was also gravely apparent that the missing sheets and pillows had found a new home inside of a silk brocade lined coffin with it’s lid wide open against the far side of the room.

I must find something nice to wear! Tell Cook to serve you Venison tonight. I’d love a taste of deer in my wine.” The door shut with a curt click and left the confused Du’Mas to muddle through the instructions while trying desperately to free his bright green bow-tie from his black tangled fur.

Movie Review: Blade Runner 2049

For something a little different, I thought I would give my honest opinion of the movie “Blade Runner 2049” that I just finished watching a few hours ago.

First of all; I am a huge fan of the original Blade Runner. I first watched it while taking a ‘Villains in Literature’ course during my college years. Back then I did up a report on the movie as well, and explored a lot of the philosophy and familiarity to the original Prometheus and Frankenstein mythos. I also went in depth on who the real ‘villains’ were and what the character motivations broke down into.

But aside from all that I must say the movie itself is just a gorgeous and thought provoking piece. It has remained one of my favorites since then and still holds a fond spot in my heart when I occasionally rewatch it. Because of my love for the original – I was highly concerned when I first heard rumors that Hollywood was going to revisit this specific movie!

Luckily I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. Whew!

‘Blade Runner 2049’ is a sequel piece that follows up about 30 years in the future from the end of the original ‘Blade Runner’ movie. It’s musical score is hauntingly familiar and the atmosphere is highly on point to the original feel of the movie world. The gritty ‘cop noir’ feel remains and the story was not only respected, but added to without over complicating plot points or overshadowing the first movies lore.

I also adored all the throw back cues to the first movie including some of the same footage / audio being used in key places. It made it very cohesive without being a full on “oh my god, they are regurgitating the entire first movie!” information dump. Plus points on that one because follow-up movies sometimes rely too heavily on that.

The run time was almost three hours, which I personally didn’t mind. I understand some people may have been irritated at the slow draw for some of the scenes – but I honestly wasn’t. There were quite a few slow paces in the first movie and I feel it was key in places to take the dramatic moment to it’s furthest edges. It didn’t feel at all that they were simply padding the runtime, but rather building for dramatic effect.

Overall the movie hit all the geeky nostalgic moments, and drew me back into the brilliant world of Replicants. It fired up a new admiration for that cinematic world and the characters within it – and part of me hopes that there is a third movie somewhere down the lines because there are still questions awaiting answers! (Although for certain I am happy to leave those questions tauntingly unanswered if it means avoiding a movie that ruins this films run..)

The only real criticism I have are mainly technical details. Some of the music, although beautifully and hauntingly done – were far too sharp and loud. It was a little too obvious in places that the sharp mechanical noises were emphasised far too much for no real reason. This wasn’t part of the soundtrack, but after-effect noises that were added in for atmosphere, but not in relation to exactly what was going on screen. Sharp mechanical whines or grinding traffic noises that overshadowed the scene.

Perhaps this was an effect that will be lessened on the DVD or Blu-Ray copy – but at the theatre it became distracting fast!

Also – It isn’t a movie I would have wanted to see in 3D. I am very glad I went with a friend who also likes watching movies without all the special 3D effects. Look, it was awesome in movies like AVATAR – but this slower paced and less blaring action type movie just gets muddled up with too much special effects whizzing by. Do yourself a favour and watch it in standard regular ol’ format to get a real feel of it. It’s got enough snazzy atmosphere and visual effects to keep you entertained – I’m sure.

All in all it was one of the more enjoyable movies I’ve seen in a while. Five stars, and I can’t wait for it to become available for purchase!

 

 

 

New Story: Currently untitled – Chapter Two

Tusk Jerkins was a squat olive skinned creature who wore strange thick glass spectacles which also had assorted-sized extra lenses and metal bit attachments hanging off either side. His large milky yellow eyes looked massive beneath them as he perched on a stool and scowled through a large assortment of flattened parchment and unrolled scrolls.

He always looked grumpy when he was thinking and he was always thinking. Luckily looks were often deceiving. Especially when it came to such characters as Tusk.

He tapped his large gnarled toenails on the rung of the stool as he grunted and mumbled. “Which one sent you? Big guy with no brains, or short guy with no brains?”

B-b-b-big… g-g-guy.” her teeth clattered too hard for her to grin as she kept herself buried under a large fur blanket. The unusually sharp clean edges of her canine teeth threatened to snap her own tongue right off if she wasn’t careful. “You t-t-think… they ar-r-re… all d-d-dumb!”

I haven’t been proven wrong yet.” he looked over a faded map of the known reaches of Veilreach and tapped a few locations and clicked his tongue against his namesake bottom tusks which stuck out awkwardly from his wide jaw. The jostle from the metal bands on his right tusk gave a comforting jingle and metallic taste. “That’s a far stretch. Had to be Dean Prime Marthis, I heard that prat was handling a lot of the punishments now… unless they have new heads of discipline there. Always possible considering how long I’ve been out of the game. Jen’Rar is too inaccurate to send you that far unless it was clearly a mistake and she only meant to move you across the room and missed! Nah, it had to be Marthis… I heard that old sod is all talk, coin, and prestige. No real sense in his head!”

He laughed roughly at the joke that only seemed to amuse himself before he nodded and swirled around to properly examine her. “How are you feeling, Krill?”

She glared at him with a deadpan shivering look. The answer was obvious. “C-c-cold.”

He nodded, seeming to find that a decent answer while he tried pointlessly to stretch his curved spine which was aching from a hectic evening of activity. It didn’t give him much added height, but the popping noise seemed to bring relief. After another stretch and a rub of his aching knees he adjusted the lenses on his glasses and peered at her closer. His eyes looked buggy and large. The effect made his sharp long nose look even more thin and piercing.

It had been four hours since her retrieval and gradual thaw. The towels and blankets he used to mop up most of the water had not yet dried and the hearth fire had been crackling warmly in the middle of the room for quite some time.

Although her body had already started it’s remarkable healing process, some changes remained. The colour in her iris had maintained a dark charcoal grey instead of the brilliant hazel they once were and her hair brittle and broken from the cold was now short and drastic silver white. The concerned Tusk had no idea what would be permanent or temporary. By any account she should have been a permanent ice sculpture as it was so already they were in uncharted territory.

When the Mages passed a death sentence it was supposed to end in death. What once was considered a rare and morbid ceremony eventually grew more routine and lazy. The finer mechanics of magickal control was somewhat lax and the odd quirk had been known to happen. It wasn’t uncommon for prisoners bodies to end up a little off kilter during their various disposal rites. No one tended to complain too much and some of the Mages found it highly amusing.

It would have seemed a pretty obvious mistake to send someone to a place like the northernmost Tundra without knowing for certain they were dead, but Krill was a rather strange exception. Technically she had been. Or at least dead enough for most.

In fact it was a running trend in her life so far. She had been presumed dead and disposed of more then anyone she had yet heard of. Every time she somehow managed to survive the ordeal. Tusk figured she was just too stubborn to lay down and stay dead.

Well, against all odds the Unkillable Krill maintains her reputation…”

She rose a shaky left hand out of the depths of the blankets and raised a stiff middle finger. He laughed in utter satisfaction and carefully slipped from the stool and shuffled towards the kitchen hearth. His gait was getting worse.

More tea I think. Lots of warm tea.” He tinkered and clanked dishes as he carefully pulled an old copper kettle from the fireplace with a long set of tongs. “Honestly, what were you even doing there? You know what happened last time. Those Mages don’t want to help you. They’d rather see you pickled and studied then shown any sort of.. well.. civility. Mages aren’t civil.”

You are.” She managed to finally still most of the clattering of her teeth as he returned with a large metal mug full of hot sweet floral liquid. She took it eagerly and cradled it in her den of blankets.

Yes well, might I remind you why we are -here- and not -there-. I’m not entirely welcome there either anymore…” He flopped on another pile of blankets set out close to the small cracking warded fire in the centre of the room while he coddled his own mug of tea.

There were certain benefits to being both a Mage and an Inventor. Some of those benefits included spell warded fire to prevent unexpected accidents as well as working and efficient plumbing systems. Both a rarity among common folk.

So why were you there?” He pestered again when he was properly comfortable in his makeshift chair and his bones ached less.

Krill drank a few long slow gulps of hot tea before she trusted herself to speak more then a few words without a frozen stutter. “I was retrieving something.”

Something worth risking your life?” He eyed her, slurping carefully to avoid spilling tea around his bottom teeth. It was loud and unintentionally obnoxious, which he was unfortunately all too familiar with but unable to change.

I certainly hope so.” She chuckled in response when the slurping had finally subsided. “Good thing my reputation remains.”

She risked removing a hand from the warmth of her mug in order to shuffle it around in the blankets. When she finally showed it again there was an orate blue teardrop shaped vial in her pale palm. It’s stopper was attached to a long necklace chain that curled around her fingers.

It almost looked common enough. Many of the local apothecary’s had plenty of similar bottle charms dangling from their shop windows to entice quick sales from rich fools looking to impress other richer fools. Decorative bobbles of scented perfume were a big trend among most of the noble classes. Even some basic tonics and potions could be purchased in these fancy carry-around bottles. Pretty yes, but certainly not something worth risking life and limb for when one could just as easy purchase or steal them from far more accessible vendors.

This bottle, however small and unassuming, differed in two key areas.

One was the fact that it’s chain and glass looked remarkably aged and not well kept. It glowed faintly but it was far from the bright glittering enchantments most nobles sought out to decorate needless trinkets and spoils. (It was amazing just how common and useless most glowing trinket bottles actually tended to be.) This was a glow that wasn’t just added to make a statement. This was a dull and natural pulsing of magick that gave off a certain hum to those who knew how to hear it.

Secondly it was also something that the squat Tusk was already quite familiar with.

By the stars above… you bloody lunatic…” he clutched his chest and nearly spilled his mug down the front of himself. “You stole the Oracle!”

Retrieved.” the woman corrected.

I should have left you there! At least until you came to your senses!” he set his mug down on a small wood table beside his makeshift chair. It clanked with such a noise that he feared there would be no liquid remaining inside.

Calm down.” Krill grumbled at him. Although the darkness of her new eye-colour made it less obvious it was still clear that she was definitely rolling her eyes at him while he huffed and fretted.

How did.. why would.. the Oracle!” he was grasping the left side of his chest harder and the mirth in the room dwindled away. It was replaced by a thick wall of anxiety.

Seriously Tusk, calm down.” Krill shrugged the blankets from her slim shoulders and adjusted her legs to rub her still tingly knees. She wondered if she would have the strength to test them if she needed to bolt to his side. Her eyes scanned him far more cautiously and her tone whimpered lower. “Please.”

They regarded each other for a long moment before they both seemed to relent at the situation. Slowly Tusk relaxed into his chair and nodded in submission. His olive coloured skin was slightly more pale and glistening with a small sheen of sweat. He still managed to curl his lip in a sneer. “You are still an idiot!”

His heart, even with all it’s good intentions, was never in proper working order. A haunting truth that both of them knew all too well. In fact Tusk himself was what Orc kind considered a “Cullbreed”. An Orc born so physically weak or malformed that it should have been culled after it’s first few breaths. Even as an infant it was evident that the young Tusk would amount to nothing of value in Orc society. He would never hold a position of power. He would probably never even lift an axe let alone raise it in battle.

If it wasn’t for the fact that his mother, the Orc war-maiden Sin’Rak was on a diplomatic ship travelling northeast on treaty business to the capital city of Crestfall when she happened to give birth, he would have likely been sacrificed before he could even formulate a protesting grunt.

The story goes that his mother barely even noticed the labour and practically birthed the small infant in front of the whole crew. Disgusted at his puny size, wheezing cough, and lack of guttural screams common with Orc infants.. she nearly flung him off the side of the ship as refuse.

However Matron Aethys Jerkins, one of the Skeye Temple Priests also attending the journey to the capital city had happened to be nimble and cunning enough to make the right proposition at the right time. Sin’Rak parted the ship with a money pouch somewhat heavier, and Aethys left with a sickly, gangly green coloured infant.

One could argue who got the better deal depending on who you asked.

What are you planning on doing with… that?” Tusk finally grumbled when the silence between them had lingered far too long. Both cups had been empty for quite a few moments but no one offered to leave the social standoff to get more tea.

Find the answers I’ve been seeking.” Krill sighed and stared at the crackling and relatively harmless flames as they circled in their warded pit in the middle of the room. “I want to know who I really am. The College won’t help me and their records didn’t hold anything of value. The Scholars certainly had nothing to offer. Trust me, I looked. That place is huge. I think this may be my last resort to finally find out who I am and where I came from.”

Tusk sighed and stared out across the room to the mirror perched on the far wall.

In the distant image his crippled form looked back at him. Although he was proud of this vast cluttered little home he made for himself; no matter how often he tried to convince himself otherwise he always saw a malformed and unwanted pup perched on a pile of discarded trash when he looked in that mirror. An unwanted in a world of unwanted things.

One day he’d have to finally move that damned mirror.

It’s funny. Sometimes with questions like that, Krill – the answers aren’t what we want to hear.”

Perhaps not, but it would be better then nothing. It would be more then what I have.” She brushed a hand through her now short white hair. “All I have right now are shadows and questions. The main one at the moment being, how do I use this to get answers without blowing myself up?”

Well, that’s an important one.” Tusk grunted and rubbed his stubby chin. “I do hate to bring her up… but I do know of one woman who would know.”