Magical

Moonlight shining

Bodies touching

Hearts pounding 

Lips touching

Tongues dancing 

Blood warming 

Energy flowing 

More than physical 

Magical

Krel’s bar fight

Sometimes I search through folders and I always find so many stories and characters that I ought to write. Maybe one day Krel, maybe one day…

Music, song, laughter and cheers filled the air of the Hangman’s Haunt; a beloved bar and hangout to many a rogue and ruffian in the city of Holgar’s Helm. It was a typical evening for the establishment. This particular night, one of the bar’s regulars played cards at a table in the corner. His back to the wall and towering over the rest of the players, Krel, the half-orc, drank deeply from his mug and shouted loudly throughout the game which included some of his own gang, the Kings of Chaos, and some others who were not part of the organization. 

The scene was not unique. Oftentimes the Kings drank and ate at the Haunt when not on some mission and the city was glad for it; as they were not sowing chaos when they were content to enjoy the libations of the bar. The money they spent during their outings was well worth the noise and violence that tended to accompany them. Most nights anyways. 

The card game lasted for several hours. As usual, Krel was doing exceptionally well. Either through skill developed from many years of playing, or intimidation, the half-orc often was the winner on the night. To his right was one of his closest companions and another King of Chaos, Thiemo. Thiemo was one of the few who never considered Krel’s race. Although most pure humans were afraid or at least nervous around those with orc blood, Thiemo showed no concern and always treated his thief friend as an equal. Each believed the other would defend him with his life. 

The card game went well until too much ale and too many conflicts pushed it to something more than friendly cards. As usual, Krel won more hands than everyone else in the game and was busy taunting the rest of the table about it. He laughed and cheered his own success and that behavior had a tendency to get under the skin of most. 

One player at the table was a sailor named Judd. He played many hands with Krel that night and was nearly out of money. Having just pulled into port, Judd was paid on his arrival yet was nearly out of his pocket money; mostly because of losing to Krel. 

The half-orc knew the sailor wasn’t doing well and could see the distress on his face, but rather than go easy on the man, Krel upped his taunting. 

“Maybe stick to tying knots and leave the cards to people with some sense huh?” He mocked. Judd ignored him while the blood heated in his veins. With his thinking more on Krel’s words than the game before him, he remained in the round much longer than he should have. 

“Think you have a hot hand there, sailor?” Krel chuckled. 

Judd just grit his teeth and willed his cards to prevail, then placed all his remaining coins in the pile. Daring the half-orc to call.

“What’s this? Putting your entire wage on this hand of yours are you?”

“Just call or fold and quit fooling around already?” Judd spat. “I’m sick of your words.”

Krel drew deadly silent and glared at the sailor who could not endure the weight of his eyes and looked down to his cards. “I never fool around, son.” Krel warned. “Do not take me for a clown when I’ve spilt more blood than you have in your entire body unless you want to know just how serious I am.” 

The threat hung heavy over the table. No one else dared move, and scarcely breathed. Krel continued to stare at the sailor without a blink or a single movement. At last he simply added, “I call,” and pushed the appropriate number of coins towards the pile. 

Judd revealed his hand then looked up to Krel. The half-orc didn’t even look at the man’s cards, but instead held him with his eyes that seemed to steal the very breath from Judd’s lungs. 

“Well?” Judd begged. 

Krel slowly placed his cards face up on the table but never moved his stare from his opposition. Everyone looked and saw that the half-orc had a much stronger hand and therefore won the round. 

Judd leaped back toppling his stool and screamed, “Curse you, you dirty cheating orc! How dare you swindle me!”

Thiemo gripped the dagger in his belt but Krel was far ahead of him. The orc threw the table in the air with a mighty roar sending drinks, cards and coins flying as he drew his devilish long sword in one hand and a dagger in the other. Judd stumbled backwards as others took cover. 

Krel threw the dagger in one smooth motion using the flying debris as cover for his blade and it flew beneath the table avoiding any obstruction towards its target. 

Judd had two friends, sailors as well, who were quiet throughout the conflict but now that violence was unavoidable, they reached for weapons of their own as they tumbled backwards from the force of the table being thrown. 

Krel stood tall against the wall while all but Thiemo fell back. He still had not broken his glare from Judd. The sailor’s friends began to rise with blades drawn. The first aimed for Krel who appeared not to take notice of him, but Thiemo plunged a dagger in his neck so quickly that the man turned to look at the King of Chaos, eyes searching for an answer, before he gripped his neck only to find it badly severed, then his vision blurred as his legs gave out. 

The remaining friend rose as well but, without looking to his target at all, Krel slashed to one side, splitting the man’s belly open, sending entrails to the ground. The man howled in pain as he scrambled to try to hold his body together and the pain seared his mind. 

Krel continued to stare at Judd who fell to his back and looked down to find the blade the orc threw lodged in his groin. Judd’s thoughts raced in various directions and he couldn’t quite put together that he had already been mortally wounded. Blood poured from the wound and his head became light before he collapsed entirely to the ground. 

For a long moment the King of Chaos stood tall as everyone in the bar watched, frozen in fear and amazement. 

“It appears the game is over, my friend, we should leave,” Thiemo suggested. 

“Too bad,” Krel replied, “I was having a very good night.” 

“Any who report this to the magistrate will get the same!” Krel cried. “Keep the coins for your silence.”

The Kings swiftly moved for the rear exit and then ducked into an ally. Their boots were trailing blood behind them so they stopped briefly to rinse them in a puddle. 

“You didn’t want your winnings?” Thiemo wondered. 

“Bah. Money is easy to make and even easier to lose. But tonight we won far more than that?”

“Did we? What’s that?”

“We won the respect of every man present tonight and even that of those they tell of the events.”

“I suspect you mean fear, my friend.”

“Fear is simply respect clothed in the reminder that their lives are easily taken by our blades. Tonight we added to our reputation and that is priceless.”

Biggs and Smalls

“How many were there?” Biggs asked. 

“I counted nine.” 

“We should be able to get that down to four or five before engaging hand to hand. Want me to fire from the tree line while you charge?” 

“Aye, I don’t want any to run for the hill. If they get there we will have a whole mountain of them on us. We need to slay them quickly before they think they are routed and before they can run. If we can do this quickly enough, the rest won’t hear us or at least won’t think it was an attack.”

“And when they are dead?” Biggs wondered. 

“I say we drag them to this tree line. They might have stolen some things we can return to the town. Or who knows with goblins. They are always carrying bizarre trinkets. “

“Ha!” Biggs chuckled, “That’s so true. Ok, I like it. I’ll begin firing my bow from the tree line. Looks like they are only fifty yards or so from it. If I’m lucky I can drop a couple of them before you even get there. When you’re about to engage them I’ll follow up. Save some for me?”

“Don’t count on it brother,” Smalls smiled. Then they each hopped to their feet and made their way down the creek bed to close the last remaining distance between them and their goal. They were merely jogging this time, trying to limit the amount of noise they created but also needed to move faster than the goblins. 

It did not take much longer for the dwarves to reach the goblin party who was laughing and playing as they nonchalantly walked towards their home; feeling entirely safe so close to their den. A quick moment to assure one another that they would prevail and Smalls began running from the tree line as Biggs stepped into the setting sun and fired an arrow from his bow at the goblin in the rear of the group. 

The arrow twisted and turned and buried itself into the side of the unprotected and unsuspecting goblin, splitting its liver. The beast yelped and clutched his side. The remaining eight looked back at their comrade and another arrow took a second goblin in the back, piercing a lung forcing him to gasp for breath as he tried to reach the shaft.

This time the goblins looked around and they saw a charging dwarf armed with a pair of throwing axes with rage in his eyes and in every line of his countenance. The beasts pulled crude blades from their belts and prepared to meet their attacker foolishly believing it was only the one. The mistake allowed another of Biggs’ arrows to strike one high in the groin dropping it to the ground in wails of pain. 

Biggs drew his sword then slung his bow across his back and rushed to join his brother before there was no more blood to be spilt.

Fine Young Bloke

Sprouts push hard against the stubborn earth

Everyday, we witness the miracle of birth

While a wise, kind, and caring being is dying,

A tiny young bird falls, and begins flying

A boy heaves a stone and learns to kill,

In the vast world some people are not free still,

Someone raises up in anger and shouts,

In the intelligence of men there still lay doubts;

A heart is toyed with and broke,

By a careless but rather fine young bloke,

It is a miracle for anyone to stand,

Alas all I want is to hold someone’s hand.

The Counsel Gathers

As the sun rose and exposed Saltmarsh to warm sunlight, it was a very different city. Fires smoldered on one side where siege weapons were attacked and destroyed. Slain guards were lined up and accounted for so they could be buried properly; casualties of the civil struggle between the king and the traditionalists of the city. Much blood has been spilt in the conflict. Will there be more? 

Galen stepped into the common room of the Mariners guild house dressed in a clean bright tunic and black pants with boots shined brightly. His personal guard, Buckminster was by his side and held Galen’s arm to steady him. Galen’s face was drawn in and bruised, signs of the torture he endured in the jail of the kingsmen. He stepped to a chair in the center of the room and gingerly sat then folded his hands in his lap. Buckminster stood behind him and looked about the room with eyes narrowed as brow tight searching for any potential enemies and even when he found nothing but friendly faces he maintained his scowl. 

Next Eda, the old burly fisherwoman entered. She was wearing a long coat, common for fishermen, and heavy boots. Her face too was bruised, the work of the torturer, and she walked carefully. A pair of strong young men helped her to her seat next to Galen. She sat and he reached out a hand to her, she took it and gently squeezed. They enjoyed a moment of solidarity as survivors then sat forward and waited for the final counsel man. 

Murmurs that he would not show began to circulate but at last Anders entered with bright clothes and his head held high as if this were some basic meeting of the counsel. He greeted many personally and took time to shake hands with a number of people whose faces brightened when they saw the young man. He smiled and chatting briefly with a few folks before finally taking his seat. 

The room fell silent. Galen cleared his throat with a croak like a frog then asked in a slow and deep voice, “How can we resolve this conflict and if possible, gain control of our precious city once more?” 

The question was one on the minds of every person there. It was a question of the fate of an entire city. The answer would affect generations to come.

Fathers Day

Many names I’ve been called

A few titles I’ve been given 

Some were deserved 

Others spat with venom 

None are more meaningful

Than all of the others

For when a child’s born 

They began to call me father

It’s a title given out

With much ease at first

As I stood by at witnessed

My children’s births

But it’s a life’s commitment

Of sacrifice and effort

To deserve the title

And hold it high with honor 

It’s one I’ll carry

For my lifetime 

I’ll wear it proudly 

For my children are ever mine 

To protect and nurture 

Educate and guide 

Nothing more could ever

Fill my heart with greater pride

Smell of Death

From The Monster in the Woods a Sureshot short story available on Amazon. It’s a great little story and great way to check out my writing. You’ll love it!

Blood and bones increased in frequency and the men knew they were getting close to the Ogre’s lair. They crept silently along, backs bent low to reduce their profile as they moved through the brush, parallel to the ogre’s path. Their eyes were wide and scanned constantly. Their ears were strained to hear any sound of threat and they even checked the air for changes in scent. Indeed, the air became more foul the nearer they crawled to the ogre’s home. It smelled like rot, as if the woods had an infection or tumor that grew ever more dangerous.

At last the smell of death was nearly unbearable and flies were thick; buzzing about like a constant breeze. There was a bit of a clearing, likely because the ogre smashed most of the trees to the ground. The area appeared to be the site of some hideous battle which left nothing but blood and ruin. Bones were everywhere and blood covered every surface. The trees that were still standing had been abused and bore deep cuts, scratches and gouges on their trunks.