Saturday, January 30, 2021

Little Sister (4)


Previous Outed as a gorgon by the fairy Chianna, Stheno runs away, aiming to confront the Inquest and recover her magic mace.

The fairy Chizora returned to the healer's cottage, where the five members of Team Dan passed the night on pallets. The young wizardress served up cornmeal fritters wrapped in bacon. Chizora landed on Dan's shoulder and tugged at an ear, her fairy speak like so much baby cooing. She did aerial cartwheels, urging the group to follow.

"Saddle up," Dan said. "That girl might have some hellified power, but she doesn't need to be out there alone."

Zena slapped her katana into its back sheath. "Yeah, like, but is she friend or foe?"

"I believe," said the dark-haired healer, "she's lost in a strange world."

The blonde fairy Chianna drifted near, conjuring an image of a tiara.

"She's royalty?" The tall bro Pete strapped on his black sword Soul Stealer, which had once taken down a walking tree. "How 'bout that. Princess Petrify."

"Not if we can help it," Bonnie averred, catching up with Ed at the door,

Dan opted for a low key trek, led by Chizora's tracking skill. She returned and fairy-spoke with Chianna, who created an image of a brigand. "Time for the third fairy, to keep this quiet. Chiella!" A black-haired fairy in red spiraled from the ring. "Let's go, men!"

They came upon the fallen man, upon whose back sat a smug Chiella.

"Good work, Ellie!" Dan trotted up to a low rise. "Looks like he's one of the hired guards for that encampment." A complex of tents ringed a gaudy pavilion, which flew the Inquest banner, whose symbol was a sort of backward numeral two. 

Zena scanned the acolytes. "Like I don't relish the idea of charging in there. Those guys cheat. Psionic magic isn't fair." No one liked the thought of having their magic permanently neutralized.

"Will they mind-rip the girl?" Bonnie asked.

"They'll try." Dan motioned for the group to keep low. "Something tells me that won't turn out well for them. Chizora--locate that mace and take it to her."

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Forced to sit, Stheno glared at the High Inquestor. "You will return my mace. I am a princess of Ionia!"

"Indeed? No, girl--you suffer from illicit native force, which you humans quaintly call 'magic'. I shall relieve you of it."

"The impudence!" Serpents exploded from her cowl. "No one is going to steal my magic!" Her features went full gorgon.

Chiella flew interference for Chizora, dropping guards with fairy music. Chizora directed a stream of exploding stars at the door they guarded, darted inside. It took all three fairies to lift the mace, which they carried toward the pavilion. 

Seeing it, Stheno let her serpents relax. "My mace! Bring it to me, and we shall escape this place. Let the mercenaries beware."

Personalize Your Workstation

Most of us are settled into our field of choice to work on our craft to improve.  Our virtual offices at home can be equally challenging trying to stay inspired.  One of the ways could be how the writing or art studio is set up.  Make it fun and personalize it that suits you.   Make a seasonal or holiday theme.  When you are looking to keep ideas flowing, set up something that redirects the mind.  Whether it's a lava lamp or a mini aquarium to something simple such as mini plants, organizing your workspace helps to reorganize the mind.  Sometimes a diversion to your current project is just what is needed to keep the creative productivity flowing.  

Since it is winter, put up some battery powered mini lights and fake snow. Wrap mini lights around branches, make them short.  Hot glue them to a wooden board or use sturdy foam to stick them in.  Layer the snow just a bit and deck the little scene how you want. Whether it's plastic deer, animals or set up a mini battle scene with knights and dragons, castle etc.  Or just keep it simple.


   Old writing desk. Full of quills & inks for calligraphy royalty free stock images

 It seems complicated enough to feel overwhelmed.  Keep something simple, maybe a mini bonsai tree or something.   Ever look at the sky, or the ocean horizon and let your thoughts drift a bit?   Make your remote office fun whether it be a writing studio or art studio.  

Bonsai Tree Knowledge Wisdom. A bonsai tree in a pot on a painted canvas background with a shaft of light royalty free stock photography

See the plant on Dwight's desk?  Something as simple as that can make all the difference and when you take a mini break from your project tending  something or reorganizing something else will help one to stay on task.

Image result for Dwight Shrute, office

If you are on a shoestring budget like we are, it won't put a dent in it being extra frugal with supplies and materials.

Dwight Shrute, office - Bing images

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Little Sister (3)


Previous  The gorgon Stheno watches Team Dan arrive at the raised drawbridge she had failed to cross.

From the fairy ring, Dan summoned the second of two, called Chizora. She flitted across the gorge and into the deserted bridge tender's tower. Since her specialty was locks, gadgets, and locating, she had little trouble bespelling the chain lever. Team Dan trotted across as soon as the bridge cycled down. 

Stheno prepared to follow, briefly distracted by a tug at her head; one of the serpents had sprung out to catch a mouse. As the tendrils settled back in place--one swollen by a lump--she hurried across to keep the mercenaries in sight. They could be the only hope of recovering the magic mace she had escaped from. Without it, transforming into the giant flying head wasn't possible. 

Having found the tower deserted, the five members of Team Dan found a nearby cottage where lived the village healer. She had settled here some years before, a refugee from Earth in the year 1099. The group partook of tea and various fried vegetables. When a plain-robed girl came in, the fairy Chianna reacted. This time, she would not be ignored in putting out the warning.

"Wait!" Bonnie called as the girl fled. Dan directed Chizora to pursue and keep track.

No one thought to check the tower again. Stheno found the bridge tender's lunch and set to with gusto. She would pass the night here in a halfway decent peasant bed. The morrow would see her set out to recover the mace alone. There was too much risk of the mercenaries trying to profit from her capture. 

Stheno addressed the plain fairy watching from atop a pile of firewood. "If you oppose me, I must destroy you." The fairy merely flicked her wings, the winsome grin never wavering. "Be warned that my serpents never sleep." The fairy groomed a wing with a foot, curiously fly-like. 

"Well then. Let us hope your conjurer does not accost me this night. I shall reclaim my mace at any cost." 

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Branwen the Daughter of Llyr — Tale 2

Among the relations of Bendigeid Vran, the giant king of the island (Wales) are his sister Branwen and his brother Evnissyen. The latter is known for trouble making. King Matholwch of Ireland sail to Wales and proposes to Bendigeid that they form an alliance. He also requests Branwen's hand, which is agreed upon; and they go to the desired site, under a tent, the only structure that can hold Bendigeid.

One day Evnissyen comes upon Matholwch's horses, and inquires about what is happening. Finding out, he feels insulted he was not asked his consent. Enraged, he mutilates all the horses. Matholwch, too, takes the mutilation as an insult; and prepares to depart immediately. After some negotiations, he relents and remains with Bendigeid. Reparations are made, but Matholwch seems morose. Bendigeid says he will include a cauldron that came from Ireland. A man slain today will be alive tomorrow; he will be well except he will be unable to speak.

The story of the cauldron is related: Llassar Llaesgyvewid and his wife escaped Ireland and went to Wales, where Bendigeid gave them land, where now a multitude of their tribe live. Matholwch adds further information: one day hunting, he saw a giant of a man carrying a cauldron, accompanied with his pregnant wife. She was much was shorter. Matholwch maintained them, but at the end of a year many complaints arose about their evil ways. The people told the king to choose between the evil people and his kingdom. Matholwch asked his council what he should do because the evil couple would not go of their own accord, and it was not possible to force them to leave.

An iron chamber was built, outside of which coal was piled to the top. The evil couple and others were served food and drink, and when they were drunk, the smiths outside lit the coal. Llassar smashed his way out, followed by his wife. Only they survived, then fled to Wales. There, Bendigeid Vran dispersed everywhere, and they have prospered, fortifying the places where they dwell.

A year after Matholwch and Branwen return to Ireland, she gives birth to a son, whom the name Gwern. But in the second year the people rise up against the insult given to Matholwch in Wales. They cause her to be a cook, and have the butcher give her a blow to the head each day. Branwell raises a starling, teaches it to speak, writes a letter to her brother, and sends it bird flying to him. Bendigeid and his men sail to Ireland. (Bendigeid apparently walks in the water since no ship can hold him). The Irish flees over a river, and demolish the bridge; but Bendigeid lies across the river, allowing his army to pass to the other side. Negotiation begin, and it is finally decided that Bendigeid have the country, and for the Irish to build a house big enough for Bedigeid on one side, and for Matholwch on the other. The Irish, however, place armed men in leather bags on each side of the hundred pillar; but the trouble maker Evnisseyen comes and squeezes every man's head in leather bags.

Negotiation continue, and it is resolved that Gwern shall be sovereign. However, Evnisseyen casts the boy into the fire; and fighting begins. The Irish fill the cauldron with their dead, and the next day they are ready to fight again. Evnisseyen sees that his own men are not resusciated, so pretends to be dead; and the Irish, taking him for one of their own, cast him into the cauldron. He stretches out and breaks the cauldron in four; but also bursts his own heart.

Bendigeid's side has some success, but only seven survive; and Bendigeid is struck by a poison arrow. He commands that his head be cut off. Having returned to her homeland, Branwen is heartbroken, blaming herself for all that happened. She dies from this great sorrow. Caswallawn, putting on the Veil of Illusion so no one could see him, slays the six men with Caradawc, the man left in charge to guard Bendigeid's kingdom. Caswallawn does not kill his nephew Caradawc, but the latter dies of a broken heart. Bendigeid's head is eventually buried in London to protect from invasion — but later is it disinterred. In Ireland only five pregnant woman are left alive. They give birth to five sons, who eventually take the women for wives and populate the land. From the five come what is called the five divisions of Ireland.

Little Sister (2)


Previous:  Having escaped the mace, the gorgon Stheno has various misadventures before coming across Team Dan, a possible source of aid.

The fairy Chianna, scouting for Team Dan, raced back to report a curious--and possibly dangerous--discovery. She had never encountered a gorgon in human-passive form, safe for the moment to look upon. Yet this one was possessed of full gorgon powers, had about her the aura of an elite progenitor from the home world of the humans. That meant immense power, of the kind wielded by vampire lords and fairy elementals. Was this one friend or foe? Dan must be warned at once. 

Stheno followed, coming upon a wooded glade infested with ghouls. The group of five up on the ridge--three men and two women--were clearly mercenaries. Still, they weren't here to prey on the weak, but to fight zombies. The women were probably spell casters, and that meant a chance for Stheno's injured arm to be healed. She decided to help them, unobserved. Since they were near the drawbridge she had previously failed to cross, these people might succeed in the crossing, and that meant food and shelter. And so, she got the attention of a ghoul and gave it the gorgon sight. It began to petrify, but the woman in red had begun a charge towards it, having seen it shambling about. 

Ed knew better than to laugh. "Stone idols don't do it for you?"

Zena lifted up on elbows, head spinning from the vibration of steel on stone. "It was moving, I tell you!"

Ed helped her up. "These others are real enough. Let's get busy." The group set to with swords, but Zena decided to stand back and light them up with fireballs. The wizardress Bonnie ensnared them in tangles of weird growth. 

Zena's bad luck continued after getting tackled from behind. She whirled and took off a zombie head with messy results. 

Stheno watched the uneven battle until all the ghouls had been dispatched. She crept close enough to hear their talk. The one called Ed addressed the fairy that had just alit on his head. "Where ya been, cupcake?" Apparently the nickname referred to the fairy's hat. But the fairy was very much aware of Stheno, turning back to look at her. She'd try again to warn the group about the gorgon. There was nothing to do but follow them toward the drawbridge. The gatekeeper's tower was a beacon of warmth against the cold night of the Blight, and Stheno meant to have it.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Little Sister


In the eastern wilds of the Blight

A band of wolven attacked an Inquest compound as the priests scrambled for cover. Kyzor, High Inquestor for this region, waded into them with a magical mace. Its barbed ball transformed into a giant gorgon head. Poisonous serpents lashed at wolven not yet swept by its baleful gaze. Its mouth opened impossibly wide to bite one in half. 

Kyzor had never seen it so enraged, but was still surprised when it broke free. "The gorgon is loose! Do not look upon it!" One of the priests didn't heed the warning in time and joined the growing accumulation of stone carvings. 

Briefly euphoric at freedom, Stheno floated among her ghastly handiwork, exploring their rigid contours with serpentine tentacles. The priest with the mace presented a problem: she could not get close without being recaptured. Yet outside the mace, she would begin to age as mortals did, and the floating head required enormous energy to maintain. It wasn't safe to regain human form, so she raced through the forest, leaving a trail of petrified creatures in her wake. 

At length, cold and hungry, she managed to steal a simple robe from a band of nomads. Two of the men tried to bag her, but with help from the serpents, she escaped, and the insouciant louts paid the price. The next obstacle was more formidable--a drawbridge spanning a deep gorge. Beyond lay rolling hills, a safe plateau from the terrors of this place. Cookfires promised warm refuge from the  night. 

An old matron peered out a side door of the tower. "Who's out there?"

"I am a princess of Ionia, betrothed of Prince Iatos. You will lower your bridge." Ah, Iatos, dust these many centuries, left behind on another world. 

"So your cronies can charge across? Not tonight, missy. Try again when it's light enough to see."

"Then die!" Serpents surged forth in an attempt to form the floating head, but it appeared impossible without the mace. Stheno fell on her face. Seeing this, the crone fled her post, and Stheno saw no option but to try the dubious sanctuary of a colorful glade. 

"Odd." She stared at a bend in the stream. "Was not that tree on the other side a moment ago?" She had a few sips of water before lumbering branches reached down to seize her. With a withering gorgon stare, she caused the tree to petrify, and its branches broke under their own weight, dumping her back at the stream with a scratched arm. 

In the distance, something small flitted into view. What fresh affrontery was this?