D&D Story – The Beginning of Bob

Ever wonder how a wood elf becomes a cleric of a tempest god in a port city?

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Spring came and Bobalietha celebrated his fifteenth year. It was a year of decision, of elfhood. As with all wood elves of the Shaythean Woods, it was time to choose his purpose in life. While it would still be decades before he would be allowed to sit before the council, his physical maturity was at the point where he would be able to start developing the skills he would give the community.

Life within the Shaythean Woods were uneventful, especially for a young elf full of vigor and energy. The spiritual practices felt empty and hollow to his mind, lacking in some aspect. There was something missing from them that Bobalietha could not place his finger on. As such, he could not imagine choosing a life inside the confines of the village.

When he was called before the council to announce his intent, there was little surprise when he volunteered to join the Southern Garrison. The outpost rested on the southern end of the woods, just north of the city of Waterdeep. It was an important post for the Shaythean Woodelves as a point of information and trade with the many cultures who frequented the port city.

Upon arrival, Thurodan, the garrison’s captain, assigned him various duties. The garrison was staff by volunteers, limiting its number to a mere twelve, and all members had to do their part. Bobalietha fletched arrows, ran messages, and helped with the maintenance of the barricades and palisades. Most of the buildings and the barracks rested within the trees on the edge of the woods, though a single, fortified building sat on the ground to conduct business and as a final defense.

Bobalietha admired Thurodan. The elf was pragmatic and fair. There was no duty that he did not help perform, a true example to the elves underneath him. Once, a group of goblins attempted to raid the garrison. Thurodan thrust himself into battle, felling three of the five himself with a mighty swing of his hammer. Since that raid, Bobalietha put down his spear and attempted to teach himself the warhammer.

After staffing the garrison for six months, one of the famous coastal storms swept past the wards of Waterdeep and drove towards the Southern Garrison. The elves scrambled from their treetop outposts towards the safety of the ground building in order to protect themselves from the winds and hail. Outside the building, the winds roared, tearing saplings from the ground and blowing away the defenses of the outpost.

The earth trembled in the storm and the building shook. The central crossbeam, a mighty oaken log, cracked and began to slide down. The walls leaned drunkenly inward and the roof sagged. Thurodan strode forward and placed himself under the massive beam, bracing it against his shoulders and holding it in place. Thunder crashed from outside, ringing in their ears. Hail drove through the weakened roof and struck the ground around them. Despite it all, Thurodan held that beam, seemingly immovable as the oaken support had been.

Alas, like the crossbeam, Thurodan began to waiver under the weight and ferocity of the storm. His knees trembled. Sweat streamed down his face. Bobalietha, in his youthful excitement, darted forward and reached out towards the beam in an attempt to help his captain. Within moments, his arms trembled violently. The weight was too great for him to manage, and he was unable to provide any meaningful help.

Suddenly, a bolt of lightning crashed through the roof and struck the ground at Thurodan’s feet. The world disappeared in a flash of white, the sound like so many metal objects striking the ground. When his vision cleared and his senses returned, Bobalietha found himself laying on the ground and staring up at a giant man.

His physique was near perfect. His biceps bulged like boulders on his arms. His back rippled with each movement. With seemingly no effort, he took the beam from Thurodan’s shoulders and held it in both hands, pressing it above his head.

He turned his head towards Thurodan and smiled. “Kord smiles upon you.” The divine accent was unlike any Bobalietha had heard, the very words sounding thick and muscular. “Your strength has called to him and saved your people Thurodan. Accept his call. Become his messenger to the people of Waterdeep.”

Thurodan said nothing, was unable to say anything, in the presence of this divine creature. All he could do was nod. The man reached out and placed his hand over Thurodan’s head. His giant grip engulfed the elf’s face. Energy crackled in the air and Bobalietha saw Thurodan’s body tense.

Pushing himself to his feet, he ran towards the creature. He had no idea what he would do, just that something had to be done. Pain ran through his shoulder as he felt like he crashed into a rock. The rock rumbled with laughter, looking down at the scrawny wood elf. “Easy boy. I would never harm a cleric of Kord and temple master.”

Thurodan’s body relaxed and he motioned for everyone to move outside. His eyes had become as gray as storm clouds, a flash of lightning playing over them. Before Bobalietha could follow, the divine man grasped his shoulder. “You have spirit boy, but you are too scrawny right now. Behold! The blessings of Kord!”

Electricity shot through his body and his felt it grow and expand. When the pain passed, he gasped and looked down. Before the storm, he was short for an elf, with a lanky frame. Now he stood at six feet, his shirt drawn tight against his arms and chest. Thighs and calves bulged within his leggings.

Even more impressive than his new physique was the feeling of electricity within him. He felt the rumble of thunder within his chest. His own heart pumped lightning, causing the hairs on his arm to rise. He laughed softly at the gifts, the laughter driving out the remaining pain.

“No gain, no pain bro,” the herald said. Bobalietha left the building and the herald disappeared. With the absence of anyone holding the beam, the building collapsed behind him. The storm still raged about them, though neither Bobalietha nor Thurodan had any fear of it. There was no reason to fear a display from their god.

“Bros,” Thurodan began. His voice was a deep boom, the touch of Kord changing its tone as well as his speech. “Kord saves those who lift! Join me bros, to spread the message. We will establish our gym temple within the city and teach the people the prayers of the bench, the squat, and the deadlift. They will pray with every curl. They will pray with every lunge. We shall guide them along the path of brodom. From brotoges to bros. From gym rats to brofessors.

“Brotoge Bobalietha.” Thurodan turned his stormy gaze on the boy. “You have been blessed with Kord’s gainz. Will you answer?”

“Master Brofessor,” he answered. “I will follow the path of the Iron Church…and call me Bob. It is a stronger name.”

“Very well Brotege Bob. Let us go spread the good news. A new gym is open.” With that, they led the way to the city of Waterdeep followed by the other ten wood elves. Over the years, the temple grew, a haven for wood elves seeking another path. Bob discovered the missing piece of his spirituality was action, movement, the ability to overcome what was impossible yesterday.

He rose from brotege to bro and guided others along the paths. He taught the ways of the Iron Church. He spotted them on the holy lifts and motivated them through the penitent’s path of cardio. He worked tirelessly in his devotion to be worthy of the gifts Kord bestowed upon him.

Then one night, he sat in front of the temple, deep in meditation, the smoke from his pipe curling about his face. His spirit called out to Kord, and a whisper answered him. Thunder rumbled in the distance and the wind changed directions. The signs pointed to a new path for him. Opening his eyes, he looked out into the darkness and saw a small group dragging the body of a dragonborn through the streets.

“Bros. Come closer. Let me help your friend…”

Content Creation, Timelines, and Rants

Its funny looking back. I ended up taking a long hiatus from everything meaningful when it comes to writing and stories.

Now I could justify it all. I moved across country. Hell, I just moved to a different country. I read a book that was just so far outside of what I liked, not only could I not finish it, but it took me months to get the desire to read anything.

The truth is, though, that this content creation wheel we have to ride is a giant pain in the ass. Tweet thres times a day. Post regular blogs. Get a newsletter and shoot that out monthly. Engage with both your audience and with other writers.

Screw that.

Don’t get me wrong. Everyone who does well with indie publishing does these things. But with Twitter? Well established authors just tweet whatever they want. Politics, retcons, rants. As for non-established? Well, they just post things to the writing community. They following are other writers.

Good for them. Really not trying to discourage. I’m not trying to write for other writers though. I don’t care what my MC would do if they were thrown into GoT or the Potterverse or at high tea with the high queen of such and such.

Its why I barely engage with the Facebook groups anymore too. Most the posts are things like that. The few posts that do ask questions and seek advice, most of the comments are “well my chars…”

Look, like I said, if these things help you, great. Some people love exploring what their chars would do in situations outside of the book. They like the mashups. Those questions are probably why they became writers in the first place.

For me…I had stories I wanted to tell. Of course the rub is that i spent so much time trying to create content to engage that I never had time to work on my stories.

So here is what I am going to do. I’m hoping off the regular timeline train. When I finish a book, I’ll post a review. When I get bored and write a flash fiction, I’ll throw it up. If I have random conversations with myself like this one, well I’ll toss that up as well.

My tweets will still be related to my worlds and stories (at least as much as 280 characters will allow). And probably sales and giveaways as well…at least when I add new short stories to Amazon. Or books. One day I’ll finish one of those.

As for now, I have this really weird idea in my head about witches and multiverses and magical detectives. So follow on here or Twitter, @steelstashwrit1, if you want mostly story driven things. Or don’t. And feel free to comment support or arguments. I’ve been wrong before.

But whatever you do, I need y’all to stay fantastical.

Flash Fiction Friday 010 – Dabaumon

The forest was dark despite the the clear, mid-afternoon mid-skies. Torvin pulled his cloak tighter against himself to ward off a sudden chill. The old ones spoke of the Black Forest but only in hushed tones. It was an ancient place. A place still held under the sway of the old laws.

He did not like the mission that sent him deep beyond the borders of the forest. A young knight had escorted a woman into its depths several months ago and never returned. The villagers all assumed her and her escort dead. Unfortunately, the knight was from a prominent order who wanted proof of the death.

“Bloody knights and their bloody codes.” Torvin spat at the thought of Knights Protector. Easy enough for them to sit in their high towers and make demands. Poor fools like Torvin were the ones who had to carry them out.

The tracker let his mind continue to wander down it’s angry path as his feet followed the game trail. This was the most likely road they would have taken. In the distance, he heard a strange rustle. The forest had been acting stranger since the knight’s disappearance.

“Ta hell with this.” Torch spun around and turned back towards the edge of the forest. It would be dark soon and he wasn’t going to spend the night out here alone. As he turned, his eyes landed on a strange looking tree in his path. He blinked, sure that the tree hadn’t been there before. Tentatively, he stepped forward towards it.

The tree was gnarled and twisted by the wind. Jagged branches grew all over, clawing the sky in dark malice. It shifted and shuddered suddenly, uncoiling in a grotesquely humanoid shape. It’s trunk split open with a sickening creak, revealing rows of mishappen teeth and unending darkness. The eldrich horror lurched forward, the movements like that of a sickly predator. The stench of rot and decay wafted on the breeze, carrying the promise of death should one fall in it’s grasp.

With a terrified scream, Torvin clawed at his eyes, desperate to rid himself of the image lumbering towards him. His screams were cut short by the rising wind and darkness overtook him.

If you liked this, please drop me a comment or share with your friends. For more on the Black Forest and the knight Torvin was searching for, check out Salvation on Kindle Unlimited. Don’t forget to follow us here, or on Facebook or Twitter so you don’t miss the weekly fantasies I destroy my sanity to build for you. We also have our first newsletter coming out at the end of this month with an exclusive short story. Make sure you sign up and as a special thanks, you’ll receive another short story for free.

Flash Fiction Friday 009 – It’s Raining Tacos. Hallelujah!

When a magician goes to lunch, his intern is left alone in the workshop. The intern is hungry, however, and decides to use a little magic to help fix the situation. What could go wrong with that?

Jeff continued to sweep one corner of the workshop. It was a mindless task. Hell, it was a task that didn’t even really need to be done, but it made him look busy. That was important when the master was in one of his moods. Or any of his moods. Or awake. Jeff had learned that over his five years here. Look busy and don’t ask too many questions. That suited Jeff fine, and his lack of ambition often made the master feel better about his lot in life.

The mood today was good. The experiments were going well and the universe responding like it should. It was almost noon when the master cried out with joy. “I’ve done it!”

Jeff came running center dais. It was a large circle, raised by several steps. It held a small table, a stand for the master’s spell book, and a cauldron as well as the master himself, beaming in the glow of the boiling liquid. “Jeff, look! Distilled essence of will power. Just the thing to help all those college kids with their finals. Slap that in an energy drink can, toss on the FDA warning, and boom! We’ll be as big as Monster and more popular than Adderall.”

The master gave himself one final smile before placing a hand on his stomach. “But that is an issue for after lunch. See you in an hour.” With that, the master strode from the dais and disappeared into the noise of cars and humanity outside the shop.

Jeff stood there a moment staring into the cauldron. He carefully lifted the spoon that had been used to stir the mix, pausing with it just before his mouth. Surely a little taste wouldn’t hurt. After a few more seconds of hesitation, he tentatively licked the spoon…and felt nothing.

It was odd. The master was so confident, but Jeff didn’t notice any change to his mood or desires. He did notice a rumble in his stomach. The mention of lunch brought Jeff to the realization that he did not eat breakfast. He also did not feel like any of the fast food chains that were close by. What he wanted was a good taco. There were just no good tacos in the neighborhood.

The thought occurred to Jeff that there was a solution to his taco problem sitting on the table next to him. Picking up his master’s pointy hat, Jeff put it on his head as he thumbed through the spell book. It was the first time he had ever really read any of this book so it took him a few moments to get used to the format. Once he got the hang of it, it was a few more minutes of searching until he found the spells that he needed.

Jeff put a lid on the cauldron to act as a tray and lifted his hands into the air. He began to rattle off the spells that he had seen, his voice floating through the warehouse like the many particles of dust he swept. When he was done, he stared expectantly at the cauldron’s lid.

Nothing appeared on the lid. Jeff dropped his arms in disappointment and placed the hat on the table. Before he stepped down, however, a tortilla floated from the ceiling and landed on the cauldron. It was followed by some shredded beef, a sprinkle of cheese, and a glob of sour cream. Laughing, Jeff lifted the taco and blissfully began to eat.

His laughter faded after two bites. Another tortilla was falling from the sky. And another. And another. Each one was followed by shredded beef, cheese, and sour cream. Before long, the workshop was filled with the flurries of tortillas, the patterings of beef, the drizzles of cheese, and the plops of cream. He did not know what he had done, but he had created a tortilla storm.

Shock gave way to fear as the storm continued. What would the master say? There was only one thing to do. Jeff quickly picked up several tacos and ran for the door. He did not stop until he was two cities away and looking for a new job.

Meanwhile, the master returned after lunch to find his workshop caught in a downpour of tacos. At first, he was angry at what was going on. As he carefully picked his way through the showery fiesta, he saw the book and hat were not as he had left them. A few moments of investigation gave him all the hints that he needed. The potion apparently worked and his unmotivated assistant had apparently created the storm for lunch.

Placing the hat on his head, the master lifted his arms in the air and began to chant. He shrank the storm to a tiny cloud that he sealed in a jar. Another enchantment was placed on the jar to pause the storm whenever the jar was closed. In addition to a new motivating energy drink, the master also had the start for a food truck business now. All in all, today was a good day.

If you liked this, please drop me a comment or share with your friends. Don’t forget to follow us here, or on Facebook or Twitter so you don’t miss the weekly fantasies I destroy my sanity to build for you. We also have our first newsletter coming out at the end of this month with an exclusive short story. Make sure you sign up and as a special thanks, you’ll receive another short story for free.

Flash Fiction Friday 008 – Hugs, Not Wands

All ages face difficult questions. These questions always need a lot of thought and logic to figure out. Can a father help his daughter understand the challenge of answering these questions?

“Why do we hate protesters so much daddy?”

Torvin blinked, his mouth slightly agape as he turned to look at his daughter. “What do you mean sweetheart?”

“My news feed is full of people talking about how protesters belong in jail or that they are wasting their time. How it must be nice not to have real jobs.” Trina didn’t even loft her head from her crystal, one finger casually flicking up to show more of her feed. “No one seems to want to talk about the issue.”

Torvin cleared his throat while rubbing the back of his neck. “Well, baby…I suppose that’s because it’s easier to talk about protests than issues.”

“Why?” She turned her eyes up towards her father, her brown orbs bright and inquisitive in the way only a child could have.

“Because a lot of people see magic as a right and when you start talking about more education and limiting what people can do, they get angry.”

“But isn’t magic dangerous?”

“Of course it is sweetheart. So are a lot of other things, though. It gets complicated real fast.” Torvin’s brain was already hurting and he wasn’t that deep into the explanation.

“So people make fun of protesters to avoid trying to figure out answers to the problems.” Trina’s lips turned down slightly.

“Maybe. No. I don’t know.” Torvin grunted slightly. “It gets complicated. Some people don’t want to talk about the issues. Some people don’t like seeing these protests all the time. So people just want to be mad at others wanting to change things.

“And that’s why it’s so hard to do anything. You have to wade through the reasons why people are resisting and address their concerns. That’s why we have the Conclave.”

“Ok daddy.” Her voice was distracted, absent any interest or attention. Torvin loomed down to see her back on her crystal watching some video or another. That was the problem with young centaurs today. Not enough attention span to finish a simple conversation.

If you liked this, please drop me a comment or share with your friends. Don’t forget to follow us here, or on Facebook or Twitter so you don’t miss the weekly fantasies I destroy my sanity to build for you. We also have our first newsletter coming out at the end of this month with an exclusive short story. Make sure you sign up and as a special thanks, you’ll receive another short story for free.

As always, I mustache you all to stay fantastical.

Random Thoughts – The 3 M’s of Worldbuilding

World building is hard. So is figuring out how to have fantasy creatures interact and engage with that world. But how do you introduce those creatures early if they don’t play a role until later in the series? The 3 M’s answers that question.

So I am in this awesome writer’s group on Facebook. The people there are great. They are also super helpful, always willing to offer help and advice on story issues. Occasionally, though, you get some random jackass who has never published a book who tries to speak with authority and offer their two cents…Well, not being content with being just a jackass on Facebook, I have decided to expand on one of my ideas here for you fantastical people.

There have been a lot of question on Fantasy Writer’s Support Group on worldbuilding. Not just how to create a new world and populate it with interesting peoples and creatures, but also how soon or late to introduce these elements. Many of these writers have plans for a multi-book series, and they want to keep book one very mundane and ordinary with barely a hint of fantasy creatures, only to introduce these different races in later books.

Initially, my advice was always to get the creatures out there as soon as possible in book one. It’s fantasy. Fantasy creatures are allowed to be there. Besides, you don’t want to have book one feel like some type of historical fiction story only to do a genre bait-and-switch in books two or three.

Now, this is still my advice. To quote Martin Luther (the theologian, not the civil rights leader) “Here I stand. I can do no other.” I never really gave a lot of thought to how to actually do this, though.

After all, it is easy to say “toss those creatures in there.” It is harder to do. Where do you put them? What if you have a xenophobic government? These were questions I did not have an answer to…

Until now.

The 3 M’s of Worldbuilding:

Merchants, Mercenaries, and Marauders was the answer I needed.

There are certain groups that are pretty much ubiquitous in every society, especially medieval based societies. These groups are merchants, mercenaries, and marauders. Let’s break it down.

Merchants are one of the few groups of people who are pretty universally welcomed. They bring new and exotic items from across the globe…or a new tray to bake bread on. Either or. Either way, merchants have a lot of freedom of movement. They are also a group that is easy to have other races fill.

After all, in our own history, you could get raided by a Viking ship today and tomorrow another Viking ship will show up to trade with you. (Ok, it wasn’t that extreme, but you get my point.) Merchants can show up anywhere and be accepted. Maybe not trusted, but accepted.

Mercenaries are another group that is all over history. There is the famous story of the Anabasis where 10,000 Greek mercenaries traveled to Persia to fight for Cyrus II. They typically tend to show up more in later history as gunpowder led to strong, centralized governments capable of raising the taxes to pay for them, but fantasy loves its mercenary bands.

Historically, these mercenary bands travel all over the place. The Vikings (geez, again!?) sent a group of mercenaries into Asia, these mercenaries became bodyguards, then these bodyguards took the crown and established Russia. (Slight exaggeration on the timeline, but still a true story.) So it is easily possible to have a mercenary group of a different race, especially if your fantasy has a war going on.

Finally, we have marauders. These are your raiders and pillagers. (Vikings strike again!) But in this sense, I use marauders more to represent criminal organizations because I am an author and alliteration is awesome. (Also because MMCU or MMG doesn’t quite flow off the tongue.)

Any xenophobic society is going to attempt to push outside races away from good, societal jobs. This leads those groups to have to find some means of surviving. Raiding, stealing, and selling secrets are all good ways to earn money for those who don’t have the burden of living up to a society’s moral codes. (Granted, it also leads to stereotypes, but that’s not the point here.)

Now, the other awesome thing about the 3 M’s of Worldbuilding is that you don’t have to focus on these groups. There doesn’t need to be a whole lot of explanation behind them or a deep dive in their cultural history. These groups are just there. They form the background.

They also get your creatures in the story easily. You can explore them later at your leisure. They can impact the plot whenever you want. But they are already there and you don’t have to worry about them coming out of nowhere.

So what do you think? Are the 3 M’s helpful to you? How do you like to build your worlds?

If you liked this, please drop me a comment or share with your friends. Don’t forget to check out the latest Flash Fiction Friday post. Follow us here, or on Facebook or Twitter so you don’t miss the weekly fantasies I destroy my sanity to build for you. We also have our first newsletter coming out at the end of this month with an exclusive short story. Make sure you sign up and as a special thanks, you’ll receive another short story for free.

As always, I mustache you all to stay fantastical.

Flash Fiction Friday 007 – A Wizard’s Duel

Two wizards meet in a forest clearing and challenge each other to a duel. Thrill as they display their power and seek to gain the upper hand. Will raw strength succeed or will cunning conquer?

“A wizard’s duel?” Orpheus raised a brow in surprise and intrigue, a small smile playing across his lips. “What a fascinating thought. Rules?”

“Elemental based att-”

“Boo! Booooring.” Orpheus chuckled the look on Maliek’s face at being interrupted.  “Come now Maliek. Don’t frown so.” A sigh escaped from Orpheus’ lips. “Fine. Fine. Elemental it is. Really, you Mariesian mages need more creativity.”

Just as Orpheus finished, Maliek stabbed the ground with his staff. The earth shook and rumbled beneath Orpheus’ feet, and he was forced to reach out to a nearby tree for support. Before he could fully regain himself, Maliek slashed upwards with his staff. A blade of air burst from the staff’s path, causing the tree to explode.

Orpheus dove out of the way, rolling into a kneel. Splinters and bark rained down around him. He saw the blur of Maliek’s staff as another blade of air shot towards him. He did not dive away this time but clapped his hands together at the last moment, catching the airwave. With a twist of the wrists, he turned the wave and flung it up into the sky.

Bringing his arms down, Orpheus directed a bolt of lightning towards Maliek. The larger wizard shielded his eyes from the blinding light while spinning his staff to scatter the bolt’s power. Orpheus took advantage of the momentary distraction to rise. A spinning of the finger caused a wind to swirl about Maliek, surrounding him with a thin layer of dirt and leaves. With a snap, Orpheus called forth a clap of thunder.

The clearing was filled with a deafening sound as wind and thunder mixed. As suddenly as it began, the noises stopped, and all was silent. Maliek stood alone in the silence. His vision was still spotty from the lightning and his hearing muffled from the thunder. Cursing, he spun about as he searched for his opponent.

Movement behind a tree caught his eye, and Maliek thrust his staff towards it. Instead of the flame flying from the end of his staff, Maliek’s instrument exploded in his hands. The ground beneath his feet rose in the air and tilted, spilling him to the ground below. Vines rose from the exposed earth to bind his wrists and hold him fast to the ground.

“I yield.” The surrender was more a growl from the large wizard.

“Poor Maliek,” Orpheus said as he stepped from behind a tree. “Always thinking that your magic flows from your weapon. A flaw in the thoughts of the Mariesians.” The vines binding Maliek retreated and Orpheus offered the man a hand up. “Come on now. It is time for lunch.”

Maliek took the hand and rose with a grunt. “You owe me a new staff.”

“Of course, of course.” Orpheus smiled. “I was thinking mutton stew. I’ve been wanting to try the mutton stew at that new tavern near the academy.” With a flick of the wrist, Orpheus opened a gateway to the city gates. “You’re buying by the way. Victor’s rights and all.”

Maliek’s growl was a halfhearted attempt to keep from smiling as he shoved Orpheus through the gateway.

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