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The Last Stand: Jim Kraven’s Diary #4

Círdan’s Note: Did you know that Grey Havens YA created its own roleplaying game called The Last Stand? In the game, our young adults (and leaders) get to play as any character they chose, some are original creations and others are personal takes on existing fictional characters. Our very own Jim Kraven (aka 145barbarian) is the group’s chronicler. He travels with his son Timmy as he journals about each gaming session to keeps us all up to speed. We’d like to share with you now the latest entry from Jim’s journal. Note that “limbo” refers to the times when we’ve stopped playing the game…our poor characters get stuck there a lot! 

When you support Grey Havens YA through our Saturday fundraiser at Menchies, you are helping us to continue to provide these young adults with the environment they need to be imaginative in community.  Be sure to read Jim’s latest diary before diving into this one, and check out the end of our post for the Menchies flyer and a FROYO Challenge. Enjoy!

Day 5

I wonder if anyone else here knows about Limbo. We’re all here, stuck frozen in place. Timmy is standing next to me. He looks like he’s about to cry. He can be such a baby some times. I should ask him why Limbo makes him cry. We all just gained these powers. Must be the GM’s (Game Masters) at work again.

Mango MemeWe’re all back now. Timmy’s crying. Calvin is here. He’s on a search for some quality content. Alas, he didn’t find anything. Everyone is doing their thing. We’re all still recovering from the Nightmare attack. Nova still isn’t back. He’s been gone a while. A small party is going out to go find supplies. And by a small party, the GM’s mean all of us. I threw Timmy up into a mango tree. He got some mangos! But he didn’t come back down. He can’t climb down, and I can’t climb up.

We can now read the book to summon the heavenly beings. We need to draw some symbols on the ground……I’m just gonna leave that to the rest of the group. Right now I have to get Timmy down. The two heavenly beings are here. But some rain and thunder followed. Shelter. We need shelter. There’s a cave. Somewhere. The rain is acid rain! We have to get to that cave! Good thing it isn’t far.

We all get there and Feather finds out the cave is incredibly deep. She also found a book tied to Bucky. Some sort of red book that alters Bucky’s mind. Bucky has the bunny though, so we aren’t going to read them yet. Bucky doesn’t want us to have the book. But we don’t want to destroy it. Feather is gonna hold onto it. It appears to be in Russian. Bucky sets down the bunny and goes after Feather’s backpack. Bucky’s aiming a sniper rifle at the backpack. Feather’s lute calms down Bucky. Duke Brilliance found bones rattling around deeper in the cave. The sounds are getting louder. They’re coming our way. They’re murderous. I grab Timmy and position him behind me. I tried to use my newly gained powers, but I still don’t have a handle on it. A couple of us are going to sneak around them. If we can get behind them, then we can have the advantage. I messed up. They noticed me and Feather. I left Timmy behind in the mango tree. He doesn’t need to be here during the fighting. Hopefully the tree protects him from the rain. I dodged it’s attack, then proceeded to hit it. There’s still all five skeletons. One of them lost an arm and a leg. One of the skeletons is dead. One of the skeletons hit Feather and dragged her back to the fight. She looks pretty bad.

We need to kill these skeletons. The skeletons are fighting back now. We can’t seem to kill them. Calvin’s sick roasts made the skeleton more powerful. Skeleton tears. Odd. They seem to heal them. I wonder if we can use that to heal ourselves. The skeletons hit Calvin back and he went down in one hit. He’s laying comatose in a lambo with a skeleton. I’m just watching right now. The skeletons are attacking everyone else. The demon fire flew over and hit us. There are only two skeletons left. The goddess of light is helping, but the dead skeletons are coming back to life. Bucky smashed the stone.

All the skeletons are dead now. Let’s see if our healer can be useful. The healer healed everyone. Calvin is out of his coma, but he isn’t looking good. A couple of us are pretty beat up. We’re gonna go deeper into the cave. At least, that’s what I thought. Everyone is freezing. Limbo is back. Timmy isn’t here still. I’ll write more tomorrow.

Send us an owl: What’s your favorite roleplaying game? 

And now for the promised FroYo Challenge! Visit Menchies in Longont this Saturday August 27th any time between 11am — 11pm and make a frozen yogurt sculpture! Tweet us or leave a comment in the Facebook announcement, and we’ll let the likes judge the winners! Make sure to present this printed flyer during your purchase so that Grey Havens can receive 20% of the proceeds. Thanks, everyone and enjoy! menchie's full pagejp

The Last Stand (Jim Kraven’s Diary) #2

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Círdan’s Note: It has been quite a busy 2016 already for Grey Havens YA and Grey Havens Group, Inc. Make sure you’re following us on Facebook for the latest news and Phone the TARDIS if you’d like to be added to our email list. We have some exciting news to share with you this April, but for now we want to take a moment to showcase why we do what we do. One of the reasons Grey Havens YA exists is to help foster the creativity of young adults. Not only have they have blown us away with the invention of their own Roleplaying Game, the game itself has also helped to foster community and inclusion among the group, and it’s a blast to get to watch them work. Today, we get the chance again to peak into one of our member’s imaginations as he recounts the recent events of the game through his character’s diary. Jim Kraven (aka 145barbarian) serves as the group’s guard and carries his child around in his backpack. (Find his previous account here.) For this game, we split the party in two and switched back and forth for gameplay. Let’s take a brief glimpse into Jim’s mind and see what he’s thinking while in and out of this strange limbo…

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Sitting here staring at all these ropes for the last few months has been driving me insane. I say months, but I mean minutes. Feels like it though. Hopefully our GM (Game Master) lets us move soon. I wonder where Timmy is…

Oh goodie. Our overlords started with the base group. Now I’m stuck here in limbo for another couple minutes.

“My throats are at your necks,” the new person said. There you go everyone. That’s our overlord. Thank GM we have such a great person ruling over us!

It’s been twenty minutes. Still stuck in limbo. I can’t help but wonder where Timmy is. I hope he isn’t playing with the dead lion corpses. That would be gross. I might disown him if I find him doing that. That’ll show him.

All I can do is stare straight ahead, right into this mirror. At least my locket popped open. I miss my wife. Looting this place reminds me of when she and I went shopping for our new home. Oh…the good ol’ days. Now I’m here. She’s not. Timmy is though…somewhere.

Yes! Out of limbo!

Oooook. Weird noises outside. I don’t see anything from the windows. Well, nothing but fog…and a mob of zombies in the distance. A figure is running to the hardware store out of the fog. It’s Timmy! And…oh…good. He isn’t covered in blood. That’s good.

Gell went to the supermarket. I’m gonna stick around here at the store for a bit. It gives me a good view of the street incase I need to fire shots at the mob. I’m watching the supermarket with my sniper scope. The zombies are close. Dangerously close.

“Timmy,” I whisper, “Go hide behind the counter.” Timmy goes. Unknown is helping carry everyone up to the roof of the market. Good idea. Those zombies are getting really close. Apparently there is a  ladder inside. I’m gonna stay down here to watch the streets.

Timmy started crying. I got his storybook from him and started reading it to him. He stopped. “It’s ok Timmy,” I whisper, clutching him in my arms, “It’s ok.”

I un-barricaded the door to let Eadlyn in, barricading the door behind her. A loud horn just sounded out. The zombies are leaving! Timmy is gonna use his bone knife to fight off the remaining zombies…at least, he thinks he’s going to. I’m not going to let him.

Well, back into Limbo. I’ll try to write more tomorrow.

Círdan’s Note: No, Jim you can’t end it like that! I need to know what happened!! — Ahem. Excuse me. Well, hopefully we can find out next week as Grey Havens YA returns to gameplay in The Last Stand. P.S. Did you know that sometimes we want to roleplay at Grey Havens YA, but we forget to bring dice? When that happens, our members cleverly decide to use either rock-paper-scissors or a handy dice app to get the job done. We don’t let a silly thing like dice stop us! We hope you enjoy these forays into The Last Stand and all it’s zombie-goodness. 

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Send us an owl: If you were there, can you explain the parts of the story that Jim leaves out? Otherwise, what’s your favorite part about roleplaying games?

The Last Stand (Jim Kraven’s Diary)

Círdan’s Note: Hopefully you’ve heard by now all about the surreal new gaming experience created by Grey Havens YA titled The Last Stand. Here it seems I’ve found the remnants of a journal written by one of our quest members, Jim Kraven (aka 145barbarian). Let’s take a quick look inside Jim’s head and find out what happened the last time our members got together to fight for survival in The Last World… (P.S. Catch up by reading the first game here.)

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Day 2

I apologize for not writing yesterday. I was…preoccupied.

Our table is leg-less. But on the plus side, we got a new gate!

Timmy cried…again. Sometimes I wish he would just go away. But then I remember that I promised my wife I would protect him before she died. Huh….I regret making that promise.

We got a new guy here to our camp. Rumor has it he slaughtered an entire army all by himself. One tough dude. I’ve been appointed as our official Gate Guard. Now that we have a gate, it is a  useful role.

~Thump~ What the heck?  There’s some sort of gorilla here. I thought those things were extinct. I’m gonna go see what’s up with him. He seems like a…weird creature. He seems to be salvaging the bear he killed for food. I’m not sure though. Apparently the bear angered him in a game of chess…so he…killed it. Then he showed up here and now he is going to stay. I swear…we are already running out of food. We can’t deal with all of these new people. While I’m speaking, they are ripping the femurs out of the bear to use as new table legs. Our dragon guy went out to go scavenge for wood. The gorilla followed him. I’m not sure why he’s going, but ok. Now we have a gate, a sort of propped up table. Not much else though.

Apparently, there was some sort of bunny in a log they found. It’s the last of it’s kind. Further examination of the bunny is happening. We were allowed by our great overlord, GM, to use our eyes to examine the bunny. What a miracle. I don’t know how we would have learned about the bunny without our eyes. The gorilla used his clumpy pelt from the bear to make a bed for the bunny.

We happened upon a cave like structure. There are two people inside, both human. One of our own is sneaking inside. She failed, but the dragon guy got in. He disabled the trap, clearing the way for everyone to get in. I dismantled the trap, and while doing so, got us a future defense for our base. The gorilla kicked in their door, and shot at them. He was shot in the process though, but our healer is looking into it now.

Timmy tried to put the fire out by rolling in it. It didn’t work, so someone else put it out.

The gorilla was deceived into not burning down the door of the couple. One of them is pregnant. Timmy is going in to talk to the couple. We’ll see how it goes.

Make me proud son……

Ok, I was just informed that the man is pointing a gun at Timmy. That guy is gonna die if I get ahold of him. They won’t let me approach the room, for fear of this man’s safety. I can relate though. When my wife was pregnant with Timmy, I did everything and anything to help her. We gave the bear meat to the couple.

They took meat, so we took their gun. Now they have no weapons.

Ok, so Timmy alerted the man that his gun was being stolen, so the wife pulled another pistol out.

She currently has it pointed at our group. Duke Brilliance is talking with them, hoping to calm them down. So we came to an agreement. We leave, and we get their table legs. Now we don’t have to use bear femurs anymore. That’s ok. Those things creeped Timmy out anyways. Still not sure why we are here.

So we found out about a nearby town. I guess we are going to head out soon. We took the gun from the gorilla. We headed west. There is an office building in the distance. There’s a pack of mutant lions in a river. The dragon Halfling is going to attempt to fly someone over them.

Let’s see how this goes.

Ok. He made it. We used our weapons to shoot the lions, and then harvest their meat. We made it through the river. So our healer can’t swim. Great. The dragonling is going to try flying her across. He barely made it. The gorilla escaped his binds, snapping the rope in the process.

A grocery store, hardware store, and office building occupy the streets of the town. The gorilla completely failed at jumping across.

He broke through the ice, so we’ll have to see if he can get out.

Aaaaaand he failed. He is currently stuck in the water while our dragonling goes back to help him. There are noises in the grocery store. Let’s hope there aren’t any people there. It’s going down at the river. The gorilla is getting into a fight with one of our members.

A man is in the grocery store, thinking about how much food he is stealing.

The gorilla broke her nose with a swift kick to the face. Our healer can’t even. She tired to heal the broken nose, and succeeded in making it worse. On the plus side, she gave her a rag to hold on her broken nose.

The rope collection at the hardware store is just amazing. All kinds of ropes, both thick and thin.

I’ll write more tomorrow.

Check out more on Wattpad.com as the story develops!

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Send us an owl: What do you think our quest members will find inside the seemingly abandoned city? What in the world is going on with the gorilla?? Tune in next time to see if we find out!

P.S. If you love the fact that we’re helping all generations to engage in literacy, imagination, community, and inclusion and want to help us continue, check out this super fun way you can support us this December!

The Right to Free Imagination

Círdan’s Note: Grey Havens YA just finished discussing our fourth book, Epic by Conor Kostick. Robyn, our co-director, also recently finished an old book she acquired at Readcon: Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi. She wanted to share these thoughts with you.

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Here at Grey Havens YA, we place tremendous value on the imagination. We often say, “Nothing was ever made by human hands or realized in the intellect that was not first conceived of in the imagination,” and you can read more about that on our about page.

Dr. Azar Nafisi writes of the importance of imagination and literature in her memoir:
“I have this recurring fantasy that one more article has been added to the Bill of Rights: the right to free access to imagination. I have come to believe that genuine democracy cannot exist without the freedom to imagine and the right to use imaginative works without any restrictions. To have a whole life, one must have the possibility of publicly shaping and expressing private worlds, dreams, thoughts and desires, of constantly having access to a dialogue between the public and private worlds. How else do we know that we existed, felt, desired, hated, feared?

“We speak of facts, yet facts exist only partially to us if they are not repeated and re-created through emotions, thoughts and feelings. To me it seemed as if we had not really existed, or only have existed, because we could not imaginatively realize ourselves and communicate to the world, because we had used works of imagination to serve as handmaidens to some political ploy.”

This passage made me think both of the world in Epic and the world of Grey Haven YA. The characters of Epic play a game, a game that is not played or explored for pleasure, but rather studied and completed for the sake of government. The game is the government, it’s how those in power control the people. At the end of the novel, we glimpse a possibility for a new way of government, and we talked about this in depth at our last meeting.

We talked about how the powerful in Epic seek to control the universities, and Kelly and I mentioned the idea that if you control the universities, you control the knowledge, the culture of the people. Nafisi faced this in real life in Tehran where she tried to teach literature for its own sake and not the government’s.

Even when learning about literature in the United States, one still has to fight for the beauty of it over the end result of a test score. A few of our members have told us that they don’t mind if we read books in the group that they’ve already studied in school because at Grey Havens YA, “We get to talk about the book a lot more and go deeper than we ever did in class.” It is a joy to see our YA members express their love for stories and to get to see them embrace imagination.

I don’t at all mean to downplay the horrors of the real government that Nafisi and her students faced in Tehran. What I mean to say is that I am so grateful for the insights in her book, and I am grateful that a group like Grey Havens YA exists where imagination can be encouraged and nurtured.

Our culture right now is obsessed with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields, and our young adults are caught in the tension between wanting to create but also wanting to code. Many of them want to be both artists and scientists. Isn’t it true that there could be no STEM without first imagination? And to nurture the imagination, one must first nurture the value of story. I’m so honored that we get to do that here in Grey Havens YA.

As Albert Einstein said: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

If you live in the Boulder County area and would like the chance to nurture your own imagination a little more while also helping out Grey Havens YA, stop by Lucky’s Market in Longmont on Saturday, November 21st from 11am-4pm to Gobble Up a Good Book. You can donate any amount and take home a mysterious wrapped book. We hope to see you there!

Send us an owl: What are you thoughts on the value of imagination? 

Yun Tinvok!

(For the purpose of this post, all of the Dovahzul will be in italics.)

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Drem yol lok! Kaeon here. This is my first post and I’m excited to show you all what I’ve been up to. I have always been fascinated with learning different languages (for the reason that languages connect us in the first place), and fantasy languages are no exception. As of late, my new language of choice is Dovahzul, or Dovah. Dovahzul is the language spoken (and written) by dragons in the game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. After doing some looking online, I found this pretty neat website with a lot of helpful tools such as a translator, dictionary, games and even lessons. (The website is called Thuum. It’s linked if you’d like to see it. I’d recommend it to everyone interested in the language.) But, before I begin, if you wish to read this post, or any website in Dovahzul, you need to download this font Dovahzul (No Viruses :D) and go here- Thuum Library. Once there, scroll down until you find a resource called Dragon Rune Bookmarklet by Foduiiz. Drag that into your bookmarks bar and now you can just click it, and BAM. Dovahzul runes replace almost everything. (If you did this, try it now and see how it works. If you want it to go away, click the bookmark again or refresh the page.) Now that all of that is out of the way, time to learn some Dovahzul! In this post, I will be teaching you the alphabet and special characters, punctuation, and a few basic words.

The alphabet in Dovahzul is 34 runes long, but this post will go over the english spelling of these runes. Here is a list of the characters in the alphabet:

-A, AA, AH, B, D, E, EI, EY, F, G, H, I, II, IR, J, K, L, M, N, O, OO, P, Q, R, S, T, U, UU, UR, V, W, X, Y, Z

Each of the above letters has a corresponding rune which can be viewed here. Now, there are also special characters, which are combinations of the normal alphabet. These are:

-AE, AU, NG, SH, TH

These special characters will use the runes from the alphabet, but they combine them to mean something else. They can also be viewed here. Punctuation is also available in Dovahzul. The punctuation you can use is:

-A Period .

-A Comma or Pause ,

-A Question Mark ?

-An Exclamation Mark !

Once again, each has a corresponding rune that can be found here. If you wish to memorize these runes and their meanings, you can use this wonderful course that I found on Memrise. (Course!) That course will help you memorize those runes in no time! Another helpful way to memorize those is to play Skyrim. Yep, that’s right. Whenever you come across a wordwall, take the time to write down the runes and try to translate it. You may need a dictionary so here’s a link to one.

There are many words you can learn in the Dovahzul language, over 3,000 of them. They range from cannon to modern. This post will teach you 1 basic phrase and 17 words.

Phrase:

1. Drem yol lok = Peace fire sky (This is a common greeting among dragons.)

Words:

1. Dovah = Dragon

2. Dov = Dragonkind

3. Lok = Sky

4. Aan = A / An

5. Geh = Yes

6. Nid = No

7. Fin = The

8. Faal = The (Formal)

9. Yol = Fire

10. Keizall = Skyrim

12. Drem = Peace

13. Ahrk = And

14. Do = Of

15. Pah = All

16. Su’um = Breath (If you were to write this in dragon runes, you wouldn’t put an apostrophe there, so it would be just Suum.)

17. Dovahkiin = Dragonborn (I had to include one we all knew! :D)

Well, that’s all for this post of Yun Tinvok! If more is requested in the future, I will write more. I hope you enjoyed this and gained some new knowledge about the language of Dragons!

~Kogaan fah fin etaak, (Blessing/Thanks for the read,)

Kaeon

Send us an owl (or a Letter from a Friend): What’s your favorite fantasy language?

NOTE: Painting at top of page also by Kaeon. Isn’t she awesome?! -Círdan

Heroes of Rune Chapter 6

Spock0528 writes: The Wait is over. More chapters are coming soon. No Really, Soon. Read the prologue and chapters 1 through 5 at this link. Enjoy!

Chapter 6

Darius

The next morning Darius awoke to the sound of birds chirping outside his window. He rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and sat up. Blaise and Murgran, the fellow orphans that lived with him, were already up and were getting dressed. “Morning”, Darius mumbled. “Same to you”, Blaise replied. “What’s your schedule for today?”, Murgran asked. “Kitchen duty”, Blaise grumbled “And I better hurry. Old Wenchel will hit me with his ladle if I’m late again”.

“And what about you Darius?”, Murgran said, turning to him. “I don’t know. Master Pibb didn’t tell me yesterday.” That was unlike him and Darius had been so distracted last night he had forgotten to ask. While he wondered what the day’s assignment would be, Darius quickly pulled on his clothes. He wore a simple cream colored outfit with a belt and satchel. Ready for whatever the day might bring Darius left the house and said farewell to Blaise and Murgran.

He hadn’t made it ten yards when he ran into Master Pibb. “Hello Darius”, he said, his pink cheeks bulging with delight. “Good morning Master Pibb”, Darius replied. “Sorry I didn’t tell you your assignment yesterday. I wasn’t sure what you’d be doing”. He gave a shrill and rather forced laugh. “I just received a message from the king. He would like you to report to him at once.”

“Whatever for?” Darius asked. “He didn’t say”, said Master Pibb. “Now you’d better get going. Wouldn’t want to be late would we?” “No Master”, said Darius. Pibb turned sharply away causing the slippers he wore to clack together. He sped off quickly, his mind already on another matter.

Darius felt fear clasp his heart as he turned towards the palace. “What did the king want with him? Perhaps they had discovered who he was! Perhaps they were going to have him executed or tortured for information!”, he thought. “No, that was ridiculous. No one knew who he was here, anymore”.

During Darius’s first year in Teroh a boy named Mikkel had walked in on Darius while he was in the vasdi, a trance state one performed while honoring Shidiel. Mikkel had ran out of the house looking for a guard. Darius had followed hoping to tackle Mikkel but Mikkel was faster. As Mikkel had rounded a corner Darius lost sight of him. There was then a crash and a scream. Darius ran around the corner to see a crowd of people gathered around the edge of the rampart. Mikkel had slipped and plummeted over the rampart, his body breaking on the spiny rocks that stuck out of the ocean hundreds of feet below. Darius was relieved but acted sad at the memorial service that the city had for Mikkel. That was the closest call he had ever had.

“No, no one could have found out unless Methelga or Faryx had said something… No, they couldn’t have known he was here. Although that did seem like something that Fayrx would do.” Fayrx had only visited Turk manor a few times but his visits always involved making Darius as miserable as he could. Darius was glad he was dead.

Darius approached the North Gate to the palace. As he went to pass underneath the statue of Acosor he was stopped by a guard. “Yes, Darius isn’t it? The king is expecting you. Go on in. We will have a guard escort you to the throne room when you enter the tower. Go on in”.

Darius nodded and went on through. “They wouldn’t let a Zarkaran, let alone the last of the Turks through alone”, he thought.  “They didn’t know his secret. Did they?” On his way to the central tower Darius passed an apothecary, stables, barracks, and a guard tower. Soldiers and official looking people milled about in the courtyard while others walked quickly heading either to the tower or out into the rest of the city. Darius approached the doors to the tower, noting how small they were. Enemies would have to enter single file if they attempted to take the castle and a skilled bowman with a lot of arrows would be just as valuable as 50 men in there. The tower was built for defense, nothing else.

The guard at the door admitted Darius in and had another guard escort him to the throne room. Darius and the guard squeezed through the narrow hallway into the center of the bottom floor of the tower. This was the great library. Shelves of books covered nearly every square inch of the room. An old librarian sat at a table, his nose buried in a book. He didn’t even look up to see Darius and the guard cross the room.

Darius had spent time here working with Barnabas Lessiar compiling information for The Scrolls of the Eastirim. It was one of Darius’s least favorite assignments. The way Barnabas described the Zarkaran gods made him sick.

He had called Shidiel the goddess of plague and disease. It was true she brought these things to those who crossed her but she was also a god of love and life. Zarkaran maidens would pray to Shidiel, asking her to help them find a husband. She was responsible for caring for the baby in the womb, protecting it from danger. She could place blessings on crops and bring people good fortune. She was the protector of mothers and the common man.

Udun was described as a merciless and barbaric war god but Udun led great warriors to victory and taught them the ways of honor. He gave old men and young boys great strength in times of need and he blessed the wives and children of fallen warriors who died in his name.

The way he had heard Barnabas describe them as nothing more than brutal, merciless demons had made Darius want to tell him some of the stories that were told of the Eastirim gods in Zarkaran. But though he had heard such hate from the Eastirim for his people and his gods he could not hate them. They were too much like him, too human. Blaise and Murgran were both good friends and Master Pibb had taken Darius in and was always kind to him. Yet he could not live in both worlds. One day he would return to Zarkaran and if it was the will of the gods to destroy the Eastirim then it must be done. But if there was a way for the people to become one, to unite and…

“No” he thought, angry at himself for thinking such thoughts. “Think of what they did to your father”. And Darius did remember. He remembered his father a man who seemed larger than life, yet was barely over five feet.  A man whose eyes had a special twinkle every time he laughed. A man who let a baby Darius crawl around on him tugging at his goatee. He remembered the night they came. He had been so scared, just a nine year old boy. His father had been fierce that night fighting with two battle axes while Darius hid under his bed. His father had told him to run and then…

Darius’s thoughts were interrupted when he boarded the lift to the throne room at the end of the library. The doors closed and Darius found himself in a small, dark compartment. The lift began to rise, gears and hydraulics clanking and whirring in the background. Both Darius and the guard were silent. Around what Darius thought was 15 minutes the lift reached the top floor, the throne room. It was time to see the king.

The lift doors slid open to reveal what Darius thought was an underwhelming throne room. It was a small circular room with just a few windows that if you looked out them you could see clouds far below you. No decorations were on the walls and only a red carpet covered the ground. The King sat on a small gold throne surrounded by a few guards and advisors. Only the king had a chair. Everyone else had to stand.

Darius stepped out of the lift, noting that the guard stayed behind. He crossed the room and stood in front of the king. He dropped to his kneel like he had been taught. “Rise young Master Darius”, King Alistair said. Darius rose. King Alistair was a man that Darius had only seen on a few occasions. He was a tall, skinny man who had seemed to have a palpable air of nobility surrounding him. He could be stern and threatening but Darius had also seen him happy and joyous, playing with his five year old son on the day of the spring festival. He was an expert military tactician but he also cared deeply for his people down to the last child.

“Young Master Darius”, the king said slowly. Darius’s heart was beating like a drum. “I have some good news to tell you”, the king said. Darius awaited anxiously. “You have benefited greatly from Master Pibb’s orphan program. When you came here you had only a name. Now you, and we, have found that you are quite talented and you are a perfect example of how a young man or woman can turn their life around.” Darius didn’t know where this was going but he was beginning to feel more relaxed. The king continued: “Many of the lords you have served spoke quite highly of you. They said it almost seemed like you had been around nobility before.”

Darius’s chest tightened. “You also made an excellent food taster as I recall”, the king said with a smile. Darius’s chest loosened a little. “ I was quite impressed with you and Master Pibb’s program. I wasn’t sure about it at first”, the king said. “But I am extremely happy with the results. That’s why I am honoring you this next week by letting you squire for Sir Nicholas Snow in the tournament this next week in order to honor Lord Seacrest’s arrival here in Teroh.”

Darius gasped. Lord Seacrest of Sealaurel was the ruler of a neighboring kingdom independent from Eastirim. Sealaurel was home to the finest navy the south side of the River Tywin. King Alistair was hoping to make an alliance with Seacrest so that the Eastirim could have powerful warships in the fight against the Zarkaran. No expense had been spared in the preparations for his arrival.. Minstrels, dancers, a parade, and a tournament between William Gore and Nicholas Snow were all part of the entertainment and Darius would be right in the middle of it. It was an opportunity of a lifetime.

“Thank you sire”, Darius said, bowing. He couldn’t believe it. Squiring at a tournament, especially one as big as this was always one of his dreams. “There is still a lot more you have to learn”, the king said. “So I will have you taken off work this week and have you work with one of my Kings Guard. He will teach you everything you need to know about being a squire. He is waiting for you at the bottom of the tower.” “Thank you my king”, Darius said, barely containing his excitement. “You’re very welcome young Master Darius”, the king said with a smile. “I expect great things from you. This tournament is very important for our country. It could determine the difference between victory and defeat.” Darius noded. “I won’t let you down your highness”, he said. “Good”, said the king. “You are dismissed.”

Darius turned to go but as he did the lift doors slid open and a tall thin man walked out. The tightness in Darius’s chest returned with a vengeance. “Ah, just in time”, the king said. “I was just about to send for you”. “No worries”, the thin man said. He had slicked back black hair, dark skin, and a long droopy moustache. “Darius”, the king said. “This is Ichabod Targearan, He is one of my newest advisors. Ichabod, this is Darius.” “How do you do?”, Ichabod asked. “He’s dyed his skin but he’s still the same man”, Darius thought to himself. “Very well, thank you, my lord?”, he said. “Oh no, not a lord only a businessman”, said Ichabod. He smiled. It was the same smile. The same cruel smile Darius had gotten when the man standing in front of him now had told him to leave his father alone when he was working. For the man standing in front of the King of all of Eastirim was not Ichabod Targearan but Ilixer Targux, the Grand Vizier of House Turk and his father’s right hand man.

Send us an owl: Ooo, what a cliffhanger! What do you think of Heroes of Rune so far?

Thar be Sherlock

Círdan’s note: Grey Havens YA has finished our discussions of Sherlock Holmes for the present time. We are currently in the process of finding a new book! Today, as tribute to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation, we take a special look at the famous detective through the eyes of ThistlePiper. See his notes below!

Who is Sherlock Holmes? All over the world and throughout history many have wondered about the many mysteries that make up the world’s most iconic consultant detective. Let’s start by accessing the book character and Sherlock’s  personal character.

Sherlock Holmes is not the average book character. Many books will have a normal character with abnormal lives and abilities. Sherlock, however, is different. Sherlock is an abnormal character leading a semi-normal life. As for his abilities, he is just really smart. He will however utilize logic and deductive reasoning  in an astounding manner. Now, I mean no offense to Sherlock himself but he is undeniably the ultimate know-it-all in existence. Not only that but one gets the impression that Mr. Holmes revels in it. However, in Sherlock’s defense I can imagine how being the only one on his level can be maddening. Now by “his level” I mean someone who functions at the same intellectual capacity and moral capacity (for what little there is) as Sherlock . Moriarty, Sherlock’s arch-enemy doesn’t count.

Now for some examples of the basic Sherlock-isms–

If Rachel, a lead forensics detective for Scotland Yard, leaves for work at 4:00 AM and the standard transition time is 1 hour 30 minutes, the deductive reasoning allows for one to surmise that if Rachel leaves at 4, then she is taking into account the transition time and is doing her best to accommodate for any diversity in the commute. She arrives at 5:30 AM, so therefore she has to be on duty at 6:00 AM.

There is also the theory of non-identity for example: A = not B or C, but A.

Then you have inductive reasoning: All Scotsmen wear kilts so therefore that kilted guy is Scottish.

Precise /Deductive reasoning: A=B B=C then A=C.

Ad hominem: The art of attacking the individual instead of the argument.

Red herring: Introducing a topic that is not relevant to the argument.

Straw man: Introducing a weaker representation of truth so that you can knock it down like a straw man.

Appeal to pity: Appealing to the emotions of the subject.

Appeal to popularity: Asking someone to accept an argument because the majority holds it to be true.

Appeal to tradition: Asking someone to accept an argument because it has been accepted as true in the past.

Category mistake: Attributing to one category that which can only be attributed to another. (ex. Blue is nicer than red.)

Halo effect: Assuming that, because some thing is good in one way (ex. Physically attractive), it must also be good in other ways. (ex. kind)

Send us an owl: What do you think of Sherlock? Which Sherlock-ism do you find most fascinating? Which short story did you enjoy reading the most?

From a Grey Havens YA Meeting: Wonderfully Wise Words and Wonderfully Weird Art!

You never know what treasures will come out of a Grey Havens YA meeting, like this line from a recent meeting: “The writer is the wizard who transports you to other worlds with the runes that they use in their books.” -Eliza

At our last book discussion meeting, we were transported to the spooky moors where the Hound of the Baskervilles is rumored to roam but one of our members also did some sketches for a multi-fandom project he is working on. He is developing an elaborate story that centers around these strange, technological beings. It is amazing what our members come up with!

deacon robot

deacon globebot

deacon dalek hybrid

deacon creature

A lot of our imaginative young adults are interested in storyboarding for movies and games but we do not yet have the resources to support them in these endeavors. Let us know if you know of anyone who can help!

Like my favorite dog, we are taking a break from reading Sherlock Holmes. Two weeks ago, we had Fandom Theater from Fandoms Unite, and last week we welcomed a guest speaker. (Watch this space for more on that soon!)

Bronte with Holmes

Send us an owl: We are already taking nominations for our next book to read and discuss as a group. Have you read any good imaginative fiction lately? 

Heroes of Rune Chapter 5 (finally)

Círdan’s note: Many suns have passed, and I’ve grown no closer to uncovering the secret of the World of Rune. I had begun to worry I would never find any other texts aside from Chapters 1, 2, 3, or 4. But Huzzah! I’ve just come across this scroll from spock0528: “Sorry guys. This one took me a while. New chapters coming soon!” Could it be? See for yourself in Chapter 5 below!

Chapter 5

Farion Stormborn

The soldiers of the Eastirim marched all throughout the night. What was needed was quickly packed up and what was not was left behind. Armor was hastily shoved on, weapons stored, and the massive war machines were loaded up for transport on wooden carts. Renly quickly put on Farion’s armor. Farion was impressed with how efficiently he did it. The armor of the Eastirim was a set of overlapping steel plates that covered the body. The armor was designed to take hits with light and medium weapons effectively but also allowed the wearer to have quite a bit of maneuvering room. It was not the strongest but it would not slow the person wearing it down too much. The helmet covered the entire face except for two narrow slits for eyeholes. The top of the helmet was an iron spike that, if necessary, could be used as a weapon. Each standard Eastirim soldier was equipped with a large sword and a small round shield. The sword was large but it could still be wielded with just one hand by strong warriors. The shield was small but powerful and it was often used to slam enemies to the ground rather than block attacks. In half an hour the entire army was gone from the campsite. Only tents and campfires, still smoking, were left. The men were gone. The battle for the fate of Rune was about to begin.

Farion marched beside Mason and Heimgal the whole way to Pymnimily. Renly had gone to join the rest of the squires. He would meet up with Farion when they reached their destination. The march was a hard one. The Zarkaran had chosen an excellent time to attack. The scout had reported that he had seen a fleet of Zarkaran warships heading for the beach near Pymnimily from the old watchtower stationed there. When the Eastirim arrived it would be in the wee hours of the morning. The men would have been marching all night and in no condition to fight. It was the perfect strategy for taking Pymnimily valley.

Fighting back the urge to yawn, Farion continued to move at a brisk pace. He could not afford to be tired, but it was hopeless. By the time the battle had started he would have been awake for more that 24 hours. He felt his eyelids start to close and his pace begin to slow. He jerked himself awake. He bit his tongue as hard as he could without biting it off to prevent himself from drowsing off again. He had to focus.

Around five in the morning the weary party of soldiers arrived at Pymnimily. The valley itself was a narrow passage only around 20 feet wide and 15 feet tall. It was an ideal place for an invasion because numbers did not matter in such a narrow pass. Here both armies, no matter their size, were equal. On the opposite side of the valley there was a sandy shore and after that the River Tywin. Farion could see around 50 Zarkaran warships closing in. The black sails of the approaching ships fluttered in the breeze. Farion knew that each ship could hold around 300 troops. That meant that the Zarkarans were outnumbered by around 3,000. This, in any other battle, would affect the outcome but this was Pymnimily. It would be anyones guess on who would be victorious.

Pymnimily’s southern side was home to the Great Watchtower. It was an ancient tall structure, built before the time of Drake Furror, and it was where Acosor stood when he separated Rune into two and created the River Tywin. At the very top of the tower there was a telescope put in place by Drake Furror so that when the Zarkarans rose again the Eastirim could spot them from a long way off. The telescope could see for many miles and it was what the scout used to spot the incoming warships. Farion could see General Icarus and his commanding officers ascending the steep stone steps of the watchtower.

Renly approached Farion. He wore leather armor and had a sword strapped to his side. He began to tighten Farion’s armor straps and polish his sword. “You scared, boy?” Farion asked. Renly nodded. “Good, that means you’re not stupid.” Farion suddenly remembered that Diggle had said the same thing to him before his first battle. He had quoted Diggle without even realizing it. “We won’t call you in unless you’re really needed,” Farion said. Serving Farion was not Renly’s only duty. During the battle Renly would assist the archers stationed along the top of the valley along with the other squires. If the Eastirim were losing too many men the archers and squires would be called down to fight and Farion and Renly knew every last man (or boy) would be needed. Farion put his hand on Renly’s shoulder. “May Anirab guide your sword,” Renly said. “And yours as well,” Farion replied. It was the standard warriors farewell, but Farion knew that Anirab wouldn’t be guiding his sword today. Anirab hadn’t guided Farion’s sword since the death of Jeremy. He just hoped he didn’t need it now.

Soon after Renly went to join the archers at the top of the valley a loud horn blast came from the Great Watchtower. General Icarus stood at the top of the tower with the mighty horn he had just blew from in one hand and his sword in the other. The design on his breastplate was that of the Golden Dragon of Acosor and he wore no helmet.

“Warriors of Rune,” he shouted. His voice sounded like thunder. “They mean to destroy us. They mean to take our land. To take our women and children. To destroy what has stood for centuries and what will continue to stand for a millennia,” he bellowed. The men looked up. Suddenly they didn’t feel so tired anymore. They now had energy. An energy no man of Rune was without. The energy of battle. “Well I don’t know about you”, Icarus said with sword raised high in the air. “But I’m not planning on dying on the edge of a sword being held by a Zarkaran dog.” The men cheered. The warships were drawing closer to the beach. The catapults were assembled and were being loaded with boulders. The ships were almost at the beach. The men were forming up. The archers were readying their flaming arrows. Farion tightened his hand around the hilt of his sword. The catapults were ready. The ships were in range.

“Fire,” General Icarus yelled. Boulders flew high into the air. There was a moment of silence where the rocks spun through the air silently like a leaf on the wind. Then the boulders found their targets. Several boulders crashed harmlessly into the water but others found their mark. A warship got a boulder right through its hull and it sank into the river in seconds. Another warship got a boulder right through the mast, knocking the ship over. It swerved into another ship sending the men onboard flying. The first wave of rocks had been devastating to the Zarkaran fleet but there was no time for a second. The first warships had arrived at the beach and the men onboard lept off, ready to fight.

“Archers, nock,” General Icarus said. Thousands of arrows were loaded into their bows. “Draw.” Thousands of bows were drawn back, ready to fire. “Loose.” Thousands of arrows curved up into the air then plummeted into the waves of Zarkaran troops. Many men went down but there were still more coming. The final ships had arrived at the beach. The Zarkarans began to run at the Eastirim, swords flailing about wildly.

“Charge,” shouted the general. The Eastirim drew their swords and the men at the front began to sprint towards the invaders. The rest of the army followed and in a matter of seconds all of Pymnimily valley was filled with troops. It was important to get to the Zarkaran before they put up the shield wall. Zarkaran armor was light but what they lacked in protection on their bodies they made up for with their legendary shield wall. The Zarkarans’ shields were long, heavy, curved rectangles made of iron. The shields could be connected side by side with metal hooks. The soldiers behind raised their shields overhead to protect from arrows and the soldiers on the side turned outward and connected their shields with the men next to them. The result was a wall that was not vulnerable on any side. The Zarkarans’ shields each had small slits in them. Too small for an Eastirim sword to get through but small enough for the Zarakarans to get their thin narrow blades through. The men trying to break the shield wall would have to deal with thin blades stabbing them through the chest, throat, and head. The Zarkarans could kill hundreds of Eastirim without losing a single man. The key to beating the Zarkaran in combat was to get to them before they formed their shield wall.

The two armies ran through the valley, swords raised. Farion ran with all his might. Getting to the Zarkarans before their shields were up would be a crucial part of winning the battle. The Eastirim army was almost to the Zarkarans, but all of a sudden the Zarkarans stopped. They rose their shields and hooked them together. Exhausted, Farion ran with all his might but it was too late. The shield wall was closed. It was too late. Farion tried to slow down to prevent from crashing into the wall but he was going too fast. He rammed into a shield with all his might hoping that it might collapse. The shield barely moved. The other men were ramming into the shields with the same success Farion had had. The Eastirim were now extremely vulnerable to the Zarkaran’s thin blades. Farion was pierced through the shoulder by one of the blades, and he grunted in pain. The man next to him was impaled through the throat with the little blade. All around him men were dropping, pierced by the Zarkaran’s swords. The sword emerged from the shield, like a snake coming out of a hole, but this time Farion was ready for it. He brought his sword up and sliced the Zarkarans sword in two. He then repeatedly slammed his sword into the shield. Farion noticed that Heimgal was doing the same thing. Soon men all around them were working to try and bring down the shield wall. At first there was nothing, but then a shield cracked. Then another. Then another. The Eastirim in front cut down the Zarkaran holding the shattered shields. The men flooded into the collapsing shield wall. They had done it! They had broken through. But not without a price. Eastirim dead lay scattered around them, suffering from multiple puncture wounds to the head and chest. Some were dead, others lay drowning in their own blood. Farion charged into the Zarkaran army. He cut down the first Zarkaran soldier he saw. He never even knew what hit him.

Now that the Zarkaran shield wall had been broken the Zarkarans dropped their heavy shields and drew a second of the light and narrow Zarkaran blades. Their swords weren’t as powerful as the Eastirim weapons but they were fast and they had a nasty knack of finding even the narrowest gaps in Eastirim armor.

A tall Zarkaran warrior attacked Farion, swinging his two swords at him in a flashing arc. Farion parried the attack and stabbed the man through the chest with his sword. He hit him with his shield so hard that his neck snapped and the Zarkaran fell to the ground in a heap. Farion saw Mason battling a Zarkaran. Mason had broken one of the Zarkaran’s swords and the Zarkaran was backing away. Mason moved in but the Zarkaran dropped his sword and lept up. Farion saw a hidden blade shoot out of his sleeve and the Zarkaran stuck it into Masons head. Farion moved towards the soldier who had just killed Mason but he was intercepted by a Zarkaran holding a battle axe. Farion was knocked to the ground and the soldier with the battle axe stood over him, grinning. As the axe flashed down towards Farion a spear went through the Zarkaran’s heart. Gendri stood behind the dead Zarkaran. He nodded to Farion and Farion nodded back. Farion stood up and surveyed the battle. The Eastirim were pushing Zarkaran back. Their progress was slow but they were making it. They were winning! They were actually going to win!

But then there came a horrible roar from the beach. Both the Zarkaran and Eastirim soldiers turned to look towards the horrible noise. The noise was coming from a wrecked ship that had washed up on the shore. Suddenly the ships hull exploded and something lept out. It was seven feet tall and dressed in the ceremonial robes of Udun, the Zarkaran god of war. It wore an elaborate headdress that was decorated in various animal skulls. In its hands were a mace and a sword both as tall as the figure itself. It stood on the beach and shrieked. A noise that would make the hair on even the bravest man’s neck stand on end. The Zarkarans began to cheer and every Eastirim’s heart was struck with fear. It was a Shaman of Udun. The shaman charged, straight at Farion.

There are many legends and myths about the Shamans of Udun. Some say they are men given the powers of a demon by the war god himself. Others say they are wholly demon, the children of Poshrux. Some even say they are the products of Zarkaran experiments on there own troops, experiments designed to create the perfect warrior. No matter what anyone thought, no one could deny that their appearances were extremely rare. They are believed to guard the temples of the gods in Zarkaran, and they rarely ventured onto the battlefield, but it is not unheard of for one to lead the Zarkarans into battle.

The Zarkaran soldiers lept out of the way of the charging shaman, Those that were too slow were crushed under the shamans massive feet. Heimgal gave a battle cry and ran directly at the fastly approaching shaman. With a single blow from the shaman’s mace Heimgal was sent flying. He slammed into a rock and lay still. The Zarkarans cheered again. They knew their savior had come.

The shaman was not slowed down by its massive size. It had gone from the beach to the Eastirim side of the battlefield in just a few steps. The shaman was just meters from Farion. He stared into the eyeholes of the shaman’s headdress. He saw nothing. At the last possible second Farion lept to the side, just out of the creatures reach. As he did so he raked his sword across the shaman’s thigh. The shaman kept running, unaware of the bleeding gash in its leg.

“At least it’ll bleed,” Farion thought to himself. The shaman crashed into the Eastirim soldiers, knocking them senseless. It swung it’s mace and sword taking men out left and right. Farion saw him impale two men at once with its sword and lift them high into the air. Farion had to get its attention. He grabbed a dagger from the ground and threw it at the shaman’s head. The dagger went through the back of the shamans skull and stuck out its forehead. That got its attention. It turned around and located Farion. Then it charged again.

Despite the fact that it had a dagger sticking through its head, it didn’t seem hurt. Only angry. Farion was surprised. That should have killed the creature instead he was its next target. Just as the shaman reached Farion he dove to the side and jumped onto the back of the shaman, his sword raised high. But the shaman appeared to be expecting this. Before Farion could plunge his sword into the shamans back it grabbed him and threw him off. Farion was airborne. He landed hard on a large rock. The creature dropped its sword and grabbed the mace with both hands, moving in for the kill. Farion couldn’t move. His collision with the rock had knocked the wind out of him and he lay there, gasping. The shaman was nearly on him when Farion saw Renly, out of the corner of his eye, stab the shaman in the leg with his sword. They must have needed the squires!

When Renly stabbed the shaman he must have severed some kind of artery. The shaman shrieked and twisted around awkwardly, hitting Renly with the back of his hand. Renly was knocked over and Farion saw blood pouring out of his check. The sword was left quivering in the shaman’s calf.

The breath had returned to Farion’s lungs. He jumped to his feet and ran at the shaman, hoping to get there before the shaman killed Renly. Just as the shaman raised his mace over the collapsed Renly, Farion reached the shaman and swung his sword aiming for his neck. But again the shaman seemed to be expecting it. The shaman grabbed Renly’s sword, ripped it out of his calf, and plunged it into Farion’s side. Farion dropped to one knee. Blood gushed from the hole in his chest. Even though the pain was excruciating Farion climbed to his feet and ripped Renly’s sword out of his side. The wound began to bleed faster but Farion didn’t have time to notice. Using every last bit of energy he could muster, he picked up his sword and ran for the rock he had been thrown into earlier. The shaman followed quickly. He had to get to the rock before the shaman got him or else he would be finished. Just a few more feet. He had to make it.

With one final burst of strength Farion leaped onto the rock twisted around and jumped again. The shaman swung at him with its mace but it had aimed too low. Farion passed over the shaman’s mace and brought his sword down through the horrible creature’s head. The shaman was slammed to the ground and Farion’s blade stuck deep into the earth, pinning the shaman there. The shaman twitched, but, after a few seconds, it finally stopped and died.

A cheer went up from the Eastirim side. The shaman was dead. But the battle was far from over. Farion fell to his knees. He couldn’t see Renly anywhere. Then, to his surprise, the shaman’s body withered away and turned to dust. All that was left was a pile of ash and and a sword, deeply embedded in the ground. The Zarkarans starred in shock. Then they charged forward in one final push. Farion tried to stand but he had lost too much blood. Fighting the shaman had taken him far away from the rest of the Eastirim army. He lay there, without a weapon and completely defenseless. The Eastirim charged at the approaching Zarkarans, but they would not reach him in time. The last thing Farion remembered before he blacked out was a heavy boot of soldier, he could not tell whether he was Zarkaran or Eastirim, coming down onto his head.

Send us an owl: What’s going to happen to Farion? Tell me, I must know! …Ahem, excuse me.  Wow, what a thrilling tale! Please share your thoughts for spock0528 below and keep a lookout for Chapter 6. 

Heroes of Rune Chapter 3

Cirdan’s Note: I’m pleased to introduce to you another installment from our very own spock0528. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been itching to find out more about the World of Rune! Make sure you’ve read the prologue,  chapter one, and chapter two before continuing on the journey below!

Chapter 3

Darius

Darius ran quickly over the cobbled stones, past a row of shopkeepers and through a narrow alley. As he ran he adjusted the strap on his courier bag. He was going to be late. Darius quickly sidestepped a merchant carrying a basket of a fruit on his head. He could see his destination just ahead. With a flying leap he jumped over the stone steps and skidded to a stop just in front of the door to the couriers office. He flung open the door and darted inside. Madame Dreyfus looked up from a stack of papers. “Ah, Darius, did you bring the message from the minstrels guild?” she asked in her dry nasally voice. “Yes Mam,” Darius said as he pulled out the envelope marked with a red seal. “They have everything ready for Lord Seacrests arrival.” “Excellent, now I think you’re wanted back at the palace,” Madame Dreyfus said taking the envelope. “Yes Mam,” Darius said as he exited the office.

Darius strolled through the streets of Teroh. He was approaching the palace, a massive tower that rose so high into the sky it’s head was not visible from the street. Etched into the side of tower was a gold dragon that curled all the way up the tower like a coiled rope. Surrounding the single tower was a courtyard with several small official structures inside it. This was the mighty castle of Teroh, the home of the great King Alistair, the mighty stronghold of the Eastirim. At each of the corners of the square courtyard were the four gates into the palace. Above each gate was a statue of one of the four gods. Each statue towered above the gate so that while walking through a gate you would go under the statue’s legs. Right in front of him was the North Gate and a golden statue of Acosor holding in one hand a sword and in the other a scepter.  As Darius drew closer to the center of the kingdom, the people he encountered grew more official looking and the merchants and street vendors began to diminish. The people here were dressed in fine robes and some wore armor and carried swords. The buildings became taller and less ramshackled. The road sloped steeply upward now, and Darius began to tire.

The city of Teroh was built into the side of a mountain with the palace at the top. Buildings were built on all sides of the mountain and long walkways extended from its many towers. Most structures were made of sandstone and the towers near the top of the mountain were capped with gold and red. Flags fluttered in the gentle breeze of a mid-spring day and the waters of Lake Teroh sparkled below. Teroh was a mass of buildings all stacked on top of each other and all sticking out at odd angles. To the a person viewing the rest of Teroh from the street it was a crazy mess of people and buildings. But from afar it looked as if it were one giant structure instead of the thousands of individual ones. It was quite the view, and Darius saw it everyday.

Darius was part of a special program for orphans in the city of Teroh. Darius had entered the city at the age of ten claiming his parents were killed by bandits. Instead of being put up for adoption he was selected by Master Pibb, the head of the program, to become a royal aid. There were about 15 orphans working as aids at a time and each one was selected from the orphanage by their devotion and loyalty to the kingdom. The aids worked a variety of important jobs around the kingdom. Darius had been a personal assistant to several important lords and helped in the royal kitchens. He had even been the king’s food taster for a while. And now he was working as a courier. The aids did whatever was needed. The program also allowed the orphans to experience a variety of jobs. If they excelled at a job, one of the masters of that trade could select them as an apprentice. It gave the orphans a chance to learn trades that they would have learned if they had parents.

Darius had pale skin, quite unusual for an Eastirim, so unusual many believed he had a skin disease, and blue eyes. His short raven black hair fell loosely in front of his eyes and he was constantly brushing it out of the way. He was around 14 years old (he claimed he had lost track of his birthday) and was just two years away from being chosen as an apprentice by one of the masters. Darius did not know what he would be chosen for. He was decent in all of the areas he had tried but didn’t really excel at any one. Darius found it hard to fit in in Teroh. It was so different from his homeland. He had friends, other orphans in the program, but he spent most of his time by himself. It gave him more time to reflect, to plan, to figure out how to get out of here.

As Darius approached the palace, he ran into Master Pibb. “Ah Darius, I was looking for you,” he said. Master Pibb was a heavy man with a bald shiny head and a pinkish face. Darius guessed that Master Pibb was around 50 but it was hard to tell with his bald head. “I assume Madame Dreyfus got her messages on time?” he asked. “Yes Master Pibb,” he said quickly. Darius got nervous when he talked to Master Pibb. He got nervous when he talked to any official. “I have new orders from Sir Roddick,” Master Pibb replied. Sir Roddick was in in charge of the army in Teroh. “You know very well of Lord Seacrest’s arrival here next week.” Darius nodded. “There is a tournament in his honor. Lord Nicholas Snow v.s. William Gore. You are to clean and polish Sir Gore’s armor and weapons. Make sure there shining! They will be collected tonight so hurry on down to the barracks”. Darius gave a “yes sir” to Master Pibb and headed around to the East Gate where the barracks were.

Darius cursed under his breath. He would be up all night polishing William Gore’s armor. If that even was his real name. Sir William Gore was probably the biggest man in Eastirim. He had bright red hair and was seven feet tall and he looked about seven feet wide too! He had become famous for winning a duel without any weapon when his opponent carried a great broadsword. He had simply grabbed the sword, broke it in two with his own bare hands and smashed the mans head open like a watermelon. This had earned him the name of “Gore.” Or so the story went. Darius doubted it was true, but either way he felt sorry for Nicholas Snow, whoever that was. He seemed to remember hearing it somewhere but he couldn’t remember where. Since Sir Gore was so big, special armor three times the normal size had to be built for him. Three times the size meant three times the polishing, and that meant Darius was going to have a very late night.

On the way to the East Gate Darius heard a commotion. As he drew closer he saw a man standing on top of a crate with a group of people standing around him, listening to him shout. “The last of the Turks are dead! Methelga and Fayrx were caught a fortnight ago near Farbean.”

Darius knew of the Turks. For a while they were the most powerful family in Zarkaran, second only to the King himself. Baron Ramm Turk, the head of the family, was the King’s most trusted advisor. The Turks basically had their own private army that they lent out to the King in time of trouble. Around five years ago the Turks had gotten cocky. They had launched an attack on an Eastirim city called Pinebone. They had burnt the city to the ground, killed its men and taken its women and children away to work as slaves. This caused outrage from the Eastirim and it nearly started a full scale war. The war was prevented when the Zarkakran government claimed the Turks had acted without permission from the government but the Zarkarans still protected the Turks. Action needed to be taken. An Eastirim raiding party attacked the Turks mansion and killed almost everyone inside including the Baron himself. Only a few stragglers had escaped and for the last half a decade the hunt was on. Now the last of them had been caught and killed. This move had not caused war right away, but Darius and many others believed the Turks were the main reason the Zarkarans were rumored to be attacking the north of Eastirim.

“Second cousins of the great baron himself,” the man on the crate shouted. Darius noted that he spit as he said the word “baron.” “Tracked down and killed like the dogs they were,” he shouted as the public viewing his rant cheered.

Darius moved on. He was going to to have to get a start on that armor sometime. He moved through the riled up crowd and continued on to the barracks. So the last of the Turks were dead. Darius thought about it. He had been hearing about the manhunt for years now. Darius continued to think about it. Then he smiled under his breath.

Polishing the armor took his whole afternoon and most of his evening and when he was done a burly attendant collected it with a grunt. Darius headed back to his house that he shared with three other orphans in the program, his arms sore and calloused from the job he had just completed. The others were not back yet. Good, he had time for it. Darius lit four candles and placed them in each corner of the room. He pulled up a loose floorboard near his bed and removed a small item from it. He sat in the middle of the room and put the item in his lap. Darius murmured a few words under his breath. “Ncvx delagreen xuqrt merkxh,” he said as if he was in a trance. He looked back at the door, his eyes wide. If someone walked in and saw this… He put his hand over the item and whispered a few more words. “lmbn haxcv uiz,” he said quickly. He then put out the candles and placed the item back in its safe spot in the floorboard. The item was a small stone statue of Azolael, the Zarkaran god. It was the last thing given to him by his father. His father, Baron Ramm Turk.

Send us an owl: Whoa! Twist! What did you think? Stay tuned for Chapter 4 coming soon!