Pantheon #4: Better Late Than Never (Or Something)

Yeah. Sorry this is late. Been busy with both my jobs, personal things, and being sick (I think I’m stressing about things more than I need to and it’s affecting my health more than I care for.) At any rate, the next main story chapter is on its way. Putting on the finishing touches, and then I’ve also worked on chapter 2 of Ender of Worlds and I’m getting back into the legends. Sorry about the delays in, well, everything. When I don’t get a paycheck to write, it unfortunately ends up being put off when other things come up. Anyways, enough chitchat. Pantheon.

Showcase #4

Valro

Valro is the incarnation of the Progenitor’s adventurous spirit. Everywhere he looks, he sees an epic journey waiting to happen. Staunch defender of the innocent and fearless leader of the vigilant, Valro relentlessly pursues wicked hearts and guides the weak through the fiercest of trials. Though pathetically idiotic when it comes to social situations, he is a battlefield genius who guides mankind through the darkest of storms.

Religion:

Domain: Valor, Bravery, Courage,

Associated Pantheon: Koeleth Sentimentals

Religious Orders: Order of Valor’s Rest (for the common man), Order of the Valiant Blades (for the warrior)

Native Magical Element: Earth

Symbolic Weapon: Greatsword

Symbolic Gem: Sardonyx

Symbolic Plant: Gladiolus

Symbolic Bird: Eagle

Insignia: Holy Sword, Cruciform Greatsword

Appearance:

Body Shape: V Shape, Large Frame

Eyes: Brown

Hair Style: Business Cut

Hair Color: Brown

Facial Hair: None

Skin Tone: White, Tan

Attire: Greek Tunic, Paludamentum

Weapon: Greatsword

Markings: None

Notable Features: Does a well chiseled chin count?

Background:

Titles: Lord of Valiance, Mighty Vanguard, Wolfbane

Siblings: Angern

Significant Subordinates: Fulhart, The Thorn Mountain King (I forgot his name)

Relationships: Hmm? Hmmm! Hmm… What was the cute one’s name again?

Antithesis: Fearl

Notable Events:

The Rise of Koeleth: Valro was the first guardian of the Koelings. When the miniscule Kingdom of Ekoal rose from the dust, he chose their leader to be his paragon. Thus, the legend of Hero King Baldric was born. Certainly he and his line had to contend with other hero kings for control, but with Valro at his back, Baldric birthed a nation.

The Great War of the Triad: Before the advent of the Orgalav Empire, a great war waged between the Nagyb, Koeleth and Ariluo. At that time, Disciplina was not amongst the ranks of the Koeleth Sentimentals, so when it came to matters of war, Valro, Detremenat and Angern took charge. Valro singlehandedly fought off Warrdu, Slaverus, and Faminu, the greatest warriors of the Nagybi guardians. No one questions Valro’s battle skill.

The Rise of the Valiant Blades: During a tumultuous time in history, Valro and Angern chose the same man as their paragon. The man gathered around several others like him, the double blessed, and together they fought to find a place in a world that had grown to hate their power. They earned their place as heroes by risking life and limb for the very people that loathed them, earning them the colloquial name of “Valro’s Blades.” Over time, they became the Order of the Valiant Blades, the hero’s guild.

Pantheon #3

Showcase #3

Angern

Angern is the incarnation of the Progenitor’s righteous fury. His rage burns away his foes with scorching flames. Angern detests wickedness and prefers fierce but fair justice over blind vengeance. He waits for a day when his ire will be quenched by the waters of peace. Until such a time, he shall forge a path to the future by any means necessary.

Religion:

Domain: Anger, Wrath, Ferocity

Associated Pantheon: Koeleth Sentimentals

Religious Order: The Cult of the Eternal Flame

Native Magical Element: Fire

Symbolic Weapon: Battle Axe

Symbolic Gem: Fire Opal

Symbolic Plant: Peony

Symbolic Bird: Hawk

Insignia: Flaming Fist

Appearance:

Body Shape: V Shape, Large Frame

Eyes: Orange

Hair Style: Shoulder Length, Unkempt

Hair Color: Brown

Facial Hair: Full Beard, Brown

Skin Tone: White, Tan

Attire: Bearskin Tunic, Horned Helm

Weapon: Battle Axe

Markings: None

Notable Features: None

Background:

Titles: Lord of Wrath, Purging Fire, Fierce Avenger

Siblings: Valro

Significant Subordinates: Venjenz, Vulcanis (Formerly)

Relationships: Detremenat (It’s Complicated)

Antithesis: Peaz

Notable Events:

Leviathan’s Departure: When Leviathan split from Sorowa, he managed to convince several other earthbound guardians to join him. Vulcanis, Angern’s trusted second in command, was one of those who agreed, if only to keep the balance of powers in check. Angern was furious at first, but Peaz convinced him to let events unfold as they would.

Warrdu and Angern: Warrdu, Angern’s Nagybi counterpart and the guardian of warfare, led the Nagybi tragedies in a war against the Koeleth sentimentals when the nations were still forming. The sentimentals were ultimately victorious, but Warrdu and Angern never determined who was the stronger force. This has led to an intense rivalry and some unsavory fanfics.

The Razing of the Cult: In the Cult of the Eternal Flame’s early days, a significant subset of the priesthood began making human sacrifices to gain the favor and invoke the powers of Angern. Angern was, predictably, enraged by this egregious act, and he wiped out the Cult, beginning anew with wiser, less cruel priests.

Pantheon #2

Showcase #2

Isolati

Isolati is the incarnation of the Progenitor’s separation from other beings. She bears no kinship with the world. Where most other guardians have a strong interest in the affairs of mortals, she would rather remove herself from the mortal world. She yearns for peace and seclusion. Her cold exterior hides a heart plagued by loneliness.

Religion:

Domain: Isolation, Solitude, Independence

Associated Pantheon: Koeleth Sentimentals

Religious Order: The Cult of the Lone Wanderer

Native Magical Element: Cold

Symbolic Weapon: Swordstaff

Symbolic Gem: Moonstone

Symbolic Plant: Hydrangea

Symbolic Bird: Great Blue Heron

Insignia: Crescent Moon

Appearance:

Body Shape: Rectangle, Small Frame

Eyes: Opalescent

Hair Style: Shoulder Length, Ponytail

Hair Color: Bluish-White

Skin Tone: White, Pale

Attire: Navy Blue Mouth Mask, Navy Blue Leather Vest, White Long Sleeved Blouse, Navy Blue Leather Slacks

Weapon: Swordstaff

Markings: None

Notable Features: None

Background:

Titles: Lady of Solitude, Lone Wanderer, Ghost Traveler

Siblings: Sorowa

Significant Subordinates: None

Relationships: No, of course not, connecting with others is pointless

Antithesis: Empathae

Notable Events:

The Progenitor’s Disappearance: Due to her introverted nature, Isolati always stayed on the outskirts of guardian society, but it did not become truly isolationist until the Progenitor disappeared. She loved her father, despite his ever increasing aloofness. Thus, when he left the guardians behind, Isolati was utterly crushed, resulting in her withdrawing from most other guardians.

Welcome to the Pantheon, A Guardian Showcase

This is the first entry in a series of short profiles of the guardians that will update regularly. Dead serious, I’m going to write up a few of these while I’m waiting for chapter 8 to come back from the editing process, and then I’m going to set them to release at the same time every week. These won’t contain spoilers for the stories that they appear in, but will provide some context for and information on the guardians. For the sake of those who might know better than me about symbolism, the items I use for symbols are subject to my own creative license. For example, just because a sapphire stands for fidelity and insight in the real world doesn’t mean it’s going to represent that in my world. Also, brief update: remember Aaron’s newer character profile? Yeah, I’m making a minor update.

The Pantheon

An Introduction

The guardians are deific beings, but with a bit of twist: they were “created”. The guardians are a product of the Progenitor, the Creator of Eirmoda and the First God, shedding aspects of himself in order to create peers he could commune with. It must be stated that the guardians were created after the advent of humanity, because humanity was originally meant to serve this purpose, but they strayed from the Progenitor’s vision (which is pretty sad, he wasn’t asking much). With each new guardian, the Progenitor himself lost more of himself, growing weaker with every passing moment. He watched as his creations, extensions of himself, turned their eyes to the pursuits of man, just as he would, and their came a day when he no longer had a place in this world. Thus, he disappeared. He did, however, give on final gift to humanity before leaving; he established earthbound guardians to keep the world around them in balance. In the aftermath, the intelligent guardians took on the role of guiding humanity and the excess of residual magic left behind from the Progenitor’s work spawned several weaker, sometimes even bestial guardians.

Showcase #1

Sorowa

Sorowa is the incarnation of the Progenitor’s woes. Everything she sees in the world is a tragedy. She cannot help but weep for the state of the world. She yearns for happy endings but can never find them. Despite her comically exaggerated crying, she genuinely cares for humans and their sorrows.

Religion:

Domain: Sorrow, Sadness, Lamentation

Associated Pantheon: Koeleth Sentimentals

Religious Order: The Weeping Temple

Native Magical Element: Water

Symbolic Weapon: Halberd

Symbolic Gem: Lapis Lazuli

Symbolic Plant: Cypress

Symbolic Bird: Loon

Insignia: A Tear Held in Hand

Appearance:

Body Shape: Hourglass, Medium Frame

Eyes: Azure

Hair Style: Waist Length, Straight

Hair Color: Bluish-Black

Skin Tone: White, Pale

Attire: Ornate Sapphire Kimono

Weapon: Halberd

Markings: None

Notable Features: None

Background:

Titles: Lady of Tears, Mourning Maiden, Weeping Woman

Siblings: Isolati

Significant Subordinates: The River Dragon (Formerly), Leviathan (Formerly)

Relationships: There would be, if only only Apathos would care about her

Antithesis: Joye

Notable Events:

Leviathan’s Departure: Leviathan is one of the most powerful earthbound guardians. He was appointed by the Progenitor to guard the oceans and rivers of Eirmoda. Initially, he was subservient to Sorowa, when Sorowa had a broader range of duties, a position which he held no reservations about. As Sorowa’s focus drifted towards exclusively human concerns, Leviathan began to distance himself from her command, relegated himself to the darkest depths of his eponymous home ocean. The Progenitor’s departure was the final nail in the coffin for Leviathan, who promptly declared that he was severing all ties to greater guardians.

The River Dragon’s Downfall: After the departure of Leviathin, the River Dragon’s loyalty was split. He was sworn to serve directly under Leviathan, but also was beholden to Sorowa. As a result, Sorowa and Leviathan frequently clashed over the role of the River Dragon. The River Dragon put forth his best effort to perform as many tasks as he could for the both of them. After some time of this, he resorted to just concerning himself with the needs of his people. In the conflict that arose around the rise of the River People, he was slain by a human barbarian with exceptional strength and skill. With his unfortunate demise, the war over his allegiance also died.

A Serious Look At The Guardians

The few times I take in depth looks at the guardians, they tend to be comical and lighthearted. There’s a certain strange humor in thinking that a collective of supremely powerful beings is nothing more than a gathering of ridiculous goofballs. However, the guardians are actually grim, dark figures. Even the most jovial of guardians, Joye herself, has a tragic nature, if you bother to delve into it. I won’t go into all these stories now, though. Instead, I wish to highlight guardians who wield a greater amount of power.

The Greatest of Guardians

Nobodys, The Forgotten God – Nobodys (Nobody) is aptly named. He was once tremendously powerful, unrivaled in his influence and might. He ruled over the pantheons of countless nations. However, for reasons not yet revealed, he gave up his position and was forgotten, earning him a new name and a new face, and exiling him to the place where everything started: Trialias. He still contains much of the might and power he had before, but he keeps it under wraps for reason of his own. He is the most powerful guardian currently in existence.

Prophessia, The Keeper of Time – Nobodys is the most powerful guardian currently in existence, except, of course, for Prophessia. She is the only greater guardian that can freely roam Eirmoda without adverse affects to herself or the world around her. Prophessia (Prophesy) is the only oracular deity in existence. Her knowledge even surpasses that of Noew Leng (Knowledge) himself; not even he can perceive the future. This is not to imply that fate is set in stone, however. Prophessia sees all possible futures, the repercussions of all choices and all decisions, and the end of all things. She sees the choices that people will make; she does not guide them or influence them typically, but she happens to know which decision someone will inevitably make. Unless someone intervenes; specifically, if she intervenes. Intervening in history, however, is not without cost. Oftentimes the cost is too great for her to pay. So, to mitigate the cost, once every few decades, she finds a dying person and offers to restore their health and extend their life in exchange for the use of their body. That person becomes her oracle, often living a life of seclusion. When the oracle is called upon to deliver a prophecy, Prophessia possesses their body and uses her power to reveal what she sees. Upon occasion, she sends her oracle out into the world to influence a change. A small one, of course, like changing someone’s mind about drinking that last pint of ale or convincing someone to pursue one love interest over another. But Prophessia’s concerns are with guiding fate to its best possible end, so these small actions unleash greater ripples throughout history. Sometimes she does things which don’t seem right or may lead to further suffering, like asking a wandering warrior to go out of his way to save a damned thief from an otherwise inevitable death. All these actions are for the best possible outcome, which leads many to wonder about the dark things which she sees. She is the most tragic of guardians.

Atoriti, The King of the Guardians – The part of the Progenitor that commanded authority was personified in the guardian Atoriti. He is the sole deity of the now dead Orgalav Empire. During the Orgalav occupation of Koeleth and the Nagyb, he reigned over all the guardians of Trialias save for the Six Great Aspects of Ariluo, but when his rule was deemed to be cruel and unforgiving, an Ekaolem-based rebellion, led by his most loyal servant, Disciplina, rose up, overthrowing Atoriti, just as the returning Koelings overthrew the empire. In the aftermath, Disciplina permanently joined the ranks of the Ekoalem guardians. Atoriti, though furious, agreed to leave Trialias to its own devices. He still wields a great deal of power, due to his role as the embodiment of true authority, but he now affects the world in other ways.

Leviathan, The Ocean Lord – Leviathan is the most powerful earthbound guardian, having command over all the seas, rivaling the might of the greater guardians. Though he resides almost exclusively in the Leviathan Ocean, he reigns over the guardians of every other body of water on Eirmoda. Even the revered River Dragon bowed to Leviathan. Leviathan rarely intervenes in the affairs of mortals and he holds a certain degree of contempt for ascendant guardians and the greater guardians, whom he blames for the absence of the Progenitor. He and Sorowa once got into heated conflicts over the actions of the River Dragon, who served under both. However, those conflicts were made moot by the River Dragon’s sacrifice.

Malestromim, The Looming Storm – Malestromim (Maelstrom) is the guardian of storms, the only tragedy of the Nagyb pantheon that also brings life. For being the only life-giver of the Nagyb he is revered and worshipped by the countless scores of poor, weak and oppressed. Malestromim is the only tragedy that does not favor the rich over the poor in some way, and he bears no special love or hatred for humanity, which already makes him more compassionate than his fellow tragedies. Having command over weather makes him formidable. He rarely interacts with his fellow guardians, as he finds very little reason to do so. When he has cause to unleash his power though, one would be wise to flee; he commands the forces of nature and wields them as easily as a warrior wields a blade.

Creat and Annihilat, The Twins of Destiny – Creat (Creation) is the mother of civilizations, the aspect of the Progenitor that allowed him to bring all things into existence, and Annihilat is her twin brother that contains the power to undo all things. Though they rule over the relatively small and inconsequential nation of Ikkeld, they collectively wield the power to alter reality itself. As with Prophessia, however, to use their powers in their rawest form would incur a cost far too great. Thus they have hidden themselves away where few will find them: Ikkeld.

Chapter 7: I Have No Clever Title Here

So sorry it took so long to get this out. It’s here now, though. Still working on the other stuff.

Chronicles of Koeleth
Chapter VII
Plotting and Planning

“Sooo,” Grace began mischievously, “how did you two meet?”

“That’s a loaded question if I ever heard one,” Amelia scowled, glaring at the woman sitting across from her in the cart.

“We’re from the same town; we grew up together. What more is there to know?” Tom answered dismissively from his position next to Collin at the front of the cart.

“Everything!” Grace declared. “I want all the juicy details.”

Tom let out a heavy sigh.

“Fine,” he said, resigned to his fate. “When I was four, I was running around my father’s smithy, being a general nuisance. None too happy with my antics, he scolded me and told me to go play somewhere else. That somewhere else was the neighborhood fletcher. Apparently, great minds think alike, because a certain four-year-old girl was also intruding on the fletcher’s work. Well, he was just about as happy with us as my father was, and his reaction was much the same. So, both of us decided to go harass someone else. And we’ve been the best of friends ever since.”

Amelia nodded in affirmation.

“Who messes around in a weapons shop?”

“We do,” Amelia chimed.

“How on earth did you survive?”

“Luck, caution, and a good bit of dexterity,” Tom quipped.

“Anywho, tell me more about when you two left your village. I knew all about Amelia leaving her village, but I didn’t know she was leaving it with a friend. Especially of the male persuasion.”

“Well, I’m not the only one who has traveled alone with a man,” Amelia said accusatorily.
Grace turned red at this implication.

“I was headed to Lamentation, a river city in Sorowa’s Cradle, to join up with their branch of Compassia’s Hand, and Tom was headed to Cradle-of-the-Moon, the Cradle’s capital, to join up with the Valiant Blades. We traveled together for a few miles, until our paths split. Before we split up, though, I received my shield from Lady Empathae. Shortly after we split up, Tom received his halberd from Lady Sorowa. I met with success in my endeavors, but what happened with you, Tom?”

“Well,” Tom explained, “I was shocked to find that they were quite a bit more rules heavy than I thought they would be, so I decided to take my skills elsewhere. If I wanted that, I would have joined the town guard or hooked up with the militia or army. So, I made my way to the local chapter of the Adventurers’ Guild. Much more flexible rules. Of course, they also don’t get backing from the government, so your pay isn’t guaranteed. Great place to get started, though. Never got the opportunity to meet the grand guildmaster, though. Stands to reason, I suppose; the Adventurers’ Guild main HQ is in the royal city. Real mysterious figure the guildmaster is, but that’s a story for another time. After a few years, I left the guild to go indie. My reasons are my own.”

“Yeah, yeah, that’s great,” Grace interrupted. “But what about you two? What was your time together like? Were you an item? Was the goodbye tearful and romantic? Did you kiss?”

“No!” Tom and Amelia denied in unison.

“So, you were dating!” Grace declared, blatantly ignoring their protests.

“Do you ever listen to me?” Amelia sighed, resigned to her fate.

“Hey, lovebirds!” Dennis called from the back of the cart. “I think we should take a break soon; the nerd is getting tired.”

“I’m not a nerd! I’m a scholar!” Collin fired back. “But yes, both the horses and myself need a bit of a rest. How you could know that from back there is beyond me.”

“You were swerving, nerd.”

“…So I was.”

The entire troupe was weary, if they were being honest. They pulled off at a nearby clearing to eat and rest.

“As I recall,” Tom remarked towards the end of their lunch, “I invited Gabriel, Grace, Amelia and Dennis. I understand why Gabe stayed behind. What I don’t understand is why she’s here.”

Tom waved his hand over the golden-haired wolf girl who had curled herself up next to him after finishing her meal.

“And why is she sleeping next to me instead of you all?”

“Poor girl,” Grace explained. “She was so scared to be left behind that she begged us to bring her along. I guess I’m soft, because I just couldn’t say ‘no.’ As to why she’s chosen you to be her pillow, well, she probably feels that you’re the safest person in the group, which, all things considered, you probably are.”

“I was hoping there was a little more to it than that. Regardless, Rydia is here now, I suppose. Nothing we can do about it.”

“Why don’t you want her here, Tom?” Amelia questioned.

“This is a dangerous road, and she’s just a child. In my opinion, she would have been safer with the pack. I don’t want anyone to be exposed to any unnecessary risk, especially a child.”

“She’ll be fine, Tom. I mean, you’re here to protect her, right?” Amelia grinned smugly. “That’s what you’re here for, after all.”

“That is an unfair amount of power you wield.”

Amelia’s pleased expression simply grew.

“Technically speaking, I am here to protect Collin. I haven’t started my mission to help you all yet.”

“Your mission?” Amelia parroted, her victory smile ever growing. “You haven’t started it yet? So, you are going to do it?”

“Now, that isn’t what I said! I still have to consider it!”

“Don’t listen. He’s already agreed to help.”

“Damn you.”

“You would make a cute couple,” Collin said innocently.

His unwanted commentary received two nods of agreement and two malicious glares.
After some more conversation, they packed up and hit the road again. The remainder of the day was peaceful. When it grew late, they found a clearing to rest in for the night.

 

“Wake up, little one,” Grace whispered to the sleeping girl. “We’re going again.”

“She either has a great deal of control or no control at all over her powers,” Tom noted.

“She doesn’t seem to sleep consistently as a wolf or a human.”

“She has some control. She told me one time that sleeping as a wolf is more comfortable for her.”

“Huh. How do you communicate with her?”

“We used to have a telepath with us, and he was super helpful. After he left, though, we just kind of learned to understand her.”

“I see.”

The little girl stirred from her slumber, stretching and yawning. Her newly awakened eyes caught sight of a butterfly, and she began chasing it around the clearing.

“So, how did you guys find her?” Tom inquired.

“We were camped outside of Carrion, seeking aide from the townsfolk, when a little girl wandered straight into the heart of our camp. We brought her into town with us thinking she might be lost, but we were met only with anger and fear. Apparently, since she was an abomination, they feared it would bring ill fortune to the village. Some of the more compassionate villagers asked us to take care of her. We agreed, of course.”

“Wow, how could you do that to a child? Sending her out into the wilderness like that. They should be ashamed of themselves.”

“It makes some sense. Haven’t you ever been afraid of something you can’t understand?”

“No. Afraid of heights? Sure. Snakes? You betchya. Letting people down? Absolutely. But things I don’t understand? Never. On the contrary, the fact that I can’t understand them just makes me want to understand. Furthermore, a human is a human is a human. Just because you’re a little different doesn’t mean you should be treated like a monster. It makes me angry, but more than that it makes me sad.”

“That’s so strange.”

“Is it?”

“I…we’re so used to being hated, reviled, treated as subhuman beasts. It’s…refreshing to have someone look at us as if we’re normal. It’s strange.”

“Well, I guess I’m just strange.”

“We really can trust you, can’t we?” Grace admitted thoughtfully.

“I suppose I wouldn’t be much good if you couldn’t.”

No one seemed to have heard this conversation, so Grace decided she’d keep it as her little secret. The cart was packed by the time their conversation had concluded, so they promptly left. The rest of the morning went by uneventfully, with some banter about Tom and Amelia, which was met by a few counterattacks directed at Dennis and Grace. Before too long, Ramsthrone came into view. As he had done before, Tom used his sigil to enter the city, and the entire company found itself at Tom’s mansion before the afternoon had turned into evening.

“Well, this is my humble abode,” he said when they had gotten off the cart.

“Humble, indeed,” Amelia said sarcastically.

“Isn’t it nice?” Collin replied sincerely.

“This is truly shocking. I didn’t expect you to have a home this ritzy,” Dennis uttered with as much condescension as he could muster.

“Allow me to head in first, to make sure my boarder isn’t too surprised,” Tom declared as he entered the mansion. “Hey, Aaron, we have guests!”

A muffled voice came from the second floor, presumably with the door to his room closed. Tom explored his home a little before inviting the waiting travelers inside. This turned out to be a wise endeavor, as he found a number of artifacts adorning his halls that he had not purchased.

“Did he really steal all this stuff?” he whispered to himself as he approached a gem encrusted golden egg.

“Yes,” Aaron replied, materializing behind Tom. “Don’t…touch that.”

“Why not?”

“It’s um, cursed. Yeah, let’s go with that.”

“Really?”

“Yes! Wait, no. Better yet, it hatches into a vile insect that crawls into people’s brains and eats them alive.”

“It’s for a job, isn’t it?”

“Yes. Don’t touch it. If I deliver it in one piece, I can put off my other jobs for weeks.”

“Alright, then. Well, as I said, we have guests. I picked up another job while I was on my last job, so I brought them back here to discuss terms.”

“I don’t care. Just don’t touch the egg.”

“Fine. I’m going to bring them in.”

Tom left his house long enough to beckon to his new roommates.

“I welcome you to my home. I spend as little time here as I can, but I know my way around. All the rooms are upstairs. Collin is currently staying in one of the guest rooms, and I imagine he would like to stay there. Aaron is staying in another. Best not try to deal with him. That leaves one room open. I imagine Grace and Dennis will want to share that one?”

Tom asked this question innocently, but it still received a matching set of scowls. They did not object, however.

“Ooh, how romantic,” Amelia mocked.

“Sorry, just trying to make things easier. Anyways, that does still leave us with one extra person to deal with—I’m assuming Rydia will be staying with Grace and Dennis.”

“I guess that means Amelia has no choice but to stay with Tom for the night,” Grace vengefully sneered.

“Get your mind out of the gutter,” Amelia chided. “Wouldn’t the master bedroom have room for two, though, Tom?”

“Well, yes, but that would mean us sharing a bed and a bathroom. And I’m pretty sure that no matter how good of friends we are, you don’t really want me to see you naked or even scantily clad.”

“You raise a valid point.”

“I can take a couch downstairs,” Tom offered.

“Actually,” Collin interjected, “I was hoping to spend some time in your library, Tom. I am aware of the fact that you keep a hammock in your study, and I am rather fond of hammocks. Perhaps I could relocate, giving Amelia a room for her own.”

“I have no issue with it.”

“Excellent.”

The rest of the afternoon went by rather uneventfully, and, after a hearty supper, Tom gathered the company in the hall to plan their journey.

“Why am I here?” Aaron objected half-heartedly. “I’d rather go back to sleep. This is inconvenient.”

“You can leave anytime you like, Aaron. I’m a little hurt that you don’t want to know what I’ve been up to, though,” Tom joked.

“I would come back with something witty, but I just don’t care enough. But this does sound not boring.”

“Whatever floats your dirigible.”

“Dirigwhat?” Dennis asked, baffled.

“It’s a hypothetical flying contraption. Doesn’t exist yet.”

“Fascinating,” Amelia remarked.

“Right, down to business. First thing I want to know is what exactly are you hiring me to do?”

“We would like you to escort us to Cryptid Oasis and act as a guard,” Grace began diplomatically. “Upon reaching our destination, you will be released from our service. Up to that time, your duties shall include defending the pack from assailants of all varieties. This may result in confronting powerful organizations. As such, it is recommended that you acquire a team of skilled and trustworthy individuals to aid you. Several members of the pack are capable of defending themselves to a certain extent; however, none of us are trained combatants, which is why we require assistance. Any life lost due to an assault on the pack will be credited to you and/or your companions. Payment may or may not be affected by such a loss of life.”

“So, standard fare? Got it. How about the payment?”

“Any and all travel expenses for you and your companions will be covered by the pack. This includes, food, lodging, the use of horses and vehicles, etc. On top of that we are prepared to offer fifty silver coins to you for your services and ten for each of your companions. We might even be able to throw in a change of clothes, too, if you want. We have an excellent tailor in our company.”

“I’ll pass, thanks. Continue.”

“Suit yourself. Ha! See what I did there? I’m so good at jokes.”

“Take this seriously, Grace,” Dennis interrupted, somewhat perturbed.

“Sorry. If you need more, we can jump it up to seventy for you and twenty for your companions, but not much more.”

“Tempting, but I’m not sure I can do it for that price,” Tom said hesitantly.

“Right!” Amelia interjected. “He’ll do it for free!”

“What? That’s not—“

“Won’t you, Tom?” she urged, pulling out her best puppy dog eyes.

“Now, hold on—“

“Please!” she continued, pouting. “For your childhood friend?”

“That is so not fair. Fine. Thanks to Amelia, you owe me no monetary payment. However, I want travel expenses covered and each of my companions must be paid twenty five silver coins.”

“Excellent!” Grace smiled. “We agree to those terms. Now, speaking of companions, who are you bringing?”

“Well, I’m not sure about numbers yet, but that’s an aside. Give me a day. I have a few ideas—all trustworthy—but I can’t guarantee anyone will actually agree. Well, except for one. But I’m going to him last. In the meantime, assume Aaron is coming with us.”

“Me? Why?” Aaron asked, mildly shocked but unconcerned.

“You never know when a professional thief will be useful.”

“What a pain.”

“Alright, you’ll have your day,” Grace declared. “Bring us back some good ones. A couple of handsome, strapping young men would be ideal.”

“Grace!” Dennis said, more perturbed than a simple friend should be.

“Sorry, sorry! Just joking. Jeez, you take the fun out of everything.”

“Before you settle your dealings, please allow me to speak.”

“Sure, what’s up?” Grace replied.

“I would like to accompany you as well.”

“What?” Tom uttered in bewilderment.

The whole group turned their gaze to the scholar.

“I realize I am no warrior,” Collin continued, “but I would like to go along anyways. I require no payment, as I will not be rendering any service, but I have never been to the Nagyb Desert. I am very much interested in Nagybi architecture, and Barren Reach was once a territory of the United Tribes of the Nagyb. I recognize the dangers of such a trip, but, if it is no trouble, I would nevertheless like to join you. Of course, I will offer what help I can. You may even use my horses and cart.”

“I see no issue with it,” Tom replied. “I’m already responsible for an entire encampment, what’s one more damned soul? Grace? Dennis?”

“We’d be glad for the company,” Grace answered, as eloquently as ever.

“Wait, how do we know he isn’t some sort of spy?” Dennis interrogated.

“I swear on my life I have no ill intentions.”

“How can I be sure? You know what we are, yet you join us so easily. There’s no reason for it. Mr. Riversedge was brought to us by Amelia, so we didn’t question his motives, but you are a complete stranger.”

“Certainly, if I were intent on betraying you, I’ve had plenty of opportunities already.”

“Hold up there,” Tom interrupted. “There are several reasons why a potential traitor would wait to, well, betray you. Trust me on that. That’s not to say you are a traitor, of course. I just want to air out that misconception. Carry on.”

“Oh, well, I see your point. Regardless, you all have kept your eye on me this entire time, and I have not left you even once, so I obviously have made no secret correspondence. Furthermore, you’ve seen my power; I am a follower of Peaz. I would never intentionally bring harm to anyone without a very strong reason. I have no grudge against you or your people.”

“He brings up a good point, Dennis,” Grace pled. “And Tom trusts him. And Amelia trusts Tom. And…so do I.”

“Alright,” Dennis conceded. “I’m keeping my eye on you, though.”

“If that helps you rest easy, I welcome it,” Collin said, offering a handshake.

Dennis shook his hand, and they went on to the next piece of business.

“Now, what do we have left to discuss?” Tom said vacantly, his mind elsewhere thanks to the previous discussion.

“Just travel plans,” Amelia reminded.

“Oh, right. Let’s get to it, then.”

The Wheel of Apologies Rolls Ever Onward

Sorry about being so late. I’ve just been so spent lately, and I’ve forgotten to keep up with some of my responsibilities, such as this. I am working on chapter 2 of Ender of Worlds still (the story took an unexpected turn that I want to pursue) but I am finishing up my editing on chapter 7 of the River’s Tale. SO that’ll be out tomorrow or Saturday. In the mean time, I wanted to explore some alternate forms of Tom (kind of like the different incarnations of superheroes).

Tom – Alternate Forms

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Brief Update

Hey, howdy, hi, hello. Just giving you a progress update. I’ve made loads of progress on chapter 2 of Ender of Worlds, and I’m pleased with it so far. You will see that very soon, I think. Also, I am making fair progress on chapter 7 of the River’s Tale (the main story, in case you forgot – I forget what I called it sometimes too) and it should take about a week for me to finish everything up with that. Also, over the weekend I had an idea for another story set to take place in the world of Koeleth, shortly before or after A Story of the Mists (the ghost story) but in an entirely different part of Koeleth. The ghost story starts in the Ghostlands and works its way south and then follows around back north to

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A Preview for A Future Chapter of Ender of Worlds

Well, I was feeling creative today, so I wrote this. Now, this segment won’t come up until Chapter 3 or later, and that chapter will hardly focus on this, but it’s an idea that probably will happen. So enjoy.

 

Excerpt from Future Chapter of Ender of Worlds: The Saving of a Man

“Are you sure about this, Tom?” Marcus inquired doubtfully, looking over the paperwork his young protege just handed him.

“Yeah, I’m confident,” Tom said, trying on an Adventurers’ Guild traveling robe.

“Seriously? You know, as your referrer, it reflects poorly on me if you don’t succeed at your captains trial. And looking at this, it seems like a real possibility.”

“So all I have to do is succeed, right?”

Continue reading A Preview for A Future Chapter of Ender of Worlds