Archive for August, 2012

More! More!

Friday, August 17th, 2012

Trying to compensate for lost time.

For the Emperor!

********

“Now what?” said Ærin.

“Look, you’ve used that line twice already,” said Magus. “Try to be more original.”

“And?” responded Ærin. “It’s still a valid question. We’re stuck outside a collapsed escape tunnel in a forest in the middle of nowhere and it’s only a matter of time before the cops come after us.”

“Simple. We have created a precedent. We killed the baron and there was nothing they could do about it! We shall rise up and tear the Empire stone from stone, starting with the baronies, and ending with Ankhgard itself.”

“Well that’s nice and all,” said Ærin, “but I meant in the short term.”

“Look,” said Magus. “I think I know where we are, and according to the map there’s a town over there. Let’s just head on in and figure out what else to do tomorrow.”

******

“A town you said. Nearby you said.”

“Shut up Petrov,” responded Magus. “This is a town.”

“This isn’t a town,” said Petrov. “This is a group of thatched huts that huddle together for warmth.”

As Magus looked around, he found that he had to admit that Petrov was right. The largest building was the inn, which was made out of stone, and had a few rooms for visitors. All the other houses were shacks which housed the people who worked at the inn.

“Does it really matter?” he said. “There’s going to be food and drink. What more do we need?”

“Hot water,” said Abda.

“A roof that doesn’t leak,” said Ærin.

“A bed whose insects haven’t yet discovered the wheel,” said Petrov.

“Come on,” whined Magus. “It can’t be as bad as that.”

******

Drip. Drip. Drip.

“We told you so.”

“Look, I said I was sorry! Now will you just shut up!”

Drip. Drip. Drip.

******

“Out,” said the innkeeper, rudely awakening them from sleep.

“Hey—” said Magus, but before he could finish the sentence the innkeeper said “Out. The empire’s looking for you.  I did you a favor by not turning you in the minute they knocked on my door.”

“Look,” said Magus. “Surely there must be something we can do to make you hide us.”

“You don’t understand the kind of trouble you’re in, do you?” said the innkeeper. “They’ve sent a steam tank after you! Out! Now!”

Harried by the innkeeper’s comments, the party ran out into the forest until they eventually reached a lake which barred all progress.

“All right,” said Magus. “I think this is far enough.”

“Dammit!” shouted Petrov. “You jinxed it!”

Then, there was a crashing sound. And another. And another. Suddenly, out of nowhere came a huge boxy thing. It had two caterpillar threads on either side, with a central body that looked like a huge, mobile water tank. There were two slits in the front, each about the size of a human head, and a boxy thing on the top with a long nozzle protruding from it. In addition, there was an aperture on the back that belched smoke and steam. There were two arrow slits on each side, and positioned around it were ten imperial soldiers.

Six of the soldiers had standard gear with the exception of some metallic eggs pinned on their belt. Two in the rear of the party were carrying odd metal devices, and had several rods strapped to their back, and one to the side had an odd mask, made out of chain mail and smoked glass, along with a tube that had some kind of hose leading into a metal barrel attached to his back.

As the formation moved, the nozzle attached to the device swiveled from side to side, and the formation would change so that none of the infantry were in the way as if the device was about to spout some kind of horrible, flaming death. Then, it turned toward the party and began to spout horrible, flaming death.

Said flaming death came in the form of what appeared to be liquid fire, which spouted out from the machine in an arc. Ærin managed to block most of it with her shield, but quite a bit splattered past and landed on the lake, where it continued to burn in defiance of all common sense.

“What the hell is that thing!” shouted Abda.

“It looks like one of our baks!” responded Petrov. “The imperials must have stolen the design!”

However, as quickly as the flame started to spout, it suddenly stopped, and from inside the tank came the sounds of cursing and someone hitting a pipe with a wrench. Petrov took this as an opportunity to attack, shouting his battle cry of “Death to most tyrants!” as he leaped into a group of soldiers. The rest of the party tried to follow suit, but one of the masked soldiers bought his tube to bear, spraying flaming oil from its nozzle. Magus leaped over it, swinging his staff and denting the soldier’s tube, but he suddenly realized he was now right in the middle of a group of enemies, exactly the worst spot for a wizard to be.

He prepared for the inevitable beating, but after a while he noticed that it did not happen. When he looked up, he saw that the soldiers had all backed away, and one of the bombardiers was franticly shoving a rod into his device, while the other soldiers were kneeling and winding up the winches on their crossbows. Relieved, Magus waved a hand and a golden shield formed between them. Meanwhile, the tank had gotten the turret working again, but no matter what it did, the oil burst out over the heads of those nearby. Meanwhile, judging by the sounds coming from the other side of the machine, his comrades were doing just as well.

Then, unexpectedly, the rod burst out from the bombardier’s tube with a whoosh of flame, smashing through the golden barrier and heading right at Magus! He knew he had to act fast, so he quickly cast a spell.

“Job mi ut flant. It’s job ictu.”

The gust of wind did not smash the missile into the ground as Magus had expected, but instead it sent it right back at the soldiers.  The formation simply stood still, standing in shock although a soldier in the back went and threw one of the eggs attached to his belt before the rod exploded, blowing him and his comrades to smithereens.

It missed Magus, and he picked it up, looking at it. Then, he remembered the tank. He leaped around, and saw that it had backed away, knocking his comrades over, and was now charging at him! He knew he had only seconds to live, and in desperation, he remembered the egg and threw it and it went straight through one of the vision slits in the front.

From inside the tank, he heard someone shout, and then there was an explosion. Bits of metal and odd pipework were thrown into the air, and the burning oil was scattered about the landscape.

“Dammit!” shouted Magus. “Why does this kind of thing happen to me! Gandalf never had to deal with this steampunk crap! I mean, exploding metal eggs!  What kind of insanity is this!”

“It was probably a granat,” replied Petrov. “Just in case being a dying race wasn’t bad enough, we’ve got oneandahalflings all around trying to steal our technology. Why, back in the old county—”

“NOONE CARES!” shouted Ærin. Then, standing in the wreckage of the tank, surrounded by boiling oil, she asked the logical question:

“Now what?”

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Extra long bit of chapter 2

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

Please forgive me for not updating for so long. I was unable to do so because my computer was being repaired. To make up for it, here is an extra long update on the novel.

“Now what?” said Ærin.

“I think you used that line before,” responded Petrov.

“And?” said Ærin. “The point is still valid. We just killed the baron, the cops are after us, and I’m fairly certain that we can’t leave the same way we got in. What, exactly do we plan on doing from here?”

“We know what not to do,” said Magus. “For example, it’s best that we don’t slit our throats to make the cops lives easier.”

“Thank you for that information.”

Look, can you just stop arguing! I have a story to tell here!

“And?” shouted Magus. “There’s no way out!”

Look, all you’ve got to do is… wait a minute; you’re trying to get the solution from me, aren’t you.

“Nonsense,” said Magus. “We want a full blown deux ex machina or nothing.”

Like hell that’s going to happen.

“Fine then. We’re going to stay here and die, and this book will be rejected by every publisher who finds it. Your plots shall fade away into darkness and this shall become the greatest story never told.”

All right. The baron has an escape tunnel in the basement. Just get in there before anyone realizes he’s dead and head on out.

“How convenient,” said Magus. “Come on, let’s go.”

******

“I can’t believe we didn’t notice this the last time we were here,” said Petrov. “I mean, it’s got a glowing sign over it labeled escape tunnel and everything.”

“It must have been hiding in hammerspace,” responded Magus.

“Hammerspace?”  asked Ærin.

“Highly complicated magical concept,” responded Magus. “What it boils down to is that it’s where the narrator keeps plot devices when they’re not in use. It also functions as a portal to Chekov’s armory. Anyway, let’s head on in.”

Magus and company walked on in, their footsteps echoing through the tunnels.

“Lousy human work,” said Petrov. “Dwarf make would echo better.”

“Why do you keep going on about how good the old country was if the place was hard to live in!” shouted Magus.

“Things have changed since the elder days,” responded Petrov. “One thousand years ago, back when I was a tiny beardling, our empire was at its height. The skies were filled with gyrocopters and airships, and the seas were tamed by our ironclads. However, we found a great treasure, one that would be our downfall. I had just one glimpse of admantine during that time, and I have hoped for my entire life that I would get another. It was beautiful. It shined like silver, but with an azure luster. It had an inner strength that no blow could break, and although weapons made of it would never need to be sharpened, they had an edge that could cut through steel. Alas, it was our undoing. We tunneled down, down, determined to get more of this wonderful metal. Everything was perfect. We were winning the war with the elves, and the goblins had finally been cleansed from our lands.

I had gotten a job as a miner, and I was tunneling along the admantine vein, when suddenly, I discovered an eerie cavern. The air above the dark stone floor was alive with vortices of purple light and dark, boiling clouds. Seemingly bottomless glowing pits dotted the surface. Then horrifying screams came from the darkness below! That was when I realized that we had dug too greedily, and too deep, for—”

“You unleashed a shadow of fire and flame?” interrupted Magus.

“No,” responded Petrov. “That was back in Sorok-D. This was worse. Down in the pit there were things. Eldritch things. Three legged elephants with venomous spittle, vaporous beasts with noxious secretions, and flying, crystalline, dual-mouthed carp!”

“Carp,” said Magus. “Carp. Do you really expect me to believe that you mined into hell and found flying carp? And besides, if you mined into hell, how are you still alive?”

“It wasn’t much of a biggie,” said Petrov. “Unlike you oneandahalflings we weren’t stuck in medieval stasis. Not even the fiends of Lodkaubity can survive being shot point blank in the face.”

“What, now you expect us to believe that you conquered hell?” said Ærin. “What kind of fools do you take us for?”

“But it really happened! We established a colony there and everything! That was not the event that destroyed the dwarven race, although that which did came soon after. You see, after colonizing hell, we did what any sensible dwarves would do. We held a party.”

“And that was harmful why?” responded Magus.

“The dwarven race died,” said Petrov. “Because that night… we didn’t know when to say when.”

“No, really!” he said, having apparently decided to forgo the accent. “The finest minds of our generation all died of acute liver failure that night. I thank Armok that I was lucky enough to slip into a coma halfway through! Depopulated as they were, almost all the great dwarven holds fell that night! Glavapobegi, Strah Zimoĭ, Siroplista, all of them. The elves attacked and in the end, we were reduced to huddling in the Mountainhome praying that they would go away. We have regained much of our land since then, but we are still spread thin, and we shall never regain our lost grandeur.”

“I have a question,” said Magus.

“What?” replied Petrov.

“Whatever happened to your accent?”

“Errr… vhat you mean?”

“Look, I just want you to stop screwing with us,” said Magus. “Now tell me: what happened to the accent?”

“Nothing, comrade!” responded Petrov.

“Don’t comrade me!” said Magus. “You just said that the country is ruled by the Tzar. Why all the Russian stereotypes?”

“Vecause Ve Van!” said Petrov.

“Look, just stop it, will you?” replied Magus. “There’s no point! We already know you don’t actually have an accent!”

“Vonsence!” said Petrov.

“Look, just tell us why you’re using the accent?”

“Look, do I have to have a reason! Can’t I just adopt a fake accent for no reason at all?”

“No, not really.”

“Fine then.”