Wednesday, October 3, 2012, 9:44 AM
It comes quickly to many of us, that horrible realisation, what we do will never get read let alone sell our work. When we look at the founders of our genre, R.E.Howard and Tolkien for instance, (Tolkien didn't write his LOTR intentionally for publication and Howard couldn't get paid) it becomes apparent we do things because we have to, fantasy is part of our soul. Did the lack of appreciation ever make us stop daydreaming and telling stories or, did we ever not play AD&D because we weren't paid? I admit, I dallied with the idea of being a paid ref, a professional author, an enchanting storyteller who made his living through his visionary, fantastical oratory. But what happens when we realise, the world isn't in love with what we love and barely gives it a passing glance?
We can share with each other. Let us share our dreams and have our time together, for the world is cold to us and cannot understand us.
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Monday, June 14, 2010, 7:41 AM
Boise, Idaho, 83705
© Copyright 2009 O.G.Osborne
This is how the Lord Vorgentah Panzerhand meets Princess Cymbria Siriol in the grip of a dread winter, where they change each others lives forever. A romantic fantasy moment...
By Odysseus G. Osborne
A short fantasy story
Crystals on the north wind fled,
From tops of sharpened mountains
To settle like doves’ lost feathers,
Into frigid winter’s bed.
Those huddled folk near orange hearths,
Filled those hallways with their laughs.
Hidden from the bite of chill,
Away from the woes of those freezing hills.
Hunters lost in dead snow’s grip,
Bows in hand and swords at hip
Chased by wolves and sure doomed fail,
Might find themselves at Eiriafael.
(A poem from Morothwend’s Epic about the savage cold that afflicted the north in the late autumn of the year 635 O.W.T .- Old World Time.)
The sky was dancing with big feathery snowflakes once more, the evening was closing fast. The whole world was carpeted with white powder and the slopes of the mountains reflected much of the remaining light about, even in the dark of night, and I’d been finding my way around the peaks helped by the ambience. It was almost as if the whole snowscape had a light of its own, the whole panorama glowed. But with the fresh blanket falling down, there was a stinging effect on my eyes, making them close occasionally as they melted into huge rolling tears. There’d been an unexpected turn for the worse in the weather and I’d abandoned my move to the castle of the lord of the hills and turned to find my old hunting grounds and the hall my father left, now somewhat abandoned and forlorn. I’d been trapped there for a few days, and had buried my hunting prey under the packed snows at the sides of the hall and gone out searching for wood from an old cave some hours away. I’d remembered well; the wood had remained dry and burnable, though a little holed with the bores of worms. My pack was jammed full and soon, my father’s hall, his once paradise, was seen at the top of the hill so fondly featured in all my early memories. Mother had made a garden around the hall, and my father had built a low wall with his hands one summer, to allow some space that could be kept free from drifting banks of snow. They’d kept all their firewood there. But since they had passed into the other worlds, the wall had fallen over and its stones had merged with the earth, half swallowed now and useless. But the great hall was still there, and he’d left it locked to show all who stumbled upon it that it was owned and should not be tampered with. I moved carefully, with sluggish feet and legs that felt like they were about to explode, up the final few trails to where the proud hall stood like some symbol of defiance against the cruel winter hostility. It was a fine place for a hermit, or a couple in hiding. And I had always wondered what I was doing living here, why, so far from the nearest village or even neighbor, what my parents were hiding or hated so much about the society that they’d came from. But they never said except that the ways of men are for men, and for us, our ways are best. What this could have meant, who was to know, except them. It was not the job of a son to understand his parents, especially when they did their best to be cryptic. There I stood, at the gates of my father’s retreat, deep in the lost forests of the northern mountains, in dire straits, cut off and alone, with just my wood to make fire with and my bow to slay deer. And I had done this three times in one day; should the weather have gotten worse and the need to remain in the old hall happen, there would be no need to venture out. I had been raised as a hunter in the lands of the far north; my parents were once famous amongst royalty, but they chose to omit me from the life of court and spend their years in the most beautiful place they had ever laid eyes upon. It had brutal moments, and one such moment was coming within hours, on the early north wind with unusual fury. It was for the most, a place of spectacular scenery and vivid beauty...if one could survive. Eager for warmth, I got to the large gates of Eiriafael. It was a typical northern hall, with fine beams outside supporting a strong roof and a spire that could be used as an arrow tower, should invaders approach. It was still strong and magnificent, even after years of disuse. There on the gate was a large bronze lock, pitted and dark. No one who was mindful of the ways of smiths would try to bypass such a stout and timeless lock. I put my key into it and turned it thrice, the lever activating, and the gates moved a little as they loosened slightly. I pushed the gate and stepped inside, pursued by a flurry of heavy snow. Then to turn and pull the gate shut with a slam.
“Thank the gods I’m out of that!”
The hall was much as I’d left it. My blankets were lain out and my items were still piled where they’d been set. The hall was still dark, but for the single lantern I’d left lit, burning lowly. The place was cold. Not as cold as outside, and not as cold as the night would become. I put my pack down with a heavy thud. There would be enough wood for one night’s burn, but with some of the coals rescued from the old scullery, the wood could be used to fuel the coals, and the coals would last a week perhaps. Enough to outlast the bitter storm.
“It’s going to be boring here. But it’s going to be safe.”
I placed my ball of dry parchment wrapped with tinder and soaked it in some lantern oil, the flammable stuff that goes off with a poof at the slightest spark. Then I took my hatchet and split a few of the logs I’d salvaged from the cave, piling them over the tinder. Then I shoveled some coal over the whole pile, leaving a gap there to insert a flame. The central cooking pit was about to dance with flames again, after so many years. I could almost see how it was, my parents moving about the hall and the others, doing their daily things. Old Vardrin whittling pegs with his knife. Fyrdman with his silverwork, tapping and scoring silver with his hammer and chisels. Baltran the hunter, always skinning some animal and roasting it for everyone to hack chunks from. The rafters used to be hung with smoked meats. Some were blacked by the process, it was all healthy food, even if it did stink and look like it had been jammed in a troll’s ass crack. I struck the small ball of evil smelling chalk and it sprang to flames immediately, catching the tinder fuse and spreading into the heart of the mound. The whole thing began to emit small wisps of smoke, so I reasoned that I’d better dig up one of the deer I’d brought down and packed in the snow. It took a while to dig up and it had become as solid as a board. I dragged the thing in and shut the gates against the fury of the driving storm; put the lock loop around the iron hooks to keep them shut, to stop them from rattling. But it was not secure. The wooden beam had been hacked to chunks for wood already, as had two benches and a chair. Next, the structure would go. But with grim concern that the old place would end up consumed on my own bonfire, I relented and sought firewood from some other source, and the scullery had turned up some coal. I looked about the high hall and the recesses, so dark and so cold.
“You’re going to take a while to heat up, old friend. I could freeze to death yet. And by the sound of the wind out there, I may just end up stuck here for days. A strange way to reacquaint.”
The hall of Eiriafael remained silent. I have to admit, sitting there on a bench in the shallow glow of a single lantern, listening to the howling winds of home, was not how I’d wanted to have remembered it. It was a place that had joy and laughter engrained into memories that were indelibly etched into my skull, yet this was reality, a stark reminder of the way things change and move on. And the truth was, my perception of this childhood home was, in fact, a child’s perception, now lost in time. And now enhanced by stark facts. All were dead, the children had grown and even some of these were dead. But those that lived left here years ago and perhaps I was the only one to come back, even if under duress. It may have been expected that if they had come back ever, they’d have left a sign or a letter, but no one had done so. So presumably, the old hall was to be relegated to haunting by fond memories only. And me.
The fire had caught and the wood snapped and crackled underneath the coal, the promise of warmth and cooked food was a fine one worthy of a long wait. My mouth began to water well in advance.
“Home then, after all these years, Eiriafael, and this time, like a refuge, you have saved my skin. Father would be so proud that all these years afterwards, his work was still protecting and sheltering.”
Silence. The howling wind responded like a ghost, making my body hairs tingle. I grabbed my gutted prize and with a heave, pushed the steel rod through the body and then, hung it end by end from the pins that stood at each end of the fire pit. The handle was socketed onto the end and awaited its use. The heat of the fire would rise and the fat on the meat would begin to melt, then it would drip and crackle on the coals, feeding the fire in turn.
“Time to change.”
With a tug, I took off my cloak and hung it from an old wall peg, and then, with some relief, got off my vambraces. My helm was off onto the floor and soon to follow was the felt over tunic. I decided that, with the weather like it was, there was little threat in the mountains, no one would be around. Not even the oids would be wandering in such a storm. So my hauberk came off with a jingle onto the floor. This remained as an amorphous blob of steelwork next to the growing fire. There, in my under armour leather breeches and thick shirt, topped by a soft leather short-sleeved coat trimmed with some of my mother’s ermine that I’d kept, I moved in sword drills about the empty hall, trying to stay warm, waiting for my first hot meal in days. The sword whooshed around in trained arcs, stops and flowed from guard to guard, as old Vardrin had taught all those years ago. Having picked up my first blade at six years old, he’d laughed at me for days.
A warrior he shall be, not a hunter. Look at the way he throws that sword around. Not bad for a wolf pup!
Now, a trained man of might, some twenty three years old and a reputed chaperone of ladies and travelling priests, wizards and merchants, I’m a trusted sell-sword. A mercenary of sorts, but I tend to make my money from gifts of gratitude rather than fees. So the Lord of the Hills had sent for me to guard his precious caravan all the way to Port Shimmer. Looks like they’ll not be going anywhere, with or without me now. And also a hunter.
After technique, it was time for physical. It was essential to keep the form. The edge that caused victory was mere split-second speed and nimbleness, and even a week of inactivity could erase that edge. It was a fine line between being a winner and a loser in the sword fight. The warmth of the fire was beginning to rise, so it was time to strip a little. I got down and did a series of press-ups, two handed, one handed, changing into sit-ups for the middle torso. Then, a rope climb up and down fifty times, to get the arms warm and stretched. This was done and brought the blood into full flow. Then, inverted handstands against the wall, driving down into a press, then up again with the heels in contact with the wall...to work the back muscles. The chunk-filled hessian sacks of coal would become curling weights. Rounding off with sets of curls, these beastly bags got the sweat up and my whole form was turgid with blood, a well-worked session that also got the hunger working. All the time my eyes were magnetized by the slow roasting meat. The flames were not really high enough yet to start turning the spit. Sweating and heavy breathed, I threw on my shirt and put my leather coat back on before flopping like an old man onto my sleeping furs. I hadn’t expected the winter to come in so fast, so I’d not packed my fur boots or fur cloak. Just a few things to do the job over a few late, cold autumn nights. No doubt others travelling the region would have been caught out the same way. I suppose, knowing the area, I was rather lucky and came off the drift-blocked trail and straight to shelter. Dread to think of what others may go through tonight. Terrible. But there was a thing or two to do to stay occupied on these homebound evenings. After the basic survival things were done, sword training was one, the other was physical. The third was worship. Before bed, I was brought up to pay my respects to the gods of the day and night, who sustained all things by their beneficent spirit. Gods who guarded and gods who fed, those who brought higher things again to the heart and mind should also not be forgotten. As the deer carcass gained temperature and the fat started to melt, my mind turned to my master, the Goddess of my heart, mind and family. Long had the Panzerhands followed the goddess of the shield. She was more than some distant, astral concept. She had always lived amongst them, sharing with them their feasts, wine cups and raucous jokes. And when she wasn’t sitting in the hall of the Panzerhands, she was out defending the skins of other Panzerhands, near and far. She rarely showed herself however, but in dreams she did come to each member of the famed family and pass a message of friendship or support. He-Thea was a fine featured woman, strong and tall, athletic and yet very feminine. And she was of wondrous mind. All spoke of her wisdom across nations and across oceans too. And the Panzerhands were somehow associated with her; as her religion spread and breathed, the name of the old family members appeared in her legends. And the family had become part of her legend. This, some said, was their reward for their loyalty. Others said that the family was done for, all its greatness had come and gone and now, only people like me existed and we were a disappointment to the name and the religion. Was the goddess still here as father and mother had once believed? The hall still stood, a good sign. And the pillar shrine was still here, in the hall middle overlooking the whole of goings on. My eyes wandered and there it was, a pillar of the hall carved into her form with her shield, spear and helmet still boldly evident with just a few cobwebs needing cleaning away. I strained up, stiffening after the workout and moved to the foot of the shrine. The small tray was there, still with some blackened stains where incense would have burned all those years back.
“It’s been a long time since I last prayed here, my master. I’m sorry for being astray for so long, though I have done many things to fill my time well. I suppose you’d appreciate that. So now, my goddess, shield goddess, storm-daughter, He-Thea, Athenatos, undying goddess, I am back here in halls that were once where my family and yourself met and lived in happiness. It is unlikely to be this way again, as my life takes me away from home always into adventure and woe. My faith is with you, goddess wise. Though I am so lost to normal life. I’m always on an odyssey, looking for my home, my kingdom wherever that may be. So by chance, I am back here, as if a full circle has turned and drawn perhaps by fate once more to the family shrine; I come face to face with this precious image of you as my father did, as my mother did. So what is this my goddess? Have you summoned me back here for a reason? Perhaps, as all named Panzerhands are dead, and that I live on alone, you have brought me here to die alone in the snow-clamped vice of winter...no, perhaps to start again. Perhaps to bring my memories back to fullness. To show me how hollow and empty my existence has become? Whatever your plans, great goddess, I am here and waiting for your call.”
With that, I leant forth and kissed the hands of the carving, a symbolic gesture that Panzerhands of all generations had done since time immemorial. No one else dared to do this, ever. At least not to my fullest knowledge. Though her temples abounded, she was revered and respected rather than loved. It was only the Panzerhands who held her as an adopted mother. I saluted the shrine, got up off my aching knees and went back to my bed of fur...but the warming of the hallway had me wanting to relieve my bladder. The cold had shrunk my nuts and the warmth had coaxed them back into the world, my blood was flowing and warm at last, so came the need to pee.
Outside, the storm was raging and the snow was furious. I went around the side of the hall where there was some cover from the driving flakes, and there saw something in the snow - a wet, half-covered bundle of shivering, crying, dying girl. My heart stopped. She must have just fallen there, possibly unaware that the hallway was just yards ahead. In a bad way too. I moved forth and pulled the girl up from her face down slam; luckily, she’d fallen into fresh, soft cover and not damaged herself. She stumbled about and could not stand, she was half senseless and emitting whimpering noises. I pulled her up and put her arm around my shoulder and then, with urgency, feeling her cold skin, took her straight into the hall and put her on the furs where the fire could warm her. She muttered delusional statements, and was dizzy to the core.
“By the gods, you are so lucky to find this fire. Let’s get this wet cloak and robe off you. You’re frozen...so cold. So cold.”
She was at the edge. Whoever she was, she would not have taken long to die out there, and now, she was to be tested with a great battle to last the night. I have to admit, it was a blur. She could have been a beautiful woman and not some wretch, I’d have not noticed. She was on the edge and messed up by not only the cold but by wounds; someone had wounded her. She was raggedly bandaged on the arm and had a cut on her face that had sprayed blood everywhere. She was just an innocent young woman and no threat to anyone at all.
“Who the hell did this to you? Bastards!”
Survival being survival, I swallowed my pride and my honor, and stripped to my underclothes and pressed my body to hers, and drew the furs about us. And as this woman whimpered senselessly in my arms, I cried. I could not believe that this gentle thing had come to such a point. So I prayed to my goddess, with whatever gentle words I could muster to coax her to expression of her holy power, to hear my plea, to warm this wretch to health and save her from a wicked doom, an empty doom of abandonment in no-where land. It was a difficult night.
“Promise me. Listen! Listen! Promise me you will stay with me. Don’t leave me! I’m making you warm. Don’t you dare give up! I do not want someone dying in my arms in my bed in my home...promise me!”
Whether or not she understood my words, I have no idea. My prayers were as if falling on deaf ears. At some time in the morning, early, when the howling winds were beating against the walls like a giant, she muttered her first coherent words to me.
How could I explain this one?
“You are safe. You are in Eiriafael. The hall of Panzerhand. This is my home. I’m keeping you warm. Stay with me my friend. There’s a lot ahead of us both to live for. Promise me!”
“I promise.” Then she cried like a child. I was stunned at the moment’s pain and terror. The wind howled like a ghost through even the smallest cracks; the old hall was a draughty old bucket and a truly haunted house, and it sent shivers through even my own, travelled warrior soul. Then there was quiet sleep and I listened to the fat sizzling on the coals, dripping and sending its scent upwards in clouds of sweet smelling bliss. And the girl was warm at last. Warm enough to leave alone. I got out and wrapped her in the furs with just her blood and mud splattered face showing, the fire’s glow accentuating the visitor’s long crazy hair of polished copper. It shone in the firelight as if born of it, as if she were somehow being infused and energized by its proximity. Her hand came out of the covers, her fingers all frostbitten and slain.
“Oh no no nooooo!” I wailed. I checked her other hand and then her feet, and they were slain chunks of meat. Her nose and ears had turned black as coal, masked by the dried blood that covered just about everything.
“What do I do? My goddess! What do I do?”
The moment was pivotal. I had no means of dealing with this, and when the girl, saved, finally awoke, she’d find herself a cripple about to undergo amputations to save her skin again, a second time. There was no way a simple warrior, a survivalist, no matter how good or wise, could deal with this. I nearly cursed all the world at that moment. But quick realization came to me, it was my own inadequacy. I had no power. I went to the shrine and knelt.
“Goddess He-Thea, master of mine and queen of my family. My loyalty to you has been unbending and all my days I have found myself blessed by growth and skills. But here, in my own hall, my own empty, wretched hall, is someone in need of you and I am powerless to give her anything but more wretched pain as a hope. Her hands and feet are destroyed by the frost. Her face is scarred and her arm lame from wicked wounds. And she might wish she were dead when she wakes and finds her nose and ears have been killed, along with all hope of enjoying her looks. What do I do? How can I, a simple warrior who has skills of slaughter and strife, make right this tragic wrong? I have killed in battle; I have slaughtered animals for food and seen life bleed from beasts that have not deserved the agony. Now, an innocent traveler has been dragged from the cold jaws of winter and my gift is more pain, a lifelong pain and a life of problems. I question my own worth and if I cannot change this injustice, I cannot continue. How can I, a simple harbinger of pain, change this event and make goodness from pain and agony?”
I was not sure what happened next, my eyes were full of tears and my senses distorted with emotion. The shrine seemed alive. The face of the carved goddess became as flesh and tears came down its cheeks. Then, the lips moved.
“Swear that you will serve me as my bearer of shields and serve my temple. Place your sword on the incense tray, my altar here. Give your life to me, and I will use you, empower you, to give life and healing to others. This trust I do not break. As your forebears swore to me, I rewarded each with their prowess for the whole world to see their example and the strength of my namesake. You can change this, but you must change yourself. Swear now, and change this. You act purely on mercy and this sentiment is most prized in my heart.”
“I swear to you noble shield goddess, He-Thea. Let me change this. I will serve you as your paladin forever and be loyal to you and your good spirit. Like my forebears, I will carry your name foremost on my lips and in my heart. Let me heal and bring light. Let my sword avenge the weak and true, let my heart act only on mercy and not for pain and woe. I sacrifice myself as a warrior, and become born the paladin.”
“Go then to her. And place your hands on her hands and feet and ears and face. Heal her with the grace that I loan to you.”
So I stood and took my sword, a blade of no previous merits, and sheathed it. And I knelt at the feet of this girl, those poor blackened, bitten feet, and prayed for healing and mercy. And through my tear-filled eyes, those hideous feet became pretty feet again, soft and warm. And I took her hands, and prayed for the hands. And the wretched hands become soft and warm, happy hands, pretty and flexing. And the nose and ears, the scar, all, with mercy of the goddess, were healed.
So I dried my eyes, hope restored, and began the job of turning the roast and filling the black cauldron with water for boiling. Her drenched cloak and robes, boots and underwear were all hung up on string to dry near the end of the fire. They hung there like drowned birds, dripping and steaming for hours. And I sat there for the rest of the night, contemplating the image of He-Thea and the favors she had bestowed upon me in the moment of need and my new role in life as a paladin of the order. The first paladin of the house in a long, long time.
Morning came and the storm was raging. The hall was now warm and the fire was a glowing heart sending heat and light throughout. The girl stirred, having fallen into a deep sleep after her healing. But the eyes came open, deep green eyes, like the forest pines, and they looked sadly and tiredly about.
“Who are you?” she whispered.
I cut the cooked meat and passed it on an old steel plate, to place it next to her bed of furs. She lay still and didn’t look at the food.
“No. Not until you tell me your name.”
“I am Vorgentah, of the house of Panzerhand. And you are in the remains of Eiriafael, the house of snow-hold.”
“I remember...remember what happened last night.”
I was a little red faced. “I had to get you warm.”
“I remember your prayer. I know what you did. You were a warrior and a hunter. Living free on the land. And you swore your life to your goddess, for the hope of healing me of my crippled hands and feet.”
She flexed her hands, wiggled her toes, and stuck them out of the furs.
“Thank you,” she whispered tearfully, “I am more than astonished. You sacrificed your whole life path to have me healed. I don’t know what I can do to repay this debt.”
“You do not need to repay anything. I did what I did for no recompense.”
The girl smiled and tears came streaking down her cheeks as she sat up with the furs tightly held around her.
“You do what you do for love. You have love hidden in your heart and I feel it here right now like a bright golden sun.”
“And who do I have the pleasure of hosting at my hall?”
“My name is Cymbria. I’m from a far off land. Lost, one might have said, and now found again.”
Cymbria picked at the meat and ate some in delicate nibbles, astonished still at the man who sat there guarding her like an angel.
“Look at my clothes! They have been torn and ruined by the blood!”
I watched their rag-like forms limply hang, lifeless and sad.
“What happened to you?”
Cymbria was quiet and then decided to divulge the truth about her way to Eiriafael.
“I was wandering the autumn leaves, seeking Dap leaves that were turning red from the fall. I had made the trip from the south specifically to harvest these. The tree doesn’t grow anywhere else. This vale is legendary for the profusion of rare winter plants and trees that stretch the whole length of the hills.”
“True, the hills are very famed amongst herbalists. Are you a herbalist?”
“Yes, I’m an herbalist. I was filling my bags full of these leaves when I was set upon by a huge troll who overpowered me and took me to her den, somewhere in the hills, where I was beaten and tortured. I was stripped of my furs and tied up for days without food. But someone slew the troll I imagine, as she didn’t come back one day and I was left tethered. I managed to cut myself loose and escape, dressing in what rags I could find strewn around from other victims. So I fled into the snow, and then got caught in the storm. But I’m no longer sure about what I was doing or where my life is going.”
Saddened for the girl, who now had no idea where to pick things up again, I moved to the two shadowed thrones of wood that lurked in the half-light at the head of the hall. There were dark trunks there still, locked and dusty topped. I dragged one to the fireside. And then returned with the other. I fumbled for the little keys under the thrones and then with a smile, unlocked them. Here were mother and father’s things, which had been kept secure and clean.
“I will guide you to many places here where you may select the herbs that you need, and many others too. And I will guard you back to Port Shimmer for your voyage back to the south. But this storm is in for the week, and you’d better put these on.”
“I will wash firstly.”
“There’s warm water in the cauldron.”
With that, she took a hand mirror from the chest and went to the fire where the water steamed from the pot, and she quietly washed the blood and mud from her face. As good as she could get, she turned her back and let the fur drop to the floor, rewarding me I suppose with a view of her fine body from the rear. She was perfect. And she knew I was watching. Something that bypassed shame had happened, and it was almost as if she were fully accepting of the consequences, whatever came from her washing naked in my proximity. I felt nothing but compassion and admiration for someone so brave and yet so gentle.
Some of mother’s finest clothes were in the trunk, a little big for Cymbria perhaps, but the excess was a welcome comfort for extra warmth. I pulled father’s ermine cloak from the trunk, a noble white spotted mantle with black tails. Its warmth was perfect. My guest selected a chemise and then a thick green velvet overdress, and to my surprise, she lifted out mother’s leather armour and donned it. The deep red color of the leather was the tint of bull’s blood, rich and dark, the strength of the beast exemplified in one statement. Then, with a laugh, she unsheathed the fine scimitar that had been found in the bottom of the trunk and swiftly slashed it in expert paths. Cymbria was a druidess. Only they could wield such blades. All others who did so dropped them with a clatter.
“To whom did these belong?” Cymbria whispered, as if the moment was sacred.
“They were my mothers. She’d be happy to see someone making use of them.”
“Your mother was one of my people. A druidess. A lady green leaves?”
“Yes, though of a temple rather than a wild woodland reach. Do they fit you?”
Cymbria smiled. It looks like, with a girdle and some adjustment, they fitted well enough.
“Then they will be yours. So that you don’t walk around dressed in troll rags. Can I just mention that you look magnificent in them.”
Cymbria smiled and was thoughtful. There was a tension building here; I sensed that there were wheels turning and something else other than simple respect and mutual admiration. She was more and more the beautiful nymph and the wretch had vanished, and she was very bright and like most druids, mystical. So when she looked at me, her eyes were not just the eyes of a girl, but the eyes of, what I’d suspect were a seer, moving over my body and through my soul to its very depths. And she wore the clothes well. She glided around and was very much a lady, the feral herbalist had vanished. Later, when the day wore on, and the howling storm had not ceased in its fury, I dragged the two old thrones from their wall to the end of the fire pit, where the light cast its warmth at their feet. And I bade my guest to sit in my mother’s seat, as my mother had done, so many years before. And I took to my father’s seat, in my father’s robes, in my father’s hall. But now, this was my time. And here, by hands of fate or gods, who would know, was someone who shared stories like they did back then, with vivid accounts, tales of love and romance, of chivalry and tragic consequence. We poured mead and felt it warm our blood. We ate venison and we trained in sword skills, we prayed to our goddess, burnt some meat and dripped some mead as offerings. And the second day of the storm was over. We lay there on opposite sides of the fire pit, looking into each other’s eyes over the glowing coals, covered by heavy furs. The hall was no longer haunted by ghosts, but filled with warmth and some golden feeling that something good and true had been born from the storm’s fury. And as I closed my eyes and sank into sleep, I could have sworn that I felt the tickle of her hair across my face and a sweet scented kiss of kisses.
Huge bursts of wind hammered the walls, rattling the upper shutters and testing the hall’s gaps. It almost felt like the gods of the mountain had been fighting and the debris had been falling to smash into the mortal world. It was this noise that woke me. My guest was next to me, her arms around my neck and her chemise the only barrier between our sentient skins. I had almost dreaded this moment, yet its sweetness and beauty were so powerful, like the tumult above, irresistible and all moving. She was delicate and scented like a goddess. Her lips came closer and her crazy hair bushed onto my face. The kiss was made and the embrace followed. And as the eyes met, it was gently apparent that the strange tension that had been building was none other than the soul of love, yearning and innocent.
“I love you, hunter. And I don’t want to go on my way. I want to stay with you and listen to your stories.”
“I feel the same love swell my heart, Cymbria, my pretty queen. But my tales are old and worn. We shall make new melodies.”
And so that morning, in our hearts, the invincible sun of love rose from its warming bed to take flight like a god across the sky of our lives.
From Book 2 of The Stormpaintress Saga, Siglacol & Eiriafael ( Kissing Stones & Snowhold).
© Copyright 2009 O.G.Osborne
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Monday, June 7, 2010, 12:34 PM
It's always been an interest of mine - real sword techniques. And rather than getting bogged down in Japanese sword traditions (for which I have huge respect) there's another little known sword tradition that's been going on quietly for a long time.
It's called WMA/HEMA (Western Martial Arts/Historic European Martial Arts) and deals with sword, shield, longsword, rapier, polaxe, spear and many other weapons. The sources are ancient, I mean REALLY ANCIENT. The 'Tower Fightbook' in the Royal Armouries is from 1290ad and deals with 'Sword & Buckler'. There are works from Master Liechtenaur in the 1350ad period...he was the grandfather of WMA I suppose.
Here's a link to a youtube video by Zornhau school of sword. Enjoy. As you can see, this is not crude smashing and hacking. It's about timing, awareness and reading your opponent. :-)
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Friday, June 4, 2010, 1:37 PM
I've been here in this city since December 2008 and even though I've made steps to make friends and socialise, I have to admit, I'm rather lonely. It's almost as if no one wishes to be friends these days...the USA is set up differently to Wales on a social level, there are no friendly little village corner shops, local parish churches and bakeries, no little pubs sandwiched in between terraced houses. So there's no real way of socialising, bumping into the neighbours. And then, here in macho-idaho, where men wear camo and walk around with guns, even a guy in armour is thought of as some quaint weakling ****. With no truck and no gun, it's no wonder I have no friends. And they also seem to rather vocal and condescending about DnD'ers. We are jerks, idiots and kids apparently. Real men drink beer, go to strip bars and drive trucks with guns in the back.
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Friday, November 20, 2009, 11:06 AM
Here's my new book, out yesterday! Enjoy...
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Tuesday, October 27, 2009, 9:17 AM
I never had much need for the shining steel armour when I was in the UK, except to train in against my fight master and also to attend the Owain Glyndwr festival. But since I've been here in Idaho, I'm not so sure.
Saturday we were rear-ended by a two cars and got shunted into the car ahead, due to someone in a truck deciding to stop suddenly after passing an intersection and turning left across no crossing double yellow lines. This caused four cars to crash with two vehicles with serious damage. We got away with a few hundred $'s of damage but two cars were possibly write-offs.
I walk a lot and have nearly been knocked over at intersection crossings due to drivers deciding that the pedestrian crossing shouldn't be in their way, not once but three times in about 10 months. It was my right of way and they were not capable of understanding that.
Yesterday evening, I was attacked by three beastly dogs and one ripped my leg open and my mercy is wearing thin.
I HAVE THE RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS. I DEMAND TO CARRY AND USE MY SWORD AND ARMOUR! YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!
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Thursday, October 22, 2009, 12:25 PM
I remember back many years when I was a kid from a poor family. I had barely any clothes on my back and didn't get the right food. So I was also devoid of nice things, as were lots of other Welsh kids. The economy was terrible, all attempts at getting some money were futile. So we really had nothing much to do. We had some old sports shoes and shorts, so I went running long distance. Other kids kicked a soccer ball around. We shared books to try to get something to read, and used the library often. But there was one thing that saw us through the terrible recession. And that's DnD.
At the time it was 1st Edition. We would visit each others homes and sip tea or coffee and have our pencils, paper character sheet ready. One set of dice, plus some extra d6's were needed. The ref harboured a DMG, a MM and some notes behind his screen, while we all had access to one or two (if lucky) PH's. And that was it. The stories were strung, the bones were rolled and the monster heads were lopped off. Legends were made and many scenario I can still remember. Ravenloft I was one of them, and Pharaoh was another. Assassins Knot. Expedition to the Barrier Peaks.
It's great to have tons of stuff. I love that. But DnD is very merciful. If you have the basics, it will save your brain from the woes of many rainy nights and deep, deep depressions from all sorts of angst and economic woes.
May the Gods Bless the DnD!
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Tuesday, October 20, 2009, 11:56 AM
After many years of consideration and tinkering, I'm no longer of the opinion that one media will do for running a good DnD game over distance. Many years ago, as 2nd edition was coming out, my friends split up and went their ways, some joining the army, some going to university and others going to jail. I was one that didn't do any of these and hence, ended up rather alone. So I fiddled with games via the mail to try and stay in touch with some of these old players...with differing amounts of success.
I've been starting up a campaign recently, the intervening 18 years of non play being taken up with developing a huge fantasy world that I've been using to generate 'sword & sorcery' novels (available on Lulu.com). Also I've learnt how to sword fight using ancient manuals from the Liechtenaur longsword schools...and Walpurgis or Tower Fightbook from 1290ad. Making armour has also been a hobby. DnD has essentially shown me what fires my soul and I needed to make it come true in as much as was possible...the experience of DnD pointed out who I was. The idea is, do what makes you happy. If sword fighting does this, then DO IT. So my return to DnD is like turning a full circle. I have no group. I was a player and a referee. I have old 2nd edition stuff and have barely before seen some of the stuff I've been handed by people who have had them in closets unused for years. Well, here goes. So it's going to be a PBM with mixed media, some e-mail, some over the telephone and some via pencil sketches sent through the snail mail. The thing is, for such a rich rewarding hobby, one media type cannot do it. Try it by all means but, save the time and use whatever means best to communicate your dreams. I ran an around the table style DnD campaign for 2 years remotely using various media formats...even 3.5 inch A drive floppy disks. :-) with 40 ravenous players. Now it will be just one player. He'd better be good. LOL.
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