Tag Archives: fantasy
Back at the end of July, I was on vacation with my family. We rent a cottage right on a lake in Maine and it’s usually a chill time. The cottage is big enough so my family and I aren’t tripping over each other, those who like to swim can enjoy the lake, and there are some really comfy sofas and armchairs to just sit and read all day.
Near the end of the week-long vacation, I was in the middle of Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind and… I haven’t picked it up since.
This book was recommended to me probably about three to four years ago, by now, by a co-worker when I was working at Barnes and Noble. Thick fantasy books are generally right up my alley, and I like Rothfuss’s writing style.
But, despite being in the middle of the 700+ page book, the story itself hasn’t captured my attention. I was reading it without really knowing why. There’s nothing bad about the book, but I have yet to feel that pull towards the main character and his story, to know why I should care. Judging by a few of the side characters’ reactions to the main character, the MC is an incredibly smart dude, especially when it comes to the universe’s magic.
Like, that’s nice, but I still don’t know why I’m reading the character’s biography.
While I’ll definitely finish the book eventually, it’ll probably stay on the back burner for a little while longer, especially since I bought about half a dozen new books within the past couple of trips to Barnes and Noble. I need a bigger bookshelf.
(continuation of Autumn)
Our pay was average, but my “findings” enabled us to splurge a bit on dinner. A rack of beef to share, a fresh loaf of bread, and milk to wash it all down gave us one of the best meals we’ve had in a while. There were even leftover coins in Elsworth’s purse when I returned it to him at Luella’s insistence.
“It’s a shame,” Simon said in our room that evening. “That was a nice coin purse.”
“I’m sure the headman thought so too when he got it.” Luella’s words were accompanied with a soft smack to Simon’s arm.
I smirked at the exchange as I folded up my cloak on one of the room’s chairs. It was still rather lumpy with my daggers, bandages, and liberated items from our travels, but as long as no one sat on it, it was fine.
“You alright there?” I asked Brom, noticing he had been over by the wash basin for longer than usual.
He glanced at me before scrubbing at his shoulder with the available cloth. “Elsworth’s touch was sweaty. Feels like the spot can’t get cleaned.”
Simon’s and Luella’s voices stilled from their bickering at Brom’s response, and Simon was by our warrior’s side with a bound. He glanced at the spot, red from continuous scrubbing, and poked it gently.
“Think I have some aloe paste left,” he said, ignoring Brom’s slight flinch. “Want some?”
“I could freeze something for you to use to numb it,” Luella offered.
“Don’t strain yourself,” Brom told the mage. He did, however, nod to Simon. “I’ll try the aloe.”
“Want it wrapped in bandages?” I asked, unfolding my cloak.
We moved to wrap up Brom’s shoulder, ensuring the bandages weren’t tight enough to hinder his movement or restrict his blood circulation. He swung his arm in a wide circle to test the bandages, his muscles only making a small tear appear by the armpit.
He ignored it, finding the tear insignificant, and nodded. His gaze anywhere but us, he murmured out another, “Thank you.”
“No problem.” Simon’s response was a loud contrast as he sealed up his small jar of aloe paste.
“If it doesn’t work,” I said, “let me know and I’ll get you some of the finest soaps this village sells.”
“Through legitimate means, of course,” Luella said.
“Considering you made me return the rest of the purse, we’ll have to see—”
“Let’s go to bed.” Brom cut us off, a small smile tugging at his lips as he fell onto one of the mattresses. Being the smallest and least likely to accidentally roll over onto his side after his episode, I took the other side of Brom’s mattress. Luella and Simon claimed the other.
I tossed Simon my extra pillow and he placed it on the floor next to his side. With how much he moved in his sleep, he wasn’t a stranger to his bedmate shoving him away only to have him tumble off the mattress. Being a deep sleeper, he tended not to notice until the morning.
The morning came much sooner than all of us cared for it to.
“It’s still dark out—” Simon’s words strangled themselves as a flash of light and a wave of heat washed into our room.
“Easy enough to see what’s gotten the village up at this hour.” Luella reached the window, hearing the shouts and alarms at the dragon’s appearance.
“Did the sands and troughs help keep the fires from spreading?” I asked.
“Difficult to tell with the smoke,” she answered.
“Are we staying to help,” was my next question, “or are we booking it in case the village feels our work wasn’t worth the payment?”
Luella’s eyes rolled and she grabbed her staff. Brom already had his axe in his hands and Simon shouldered his pack of supplies. I sighed as I put on my cloak and touched the hilt of my daggers.
“Here’s hoping chasing off a dragon is worth more than sanding a field,” I said, leading the way out of the inn and into the fray.
The fires were getting worse, a tell-tale sign that autumn was on its way. The dry leaves, twigs, and old trees provided perfect fodder for the wild dragons’ attempts at keeping their territories warm.
“Why they can’t just fly south for the cold season like birds, I’ll never know,” Brom grumbled. “They’ve wings, don’t they?”
“They’re more reptiles than birds,” Simon said, hefting a couple of buckets of water over to the trough. It was to keep a ready supply of water in case some of the crops did begin to burn. “With their territorial instincts, they’re more apt to warm up their surroundings than go elsewhere. I’m sure most have hoards to protect—”
“Spare us the biology lesson, please,” Luella said. She was resting on an overturned bucket, having used her energy on creating a raincloud to quench a brush fire that had gotten dangerously close to the local town’s wheat fields.
“I’d be able to spare it if Brom paid attention when I explained it last year and the previous year before that,” Simon said. He ducked away from the handful of sand Brom tossed his way. “Seriously, you complain every year.”
“Probably because I don’t like using my skills to shovel dirt around to prevent forest fires,” Brom said. “I’d rather be getting paid for bashing in the skulls of bandits.”
“Oh, c’mon.” I dumped out half a bag of sand on a pile of dead undergrowth, ensuring that it wouldn’t catch fire should the dragons make their way over to the crops. “There’s plenty of payment opportunity in helping villages with chores like these.”
Glancing up, I stared at the villages doing the same work as us in the distance, working hard to prevent their fields and homes for burning should a dragon arrive.
My gaze caught Luella’s narrowed one. “How many of these villages still have their coin purses?” she asked.
“Most of them, I suspect,” I said cheerfully, nudging around the pile of sand with my foot to even it out. “Honestly, I haven’t lifted a purse from a person today.”
“But if you found one unattended,” Brom said, “say, with other supplies lying about, then…”
“Finders-keepers,” Simon and I chanted in unison.
Luella’s baby-blues rolled. “You’re all horrible.”
“Says a lot about how used to us you are if that’s your only reaction,” Brom said.
Our mage gave him the driest look I’d ever seen her muster before turning to watch some of the other villagers. I kicked some more sand around, more than ready to quit for a snack, as my attention wandered to the inn rooms we had secured for the night.
“Are we done yet?” Apparently Simon had similar thoughts.
“Perhaps.” Luella stood up, stumbled momentarily until Brom caught her elbow, and added, “The headman is coming closer.”
I stood up straighter, my hands deftly double-checking that the “found” purses were well hidden in my pockets, and waited with my companions as the headman caught up to us.
“Thank you all for your help,” Elsworth said, giving us a small bow. Luella gave a brief one in return, Brom inclined his head in a nod, I didn’t even think to join in, and Simon’s gaze was fixed on the smiley face he was toeing in the sand.
“The preparations went so much smoother with such strong help.” Elsworth clapped a hand on Brom’s shoulder, and our warrior’s free hand twitched. It was a feat that Brom didn’t shake off the contact. Had it been a few years prior, I would have marveled at Brom not outright punching the headman.
“We’re always happy to help for the right price,” Simon chirped with a cheeky wink.
Elsworth chuckled. “Ah, that’s right, always know what your work is worth! Come on back to the square and I’ll get my assistant to give you your wages before you turn in for the night.” He turned away to head back before glancing over his shoulders at us. “By the way, if you happen to find a red-skinned coin purse, please let me know. I seemed to have misplaced it.”
As soon as Elsworth was a few paces away, Luella shot me a glare while Brom raised an eyebrow inquisitively.
“Finders-keepers,” I whispered to Simon’s muffled laughter.
While the manner in which the party was constructed was a bit odd – really, who thought it best to put up a scribbled sign in the village square to find companions for an adventure? – it at least provided me with an out. An out of the village, an out of the rut my life had become, an out to find somewhere in the world where I could grow.
It was a motley crew at best, a haphazard assortment just waiting to implode at worst. I stood in the threshold of the meeting room, the borrowed storage place of the village’s tavern, and glanced around. There were a trio of broad-shouldered men, somewhat on the shorter side, with brilliant beards and large hands holding onto axes and hammers. The dwarves were speaking amongst themselves, but not bothered by anyone else hearing if their volume was anything to judge by. I wondered why dwarves were so far from their cavern homes, sure that they usually lived in the north.
A man was in the corner, staying so silent and standing so far into the shadows that I nearly missed seeing him. His arms were crossed, the visible fingers fidgeting as much as the hat upon his head was twitching. I talked myself out of marching over and snatching the hat away to see what lay beneath, my curiosity wavering at the sight of the pointed daggers at the man’s waist. I was sure the blades were not just for show.
A red-orange light zipped by my ear on the way into the room, sparkles of the same color marking a trail as it flew along, until it settled atop of a bare spot on the shelf tacked to the western wall. Before my eyes, the light grew into a glow before shaping a child just sitting there with her legs swinging below her seat. Her skin was dark, a sharp contrast to the mass of hair and wide eyes that had matched her sparkles. She gazed around the room with an excited grin, unable to keep a giggle here or there from slipping out.
A slender figure, at least part elf with the point of the ears, the angled eyes, the lean arm muscles, lounged on the solitary chair in the room. The strap of a quiver crossed over the figure’s chest while a bow of curved metal leaned against the chair. Those eyes caught mine as they roamed around the room. Briefly, we gave each other a nod, seemingly understanding that we were two of the most sensible of the gathered lot.
“Are you responding to the ad from the square as well?”
I brought my attention to the young man in front of me, his face smooth, lightly tanned, barely looking as if he had ever been out of the village let alone the world. Still, he appeared to be taking this rather seriously, as there was no hint of mirth around him. No upward turns of the lip, no gleams of wanderlust in his dark eyes, no flush on his cheeks from anticipation.
I nodded in response and, when he asked for my name and skills, I flipped open to the appropriate page of my book of common phrases.
He frowned as he glanced at it long enough to comprehend the words that not only answered his question but also explained that I was born without a voice. “A Runekeeper? How can you be a Runekeeper if you cannot speak?”
He was blunt, I would give him that. He was also lucky I had been dealing with that kind of question all my life.
With years of practice, I snapped my common phrase book shut, slipped it into its sleeve hanging on the left side of my belt, and brought out the book of thin paper from my right holster. A stick of coal helped me write my rune on a strip of paper before I ripped the parchment from the book’s binding and smacked the paper, coal marks facedown, against the wooden frame of the door.
Slowly, ivy vines sprouted from the paper, much to the cooing delight of the fairy, encompassing the parchment until it was dissolved completely from the rune’s workings. Greenery sprouted around the frame until the wood was merely the flowerbed for the ivy.
When the young man pulled his gaze away from the ivy, it was to see my common phrase book opened once more to the page that told him, “I’ve adapted.”
He gave one chuckle, his lips settling into a crooked grin as he said, “Welcome to the team.”
Why couldn’t my teachers be this epic?
There’s a middle school teacher who decorated his classroom into a “Harry Potter wonderland” for his incoming students. Having that dedication to a book series is just amazing, but to share that passion with students is wonderful.
Most of the decorations seem to be trinkets that the teacher had for years since he was a teen himself and reading the books, so it wasn’t that pricey for him to splurge on decorations. It’s incredibly heartwarming to me for a book series to touch someone enough to want to share that with others, especially students. It shows his passion for not only Harry Potter but for reading in general, and his decorating skills are going to forge such a special connection with his students that I’m a little envious about. I can only hope that the teacher’s passion will shine through enough to inspire the students to show their passion about something just as much.
Here’s to everyone who has that special book or series or television show or song that they can gush about just enough to bond with another!
“Do you want the good news or the bad news first?” were the words that tumbled out of the healer’s mouth when he exited the castle’s infirmary.
Aidan gripped his lance tight enough to make his hands start smoking, but he calmed down enough to say, “Good news.”
“The queen is getting better.” The dark-skinned healer glanced back toward the infirmary and murmured something about how odd it was that the queen was doing so well. “Quite a turnaround, really.”
“That’s excellent,” Aidan said. His grip loosened on his weapon as he tried to peer into the room beyond the healer. “What’s the bad news?”
“Come and see for yourself.” The healer gestured into the infirmary and followed the soldier in. The room was quiet, save for the soft footsteps of the men, as he checked on the women in the beds.
Queen Mystral had a healthy pink color in her cheeks, and her chest moved in a steady rhythm as she peacefully slept. Jars and containers of ointments and medicines were on the bedside table, and Aidan glanced through them, his curiosity demanding to know what the medicines were, how they were made, why the country didn’t put more emphasis on the healing arts instead of focusing on the army.
The princess, spending much of her time between running the country in her mother’s absence and visiting the infirmary, was lying on the bed adjacent to the queen. Princess Anila’s pale face was wrinkled with distress, her breathing coming in ragged breaths, and sweat was upon her brow.
“The bad news,” the healer said slowly, “is that the princess is not getting better.”
“Her Royal Highness wasn’t sick.”
“She is now.” The healer took off his hat and ran a hand through his hair, messing it up even further. “Quite a turnaround, really…”
Aidan raised an eyebrow. “You said that already about the queen.”
“It applies to the princess too,” the healer said. His eyes were downcast and his shoulders shook from his deep sigh. “I’m sorry…”
“You helped the queen,” Aidan said, “and I’m sure you did your best for the princess. Perhaps she’ll have another turnaround, as you say.”
The healer shook his head. “I don’t think so. I don’t believe that the princess will get up again. Princess Anila wasn’t responding to any of the remedies I tried with the queen. In fact…”
Aidan prompted the healer when the other man wasn’t going to elaborate on his own. “In fact what? What is it?”
The healer’s words dropped to a whisper. “I’m not even sure the queen responded to my remedies. It seems the gods have a hand on her shoulder. Her recovery is nothing short of a miracle.”
“You must have done something,” Aidan said. “I’m sure this miracle wouldn’t have had a chance without your help.”
The healer suddenly chuckled. “Are you always this encouraging?” he asked. “Are you the type of soldier that cheers on his opponent in a spar?”
Aidan rolled his eyes. “If you’re done, healer–”
“Doyle.” The healer stuck out his hand to the soldier. “My name is Doyle Lorz.”
“Aidan Basset.” The soldier returned the handshake. “Now, if you’re done here, the soldier at the front gate will give you your payment. I’ll keep an eye on the queen and the princess.”
“I’m sure they’re in good hands with you.” Doyle tipped his hat to Aidan. “Call me if anything changes.”
“Of course.” Aidan watched the healer go. Doyle’s firm footfalls receded from Aidan’s ears only to be replaced by the lumbering steps of Queen Mystral’s closest advisor.
“Her Majesty?” Zion came into the infirmary, his gaze riveted on the queen’s prone form.
“The healer said she’s doing well,” Aidan said. “Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the princess… Hopefully she’ll make a turnaround just as her mother had.”
Zion made a noncommittal grunt and took a seat beside the queen’s bed. Aidan cast one last look at the princess before leaving the care of the women to Zion.
It was a mere two days later that the queen was well enough to personally plan her daughter’s funeral.