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Undead Son

On the hillside you'll hear my roar. . .

8/20/16 12:27 pm - Goodbye To All That

Well, on Wednesday I went down to the courthouse and closed the book on a big chapter in my life.  Naamah and I have known we were getting a divorce for several years now.  It was just a bit of a process to get it all done.  Plus there didn't seem to be any cause to rush through it.  First I had to find a new place and move out, which you may recall occupied the first part of my year.  On the 7th of March I relocated to my new place, and after that it was only a matter of time.

We had one of the easiest divorces to go through.  If you have kids it is a major undertaking, but without children and with nothing that we needed the judge to divide up, it was pretty painless.  We filed, waited, I filed my "waiver" to indicate I did not need to be Served, and then it was just a matter of taking the last forms down and seeing the judge.

I haven't spent a lot of time in courtrooms, so it was stressful for me.  It's not pleasant to sit in front of a person with so much power over your life.  The judge was nice, looked things over, and signed.  I took the form down to the clerk and filed it, and 21 years of marriage was done.

I spent a little while afterward feeling like I was going to puke or cry, and ended up doing neither.  I was prepared for this.  I knew it was coming and I know it is for the best.  But that final moment still stings.  Narratively an easy divorce is unsatisfying.  Naamah and I spent years seeing one another when our relationship was not really approved by anyone, we married young and struggled.  The wedding was an event.  To end all that without some kind of drama seems improper, but it was as drama free as this kind of thing gets.

So that's the end of that.  More than two decades of memories.  Good ones and bad.  The most serious, significant relationship in my life.  Now I am 44 and I have to see where life takes me.

7/6/16 03:31 pm - Soooo

I had to extend the campaign by a few days (hopefully enough) as it was just not going to make it today.  I hate doing that, as it feels dishonest.  (Last minute - psyche!) but what can you do?  I hope 4 extra days will make it work.

Rough weekend.  I spent all of Friday driving my dad around, getting him a new car.  Now I can worry he is going to have another accident.  I was out of the house for 13 hours and driving for 5 of them - it took me all weekend to recover and I am not really sure I have entirely recovered now.

Saturday was my (our?) 21st anniversary, and looks to be our last.  Naamah found one of those cheapie divorce places and got the ball rolling.  We're not contesting anything so it should go easy.  But it is still a downer.  Not where I thought I would be at this age.

And Hathor died.  She was my favorite of the 3 snakes I had left.  At one time, over a decade ago, I had almost 40 snakes.  Now it is just 2.  She was old, for a snake, though not fantastically so.  She was beautiful, and I loved her, and it hurts that she's gone.  Spent Monday night digging a grave in the backyard to the sound of firecrackers.

Life changes.  It doesn't warn you, it just goes.

7/5/16 03:27 pm - It's the Final Countdown ba na naa naaaa!

Title Card 4

Last day of the campaign, with just $600 more to go!  Help me make it!

THE DRAGON THRONE

6/28/16 12:03 pm - Karkemish

K Card

The southlands of Umar have long been a dangerous place. Wild, uncharted deserts, isolated villages in wadis and oases, and the ruins of long-dead glories cover the landscape. Once this was a fertile land fed by rivers, home of a grand dynasty, but that was long ago. Now it is a harsh place inhabited by outlaws and wanderers, home to tribal peoples who herd goats and sheep. Fierce nomads who defend their independence with sword and spear.

Time and again, leaders have arisen in this desolate place. A warrior who gathers tribes to his standard, who begins to form a nation of horsemen to threaten the settled, sedentary north. These men rise and fall, and now is the rising of Karkemish. A mysterious figure, without family or past. He seems to have sprung whole from the empty lands. They say he is a sorcerer, with dark powers and darker knowledge. The chieftains fear him, and follow his word. The warriors all but worship him, and pledge their swords to his purpose.

He is said to be of ancient noble line, born of the old kings, a man from another age, risen from the dust of fallen dynasties, come to reclaim the kingdoms with fire and sword. Stories tell of his power, and that he will lead his people out of the waste and into a new age of conquest and glory. An age of dreams.


Campaign still needs your help!

6/28/16 12:22 am - Still Going

Had a fruitful weekend, and the campaign for The Dragon Throne is at 51%, which is a big improvement.  But with just 9 days left it is still cutting it close.  Got to pay my mortgage next week, and then things are going to start to get tight around here.  If you can help out, please do.

Taking my dad in to get his second cast off this Friday - hopefully.  He is going stir crazy stuck at home so much, and he is desperate to get a new car and be self-sufficient again.  I like seeing more of him, but all the driving just wears me out.  Would be nice not to have to do it all the time.  Get a break.

6/23/16 06:16 pm - Horizons

Horizons Card

Azera left the war council in anger.  She was sure they noticed her exit, but all the same she was just as sure it did not trouble anyone - her father least of all.  He brought her on this expedition, and then he did not listen, no matter what she said.  She found she actually trembling she was so furious.

The halls of the fortress were empty save for the guards who stood rigid when she passed them.  The floors were of ancient stone, and they had been swept but not very thoroughly.  Kerak was a border stronghold, and not often occupied by an army.  It had a threadbare feel that was not reassuring.

She could not stand to have her slippers on any longer, and she kicked them off and left them behind.  She half saw her maids scurry to gather them up and restrained herself from shouting at them.  They were not the targets for her frustration.  Barefoot, she felt the sand gritting under her feet and it pleased her, made her feel closer to the barren soil outside.  This place felt closer to the real world than her polished chambers far away in the palace.  It was invigorating and alarming at the same time.

There was no more hallway, and so she opened the narrow door and found herself in a tight stairway winding upwards.  She climbed, took three turns and came to another door.  Her robe dragged and caught at the stone and she gathered it up, pushed through the door and out into the sun.

She flinched, quickly drew her veil down over her face.  The sun was setting and the light was both faded and more intense, colors bleeding through.  She squinted, and she almost turned back, but then she heard the heavy exhalation of a dragon.  A voice said “akan soke” and a shadow fell over her.

Azera blinked and looked up, saw the scaled bulk of the beast crouching on the battlements, one wing extended to drape over the wall and shade her from the sun.  The dragon was a deep russet – almost red – with jagged black stripes like lightning bolts down its back.  It lifted its head from the warm stone and looked at her sleepily, the black membrane sliding away from the dark eye.

The rider stepped from the shadow of the wing, his face as dark as basalt under his helm.  “The sun is fiercest at sunset, Highness.  You should keep your skin hidden from it.”

She almost reprimanded him for presuming to instruct her, but she stopped herself.  “I thank you for the shade, dragon master.”

He looked out from the walls.  They were on the upper wall of the inner keep, and below them the outer wall looked very small indeed, like a toy fortification.  Beyond it the desert glowed red and black, the shadows sharp as blades.  Close by the ground was rocky, the formations shaped by the stone quarried from them to build the fortress.  Beyond they became all undulating forms, the immortal sands that seemed to go on forever.

“I was born in lands like this,” he said.  “But I do not like them very much.  It is not a place for men.”

“What is your name, dragon rider?” she said, curious.  It was unusual for the men to speak to her so easily.

“I am Shabako,” he said.  “Highness.”  He smiled, his teeth very white in his black face.  “Forgive me, I do not speak to lords, so the courtesies do not come easily to me.”

Azera stepped closer to the battlement and leaned on the stone, feeling the heat radiating from it, the long breath of the desert afternoon.  “It does not seem like a place for men, or for anyone.  I wonder that anyone could live here.”

“Yet they do, the nomads and their allies,” he said.  “We will see them soon.”

She sighed.  “My father says we will wait here for them to attack.”  She was almost talking to herself.

“Yes, Master Arik said that as well,” he said.  “He said they do not know how to siege a fortress - they are horsemen, so they will be useless when they attack us here, and the dragons will burn them away and scatter their mounts.”  He stroked the heavy scales on his beast’s foreleg, ran his hand over one long claw.

She looked at him, wishing she could take off her veil.  “And what do you think of that?” she said.

He shrugged.  “Me?  I am not experienced in these matters.  I have never been to war, have you?”

“No,” Azera said, annoyed by the fact.  “But I have studied all our past wars.  I have read everything I can read.”

“So what do you think?” he said.  She almost did not notice he had not answered her question.

“I do not like being bottled up in here,” she said.  “We have too many men forced into too small a space.  If they lay a siege, we don’t have enough food or water for very long.”  She sighed.  “But he is probably right.  With the dragons overhead, they will not stand a siege.  They will attack the walls and be repulsed, the dragons will scorch them, and when they break and flee we will chase them down.”  She rubbed her hand on the stone and brought it up, feeling the grit between her fingers.

She looked at him as he took off his helmet and put it down on the stone parapet.  He was younger than she had thought, sweaty from the afternoon heat.  He took a cloth and wiped at his brow.  She found him agreeable.  He did not seem to hang on her every word, or secretly wish to get away from her.  “What do you think about it?” she said.

He shrugged again.  “No one asks me, Highness,” he said.  “But I hear stories of this war-lord that leads them.  Karkemish, they name him.  They say he is a sorcerer, and even if I do not believe that, his followers will.  They will go where he leads.  I have heard the stories of the attacks he made on Naqua, and on Edon.  Walls did not stop him there.”  He paused to take a drink from his waterskin, and then he offered it to her.

Startled, she took it from him, noticing how he looked at her pale hand, but not too long.  She considered the ill propriety of this for a moment, then she decided she was thirsty and lifted her veil enough to take a few swallows.  The water was warm and tasted of leather, and it had a heady smell.  She gave the skin back.  “You think he has some plan,” she said.

Shabako slung his waterskin over his shoulder and picked up his helmet.  He tucked it under his arm and looked out across the desert.  “I think if it were a wild tribe come to raid, this would work.  But this one?  This one has plans.”  He shook his head.  “I think he would not come here, unless he was ready.”

Azera nodded, squinting as the sun burned down over the horizon.  There was a darkness there, like a storm just at the edge of the sky.  “Then you and I are thinking alike.”


Hope you like this little sample scene.  The book still needs to be funded!  So click here and help!

6/21/16 04:53 pm - Hard

It is hard, in the middle of these campaigns, to stay motivated.  I have planning to do, I have other stuff I need to work on, I want to keep feeling the fun of creation and the excitement of a new book and new characters, but when the campaigns drag like this, it is very hard for me to do anything but stress out.  Right now I have 15 days left and only 25% funded - that is not even close to on track.  That means I have to either get really hardcore with the promotion, and/or plan on a time extension, which extends the time until I can get paid, which means I have to look at things like rent and bills and when they are going to be due.

I always wonder if this will be the one that doesn't work.  Sooner or later I may just hit one that won't fly.  The problem is I don't really have a backup plan for that.  I am trying to diversify my revenue streams, but it is a slow process.  I need these campaigns to keep working.  I need them to live, and I don't like that.  I don't like my livelihood being a lottery every 4 months.  It's just what I have right now.  I am trying to catch up the past fulfillment issues, and I feel like I am doing a good job.  By this time next year everything should be done, but I need to make it there.

Sigh.  I stress about this every time, and it never gets easier.  Right now i want to throw myself off a cliff.

6/20/16 11:09 am

Dragon Card copy

No one knows for certain the origins of the dragons of Umar. Some legends say they were bred for war by the first kings, but there are stories and images of dragons that are much older than that. It is possible they have always lived along the river, in the rocky hills that border the desert.

They are large, serpentine beasts with long necks and tails. They are colorful, ranging from a rust-red to bright greens and blues, usually striped along their backs. Their wings are darker above, pale beneath. They have frills on their necks and heads that flare out when they are angry or agitated. Their forelegs are long and powerful, while their back legs are shorter, connected to the tail by webbing they use to maneuver in flight.


They are intelligent – some say as intelligent as a human - though their thinking is very different from human minds. They respond to verbal commands, and are devoted to their riders. They make a tremendous array of noises and calls that have complex meanings. Older dragonriders learn to understand these sounds, and can almost converse with their steeds.

Dragonskin is scaled and leathery. It is very tough and protects the animals from harm. Scales are shed almost constantly, and these are gathered to make coats of armor. Smaller scales are polished and used for jewelry and other decorations.

Dragons do not truly breathe fire, but instead spit forth a dangerous venom that burns on contact with the air. The venom will blind and sear flesh even if it does not ignite, but once it is burning, not even water will extinguish it. It sticks to flesh and causes horrible, deep burns. The smoke from dragonfire is poisonous, and will suffocate those not even touched by the flames. Over time, exposure to the dangerous fumes causes lung sicknesses, and a kind of bone rot that is always fatal. Dragon masters wear masks to help protect them from this hazard.

They are long-lived, sometimes reaching three hundred years of age. Many dragons have had a succession of riders, some of them passed down from father to son over decades. They are dangerous, intelligent animals, and require careful handling, but a force of them over a battlefield can mean the difference between defeat, and victory.


The campaign is lagging a bit, and could use your help.  Please come and join!

DO THE THING

6/15/16 05:09 pm - Shabako

Shabako Card copy

Shabako is in his early twenties, though he does not know his exact age. As a child he was sent to the capital city as tribute, to join the ranks of the soldiers called dazar. Though they are legally slaves, in truth the dazar form a breed apart. They are trained from childhood to be warriors – to fight with bow and sword and spear, and it is all he has known.

As a youth, Shabako was chosen to join the ranks of the marannu – the dragonriders. It is a dangerous position, though it is the most prestigious. The dragonlords are elite, flying high above the earth on their deadly war-beasts. But the dragons themselves are dangerous and often hard to control, and years of breathing the fumes of their flame can cause sickness and death. Though there are fewer dragons now than in past ages, still there is a great need for boys willing to learn the ways of their care, and to ride them in war.

Shabako does not share in the cynicism that pervades this age of Praetorian generals and self-interested officers. He believes in honor, and in loyalty, and this makes him an outcast, and an anachronism among his fellow warriors. He has gathered around him a small coterie of others who believe as he does, and so it is only a matter of time before there is trouble in the ranks.


Excited to be doing a POC male lead again.  The dazar are based on the Mamelukes of Egyptian history.  They were boys taken very young and trained as soldiers all their lives.  Technically they were slaves, but they were a powerful group and some of them even became rulers.  The great Sultan Baibars was a Mameluke, and he was undoubtedly the most militarily powerful sultan between Saladin and Suleiman.  The institution was similar to the Janissaries of Turkish history, and it is sad that generations of brave black-skinned warriors appear in popular culture mostly as villains.

Campaign is dragging a little, and if you were planning to contribute, now is a great time.  Come hither and see.

6/11/16 11:31 am - Dad Issues

Some people have heard, but a little over a month ago my dad was in a car accident and rolled his truck over on the turnpike.  Amazingly, considering how the car looked, he was not seriously injured.
car 1

Only in this case, "not seriously injured" still meant a broken left arm, cracked right pinky, and a broken clavicle, along with numerous other cuts and bruises and scrapes.  My dad lives alone in the country, about an hour from here, and so being rendered disabled was a major impediment to him.  He has some great friends who gave him a place to stay right after the accident - a better place than I could offer here - but he has been home a while and I have been doing my best to help him out.  He can't get his casts wet, so I have to do all his dishes, help him bathe, and drive him when he needs to go somewhere.

It has not been so bad, but it has made me realize just how breakable my mental state is.  I suppose that is not surprising, as my life has been turned upside-down this year already.  But going out to drive him to an appointment or to the grocery has become a major drain on my energy and peace of mind, far more than I feel like it should.  It wears me to the bone, emotionally, and I deal with anxiety and mood swings for days afterward.  I don't feel like that's normal.

My sister commented that my life seems easy to her, and I had to explain that yes, my life is as low-stress as possible.  That's because I cannot deal with stress like a normal person, and so my life has been carefully constructed to present as few stressors as possible, and I am still vulnerable to them.  I thought I was doing better with stress, but I was just better at avoiding it.  Because a day out with my dad puts me through the wringer, and I'm not the 70 year-old man with broken bones.
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