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Around Uroborus, Hide from the Road Hag

Purple skin flutters in the wind, stuck to the ribs of a mammoth-sized monster long dead. A vegetable garden circles it, attended by an elder woman wearing a swath of hide cut from the dead beast.

Abel turns from the Endless Road and leads Termie towards the lone lady. The two men shuffle bare feet, making their coarse tunics and pants sound like blades being sharpened as they approach.

Abel raises his hand to show off the chevron tattoo across his wrist. “Hail. We need water, food, and shelter. We offer labor to repay. As proof of trust, I have tattoos of service from seven cities.” Continue reading Around Uroborus, Hide from the Road Hag

Around Uroborus, the Only Man to Survive

Buzzards circle the ruins of bold settlers. With a bare foot, Abel steps on a warm piece of what had been the lone building. Black and shiny under the sun, it is back-breaking granite covered in unbreakable adamantine resin. A treasure from another world, the machined block had fit with thousands of others in a master-craft of stone joinery.

Naked and grim, Abel paces out the foundation of its humble size. No bigger than a small tavern, it nonetheless had the makings to survive the hammering of any battering ram carried by man.

Foot-prints of the monstrous horde have churned the earth like a farmer’s plow. He steps across the tracks to a pile of black stone and crushed bodies.

One wild-haired survivor weeps on his knees, as skin-bare as Abel. Continue reading Around Uroborus, the Only Man to Survive

Around Uroborus, for Love or for Pride

The monsters come, and the man prepares. The road is endless, and Abel Hart steps to its edge. In the distance, screams and snapping wood echo. His caravan is being torn apart under the setting sun. Nothing he can do with a dancing blade or hardened leather against a horde of wild beasts, so he strips off his armor, weapons, and gear.

Abel continues to strip until only his tattoos cover him. Seven runes mark his flesh, each one the stylized symbol of a city he has served on this endless path.

The woman he loves is at both the finale and the beginning of his journey. The beauty he will marry must be won by looping this world and earning a tattoo from every city along the way.

The screams scatter. Their meager defense must have collapsed and panic set in, dumbing them to the final lesson on Uroborus: strip and surrender to survive. Continue reading Around Uroborus, for Love or for Pride

What Am I?

Eighteen of my riddles in chronological order

1
What must you do to hold interest?
What tricks with ways that end?
What does a newborn do?
What distance is slowest the first time and boring each time after?

2
Needs money and an infection to rise
Is soft in the morning but hard at night
Can keep hands clean while being fulfilling

3
They taste like summer’s sea
They come from deep beliefs
They divide and weaken
Muscles they will strengthen

Continue reading What Am I?

Respect Is Earned

Harmless Hamlet grows. It is an eclectic settlement founded by adventurers and populated with men, monsters, and even some women.

In a tall tent, Colgrevance stands with his arms spread as his orc squire attires him in green-tinted full plate. He is the defacto ruler of Harmless and the sheriff for the whole region.

Jutting out his chin, Colgrevance rolls his shoulders and squats. “Feels like it fits, but how does it look?”

“Magnificent.” The orc dips his head and shuffles his feet.

“Be honest, Quad.”

“You are magnificent, Sir.”

Colgrevance snorts. Quadagh was born in the way of orcs a month earlier, eating free from the womb after his mother was slain. Colgrevance took him under his wing, raising him to be a squire during the curcial imprinting and growth that transforms an orc infant into an orc man.

“Fine craftsmanship from a past age.” Colgrevance clips his sword and helm onto his hip and his shield onto his back. “Martle has done well refitting this armor for me. I must also thank Pipit for recharging its mystic power. It takes discipline to praise useful people you despise. This is especially important for irreplacable casters.”

“Yes, Sir.” Quadagh furrows his hairless brow. “Praise people you despise.”

Continue reading Respect Is Earned

Jabberwaki: Part 5, The Monster

Heart thudding and out of breath, Solaris leans against an old pine tree. Through the needle leaf canopy, the sky brightens in shades from black to gray. The morning’s sunrise is still many heartbeats away.

She growls, shaking her head and clutching her fur-edged cloak. Water drips from skeletal branches and the tip of her nose. She wipes and breathes in the damp air, face relaxing and lungs refreshed.

Crackling underbrush jerks her head. Smithmage Martle scrambles clear of a thicket wearing a voluminous robe covered in twigs and sticky seeds. Legs wobbling, he falls and struggles on with knees and palms.

“Calm down!” Heart steadying, Solaris holds up her hand. “It’s a mystic fear. Pause, and let it clear.”

“No!” Martle recoils with wide wild eyes. “Run! He Comes!” The older man staggers to his feet and stampedes into more underbrush.

Continue reading Jabberwaki: Part 5, The Monster

Jabberwaki: Part 4, The Vision

Storm clouds smother starlight, and a breeze chills Beorn’s cheeks as he walks the length of an ancient rampart. He coughs into his fist and adjusts his warhammer and shortsword, making sure both are in easy reach at his waist and don’t clank against his dull gray armor.

Below, Jacob waves a torch. “Belazar’s having another vision!”

Beorn grunts and charges past the knotted rope he used to climb up. The rampart ends broken, as if an age ago something colossal took a bite out of the castle wall. Beorn hops over the edge and skids down the steep side. A mini avalanche of crumbling stone rolls after him. He stumbles into the grass but keeps his footing as bits of wall pelt his heels.

Jacob jogs over, quiet as a cat with only his loose tunic and trousers. “Not bad, considering that turtle shell around you.”

Beorn tightens a loose strap hanging from his half-plate. “Let’s go, circus freak.”
Continue reading Jabberwaki: Part 4, The Vision

Jabberwaki: Part 3, The Boy

Messoack wipes his face with a dripping rag and drops it on the floor, missing the wash-bin he took it from. “I am the candle in the dark for fluttering thoughts.” He kisses his smooth, blue-gray knuckles. “I am the eye within the maelstrom for argonauts.”

The barkeep is draped over the bar-top, a cauterized hole through his neck and red foam covering his lips. A pair of wenches lean against each other at the door, holes through their buxom chests. A minstrel is slumped over his mandolin on the stage, and a half dozen patrons are scattered about the floor. Everyone in the inn is dead, and Messoack doesn’t remember what compelled him to kill them all.

“I am Voice for the Unnameable, but my mind is my own.” He straightens his collar and strides outside.

Continue reading Jabberwaki: Part 3, The Boy

Jabberwaki: Part 2, Ghost of Rage

Voices of Belazar’s companions echo around him, blunted by the smooth walls of the rose quartz room. As their sounds are lessened yet drawn out, so his torchlight is dimmed but reflected. Everything that influences his senses is dispersed throughout the spherical space and stretched between the gaps of his breath.

“This place assaults my perception.” Belazar crosses his thick mountain-climbing legs and sits like a boy mesmerized by an all-night campfire. “I’m drifting.” Time spirals and thoughts from yesterday, last season, and his childhood compete for attention with parallel intensity.

Solaris waves her pale arm in front of his face. “Whatcha doing?” She holds the edge of her short skirt down as she settles onto her knees and reaches for his cheek. “Are you okay?”

Continue reading Jabberwaki: Part 2, Ghost of Rage

Jabberwaki: Part 1, The Empty Room

With swift, sandaled feet and loose-fitting tunic and trousers, Jacob scouts his squad of mounted adventurers through the night, reaching a lonely inn during the quiet dark before dawn. A cramping calf makes him wince, and he stretches it as his companions rein in around him.

Shortsword in hand and armor clinking, Beorn hops off of Theros, his giant gray goat. “If we hurry, we can loot and escape before sunrise.”

Jacob gestures up to the dimming stars as the sky gains a hint of blue. “The sage warned that our enemy controls flying spies.”

Leather armor creaking, Sylyca dismounts her sweaty horse and spins thin elvish hands about with a hypnotic flair. “I can cloud our travel. No tracks, and blur eyes looking our way.”

“Nice.” Jacob smiles at the petite elf who makes him regret his vow of celibacy as he fingers a blocky stone key. “The secret entrance should be under a stall in the stables. Follow me.”

Continue reading Jabberwaki: Part 1, The Empty Room