New story. Prompt “forever it will dominate your destiny” setting 40k world.

The Creature in the Cellar

+++Observation period has begun. Await my confirmation for action. +++

The fog dulled all the sounds of the City. The clatter of carriage wheels over cobbles sounded far-off. Horse tack barely jingled as a fine pair of   mares     trotted up in front of a very large town house, whose gas-lit porch made very little difference to the coiling mist.  A shape detached itself from the top of the carriage, jumped down to the cobbles, and opened the door, flicking down a folding step and holding a hand out.  Gloved digits reached out and grasped the proffered help. From within the carriage emerged a figure, clad in a wide-brimmed, veiled hat, and a long cloak. Dainty buttoned boots were just visible as she trod upon the step and then the street. With a swish of skirts and shadow, they reached the door of the house.  One of the horses let out a snort, its breath steaming in the cold air. It bobbed its head nervously, and scraped a hoof against the cobbles.  The driver went to attend to the horse, and glanced back just as the last of the shaft of light from inside the house was extinguished by the closing door.

Madame stood in the hallway while the butler took her shawl and umbrella, then showed her to the parlour.  She entered, taking in the number of figures seated around the table with a glance, and nodded to each of them, now familiar to her, cigar smoke wafting gently and mixing with the aroma of high quality brandy. She coughed politely, but pointedly.  It did not do to keep Madame waiting, especially on matters of urgency.

“Ah, Madame, please do come in and have a seat” A gruff voice, which automatically implied a fine moustache, came out of the gloom “I take it you have news?”

 “Thank you, yes. I have good news.” She pulled up a chair and placed her gloves on the table, “I have found a perfect candidate for the task. He is currently in my employ and I have gained his trust.  He is a fine choice and should handle the transition perfectly.” She tried to control the excitement in her voice.  Things were moving at a good pace now, the plan was coming to fruition and it would be glorious. Glorious!  

“Good, good!” His voice boomed. He was called the General by the group, as he had served back in his youth and was used to command… and fine brandy. “It is time to step this jolly show up a bit.  I am expecting one more visitor tonight and then we should visit the cellar.”

There was an excited murmuring around the table just as the doorbell sounded. The evening was about to get a touch more thrilling.

The butler appeared at the doorway and motioned to the General, who stood and rubbed his hands together.

“Come, to business, shall we?” he clapped his hands, the sound sudden and harsh, and left the room.  There were sounds of muted conversation from outside the door, footsteps disappearing down the hallway, and then the soft click of a door being shut.

The figures around the table rose and filed out of the room into the hallway, each taking a taper from the butler, respectfully one by one moving down the hall and through the door at the end to descend the steps into the cellar.  Madame was the last to go through. She turned back for a moment, her eyes meeting the butler’s conspiratorially before she looked away, going through the door and drawing the bolt across with an ominous click.

Once she had joined the rest of the group, they all held their lit tapers up to the candle sconces around the room, which was dank and clammy. The little flickers of candlelight glinted off the odd damp stone here and there. The gloom lifted slowly, and the cellar was revealed before them. Narrow and high-ceilinged, it ran the length of the building; one side being entirely constructed of wine racks, as a gentleman’s cellar should be, light playing off the curves of the many bottles. The Committee stepped into a semi-circle facing away from the racks and their gazes fell on the creature crouched before them.

The General had told them that he had found it when he was out walking on the moors after the meteor strike the year previous; he had never seen anything like it and had thought it would make an excellent talking point for his “collection”.  By the time he had had it brought to his home, however, it had shaken off its deathlike stupor and he had felt compelled to try and heal its wounds.  The creature had been in terrible shape, almost one whole half of its body a pulpy, tangled mess with limbs indistinguishable among the carnage, and the two long, grasping arms on one side of its lithe body were sheared off just below the elbow. It had the oddest colouring; the carapace was midnight-deep blue, smooth but with a central ridge and pocked with dents and scrapes, its bald pinky-purple head protruding atop a muscled neck. Its visage was initially horrifying, with large, milky-white almond-shaped eyes, two miniscule nostrils, and a wide maw with long pointed teeth.  Saliva dripped down its chin, and its enormous prehensile tongue flicked in and out like a reptile, almost like it was tasting the air. When it had looked at the General that first time, its milky gaze stared into his very soul. It was the Leader. It had claimed the General for Itself and the Grand Work had begun.

Looking at the Leader, Madame was reminded of the penny dreadfuls, of late filled with stories of visitors from distant planets. The heavens had been full of signs and portents and everybody, not just the great astronomers, had realised things were amiss, with lights in the sky and stars which moved in rapid and unusual orbits. The ghastly little stories entertained the masses with made-up words and pseudo-science; aimed at a readership with a dull intellect and a fancy for gory tales. If only they knew the truth, they would not dare write it down.  Just follow and obey, to further the  Glorious Work!

As the Committee stood enthralled, The General pondered that none of the Committee quite understood how it truly worked with the Leader; the spell that they were all under. He himself had known from the first that he needed to heal the creature, felt it so intensely that he went to get the Doctor, who, too, had instantly – upon looking into its eyes – seen that the creature needed to be saved. He had taken the liberty of doing what he could with the salves and balms he had available. It hadn’t vastly improved the creature’s constitution, but neither had it killed it. They had spent time with it, and fed it on fine meat and wine. It had grown slightly in strength, and then the Leader had become a demanding presence within their minds. It needed people for the Grand Work.

 Luckily, people were easy to obtain in this City; a few well-placed coins and you could buy anyone’s time.  Admittedly, even for well-travelled and experienced gentlemen, the first time the Leader had performed the ritual in front of them they were both violently sick, but the Leader had calmed them, filling them with the knowledge that such seeming horror was vital to the Work. 

Knowing they needed to expand their reach, they approached Madame, who then became the third member of the Committee.  She was adept at choosing the right candidates from amongst her girls; due to the nature of her ‘business’, she knew people from all levels of society and had plenty of sway, being one of the largest ‘employers’ near the docks.  Also, she had an uncanny feeling for when the ritual wouldn’t take, and therefore picked those of the working girls who wouldn’t be missed. The Leader feasted well on the poor creatures who did not survive the ritual.  Over the months that followed, the Leader became stronger, and its demands more frequent. It made sure that the Doctor followed the progress of those who completed the ritual, who Madame kept separately from the other girls in an isolated building together. It cared about the outcome. They Committee all knew it cared, they could feel it.  They knew they were helping the Leader, and in return the Star Lords it served would come, and the Committee would be well rewarded for their dedication and care.

And so it was time for another ritual, another soul to be blessed with the progeny of the Leader.  

The girl had been brought here for a few pennies and she had cried out in terror when she first saw the Leader.  By now a peaceful look had settled on her, however, and she approached It as if in a trance. The Leader reached out its arms, and drew her close.  

Averting her face, for she still couldn’t watch the ritual happen, Madame remembered the feeling when she had gone through it herself, the realisation of what it had meant only following weeks later. This was a sacred ritual, and now she herself carried the next generation of the Leader’s chosen people.

As the current ritual finished, and the girl collapsed on the floor, the Doctor scooped her up and carried her to an upstairs room. She would be right as ninepence in a short time, having neither any fear nor any detailed memory of tonight’s events, but she would fiercely protect what had been given to her, as did the other girls.  The Leader’s progeny were increasing now at a good rate.

The Committee knew the Leader was pleased; the sensations arrived directly in their minds. It had been another perfect ritual. They all sighed together, caught up in its satisfaction, then they turned to file away, retrieving their tapers, and went up the stairs. 

 The Leader also repeated its demand for a strong body for a special task, not just another impregnation ritual, something particular and unique. It had made it known that It wanted someone who was robust mentally and physically, a man who could act as a conduit to contact the Star Lords It served. What a great honour!

The butler was waiting with the coats and saw to everyone as they left. The General caught Madame’s arm and drew her back into the parlour.

“Did you feel It just then? We need to move this forward.  We need to get the conduit here as soon as we can.” The General had a determined expression showing under all his facial hair. “I’ve never felt such insistence from the Leader as It showed down there tonight.”  

“I understand completely.” She briefly patted her stomach.  How she dreamed of her child being able to meet others of his people. “I will have things arranged.  I will send a message to you directly.” She swept out, down the hall and through the door. Her driver had the coach ready for her and helped her in, and they set off through the thickening gloom.
The next morning was particularly bright, considering the fog of the previous night.  Madame took a stroll down to the docks to speak to the ‘boy’ (he was a grown man of course, but her status in society allowed her the use of boy).  It would definitely be an idea to introduce him to the General so they could have him close to the Leader to see if It, too, saw the potential.  The gentle sea breeze lifted her hair a little, and it tried to escape from her bonnet.  She tucked an errant curl out of the way as she looked up, realising the boy was watching her. She smiled at him, and started to walk towards him.  He was very fit for her intended purpose; tall, broad, used to hard work and, surprisingly for a dock ganger, very erudite.

“Good morning, my Lady!” he boomed cheerfully, executing quite a theatrical bow. “I trust the day finds you well? You are looking radiant in this sun.” He smiled at her.

“Good morning boy, yes it is a particularly fine day, thank you.”  She walked up to him and placed a gloved hand on his arm, and, with a slightly hushed tone of voice, said “I must say, you have made quite an impression round here.  I have mentioned you to one of my friends who would be delighted to meet you.  He has a very exciting employment prospect which I think you would be very interested in.  How does that sound?” She kept her voice level, belying her inner giddy turmoil. The boy simply must agree. She squeezed his arm persuasively.

“Well, my Lady, that is certainly unexpected. I thank you.” He bowed low again and swept an invisible hat at her. “I appreciate the opportunity,” he said as he stood upright “I do feel sometimes that I have missed my calling in life, stuck here in this dock. I dream of far-flung travel and adventures, with maybe some derring-do thrown in!”

She giggled. “I can take that as a yes then? Perfect. Take this card, and we shall see you tonight for a light supper and discussion about your future. Oh, this will be fun! If you make the right decision, forever it will dominate your destiny!” She turned and walked away.

The boy smiled after her.

+++Validation of Xenos presence will be confirmed at 2100 local+++

+++Received and understood. Standing by.+++
The day passed in a subdued way. Madame found it hard to concentrate on any one particular task.  The child was moving around a lot, and she was quite uncomfortable in her corsets and layers of clothes. Not to mention, of course, her excitement for the supper meeting with her chosen soul.

Her maid helped her choose a suitable outfit; dark blue to match the leader’s colour but with more forgiving seams so she could relax a little and give the growing child some more room.  He was eager to get into the world and meet the extended family.  She smiled at the thought. She checked the clock once more and rang for her coach to be readied. It was time.

She sat in the General’s parlour. The pair simply looked at each other, excitement radiating from the both of them. When the doorbell finally rang, they both jumped.  They listened at the sounds of the main door being answered. The parlour door opened and the butler produced the card that Madame had given to the boy earlier that day. The General beamed. “Jolly good, do show our guest in, Blythe,” he said before rising.

The boy was shown in.  He had made an effort; he was looking dapper in what looked like a pawn-shop suit, shirt, and tie.  He had obtained a tie pin too, which shone in the lamp-glow.

He offered his hand to the General who took it and gave a firm and manly shake.  “Good to see you boy, good to see you.  Madame has told me much about you.”

“It’s very good to meet you sir, thank you for inviting me. Any friend of Madame’s is a friend of mine, if I may be so bold, sir” he said honestly.

As the boy kissed Madame’s hand she said, “Your tie pin is simply lovely, boy, where did you get it?” She was half-expecting a tale of thievery and dodging the police, or possibly toshing down in the sewers.

He looked down shyly. “Oh, this was from my brothers when I moved to the city.  It’s a bit of a joke, a good luck charm.  Keeps us connected even though we are apart.” He looked almost wistful for a moment.

Madame smiled at him; he would become part of something so connected, so amazing.

She caught the General’s gaze. “I understand this is most unusual, but could we take supper and talk business at the same time?  I am feeling slightly out of sorts this evening.” She blushed for even alluding to her condition.

The General, blustering with male awkwardness when discussing unborn children and all those female mysteries, rang for the butler, and demanded the evening meal, then they all made their way into the dining room and sat down at the table.

Just as the wine was being poured for the first course, both Madame and the General heard the Leader speak. BRING HIM NOW. WE FEEL HIS MIND.

The boy looked at Madame. “Did you hear something?” he said, panicked. His gaze wavered between the two other occupants of the table.

Madame stood up.  She took a deep breath. “Now, this may seem incredible, but we have something amazing to show you. Follow us. And don’t be scared, everything is perfectly alright.”

The General went to protest, but she just held up a hand. “He heard him. What more do you want?” she enquired, which silenced the old man sufficiently.

The butler had candles ready and opened the cellar door for the trio to walk down the stairs.

“Now, remember,” Madame said, as they ushered the boy into the Leader’s presence. “Don’t be scared.”

The boy stood, apparently transfixed for a moment.  She looked at him as he took in all the detail of the glorious creature in front of them. She remembered how it had felt, that first time the leader had entered her mind. She prepared to welcome the boy in. However, within seconds her mind filled with the scream of the Leader.

KILL HIM! TRAITORS! INQUISITOR! KILL HIM!

Its ferocity forced both her and the General to their knees.

Utterly confused, she looked over to the boy, who stood with a stony face. He was holding his tie pin and speaking in a calm and level voice.

“Xenos threat confirmed. Activate kill team. Transport on this signal”

The General was the first to recover. Pushing himself to his feet, he made a mad dash towards the boy, brandishing the first thing he found to hand; a wine bottle.  He swung it forcefully, but as he brought it down on the boy it seemed to shatter against the clear air, the wine cascading down some sort of invisible shell. The General’s arm sprang back and he gasped in pain, dropping the neck of the bottle and clutching at his wrist. 

Madame was watching the scene unfold before her whilst all the time her mind was full of the Leader’s ranting.  It had even made an effort to get up and was trying to claw lopsidedly towards the boy.

WE SEE HIS MIND! DEATH AND DESTRUCTION! GET OUT! RUN! SAVE THE CHILDREN! It screamed in her mind.

As Madame struggled off her knees and prepared to run, there was a blinding flash of light. Her path was suddenly blocked by a towering figure in glossy black armour, a winged skull emblazoned across his breast plate.  She took a step back as glowing red eyes looked down at her. The giant stood at least ten feet tall, massive in the suddenly cramped space of the cellar, and his left hand was encased in an armoured gauntlet which was glowing blue in the semi-darkness. Another flash of light, and another figure appeared out of nowhere next to the first. The first turned and motioned towards the newcomer, although she heard not a sound.

+++Brother Andronus, secure the perimeter. Eliminate all targets+++

+++At once, Brother+++

The second figure stormed up the stairs, dust and plaster falling away under the weight of the mighty giant as he crashed through the doorway. It was easy to follow his progress on the floor above as floorboards cracked and bowed, then the sound of cannon fire sounded throughout the house.

These armoured things were stranger than any steam-automaton that had ever been written about in those penny dreadfuls, truly frightening. She screamed incoherently up at the mask of the figure in front of her and struck it on its armoured chest. In response, it pulled its arm back. The giant gauntlet whined, then snapped forward with a deafening crack to punch her full in the stomach, sending her flying back into the wine racks, which she hit with enormous force. She slid down the racks, hit the floor like a sack of potatoes, every bone cracked, as her world exploded in pain and blood. She gulped for air and looked over to the General who, screaming, flung himself, hands clawed like a feral beast at a third figure who had appeared holding a very, very large silver device. It fired twice, the room bathed with light momentarily. She wept weakly as she saw her friend ripped in two by the sheer power of the strange weapon. His legs crumpled as ragged chunks of his torso slapped wetly against every surface, blood spurting up the walls and rapidly pooling on the floor.

As shock finally started to overtake her, sitting in a pool of her own blood and a widening puddle of wine, consciousness waning, she was aware of yet another figure, this one holding a long-barrelled weapon, with a small flame at one end and some form of tank at the other. This one turned to the Leader and callously set it ablaze in a stream of fire that burnt the image into her retinas. The smell of burning flesh and carapace overwhelmed her senses even as the Leader’s death-screams filled her mind and her very being. She imagined she could feel the whole city screaming with her. She could hardly keep her wits about her but raised her gaze when the boy walked up to her.

“Don’t ever talk to ME of destiny, you dirty Xenos-loving scum. You and your degenerate cultist obscenities will all die, and this planet will be purified for the Emperor. You disgust me, soiling the planet with your filth!” he spat. 

She closed her eyes. Her mind was empty, no Leader urging her on, controlling her movements and driving the enthusiasm to protect it. Everything around her lay in ruins as her life ebbed away, her alien child still and dead within her.

The Inquisitor watched the life drain out of her. He spat on the floor and reached for his tie pin.

 “Captain, Xenos source eradication is confirmed. You may begin Exterminatus of the planet under authority of the Inquisition.”  

+++Acknowledged, my lord Inquisitor, bombardment to commence in T-5. Implement evacuation+++

A post taken from my FB 

​Sorry if this is a bit of a rant. It’s taken me a while to formulate how to say it. Still may ramble in places.

Right now the world is a bad place (not saying it wasn’t before, but now feels really bad). Things are going on at home and abroad that are down right vile. I am angry and frightened. The future is not what I ever envisaged.

I don’t know what to do. I’m trying to do everything I can.

I’m getting really annoyed that people are bandying around snowflake and liberal as negative terminology. Since when did being sensitive become a bad thing, that empathising and wanting to take a liberal stance made you weak?

I understand that people will not agree 100% of the time. That’s people. But we need to all be people of the world and stop this current racist bullshit. 

Seriously, look at history.. racism doesn’t work and gets people killed and it’s just rubbish. 

Let’s call out what we can, change what we can, be involved at any level we can. Stand up and be part of the side of right.

I have hope for the future, that it can be less shit for everyone and that we can all be a bit more sensitive to others needs and less about what’s in your personal bubble.
Yeah. All that. Probably more.

Additional: stop treating people like things.

New Year… new me??… nope, I’m still the same.

Well.

Here we are. 2017. At least 2016 is over, right?

Hubby was ill over Xmas, it was a horrible day unfortunately, then I was ill over new year. It’s hit me quite hard and I’m fighting a fibro flare.

Work has actually started to get busy and interesting again. I need to interrupt a critical work situation and go to bloody pain management therapy on Monday. I don’t want to go, I’ve got to go. Gonna cost £30 round trip in a cab. FFS. Talking abut my pain doesn’t get rid of my pain. Mindfulness is great if it works for you. I’m struggling with it.

Anyway, this year I have not set any resolutions. Not for any other reason than I have no idea if I wil be able to see it through so no need to out pressure km myself, right!? There is no new me. I’m the same as 8 days ago. A mess and in pain.

I’m trying to cope with the T2 diabetes thing too, so healthy eating is a must, not a new year fad. I need to lose so much weight it is incomprehensible to me how I am supposed to do it with the lack of support I am getting. I’m trying things on my own, and it’s OK, but I’m not able to push myself as it hurts. 22kilos to go…

The pain takes no heed of the change of calendar. I do try my hardest to crack on despite everything, but there has been such a level of expectation (pressure to get presents sorted, feeding stuff sorted, keep hubby entertained etc.) with the festive break, it’s actually been detrimental to my overall well being. Mad isn’t it? It’s supposed to be a happy time too. Was actually a very lonely day.

I feel like cack. It is hard to keep a lid on things. 

But, and this is the important thing, I will persevere. I have no option. One foot in front of the other.

Sorry this is flat and a bit whingy. It sums me up right now. Give me a week and I’ll get my head straight.

In the mean time… happy New Year. 😊

A short story I wrote.

So. This is for a small competition on a group on facebook. Nice little challenging short story.

Theme was “the gathering dark” to be set within a game/gaming IP. I went with D&D.

I hope you like it. 🙂
​Never accept a mission from a man in a pub.

As the figure hunkered down behind the bush, a slump of snow slid languidly off the branches above, gracefully dropping straight down their back.  “Oh! By all the blasted dog faced gods!!!” The hunched figure vowed not to let the next cloak purchasing opportunity slide by. Winter was setting in hard and fast and the group were nowhere near completing the quest.  A voice, deep, harsh and barely whispering, shocked the figure; it was far closer than it should be. “What kind of lookout are you? Your swearing will wake the dead, and you know we don’t deal with that very well. What’s actually happening?”

The figure turned to look up at the speaker. He was about seven feet tall and built like a brick outhouse, which made his deft footwork even more surprising; even in this weather he only wore skin boots and a fur loincloth. With his large battle axe strapped across his back and his knife tucked in his boot, he said he was ready to go at a moment’s notice.

The figure stood to meet his gaze. Shaking off the snow her features were revealed. She was, by all accounts, fairly plain. She didn’t have the appearance of any particular human group, this helped when trying to ‘fit in’, which to be honest was not something the group were good at, so every little helped. Currently she was sporting a short haircut, which had proven useful in the past, as getting gunk out of long hair had been a nightmare. She thought back to their most recent skirmish with a band of gobbos where they had barely made it out alive. Using all of her healing skills and resources, she had patched the group up as best she could, but picking bits of goblin carcass and innards out of her hair and off of her group was something she would remember for a long time.

“I haven’t seen any movement, which is why I haven’t reported anything… I do wish you’d let me do my job.” She stopped short as she heard something.

Her head whipped round and she swiftly squatted with her back to the tree trunk. Motioning Mr Man Mountain to do the same with some urgency, she glanced back to the rest of the party, took a breath then let out the apparently fail safe warning noise of ‘a wood pigeon in distress’ watching for a reaction. One figure heard it and scuttled up a tree, disturbingly fast, but the remaining party member just sat still, in open view.

“Godsdamn that bloody man. He picks his time to meditate,” she hissed. “Go back to him and get him out the way, I’m going to check that noise out and I’ll come back”.

Ignoring the incredible cold dribbling down her back, she carefully eased herself forward into a vantage point.  She saw a lone goblin crouched down behind a bush, oblivious and communing with nature. “Why here?” she wondered aloud. “You never get a solo gobbo, they like back up, the snivelling little turds. So, an arrow in the head is probably not a good idea as something will be looking for him. Eventually.” She concentrated, fixating on the sound. “Oh, that didn’t sound good at all.” It was a deep rumble, low and constant.

She crawled forward to peer through the foliage, keeping an ear open for the goblin, who was loudly defecating.From her vantage point, the view opened below to a large clearing of fields rolling away dotted with small copses or an individual tree here and there, then more woodland. It was pretty, with the sun glinting off of the snow.

Right there, sitting in the dappled shade at the edge of the clearing in a small hollow, was a damned Orc snoring away, and scratching his groin in his sleep. There were also about a dozen goblins sitting close by, sharpening a variety of nasty looking, spiked weapons.

“O…K…” she mumbled worriedly. “These are a bit too close for comfort.”Carefully she made her way back to the stopover camp, all the way thanking, whichever small gods were looking over the group that the green skins hadn’t landed on top of them during the night.

Man Mountain turned round as she approached.

“Call yourself a light foot? You sound like a grumpy child wearing hobnail boots. Just pick up your toes, it will help no end,” he smirked at her playfully.

“Thanks, but I don’t have time for a ‘technique critique’ right now, we have a band of greenies having a rest just over there.” She waved her hand vaguely in the right direction “Right, so, two plans… One, we just go around, or two, we do something about them.”

She fervently hoped the vote went for going around. This was a hurriedly put together group and were still not overly coherent when fighting, not having been much tested in combat.  She looked up at the third member of the group who was in the tree.

“We should burn them all!” The face which looked down at her grinned evilly. This statement would have been a lot more disturbing were it not for the fact the voice was high and reedy, not fitting the beautiful features it came from. Teric was the unfortunate product of a meeting between a Halfling and an Elf. Well, he maintained it was an Elf, but after knowing him for a while, Gwen reckoned it was a Dark Elf, because Teric had a very particular skill set. Whatever, he was destined for a life on the road as he would never be accepted by either of his ancestor races. “Burn them and leave their corpses for the crows!!!” he giggled, a particularly uncomfortable sound.

She turned away from him toward the Man Mountain. “What about our magical friend? Where has he gone?”

The warrior walked over to a thick clump of brambles, reached in with one hand and produced a stiff figure, cross legged and with a serene look on his face.

“Oh ye arse faced gods, how long is he going to be like that?!?” Gwen cursed loudly. She understood his need for meditation, but his timing was freakishly dreadful. He never got it right or convenient, at any rate.

“Shouldn’t be too much longer,” Man Mountain rumbled, “He said he had a new spell that will be quite impressive, he just needs to pin it down.” He looked at her with an expression somewhere between admiration and disgust. He was uneasy with magic: he’d never got the hang of it, and didn’t understand why you couldn’t just ‘snot’ something. But then, not everyone had been born with his natural prowess with a weapon. 

“Dammit!” she shouted, “We don’t have the time for this. Have you seen how fast the sun sinks these days? If we are going to reach the Far Tower and return in time for the feast day, we must avoid unnecessary distractions. And fights. Really, the fights.” She shot the warrior a look.

“Hey, I was hired to do a job and I’m very good at it, thank you. Nobody said ‘Hey mate, fancy going on a really boring adventure where very little will happen apart from getting nagged constantly by some bint, sleeping with one eye open to watch out for a midget maniac with blades, and having to stuff a deranged wizard in a bush?’ No! They came to me because they knew it would be dangerous and I AM the best. And you know it too!”

“Yes, yes, OK, don’t hammer it home.” She retorted, fairly agitated at it being quite close to the truth. “I thought we would get more practise before we got sent off, that’s all, and I don’t even know you lot properly, and this is not the romantic notion of adventuring I had, and at no point have my feet been even close to dry in days!” At this point Gwen was shouting loudly. And then, with his usual skill and timing, the wizard decided now would be a good time to re-join the party, unfortunately doing so with a good long scream. A regrettable side effect of his years of magic use. Reality always did that to him. Poor guy.

***

From his vantage point up in the tree, Teric saw the Greenskin troupe move towards them, alerted by the fracas that had suddenly kicked up.  The big woman and the really big guy were having an argument again, the bloody mage had just woke, and no one was aware just how loud they were.  Teric was attempting the alarm, but managing what could only be called a strangled eagle. “Close enough,” he thought, but they weren’t listening. “Sod it,” he decided “Enough.” He took a breath “OI!!!  Morons! Greenies fast approaching!” he shouted. “Yeah, that got their attention.” he said to himself “Right, looks like I am going to get to burn some filth after all!  All righty then!”

 He jumped down from his branch, drawing his blades, devilishly sharp and ready for blood…or ichor, they were not that bothered; they just loved the death! “So, one big guy and a few goblins… This should be over in a matter of minutes,” he thought. He looked and saw the kettle still bubbled on the fire. He should get a decent breakfast too, if he could keep the fight over the other side of the clearing and keep one Goblin alive.

***

The mage was ever so slightly confused.  He always was when he came round from meditating: Right, where do we start?  Who am I? Erm, Cloydor, yes… that sounds right. Pain… oh, only some, a slight throbbing in my elbow now, that is much better than it could have been. Hungry… yes, very as always, but magic and food are not a good mix. No eating before meditating and this is a big spell.  

It had taken him weeks to learn this spell. It buzzed and bounced round his skull, itching to get out.  He hadn’t realised it would be SO fizzy, but now he understood why. 

Cloydor was suddenly aware that it was not just his screaming he could hear, so he stopped.  It seemed all levels of hell had broken out. The giant warrior, Bogdan, had barrelled with a gleeful shout towards what looked like a walking pile of smells which had a most ginormous rusty two handed sword. It was slashing the blade around whilst making a nauseating noise, apparently a barrage of Orcish curse words, foul on the ears. They were such disgusting, filthy brutes.  He also heard the squabbling high pitched chattering of nasty, spiteful little goblins, all sharp and spikey, jeering and after blood.

He saw that Gwen had taken up station at the back of their group and was doing what she could with a bow and arrow, but she was an awful shot.  He still thought she may have lied about any aptitude with adventuring, but her healing skills were top notch, which was a good thing really.  He thought she should try to throw rocks, it would be far more helpful.
The little Halfling elf thing was surprisingly adept at almost any weapon he chose to wield, but had a deep love for some elven daggers, apparently a gift from his father, and they were currently glowing and hissing through the air as he skipped toward the oncoming mob, singing.
Before Cloydor could even blink, his lips tingled as the spell fought to be spoken.  “Gosh, well!” He exclaimed. He had thought it was a long term keeper of a spell, but apparently not. That was a shame, he would have to learn it all over again, then. “Ah, but remember it is all about timing!” 

Yes, timing was incredibly important.

***

Gwen was in way over her head. She was busy trying to remember all the basic rules of archery, things like hold and point and… Ah, everything always happened so fast in combat, targets moved and everything. She doubted that would ever be something she got used to. After dropping the third arrow from the bow, she actually gave up and started to walk towards the closest goblin.  She knew she would have greater effect if she just swung her bow at them, it would at least keep the enemy away from her. She shut her eyes, clenched her jaw and flailed. Yes, there was no other word for it, she flailed, swinging wildly. The bow connected with such a jarring blow that she opened her eyes, shocked, and stared at a collapsing goblin whose face really shouldn’t look like that. “Euwgh, goblin insides again,” she thought, “I’ll never get used to what brains look like, who’d have thought they were like that?” 

She had no time to dwell, that was one down, she knew there were eleven more. Oh no, and the big one too.  She could smell him quite a distance away.  She looked over to where Man Mountain was doing his stuff.  He really did love fighting.  She blushed to herself when she realised she had been looking at the fluid motion of his fighting for some time, watching the muscles moving as if she were enchanted.  “Oh come on, this is not a spectator sport,” she mumbled to herself, irritated. “Go and do something!” 

She turned just as a goblin went to stab her arm, raising his scabby knife high and letting out a shriek. She stepped back and fell over a damned tree root, landing heavily on her arse with the wind knocked out of her. She had just about the right amount of time to raise her bow over her face to shield herself from the knife approaching at speed.

***

Teric saw her go down. He turned away from the pile of dead around his feet, his blades singing, revelling in the liquid spewing from his fallen foe. He jumped closer to Gwen as he brought down his blade into the back of a goblin’s neck. He sliced it through the bone and scraped it down as he landed, severing the spinal cord, yanking his blade from the carcass. Limply the body fell. He leapt, landing in front of Gwen.  “Get back on your feet!” he shouted at her, “We have things to kill!” as he watched her fumble on to her knees. Well that was a start, they were the same height now: she might be able to learn a thing or two. “Stick with me!” He instructed. At least that should keep the healer alive.

***

Bogdan was in his element. 

The Orc came straight at him, huge weapon matching the huge arms that wielded it.  It was a monster of an Orc. Bogdan had killed Orcs before, but this was possibly the largest, meanest and smelliest he had seen.

There was a titanic meeting of blades, the shock spectacularly vibrating through the both of them.  With his hammer axe hooked around the blade of the enemy, Bogdan pushed the Orc backwards a good few steps, anger coursing through him, allowing him to shove with almighty force. The weapons locked, the fighters’ faces mere inches apart, contorted with the effort of the struggle. The Orc roared into Bogdan’s face, covering him in filthy spittle. Realising he needed an edge, he resorted to his favourite party trick that Gwen had dubbed ‘The Bogdan Special’. Quickly he pulled his head back and rammed it forward with colossal force, connecting with the ugly beasts’ nose, smashing it in a spray of blood and gore.
The Orc, now blinded with blood and roaring in pain, let go of its weapon with one hand. It roared again: an inhumanly guttural sound, then raised its paw to its face.  Bringing its gore covered talons away from its maw, it snatched Bogdan’s face in a lightening quick move, squeezing the warriors’ skull, driving him to his knees with brutal Orcish power. 
Enduring the pain crushing against his skull, Bogdan switched the grip on his weapon with a swift twist, so the hammer was facing forward. Moving his hand further up the shaft, he swung the hammer back as far as his crouching position allowed. He then drove the hammer home with all his might, striking the beasts’ knee.  

It connected with the unmistakable sound of snapping bone. 

The Orc howled, stumbling back, letting go of Bogdan’s head. Snarling and raising its weapon high, roaring with fury, the Orc swung the blade towards the kneeling warrior. Seeing the blow coming, Bogdan tried to dodge, but the speed of the blow was surprising, and connected with his side as he tried to roll away. The failed dodge splayed him in the dirt, with a burning sensation around his ribs. He realised He had been caught by the fetid blade. Face down in the dust, he phased in and out of consciousness.

***

The Orc roared in victory. It had conquered another warrior! It looked eagerly for its next kill.

***

On the floor, Bogdan muzzily opened an eye, managing to look around very briefly to see the state of play. He was shocked that little Teric had amassed such a body count in such a small span of time, and Bogdan was quite pleased that Teric was apparently looking out for Gwen too.  He saw the Wizard, staring at his own hands, little sparks coursing over his skin and round his teeth, his hair and beard starting to stand out from his head under his stupid hat. Bogdan started to feel a pull on his own skin like static before a storm. This was not good.  Not good at all.  He then heard the wizard scream again, and this time it was words, not just meaningless sounds.

***

“GET DOWN, I THINK THIS IS GOING TO BE RATHER WORSE THAN I IMAGINED!” Cloydor shouted.

As one suddenly well-oiled machine, Bogdan’s party hit the dirt. From past experience they knew this meant that the damn fool mage had no idea what was actually about to happen.  

The Greenskins turned on the lone standing human, now unguarded and looking vulnerable. As they advanced on him, he looked to them and said “Very well, let’s do this, shall we?” and let out a string of bizarre words that appeared in front of him as they were spoken. The feeling in the air became like treacle, a buzzing that invaded the brain to the point where it felt their skulls would explode, then suddenly the clearing danced to the thumping impact of burning rocks. Large rocks, small rocks, all burning, setting their surroundings on fire. The sound was like nothing they had heard before, an almighty high pitched whistling and then *doof* as the rocks hit the floor, shock waves travelling up through their feet.  Faster and more urgently the rocks fell as the spell reached a terrifying crescendo. The goblins tried to scatter but were incinerated by the burning rain of rocks, their bodies exploding with the force of the impact, the smell of burning wood mixed with burning flesh and rapidly heated metal. 

***

The Orc saw what was happening and was very confused. A few minutes ago it’d been asleep, and now the goblins were literally being struck down by the sky itself. The Orc did what it did best and took another step towards the frail looking, crazy old human, brandishing his freshly bloodied blade. The old human looked at it and laughed.  Laughed! Well he’d not be laughing once the Orc got his claws on him, crazy old fool. The Orc needed to kill something else, and the old man would do. The Orc took one more step and everything went suddenly blank.

***

Gradually the sounds of fire subsided and the “plink plink” of cooling stone indicated it was safe to look up.  Gwen saw that Cloydor stood with a huge megalith buried in the ground in front of him that wasn’t there before. He was painting a symbol on it. Funny, Gwen didn’t remember him having painting equipment with him.  She got up to and went to have a look and nearly retched as she realised it was one of the Orcs arms he was using for a brush. He was painting with the Orcs blood, pooling from the half exposed body that was very much pulverised by the stone. Vivid green goo against the light grey stone streaked with dark burns. Looking anywhere but there, she also saw that Teric had a goblin wrapped up in rope and was poking it with a stick shouting various nasty things at it.  She headed towards him.  “Why haven’t you killed him?” she croaked, “That’s not like you.”

“Erm, I thought I would do some information gathering,” he muttered shiftily. He was lying; they both knew that Teric was going to roast and eat the gobbo, but it sounded good. “Anyway, as it turns out, there is a huge gathering of the forces of darkness or some such crap, happening right in our path to get to the Far Tower.” He giggled. “Looks like you are going to have to get a bit better at swinging your bow before we move out!”  

This was not the news Gwen wanted.  She turned round though, as Bogdan was shouting again, but this time at Cloydor. She noticed Bogdan was holding his side together, and the back of his leg was smouldering from a rock that had hit him.

“Why for all the little green apples held in this kingdom, didn’t you think to warn us?!?” Bogdan was pretty incandescent already, his anger at the wizard the only thing keeping him upright.

“Well, I did actually warn you.” The mage stammered out under the onslaught of a viciously pointing finger.

“Just shouting ‘get down’ is not an adequate warning, you daft old fool!!!” Bogdan shouted, inches away from Cloydors face, forcing the old guy to stumble back.

“Look, we won didn’t we?” Cloydor stammered as he continued stumbled back, avoiding puddles of goblin. “No harm done, no injuries as such and I also got to practise a quick curse on that stone.” He pointed to the blood-daubed monolith. “It will be interesting to see if that holds,” he babbled. 

It was all too much now for Bogdan, whose arm was wheeling back for a bit of a punch, but Gwen caught his fist and said, “All is well, really, considering, don’t you think?” She was using her best calm voice, even though today had been a bit trying already.  “Let’s just patch you up and have breakfast whilst we work out how the hells we are going to make it to the Far tower in one piece. Oh, and get back again too, that’s quite important.” 

She sighed and reached for her healing pack.

It’s not “just cos I’m fat”, OK?!

Just been to the doctors for like the millionth time in a few weeks.

All of everything got blamed on then fact I’m overweight. (He is the only doctor that does this, the other Ones try and help me).

Well, yes, I’m not a slim super model. But I am actually working really hard to control what I’m eating and to do regular exercise.

He doesn’t like the exercise I’m doing. it’s not “proper” exercise, he thinks I should go running.

Well excuse me.

I am doing what I can do!

I have a chronic pain issue and fibromyalgia doesn’t play well. some days I can’t fucking walk and he sneers at the fact I’m  doing at least 5k steps a day, as I should be doing ten!!! Well fuck you. I’m trying. I really am trying.

Apparently I can fix fibro by eating well an running. tell you what, fuck off.

I don’t want to be ill.

I don’t want to be overweight. I am trying very hard to lose the bloody weight actually.

I get obesity is a problem in this country. I am not obese. anyone that knows me will say I am not obese. I’m plump for sure… obese, no. I have a waist. But, my bmi is 37.3. I am double what my lower weight should be. (I do get told that the BMI chart is a load of shit, but when that is what your GP uses its hard to fight the “facts”)

Trapped in a spiral. He offers no help.

I’m doing this all on my own and he just sneers at me.

I eat well, I don’t drink, I’ve been drinking decaff for ages… none of this matters. I’m still overweight.

I am bloody cross.

But, he still prescribed antibiotics. Which I said I didn’t want as I’m on big pill stuff anyway. But this will hopefully kill the abscess I’ve had for months. (Due to me being fat obviously).

Whatever. doesn’t matter.

I’ll just sit over here staring at a packet of jaffa cakes which I won’t eat as they make me ill anyway.

Very. Cross.

Edinburgh Coffee Festival 2016

I had my tickets booked for this as soon as I could.

Went last year when it was held in the Mansfield Traquir, which is a gorgeous venue:

But quite small and it got very packed and very hot. Still was amazing and I was looking forward to it this year in a new venue.

Summerhall
Fascinating place with some great history.

The spaces used were great. Plenty of room for exhibitors and people alike. Didn’t feel in anyway claustrophobic. We had a great chance to Potter around early doors

Started off with a really zingy Ethiopian light brew and the search for a superb coffee was on.

The thing I love are the samples and coffee types available. It really is a mecca for all things bean brew.

I learnt new ways to deal with grounds, prep, water temperature, stirring even. The guys on the stands are more than happy to give advice and samples. Your coffee journey can only improve!!

I mean, I’ve not gone to any of the talks/demos on offer and the programme is quite packed… it’s not just a giant free form cafe.

Basically, I totally recommend this if you even slightly just like coffee.  A great price for the ticket. Great stands on offer. And you may just end up finding a gift for that awkward person on your Xmas list.

Oh, we also got shown an app for finding independent coffee shops in Scotland. Very handy in Edinburgh… click the map, see who’s closest to your location. give it a whirl if you are ever here. “Scotland Coffee Lovers”. Saves you ever having to *just go to Starbucks* because you can see it.

Anyway, rambling aside, I have had a lot of fun today and drank some amazing coffees.

Looking forward to next year already.

Its good to talk..

I am lucky that I have some superb friends. (Sisters count as friends for this particular ramble).

I have a group of people who are willing to be involved in my life and listen to me grumble about all the various goings on in my life.. of which there are a number.

I like to listen to them too.

Honestly, it’s the cheapest therapy there is. 
So really this is just a thank you to those around me and involved with me who care and I care about.  You are a great bunch.

And as the song goes “friends.. Oooh LA LA LA LA!!”

Harvey and rabbit – friends