legends

The Collector, pt. 3

During the night, Rokag saw her parents vanish for seemingly no reason. In her panic, she shouted while she searched for them, but nobody answered except her neighbor, Tabris. Knowing far more about the Fair Folk and their ways, he takes it upon himself to navigate the other side with Rokag, and help her find her family.

This is a modern alternative universe about Finn, Agrat, Rokag, and Tabris. It’s a longer one, so it’s posted in three separate parts.

Word Count: ~5300 (of ~13,500)
Rating: PG
Warnings: None

In the morning, Tabris walked over to Rokag’s home and rang the doorbell. Inside, she snored softly. Only after did it ring a second time did Jacques perk up, stare at the door with concern, and jump off. The tinkling of the bell on his collar disturbed Rokag from her dream, and she opened her eyes. Then, without thinking, she sat up and tossed her comforter aside. She checked her parents’ room, and saw that they hadn’t yet returned. With a frown, she realized that this would be more difficult than she imagined.

Once she pulled on a hoodie, she answered the door. There stood Tabris, wearing his usual clothing—save for a leather wristband with a flat piece of iron shaped like an oak leaf, and a silver ring on his thumb.

“Ready to go?” she said.

(more…)

The Collector, pt. 2

Rokag notices that her fathers have been behaving peculiarly for days. Each morning they wake up exhausted, as if they’ve been out all night, but neither recall doing anything but sleeping. They snap at each other, things go missing, semiprecious stones accumulate, and her parents smell of tobacco, though neither of them smoke. At a loss, Rokag tries to get through her day-to-day life.

This is a modern alternative universe about Finn, Agrat, Rokag, and Tabris. It’s a longer one, so it’s posted in three parts.

Word Count: ~3700 (of ~13,500)
Rating: PG
Warnings: None

Rokag returned much later that evening. Her basketball practice got finished late, and by the time she got home, Finn and Agrat were already there. As soon as she saw their cars parked in the driveway, he tightened her jaw and steeled herself. She walked only the slightest bit slower, preferring to lengthen her time between arriving at home in the bus stop and actually walking into the front door. She touched the hood of Agrat’s car, then Finn’s. Both were still warm. As she approached, she braced herself for loud, angry voices, but heard none.

(more…)

The Collector, pt. 1

In the modern world, cities have expanded and grown, replacing forested or otherwise natural spaces. Fair Folk once thrived, only to be overtaken by parking garages and strip malls. Their quieted presence made mortals forget their existence–as well as how to avoid the wilier ones. Most mortals, in fact, dismiss tales of the Fair Folk as “fairy tales” or simple folklore. Finn is one such person, and doesn’t even realize just how big of a mess he’s found himself trapped in.

This is a modern alternative universe about Finn, Agrat, Rokag, and Tabris. It’s a longer one, so I’m gonna post it in three parts.

Word Count: ~4300 (of ~13,500)
Rating: PG
Warnings: None

Finn sat up in the middle of the night for no apparent reason. He blinked and looked at the clock with its glowing, blue LED numbers. 3:17 AM. He felt no nagging headache or pain, and remembered dreaming about nothing frightening or uncomfortable. He felt rested. Clear in his thoughts. He swung his legs over the edge of his mattress and urged his feet into his slippers.

The shifting and crinkle of the sheets woke Agrat. He turned over and looked at Finn’s back.

“What’s up?” he said. Finn looked back at him.

(more…)

The Fox and the Flame

Suffering as mortals know it did not exist until the creator god, Bakthua, plucked his eyes to give to his children. People suddenly began dying forever, and felt pain in ways they never thought possible. Yet despite their turmoil, nothing truly mattered–you were born, you were hurt, and you died. The brother god, Geldorg, as he wandered through our world to see it for himself, had yet to realize the futility of it all. It was only when he met a truly evil orc, Gordūn, does he learn the difficulty of mortal life.

Word Count: ~3500
Rating: PG
Warnings: Descriptions of violence

When Bakthua plucked his eyes and gave one to each of his children, the shout that tore from his throat shattered the sky. So great was his pain, it escaped his essence. Even the labor pains he suffered to create the world could not match what he experienced then.

His suffering trickled out of the divine realm and into our world. And suddenly, all living beings, too, felt hurt. We felt the first pangs of hunger, the numbness of depression. The ache of aging and the stammering of terror. For a time, nobody knew how to cope, and all creatures did whatever they could to ease their pain. The wise invented medicine, and used parts of herbs or animals to manage their hurt. Some concocted elixirs and brews to quiet the buzzing anxiety in their minds, or grant them the energy they lacked. But not everyone could create what they needed. The kind-hearted gave their inventions away to whoever needed them, while the clever traded for what they wanted. The cruel devised a way to get more from their creation than what they put into it, and only more people hurt as this became the new way of life. A great many died, and we call this the first war. All beings, even today, fight to control their pain, and it is a battle that even Rek’gor sees no end to.

(more…)

Horace’s Journal

Subject matter aside, writing a journal from the perspective of a side character about a main character’s birth circumstances was a pretty interesting and entertaining exercise. I caught myself wondering about Finn’s parents’ lives right before Finn was born, and what they went through to have him. So, I wrote this “document” up, and provided some fake context for it in the form of a scholarly article. I think I miss being in school and writing history papers. The footnote format is made up and isn’t meant to be formatted to any particular style.

Word Count: ~2800
Rating: PG
Warnings: References to miscarriages and stillbirths.

The Carrier, Carried: Finnegan Arber-Uthordar’s Birth

These journals regarding Finnegan “The Carrier” Arber-Uthordar’s early life was retrieved from an old, metal chest in Isaea. Before the discovery of these primary documents, little was known about his life before his involvement with the Seers of Geldorg and his work as a licensed mercenary. The journals provide historians and biographers with a glimpse into his infanthood and the circumstances of his birth. There still exists, unfortunately, a massive gap between this time frame and his adulthood that remains unexplored. Based on other sources found and verified (see Agrat Arber-Uthordar’s journals from 481 to 483), we can assume that those years were especially tumultuous for Finnegan[1].

(more…)

Birth of the Thunderjaws

Another legendary tale, this time about a new orc tribe–the Thunderjaws. Like the Blackskulls, they live a rather isolated existence, but they pride themselves on their elven-orcish heritage. This is about their progenitor, Kunol–an elf adopted by the powerful Kilverud mountain orcs during a peak in the Long War. For this one, I wanted to experiment with the idea of the narrator addressing the reader, who is assumed to be part of the narrator’s culture. I’m not certain how successful I was on that front, but it was fun to write. The other thing I wanted to try out was making a character whose destiny is directly influenced by the gods.

Like most mythological tales, there’s always a nugget of truth somewhere in there. Besides writing about a hero, I also wanted to write more about the angels/demons that once wracked Veiadokuur to explore what they were capable of, what sort of forms they took, and so on. This one was mainly inspired by Nago from Princess Mononoke, but with less goop.

Originally Posted: January 25, 2017
Word Count: ~8500
Rating: G
Warnings: None

Many years before Fal’raikath’s birth and even the founding of the Thunderjaw tribe, a family of two elves wandered along the coast. They fled from a terrible enemy, a demon that ravaged their woods and blighted it for years to come. It tore through the homes carved into their great trees and made their trunks wither away until they collapsed into each other. It killed the ground too—made it dry, dusty, and impossible for sustaining plants and flowers. It drank the river that ran through their woods until nothing was left but dirt and pebbles and the skeletons of small fish. Everything dead, they had no choice but to escape while they still could.

As they looked for a new home, they lost themselves in a mountainous stretch of Veiadokuur. They wandered through rocky crevasses and high cliffs, but found nothing suitable for settlement. Weeks passed and their supplies—what little they could carry when they left—ran out.

Now, listener, please keep something in mind before I tell you what happened to this family. Elves, like orcs, valued family above all. Also like us, elves were practical and knew that sometimes, to survive, people had to make great sacrifices. These elves were not cruel nor heartless, nor selfish or greedy. They were dying. They were desperate. And, these two carried an additional burden beyond their own lives: An infant. (more…)

Tabris, Dokurokol, and the Life Gem, pt. 2

The conclusion to Tabris’ and Dokurokol’s search for the Life Gem. I wanna write more about underground adventures, and hobgoblins in general. They exist mostly on the periphery, and they’re kinda too interesting to just shove to the side.

Read part one here.

Word Count: ~3200 (out of ~7200 total)
Rating: G
Warnings: None

Dokurokol stood on the docks of Thunderjaw Island with her travel supplies on her back. While the orcs prepared her ship to the mainland, she stared out at the open waters. Veiadokuur’s cold, snow-peaked mountains lounged in the distance, grey triangles in the misty weather. Beyond them, to the north, the Impassable Heights stood far taller. In this air, Dokurokol could not even discern their tops. Even the water looked murky without the sun’s warmth. Every other day, the waves carried a deep blue hue and reflected the clouds. Today, though, it all blended together. The horizon towards the open ocean went on forever, and only differing shades hinted at the existence of land masses.

“How long will you be out this time” her Kilverud captain, Varn, said. Old, retired, and seasoned beyond his years, he regularly traveled from Stoneheart City to take Dokurokol to the mainland. He offered her a puff of his pipe, but she politely refused this time.

“It’ll be a long one this time, Varn,” she said. “If I’m not back I six months, stop waiting for me.” He looked down at her, pulling his lips to the side.

“You’re thinking this’ll be your last one?” he said. “You’re ready for that?”

“Indeed,” she said and nodded. “But I don’t anticipate that I’ll die. I’ll just be adventuring further into the mainland if I find what I want.”

“And if you don’t?” Varn said. Dokurokol smiled. Waves lapped against the shore and the wind rustled the leaves in the forests behind them. They heard footsteps running down the docks, paired with clanking and rattling. The two turned and saw Tabris, looking like a mule as he struggled with a massive bag on his back.

“I’m coming!” he said as he approached. (more…)

Tabris, Dokurokol, and the Life Gem, pt. 1

A quick story exploring some side characters and events in my larger narrative about Veiadokuur. I loved writing about Tabris and Dokurokol’s interactions with each other. Figuring out how immortal characters navigate the world around them is also a lot of fun, especially if there’s some sort of trick to the reason why they cannot die.

Read part two here.

Word Count: ~4000 (out of ~7200 total)
Rating: G
Warnings: None

It took Tabris a moment to open his eyes. Even if he heard Dokurokol’s shout and felt her heavy footsteps coming down his staircase, he chose not to react. Half of his mind still felt the fern’s thin leaves curling up around and right through that part of his conscious. The brown, dry tips of the fern changed as wet greenness seeped back into it. What was dead lived once again. A gruff hand pestered his shoulder.

“Tabris, get up. Get out of that plant and listen to me, yeah?” Dokurokol spoke to him in Dwarvish, her native tongue. Still blinded, Tabris waved his fingertips over his plant. He latched onto his mind and reeled himself back from the fern, no that he’d completed healing it. Finally, he opened his eyes and looked up at Dokurokol. She faded into his vision first, then his concentration room, the deepest part of his home, appeared. Its smooth, stone walls without corners, low ceiling, and lack of windows made for a perfect isolation chamber. Somewhere he could move his soul around almost freely. He sat at his table, a long, narrow thing big enough for Thunderjaw orcs to lie down on. He healed them here, using his magic to take care of whatever ailed them. And most times, it could. When it couldn’t, he brewed medicine and catalysts for that.

“What is it now, Dok?” Tabris said when his vision returned to normal. Dokurokol stood squat in front of him, with only the fern to protect Tabris from her enthusiasm. She grinned past her thick, curly beard and mustache and held up a fat book in her square hands. The tome looked like her—short, dense, and bulky. All it needed was a shock of thinning orange hair and a beard to match, and a bulbous nose to top it off. Its creased cover even matched Dokurokol’s wrinkles. Unlike Tabris, she regularly left the Thunderjaw’s island, and aged because of it. She’d always been bitter about the “immortal with a catch” thing, and traveled to faraway places in the mainland against her better judgment.

“I’ve found proof,” she said, eyes sparkling like cut gemstones. (more…)

Agrat the Wanderer

Another Blackskull tale, this time about Agrat’s namesake. I plucked this out of the longer narrative to share online. This is another one that I should have included more about what the legendary Agrat actually did during his time a-wanderin’, but as I wrote it, I worried it would distract from the rest of the narrative too much.

For context, Agrat here has just come out to his mother, Grasha, about being transgender. He wasn’t certain whether she’d take his feelings seriously, so he’s feeling pretty ashamed and embarrassed about himself. Both of them were exiled from the Blackskulls, Grasha’s tribe, because the Blackskulls carry some nasty cultural beliefs about racial purity, and Agrat’s a half-breed. For all their faults, I still enjoy writing about the Blackskulls and who they are as a people

Originally Posted: September 28, 2016
Word Count: ~1600
Rating: G
Warnings: None

“Come,” Grasha said, and opened her arms. Agrat stared at her a moment, then crawled up to her. She hugged him tightly. “I should have seen this long ago. You are my son, Re—no, you need a different name. Do you have one in mind?” He widened his eyes.

Just like that? So easily?

His mind spun a bit before he thought back to his dreams and fantasies. He’d tried on a few different names and none really fit him perfectly, but one cropped up a little more frequently.

“Helmun,” he said. Grasha stared at him and rolled her eyes.

“That’s a human name,” she said. “You’re more orc than human, kaluk.” Agrat set his jaw forward.

“I’m half, though,” he said.

“You’ll figure it out someday. And either way, orc names are better,” she said and grinned.

(more…)

Rokag the Rider

While building the world of Veiadokuur, I wanted to include myths, legends, and histories that the characters would know of and be able to reference. Actually writing these out made the task more interesting for me, and gives me something to do when I need to take a break from working on the main narrative. Plus it’s fun to write stories like this, where gods interact with mortals. I scratched this one out in basically one sitting at my parents’ house, then revised it when I typed it up later. I wish I’d gone a little further with Rokag the Rider’s legendary exploits, but this is an origin story more than anything; in Blackskull tales, Rokag appears again and again with their trusty steed.

Originally Posted: September 26, 2016
Word Count: ~2000
Rating: G
Warnings: None

When Rokag was born, Rek’gor was already an adult. The sister god still visited us in those days to share her wisdom and her stories, and give us insight into the workings of the world. She also stood present at each and every Blackskull birth, guiding the caretakers and the parents in the process. Rokag’s body was tiny—thin little arms, sunken eyes, and skin as thin as a crinkled leaf and ashen as the northern, icy fields. The weak cries the babe made hurt Rek’gor’s kind heart. After the birth, Rek’gor said to Rokag’s parents, “Come—let me hold your child.”

Rokag’s parents trusted Rek’gor completely, as all orcs do. They handed her their little loved one and Rek’gor embraced the child. Rokag stopped whimpering, warm and comfortable, and looked up into the goddess’ eyes.

“You wish to be stronger, don’t you?” Rek’gor said, speaking to Rokag’s heart of hearts. “Strong you shall be, young one. You can be anything you desire—here.” She touched Rokag’s chest with her great palm. Rokag’s skin darkened to the color of the most fertile soils, and after just one day, vitality flowed through the small one’s body. Rokag’s mother and father wept and thanked Rek’gor, who was only pleased to give their child health.

But something else changed about Rokag. (more…)