Archive for May, 2016

Salasso, Isobel, and the Quest for Silver

Posted in Uncategorized on May 21, 2016 by isabellawolgoth

isobel2

III

Kailfae sat in what passers by called “the monastic” pose: Back straight, legs crossed, soles of the feet toward the sky, palms up. In truth, Kailifae’s body was perfectly present, but the soul–her soul–was deep inside the jingong ocean.

She was indeed a contrary image, an anchor of resolve who ignored the moans of zombie trapped inside the Orchard of the Macabre, but also a traveling soul bent on a quest.

“Where now,” she said to the perfect silence inside her head. But it also wasn’t inside her head, for her soul plummeted down into the depthless jingong, an infinite cosmos of possibilities, an infinite well of wisdom and power.

To be perfectly frank, the orchard had tested her prowess with bow, staff, and fists,  yet she found herself outmatched. Yes, the shuriken she had accepted as a gift from Hragg for aiding his tribe against The Cult of the Six still hummed with latent power, ready to dart out…ready to come back to her seconds later, but it’s powers were minimal against the flesh of the orchard’s powerful undead. And while that weapon was a boon to her pursuits, she had long began to suspect that her weapons, that her skill level was slowly being outmatched by the powers of darkness that covered Eberron like a blanket.

“What now,” she said to the perfect silence. My quest to master the shadows has been hindered by outer powers and principalities beyond my ken. Indeed, they wait for me just outside the pale, snickering and laughing.

“Eberron, right?” a voice said from the depthless shadows.

“Yes,” Kailifae answered.

“I remember,” the shade said, coming closer.

“And what is it you can tell me?”

“Just when you think you progressing, you are really losing,” said the shade. It stepped closer into the light of Kailifae’s soul. The vague outline of a human female began to take shape.

“I was once from Eberron, but now abide here in the shadows for crimes committed in the mortal world. My name was Isobel.”

“Crimes?” Kailifae asked, her focus wavering a bit.

“I was used,” Isobel said, now a tall dark-haired woman in Kailifae’s consciousness. “I was promised great power by Brother Salasso, a vampire.”

“And did  you find your power?”

“Note exactly,” Isobel said, twisting a lock of her black hair with a finger. “I wanted to become his equal, but instead he saw me as his pawn. If you ask me, sending Brother Salasso to a final rest would grant you what you desire, and me as well.”

“And what is it you desire, Isobel?”

“Respite from my hate,” Isobel said.

“And perhaps with this you will find perfect balance,” Kailifae said.

“Yes, balance is what I truly desire, yet I am unable to attend to it in my current state.”

“Then I shall help you, for perhaps if you find that balance of good and evil, of hate and love, perhaps you will one day be granted leave from this abyss.”

“Perhaps,” Isobel said, lowering her head. “Salasso’s evil corrupted me, and now I am only a shell of what I once was. I could have become something far better, but I was too young to know.”

“I will help you, Isobel. I will find Salasso and end his corruption. Not only will I truly be able to test my skills, but I would also be helping someone who truly needs it.”

“Brother Salasso’s a vampire, remember? You will need silver arrows, ninja. You’ll find them in Deneith. Talk to a man named Oleg. He will have what you need.”

“I will do this,” Kailifae said, her eyes opening to the world once again.

Twisting up from her lotus position, Kailifae grabbed her bow and made haste toward House Deneith, her body once again in perfect harmony with her will.

If she could outwit Whisperdoom, she thought, she definitely could outwit Brother Salasso.

——-Authors’ Note———-
The allusion to “powers and principalities” is from Ephesians 6:12. I drew focus for this writing from that particular scripture, for its exigence is undeniable.  I flipped the word order for increased rhetorical “ummph.” 

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Of Monks and Ninjas

Posted in MMORPG Fiction (Fail) Attempts, Uncategorized on May 19, 2016 by isabellawolgoth

kailifaeninja

Note: I’ve decided to synthesize my experiences with Choi Li Fut and Zen Buddhism into my blog thread about Li-Li and Kailifae. I know this might make purists blanch in horror, but there are times I wonder where the creators of the lore got their information about martial arts in the first place (for their lore is nothing if not synthesis). Enough of that, else I begin ranting on and on.

 

II

 

I could feel Li-Li watching me closely, her eyes hidden behind the wide brim of her douli. I couldn’t read the halfling’s expression; nevertheless, I let myself go into the jingong, drawing  the bowstring back as if I were reeling silk. I was blindfolded, but that didn’t stop me.

The arrow hit its mark, shattering the clay jug Li-Li had placed in the crook of a tree only moments before.

“That’s jingong alright,” Li-Li praised me. “But that’s not how I taught you.”

“What?” my elvish temper rising.

“I said it’s not the way I taught you,” Li-Li chuckled.

I pulled at my scarf, pulled it just far enough so that it still covered my face from the nose down. I felt like kicking yelling, but I knew that wouldn’t go over nearly as well as my anger told me it would.

“That’s shadow skill,” Li-Li said. “That’s ninja training. You’re not one of my monks any longer.”

“Sigung,” I began–

“–you think sitting pillow all day long is for you? You’ve moved on. I told you this path you tread was dark.” She met my gaze, her hat trailing comically on her back now. “My followers are monks. You are shadow-ninja. Understand?”

I nodded because I thought it would cover my confusion. Images from the Eight Heroes painting from Li-Li’s sitting room floated back to me. Each of them were monks. Each of them practiced, mastered, and taught our Meteor-Hand technique, but none of them ever took a life.They were saints, using deadly hand-to-hand techniques in order to gain enlightenment, never to kill.

“You are a killer,” Li-Li said. “I was once too, but no longer. All that is behind me now.”

“Then what am I to do, sigung? I will do as you say.”

“Each of us takes a part in this dance. You are the only disciple I have ever taught that walked the jingong, the dark path. You kill, yes, but what is it that you kill? Saints?”

“I kill creatures that would kill me first,” I said.

“There, see? You are an agent of the jingong path. You are a life-taker, a handmaiden to balance. Remember this icon,” she asked, tracing a circle in the air with her finger.

“The True Balance,” I said, “the Great Ultimate.”

“I abide in the lighter portion, a mere monk,” her finger pointed to the right of the imaginary circle, “and you, girl, you abide to the left. I seek liberation from this life and you create the balance so that monks like me can sit pillow without fear of an early death at the hands of bandits. Yes?”

Li-Li began the walk back to the ramshackle temple, leaving me in her wake, a bit broken, a bit dumbfounded.

“Thoughts lead to actions, and actions lead to destiny, ” I said to myself, suddenly proud of my progress. But what of the jingong? There was so much I did not know, so much I ached to know. But I suppose that’s the dance…just like Li-Li said. An intricate dance swallowed whole by light and dark, all bound together in the Great Ultimate with the jingong river flowing in between.

 

Drunken Longbow

Posted in MMORPG Fiction (Fail) Attempts, Uncategorized on May 13, 2016 by isabellawolgoth

kalifae

(A quick glossary exists at the end)

The next day…

Li-Li’s chamber was audaciously decorated by a fresco, a fresco featuring the historical teachers of the Meteor-Hand sect at play with strange golden dragons, regal white cranes, and bold tigers.

A cloud of ceremonial incense cloaked Li-Li’s wizened face, making it appear as if she was both permeable and impermeable.

Even this is a teaching, Kailifae said to herself as she meditated, meditated and waited for her sigung to open her spirited eyes and take notice of her. Even this moment changes, even I  change moment by moment, spilling into the–

“–the Jingong,” Li-Li said, eyes snapping open.

“Yes,” Kailifae said, bowing to her teacher, hands clasped, head bowing.

“Jingong doesn’t care who you are or what you want,” Li-Li laughed, “and like these ancestors on the wall behind me, it teaches you all the same.”

“It is as you say, sigung,” Kailifae said, eyes cast to the wooden floor.

“Look at me girl,” Li-Li said, her almond shaped eyes alive with the moment. “What is this attitude you bring to such a holy room?” Li-Li playfully pointed to the ancestors who played immortally with the cranes and tigers on the wall.

“Monks from other temples,” Kailifae confessed, “they doubt your wisdom.”

“They are dried dung on a stick used to measure the poo in an orc’s bedpan. Girl, surely by this stage of training, you know that some temples produce sleeping monks?”

“Yes, sigung,” Kailifae said, hands to her forehead again, bowing again to the wisdom radiating from Li-Li.

“You worry too much for starters,” Li-Li laughed gruffly, hinting at a season at sea as a pirate, “the fates have woven in different notes into this tapestry of life and it confuses you. For instance, the Red Hats train strength in order to make sweeping raids against strongholds only for profit. They rush to mayhem. They trust their muscles to bring them fame and wealth, but yet they sleep…spiritually.”

Kailifae nodded, drunk with the wisdom of her sigung. “They rush,” she said, “and often stumble in their mad pursuits.”

“Yes!” Li-Li nodded, clapping her hands, filling the room with a bang.

Kailifae’s eyes opened wide, startled.

“That is Jingong, girl,” Li-Li admonished, “or did you forget that I do not teach those who sleep?”

“Never, sigung!” Kailifae said, suddenly alive, suddenly aware.

“This is Jingong,” Li-Li nodded, thumbing backwards to the fresco, “you just became more aware than your sect’s ancestors. What do you think of that?”

“I think I like the longbow, sigung. I think I like this Jingong. I think I will slay the foe in spite of the sleeping monks who labor for profit. I think I will be the only one awake.”

“And do you have it? The book I gave you?”

“Yes,” Kailifae said, bringing the book to court.

“Ah, yes. The manual of bow-and-arrow exercise from The Order of Syncletica. Heretical teachings, girl. What were you thinking?”

“You left it in my cell, sigung,” Kailifae giggled.

“Ha! Already you understand,” Li-Li bowed, her hands to her forehead.

“Sigung!” said Kailifae, her cheeks red.

“Understand now?”

“Not exactly,” said Kailifae, her voice a tad daring.

“Jingong is dark exercise, girl. Understand now?”

“No,” Kailfae dared, her elfin ego blooming.

“Then go drink wine, girl. Drink deep from the cup, drink deep in some stinking tavern, and then suddenly, like a tiger, your mind will become a crane. Go!”

Kailife nodded suddenly, getting it, obtaining it–unceremoniously leaving even as she tumbled, tumbled over and over in her mind. To become intoxicated by the idea, by the delicious contrary itself! Was this enlightenment, finally?

——-Glossary———–
Jingong: Quite literally, a Buddha’s Warrior Attendant (or symbolically: a flexible mindset, a mindset both made of gold and inflexible metal).

 

 

 

My kingdom for an arrow!

Posted in MMORPG Fiction (Fail) Attempts, Uncategorized on May 8, 2016 by isabellawolgoth

elvenmonk

*following the narrative you will find a small glossary*

                                       I

Sweat swathed Kailifae’s brow, and exhaustion settled in. But she refused to stop, for to stop the drill would be tantamount to telling Sigung Li-Li that this elf couldn’t hack the training.

Li-Li, sigung of the Meteor-Hand Labyrinth style, glared impassively at Kailifae. The elf was thinking she would be cut from training, cut from the promise of more, cut from a stab at seniority. True, the style Li-Li sigung now presided over favored large shoulders and large fists, it could in theory benefit a slim, emaciated elf monk as well. It had worked for Li-Li, and Li-Li was a mere halfling, a mere tough-as-nails halfling.

“Stop,” Li-Li said, her voice shrill and sharp. “Drink water, then stand on the stumps.”

Kailifae nodded obediently, reserving the frown for herself. She knew what that meant: “the stumps.” Constitution training. Climb up the first pole of sixteen and balance there on one foot, ignoring the ground ten feet below. And while she was hoping to be ordered to stand in the old horse-of-iron posture (feet out to left and right, your bottom  sinking to the ground as if you were riding a horse), Kailifae knew it wouldn’t be that simple.

“White Crane” Li-Li said even as Kailifae turned her head for orders. Kailifae nodded, shifting easily to her left leg while tucking her right foot up and over her left knee in a sweeping posture; simultaneously, her right arm swept up straight, pointing to the sky while her left, straight and rigid, shot out palm first at shoulder level.

Kailifae shivered in the wind.

“Your brothers and sisters tell me you think you are worthless to our lineage,” Li-Li said, “and that you expect to be cut.”

“This is true,” Kailifae said, her brows arching in surprise.

“True, you are no half-orc, and while you move like lightning, your arms are not strong enough to harness all the power of your waist. A shame really, for if you had as much strength as speed, you could be a titan of our lineage…in hand-to-hand combat that is.”

“I am ashamed, sigung.” Kailifae’s voice was firm, but Li-Li knew different.

“And yet you outrun even Kragga, our strongest. What does this tell you?” Li-Li asked.

“That I can be a swift messenger monk?” The reply was dipped in enough sarcasm to make even Li-Li smile…slightly.

“That arrow has already passed me by,” was Li-Li’s formal response that meant Kailifae’s sarcasm was noted, but it had no power. “Stay there for one-hundred breaths, and then climb down. You are to report to your cell for early meditation apart from your brothers and sisters. Meditate there on this problem of yours until I knock.”

“It will be as you say, sigung,” Kailifae said, bolstering her faltering one-legged stance.

Because she felt like punishing herself for not being human or even half-orc, Kailifae stood in the White Crane posture for two hundred breath cycles until she felt like a pair of lungs shivering and sweating on top of the pole–it was the least she could do for her sigung.

And when she did allow herself to dismount, she fell, rounding off into a ball, rolling off the impact diligently like a novice acrobat.

 

Her cell was bare except for a blanket and a bucket of water just like any other monk of their lineage, and that’s what made the book’s presence very odd. She slumped onto her blanket, examining the book’s red cover, running her fingers across the fine parchment.

Instead of meditating like she was ordered, she fell into the strange book, examining the illustrations, admiring the cadence of the words, the strength of their wisdom. Never in her life had heard of such a tome, a tome simply entitled, The Order of Syncletica.


—————
Glossary 
1. Sigung: a classic Chinese title for the elder-father of a style’s lineage, not to be confused with Sijo, creator of the style.

2. Kailifae is a respelling of Cai Li Fo, which we moderns recognize as Choi Li Fut, a southern Chinese kung fu system.

3. The Order of Syncletica: A grand site devoted to monks, especially monks of an elvish flavor. I owe the site big time for bringing me back to DDO.

Author’s Note:
So where have I been for two years?
Working, studying, writing. Never satisfied, I have burned through a few drafts of my proposed novel. It’s in this journal, it’s in that journal over there on the shelf, and it’s up here in my head. Sure, I thought I’d be finished by now, but things change. 75 pages becomes a hundred, and a hundred becomes twenty again.

Will I ever finish this damned thing?
I sure hope so.
Sorry for the absence.