The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Let’s Write

Book One: Syrise Swiftblade, The Dark Brotherhood

Book One: Syrise Swiftblade- The Dark Brotherhood

Chapter One

Shipwrecked

“Captain’s Log Star-date 92920.08: StoutZulu Gaming reporting. I know, normally I play Minecraft and you cats, and kids get to sit back, relax and watch as I fumble around in my storage system while I’m trying to build something cool. Today, however, we’ve got a different plan on the docket.” A voice says from off camera, like the voice of a god booming out over eternity. It was the voice of the YouTuber known as Captain StoutZulu Gaming, called such because his Minecraft skin is that of a nerdy clean-shaven Steve wearing glasses and a Star Trek: The Next Generation Starfleet uniform, the red command and tactical variety of course. Now, however, the live stream feed was showing a much different type of content from a completely different type of game. This was the character creation screen from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Well, a variant of it anyway. This was the race menu screen introduced by the SkyUI and Show Race Menu mods which allowed for much deeper customization of one’s character than the base game provided, and behind the character was evidence of another mod, this one being a prison cell inside of the Abandoned Prison somewhere in the depths of the Province of Skyrim. This was the beginning of the Alternate Start, Live Another Life mod which allowed the player to start out somewhere other than the meme generating carriage ride into Helgen. Given this was going to be his first Skyrim playthrough on YouTube, StoutZulu had seriously considered using the vanilla start to the game, but since he was being honest with himself, he hated that entrance into The Elder Scrolls V. It was cool the first time, way back in 2011, but since he’d racked up more than 2,000 hours of combined playtime on all the various different formats of Skyrim released throughout the years he didn’t want the first thirty minutes of this live stream to be him escaping Helgen. Maybe in another live stream or Let’s Play format of some type, but not right now.

“Today, my dear viewers, we’re going to be playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I’ve been tossing around the idea of doing this Let’s Play for a while, and I know you’re used to my Minecraft content, but I’ve been watching a lot of Fudgemuppet, TheEpicNate315, and ESO videos, links to their YouTube channels in the description below, and I just had this insatiable itch I had to scratch. So, here we are, getting ready for our first foray into the Province of Skyrim.” He pauses for a moment, no doubt checking his second screen where the live chat from YouTube was displayed and a bell notification goes off with the image of The Ender Dragon swooping in on the left side of the screen. Appearing behind it is a donation amount in the Rand currency of South Africa. “Thank you Ashtirea, for your five-dollar donation, and the first donation of the stream. You’re awesome sweetheart.” StoutZulu says, returning his attention to the main screen. “Now, let’s get this character made.”

The various different bars and settings on the screen begin to change as he first switches the Nord male preset to the Nord female preset, then switches the race from the Nord to the Bosmer, also known as the Wood Elves. From there he uses a custom preset for the face he’d made prior to the start of the stream, then in the vein of MXRMods, he spends a little too much time playing with the sliders for his lady wood elf’s boobs and glutes while making her almost unnaturally skinny, all this thanks to the CBBE mod installed. Upon completion he’s got a beautiful young wood elf maiden with smooth slightly tan skin, eyes that seem to glow a preternatural green, and a smile which could stop any human man dead in his tracks. Her hair is a platinum blonde with one braid coiling over her forehead from the left temple and falling free onto the right side of her face. She’s got short bangs, and the rest of her hair flows free cascading over her shoulders and halfway down her back. She seems almost perfect with her fit athletic build and small, but extremely powerful muscles. It’s something of a ruse though, given evidence by the marring of her face. Running diagonally across her face, starting at the right temple and ending at the leftmost corner of her jawbone are three long jagged scars. He’d spent hours earlier that day in one of the many programs designed to assist with Skyrim character creation to get them just right. The skin looked as though it had been ripped instead of cut, and they were a nice vibrant red, a likely indication the wounds had never fully healed. StoutZulu knew what it was in this wood elf’s past that had caused her scars, but it wasn’t something he was willing to share with his viewers just yet. All would be revealed in due time, after all.

The job of character creation complete, StoutZulu taps the “R” key on his keyboard and the name input comes up. He highlights the word prisoner and taps “Backspace” then pauses. “I’ve got a character in mind,” he says into the mic, “one I’ve played many times before, and normally when I play her. I’ve got another mod I use. It’s one which adds the Blood Elves from World of Warcraft as a playable race, but I decided to go lore friendly this time. Given it’s my first Elder Scrolls YouTube content. This character’s name is Syrise Swfitblade”—he types the name into the field as he says it aloud— “and I hope watching her as much as I enjoy playing her. If I get enough positive feedback for her I just might try to turn her into a standalone follower mod, but we’ll just have to see about that. I’ll be frank, and say I don’t know that much about modding, but it’d be a cool learning experience. Anyway, let’s get on with the game!”

StoutZulu hits the “Enter” key and the game begins.

***

Awareness slowly came to Syrise Swiftblade and her body ached all over. She stood, bracing herself against a solid stone wall that hadn’t been there before. At least she didn’t remember it being there before. To be completely honest, though, she didn’t remember anything from before. Nothing from before the moment she woke up here. Wherever here was.

She looked around, taking stock of her surroundings and noted the worked stone walls, with various chips and cracks and the ancient mortar falling away in chunks. Her feet, wrapped in rough linen rags, were submerged up to her ankles in water and unhealthy-looking green algae was growing on the surface of the flagstones. She could feel it squelching between her toes and that made her stomach turn. Syrise placed one hand over her mouth to keep the bile down and continued to look around. There was a bookshelf in one far corner with a few moldy books on the shelves, and there was a table about three feet away with an iron dagger and a few lockpicks scattered across its surface.

What really drew her attention though was what stood between the bookshelf and the table. It was a statue of Mara, goddess of love, life, and marriage, chiseled from a golden sandstone. Her face was upturned, towards the heavens, and her arms spread in praise to the divines. A small offering plate sat on a plinth before her. It was like a miniature version of the statue at the Temple of Mara in Riften.

That was a curious thought, though. Where was Riften? She didn’t know, but somehow, she knew there was a Temple of Mara there. A lightning bolt of pain rocketed through her mind as she tried to figure out the puzzle. Syrise’s hand moved from her mouth, and with both she grabbed onto the sides of her head, trying to fight away the pain.

Come my child,” a voice called out within her mind. It was like the voice heard in dreams; the dreams she’d had as a child where two competing voices had called out to her. Syrise jerked her eyes up and stared at the statue. It was the statue that spoke to her, or rather it was the divine the statue represented. Mara. She didn’t have proof of that, but what else could it be. But proof came quickly as bloody tears began to flow from the statue’s eyes. Syrise knew that blood. She’d seen it before, felt it flow through her fingers, but she didn’t know where or when it had. That had been… so long ago. Or maybe it had never been.

“Come my child,” the statue spoke again. “Choose the life you will live.”

Syrise found she was holding her breath as she listened to the statue speak. She forced herself to take a slow deep breath and, without knowing why, she walked across the small prison cell and reached out to touch the statue. As she did so a warmth spread over her. Starting with her fingertips, spreading up her hand, along her arm, then throughout all the nerves in her body. She felt lit by it, and that were someone to look in from the outside, Syrise felt she would be glowing like the sun itself. As bright as it had been in the moment Magnus, architect of the known universe, breached the veil between Mundus and Aetherius.

Images began to flicker through her mind. Images of different lives, different places. The owner of Proudspire Manor and soon to be Thane in the court of Jarl Elisif the Fair in Solitude. A landowner and homesteader at a steading known as Heljarchen Hall. A welp in poorly made iron armor walking into Jorrvaskr, the Mead Hall of the Companions. A shadowy door, skull faced with five daggers, slowing creeping open. It screamed an obscene familiarity to her, like something she’d seen an entire era ago and had long since forgotten. But, the one which drew her most was the image of a ship, lost in a blizzard blowing in the Sea of Ghosts. She knew this place, these images, this nightmare, and just like that Syrise Swiftblade was flung into the frigid waters of the Pilgrim’s Trench.

***

Syrise Swiftblade woke up from one nightmare right into another. The Cyrus’ Revenge’s contact with the iceberg bucked her out of her bunk and straight into the frigid waters that had begun to fill her quarters. She was second mate on the ship, a benefit which came with its own private quarters right near the bow of the ship. At the moment, it wasn’t much of a benefit, however, as the impact with the iceberg fractured and splintered the timbers holding back the waters of the Sea of Ghosts. Waters which were rushing in and deep enough for Syrise to get a nice lungful of salt water as she tried to cry out. Sputtering and coughing she pushed off the floor and clambered back up onto her bunk. With her head above water she blew everything she could out of her lungs and began to retch. This went on for a few terrible seconds, and for a moment the world began to blacked around her. Oblivion threatened to claim her, but… she’d been through worse.

With one hand and a thought she summoned a ball of light to her and turned back to the waters. The ship was canted now, and slowly sliding back into the depths. The impact must have shattered the keel of the ship, causing damage and breaches in the hull all across the ship. Water was likely pouring in from hundreds of little wounds, and the ship’s buoyancy was absolutely ruined. She dove into the water again and summoned an ice spell to her hand. Her preferred elements were either fire or shock, but one wouldn’t function at all underwater, and the other would cook her and every living thing around her for a mile. So, ice was the only option. In rapid succession she sent two bolts, long spear like projectiles, out from her palm. Both bolts crashed into the door. The first splintered the wood and sent some of its bindings flying. While the second completely smashed through and let a sudden surge of water into the small room.

Syrise summoned another spell to mind and hand. This time one among the Alteration school of magic. Reynos’ Fins it was called, and it allowed her greater speed and strength as she swam. She couldn’t keep it up for long as she dove down, deeper into the depths of the water and the sinking ship, but she was able to maintain it long enough to get her to the alchemy lab.

By the time she reached the room, though, her magicka reserves were running low, and she’d need time to replenish them. Time she didn’t have. In a stroke of luck, the door to the alchemy lab was open. She dove deep into the room. Many of the delicate glass bottles had shattered in the impact, and even now those concoctions were mixing together in the sea water to create Divine’s only know what kind of problems. She tried to avoid the cloud of glowing liquid and snatched a bottle filled with a compound which looked like molten silver.

Summoning Reynos’ Fins for the split second she could, she pushed back out of the room right as the glowing cloud of a multitude of volatile ingredients ignited into a ball of hellish alchemist fire.

She emerged from the water, at least her head did, in a small air pocket made by the hull and one corner of the interior walls. Syrise let out her breath in a gasp and sucked down a couple more, before pulling the bottle of silver liquid out. Her hands were beginning to tremble, and the liquid in the bottle began to slosh around. The tips of her fingers were going numb. The cold was getting to her. Too much longer and she’d freeze to death.

Thankfully, the alchemist’s fire burning in the other room was beginning to heat the water up almost as quickly as it was eating through the hull of the ship. Even that wouldn’t be safe for too long as the water would eventually come to a boil, and she had no intention of getting cooked in the ruins of her ship.

Syrise popped the cork on the bottle and pitched it back, swallowing the whole thing in one drink. The warmth of the potions magic spread through her, and after waiting a moment she was satisfied that she’d be able to breath underwater.

Diving back down into the water, Syrise moved with purpose, not towards the exit though. She had one more goal before she could leave, and to get to it she’d have to make her way to the captain’s quarters. There were a few items she needed to acquire, and since it was very likely the captain was dead (or soon would be), there wouldn’t be a soul who asked any questions about her new acquisitions.

***

“Thank you, ItsRainingNeon for your fifty-dollar donation,” StoutZulu said as he glanced over at the second monitor. He’d been playing for about a half hour at this point, with about twenty minutes of that being the character-building section, and he was about to reveal his biggest secret in playing Skyrim. “I love your cosplay, and yes, I’d definitely love to see you cosplay Syrise on your OnlyFans. That would literally make my life. But, let me get her gear on first. While it’d be awesome to see you in that sailor’s tunic, I’m sure the semi-custom gear I’ve got lined up for her will look much better…

“And, before any of you think that’s weird, it’s not like one of those daedric bikini things,” StoutZulu said, laughing at his own joke. “It’s a variant on the Crimson Archer armor, and there are no textural changes to it, just some custom enchantments I made.”

He stops for a moment and fetches a deep theatrical sig. “Now, I’ve got a confession to make to you guys—oh thanks for that two-hundred-dollar donation ESO! That’s absolutely awesome! I love your content man, and had no idea you watched Minecraft YouTubers—but, back on that confession. I’m sure you guys know I play Minecraft in creative mode almost exclusively, and when I do play survival mode, I’ve got cheats enabled… except for the Genesis SMP stuff. Well, my playstyle in games like Skyrim isn’t all that different. Give me access to the console or mods and I will abuse the…wait saying that might get the stream demonetized. Anyway, I abuse the crap out of this level of access to the game’s insides. Maybe one day I’ll do a stream or Let’s Play series from my ancient 360 where I’ll have to play the game legit, but at the moment I’m totally on PC and have access to all of that. That being said, I’ll tell you more about the items”—he stresses the word— “after I acquire them in game. I believe I’ve left Syrise hanging long enough.”

With that statement, StoutZulu hits the tab key and dives back into the world of Skyrim.

***

After a strange blank in her mind, Syrise kicks back into motion, literally, as she uses the motion of the kick to dive back under the water and push herself back out into the corridor. She closes on the point where the alchemist fire is raging, and the temperature of the water quickly becomes unbearable. With another short burst of Reynos’ Fins, she’s down the hall and back into the near freezing water. She cuts around a corner and up a flight of stairs.

Maybe thankfully, maybe not, the stairs lead her up out of the water, and on the side of things she wasn’t thankful for was the alchemist fire. One floor down she had to worry about it cooking her, up here…

Up here it was an inferno which had eaten through the ceiling of the lower floor and was now spilling out into the hallway with green flames licking up the sides of the walls, tasting the soft flesh boards and timbers, and liking it enough to feast. There was also the issue of the smoke rising form the flames in what would no doubt soon be a great black column visible from the Shrine of Azura. With the potion still coursing through her veins breathing underwater was no problem. Such a potion didn’t exist for smoke, and if it did, she had no way of acquiring it in the amount of time she had remaining on the ship.

There was no going back down to the lower deck and finding another way around the flames. The way the ship was constructed the only flight of stairs connecting these decks was behind her. That wasn’t the case with the next deck down and the cargo hold, a flight of stairs at each end of the ship resoled that issue. For a second or so, she considered giving it time and letting the ship drop further beneath the waves, but… this was alchemist fire.

The flames hardly cared if they were wet or not, and just because the ship dropped into the deep, they would burn until they’d had all the food they could devour.

Syrsie took a deep breath and mentally braced herself for what she was about to do. Some small portion of time had passed, not enough to fully restore her reserves, but probably enough to get her through the flames. She summoned the spell to each hand and felt it’s chill bite deep into her bones. She took a second deep breath, regretted it instantly, as the thick smoke tried to wheedle its way in, then summoned all her magical might and dropped the frost cloak around her. With zero hesitation, she switched spells, going from the frost cloak to another Alteration spell. This one called Longstride, the land bound version of Reynos’ Fins. As soon as the spell was at hand, she gave what reserves remained and took off at a sprint.

Reaching the flames, she saw the gaping maw to the floor below, and the shattered, blackened, and blasted timbers which had created an impromptu pit trap in her way. At the last possible second, as she felt the boards give way beneath her feet, she leapt, and sailed through fire and flame. Longstride did nothing without her feet on the ground, but her momentum carried her across the pit.

She hung in the air for a heartbeat, and questioned if she’d ever have another, then hit the opposite side. Her ankle twisted on impact, and with Longstride still engaged, she pitched forward with the speed of a horse at full gallop. Her magicka reserves burned out, dismissing the spell without having to put any thought into it, and centuries of traversing the verdant forests of Valenwood had taught her how to take a fall. On instinct alone, she pulled her shoulder and neck in as she curved her back. Her shoulder made contact first, as she intended, and she was able to use the inward curve as she curled into a ball to guide her. Knowing her ankle wouldn’t support the sudden impact and kip up onto her feet, she instead chose to drive her momentum to a total stop. She slammed her good foot, and the hand opposite the should she impacted with, onto the wooden flooring with all the strength she could muster and gave a ki-aih cry to drive the extra air from her lungs.

She stopped dead.

Two heartbeats passed, which was all the time she had, and was up and moving down the corridor before the flames had a chance to claim her. It took every ounce of her willpower to make her ankle work the way she needed it too. She knew she’d pay for it with greater pain later, but she didn’t have the time for faulty body parts at the moment.

With one hand she reached out and grabbed hold of the wall, thankfully the floor here was slick with old wax and the water rising from below froze beneath her frost cloak, and she was able to twist herself into a spin and bound up the steps without any lost momentum.

A blink and she was at the top, facing the door right into the captain’s room. Not a thought was given to whether the door was locked or not. If it was, she was the key. She tucked her shoulder again, angling herself just right, and fired Longstride for the tenth-of-a-second she could manage. The door, even with its thick planks and iron banding, was no barrier to her. She burst through, sending splinters and wooden shrapnel flying. At the same instant she dropped into a roll and diverted her momentum once more, coming to a sliding stop right before the captain’s desk.

Low and behold who she should find there as well. The captain, dressed in his fine clothes, meant for a noble’s court, with his tricorn perched upon his brow, and his body bent over a chest easily as big as his desk. One filled with an emperor’s ransom worth of loot.

The captain looked back at her, his face paling as he did. “This isn’t what it looks like.”

***

“Oh damn! Holy fucking hell!” StoutZulu cried out, completely forgetting about possible demonetization. “There’s only a three percent chance of the captain being here when you come to claim the loot. By the Divines, we’ve got a boss battle on our hands.”

His excitement was at its peak, but as a streamer there were still things he needed to do, and at that exact moment a donation chime came, and the Ender Dragon flew across the corner of his screen. A passing thought dashed through his mind, like he should replace the Ender Dragon with Alduin, at least for his Elder Scrolls streams.

“Hey Azura, thanks so much for the fifty-dollar donation. If you didn’t catch it, she said: ‘you better beat that pirate captain’s ass!” StoutZulu grins. “Since you commanded it, my lady of the dusk and dawn, I will beat this pirate trash in your name. Or ‘forgive me Azura’ will be spoken with my final breath.”

StoutZulu hits tab and goes back into the game, ready to kick the shit out of whoever was in Syrise’s way.

***

“Bullshit,” Syrise said as she stared at the older man. She had no magicka, no armor, and was armed with only an iron dagger. Her frost cloak had run out as she made the turn and charge up the steps. With what was in the chest this would be an unwinnable fight. If he was given time to take any of its goods.

She considered her hypocrisy for a split second, as she’d come here to do the exact same thing. Maybe… Maybe that could give her the edge though, if she played her cards just right.

Then there was the alchemist’s fire to consider. It would be working its way up to them, and the longer this took, the less time she had to escape. The smoke was already beginning to worm its way up the staircase.

If ever there was a time, she was glad she was good at Three Dragon Ante, this was it. It was time to play her bluff.

“Those artifacts are meant for the museum in Solitude,” she said, her voice cold and calculating. “Just how much coin were you offered to steal them?”

The captain smiled as he dropped his hand to the chest, his eyes took on a sparkle as he looked down at them. It was then Syrise realized she had another card in play. One the captain knew nothing about. After all, none of the windows in the captain’s quarters looked out onto the foredeck. Only out the back of the ship. He knew nothing of the blaze eating the vessel from the inside out.

“A fortune,” he said after a moment. “More than you could ever imagine. More than you would ever get from the pockets of a museum curator.”

“I don’t know,” Syrise said, beginning her calculated moves. She began a slow orbit around the desk, walking along the opposite side from where the captain stood. “I can imagine quite a lot.”

The captain’s lips twitched, starting a smile, but the expression was so fast only someone who knew to look for it would ever see it. A tell, one she’d learned from years of sitting across a card table from this man.

“Can you imagine enough to buy a lordship in High Rock? A kingdom and a hill all to yourself?”

Syrise let out a low whistle.

“That’s quite a lot of coin.” Her eyes flicked to the shattered door and back, to fast for a human’s eyes to see. She had to judge how long she had before the flames were at the foot of the stairs. Her orbit had her behind the desk now. She reached out and touched the richly upholstered high-backed chair. She’d always imagined he thought of it as a throne. Now the thought was all but confirmed.

Now, she was within about five feet of the captain, almost able to reach out and touch him. It appeared no thought of danger, or betrayal, had crossed his mind. He hadn’t gone for any of the artifacts yet.

“A kingdom, eh?” she continued. “I was going to ask if it was worth the destruction of your ship. Now…” she paused theatrically. “Now, I see it is.”

“We could share it,” he said, just as she knew he would, and a lecherous grin spread across his face. He was within arm’s reach now and hadn’t noticed her arm snaking around behind her back. Nor had he heard the silent whisper of steel as it drew free of its leather sheath.

“Afterall, every king needs a queen,” the captain finished.

Syrise reached out with her free hand to touch him and caressed his face. “Is that a proposal?” she asked, then sealed the deal. “My king?”

The smile spreading across his face was genuine, and he knew nothing. Not until the dagger pierced his fine clothes and split through his flesh deep enough to find a kidney. The captain gasped and jerked forward, curling in on himself to try and protect his vitals too late.

“I’m sorry,” Syrise said with a pout. She kicked out and drove the captain back. He slammed into a bookcase, jerked forward again, and fumbled for his cutlass. In that instant, Syrise was on him. One hand grabbing his collar and drawing him close, the other on his shoulder, preparing.

“You’re not wearing an amulet of Mara,” Syrise said. Tightening her grip on his shoulder, she released his collar and spun him towards the door. Another kick and he was out it with no time to catch his feet before tumbling down the steps. Tumbling right down into the waiting flames, which consumed him in a howl of rage. He barely had time to scream.

“And, I’m not the type to share,” Syrise said to the burning corpse.

All time was up though, and she spun on her heel, right back to the chest of artifacts. Conveniently enough the captain had bundled them all into a decent sized satchel. She knew it was an Endless Bag, called a Bag of Holding in some worlds, and all she had to do was grab the straps as she ran for the windows. She had a single moments worth of an epiphany and explanation. A realization, of sorts, that blind luck had saved her life, and she thanked Nocturnal for it. The reason the captain hadn’t gone for a weapon and run her through was because of the Endless Bag. He couldn’t have gotten to them in time. Syrsie Swiftblade smiled as she threw herself through the window and into the icy waters waiting for her.

As she swam to shore, she thought of just how happy she was the captain sucked at Three Dragon Ante.

***

“Well folks,” StoutZulu said as he hit the tab button and brought up the SkyUI menu. “I believe we’ll call the stream here. I just want to share the goods with you before I go. Yes, they are cheatie items from a mod I made myself, but they’re not like super cheatie items. There will still be quite a few challenging bits to the game. I just super hate dying over and over, it’s sooo frustrating and no fun. I don’t know about you, but I play games to have fun, not be frustrated. I get enough of that IRL.”

He sits back in his chair and takes a drink of tea before continuing.

“First up, we’ve got the Endless Bag, and this is easily the most cheatie item out of the bunch. The Endless Bag fortifies your carry weight by 100,000 points. I pick up absolutely everything, so this is a bit of a necessity. And, with Convenient Horses installed, I’ve got a compatibility patch which adds the bags benefit to the horse as well. So, none of those irritating as crap ‘You are over-encumbered’ messages.

“Second, I came up with a theme for this part,” he clicks over to the weapons icon on the UI and clicks down onto the first item listed. It’s an Ebony Scimitar with a red-orange flame animation running up and down the length of the blade. “This is Blazinglife,” StoutZulu says. “It’s kind of an inverse on one of the weapons used by Drizzt Do’Urden in those Forgotten Realms books by R.A. Salvatore. That sword, also a scimitar, is named Icingdeath and bears a frost enchantment adding frost damage and a minor amount of resistance to frost attacks.

Blazinglife here, like I said, is the inverse. Its base attack value is the same as the base Ebony Scimitar from the Immersive Weapons mod plus half. So, it’s 35 points of damage, namely because I didn’t want to use decimal points. Critical is 15 points with a 1.2 multiplier. It’s got an attack speed of 1.35 on it and I didn’t mess with the reach. It also does an additional 30 points of fire damage and has a 60 second soul trap enchantment. The real big problem with it was getting the resist effect. I’m not going to go into how to do that here, but it adds 30 points of fire resistance.

“The fun doesn’t stop there as we’ve also got Sparkle. Sparkle is based off Icingdeath’s twin, Twinkle. Twinkle adds a defense value to the player character’s armor class. After fighting with and figuring out the Fire Resistance on Blazinglife, Sparkle’s effect was easy to come by. I added a buff of 30 points to Heavy Armor, Light Armor, and Block. Sparkle’s base stats are the same as Blazinglife, and the only actual attack enchantment is another 60 second soul trap. I’ve not figured out how to add a blue glow to the blade yet, as that’s a texture change, and I don’t know how to do those.

“Then there’s Tauriel, my version of Taulmaril, and this one is pretty cheatie too, but if you’ve read the Drizzt books you know Tualmaril is basically a one hit kill. I used the dragonsteel bow as the base and set its base damage to 100. Its critical is 25 and a 3 times multiplier. Its also got a shock enchantment which does another 100 points of damage. The attack speed is 1.5. The real kicker here, however, is the arrows. I wanted to figure out how to make the bow use bound arrows, as in the books Taulmaril creates its own arrows, but I’m not that good at modding. I’m sure I could figure it out given enough time and Google, but I had such a migraine while I was working on it, I said screw it. So, I went with dragonbone arrows instead. I left the base damage the same but gave them an enchantment that causes 500 points of shock damage. Like I said, Taulmaril, and thus Tauriel, is basically a 1 hit kill. Like her scimitar cousins, Tauriel’s also got a 60 second soul trap enchantment.

“With the original stash of weapons, I added 9,999 arrows that I renamed to Tauriel’s Lightning. To give it the basically endless arrow effect, I set up three barrels, one in Whiterun, one in Solitude, and one in Windhelm. Each barrel has 9,999 arrows and the barrel respawns every three days. Not that I think you’d ever run out of the original set of arrows, but I figured having the respawning containers is the closest I could come to a literally endless supply without being able to use the bound arrows.”

He pauses again, takes another drink of tea, and it’s possible to hear him light a cigarette. He takes a deep drag off it and lets it out before he continues.

“Oh, thank you Sloan for that ten-dollar donation. You guys have been really awesome today.” He smiles, though without a face cam it’s impossible to see. “Now, like I said when ItsRainingNeon donated I used the Crimson Archer Armor set for the armor. I set the stats on each piece equivalent to Daedric Armor, and I left it as light armor. The cuirass boasts a health boost by 100 points and ups health regen by 50 points. The boots add 100 points of stamina, increases stamina regen by 50 points, adds 30 points of muffle, and 30 points to the sneak skill. The gloves add 30 points to lockpicking, pickpocketing, and archery, as well as adding the Tower Stone perk from the Andromeda-Unique Standing Stones of Skyrim mod, which allows you to open one lock a day. I don’t remember the other effect off the top of my head. Now, with the Crimson Archer Armor, it doesn’t come with a helm, so I took one of the hoods from either the Winter is Coming mod or Cloaks of Skyrim mod… or maybe it was Wet and Cold, I’m not sure. It’s the same one that adds backpacks. The only thing I did with the hood, though, is change it to light armor and set its armor rating equal to the Daedric Helm. Then there’s a circlet from the Immersive Jewelry mod, can’t remember which right now, but it adds 100 points of magicka, and 50 points of magicka regen. It also adds 25 points to the Illusion, Destruction, and Alteration skills, and I’ve given it a constant Night Eye, Detect Life, and Detect Undead enchantment. So, yeah, the circlet is almost as cheatie as Tauriel and the Endless Bag.

“The name for this overall project is The Artifacts of Tzzrid Od’Nedru, and I’m thinking it’s not entirely finished yet. There are still a lot of magic items from the books I’ve not included. Regis’ amulet for speechcraft is definitely on the list of this to add. As is, Wulfgar’s Aegis Fang. But that’s all I’ve got for now. Let me know if you’re interested in seeing it on the Nexus.”

On the screen StoutZulu backs out of the UI, then hits the escape key to pull up the save game menu.

“Anyway, cats and kids, I hope you enjoyed. Thank you all so much for coming and all of the donations. Check out the mods list in the description below and while you’re there give that “Like” button a kill cam shot. If you liked my Skyrim content and are excited to see more, or you’re just a major Minecraft nerd and enjoy that content as well, stealth assassinate the “Subscribe” button and don’t be like the guy in the song and forget to shoot the deputy… err… the bell as well. Let me know what you think in the comments, what sort of hi-jinks you want to see Syrise get up too, and I will see you again in the next video.”

The screen in the YouTube video window goes blank, and the algorithm behind the website fills the window with related video recommendations.

—-

Hey Everybody,

RSK here. I hope you like this, it’s my first ever attempt at a LitRPG style story and I’ve always wanted to do a Skyrim Let’s Play but I’m not the type of person who’s good at making videos. This is my way of trying to get that type of content to work for me.

Check out my website kinsgrove.wordpress.com for a list of social media links and a list of the mods included in the story. Most of the mods mentioned are real mods and are available for download on the Skyrim SE Nexus, though they may not exactly the way they are IRL.

While you’re there, also consider signing up for my mailing list. In the next month or so I plan on having a free download available for subscribers, and of course you’ll get content updates on all of my works-in-progress and currently available content including updates on this badass Let’s Write story.

Let me know what you think in the comments down below, and I hope to see you again next week with Chapter Two: Thane of Winterhold?

RSK

The Poet: Dobhar-chu, Who Are You?

Dobhar-chu,
Who are you,
The water hound,
Whose upward bound.

Irish mythos for the win,
Dragons have nothing on his kin,
Seriously, don’t say anything about a selkie,
Or I’ll have to tell Aunt Melkie.

To my new short story,
There’s nothing to cause you worry,
My genius will see me through,
Even if my dialogue’s a little mew.

I can’t believe he took the cat,
Now how will I kill the rat?

Ryan S. Kinsgrove

RSK

Follow along with my peculiar brand of insanity: https://upscri.be/5a20f7/

ONE BREATH

 

By RYAN S. KINSGROVE

Erzaren Eilhana stepped out from the shadows of a broom closet and faced the approaching man.

“Tell me,” Erzaren said. “What’s it like to die?”

He didn’t give the man time to answer. No, his silver dagger was already in hand, its blade cutting through the man’s neck like butter. The man began to gurgle a reply, but stopped when Erzaren drove the silver blade through his heart.

Instead of letting the man fall, Erzaren grabbed his lapels and gently lowered him. The white lace shirt was ruined with crimson stains, but there was time to save the justacorps, an elaborately embroidered thigh length jacket, and the waistcoat. Erzaren stripped the man of both, trying not to wrinkle them. He took his cloak off. He would need to hurry.

The dead man was Jezzrin Lanford, and though he died by Erzaren’s hand he wasn’t the assassins primary target. Jezzrin was an unwitting pawn in Emperor Kalmar Chavelled III’s game. A piece of evidence to cast doubt on the Eakranait Dynasty in a bid to start a war.

Erzaren was out of his comfort zone on this one. Under normal circumstances, Erzaren would avoid the business of lords as if it were the plague. His normal fair was merchants, slavers, crime cartels, and the occasional woman scorned. The money wasn’t as good as the business between lords, and when it came to the women scorned, payment rarely included money. Sticking to small time was an intelligent decision. If he were caught he might spend a little time in the dungeons, and the likelihood of the gallows was nil. Still, the rings for this job were far too good to pass up.

Erzaren used his cloak to wrap up Jezzrin’s body, then deposited the man inside the broom closet. The cloak was embroidered with the Eakranait Dynasty’s emblem. The cloak quickly took to soaking up as much blood as it could, like a cloth vampire. Erzaren looked down at the man and shook his head. The plot was very well thought out, planned by the emperor himself. He wanted to expand his territory and needed a reason to stick his nose in the business of other nations.

He closed the door, almost. As part of his specific instructions he’d been told to leave the door slightly ajar. The issue resolved, he bent down and grabbed the waistcoat and the justacorps. A long bench, with a blood red cushion, set against a wall opposite a large window. Erzaren laid the garments on the bench and saw to his other needs. He pulled a wizard’s bottomless bag out of one boot and unrolled it. He removed his sword belt and slipped it down into the bag. The bags dimensions didn’t change. Out of the bag he pulled three dusty black spheres, and two black makeup cases. He hung the spheres along his belt and set the makeup cases on the bench beside the coat and vest. With deft hands he tied the bag on the opposite hip. A little finagling later and he was able to get it, so the hilt of his sword poked out of the bag.

Another small movement and he adjusted the straps on his gauntlet, checking how hard it would be to reach the trio of throwing daggers tucked into it. He wiped his silver dagger clean on the bench’s cushion, then replaced it in his boot sheath.

Erzaren checked his reflection in the window, his features were angular with hard planes along his jaw and chin. His eyes were a feral ice blue with flecks of silver in them. The most defining trait was the long angry red scar that ran from nostril to ear on the left side of his face.

The double doors at the end of the hall cracked open, and through the corner of his eye Erzaren could see a servant girl stepping out into the hallway. Normally, this would bring a cry of alarm drawing the attention of all the guards in the castle to Erzaren’s location. Not this time though. No, this servant girl, dressed from head to toe in a black burqa, was a part of Erzaren’s backup plan.

He picked up the makeup cases, popped the foundation open, and began to spread it over the length of his scar. For good measure, he covered the rest of his face as well. Then he applied the powder, and now—minus the elven ears—he looked closely enough to Jezzrin that he should pass for the manservant long enough to reach the ambassador.

As the last part of his preparations he picked up the waistcoat and buttoned it on and pulled the justacorps to rest on his shoulders. There was a belt to buckle around it. It would be difficult to reach the tools of his trade, but… he had specific instructions. Looking back at his reflection he tried to cover his ears, but gave up quickly. Time was wasting. He ran his hands over his midsection and tugged at the justacorps, trying to make sure everything looked smooth and proper.

Air caught in his throat. What was he doing here? The thought had been poised on the edge of his mind since before he left home this morning.

One thousand platinum rings, that was the price on the ambassador’s head. It was more money than some kingdoms saw in an entire year. It meant one thing, and one thing only: he was walking into a trap.

Why then, was he standing in this hallway?

His feet started moving—he followed, allowing the need to take over.

There was one reason, and one reason only that saw him walking towards the double doors at the far end.

The emperor had given him specific instructions but not quite as specific as they should have been.

After all, what better piece of evidence would there be than the assassin caught and killed in the attack? After he’d killed the ambassador of course. The emperor wouldn’t want him left alive, couldn’t have him spilling the dirty little secret about who it was that hired him.

Still his legs moved. Propelling him forward. On towards almost certain death. The keyword being almost. Erzaren was the best, and the best never go anywhere without a backup plan.

He stopped moving as he came up beside the girl. Her silver eyes stared through the tiny slit in the face of the body covering garment. “Why are you going through with this?” L’erissa asked.

“How many?” Erzaren asked, ignoring her question.

“Six hundred all told,” L’erissa said. “The very cream of the elite crop. If they’re not related to the crown in some way, then they’re party crashers. There are at least a hundred servants, and thirty guards, armed to the teeth.”

“How many of us?”

“Ten,” L’erissa said. “Counting yourself.”

“Good.”

“Hardly,” L’erissa said in a condescending tone. “We’re not equipped to handle an operation like this.”

Erzaren couldn’t help but smile at the comment. His white teeth glinted in the light and he almost began to laugh. “That’s what makes this exciting.”

“Why?” L’erissa asked again. “You’re not dumb enough to walk in there for the rings alone. You’ve no love for king and country. What sort of rational explanation can you give for this?”

Erzaren’s smile faded. He stood up a little straighter, rolling his shoulders to get them in just the right position. He could feel it then. The calm before the storm that overcame him whenever he was about to do a job. “Go back inside. Wait for the signal.”

“You’re a damn fool, Erzaren Eilhana,” L’erissa said. “I don’t know why I give you the time of day.” She shook her head and swept back through the double doors. Erzaren let them swing closed, cutting him off from everything. He needed a minute. The feeling built, and built. Soon it would spill over.

He inhaled, filling his lungs to capacity.

For one breath he would have power over life and death. With a single motion he could change the fate of entire nations. Nay, his actions could change the entire course of history.

Erzaren reached out, touching the handle. He twisted it, slowly, feeling every tick of movement. The end was approaching. The beginning of something new. The door began to open. Music worked its way through the crack. The scent of roasted ham assaulted his nose.

There was one reason he was walking willingly into a trap.

One reason.

For one breath. One. Single. Breath. He would be a god.

Erzaren exhaled.

 

RSK

Follow along with my peculiar brand of insanity:https://upscri.be/5a20f7/

Featured Image Credit: Sepirgo

The Dragon God’s Canticles Project Journal: Snowflake Outline- One Sentence Storyline Brainstorm

Okay, as an example in my series on outlining a series using the Snowflake Method, I want to build the outline for a new series during this process. This means brainstorming.

I do have a series I’ve been meaning to get around to outlining. I had a partial outline for the first book, but it went missing shortly after I got through step three, and that was probably about five or six years ago. I’ve even come up with a title for this series. It’s a working title, and will probably change a time or two before I’m ready to publish the story. The Dragon God’s Canticles is the title I’ve got right now, and each book is going to have a subtitle labeling which canticle the book is. Such as the first book being labeled: The Dragon God’s Canticles: XXX XXX (I don’t have a working title yet): The First Canticle.

A canticle is a song, or hymn, with a divine context typically used in a church service. I might try to include a poem/sonnet/something at the beginning of each book that would represent some of the events that happen in the story and as a direct reference to the title being involved with the word canticle. Just a thematic thing to stick with. This, however, is not helping me come up with a one sentence storyline for the series, or even giving me any idea as to what the series will be about.

I’ve had the idea for a while, and now I can dust a little bit of it off to try and get an idea about what’s going on. One of the main characters is a YA elf named Azariel Athendash, he is on a personal quest to find some connection between his family and the rulers of the ancient Taratulian Empire. But this quest really doesn’t have too much to do with the primary story. The primary story focuses on the ruling family of the Kingdom of Bertran. The ruling family is the Lafeya house, lead by King Richard Lafeya. His “daughter” (who really turns out to be his niece)… I had a name for her, that was a perfect name for her, but I can’t friggin remember it >.< Arrgh, I don’t even have it written down anywhere else, except for on the original outline >.< That might not be true, I think I might have made a list of the characters of interest in the Kingdom of Bertran before. Not entirely sure about that. Will have to check when I get home (presently at work with no access to my creative writing folder, I didn’t expect to be doing this tonight or I would have been prepared). It also follows Adolphus Meridan IV and Thok as they fight to save the kingdom.

Book One is also the book I’m going to be dedicating to Bob, as well as having the character named Terbor Eel Eversh Jr., which is basically Bob’s name backwards. I’m pretty sure its junior on his name and not a number. I might be able to play it off as II, but if junior is actually his name then that’s what I should go with. Of course this still isn’t helping get me any closer towards getting a one sentence storyline going for the totality of the series.

The central (I think the princess’s name might have been Evelyn…yes, completely random thought) thrust of the plot is going to be Azog of Balfor’s attack on the kingdom of Bertran as he is trying to get revenge for a reason I’m not going to discuss in a public forum. It’ll ruin the surprise, and I don’t want to give out any spoilers. Azog also happens to be a half fiend/half dragon with a humanoid base, when it comes to D&D rules. He’s a really nasty piece of work all told.

So, right now we’ve got an unlikely team of heroes gathered together to battle against the forces of evil. Wow that’s kind of cliche. Meh, its a common trope. (All we need now is a chosen one [probably shouldn’t say that because there probably will be one] although the chosen one is a common trope for YA. If I’m going for YA I should probably also write the bulk of it from the princess/Evelyn’s point of view.) All of the comments in the parenthesis will be addressed later on, when I’ve got a better idea of what’s going on in the series. (The princess’s name is EVELYN!!! HAHAHAHA, I found it. Screw you negative thoughts.) Anyway, I need a one sentence storyline for the totality of The Dragon God’s Canticles. One sentence storyline: An unlikely team of heroes are gathered together to prevent the darkness of the demonic dragon god from spreading across the land. (22 words)

Follow along with my peculiar brand of insanity: https://upscri.be/5a20f7/

RSK

Skyrim’s Dragons Aren’t Dragons, a Sonnet

Look, out there, along the horizon,
Tis mighty Alduin come to pillage,
Fear not for this seeming threat rising,
Alduin isn’t even a dragon, no threat to our village.

His wings and teeth doth make you a liar,
Scales and fire all these things a dragon make,
Wings and teeth yes, merely makes him a flier,
Four limbs and two wings doth a true dragon take.

A true dragon for Shor’s sake man,
It breaths fire and flies, with scales like steel, that’s all I need to call it a dragon,
But it is a wyvern, more like a caveman,
A dragon he is not, get yer head outta the flagon.

But my friend, Webster doth agree,
A wyvern is a dragon with two legs I doth swear it be.

Read the partner post at: Skyrim’s Dragons Aren’t Dragons

Join my mailing list.

 RSK

Poem A Day: Wyvernswift Gnomes—Gnomish Drinking song

Ganymede and his mount,
Tore the witch from the sky,
And dropped her on the stones.
Thunderhaven shall stand free,
Not bend on its knee.
Tyrosis must run home.

Good gnomes, one and all,
The throne has its king.
Good gnomes, bards and guards,
Always standing free.

The war has gone,
Not all survived,
The wyverns are in the skies.
With ruin and shame,
Our lands have been maimed.
It is ours to heal.

Good gnomes, one and all,
The throne has its king.
Good gnomes, bards and guards,
Always standing free.

The price has been paid,
Empty the Mithril Throne,
Till a new king is crowned.
Pay heed Ganymede,
Vaqqed the king,
They rule eternity.

Good gnomes, one and all,
The throne has its king.
Good gnomes, bards and guards,
Always standing free.

***Author’s Note***
If anybody can guess the tune this song is written too then you’ll get a signed copy of Cold Lunch. First come first serve.

If you enjoyed your daily dose of Kinsgrove please feel free to check out my other blog on Medium. Also stop by my Facebook page and give me a like. This will keep you hooked up to the up to the minute Kinsgrove news. It’s almost as much news as you’d get if you followed us on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram. And don’t pass up the opportunity on awesome prizes, exclusive content, and more me than you can stand, sign up for the Kinsgrovian Press now. Next to last, if you haven’t noticed the celebration, my debut novel was recently published, click this conveniently placed link to check out Cold Lunch and see exactly what happens when you piss off the most powerful vampire in the world. And, I promise I’ll shut up after this, I just wanted to ask, if you really enjoyed the content think about liking and sharing the content on all your social media channels.

Quora Questions Answered: Were Dragons Real

The answer to this question is subjective. If you were to ask one hundred people what the answer was and how did they come to that conclusion you would get one hundred different answers. So, what I’m going to is present you with mine.

Were dragons real? Yes, they were.

How were they real, where’s the evidence of their existence? The answer is all around you, metaphorically speaking.

Evidence

How many  times do dragons appear in fantasy literature? You’d be lacking a little intellect if you didn’t say a lot. A whole hell of a lot. Tolkien, Martin, Salvatore, McCaffrey, Showalter, and the list goes on and on. Each of them presenting a different take on the dragon, and they are doing much the same thing as our ancestors when they came into direct contact with the creature.

For a little more concrete evidence we’ll add classical literature to our answer, myths and legends that date back to the earliest point of recorded history. Dragons appear in every culture’s mythos. In Medieval Europe we have the most famous interpretation of the dragon, with four legs and two wings. In China you have sea-serpent like dragons. They could fly due to magical powers, and each had some form of element incorporated into its existence. In Aztec and Mayan cultures dragons were revered as gods with Quetzalcoatl (meaning feathered serpent) standing above all others. In Egyptian mythology dragons were also revered as gods with Apep appearing “as a terrifying sea-serpent” (“Ancient Egypt-Valley of Dragons”). The Piasa or Piasa Bird is the noted Native American equivalent of the dragon.

Now ask yourself, how’s it possible that these creatures appear in the myths and legends of civilizations that had absolutely no contact with the other at the time of inception?

How

Statistically speaking, they were real. Living human beings interacted and worshipped these beasts (most of whom are said to be more intelligent than any other animal, some even say they surpassed human intelligence). They were a part of our society guiding us in a direction that suited them, and likely they build great civilizations around these dragons. Take Atlantis as the most likely representation of these civilization now wholly lost to time.

Now, let’s add to those statistics. The ocean covers 70% of the earth. How much of the ocean floor has been mapped? Answer: 5% That leaves 65% that we have no idea of what’s living there. We know more about the surface of Mars than we do about our own.

Plus, we don’t know jack about the fifth largest continent on the planet, Antarctica. We know about the desert like conditions across much of its surface, we know that Antarctica has the absolute worst weather on the planet with some circumstance bad enough to freeze you solid in minutes. But, what’s beneath the 1.2 miles of ice? There is a whole world down there as foreign to us as the surface of Mars is. What is waiting to be discovered? What kind of civilizations were there? What bones will be found? What creatures will they be adding to the fossil records?

Dragons will be one of them.

Other

There are other topics we could discuss here relating to the existence of dragons. But, for the sake of brevity I’m going to link to another one of my answers for this sort of topic. Do Dragons Exist?

 

 

Also feel free to check out my blogs at Medium and WordPress, the focus of those right now is posting these answers there, but I do other things like short stories and poetry. If you want to keep up with all the Kinsgrove related news feel free to sign up for the Kinsgrovian Press. And, as one final note, I’ve got a book for sale. It’s a horror novel with a touch of urban fantasy. If you want to check it out here is a conveniently placed link.

 

Image Credit: https://www.channelfireball.com

Quora Questions Answered: Do Dragon’s Exist?

Do Dragons Exist?

The answer to this question depends wholly on your point of view.

Existing in the real world:

I think it’s entirely possible that some form of mythological dragon exists. This isn’t based on hard evidence so much as how little we know about the world. Only about 5% of the ocean floors have been mapped. The ocean takes up 70% of the earth’s surface. So, who’s to say there isn’t a creature that would fit the description of a mythological dragon.

Another possibility is that they existed, but have gone extinct. Where’s the evidence? We’ve got dinosaur bones all over, but nothing that looks like a dragon. Where is the evidence? We’re looking in the wrong place. Antarctica is the fifth largest continent on the planet, covered by 1.2 miles of ice. What we know about Antarctica measures out to the same amount as the oceans. We don’t know what’s buried under the ice. We probably won’t in our lifetime, but one day we’ll find a whole other world on that continent.

Existing in the Metaphysical:

For this one there are a couple of other things you need to believe in.

The metaphysical, of course. This belief includes but isn’t limited to: God, gods and goddesses, angels, an afterlife be it heaven or hell or one of any other interpretations, reincarnation, past lives, and a multitude of other things.

How do dragons fit it?

Once dragons were living breathing beings, revered as gods and just as powerful. But some calamity happened, and it wiped the dragons out. Their magical essence remained. These dragon ghosts (for lack of a better term) saw humans as a way to potentially revive their race. They bound their essence to a human soul, and in that soul they laid an egg. They knew the eggs would never hatch in one human’s lifetime, but if it had a hundred or a thousand human lifetimes it would grow, mature, and hatch, and if that human was ready and willing then the dragon could manifest and become real again.

So, the dragon souls remained with the humans their egg was bound to. They go through this process each time that person’s soul is reincarnated, hoping to one day find the right variation of that soul and see their children’s wings spread wide.
A final note, when the dragons bound their souls to the humans there was a very finite number of humans. Not the roughly 9 billion souls there are now. So, the souls bearing the dragon eggs are flung far and wide, with maybe 1 in every 100,000 people gifted with the egg.

That’s just part of my belief system anyway.

How they currently exist:

Dragons of myth and legend exist just as much today as they did in the days of yore. They exist as part of these stories that have been handed down from generation to generation, and now they’ve engrained themselves into pop culture. Try finding someone who doesn’t know what a dragon is. I bet you the task will be next to impossible.

So, that’s how dragons exist. Just like our loved ones who have passed on, dragons are eternal so long as there’s one person that can speak the word.

**Author’s Note**

Just released my first novel, Cold Lunch. Check that out over at Amazon.com and if you buy it and like it leave a review for me.

Also, you can keep up with me if you join the Kinsgrovian Press. Trying to work out what would be some cool things to do with that. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

 

Image Credit: http://monster.wikia.com/wiki/Dragon

Breaking the Unbreakable

Thought I’d post the first section of a story I’m working on for submission to a fantasy anthology. Now, not to interfere with rights and what not I won’t be posting the whole story, but here’s a little taste 🙂

***Breaking the Unbreakable***

“Nostalgia?” Arcedh’s paper thin voice cut through the turmoil wrapping Rolant Quinn’s mind. The Unbreakable, as he was known, turned to look at the priest. The priest was skeletally thin and wrapped up in robes and cloth so only his eyes were visible. Not that it seemed to matter much in the priest’s case as both eyes were milky white orbs. Arcedh never had an issue seeing though, and more often then not he saw far more than any other man Rolant had met. A gift of Theosis no doubt.

“You know me well,” Rolant said, his voice rasping. He looked away from the priest, out over the wide grassy plain. He focused on the walled city far to the west. “Halsaland, I was born there. Raised in the church after my parents passed in the plague. I accepted the gifts of Theosis and pledged my life to his eternal service in the chapel in the town square.”

“You will not hesitate, when the time comes?” It was more of a command than a question.

Rolant shifted his weight on the warhorse’s back. The plates of his armor gave audible evidence to his every move. “There is no doubt then? The scouts have reported back in?”

“Yes,” Arcedh said. “The force we met two days past was out of Halsaland. You saw them, they bore the Broken Horn standard. They serve the House of Duskgem.”

“Yes,” Rolant said. “But, I had hoped…”

“Hope,” Arcedh said, spitting the word out. We are not in the business of hope. Only
heretics and betrayers stand against us on the field of battle, and it is the will of Theosis that they be cast down.”

“So be it then,” Rolant said. He snapped the visor shut on his aged and dented iron helm. All his armor matched it. Once, years ago, it gleamed as bright as steel, but as it had been with the man, nothing remained perfect and pure. Age and war marked everything.

Tugging on the reins Rolant faced his army; fifty cavalry, five thousand heavy infantry, and one thousand archers. “Today I come home, only to find they’d turned their backs upon Theosis. Our one true god stands tall, yet they choose to kneel and scrape with the pagan masses. Today we shall purge the land of their filth.” He drew his sword and raised the steel blade high above his head. “Today we retake Halsaland for Theosis!”
The gathered army cheered, hoisting their weapons tot he sky, pledging their blades to Theosis.

Rolant looked his army over, his lips twitching into a smile. Pride burning in his chest. But… Something… Something was out of place. He knew his army, the role every man filled, yet today it seemed larger, as though another thousand men had joined in the night. He pushed the disquiet to the back of his mind. There it stayed, refusing to go away.

“After you my lord,” Arcedh said motioning toward Halsaland.

“Forward march!” Rolant cried out. His standard bearers echoed his call with clarion blasts from their horns.

The army began to move. Halsaland’s fate was sealed.

***Author’s Note***

9 days left to Cold Lunch.

And, if you enjoyed all this and don’t want to miss out on one ounce of Kinsgrove news consider joining my mailing list.

 

*Image Credit: Vladmir Buchyk @ artstation.com

Cupcake 

This is dedicated to the most wonderful wife a guy could ask for.

I love you Melanie Smith. 

You are my cupcake,
My only cupcake.

You make me happy like only a cupcake can.

You’ll never know dear,

How much I love you,

Please don’t take my cupcake away.

.
And now to note, my cupcake is the subject of my dedication page in Cold Lunch. And segwaying into Cold Lunch, my first ever self published novel will be out on May 1st. 
On that note, count your coppers and keep your rings close, you’ll want them easily at hand when it comes time to buy what is going to be one of the best Horror/Urban Fantasy novel of 2017.