A Place to Write

Posts tagged fiction


            Vermilion. What a bullshit color. Seriously, who the fuck thinks they don’t sound like a hipster douche when they say Vermillion?

            It’s red, damnit. Okay, so maybe it’s really brilliant red, fine, but get off your god damn high-color-horse.

            Oh, and don’t think I’m not looking at you too, cerulean, ya dick. 


All Mixed Up

            I got mixed up. That’s simply the best way to put it. She did it on purpose too, the bitch. I’m not really mad though. It’s not like I didn’t know what would happen; she was a baker after all.

I suppose that’s just life for a bag of flour.


My Lady Deathknight

            Throughout the ages, stories of bravery and heroism are common. Countless brave warriors face incredible odds and emerge victorious. The lone solider who risks life and limb to save his captured comrades. A lowly thief, spat on by all of society, who ascends to the throne of a nation. The sheltered princess, secluded in a tower until she’s won like a prize, but instead escapes her fate and saves her kingdom from impending darkness.

Among these tales are also great tragedies, examples of honorable sacrifice by good men and women for the greater prosperity of their respective peoples; of star-crossed lovers, willing even to die rather than be apart from one another, and of course the legend of Leila, the warrior maiden who was tragically cut down before she could rescue her prince.

Oh? Have you not heard that one? Well rest assured, it’s a riveting tale indeed! She fought man, and beast, and demon alike in her quest to rescue her love, the Prince Yuvon of Illar. Sadly though, it was not enough. When Leila at last stood before the Queen of Night, she was already weakened by the dark matriarch’s hordes. The Queen of Night struck her down with two blows, one across her face to mar her beauty, and another through her heart. Leila died then, but not before she uttered these words.

“Though I fail in this life, I will not stop. I may even fail a thousand times more, but no matter how many lives I must live and die, my soul will not rest until your wickedness is undone.”

And then she was gone. The Queen of Night then smiled her wicked smile and returned to her palace in the Shadowlands, where she supposedly still keeps Prince Yuvon captive to this very day, her ever unwilling concubine.

A sad tale, yes, but is that the end of it? What of our lady Leila’s dying words? Whatever happened to her determined soul? Well, dear reader, to know the answers to these very practical questions, you would have to ask Death, for only she can know for sure what happens to the souls of heroes and heroines. Fortunately for you, I’m a very well connected storyteller.

We’ll begin in the middle of the story, because quite frankly I’ve already spoiled the beginning for you. Trust me though, it only get better from here….


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This is normal

             It’s Friday, exactly 3:05 in the afternoon. I’m sitting in Dr. Holtz’s waiting room. I have a 3:15 appointment like I do every Friday afternoon. This is normal.

            My father abused me when I was a boy, quite badly or so I’m told. It’s socially acceptable to see a psychiatrist about childhood abuse. No one will think anything is wrong if I do this.

            At 3:08 an elderly woman enters the waiting room and takes the seat next to mine. I’m fairly sure she’s not real. The receptionist didn’t great her, and no one looked up when she opened the door. Because of that, I cannot react to her in any way. It wouldn’t be normal.

She takes out a pair of knitting needles and begins knitting. The thread is almost surely human hair. It smells burnt. I look up and her features have twisted wildly. Most of her face is melted. She smiles at me warmly.

            I do not react. I become aware that I’m gripping the armrests of my chair a little too tightly. My knuckles will turn white if I keep this up, but that’s still a reasonable level of anxiety when you’re about to see a shrink. I allow myself to keep gripping the armrests. This is still normal.

            “Mr. Wolven? The doctor will see you now.” At the sound of the receptionist’s voice the old woman is gone. I get up from my chair and follow her back to Dr. Holtz’s office.

            “Good afternoon, Dennis. How are you doing today?” Dr. Holtz greets me warmly. His beard has spiders in it. This is normal.

            “Oh, I’m okay. Can’t complain. How are you?” We exchange the usual pleasantries before we settle into the session. He asks me questions about my father, and I answer him truthfully. I don’t tell him about the spiders leaking out of his ear.

            Suddenly I feel a sharp pain on my arm, and I make a fatal mistake. I slapped a spider that had crawled over to me. I can’t take that back now. He saw me strike at nothing. That’s not normal.

            “Goodness! A spider bite! I’m so sorry, Dennis. I don’t know how they get in here. I’m having the office fumigated this weekend. I can’t apologize enough.”

            I breathe a sigh of relief. “It’s fine, Dr. Holtz. It just startled me is all.” I’m saved by reality for a change.

            The rest of the session goes by as it usually does. I tell the doctor things, and he helps me work through problems. I really think the sessions are helping me come to terms with what happened. I can’t ever tell him everything though. When I get back in my car after my appointment is over, a carpet of worms covers the seats. They wriggle all the way home. This is normal.


The Manic Pixie Dream Girl, and You

            The manic pixie dream girl; You know the one. She’s the girl that’s always excited, bubbly, happy, and knows just what to say to cheer up the dreary, ordinary, male protagonist. She gets him out of his rut, loves him even though he’s a mess, and fixes his life up for him.

            She a bad writing trope. Her name is usually something like Crystal, Molly, or Bell, or something equally short and easy to remember. She’s got fiery red hair, maybe a pair of those hipster glasses, the ones with the plain black rims, and she described herself as “quirky.” She has no personality, and wants nothing other than to cheer you up. She’s a tool, a 1 dimensional character used predominately for wish fulfilment fantasy….

            But she is real. She’s a bad stereotype, a caricature of a person, and she suffers from an exotic cocktail of mental illnesses. That doesn’t stop her from bumping into you as you’re leaving the coffee shop like some cliché romantic comedy. It doesn’t stop her from falling in love with you instantly, and doing everything in her power to ensnare you.

            She planned this all out, you see. She’s a self-styled dream girl; living out a fantasy of modern media’s creation. She doesn’t know it’s a sickness, and you don’t know what’s wrong with her yet. That comes later. She’s very good at hiding all of her neurosis. She’s a perfectly crafted collection of porcelain masks, each one, immaculately suited to a particular task.

            There is no person under those masks, just a monster. It’s not her fault though, it’s yours. Did you really think that a proper lady would be interested in you as you are? Don’t kid yourself. What are you, 27 years old now? And what have you accomplished? Still working on that book, are you? And how many query letters have you sent out this week? None?

            She doesn’t want you because you’re desirable. She wants you because she knows she can’t do any better. You’ll love her. You’ll accept her no matter how horrible she is. Even when all her masks crack and you see the beast within, you’ll keep her because you don’t want to be alone anymore. She knows all of this ahead of time. That’s why she chose you. You never had a choice to begin with.

            You deserve each other.


Shadowlands History 1: The Birth of Saz-Thronar

            I’ll beg your pardon in advance; I’m about to prattle on about infinity and the universe. It’s a bit cliché, but I do have a point, I promise.

            In the vastness of all existence, as you might well know, there are many different universes. Some are very similar, some are quite different. I’m told your universe is balanced; part light, part dark. One cannot exist without the other, or so they say. It’s an old tale, one you’ve surely heard repeated time and again in varying different forms. Sometimes the light and the dark do battle against one another. More often than not, the light wins these altercations, which in and of itself casts doubt on the balanced nature of your universe. It seems quite clear to me, as an outside observer, that your universe is quite clearly skewed toward the light.

            My universe is different. In a grand majority of your tales, some great evil threatens to “cover all the lands in darkness,’ or “shift the balance to darkness for the next 10,000 years.” Invariably though, the protagonist of these stories saves the day in the last possible moment and averts that darkness.

Such is not the case in my universe. Rather, there was no great evil, no heroic savior, and no grant battle. Instead there was darkness. Darkness was the natural state of things; it was what we were accustomed to. It’s true; there were many terrors in the dark, but none as frightening as the light and what it brought.

The light of the Bot-Shahar first shined upon my world some 60,000 years ago, and with it came only one thing… war. Light and dark did indeed do battle. It was terrible to behold. The grand clashing of forces described in your stories was there for us to see, and it did decimate the land. For 10,000 years the light and the dark did wage their war, and all the while the land itself suffered.

My universe is unbalanced. Darkness was made to rule here, and the presence of light causes only suffering for those who dwell here. Now the lands are scarred, crater-blasted wastelands; casualties of the endless battle between light and dark.  I can no longer stand to sit back and watch this pointless war tear my world asunder. My rage burns within me at both the light and the dark. I have slept soundly for the entirety of my world’s existence, and now I must finally wake. The fury of the land drives me to madness. It cannot remain silent any longer.

My name is Saz-Thronar, and I am the Rage of the World.


Fragile Regrets

            Yesterday I broke a woman made of glass. The memory of it is still so surreal; bits of her falling to the ground in slow motion and then shattering into a thousand glittering fragments.

            Am I a murderer? I know she wasn’t a real woman, but she was so pretty, so serene. I’ve tried to imagine what she might have been thinking at that last moment, just before I hit her with the pipe.

            Was she afraid? Was she hoping someone would save her? Does she hate me?  It was an accident, I swear. I was just so angry. I didn’t mean to break her, it all happened so fast. I can’t take back what I did; I know that.

            Even though I regret it, I can’t promise I won’t do it again. I don’t know if I’m a murderer, but I know I’m not a liar.

            I just get angry sometimes, and women made of glass are very fragile.


Your Letters Have Not Been Recieved

            Daniel Kuth isn’t home today. He wasn’t home yesterday either, or the day before, or the day before that. His mail is beginning to pile up on the porch and the neighbors are shaking their heads and silently making judgments at the unsightly pile as they pick up their morning papers.

            Daniel Kuth doesn’t know about all the unflattering things his neighbors are saying about him. He’s not here to overhear their hushed gossip and petty judgments. He’s not home today and we won’t be coming back tomorrow either. His neighbors will go on saying their unflattering things and turning their noses up at his unkempt lawn. Before long they’ll submit nasty letters to the neighborhood HOA administrators. After that there will be a few more unread letters in his pile of unread mail.

            Daniel Kuth’s front porch is soon completely covered in letters from the neighborhood HOA. Some of them are even fines in amounts upwards of 500 dollars for not mowing his lawn, but he’s still not home to read them and he’s surely not home to pay them. Very soon the unflattering things his neighbors were whispering are no long whispers, but rather shouts of outrage. They will demand that he be found and made to answer for his violations of the HOA, but no one will be able to find him.

            Daniel Kuth isn’t home today, and he won’t be home tomorrow either. His neighbors are in a state of rage, their precious previsions are going ignored, and nothing is being done about the state of Daniel’s lawn. Soon they will storm up to his house and post carefully sealed envelopes directly on his front door. These envelopes contain lists upon lists of grievances and demands that he pay his fines for the state of his lawn. They are harshly worded letters filled with smugness and a stark sense of entitlement, but even these will go unread, for Daniel Kuth isn’t home today, and he won’t be home tomorrow either.


Shadowlands - A Campaign Setting: Part 1

Shadowlands Regions & Factions

The Shadowlands are divided into three major regions. The innermost region is called Avior, and it is further divided into 5 nations. We’ll cover those shortly. The middle region is called The Twilight Expanse, and it is home to 6 of the 7 Free Cities. Finally, the outermost region is called The Shadow Wilds, home to the last known bastion of civilization, Last Light, the 7th Free City.

Avior –

Avior is the most populous region of the Shadowlands. At its center, in the Illuminated Palace lies the Bot-Shahar (Daughter of Dawn), the only true source of light in all of the Shadowlands. Without the Bot-Shahar, no light would be able to shine anywhere in the Shadowlands. The further one gets away from this source, the less effective light becomes.

Because of its close proximity to the Illuminated Palace, Avior still has some vestige of a day/night cycle. The sun shines for approximately 4 hours each day here.

The 5 Great Houses –

Avior is divided into 5 nations, each ruled over by one of the 5 great houses. No house can lay claim to the land upon which the Illuminated Palace is built though.

House Leshra –

Ruled over by King Doram Leshra, 2nd of his name, House Leshra is known as the darkest of the 5 great houses. They are the keepers of secrets, and stealers of dreams. Well suited to life in the Shadowlands, the members of House Leshra are known to employ assassins, rogues, fixers, and other “denizens of the dark” to carry out their plans. The house almost never moves openly, or acts hastily. They are careful planners, and scheming minds.

House Perks: +2 Stealth, +2 Bluff, +1d6 Sneak Attack Damage (Regardless of Class)

House Powers:

Leshran Fade – You become invisible until the beginning of your next turn, attacking ends the invisibility after the attack is completed. Free Action. 1/encounter.

Dark Favor – You can call in a favor from a higher ranking House Member at any time, but no more often than once per month. This favor can be great or small, but always comes at a price; either gold or another favor in return. The return favors are very unpleasant or dangerous. You cannot call in another favor until you have repaid the first one. (Caution: Waiting a long time to repay a favor can be bad for your wellbeing.)


House Tazen –

Ruled over by King Gramesh Tazen, 1st of his name, House Tazen has made a reputation for itself as the home of the finest warriors. They are unmatched in skill with a blade or bow, and their shields never shatter. Short of temper, and quick to violence, House Tazen is a powder keg. The other houses make extra efforts to avoid starting unnecessary wars due to accidently offending a member of House Tazen. This house respects strength over everything else. They hold grand tournaments twice a year, offering fabulous prizes to the winners (most often their own members.)

House Perks: +2 Intimidate, +2 Acrobatics, +1 to Attack or AC (Chosen once and the choice is permanent)

House Powers:

Tazen Ferocity – You can reroll your last failed attack roll with a +2 bonus. Free Action. 1/encounter.

Reinforcements – You can call for a small contingent of Tazen Soldiers (4 in total) to aid you for up to 24 hours. The soldiers’ levels are always equal to your level -2. They will protect you and anyone you designate from any harm that may come your way during their service. You may also choose to issue the solders specific orders. They will attempt to carry out these orders to the best of their abilities. Should any of the solders die while in your service, you will be required to pay a fee to the house for each soldier that dies. (Fee based on level.) You may call for reinforcements once per month.


House Ithen –

Ruled over by Archmaster Wren Ithen, 3rd of his name, House Ithen boasts the greatest repository of knowledge in all the Shadowlands. They are scholars and mages, loremasters and archivists; only House Leshra can even hope to compete with them when it comes to secret knowledge and lost lore. This house prizes knowledge highest of all. They are refined, dignified, and well read.

House Perks: +4 Any Knowledge, +2 Use Magic Device, +1 additional trained Skill.

House Powers:

Ithen Knowledge – You may make an appropriate knowledge check against an enemy in place of an Attack Roll. Free Action. 1/encounter.

Arcane Council – You can call on the combined knowledge of House Ithen to answer any single question. This service is most often provided for free. However, there are some questions that come with a price. You may call an Arcane Council only once per month.


House Lumen –

Ruled over by Archbishop Alleria Lumen, 2nd of her name, House Lumen worships the Bot-Shahar. They are priests and paladins; protectors of the light. To house Lumen, it is only by the will of the Bot-Shahar that any are allowed the grace of illumination. Though none have ever managed to make it to the Illuminated Palace and back again, House Lumen is vigilant in its study and protection of the holy site. This House is single minded in its devotion to the light. They seek to find ways to expand what little light the Shadowlands has, even going so far as to fund expeditions into the Shadow Wilds, both to bring light to the darkness, and seek whatever answers may be hidden there.

House Perks: +2 Heal, +2 Survival, +1d6 Healing from direct sources.

House Powers:

Lumen Zeal – Your next successful attack causes a blinding flash of light. One creature affected by that attack becomes Blinded until the end if your next turn. Free Action. 1/encounter.

Illuminate – You can call upon your devotion to the Bot-Shahar in order to bring light to dark places, at least for a little while. When you employ this ability you create an area of bright light in a 20ft radius burst. This light dispels all darkness, and creatures of darkness cannot enter this area. Creatures of light within the area will heal at twice the normal rate, and cannot be affected by nightmares. The light lasts for 24 hours.  You may call upon the Bot-Shahar in this way only once per month.


House Enai –

Ruled over by Grand Arbiter Lordim Enai, 1st of his name, House Enai is the law of the Shadowlands. They are judges and arbiters; keepers of the peace. House Enai is a strictly neutral house. They are called upon to settle disputes between the other houses and to interpret the laws of the land. This house is strictly impartial; any evidence that suggests a member has a bias toward any other house faces the harshest of punishments.

House Perks: +2 Perception, +2 Sense Motive, +2 to Will Saves

House Powers:

Enaian Impartiality – You may instantly end one Fear, Charm, or Dominate effect that you suffer from. Free Action. 1/encounter.

Inquisition – You can call upon your house to ascertain the truth from one target you have in custody. Once you hand the target over to your house’s “tongue looseners” you may ask any number of questions of that target. The target may not choose to stay silent. They must answer and the *will* answer truthfully.   You may call an inquisition only once per month.


Another Day in Limbo

There comes a point in ever mysterious stranger’s existence when you wake up half dangling of a cliff deeper than a man can see with no memory of how you got there.

            For Emmitt, that moment occurred at precisely 5:28 AM. He couldn’t tell you the day of the week though; they all run together after a while. His eyes cracked open slowly and somewhat painfully. He’d developed a healthy crust around his eyes from all the dust and dryness. At first he didn’t move at all. A goodly portion of his left side was dangling precariously off of the aforementioned cliff, and it would only take one unplanned jerking motion to send him tumbling to his death.

            Slowly, and with great care, Emmitt crawled away from the gaping maw of the chasm. Everything hurt, but not bad enough to complain about. He dusted himself off, gave a yawn, and finally took a good stock of his surroundings.

            The place was bleak. A craggy gray expanse dotted with sudden cliffs and rocky protrusions. He didn’t recognize it, but then again being lost out here wasn’t exactly unexpected. Every day is different when you’re stuck in Limbo. It could be worse. He could be on fire.

            Emmitt was beginning to think that Limbo was overrated. Yes, it’s chaotic, and yes, it’s dangerous; but really, at the end of the day how many variations of “desolate lifeless wasteland” can there be? By Emmitt’s count, there were about 37, after that they all kinda bleed together.

            With a deep breath and a not-so-subtle roll of his eyes, Emmitt set off across today’s flavor of wasteland in the search for a way out. He knew he wouldn’t find one, but giving up after only 395,274 tries seemed a little silly to him.