Wednesday, September 30, 2020

To Kill a War Leader is Live

 I uploaded the "final" version to Amazon last night. It is available on KU as well as for purchase as an e-book.  I'm not sure it's got enough meat on its bones to warrant killing trees to make a print version.  Who knows? Link below. Hope you enjoy it.

-Wayne


To Kill a War Leader



Saturday, September 5, 2020

The Affairs of Dragons Pt. 6 - Training...Kind Of

 In an effort to avoid cover design, my brain decided it would finish up the current chapter in progress for the next book. It's kind of odd how the mood in the short story For a Child influenced my writing with Tole. Trip, the main character in that piece is very somber and serious. I've had to work to get Tole's snark back. It hasn't been easy, but I'm getting there.

Hope you enjoy it and comments are always welcome.

-Wayne

 

      I sat there inside of a circle I'd drawn in the dirt with my dagger staring at an orcish rune I had also scribed in front of me inside of the circle. Valsh tells me it should help me focus while I try to reach my gift. All it's done so far is give me a fucking headache.

      Every time I stare at it another image jumps into my mind and distracts me. I've never been able to concentrate for very long. I'm just too easily distracted. I'd harnessed that tendency to help build situational awareness, but I've never been able to turn it off. Consequently, my head is fucking killing me from trying.

      "GODDAMIT VALSH! This is just not going to work! Man, I'm just not gonna be able to do this. Every time I just start to concentrate on this rune a crescent moon keeps popping into my mind."

      I stood up and stepped forward to leave the circle and smashed my face into the invisible barrier. Valsh almost fell off of the log he was sitting on when he saw that.

      "Well," he said around choked laughter, "you can obviously raise a circle. You can control the magic in The Bar to get where you want to go...most of the time, so you touch magic whether you believe it or not. Break the circle with your dagger before you break your nose."

      In spite of his confidence in my ability, I wasn't convinced. What he didn't mention was that it had taken me the better part of a morning to be able to raise the circle. The other side of it was that I really wasn't interested in learning this shit. If Valsh was right, I really didn't have a choice. According to him, once that tap is on it doesn't turn off. It would continue to open and eventually drown me if I didn't learn to control the flow. Fuck...my...life.

      "What I do not understand," he continued, "is why the symbol isn't working. It is a meditation technique that has been used for millennia by my people."

      I looked him square in the eye and said, "Maybe that's the problem. You remember how well trying to train me like you'd train a pup worked last time don't you?"

      That brought another round of his raucous laughter as I took my dagger and broke the circle. I picked up a dirt clod and bounced it off his rock head. He stopped laughing for a second and then burst out even louder than before.

      "You are right, of course," he said once he calmed down. "I should have learned then that I cannot teach you using our ways. Try it again, but this time draw the symbol that keeps showing itself to you. I am beginning to think that maybe it is your gift trying to tell you to do it your own way."

      I walked over to my packs and said, "After lunch. I'm starving like I've been working out all morning. I would never have guessed that this shit would be so much fucking work."

      We spent about an hour eating and talking. Food and water helped my headache go away, at least until Valsh started talking about magic and his theories on exactly what was going on with me. That put the pain right back in the old brain bucket.  When I finally gave the “migraine salute” by pinching the bridge of my nose, he stopped talking. That’s when I realized I could feel tension in the air that wasn’t coming from me.

      I looked up to see Valsh sitting stone still and staring behind me. If I didn’t know any better I would have thought he was afraid. Nah, not Valsh. Then I noticed he was chanting under his breath, gathering power to himself.

      “Tole. Do not move if you wish to live,” he said as he rose and unleashed a strike at something behind me.

      Then he sat back down with a look of complete and utter disbelief on his face. Now he was afraid. He was sweating and his hands were shaking, so I drew my daggers and spun.

      Serilla was there in her true form. Something in the way she was moving told me she was getting ready to eat Valsh. I put my daggers away and started walking to her. I heard Valsh trying to move. That was when I realized she had countered what he had thrown at her and locked him right the fuck down. He was completely at her mercy, and I was willing to bet that was a new sensation for him.

      “Valsh. Meet my employer,” I said gesturing to Serilla. “Serilla, this is Valsh. Please don’t eat him.”

      She shimmered into her human form and walked towards me saying, “Are you sure, Killer? I’ve never eaten anything like him before. He might be delicious.” She smiled at me.

      “I’m sure. Why are you here?”

      I heard Valsh draw his first deep breath since this all began as she turned to me and said, “In all truth, I was watching you through the link from our Communion. I could tell you had not moved yet, and then I felt you touch the magic of my world. I did not know what that meant, so I came to make sure you were unharmed. I arrived to find you sitting and talking to that. What is that? It is NOT of my world.”

      I tried really hard not to laugh...I swear. I didn’t do a good job, but I tried. Serilla raised an eyebrow at me, and I got myself under control.

      "That is Valsh," I said with a flourish and a bow. "He is an orc and the shaman to the Deep Valley Tribe of the world called Orta'ahn, and he's one of the very few beings I've met in the multiverse that I consider a friend. We have been through a scrape or two since my first job for him almost...shit...two years ago. Has it been that long, Valsh?"

      "It has indeed," he said as he got to his feet. "What manner of creature are you? I have never been at anyone's mercy like I was just now. It was a truly memorable experience, but not one I would like to repeat."

      Serilla ignored his question and came to sit on the log beside the fire pit in our camp. I offered her something to eat which she declined. She stared at Valsh for a few minutes like she was still unsure whether or not to eat him. I could tell that the scrutiny was making Valsh very uncomfortable. I tried really hard not to laugh when she would shift her body in her seat causing Valsh to twitch a little. I tried hard, but it was just so damned funny.

      "That does not explain why you were drawing on the magic of my world," she said. " I knew you had the ability, but I did not know you had the knowledge to do so."

      "I don't."

      "He does not."

      Valsh and I spoke almost in unison. I turned and shot him the finger, but I smiled while I did it.

      "That would explain why it was so...erratic," Serilla said with a nod. "It was like when a fledgling dragon first touches magic. What you are doing is very dangerous."

      Valsh continued, "That is the purpose of my visit to your world. I had suspected for some time that Tole had the ability to channel magic. I first saw him do it during his first, job I think he calls it, for me. I tested him earlier by feigning an attack on him when he was not expecting it. His reaction to the attack is what caused him to reach out for your world's magic. In the heat of combat, he pulls magic like a magnet and turns it into carnage. It is truly something to behold."

      "Horseshit," I said. "I trained long and hard to become what I am. Magic was not and is not a part of it."

      "No, Killer, you are wrong," Serilla said laying her hand on my leg. "If what I saw in our Communion is any key, magic is a big part of why you are the way you are. It may have been dormant when you were on Terra, but it most definitely is active now. You should learn to use it."

      I put my hand on hers. "I told you I don't want to know what you saw, and I meant it. Still do. As far as magic goes, I'll learn enough to keep it from killing me, but my trust is always gonna be with the fucking steel in my hand."

      Serilla looked me right in the eye and said, "That is most likely for the best. If what I saw in our Communion is true, I do not think either of us is going to be able to teach you how to control your gift. I think you would need to be taught by another like you, but I have never seen anything quite like what I saw when we joined."

      This peaked Valsh's interest. "What is this Communion you keep speaking of? How does it let you have all of this information about Tole? What have you done to him?"

      "It's private man," I said. "She didn't do anything to me that I didn't want done, but suffice it it say that we know each other on a level most people never share. We know who and what each other truly are. If she says you guys can't teach me then you can't."

      Valsh shook his head. "I will not accept that. Your gift is dangerous. If you do not learn to release it, you will die. I cannot allow that to happen when there is something I could do about it."

      "I may have an idea about that," Serilla said as she stood up. "I can teach you a pair of runes that will allow you to safely discharge all of the magic built up in your body. The only problem is that it will drain all of your stored magic...even that in your powered stones. You wouldn't be able to open a portal for a couple of days and your...what did you call it...nuclear warhead won't go off if you are killed. You will, however, be reset to start storing magic again. It's not the best option, but it is the only one we can choose at the moment. We really need to figure out how you came to be what you are."

      I gave her a look that said not to dig any deeper into that right now, so she got us both sticks to write in the dirt with and set about trying to teach the dullest kid in class. Luckily, the runes weren't hard to learn, and the process was simple. I just had to put my feet in water, one hand on each rune, and brace for impact.  Apparently, it's gonna hurt like a bitch. Oh well, life is pain right?

      While we were talking, five men stepped out of the forest into the clearing where I had made camp. From the looks of them they were highwaymen and probably looking for an easy target.

      The largest and obviously the leader of this band of merry men stepped forward. "Well, well, well, look at what we have here fellas. A woman, a tiny little man, and their pet...um whatever it is. They obviously didn't know that there is a tax to travel in our forest. I guess we'll just have to see if they have anything of value...and if not, maybe take a little sport with the woman."

      Serilla could have cooked them where they stood, and I'm pretty sure Valsh could have as well. The two of them exchanged a glance and Valsh acted cowed and slunk over to sit behind Serilla. She just touched her chest with her fingertips and said, "Please don't hurt us." Then she looked at me, and I knew they expected me to handle this. She wanted to see me fight.

      I got up and drew my blades and looking at Serilla said, "Fine. Be that way, but this is gonna cost you extra." She gave me a nod and a smile.

      As I walked towards the men, they all had a look on their faces that told me that they didn't regard me as a threat. Two of them exchanged punches to the shoulder, pointed at me and started to laugh.

      Right, those fuckers die last.

      I ran my threat assessment as I walked across the clearing. They were all taller than me. The smallest was probably four inches taller and at least twenty pounds heavier, and it just went up from there. One of the laughers had a cloudy eye with a scar through it. Right, bad peripheral vision. The rest of them looked relatively healthy.

      As I got closer they broke into a circle around me. I loved it when they do that because it hinders their ability to work as a team. I could feel the adrenaline slam home into my brain and suddenly my opponents' movements looked like they were in slow motion.

      When the circle closed, the leader glanced to his side to say something to one of his men, so I charged him while his head was turned. I had to jump to reach my target, but I put the dagger in my right hand up through his chin and into his brain. Turns out there was one in his head because his eye rolled back and he crumpled to the ground like a rag doll as I landed from my small jump.

      Once both of my feet were on the ground I pivoted right and gut stabbed the next man with the dagger in my left thrusting it up and into his heart. The look of shock on his face matched the expression of so many others in my past.

      I could hear the man to the leader's right charging so I turned and threw the dagger in my right hand. It didn't penetrate his chest, but I didn’t need it to. It caused him to turn his body to avoid being hit, and that opened up the inside of his thigh and that let me put my other dagger into the artery there. I made sure to slice as I withdrew the blade. He stumbled. I shoved him on past me and moved to retrieve my thrown dagger.

      That just left laughing boys who were standing stock still with their mouths wide open. They glanced at each other and turned to run.

      Oh, I don't fucking think so. You don't get to threaten me and run away.

      I set off at a sprint, and the landscape around me blurred as I ran. I caught them both before they'd taken three steps. When the gap between us closed I thrust with both daggers, taking each man in the back just between the fourth and fifth ribs. The pulse from their hearts traveled down my blades tell me the strikes had punctured them. We ran maybe two more steps in unison before they faltered and fell forward.

      I knelt down and wiped my blades on their leather vests and spit on the ground beside them. I turned back to see Valsh and Serilla both looking at me like they'd just seen a ghost.

      "See? What did I tell you?" Valsh asked. "Is it not something to behold? That small human definitely has the heart of an orc!"

      "You mean dragon. I felt it. I felt when he touched his gift. I have never seen anyone or anything move that fast." Serilla's words were almost a purr. "Killer, I owe you an apology for trying to talk you into letting me release you from our bargain. Asking you not to be what you are would be like asking the sun not to rise."

      "Whatever," I said. "I'm hungry again though."  I sat down and finished off the rest of the meat on the carcass over the fire. I had to admit though; my headache was gone.


Tuesday, September 1, 2020

It's "Done"

The quotes around "done" are a warning and a reminder to me that the real work is still ahead. I finished the draft of To Kill a War Leader yesterday. Now I have to go through it all over again and fix all of the terrible grammar and mixed tense sentences and maybe insert and/or remove commas at random.



Then cover design. My hated enemy rears its ugly head again. I honestly think that the dread of cover design is what keeps me from finishing anything. LOL

If all goes to plan I hope to upload it before the end of the month. I do have to fit it all in around work, a short vacation (because holy hell do I need it), and jury duty. 

Did I mention I got tapped for the grand jury? Every other Wednesday from now through the end of the year. Huzzah!



Pray for me.

Wayne


Wednesday, August 12, 2020

One Problem Down, 999 to Go

      I think I may have finally gained some ground in the ongoing battle with my 89 Mustang . I have been chasing an issue with the engine just falling on its face at around 2k RPM under hard acceleration. At first I thought it was vacuum related. That's why I pulled the dash. I'm not mad I was wrong because of all of the other crap I found hiding there. Specifically the fire looking for a place to happen in the blower fan wiring.

     A lot of online research later, I decided the next thing to tackle was the TFI module. I can't say I'm 100% sure exactly what these things do other than fail and cause problems. I can say that the decision to put something that is sensitive to heat on top on the damned engine was a bad idea. Only took Ford 10 years to realize it. This is the part in question.


        I ordered a relocation kit from McCully Racing and moved it to a cooler location. Of course the 31 year old plastic on the plug disintegrated in my hand, but my local parts store had a replacement in stock. (I damned near had a heart attack when they said they did.)

     Any way. The wiring was relatively easy and now it lives on the inner fender on the passenger side and my car accelerates like the monster it is once again....ok, maybe not monster, but it will get me into traffic in a hurry.




     As for writing, I'm trying. Between work, getting my wife and kids ready to go back to school, and trying to keep everyone's cars on the road, I'm finding I need another 5 or 6 hours in my day. 

     Writing is like a fart. If you try to force it, you're more than likely  just going to get shit.

      Everyone be safe out there.

-Wayne

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Twenty Four and Counting

Monday was my 24th wedding anniversary and I was given yet another shining example that I chose well. How did we spend the day you ask? Playing an online game together, and it was her idea.

We've played Everquest 2 off and on since 2003, but since the schools closed in March she's gotten back into it whole hog. We paid for lifetime subscriptions a while back and for some reason I just quit playing. She asked if we could play together since we couldn't really go anywhere and do anything. To be honest, it was really nice.

We were planning to order take out from our favorite local Italian place only to discover that they're closed on Mondays. 

"No problem," I said. "Call option 2."

Closed.

We found a place that was open, so we ordered dinner...we should've made our own.

Oh well, after 24 years we can muddle through a blown dinner plan.

All things considered, it was a really good day.

Now we forge bravely ahead on the road to number 25. That one will be a whole different thing.

Wayne

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

To Kill a War Leader Pt 12 - Honoring the Fallen

This is the first thing I've written in a while. It's still alittle rough, but I hope you enjoy it. As always, comments are welcome and appreciated.

-Wayne     


   Valsh had kept her preserved while I was gone. Shortly after I came back to his hut, we traveled through a portal back out into the jungle. I built a litter to drag her back to the village. All the while my anger with Na'Guk grew. I dreamt of bathing in his blood. It's not that I was planning on settling down with Shala, or even that I was in love. She was innocent in this and her death was unnecessary. The Green Mountain Tribe were not to blame. We shouldn't have even fucking been there. That's what fueled my fire. Na'Guk was a rabid dog who was only going to get more of his people killed for no goddamned reason.

        I don't think Valsh and I said five words while he was with me. After the litter was made he opened a portal back to his hut and left me alone in the jungle with Shala's body. I was gone for a day, and we had spent most of a day making the litter. I figured dragging her through the jungle would have added at least a half a day to my trip back, so I made camp with plans to leave at sun up. Valsh told me his spell would fade shortly after the sunrise, so I covered her with the hammock she had brought with us to keep the flies off of her. I sat a vigil by the fire, but nothing approached her remains.

        The next morning, I started my hike back to the village pulling the litter behind me. Valsh had put me about a half day's hike out, so by the time I broke the tree line the sun was at mid-day. I heard the call go up from the guards at the wall and Shala's group of huntresses met me half way to the gate. They offered to take up the task of carrying her, but after one look in my eyes, they bowed and moved away.

        I pulled her all of the way through the village to her hut. Once I had her inside, I moved her onto the bedding where we had spent that first night. I knelt beside her until Valsh arrived with another orc. She was old, probably older than Valsh. He touched my shoulder and said, "Tole, this is Manua. She will prepare Shala for her funerial rite. We should go."

        I got to my feet and nodded my head in deference to Manua. She returned the nod and went to sit by Shala's body. When Valsh and I passed through the door, she began to chant and sing. I could hear an occasional break in her voice as she sang. I looked at Valsh with an unspoken question on my face.

        "Huh? Oh, she is Shala's mother. She is singing the tales of Shala's honor and prowess to the gods and will ask they allow her into The Hall. Tradition demands that she sing for a day at least without food or sleep. When she is done, the village will gather for the ceremony and then a feast will be held in Shala's memory. After that is done, I am certain Na'Guk will order the attack take place within the next three or four following days."

        "Never gonna happen," I spat.

        A few steps later a memory pushed its way to the front of my anger. In my mind I saw the dinner in the Great Hall about a week before. Na'Guk had left through a hidden door in the back wall of the room. That needs to be investigated, so I left Valsh's side with a promise that I would be back soon. He gave me a suspicious look, and I simply replied with a smile. Well, I thought I smiled. Valsh looked at my face and said, "Do not do anything stupid."

        "Who? Me? I'm the fucking poster child for rational action," I replied as I broke from his path.

        The Great Hall was used for damned near everything, so it wasn't very heavily guarded. I stepped inside and took a quick visual estimate of its size. The place was about forty feet wide and sixty feet long. I thought it looked bigger than that, so I went back outside and paced it off. Forty feet wide was pretty much dead on, but the outside was closer to seventy.  I walked around behind, but there wasn't anything that looked like a path leading away from the back wall.

        Interesting. Must be a small room in the back.  I'd bet stairs down into a tunnel. Why would an "honor in battle" leader have a bolt hole?  I'll have to check that with Valsh.

        The War Leader's hut was about twenty feet away and at a slight angle. I paced it off, stomping my feet to try and hear if there was any hollow space below me. I didn't hear anything, but a few minutes later one of Na'Guk's guards came around the corner of the hut to see what I was doing. He bowed up and snorted at me. I just smiled, waved, and turned and left for Valsh's hut. I saw him shaking his head as he went back to where he'd been.

        So, there is something down there and apparently it's guarded.  Interesting.

        I made my way back to Valsh's hut running some scenarios for putting Na'Guk in a hole in my mind as I walked. I must've looked pissed because no one stopped me or even spoke to me the entire way across the village. There were even a couple of Na'Guk's guards who side-stepped me as I passed. Maybe having a reputation as a jungle demon wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

        I walked straight into the hut without knocking or even announcing my arrival. I went straight to the keg on the shelf in the back and drew up a mug of that fruity beer he kept on hand. Valsh tried to ask me a question a couple of times, but I waved him off while I drank. After I had taken a couple of good pulls on my drink, I grabbed some cheese off of a plate and sat down on a pillow. I took a bite of cheese and washed it down with the fruit beer. Maybe it was the stress of the last few days or maybe I finally snapped, but a thought that those words just flat don't belong together crossed my mind and kicked over my giggle-box.

        It took me a couple of minutes and another drink or two to be able to shove the madman back into his box in my brain. Once I settled back down, Valsh asked me, "Where did you go? You did not start any trouble with Na'Guk did you?"

        "Relax man. I'm crazy, but I'm not stupid. His day is coming, and it's gonna be soon. Just not today. I do need some information though if you have some time to talk."

        Valsh drew himself a large flagon of beer and grabbed some cheese. He came to sit on a cushion nearby and said, "If it will keep you out of Na'Guk's way, I will talk all day. What do you need to know?"

        I spent a few minutes describing what I discovered about the hidden room in the Great Hall and my theories about the buried tunnel. I told him about the guard coming to see what I was doing and my conclusion that there was a guarded tunnel running to the War Leader's hut from the Great Hall. The whole time Valsh sat nodding.

        "There is a tunnel. Na'Guk had it put in so that he could leave the festivities without having to walk through a crowded room. That was when I first began to suspect that there was something wrong with my War Leader. I suspect there are more secret ways under the village, but as you said, they are guarded. I have not been able to confirm my suspicions. Surely you are not thinking of using them to gain access to his hut?"

        I lowered my mug from my mouth and looked Valsh in the eye. All mirth was gone from my voice, "That is exactly what I am thinking. I can't open a portal, and I can't walk in through the front door.  That leaves sneaking in somehow. I'd be willing to bet that there's one, maybe two guards at most in the tunnel. It would be best if I can find a way past them. If not, I'll make their deaths as silent and as nasty as his. Angry gods sometimes smite anyone in their path. Besides, if they're all gonna commit ritual suicide anyway, what does it matter?"

        The rest of my day was just kind of grey and boring. I drank and slept, if you want to call passing out sleep, and I dreamt. One dream was of the battle against the Green Mountain Tribe. Dozens of Valsh's people lay in the kill zone in front of that cliff with those goddamned poisoned arrows sticking out of their bodies, and Na'Guk ordered more to their deaths. In the dream I snapped and killed him in front of everyone and then was killed myself.

        Another dream was of Shala. She was alive and living her life; because, I had acted sooner and put Na'Guk down before the scouting mission. She and Valsh talked of how I had died attacking him in the Great Hall during the feast. His guards had cut me to pieces, but not before I had put twelve inches of steel through his brain.

        The last dream was of me standing over Na'Guk's body in his hut. His face held a look of shock, and I was covered in his blood. I was panting from the exertion of the things I had done to his body, but I still felt like I hadn't done enough. There would never be enough. I reached into his torso and grabbed his heart...

        Valsh shook me awake. Well he was holding me up in the air by an arm and shaking me. Never a good idea to touch me in my sleep. There was a red welt on the side of his face that was shaped a lot like my right foot. "You kick hard for such a small creature," he said. "You were talking in your sleep, so I thought I should wake you."

        "What time is it?"

        "it is near sun up," he said with a sigh. "There will be food at the cook fire soon. Manua should finish her pleas to the gods by midday, and then we will begin the funeral ceremony. There is work to do first, and you have a role to play. Wash your face and then we will go get some food."

        There was a communal breakfast in the same part of the village where the party had been the night I met Shala. The food was very good and plentiful. The mood, however, was decidedly less festive.

        While I was eating several of the huntresses stopped by and brought me food. One put a wreath of blossoms around my neck. They smelled like shit, but I thanked her. After the last of them had passed by I leaned over to Valsh and asked, "What the fuck was all that?"

        "You were the one with her when she was killed. The wreath is to show that you were close to her. Shala had apparently told her team that she was quite taken with you, but any fool...except the one sitting next to me...could see that. If you are finished eating, there is one more task that falls to you and me. Shala's team of huntresses will have gathered the fuel, but we must assemble and sanctify her funeral pyre."

        It honestly had never occurred to me that they would burn their dead, but after Valsh mentioned the pyre, I realized there was no burial ground in or around the village. Makes sense if you live in a jungle full of predators. Graves would be hard to keep safe from the animals.

        The pyre was not what I expected it to look like. I expected it to look like what I'd seen in the movies. You know. A big pile of logs stood on their end and lashed together to form platform to lay the body on. Then the whole thing is ignited and burns until the fuel is exhausted. Come to find out, if you don't build those just right so that it burns all nice and even, they can and will dump the corpse out of the fire. Then you've got a problem.

        This one was basically a brick enclosed fire pit with steel grating for the deceased to lie on with the fire burning below them. Each brick was engraved in orcish symbols that I'm sure were very significant to their beliefs. Valsh lifted the grate and set it aside, so we could begin to stack the wood. We built several layers of wood laying it in alternating directions. After each layer, Valsh would stop me and he would say a prayer over the wood. Each prayer brought a slight glow from the piles of logs.

        When we were done, Valsh looked at me and said, "Lay your wreath on the top. It will accompany her to the Hall, so her spirit will remember you."

        I laid it out in the center of the wood and left my hand on it while I thought about her. If there are gods on this world that look after the dead, take care of her. If I find out otherwise, you'll answer to me.

        I lifted my hand and Valsh put the grate back over the wood.

        He brushed his hands together to knock the dust from them and said, "The funeral will be at sundown. We should have just enough time to get cleaned up and eat something before it begins."

        I looked at Valsh like he was out of his damned mind. We'd just eaten breakfast. Then I looked at the sky and saw that the sun was well past midday. We'd been stacking that wood for hours and time had slipped away from me. As we turned to leave, Manua stepped around the corner of a hut and walked to us. She laid her hand on my cheek and then went to kneel by the pyre and began to sing again.

        At just after sunset the tribe had gathered around the pyre. From the looks of it they were all there. Valsh had told me that they would be arranged so that those who knew Shala best would be closest and it would spread out from there. He had also told me that there would be no conversation, and man it was creepy how quiet this many orcs can be.

        When we stepped through into the center of the crowd, one of the huntresses handed me a torch. I really didn't want to take it. This should have been the right of one of her friends, but Valsh had told me the other function of the wreath was to designate the "Flame Bearer" who would light the pyre and send her body to the Hall to rejoin her spirit.

        I took the torch and walked to the pyre. There was an opening in the side for the torch to be inserted into the wood pile. It felt like it took a long time for the fire to catch, but once it did, Valsh's magic took hold and the flames leapt into the sky. When they did, the entire village roared as one. The sound of it shook my body.

        I looked to the sky and found myself wishing her a speedy and safe journey. Just remember what I said. I've faced scarier things that an orc god.

        I turned away from the fire to return to Valsh's hut. As I passed through the crowd I felt a tear slide down my cheek for the first time since I buried my wife back on Terra. Huh. That's interesting. Ok Na'Guk. Time to die.


Friday, June 19, 2020

Cars Suck

     In a previous post, I talked about some wiring issues I've been having with my daily driver, a 1989 Mustang GT. Well, I've just about got that mess sorted out, and I even did some preventative maintenance on things that were rusting in the dash as I went.

     I spent WAY too much time trying to repair the printed circuit board on the back of my instrument cluster. Screw you Ford by the way. I know, they were a great idea at the time, but they really don't stand up to time. Luckily National Parts Depot is reproducing them in the aftermarket. They're even making the smaller one that runs the fluid level warning lights. 

     I just wish I knew that before I spent a weekend playing with superglue and copper banding trying to fix shit like this.

     Sorry, I wandered off of why cars suck or at least why mine does. The last time I went to button up some more of the under dash wiring (and holy hell is there a lot of it), I found that my power steering system decided to barf in my driveway for no reason whatsoever. I haven't turned the wheels or started the car or anything. Oh well, just one more thing to straighten out. 
     Some days I have to remind myself how boring it would be if my car didn't need my attention on a regular basis. Other times I dream wistfully about how peaceful life would be if my car didn't need my attention on a regular basis.


To Kill a War Leader is Live

 I uploaded the "final" version to Amazon last night. It is available on KU as well as for purchase as an e-book.  I'm not sur...