The Prophecy: The Book Chapter Six

The Prophecy continues from Impossible Room!

The boy tried to focus on what Aelfric and Father were arguing about but most of his attention remained fixed on the large mirror at the far end of the room. The other Runites had left the room when Father instructed them to do so.

Aelfric had become noticeably upset when Father had spoke of Aelfric’s brother. The boy didn’t know what it meant to be “tested”, but he assumed that it was bad.

“You’re not listening to me, My Son. I did not send Reis. He volunteered,” Father explained.

“So you’re going to blame me for this? I survived that hellish Test, so Reis thinks he has to go through it too?” The anger radiated from Aelfric.

“No, My Son. Reis believes in that preposterous prophecy of yours.”

The sudden silence that filled the room drew the boy’s attention from the mirror. Aelfric was looking right at him. “Then we have no choice.”

Father’s face distorted into a sinister smile for a brief moment before returning to the sunken, almost stoic, look he had had since the boy had met him. Aelfric had not seen the unsettling smile.

Aelfric reached into his long coat and withdrew the Book.

“‘We’?” the boy asked, eyeing the Book.

Aelfric thumbed through the pages of the Book and released a heavy sigh when he stopped flipping pages. He looked back to the boy. “There is a Test. Passing it means the beginning of an entirely new life. But most do not pass and become forever trapped. However, there is a prophecy of an end to the Test.” The giant turned the Book to the boy and asked, “Is this your sister?”

The Prophecy The Book Chapter 6

The sketch of a young woman with shoulder length dark hair was a near perfect match of his sister. “How did you…?”

“This image was already in the Book when it came into my possession. According to the prophecy, this woman,” Aelfric pointed to the picture, “will save the Tested from the Maze. Your sister is in a great deal of trouble. So too is my foolish brother.”

Aelfric knelt down before the boy. He turned through several more pages and stopped. Two were completely blank, bringing forth the memory from the night in the library. Aelfric looked up into the boy’s eyes. “I promised you that I would do everything I could to find your sister, but I cannot guarantee everyone’s safety. The Maze will reject my presence. If you want, lad, I can…”

“I’m going with you,” there was no hesitation in the boy’s voice.

Aelfric smiled. “Very well then.”  Blinding light poured out of the Book. The boy stumbled but did not fall this time; the tower’s polished wood floor gave way to dirt.

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Unexpected Help Comic

Unexpected Help

This comic is inspired by my husband. He is constantly keeping me from throwing away my work when I believe it to be worthless. “Keep it, you never know,” he’ll say as he blocks the garbage can. Ironically, this very comic was an incomplete draft I almost threw away.

Unexpected Help
Unexpected Help

“meow…”

“It’s all crap. What am I going to do?”

“Cloe, please I’m trying to focus and I…”

“…Cloe what are you doing? What’s this?”

“We did it! We made the paper! Thank you Cloe!” – “meow!”

Surround yourself with family, friends, and yes, even pets, who support you and always let you know you are great when you know you’re not.

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Survivor Part 4

Read Part 3 if you haven’t yet!

Shya built a small fire under the light of the full moon, the second full moon she had seen since she and Reis had entered the Maze. The tall, dark man had been her constant companion since the gold-framed mirror engulfed them. Reis had been some twenty feet above her for several minutes. He had been climbing the walls of the Maze more frequently the last few days, as they neared a place he called Crete.

“Put out the fire,” Reis said, unable to conceal his excitement.

“How far?” Shya asked.

Reis smiled as he jumped down from the wall and walked away without a word. He turned left at the next split of the path.

Shya kicked some dirt onto the small fire and jogged to catch up to Reis. The path wound around in a curve back to the right then left again, then the path grew wider. The pair approached a clearing within the Maze and were greeted with fire.

“Stop right there!” The male voice was firm, but oddly high pitched. “Show me your hands.” They did as they were told and the man lowered his torch. “Reis? Damn! I didn’t think I’d ever see you again.” His pupils dilated. “By the stars! You found Shya!”

Reis indicated his outstretched hands. “If you don’t mind? It’s been a long journey.”

“Of course! My apologies.” He swept his torch in a wide arch behind him. “Crete welcomes you both.”

The Maze

Shya’s eyes adjusted to the change of light. A small clearing appeared from the darkness. Within the clearing, a few people were gathered around fires outside of the small homes built in a seemingly random layout. The structures, at least a dozen, were constructed from various woods and stones from the Maze itself. Shya could see the remains of some walls that had been taken down for their materials. People were slowly filling the area, hoping to get a look at the newcomers. Shya felt like she was suddenly on display.

“Please, come with me,” the high pitched man said to the pair. “You need a good night’s sleep.”


Shya slept better that night than she had in months. She awoke slowly to the sound of hushed voices outside the hut the people had offered her the night before. She remained still, listening to the new voice.

“… quite sure? The Shya?”

“Absolutely,” assured Reis. “You saw her last night.”

“She certainly looks the part, I’ll give you that. That could also mean she is just a part of this Test.”

“I’m telling you, it’s her. I’ve spent weeks with her. If this is a trap, she would begin to act like the witch.”

The other man laughed, but it was stifled quickly.

“I was hoping she would come to Crete younger. This doesn’t give us much time. For all we know, the next moonless night could be the one. Are you sure Aelfric will arrive in time?”

“That’s why I volunteered for the Test. Aelfric will come for me.”

“Then it’s a good thing you’ve both survived so far. Maybe, this time, Crete will survive.”

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American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

We’re experiencing our first spring in our new home, and it is still taking some getting used to. The large front windows are great for natural light, but they seem to confuse the wildlife.

American Goldfinch Bird

A very small American Goldfinch flew into our window one morning. It hit so hard that it scared the entire household. It had knocked itself silly and could not fly away for 15 to 20 minutes. I held it in a towel and pet it until it was ready to fly again.

“Sometimes you wake up. Sometimes the fall kills you. And sometimes, when you fall, you fly.”
― Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, Vol. 6: Fables and Reflections

American Goldfinch Watercolor Ink Sketch
American Goldfinch

 

 

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Impossible Room: The Book Chapter Five

Impossible Room: The Book Chapter Five

Review the previous chapter, Tower, or start at the beginning.

The giant placed his hand softly on the boy’s shoulder. The boy jumped, startled. He had forgot about, well, everything. The impossible room with all of it’s mirrors made him feel a level of discomfort he had not felt in a very long time.

Impossible Room

The giant knelt down in front of the boy with a grunt. “I’d be worried if you were okay with this room, lad. How long has it been since you saw a mirror?”

“I…uh…” the boy struggled to pull a memory into focus. His eyes remained locked on the single unbroken mirror in the impossible room. The surface remained devoid of any human reflection.  “Um, seven, maybe eight years. I think I was eight years old.”

The giant nodded, “What happened?”

The boy glanced at the giant for a moment before his eyes darted back to the mirror. “It– that creature… it killed four people. Then the priest, uh Stowe– something Stowe– he tried to fight it. Others were helping him. Two more died,” the boy’s eyes never looked away from the mirror. The giant could see the boy’s fear. “The priest kept saying the creature had to go back through the mirror.  Then he could destroy the mirror.  But it pulled him in, too…” the boy trailed off, lost in the horrible vision of the past. “They argued about waiting for the priest to return, but Belkis destroyed it. He smashed the mirror.”

“I remember Belkis,” the giant said as he stood, turning to Father. “So why haven’t you destroyed that?” The giant pointed at the single, undamaged mirror without looking at it. Instead, his eyes studied Father. “The magic in this room won’t prevent them from coming through when they learn it’s here.”

The boy began to panic at the giant’s last statement. “Don’t let that thing come here!”

The giant gave Father a hard stare and shook his head. He turned to see the boy still fixed on the mirror.  The giant placed his massive hands on the boy’s shoulders and turned him away from the mirror. He waited for the boy to look at him. “Listen to me, lad. Nothing is coming through that mirror. I’m going to destroy it. Now.”

“Oh, I am sorry, Aelfric,” Father said in a soft, but firm voice, “you do not want to do that.”

“And why not?” the giant growled. His frustration was clearly growing with every moment they stood before the mirror.

Father allowed himself a smirk. “Your brother is also being tested.”

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Fever Comic

Fever

This comic was based on an idea from a friend/fan.  He offered the idea after his son had just broke a fever the night before. He asked if we’d like to show in comic form what happens inside the body during a fever.

Fever Comic
Fever Comic

“Prepare to DIE! VIRUS!” – “CHARGE”

“NO  MERCY! Kill them!” – “Retreat!”

“Thank you!” – “It’s our job. They will never be back here again.”

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How to Vacay the Frugal Way

How to Vacay the Frugal Way

Life can get rough. It’s one thing to want a vacation and an entirely different situation to NEED a vacation. A simple weekend getaway is usually plenty. Chances are when you desperately need that vacay is when life likes to make it more difficult. I’m sure people have different reasons, but the most common party poopers are:

  1. Money (or lack thereof)
  2. Work
  3. Kids/Pets
How to Vacay the Frugal Way Original Image Source
Original Image Source

When we needed a vacay, we also encountered this infamous trifecta of complications. Here’s how we made it work:

  1. Money
    • Cut every corner. Take the vehicle with the best gas mileage, fill up using a gas card or other payment card if possible, and don’t load up on gas station snacks. Which brings us to our next solution.
    • Bring food from home. Grab snacks you can eat in the car or at the attraction. Chips, crackers, sodas, water, cereal, and any other non-melting foods. Use coolers and cold packs to bring sandwich meat, cheese, or veggies. Add bread for a more filling meal. Don’t forget to pack food for the stay as well. Microwave meals make perfect weekend trip food. Shopping the sales also helps.
    • Go out of season. This will save money and places will be less crowded. Out of season for most places include chilly weather or when school is not on holiday. Also certain holidays like Father’s Day and Mother’s Day are slower in the early hours. Some places even give discounts (ex: The Atlanta Zoo admits father’s for free on Father’s Day).

      Florida Beach
      Pensacola Beach, FL (March 21st, 10am)
    • Avoid pricey hotels and stay with friends or family. When you look up hotels, check the worst reviews on two or three star hotels. If the main complaint is outdated carpet or no DVD player, it’s perfect. Also look at hotels that are not within a five minute drive of the attraction. The prices are cheaper and they are usually less crowded. If you have friends or family close to your destination, call them up! Bribe them with wine or food and make it a vacay for everybody!
  2. Work
    • Finding time off. Work is the rock and the hard place we all know so well. If you’re not one of the lucky few who get paid vacation days, it gets tricky. Some supervisors require several weeks notice before taking off, others will ask you to talk with coworkers to swap days with you.  If this is the case, it’s time to beg, bargain, and plea. After all, they’re more than likely the reason you need this vacay. Just remember to always, ALWAYS thank them. Appreciation goes a long way.
    • Use vacation days wisely. If you do have a job with vacation days, try to be ready to leave after work at the end of your week and schedule your vacation for the day you would go back, making it a slightly longer weekend. If you can take off a half day at the end of the week, do so. After work traffic can make the drive a nightmare. Either way, ration your days, it’ll pay off.
  3.  Kids/ Pets
    • We love our children, human or animal. But let’s be honest, we all know the difference between a vacation with our kids, and a vacation. Parenting is a job in itself, and taking the job out of town doesn’t make it any less of a job. You deserve a break!
    • Say it with me, Grandparents. It’s usually a toss up between grandparents, family, or friends, but someone would enjoy the weekend with your child(ren). In most cases, they get a mini vacay too. They can stay up late, eat candy, and play games. It’s a win-win, so please try not to feel bad and enjoy the silence.

      Our nieces and nephew and our fathers
      Our nieces and nephew and our fathers
    • Fur babies can get a little hairy (excuse the pun). If you have outside pets or indoor cats, you’re mostly looking for a friend or family member to stop by and feed them while you’re away. Inside dogs can be a bit more demanding. Even if they’re crated, they still do not need to hold their bathroom breaks in for too long or there will be a mess. Boarding them can get expensive, even for two or three nights. Because of this, we asked one of our friends to house sit. It worked out perfect. The pup could run around and regularly use the bathroom, our sitter was still close to work, and our house wasn’t vacant all weekend. If this is an option for you, take it.

      Zaphod, Cinna, and Bagheera
      Zaphod, Cinna, and Bagheera

So just remember, you’re an adult now and sometimes a weekend away can make all the difference. The less you stress about it, the more you’ll be able to relax. Yes, it is difficult to not worry if you’re a mom or if you have a job that depends on you. But please, relax, have fun, and Vacay Your Way.

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The Staff of Sáwdor

Dungeons and Dragons (3e) Enchanted Item

The Staff of Sáwdor

The Staff of Sáwdor was fashioned from a branch of the Soul Tree, also known as the tree of Eden bearing the forbidden  fruit.  The tree is said to harness the essence of each soul from those who ate the infamous fruit.  Some legends say the Soul Tree can change it’s fruit to favor those before it, including the fruit’s appearance, taste, and smell.  The Staff of Sáwdor contains the same undulating power, enabling it to change to it’s user’s needs.  Without a user, the staff simply appears to be a walking stick.  Once in hand, it may change it’s appearance depending on the wielder’s soul, including length, and will always appear weightless to those it accepts.  The staff cannot be bought or sold, only found or given as a gift.

The Staff of Sáwdor

 

Barbarian:  Level 1+ can be used as a quarter staff in combat (1d10 dam), (19-20/x2 crit), bludgeoning, +4 Balance when equipped; Level 5+ Channeling Anger bonus (2d10 dam), (17-20/x2 crit) Must be equipped.

Bard:  Level 1+ can be used as a quarter staff in combat (1d10 dam), (19-20/x2 crit), bludgeoning, +4 Balance when equipped;  Level 5+ Main Distraction bonus +4 Charisma mod.  Must be equipped.

Cleric:   Level 1+ can be used as a quarter staff in combat (1d10 dam), (19-20/x2 crit), bludgeoning, +4 Balance when equipped; Level 5+ Blessing Of The Gods bonus allows control of any PC or NPC (level must be less than or equal to your own) as seen fit by your deity for one hour/day. Must be equipped.

Druid:   Level 1+ can be used as a quarter staff in combat (1d10 dam), (19-20/x2 crit), bludgeoning, +4 Balance when equipped; Level 5+ Tamer of Beasts bonus allows control of all non-magical animals for one hour/day.  Must be equipped.

Fighter:   Level 1+ can be used as a quarter staff in combat (1d10 dam), (19-20/x2 crit), bludgeoning, +4 Balance when equipped; Level 5+ Fearsome Warrior bonus (1d10 +4 dam), (18-20/x3 crit), bludgening. Must be equipped.

Monk:  Level 1+ can be used as a quarter staff in combat (1d10 dam), (19-20/x2 crit), bludgeoning, +4 Balance when equipped; Level 5+ Become One bonus adds +1 to all Ability mods and Class Skills. Must be equipped.

Paladin:  Level 1+ can be used as a quarter staff in combat (1d10 dam), (19-20/x2 crit), bludgeoning, +4 Balance when equipped; Level 5+ Natural Leader bonus adds +1 to all Ability mods.  Must be equipped.

Ranger:   Level 1+ can be used as a quarter staff in combat (1d10 dam), (19-20/x2 crit), bludgeoning, +4 Balance when equipped; Level 5+ Unstoppable Hunter bonus adds +2 to all Class Skills.  Must be equipped.

Rogue:  The staff will not accept a Rogue as a wielder.  The staff knows these souls to be ungrateful of gifts.  No abilities or bonuses gained.

Sorcerer:   Level 1+ can be used as a quarter staff in combat (1d10 dam), (19-20/x2 crit), bludgeoning, +4 Balance when equipped, SR +5 when equipped; *No further bonuses.

Wizard:   Level 1+ can be used as a quarter staff in combat (1d10 dam), (19-20/x2 crit), bludgeoning, +4 Balance when equipped, SR +5 when equipped; *No further bonuses.

*The Staff of Sáwdor senses the vast magical abilities capable of sorcerers and wizards and will not aid them further in fear of creating a power too great for one being to acquire.

 

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Survivor Part 3

Survivor Part 3

Catch up with the series starting with Survivor and Survivor Part 2.

Shya instinctively rolled herself into a crouch to the left of the gold framed mirror.  She thought she had seen the surface of the mirror ripple and her heart began to thump inside her chest.  As she cautiously leaned around the mirror she noticed something on the back: an etching of what looked like runes.

Survivor Mirror Etching
Gold Mirror Etching

She stared at the etching with a furrowed brow. “I hate puzzles,” she grumbled.   The surface of the mirror held a collection of small ripples, as if someone was slowly releasing a handful of pebbles across a pond.  Shya jerked her head back as her mind flashed back to the silver mirror.

“Hey!” A forced whisper came from the tree line behind Shya.  “Come. Now!”

She didn’t think long before she crept toward the trees, keeping an eye on the gold framed mirror.  She figured that a stranger in the woods was moderately safer than whatever lie beyond that mirror. Shya looked into the forest as she neared the trees.  She couldn’t find the source of the voice that had called out to her.  Was this another trap?

Two eyes appeared in the shadows then moved towards Shya.  Although crouched, Shya could tell the man was tall but could hardly see him in the pale moolight.  “I was afraid you would enter the gold mirror alone.  You would become lost,” he whispered.

“Are you helping me or are you another test?” Shya asked, using the same hushed voice.

The man breathed a laugh.  “Good.  You must stay vigilant.  With any luck, we can help each other.”

“Alright, what do you have in mind?”

He sighed.  “The gold mirror is the last mirror that follows you.  It houses The Maze.  Most die inside but there are several of us who have lived.  I came to find you after I heard you survived the silver mirror.”

Shya blinked as if she had looked into the sun.  ” ‘Heard’? From who? Where are we? And why me?! What is going on?!”  Her voice gradually escalated from a whisper to loud growl.

“I can’t answer that, Shya.  I’m sorry.  We have to enter The Maze.  Together.  Aelfric will find us there,” then he peered over her shoulder with a fixed gaze that made Shya turn.

The gold framed mirror drifted towards them, its surface rippling frantically.  The man grabbed her arm firmly.  She started to pull away when she saw his face.  He was bracing for impact.

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