Friday, August 28, 2015

To get a sidekick

1. So that you can pass down your knowledge. You've got a talent for birdcalls, and if you didn't have a sidekick eager to learn, then who would you teach them to?
2. So you have backup. Everyone needs a little help sometimes, and it can be comforting to know that someone has your back.
3. So someone can witness your awesomeness. It can be nice to have someone notice when you do something amazing, even if that thing is simply reciting the alphabet backwards.
4. So that you have someone to remind you of what is important. When you've lost sight of the reason for your actions, sometimes you need a friend to help you get refocused.
5. Because you need a friend. A sidekick knows what you're facing, and also knows how to make you laugh about it.
6. So that you'll have someone to run errands. After all, who else is going to get you doughnuts?
7. So you have someone to talk to. It can get boring working alone. With a sidekick, you'll finally have someone to talk to during the dull moments.
8. They're better than a fish. A sidekick can go on adventures with you, while a fish just swims around its tank.
9. They might teach you something. A sidekick will add another perspective to whatever you do, and a different set of skills. You might be able to learn something cool, like how to make a pecan pie.
10. So you have someone to be the distraction. How else are you supposed to rescue the cookies from the cooling racks?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Realm's Champion, part IV

My salamander was on fire.
The boy moved to his rosion. “Dire, get up!” His voice was firm, though the hand he stretched out to the creature shook.
The rosion's eyes rustled open like brittle leaves. It looked at the boy, and gave a soft huff before its eyes closed.
The boy stroked the rosion's left ear, then turned to me. “We yield.”
I stared at him, and the boy shifted and glanced at his injured champion. “The victory is yours.” He said, and I shook my head.
Um, right. I accept, the battle's done.” I'd never won, never had to end the battle. Usually, I hoped that the victor would be satisfied with simply beating my champion.
Unfortunately, most kept the battle going until the spotted carp was ready to cook.
The boy relaxed, shoulders loosening as he turned back to his rosion and pulled out a medical kit.
I turned and found a scorched trail through the grass. Looking down, Mervyn sat in a smoldering pile near my feet.
Thanks for not climbing onto my shoe.” I said, crouching down to look at him. Heat poured off of him, and a ribbon of flame danced between the brown spots on his back. He tilted his head, and gave me a look that could almost be a smile. Smiling back, I lowered my voice. “And thanks for not dying.”
Straightening, I walked over to the boy and his rosion.
The boy was quick, and already had the rosion's burns neatly bandaged. When he saw me, the boy straightened.
What will you claim?” He asked, pulling out a map. As he unrolled it, the features became three dimensional. Forests covered a vast mainland, and a chain of islands curled around a squat volcano and its needle sharp twin. The rest of the realm appeared to be a vast garden.
This was new, seeing someone else's realm and getting to choose a piece to add to mine.
Pulling out my own map, I opened it. My relatively bare mainland and tiny training island were almost laughable. Anything from his realm would be an improvement to mine.
Glancing back to where I'd last seen Mervyn, I thought about the smoldering grass.
I'd like that.” I pointed at the squat volcano. The boy nodded, and plucked it off his map. Holding it out between two fingers, he offered it to me.
Taking it, I was surprised by the warmth that it gave off. Studying my map, I selected a spot a good distance from my training island and set the volcano in the sea.
The ground beneath us trembled slightly, then settled.
Rolling up his map, the boy rubbed his shoulder and shook his head. “I underestimated your salamander.”
He surprised me too.” I said, putting away my map. I held out a hand. “I hope your rosion heals well.”

The boy gave a half smile, and took my hand. “And hopefully your salamander continues to surprise.”

Friday, August 21, 2015

Things that can be creepy

1. Eyeshine. You're sitting there, and in the dark corner of the room something shines. Two somethings. Fluffy doesn't seem so sweet with light in her eyes.
2. Waking before your alarm. You've woken early, and the house is silent. Except for those strange noises you keep hearing, and in the darkness, those noises could be anything.
3. Music. Sometimes, a chord is struck while you're listening to a song, and suddenly you don't feel quite as comfortable.
4. Closets. It's just a small room, right? But some closets are more pleasant than others.
5. Unexpected flavors. You get a doughnut. It looks like your favorite kind, and you take a huge bite. Only, it isn't your favorite. Its something odd, a flavor you can't name. And eating something without knowing what it is can be quite unsettling.
6. A smile. Sometimes, you can sense when someone's smile isn't sincere. Other times, you don't consciously realize. But something still makes you uneasy.
7. An empty room. Rooms are rarely empty of anything. When you do come across such a room, it can make you nervous.
8. Vacuums. They start off sounding one way, but then midway through cleaning, it suddenly shifts in volume and tone. But when you check, nothing is clogging it.
9. A dying toy. You know those toys that talk? When one starts to die, the change to its voice can be discomforting.
10. The wind. Sometimes it whistles, sometimes it gently blows. Then there are the moments when it shrieks and howls, or moans like an injured beast. There is a sound of the wind for any occasion.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Realm's Champion, part III

One of the interesting things about champions is their natural instinct to protect their realm.
Even a week old spotted carp will try to fight when a challenge is issued.
Mervyn... was playing hide and seek.
The rosion let out another roar that sent thorns blasting into the tall grass. A breeze made the grass rustle, which hopefully helped hide Mervyn's position.
Until the rosion twisted, and I saw sandstone amongst the green.
On the rosion's back.
“On top of you, Dire!” The boy shouted, and the rosion's head contorted as it strained to see my salamander.
If Mervyn had any offensive ability, now would be the time to use it.
But no, the little salamander lowered its head between two frightfully long thorns on the rosion's back.
Unable to reach Mervyn with its mouth, the rosion twisted and leaped, trying to shake the salamander off.
“Mervyn, do something!” I said, and thought I saw the little salamander glance at me. What was I expecting him to do, Suddenly sprout wings and become a dragon?
Apparently, Mervyn had other ideas.
The rosion gave a vicious jerk, and the salamander sailed through the air.
“Dire, now!” The boy called, and his rosion pounced.
Catching Mervyn as he fell, the two creatures landed in a particularly tall clump of grass.
“No.” Covering my face with my hands, I turned away. I'd liked the little salamander. And now with his failure, I'd probably lose the mainland. I didn't have enough credits to get another champion egg and a new mainland. And without the mainland's harvest potential, I couldn't keep this realm running.
I heard the rosion's triumphant rumble, that one I knew meant it was about to bite down.
That's how my second spotted carp died, so I hadn't forgotten the sound.
There was a boom, and a ferocious explosion of heat rammed into me.
Twisting around, I stared at where the rosion had been.
It was lying near the boy, the right half of its face charred, and devoid of red petals.
And within an ashy circle where the thick clump of grass had been sat Mervyn, his back engulfed by flames.

Friday, August 14, 2015

To steal someone's seat

1. So that you can have a quick chat with your friend. After all, you just need a question answered, and will probably be out of the chair before its owner gets back.
2. Because it provides a better view. You want these pictures to be good, and if they ask for their seat back, you'll move.
3. As a joke. They're always taking your seat, so why not turn the tables for once?
4. Because you need to get away from the person seated next to you. For some reason, you don't want to spend another minute next to this person, and notice someone leave their seat. Quick! Take it before they get back!
5. Because you want to be on the same team as your friend. They're using the old one-two method to pick teams, and if you stay where you are, you're going to be on the wrong side. So in order to be with your buddies, you move to take that seat while its former occupant is getting a drink.
6. Because a cat stole yours. You don't have it in you to move the cat, so you'll let your best friend do it when they get back.
7. Because it is more comfortable than yours. You've got a boring metal chair, while they have a nice cushioned one.
8. Because it is closer to the food. Come on, who wouldn't want that seat?
9. It has better lighting. You've got a book, and they've been playing on their phone. Which person needs that light more?
10. So that they'll talk to you. You're too nervous to start the conversation, but if they say something first, then perhaps you'll be able to reply.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Realm's Champion, part II

With the week's reprieve nearly done, Mervyn hadn't done anything to relieve my anxiety.
Sure, the little salamander was fast, but that seemed to be his only ability. No venom, no sharp teeth or claws.
Pulling out my battered scanner, I aimed it at the salamander as he scurried through the training course. The machine gave a few beeps, and Mervyn's information filled the screen.
Frowning, I smacked my hand against the scanner's side. “Dumb thing is still malfunctioning.”
Ruebin snatched the scanner from me. “Fire element? If that lizard has any fire at all, then I'm a pack mule.”
We're going to die.” I groaned, rubbing my forehead. Pressure against my foot caught my attention, and I looked down. Mervyn was looking up at me from on top of my foot. His mouth opened wide.
Alright,” I reached into the bag at my hip and pulled out a fish. I dropped it, and Mervyn caught it and scurried away. I turned back to Ruebin. “That's another thing. He eats more than you, yet hasn't grown at all. Where is it all going?”
The centaur shrugged. “Perhaps to those spots on his back. They've swollen a bit.”
Two bulges on a salamander's back weren't enough to explain the lack of growth. Even a spotted carp doubled in size during its first week.
What will I do when the challenge arrives? Quick feet aren't enough to win.” I glanced at my watch, and swallowed when I saw the time. “We've only got couple of minutes.” The first week always ended at the exact time that the new champion hatched at.
For Mervyn, that was 7:17PM.
He only has to win once.” Ruebin said, then his tail lashed as his torso twisted. “Get off me, lizard!”
Mervyn's head tilted, and I had to stifle a laugh. I didn't know how he kept managing to get on Ruebin's back, but that was Mervyn's favorite spot.
The salamander lowered his head into the centaur's dun coat, seemingly untroubled as the centaur tried to shake him off.
A ding echoed in my ear, and I stopped laughing. Touching my watch, I twisted the face to activate the transportation spell.
Back before my viewscreen, I pulled up my messages as my stomach settled into a knot.
There it was.
A challenge.
Opening the message, I held my breath.
It was from a young constructor, whose realm was only a little larger than mine. He wasn't wasting any time, and had set the challenge to take place in five minutes.
Sighing, I sent a confirmation, along with the coordinates to where the battle would take place.
At least as I always got to pick the battleground. Benefits of being the defender.
Tapping at the console, I collected Mervyn and relocated him to a grassy plain. Reaching for the knob, I twisted it.
Stumbling in the grass, I resisted the urge to throw up. When I felt something on my foot, I looked down at Mervyn.
Alright boy, we just have to hope that you can survive this. Not all challenges have to end with one of the champions dead.” They didn't have to, but so far all of mine had.
Mervyn tilted his head, then turned as a pop sounded from across the plain.
Not good.
The boy was my age, but it was his champion that held my attention. A lithe creature that looked like it had been plucked off a rose bush, its green limbs were covered in thorns. A mane of red petals encircled its head, which was shaped like a lion.
Where's your champion?” The boy called as the rosion gave a catlike stretch. Bending, I picked up Mervyn. The boy laughed. “It hasn't gotten any bigger!”
So he'd seen Mervyn's introduction photo when the information about my realm updated last week.
He's big enough.” I shot back, though my voice trembled. Mervyn stared at me with his dark eyes, and I swallowed. “You are big enough.” I told him softly. He was just the right size for that rosion to eat.
I set Mervyn down, and looked at the boy. “Make your challenge.”
The boy smirked, running a hand through sandy hair. “I, Francis of the Green Realm, challenge you with my champion, Dire.”
I took a step forward. “And I, Corina of the Vail Realm, accept your challenge with my champion, Mervyn.”

Friday, August 7, 2015

Things that can rob you of sleep

1. Pets. The new puppy need to go outside at midnight, or the kitten decides that it wants to eat your nose. Pets don't understand why you would rather to sleep.
2. Ideas. The mind is a difficult thing to quiet when it decides to run. A flood of ideas is welcomed when you are trying to work, but when you want to sleep? They can be irritating.
3. Neighbors. Some neighbors are nice, and share a similar desires to sleep at a reasonable hour. Others prefer to have noisy parties until well into the wee hours of the morning. The real question to ask: which are you?
4. Illness. When you are sick, it can be hard to sleep. With a stuffy or runny nose, achy head, and many other potential aliments, a restful night is hard to achieve.
5. Distractions. Sometimes, sleep is put off because there are other things which you find more interesting, or something prevents you from being able to fall asleep. A loud television in the other room, a cliffhanger in the book you just put down, or a younger sibling's anticipation of an upcoming event. There is no end to what might distract from sleep.
6. Fear. When you are afraid, sleep does not come easily. And when it does, the normally restful companion you knew is often exchanged for one riddled with nightmares.
7. Anger. When you are upset, your mind often dwells on the cause. And the more it dwells, the more frustrated you become. So you toss and turn, tension building until finally you fall into a sleep which does not bring any relief.
8. Pain. Injury can make it hard to get comfortable, and a lack of comfort makes sleep difficult to find. Other pains also leave one restless, which often feeds those pains and invites them to linger, thus continuing the cycle.
9. Work. When a thing need to get done, sleep is a common casualty.
10. Uncomfortable sleeping conditions. Sure, some people enjoy a cold rock slab as their bed. Others, a cloud of softness. It's hard to rest when your only option is undesirable, but if you refuse to even try, then sleeplessness has already won.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Realm's Champion, part I

Building your own world is so time consuming.
Especially when anyone can challenge you for part of it.
Sorting through my messages, I was glad to see that there weren't any challenges. I'd just started rebuilding the southern continent, and my newest champion had yet to hatch.
Shifting my viewscreen to the small island that contained the hatchery, I twisted the knob.
A familiar twisting sensation filled my gut as the transportation spell activated, and in the space of a breath, I found myself on the island.
Stretching, I wondered if I'd ever get used to traveling between realms. I was new at this, and still wondered whether inheriting this realm was a good thing. Uncle Rupert had neglected the realm, as had his champion.
I glanced over at the surly centaur. Because he'd been my uncle's champion, Ruebin had been retired when I inherited the realm. He was still around as a mentor for me and my champion.
If I could keep a champion alive long enough to learn anything, that is.
"It's hatching." Ruebin jerked his head toward the hatchery, which was just a small barn. Hurrying in, I hoped that it would be something useful.
Champion eggs could hatch into almost anything, though supposedly the more expensive ones were more likely to be a rare creature. I'd spent nearly all my credits on this egg, and if it was another spotted carp, then I'd have to sell.
Sure, I'd have the week reprieve in order to train my new champion, but once word got out about something as weak as a spotted carp, the challenges would come.
And I'd lose what little I had left.
The inside of the barn was dim, though I didn't mind. It hid the shabby tools and the empty stalls.
The egg was in the last stall, since it was the nicest.
A tiny thing, the egg's shell had changed color since I last saw it. Instead of a drab brown, it was now a sandstone red. That was encouraging. Eggs that changed color before hatching usually had something better than a spotted carp.
Crouching beside the egg, I released a breath. "Come on, little one."
The egg rocked at the sound of my voice, and another crack appeared on the shell. "That's it, break out. We've got a lot to do, and you're my last chance."
I kept up the encouraging commentary through the next hour, trying hard not to let my growing anxiety show. I'd never had a hatching take this long.
Then, the egg exploded.
Biting back a cry, I turned away as bits of shell flew toward me. This had to be a good sign, right? Such a violent hatching must mean that my new champion was powerful.
Turning to look, I froze.
It had to be a mistake. This thing couldn't have made such an entrance.
I heard the clip clop of Reubin's hooves, and then the centaur's low whistle.
"Well Corina, another fantastic choice. I'm sure he'll be able to take out a toe before the first challenger squashes him." Reubin gave a low laugh, and left.
I gave a sigh. I shouldn't have picked such a small egg. It was a risk, but the price seemed alright.
Reaching my hand out, I touched the little salamander's head. It was moist, and a little sticky. The salamander looked at me. It had the same sandstone coloration as its egg, with two spots of brown on its back.
"You're my last hope, Mervyn." I told the salamander, shaking my head.
A week wouldn't be enough to prepare this little guy.
But I had to try.