September Highlights: Blood, Books, and Birthdays

How has your month been, my fellow Pilgrims? Busy, I suppose. Is life ever not busy? Probably not, but I enjoy it. I haven’t had any huge happenings this month, but plenty of smaller goings ons.

My Life

I turned 22 at the beginning of the month. It’s been a good year. I published Rose of Prophecy. I published Song of the Sword. I bought a sword. I own several daggers. I was introduced to Hamilton. I read the Out of Time series. Also, I’m still alive…always a plus for someone with more plans than time.

I went shopping at several bookstores the day before my birthday with Mom, then we went to see Ben-Hur. I loved the movie. It’s different from the first movie (which I never really cared for), and different from the book (which I like a lot), but I still enjoyed it. I actually really liked the changes they did do. From a writer’s perspective, the end was a little fast and there was one bit which seemed tacked on simply because it’s part of the Ben-Hur storyline…there was no foreshadowing or such of any kind. Still, the rest of the movie was good enough that I didn’t mind too much.

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An edit I made

Changing the topic, I bought business cards this month! What do you think?

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The picture doesn’t quite do them justice, but I really like them.

On a more unofficial note, I’ve been learning how to walk on the slackline Mom got. It’s quite fun. I can get all the way across without grabbing the guideline. Sometimes.

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School has started this month. Two of my siblings are in college, but I’m still at home helping teach the younger kids. That takes up time in the morning, but between Mom and I, we get it done.

I’ve also taken artistic photos this month. Of course. Here is a watch a friend gave me, along with her beautiful calligraphy.

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And then…well, I hesitated before posting these pictures, but they’re already on Facebook. You all know I’m crazy anyway. So here is what happens when I get a hold of fake blood. *waves goodbye to my reputation*

So…yes, I had $2 worth of fun out of the tube of fake blood. And I still have some left… My hand was one thing, but what if I tried to do my face…? *smirks*

Writing

Just…you know all the normal things.

Wips

  • My new draft of Forest of Darkness is coming along splendidly and I’ll be finishing that up next week.
  • I’m correcting the last chapter of Fidelyon today! Now to wait for beta-reader feedback. I might read through the whole novel (again) next week just to test out the pacing, then I’ll probably go through it working on grammar and phrasing.
  • Scarlet Rose is coming along, slowly but surely.

Other Writing

Author Services

  • I now have a gig created on Fiverr through which people can hire me to beta read their work! I enjoy beta-reading for friends, and I’ve done quite a bit of it recently (for those who are correcting my own work in turn) and decided I’d see if anyone in the general writing public would be interested in my services as well. *grins* You can check out the details here.

Cliche Benders

An apprentice who dies for his mentor, leaving the teacher the task of saving the nation. A dragon who loves music and kidnaps princes, calling on the princesses to ransom their betrothed with a song. A sidekick who is a better fighter than the chosen one.

Me

As you all know, I love to read. So I collected some of my favorite bookworm humor pictures from Pinterest…

Fandom Corner

Fantasy and fairy tales, mixed with the real world? Cliche bending characters and plot lines? Once Upon A Time is one of my favorite TV shows and season 6 just started this last week! There’s too much to mention, so here are a few quotes and characters…

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Captain Hook and Bella

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Prince Charming and Snow White

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Captain Hook

How about you? What have you been up to this month? Which bookworm picture is your favorite? Have you seen Once Upon A Time and, if so, who is your favorite character?

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Christian Convictions: Magic in Writing

Christians and Magic

I don’t care for the word ‘magic’. It can be a touchy word in the Christian community. Is magic bad? Is some magic fine to read and other magic not? Is it fine to write? Can I love Lord of the Rings but decide against reading Harry Potter* **? The word magic is so broad that everyone can have their own picture of it without anyone being wrong.

*The answer is yes, by the way. You can choose what to read as you please. You only need to have logical arguments involved if you’re trying to prove why one shouldn’t be read and the other should be read.

**Also, I’d like to note that I’ve not read Harry Potter. I’ve read arguments both for and against reading them, but I’m not currently making any judgments one way other the other. *glances to either side, wondering if I’ve managed to avoid offending both sides or have successfully riled everyone*

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I split magic into two main categories. The larger category is fantasy magic, which I like to address as abilities, gifts, or powers. The second one is real-world witchcraft.

Fantasy Magic

Imbedded abilities

This allows characters in fantasy lands to communicate telepathically, animals to talk, shape-shifters to walk the land, gifts of invisibility or creating fire to be given from person to person, or an unusual ability to pass down a family line. I don’t consider any of this proper magic, nor would I call it magic in a book. There’s no mysterious force involved and no spells and chants. It’s simply the way things are in some faraway place. Why should one expect the laws of nature in a fantasy world to operate the same as natural laws here on earth? That’s the whole point of fantasy; to be able to create something new. Something different. I don’t think there is anything in general imbedded abilities which a Christian need shy away from.

Spiritual Powers

Especially in allegory, this can be fascinating to work with. Characters may have abilities which are gifts from the allegorical portrayal of God. Once again, these aren’t chants or ceremonies or something the character is making happen. It is a gift, and should be used as such or there will likely be consequences. And if there are gifts given by the Creator, there might be dark gifts given by the allegorical equivalent of Satan. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with this type of power either, if handled carefully. There were prophets in the Bible who God healed through, and there were also sorcerers. As writers, we don’t try to ignore the darkness in the world, but rather we show it for what it is, reveal the consequences, and bring out the brightness of the light. That being said, even in allegory I, personally, would not go into great depth of any sort of rites powered by the darkness.

Immaterial Force

In a fantasy world there might be an immaterial force or energy which anyone trained can tap into and use for good or bad. It might be called magic. It might be called science. Or it might be religious in nature. I waver on this issue. I would not call it wrong, but at the same time I think a writer needs to be careful with this type of magic. Here, in the real world, magic is bad. There’s not white magic and black magic. The dangers of using an amoral force is that readers may bring the ideas of a force which can be used for good or bad from the fantasy world and apply them to the idea of magic in this world, especially if one is using wands and spells and chants. A lot goes into how it is portrayed. Is it a sort of energy one can draw out with the right tools in a very science-like manner, or is the tone very magic ridden, with rites and ceremonies? Like I said, I wouldn’t go so far as to say this kind of ‘magic’ is always or completely wrong, but it also wouldn’t be my option of choice.

Portal Magic

This is the ‘magic’ that crosses the borders of time and space, dropping characters into the past, the future, or even different worlds. This can be portrayed as science. Or you can mix fantasy with real-life, as if it is something which always exists, most people simple don’t know about it. I’ve no problem with either of those aspects, though I’d not condone portraying it as a magic one has to speak spells over.

Real Magic

Here in the real world, there are only two sources of power. Power from God, and power from Satan. There’s not white magic and black magic; any magic is from Satan and should not be meddled with, which is why I don’t think any character in this world should have magical powers. They might have fantastical abilities due to a science experiment of some sort, but what they can do should have a natural explanation.

As I mentioned early, just because we are Christians doesn’t mean we avoid writing about any kind of evil. How graphically we describe the evil is a topic for another conversation, but there is evil in the world and we don’t try to gloss over it for our readers. Rather we show its consequences and the power of the light. All this to say, magic is a possibility in writing, if you are working on something like a spiritual warfare thriller, but it should never be portrayed as good. And I’d deal with it only in general terms. There is no need for a Christian writer to study the occult to write a ritual, and readers aren’t going to benefit from soaking up details about the darkness which are best left alone.

So when writing, there are a few basic questions you can ask. Is the book here, or in a fantasy world? If in this world, then magic should not be tampered with as an amoral power. Are there cool abilities you want give a race of people? Go for it. Do you want spiritual power in an allegorical world? Make sure the source of good and evil are clearly defined and don’t get carried away on the dark side with blood magic and spells.

Real magic in this world is always evil and should be handled with care, if at all. But what many call magic in fantasy is nothing more than fascinating abilities. And as for the real magic in fantasy, look at the source, the uses, and the portrayal to decide if it is worthwhile or not.

Note: What I write is what I believe after reading the Bible and holding conversations with friends and parents, but that does not mean I’m not interested in Bible evidence for another point of view. If the topics interest you, I encourage you to study them on your own as well. Friendly discussion in the comment section is encouraged if you have points you’d like to bring up, but this is not the place for a full-scale debate. : )

Caption Challenge – September 2016 #4

First the caption challenge winners:

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Caption Challenge: Corissa, Maiden of Praise

“And you thought walking alone, headlong into the army of the enemy was the best way to earn it?!”
“Well, I thought it would be the quickest, anyway. And how could I resist doing something dramatic after you gave me that awesome cape?”
“I gave it to you because I need your help! Not to enable you to die dramatically!!!”

Six-Word-Story: Quinton of Boron

“Life is an even greater price.”

Congratulations, guys! And now for this week’s collage…something a bit more humorous than last week’s:

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Pictures from Pinterest

You’ve two entries. One for a caption, one for a six word story. On Saturday I’ll pick a winning caption and I’ll post it next Monday along with the name of the winner and the next caption challenge.

Books as Rooms Challenge

Another writing tag! This one was started by Writefury and it looks like fun, so I’m going to have at it.

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Rules:

  1. Link back to Writefury and the person who tagged you.
  2. Write 3 of your own books as rooms. They can be finished, works in progress, or even just ideas, but they have to be your own.
  3. Write 1 of your favorite books to read as a room.
  4. Tag 5 other people.

At least, that’s the basic idea.

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Yes, I stole that gif from Writefury too, but I think of that quote most times someone tries to tell me the rules. *smirks*

Sooo, let us begin.

My Books:

Fidelyon

A broad room, with a smooth wooden floor and polished log walls. The ceiling is high, but not vaulted, and a fire roars on a great hearth at one end of the room. Green and gold tapestries, embroidered with delicate words, hang in narrow strips along the edges of the room, separating the weapons hanging from the walls. Silver lamps fill the chamber with a golden light. A long table, covered with steaming dishes, cold fruit, and glittering wine, divides the room in two.

Scarlet Rose

A white room, sterile, bare of anything but metal, glass, and glowing holographic lights. A narrow bed, fitted with straps , stretches along one wall. A flickering, transparent screen glows nearby. The two-way window is shattered, glass covering the floor. Broken syringes release a sour smell and small scalpels lie abandoned among the glass. The broken overhead plasma bulbs spit a shower of burning sparks and, in the fading light, one shape glows in laser paint above the bed on the blank wall. A crimson rose.

Forest of Darkness

A small room, built of stone, with thick purple and scarlet curtains covering the walls and narrow window, while soft rugs smother the floor. A small fire crackles, barely lighting up the shadows. Scrolls lie in heaps. Strange stones and figures lie scattered about shelves and tables while, before the fire, rests one seat; a divan, piled high with cushions and blankets.

Not My Book:

The Inkheart series by Cornelia Funke

A round room, with fluted arches and light streaming in broad windows. A spring gurgles merrily nearby and vines slip their green tendrils and sweet scent through the open windows. Glittering mosaics cover the floor. Books cover what little wall remains, beautifully illuminated, clean, fresh. Several lie open on the table, revealing blues and greens and scarlets and golds. A bird sings in the distance and several azure feathers, along with crystal stones and delicate treasure, lie scattered about the chamber.

And now for tagging people…I’m awful at this part of the game, but let’s see…

Ivy Rose

Bethany Smith

Erudessa Aranduriel

Anna S. Brie

Also, anyone else who thinks this would be fun…consider yourself tagged.

Have fun, and tell me what you thought below!

 

Fidelyon: ‘D’ with Ethaniel

Ethaniel, the main character in my novel, Fidelyon, has taken it upon himself to introduce you to his world by going through an alphabet of terms and names.

There is only one obvious word to go with ‘D’…Drexin, of course. One of my best friends, Drexin and I ran messages from the same outpost for over four years together. Under Ard’s observation we learned swordsmanship and all manner of fighting techniques, both with and without weapons. Away from Ard’s sharp gaze, we sometimes fell into all manner of mischief. Generally it was Drexin’s fault, whatever he may claim, but together we always worked our way back out again. Normally without anyone being the wiser.

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Drexin (picture from Pinterest)

Drexin comes from a long line of messengers, and his father runs a nearby outpost while his mother and sister live in Almathea. But Drexin himself is determined to travel and explore…in both Elentisa and Voland if possible. Right now he has his eyes set on being a merchant and occasionally interrogates Cedric on what business entails. But that won’t be until after the war, if we’re not able to talk him out of it. Until then, he’s managed to get himself a position as a Kingsguard where at least I can keep an occasional eye on him.

 

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Summer Reading: Mini-Reviews

As summer has progressed, I’ve gotten busier. The good news is I’ve managed to keep track on writing. The bad news is that my reading list has suffered.

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Some of you might remember was writing monthly reviews on what I’d read, but I realized I’d only be posting about one or two books a month, so I decided I’d settle for writing seasonal mini-reviews on the fiction I’d been reading.

a-branch-of-silver-a-branch-of-goldOverview: When Heloise’s sister vanishes, she will do anything to get her back. No matter the cost.

Technical aspects: Writing: 4.5 of 5 – Characters: 5 of 5 – Dialogue: 5 of 5 – Theme 4 of 5

My thoughts: I loved the depth of the fantasy world and the characters. I also liked how there was very little romance…a few hints of what could happen towards the end, but that was it. This is the first book in a series and, while ending the story, A Branch of Silver, A Branch of Gold was left very open ended (obviously). The climax of the book was exciting but *spoilers* I did feel like it more involved Heloise reacting to situations and accepting help than actively forcing a conclusion.

Recommendation:  4.5 of 5. This book was an exciting read and I enjoyed how the focus was more sibling orientated than romance orientated…though that is something which I’ve a feeling won’t continue through the series.

elantris

Overview: Once a transformation called the Shaod gave ordinary humans power. Now it is a disease. For those who are struck, there is no cure and they are thrown into the city they once ruled, Elantris. But while Elantris is rotting from the inside, not all is well in the lands under its shadow either.

Technical aspects: Writing: 5 of 5 – Characters: 5 of 5 – Dialogue: 5 of 5

My thoughts: This is the closest to an ‘epic’ fantasy I’ve read in awhile. The book is long, but I didn’t find it slow. Also, three cheers for a story contained in a single book! I loved the depth of the fantasy world and the multiple threads of politics and religion with influence the story. The themes of loyalty and doing one’s duty are strong, but Elantris is not a Christian fiction book so the religions are just that, belief systems of the world. They’re not allegorical, they are just there. There is also a magical element in the story with an abstract force which can be tapped into by those with the right abilities.

Recommendation:  4.5 of 5. I love fantasy, so I loved all the subplots and threads of this story, but this book isn’t for everyone. However, if you enjoy world-building and don’t mind an abstract view of magic or fictional religions (they play a fairly large part in the story, though their details aren’t gone into much…it’s political as much as anything else) then I’d definitely recommend the book for those 13 and up (due to an element of violence which isn’t graphic, but is still present).

cave-worldOverview: Donny enjoys writing about his science-fiction world where all worlds are connected by the caves of the planet Arrax. What he doesn’t expect is to be caught into his own world.

Technical aspects: Writing: 4 of 5 – Characters: 4.5 of 5 – Dialogue: 4 of 5 – Theme 4 of 5

My thoughts: Cave World was a fun read. I loved the humor included as well as the idea of meeting one’s characters and entering a world one has created. The characters were fun and the plot moved quickly.

Recommendation:  4 of 5. An enjoyable read, but I’d recommend it for those 13 and up since it is on the darker side of Christian science fiction when it comes to violence.

Overview: What if some people have the gift to read characters out of books? And what happens when the villains escape and want to use the reader’s gift for their own profit.

Technical aspects: Writing: 4.5 of 5 – Characters: 5 of 5 – Dialogue: 5 of 5

My thoughts: I’ve read Inkheart and Inkspell, and Inkdeath is on my list sometime soon. These books are charming and well written with great characters. The first one started a little slow, the next one not so much. But even if it takes 100 or so pages before the story is moving quickly, they are also 500+ pages long so there is plenty of time for action. Warning: there are a few minor swear words, mainly when the aunt is talking.

Recommendation:  4.5 of 5. I’ve enjoyed these books very much. As I mentioned before, I love writers meeting characters and the idea of going into a book.

the-secret-of-the-lost-settlementOverview: A Colonel must find proof to save himself and his friend from the gallows while two brothers eager for an adventure take it upon themselves to help him.

Technical aspects: Writing: 4 of 5 – Characters: 4 of 5 – Dialogue: 4 of 5 – Theme 4 of 5

My thoughts: Secret of the Lost Settlement brings Colonel Nobody from The Boy Colonel and Lawrence and Chester from Brothers at Arms together in one adventure. This is a fairly quick and enjoyable read.

Recommendation:  4 of 5. If you’ve read the first two books, then this book is a fun sequel where you can see your favorite characters again.

What about you? Have you, or will you, read any of the books I’ve mentioned? What have you been reading this summer?

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

 

Caption Challenge – September 2016 #3

First, the caption challenge winners!

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Caption Challenge: Fereleth, Carrier of Light

‘Cut the dramatic intro, buddy. Just get the bombs.’

Six-Word-Story: Anne of Lothlorien

“I don’t want to die today.”

Congratulations, guys! And now for this week’s collage:

fantasy-prompt

Pictures from Pinterest

You’ve two entries. One for a caption, one for a six word story. On Saturday I’ll pick a winning caption and I’ll post it next Monday along with the name of the winner and the next caption challenge.

My First Vlog…

My First Vlog!!!

Hello, everyone! So I finally decided (after many nights of agonizing with myself and telling myself that posting three times a week was enough and no one wanted to hear more about me) that Saturdays are going to be my random days for occasional posts…things like writing or book tags. Or vlogs!

Thanks to my friend, Ivy Rose, I have now started vlogging. Well, a little. I’m taking part in her Very Awesome Vlog Challenge and will be making a vlog once every two months at least. I may do it more often if they happen to be wildly popular or something weird like that. 😉

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So, without more ado…here I am with all my pauses and umms and rambles.

*peers between fingers*

Are you done yet? *exhales* Good. 😉

Oh, and just so you know…this means I also have a YouTube channel now! So you can check it out and even, you know, subscribe if you want right here. I don’t think I’ll be posting too often; just vlogs and book trailers and…who knows? But I also have some writing music playlists and such which you other writers might be interested in.

If you have any questions I didn’t get to, just ask them again. And ask new questions…random and weird ones are welcome. Have fun!

What on earth is going on with Forest of Darkness?

So I’ve been working on the third Legends of Light novella, Forest of Darkness, for a few months now. It’s a retelling of Hansel and Gretel, focusing on the theme of peace. I wrote the rough draft in July, edited it through August, and decided I probably ought to write a post on the novella and keep you all up to date on how I was doing.

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Umm, yes. The story wasn’t really coming, despite being finished and 30,000 words long. It needed some drastic changes, but before I could figure them out another idea popped into my head. Followed by another idea and another. It took me about five minutes to realize a revision wasn’t going to be possible. I needed to rewrite the novella.

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The problem? I’d enough of an idea to know I needed to rewrite the novella, and that my new idea was better than what I already had. I didn’t have enough of an idea to outline the novella completely. The characters, setting, and basic idea were the same, but the way everything happened was greatly changed. So I sat down last Friday afternoon and actually got a decent outline thought up. There were a few major details I worked out over the next few days, and now rewriting has started. And it’s working! *cheers* I’m only onto the second chapter, but already I am connecting to the characters and the story and I know this version will be much better than my first one (as if that’s hard).

I’m planning to complete all nine chapters of this novella during the first week of October. By November it will probably be ready for beta-reading although, because of NaNo, I may have two waves of beta-reading for Forest of Darkness…on in November and one in December. But that’s not for a bit yet.

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My planning process

The bad news is that this change will probably set the publication date of Forest of Darkness (or whatever the final title will be) back a few months. March, most likely, instead of January. But it will be worth it. And, when I post about this story sometime next month, I hope to have a decent draft written out, along with a better title and perhaps even a brief blurb about the novella. Until then, here’s a picture from Pinterest on which I’m pulling inspiration for one of my new scenes.

prompt

 Comments? Thoughts? Questions? Ask below!

 

New Fantasy Times: Musings of a Minion

Musings of a Minion

Heroes have overwhelming expectations placed upon them, and villains are pressed into stereotypes, but the one character who no one seems to expect much of are the minions. They work hard too, and they’d appreciate some recognition as this anonymous letter from a minion, delivered by Kirin testifies.

To whom it may or may not concern,

Everyone has a trade or craft or position of some sort, from smiths and bakers, to farmers and soldiers, to architects and sailors. I so happened to choose the path of a minion. Not, of course, that you should ever, ever, use that term. It’s a great inside joke, but do you know how demeaning it is when someone address us as a mere minion of some great leader? No? Well, try it sometime to our face and just you wait. You’ll be sorry.

Because honestly, face it, you use the term minion as if it is degrading. As if we are less than the one we serve, less than other people, and sometimes less than human. Is a soldier in the army treated as less than a person just because he’s under a great general? We are people, same as anyone else. We’ve loyalties, duties, likes, dislikes, families…we aren’t some brainwashed mass who does a villain’s bidding. I’d best add here that villain is just another term bandied about. To us, he is our employer. Perhaps a master. Perhaps a friend. Yes, there are some who might serve him out of fear, but then he’s little more than a slave driver. Generally ‘minions’ work because they choose to for money or for other rewards.new-fantasy-times-pins

We might have ambitions to become like him someday, or we might just be working to put food on the table, but either way where do you think he’d be without others like us? No one, hero or villain, can do everything. So they hire helpers and others volunteer for the job. You don’t see the people helping heroes called minions, do you?

Though, frankly, the gross underestimation that generally comes with the term ‘minion’ does help us out quite a bit. I mean, how do you think we got our jobs? By shooting at a target and the one who hits the least gets promoted? We work to earn our way. If we deal in security, then we are at least a notch above the average shot or swordsman. If we work indoors, we are constantly on the alert. Our rise and fall is intimately connected to that of our employer (do you know how hard it is to find a job after working for someone termed ‘villain’?). This is also the reason a good villain will hire his helpers, not enslave them. But we aren’t just going to look the other way or fall asleep while guarding prisoners (there are severe penalties for that anyway) or (generally) accept bribes. Well, I take that back. It depends on the quality of our employer and what we think the long-term damage will be and how it affects us. The best course of action is to acquire the bribe then go to our employer. Hey, you don’t expect us to act honorably anyway. Why should we?

One thing we don’t do is fight among ourselves. There is a certain code among us, which we all follow for our own good. Sometimes, I admit, some man or woman gets ambitious, but such uprisings are generally put down from the top. Because no house will succeed when ripped apart from the middle. Now there is one exception. If faced with ‘minions’ from a different villain, insults and then blows might fly. But who can blame us? The others are generally insufferable.

We come from all walks of life and for all kinds of reasons. Adventure. Love. Revenge. The need to provide for a family. The experience. If we fail, there are standard punishments like anywhere else. If we betray, we die. But if we work hard and use our skills, we are able to obtain a view from the shadows that very few can see.

Remaining nameless to protect myself,

A Sharpshooting ‘Minion’

 

Have any questions, legends, or trending cliches you’d like Kirin Quillblade (or Elena) to address? Please comment below; he promises to at least read what you have to say between his realm leaper’s missions, even if he holds the rights to choose what to write about and what to ignore.

 

Join the Legend Seekers for monthly stories about the realm leapers and fantasy time-travelers, Kirin and Elena. Click here to sign up