Jasmine Snippet #62

The Story of Jasmine notes continue:

Glynn was glad to finally have a moment to himself, as he watched the trio disappear into the darkness. To tend to their animals, they had to move away from the temple boundaries.

He thought about his prophecy and how certain phrases in in it, could be meaningful to this situation.

‘As a warrior lives, a warrior dies,

But you will glide on the wings of the skies.

When the Axe-wolf of Winter’s made the land lean,

Seek out the white flower Jasmine.

In the shrine where the white rocks rise,

This is where your destiny lies…’

“This is the place where the white rocks rise. And I’m in a temple shrine.” Glynn said to himself. His future would be decided on this very spot. Everything depended on how the next moments played out. He’d already taken measures to secure the place.  He did not know what it all meant. With this time to himself, he thought about the people he’d encountered during the night.

It seemed to Glynn that everyone kept a secret. The red-headed man who stepped in to freely lend his horse and his sword had been immensely helpful. He would not have known anything about the danger to the girl if it was not for Rogan. But how did he figure in all this?

Clearly, the man was a buffoon, or at least he played one. Remembering his hand gestures when the three of them spoke, Glynn concluded Rogan was a manipulator accomplished in the art of court-tricks. Glynn observed how he tried to mesmerize his audience of two. He felt lucky this type of magic was lost on him. Yet, to have a persuasive person working with you in your group would be a powerful asset – if if could be harnessed and if Rogan could be trusted.

And what about the dark elf? Why was he here and where was he most recently? That man was not a mercenary like he claimed. His manner and bearing did not match a fighter-for-hire. Glynn ought to know. Nor did he believe Ahearn’s story about just arriving from the west. Clearly, he knew more about things then he let on.

Glynn recalled talk of an entourage of Dockalfarians that came through the area not too long ago. Glynn surmised the man must be a survivor from that group. They had fought in some of the skirmishes on the side of UR. He wondered what happened to them when UR fell. Were they taken prisoner? Dead? Or was it each man for himself as this one’s presence suggested?

He did not know what to think of Thorne. He admired her battle readiness, the way she charged in and took control, even with the odds against her. Out of the group, he trusted her the most, though not by much.

“We are not all here by chance,” Glynn decided. Whether by magic or fate or prophecy, they all had a role to play together. Normally, Glynn would never consider linking himself with such people, but it seemed providence had other ideas.

© 2018 DARLENE

Jasmine Snippet #61

The Story of Jasmine notes continue:

Ahearn suddenly leapt forward and snatched the ribbon from Thorne’s hand to have a better look at it. He then took off upstream to see what else he could find. Rogan and Thorne exchanged glances and casually followed. They observed Ahearn franticly search. At length, he spied something on the bank near a waterfall and made his way toward it. He grabbed the cloak, and put it up to his face. Breathing it in, he detected a faint smell of perfume.

At this point, the sun peeked over the horizon, changing the purple shades of night into the rosy orange pastels of dawn. When Ahearn noticed more clothing suspended in the water, he dropped the cloak and retrieved it.

Ahearn spread the cloak and frock on the bank to get a better look. By this time, Thorne and Rogan caught up and the three of them inspected the items of clothing he found. Ahearn furrowed his brow, but he kept silent.

Rogan observed, “You know more than you are letting on.” Ahearn ignored him.

“These clothes where not made for just any maiden.” Thorne said as she inspected the items, “These have seen a lot of wear, but their workmanship is very fine. They definitely belonged to a woman of the court, most likely UR.”

“Really?” Rogan said and started to look at the fabric as well as the stitching, “then the rumors were true. Bardulf’s men were in the right place!”

“Which means more of them will be coming.” Thorne observed.

“Where did she go?” Ahearn muttered. He searched the entire area for footprints and even made his way behind the waterfall to discover a possible passage or place of refuge but found nothing.

When Ahearn finally returned to them, Thorne commented,”She’s probably alive. Look – there is no blood on the clothing.” Then she turned to Rogan and said, “The owner of this dress may actually be your white maiden.”

Rogan said, “we need to get back to Glynn and find out what he knows.”

“No,” warned Thorne firmly, “we need to get out of here.”

Rogan replied, “Yeah, you’re right, we’re wasting time here. Let’s get back to the horses, and decide then.” Rogan and Thorne headed back along the steep bank. Ahearn followed, but not before he placed the dress inside the dry cloak to carry with him.

© 2018 DARLENE

Jasmine Snippet #60

The Story of Jasmine notes continue:

After their horses were satisfied and their water containers replenished, Rogan turned to Thorne. “Alright,” he said, “you got us away from the dwarf. What do you wish to discuss?”

“No, you misunderstand. I only wanted to water my horse.”

The Dockalfarian interceded, “And yet, here we all are.”

Thorne cocked her head and smiled, “So, you two want MY counsel? No, I think it is you who have something to say.”

Rogan, normally exercising such excellent control over himself, suddenly cracked. His eyes grew big, he put his hands on his head and cried, “Oh! It’s so hard to describe what I saw last night!…”

Thorne was alarmed at his sudden mood swing, but urged him to continue, “What did you see?”

“I saw those soldiers turn into stone! All of them…all at once! It all happened in a burst of light! It was the most incredible thing I’ve ever witnessed. The dwarf saw it too…”

“Calm yourself!” Thorne counseled in a firm voice.

After a short pause, Rogan continued, “While we fought the soldiers, a maiden appeared. She was dressed in white with flowing blonde hair. She stood above us all at the top of the ruins. She enchanted the soldiers with her strange voice. It was like she spoke with 100 voices. The effect she had on those men froze them in place. Somehow, I was still able to move, but those men couldn’t. They just stood there, giving me time to retreat to the woods.”

Rogan’s eyes seemed to be in a far-off place as he recalled, “then she began humming. It was a most incredible sound. And the humming only got louder and more intense. I could close my ears to it because I could move. But that humming was more than just sound. I could also feel a vibration coming up from the ground through my feet. The sound pulsed until it became a big explosion of light and blinded me!”

“What?”

“When the moon came out, I could finally focus. The White Maiden was gone from her place on the roof. What happened to her? I don’t know. Was she a flesh and blood woman or was she a phantom of this temple? Could she disappear into thin air?”

“The dwarf, what happened to him?”

Rogan answered, “For a long time, I did not see the dwarf. But I didn’t expect to. He turned up later. We did not get a chance to discuss what we saw before you wandered in. Everything is complicated. I think he has some type of prior relationship with the maiden.”

“How do you know this?” Ahearn interrupted.

“Because it was I who made him hurry here from the Inn in Oxted. I was having a good time drinking with him. We shared stories and I repeated the recent rumors I heard. When I happened to mention that soldiers were looking for a girl on the White Throne Mountain, he got up and made to leave. I thought this reaction was so curious. The fellow would have run here the entire way if I hadn’t offered him a lift on my horse. I just wanted to have a look.”

Ahearn interrupted, “Do you trust the dwarf?”

Looking askance at Ahearn, Thorne replied, “Who trusts anyone?” Ahearn had no time to respond when Thorne cries out, “Ha!” She reached into the flowing stream. “I have your answer! It was no phantom you saw – she’s flesh and blood alright. Look.” Thorne triumphantly pulled a ribbon from the stream and showed it to Rogan.

“That is all the more worrisome.” He replied solemnly.

“Why? A flesh and blood woman can easily be dealt with.” Thorne offered confidently.

Rogan shook his head, “You did not experience what I did. You have no idea of the immerse power I felt in my bones. It was truly something to behold. Mark my words, this power is to be befriended, not challenged.”

© 2018 DARLENE

 

Jasmine Snippet #59

The Story of Jasmine notes continue:

Thorne was suspicious. Thorne was always suspicious. What concerned her this time was Rogan, the Nôr-man whom the Armildians had contracted to escort her to UR. When he arrived from Roth, he came at precisely the correct time to help the Armildians in their plight against Melantha’s evil expansion. During their discussions, Rogan pointed something out to the Armildian Council that they had never before considered: the importance of a man on a diplomatic mission.

Thorne saw him in diplomatic action. She witnessed how well Rogan could manipulate their own royal court. So she did not express any misgivings about his impressive ability to sway the Royal court of UR. With his silver tongue, Rogan acted the part of court dandy well. He was nothing but cordial and agreeable to her this whole trip. And helpful! That’s why she was wary. Nobody acts this nicely, for this long without something up their sleeve. Convinced there was more going on with him, Thorne seldom let her guard down.

In spite of her misgivings, Thorne had actually begun to enjoy Rogan’s company. Once the two of them learned that UR had fallen, did he think their mission was now ended? They had not yet had time to discuss their next move.

“Do I return to Armildia or shall I seek the help of another King?” Thorne asked herself. Was Rogan right not to rule out Bardulf, who recently conquered UR from the inside out? Magic had to be involved, as well as bribes and tactics of persuasion. She did not believe Bardulf could place his spies very effectively in Melantha’s domain of Medrylthorn. She was also unconvinced Bardulf was capable of keeping his word.

Her thoughts returned to Rogan. She wondered what was happening now with him. Ever since he encountered this cursed mountain, he acted strangely. Involuntarily, she turned her head to look at him again. Rogan stood nearby conversing with the other men, still.

The dwarf leaned against a broken column, honing his axe, listening. She liked him. He was honest and dangerous. The black mercenary had his back to her, but always with his hand lightly resting upon his sword handle. It was so easy not to trust him. For one thing, he was no mercenary. He was so stiff of manner, could it be he was also on a diplomatic mission to UR? Why else would a Dockalfarian venture this far south?

She saw Rogan from the side. He gestured wildly with this hands while he spoke. Hoping he did not catch her glancing at him, she turned away and headed towards her horse. But really, how important was he? Her thoughts were suddenly interrupted.

“Hey,” a voice called behind her, “where are you going?”

“Priorities,” she replied. “I need to water my horse.” Her words had an immediate effect. The two men ceased talking, turned, and made for their own horses.

Thorne chuckled as she lead her horse down the main path, aiming for the nearest place she smelled water. She followed a small track someone on foot had recently made and it led to a stream. Here, her horse slurped up its fill of water. She bent down and drank as well. The men followed behind her, creating their own wide tracks.

© 2018 DARLENE

Jasmine Snippet #58

Notes for “The Story of Jasmine” continue:

Glynn found it hard to reconcile the woman he had just placed in the circular room with the young one he had been traveling with. He knew they were the same person, and yet, they were so different. The first one was so unsure of herself and easy prey for two ruffians. And the other, the other caused a burst of great light to freeze those soldiers in their tracks. How was it possible anyone could wield such immense power?

He returned to the surface to find Rogan very agitated. Glynn thought he was still trying to make sense of the fate of the soldiers. So was he. But Rogan was worried about something else.  “Someone’s coming,” he warned. They took up hidden positions and spied a lone rider on a black horse enter the area.

The rider seemed very interested in the stone soldiers, as anyone would be. The young man dismounted. To inspect them, he walked closer to where they were. Rogan shifted his weight nervously and gripped his weapon tighter. Glynn thought Rogan was too unnerved to effectively deal with any strangers. The man was apt to make things worse. Glynn signaled Rogan to stay put while he took the initiative to advance.

Moving silently, but purposefully, towards the stranger, Glynn shouted the customary dwarven challenge-greeting, “Heigh Ho … Friend or Foe?”

Jasmine Snippet #57

New note for “The Story of Jasmine”:

When Jasmine awoke, she was on the seat of a large throne in a circular room. She was confused. Did I dream I was outside, or was I actually outside?” In her mind, she retraced her steps.

Jasmine remembered exploring the temple, which seemed to be a well-ventilated underground structure. There were no ruins she could detect. She judged it to be long past evening when she entered this central hall. Now it felt like the night had long since settled in. She remembered her first sight of this throne elevated by about five steps. She had immediately made for the steps and was about to take a customary seat at the top when it occurred to her she wasn’t in UR anymore. But, with no other place to sit, she decided to risk it.

Once she took her seat on the throne, she lost all sense of time and reality. Her body became electrified as she received lots of memories/ knowledge/ information. It was all so real, yet her recollections were vague. But there was a particularly vivid one regarding the soldiers who were gathered outside. She dreamt she was a Protector of this Holy Temple and like her sisters, had a duty.

She remembered dreaming about being in an important council with her sisters. They discussed what to do with the violaters who had gathered outside. They talked about the men staying there a long time because they could never return to their Lord empty-handed. They would stay until they encountered some hap-hazard individual. Then she saw Glynn’s face. He was her new dwarf friend who she left behind at the Oxted Inn — the one who saved her from an attack. He would be walking into an ambush. She feared for him.

That’s the point she could not distinguish very well. It felt to her like the continuation of a dream, but it also felt like it could have happened. She and her entranced sisters marched outside and took up their collective positions until they were all gathered in a circle, even in places where there were no structures to hold them. The Order of the White Flower surrounded the men. One or two of them gave short speeches. But then everyone participated in confronting the soldiers to honorably give them a way to save themselves. They all spoke the same words in unison. After their collective challenge was answered, they hummed in unison. They directed the vibration they achieved downward towards the men. It did not take long before the resonance of their collective humming produced a blinding flash.

After feeling a sensation of falling, she thought she saw Glynn’s face. Then her sisters carried her back inside as her strange dream continued. As before, she was back on the throne. Her  sisters urged her to find a particular room and enter it. Fortunately, she would not have to search to find the room. Her Ermama made her memorize the layout of the temple by making it into a game. She knew the room belonged to the wizard Erlkyng. Come to think of it, the Guardians also suggested she seek Erlkyng’s room to see what she would find there.

Deciding the time was probably nigh, she got up and headed directly for Elkyng’s chamber.

© 2018 DARLENE

Jasmine Snippet #56

New note from “The Story of Jasmine”:

Her old clothing was the last thing linking her to her prior existence as a princess. Besides being heavy, cold and wet against her skin, there were other reasons she was happy to strip off of the raiment of her past and be rid of them. The clothes no longer suited her, if they ever did.

Jasmine sighed, “All I have left are your stories, dear Ermama.” Adjusting the new gown to her body, she recognized, with delight, she was dressed the same as described for the Order of the White Flower. She laughed as she huddled around the lantern. There was another box waiting for her to open. Jasmine walked over to it and inspected the contents. It contained footwear.

It was not long before Jasmine was dressed, head to toe as one of the Order of the White Flower. She felt she want to be a part of this Order. She placed the rest of the clothes back within the innermost cedar box and closed each lid. If she wanted to be one of the Order, it would only be respectful to put things away properly. But what should she do with the clothing she left behind?

She wadded everything up into one ball and proceeded back to the pool room. She pushed the unwanted ball as far as she could down into the hole. When the vortex took hold she said, “Goodbye, Princess Flavia of UR.” 

With the symbols of her prior life sucked away, she was definitely ready to take conscious steps into the future. Her very next thought rewarded the first, “Wafers!” She knew where the rations were kept.

© 2018 DARLENE

 

Jasmine Snippet #55

Notes from The Story of Jasmine continue:

Jasmine stopped shivering after her body dried. The fabric of the dress she had donned was sweet-smelling and made her smile. It was surprisingly comfortable. But anything would be comfortable compared to all those monstrosities she endured for the sake of looking good for her father at court. He paraded her out at every opportunity. Any opportunity. And all she had to do was to smile sweetly and say the right things. It was the main thing that was expected of her.

The way she saw it, she was dutiful. Court-life was boring. Ermangarde made it so. Anything Ermangarde was saying or doing, especially her stories, made the little princess want to remain a child forever. Ermangarde nurtured her rebellious nature, which always translated as being haughty.

She so wanted to scream to them, “But if you only heard her stories, you’d understand and totally agree!” Ermangarde always forbade her to do such a thing. She even made the princess promise never to repeat what she says to a living soul! The knowledge of her stories were meant only for her and her alone. It was to be their secret.

Jasmine laughed to recall how Ermengarde gave her great ideas to delay the moment of their parting. She did everything Ermengarde suggested. She mused to herself, “I  would never have thought I had a say when it came to suitors. That was genius. It gained us many more years than I would have thought possible.” But thinking back, sometimes the princess really liked some of her suitors, those who came to win her hand. She was excited to be seen by them. She liked hearing all the pretty things they had to say to her in front of everybody.

But Ermangarde always stood firm. And she always knew best. The princess took to heart Emangarde’s warnings against youthful entanglements and her rigid stance, that above all, she should never marry.

“Diminish contact,” was Ermangarde’s usual advice, “it will make things easier not to succumb to those courtship rituals.” As Ermangarde fed her compelling stories about The Order of the White Flower, the princess was urged to question everything about her life in court. It seemed like Ermangarde had made it much easier for her to sever ties.

Now, with Ermangarde gone, she had nothing to hang onto, except stories. First, there were the strange stones the Guardians told her on their ceaseless journey underground. The strange history Glynn Oakenshield told made her wonder all the more. But before all that, there were Ermangarde’s stories. Jasmine now needed to remember every secret tale her wise and loving companion told her.

© 2018 DARLENE

Jasmine Snippet #54

Notes for The Story of Jasmine continue:

It was not difficult to see there were two ways leading out of the pool chamber. Shivering, Jasmine entered the left one. The passageway immediately brought her to a room that seemed to be drier. Before her, on a stone table, was a large stone box. Inside the stone box, was a cedar box. It was large enough to hold a lantern, oil, and a means to make fire. Without hesitation, she lit it and held it close to her as the flame grew steady.

She was still shivering when she recalled the contents of what was supposed to be in next room. Taking up the lantern, she found her way into the next chamber which, sure enough, had a change of clothes. The clothes were tucked away in an another set of boxes similar to the first. Although this box was larger, the lid sort of rolled in a weird way that made it easily accessible.

When she finally made her way to the contents, she discovered many different shapes, styles, and sizes of white garments, mostly robes and dresses. The only stitch of clothing that was not white was a blue cloak. She was eager to get out of her wet clothes and into something dry. Even so, she was as choosy now as when she was a princess.

© 2018 DARLENE

Colored NTRPG Dragon

“O” Dragon from NTRPGCONX

Just finished up on the design I’m doing for North Texas RPG Con X.

This dude is emerging from the “O” in CON and I thought I would share. There are 9 others moving in an out of the letters. Adding color makes the concept a little different than a one- or two- color design. I decided to sacrifice legibility for dazzle.