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A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Monday, September 9, 2019

A Little Taste of Gamer Geek Romance

This is a small snatch of my book Everlost:

Chapter 1—Chubb Takes a Beating
Issana Windwalker died for the ninth time at the hands of an ogre named Chubb.
Bits of her spattered the trees and rocks in a tacky, wide swathe.
Her death cry tore from her, sounding much more like frustration than demise. At least to her own, make that Senara's ears.
It really ticked her off that she spawned into the forest and Chubb always seemed to be camping on the exact spot, waiting for her, every time. Fat tub of smelly lard. “Go find someone else to PK, you son of a fatherless goat,” she yelled, banging the keyboard with her fist. Then she hit the talk button and yelled it again so Chubb could actually hear it while he scampered around picking up the magical items she'd dropped.
“It's what you get when you sign up to be Guardian of Kofur, Issy Baby. If you wanna dump the Seal of Kofur and do something less violent, it can be arranged. Then we can hang out and make cute little half ogre babies,” said the piece of yak stool who'd targeted her.
“Lard Butt can actually talk,” muttered Senara. She pressed talk. “Oh please. The stench of your unwashed body would kill me for reals. I'd no sooner hang with you than eat my own foot, let alone bear you babies. I'm going to end you, you bucket of—“ she eased off the talk button to continue the rant in private since her thirty seconds of grace period was almost up. And since her southern mother would pop a vein if she heard such trash going out over the airwaves. Not that she would, since Mom was thousands of miles away, now, on a buying trip.
Senara took a few sanity moments to break away from the game and fetch a can of soda from the fridge. The sound of the lid popping broke the silence left by the ending of her Celtic podcast music. She dragged the frosty can across her cheeks and forehead and plunked herself back in her desk chair.
She had a whole lot of other things she wanted to say to Chubb the Grub but couldn't while she was a ghost. She would have to re-spawn and, armor-less, kick Chubb clear to Offenheim if she was ever going to get any of her stuff back. She jammed her thumb on the talk button anyway. “With pleasure, you boot-licking toadstool,” she ground out. “Let the bloodbath begin.” She wiped her hands against her My Little Ponies pajama pants, cracked her knuckles, and hit the button that would start the carnage.
Issana Windwalker was normally a vision to behold. Massive power packed into a well-muscled, very buxom, gorgeous blond elf, wearing silver armor etched with Celtic knot work, a silver, egret-plumed helm, and tall, silver-embossed boots. For “at home,” she wore flowing blue, purple and indigo harem pants, an indigo top, and no shoes. She could still trash people and take names if she was attacked in her woodland fastness. It happened.
Senara took great pains to make sure Issana's description and that of her hold, Cloudcroft, was something visually stunning and commanding respect. Dudes took a girl seriously if she looked the part and could show some imagination. At least that's what she always told herself.
Gamer eejits were clueless about two things: One, Issana Windwalker might look like a harem girl but she was actually a 102nd -level elf paladin mage who could kick a demi-god's butt with one foot nailed to the floor and no healing potions. And two, she was, in real life, a twenty-one year old brown-haired, bespectacled bookstore clerk named Senara O'Brian, who had trouble killing ants. That last fact she told no one on the game. Who knows, anyway? Maybe half of those buff knights were actually pencil-thin, all-elbows cross dressers or sitting in prison for peeping, she thought as she ran through the Everlost landscape.
Now, after spawning, and dressed only in a light shift, she avoided traps and bad situations like a pro. She had a date with a certain shopkeeper to get the prized Player Killer sword of in-cluing better known as PK Swansong. There wouldn't be time to run to the Morningstar Mountains to fight for her normal enchanted armor.
She passed two hills, a large lake, a couple of villages and a small castle before she got to Berkilflot, the village where Fomor Bob had his store. She had a great rapport with Bob old boy. He saved all his good stuff for her in return for taking out the trash. It made her chuckle every time she took out a noob who was making himself a nuisance. She'd walk in just like an NPC or non-player character and do “boot-to-the-butt” and the kid would find himself sprawling on the ground outside the store. She'd laugh insanely when he ID'd her and found out what level she was.
“What can I get you?” the good Bob asked.
Issana batted her eyelashes and asked for Swansong. “Got some Chubb clubbing to do.”
Bob grinned. “That dude's got it coming. I'm guessing you want a health potion or two.”
Issana glowered at him. “Um, no. Don't need it. But I do need to know if Chubb's got some kind of a donation buff that lets him kill far above his level.”
“I'll look.” Bob disappeared into the “back” while Issana cooled her heals checking out the merchandise. She had just enough money to buy back the Crystal Gauntlets and pay for Amalice the Seamstress to imbue them with special pounding powers.
Bob brought out the sword and tested the edge with a grin. “Swansong with a special edge. I think you'll like her. And Chubb does have a donation item. He payed twenty five Euros for an amulet of PK-ing. He wears it on his breech clout.”
“Real money? Brother. The little weasel! I knew he had something good. It's how he killed me nine times in a row. He must be selling my armor at the Ba'along Bazaar. Those losers will take anything, lost, stolen, or hocked.” She examined the sword and deemed it sweet. “Thanks Bob.” She tossed him a bag of coins and ran off to the Seamstress' shop. Hopefully it would take Chubb enough time to sell her stuff, that she'd get where she needed to be and fully prepared.
Just as the Seamstress had finished with the Imbuing and Issana was paying for her services, the Seal called her back. Chubb, of course. She was already under attack when she wielded the Crystal Gauntlets. Her health had dropped to next to nothing as the pounding began.
“What the—?” Chubb yelled as she smashed him a couple of inches into the solid rock.
Issana grinned. “Taste the rainbow.” Bam! Bam! Crash!
He tried to hit her again and missed, due to losing several centimeters of aching height. An arm went flying across the meadow and it wasn't hers.
Issana said, “Run away if you want to live.” It would be her only suggestion. Most guys wouldn't bolt, and found themselves flitting back to their spawn point as wispy ghosts. Chubb was no different. When he croaked, he dropped a smelly breech clout, a large club and three copper coins, and fluttered away, yelling about cheaters.
Happy dirt nap, Nasty, Senara thought as she fingered the buttons to dispose of the breech clout so Chubb couldn't immediately come back and arm himself in it. The fly-ridden thing probably had magical powers since he wore nothing else but that freaking amulet. Just the thought of that icky ogre running around naked makes me want to hurl.
Issana pocketed the coppers, tossed the club into a nearby pond, and went to meditate for a couple of minutes in her Cloudcroft hideout. That was the only thing she'd forked over real money for. It really paid off to have somewhere to relax in and store her plunder. Too bad she didn't have closets full of the Silver-chased Armor suits, like Batman and his uniforms. Those she had to win in battle.
She was just about to the middle of her meditation, and thus half healthy, when the Seal pulled her back. “Unbelievable!” Senara screamed, pounding the keyboard. Crumbs bounded up and resettled in the cracks between the keys. One of them must have lodged beneath the “hit” button she'd macro'ed, because she pressed and pressed and couldn't engage.
Just as her health neared red-line and she was going to actually wield her fancy sword, something big plowed into the hapless ogre. Almost instantly Chubb found himself with no remaining limbs of any sort. “Why for you kill Chubb?” he whined at the massive, shining knight standing over him.
Muscle Man ignored him, favoring Issana with a grin after taking off his helm. The guy was mountain-sized and his helmet hadn't even mussed up his glorious golden hair. You could probably see the gleam of his flashing white teeth in the depths of the Gorfingel Gold Mines. He swept into a deep bow. “Are you well, my lady?”
“Um...quite.” Issana polished the blood off her gauntlets as the last of Chubb's health fled, leaving him a wraith. “Chubb was just dying.”
©2017 by H. Linn Murphy

Friday, September 6, 2019

Traveller's Wishlist Blues



Boy. It's been a while. But two recent things happened to show me someone still reads this thing. A good friend from high school wrote to say he missed my posts. And I've made another friend of someone who read my chimney sweep article. Great things are coming from that thing, so I shall endeavor to soldier on.

So. Talking about traveling today. I've got a serious case of itchy feet and a longing to take my backpack out and brush off the dust.

I enjoy getting on that airplane and shooting off into the wide blue yonder. I love seeing all the land spread below me like a giant quilt with the batting coming out--flying through castles and mountains of cloud. I love meeting new people and the anticipation of being in a fresh place for a while--getting away from the dusty, staid hole of a life I've shoved myself into, where all my expectations are regularly met in a way they've always arrived. I enjoy the idea of waking up in one place and going to bed in another, having successfully navigated around airports and security conga lines.

I love getting in our van and setting off into the sunset for parts unknown, listening to the engine whine as we negotiate mountains and avoid deer. I used to love camping and still kind of do except that my trick knee makes it rough. And it makes hiking a chore, though I still do it. I enjoy learning the history of a place and wondering about the people who live(d) there. The light is different in different places. Here it bludgeons a person with an oppressive heat until they can barely walk or breathe. In Oregon it's a watery quality that tastes of moss and ferns. In Switzerland it's a clear blue sharpness that allows you to see the mastiffs marching away into the purpling haze of distance. In Ireland it was a peat-y damp that filled me with yearning for stories and great music.

I itch for the possibility of going sailing again, the wind bellying out the sails and raising spin-drift, the water slipping past the boat, all deep blue-green and mysterious. I'm dying to sail on a tall ship and climb the rat lines and stand in the crow's nest. It would be so interesting to crew for a ship like that for a while.


Mostly I really LOVE the idea of owning the experience and making it part of me. Owning the sight of new people, wondrous new places, the taste of the air on my tongue, the feel of a cool wind ruffling my hair. Of the food and the people offering wares. Owning it all in my head.

I recently talked to a young Navy sailor. I begged him for stories of his travels. He had so little to say about the wonderful places he'd been. He said he would be just as happy to have never gone most of those places and simply plopped on his couch with the remote. To me, that's a crying shame. Why close yourself off to the richness of a new tapestry? Why insist on eating macaroni and cheese when you have the opportunity to taste Bangers and Mash? Or Lutefisk?

This is why when I was heading off to Ireland with my mom and sisters, I made a list of all the things I could think of that I wanted to do in that country. I made it as varied and wacky as possible. I didn't even do half of the things I wanted to do (no time to since we had Murt the drill sergeant for a bus driver) but it made the experiences I did have so much richer.

So do I have a bucket list a mile long? YES. I want to go everywhere and see everything.

*I want to go back to Ireland and go in that huge cave under Pol na Broine dolmen. It's all karst there and the ranger assured me I'm right. There IS a big cave you can even go in under there.
*I want to do research at Carrigafoyle Castle for a book I'm writing.
*I want to see Northern Ireland.
*I want to swim in the sea though it's freezing.
*I want to find the drunk guy I pretty much swiped my favorite shirt from and give him a better shirt than I gave him.
*I want to play bodhran and tin whistle in pubs (must practice much more, first).
*I want to do research in Trinity college, not just tour it. Go back in the stacks and look at those ancient books.
 And that's just in Ireland.
*I really really want to go to England and look up where my Welsh forebears lived.
*I want to see Grayfriars bridge and the Thames.
*I want to see the Crown Jewels and the Tower and Shakespeare's home and the Globe Theater.
*I want to take a bazillion pictures and eat fish and chips. 
*I want to see Jane Austen's house and a hundred other wonderful sights.
I want to go to Scotland and see if I can hunt down my McKusick line.
*Must eat haggis at least once.
*Must see the places Robert the Bruce went to ground. (Last time I checked I'm related to him.)
*I want to swim in Loch Ness.
*I want to go back to Germany, Austria, and Switzerland especially.
*I want to order lunch in Ge
rman.
*I want to sleep in dozens of castles (or at least crawl around in them).
*I want to go back to the massively cool museum in Munich and spend two days in there.
*I want to go back to the Pergamon museum in East Berlin that I didn't enjoy the first time because I was so barfing sick. I'm NOT going to eat their ice cream beforehand since that's what made me so sick in the first place.
*I want to go back to the tower in Goslar (sp?) and put my husband in thumbscrews so he can know how it feels...rofl
*I want to stroll the streets of a thousand little towns and eat in their open air restaurants and sing in their cathedrals.
*So much more.

There are a thousand thousand other places and things I want to breathe in and make a part of me.
Too bad I'm not independently wealthy or have a gig to report on those places like on WorldTrekker or something. My lucky sister is making this dream come true for herself and her kids. I'm so jealous. I guess I just need to sell books. Anyone want to buy a few million dollars worth of books? I could make it worth your while...;o)






Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Day 30--National Poetry Month--ABAB Poem--War of Darkness and Light

This is the last poem of the month. It's been interesting learning new forms. I hope some of these are more than rubbish. I also appreciate those who actually read them and would welcome new subscribers to the blog. I'll be working on doing a better job of keeping current--more like the first few years. For one last trip to Stephanie's site, go here. Anyway, here's an ABAB poem:



WAR OF DARKNESS AND LIGHT


The Dark Adversary, he smirks in glee
As he throws a pall over the land
"They'll never know why they feel closer to me
When greed, envy, and selfishness stand."

He uses discouragement, vane pride, and hate
To shackle the Father's offspring
For he wants misery to mark all and make late
The hosts of the Heavenly King

I lift lantern and search for a possible guard
To stand at my side and fight
Who'll keep their chin up though the going is hard
And won't quail at Satan's dread might. 

Get loose from your chains of ennui and self doubt
Let Christ's words in your fainting hearts sing
Look to your quarry, be strong, give a shout
And follow your Commander, your King. 

Let us march to the battle, both steady and true
With our hearts and our minds knit with love
Bringing our kin, with hard work imbued
A place at Christ's side, our great trove.
 
I stand at your shoulder, shiv'ring with dread
I've seen our host scanty at most
So easy t'would be, to let fear fill my head
I can't flee and abandon my post

We're girded, arrayed at the battle's fore
Our talents and skill sets to hand
Our armor intact as we open the door 
It's shoulder to shoulder we stand 

So we lock in our shields, help those at our side
To remember the God at our front
To recall the bright home where our Parents abide
For God will we gratefully hunt.

 If you shine a great light o'er the enemy's camp  
He can do naught but cower and flee
He can't withstand the bright light of your lamp
Once you lift up your head and break free

Come join this dread fight tho we tremble with flaws
Though we've mistakes too many to number
Let us wake and come forth and remember the laws
No longer in darkness to slumber 

Until at the end we kneel bloody but free
There at the feet of our King
He lifts us to stand, and He clasps us gently
"Well done, faithful servant," He'll sing.   


©2019 by H. Linn Murphy

Monday, April 29, 2019

Day 29--National Poetry Month--Bio Poem--

Today we're doing Bio Poems. If you'd like to know more about the poetry form, go here. Otherwise, my poem:


I'm the one in the veil.


H. Linn Murphy
Dented, chubby, and flawed
I love doing evil things to book characters and seeing them rise above the chaos, because it gives me hope for slaying my own dragons.
I can almost dance, hike, swim, and a host of other things I once did well. Mostly I live in my head, now.
I hate sitting on the sidelines, watching other people do what I used to do, mostly because I feel like I didn't have enough time in my lithe body. Dang knees.
Will I ever dance like I've always wanted? Will people ever applaud my rendition of a fire bird? My pas de deux with an amazing danseur? Will anyone ever be impressed with my chocolatey tenor voice, spritely tinwhistle renditions or bodhran solos?
I fear they won't. In fact, I think I won't have a niche anywhere. Not fully athlete, not fully wife, mother or grandmother, not fully spiritual giant, musician, artist, amazing intellect or writer. Just an also ran no one remembers for anything besides being slightly tactless.
I'm not strong enough, yet, not to care about finding that place, that square hole for the square peg.
Someday I want to know I belong somewhere and am loved for it.


©2019 by H. Linn Murphy
 

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Day 28--National Poetry Month--Couplets--Primary Teacher

Here's my Done-before-Sunday post:



PRIMARY TEACHER
I don't remember all you said
Your primary lessons have left my head

But I recall the way you shared
The love you showed, the way you cared

You had the softest wrinkled hands
Your hair drawn back in velvet bands

But most of all I loved your eyes
They showed how kind you were, and wise

And the most important part?
We had a place inside your heart

©2019 by H. Linn Murphy
 

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Day 27--National Poetry Month---Free Verse--Capes and Tights--Table--Terse Verse


At this point Stephanie hasn't put up the poetry prompt and I've got to get editing on my HEART OF THE FOREST book. So this is free verse. I went to see Endgame last night. (I was right about almost everything except that for some sad reason they didn't have an Easter egg at the end. Wah. I really loved that several of them had families that they got to go back to.)



CAPES AND TIGHTS
You with your 
Colorful tights
And your fantastic flapping capes
Racing across the land
Streaking through the air
Tearing holes 
In the fabric of time
Bashing
Crashing
Always slashing
Leaving chaos and wreckage
In your wake
Sacrificing all
In a bid to save the world 
Who are you
When you take off the cape
And sit down
To eat a simple meal?
Do you kiss your children
Good night?
Do you take your turn
In the soccer car pool
When not out
Ridding the world
Of soulless villains?
We humble people
Without flight or strength
Thank you 
For your sacrifices
Of time, talent, and 
Sometimes,
Ultimately,
Life.
We shouldn't be
So selfish
As to deny you
These tender mercies
And a much needed rest
You need time to grow
As well.
Even so,
I feel like Endgame 
Shouldn't mean
The End. 
There should be 
No period
Everything about you
Breaths Eternity
Puissance, 
Indestructibility.
But maybe
Just maybe
It's time for us
To tie on your capes
To pull on your colorful gloves
And go to work
We too can fight
And plan
And come out of our
Hiding places
To face the evil
Around us.
We are not powerless
In the face of your might.
Just a little different.
Thank you for being
Heroes

©2019 by H. Linn Murphy








Oh
oTABLEo
oScarred, batteredo
oSurface of a thousando
oThousand ghosts of meals pasto
oPlace of limitless miniature summitso
oAnd admissions over food choked downo
oo oOver throats crammed full of lumpso  oo
oo   oYou were the battlefield of witsoo      oo 
oo         oHere we laid our big planso          oo 
oo              oJust a chipped, marred            oo 
oAnd scratchedo
oSlice ofo
oLifeo
oo
oo
oo
oo

©2019 by H. Linn Murphy



Okay today we're doing Terse Verse. If you want to know what it is, go here. Here are my terse verses:

When your husband works on the roof: Tan Man
If you're reading a horse magazine it's a: Breed Read
A Bedoin Sheik's tent: Tassel Castle 
For parents it's: Sunday Funday
For kids it's sometimes a: Bore 'em Forum
A 60's film: Groovy Movie
A lovely "Mom" dinner: Pan of Spam
When shellfish get together to rock out it's a: Clam Jam 
A happy swine: Pig Jig
A happy judge: Wig Jig
If you run out of fluid in the nursery you have: Bubble Trouble
Ice cream always a: Sweet Treat






Friday, April 26, 2019

Day 26--National Poetry Month--Synonym/Antonym Poem--Faith--Free Verse--Water

Today we're doing synonym/antonym poems. If you'd like to know how to do them, go here. Here's my poem:



FAITH
Trust, true allegiance, loyalty, belief
Having once lost, finding faith is relief

©2019 by H. Linn Murphy

Okay, I went off the rails with this one. It's more of a free verse kind of contraption. I hope you like it.
WATER 
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
oo
oo
oo
oo
ooo
Eau
Wet 
Wai 
Dwr
Fog
H2O
Rain
Mist 
Shui
Voda
Mizu 
Nero
Agua
Fluid 
Aigua
Cubes 
Ma'an
Uisce
Lakes
Stea
Rivers
Acqua
Oceans 
Puddles
Amanzi
Was  ser
Drop  lets 
Trick  ling 
Life-gi  ving, 
And life-taking, 
Utterly neessary,
From deep steam  y  vents 
And trails of wispy   nimbus
To massive, ship-destroy  ing bergs
Filling the world with verdant,   teaming life
Entities from the immense to the m    icroscopic 
Unexplored depths hiding closely gu   rded secrets
An oxygen and two hydrogen molecules b      ound together 
In an eternal, carefully engineered and or     e red dance
Rising and falling, breathing like a living ent     ity, in and out
Moving across the world's face at seemingly     random whim 
Of the wind and the moon and earth's mas     sive gravity
Making life on this rare, M Class plane    t possible 
In all its rich variety, filling eve     ry void
Water carves the rock, br    inging
Mountains to their   knees
Life-giving water



©2019 by H. Linn Murphy