Call to Arms: The Book Chapter Eight

Continued from the previous Survivor.

A soft creak awoke Shain; he had become a light sleeper after his sister’s disappearance, but even more so now in this Maze. Without moving his body, Shain opened his eyes. Aelfric and Mira were not in the room and the door was left slightly ajar. Shain pushed himself up from the floor slowly, trying to be as silent as he could.  As he neared the door, he could hear Aelfric speaking.

“…it’s too powerful, Mira. I cannot allow this traitor, Stowe, to possess the Book, or to let some mirror jumper take it to their master.”

“But they already have it, Aelfric,” her voice whispered, barely audible compared to Aelfric’s. “Maybe it’s time for you to let go of the Book.”

A lingering silence followed the statement. Shain wondered if the two had left his range of hearing. He cracked the door just enough to see their two dark figures in the moonlight.

Aelfric and Mira

“Just start a new life and live happily ever after in the Maze?” Aelfric asked sarcastically. “Well I do hate to be the bearer of bad news, Mira, but that little girl of yours is going to forever alter the Maze.”

“Don’t you dare blame her!” His mother’s words sounded scornful and protective.  “My family has nothing to do with your so called ‘prohpecy’. If you hate this place so much, alter it your own damned self.”

Aelfric exaggerated a deep laugh as he spoke. “Oh, I plan to do exactly that. I will tear these walls to the ground and hunt down every last mirror to keep my Book out of their hands.”

“That Book has driven you mad since that night you took it.” Shain could hear his mother crying through her words. “Please, just go. Let me keep my children safe for once.”

The frustration that tightened Aelfric’s rumbling voice seemed to fade. He cradled her face in his giant hand and smudged a tear. “Mira, dear, your children will never be safe, especially in the Maze. Stowe, or whomever else holds that Book, knows about the original prophecy and Shya. They will come for her, they will find her, and they will destroy all who protect her.”

“Then we will be ready to fight them,” Shain proclaimed as he nudged the door out of his way to join their conversation.

Aelfric knelt down to Shain and placed his hands on his shoulders. “You have enthusiasm, lad, but not experience. You are no fighter,” Aelfric lowered his head, breaking eye contact. “If I can recover the Book, we may be able to avoid fighting altogether.”

“Then I’m going with you,” Shain said. “Shya, Mom, and Reis can go to that town you were telling me about and they’ll be safe.”

“Yeah,” Shya spoke mockingly as she stepped out into the moonlight, “I’m not sitting around waiting for the bad guys to come after me.”

“They’ll have to go through me,” Reis stated in a more serious tone as he followed close behind Shain’s sister.

“Dammit,” Mira breathed. “I’ll get my bow.”

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How To Comic: Pick the Perfect Avocado

How To: Pick the Perfect Avocado

The avocado has become a “must have” in the Hideaway for almost everything. Eggs, sandwiches, burritos, tacos, sushi, ice cream (just kidding! Had to make sure you were paying attention.). Their only draw back is the eight hour window of pure perfection. This makes shopping for them slightly difficult. If anyone tells you they can find the perfect avocado every time, they’re either lying or they’re a wizard. So to help all you non-produce wizards out there, here are some simple steps to picking out that perfect addition to your upcoming meal. If you just so happen to be a wizard, I would really like some training. Is there a book or a class? Let me know.How To Comic Pick the Perfect Avocado

Step 1: Pick up an avocado.

Step 2: Interrogate the avocado. – “Are you the one?”

Step 3: Pick up another avocado. – “Honey… what are you doing?”

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Survivor Part 6

Continued from Reunion.

The mirror had disappeared as quickly as it had appeared. Shya stared at the brick wall as a memory stirred from what seemed like another life.

Shya had been a teenager when a mirror brought death to their village. The creature that came through the mirror had been the most disturbing thing she had ever seen. It would have been tall, given its long limbs but it pulled itself on all fours. It looked like living glass, casting distorted reflections of its surroundings. Its movements were the most unsettling. The joints moved limitless, creating a fluid and inhuman slither. And the speed…

Mirror Creature

Shya shook away the memory to return to the small room her mother had built within the Maze. Shya looked around her mother’s home. It had been seconds since the creature took the large book from Aelfric. The room was silent, except for the sound of Shain crying softly.

Shya crossed the room to her little brother and wrapped her arms around him. “It’s okay, Shain. It’s gone.” She looked sideways to Aelfric and flatly said, “It looks like it got what it wanted.”

“Stowe,” Shain said, taking a deep breath to calm himself, “he said he would kill that thing.”

Aelfric cleared his throat. “He likely slain the creature from your village. It is a magical conjuration. A powerful witch or sorcerer summoned it. Usually because they are too lazy to do their own dirty work.”

“Stowe came to the Maze a few years ago,” Mira said, her voice quiet. “I haven’t seen him in a while, but there are rumors that he may have forsaken his vows.”

Aelfric took a deep breath and let it out as a sigh. “Did Belkis tell him about the Book?”

Mira nodded, avoiding everyone’s – especially Aelfric’s – gaze. “I think Belkis told him everything.”

“Wonderful. I would wager that Belkis and Stowe want the Book.” Aelfric patted his coat where the Book had been without realizing he had done it, . “Do you still have your Book, Mira?”

“How many of those things are there?” Shain blurted, pulling away from Shya. Her little brother appeared to compose himself as he stared at Aelfric, waiting for an answer. Shya barely managed to stifle a laugh; she found it comical to watch her brother stare down a man nearly twice his height.

Aelfric scratched at the stubble along his jawline and glanced at Mira before answering Shain. “In all honesty, lad, I do not know.”

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Reunion: The Book Chapter Seven

Reunion picks up immediately after Survivor Part 5.

Mira gestured for them all to enter her home. Aelfric guided Shain over the threshold, he was clearly still struggling to accept he had a mother.

Shya had been the one to raise him, care for him, love him. The whole town mourned their mother as if she had died. They said she had died. Shain had been told this his entire life. Since he was less than a year old. But here she stood.

His mother’s house was a single small room. A fire pit sat in the center of the room with a small fire crackling. There was a pile of blankets in the far corner that likely served as a bed. A small shelf held nearly a dozen books and a stack of wooden dishes. To the right, against the wall, a sitting table rested atop a rug.Miras Home

Shain embraced his sister for a moment before she pulled away. Shya  began pacing the small space, causing Shain to search for Aelfric.  He was stationed at the door speaking with his brother, Reis, in hushed tones. Mira nervously rubbed her hands together, tears still filled her eyes.

“Why did you leave?” Shya blurted with a soft but accusing voice. Shya had been ten years old when their mother disappeared. She was passed the anger and drained dry of any tears.

Reis reached for Shya’s hand as she past him, but she pulled it away. Her eyes stared into those of her mother’s.

Shain felt very small and helpless. So much had happened in the weeks since he met Aelfic, but nothing could have prepared him for this. The mother he had never known now stood in front of him. And he had found his sister. This journey with Aelfric all started because that witch had kidnapped Shya.

“It wasn’t by choice,” Mira said. “I…” she started but struggled to find the words to continue.

“I can show them, Mira. If you would like,” Aelfric offered with an extended hand. “It might be easier.”

Mira pinched a laugh through the tears. “Of course you kept that Book.”

Aelfric smiled wide and glanced down to Shain. “Of course.” He moved away from the door frame and reached into his coat.

Shain saw a slight flicker of light over Aelfric’s shoulder, where he had previously stood by the door. His vision tunneled and he no longer heard the others’ discussions. The hairs on the back of his neck prickled with the recognition of what he saw.

“No!” Shain breathed as long fingers of glass stretched out of the small mirror. Shain could feel tears burning in his eyes as childhood memories flooded back. A living nightmare. It grasped the Book and wretched it from Aelfric’s hand. In stunned silence, everyone’s eyes fell on the mirror by the door.

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Tricks Comic

Tricks Comic

Some dogs can do somersaults on command, and then you have the regular dogs. The ones that just want the treat or have always had trouble remembering that one trick. But we will always appreciate their effort. At least they know some of the tricks after all. And how can you not reward that face?!

Zaphod will go through every one of the tricks he knows before coming around to speak. But once he starts to speak, it’s suddenly the only trick he can remember. He really does stop listening as soon as the treats come out. We haven’t had a lot of luck with training through conditioning. Just good ol’ repetition.

Tricks Comic

Girl:”Speak!” Dog: (TREAT!)

Dog: (Shake! She likes shake!)

Dog: (And beg…)

Dog: (Stand! Stand!)

Dog: (Lay down and LAST! …)

Dog: (WEEEE!!!)

Dog: (Is that good? TREAT!) Girl: “Oh well, close enough. Good boy!”

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Mother’s Day Comic

Mother’s Day Comic

Moms do so much, like remember everything and nothing at the same time. How? Because they’re moms. We also know that we (your children) drive you to this crazy, forgetful state of mind. So on Mother’s Day and every other day, we say “thank you.”

Thank you for remembering where you last saw our left shoe even though you can’t find your keys. Thank you for frantically looking for your phone when you hear our ringtone. Thank you for not slapping us when we laughed at you for “losing” your glasses on your head (because you know it won’t be long until we’re doing the same thing). And thank you for not breaking down in the middle of the store when you thought you lost us when we were only one aisle over gawking at a toy.

We know you didn’t forget us. We haven’t forgot you either. Happy Mother’s Day!

Mother's Day Comic 2016

Thanks for… “Where are my keys?”

…not forgetting us… “Where on earth is my phone?”

…like you did… “Where did I put my glasses?”

…well… “Where did you–?”

…we understand. “I thought I lost you! Never do that again, baby!”

Happy Mother’s Day! Thanks, Mom.

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Survivor Part 5

If you need a refresher, Part 4. Or you can start at the beginning.

Shya had become convinced that Reis knew more than he was telling her. When she had enough of him dodging questions, she finally demanded that he tell her everything he knew about her and this prophecy he kept referencing.

Reis looked ashamed. “Okay. You’re right,” he said. “You deserve to know the truth. But not from me.”

The frustration bubbled up in Shya immediately. Reis held up his hand, “Please don’t argue, Shya. You’ll get your answers. I promise.”

They walked in silence for nearly two hours. Deeper into the Maze. Reis appeared confident of where he was going. Shya honored his request of not arguing and followed him.

Reis slowed his pace and indicated for Shya to do the same.

The thump, thump of a hand striking wood echoed through the Maze. A deep voice followed. “Mira, do you have a moment? I know it has been a long time, but I could really use your assistance.”

Shya’s heart leapt into her throat. Mira. A name she had not heard since she was a child. Shya stepped around the corner to see a small house built into the walls of the Maze. A simple wooden door was marked by an assortment of etched runes. Some of them almost seemed familiar.

Survivor Part 5 Mira's Door

Beside the door stood the largest man she had ever seen. His back was towards her. Shya thought for a moment that she had seen someone else standing in front of the giant man. His long, dark coat billowed slightly as a breeze passed, blocking any chance of seeing the other person.

Reis moved to Shya’s side at the same moment the door swung inwards. The woman in the doorway was short and thin, but appeared strong. Her eyes nearly escaped their sockets as she took in the four people standing outside her house. She lifted a shaking hand to her mouth and swore softly. Shya had barely heard it.

“Shain? Shya? What the hell are you doing here!? Aelfric! Curse you! How–,” her voice cracked as tears welled up in her wide eyes. Her anger gave way to a whirlpool of emotions. She took a deep breath. “How could you bring my children to this place?”

The story continues in Reunion.
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Where to Start: A Star Wars Novel Guide

Where to Start: A Star Wars Novel Guide

Star Wars is a global sensation that started when George Lucas released the original film in 1977. With the most recent film release and the upcoming schedule of more films, Star Wars will continue to grow. With that growth comes new fans that may become eager for more Star Wars stories. Well, you are in luck. For years, numerous fantastic authors have continued the story that started in 1977 in a category known as the Expanded Universe (EU for short), and has been recently renamed “Legends.” In this novel guide, I will recommend a few novels that are a great way to get more out of Star Wars in addition to watching the films.

Aftermath by Chuck Wendig

Star Wars Aftermath-Where to Start: A Star Wars Novel Guide

If you’re wanting to stay with the Disney approved timeline, this is where you’ll want to start. Some of the EU fans have had some rather unkind words to say about this novel, but don’t let that deter you. This novel takes place post-Return of the Jedi in the official story line. Trust me, it feels like Star Wars, even without some of the well known characters created in the Expanded Universe (more on that later), and it is a great read. It’s the first in a trilogy, with the sequels not yet released.

Death Star by Michael Reeves and Steve Perry

Star Wars Death Star-Where to Start: A Star Wars Novel Guide

If you’re new to the Expanded Universe (a.k.a. Legends), this is an interesting place to start due to how closely it runs with the original film. This novel gives details about the major events happening inside the moon-sized battle station up until its destruction, all told from the Imperial point of view.

Death Troopers by Joe Schreiber

Star Wars Death Troopers-Where to Start: A Star Wars Novel Guide

This novel doesn’t have a significant tie-in to the overall Star Wars narrative, but it is a really fun read. It does feature some characters from the movies, but what makes this one noteworthy is the inclusion of zombies. Star Wars + Zombies = ____________. If you put anything from “Cool” to “Holy Shit! That’s amazing!” then check out Death Troopers.

Vector Prime by R.A. Salvatore

Star Wars New Jedi Order Vector Prime-Where to Start: A Star Wars Novel Guide

This one requires a level of commitment if you’re new to Star Wars novels. Vector Prime is the first in a series of 19 novels called the New Jedi Order. It details an ongoing war against an invading race bent on complete domination.

The Darth Bane trilogy (Path of Destruction, Rule of Two, and Dynasty of Evil) by Drew Karpyshyn

Star Wars Darth Bane Trilogy-Where to Start: A Star Wars Novel Guide

This trilogy focuses on a Sith by the name of Darth Bane, who is the first to establish the Rule of Two as mentioned by Master Yoda in the films. The setting is roughly 1000 years before the events of Star Wars. An interesting note: although this trilogy is EU/Legends, the character of Darth Bane has become canon. I’m excited to see more on him in the future from Disney.

The Thrawn trilogy (Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, and The Last Command) by Timothy Zahn

Star Wars Thrawn Trilogy-Where to Start: A Star Wars Novel Guide

This one is a must read, if you haven’t already, for any and all Star Wars fans. For over 20 years, this trilogy was Episodes VII-IX. The trilogy introduced a number of fascinating characters that would become staples of the Expanded Universe. Among these characters, Grand Admiral Thrawn became one of my all-time favorite antagonists.

Where to Start: A Star Wars Novel Guide provides you with just the tip of the iceberg, sitting atop hundreds of other Star Wars books. There’s one thing we can be sure of: there will always be more Star Wars. If you have any questions or thoughts we would be happy to hear from you in the comments below, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

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