Jasmine Snippet #53

New note for The Story of Jasmine:

Looking for the secret passage, Jasmine moved further up the stream, and headed for the waterfall. She stopped at the point the water had pooled. She knew the place the pool would be much deeper, where the water fell from above. She discarded her cloak on the bank and stepped into the pool. The chilly water immediately came up to her waist. She swam towards the falls. The only way to get to the secret passage was to locate it from below.

In Ermengarde’s stories, the passageway could not be accessed on land. She ducked under the surface of the cold water and, feeling her way with her hands, discovered an opening.

She did not have far to swim. The underwater passage contained a vortex and, once inside, it swallowed her. She made it there before she needed to replenish her breath. The end came out in a small, dully lit underground chamber. Her eyes became accustomed to the greenish caste.

According to Ermengarde, a special lichen with the ability to illuminate the walls and ceiling thrived there. Of course, she never really believed that part of the story, but it was true! Green Light without the sun did exist! This stuff was all over the walls and ceiling. She got herself out of the cold water. Her wet clothes dripped on the moss.

© 2018 DARLENE

Jasmine Snippet #52

The Story of Jasmine notes continue:

Glynn was unsure about many things. He was still unsure about Rogan, the red-headed stranger, who rode and fought alongside him. With only a few words, Rogan quickly quelled the woman warrior’s attack. She immediately put down her weapon. Obviously, they knew each other. Glynn understood she had followed him from the Oxted Inn. Rogan chided the battle-maiden, “You’ll use any excuse to don your armor.” Together, they were suspicious.

Ahearn silently observed. Glynn noticed Thorne’s arrival was not too far behind the dark elf’s sudden appearance. He smelled trouble with that one. He considered the possibility all three of them were in cahoots. But to what end? All that notwithstanding, uppermost in his mind, he was unsure about what he had witnessed earlier and what it meant.

When they arrived here, he and Rogan were ambushed by Bardulf’s men. They were in the heat of battle when a figure dressed in white appeared, high above them on the roof. From her elevated platform, she called a halt to the fighting. The soldiers stood spell-bound at the sight of her. Dressed in white, the figure was luminous. She seemed to shine as brightly as the moon behind her.

While the soldiers became entranced, he and Rogan took the opportunity to slip away. Rogan went into the tangled brush while he headed straight for the building. Only when he heard her speak was he certain the figure on the roof was Jasmine.

With a ringing voice, Jasmine ordered the soldiers to “leave this holy place.”

One of the soldiers, probably the Captain, found his tongue and responded, “Not til we get what we came for.”

“I will not come you,” Jasmine said calmly, “what you seek no longer exists.”

“You are no ghost,” he replied confidently and ordered his men to advance to her position.

“Do not come any further.” She commanded, but the Captain re-issued his orders. He snickered when she said, “This is your final warning.”

Glynn, standing near her position, underneath, got ready to defend her when a brilliant light illumined the scene. For several moments, it seemed as if the afternoon sun had replaced the black of night. As the ruins became brightly lit, the soldiers were blinded, and cried out. Then everything fell silent. And the darkness returned.

Above him, Glynn saw Jasmine teeter. When she swooned, he moved in to catch her and broke her fall. Only after she was safely in his arms, did he pull his attention away from her. After his eyes readjusted to the dark, he was amazed to see all the soldiers standing in place, unmoving. None had advanced. Nothing moved, except for Rogan, who emerged from the underbrush.

He watched Rogan cautiously move to the soldier closest to him. Glynn heard Rogan gasp, when he touched the soldier. The man was frozen in shock. A small push easily toppled the figure, causing a startled Rogan to jump back and cry out in what Glynn figured was the name of his god. The soldiers, every one of them, had been turned to stone.

Glynn turned his attention back to Jasmine and regarded her with wonder. Her glistening skin was paler than usual. And she was hot to the touch. She whispered to him that she needed to rest in the inner sanctum and directed him where to take her inside the temple walls.

© 2018 DARLENE

Jasmine Snippet #51

The notes for “The Story of Jasmine” continue:

“Well, if that don’t beat all!” the dwarf cried to his Nôr-man companion, “Here we are – all strangers, but each one of us happen to be men-for-hire and on this very day, we all find ourselves on this mountain, unbidden!”

The Nôr-man bent down to whisper something to the dwarf, who shifted his stance, “So,” he said, “you hail from Dockalfar?”

Ahearn nodded.

The Nôr-man spoke for the first time, “What do you know of UR?”

Ahearn decided to pretend not to know anything and related what he knew when he first arrived in the south lands some time ago. “UR presently seeks to destroy a threat to its Kingdom.”

“Then you are too late to help them, my friend. UR has fallen.”

“Fallen?” Ahearn feinted disbelief.

“Have you not seen Bardulf’s soldiers about?” The Nôr-man asked him.

“Do they look like this?” Ahearn replied, pointing to the statues. “Then, no.” He paused for a moment before continuing, “But it seems to me you two are well equipped to deal with any enemies. I have told you who I am. Do me the courtesy to do the same. I would like to know what type of company I find myself within.”

All during this time, Ahearn’s horse had inched stealthily nearer to him, only moving when clouds obscured the moonlight. When Ahearn’s sword also came within reach, the Nôr-man casually stepped forward and grabbed the reins with a sure horse-friendly hand.

“Ah, yes,” Ahearn thought to himself as he remembered. The Nôr-man were as accomplished as his own countrymen when it came to training their horses. Unfortunately, the Nôr-man was aware of horse tricks like this.

Ahearn knew if he asked directly, he’d be putting his cover story at risk. No matter how long it took, he was determined to find out if the princess was inside the still-intact parts of the temple. And if so, was she a prisoner?

The two were just about to introduce themselves, when a rider in full armor, brandishing a sword swiftly galloped on the scene. The dwarf whirled around and shouted, “Friend or foe?”

In one smooth motion, the warrior was off her horse with weapon swinging. Thorne cries, “Foe!”

Jasmine Snippet #50

The notes for “The Story of Jasmine” continue:

“Heigh Ho! Friend or foe?” Ahearn looked in the direction of the call. His sword was still strapped to his horse and he would not be able to retrieve it in time.

He held up his weaponless hands and replied, “Friend!”

The moon had disappeared again. Ahearn heard some bustling within the chamber and then the slow advance of footsteps. “Nothing will happen to you if you are, indeed, a friend.” Ahearn noticed the stocky figure approaching him was a mature dwarf with a graying beard and piercingly clear eyes.

The dwarf had on his person several daggers and a great battle-axe hung at his side in the customary way mercenary dwarf warriors wore them. What’s more, still stained with fresh blood, this battle-axe had recently been used. Ahearn noted his proud bearing as he spoke. “Who are you and what is your business here?”

Noticing a second man off to his left, Ahearn answered, “I’m a mercenary soldier, much like yourself.” Ahearn immediately launched into the cover story he had prepared for himself earlier when he began his quest to find the lost princess.

When he had finished, the dwarf asked, “Who do you work for?”

“Unemployed at the moment. I am in service to none. I intend to inquire for some work, in Oxted but have not make it that far.”

“You say you are not coming from Oxted, but are traveling towards Oxed?”

“Yes, from the west,” Ahearn lied, “from the north-west, if you must know! Now may I ask what all his is about?” The dwarf had already backed down and signaled to the man who stood watching in the shadows.

With his hand on the hilt of his sword, the man approached them. As he got nearer, Ahearn saw he had fiery red hair and beard. There was no mistaking him. This was one of the Nôr-men of Roth. Ahearn was surprised to see him. The Nôr-men of Roth infrequently ventured beyond their own borders and, to his knowledge, never this far south.

The Velgrath Mountains stood between their two kingdoms in the north. Ahearn reasoned that if he could recognize one of the Nôr-men, he could just as easily be identified as a Dockalfarian.

© 2018 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.