Where Fantasies Are Born

Dice, D20, Game, Role, D12, D8, Rpg, Die


“Once upon a time . . .”

Is what many stories say,

But fantasy needn’t be written thus,

But is born of innovative play.


“Once upon a time . . .”

Back in days of yore –

There were but three slender books,

Some dice and little more.


“Once upon a time . . .”

Whole worlds were on graph-paper made,

Rules simple, imagination great,

And that is how we played.


“Once upon a time . . .”

Elaborate campaigns – still a distant dream,

Dwarfish warriors, and half-ling thieves,

Were on most every team.


“Once upon a time . . .”

We had no way to know –

That skills and feats would proliferate –

And editions come and go.


“Once upon a time . . .”

Let your story now begin.

Prep your party – roll your dice,

And may you many victories win.









The Big Chance

Forest, Hiking, Forest Path, Trail, Away, Path, Moss


In a dingy tavern near the crossroad of the North Way and the Forest Course, Aalof sat across the table from the hardened veteran Thall.  For seven years Aalof had watched parties of adventurers and mercenaries pass through the tavern, and for seven years he had served them meat and ale; and been yelled at by Uncle Harnor, the proprietor for being too slow at his tasks.  Today will be different, he thought.  I am going to leave this lousy tavern behind, and really have a life.

“So what skills can you offer me?” the mighty warrior asked as he reached out a scarred hand the grab a tankard.

“I do magic,” Aalof said confidently.  He then picked up two iron rings from an adjoining table and muttered a couple of mystical sounding words before slamming the rings together.  The two iron hoops were instantly interlocked.

The huge warrior nodded as if impressed, and then chugged down the rest of his ale.

“I can always find use for a wizard,” Thall said reaching for another tankard.  “There are five of us.  You will be the sixth.  Food for the journey, and fifteen percent of the booty will be your share.”

“Great,” Aalof said with an excited squeal.  “Great,” he said again after clearing his throat, in a slightly deeper voice.

“We leave when I finish my ale,” the warrior said matter of factly.

Aalof excused himself from the table, and ran to his room to grab his meagre belongings and then checking that his uncle was not looking, he dodged out a side door to wait for the adventurers near the stable.

Once the party had gathered, they set out along the Forest Course, and then took a side trail into the deep wood.  After a short while they came to a clearing.

“I don’t like the feel of this,” Anson, the woodsman said.  “The ground is too tidy.  Look no fallen sticks or other debris.  It’s been recently cleared.  Be careful of traps.”

The party took a more defensive formation and stepped cautiously into the clearing.

Suddenly an arrow shot out from the opposite tree-line and caught Noor, the healer in the thigh.  A second slammed into Thall’s shield, almost immediately.  Anson let loose a shaft of his own in response, and the party backed slowly to their own tree-line.

As Noor began tending her own wound, six Goblins and a decrepit looking old mage came into sight.  The wizened figure loosed a fireball which narrowly missed the Dwarf, Bjin and torched a nearby pine.

Thall turned to young Aalaf.  “Do something,” he demanded.

The youth stood dumbfounded for a moment, and then asked, “Like what?”

“Magic, you idiot!” the warrior roared.

Fiddling in his shoulder bag, Aalof fished out a small box. Opening it he said “Pick a card, any card.”



Tale Weaver – #261 – Tale Weaver/Fairy Tale – Wizard



Elf, Elven, Fantasy, Poser, Tube, Character, Strong



Sacio Boldman’s future was set from the moment of his birth.  He was born into the powerful Boldman warrior clan, and unlike his older two brothers, or any subsequent offspring, he was destined to the Temple.  As far back as anyone could remember, the third son entered the order of healers.

Therefore at the age of seven, Sacio began his life as a novice.   He was an able student, and applied himself to the rudiments of first aid, and the mixing of herbal remedies.  It wasn’t until he was seventeen, when he had just taken his vows, that anything seemed amiss.

As he began the advanced training, which included a complex study of healing spells, he failed.  The tried and true spells of multiple generations didn’t seem to have any effect when uttered by Sacio.  This gave great concern to his superiors.  He had passed all of the rites of the order.  He had dedicated himself to the deity.  He had remained celibate.  The incantations should have worked, but they just didn’t.

Father Prudens from the Mother House was sent for, and Sacio was examined.  The healing aura was strong in him, and no outward flaws could be detected.  Prudens decided that the youth should remain under observation, and that the lad should therefore accompany him back to the Mother House.

As the pair travelled to the mountain top temple, they happened upon a peasant whose oxcart had over turned.  The man’s companions had managed to free him from the wreckage but his legs, which had been trapped, were horribly mangled. 

Prudens ordered young Brother Sacio to intervene with a second level healing spell.  The master healer wanted to see the young cleric at work in a real life situation.  Sacio bent down over the injured peasant and laid hands on his legs and began the incantation.  Though the injuries had not been life threatening, the man let out a tremendous scream and then fell back dead upon the road way.

“But why?” Sacio called to the heavens.  “I did it right.  Why should this man suffer for my ineptitude?”  At this altruistic, self-deprecating profession, the peasant coughed and then stood upright.  He was healed of any trace of the accident with not so much as a bruise to be seen.  Even Father Prudens looked on with amazement.

On reaching the Mother House, the peasant, who Prudens ordered to accompany them was examined by the greatest healers of the chapter.  He was found to be free of any ailments at all.   Even a tooth he had lost two years before had grown back.

This was but the first such healing by Sacio.  All, however, followed the same pattern.  The injured person would, under Sacio’s care, degenerate and die, only to rise again moments later in a better state of health than when they began his “treatment.”

Prudens and the abbot conferred and yet one more test for Brother Sacio was arranged.  A highway bandit was to be hanged the following day.  Abbot Wizeman, Prudens, and Sacio would attend.

The following day, with the execution completed, the highwayman’s corpse was laid at Sacio’s feet.  Sacio bent over him, and touched his neck.  As soon as the man was touched he resurrected, much to the dismay of the guards and the hangman, who were uncertain if this meant that they would have to hang him again.

The fame of Sacio spread like wildfire.  His fellow clerics ceased addressing him as Brother Sacio, but dubbed him Brother Mortbane.

But this was not an end.  Mortbane’s powers increased at a precipitous pace, and soon even the elders were beginning to fear him.   He was called before the council and offered the opportunity to leave the order and become an itinerate “healer.”  It was an offer which he gladly accepted.

Almost immediately, the now twenty year old, Mortbane sought female companionship.  Celibacy was no longer going to feature in his life.   He soon met a young herbal healer named Delores, and the pair courted and wed.  This did not lead to the diminishing of his powers, but rather enhanced them.

A year later Delores delivered a healthy son.  The boy was named Duo Mortbane, the father taking the name Primo Mortbane at the same time.  Thus began the Mortbane Dynasty of Grave Domain clerics.



Menace in the Shadows


Cuthbert and Agnald had successfully battled the ogre which was beneath the bridge.  Then after a long and labourious fight they vanquished the four Grey Goblins in the forest approach.  Now at last they could see the ruins of the fabled Culandoon, where a great treasure was said to lay buried at the foot of a brick archway.

“I think the fighting is at last behind us,” Cuthbert said wiping the sweat from his brow.

“And none too soon,” his comrade remarked. “I am at my strength’s end.  In fact I hardly know if I will be capable of digging on this day.”

The two slowly approached the gates, and the compound beyond.  Little did they know that they had yet to contend with the ferrous Araneae Salix, the two metre tall “Willow Spider.”


Crimson’s Creative Challenge #51

Rook’s Rooks

Crows’ Abbey

Beautiful, yet forlorn, this place is slowly succumbing to the ravages of time. The lonely figure walking this crumbling corridor is determined to remain its companion to the very end. It was a glorious place once, built by a wealth and power that has long ebbed away. But when this structure was new, and whole, it gave the lives of those within it meaning and purpose. This robed figure has not forgotten, even though its noble arches are now draped in vine, and the crows brazenly come and go as they please. There is writing etched deep into the stones beneath the pillars. Each word is a plea from the past; a silent but unyielding voice that demands a place in the present. The robed figure knows what they say. Do you?

Althan looked out from the gallery windows.  The vaulting of the ceiling was still secure, but the glazing of the windows had long succumb to the ravages of time.  But the inscriptions hinted as much.

“Only stone shall stand the wind of black wings’ blow. Hear me, for when the rooks enter the rook, the time of stone will have come.”

Yes, the builders thought they had mastered the stones.  Proud masons, and their even grander masters had dared quarry from the sacred mount.  “Our works and our fame will last forever,” they had claimed.

But now the pillars were askew.  Glass broken.  The haughty lords and ladies were long dead.  The self-congratulatory workers of stone – nowhere to be seen.

But how?  How did the magnificent place come to this?  Althan knew.  Althan’s mother’s, mother’s mother had been the first to see the words upon the wall at the base of the pillar.  They had just appeared one night.  She had been considered “just” serving maid, but she understood – as have her descendants.

She had been the daughter of a rook priestess.   She saw that it was folly to build a “house of frivolity” from holy rock.   The “betters” didn’t understand this.  They thought their own pleasure was all that had meaning.  But Althan’s kin knew better.  They knew that the rooks of the holy mount were the but shadows of the spirits of the stone.  When their nests were pulled down so the quarrying could begin, the spirits began waiting for their day.

Althan stood in the gallery and waited.  Today was the appointed day.  The rooks were coming.  The spirits were once again going inhabit the holy stones.  And she would be there to serve them.



Writing Update: The Sisters’ Sequels

The hope had been to release The Cousins Tales in the Autumn and The Rosemen at Christmas.   As Dianne grew more fatigued during the summer, she suggested that we make the most of the summer holiday together, and pick up writing once the academic year began.  It seemed a wonderful idea, and it proved more valuable than we could have imagined.

With her passing in September, the plan to put the writing off will ultimately slow the releases.  But I am now prepared to trudge on with them.   Both books are filled with her co-authorship and she will still be felt in their pages.  Her spirit is to be found throughout the project.  I will post new publication dates as they become clearer.

Three additional titles had begun to form as off–shoots of the first three books.  She will be present in these as well, though her active contribution to their content will be less.  Her raw ideas for some other projects, as well as ideas from her notebooks may well find their way to print as well.

I recently found her bucket list.  Yes, she had a literal one in a notebook.  It had on it “publish a novel.”  I am so glad I helped her fulfill that wish and dream.

Our first book, The Sisters Tales is available on Amazon.





The Rehearsal: A Haibun

The image is from Pixabay, by Michael Seibt

Alexa was a bit of a prima donna.  She was known throughout the marshlands for having the sweetest serpentine voice in all the land, praise which went to her head.  As was her practice, she met the Pixie, Sudaflax every Tuesday for rehearsal.  Things were not going quite right this week, however.   Every time they got to the crescendo of the Queen of the Night aria, Sudaflax hit the same bad note, flustering the soprano.  “This is your last chance,” she hissed,  “Mess it up again and we’re finished.”

Just One More Sour Note
A Noise He Could Not Abide
She Bit – Pixie Died


Colleen’s 2019 Weekly #Tanka Tuesday #Poetry Challenge No. 145 #PhotoPrompt

The Emissary

Log Cabin, Forest Lodge, Seefeld, Cozy, Hut, Wood, Old


Nobody knew for sure the origin of Thal.  All that the elders said was that they had arrived from the East about a hundred years ago.  They were a strange species with shape and proportions of trolls, but the stature of men.  Some believed they were somehow a derivative of the two folk, though no one could image how such a pairing might have been managed.

Walton was intrigued by the Thal.   His father the Duke was certain that they would be useful allies if the Westerlings once again attempted an invasion of the land.  The problem was neither Walton or his father had any idea as to how to approach them.  It wasn’t like they were seen very often.  No, they largely kept to their own glades, and had little to do with men, apart from their occasional poaching of some farmer’s sheep, if they were allowed to graze to close to their forest home.

Then Walton heard of a hermit called Erno who dwelt near the Thalglade.  He was perhaps Walton’s best hope for coming to a greater knowledge of the strange beings.  The problem was that Erno was said to be a bit of a crank and dwelt at the edge of human society for a reason.  Put simply – he hated people.

Walton decided that he must approach the reclusive fellow nonetheless.  He entered the High Wood and made for the clearing where Erno was said to dwell.  The trees were thick here and only a faint dappled light penetrated the canopy.   It seemed to take hours to arrive at the rustic cabin, deep in the wood.

Walton knocked the door hesitantly.  His efforts were greeted with a terse oath and instructions for the young man to depart the occupant’s property.   Not to be dissuaded, Walton knocked again more forcefully.   Finally a gruff looking man of about sixty pulled open the door.

Walton simpered, and then said he had come to ask for knowledge of the Thal.

“What for?  They do no one any harm,”  Erno said coolly.

“I thought they might help us if there is trouble in the west,”  the young man replied.

“They, like me, keep to themselves.  You should leave it that way.”

“But I really must speak to them,” Walton insisted.

“Well there is only one way that they will let you anywhere near them without them giving you a thumping.  And you won’t like it none,” the old man said.  “I only found it out myself by accident, but if you promise to leave me alone I will let you into the secret.”

“Oh yes please, and if you help me I will never bother you again,” Walton said.

“Fair enough,” the man snorted.

The hermit then lit a fire in his grate and piled on fragrant wood, then half closing the flue allowed sweet smelling smoke to fill the cabin.  He then opened a jar that was filled with aloe and lavender oil and dipped a cloth in it.  This he wrapped around his mouth and nose.

“Step out onto the porch,” he instructed the young man.  He then put on a heavy glove and took a second jar from a shelf.

As Walton stepped onto the porch, Erno opened the jar and took a handful of greenish yellow slime and squished it into the young man’s face.  Jumping back he dropped the jar, removed the glove, and then slammed the door shut.

Walton reeled at the pungent odour, and vomited profusely.  It was the most foul substance he had encountered in his twenty-four years of life.

“That’s Thal crap,” he yelled though the door.  “It should stay with you about a fortnight.  Now go away!”


Wordle #154

1. Origin
2. Crank
3. Simper (to smile in a silly or self-conscious way)
4. Best
5. Shape
6. Derivative
7. Hours
8. Fragrant
9. Smoke
10. Dapple
11. Squish
12. Species



No one had been here for hundreds of years. The narrow mountain road that had once wound its way up to the top of the peak now had wide and unstable gaps. He had taken the path as far as he could, but to get to the entrance of the ancient castle, the only way up was a grueling climb. The doorway he was trying to reach was still some distance upward, and he’d barely made it to the ledge he was on. His muscles were weak, and he was cold and incredibly hungry. The final leg of his climb would have to wait for morning.

He had no idea what would be waiting for him inside the structure once he got to it. The people who had once lived here were mysterious and reclusive. Rumors swirled about the strange powers and abilities they were said to have possessed. The greatest mystery was what had become of them. What would he find once he made his way inside? And could he manage to get the answers he sought without sharing their fate?

He had an uneasy night.  Despite the fact that no one could have followed his from below without making a terrific racket in the dark, and that the path ahead seemed even more treacherous, he could not get past the sensation that he was being watched.

When morning dawned, he was bone weary having not managed more than two hours sleep in the night.  But the castle lay before him, and it would take most of the day to make the gate.  He did not want to spend another night outside the walls!

The first hour was a torturous climb using what ever hand holds he could manage.  The next three were even more difficult as there were few places to grip or to affix rope.  But by three in the afternoon, bloody fingered and with bruised knees, he stood before a wicket gate.

Bronze, he mused.  The main gates were a milky green, and yet the wicket still held some vestiges of a copper sheen.  Were they some other material?  Or have they been maintained and used more recently than the others?  He inwardly hoped for the former, though he feared the latter.

There was a large ring on the wicket, which he attempted to turn.  It twisted just a little too easily, and there was a metallic click as the mechanism engaged, and he could feel the door release pressure.  He pushed gently and it began to open inwards.

He stepped into a paved passageway.  Above him he could see corroded bronze hatches which were intended to pour death down upon any would be invaders.  They did not open, however, and he cautiously exited the passageway into a paved courtyard.

He stopped suddenly.  The stones.  What is it about the stones?  then it occurred to him.  Most all of the courtyard had a thick covering of moss and lichen.  But there were two distinct pathways in which the stonework was bare apparently from recent wear.

He stepped onto the clear path on his left, and as nonchalantly as possible loosened his dagger in its sheath.  He proceeded along the path and stopped again before his progress would expose him to a window which overlooked the worn trail.  It slowly drew his dagger and stooped down to slowly duck walk under the aperture, so that he might not be observed by anyone who might be within.

Just as he began to stand again on the far side, he heard a clear voice from a rampart overhead.

“That was a very clever move, I ‘m impressed,” a man of about sixty observed.  “I am glad you’ve come, and I am even happier you have a dagger.  My tin opener broke last August, and I waste so much food trying to crack cans open with rocks.   I am Owen, buy the way, are you hungry?  If you lend me your dagger we can have hash.  The warehouses her are still full of stuff.  Yes, its a century or more old, but really quite tasty.”

The adventurer just stood in amazement.

“Oh don’t worry, the ‘Old Ones,’  abandoned the castle after an earthquake collapsed the road,” the old man said.   My great great grandparents, grandparents, or something like that were left behind to care for the place until the others return.  Seems they’re a little late.”




The Inhabitants

Warwick Castle, Fort, Warwick, Castle, Heritage, Tower

Image by Kevsphotos from Pixabay

We have always lived in the castle.  Not me personally, mind, but our family has been in the castle as long as there has been one.  Before even.

We were on the site when Boyda and his people raised the wooden palisades upon our hill.  Those were pleasant times, and we lived in harmony with the newcomers.  They treated us with respect, and the Druids brought us little treasures and laid them before our spring.

Then those coarse Latins arrived.  They tore down the lovely oak walls and raised ramparts of stone.  Some of these foul men disrespected us, and they didn’t think to thank us for the clear water that flowed from our spring.  But they learned – oh, how they learned.  My great-grandmother was but a girl then, but she remembered her mother making the water sour and many of the legion-men falling ill.   The gifts soon returned, I can tell you.  But these hard men left and our family lived quietly on our hilltop home among the decaying stone.

New visitors came, they called themselves the Folk, but they were not unlike the Romans or the Celts before them.  They rebuilt the walls and dug a well next to our spring.  Grandmother was not pleased with that and in her fury again tainted the waters and some of the newcomers fell blind.  They left our hill!

The castle builders came when my mother was a girl.  They robbed the stone from the hilltop and made new walls with high round towers and a gate with an iron portcullis.  They dug another well further down the hill, and used pipes to flow it to the keep.  They largely left our family alone, but mother remembers one day when a young man and woman sat looking longingly into each other’s eyes as they sat at the edge of our spring just outside of their walls.  Their love filled her with joy and she granted them a long life and happiness together.  It is their great-great-great-great-great grandchildren that sold the castle to the wool merchant.  I was a girl then, and his family were kind to us.  They loved nature and built the parks and gardens below the hill.  See how pretty they are.  I kind of like the statue they placed next to our spring.  It looks much like your grandmother when she was young, though it is silly that they put butterfly wings on the back of a Water-Sprite.

It was just before you were born that the present bunch came here.  They turned the castle into a hotel.  They built the two bungalows outside the walls and the little path to our spring.  Honeymoon cottages they call them.  I think it is lovely that the young couples come to enjoy our spring.  It is up to you now, my daughter, to protect the waters though.  These humans are such unpredictable sorts.  It was like when that man with the strange hair wanted to build a golf course here, I had to see him off.  You may have to do the same, he doesn’t seem to ever learn his lessons.


Christine’s Daily Writing Prompt: We Have Always Lived in the Castle