Author Archives: Darlene

Jasmine Snippet #49

On-going notes for “The Story of Jasmine”:

Ahearn judged it to be well after midnight by the time he reached his destination, the temple the Guardians had talked about. All during his ride, the moon shone brightly and illuminated the landscape for far distances. But after his arrival to the white mountain, the clouds became shrouded in a thick bank of clouds.

The moon was still hidden when he finally arrived in the area of the temple. He dismounted. With reins in hand, he slowly lead the rest of the way to the buildings in ruin. Among the ruins, he passed many stone statues. It seemed to him they resembled soldiers, but not ancient ones. These statues became more numerous when he entered the temple grounds.

The moon came out as Ahearn was examining one such face. The sudden illumination accentuated the look of astonishment frozen upon the stone faces. The startling effect unnerved him. This had been a recent occurance.

He knew this because he recognized one of the statues to have been a particularly gruesome foe. “One of Bardulf’s men, from the look of it.” He thought grimly. Once before, he had encountered something like this, and recently. A stone statue of a woman stood in front of the cave opening in the grotto. Surely, this could not be coincidence.

To make more sense of the scene, Ahearn left his horse to walk around each figure and examined the the foot tracks that once belonged to them. The surprised gaze of each statue was turned upward to a place near the top of the building. He was about to approach what looked like the main temple, when a voice halted him.

© 2018 DARLENE

Jasmine Snippet #48

The on-going notes for the Story of Jasmine continue:

A pencil sketch of Jasmine created in 1980

Jasmine made a slow ascent to the ancient ruins of the temple on the mountain known as The Great White Throne. Although she was tired, with each step, she felt the weight of her past drop away. Mulling over all the confusing things the Guardians told her during their journey within the underground passage, she recognized one truth. She could never go back. She could not retrace her steps. There was no returning to life as a princess in her father’s castle.

There was no where to go but onward, into the unknown. The moment she realized this became the moment she took her life into her own hands. This is when the princess ceased to be a princess and became Jasmine. Even though her pampered life had never prepared her to make decisions for herself, she somehow felt wiser.

Her rumination was interrupted by something out of the ordinary Jasmine thought she heard. She stopped in her tracks and craned her ears. What in the wind was whispering a warning? She heard the gurgling of a small stream nearby and left the path to head for it. The Guardians told her water diminished the ring’s effect upon her. She dunked her hand in the stream’s cold water to dilute its potency. As the ring lost its gleam, Jasmine sensed danger.

For a long while, under cover, she stood perfectly still and quiet before the stream. As she waited, from between the trees, she studied the outlines of the walls that crowned the next rise not far from where she stood. As the last light of the setting sun receded into shadow, Jasmine watched the foliage sway in the gentle evening breeze. The rising moon illuminated the ruins of a once columned structure.

Though she had never been here before, everything seemed somehow familiar. Then it hit her. Could this be the place Ermengarde described in the stories she told? Ever since she was little, her foster guardian, Ermengarde, had captivated her with stories of the wondrous Order of the White Flower who lived in a White Temple on a White mountain. Her fantastic stories always had memorable descriptions, down to the smallest detail. If it truly was this place, then she knew everything there was to know about the Temple, even its secret passages. If real, those were happier days. Even though Ermengarde had always described it as a safe haven, what was left was in ruins.

And it wasn’t safe. There, in the cold light, she detected some movement and saw a figure of a man. But she was too far away to note any more detail. To move in for a closer look, she cautiously stepped in the shallow stream, which came up to her ankles and waded against the current. She knew the stream would led her somewhere above the temple. Taking this route did not pose a risk. Each step she took was sure-footed and confident, as if she had moved in procession in this very stream many, many times before, in unison with her beautiful story sisters under the light of the rising moon.

Eventually, her vantage point became such that she noted several men hiding among the broken pillars. Their complete attention was directed towards the pathway. She would never have seen them had she taken the trail. They appeared to be soldiers. At least they wore the clothing of Bardulf’s men. Had she arrived from the pathway, they definitely would have surprised her and taken her captive.

Truly amazed at how well Ermengarde prepared her for this moment, Jasmine mused to herself, “Well, Ermama, it must be time to find out if a usable secret passage actually does exist where you described it. And if it does, I will step into your tale.”

© 2018 DARLENE

Jasmine Snippet #47

The Story of Jasmine Notes continue:

1980 Sketches of the Guardian of Wisdom

1980 Sketches from the same page.

As they watched Ahearn retreat, one of the Guardians expressed what the others were all thinking, “He believes we helped him.” They shook their heads sadly, albeit knowingly. On that day, Ahearn, the son of the present Dockalfarian King Lord, allowed a valuable encounter to slip away. Had he only asked the Guardians of Wisdom key questions about his own future, certain hardships awaiting him in his path could be avoided.

They gave him plenty of time. They spent hours with him.  They answered his curiosity about their own history. They even prompted him. Too bad he kept asking the wrong questions. Too bad he did not recognize this as a rare opportunity to learn some little-known truths regarding his own history. How can he make informed choices if he doesn’t gain some perspective? Too bad the young prince does not know that he, too, has a destiny to fulfill. But mostly, it’s too bad he’ll have to painstakingly discover for himself what it means to be a Dockalfarian prince.

The Guardians slowly departed and returned to their customary cells and tasks. They all felt the same way. This time, none bothered to voice the truth: “Who, save for a wizard, has ever asked the right questions?”

The Truth protects itself. The Guardians of Wisdom had always believed that, but now they were experiencing doubts. The stealing of the Tome of Wisdom was something they had not foreseen. In the following days, the wisest Guardian would share his counsel: “Although the secrets contained within the book have been spilled, the Truth will protect itself in ways we can never predict. The only truth we know is that the Tome is no longer in our hands. This means it must have a greater part to play in the shaping of our future.”

He urged everyone to continue their on-going chronicling activities and watch what would unfold.

© 2018 DARLENE

Jasmine Snippet #46

Notes from The Story of Jasmine continue:

Jasmine Faction card of Ahearn from the “Jasmine: The Battle for the Mid-Realm” collector card game.

With the gathering of the handful of survivors left, Ahearn mourned the loss of those Bardulf had struck down. Though he could never condone Bardulf’s actions, he could understand Bardulf’s anger. He did not like it either when he was told the princess was essentially unavailable. Ahearn realized Bardulf had the same stake in the matter as he: the Kingdom of UR. The Kingdom would belong to any man who succeeded in marrying this particular pawn. Take the princess out of the equation and, and … success would be much harder to achieve.

Jasmine was the name of the star-like white flowers that bloomed at the grotto at the entrance. The Guardian kept referring to her as “Jasmine.” The Guardian volunteered some important information. It was completely unnecessary for Ahearn to retrace “Jasmine’s” exact path underground. The Guardians freely told Ahearn precisely where they told her to go. All he needed to do was to head for The Great White Throne mountain to an old temple situated there. It was a ride a little past Oxted,

Bidding the Guardians farewell, he turned to leave. Then he paused. Reaching in his pocket, he pulled out some coins as a gesture of appreciation. Placing the coins in the elder Guardian’s wrinkled hands, he thanked them again for their trouble and for their information. “For candles,” he said. The Guardians of Wisdom graciously accepted the offering and bowed.

Returning back to the grotto above ground, Ahearn was grateful to see his well-rested horse. He found the animal undisturbed and still waiting on him. Ahearn could not discern for how long he had stayed underground. Within the cave, conversing with the remnant of the Guardians left, time seemed to pass at a slower rate — if it had passed at all. After a short but happy reunion with his equine companion, it did not take long before Ahearn was mounted. Soon, he and his horse were winding their way back to the main road.

© 2018 DARLENE

Jasmine Card Game Info Sheets

Recently, at GaryConX I had an opportunity to play my Jasmine: the Battle for the Mid-Realm collector card game. I am happy and thrilled to know it received quite a great response.

For the game, I created some “Info Sheets,” a short cut that would quickly give players the actions of all the cards (there are several actions to choose from, depending upon which Faction the players choose to play). The different choices for card actions is one thing that distinguishes this card game. The complexity increases strategic play and enjoyability as no two games are alike.

I have received many requests for my short cut Info Sheet. And thus, I comply. (I would have done so sooner, but I was totally wiped out by convention and had to regroup).

Here is the sought after pdf of the card play:

Jasmine Game Info

Thanks for your purchase and continued interest in my game.

Jasmine Snippet #45

The notes for The Story of Jasmine continue:

The “Crystal Caverns” Castle Card from Jasmine: The Battle for the Mid-Realm collector card game.

True to his word, the little old man was filled with information. Ahearn spent several hours conversing with him. For someone who did not get out to socialize very much, the little man was charming and affable. Ahearn came to understand that Bardulf was still somewhere within the cave system, lost. They monitored his progress. At first, he went in circles. Then he “discovered” a passage that took him well beyond what the Guardian considered their borders. The latest report had Bardulf nearing the dwarven mine settlement off to the northwest.

When Ahearn asked about the Great Book that had gone missing, he was told it was started by the wizard Erlkyng with the intent it be presented to the “lad” to learn everything about defeating his enemies. He chuckled. Erlkyng expected the result of his magic would produce a son. They all thought that. But as fate would have it, a daughter was born! So everything Erlkyng wrote in the book addressed a lad. Until recently, the Tome of Wisdom had been safely stored away in the Crystal Caverns.

“We had only brought the book out of the Crystal Caverns to show the lass. We were so excited for her to see the resources that were prepared for her success…”

Curious, Ahearn interrupted, “The Crystal Caverns?”

“The Crystal Caverns were a refuge to the wizard Erlkyng,” one of the Guardians told him. Ahearn bade him continue, “We were good company for each other. Our kind live a long life and we’ve seen a lot. We shared with him many secrets that he found of use. He urged us to record all we knew into a great volume of knowledge. He told us this practice would give our lives purpose. We accepted his challenge and have been expanding the knowledge within Erlkyng’s book ever since.

“The Tome of Wisdom contains all of the secrets of the Mid-Realm. Now that it’s out of our hands, we fear the worst for the Mid-Realm. If used in a selfish way, the information can easily be used to destroy. Now it’s in the hands of a man who loves gaining power through manipulation, dabbles with the power of magic, feels superior over others and who kills indiscriminately and without remorse. I’m now sorry we agreed to write anything at all.”

The Guardian of Wisdom became solemn and kept silent for a long time after he voiced those words. Indeed, the stealing of the Tome of Wisdom was something to ponder. If Bardulf was this powerful without the Tome, just imagine how much more powerful a book of secrets will make him. The Guardian was right. This news pointed to something much more devastating than a maiden forgetting she was a princess.

He did not fully understand what the Guardian meant when he spoke of “Jasmine” being an intricate part of a decades long plan to defeat the evil that has been creeping down from the west.

It further confused Ahearn when the Guardian spoke of her destiny as something beyond a princess. Didn’t her birthright matter? How could anything change the fact that she was the daughter of a King? As a prince, he himself knew very well he was subject to certain rules of tradition. He was subject to certain obligations expected of him by his father and those ruled by him How could this princess not be subject to the same rules?

Thinking about the princess was always troublesome. Although she was fair to look at, he did not really like her. He considered her to be the worst type of maiden — spoiled, head strong, ill-humored, manipulative, and rude. Yet, he did not recognize the same traits in himself. The princess’s worth to him and his country was political. Her only redeeming quality as a person was the fact of her blood. All she had to do was to exist. She did not have to be deserving. She did not have to be nice. It would not matter. She would still be Queen.

© 2018 DARLENE

Jasmine Snippet #44

Notes for “The Story of Jasmine” Continue:

The “Tome of Wisdom” card in Jasmine: The Battle for the Mid-Realm collector card game.

Ahearn had not traveled far into the cave when he thought he heard his name being called and echoed. Someone was aware he had entered the cave and knew who he was. He cautiously worked his way further inside until the space before him opened up into a sizable cavity.

For all his cautionary measures, Ahearn was still startled when someone spoke who was very close to him. “I was spared when it happened… That’s because I was in a far away passage to the north on the other side,” said a short gnome-like man with round glasses and a wispy white beard. Where he had popped out from, Ahearn could only guess. With gnarled hands grasping a walking stick, the little fellow gestured to the floor. Ahearn glanced down. There were a lot of blood stains. The little old man lamented,”There was no reason to kill them.”

“How is it you know my name.” Ahearn asked him. The little old character wobbled closer to Ahearn and came to the height of his knees.

“Why we know everybody’s name.” He replied, ” We are, or were, the Chroniclers of History. Ask us anything, and we will tell you all you want to know.”

“What happened here? What happened to the Princess of UR?”

The little man nodded his funny head. “The Princess of UR died, or will die very soon.”

“Oh no! I’m too late.” Ahearn sighed.

“You are not late at all,” the small man said in a reassuring tone, “For Jasmine to be born, the Princess Flavia of UR must die! It was never this girl’s fate to become a Queen. Her destiny lies elsewhere within the Mid-Realm. It has already been set years before her birth.”

“Is she within this cave?”

“No. The lost princess who entered this cave, has shed her past. I instructed her as I guided her out. When she left my care and this cave three days ago, it was with a new identity. If you should catch up with her, it is unlikely she will know you. And you will definitely not recognize her. You will only perceive a being who once was identified as the Princess Flavia of UR, but that person will no longer exist.”

“Then the princess is alive, thank the stars?!”

“Fool, have you not been listening? Yes, the woman is alive, but at what cost? A great tragedy visited us within this cavern.”

Ahearn’s attention was immediately brought back to the blood stained floor. The old man told him that Bardulf stood on that very spot. And just as he did , had received similar news and answers to his queries. But Bardulf reacted with rage. He violently struck down the messenger with his weapon and quickly proceeded to butcher the little people nearest him. In a heart-beat, everyone scattered.

Bardulf chased one who fled to an area containing the Tomb of Wisdom. Bardulf immediately halted when he noticed the opened book. When he recognized the book’s significance, he gained control over his blood lust. Dazzled, Bardulf put down his bloodied sword to read the pages, allowing the Chronicler to escape a bloody death.

The little old man shook his head, saying soulfully, “But many more will die because of the knowledge contained within that book of magic he stole.”

© 2018 DARLENE

Jasmine Snippet #43

“The Story of Jasmine” Notes Continue:

“I hate you,” Thorne said in a forced whisper, “I’ regret pledging my sword to your cause, as my bird lies dead because of you. Curse that lizard creature that follows you… curse you and your problems. Try to stay out of my way!”


How interesting. Thorne now has a hawk! Where was that bird when she was at the Inn? I’ll have to account for it in the rewrite.

© 2018 DARLENE

Jasmine Snippet #42

“The Story of Jasmine” Notes Continue:

Suddenly, the princess Flavia of UR’s disappearance made complete sense. She could very well be a prisoner within this cave. Recalling the disturbed vines, it then occurred to Ahearn he was not the only one on the trail of the princess. Suddenly, a rash of questions bombarded his mind. Who had come before him? How long ago? What did they discover? Did they find her? What will he find? What will he encounter?

Although he yearned to rush ahead, he returned to the grotto above. He took special care to tend to his horse. He moved his horse to a small spring, so it would not thirst and also took this opportunity to feed the beast. There was no telling where the cave would lead him, or for how long he would be gone.

Ahearn cared well for his steed. They were good together. They had an understanding. This was partially why Ahearn was lauded  in his country as the Lord of Horses. The knot he tied was a special one, made in such a way the animal could free itself if it should become necessary. He removed the saddle, and placed it on a low branch off the ground. Holding the animal’s great head gently, Ahearn looked into its dark dewey eyes. He paused to rest his forehead against the front of it’s muzzle. The animal knew the significance of this action and acknowledged him with a whinny and a toss of the head.

Satisfied, Ahearn quickly packed some supplies to carry with him and disappeared into the mouth of the cavern.


I should probably think of a name for Ahearn’s horse.

© 2018 DARLENE