Tag: dm

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  • Once upon a time...

    It is an unremarkable summer day in Heldren: a small, quiet hamlet in sunny Taldor. Alder, the farmer, leans against the cart he's parked in front of the town hall; his straw hat is pulled low to shade his eyes and he's chewing on a piece of straw. His …

  • A Cabin In the Woods

    It's nearly dusk by the time Teb Knotten finishes, and the snow is just topping the scraps of cloth and leather tied around his warty feet. He stands straight, then places his hands in the small of his back and stretches, releasing several audible pops …

  • Disappointing Gruel

    The door creaks, and a thin blade of light stabs across the lady's eyes. Heavy, iron-shod bootsteps follow. "Gruel," a gruff and quiet voice announces. "It ain't tasty, but it's filling." Argentea eyes the looming shadow. It's tall with broad …

  • Mother's Return, Part 1

    Mother had stood on the ridge, silent and still, for several minutes before Fennec drew up next to her. "Mother..." he ventures. "I know," she says quietly. Fennec coughs uncomfortably. "Mother..." he tries again. "I know," she says more …

  • Mother's Return, Part 2

    Fennec lays on the warm bearskin, marveling at how soft it feels, how comfortable after days and days on the hard ground. Heat from the crackling fireplace caresses him, welcome after a long trudge through the unexplainable snow. No, not the fireplace; …

  • Waiting In the Dark

    It's been quiet for awhile now. As quiet as it gets, anyway: faint moans still seep through the floorboards above, and she can occasionally hear a shuffling and dragging sound. But there are no more screams, at least. No more whimpering or horrified …

  • Amidst the Storm

    "This is boring." Teb Knotten raises his head from his bunk to inspect the tiny fairy sitting on his shelf. "What did you expect, Hommelstaub?" "Well, I mean... it's an invasion, right? Can't we... I don't know, maybe invade something?" "We're …

  • Four Bells and All's Well

    "Teb Knotten!" The troll lurches from his cot, nearly smacking his head into the natural shelf overhanging it. "What?" he roars, squinting his slowly adjusting eyes. A wild, growling creature hunches low in the cave's entrance, misty moonlight …

  • What Better Place To Court Irrisians?

    Hestrig stands in the courtyard, her heavy cloak fluttering around her in the constant, swirling wind. Bordegga moans from the kennels; Hestrig ignores her. Instead, she regards the massive sculpture in front of her: easily twenty feet tall and …

  • Bitter Almonds

    Mig pounds his fists into the dough he's struggling to keep warm: one-two, one-two, one-two. He hisses between his teeth at each strike, eyes wide and nostrils flared, as if he imagines the soft dough to be someone's soft features instead. The stove …

  • Lost In a Book

    Hestrig's back is starting to ache. She's not sure how long she's been bent over this table, but she knows it's been awhile. The stack of books to her left steadily grows. There's a commotion out in the hall--most likely Jir and Lask quarreling again. …

  • Two Riders Were Approaching, Part 1

    The wind shrieks across the hilltop, sweeping the rounded crest to bare stone. Thick furs flap and bat against metal plates, and Black Midnight tries to remember what cold feels like. Instead, as he watches the eddies of snow twirl out into the open air, …

  • Can't Sleep

    Galina knows she won't sleep again. She watches the shadows from the thin, tall window stretch like grasping fingers across the floor; knows that in the moonlight they'll look like the fingers of skeletons. And she won't sleep. She rolls her wooden …

  • The Chant of Haunted Ulsgaard

    By the belly of the glacier in Irrisen minstrels say, "There are tales you tell at nighttime, there are stories for the day. But the only tale you never tell--not story, song, or play-- Is the tale of haunted Ulsgaard and the curse upon it lay." All …

  • Ringeirr's Plan

    After you've had a chance to hunker down in Ringeirr's hut, get some hot food in you, and warm up by the fire, he presents to you his plan for entering Whitethrone. "Is difficult of late to sneak into Whitethrone," he begins. "When Queen Elvanna …

  • Two Riders Were Approaching, Part Two

    "I don't understand!" White Morning shouts over the rhythmic twanging of her bow. "Why are you doing this?" The howling wind tears the question from her lips, and it never reaches its intended recipients: a band of trolls, ogres, and winter wolves picking …

  • Vasilisa the Fair

    A long time ago there lived a merchant and his wife; they had one child, a girl called Vasilisa. One day the mother placed a little doll in the child's hands, she said, "My child, I am dying. Take this doll as my blessing. Always keep it with you and …

  • A Caged Bird

    Bella kneels beside her bed, screws her eyes tightly shut, and tries to ignore the constant grinding and clanking that assails her. It's beginning to wear her down, like a pebble caught between the gears of some infernal machine. "Everbloom," she …

  • The Watcher In the Woods

    Nazhena drags a pale, thin finger across the mirror's surface and it ripples like water. The marble reflected in it shifts, becomes blue ice; the hallway becomes a small, circular room outfitted in furs and silks. A tall man hunches over a wooden desk, …

  • Two Riders Were Approaching, Part Three

    It has been so long since Black Midnight had to run. He had forgotten the fire that infests your thighs from long minutes standing in the stirrups. He had forgotten the stiffness that infects your back and shoulders. Mostly, though, he had forgotten the …

  • Catching Up

    Deep within the servants' quarters of the royal palace is a dimly lit hallway that is traveled only rarely. In an alcove in the hallway is a door that no one sees. In the darkness, in the dead of night, the door creaks open. A tall and beautiful woman, …

  • A Cold Day In Hell

    It's a lonely mountaintop--made moreso by the screaming winds that strip the rock bare--but it commands an excellent view of the countryside. The lone figure who stands at the outcropping is wiry and hoary, and clothed only in the long scraggles of his …

  • A Kingdom for My Horse

    If Vsevolod thought the way would get easier once his party reached the bottom of the chasm, he is disappointed. The Deeprun roars through its base, tumbling stones and great blocks of ice in its foamy torrents. The ground around it is littered with …

  • Lost In a Book... Again

    The library has grown quiet again, and for that Hestrig is grateful: as she slumps in a chair overstuffed with straw, her feet dangling over the arm like a schoolgirl's, and a thick, dusty tome sprawled open across her lap. She had been worried for a …

  • Lost In a Hut

    Hours of tapping on walls and pushing on knobs of wood have dulled the joy of Hestrig's discovery. It is with a slouch and heavy sigh that she tucks _An Examination of the Drakeplague: New Origins and Theories_ under her arm and starts once more for the …

  • Tunnel Rats

    There's blood in Vsevolod's eyes and a stinging gash along his flank, but it's the syncopated flashes of lightning and spellfire that are starting to damage his calm. Ghastly death masks loom out of the infernal darkness, only to wink out; mad cackling …

  • Patchwork

    There's an uncomfortable silence in the room, but for the weak mewling of dying animals and the abrasive sucking noises that Kennan makes as he works. Poryphanes distracts himself by stretching his injured wing until the pain makes him wince, retracting …

  • Wasting Time

    "Hey, Ratty. Whatcha up to?" Ratibor, for the first time in days, turns his gaze from the door. He finds a raven perched upon the balcony railing, eyeing him quizzically. "Watching a door." "Right, right," the raven says. "How's that working out …

  • Family Gathering

    Hestrig Orlova's palms are bleeding, as are the soles of her feet: the jagged ice and rock have long since shredded her boots. The cold numbs them, and for that she's grateful--and trying hard to not consider the consequences of that. At long last, …

  • The Man In the Ruby

    In the rare moments he has to himself, Highurk likes to look at his rubies. Some, his favorites, he has studied so long and with such intensity that he can picture every facet and flaw in his mind. Sometimes he does just that when the work gets to be too …

  • A Snowball's Chance

    "You keep your god damned mouth shut." The old man arches an eyebrow. "You sound testy, old friend." "Not another word, I'm warning you." "Whatever is the matter?" "Quiet. Shut it." A thin, wry smiles curls the old man's lips. "Oh, hey, …

  • The War Room

    Cassisoche, regent of Whitethrone, is finding it difficult to listen to her generals' reports. As they drone on about troop movements and supply logistics, her mind wanders to her mother's sunken eyes, the slight shake that's developed in her hands. The …

  • Sumira's Reaction

    Sumira considers Nex's proposal for a solid minute in silence. Finally she nods and says, "I like it. It requires a certain brashness that Pharamol sometimes lacks." "There are risks, of course," chimes in Calissus, the symbiote Hospitaller. "If it …

  • The Caterpiller

    The corridor is long, unnaturally so it seems; the cuffs chafe his wrists, even though he hasn't fought against them. The hard, heavy thumping of two pairs of booted feet dog his own shuffling steps. He's lost all sense of how far they've descended. Up …

  • Out Amongst the People

    If Pharamol had expected gratitude from the villagers, he is disappointed. They already refuse to meet his eyes, even as the Spurhorn soldiers are still throwing corpses on the burn piles, righting overturned carts, and consoling the bereaved. Mere …

  • Johnny's Gone For a Soldier

    Brecken pokes halfheartedly at the scrub. It's hard to focus his eyes on penetrating the inky, moonless dark. Torchlights bob like fairy lights out over the fields, and muted shouts pervade the village behind him. His mind turns over many questions. " …

  • The End Of a Long Road

    Morgan has made a point to study Shegug's face every day for at least a week now, but the uneasiness never leaves her. She and the mop-haired priest have been through hell together: over a dozen campaigns, including the evacuation of Worldgate; not to …

  • Seems Like It Ought To Talk

    "Will you stop that ridiculous cooing, Pharamol?" The commander observes, without turning from the cage, "Seems like it ought to talk, doesn't it?" Amerenth shrugs. "Not every weird bird--birds?--talks. Sometimes they're just birds." "Still..." …

  • Warm Hearth, Cold Guest

    Yrax, Lord of the Howling Storm, is in a foul mood. As he hastens toward the courtyard, he shoots a withering glance at his seneschal. "I blame you for teaching him to speak." The seneschal keeps his head lowered, hurrying to match Yrax's long strides. …

  • Warm Hearth, Cold Guest: Part Two

    The withered crone grips the mug in both hands, raises it to her thin and bark-like lips, and takes a sip. A sound that might be a pleased sigh follows. Yrax furrows his considerable brow; she didn't check to see if it was poisoned, didn't even ask. He …

  • We've Lost Contact With Charlie Company

    "I don't understand it." "They're dead, captain." "Yes, I understand that part, thank you," His voice goes higher, gets a bit shrill. Yavrok knew his new captain was green, but he didn't realize he was *this* green: he'd never seen a corpse before. …

  • The Circus Is In Town

    Yrax massages his temples, keeping his eyes tightly shut. "What is he bellowing about now?" he asks quietly. "I haven't the faintest, my lord," his seneschal replies. Ceseer, head bowed, remains silent. "Let him in," Yrax finally says, waving one …

  • The Hour Of Memories

    The baroque abomination of resinous filigree and squamous tendrils of flowering vine that serves as Yrax's clock strikes. It interjects two tinny, wavering notes into the still air. Zadkiel always called this the Hour of Memory; but then, he would. Yrax, …

  • Obeisance

    As he emerges from the portal there is, as always, the cold; the unnatural stillness of the air; and the featureless black of a dead sky. With a resolute jaw he hikes his sack over his shoulder, and sets out. There is no path marked, not even the telltale …

  • The Thing About Family

    Viveka doesn't recall having put up any beetroot, but there it is in the pantry. She snatches it from the shelf and turns back to the old woman. "It appears that we do. Good fortune for you." The woman cracks a twisted, sardonic grin, exposing half- …

  • The Cancer Ward

    It is unusually quiet in the Ward tonight. Today. Whenever it is. Makar finds it difficult to keep track. He knows that Trofim can see a window from his bed, though. "Trofim," Makar calls. "Trofim! What time of day is it?" He has to call several …