Wednesday, February 25, 2015

806 Wheatwood Road

There is a house in Rosewood. It is located at 806 Wheatwood Road. Now Wheatwood Road is located in West Rosewood. It connects with Tecumseh Ave; a major roadway that runs through the city.
806 Wheatwood is an old decrepit building, though it’s glass window panes seem to be regularly cleaned. The walls are covered with cracked and pealing white paint. A rusted wind chime whose bells must have disappeared many years ago, hangs above a burgundy door. The roof is made of slate and numerous shingles are missing.

I pass by 806 Wheatwood every day as I head to the cafe located at 800A Wheatwood. I’ve never truly looked at it. My eyes tending to glaze over, focused on fueling my caffeine addiction.
I’m not sure what it was that captured my attention on Tuesday, January 27th but I stopped to look at the place. It was a cold day and a light dusting of snow clung to the grass. As I looked at the aging building I could have sworn that I saw one of the curtains move. As if someone brushed them as they passed by the window. Odd, the house was supposed to be abandoned.

For some bizarre reason I decided to investigate. I stepped up to the door and tried the brass knob. To my surprise and amazement the door swung open. As I stepped inside I could see that the house was completely empty. The only light was that which streamed in through the gaps in the drapery.  The floorboards creaked below my feet as I stepped into the living room; or at least the room that I would have designated as the living room.
There was a fireplace built from grey bricks. I gouged a line into the dust that had collected on the mantle piece. I wiped it on my jacket.
Next I moved into the kitchen. The floor was tiled, cracked, and faded. The sink was coated with a brown film and the refrigerator door hung ajar. The stove was blackened and what I can guess was mold occupied the corner.
From the kitchen I found my way into a bedroom. The bar that held up the stained curtains had fell from the wall and lay crumpled underneath the window. There was a trunk of dark-stained wood in the corner. As I opened it, dust flew into the air causing me to cough. My sputtering halted as the dust settled.

Inside I found various framed photographs. They were relics of a time long passed. They depicted stern faces of people long dead. I set them aside and continued my search of the trunk. 
Wrapped in a silk cloth, I found a human skull, sans jaw. I looked into the cavities that had once held eyes. Something about being in this crumbling house, holding a jawless skill felt oddly poetic; Shakespearian if you would.
Underneath the skull was a tome bound in black leather. Its pages were not paper, but instead canvas. The calligraphy was gothic in style, though I could not make out the words, nor did I recognize the language. I thumbed through the pages, admiring the beautifully illuminated artwork. There were diagrams and charts; renderings of strange plants and unknown beasts, and detailed drawings of human anatomy.
I heard a creak behind me, and as I turned to look I saw a figure of anthropoid outline, standing in the doorway. It must have stood at at least eight feet tall. It  appeared as a black mass, void of color. It was if light simply did not exist in that space.

The tome fell to the floor with a thud. I let out a scream. A scream that was muffled, as if my ears were at the bottom of a lake. I blinked and it appeared in the room, it’s head brushing the ceiling. I threw my hands up as if to push it away, but my hands passed through it. It grabbed my throat with its shadowy tendrils. I felt myself being lifted off the floor. My vision began to fade. I was falling… falling… falling….

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Lay of Frithgar and the Snow Maid; Part II. Frithgar & Fridjolti the Giant

From the Heimurinn Cycle

The Lay of Frithgar and the Snow Maid

Part II. Frithgar & Fridjolti the Giant

Thus Frithgar left his home and aett behind.
This, of course, was a grave misfortune for Blasith.
The gothi he planned to slay had disappeared,
So he asked all those he could find,
Where the good gothi had ran off to.

A young boy gave him the answer he sought.
“He set off along the north road,
He left in the night, I saw him with my own two eyes!”
Furious, Blaisth set off along the same trail as Frithgar.
The whole while planing the best way to slay his foe and claim his lands.

Frithgar was unaware,
Of Blasith’s treachery and schemes.
He traveled north,
Until he came upon a cavern,
Who’s yard was strewn with bones.

Before he could hurry past,
A booming voice called out to him,
“Lo! Who approaches?
Who dares to cross the threshold of Fridjolti,
The great troll of Midgard!”

Thinking quickly Frithgar shouted his answer.
“It is I, Frithgar!
I am but a simple traveler making for the north!
I did not mean to intrude upon your lovely home,
And certainly meant no offense by it!”

There was laughter,
And then the earth trembling footsteps of a massive beast.
The giant strode out of his cave.
Frithgar could see that the etinn stood as tall as ten men
And was more hideous than a rotting corpse.

Frithgar sought concealment from the creature,
Among some boulders.
He could hear the giant stomping around.
“Where are you treeling? I can smell you, but I can not see you!
Or are you a craven!? The troll bellowed a mighty laugh.

No man can resist the challenge of cowardice
So Frithgar climbed atop a boulder and drew Steelclaw
“Lo! Here I be, abomination!
I Frithgar, be no coward or craven!
And I shall slay you beast!”

The giant looked at Frithgar
And began to laugh.
He laughed so hard,
He fell to the ground. 
It was then that Frithgar saw his opportunity.

He fell upon the troll with a mighty roar
Steelclaw sang, 
As it bit into the giant’s hide
Howling, Fridjolti the Trol swung wildly
Trying to drive Frithgar into the ground.

Now, giants may be massive,
Towering over humans and gods alike
But they are stupid and brutish
And not very thoughtful 
And most of all… Giants are slow

Frithgar danced away from the giant’s blows
And back among the safety of the boulders.
The troll cursed him and plodded around the yard
Crunching the litter of bones.
The troll yelled in frustration.

Frithgar snuck up the hill,
And stood atop the mouth of the giants cave.
He threw a stone,
And hit the giant in the side of his ogreish head.
The troll spun and shouted.

“Ahh!!! Stealthy this one is!
Light on your feet! 
Yes, this will be a challenge!
But you should not worry treeling!
I will make a meal of you anyways!”

Frithgar called back,
“Oh my mighty foe,
I’m afraid that your desire is for naught!
See, I shall make a terrible meal!”
He chuckled.

There was a roar,
And the giant leapt towards Frithgar
Frithgar fell upon the ogre again.
And leapt into the beasts mouth
And buried his sword in the roof of the giants maw.

Taking care to not slip down the creature’s throat,
Frithgar climbed atop the ogres bulbous nose.
He said, “Hullo!
I warned you, Fridjolti the Dead!
I would be a awful snack!”

The Lay of Frithgar and the Snow Maid; Part I. Prologue & Frithgar's Dream

From the Heimurinn Cycle

The Lay of Frithgar and the Snow Maid

Part I. Prologue & Frithgar's Dream

Here begins the tale of Frithgar Cold-Heart,
Son of Ivrik Arnbjornson,
Gothi of the Haekkadings, ruler of the mead-hall, Lindsulla
Widower of Ren and Rihildr
Slayer of Andgith Silver-Tongue and Rurik Unnurson

Frithgar sired no sons or daughters,
And his brothers and sisters had gone forth,
To sit among the gods
To feast with their ancestors,
In their great halls.

He was granted his name by his aett.
Named as such due to his frozen core.
As being left alone and weary,
Drives a man to hate the world.
And wish for death.

Hear this, the world is full of wicked men.
Who seek to gain much
With no effort
Or with sly words or tricks
And this brings us to Blasith the Trickster.

Blasith was a queer man.
Round and plump,
With breasts larger than the most buxom of maidens.
In fact, many have said that he was not actually a man at all
But a woman who could grow a beard.

No one ever saw Blasith bathe,
Nor change tunics 
Nor trim his shaggy beard.
And every small child knows,
Never trust a man who does not keep a neat set of bristles.

Now Blasith was welcomed by Frithgar
Into Lindsulla, the mead-hall
He was given a place by the fire and a hot meal,
And Frithgar shared his bed 
As is expected of any host.

While he sat next to the fire 
And ate his host’s food,
Blasith learned of Firthgar’s troubles and loneliness
He listened and played sympathetic
To the ails of his host.

It is known to all people of Midgard,
That should a gothi be slain,
He or she who does the slaying
May take the seat of the fallen
Assuming the challenger as the favor of the aett.

This task,
Blasith set out to do.
So he went to all the Haekkadings,
And began to sow the seeds
Of mistrust and doubt

Once the time was right
Blasith was to appear at Lindsulla,
Challenge Frithgar to single combat,
Slay the gothi 
And rule of the Haekkadings would be his.

While Blasith talked among the people,
Spredding falsehoods
And embodying, Loki the Frost Giant,
Frithgar had other things to think about
In fact, many believe, Blasith was actually the Trickster God in disguise.

Now Frithgar was beset by a dream.
This dream, was of great distress to Frithgar
And he could not discard what he had seen,
And one night he made a journey,
To speak to the Seer.

Hear that when a man or woman
Is distressed or has a question for the gods,
They must make a pilgrimage into the mountains
And there, they will the speak to the Seer.
The Seer had asked Firthgar, what he had seen while he slumbered.

He said, “I have seen a spring, cloaked with mist,
I have felt it’s warmth and smelt it’s pines
And heard the rapids it feeds 
And seen the light dancing across it’s bed
And seen the woman bathing in the pure waters.”

“Her hair was the color of wind-bitten cheeks of a Fjallar maid, in the dead of winter.
Her eyes were portals of the sea, during the calm after a great storm
And her skin, shone with the light of Sunna, And was smooth like that of a newborn babe,
And as pale as a freshly fallen snow.
And she sings sweet things in my ears while I sleep!”

Since the Seer knows many things of the world, She knew at once who Frithgar spoke of.
She told him, “I know of the maid, of who you speak.
She lives far away, in the frigid north.
She calls for a husband, as she is sad and alone.
Just as you, Frithgar, feel at Lindsulla.”

Frithgar who still mourned,
For his long dead wives,
Did not know what to make
Of the Seer’s words.
The Seer told him, “You must go questing to find her.”

He replied, “I cannot leave my home.
Winter is fast approaching 
And the north is covered with snow
Up to the eaves 
And lowermost braches!”

The Seer, cast a fist of herbs into the fire
And breathed deep.
“Leaving your home now,
May be the best course, for you to sail.
Renounce your position, and you will find your bathing maid.”

Frithgar asked, “Lo, you are very wise Seer! But how will I find this woman?”
The Seer breathed in the herb-smoke,
She said, “Find the lair of the giant,
Then you must walk along the serpents spine,
And in the dark forest, you will find your singing bath girl.”

Frithgar heeded the Seer’s words,
He left Lindsulla,
Only taking with him,
His cloak, and shield,
And his blade, Steelclaw.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

I'm sick of One-shot Adventures: A Rant

Okay. Context! Here's how it is. I've been playing tabletop RPGs now for about 6 years. I began on the idea of a group of people getting together every weekend or every other weekend to play an campaign. We slayed dragons, defeated the drow, killed the goblins and stole their shoes, and numerous other shenanigans...

After a while the group fell apart after about a year and a half, as was expected. I started another group that fell apart after breakups and real-life happened. 

It was about half a year afterwards which I discovered Pathfinder, published by Paizo, and Pathfinder Society. I was involved with PFS for about two years until I started to become bored of the drop-in/drop-out style. Don't get me wrong. I love Pathfinder, but I'd rather play in a Non-Society environment. 

I discovered D&D Encounters, There I could play a similar style game to Pathfinder, but we typically had the same group of folks at the same table every week. I loved it! It was fantastic! I ran several seasons, with the same players, though there were some drop-ins and drop-outs. The story was interesting and easy to prep. But again once the group began to grow and with the fluctuating player attendance, I began to grow weary... This coupled with my extreme dislike of one of the regulars lead to my attendance rate dropping to once in a blue moon.

It just appears to me that a lot of people in the groups have been only introduced to the drop-in/drop-out style of Organized Play. When I bring up a setting that I really really really want to play, or has been festering in my mind for a while, most people seem really interested, but as soon as I bring up an ongoing campaign of 2+ sessions, everyone gets cold feet! What?! 
Now I understand people have jobs and real-life to deal with, and I'm willing to work around that. 

Since I can't seem to get people to commit to a game, I'm forced to write down the adventures I want to GM into story format. I actually explained a setting to one of my friends and their response was "Ooh that sounds cool! When are we going to play that?"
My response? "Well, we aren't." Reason: Because I brought it up before and no one wanted to commit to a campaign so I went and made my own characters, and wrote the story I wanted to tell... (I still am writing that story)

It's so frustrating to go through the incessant cycle of one-shots were I am handed a character sheet and then after the game is over, I never see that character again! I love to develop characters, give them backstory, really get into their head... but in a one-shot? Ha! yeah that's not going to happen.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Bolt Action, Tank War After Action Report: Feb 18th 2015, "I'm not telling the Fuhrer"

I took command of the German Forces. As the game grew more intense, I began to forget to take pictures of the action....

Panther 112 "Walk├╝re"
The Battlefield
Panther 102
Panther 221
Panzer IV 634
Panzer IV 635
Panzer IV 321
Sd. Kfz. 124 Wespe "Heidi"

Churchhill Heavy Tank.
Sherman "Bullet"
Sherman "Bunker Buster"
Sherman "Battling Bitch"
Sherman "Block Buster"
Sherman "Potshot"
Sherman "Thunderbolt"
Sherman "Thunderbolt VII"

Turn 1

  • The Panther platoon manuvered to gain the first shots of the day. Walkure and Pnthr 102 both fired warning shots towards the advancing Allied columns (Fig. 1)
    Fig. 1

Turn 2

  • Bullet gets placed on ambush, and the Churchhilll knocks out Pnthr 221 with a fierce blow to the side armor (Fig. 2)
  • Walkure then fires upon the Churchhills front armor with no effect.

Turn 3

  • Walkure draws the first dice and blasts a hole through the
    Fig. 2
    Churchhill's front armor. (Fig 3)
  • Pnthr 102 is placed on ambush to lay waste to any of those matchboxes that dared to cross it's path.
  • Bullet pulls up to a gap in the hedgerows and penetrates Pnzr 321's front armor, rendering the former piece of glorious German engineering a flaming wreck (Fig 4)
  • Pnzr 634 fires at bullet but put a round through the dense hedgerow instead!
  • Battling Bitch drives through a grove of trees, and falls into Pnthr 102's trap! But again the Panther's shells fail to penetrate... Curse that cute french girl in the factory! Tampering with the ammunition! I shall speak with her
    Fig. 3
    supervisor! (Fig. 5)
  • Battling Bitch returns fire, but the puny American shells bounce off the superior armor of the Third Reich!
  • Heidi wheels up into a ruined house and goes on ambush.
  • Potshot takes a potshot at Walkure from max range!

Turn 4

  • Bullet drives through it's firing gap and lands a crippling blow to the open carriage of Heidi. (Fig. 6)
  • Pnzr 634 needed to align his sights as he fires widely
    Fig. 4
    missing Bullet
  • Pnthr 102 takes another shot at Battling Bitch! but again misses. It was at this point where the German tankers started to ask themselves, "Are we the baddies? Is God against us?"
  • Battling Bitch moves out of Pnthr 102's arc of fire and takes a shot at Walkure
  • The crew of Walkure returns fire and scores a hit, shaking the already minuscule will of the crew of Battling Bitch
  • Pnzr 635 drives through the forest, and quickly brings his turret to bare, shattering the chassis of Bullet
Fig. 5

Turn 5

  • Pnthr 102 manuvers and gains a side shot on Battling Bitch and blows a hole through the paper thin armor!
  • Pnzr 635 fires a horrendous blow to Bunker Buster, knocking it out.
  • Walkure displays the superior marksmanship of German tankers!

Turn 6

  • Thunderbolt VII fires at Pnthr 102 and scores a luck hit knocking out Pnthr 102
    Fig. 6

Turn 7

  • Thunderbolt is placed on ambush
  • Pnzr 634 spots Potshot and fires. But due to the dust and smoke thrown up by the fierce fighting misses.
  • Potshot fires a salvo catching Pnzr 634. The crew of Pnzr 634 abandoned the vehicle was consumed in a blazing inferno.
  • Thunderbolt VII scores a hit on Walkure, destroying it.

The game ends with major heavy losses for the Germans, and heavy losses for the Allies.
The final words of the German Commander, "I'm not telling the Fuhrer"

Monday, February 9, 2015

I Wish I Could Tell Her...

So there is this girl. She's absolutely wonderful, charming, and funny. Every time I talk to her I feel myself falling for her more and more. She's caused something to happen in my mind, that I don't really have words for.

It's a warmness, a fluttering... I feel like she just understands me. Like I don't have to wear that mask that I wear for so many of the people around me; though sometimes I'm not so sure which version of me actually is the mask.

I feel this other emotion too... Fright, terror, fear... I don't know if it's because of a slew of bad relationships, or if I'm just scared of change. It makes me feel like one wrong step, one minor mistake and everything will come crashing down around me, leaving me to clean up the rubble of another failed attempt to build something good.

It makes me feel like damaged goods. As if I'm not good enough for anyone... How could anyone love me when I've been broken, left out in the rain, shoved to the back of the closet, stowed in the attic, left to gather dust... Forgotten. I'm so scared that I can't help but apologize about every possible tiny mistake. Pathetic.

I'm scared to tell her all this... because what if she thinks that I'm not worth trying to fix. What if I'm broken beyond repair?  Classic stories men are supposed to be brave, we are supposed to fight off the dragon, and save the princess... But there are rarely stories about men who get saved... I want to be strong... I want to be brave...

But I can't. I'm a scared little child, crouched in the corner weeping. So scared of the real world, that I hide in made up places until the storm stops blowing. She makes me want to be brave... Because I see that she needs help too... She's just like me... Different minded... Strange... Weird... Aspergers.

The more I feel like hiding in the corner, the more I want to venture out. The more afraid that I'm broken, the more I want to prove I'm not. The more I think that I'm not worthy for such a wonderful human being, the more I want to try for it...

I don't know what it is... But every time we talk, I feel like nothing is wrong. Like things will work out... I think she's beautiful, even when she doesn't wear makeup and wears a hoodie... Before I fall asleep I can't help thinking what it would feel like to fall asleep next to her; what it would feel like to cradle her in my arms... When she's upset, I feel even worse... I keep finding myself listening to Bryan Adams... My stomach is full of butterflies every time I see her...

I wish I could tell her all these things...

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Chucking Mice of Morton Place

My story begins when I moved into the house at 3 Morton Place, Rosewood, North Carolina. It was a small house that gave off the feeling of warmth, comfort, and homeliness.  It was built in 1923 or so I was told by the realtor. It was a single floor with the living spa
ce connecting to the bedroom and kitchen. The kitchen connected to a room that I planed to use as an office, and to the mud room which connected to the bathroom and the rear porch. The house had a cellar, which was accessible from the backyard.

It was after the first week I had begun to notice them. Late one night I was awoken by what sounded like laughter. Nervous that someone had broken into my home, I found the oaken walking stick that leaned in the corner next to my door or stepped into the living room. I could hear the laughter more clearly now. It was coming from the kitchen. I peered inside and flipped on the lights. Sitting the center of the round table I ate my meals at was a grey mouse. Strangely, the giggling had stopped when I made the discovery.
He sat on his haunches, standing erect. Having grown up on a farm with a father who kept rats as pets, the sight of the rodent did not make me squeal and recoil. He rubbed his front paws together, like a villain plotting a hero’s demise. I scooped him up and set him outside.
Over the course of the next month I began to see more and more mice; scurrying about the wood floor, skittering through holes in the walls. Every now and again I would hear the disembodied laughter.
Not wanting to hire an exterminator, I adopted a tomcat from the local shelter. He was an orange tabby with emerald eyes and he took to hunting the mice rather quickly; making a game of hunting them, and leaving their torn corpses in front my door as some sort of morbid offering. The tom helped with the problem, and I saw less and less of the rodents.
But one day the tabby disappeared. I searched the neighborhood and called for him with no avail. Slowly the rats returned and I began to set out traps baited with cheese. Every morning I found each and every one with a mouse who’s neck had been broken by the iron arm.
The laughter continued, and were joined by whispers. I searched and searched for the source, thinking that a radio must be on, or someone was playing a prank on me and had hid a walkie talkie somewhere. But no matter how hard I searched, I found nothing.

One dreary afternoon, I found myself in the cellar moving boxes, when I found a pile of bones. They were small, to big to be a rat. I inspected them curiously, and that’s when I saw it. A tuft of orange fur. Standing in horror, I felt someone watching me. A pair of rats sat atop a shelf. Looking down at me with their beady black eyes. Their noses twitched. They began to laugh, quietly at first. Their eyes glistened. I pinched myself, certain that this was a dream. A dream. But I did not wake from a slumber as I had expected. I sprinted from the cellar and to my car, refusing to look back. I squealed out of the driveway, never to return.

Even to this day, I still wonder… What sinister things the mice had to laugh about. But what man would be able to decipher their high-pitched language. Who knows the business of the chuckling mice of Morton Place?


This story was inspired by a strange wrought iron mouse statue that Snowflake told me about, that appeared outside her mother's work. She said it appeared a few months ago, and no one knows where it came from. I jokingly said, "Maybe it serves some eldritch purpose". She mentioned that sometimes when the wind would blow it looked like the statue was laughing, and I came up with a line, "Who knows the business of chuckling mice?"

The house it's self is based on my friends place. But I promise he doesn't have a mice problem.