Sunday, September 25, 2016

Two more Fantasy tales-about libraries this time

Both of these were inspired by pictures like the two last week but this time it was form different sources. The first one is another from Charlie Hoover's #geekscapes Link is just before the story. But the other one is taken from a writing prompt in another area of Google+. I believe you would have to be a member of that community to see the pic so I will describe it before that story.
The second one was suppose to be under 600 words and it came in at 596. Now it is 952 words long,

Both stories deal with libraries which is one of two reasons I put them together. The other reason are the combined lengths 2,452 words. Not too long but still long enough for a good tale. Anyway, both libraries are different, with different settings, different characters and such.

So to the tales:

Study Library:

Dina sat in the library alone; she liked the quiet and the fact that no one studied, or talked here during meal time. One of her weaknesses, lack of correct social skills and a tendency to embarrass herself, along with a dislike for noise, inspired her to study alone. And to eat by herself. Her dinner had been an hour ago before the tables had been set. She had made special arrangements months ago to eat early. Her excuse had been her job at the time, but even though that had ended she still ate her meal before the others. 
The small area she liked to use had an old tiny desk, small beaten up small stuffed chair, with a small table next to it with one of the very few electric lights, gave her what she needed. A quiet, solitary place to study. She joined the school late and was always behind. She hadn’t known they would take her even with her ability. Few of the other students said anything but she could tell many looked down on her. She was behind, and poor with few social skills. Some thought she would always be behind with her power level. Every now and again she believed them.
She breathed in, coughed. The place always smelled dusty with mildew mixed in along with various human odors, some good, some not so good, from throughout the day. Once she had brought a roll for a snack, but some dust had gotten on it which ruined the flavor. The stinks didn’t help either. 
The room appeared larger than any other on campus by many times. It had only half walls and ceiling high shelves to break up the space. Those shelves along with smaller ones, desks-mostly small-as well as counters and odd types of art made the library look crowded. Portraits hung here and there too. Some could speak while others just made everyone uneasy who stared at them. Stain glass windows decorated the room too. Three sets looked straight out of some church. Another one off in a corner glowed as if an outside light shone through it even though there should have been a wall behind it. Lamps had been left on and even though burnt oil invaded her sinuses, she knew the place had protections from fires; accidental or purposeful.  
Dina sighed, for she needed the extra study time to catch up and that she wanted to learn areas of magic most other students didn’t. Those areas could be dangerous but also they were just odd or unusual. 
After half an hour of reading she sat back, relaxed. She had already rolled up her sleeves and let her auburn hair hang where it wanted to. Her red lipstick probably needed to be redone, but she didn’t care this late. 
She lazily looked around. This part of the library looked like an old den in an English mansion. It had a fireplace that was closed up. To keep wind out, to keep thieves out, or something else?  
Two of the paintings hung near her and the shelf right behind her had what appeared to be old fashion lanterns, with a glass chimney that sat by itself. They all burned-something. It should heat up the shelf above it but didn’t. More of the fire protection or did they produce a cold flame for another reason?
In the middle of rotating her chair she jumped: something sent a shiver down her back. Without a thought she opened her palm and formed ball lightning above her skin. It crackled a light blue, and its insides rolled with very tiny bolts. It wouldn’t do to have it touch her hand. She had done that once and the result made her swear never to let it touch her again. Her teacher thought that was one good way to learn even though there were easier methods. 
A quick glance one way showed her nothing, a look at the ceiling revealed nothing unusual. Nothing appeared obvious when she took another quick look to her left again. She found nothing after a search of the floor. Spiders and ants could take on strange appearances in here. And less said about the roaches the better. Just the thought of what she had seen on display creeped her out.
Something, a very slight rustle of robes, a sigh, or a shadow that moved, caused her to jerk her head back at the other side. A figure stood there, just behind and to one side of the small lamp. It wore a black, tattered robe with a cowl that covered the wearer’s head. It was so large its sides created shadows that blocked the person’s-if it was a person-face. The whole thing looked half transparent. It glided forward-in her direction.
Dina sighed.
“Teacher, what are you doing here?”
She had never seen him anywhere, but his class room and office. Those were his favorite and she had thought only hunts, but it would make sense for him to come here too. Few students could stand to be around him long enough to learn, even though he had always been one of the better teachers. That had been true before he died, now it was even more so. He made their skin crawl though-or so they said. It might be more the small whiffs of decay that followed him around, of the fact that they could not see his face. But she didn’t mind his appearance or that only a part of him was there. It was the part that made him such a good teacher. His stink didn’t stay around all that much-usually, and she was used to bad odors.
He stopped his glide and said, “I came looking for you. Why do you spend your spare time here?”
The Teacher looked around as if he wasn’t sure where he was.
“I like it here. The quiet helps me to research and to concentrate better on my homework.”
After a moment what he said hit her. How he knew that she spent her time here? Had he been here before? Was it part of his knowledge he always seemed to have?
He pointed a bony finger at her-no at her hand. 
“That was a good reaction. You formed it very quickly and I see that while deadly to smaller creatures, it would only render unconscious a man, or most other larger creatures. The atmospheric conditions in your open hand are just right to keep it formed until you need it. But remember there are those that it would only stun for a few second if that. And it will fade in while no matter what you do to keep it. They are not made to last long in nature.”
She smiled for he did not compliment students very often, unlike Moriartcy who was related to Holmes enemy-and who gave too many compliments. 
“Thank you, I have been practicing.”
“It shows. Now if I can remember why I wanted to speak to you.”
He looked around again, “I know this place. It looks like my old study.”
She knew she looked shocked. He said, “I cannot recall my name, or why I wear this outfit, but I do have memories that flow into the forward part of my mind at times. This place is in many of them.”
Dina felt uncomfortable. What would happen if he did recall his name? Would he still teach, go one to hunt some other place, like his house, or just cease to exist? Whatever the case, would it be her fault that his shade was to disappear? 
He looked back at her and smiled. She somehow always knew when the Teacher smiled, frowned, even though there was no way to make out his face in that shadow.

He titled his head as if he knew what she thought and wondered why, and said, “I have a new lesson for you. It will be very hard to learn but once you have it down it will take you to the one place you want very much to see. Tomorrow you will begin your knew lessons on how to go to the home lands of Fairies.”
She gasped for she had been pestering him for ages about that. She loved the fairies that visited the school. She wanted to know more about them to make friends with some, too see how their society and family life was like. 
“Thank you Teacher. I will learn that lesson well.”
He said, “I know you will,” and winked out. Probably to go back to the office or classroom. 
Her heart rose up, he had said two good things about her. She had to be improving, all of this studying was paying off after all. This would show the others students and herself she could be on a higher skill level than she thought. 
She couldn’t help but smile even with her earlier concern.


Second story "Library"

This one was inspired by a pic of a young woman standing just inside an open door, on a floor or bridge that was in the process of appearing. She is dressed simply in faded back dress with simple shoes. The dress looks like something the Amish might wear. She is staring at a large room full of shelves of books. All of the shelves are against the walls of the room with just enough space to walk in front of them. There are no floors on any levels but as I said The room is round, like a tower or silo. There are levels of shelves. At least three upwards and at least three downwards. 
Some of those or wrote stories inspired by this picture thought the floor was vanishing, but to me her expression shows the opposite.

So for this tale:
Sushion looked through the now empty doorway. She froze, her eyes popped open. Part of the brick wall had just disappeared, as she explored the old ruins. They looked like a very small castle with stone walls and two short towers. Parts of the walls lay smashed, and only tattered remnants showed that once there had been a wood roof, with support beams. She could smell that small animals had used this place for nest. She had told herself to be careful; not only because of the debris but what she could step in. Some snakes must still be here by the sounds. The walls only cut the cold wind a little and the hard, rough stones scrapped her skin where her clothes didn’t cover it. 
She had seen what looked like a thin crack in one wall and went to look closer. Sushion had hoped to find something she could use as a way to learn. Looters had been here but with so much debris on the floor and bundled in some corners there had to be something else. 
A step into the room now revealed and the wind no longer tugged at her simple black dress nor did it blow through her worn fade blue shoes. The bird songs and snake rustling noises grew faint. 
Her eyes were open as wide as she could get them, so she could take in everything and out of amazement. The hidden door had opened at what looked like halfway up a tower. The walls fell further than the light from the open door. They also went up. It must have been curved from the mountain the ruins sat next to. Maybe it had been a cistern at one time, but it hadn’t been used for that. She licked her lips. The taste of caked blood mixed with dust from when she tripped headlong over a floor stone with a corner lifted up distracted her for a heartbeat. The journey through the ruins of the very small castle had been hard. The ceiling no longer existed so rain and the hot summer sun had invaded the D’Oents house. That made mud over the floors, rocks lay about in uneven piles, plants grew here and there too. One section still had a roof so she had spent the night there to wait for daylight. Bones lay about but those she could see clearly were animal, mostly small ones. However some of the oldest and most decayed she found in her search could be human. The whole castle smelled like mud, plant decay, old rock, and urine. 
Over the years previous searchers and looters had ransacked the house looking for its secrets, thus the uneven floor. Possibly they may have looked for this room. Its contents were all still here and still protected from the weather and obviously from vandals and thieves. Some of what she saw appeared ancient and therefore worth a lot of money. 
She had seen what she thought were even lines in the early light and after hours of scraping dirt, water spots and lichen off the this one wall she could see it had been a door. No lock, no handle, not even a spring latch. Sushion had spent another hour pushing and tapping rocks but nothing. Then she either stepped on a very small hidden lock or it just decided to open. 
After she recovered from her backward stumble Sushion moved back to the now clear doorway. It took her breath away. The next step was straight down at least three levels. 
She could see hundreds of books, all set up with their spines up and down. She might be able to reach the few near the door way on both sides, but that was it. She moved in with very short steps. Started to reach for one when the toes of one foot reached over the step. Just as she started to pull a book out, something with her toes made her blink. She glanced down and she realized her toes now lay on a hard surface. She straightened, looked down, blinked again. The step looked twice as long. She slid her foot toward the new edge. A flat floor stone appeared along the whole edge. A gasp escaped her closed mouth. 
Three more steps and more of the floor appeared. Five steps and she could see sections of the floor further on appear. Some sections hung there while the first main part of the floor-bridge-passageway caught up with it. She squealed and wanted to jump up and down, she could now get to the other side where she could see a way to an area in front of the shelves where she could walk.
Sushion stopped breathed in fast. It took her second to realize that the air felt warm in this special room, yet not too hot. The air even felt dry and tasted fresh when she breathed in. Air drafts brought the odor of the books: some ancient, some moldy, some fresh amazingly enough.  
After hours of looking the books over and reading stories as well as books that showed her how to cook, how to sew, philosophies, politics and two history books, she knew she would come here again. No, she would work hard enough so she could buy or otherwise take over the castle, fix it up and life here. The books might be able to help her with that. She thought about taking a couple of novels but wondered if the library would consider that theft. Sushion decided not to risk it. But she could now learn and that gave her confidence to come back and study here. 
end tale.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Two Free Fantasy stories from me

Two more stories by me. A brand new one and an older revised tale. Both are fantasy but of different types. "Mirror" is classic fantasy and the "Roamer's Burn" is something different.

The first one is 2,000 words exactly. I wrote it and then revised it a bit. It may still probably needs some work but I think it's good. The other is 856 words long and is a different type of fantasy. The shorter story is many years old even though it was revised a couple of months ago and partially again a couple of days ago.

A while ago I said I was doing a story for SaturdayScenes but I still haven't finished it. I am not sure how to end it. I think I am half way done, but as I said not sure how to go on. So it sits.

The first one was inspired by a picture someone posted to Google+

Here is a link to that pic

The page includes the writer's name.

Now for "Mirror" the first story:

The torch showed little. At least its smoke drifted back toward the entrance that led to this section of the catacombs. The special wrappings and plants burned very slow but still let out a light stink. Tenda had studied the very old, large bricks that this catacomb had been made of. They had greyed with age. It’s older even than the ancient building that stood above the doorway that had led down here. The whole place smelled of dust, mold and age-and old blood. A tiny light shone down further but most of this place was darker than a dragon’s gut.
As a warrior Tenda wore her half armor: breastplate, leather arm and leg coverings, but the coldness here still made her glad she had brought the cape and placed the cowl over her head. She secured it in a way that didn’t block her sight or hearing. The ends of her shoulder length black hair still escaped though, but it wasn’t a concern even when the strands caught in her mouth and she tasted the sweat and grim on it. She was used to that.
Her arms were bare except for waist guards-most people were surprised by how muscular her arms looked. They were as many men, a few women and a couple of monsters had found out.
She looked around. Silence lay everywhere except for her slight footfalls. The passageway was narrow, but she thought she could still fight even with her longer sword held in her left hand. And she also had enough room to run if she needed to. But, she thought, nothing should be here to run from. The brick walls had greyed with age, except for where lichen and mold grew.
What did the mold feed on though?
Her pack carried some food and smaller water skins, but it had room for any gems, artifacts or if she found what she searched for. So far she had found only some scrolls in one tiny room, the now rested in a pouch on her side. One looked newer than the others. She had no idea what they said. She had taken them for one never knew when something was important. Her impulses usually turned out right as if she had a gift to know things.
Two more turns and she found herself at a side niche. The light she had noticed came from a reflection of her torch in a mirror. Just like the ones used in a Lady’s bedroom or some of the better Inns. Bones of a strange beast made up its frame. A mirror? Down here? And five candles added to the light. A soot scent drifted around, and a very faint burnt wax smell. One candle had burned down to a stub, that would burn out very soon, two were thick. And one that was out lay on its side. The wick showed that it had burned but not for long. This might be the place marked by that strange symbol on the scroll-map she carried half stuffed into a pocket on her right side. She figured the symbol may mean “stay away” but it could mean X marks the spot too. Her skin crawled and she felt like she could jump at any noise.
It took her two-seconds to see that the mirror was cracked: three v shaped cracks along the center of the left side and a longer one that ran across the glass all the way to the other side. A disk shaped shelf stood in front of it. The candles and four other unlighted ones stood to the left A tapestry hung to the right. It had a circle with what looked like two decorative circles on it. Rips and faded colors showed that it was very old. The mirror and frame looked almost new. Except for that crack. Was the frame holding the mirror together? That made her wonder what creature’s bones they were. They didn’t look human. And was that a real skull at the very top? A small creature if it was. A shape under the bowl looked the same as the shapes on the tapestry. Skulls decorated the bowl. They may have been the same skull that sat on top of the mirror.
Her image stared back at her as she gave the mirror a quick study.
Something about that mirror isn’t right.
Wait, burning candles. That meant someone came here on a regular bases. She watched wax drip down one to join a pool of wax at the bottom. So that meant there was no spell here that kept them burning for years. Tenda half turned to look behind her. Nothing moved, no new shadows, no sounds or new odors.
But no sound and no movements. There had to be another way down here because the dust on the floor was undisturbed until she walked through it. She studied the darkness behind her with her ears as well as eyes. Her exposed skin, what little of it there was, might warn her too; of heat, or extra cold or air suddenly moving. Tenda sniffed, no extra dust or sweat or perfume smells either. Once a taste on the wind saved her from something bad in the air.
With an aborted shake of her head she turned back to the mirror. Turned her head back to the rear came back slowly. Before she realized she stood three steps back. Her body had recognized the oddness before her mind did. The thing that made her skin crawl lay before her not behind her. What had alerted her was the fact that her image’s head hadn’t moved when hers did. She thought it may not have when she turned back, when she tested it, she found it true. That had promoted her mind to see what she hadn’t noticed before. Her image was perfect; same sword held at the same position in the same hand, the same with the torch. The scrolls showed. Her armor looked the same as did her cape, and her belt looked right.
My eyes do not glow like that.
Neither did her cowl did not cover her face with shadows like her image. Plus her bosom wasn’t that large.
So what lived in her image? Could it take her over? Was it responsible for the blood on the walls that the mold fed on? Could it be her from a different dimension? Some wise and learned men thought there were such dimensions. Not this time she thought. Someone worshipped whatever was in there, that had taken her image.
The liquid in the bowl bubbled, the flames flared. How cliche she thought. But the image came her way even as she took another step backwards. It raised its sword-just like she would. If she fought herself she might win or they could kill each other or it could be even. But that larger bosom could mean larger shoulder and arm muscles.
The candles
With the barest of thoughts, Tenda took three steps closer and using the sword carefully brushed the candles until they rested against the glass. If that was what this object was made from. The heat seemed to fog the base of the image. It burned inside the mirror but not the glass.
Damn that will take too long.
She moved the torch toward the image. A breeze warned her but she reacted too slow. A force reached out from the mirror. It grabbed her around the middle. The image smiled even though she didn’t know how she knew that. The strong grip pulled at her, she stepped back. Her strength wasn’t enough though. The tentacle-or whatever it was-felt slimy on bare skin. It hurt where it touched and pulled, like that rope the Kinssie used to capture her two years ago.
It partially blocked her sword arm, so she couldn’t get a good swing at it. Maybe she could drop and go for her stiletto in the sheath strapped to her side.
The sword fell and bounced with a clear clank-it always sounded musical because of the quality of the metal. The loudness confirmed that it had hit the shelf and stayed there. Her arms snaked into the slit but, part of what wrapped around her covered it. There had to be a way to defeat it before it pulled her inch by inch to the glass.
A light flickered, she glanced up at it. The image of the torch was nearer to her. A look down at the candles. They still burned but not fast enough. She bet the mirror image of the flames didn’t burn hot. How she knew that she couldn’t guess but that meant her first plan…
Nothing else to do so she shoved the torch in her free arm at the glass, but even though the image stopped, she couldn’t get close enough to touch it. Flames caught on the inside but it moved closer again. Faster this time. It acted determined to stop her. She needed to break the glass, but someone had done that already and it hadn’t worked.
Her feet slid on the brick floor. The image lifted its sword higher and readied it to skewer her. Or slice her throat. She had to fight it that meant she needed her sword again. A step forward-a a stink of something awful that burned reached her nose. Sweat dripped onto her forehead, down her underarms before her padding absorbed it.
Tenda managed to reach down and grab the hilt of her sword. The smooth metal in her hand and she pulled it up in a sudden, strong swing. It hit metal, too close to her belly. The image backed up and stepped again toward her. She swung again and swords squealed as one ran against the other.
Someone had broken the mirror before so it could be done. But there was one thing that person hadn’t done.
She gathered her strength and determination: with a yell she lounged forward in a fast, hard sudden movement with all of her strength and swung. Not at the other blade though. A loud click, followed by a crack but not of glass. The mirror rippled, the whole image twisted, one side titled. Then it started to fall. At the same moment she used the blade to flick two candles inside the image then stabbed it again with the torch. The head of the touch went into the mirror, broke off. The being opened its mouth in a silent scream and reared back. The glass continued to fall. Flames started to fill the image it produced. It shattered as it hit the shelf then the floor.
Her body jerked as the pressure halted. Tenda took a long breath. Ashes came it along with air. She turned back to the broken pieces of the mirror. What was left of the glass showed dark. Wait something flickered inside like a flame. She looked at the shattered pieces and the cut bone of the frame. So her idea to cut the frame had worked. It had held the glass together even after it was cracked badly. Only one candle remained lit and what light the burning image produced.
As quick as she could move she got out her flint and managed to start a fire on what was left of her torch. It caught and the light grew. She held it up, spun around. Nothing was around her. With a shake of her head she continued down the passageway. The three scrolls still poked out of her pouch and everything else seemed okay. But her hands shook.
On the way out she found one more room and maybe what she had searched for. There was another door that led from a mostly dust free passage. She hurried out that way and found an old abandoned temple. She went back to her Inn to seek out a bath.


Second story "The Roamer's Burn"

The Being roamed, as his type delighted in doing. He enjoyed the long empty spaces and he walked carefree because he knew very little in his environment could harm or even effect him. And he didn’t care where he went, just so that he moved and saw new sights, listen to sounds he hadn’t heard before, and smelled new aromas-even if the last one was rare. Those little points of heat sometimes produced sounds he that either soothed him, or excited his emotions. Most of all he liked to stroll along. He didn’t care where he went. He knew he had lived for a long time and that an object could change by the time he got to it, but that could become something new.
After a long life not much was new to him, but certain objects and events he didn’t mind seeing twice or even three times. The same with sounds. Some smells and a couple of noises though he hadn’t liked and would ovoid if he saw what made them in time.
Of the three, or four, dangers he needed to look out for only one was plentiful. One he could barely see, for most were small and light didn’t escape from it, but he saw with other radiations so he could see matter, heat, and light being pulled into one. He had only seen two that were large enough to grab him, but the smaller ones could do some damage to his body and would slow him too much as he fought to get free of it.
A third one was rare also and very hard to spot. A tiny point of light would just expand for some reason he didn’t know. The rapid expansion could harm him. One had badly injured a fellow being a while back. That one had headed for a red point of light but it expanded suddenly before he reached it. This roamer had heard the expension and the cry of his follow being. He was one of five who came to the injured one’s aid. The last danger he didn’t like to think about, it was so bad. All of his type were terrified of it.
There was of course tiny hazards. They were small round areas of light and extreme heat. They lay scattered almost everywhere and were a nascence. He always had to watch to keep from stepping too close to one.
He passed by a small object as it buzzed past him. It looked cold. He didn’t worry about it even though he had seen it three times. It could not harm him. Sometimes when one passed through him it slowed while it moved inside him. It almost tiggeled.
They are were other beings and creatures and most didn’t notice him, or they were very good at ignoring him.
He had no name, for he didn't need one. Each member of his race knew each other instantly, when they happened to meet each other, or heard them cry out. He didn’t know his true age for his people didn’t care of such matters. He just wanted to walk and see, hear, smell what was there, enjoying the movement of his body.
He looked to one side spotted a new set of colored objects, maybe he would head over there to take a closer look. When he took another step forward the Being grimaced. Aww, what?
Intense pain: a burning sensation in his lower leg. He had experienced with pain to know the different types and what it meant. He moved his hand reached for his upper shin. He proceeded to rub the spot, that had somehow been burned. He thought he smelled burnt skin, but that could be his imagination.
He looked down as he was rubbing the burn, and saw that he had gotten too close to one of the very small cinders, or points of light. Damn, he let himself be distracted.
The tiny lights were leftover from a huge explosion, that had occurred ages ago. It had been powerful enough to kill a couple of his followers, and to send these cinders over most of the terrain. He had been too close to one before, and knew they were extremely hot, even this long after the blast. This one was a bit smaller then many, and he hadn’t noticed it. After he straightened he went on his way determined to be more careful.
Even though he had been near it he hadn’t noticed or even would have cared except as a curiosity, that very tiny particles hung near the cinder. If he had looked closer he would have seen that the third one from this spot of light had a color, for a layer of water covered almost three-fourths of it. When he strode away though, it was almost totally covered with ice. Few of heartbeats later it warmed, long strands of hard ice receded. Large patches of frozen water at both ends of the particle shrunk, water flowed again. The inhabitants of the tiny blue mote came out of caves, and rejoiced that the ice was disappearing.

The end

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Revised first segment of chapter one of Journey of Mystery

All along I planned on Indie publishing this novel so I thought it wouldn't hurt to do a serial on Google+ as I wrote the first draft. Actually I posted version 1.5 since I revised some of it each segment before I posted it.

Anyway, I have finally started the next and hopefully final revision of the whole novel. So this is a preview of Chapter one. It will be months before I get the whole book revised but a couple of previews are in order. I may do some touch ups here and there-I am still not completely comfortable with the first line-but this is basically it.

The novel is a genre I made up as I began the book: preindustrial steampunk-fantasy. It has elves, dragons, werewolves, airships, fairies, the first steam cars and aether devices and weapons. No gunpowder and just the beginning of anything like trains.

The first chapter will be split up into three segments of over 2,000 words each. This one is 2,500 and some.

I am working on a different title, for I think this one is too cliche-ish, and I will throw in a couple of alternates as I post these segments

Journey of Mystery:

A Weapon: one reason I led this journey was to be a weapon to defend the men who went with me. 
       My thoughts drifted in that direction when I stared at the horizon over the sea. At the moment I had little to do—at worse I would be in the way if I tried, at best I was a supercargo unneeded at the moment. My time of importance would come.
      The airship, The Seagull Storm readied to rise. We were headed out to find something I couldn’t describe. I didn’t have anything to do at the moment so my mind went off in dark directions on its own. We carried weapons and would buy more, but one of my purposes was to protect the crew.
          My name is Roger Twowinds and I am a native of this part of the American continent. I stand taller than average with a light build, perhaps because I have a training routine I carry out every day. I am also a wizard and for the first time in command of an expedition. 
         Hawsers dropped off as the crew untied them. Some plopped onto the hard, beaten ground while others dragged for a moment before members of the crew drew them back aboard the airship. Once up members of the crew looped them up in The Seagull Storm’s riggings. I stood on the low quarter deck near the wheel, which enabled me to see almost everything as I watched the crew, while I stayed out of their way. The pillions and masts that held up the large gasbag blocked my view in places but I knew what the airship looked like. It had the appearance much like an ocean going schooner with balloons instead of main sails. The Muser accelerators or aether drives hummed and sparked with colors only I could see, for they were ready to lift us. The Seagull was fast which was one reason I wanted it. It would have to fly and maneuver very quickly as a defense from ariel beasts. I didn’t know if the screaming part of the name was to invoke thoughts of a seagull about to attack, a fear yell, or just an expression of frustration over the exploits of its thirty man crew.  It could be all three.
         Many of my journals and scrolls contained short references to something very powerful that had been lost—someplace—with no description of what it looked like. The writers may have thought everyone knew, or they may have decided that it was too dangerous for anyone to know what it looked like. I read many old journals, scrolls and even books. A few months ago, while I again read certain texts, a new thought formed in my mind. It grew into a desire and lodged in my heart. I knew the artifact needed to be hidden where no one could find it, or something bad would happen. Why Me? I had no idea except that I knew of it. It had been lost so many centuries ago that no one knew of it anymore. I had asked some subtle questions. Only two older mages had even an idea of what it was. So my knowledge may have left me the only one able to find it and secrete it. 
         The Captain yelled orders, but the crew knew what needed to be done by long practice and they worked hard. A ground crew, which included young boys, gathered the ropes on the ground. They did so while running with joyous yells, as if in the middle of a contest to see who got the most ropes. They took them to one of the three short, long buildings to one side. Many of the children had the same reddish color of skin as I did for they, as well as I, were natives to this land. Most of the remainders wore pale skin, while a couple had olive skin. These were first or second generation of colonists.
          A mixture of sea, fresh and rotten fish, of men working hard, pine, and left over baking bread odors drifted around me. Pine trees, with a few apple and maple trees mixed in, bordered on three sides the dirt landing field we lifted from, which lay not many yards from the sea. There a small beach and tiny wharf slipped into the water. A few fishing boats and canoes sat tied up or on the sand. That is where the fish smells came from. That was why workers here ate seafood at most meals. It was cheap enough and obviously plentiful which made it cheap. They had bread and different types of mush also. Sometimes that odor would be so strong I could taste it, but that may have been my memory of last night’s seafood stew, since I love seafood. 
          I put away that memory and stared outward considered my quest. My thoughts boarded on dark ones. I didn’t know what we looked for and this was the first time I have led an expedition like this. I have been in charge of two and three men while with my tribe and later while I trained at the MAGE school, but this was larger than any group I have led. I didn’t know if I had what it took to search for what my research had found, or to order a crew and especially the fighters around. We would no doubt participate in battles against dangerous beasts and men, so Captain Teil suggested I hire a band of mercenaries who were used to hard work, and the supernatural. I found a group of fifteen which included two sergeants and two lieutenants. The airship was very crowded, but the holds were only half filled which gave the mercs room to sleep and to do some easy training. Captain Teil, his officers and the unit’s head people would give the actual orders in most cases, but I would need to direct them and to give the command to fight or not, and where. I shook my head once to dispel those thoughts and emotions. I would rise to the occasion because I needed to for I have been trained well and had experience on quests .
              Teil shouted my name from the other side of the wheel, and gave my a thumbs up. Roger isn’t my birth name, but I have used it for so long it is comfortable. Twowinds is a shorten version of my surname, I use it because of familiarity. Besides there are aspects of wizardry that can use a person’s or thing’s real name for mischief. 
            The cool wind picked up speed as we moved. It blew open my wizard robe to show the buckskin pants and tan cotton tunic that I wore under it. My shoulder length black hair flipped around. I like that feeling, so I didn’t tie or cover it. 
       The Seagull was the fastest airship of its type and size, from anywhere. I have seen it outrace pirates and outmaneuver warships of most sizes. It showed that speed when its crew stumbled upon a nest of warships from Northern Newhampshire. That was over a year ago and he may have been smuggling or just trying to set down for the night. That was a bad few minutes from what I understand but they made it. Its speed and ability to turn fast, or to pivot under the right conditions is why many think of Teil is a pirate. I know he isn’t. He may smuggle now and then depending on the item and other circumstances, but he never raided another airship, sea ship or a town. 
       For a moment I looked back over the land we had risen from. Three small barn-like buildings had been built here which now were used for airships—a few upside down U shaped frames for the tie done ropes, decorated the area. They looked much like the hitching posts horse riders use to tie their mounts to. Most were wood even though five larger ones had been made of thick metal. This wasn’t a proper airship field, but it worked for the traffic my village and the school had. I made out a few holes in the  hard dirt where large airships had used steam powered huge crossbows or gearguns to send a long bolt deep into the soil. They used the bolts to tie the ships down. Then somehow pulled the bolts back out to take them with them. 
       I turned back to study the Seagull. The steering wheel sat toward the aft end even though on an airship it didn’t matter where it was located. The gears and lines it operated pulled at the steering sails and smaller balloons. Toward the front a low shack like structure graced the deck. It sat with space on both sides to walk. It housed a galley, the Captain’s cabin, along with a dinning area for special dinners. There were storage closets in there too. As the one who hired the ship my cabin was in there too. It was a bit smaller than the Captain’s, but had more room than my usual cabin. A head was down a short passageway. The Captain had his own. 
      When the Seagull floated over a large pit full of fish heads, tails and bones a rotten stink filled my nose.  As bad as that smelled it still reminded me of the clam, mussel, trout stew we had last night. A little burnt but still I had seconds. I liked seafood which was fortunate for where I choose to live. Near but not in where my ancestors have lived for two hundred year, at least. 
        I looked up. The wooden hull hung from a cigar shaped gasbag, longer in both directions than the boat. Its shape and design also helped to make the Seagull move as fast as it did. Four smaller balloons graced each side of the large one, for extra lift and for protection of the main gasbag. The airship’s flat bottom looked black while the gasbag was grey and blue. The coloring had been designed to make it harder to see once in the air, especially at night. Another reason some had the mistaken thought he was a pirate. 
      The sound of many feet on the wood deck meant the crew finished the hurried preparations even as we lifted. It had taken what seemed like an extraordinary amount of time—months—to get ready. We had to plan for many conditions since I had only a hunch of where to start the search. We needed special supplies and provisions for the cold we headed for. And we had needed to wait for the mercs. I knew of some who might go, who were well trained and trustworthy but we had to contact them and to negotiate the price. I had also had to plan on some weapons we needed to have made to fight half-dragons, heaven forbid full dragons and anyone we met that were hostile to us. Both me and Captain Teil had made enemies over the years.   
      I looked upward at the men in the riggings. The Seagull carried sails but smaller ones, much like a fore topsail on seagoing schooners. They sat along each side of the railing toward the bow along while two that looked twice the size of the others flapped on either side of the forecastle deck. Each of those along with four on aft end were steering sails. They all helped to angle the ship when it turned or Captain Teil wanted to adjust the angle the wind hit the balloon. Gears clashed and air pumps ran. Grease stinks joined the others. The three aether drives lay in front of the quarter deck, almost touching it. Each was a box half the length of horse and as tall as the knees of the same animal. Each one had been covered with a black lacquer. Brass filigree, hollow frames Criss crossed over each one. The frame also served as pipes to move aethery gas around the box with more inside each box. Two sat on the outside with the third larger one rested just a little forward of the other two and in-between them. That one looked one third larger than the other two. All three helped to produce the Seagull’s speed. I didn’t know exactly how they worked but I did have some idea. It took a person with at least a some wizardry ability to activate one. On the Seagull there was an aether man whose job it was to operate the drives and to handle any repairs that might be needed. The second mate could operate them in an emergency and rumor had it that so could Captain Teil. He would not admit that though. I could make them produce lift, but that was a given since I am a full wizard. The drives produce more lift making the Seagull lighter even though their main purpose was propulsion. They could move an airship forward, or backwards if desired. They could push the airship against the wind even though they had to work harder and it could be slow going depending on the wind. They moved the ship at a pretty good clip with the wind or even becalmed.
       The first mate, a tall man from one of the African nations who went by the name of Jaclyn, also yelled orders to the crew. No matter how experienced and hardworking the men were someone or a piece of equipment would fumble, ropes could catch on something and last second irregularities. And sometimes the men needed encouragement to move faster.     
     The first part of our journey, which would be the easiest and one of only two legs that could be planned, would take us to Sweden. Sweden had businesses that built excellent weapons and watches for that matter. I had ideas of what we might need and the unusual weapons we would have built. There should be few chances of anyone attacking us or so I thought, for no one knew of my vision. 
        My tribe has hunted, trained and played in cold, snow and ice all winter, so the idea of going to extreme cold didn’t bother me as much as it many of the crew.     
      I watched the buildings recede behind us. They were each made from logs, complete with bark, with metal roofs. Two were the length of three cargo wagons and double the width of a farmhouse. The third was half a house wider and twice as long as the other two. I could still make out one set of gray-white lean-tos set along the sides of the larger building. Most of the children employed here slept in those lean-tos. They used old sails as roofs which they nailed to the thicker logs of the dormitory. Adults workers and sometimes passengers slept in there too. 

       The creak of the six steering balloons indicated the ship turned already, even before it reached cruising altitude. A bit unusual, but Captain Teil knew his stuff, his ship and that we needed to hurry. When we turned I spotted two large ships in the water near the beach. I suspected they were fast cargo ships; they would pick up the fish, and other seafood, caught by the fishermen here. The ships would have mages who kept the fish cold on the journey.

Fear of the Future a message by Bill Chaney

Free Podcasts 

Two weeks ago my pastor, Bill Chaney, finished a series of seven messages about Facing Fears. This is the first one: Fear of the Future.

Even though part of a series each one can be listened to on their own and each one has down home humor and points, transparency and solid advice. And of course vermiform the Bible and how God-and a relationship with Jesus-helps us with fear. There is a lot in the Bible dealing with fear-part of the every day advice it contains.

You can find this podcast here