Posted in #dnd, #fantasy, short stories

Webs and fates.

The world has changed, I smell it’s despair in the air, my feet sense its pain through the earth. For many years I have lived here cursed and forgotten but now my dear children something is coming.

The group had travelled for days and now found themselves on the mountain surrounded by trees, exhaustion taking over them. Targa took watch Nereida approached him slowly still not fully recovered.

“You should be resting”

“I can’t, not when it is my fault, we are all here and we have no idea what we are walking into” replied Nereida

“well we need help and from what I can tell this is how we get that, so don’t worry we are strong together than apart”

“Targa what if I have brought us to our deaths? I hear this stupid voice in my head all the time and he isn’t a good person”

“That is doubtful Nereida, but if it is then I hope that our story will be heard, and more people will fight the king now please rest.”

Targa sat for hours his eyes scanning the treeline for movement, his mind wandered to times when he would hunt the thrill of it the calm he felt there, then he thought of his father and the times he had spent in the woods and his heart ached at his loss. It was at this moment when grief threatened to consume him that the halfling Lorcan broke the silence startling the dragonborn.

“Geez it’s clammy in here”

“Lorcan what are you doing awake?”

“ah well I am rested surprisingly and not being in my little house has me on edge if I’m honest I’m not one for the wilderness laddie so why don’t you get some rest and let me take over I think we have a busy day ahead of us”

Targa bowed his head and joined the group for rest, Lorcan fanned himself sweat running from his brow and his breathing getting shallow.

“it really is hot in here, alright focus Lorcan, focus” he glanced at the group and his eyes lingered on Nereida he smiled.

“what would a girl like that see in a little guy like me, focus Lorcan focus you have a job to do”

The air changed a sweet smell filled the halflings nose and he grew sleepy, his eyelids were heavy and drooping, he slapped his face shaking off the sleep, but it was no use sleep took hold.

Targa awoke blood rushing to his head, he was unable to move, his eyes struggling to focus through a white haze. As his ears adjusted, he could hear the faint mumbles from his friends, his heart took a leap he had encountered this before.

“No one move, we are in trouble”

“No way Targa I would never have guessed” responded Aidene.

“when I get my hands on you Targa your going to have a problem.” Replied Ravana

“Actually guys, it’s my fault I made him go and rest. So, if you must punish anyone it’s me”

As the group began shouting at the halfling, Targa focused on each voice checking no one had been lost, then he focused he fully understood the dangers they were in. He drew upon his energy releasing cold air into the thick sticky tangle and using his great feet he kicked himself free falling to the ground, he rushed to free his friends. Galurak grabbed Lorcan by the collar and lifted him, Targa rushed over.

“now is not the time my friend” he said

“listen to Targa, he is wise” Lorcan said in a panic.

“You, you’re the reason we are in the whatever mess we are in”

“what is this stuff it is so sticky?” said Nadora

“it’s a web” replied Targa

“don’t be silly Targa spiders could do that” said Aidene

“erm Nereida I wouldn’t be so sure of that, look” replied Ravana

As they looked around, their eyes were greeted by a dark and looming woodland some of the trees were dying and a think white webbing covered every inch of the tops. The air was thick, and the sunlight was blocked by it.

“It is spiders, I’ve faced them before” said Targa

“well what should we do?” asked Galurak

“stick together and don’t touch anything it will only draw them to us”

“erm Targa” said Nadora pointing at Nereida

The half elf was now in the middle of a stream of black tar like water, which was winding and twisting over her skin holding her in place as she swayed against it. The group rushed to her aid but as they drew closer to her a wall of water sprang up surrounding her, Targa tried to freeze it and the half orc tried to attack it both were sent flying backwards. The group watched helplessly as Nereida was held within its grasp, then as suddenly as it had started, she awoke for the trance and walked from the water completely dry.

She looked at her friends a little embarrassed “I’m sorry I scared you all, water…. It lets me speak to him among other things”

“if we make it out of here you need to explain this” said Ravana

“the witch is near” continued the half elf.

“where, this place is one giant trap and we need to get out” replied Targa

“NO, we need to go in”

“in? you really are mad…. This is the home of giant spiders if we go in, we aren’t coming out”

“Targa, I know this is hard to believe but she lives in there at the heart of it all, we have come this far we must continue”

“I don’t like this…… and who is making that clicking noise it is annoying as hell” said Aidene

As she gazed around the group shrugged it off in protest and then they became aware of movement all around them, they drew their weapons readying for a fight as a strange screeched filled the air Nereida walked away from them.

“We mean no harm and we only wish to speak to the queen of these lands, the all mighty and powerful Ette”

A strange whisper responded “proceed but we are watching you”

The spiders kept hidden, but their shadows fell behind the group giving the impression that there was only one way they could go, they began walking saying close together with the clicking growing less as more spiders fell behind.

“we could go invisible and run for it” piped up Lorcan

“that’s an idea” agreed the twins

“we have come this far” said Galurak

“but….”

“if it is a fight then it shall be a good one”

“your orc kind always with the violence” replied Ravana with a smirk

“be on your guard all of you” instructed Targa.

Ravana in her gazing around stumbled over a stone causing her to lose her footing and landed on a web, it was tough and sticky she struggled to free herself. As she pulled herself free there was a thundering sound of feet scuttling across the ground in the darkness followed by hasty clicking and the movement stopped. As the dwarf and the rest of the party peered through the webbing, they caught sight of a glint of light lightly shining on several eyes, Ravana backed away slowly.

“this is a mistake we should go” she stammered

“we had no choice” replied Nereida

“there is always a choice” snapped Ravana

“the choice was this or death”

“Great we are probably going to die anyway”

“lets just keep going” stuttered Lorcan

The woods grew darker like they had always been that way and knew nothing of light, the web was thicker now and in the darkness the half elf could make out spiders above there heads now but they were only babies, the webbing extended in front of the friends and as they looked it they took in the complexity of it and fear grew of what lay within it funnel. Suddenly a female voice echoed from it

“who wanders so aimlessly into my kingdom, a group of self-proclaimed heroes I imagine… too bad that none of you will see the light of another day”

Targa drew his blade and the others followed, Nereida held her hands out

“great Ette queen of the spiders and the most powerful of your kind, please allow us council and guide us” she said

“oh, it begs to be spared and guidance”

“I do not beg your highness merely ask, after all we have the same goal in mind”

The web shook and again the sound of feet could be heard, the group could only stare at the web tunnel. The baby spiders disappeared higher out of sight, just as the tips of legs covered in dark spiky hairs emerged from the tunnel. Next came the body of the creature the hair thicker and as it emerged from the tunnel pulling itself up to reveal the body of a women, a menacing set of fangs sat just below the waist. Her arms were exaggerated by the long claws on the end of her fingers

“a mind reader, are you? Well let’s see what you can do”

In that moment Nereida dropped to her knees her hands clutching her head, her mouth open in silent scream. The group moved to help but the queen spoke quickly

“if you value your friend, I wouldn’t do that” she grinned

“let her go” said Galurak

“you know I’ve heard enough from you” she clicked her fingers and Galurak fell silent.

Lorcan had a thought through his panic, and he removed a mole skin from his pack and through the water from inside over Nereida causing the spider queen to laugh.

“how stupid can you be to think that would help” she shot a web at the halfling causing him to disappear into the trees.

Targa made the air cold in his building rage, and she turned her attention to him

“well what do we have here…. I haven’t…… what…. what is this?” she began to scream in pain her body curling up from it.

A blue aura of an octopus now surrounded Nereida and she was now floating her eyes pure white. Her friends just stared in shock as a male voice left her lips.

“listen to the girl Ette or you will….”

Nereida fell to the ground panting as the spell ended, Ette quickly recovered a confused look across her face.

“I am sorry that he has chosen you child….”

“well my fate is no different from yours, but I will not use the power against you I only come to ask for help if you will permit it”

“I will listen”

“we are here because of the king”

Anger grew in the queen as she sent vibrations through the webbing, Nereida spoke with purpose

“please we are not here to fight we are looking to destroy him is all”

“destroy him…. He deserves to suffer for what he did”

“and he will I promise or else I will give myself willingly to you to decide my fate”

The queen laughed “your fate is already decided little one and I will not cross the God of the deep. But I can help you”

“thank you”

“the key to his destruction can be found on an island to the East, a forgotten land where dragons once roamed. There you will find a temple and with training they can teach you all you need to know. Although the dragonborn already has the power if only he could harness it”

“that is your suggestion…. Go to an island” said Aidene

“child there are trials to be passed to prove you worthy first and you with your cheek I am unsure if you would be”

“HEY, I am”

The spider queen laughed, then pulling a stick from her hair allowing it to fall over her shoulders she held a vile which she held out for Nereida, the half elf took it looking at Ette confused.

“a vile of my venom, use it wisely a single drop is enough to kill a man”

Nereida bowed thanking the queen

“now you and the dragonborn are free to go, as for the rest of you”

“wait… what? no”

“my dear girl you two are pivotal to the cause, but I will not allow such insubordination to exit my woods.”

“I’m sorry” said Aidene

The spider queen smiled, at that moment spiders descended from the treetops white poison dripping from their fangs. They landed on the ground their hairy legs sweeping over it as they advance on the group, Aidene pulled her weapon and swung at the nearest one slicing through its fang. As she looked at her friends smiling in victory a great fang of the spider queen sunk into Aidene skin and foam escaped her mouth. Filled with rage Targa sprang forward the queen shrinking away from the cold he picked up Aidene and retreated to the group they were surrounded.

“HEY ugly, did you forget about me…. you need to learn some manners yourself.” Called Lorcan

The spider queen scowled at the halfling, and nodded at the spiders, they began to reel themselves like they were attached to a fishing line.

“LORCAN RUN” shouted Targa

“in a minute” the halfling danced around the branches waiting as the spiders got closer then just as their hairy legs began to tickle his feet he jumped down pulling the web with him, the spiders screamed in pain as the suns rays burst through the canopy hitting the queen who shrivelled up into a ball on the forest floor.

“what are we waiting for let’s get out of here” called the halfling and they began running the web still attached to his arm letting more light in with every step as the web was pulled away.

The group kept running until they reached the outskirts of the woods, Targa placed Aidene on the ground as her sister ran over cradling her lifeless body. Lorcan didn’t waste anytime and began to work speaking words with Nereida helping both worked together on the girl.

Posted in mental health, short stories

Unique like a snow flake

It is that time of year, it just kind of snuck on me I don’t know about any of you out there. For weeks now I have listened to every Christmas song I can, I’ve taken my kids to Christmas markets and talked of elves, Santa and the North Pole generally getting excited about the whole season but there is that darker side to the season that we don’t really talk about and it happens to a lot more people than we would know. Just the other day I was speaking to someone about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and the effects that it can have on an individual and how un-Christmassy they were feeling because of it and I got to thinking. 

Yes, I love the season and yes, I get into it but let’s be honest it stresses us out, have I bought the kids enough? Will my partner like this? How will I afford that? I often find myself scrolling through my social media pages thinking that I’m doing something wrong and how can they possibly be affording that when I work so hard and know that I couldn’t (be honest we have all done it) in these moments I have to stop and reflect and remember life is not a competition and then I ask myself what is more important to me. This time of year also brings the pressure of this attitude that we are all happy all the time, because tis the season…… the harsh reality is that 1 in 4 adults are effected by a mental health problem and this time of year can prove to be the hardest. 

With all the festivities going on around it is easy for someone suffering with a mental health problem to feel disconnected from the joy and warmth – an individual can be left feeling like they are Scrooge left out in the cold looking in the window of the Cratchit family and the joy they have unable to take part – This societal expectation can increase the pressure on someone who has a mental health problem, and in many cases heighten the negative thoughts and feelings. So how do we combat these, well for me I use these techniques and like puppies they are not just for Christmas. 

 Firstly i acknowledge that all my thoughts are real…… yip 100% real and unique as a Christmas snowflake (see what I did there). The thoughts are real so say hi to them, next ask yourself are they factual, the mind is a wonderful thing and boy is it powerful, so is the thought factual? If the answer is yes and you can prove that it is then by all means carry on my wayward son, if the thought is not go ahead and shout STOP at it.  

Next I take time out, this one I stumbled upon at a really bad time and it turned out to be what I needed but it comes in many forms at that time it was a weekend away but as I look back I realise that it included time away from social media and staying in when I was supposed to go out. Now I find myself taking 10 minutes out of my work day just to breathe and recharge. 

Sleep – at this time of year late night prep and parties can steal our sleep from us and it is important to rest. 

Exercise – I know at this time of year it is the last thing on most people’s mind but think of the endorphins you know the happy chemical. I know… I know but what if you took a little walk like walk for 15 minutes then turn back there 30-minute walk barely a sweat. 

Relax – I know I laughed too, but breathing exercises, yoga or my new go to meditation. Yip recently I have zoned out so many times and it has been blissful.  

Step away – like I said previously I have in the past taken a break from Social Media and it was good for the soul, I’m saying it is an excuse to avoid things but if mentally you are not feeling up to it then don’t force it. I have in the past avoided social events and in the end felt worse so now I fight the anxiety and go or invite people to the house because let’s remember the thoughts are real but not always factual.  

It really is the most wonderful time of the year and it is sometimes lost because of the gifts but for me this time of year is about being together, for someone with a mental health problem that is one of the hardest parts but you my lovely people can make it easier, yip the wonder person that is you and I’m drawing on what I needed and wanted when I was at my worst. 

Talk – Let someone know you are there for them and then leave it. I know this might seem harsh but daily reminders of I’m here if you want to talk really are stressful. Why? Well for me I didn’t always have the answers why I feel the way I do and the fact I am unable to explain it adds to the pressure. I am not saying don’t speak to the person far from it they need the conversation so be there even if you only talk of the weather. 

Listen – try not to judge them on how they feel or think remember 100% real. 

Spend time with them – meet up for a coffee, pop round to their house even for 5 minutes it can change the whole day for someone.  

Don’t pressure them – so they don’t want to go on a night out, that’s ok you know and forcing them to go won’t make them feel good. 

Don’t draw attention to them – one important thing to remember is that alcohol can heighten emotions and if your feeling low imagine the effects it will have maybe not that night but the next day when it wears off. So, if someone is not drinking keep it in mind and don’t single them out adding to the pressure just be happy, they made it.  

Encourage them to take the time out – Not avoid, but step back and gather their thoughts and enable them to come back at it. 

Let me leave you with this thought in the hope that you carry it and you smile just a little: 

You are strong, passionate, courageous, more than capable and as unique as a Christmas snowflake and you know what…. That is just imperfectly perfect the way we should be, so be you send your energy into the world because it is amazing.  

Sending you love and joy while wishing you all a Very Merry Christmas.  

Posted in #dnd, #fantasy, short stories

Visions and plans

Lorcan sat in the moonlight tending to Nereida, he hummed a light tune as he did. The half elf lost her strength upon entering the house and passed out, since then the halfling had not left her side tending to her wounds and speaking words of healing but nothing had worked.

The rest of the group sat at the kitchen table a dispute had begun, the dragonborn Targa released cold air into the room making them stop arguing.

“I think that we can all agree that the king must be stopped, but the means of doing so are unclear” his voice was calm but commanding.

“well…. What would you suggest, my people live in the mountains and would be willing to help” said Galurak

“would they really…. your people are you sure of that?” said Nadora

“yes, they would”

“if I remember the stories half orcs are outcasts so really do you even have people?” asked Aidene

“HEY, what would you know huh Galurak has people and if he could just explain they would help” shouted Ravana

“enough… all of you, regardless of the aid we may receive marching to the castle and kicking down the door doesn’t seem the right course” said Targa

“we know how to sneak into the castle as we have told you before” said Nadora

“Ah, spies in the camp eh” said Ravana

“Please, we hate the king just as much as you lot” said Aidene

“ENOUGH”

“there is another way….” The weak voice of Nereida travelled around the room

“I tried to keep her in bed…. erm I mean stop her coming in here”

The twins sniggered at the halfling faltering over his words as he scowled at them.

Targa shook his great head standing and gesturing for her to have a seat “please explain”

“there is a witch of old who may have the answers we seek; she lives in the mountains to the North”

“witches…. That is what we have come to” said Ravana

“the king has magic we don’t know, so we need magic of equal measure” continued Nereida

“how do you know about this witch?” asked Galurak

“I…. I had a vision”

“a vision? When? How?” Ravana was concerned

“I can’t really explain it, but there is a power within me I never asked for and now I get these stupid visions”

“then how do we know we can trust you, for all we know you are leading us to our deaths” said Aidene.

“then perhaps we should separate” replied Targa

“Targa, you can’t be serious” Nadora looked confused

“the girl is right we need an old magic and what is the harm in trying it”

“death… death is the harm”

“I do not fear death little one”

“hate to interrupt, but this little humble abode of mine disappears in a few hours and we need a plan and rest before then” interrupted Lorcan

“well can it travel to the North” asked Ravana, her words caused Nereida to smile

“come on now lass… it aint a magic carpet you know……. Although maybe…. nah”

“what?”

“well… I could maybe make us fly…. Or is it float?”

“Lorcan what do you mean”

“clouds, I could turn us to clouds and we could float there, Oooo Targa you would be a little snow cloud” the halfling grinned but dropped his gaze quickly “which is not important at all”

The dragon born smiled “well it would be something”

“well how long will that take?”

“a few hours for the spell to work if I start now and let’s say a day to float North… id say pack wisely when we get there, I will need my rest so no nice housey house”

Suddenly a great banging could be heard echoing from the front door, shaking the foundations.

“it would appear we have visitors”

Just then a spirit appeared in front of Lorcan “sire a large group at the door wishing to enter”

“show me please”

An image appeared in the spirits stomach, showing a group of six werewolves banging at the door.

“ah yes, unwelcome guests see to it that they leave will you”

The spirits eyes turned crimson and the light within it grew to a dark grey “as you wish my master” he let out a wail and disappeared, from the sounds in the hall he was not alone.

“now then to bed with you all”

“and we are not going to talk about what just happened?” asked Nadora

“we can but that will make this longer and by the time the house disappears I would like to be a cloud and float away you know just in case the puppies are still outside”

One by one the group left the halfling some muttering in disapproval of the plan to Targa, until only Nereida was left Lorcan was startled when he noticed her.

“hmm… well…erm hello”

Her face was a little sad “Lorcan, why do the twins make fun of you sometimes when you speak to me?”

“oh well… you see…. I’m a bard and to lose my words is kind of funny I suppose”

“does it happen often?”

“no… no its rather new for me, I could talk the legs off a donkey most days”

“then why?” Nereida stifled a laugh

“well it’s like this I ……. Erm well that is to say…. ah heck I like you” the halfling shuffled his feet daring not to look at her.

Nereida walked over kissing the halfling on the forehead “I like you to, now to work and if you don’t mind, I would like to sit with you”

The halflings face was pink and he could only nod, causing Nereida to giggle.

Posted in #fantasy, short stories, Uncategorized

Ravana

“let the birds sing hmmm mmm hmmm, I have forgotten the words dilly dally? Hmm that’s not right”

Nereida was startled awake by a strange voice, she found herself in a room with stone walls on a bed of sheepskin and blankets.

“oh, for the love of…. will you tweet somewhere else you’re driving me insane”

In a panic she looked around for her belongings and her foot touched the cold stone floor she winced gasping in air. The stranger appeared in a doorway, she was half of Nereida’s height, her hair red and wild.

“ah, about time you were awake I was thinking we would have to feed you to the wolves…. Geez girl laugh I’m joking the healing light would punish me for that.”

Nereida blinked in the false light

“who…. Where…. What?”

“aahhhhh, I don’t have time for this girlie… Look you were wandering around the wilderness barely alive I might add, I followed you and found you collapsed and well it is my duty as a follower of the healing light that I help those in need.”

“the healing what?”

“light, geez try to keep up, anyway you are in the great dwarven city of Bogam welcome and all that and you can stay here for as long as you like again your welcome”

“dwarven city? Who are you?”

“oh well that was rude of me…. My name is Ravana”

“why haven’t you all been killed by Ryker he hates all beings that are different”

The dwarf grew quiet, “well that is not a story I wish to discuss at this time, but he is an evil man if that is what he is… you should get more rest”

Ravana bowed to leave causing Nereida to panic “please I fear I have rested enough, and I have an important mission”

“oh yeah the Dragonborn….”

“how did you know that?” Nereida suddenly grew suspicious of the stranger

“could you relax please… you talk a lot in your sleep, and I thought you a little mad, but I am assured that the man in the lake is in fact a deity”

“A deity? How can you be sure?”

“well the healing light never lies, and she is my deity of choice even though she came to me”

“came to you in what way?”

“you are inquisitive aren’t you, again missy it is not the time for such chat, but if you insist on being up and awake let’s get you some food.”

The dwarf stomped over and with her strong hands caught Nereida’s arm as she stumbled to her feet suddenly week, she looked worried at the dwarf who smiled back at her, the dwarves face was softened and warm now. Looking at her now Nereida wondered how she could breathe because of  the necklace she wore, and what kind of life did she have with the scars on her face. They walked down a dimly lit hallway pasted several grumpy looking dwarves who either mumbled about digging deeper or grunted an acknowledgment as they passed them.  Suddenly they walked through a great archway and they were faced with a great cavern, staircases were intricately laid throughout and lanterns lit the vast open space. Above her head Nereida could make out moving shapes but it was unclear what it was, and she dared not dwell on it.

“I know it doesn’t look like much, but it is home” Ravana’s face was filled with pride.

“how… how far unground are we?”

“far enough that the king’s men won’t find us, the way we like it now come on get those legs working”

“are you always this bossy?”

The dwarf laughed and pulled her onwards, until they reached the kitchen where she placed Nereida in a chair and made her eat.

“when you are ready, I can help you out of the city and point you in the direction of the one you seek.”

“and how exactly do you know where he is?”

“divine intervention is all you need to know, now wander the city if you like but I must go and see to the temple”

With that the dwarf was gone, speeding down the corridors driven by some unseen force. No eye contact was made with the residents of the city something pulled her to the temple, she sighed as she crossed the thresh hold. The temple was filled with so much light for an underground city and there was life everywhere you turned.

“I have been expecting you child……”

The voice came from nowhere and everywhere, Ravana had heard it many times and was familiar with it however it still caused her fright.

“hahaha every time Ravana and yet you enter and tend to my temple every day”

“I just don’t expect you to be here is all…. What do you want anyway?”

“careful, I may have chosen you but there are always punishments for our choices. If you must know I’m here to send you on a quest for me if you are truly loyal to me”

“you know I am…. What is this quest?”

“Nereida you will help her….”

“out of the city I know that my father already told me that”

“hmm no, you will go with her on this journey”

“me? why?”

“I hate evil child and there is a great one plaguing this land and who better to rid the world of him than me and you”

“I can’t leave the city”

“your father will be pleased, and you know this to be true…. An adventure and quest laid out for you by your deity why wouldn’t he be”

With that she was gone leaving Ravana alone in the temple “great” she stomped out to her room mumbling as she walked. She slammed her room door closed throwing herself onto her bed just as her father limped into the room.

“dearest Ravana, what is wrong?”

The dwarf was old and worn from the many battles that he had been part of over the centuries

“you will be pleased to know that I have been chosen for a quest father”

“what wonderful news, you should leave immediately I will have it arranged”

“don’t I get a say in this? What if I don’t want to?”

“I thought you were strong in your faith and out deity”

“I am but there are other ways to show it not stomping through the wild looking for a dragonborn who is said to be a murderer because some half elf just happens to get themselves into trouble.”

“remember your place here child, you will bring honour to us once again”

With that the old dwarf left the room and once more she was alone. She lay looking at the ceiling the bats chirping outside she screamed as it echoed around the cavern outside her window.  After several hours of sulking she pulled herself together changing into travelling clothes, grabbing her hammer and headed to find Nereida who was now playing hide and seek.

“we have to go… well don’t just stand there let’s get going”

“going where?”

“it seems that the higher powers wish me to go with you”

Nereida hugged the dwarf lifting her from the ground in the embrace.

“that was embarrassing don’t do it again…. Now come on”

They walked through the cavern to the cheers of the dwarves, news had spread quickly of the quest and they headed to the gates, standing with a foot on the wall a toothpick in his mouth stood a tall figure with greenish skin. He squinted at them as they approached and when he spoke his voice was deep.

“thought you could leave without saying goodbye did you”

“don’t be stupid, I knew you would be here” said Ravana with a wink

“so, this it then?”

The dwarf grabbed the tall figures shirt pulling him down for a head butt

“get the bloody bags and let’s go” she gave him a kiss as his deep laugh filled the cavern.

“yes sir”

“oh, and this is Nereida she’s the reason for this little adventure.”