Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Dragon Battle for the Oasis


Authors note: Head hopping story, each paragraph swaps between the two main characters.

It was time for me to leave the lair before my siblings. I grabbed a clawful of gems and coins and flew out into the desert sunrise.

Mother says it is time for me to go. I am the last of my clutch still in her lair. This morning she handed me a sack and says if I come back tonight, she will eat me.

I fly high up in the sky, the blue camouflaging my scales. I see an oasis by a rock formation that looks nothing like the nose horn of a great wyrm. As I land on a high ledge, I see that there are even humanoids present for enslavement.

I fly just skimming the sand. I enjoy the warmth on my brass scales. As dragons go, I am still little and the sand provides swell camouflage. I stopped to examine a rock formation. The walls were mostly sheer. The sandstone was smooth with a deep crag in the center that has a sand bottom.  The few overhangs pointed toward an oasis that contained a temporary encampment. I lay on a lower ledge with a sigh of contentment. Watching humanoids is my favorite pastime.

I heard a sigh from an outcropping below me. I looked and saw a brass dragon, my size, with a sack, staring at my slaves. This is my territory. I breathed a line of lightning at the interloper.

A bolt of lightning struck me from the clear, blue sky. I swung my head to look and saw a blue dragon on the shelf above me. He would not corrupt or enslave these people. “Be gone beguiler.” I blew a line of fire at him.

I leapt off my perch, leaving my coins and gemstones, partially avoiding the return breath weapon. “This is my territory, you be gone.” I felt the tingle in my back teeth and let loose another bolt of electricity.

I rolled to the right, off my pedestal and dropped the sack to the sand, to avoid the second bolt. “Wrong. I will cauterize this territory of your presence.” Flames licked my throat so I sent a second line of fire at the evil dragon.

I spent too much on that last blast of electricity. Instead I dove toward the interloper, claws extended, prepared to tear it apart. I screamed, “I shall save my breath and simply rip you to shreds.”

I dodged his attempt to claw me and again spit a line of fire at the offender. “Liar. You have no breath left with which to do battle.”

Now I was below the other dragon and still without a spark. I took off, away from the oasis. I could come back and reclaim it another day.

Typical blue dragon, if they cannot win they run. “Coward.” I bellowed giving chase with a line of flame searing his scales between his wings.

I was in pain and still had no spark. I had one chance, to turn and attack the oasis. I could dry up the water, then kill the brass dragon when it is distracted, then replace the water to my grateful subjects. I banked and turned straight back towards the brass dragon. “I am no coward.” I declared. I would hit it on the way through.

The blue brute was coming back towards me, intending no doubt to hit me head on. I rolled in midair just before he could bite me. His claws missed me but I scraped his underside. “If you are not a coward then why do you run?” I demanded, as I had to turn and again give chase, this time back towards the oasis.

Now I got the electric tingle. I could wait until after enacting my plan; but, I should have another charge built up by then. I was not a coward. I made an S-turn to send a bolt of lightning back at my pursuer.

The electricity stung. I had flames to return fire and did so with gusto. It was a direct hit and the blue dragon smashed into the backside of the rock formation. I flew back to the blue dragons perch and sat triumphant. This was my oasis to guard and these were my people now.

 

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

The Secret Gift


I am still grieving my mothers death, from nine days ago, when my father returned from his latest round of adventuring. He even came with two lovely spoils from a slain green dragon as gifts for us. He was so happy that mother was not home. He did not even ask where she was. He just wanted to show me the lovely brooch he had gotten for my mother. He had taken it directly from the dragons hoard. It was in the shape of a frog, her favorite animal, with little gemstones set into its back. “I got them all appraised. The dwarf who appraised them said they were all real and some are even valuable. Some sapphires and rubies. Mostly amethyst, aquamarine, garnet, rose quartz, spinels of pink, green, blue, and red, as well as various shades of topaz. The dwarf said that the metal of the brooch was gold, not pure but still high quality.”

“We need to have a conversation…”

“I had a special present made for you.” He continued as if I had not even tried to tell him. “It is a small bag you can wear about your neck. The container portion of the necklace is chainmail and covered in the hide of the green dragon we slew. There are also parts, such as the neck of the container for example, that are made up solely of dragonhide. Sinews from the dragons’ claws are used to hang the container from your neck. It is little bigger than your hand in diameter and height.”

“Father, I need to tell you something important.” I said as he pulled the shiny, green-scaled bottle-looking thing out of his beltpouch.

“The eye in the wood that seals the dragonhide of the neck of the container is one of the actual eyes from the green dragon we killed.” He continued, showing off his gift to me and not paying attention to what I was trying to have him understand.

“Mother is not coming home.” I said softly.

“What do you mean?” He asked looking around the front room that used to be my bedroom. I had already moved her bed out of my mother bedroom and mine into it. The local tavern was willing to take the bed for a good bit of coin. I had also moved my clothing and other incidentals, along with the hope chest they had been in, into the bedroom. Now the front room looked like a proper sitting room. “Where is your mother?”

“As I have been trying to tell you since you walked through the door.” I said finally losing my temper. “Mother died nine days ago.”

“Well I knew I was going to outlive her but I did not think she would be going this soon.” He said sitting in one of the highbacked, fabric-covered chairs I had purchased with the money I made selling mothers bed. He looked up at me. “Who is going to take care of you now?”

“I can take care of myself.” I answered affronted.

“You are barely twenty years old.” He scoffed.

“I am only half an elf. I am half-human like my mother too. If I were fully human, I would be married by now.”

“If you were fully an elf you would just be starting lessons in the arcane arts.” He snapped back. “You are neither.”

“Thank you so much for the reminder.”

He sighed. “You are right, Ouida. You are no longer a child. Come with me on my next adventure.”

That gave me pause. “I am not sure where you are going to sleep since I have taken over the bedroom.” I said not offering it to him.

“I can roll out my bedroll in here.” He said smiling and gesturing between my chairs.

“That works.” I agreed.

“Here is your present my darling.” He said handing me the chainmail and dragonhide bag. I took it and he slipped the brooch into my hand as well. “You would have inherited it anyway.” He said with a sad smile.

“I think it is time we settled in.” I began walking towards my bedroom in the back of the cottage. “I have already eaten dinner. There are some fruits I was saving for breakfast in the morning on the kitchen table if you want.” I had no need to change the kitchen. It was simple kitchen. A table against the left wall with three chairs around it. A counter for cooking along the other wall. A stove built into the outside wall. That was it beyond baskets for storage.

“I will go to the tavern.” My father said, placing his pack against one of the chairs and leaving without another word.

I took the gifts to my bedroom, then closed and barred the door. I had heard horror stories about drunken, widowed fathers. I placed the brooch in the chest of items I kept that had belonged to Mother at the foot of my bed. I had moved my belongings from it to her chest of drawers. Then I examined the bag. It was pliable but had a metallic crunch when I squeezed it.

Then the eye blinked. The eye of the dragon that was supposed to be dead. Inside my head, I heard. “I can teach you magic child. Magic thy elven father will never be able to access.”

“What do you want in return?” I asked suspicious.

“Nothing. I like this form. No pain. I can hold a hoard for us within the chainmail inside my scales. My mental faculties are intact, or at least they seem to be so far. I was a great wyrm in constant pain from former battle wounds, dying of old age of all things. You can be my magic, casting spells for the two of us. I will teach you every spell, spell-like ability, and magical trick I know. It might take decades but half-elves live that long right?”

“I will.” I said grinning. “Can we start the magic lessons now?”

“Of course my apprentice.”

Saturday, 3 June 2017

This Isn't Horror

Origionally this was supposed to be for a horror anthology. Once I finished it and was editing and trying to come up with a title I understood the horrible truth. This is not horror. So I am putting it here.


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Growing up my father taught me what to do if attacked by a dog. He said, “If a dog you don’t know approaches you. Put your left arm across your belly. Put your right arm across your neck. When they bite, push back into their mouth breaking their jaw or choking them. Don’t pull away, their teeth are meant to hold and tear. When they shake their heads, use the momentum to continue the motion to snap the dog’s neck.”

My father got me a puppy when I graduated college. A lab mastiff mix. He was my blond baby. I named him Yin.

We did a lot of training. First Yin was house broken. Then obedience school. Then training as a service dog, as my health was lacking.

Yin and I walked twice daily; in the morning after breakfast and at night, after dinner. Yin was so well trained sometimes I neglected to use the leash. It was one such night that a man came up to me with a knife.

“Give me your money.”

“I don’t have any money.”

“Give me your jewelry then.”

I fumbled with the clasp of my necklace. The man stepped forward and wrenched it from my neck. I cried out in pain. He turned to leave. My big dog, Yin, leapt from the side, snarling, knocking the man down. Using my cellphone, I dialed 911 as I took the knife away from the panicked man. That night, cuddled in bed with Yin, I understood why my father had gotten me a puppy that would become such a big dog.

 A few years later I had a massive stroke. I had been out by myself shopping. When I came to in the hospital, all I cared about was “Yin.” They had no idea what I meant by my dog’s name. Then my father arrived, with Yin wearing his service dog vest from when he had graduated as a half-grown pup. After a long hassle, it was proven that Yin was a certified service dog who had just outgrown his vest. Yin was allowed to stay with me in the hospital. He even slept on the gurney with me.

After my first stroke Yin was allowed everywhere with me. He got a new, properly fitted, vest with a little pack for his paperwork. I am slower now while Yin is still a big dog in his prime. Sometimes I would sit on a park bench and let Yin off the leash to run and play. One day he came back limping, his vest torn, the pack missing. I took him to the vet and called the police. The police wrote it off as a robbery with a knife. The vet was hesitant and told me to watch Yin for any changes.

The changes may have been there but I didn’t see them. Not until the last night we were lying in bed together. Yin was staring at me instead of cuddling like usual. Then he lunged. My father taught me what to do if ever attacked by a dog. Yin was just too close. He had gone for my throat. I got my right hand in his mouth but his breath still touched my neck. I pushed. Yin choked. I pushed harder as tears blurred my vision. Yin pulled his head to my right. I pushed further and there was a crunching sound. Yin fell limp.


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My author bio is as follows:
Shana Horn has two bullmastiff labrador mixes, eleven years old now, who inspired this story. One is blond and male while the female has the traditional black fur. The technique in the first paragraph was indeed taught to her by her late father. More of Mrs. Horns short stories can be read on her blog at http://slwhshorts.blogspot.com/.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Tidepool Dragon vs The Mermaid

For two days I looked around my black seaweed forest and gathered up the one hundred twelve crossbow bolts that the gillmen had missed me with. Only fifty were broken. Sixty-two were still perfectly usable. Of the fifty, I could most likely fix them all too. I did not push myself, just strolled around the fronds. When I found broken ones I piled them on top of the pearls that I had removed from the gillmens belt pouches. I would need to make more bolt quivers from the black seaweed. Or better yet remake the belt pouches into them. A project for tomorrow, now that I have found all the bolts.
I was just about to relax for the night when a cone of boiling water surrounded me from behind. It burned but still I turned to see the source. A tiny dragon with scales like the shallows on a sunny day attached itself to the front neckline of my eel skin studded armor by its front claws. “Thief.” It hissed in my face. If I had not turned it would have been secure upon my back.
 “I have stolen nothing from a dragon” I said removing the bayonet off the chain belt. “But I will defend myself,” I added stabbing up into the dragon.
“Liar.” The dragon states biting the tip of my nose. “The gillman told me how you killed his guards and stole my tithe of forty saltwater pearls.”
“I stole nothing from you.” I declared, stabbing the tiny dragon again. It opened its mouth wide and a cone of the boiling hot ocean water hit me directly in the face. I couldn’t see. All I could feel was the pain from it. I fumbled with my left hand at the chain belt and pulled off my potion of healing that I had gotten off a skum I had killed a while back. I uncorked it and drank it quickly. The dragon took a swipe at it but missed. The pain receded. It was still there. I wasn’t even healed from the last fight with the gillmen from just two days ago and now this but I would survive. I jerked my head to the right as the dragon tried to bite me again then stabbed it. I jerked my head straight back the next time, not sure which direction the dragon was going with its neck swaying all over. Then I simply stabbed it again.
Then it happened again. The tiny dragon used its breath weapon to superheat the water and spray it in my face again. I pushed up at its head and neck with my empty left hand when I saw it open its mouth wide and most of the steam missed me this time. Then I stabbed it with the bayonet in my right.
The dragon fell limp. I pulled the sea-knife and went to slice its tiny neck. So tiny was the neck of the dragon and so sharp the blade that I took the dragons head clean off. I noticed an inky blackness like black seaweed between the wings on the back on the tiny dragon. I pulled its claws carefully out of my armor. After all, the armor was new still and it had cost me a lot. I let the body fall backward. Making an X across the chest of the tiny dragon was an oversized thing made of black seaweed. I saw ties in its center and carefully undid them. I unwound the black seaweed revealing a bandolier able to hold eight potion bottles. Right now it held five. The way it was wrapped around the tiny body as well as the extra bulk of the potions had made it difficult to identify.
I pulled the potions out and spread them out evenly around me in a circle. Then I tied the bandolier across my chest and over my left shoulder.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Then I opened my mental senses. Once per day I could use these senses to detect magic. Anything more than that and I would end up with a blinding headache. If I used the sense for any longer than a minute I ended up with the same result. All of the potions has magical auras, this was a given. All of their magical auras were fain, a given again. Four had auras of the same color but a fifth was different.
I started with the different one. It had the same aura as my wand of healing. The same aura as the potion of healing that I had drunk during the battle with the dragon. It was another healing potion. I would drink it once I had identified the other four.
The other four were the same. A yellow color meaning a form of divination. Yet the potion within was black as ink but with a slight, metallic shimmer. I poured one of the potions in my hand and then rubbed it onto the dead dragon. Nothing happened.
I put the three remaining potions into the bandolier. I could have someone else identify them for me and tell me how to use them at a later date. I spent the rest of the night skinning and butchering the tiny dragon.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Her First Battle


“Little mermaid,” the gillman at the head of the caravan sneered, “just because you have somehow obtained one of our knives does not make you a threat to us.”

“Most of my weapons I obtained from a sahuagin that I killed semi-recently. This knife,” I said idly flipping it between my fingers, “is my second oldest possession.  A trophy from my first kill.  A gillman entered my forest and without my permission began harvesting my black seaweed.  I took one of the fronds he has sliced and slipped it over his head. I had no weapons yet but the seaweed worked very well to strangle the life out of him.  The gillman stabbed back at me with his sea-knife but I swished my tail and tightened my grip.  He stabbed back wildly again and I simply continued to hold on.  He sliced over his head at me and I laughed, accidentally loosening my grip.  I tightened my hold severely as he tried to stab me again.  His knees buckled but I could still feel his pulse under my knuckles.  His pulse stopped before I counted to twenty.”

“Was there anything else he had in his possession?”

I smiled and hedged, “A pouch of herbs, spices, gemstones, chalk, and other odds and ends.  A trident like most of your kind have.  Four sunrods, since your kind cannot see in the dark.  A waterskin.  A bag for my black seaweed.”  I paused as if to think.  The last two items would easily identify the gillman I had killed years ago to anyone who knew him.  “Plus there was a satchel with a turtle in it and a signet ring I sold months ago.”

The gillman stood and pointing at me screamed, “You killed my son.”  His twenty warriors swarmed at me.  I retreated into my forest of black seaweed, where I could pick them off one at a time.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Gnome Fey Hunter


“You’re the fairy hunter?” A gruff voice demanded from behind me. I was sitting at the bar at a tavern enjoying a warm meal I didn’t have to catch and cook for myself.

“I am.” I confirmed, then ate another forkful of stew. I got a potato in this bite.

“How much?”

“How much for what? Be specific.” I suggested taking another bite.

“How much will you charge to get rid of the evil tiny fey that is keeping us from thinning a certain area of the forest nearby?” I turned to look up at the half-orc. “Nevermind.” He grunted and turned away. A half-elf and human followed him.

“Just because I am a gnome does not mean I am not the fairy hunter you seek.”

“Gnomes are of the fey. Why would they hunt the fey?” The half-elf scoffed.

“Elves are of nature. Why would a half-elf take up logging?” I mimicked his tone. The human and half-orc laughed. Without losing the sarcasm I continued. “I bring you the body, you pay me in its weight in platinum pieces. I am sure there is a merchant with a scale we can use in this lovely hamlet.”

“Deal.” The half-orc said with a tusked grin. I grinned back and shook his hand. “You don’t get any coin until you bring us the body.” He said squeezing my hand.

“I take it you have paid to get rid of this fey already?” Shaking my hand once the half-orc released it as if he had hurt me.

“Yes an Erastilian paladin who said it was evil but yet as a fey it was a part of nature and thus he would not kill it. He trapped it and relocated it and then a week later, before we could finish our work, it was back.”

“I have no problem killing the fey for the coins. I just need to know where it is.”

“We will show you.” The human said in a surprisingly high voice.

“Tomorrow.” I agreed with a yawn, trying to pop my ears. “It is not as if you log at night.”

“We will be here at sunrise.” The half-orc said and the trio left the tavern. I returned to my stew.

The next morning I met the trio as I descended the stairs from the second floor. I had dressed to impress with my chain shirt and armored kilt. I had my bastard sword and my short bow for visible weaponry. Two quivers of twenty arrows, two bandoliers crossed my chest each holding eight flasks, and each wrist had a sheath of five more arrows. My belt had two waterskins, two pouches, four daggers, and a handax.

“Are you ready to go?” the half-orc asked.

“I am.” I had woken up early to eat while watching the sunrise.

“Good.” He turned and the three trooped out.

“Do all three of you really need to show me the way?”

“We go together.” The half-elf stated smugly.

I didn’t ask anything else, in case it was the humans turn to answer. We walked in silence into the woods. We walked for a long time, at least an hour, before they stopped. “See that mess of underbrush by those pines ahead of us?” the half-elf whispered to me.

There were seven pine trees, spaced a few feet apart, their lower branches intertwining, and a mess of underbrush surrounding them. They were directly in our path and hard to miss. “Yes.” I whispered back.

“We have been trying to clear the underbrush and lower branches but it keeps attacking us.”

“Fine.” I stood and walked forward, taking the handax from my belt. I began chopping at the undergrowth.

After the forth swing, a spear bounced off the right back of my chain shirt. I turned and looked at the tiny fey. It looked like a bundle of sticks bound by vines and given life. I dropped the handax, it had just been a ruse to get its attention. I drew my bastard blackblade and showed the fey its cold iron blade. “I was hired by the men who are trying to preserve these trees to kill you if you continue to interfere.” I said to the twigjack in sylvan.

“Mine.” It screeched, sending a barrage of splinters at me. I rolled forward, avoiding most of the damage, and sliced up the left leg of the fey and produced flame down the cold iron dealing even more damage. The tiny fey howled as it caught fire.  

“I WILL KILL YOU.” It screamed, sending another barrage of splinters at me. I was too close to dodge. It would be a long process later to remove the tiny shafts of wood. It was a simple process now, to remove the tiny head from the tiny body of the fey. The two pieces fell to the forest floor. I picked them up and shook the torso of the fey. Two tiny wands fell out into my hand. Typical fey.

“We will not be paying you.” The half-orc said brandishing a large ax.

“Let me get my gear from the tavern and I will be underway then.” I responded, absentmindedly turning the wands over in my hands.

“You are not mad?” The human squelched from behind me.

“I did not expect you to have enough platinum to meet my price.” I said walking back towards the hamlet between the half-orc and the half-elf without lifting my bastard sword at either of them. “I expected the double cross. I just wanted to kill the fey. I will do it for free. I often do. I just asked for the weight of the fey in platinum because you all were annoying me.”

“So now what?” The half-elf asked.

“I go get my stuff and move on. You do what you are supposed to with that.” I said tossing the body of the fey over my shoulder towards the brambles and pine trees.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Battle of the Patrols - In Game Terms

Battle of the Patrols – in game terms

Excel Spreadsheet “Book”: Word Count 739!
A. ID
B. Initiative
C. Hit Points at start of round 1
D. Actions during round 1
E. Hit Points at start of round 2
F. Round 2 actions
G. Hit points at the start of round 3
H. Round 3 actions
I. Hit points at the start of round 4
J. Round 4 actions
K. Hit points at the start of round 5
L. Round 5 actions
M. Hit Points at the start of round 6
N. Round 6 actions
O. Hit Points at the start of round 7
P. Round 7 actions
Q. Hit Points at the start of round 8

From my opinion post “The comparison of patrols is most interesting to me. Eleven to twenty plus a lieutenant for a patrol of sahuagin compared to three to ten plus two lieutenants of 3rd level and a leader of 3rd–6th level totaling six to thirteen for merfolk. So for the sahuagin lets roll 1d10+10 and for the merfolk 1d8+2 and let the patrols battle it out…”
I am instead going to do full patrols. So twenty level one and one level three sahuagin versus ten level one, two level three, and a sixth level merfolk patrol. The level ones will all be warriors. The third level lieutenants will each be fighters. The leader of the merfolk will be a waves oracle, because it was either that or a cleric or warpriest or ranger. Sahuagin and merfolk both fight with tridents and heavy underwater crossbows with ten bolts according to their bestiary entries. Starting hit points for each warrior is ten, fighters get thirty, and the oracle has only forty-eight, max of their hit dice. Also, merfolk Armor class of 13 and sahuagin armor class of 16, according to the bestiary. I have made a table for each participant of the battle and their initiatives and to track the hit points at the beginning of each round, until that number becomes zero or less.
During round 1 they will be using their heavy underwater crossbows and aiming at random warriors. Actions per round will be 1d20 for merfolk or 1d10 for sahuagin for who they hit, 1d20 to hit, and 1d10 for damage if not a miss. The Merfolk leader will use ice armor to make herself the target of the sahuagin arrows.
During round 2, the sahuagin lieutenant, during his turn, will order them to “Shoot the spellcaster in the Ice Armor.” He tries to show by example but it bounces off her ice armor. The Oracle meanwhile will hold her Ray of Searing Light until the lieutenant gives his order, then she will hit him with it, for 19 damage.
Round 3, the merfolk lieutenants and oracle will shoot at the sahuagin lieutenant, meanwhile all the sahuagin will shoot at the merfolk oracle, and all the merfolk warriors will shoot at random sahuagin warriors. The oracle creates a trident spiritual weapon to attack the sahuagin leader. Spiritual trident misses during attack of opportunity due to the lieutenants ranged attack.
Round 4. The merfolk oracle will cast cure moderate wounds on herself, curing 21 points of damage and bringing her hit points up to 36 before the sahuagin begin to attack her. Spiritual trident misses and misses again during ranged attack. The merfolk lieutenants one missed but one hit with their arrows.
Round 5. The merfolk oracle will again cast cure moderate wounds on herself, Curing 13 points of damage and bringing her HP up to 39. Spiritual trident misses but hits during ranged attack for 6 damage. The merfolk lieutenants miss with their arrows though.
Round 6. Oracle uses a third dose of Cure Moderate on herself, healing fifteen damage and bringing her hit points to 40. The spiritual trident misses both times, as do the merfolk lieutenants.
Round 7. Not needing a cure spell the oracle will again cast Ray of Searing Light at the sahuagin lieutenant again dealing 14 damage. The merfolk lieutenants deal three and ten damage with their arrows too. Killing the sahuagin lieutenant.
Round 8. Casts Cure Moderate Wounds due to taking so much damage, regains 20 hit points for 34. The oracle states to the eight remaining sahuagin, “Your boss is dead. Two-thirds of you number are dead or dying. I give you this one chance to leave here with your lives.”

Now here is the thing. I am thinking of ending it there because after eight rounds of everyone just shooting each other with arrows it becomes a little tedious, no matter what point of view I use. There are only two bolts left if both sides started with full quivers anyways so I might continue on. That is a decision for another day. Right now there are eight sahuagin left, nine with the one playing dead, and eight merfolk.
Also so far I have three points of view to write from, the sahuagin playing dead, the sahuagin lieutenant who dies in Round 8 which was my original idea and why I stopped here, and the merfolk oracle. I can make a part 2 of Battle of the Patrols – in game terms if they decide not to flee for their lives.