Side Quest

The sun had crested the mountains to the east.  An eagle circled overhead, searching for prey in the tall grasses that grew along the road through the forest.  A rabbit hopped onto the path, then froze when it saw the group before darting back into the undergrowth.

The group had been walking for hours.  Yolo67 kept complaining his feet hurt, and finally xSlayerx agreed it might be better to stop and have a rest and some food when Carwen spotted an old man in a hood step out from the woods and block their path.

“Welcome, travelers, to my forest,” he said, voice raspy from too many tobacco pipes.

Yolo67 drew his sword and held it up menacingly.  “Who are you?” he demanded.

“My name is not important,” the old man said, “but what I have to offer you may be.”

“You speak in riddles?” xSlayerx asked, one eyebrow raised.

“That wasn’t a riddle,” Carwen said.  “That wasn’t even vague.”

xSlayerx dismissed her impudence with a wave of his hand and turned his attention back to the old man.

“Tell us what you have, old man, and what we can to do obtain it.”

The old man pulled back his hood to reveal that he was, indeed, very old.  His hair was stark white and his face deeply lined.  He leered at Carwen, which made her skin crawl.

“I have within my possession, passed down to me by the great Sage Dunhard, translated at great pains into the common tongue…” He looked around conspiratorially and partially drew forth a bit of folded parchment from beneath his cloak.  Two leaned forward expectantly, Carwen rolled her eyes.

“This is a map of the Dark Lord’s fortress that lies at the end of this road.  It will help you get inside.”

“You mean a schematic,” Carwen said.

The old man eyed her with displeasure.  “What?”

“Schematic.  Or layout.  Or floor plan.  It doesn’t make sense to say it’s map of the fortress.  Maps are used for areas of land.”

“What difference does it make?” he snapped, “I’m offering to give it to you!”

“Okay, so what do you want in return?” xSlayerx asked.

“Winter is approaching,” he said, “and I have not finished stocking my house for the snows to come.  If you will go into the woods and bring me back the thick hides of ten brown bears, and the rich flesh of ten hill bucks, and the tough sinew of ten wild boars, then you may have this map.”

xSlayerx tugged the other two back several paces so they could talk amongst themselves.

“That sounds fair.”

“You can’t be serious,” Carwen said.

“If we each take one part of his request, I’m sure we can be done in no time,” Yolo67 ventured, despite Carwen’s gaze piercing his soul with promises of pain later.

“He gives us a map, but only if we spend the next three weeks helping him get ready for winter?  I’m pretty sure my mom told me a story about this when I was a kid,” Carwen said.

Ignoring her, xSlayerx went right on ahead making the plans.  “Right.  I’ll take the deer.  Yolo, you kill the boar, and Carwen, you can off the bears.”

She folded her arms, her eyes narrowing.  “I have a better idea.”

“Sorry, but I’m allergic to bears,” xSlayerx said.

She sighed and turned, nocked an arrow, and let it fly.  The old man let out a cry of pain as he clutched at the shaft jutting from his chest.  A moment later he fell over dead.   Carwen walked over and relieved him of the map.

“Carwen, what are you doing?” Yolo67 cried.  “He was going to help us!”

“I’m not on this quest to run errands for lazy, creepy old men who can’t be arsed to prepare for their own needs,” she said, handing the map to xSlayerx.  “What would he have done first if we hadn’t come along, starved or frozen?”

xSlayerx opened his mouth, then shut it again.

“He probably had plenty and just wanted to get rid of us.”

Yolo67 couldn’t come up with a counter-argument to that.  Now that she mentioned it, it did seem a bit fishy.

“And you have to admit,” xSlayerx said at last, “it is quicker this way.”

Carwen rifled through his belongings to see if there was anything else of value to take while xSlayerx examined the map.

Yolo67 looked at the old man dead on the ground, at xSlayerx, then to Carwen.  “Yeah, I wasn’t really looking forward to hunting boar, anyway.  They’re nasty suckers.”

Carwen divided the dried meats she found into three portions and handed Yolo67 and xSlayerx their share.  “Come on, we can probably make the fortress by nightfall now.”

Yolo67 and xSlayerx looked at one another and nodded.

“Yep, good point.”

“Alright, let’s keep going.”


Continue reading


Brief Intermission

Sorry guys, I got distracted reading a book (that happens occasionally) but I’m working on the next Collision Course again.

In the mean time, I thought I’d share this with you.  Wrote it last year just about this time, and it’s a Shakespereanized* version of one of my favorite web series: Red vs Blue, Episode 1 (contains foul language)

*note: I’m hardly a Shakespeare scholar, so it’s probably very bastardized version of it, but close enough. 😉

Hope you enjoy, and CCIII will be along in the next day or two!



Pray, do attend!

You have my ear.

Have ever in your musings sought how we
Did come to be now in this place and time?

Tis of the ineffable mysteries.
How did we come hither? Be we the end
Of some unknown cosmic happenstance? Or
Whether by act of heaven’s vigilance
And purposed play to strut upon life’s stage?
I know not, but such steals even my sleep.

Pardon? I speak to our unfortunate
Abode in this vale!

I have erred indeed.

Why waxeth thee so upon the good Lord?

Tis naught.

Wish thee to discuss it further?

Trouble not thyself.

E’en so?

Yea, quite so.

But in earnest, what fate settled us thus?
Tis naught but a vale with neither inroad
nor out, set with no import of placement.

Tis so.

And our keep here is but a balance to
the Azure’s encampment yonder, yet e’en
distant fort is but an echo of our

As always in times of conflict betwixt.

Nay, heed me, for even if we by this
Very night were to away from this place,
What then but two forts within this vale would
Be in their holding, still of no import.
What ineffectual gaiety then?

Upon my query lend aid! For I did
Enlist with sole of purpose but to fight
The foreigner, yet find instead the foe
To be of azured hue.


Prithee, what of yonder gentlemen?

What say you?

Said I, what now of yonder gentlemen?

Angels and ministers of grace, inquire
No more of such things!

The gift of far-sight be with you alone,
I have no such aid! Beseech me not to
Hold my tongue for I shall not hold my sword-

Heed well, for they are but in deep discourse,
E’en as was ever so! Thus they were of
Half a fortnight passed, and thus they were still
Even when last you inquired not yet these
Five minutes passed! Attend, therefore, when next
You pray, ‘what now of yonder gentlemen?’
That they still shall be in discourse, and thus
They still shall be unmoving as ever!

Of what matter be their discourse?

Like poison to my blood, thou art.


Our talents are but wasted here. Know they
Not that there are greater discoveries
Of place and peoples we can instead war?

Tis even as you say! Thus should we lead.

Eunuchs! Come hither!

Fie upon me!

Yea! We come.

These are a few of my…

I adore re-writing Christmas carols.   Something about parody just tickles me absolutely pink, and I shamelessly indulge during this time of year.  Unfortunately, it does require a common frame of reference to get most of them, as in this case it relies heavily upon understanding metal corrosion resistant coatings, airline part manufacturing, and Boeing standard colors, but hey, why should that stop me from sharing??

These Are A Few Of My Least Favorite Things

Alodine, anodize, primer, and heat treat
Researching replacements for parts deemed obsolete
Sending out quotes req’s to fabricate springs
These are a few of my least favorite things

MPS redlines ’cause Fred’s being picky
Fig’ring out royalties is always quite tricky
Expedite order and stress that it brings
These are a few of my least favorite things

Color coding
Brain exploding
But now don’t you fret
Is always the safest bet!

Walkin’ Round in Manufacturing

Program sheets, cutting tooling
Fabbing parts can be grueling
We’re on a deadline
To get part designs
Walkin’ round in manufacturing

Every station is busy
The whole place in a tizzy
Conditions are prime
To get overtime
Walkin’ round in manufacturing

In the paint booth we can spray some primer
Then some BMS10-83
But just make sure you are really careful
Cause if it runs it won’t get passed QC

Later on, out in shipping
Get it boxed, time is slipping
We’ll all celebrate
Once it’s in the crate
Walkin’ round in manufacturing

Carol of the Sales

Phones and email
Day-long they wail
As if to say
“We’re here to stay.”
Clients complain
A non-stop rain
Price is too high
Lead time a lie

Already late
Sooth all their ire
As they inquire
Want a ship date
Payments await
Send overnight
Just do it right

Meeting I missed
Client is pissed
So much to do
No time for loo
Quote requests pending
Attachments not sending
Tearing my hair
Out everywhere
I hate, I hate, I hate, phones and email
I hate, I hate, I hate, phones and email

Phones and email
To no avail,
Their blasted rings
And little dings
Need color code
Highlighted, bold
And though I try
They won’t reply

On, on they send
On without end
“Where is our stuff?”
I’ve had enough!
Customers crying,
And we’re all trying
Hard not to swear
Too much to bear
I hate, I hate, I hate, phones and email
I hate, I hate, I hate, phones and email

Phones and email
Phones and email
Phones and email
Phones and email