Character Thoughts – Justin Harper

Justin Harper VintageJustin Harper is best friends with Timothy Hawkins and appears in Wolf in the Shadow.

Justin and Timothy attended school together and were known for getting into mischief. They spent more time harassing the Sisters than they did studying. After school, they would play games in the streets of Freywater, and they spent many an evening at each other’s home.

As late teens, Justin and Timothy were both granted weapons of the gods. While Timothy received the Spear of Lugh, Justin received the Seal of Solomon. Unfortunately, the Seal required practice to master, something Justin had no desire to do. Still, carrying the weapon allowed him to become a Shadow Walker, and he threw himself into it with all his heart. He came to love the chase and the slaughter, and he became one of the best the Shadow Walkers had at disposing of dangerous creatures. He was often paired with Timothy, who was the one person who could curb Justin’s more reckless behavior.

Justin is in his early twenties in Wolf in the Shadow. At this time, Justin’s favorite pastime is downing Nutty Fluffies and bedding as many women as possible. To him, these women are nothing more than playthings, and the idea that they are people with emotions and dreams escapes him. In his own mind, what he’s doing can’t possibly hurt anyone, and he’s found himself on the business end of numerous pistols and swords. Only Timothy’s connection with the Enforcers keeps Justin out of trouble.

In his more serious moments, though these are rare, Justin considers his life in the far future. While he can’t picture himself with a wife and children, he does see himself in a position of authority, something that gets a lot of attention and admiration. By his own admission, he has no idea what this position might be. He’s actually extremely insecure and uses his flamboyant persona to validate his existence to himself. He constantly struggles with feelings of inadequacy, and he would most likely be able to conquer these if he would give them voice instead of hiding them.

Justin loves to eat out at restaurants, and his favorite place in Freywater is a diner near the University. They serve foods fried in oil, and Justin is particularly fond of fried root vegetables. He covers them in a variety of sauces and uses them as a ‘pick me up’ after too many Nutty Fluffies or a night spent with too much company. He also enjoys going to the theater, though he avoids the burlesque shows because he feels they are indecent.

When he’s alone, he enjoys reading, and the ha’coin books that have become the rage in the Xaggarene Empire are his favorites. Many of these deal with murder and depravity, and Justin finds satisfaction in reading about these topics. He doesn’t care much for actual book-learning, though, so many of the topics Timothy mentions are lost on him.

Justin is one of those characters who is both loveable and despicable. His willingness to protect the weak is a laudable trait, but his selfishness is loathsome. There are redeeming qualities to him, but they’re hard to see for those who aren’t looking. He can be fun to be around, but no one should ever count on him. He’s loyal to those who serve his purposes, but he will turn away if he thinks he has the slightest reason. His love of the chase is carefully balanced by the need of the Shadow Walkers, but I wonder just what it would take to shift him from state-sanctioned Shadow Walker to cold-blooded killer. I don’t think it would take too much, and it’s an idea I may explore at some point. I haven’t decided. I have to admit, though, that, while Justin is one of my favorites to write, I don’t particularly like him. He’s just too loud and obnoxious to be someone I would enjoy being around.

What are your thoughts on Justin Harper? Is he someone you would call a friend? Do you agree with his actions in Wolf in the Shadow?

http://www.lissadobbs.com

 

 

 

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Muhulda Urswyk – Unlock the Truth

Muhulda Urswyk VintageI recently had the, ehem, honor of interviewing Shadow Walker Arianna Henderson. I’ll have to say that it was an eye-opener. Read the full interview below.

 

Muhulda: Good morning, Arianna. I’ve heard you’ve just returned from a tour on the Greydawn Spirit. Can you tell me what it’s like to travel the void?

Arianna: Well, it’s big and gray and full of void serpents. What else do you wanna know?

Muhulda: I’d like to know why the Shadow Walker guild employs ships and people to patrol out there. What do you do? How is the expense justified?

Arianna: Well, the expense is for the Shadow Walker guild to worry about. As to the why? (Arianna leans forward. There’s a glint in her eyes that this reporter can only interpret as madness.) How would you feel if a hundred-foot serpent with poisoned fangs that could possibly breathe fire came flying over Sangeron right now and leveled half the buildings?

Muhulda: I don’t think I’d like that very much. But isn’t protecting our borders, both from within and without, the job of the military?

Arianna: (She leans back and crosses her arms at this point.) Don’t you think they have enough to worry about? And how far out into the void do you think they go?

Muhulda: I would think they would stay close to the borders.

Arianna: (Her eyes light up, and she again looks mad.) Precisely. They stick near the border. We go further out. You have no idea what’s out there, what could be coming for us at any moment.

Muhulda: And what, exactly, is coming for us? This sounds like some kind of bizarre conspiracy to me.

(Arianna laughs at this point, and it makes this reporter’s skin crawl. There’s no doubt that this woman is stark raving loonies. Is this the kind of people the Shadow Walkers regularly recruit?)

Arianna: Sweet cheeks, you can sit there and judge me all you want, but, let me tell you, if a swarm of pixie mites got through to the Xaggarene Empire, most people would be dead before they knew what was happening.

Muhulda: And what’s a pixie mite? (I had to chuckle here, for the concept was simply ridiculous.)

Arianna: It’s this tiny little spirit that looks like a pixie. The thing is, though, when it touches you, it sucks out your life force before you can do anything about it.

Muhulda: You don’t look like you’ve had your life force, in your words, ‘sucked out.’

(Again, that laugh.)

Arianna: Of course not. I know how to fight them.

Muhulda: And how, exactly, do you fight them? Do you use poison? They sound like bugs.

Arianna: I use a sword. Others use their magic or their weapons from the gods.

Muhulda: A sword? But I thought all Shadow Walkers had weapons. Why would you need a sword instead?

Arianna: Because my ‘weapon’ isn’t one. I carry the Cauldron of Plenty from the Dagda. It gives me the power to heal. I don’t use it to fight.

Muhulda: So, the Shadow Walkers don’t use physicians?

Arianna: Of course we do. I can’t be everywhere at once. Now, if it’s life-threatening, then I’m the one who deals with the injury, but I don’t handle the lighter stuff. I don’t have the energy.

Muhulda: So, there’s a limit to the amount of power a Shadow Walker has?

Arianna: Well, yeah. Did you really think we were made into some all-powerful, invincible people? Really? We’re just normal people who’ve been given a gift and chose to use it. That’s it.

Muhulda: And how do think Barnabas Merriweather does with running the guild? Does he train the new recruits? Does he make sure those who are supposed to ‘protect us’ are competent?

Arianna: He’s great. He has a lot on him, but he does it all. (She leans forward again, and this reporter can’t help backing up a little. There is something too uncanny about that glint in her eyes.) We get training, and there’s the school, after all. New Shadow Walkers who come to us can take classes there even if they’re adults. Others have learned on their own. (She shrugs.) It works.

Muhulda: And when will you head back out into the void?

Arianna: I’m not sure. I have another mission down in Freywater for a bit, then I’m sure I’ll be back out there. I love it. Sure, it gets a little dull sometimes with all the endless gray, but the creatures that come out of it keep me hopping. I like that.

Muhulda: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about the Shadow Walkers?

Arianna: Is there anything else you’d like to know?

Muhulda: No. No. I think that’s all for now.

Arianna: All right, then.

(The woman stands and tosses her hair, which is candy pink, over her shoulder. She sashays out of the office and winks at me from the door. This reporter must admit to being terrified. This woman is obviously insane and should be locked in Josephus Halidon’s Home for the Insane and Destitute. Why she’s allowed to interact with normal, decent folk, I’ll never know, but something needs to be done to ensure that these Shadow Walkers are upstanding citizens.)

 

http://www.lissadobbs.com

Upcoming Books

ebook-cover1Well, things are moving along nicely, I think.  The Chronicles of Ethan Grimley III: Revenge of Cronus will release at the end of October. For this one Ethan returns home to Land’s End for the Yuletide holiday. He’s looking forward to it but apprehensive all the same. His mother, after all, didn’t let him leave home willingly. She restrains herself, however, since Ethan’s friends have come with him. They don’t get a quiet Yuletide, however, as Cronus hasn’t finished with them yet. This time, though, Cronus has an ace that they don’t know about, and Ethan has to deal with the possibility of betrayal along with the angry god.

 

I’m also hoping to have another adult novella out by the end of December. This one will be titled River of Blood, but I haven’t gotten far enough alone to make a cover yet. River of Blood takes place in the Shizzuria Wasteland, and will feature Erastus Hallowell, a ranger with a secret.

There’s also a young adult novel in the works tentatively called Darkmoor Thunder. This one deals with Sophia Theodosia Snettisham, the spoiled daughter of the governor of Starspire. Her father wants her to marry Marcus Pickleberry, but Theo has other ideas. After all, who wants to marry someone named Marcus Pickleberry?

And, finally, after months of staring at it blankly, I’ve finally figured out the ‘book that never ends’. It will definitely be more than one, but, at this time, I’m not sure just how many.

I’m also working on the bestiary for Grevared and some fairy tales for the world. Each of these will, most likely be posted on the website for your viewing pleasure.

It looks like I’ve got my work cut out for me over the next year. At least I don’t have to worry about being bored. At all.

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com

 

 

 

The Shizzuria Wasteland – What the Heck is Gonna Live Here?

Riverland Pearlrest and Shizzuria WastelandThe Shizzuria Wasteland shares a continent with Riverland Pearlrest, a collection of rich communities made up of those who made their fortunes mining the precious minerals that are found in the mountains of the wasteland.

The Shizzuria Wasteland is a glacier several miles thick.  The climate is one of perpetual winter with year round snow storms and temperatures that rarely reach above freezing.  The only real resources in this area are the minerals that have been mined from the mountains, and most of the small towns in the Shizzuria Wasteland are mining towns.

Four small towns sit on the edge of the glacier: Grenvor, Whitedale, Pearlwater Sky, and Shizzuria Landing.  With the exception of Pearlwater Sky, which is the eastern port of the continent, these are rustic towns with only the most basic goods.  Newpost and Ofleim are larger towns with a little more to offer, though all are affected by the weather.

A railroad connects most of the towns in Riverland Pearlrest and the Shizzuria Wasteland; however, the tracks are impassable in the coldest months of the year, and freak snow storms in the warmer months can also render them useless.

Several ruins dot the wasteland, and these are sources of great interest to many of the Halfling communities in the area.  It is not uncommon to find groups of Halflings, as well as those from the academic institutions of other countries, travelling the wasteland in search of knowledge.  Some believe many of the ruins come from the time before The Catastrophe, while others work hard to prove that this isn’t the case.

A number of creatures populate the mountains and forests of the Shizzuria Wasteland.  One of these is the coniklo, a creature like a horned rabbit, that lives in the mountain region.  Another creature that inhabits the wasteland is the dajowjut.  This being is somewhat bearlike with a long snout and talons.  It can walk on either two feet or four feet, and it will search relentlessly for humanoids to eat.

Now, here’s where I start running into trouble.  I want there to be original creatures in the world of Grevared, especially since the world itself is an amalgamation of all thirteen planes of existence.  However, I think there should be wolves and reindeer as well, things that we all recognize as belonging in a frozen wasteland.

I’ve pretty much binge-watched most of the Wildest Arctic show on Netflix (I’m in love, by the way), and there are so many possibilities here.  The show covers the Arctic Sea, the Taiga forest, and tons of other areas I would absolutely love to see.  The beauty of these places is breath-taking, and there’s such a diverse animal population that it’s hard to decide just what to use to populate the land.  However, I’m thinking something like the North American Musk Oxen has got to be there.  This creature is just downright cool.  Their skulls are seventeen centimeters thick, which comes in handy since they don’t seem real bright.  Banging their heads together just for the right to mate with females?  Whatever.  I can just hear the sound echoing through the quiet of the wasteland, perhaps catching Erastus’s attention and pulling him off track.

The mountain regions of the Shizzuria Wasteland are rocky and steep.  There are cavesSnow Falling used by the Rangers all through them, but there really isn’t a long of greenery; the ice doesn’t melt enough to allow it.  What little forest exists on the wasteland is around the town of Whitedale, one of those just at the edge of the glacier.  This could create a problem for herbivore species unless they live primarily in Riverland Pearlrest and simply cross the Shizzuria Wasteland.  I suppose that’s a possibility, but Riverland Pearlrest is much more developed than the wasteland.  In fact, there’s even an amusement park in Riverland Pearlrest.  So, more creatures could live there, but the humanoids who have built manors there aren’t going to take too kindly to it.  Perhaps there needs to be a forest, at least a small one, among the mountains.  At least some way for creatures to eat.  On the other hand, if there isn’t, then that leaves lots of possibilities for animals and the like to invade the towns.  Hmmm…….

And what about the lights?  Grevared exists in a void space with its own rules of physics, so there’s a lot about our world that simply doesn’t work there.  However, the gods helped to fashion it, and there’s definitely an atmosphere.  It rains, it snows, but there’s never any real sunshine.  So, would lights of some kind work?  They obviously couldn’t be the Northern or Southern Lights, but could there be some kind of phenomena that only occurs over the Shizzuria Wasteland?  It’s something to consider.

This is where world building gets a little complicated.  There are so many possibilities and details to consider, especially since the story I’m currently working on is based here, that it can make one’s head spin.  Still, though, it also makes for hours of entertainment, and I never have a chance to get bored.

Best wishes!

Visit my website for information on books set in the world of Grevared.

 

 

 

 

Populating the Kingdom of Emerell

Moirena and the Kingdom of EmerellThe Kingdom of Emerell lies in the western quadrant of the continent that also contains Moirena in the world of Grevared.  Its primary port is the city of Flameport, though there is a secondary port in Bruihull.  Ravenhost is the largest city, capital, and the center of government.  While The Kingdom of Emerell is ruled by a monarch, it is an elected monarch rather than one who rules by divine right.

The Everstone Mountains separate The Kingdom of Emerell from Moirena, but, in spite of this range, Emerell is mostly flatlands.  This allows for plenty of farming along with mining in the mountains.  The primary exports are metal and minerals along with weapons and other smithed goods.  The Kingdom of Emerell is a prosperous and peaceful place, despite its close proximity to Moirena, which is inhabited by demons.

The Kingdom of Emerell is populated by dwarves, and here’s where I had some difficulty deciding which versions of the myths I wanted to pursue.  In Tolkien’s works the dwarves are short and stocky with long beards.  They are excellent metallurgists and love all things to do with metal and jewels.  They are creatures of the earth, though their creator stepped outside the will of Ilúvatar when he created them.  However, the dwarves exist in mythology, particularly Norse mythology, and in most of these myths, they are nothing like the creatures in the world of fantasy.

In Norse mythology the giant Ymir is slain by Odin and his brothers, and the giant’s body is used to create the world.  Maggots form on the body, and it is from these creatures that the dwarves are formed.

In The Poetic Edda there is a list of dwarves found in the poem Voluspo.  In this poem a witch is called up from the dead to speak about the creation of the world.  The first few stanzas describe this, but the dwarves don’t come into play until stanza 8.  At this point giants rise up from Jotunheim, and the gods met to decide who is going to raise up the dwarves.  In stanzas ten through sixteen there is a list of dwarves, though most scholars think this is interpolated, and there is mention of the dwarves leaving the mountains to seek a new home.  As to the list of names, it is one any Tolkien fan will recognize.

The Poetic Edda isn’t the only mention of the dwarves in mythology and legend.  In one legend they were seen by a peat cutter who noticed a glow while winding through a series of boulders in search of peat.  The peat cutter peered into the cleft in the stone and saw small creatures about as tall as his waist working their forge.  According to this story, the dwarves were difficult to see because their skin and aprons were as gray as the rocks around them, and their bodies resembled boulders more than men.

Dwarf legends aren’t restricted to Europe, either.  They are also present in Central America, South Africa, and North America.  In all of the legends, however, they are associated with the earth and the things that dwell within it.  They are harsh and vengeful creatures when crossed or wronged, and they are superb artisans who imbue their creations with magic. The Poetic Edda is filled with stories about them, and we see them in the folklore of just about every country.

If we return to the European side of the world, we have the leprechauns of Ireland, who became prominent in folklore in the middle ages.  Modern descriptions speak of tiny creatures who wear green, make shoes, and hoard pots of gold, but prior to the twentieth century, these beings were described as wearing red, and their wardrobe differed according to locale.  According to Yeats, the solitary leprechauns wore red, while the trooping fairies wore green.  Now, another difference between these leprechauns, who are often considered to be a type of dwarf, and the dwarves of Norse and other mythologies, is their origin.  The leprechauns are said to be some of the descendants of the Tuatha De Danann, who are the progenitors of the fairies.

So, when it comes to deciding who will populate the Kingdom of Emerell, I have tons of options and myriad folktales on which to draw.  I’m thinking I may go with the majority of the population based somewhat on the Norse mythology and create branches of the population from other mythologies.  I think this will give me the variations and richness of culture that I’m looking for in my countries.

 

Sources:

Appenzeller, Tim.  The Enchanted World: Dwarfs.  Time-Life Books, 1985.

Arrowsmith, Nancy, and George Moorse.  A Field Guide to the Little People.  Simon and Schuster, 1977.

Bellows, Henry Adams. The Poetic Edda, 1936 at sacred-texts.com

 

The Kingdom of Emerell

 

 

The Kingdom of Emerell lies in the western quadrant of the continent that also contains Moirena in the world of Grevared.  Its primary port is the city of Flameport, though there is a secondary port in Bruihull.  Ravenhost is the largest city, capital, and the center of government.  While The Kingdom of Emerell is ruled by a monarch, it is an elected monarch rather than one who rules by divine right.

The Everstone Mountains separate The Kingdom of Emerell from Moirena, but, in spite of this range, Emerell is mostly flatlands.  This allows for plenty of farming along with mining in the mountains.  The primary exports are metal and minerals along with weapons and other smithed goods.  The Kingdom of Emerell is a prosperous and peaceful place, despite its close proximity to Moirena, which is inhabited by demons.

The Kingdom of Emerell is populated by dwarves, and here’s where I had some difficulty deciding which versions of the myths I wanted to pursue.  In Tolkien’s works the dwarves are short and stocky with long beards.  They are excellent metallurgists and love all things to do with metal and jewels.  They are creatures of the earth, though their creator stepped outside the will of Ilúvatar when he created them.  However, the dwarves exist in mythology, particularly Norse mythology, and in most of these myths, they are nothing like the creatures in the world of fantasy.

In Norse mythology the giant Ymir is slain by Odin and his brothers, and the giant’s body is used to create the world.  Maggots form on the body, and it is from these creatures that the dwarves are formed.

In The Poetic Edda there is a list of dwarves found in the poem Voluspo.  In this poem a witch is called up from the dead to speak about the creation of the world.  The first few stanzas describe this, but the dwarves don’t come into play until stanza 8.  At this point giants rise up from Jotunheim, and the gods met to decide who is going to raise up the dwarves.  In stanzas ten through sixteen there is a list of dwarves, though most scholars think this is interpolated, and there is mention of the dwarves leaving the mountains to seek a new home.  As to the list of names, it is one any Tolkien fan will recognize.

The Poetic Edda isn’t the only mention of the dwarves in mythology and legend.  In one legend they were seen by a peat cutter who noticed a glow while winding through a series of boulders in search of peat.  The peat cutter peered into the cleft in the stone and saw small creatures about as tall as his waist working their forge.  According to this story, the dwarves were difficult to see because their skin and aprons were as gray as the rocks around them, and their bodies resembled boulders more than men.

Dwarf legends aren’t restricted to Europe, either.  They are also present in Central America, South Africa, and North America.  In all of the legends, however, they are associated with the earth and the things that dwell within it.  They are harsh and vengeful creatures when crossed or wronged, and they are superb artisans who imbue their creations with magic. The Poetic Edda is filled with stories about them, and we see them in the folklore of just about every country.

If we return to the European side of the world, we have the leprechauns of Ireland, who became prominent in folklore in the middle ages.  Modern descriptions speak of tiny creatures who wear green, make shoes, and hoard pots of gold, but prior to the twentieth century, these beings were described as wearing red, and their wardrobe differed according to locale.  According to Yeats, the solitary leprechauns wore red, while the trooping fairies wore green.  Now, another difference between these leprechauns, who are often considered to be a type of dwarf, and the dwarves of Norse and other mythologies, is their origin.  The leprechauns are said to be some of the descendants of the Tuatha De Danann, who are the progenitors of the fairies.

So, when it comes to deciding who will populate the Kingdom of Emerell, I have tons of options and myriad folktales on which to draw.  I’m thinking I may go with the majority of the population based somewhat on the Norse mythology and create branches of the population from other mythologies.  I think this will give me the variations and richness of culture that I’m looking for in my countries.

 

Sources:

Appenzeller, Tim.  The Enchanted World: Dwarfs.  Time-Life Books, 1985.

Arrowsmith, Nancy, and George Moorse.  A Field Guide to the Little People.  Simon and Schuster, 1977.

Bellows, Henry Adams. The Poetic Edda, 1936 at sacred-texts.com

 

 

Muhulda Speaks – Unlock the Truth

This is what I find interesting. I was able to obtain a copy of a letter from one Valedihr, a professor at the Academe in Jitradena, outright stating that he was conducting experiments into using bonded humans for food.

 

Muhulda Urswyk Vintage
Muhulda Urswyk – Lock and Key

Muhulda Urswyk here.

 

I’ve finally gotten an interview with Barnabas Merriweather, leader of the Shadow Walkers, so now we can get to the bottom of who these people really are.  Are they guardians like they claim, or are they vigilante menaces that need to be eradicated?  You decide.

Muhulda: Thank you for taking time out to speak with me, Mr. Merriweather.  I know you’re anxious to return to Corleon and resume your leadership duties.

Barnabas: You’re welcome.

Muhulda: Now, Mr. Merriweather.  Tell me about the Shadow Walkers.  Who, exactly, are they?

Barnabas: Shadow Walkers are those who’ve received weapons from the gods.  Most of us use those weapons to protect others and to guard Brimstone Thunderwatch.

Muhulda: ‘Most’?

(Just an aside here.  Mr. Merriweather nods but doesn’t answer.)

Muhulda: Weapons from the gods?  Can you tell me more?

Barnabas: When the universe exploded, many of the gods perished.  Those who survived now choose champions, so to speak, to wield their weapons.

Muhulda:  You aren’t making any sense.  Why would the gods need someone else to wield a weapon?  They’re all powerful, aren’t they?

Barnabas (shakes his head): No.  They aren’t.  The gods are trapped in this world with the rest of us, but they have no physical form.  They can’t interact with things in any real way.

Muhulda: So they choose others to do it for them?

Barnabas (nods): Yes.

Muhulda: And how do the gods choose these so-called champions?

Barnabas: That’s something we’ve yet to determine.  Some are given the weapons in times of great peril, but others receive them at seemingly random times.  (He pauses and shrugs.) We just don’t know what causes one god or another to reach out to someone.

Muhulda: But the Arcana Maximus is full of automatons the gods can inhabit and speak through.  Has anyone thought of just asking?

(Another note.  Mr. Merriweather shrugs and looks embarrassed.  It is clear that the simple idea of asking has never crossed his mind.)

Muhulda: And are these ‘chosen’ always human?

Barnabas: Our history tells us that they were once, back when the planes were separated, but they aren’t now.  The Shadow Walkers are chosen from all beings.

Muhulda: Even the demons?

Barnabas
Barnabas Merriweather – Leader of the Shadow Walkers

Barnabas: Yes.  We even have Shadow Walkers among the demons.

Muhulda: Now, see.  This is what I find interesting.  I was able to obtain a copy of a letter from one Valedihr, a professor at the Academe in Jitradena, outright stating that he was conducting experiments into using bonded humans for food.  Have you read it?  He sent it to his colleagues.

Barnabas: No, I haven’t.

Muhulda: Isn’t he one of yours, so to speak?  Isn’t he a Shadow Walker?  And would this go back to your earlier statement that ‘most’ of the Shadow Walkers use their abilities to help others?

(Just an aside here.  Mr. Merriweather didn’t answer this question.  He seemed quite agitated.  I wonder if it’s because he knows the Shadow Walkers aren’t to be trusted.)

Muhulda: Well, if you don’t want to answer, let’s move on.  What happens to Shadow Walkers who break the code, who do ‘evil’?  You do have a code, don’t you?

Barnabas: Yes, we have a code of conduct.  Shadow Walkers are forbidden from harming others, and they are required to stand up for those who are being downtrodden.

Muhulda: But isn’t right in the eye of the beholder?  For example, if a ruler is trying to establish rule of his people, and a small few dissent and call in the Shadow Walkers for help, aren’t they doing more harm than good?  Who chooses which side is the right one?

Barnabas: Our primary goal is to guard Brimstone Thunderwatch and to prevent the seventh hell demons from escaping.  Our other duties include assisting local constables and the like with situations that exceed their capabilities in manpower or that have a decidedly magical base.  Each case is evaluated before it is taken, and since we have Shadow Walkers in every region, it is quite easy to get the information we need to make an informed decision.  The only time we’re somewhat cut off is when we patrol the void to guard against assaults from outside of Grevared, and, even then, we have means of communicating.

Muhulda: But there are many in Moirena and Corleon who use magic.  It’s only in the Xaggarene Empire that magic is mistrusted.  Would you help in those places where it’s normal?  What about Harrowwind?  Everyone there uses magic there, so why wouldn’t the locals know how to deal with it or investigate it?  Why would you be needed?

(Mr. Merriweather seems quite annoyed at this point.)

Barnabas: You ask the question as if we charge into an area and assume command.  This isn’t the case.  Yes, we have guild halls in just about every community, but we don’t interfere unless requested to.  Now, there are times when a threat presents itself that those in the area aren’t aware of, but when we step in on these, it is always for the good of the citizens.

Muhulda: What kinds of threats would those be?

Barnabas: Specters, zombies, animated corpses, and pixie mites, just to name a few.

Muhulda: And what do these things do?

Barnabas: Specters and pixie mites both possess the ability to drain your life force with a simple touch, and a specter won’t quit once it’s noticed you.  Zombies are the walking dead, and they’ll simply eat you.  Animated corpses are mechanically animated dead bodies.  They are usually controlled by whoever created them, but it is easy for their architect to lose control of them.  Would you prefer running up on one on your own, or would you prefer to know that there are people in your area who are actively seeking and destroying these things?

Muhulda: And who pays for your assistance?  Does the money come from taxes?  And what about the school you run?  Do the students pay tuition?  What about the ones who can’t pay?

Barnabas: All those who attend the school either pay a tuition or work for the school.  As for who pays our fees, it is usually the one who called us.  As to where the funds come from, I couldn’t say.  And no young Shadow Walker is ever turned away from our school, regardless of ability to pay.

Muhulda: And what about the threats from outside our lands that you mentioned.  Just what threats?  There’s nothing out in the void.

Barnabas: We assume that there’s nothing else out in the void, but we really don’t know.  There could be other lands out there with beings we can’t even comprehend.  At this point, we just don’t know, and the things we do know about, such as the void serpents, aren’t things you would want in your cities.

Muhulda: So, basically, you don’t do this because of writ from the gods.  You do it for profit.  You do this for self-aggrandizement because you feel you’re special.

Barnabas: I wouldn’t say profit.  Shadow Walkers have to be paid, just like everyone else, and the Shadow Walker guild halls have to be maintained, just as those of the ironworkers or stonemasons.  You don’t expect them to work for free, so we shouldn’t be expected to, either.  There is little to no real profit from what we do.  As to feeling special, many of us would rather not be chosen.  There’s a downside to working directly with a god.

Muhulda: But the Arcana Maximus claims the gods can only speak through the automatons it controls.  Are you saying that, out of all the creatures that live in Grevared, only the handful that have been ‘chosen’ can communicate with them?

Barnabas (shrugs): I couldn’t say.  I’m aware of the Arcana’s belief, but I couldn’t say who else can speak with the gods.  They may regularly meet the emperor for lunch for all I know.

Muhulda: So, what will you do when you leave here, Mr. Merriweather?  Do you have some dastardly creature to fight?

Barnabas: Right now, I’d just like to head home and get some rest.  It’s been a long journey.

Muhulda: Well, that’s all the time we have now.  Thank you for joining us today, Mr. Merriweather.  I hope you have a safe trip home.

 

To recap what Barnabas Merriweather, leader of the Shadow Walkers, has told us: the Shadow Walkers carry weapons that are given to them by the gods.  There is no specific criteria for receiving these weapons, so average citizens should be aware that anyone could carry one.  Your best friend, your neighbor.  Any of these could have powers you can’t comprehend or fight.

The Shadow Walkers assist in cases that are too complex for local constables, and they guard Brimstone Thunderwatch, the prison for the seventh hell demons.  They will also interfere in local business when called upon, without determining if they are backing the ‘correct’ side.  This being the case, we must be cautious when dealing with this group, especially when calling them into our affairs, as we have no way of knowing if they are truly on our side.

Muhulda Urswyk reporting.  Until next time.

 

Is Muhulda right in her assessment of the Shadow Walkers?  Visit Grevared to see for yourself.

The Shadow Walkers of Grevared – Learn more about the world of Grevared.

Wolf in the Shadow – Read a free preview here.

Something is killing the good folks of Black Crystal. People are missing, animals glow in the darkness, and what little has been found doesn’t resemble anything recognizable as a living being.

Timothy, Justin, and Eleanor are Shadow Walkers who travel to Black Crystal to investigate the incidents, but what they find is more than they ever expected. For the forest harbors a secret, something unknown to the folks of Black Crystal. It is in the depths of this forest that the Shadow Walkers come face-to-face with a truth they never expected, one that could change their lives and their hearts forever.

 

The Chronicles of Ethan Grimley III – Follow Ethan’s adventures as he learns to be a Shadow Walker.

A Walker is Born – Read a free preview here.

Cronus Attacks – Read a free preview here.

Pancakes…Or Not

1512031_683729534998292_8621720598215184951_oOkay, I know most of my stuff is about fantasy and mythology, and those are the things I love the best.  But I also like to make things, as those who’ve been around know from my crochet stuff.

Well, it’s hard to get anything done on an empty stomach, so I thought I’d share some recipes we use when we want a snack.  Or breakfast.  Or supper.

 

Breakfast just wouldn’t be breakfast without a pancake now and again, and several companies have made it quite easy to enjoy their fluffy goodness (along with some bacon, of course). All you do is figure out how many pancakes you want, add some water to the mix, and pour it on the griddle. Cover it with syrup, and there’s no way to have a bad day.

But this awesome mix isn’t just for pancakes.

Let’s face it, we all have those times we remember the potluck at work at ten o’clock the night before. There’s that moment of ‘what am I gonna do?’ when the stores are closed or you just flat out don’t want to get dressed again and go out. And, of course, who really wants to stop at the crack of dawn on the way to work? Then comes that phone call when we’re cleaning house, reading a good book, or otherwise not in any mindset to entertain. That ‘I’m in the neighborhood and thought I’d stop by’ one.

This is where pancake mix comes to the rescue. I know, it sounds bizarre. But you aren’t making pancakes. Instead, you’re using the pancake mix as a base to make a simple coffee cake. Now, I’ll warn you, the cook time can range up to forty-five minutes, but the preparation only takes about five. This leaves you free to prepare for company – vacuum and scrub like a crazy person – or get ready for work.

NOTE: Cooking times may vary a little. Just stick a fork in the center, and if it comes out clean, it’s done.

 

  1. Simple Coffee Cake –This one is the easiest, and if you have the pancake mix, you probably have the other stuff, too.

 

Ingredients:

2 cups pancake mix prepared according to package directions

1-2 cups brown sugar

¼ cup granulated sugar

Cinnamon

Nuts (optional)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

 

Grease a loaf pan or 8” x 8” cake pan.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Add granulated sugar, vanilla, and a little cinnamon to the pancake mix.  Pour half the pancake mix into the loaf pan.  Completely cover the mix with brown sugar.  Sprinkle on a little cinnamon.  Carefully pour the remaining pancake batter over the first layer.  Top with brown sugar and cinnamon.  Bake at 300 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Serve hot.

 

  1. Banana Nut Bread – This one takes a little more time, but it’s well worth the additional effort.

 

Ingredients:

2 cups pancake mix mixed according to package directions

1 tsp vanilla extract

¼ cup granulated sugar

½ cup brown sugar

2 bananas

Nuts

 

Grease a loaf pan or 8” x 8” cake pan.  Squash the bananas with the brown sugar.  Add the granulated sugar, banana mixture, vanilla, and nuts to the pancake mix and blend.  Pour into the pan and cook at 300 degrees for about 1 hour.

 

  1. Muffin Bread – This is another one that’s super easy to mix up. The end result is a warm, comforting bread that goes well with tea or coffee.

 

Ingredients:

2 cups pancake mix mixed according to package directions

1 package muffin mix (any flavor) mixed to package directions

1 tsp vanilla

Combine the two mixes and pour into a greased loaf pan or 8” x 8” cake pan.  Cook at 300 degrees for about 30 minutes.

 

  1. Pineapple Upside Down Cake – This one is a little gooey and takes a bit longer to cook than some of the others. It’s important to make sure the pineapple is thoroughly drained.

 

Ingredients:

2 cups pancake mix mixed according to package directions

1 can pineapple tidbits

2 cups brown sugar

½ cup granulate sugar

Butter

1 tsp vanilla

Cinnamon

 

Grease a loaf pan or 8” x 8” cake pan.  Add the vanilla and granulate sugar to the pancake mix.  Blend thoroughly.  Pour ½ the mixture into the loaf pan.  Cover with brown sugar and sprinkle with cinnamon.  Carefully pour the remaining pancake mix over the top of the brown sugar.  Drain the pineapple and place on top.  Sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar and add a few pads of butter to the top.  Bake at 300 degrees for about 1 hour.

 

  1. Chocolate Coffee Cake – This is another easy one that only takes a minute to mix up.

 

Ingredients:

2 cups pancake mix and enough water to prepare according to directions

½ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup cocoa powder

Vanilla

Cinnamon

 

For this one, it works best to add the chocolate powder before you add the water.  Blend the pancake mix, chocolate powder, and sugar then add the appropriate amount of water and vanilla.  I like a touch of cinnamon in mine, but that’s completely optional.

Grease an 8”x 8” baking pan or a loaf pan.  Pour in the mixture and bake at 300 degrees for about 1 hour or until a fork stuck through the center comes out clean.

 

  1. Apple Cobbler – This one takes some effort to put together, but the end result is pretty good.

 

Ingredients:

2 cups pancake mix prepared according to package directions

4-5 apples, chopped into pieces

¼ cup granulated sugar

½ cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons butter

Cinnamon

Nuts (optional)

Prepare the pancake mix, add a little cinnamon and ¼ cup brown sugar then set aside.  Chop the apples and toss them with the granulated sugar, cinnamon, and the butter (cut into small pieces).  Add nuts if desired.  Place the apple mixture in the bottom of a well-greased pan.  Top with the pancake mix.  Sprinkle the top with brown sugar, cinnamon, and add a few pads of butter.  Bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour or until done.

 

  1. Strawberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake – This one is a little softer than the others, and baking time can be more difficult to judge.

 

Ingredients:

2 cups pancake mix prepared to package directions

1 cup chopped strawberries

¼ cup granulated sugar

4 oz. cream cheese

¼ cup brown sugar

Vanilla

 

Grease a loaf pan or an 8” x 8” cake pan.  Fold the strawberries, granulated sugar, cream cheese, and vanilla into the pancake mix.  (The cream cheese will blend in best if it’s at room temperature.)  Top with brown sugar and bake at 300 degrees.  Check it at 30 minutes for doneness and let it cook until done, checking about every 10 minutes.

 

  1. Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake – This is a super easy one that’s nice and sweet when it comes out of the oven.

 

 

Ingredients:

2 cups pancake mix prepared according to package directions

1 bag chocolate chips

1/3 cup granulated sugar

¼ cup brown sugar

Vanilla

 

Stir the chocolate chips, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and vanilla into the pancake mix.  Pour into a greased loaf pan or a greased 8” x 8” baking pan.  Bake at 300 degrees for about 45 minutes.  Use a fork to test for doneness.

 

  1. Syrup Coffee Cake – This one takes less than five minutes to put together. It’s a great substitute for pancakes when there isn’t the inclination to stand at the griddle.

 

Ingredients:

2 cups pancake mix prepared according to package directions

¼ – ½ cup pancake syrup

1 cup brown sugar

¼ cup granulated sugar

Vanilla

3 tablespoons butter chopped into small pieces

 

Grease a loaf pan or an 8” x 8” baking pan.  Combine the pancake mix, syrup, granulated sugar, vanilla, and butter in a bowl.  Mix well.  Pour ½ the mixture into the baking pan.  Cover with brown sugar.  Carefully pour the remaining mix into the pan.  Top with the remaining brown sugar.  Bake at 300 degrees for 45 minutes – 1 hour.

 

  1. Breakfast Casserole – Okay, this isn’t a coffee cake at all, but it makes a wonderful breakfast casserole, especially when you add syrup like you would with pancakes.

 

Ingredients:

3 cups pancake mix prepared according to package directions

1 package bacon, cooked and chopped

4-5 chicken tenders cooked and chopped

1 ½ cup grated cheese

Two eggs, scrambled (optional)

 

Grease a casserole dish.  Add the bacon and chicken to the bottom of the dish.  Add a layer of eggs if desired.  Top with the grated cheese.  Carefully pour the pancake mix over the top.  Bake at 300 degrees for about 45 minutes.  Use a fork to check for doneness.

 

 

 

 

Rainy Days

background symbolMost people don’t really like rainy days.  The overcast sky, the water falling, the gloom – all these tend to make most folks bummy – and I’ll admit that grocery shopping in it can be a pain.

For the most part, though, I love the rainy days.  There’s something about them that’s more peaceful than the bright, sunny ones, something that cries out for introspection, and I find that I, too, am more peaceful in the rain.

 

Best wishes!

Golem

Golem JuiceMention the word ‘golem’ and most folks think of the creepy little critter in The Lord of the Rings, but the mythological creature is actually, to me at least, much more terrifying to consider.

The most famous golem in mythology is the Golem of Prague. This creature was created by Rabbi Loeb around 1580 when the Jews were threatened.  This site provides one version of the ritual that brought the creatures to life, but I know there are others.  There are also several versions of the story, and some alternate stories can be found here.

A number of years ago, we won’t say how many, I was doing research into the golem and came across one of the rituals.  I wish I could remember where I found it, but it basically stated that the golem had to be created out of soil that had never known human touch.  There was a period of purification that came before the creation, and the incantation for the ritual took about thirty hours.  If even one mistake was made in the incantation, then it had to be begun again, which could extend the time needed to create the golem.  Now, this isn’t something I’d have the time to undertake, no matter how nice it would be to have a creature that obeyed commands.

Golems do not have the ability to think for themselves.  All they can do is follow the commands of their creators.  This being the case, the creator has to be extremely specific with instructions, for the golem won’t infer from anything said.  It will follow instructions literally.

The book Sefer Yezirah supposedly contains the instructions for creating the golem, but the instructions have to be interpreted, and each Rabbi who has decided to make a golem has interpreted it differently.

Golems are said to be great creatures for manual labor and defense.  However, over time they become unstable and will rampage and possibly harm others.  For this reason, it is important that golems only remain active for a short period of time for a specific purpose before being deactivated.

 

 

 

 

http://www.gods-and-monsters.com/golem.html