Tuesday, April 5, 2011


“Cassandra bears your anger rather well.” Lionel had snuck up on Chris. AGAIN.

“What do you mean?” He asked gruffly, not looking up from his computer.

“Well, most people respond to your anger with anger. She appeared mostly apathetic, if not bewildered.”

“Yeah well, she knows she’s wrong.”

“And what is it that’s she wrong about?”

“Nothing serious.”

“It can’t be ‘nothing serious’ if you’re this wound up about it.”

“Lionel, leave it alone. We’ll have it figured out by the end of the week. If not, then you have full bragging rights and I’ll take you out to dinner.”

“Fine. But if it’s not resolved in two weeks you’ll have to let me know what it’s about.”

“Fine. Now get out of my office. I have work to do.”

“So rude.”

Cassy found herself rushing to get to rehearsal on Wednesday night, not because she was late, but because she NEEDED to be in the choir room before Chris woke up from his nap. He was punishing her with some particularly difficult pieces, and she really wanted to get some practice in on the grand. Her keyboard at home worked fine enough, but there was just something about the piano in the choir room that made it easier to practice. Unfortunately, when she got there somebody else was already playing on it.

"Lionel. What a surprise."

"Yes, I normally don't come here on Wednesdays."

"Any particular reason for your visit?"

"Chris mentioned that the choir would be singing one of my compositions soon. I want to know ahead of time that they'll be able to pull it off."

"That's... arrogant of you."

"I suppose. Have you been finding the music very difficult? I tried to make it complex, if only to annoy lesser pianists than myself."

"I'm finding it extremely difficult."

"Good. What part are you having the most trouble with?"

"Measures 14 through 26."

"Really? I would have thought the more difficult spot would be the key change at 78."

"That was easy to figure out once I considered the theory behind it."

Lionel stared at Cassy with a neutral expression.

"I can see now why Chris refuses to fire you, even when you're being impossible."

"By all accounts, he is the one being impossible right now."

"Not in his eyes."

"Yes, well, it will be resolved soon enough."

"I know. Though I am hoping it isn't."


"He promised me bragging rights and dinner if it isn't resolved by Sunday."

"I see. Well, for your sake I might drag it out a bit longer than I'd planned."

"I would be ever so grateful."

Any further banter was int erupted by a not-quite-awake Chris stumbling into the room.

"Lio? What're you doing here?"

"Just checking in on you. I wanted to ensure that you treated my child with respect."

"What child? Oh yeah, the piece... I'm sure the choir's up to it, even if the accompanist isn't."

Cassy burned with the desire to say something scathing, but nothing came to mind.

"Actually," Lionel replied with a charming smile. "Cassandra has just asked me to play it tonight. Said something about wanting to listen to a true master play."

"Did she now. Well, do what you want."

"Thank you ever so much Christopher. Your kindness truly knows no bounds."

"Shove it up your..." They were spared whatever vulgarity Chris could come up with by the arrival of the first choir member. Chris glared darkly at both Cassy and Lionel, but greeted the choir member with a smile. Soon, rehearsal was underway. Cassy surrendered the piano over to Lionel when they moved on to his song, and it soon became apparent why Cassy was the better accompanist.

"Measure 40, Lionel." "Just the parts please, Lionel." "SLOWER, Lionel."

When Chris had had enough of Lionel's inadequacies, they moved on to a different song, and the balance was restored. All in all, it had been a fairly productive rehearsal (despite Lionel). Cassy left the choir room after all the members had left, a small smile on her face.


"Yes Lionel?"

"Chris is refusing to tell me anything for another week and a half. What did you tell him that's made him so snippy?"

"Nothing of true importance."

Lionel pouted.

"You're both incredibly mean."

"You'll know soon enough."

"Soon enough isn't soon enough."

"If Chris said he'll tell you in a week and a half, then I'd only upset him by telling you now."

"If I didn't know any better, I'd say this was about me..."

"Who said it isn't?"

"So it is about me?"

"Less about you, more about his pride and opinions."

"What on earth did you say to him?"

"Nothing of true importance. Goodnight, Lionel."

"Goodnight Cassandra."

Monday, April 4, 2011


I'll admit it. I'm a slacker. I implied that I'd get back to posting as soon as I got back from my trip, but I didn't. I'm such a horrible person...

Angsty lamenting over with, here's more story! Well, actually it's a different one 'cause I'm kinda burnt out on the one I was working on, but still! I'm actually posting! That's an improvement!

Cassy fairly flew down the hall in her haste, narrowly avoiding knocking into several people. She made a sharp left turn, and jumped down the stairwell taking two or three steps at a time. That damn woman had made her LATE! Never mind the fact that she was skating on thin ice with Chris as it was, she just HAD to stop for breakfast! They would have been okay on time if they had just eaten then left, but NO! That infernal woman had to flirt with the waiter!
Finally, she reached the choir room. Fortunately, Chris was only halfway through the usual Sunday-morning warm-up. She preferred to arrive about fifteen minutes before the choir did to warm up herself, but she would take what she got. When Chris finished with the warm up, he looked her straight in the eye, and with thinly-veiled disdain, he said, "You're late."
"Mother." She responded simply, knowing he would understand, even if he was still mad at her.
"No excuse." He muttered at her, getting up and allowing her to take her place behind the piano.
Despite Chris' current dislike of her, he and Cassy made a dynamic pair as a conductor and accompanist. She took his subtle directions better than anyone he'd ever worked with (even if he refused to admit it aloud). The short rehearsal was soon over without any fuss, and the choir made their usual migration up to the waiting room. They arrived just as Lionel Rose (the organist and reason for Chris and Cassy's current contention) finished with the prelude, and after a short call to worship, they were on. They processed in with the opening hymn, and just like that, service began, no one in the congregation aware that their beloved Music Ministries director was glaring daggers at the talented teenage accompanist for no real reason. Of course, Cassy wouldn't be the one to say he was being illogical. It was something he had to figure out on his own. Nevertheless, she bore the uncomfortable itch of his hatred all through service, and slipped out as soon as the postlude started. With any luck she would be out of the building before Chris had managed to shake off his adoring fans.
Someone did catch her as she was leaving, but fortunately it wasn't Chris. Unfortunately, it was Lionel.
"Why was Chris sending you death glares all through service?" He asked bluntly.
"I told him something he didn't want to hear."
"Oh. Okay. See you next week."
That's the way he was. Cassy shook her head, and turned to where her mother was leaning against the car, smoking.
"Those things are going to kill you." She muttered as she slid into the passenger seat.
"Honey, you're going to kill me before they ever get close."
"Says you."
"That's no way to talk to your mother."
"When did you become so petulant child?"
"When did you learn a word as big as petulant?"
"Oooh... you just wait until your daddy hears about this."
"Yes. I'm sure he'll get quite the laugh from it."
"Shut up, child."
"Yes mommy."

Friday, March 18, 2011

Hiatus announcement

So, as much as I want to, I'm not going to give you anything of substance for the next week or so. I"ll be on tour with my church choir, and taking a laptop would just complicate things. Of course, we don't leave until Sunday morning, so I could post some things tonight and tomorrow, but I'm not going to bother. Right now it's past eleven and I need to get up early tomorrow, and tomorrow I'm going to either be in rehearsal, or packing (and repacking) my stuff. So yeah. I'm going to slack off. AND, I'm going to enjoy doing it. Hopefully when I get back I'll have a dozen brilliant ideas, but if that doesn't happen, oh well.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Peaceful Fires

The next day followed in a rather peaceful manner. The Elva Forest was rather quiet, and it was a good thing we didn't have horses. There was no clear path to follow, and the trees were packed close together. To navigate, we relied on Leonard Stone's compass, and Sir Knocks' intuition. It was a formidable pair, and our journey was filled with companionable silence.
It took much longer for it to become too dark, and by the time we stopped, both of the men were exhausted. They didn't bother with a fire, just laid down on a soft bit of earth and fell into a deep slumber. After helping me build a small fire, the Dwarf gave me a look that clearly said that I was taking the first shift, whether I liked it or not.
I sat in the silence, partially enjoying it, but glancing around nervously. I wasn't sure why, but something didn't feel quite right. Things felt eerie, and my companion's slumber was unusually deep. It was almost as if... No, it couldn't be... But it was. They had been enchanted.
Even now, I am uncertain who it was that cast the spell. It could have been Nicre, it could have been the Lady of the Wood (whoever she was at the time. For all I know, it could have been the Lady of Fortune herself. The fact remained however, that they had all been lured into an enchanted sleep, that could possibly prove deadly, and I had neither the skills nor tools to wake them.
I exaggerate slightly, though, I must admit. I panicked at the time, but looking back the answer was obvious. Cold water shocks the system in such a way that it proves quite effective for throwing off curses and enchantments. I didn't think of that at the time though, so I desperately went to each of my companions, shaking each of them in turn, and getting no response. Then I tried making a horrific amount of noise. Within a quarter-hour, I was distraught, sure that none of them would wake ever again. And then, to make matters worse, it began to rain.
That, of course, woke all of them up. They rose with grunts and grumbles, trying futilely to cover themselves from the pelting droplets. When the grogginess of sleep had worn off of them, they all saw me staring at them with a wide mouth and tears on my face. Sir Knocks was quick in an attempt to 'soothe' me, and I managed to get the whole story out through shuddering sobs. The dwarf and Sir Knocks looked worried, but Leonard Stone had a neutral expression on his face.
After I had calmed down we managed to create a shelter of sorts under the bows of a sturdy oak. The others were oddly refreshed after their enchanted slumber, and I was too wound up for sleep, so we sat in a circle, not saying much until the Dwarf asked,
"So who is this Nicre guy anyway? And why can't someone else take care of him?"
"Nicre is the Wizard of the North, and admittedly one of the most insane persons you will ever meet. Three summers ago though, he was as normal as any other Wizard. Not as normal as anyone else, but certainly not crazy like he is now. Well, that summer the order asked him to go into the Mountains to search for a cave that held the scroll of enlightenment. When he came back, there was something not right in him anymore. No one knows if it was the snow, or the searching, or if he was just crazy from the beginning, but about a week after his return, he snapped.
"With one badly placed fire spell, half of the Cathedral went up in flames. It was a mass of terror and chaos, with a good measure of panic thrown in as well. I wasn't there at the time (being on a quest myself), but all of the novice brothers were eager to tell me about it on my return. James refuses to talk about it though. He watched too many of his brothers die."
"Nicre had disappeared at that point, and I helped wherever I could with the reconstruction. It only took a fortnight for Nicre to return though. He literally flew in on a cloud of fire, his eyes lit in unholy rage. He fired at the Order's orchard, causing more damage than one would think imaginable. I was back at the Cathedral, so it took me a vital quarter-hour to get word. I ran with haste to where Nicre was terrorizing the brothers. I distracted him with a shout, and not even thinking about it, cast a spell that would shoot a stream of purified water in any direction I chose. It hit him square in the face, shocking him enough that he lost concentration. The fire-cloud he rode on vanished, and without his fury fanning them, the flames on the orchard died down.
"It wasn't easy to capture him though. It took all of the brothers and I chasing after him, firing spell after spell at him. It didn't help that the only spells the brothers could perform were light spells. After a chase that seemed to last hours, we caught him, and quickly threw him into a damp cell in the dungeon.
"The High Priest sentenced him to exile in the Cursed land, but didn't let him go until his fire emblem was confiscated and destroyed. Since he's back and attacking the Forest of peace, I'm assuming he found a way to create a new one."
"So... what you're saying through that greatly embellished and wandering story is that you defeated this firebug before out of pure luck."
"I prefer to think of it as intuition."
"Think of it however you'd like. I'm going back to sleep."
The dwarf laid down, and Leonard Stone quickly followed her example. Thankfully, they both fell into a nice natural sleep. Sir Knocks insisted that I too should sleep, and that he might as start his shift on watch. I acquiesced, and settled down with my blanket, starring blankly at the fire. I wondered if Nicre knew that I was coming for him. I wondered if he'd gotten any more crazy. These thoughts lulled me into slumber, neither getting a clear answer.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Traveling Music

We continued on in a similar fashion the following day, only coming across a few monsters, all of which Leonard disposed of quite easily. It was almost as if he didn't need any of the rest of us there. Any road, we made it out of the Kogen Forest before nightfall, and found ourselves on the Great Road. We crossed straight over it, into the Elva forest, at Sir Knocks' direction.
"Why not follow the road, like any sane person would?" The dwarf groused.
"Because we need to get to the forest of peace as quickly as possible, and if we followed the road we would not reach it for another fortnight."
"Can we at least find horses?"
"We don't need them. Once we cross through the Elva forest we will be there."
The dwarf sighed, and stared at Sir Knocks with a petulant expression for a long time, but went along with the plan without anymore fuss.
Once again, as soon as it was too dark for the humans, we set up camp. We had a fire this night, and feasted on a rabbit Leonard Stone had caught. He was quite the hunter, one had to admit.
The rabbit eaten, and no one tired enough to sleep yet, we sat around in silence, not quite enjoying each other's presence, but not minding it either. Before long, Sir Knocks requested a song from me. I obliged, singing the Ballad of the Sky with Leonard Stone accompanying me with humming. The men smiled cheerily at me at the conclusion, but the dwarf just huffed and laid down to sleep. The rest of us soon followed suit, Leonard Stone taking the first watch.
I woke, long before the change of shift, with a start. I wasn't sure what had woken me, but stone noticed that I was awake. Through the gloom I could seem him smile at me.
"Sleep, dear one. It is not time for you to wake."
I followed his suggestion, not giving notice to the fact that he had his hunting knife laid across his lap.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lack of contact

I realize my lack in posting for the past few days is slightly inexcusable, but I hope you will anyway. I have fairly good reasons for it, even though I'm not going to share them with you. You'll just have to be content to know that I am back (if only for this week), and better than ever! ... Or not. Anyhoo, here's some more of Rina and Wylma!

We entered the forest promptly at dawn, glancing around warily at every sound. There weren't too many creatures in the forest, but the ones that were there were vicious. Some said the creatures in the Kogen Forest had enough bite for 10. Others said they were tamable if you knew exactly what to do. Either way, none of us were going to take any chances. Well, apart from the dwarf. She could take all the chances she wanted.
It was midmorning before we came across any of these creatures, and when we did, it was just a little one. You have to understand though, that when I say little, I mean a blood-thirsty monster the size of a grey hound. The adult monsters could get up to the size of horses. Our monster was undoubtedly still in it's youth. Leonard Stone was the first to spot it, and before any of us could even think he had his bow out. With a skill that I'd only ever seen in elves, he shot the monster right in between the eyes (they're most vulnerable spot). The monster went down with a thud, and we kept moving.
We didn't come across another the rest of the day, and when it became too dark for the humans, we stopped. There was a brief argument about who would sleep, but at last the Dwarf and I convinced the humans to sleep, using the logic that we didn't need as much, and more than that the creatures wouldn't go after the dwarf, giving her an advantage. Once they were out cold, I turned to the dwarf and asked without warning, "Who's Cronan?"
"My would-be betrothed. Why?"
"You muttered his name last night. I was just curious."
"Aw damn. I thought I'd gotten over sleep-talking."
"What is he like?"
"Because I'm curious."
"Fine. He's built like a god, has a ridiculously hilarious sense of humor and can make the most beautiful swords you've ever seen."
"And what's your sister like?"
"Petty, selfish, and ugly. And believe it or not, I would have said the same thing about her even before she betrayed me."
"What makes her ugly?"
"She's fat, even for a dwarf, and doesn't take care of herself."
"That's enough to make someone ugly?"
"In dwarfin culture, yes."
"Huh. What are your parents like?"
She said nothing, and through the gloom I could see that her lips were pursed. Finally, she said, "I'm feeling fatigued. Wake me up if you hear ANYTHING."
I wanted to pursue the issue, since she was obviously against talking about it, and people were only like that when there was something juicy going on, but I knew better. I'd seen similar looks from a lot of the Brothers of the Order, and after watching James get yelled at enough times, I finally caught a clue. When people looked like that, the only way you were going to get the information from them was through torture. So I left it, focusing on protecting the camp. Admittedly I wouldn't be able to do much against the monsters, but if I knew they were coming I could wake everyone else up at least.

Sunday, March 13, 2011