Saturday, July 30, 2011

Story a Week 25 - Propheteering Part 12

Once again, I had this story written long before it was due to be posted.  I'm so proud of myself!


Rixi turned around to see how close her friends were getting.  She blinked and when she opened her eyes she was startled to see herself standing in a vast forest.  From behind her, a voice that was somehow familiar, yet also strange said, "Welcome, Rixi."

Startled again, Rixi spun around and drew her short swords.  She was surprised to see a very handsome Grey Elf standing beside a table elegantly set for tea.  She sheepishly put away her weapons and smiled at the elf.

"I'm sorry to have startled you," the elf said.  "I'm also sorry to have pulled you from your current quest, but I needed to speak to you."

Rixi was very confused.  The man in front of her looked very familiar to her, yet she knew that she had never met him before.  "Who are you?" she asked.

The man blushed and said, "I'm terribly sorry, how rude of me to not introduce myself.  I am Yond Thruil."

Rixi nearly fainted when she recognized the name of the god of all elves.  "Wh...what do you want me for?  Am I dead?"

Yond shook his head and replied, "No, of course not.  As I said before, I needed to speak with you before you and your friends faced the dragon."  He gestured to a seat next to the table.  "Will you sit?"

Rixi shyly nodded and sat down.  Yond sat after her.  "Would you like some tea?" he asked.

Rixi realized then that she hadn't had anything to eat in quite a while.  She nodded.  As Yond poured the tea, he said, "Just so that you know, Rixi.  I am quite aware of your situation and I know your history quite well."

Yond passed Rixi the teacup and saucer.  She asked, "I don't understand why you want to talk to me?  I've never been very religious and I'm not even sure how to pray since I've never tried."

Yond chuckled and said, "I appreciate your honesty.  To respond to your question, even if you don't worship me, you are an elf.  As the god of all elves, I want you to know that I have the best interests of our people at heart."

Rixi sipped her tea as he spoke.  When he was finished she said, "That doesn't really answer my question."

Yond chuckled again.  "You are a smart one."  Yond sighed, "There are rules that even I must follow, Rixi.  One of them is that I cannot tell you of your future.  For one, the future isn't written.  It sort of unfolds itself.  As such, I can only see glimpses and get vague ideas of it anyway.  Just know that, even if you don't worship me, that I love you as I do all elves."

Rixi was as confused as ever.  "What did you want to talk about?" she asked.

Yond's smile grew.  "You may or may not have heard of a race of elves called Pelorin?"  He waited until Rixi shook her head.  "Well, in that case I will explain.  Pelorin are elves chosen for a higher calling.  They are extremely rare.  Their skin is a golden bronze and their hair is a fiery golden color.  They are my representatives on the surface of Uroth."  He paused, looking into the distance for a moment.  When his attention returned to Rixi he said, "Yif will notice your absence soon and will wonder at it.  He cannot know that I have taken you.  My point is, Rixi, would you ever consider joining the ranks of the Pelorin?"

Rixi was taken aback.  "You want me to be one of your servants?"

Yond shook his head.  "The Pelorin aren't servants.  They are my eyes and ears and often my fists.  Most of them are devout worshipers.  That, unfortunately, is turning out to be a bit of a problem for me.  There have been times where they have been blinded by their faith.  I think that it is about time that I start bringing some new faces into the ranks of the Pelorin.  I need someone who is willing to fight with me on occasion."

Rixi felt overwhelmed.  Before a few minutes ago, Rixi had trouble believing that Yond Thruil even existed, though she learned about his military career when he was mortal from her parents when she was little.  Now he was asking her to be one of his closest advisers and a warrior for his causes.  "I...I just don't know.  I've don't really know anything about your religion or anything."

Yond nodded.  "I understand, Rixi.  It is okay for you to think about this for a while.  Please don't tell anyone about what I've asked of you until you are ready to make your decision.  Once you're ready, just speak my name aloud and you will be transported back here again."

Rixi nodded.  Yond stood and Rixi followed suit.  He said, "I will send some food back with you.  Yif won't notice.  You and your friends are getting hungry down there and it will help you on your way."

Rixi nodded, still overwhelmed by this whole experience.  Yond put a hand on her shoulder and said, "Good luck."

Rixi felt a little sense of loss as she was transported back to the dark passageway.  She heard Cuddlington whisper, "Rixi, is that you?  Where did ye go lass?"

Rixi turned to see Cuddlington, Melbrid and Meentha near the entrance to where the dragon's chamber.  She started to move over to where her friends were waiting and realized that she was carrying a new item.  It was a small bag that was very light.

Melbrid said, "Where did you get that?  It's practically glowing with magical energy."

Rixi said, "Um, I found it here.  One of the orcs must have dropped it."

Her friends all looked at each other doubtfully.  Cuddlington dismissed it all with a wave of his hand.  "We have bigger problems.  Did you see what's waiting for us out there, Rixi?"

Rixi gazed out at the dragon.  It seemed to be sleeping after it finished slaughtering the orcs.  She said, "Yes I did.  I think we can defeat the dragon."

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Story a Week 24 - Propheteering Part 11

Let me tell you that I was on a roll last week while I was out of town.  That's when I wrote this story along with last weekend's story.

I was thinking about why these stories come together so well for me and I think that it's because it's just like running a D&D campaign, except things go exactly the way I plan.  Anyone who has been a DM will tell you that things never go the way you plan.  It's kind of nice to have things go so smoothly and I'm really enjoying writing in this series.


Rixi watched the orcs bash their weapons against the clear material for a few moments more before she was satisfied that they weren't going to come breaking through the door at any moment.  After ten minutes of attacking the door, they hadn't even made a scratch in the clear stuff.

Rixi shrugged and turned her back on the door.  The sight in front of her still amazed her.  So much loot!  "What are we going to do with all of this stuff?" she asked.

Melbrid shrugged and said, "I don't know, but I can tell you that all of the weapons and armor are magical.  Some of the other pieces of equipment laying there are too."

Cuddlington replied, "I think that the weapons are meant for us.  Look at them."

Rixi looked up and studied the array of weapons.  She immediately spotted the weapons that would be meant for her.  There were two short swords, a bandolier of daggers and a hand crossbow.  She'd always wanted a hand crossbow, but even non-magical hand crossbows were really expensive.  She saw Meentha eyeing a strange looking bow, a long sword and a scimitar.  Cuddlington was looking at an axe and a small warhammer.  Melbrid picked up a broadsword and was nodding at it.

"You can take the weapons," he said.  "They're mostly simple enchantments to improve sharpness and balance.  Rixi, that bandolier magically replenishes the daggers.  Cuddlington, that warhammer will return to your grasp after a moment or two.  Meentha, let me take a look at that bow."

Meentha nodded and handed the bow to Melbrid who began to study it.  While he did that, Rixi fitted the bandolier over her torso, under her tunic.  She lovingly placed her old short swords on the ground and replaced them in her sheaths with the two new short swords.  She took the small quiver of crossbow bolts and placed it on her belt and slung the hand crossbow over her shoulder by the strap attached to it.

Rixi looked up when Melbrid spoke again.  He said, "Meentha, this is a shocking bow.  When you speak the command word, the next arrow you fire from the bow will shock the target as if it were hit by a lightning bolt."

Meentha nodded as she took the bow back from Melbrid.  Melbrid turned to the pile of equipment and studied it for a moment.  He pointed to a chain mail and said, "I think that this one is for you, Cuddlington.  It's enchanted to be harder to puncture."  He next pointed to a piece of studded leather armor and said, "Meentha, you should take that one.  It's enchanted much the same as Cuddlington's."

Finally, Melbrid picked up a piece of jet black leather armor.  "Rixi, this is Shadow Armor.  It will sense when you are trying to hide and you will seem to melt into the shadows."

Rixi looked at the armor with awe.  She'd always been pretty good at slinking around in the shadows, but this armor would make her virtually undetectable.

Melbrid turned to the others and said, "You all go ahead and don your new sets of armor.  I'm going to go through the rest of this pile and identify it all."

Rixi turned and moved to another side of the room as Melbrid began to sort the pile.  She made sure to make a face at the orcs on the other side of the clear door.  They had stopped bashing it with their weapons, but had a guard posted there.  When she was sure that the orcs couldn't see her anymore she began to remove her equipment and her old, beat up set of leather armor.  She was kind of sad to set the armor on the floor since it had been with her for so long, but the feeling quickly went away when she picked up her new armor.  The leather felt supple, but strong.  The color was blacker than anything she'd ever seen before.  When she wore it, she barely felt the weight of it on her and it didn't hinder her movements in the least.

After she was all finished equipping herself, she turned back to see Melbrid sitting on the floor meditating.  She walked over and sat down next to him.  He didn't seem to notice, so she shrugged to herself and picked up something from the pile in front of him.

Suddenly, Meldbrid's arm shot out and grabbed Rixi's wrist as she started to pick up a wand.  "I wouldn't do that, if I were you," he said.

She dropped the wand and pulled her arm away.  "Well, you didn't have to startle me like that."

Melbrid apologetically said, "I'm sorry, Rixi.  I was meditating when I felt you pick up that wand.  It's quite a powerful, destructive wand, so I didn't want to you accidently set it off."

Rixi shrugged it off and asked, "What is all this stuff?"

Melbrid started pointing at objects as he rattled off their descriptions, "There are two lightning wands, the death ray wand you were playing with, several healing potions of varying strengths, an Amulet of Natural Armor, Boots of Striding and Springing, a Scarab of Protection and I think that that last gem is an air elemental gem."

Rixi was confused.  "If you know what they all are, why are you meditating?"

Melbrid glanced back at Cuddlington and Meentha, saw that they wouldn't hear, then whispered, "I wanted to regenerate my magical energy.  Yif is equipping us with some pretty powerful artifacts here.  He has something dangerous in store for us."

Cuddlington and Meentha returned to the spot where Rixi and Melbrid were sitting.  Melbrid began to hand out the magical items out to the group.  He gave the amulet to Meentha, the boots to Rixi, the scarab to Cuddlington and he kept the gem for himself.  He said, "I think that this is the configuration that Yif meant for us."  He glanced in Rixi's direction.

Rixi sighed and said, "Melbrid thinks that Yif has something particularly dangerous in store for us."

Melbrid looked shocked that Rixi told the other two about what he said, but soon got over it when he saw that Meentha and Cuddlington were nodding their agreement.  Rixi stuck her tongue out at Melbrid.  He shrugged and picked up the wands and put them carefully into his wand holster inside the sleeve of one of his robes.  He then passed out the potions so that each person had two of them.

After the last items were secured in everyone’s' pouches, the ground shook.  Rixi heard the orcs yelp and turned to see them running from the clear door as the ground continued to shake.  She heard Melbrid say, "Oh, no," and turned to see him pointing at the wall behind her.  She turned to see the wall slowly moving towards them.

Panic filled her as the wall continued to approach them.  She looked around and saw that the only way out was the way they came in.  "Follow me!" she shouted as she ran to the door.

She pulled the door open and rushed through into the dark passageway.  She looked both directions and saw that the opening that they had come through where they fought the hydra was dark, but the opposite direction had an opening at the end.  She could see the forms of many orcs running in that direction.

Suddenly, Melbrid ran into her and they both went down in a heap.  "Hey!" Rixi yelped.

"Oh, sorry Rixi," Melbrid said as he helped her up.  "Once you got to the darkness, I lost sight of you and didn't see you there."

Rixi smiled to herself, her new armor was working well at least.  "The way back seems to be blocked.  I think that we can only go the way that the orcs came from and went back to."

Cuddlington broke in, "We had better keep moving too.  The wall at the end where we defeated the hydra is also moving in our direction."

Rixi said, "I'm going to run ahead to the opening and look through.  You guys catch up, but don't go out the opening until I tell you too.  You won't be able to see me there."

The others voiced their acceptance and Rixi sprinted down the passageway.  Her new boots made her move a lot faster than before.  After a few moments she was on the heels of the last orc as it left the passage and ran out into the open.  Rixi stopped short and stared out into the large room beyond.

The room was about twice the size of the chamber where they had fought the hydra.  The reason was obvious to Rixi, there was a gigantic red dragon occupying the room!  The dragon was smashing, burning and biting the orcs.

Rixi swore under her breath as she watched the dragon decimate the remaining orcs.  She saw that the dragon was obviously quite powerful, but she had a feeling that the four of them would triumph.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Story a Week 23 - Propheteering Part 10

Wow, for the first time in a very long time, I had the Story a Week done long before the weekend.  Since I was out of town this week, I had a little extra time in the evenings to spend on writing and that's what I've done.  Of course, last time I was out of town I didn't write, I just sat in my hotel room playing computer games.  I've kind of decided to give those games a rest as I wasn't satisfied with my lack of writing.

Also, this is the first time I've used the scheduling feature of Blogger.  If you're reading this, obviously it works!  :)


Rixi edged along the wall towards the opening that the hydra had charged through.  She pulled a small mirror out of her belt pouch and took a moment to wonder how it had survived intact through all that she had been through today.  She angled the mirror to give herself a good view around the corner.  Satisfied that there was no immediate threat, she signaled for the others to wait there as she carefully and quietly crept around the corner and into the darkness.

She stayed on the edge of the walkway that led into the darkness.  Even though elves could see very well in the dark, there just wasn't anything to see, yet.  A few minutes of creeping along in the darkness she stopped short.  She stared at the wall on the other side for a moment.  She nodded to herself.  There was a faint light shining through a crack at the base of the wall opposite of her.  The crack was very minute, but as she approached she was sure that there was a door there.

Rixi touched the wall above where the crack was, but nothing happened.  She tried to push on the wall, with the same result.  She ran her fingers along the wall and felt, rather than saw, where the outline of the door was.  She glanced further down the passage, then back towards her friends.  She thought about calling out, but she couldn't be sure that no one on the other side of the wall would hear.

Shrugging to herself, Rixi quickly and quietly sprinted back to where her friends were waiting.  She laughed a little when she sprang out of the darkness and startled the three of them.

"Ach, don't do that, lass.  I would've split ye in two if I hadn't recognized ye so quickly," Cuddlington blustered.

Rixi, Meentha and Melbrid laughed at the dwarf's bluster.  "There's a hidden door a couple of hundred yards down the passage.  The passage keeps going, but I haven't seen anything other than dust in it," Rixi announced.

Melbrid said, "Well, lead the way then."

Rixi nodded and turned back into the dark passage.  She led her friends down it as she kept her eye on the place where the wall met the floor.  It seemed to her that the light was a little brighter this time as her and her friends approached the place.

"I see the light under the doorway," Melbrid said as Rixi stopped.

Rixi replied, "Yes, I felt the edges of the door, but I couldn't get it to budge by pushing or pulling on the crack.  She reached out and pushed on the wall again, just to be sure.

She saw Melbrid reach out and feel along the wall.  "I don't feel anything," he remarked.

"O' course ye don't, yer half human," Cuddlington said.  "Human's aren't attuned ta nature like elves and they don't have the affinity for rocks like us dwarves do."  The dwarf reached out and felt the wall.  "Ah, I feel the edge.  Mighty fine craftsmanship.  If that light weren't showing beneath the door, I doubt ye would have noticed the door, even with a torch, Rixi."

Rixi nodded and saw Meentha reach out and touch the wall.  The moment her hand connected with the wall, a sharp crack emitted from the wall in front of them and echoed down the passage.  The four of them jumped back in surprise.  Rixi looked and saw that light was now coming from a seam that ran all the way around the door.  She reached out and tried to push on the door, but it wouldn't budge.  She stepped back and said, "Well, if there is danger waiting down this passage, it knows that we're here."

"Indeed," Melbrid replied.

Cuddlington tried to push on the door, but gave up after a moment.  He stepped back and said, "Meentha, you try.  The damn thing cracked when you touched it."

Meentha stepped forward and pushed at the door with all her might.  She also gave up after a moment and stepped back.  "It won't budge," she said.

Suddenly, the answer dawned on Rixi.  "The door cracked when all four of us touched it!" she exclaimed.  She put her hand back on the door and said, "Come on, put your hands on the door."

The others did so and there was another loud crack as the seam around the door grew.  A moment later the door began to slide into the room behind the passage.  Rixi had to shield her eyes as the light from many torches flooded into the previously dark passage.  After her eyes adjusted to the light, she gazed into the room beyond.

"It's amazing," Melbrid remarked as he stepped into the room.

The others made similar remarks as they too stepped in.  Rixi glanced down the passage before she followed them and stopped short.  She wasn't sure, but she thought she saw something metallic reflecting light her way.  All of a sudden, she saw several metallic objects reflecting light and heard the growls of unseen creatures waiting in the darkness down the hall.

Panic rose within Rixi, but she fought it down and tried to move into the room as nonchalantly as possible.  She moved over to Cuddlington, who was still staring into the center of the room.  She was about to tell him about what she saw when she caught sight of what the others were staring at.

On the wall on the far side of the small chamber was another door leading into a larger room.  The door had a wooden frame, but had some sort of clear material, clearer than any glass Rixi had ever seen, that allowed the group to see what lay on the other side.  In the chamber beyond were several obviously magical weapons and piles of other useful equipment.

Rixi heard some noise coming from the hall again that broke her awe inspired reverie.  "Cuddlington, there are a lot of creatures outside that I think want to do us harm.  What should we do?"

Rixi's words startled the dwarf out of his own reverie.  He glanced around at the small antechamber and said.  "The door to the passage is a good bottleneck, but we won't be able to hold out long if they have enough numbers."  He glanced at the door that had slid to the side of the entryway.  "I doubt that we can move that door back into place."

Rixi nodded and glanced back into the larger chamber.  "Maybe we can get into there and shut the door?"

Melbrid was already trying to open the door.  "It won't budge," he said.  He pointed to some runes or drawings that were beside the door and shrugged, "I think that these are instructions or a puzzle of some sort," he said.  "It's not a language, I don't think.  At least, not one that I'm familiar with."

The low noises that were coming from the passage suddenly turned into a loud roar.  The group could hear the sounds of pounding feet coming their way.  Cuddlington said, "Meentha, get your sword.  You and I are gonna defend the door.  Melbrid, assist us with yer magic.  Rixi, get that door open!"

Cuddlington and Meentha took up positions at the door just as the first creature appeared.  It was an orc and Cuddlington quickly sliced its belly open with a swing of his axe.  "Ah, orcs!" he yelled.  "This should be fun!"

Melbrid gave Rixi a weak smile as they switched positions.  Rixi heard the battle raging, but concentrated on the glyphs in front of her.  The first symbol was a circle with eight dots spaced evenly around the edge, one of the dots was a little larger than the rest.  There were two small lines across from each other intersecting the edge of the circle.  The second symbol was three lines intersecting one another to look like a triangle whose sides just kept on going.  The third symbol looked like the bars of a jail cell.  The fourth symbol was a five point star.  The final symbol looked like an asterisk, but with eight lines instead of six.

Rixi tried to figure out the similarities between the symbols.  Each of the drawings, with the exception of the circle, were made of entirely straight lined aspects.  Each of the drawings, with the exception of the asterisk, contained geometric shapes.  None of this helped her.  She heard a yelp and turned to see that Cuddlington had taken a slice to one of his arms.  She rose to help out, but Melbrid saw her move and signaled that she needed to stay put.  The sorcerer pulled a potion out of his pouch and aided the dwarf.

Rixi forced herself to look back at the symbols in front of her, but shook her head.  She just didn't get it.  She sighed and looked up at the ceiling and closed her eyes.  Suddenly, she thought of something.  She quickly glanced around the small room and nodded to herself.  The room was a circle and there were eight torches scattered evenly around the edge of the room.  She turned back and knew that the first symbol represented the room that they were in.

Excited now, Rixi crouched near the symbols again, but couldn't make any sense of the others.  There weren't any triangle shapes, bars, stars or asterisks in the room.  Only the torches and doors.  "Wait a second..." she mumbled.

She counted the number of lines in each of the remaining symbols.  The first symbol had three lines.  The second had six lines, four bars and two for the top and bottom.  But the third symbol had ten lines and there were only eight torches.  She shook her head, but said to herself, "Well, it must represent five then.  It's just a star's outline to confuse me."

She looked at the fourth symbol and counted eight lines.  "Good," she said to herself.  "So, three, six, five and eight."

She stood up and looked at the torches.  "But, which one is considered the first and what do I do with them?"

Then she remembered the larger dot on the circle.  She looked back at the circle and saw that it was to the right of the lower line.  "If that one is the first..."

She pointed to it and counted them out.  "You must be the third," she said pointing to the third torch to the right of the door.  She walked over to it, shrugged and pulled a piece of cloth out of her pack.  She doused the torch and stepped back.  Nothing happened.

She shrugged again, "What do you expect, Rixi?" she said to herself.  "You've only figured out the first part of the puzzle."

She continued to count out the torches until she found the sixth.  She went over and doused that one as well.  Then she went to the fifth and doused it.  Finally she went to the eighth and doused it.  When she stepped back, there was a sudden flash of light and she saw that all eight torches were lit again.  She frowned as she walked over to the door and tried it.  The door didn't budge.

Rixi heard Meentha cry out and turned to see her bleeding badly from a stab wound to the gut.  She saw Melbrid pull her away from the melee and pour the rest of his healing potion onto the wound.  Rixi wanted to run to help her friends, but she knew that they were depending on her to figure out the solution.  She forced herself to turn back to the symbols.

She stared hard at the fourth symbol.  "Oh," she said as the solution came to her.  "You're not an eight, you're a four!"

She turned and saw that Meentha was back in the fight, though her wound wasn't fully healed.  Rixi rushed to the torches and douse them.  First the third, then the sixth, then the fifth and finally the fourth.  This time there was a bright flash again, but all of the torches went out this time.

The battle noises paused as everyone adjusted to the sudden darkness.  Rixi quickly ran over to where the door was and found that it easily pushed inward.  She called out, "Quickly, into the large chamber!"

She moved inside and held the door as Melbrid, Meentha and Cuddlington moved into the room.  She slammed the door shut as the first orc was reaching it.  The torches on the other side flared up again.  The orcs were momentarily stunned by this, but soon started pounding on the door.

Cuddlington moved closer to inspect the door.  "Whatever this clear stuff be, it's sure holding against those blasted orcs!" he exclaimed.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Do-Over Day
Today has just been one of those days that you wish you could have a do-over on.  Ever have one of those days?  Of course you have, everybody has.  Well, before I tell you about it, I'll give you a little background since not all of you know me personally.  I travel for work a lot, though normally I leave late on Sunday evening, this week I was supposed to leave on Monday morning to save a couple of hundred dollars on the flight.

So, in order to get to the west coast and be able to work an almost full day, I had to book an early flight.  Now, you might be thinking that a 7:35 AM flight isn't an early flight, but you have to consider that I had to wake up at 5:15 just to get to the airport to fight the long lines at security and get to the gate at the recommended 45 minutes early.  I was able to do this without a hitch, so I should have known that something was up since things were going so smoothly.  I mean, I didn't wake anyone up when I left the house, I found a decent parking spot in the parking ramp and I was running on time.  Of course, I had to go through one of those stupid scanning devices at security, but overall it was good, so far.

The first negative event happened then.  I get to the gate at 6:45 and put in a $5 bill to get a Mountain Dew.  What comes out of the machine?  A Diet Pepsi!  Not really a big deal, but my first pop of the morning ended up costing me $4.50.  At least I was able to gift some random person a free Diet Pepsi.  Pay it forward, or something like that.

So, they start boarding at 7:00 AM and I get on the plane.  It's a 767, so I figure that there will be plenty of room for everything, but I didn't realize that I'm sitting behind a bulkhead.  Oops, no under seat storage for me.  Oh well, I can deal with that.  But, I have an aisle seat, so every third person is hitting me with a backpack as they walk by.  Okay, my patience is wearing thin right about now.

So, we're all boarded and they close the door.  Okay, now I get to sleep, right?  No, wrong.  They stop the plane about one hundred yards from the gate and the captain comes on the PA and announces our pending return to the gate.  All he says is that apparently the tires didn't pass the pre-flight check and although they had gotten the green light before, it had been revoked and we were being recalled to the gate so that someone could inspect the tires.  I've been on planes that have had tire problems before, so I immediately know that they're going to eventually have to take us off the plane if they're going to change it, but they don't let us off.

When we get to the gate they open the door and people start pulling out their phones and calling Delta.  The moment I had my phone on the Delta iPhone app told me that we were delayed until 8:35 AM and it was about 7:45 at this point.  I knew that I was either likely to sit on the plane for an hour or that something else was going to happen like a plane change.

The captain comes on again a few minutes later and explains the situation.  Now, get this because this is the really stupid part.  The plane had had some routine maintenance done the night before and someone had put a tire meant for international flights on the airplane.  Seriously?  They have different tires for international versus domestic planes?  If someone could explain the reason for this, I'm all ears.  Anyway, they don't have any domestic tires for a 767 in MSP, so they're flying one from Atlanta for the plane.

Pretty stupid, right?  Here's my theory.  The maintenance guy reached into the barrel of domestic tires and oops, we're out!  Oh, no one will notice if we put on an international tire, right?  This is a case of poor inventory control.  Why would you schedule maintenance on a plane and not have the right parts around?  Why wouldn't someone realize that they're running out of tires and order some?

So they let us off the plane and announce that the flight is delayed, but they can't give us a definite time of departure.  Now, this really sucks because if they could have told us then that it would have been a 12:35 PM departure, I would have gone home for a couple of hours.  Instead, they strung us on for about an hour and then told us that it would be 12:35 and at a different gate.  By this time it didn't make any sense for me to run home and then come back as I would only be able to stay at home for about half an hour or so and would have paid to get out of the parking ramp.

The silver lining of all of this is that I got a $6 meal voucher* and a $100 travel voucher (which is actually pretty sweet).  Plus, apparently the internet at MSP is free now.  Does anyone know when they started doing that?  It used to be around $7 for a 24-hour period or something like that.  Also, I tweeted about this and @DeltaAssist replied back almost immediately asking if there was anything they could do to help (like rebooking).  That was also pretty sweet.

So, overall, even though the situation really sucked and I ended up spending almost seven hours at the airport this morning, Delta has been really good about admitting their fault and (overall) keeping us informed about the status of the flight.  I know that they've been working on this as a company and I think that this is an improvement over my experiences with mechanical issues in the past.  Now they just need to work on keeping their maintenance and inventory so that preventable issues like this are avoided in the future.

*Meh, wasn't even enough for a foot long at Subway.  I got two $10 vouchers at SEA once for an hour delay.  Why so cheap, Delta?

Story a Week 22 - Propheteering, Part 9

So, I'm sitting at the airport facing a five hour delay, so I thought I'd finish the story I started working on for last weekend.  It's a continuation of my Propheteering storyline.  I hope that you like it.


Rixi saw Meentha pull out her bow and begin firing off arrows at the hydra's body.  Cuddlington roared and charged at the monster as Melbrid began chanting and moving his arms about.  Rixi stared at the monster, frozen in place.  She saw one of the creature's five heads knock Cuddlington down.

Rixi could do nothing but stand there in fear as the same head that knocked the dwarf down threatened to chomp down on him.  The jaws opened and as they were about to close down on the prone dwarf, an arrow struck the head in its left eye.  The head reared up and the creature let out an awful screech.  Cuddlington rolled away and got to his feet.

All Rixi could do was watch the combat, she was so paralyzed by fear of the creature they were facing.  Melbrid yelled out, "Rixi!  We need your help!"

Rixi looked over to the sorcerer.  The hydra had moved between Cuddlington and the rest of the party.  The dwarf was managing to fend off three of the heads, but one of the heads was looking at Melbrid and the remaining head was trying its best to eat the pantheron ranger.  Rixi watched in horror as the fifth head latched on to Meentha's shoulder.  The beast picked her up, but she kept on fighting, stabbing it repeatedly with a dagger.  The beast flung her across the room and Rixi watched, the rage building up inside of her, as her new friend crumpled against the wall and didn't get up.

The fifth head turned its attention towards Melbrid and Rixi made her first move.  She quickly and quietly walked around to where some of Meentha's gear lay and picked up her discarded long sword.  The young rogue made her way behind the creature.  In a sudden burst of motion, Rixi leapt upon the creature's back and stabbed the long sword into its spine.  The creature let out another horrible shriek and all five heads began to turn towards Rixi.

She knew that she didn't have long so she quickly drew her own swords and began to hack away at the creature's back.  The beast began to shake its body, trying to dislodge the little elf, but she was too agile to be thrown so easily.  Rixi saw out of the corner of her eye that Cuddlington and Melbrid were taking advantage of the beast's distraction to score some wicked hits against the beast's front.

Confused and heavily injured, the beast tried vainly to fight back against the sudden onslaught.  One of the heads did manage to finally dislodge Rixi from its back by head butting her hard.  As she fell from the beast she dropped one of her swords.  She wasn't too worried about that as she saw that the fight would be over soon.  The beast was bleeding badly from the wounds that they had inflicted upon it and two of the heads were lying motionless on the floor.

Rixi stood as the head that knocked her down approached her menacingly.  She gripped her remaining short sword and deftly jumped up onto the beast's head.  Surprised, the head reared up ever higher as Rixi repeatedly stabbed her sword into its skull.  Rixi felt the strength drain away from the hydra's body as it died moments later.

She was startled by Cuddlington's shout, "Rixi!  Watch out!"

Suddenly, she saw that the head of the hydra had carried her about fifteen feet into the air and it was starting to fall as the beast died.  She threw her sword clear and prepared to land.  Just before the head hit the ground, Rixi pushed off and jumped forward into a roll.  She landed hard, but it was a lot better than it would have been if she hadn't been prepared.

As soon as she stopped moving, Rixi sprang up and ran to where Meentha lay against the wall.  She pulled her healing potion out of a pouch on her belt and popped the cork as she arrived.  As Rixi knelt down she saw that Meentha was alive, but unconscious.  Rixi, not knowing what to do, began to drip liquid from the potion into the ranger's wounds.  Cuddlington and Melbrid joined her then.  Rixi looked up at the dwarf with tears in her eyes and Cuddlington nodded at her and placed a reassuring hand on her shoulder.  She looked back at the fallen pantheron and saw that her wounds were beginning to close.

"She'll need the rest of that potion, lass," Cuddlington quietly said.

Rixi nodded and carefully poured every drop of the potion into Meentha's wounds.  She watched as the wounds slowly closed.  She heard Meentha moan and looked back at her face with hope in her eyes.

Meentha's eyes fluttered and she opened them a moment later.  She smiled weakly up at Rixi and croaked, "Is the beast dead?"

Rixi smiled back and nodded, tears rolling down her cheeks.  "I was afraid that we'd lost you," she managed to squeak out.

Meentha shook her head and Rixi could see the strength returning to her friend.  She tried to sit up, so Rixi helped her.  "You can't get rrid of me that easily, Rrixi," she replied once she was sitting.

The whole group laughed at that and Cuddlington said, "Well, what do we do next?"

Rixi helped Meentha stand and the four of them looked around.  Rixi said, "Well, the gap that the hydra came through is still open.  Since it doesn't appear that we're going to be transported quite yet, I suggest that we go through there."

The rest of the group nodded their agreement.  Melbrid, Meentha and Cuddlington began to walk towards the opening, but Rixi hung back.  The other three turned to her, but she wouldn't meet their gaze.  "What is it, Rrixi?" Meentha asked.

"I...I would like to apologize for my hesitation against the hydra," Rixi replied.  "I...I was just so scared, you know?  I didn't know what to do, or how to fight such a creature."

Rixi looked up and saw the understanding on her friends' faces and felt a little better.  She said, "It shouldn't have taken one of my friends getting hurt to get me to move."  She hesitated for a moment, meeting Meentha's gaze before saying, "It shouldn't have happened and it will never happen again.  I promise."

Meentha smiled at Rixi and put her arm around her.  "Do not worrry, young one.  We've all experrienced fearr like that at one time orr anotherr.  Brraverry is not the absence of fearr; it is the overrcoming of fearr."

Rixi glanced at her other two friends and they were each nodding at Meentha's words.  She smiled and said, "Well, in that case, the passage beyond looks really dark.  I think that I could sneak in there and make sure that it's safe for the rest of you."

Her three friends chuckled and Cuddlington indicated that she should lead the way.  For the first time today, Rixi felt confident that the four of them would survive whatever Yif could put in front of them.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Stinky Things Stink

Image courtesy of shutterstock
Since buying our house I've learned a lot about home maintenance that I never knew before.  Like all the things you have to do to keep a lawn green and clean.  On Monday I mowed my lawn after a two week hiatus.  I figured that it was time to do this after we lost our son in the front yard during a safari to the mailbox*.

My lawnmower has an awesome bag on the back that keeps the clippings so that I can dispose of them in a responsible manner instead of leaving them on the lawn to ruin the surviving grass.  It's the first time that I've used the bag and I expected my whole lawn to produce five or six bagfuls since the grass was so long.  Do you know how many bags I had to dump**?  Fifteen!  Now, I'm not quite sure of the count as I may have lost count at around seven or eight, but it was a lot!  I had a great idea to dump these bags of grass in the backyard in a spot that already had a large pile of sticks that the previous owner had left for us***.

At the time, I thought, "This is great!  I'll just compost these grass clippings and use the compost in my garden!"  Well, two more 90+ degree days later and I go in the backyard and I'm assaulted by an awful decomp smell.  You know those scenes in CSI when they find a week old body and they're all making faces?  Yeah, that was me in my backyard yesterday.  I had assumed that someone saw that pile of grass clippings and decided that it was a good place to dump a body****.  This ended up not being the case as I moved the grass clippings into several garbage bags I didn't ever end up finding a body.  This, I guess, is a Good Thing™ as finding a dead body isn’t on my Bucket List or anything.

Of course, spending two hours scooping up rotting grass clippings with a pitchfork isn't exactly what I'd call fun.  It smelled horrible and it was warm!  The whole pile was radiating this awful heat and smell.  I took a twenty minute shower afterwards and I swear that I still smelled bad afterwards, even though my wife says otherwise.  I didn't end up getting it all as I wasn't really willing to pick up rotting, warm and smelly grass clippings with my bare hands.  I just hope the smell goes away by our kids' birthday party this Saturday.

The whole point of this post, other than to entertain, is to let you know that you probably shouldn't put large piles of grass in your backyard if you're not willing to deal with the smell.  I had good intentions, but I'm not willing to put up with the smell just to have a compost heap.  Perhaps if I can get one of those self-contained deals, I will try it again, but I'm probably just going to end up putting it all in a yard waste trash bin that my garbage man sells.

On a completely unrelated note, frequent readers of my blog might have noticed that I haven't done a Story a Week in since...holy crap!...since May 28th.  That is very sad to me.  My excuses for this are many and varied, but they are also lame and not really relevant.  I should be writing more since the more I write the better my writing will get.  At least that's the theory.  So, expect another Story a Week sometime this weekend.

*May be an exaggeration for comedic effect.
**Of course you didn't know before I told you.
***This was very generous, of course.
****Not really, but at least the smell wouldn't have been my fault then.