Mar 2 2015

Shadow of Hope 55

The Anquillan raised a hand and opened his mouth to reply to Rôhn.

“Not to cut this short,” Kurn cut things short, “but we’re for the inn. Exchange words there.” His sword was still out and his eyes still alert, despite — or especially because of — the ranger’s sudden appearance. His voice carried more edge than even his sword did at present.

Still annoyed with her for her brash self-centered actions, Kurn told Zulian firmly, nodding to indicate the stag, “Be merciful, but be quick, or think you Haron and the horses able to fight off this wood alone as they stand waiting for our return? We must regroup to the path.”

“Now.” Continue reading

Feb 27 2015

Ice Hole

Jimmy sat on the sled as only a child could, lower legs pinned beneath him despite the chill of a day’s play. The woman sitting beside him was underdressed for the crisp January air, but she showed no sign of caring what nature intended. Her eyes were cast down the hill, gaze following the myriad sled trails as they coursed toward the sluggish creek beyond. The collection of neighborhood children lined up on the other side of Jimmy waited still and silent while the pair talked.

“You’re sure?” she asked. “Things could get a little scary.” Continue reading

Feb 23 2015

Shadow of Hope 54

Kurn’s head snapped to his left as he reined up his horse, looking off to the side.

As the barbarian reached Zulian with the stag’s head cradled in her lap, he saw the last vestiges of life depart from the grand animal. He heard her cry for help, but realized there was no help to be had.

He spun his mount, turning his back on the scene unfolding on the ground and once again placed himself in the position of guard. He scanned the undergrowth around them looking for possible attack. Continue reading

Feb 19 2015

I Walk with the Devil

I walk with the devil in my dreams. Shattered shoals and twisted windows and breezes of sulfur and pine recede across a pillow case warmed by daylight. These journeys do not frighten. Nightmares are for those who do not relish the trip. They are dreams, and they are often forgotten. Yet on occasion, the psyche’s grip is stronger, and a window into another world is left open, if only a crack. Continue reading

Feb 16 2015

Shadow of Hope 53

With a thunder of hooves behind him, Kurn yelled ahead in frustration even as he tried to keep her in sight, “Zulian! Rein up! You’re stretching our line! You’re going to get Erellia or one of the others killed!” Even if she couldn’t make out the words across the noise and the tension of the moment, he knew she could at least hear his tone.

“Gods!” Erellia cursed under her breath, wheeling her horse around to face the others. “The rest of you stay together! Follow as quickly as safety allows.” Continue reading

Feb 12 2015


Another hammer stroke broke the silence.

“Really?” Paul yelled his disgust. That was the third bird to crash into the windows in as many minutes.

The white noise of the pellet stove did little to mute the clang of the unexpected collisions. The pounding of Paul’s heart sympathized. There was nothing like sudden impact to get the blood racing. Continue reading

Feb 9 2015

Shadow of Hope 52

Kurn volunteered across the line, simply stated, as if all the speculation, questions, and debate did little to address the issue or help, “If it’s sentient, it can be killed. If it’s not, every force has its balance and opposite.” That the party was present in this region to determine how to stop it was good enough for Kurn. The questions were simpler that way, as were the actions required, whether those actions would require sword, spell, engineering, or whatever. People got in their own way, making things so needlessly complex sometimes.

“Without further information,” Erellia said, “I could only speculate at the possibilities, and speculation is curr–”

The elven woman was cut short by a horrific, tortured shrieking from some distance off to the left. All the beasts of burden in the group snorted and stamped their discomfiture at the distinct sounds of an animal being savaged. Continue reading

Feb 5 2015

The Signs of Magic

The ANSS predicted the earthquake. The timing coincided with the growing category four hurricane, Hidalgo. Anyone with any sense had vacated the coast several days ago. Even the radicals and the chasers had started packing up this morning. Hidalgo’s caress was just now starting to feel like pawing, but the quake was due any hour. There weren’t many that wanted to witness their rock solid reality ripple like the waves.

Ajay didn’t plan on missing it. His days were numbered anyway. Continue reading

Feb 2 2015

Shadow of Hope 51

As the party began to traverse the region, the environment in this locale became much more temperate than that through which was traveled only days, even hours, before. Calmer winds, warmer air and a sense that spring embraced these woods for some time permeated all that could be seen. Borlak again joined Erellia at the head of the line while Zulian fell to the rear.

“The evil we face,” Erellia addressed Talon’s outburst, “remains hidden, though I am able to share something of its nature, and if you wish to quantify our actions in such a way, I should say we are here to rescue any and all who are threatened.” Continue reading

Jan 26 2015

Shadow of Hope 50

Talon took Rôhn’s offering of tobacco. Absentmindedly wrapping his smoke, Talon watched Zulian stalk away before turning back to Rôhn to say quietly, but loudly enough for anyone save those at the far edge of the clearing to hear, “The two women in my life saved it.”

He put the new cigar in his mouth and seemed content just to mouth it for the time being. Continue reading