Fantasy Dungeon Tales # 1 – Pagan Altar (Helen the Acolyte)

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“This is your trial acolyte”

The words were still ringing in Helen’s ears because the significance of the statement was that she had to do this particular task for the Curate alone.  There was no heading to the tavern to recruit her friends to help her.  No grabbing Caric Trublade her warrior friend or asking Nathaniel the apprentice mage to back her up.  She couldn’t even ask Lavina her cut purse friend since they were little girls to back her up.  This was her trial, so she had to go alone.  That said it wasn’t entirely a disappointment to get away from the Curate.  He had a tendency to like fertility rites over anything else.  Unfortunately for him she was not a priestess yet so she was off limits, but that didn’t stop him from panting all over her.

Her friend Caric would probably tell her it was understandable given that she was quite fetching.  She never really considered herself beautiful despite her near perfect hour glass figure which was slightly muscled due to her practice with her mace and chain mail armor.  Caric would add then that was another thing that made her attractive – she was a beauty but didn’t realize it or couldn’t acknowledge it. All she ever saw when she looked into her looking glass was her long brown hair and pouting lips under her deep brown eyes.  Too her she looked like most of the girls in the city, but for some reason she was he best representative of them all to the men in her life.

She was not as interested in men as they were in her however.  Her devotion was to the goddess Alyssa – Mistress of Light.  The Temple to Alyssa had been like a second home to her for many years and it didn’t surprise anyone when she became an acolyte on her sixteenth birthday.  For the last two years she has devoted herself to training both of spirit, mind and body.  She studied the book of Alyssa even more fervently, she was after a year awarded with her holy symbol – a six pointed star – which she soon learned to use to banish the undead.  She also learned that morning prayer could give her the powers of the goddess.  She could heal small wounds with a touch, read magic scrolls and books through guidance and as all clerics of Alyssa could – create light to see even in the darkest of places.  She could pray for a lot of small things and they would be granted but the larger miracles still were a challenge.

Then there was learning to handle the weight of armor and the mace – her three foot long steel rod with a heavy six sided weight on the end.  No shield as she needed to keep her other hand free to hold her holy symbol when needed.  The physical training had been daunting as there were long hours practicing martial combat while using her spells and then long runs to build up her stamina which were further complicated by the fact they were only allowed to wear their sandals and under clothes regardless of weather.  Thankfully bathing twice a day for purity sake was mandatory and the hot sauna baths of the temple were a true pleasure.  About a month ago though all of the training became voluntary and she and her fellows became officially acolytes of Alyssa.

It was a cause for celebration with her three friends but then the Curate said those words: “This is your trial acolyte” then Helen knew her life was about to take another turn.  The trial was a pilgrimage to a cave to remove a necromancer who was plying his dark arts in near a local village.  She was not allowed to take anything but what she could carry in a rucksack on her back and what she could wear.  It had been a two day journey along the main road east and then a short walk to the village in question.  The villagers were pleased to see her and quickly showed her the path to the cave.  They also reported that over the last year several young women and older girls had disappeared and that other local villages reported the same.  Helen frowned and then began following the trail.

There was a change in terrain from the evergreen forest to a more grey atmosphere that told her she was getting close to the cave.  The evergreens now had a grey color and there was a smell of death in the air.  Then she saw it, the mouth of the cave.  Looking back on it she would remember that she was probably too young to truly appreciate how much danger she was in.  The Curate had effectively sent her to her death as he would send all the acolytes on death quests because his theology was one of miracle.  That is, if any of them survived it was a miracle and so an act of the gods.  Helen simply did not know this so when she spotted the two skeletons with shield and sword she felt they must be weak and a test of her ability to turn the undead.  However, she did not like the thought of making them flee as it would actually make them difficult to hunt down.  She wanted them dead and completely out of the picture and turning them would not do that.  No.  It was going to have to be the mace.

Holding her holy symbol in her left hand and drawing her mace with her right, she charged right at the two skeletons.  Her plan was to use the mace and then, if necessary her holy symbol if things went poorly. The skeletons sprang to action as soon as she was right in front of them holding up shields and raising their swords.  The one to the right never had a chance as her mace came down forcefully on its skull and smashed it like a pumpkin, causing the whole skeleton to collapse in a heap.  The skeleton that was left did not of course run in fear.  The point of using the undead is that fear is not part of their makeup.

Helen barely parried it sword blow with her mace but the tip of it caught her cheek and left a shallow two inch cut.  She then slammed her body into the shield pushing it backward and then a sideways swipe with her mace crushed in its rib cage and the enchantment that held it together fell apart.  Helen caught her breath and then looked to the mouth of the cave.  It lead downward into darkness.  She felt the blood trickle down her cheek so she placed her hand over the cut.

“Alyssa’s Mercy”

She felt the cut close and soon you couldn’t even tell she had been cut there.  She turned and began walking into the dark cave.

“Alyssa’s Light.”

Light sprang from her fingertips and formed a small glowing orb over her head.  She could see in front of her but it was the same cave leading downward into blackness.  She headed down and she had gone maybe 100 feet and she found the cave floor had leveled off but it also had started to show evidence of carving in an effort to make the cave passage wider and smoother.  Eventually this turned into a ten foot wide corridor that was a couple feet over her head.  She walked on with Alyssa’s light still burning overhead and she soon found a double door blocking her way.  The doors were made of  wood and unadorned held together with iron bands and with iron hinges.  There was no lock she could see so perhaps barred from the inside.  Much to her surprise, the doors pushed inward and that is when a lump formed in her throat.

In front of here was a small cavern.  It had been carved out and the walls, floor and ceiling were smooth grey granite. Two pillars were in the center stretching twenty feet upward holing the flat ceiling up and flanking an altar on a raised dais of about five steps.  The altar was also of the same grey stone carved out to form a basic four legged table but was adorned with grotesque pictures of skulls and twisted beings doing unspeakable acts of murder and rape.  Helen could feel here skin being covered with bumps and her breath was short as she gazed upon it.  More disturbing was the tops and sides of the altar looked to be stained with dried blood.

Curiously, there was no sign of any person or other creature in the cavern but she realized she could not see the other side behind the altar so she circled around the altar.  As she rounded the pillar on the right from where she came in she saw a straw bed covered with furs on the ground and near to it was a flickering fire that was mostly embers. A pile of wood was stacked against the far wall and a spit for roasting meat stretched across the fire.  On it was something that nearly made Helen vomit.  It was a leg, a female human leg blackened by fire.  In the bed were two figures entwined like lovers but in appearance sleeping. As she approached Alyssa’s light began to illuminate more of the scene and she stopped fearful that it would wake the sleepers.

What she could now see was indeed a male and female human form lying naked in each others embrace.  The man looked like a normal human male.  He was thin and tall of frame and she could see his face and it was scared by burns and his red hair was stringy like he hadn’t bathed in weeks.  The man was altogether repulsive with scars and sores over his body.  She couldn’t see the woman’s face but she was well shaped with nice curves and long black hair.  There was something wrong with her skin; it had the ashen grey pallor of death.  Then the realization hit her and fear welled up inside her heart.  A zombie.  The man began to stir and she stood like a stone as he rose from his bed standing before her; his slight but tall frame was slightly bent.  Why she didn’t just kill him with her mace at that moment was fear but she knew also she would need to master it or she would die today.

The man spoke, his voice weak and cracking, “Well, how convenient.  I was going to have to resign myself to finding another woman to make my lover while I consumed Bella here, now that I have cooked the last of poor Lesa, but in walks a lovely creature that will do just nicely.”

The man began to speak an enchantment.  Helen knew it was a spell and she also knew she didn’t want to find out what it did.  Looking back on it she would freely confess to herself that she didn’t know what moved her from her fear to action.  Self-preservation perhaps.  She moved forward raising her mace above her head.  As she neared him though something caught her foot and when she looked down a grey hand had grabbed her and she looked into the face of zombie Bella.  She was beautiful in death and her face showed no expression.  Helen pushed her holy symbol toward the creature.

“May Alyssa’s Light cleanse the wicked.”

A look of fear spread over the zombie’s lovely face as the symbol glowed with light and she released Helen and rolled away from her and then stood her naked grey body revealed. It then fled into the darkness.  Helen turned back to the man and knew that the zombie would not be held at bay for long.  It would return and by that time she needed to have this necromancer dead.

The man had not stopped chanting during her fight with the zombie and so it was as Helen turned back toward him she could feel the spell coming over her.  She prayed to the goddess to preserve her.  For a moment, there was a struggle of wills.  Her mage friend Nathaniel would have labeled it a charm spell. As she gazed at the necromancer her opinions of him were conflicted. She saw him as a lover and then an enemy.  Her will fought these feelings and then she broke free of the spell and as he looked at her with a startled look on his face, she crushed in his head with a hard blow from her mace.  The body fell and twitched for a few moments afterward.  She looked at the blood on the head of her mace and pondered a curious thing.  It was first man she had ever killed and she felt no remorse or even sorrow.  She felt good about killing this repulsive evil man.

Shoving her meditation aside, she turned to hear the rushed footsteps of the zombie that had been the woman Bella. As it came into the light, Helen readied herself.  The zombie shuffled toward her, her naked body probably as lovely as it had been in life only now with the pallor of death.  Turning it would only make it flee again, but Helen kept her holy symbol ready.  If the fight went badly, she wanted the option to make it flee.  Zombies are harder to beat than skeletons as they have the flesh to hold their bones together.  The issue is to destroy the enchantment that animates them.  The fresher the body, the stronger the enchantment would be.  Bella has been freshly killed right before being enchanted, that was certain based on her appearance,  so she was going to be tough to kill without help.  Helen’s hope was that armor and mace would be better than fingernails and teeth.  She also had something up her sleeve – literally thanks to her friend Lavina – that would tilt the odds in her favor.

The zombie approached her slowly and cautiously.  Zombies have enough intelligence to know when they have been bested before.  Helen dropped her holy symbol and raised her mace and open hand.  Then with a fierceness that startled Helen, the zombie abruptly attacked with a growl and hands thrust forward with extending finger nails like claws. Helen despite her surprise reacted quickly stepping aside and then striking the zombie’s torso as it passed.  It lost its balance and fell on it side.  Helen reacted by flicking her left wrist which placed a closed vial of holy water in her hand.  As the zombie struggled to get to its feet, she smashed the vial right between its large bare breasts.  The holy water splashed across the front part of its torso.  The zombie roared in agony and it seemed paralyzed momentarily.  That was enough as Helen grabbed it by the ankle and swung it into the fire.  The flames roared to life with blue flame. The zombie screamed in a female voice of terror and then was completely silent as the enchantment that gave it life was burned away.  There was a sizzling sound and then the smell of burning flesh began to fill the room.

In her report to the Curate, priests and priestesses, Helen revealed that a search of the room found a pile of bones in one corner that was probably used to make the necromancers skeleton guardians and a chest in the another corner along with a table filled with dark books and alchemy supplies.  Inside the chest was the journal of the necromancer along with other books of the dark arts. His words indicated a life where he longed for the pretty women of the village.  He became enraged when they mocked him and made fun of him; so he turned to the dark arts.  Once he had understood the basics of necromancy he remembered the old altar in the cave. After studying it for a while, he recognized it had the power to animate the dead for long periods of time.  Thus began his crimes.  He poisoned every girl after using his charm spell on them to get them to follow him to the cave.  He would then use the altar to reanimate them.  He would use their bodies to gratify his lusts for as long as it took for him to run out of food.  Then he would find a new girl and use the old one for food.  He made a list of their names and it took an entire page of his journal.  There were fifteen of them including Bella and Lesa.

She reported that she took holy water from her pack and anointed the altar with it which produced an effect of steam and sizzling.  Then she put the necromancer and his zombie lover on the altar and covered them in the dark art books and set it on fire.  She left with it blazing behind her but also reported that she wasn’t sure if she solved the problem.  The Curate and others nodded and indicated that now the immediate problem was solved, they would make a team to handle he more long term problem of the pagan altar.  She turned he journal over to the Curate and they dismissed her.

Th Curate named Helen an adept the next day and after a night of prayer, she stole away to the tavern where she found her friends.  She had quite the tale to tell.

Rabyd Reading Report (RRR) – Calvin and Hobbes

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I do apologize for not writing too much lately but then again I designed this blog to fit when I could write.  I have few things in the works but I haven’t had the time to do the quality of work i want to do with some of the stuff I am writing so I will use this Rabyd Reading Report (RRR from now on) to talk about the other side of this blog which is what I am reading.

Now, I want to clarify here that just like I am not going to write any non-fiction here I am also not going to talk about non-fiction reading either.  I mean I am reading a ton of non-fiction for school and I could talk about that but this blog is about small escapes from reality so why would I invite reality in here.  So these reading reports will be about what I have read, am reading and/or plan to read.  And it has to be fiction.

It should be noted that I am one of those readers that has three to four books on his end table by his bedside and it really is one of those “what do I feel like reading tonight?”  Right now are three books in process: The Complete Cthulhu Chronicles by H P Lovecraft, The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.  I usually keep four but I just recently finished the Complete Calvin Hobbes by Bill Watterson.

Calvin and Hobbes is a cartoon series that debuted in 1985 and finished in December 1995.  In short it was something I could count on from the time I was Junior in high school until I was almost done with seminary.  It was truly brilliant and it did the two things that make me nostalgic (yes there are only two things). First, it takes me back to childhood.  Calvin was so me when I was in elementary school.  Imaginative, in my own world and living for summer.  The only difference between me and Calvin was he hates to read and I loved to read back then. Well we both loved comic books.  We were both only children who focused on an imaginary friend becasue we had few others. Secondly, it involves a time before computers became big and smart hones existed so we had to do things like play to entertain ourselves.  Calvin and I grew up in those kind of times and it pulls me back instantly.

I was very sad when Calvin and Hobbes rode off into the snow on their sled and it was kind of a strange but fitting end to a series that began with Calvin catching Hobbes in a tiger trap baited with a tuna fish sandwich.  The two friends would hang out with one another, wander the woods, pester Suzie Derkins, drive Mom and Dad mad, and Calvin would give Mrs. Wormwood his teacher fits to the point of several trips to principles office.  Who could forget Spaceman Spiff’s interstellar adventures or Stupendous Man’s fight against the nefarious Mom Lady.  Calvinball remains my favorite sport.  Yukon Ho!

Having finished though the finality of it all comes crashing back in again.  I feel as though the childhood lost is lost again.  For a while I had it back and it was good.  Time is a relentless bastard.  I did find something that gave me hope that Calvin and Hobbes grew up but never stopped wandering the realm of imagination. Only now it is with a Suzie Derkins but with Hobbes in tow.  There are also other stories where Hobbes is passed on to the child of Suzie and Calvin.  There is also a sadder version where Calvin on his death bed hands Hobbes to a grandchild after a short final conversation with Hobbes.  For me, I see Calvin and Hobbes in a Peter Pan sort mindset.  Forever sledding, wandering and imagining.  Blessings and Cheers!

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Tales of the Beagle and the Courtesan – The Story of the Beagle and the Courtesan (Part Two)

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I apologize for taking so long to continue my story.  No sooner than I got finished with part one that I began to feel sick; some damn cold bug or something but it took a long time to get rid of so it was all I could do to keep my pub running smoothly.  I left off describing some of the early history of the pub and giving some insights as to what my business is for the most part.  I want to describe the pub as best I can.

The pub is sandwiched between two other businesses in the central market square on the south center.  I won’t go into the two businesses flanking it too much as they have changed so many times that even in my short time as pub master for my family i have seen them both change hands at least a half a dozen times.  It is said there is a particular curse on my neighbors but I have never been able to confirm this curse or who put it on them.  Currently their is a florist to the right of the pub as you would look at it outside coming in and a cigar shop to the left.   Neither one of them has been open for more than a couple years.  In an case, neither one of my neighbors is particularly social nor do I really feel the need to get to know them, they might be gone tomorrow.

The pub itself is a typical storefront type of building.  The ground floor is the pub of course.  The front of the pub has two central doors made of oak and they each have a small round window in them.  They are pretty thick and are taller and wider than normal doors as some of my patrons are not shall we say exactly human.  Flanking the doors as you walk in are dark grey brick walls going each direction.  There are no windows in these walls except high up to let in light but you would have to be a giant or troll to see in.  Most of my patrons value their privacy and as you can imagine if they use the upstairs services discretion is a premium.  The width of the whole thing is about 40 feet as it takes up two storefront sizes on the city plan.  The store sign hangs in the center over the door depicting on both sides as reclining naked woman on a blue couch with a beagle laying on the floor beside her. The width of the pub means as you come in you will struck by the fact that you are flanked by two rows of oak supporting columns.  This essentially divides the pub in half with a double door width path through the middle.  The pub is 120 feet deep so it is still pretty spacious.

The right side when you are coming in is all booths probably larger that modern booths as they are designed with larger occupants in mind but the oak.  The left side is a little more hodge-podge as the first part is scattered tables and chairs until you get to the back left hand corner where you find the bar.  The bar itself is an L shape and surrounded by stools the wall behind the bar is covered in various drinks from all over the world as I keep a well stocked bar but most notably is a sign for Beagle Brew which My granddad had made and is our label as well.  It is of a side shot of a beagle sitting with a foaming stein right in front of him.  The background is a light tan and the lettering is black with the word ‘Beagle’ over top of the dog and ‘Brew’ below him. The dog looks like Pint.  Oddly enough Pint does not seem to care for Beagle Brew preferring to be kind of a beer snob liking only high priced American and British beer.  I of course have a lot of beers and ales on tap as well including a couple casks of Beagle Brew at all times.  The lighting is best described as torchlight because that it what it is.  Many torch sconces cover the pub and they are all magical in nature in that they never burn out.

Some other oddities behind the bar are the medal hanging on a small hook that the my great, great, great, great grandma won from the revolution.  It is gold and says only that it was given for gratitude for services to the Republic.  There is also a decent sized mirror in the center and above that a large painting of another naked woman.  It is titled simply “Reclining Nude” and the woman is a beautiful redhead in a reclining but full frontal nude pose with a particularly fetching smile on her face. I guess it was a gift to one of my fore bearers although no one seems to know from who or to who.  In any case it seems to have a magical quality about it as even my wife tried to get rid of it but every time she went to grab it off the wall she would just forget what she had been thinking and walk away.  Some sort of permanent suggestion spell or something. I do know one thing according to the records, there has never been a time where one of the girls upstairs has not been a redhead and you can call me daft but I think there is a connection to the painting.  The last oddity of note is a sign which simply reads – “No shirt, no shoes, no problem”.  This is very much a ‘come as you are’ place.

The bar itself is worn down with many generations of elbows and slopped liquor since the pub was rebuilt as The Beagle and the Courtesan.  It is a long oak top polished to a high shine with outer edges high enough that I can slide drinks to the patrons.  The cash register is on the end furthest from the door and under it is my account book for every regular who has a tab. There is also one other item back here my BFG – that stands for Big F@#%ing Gun.  It is of my own design and maybe when I describe other parts of the pub I will let you know more about what it does.  For now I will simply say that this gun is the reason that bar fights around here are rare and usually over very quickly.

When you come in and look to the left you will see a spiral staircase in the very corner of the pub and that leads to the upstairs apartments.  There are three on each floor and the hallways in the upper floors are wide enough for two people to walk abreast.  Each apartment has been redesigned many times but standard features are a corner full bathroom and a large main room for each.  They are all roughly 35 feet wide and 40 feet long.  Large enough for a single occupant whose main business involves a large luxurious bed in the center of each apartment although floor plans are usually to the tastes of the individual courtesan who uses them.  They re numbered simply enough 1 through 3 on the second floor and 4 through 6 on the third floor.  On the furthest end of the top floor hallway is a trap door and metal ladder leading to the roof.

The back 20 feet is devoted to two rest rooms and a small kitchen which serves quickly made food for the patrons.  You can go out the back of the kitchen to the alley and the stairway that leads down to the basement level.  In old days it was simply a cellar and storage for all the casks but it finally a was expanded to the point that it extended all the way underneath the whole pub. I will talk about this more in my next entry as I need to get to work.  That’s all for now.

Blessings and Cheers!!!

Tales of Amok – The Origins of Amok

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I suppose we should start at the beginning with my experiences and friendship with the wild mage Amok.  I of all people know probably know the most about this mysterious half-elf from the north. I also watched over him the most as we adventured and wandered the north lands.  I must admit the origins of Amok are a bit mysterious but several times I would see him reading books and one of those books was a journal of a half-elf Elzar.  After many times asking one day he handed the book over for me to read.  It didn’t take me long to figure out Elzar and Amok were the same person but the writing in the journal was logical and ordered but Amok as I knew him then was far from it.  The descriptions however were uncanny in their resemblance as far as how Elzar described how he looked.

All of it was in his own hand and it matched Amok’s penmanship and often leaves years out but what he seemed to be journal important and significant events of his life.  It ends a little before I met Amok but something obviously happened to change him permanently as far as personality and when I asked him about the journal he would say he found it in his stuff and seemed to belong to someone else.  I had to conclude that it was a time before Amok was Amok.  This journal becomes the basis of Amok’s background story as best as I can tell.

Amok was born in the northern highlands to a human woman named Zara who named him Elzar which she said was the same name as his father.  That would never be confirmed in Elzar’s mind as he would never meet his father.  Elzar father’s fate is unknown except he makes a note that his mother said his father was an adventurer and headed off to explore some dungeon but never returned.  While Elzar would never know his father, Amok would find him later but that is a story for another day.

As Elzar grew he was a serious child and devoted to magical study at an early age.  His mother was a common servant woman but a book store owner who happened to be some sort of hedge wizard took a liking to him.  As a half-elf he grew up a little slower than the human kids but he also learned quicker and it wasn’t long that the lord’s wizard of the castle took notice of him and made him his apprentice.  Elzar tells a story that eventually this wizard realized that Elzar was not your standard wizard where you learn spells from books but more of a sorcerer with his power internal than learned although he could do the learned magic.  For Elzar, he simply had to imagine what he wanted to do and then the power would come from him to do it.  His only limitation was there was only so much power in the well, so to speak although he indicates that practice allowed him to use that well more efficiently.

This however became his obsession which was to use it even more and more efficiently.  He began to study books of the subject but he turned his attention to finding logical ways to make it happen with limited success.  He then ran across a book that indicated that perhaps not logical conservation being the secret to more power but rather creativity.  He became frustrated with the idea that was true because that simply was not his personality so he began to find ways open his mind and free his creative thoughts and this led him to a ritual that I believe changed him forever.

While I cannot prove this, I believe that he did the ritual but it had an unexpected complications.  It not only freed Elzar’s mind but it did it to the point that he became Amok – a true free creative spirit with oddball quirks.  The reason I think this is so because Elzar described the ritual he intended to do as involving lightning.  He never describes his appearance as having scars or even birthmarks, but when I met Amok for the first time he has a jagged scar that ran down the right side of his face and from travelling with him I have learned it goes from there and all down the right side of his body.  There was also a streak of white hair where the car starts and runs down the right side of his face as well even though the rest of his hair is a deep brown.  The scars tell me that the ritual happened and it went horrible wrong but in the end it created one of the most unique individuals I have ever met in my adventures.

Commentary: Other Projects and Raising Eyebrows

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I want to announce some of the other projects I will present here on The Beagle and the Courtesan.  While the main story I will be working on I will The Tales of The Beagle and The Courtesan, as a project of practicing my creative writing, will also be working on a couple other fictional projects.  The main story will probably appear in some form at least once per week but these other projects will appear from time to time.  One of the things I have learned about myself is I get bored easy if I work on the same thing all the time.  Having a few other things to channel my creative energy into is always helpful.

Some things that are on the back burners:

  1. Tales of Amok – A long time ago I was a Dungeons and Dragons Dungeon Master and Player.  One of my favorite characters I ever made was a Half-Elven wild mage known only as Amok.  He was a pretty interesting and unique character but I will save that for the series.
  2. MegaTraveller Backgrounds Short Stories –  On my other blog I had a series called The Adventures of Ayn Jones.  In it I used the MegaTraveller Role Playing Game (RPG) as my backdrop and created a single character named Ayn Jones where I created the background in the character creation system and then fleshed out the die rolls and such into story.  What I am thinking is taking each year of character creation background and writing a full short story to explain what happened in greater detail.  Mostly I see this as a way to learn to develop character backgrounds better.
  3. Other Short Stories – This one is an attempt to write short stories in a single post.  They could be anything so that should be interesting.

Now, I want to talk to some folks who are raising their eyebrows about my title for this blog.  Most of these folks are more religious or faith-based folks.  I get your concern but if you know me personally what do you think your raised eyebrows mean to me – success.  Exactly what I wanted.  I have never been good at being the typical Reverend Rick.  I have this terrible notion that ideas should be freely expressed and that is why my theology over the years has taken the course it has by pushing the edge and seeing what happens.  This blog is about creative writing and as such it needs to be creative and walk the line between the dichotomy known as the church and the world, saint and sinner, etc.  It is about learning to write creatively and with greater skill.  To do that I need to ride the edge and so it is just better to come out right the gate with dichotomy that is unique and creative.

Thanks for reading.

Blessings and Cheers!!!

Commentary: Creating the Fantasy World (Part One)

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I often find this the most painfully slow thing to do.  I want to get right into the story but I have found that creating the world and then slowly bringing my readers into it saves a tremendous amount of time later during the story.  Instead of having to stop the story and then have to explain something essential, they may already know so I just keep going.  That said I also worry that I might be losing my reader with boring background stuff.  What I have tried to do is put story elements in it, so weaving the historical stories of the world while giving descriptions of the world works best for me.

Thus, this blog so far has for the most part been a history lesson of my world along with some descriptions of where my main character will spend most of his time.  Other things I want to show my audience later so the stories are not super detailed or complete, but the reader is given enough to chew on as I go on weaving story with description.

If I look at some of the writing masters probably I would note Isaac Asimov as he pretty much just starts telling story and the reader pretty much makes up the background. This is why whenever you talk to an Asimov fan and discuss his worlds you get a multitude of different opinions.  This varies greatly with Robert Jordan and in particular the Wheel of Time.  His descriptions of his world border on overkill.  I had a hard time with some of the books as some of them were long descriptions of what and where but as far as story very little changed.  If he hadn’t overdid this so much, he might have been able to finish the Wheel of Time himself before his death.  For me, I want to describe the stage enough so that when I tell the story it makes sense and the main things are there but the rest is left to the readers imagination.

There are of course some pragmatic issues.  In this case, I am moving some characters from an old story line from an old blog, but I need to change things so it is truly a new story.  Part of this is the fact that unlike the setting of my old story which was vague, I am actually being much more specific and giving things names as well.  In the old Theology Pub, readers never knew the name of the country The Bartender lived in, the town he lived in or even too many details about the town itself until they were revealed.  This allowed me to focus on the story and when I wanted to change things I could, or just plain make things up for a scene I could.

This time around the island has a name and a geography including and actual place in the world we all live in.  The city the Bartender lives in has a name and description as well.  The pub itself will have specific dimensions that cannot be broken once they are set.  I think this will force me to write better stories where I have to live with limitations and find solutions to plots issues and problems the characters are having without the default of just making crap up.  This should make things in some senses harder for me but that will also press me to write better.

That’s all for now.

Blessings and Cheers!!!

Tales of The Beagle and the Courtesan – The Story of The Beagle and the Courtesan (Part One)

Almost time for my patrons to arrive but I do have some time to relate the nature and history of my own slice of the world – The Beagle and the Courtesan – my pub.  The pub was purchased by one of my ancestors in about the the 12th century.  We have records that go back to my great, great, great grandfather which is about the time of the revolution.  According to our records the pub was the place where the rebels against the Wizard’s Council hatched their plans and was involved in some of the intelligence operations as several of the wizard’s guard back then used its services.  My services tend to cause tongues to wag and that was why the rebels liked the pub so much as it was easy to spy here and get information.

At that time the pub had a different name – The Lusty Sorceress.  It was a parody on a member of the Wizard’s Council back in the day who was on the council as its first female member.  Not much is known about her other than it is kind of a legend that she was fond of using her magic to seducing men because she had a bottomless lust. Whatever the truth, at the time of the revolution the pub became the central headquarters  for the rebels and once the fighting began it also became the first target of the wizards.  The end result was the pub main floor was burned and ever bit of furniture destroyed along with the sign hanging out front.  Due to my great, great, great grandfather being a secret alchemist he was able to put out the fire but the damage was done.  The revolution was quick and decisive and when all was said and done, the council was disbanded and the senate created with representatives from not only the wizards but all the other trades.

At that time there was a lot of talk about change and so great, great, great granddad wanted to distance the pub from its connection to the Wizard’s Council.  He was thinking of a new name and as he rebuilt the pub, it was a subject that frustrated him.  Two events gave him the name.

When the last piece of furniture was replaced, he had only to replace the sign.  He was puzzling about it when Pint walked in.  Pint still lives here and he is a pocket beagle.  That is a small beagle less than 13 inches at the shoulder.  He is tri-colored and is absolutely infused with magic. He is ultimately a magic hound and that is why he is for all practical purposes immortal.  My ancestor did not recognize this at first, so when he went to grab him and throw him out, his hands went through the little beagle. He realized at that point having a magic beagle might helpful.  So great, great, great granddad built Pint a sleeping box behind the bar and put down a couple bowls.  One for food and as he discovered one for drink as Pint likes beer.  Pint has been living and sleeping here ever since. At that point, great, great, great granddad figured something relating to the beagle would be a good name for the pub.  I imaging him thinking “The Lucky Beagle, The Sleeping Beagle“, etc. but another event injected a complication and an addition to the name.

The New Republic sent representatives to the pub and announced that they were going to reward someone that truly helped the revolution.  My ancestor thought they might be talking about him, but then they called down one of the courtesans that worked in the floors above the pub. In short it was because of her spying that the rebels knew all the troops movements of the enemy.  Basically, she knew how to get men to talk in between the services she provided them and it had been absolutely pivotal to the revolution’s success.  They gave her a medal which still hangs on a nail behind the pub.  Great, great, great granddad knew he had to marry her and he did.  It also caused him to come up with the name “The Beagle and the Courtesan” after the two things that came into his life after the revolution. The pub sign thus is a naked woman reclining on a blue reclining couch with a beagle on the floor beside her sleeping.  The lettering for the name is arched over the top.  It is rumored that this was actually my great, great, great grandma herself and Pint that served as the models for the sign.  you can definitely see the resemblance for Pint but no other paintings of my great, great , great grandma were ever made.

Now, I suppose I should talk about the pub itself.  My business is alchemy infused alcohol.  Yes, women called courtesans still live in the six apartments on the second and third floor.  Yes, they are what you think they are – high priced prostitutes.  No, I am not their pimp as pimps and madams are not necessary as prostitution is completely legal on Shadowshift Island.  The republic does regulate it for health reasons so each so each girl (or guy for that matter) has to get a full health screening every month and have a licence issued.  The girls that live here pay me rent and that is it.  That said I have to concede that they all probably make a crap ton of money beyond rent as often they only work for five to ten years and then literally retire in luxury.  Usually to Eastside where the build a modest mansion and live out their days but sometimes they marry one of the patrons and go live with him.  There is a whole neighborhood in Eastside who are retired prostitutes from the city and other places on the island.  I also have to concede that this is a big draw for people who also drink my brews, most notably Beagle Brew.

Beagle Brew was created by my Great granddad and remains one of the most famous drinks on the Island.  People who are tourists consider The Beagle and The Courtesan a one stop shopping for two of its most famous things – Beagle Brew and legal prostitution in the form of high priced courtesans.  It is hard to say sometimes what the patrons are here for the most: sloshing down Beagle Brew or the thrills of sex upstairs.  One thing is for sure, most often come for one and stay for the second, so its a mutually beneficial arrangement.  Beagle Brew though is one of the best ales in the world and I say that without modesty becasue it is given an alchemical kick to the flavor that you can’t beat anywhere in the world.  I know because I have traveled a little of the world testing it out for myself in my younger days.  The other thing is – you can only buy Beagle Brew at The Beagle and Courtesan.

Well, my patrons are starting to arrive, so I have to tend bar so I will get back to this as a part two when I can.