The cold Siberian wind whistled softly through the cliffside. It flicked off snowcaps and grey-bristled rocks, swirling tufts of snow around and around and around in lazy circles, before finally diving in a whoosh down the mountain. On its descent it lifted the blonde hairs of a traveler pushing her black boots forward against the snowdrifts. She was completely alone in the expanse of white. The wind paused around this figure, gently pushing against her thick snow jacket but finding every crevice tightly packed against the cold. The wind moved on. Nature does not often care one way or another about anything, and this was no exception. To the wind, the woman was just another speck against the snow. It flowed one last time by her cheek before disappearing into the winter. The woman shivered. Her breath collected out into wisps of steam in the freezing air as she trudged through the snow. In one gloved hand she clutched a curious black instrument with a circular face, which she would look down to glance at every so often. At her hip, a small radio sputtered and spit. She ignored it and casted her eyes forward in a determined stare. She had been trekking through the Siberian snow all day, but showed no sign of slowing now. "67, 94. 67, 94. 67, 94," she whispered, repeating the numbers over and over to herself. Miles away, two men on black ATV's split through the snow. The drone of their engines bounced off the mountains.
Things changed after the war. Cassandra, like the rest of the inhabitants of this godforsaken country in the midst of the northern sea, assumed that the peace would be a good thing. Civil wars were hardly pretty, much less when families were torn, brothers and sisters fighting to the death over stupid issues, over bloodlines and property rights. The whole war was a stupid venture started by stupid people, and during every minute of those six blasted years, she wished that the arrows and the swords and all of the pointless shouting would just stop already. Some wish that was. With a sigh, Cassandra looks over the dreary tavern interior one more time, as if hoping something new has sprung up in the last five minutes. She's only been here an hour, but it feels like an eternity. This place had been so promising from the outside... When she had first peered into the dingy windows and tasted the air of hopelessness that pervaded every inch of the place, she'd thought that her year-long search was finally over. It should be perfect. There are unsavory characters, wandering drunks, furniture that threatens to break every time someone dares to move... Hell, she's fairly sure that there's an assassin having an in-depth discussion on the benefits of certain types of fungi based poisons with an apprentice in the corner. But it's all the same as the other places; tropes and clichés. She stares into her empty mug of mead, swirling around the last drops of the stuff as if it will reveal some great truth to her. It's such a shame that this isn't the place. This inn is the only establishment in this damned country that doesn't have booze that tastes of swill.
Azarias realizes a moment too late that he has made a very grave mistake. As a man who has become an expert at dodging whatever consequences could come his way, this problem leaves him puzzled. His beloved angry at him for eyeing a stranger? A beguiling smile and an offering of sweet clover would ease her temper. That one time he accidentally angered a Minotaur at the past summer festival? Easily fixed with a round of beer. But this... His hooves clack nervously against the rough cellar floor as he considers the bottle before him. In his hand is his master's most prized possession: a bottle of Agiorgitiko. To the undiscerning eye, it doesn't seem to be anything special. But Azarias knows the labor behind it. The finest grapes under the warm Grecian sun were handpicked, stamped by the feet of only the prettiest maidens of the land, and fermented in a barrel of oak crafted from trees blessed by Demeter herself. Gods, Azarias remembers how it had tasted straight from the barrel, how the lush hints of blackberries and spices had enthralled his senses. He tends to wax poetic about any wine he tastes, but this elixir had filled him with such frenzied inspiration that as soon as his shift was finished, he had written sonnet after sonnet as if his pen was fueled by the muses themselves. How could he have resisted another taste?
The Time Traveler series by Umamor Hunter tells the tale of Marianne Spelling, a time traveling Chicago teen finding herself in a magical realm of ancient Scotland. Chapter One can be found here. ***** The five of us went south a few hours after I finished my Skype call with Susan. I had finally managed to get some sleep, sprawled out on the couch no less, but even a few hours gave me nightmares that would have me wake up suddenly within minutes. The trouble was, I couldn't even remember what they were half the time. It was a cross somewhere between something dealing with dragons and fairies, and all I remembered in detail was my grandfather was there overlooking a cliff. He was trying to tell me something important, but I couldn't remember what it was. It was weird and I didn't like weird.
[Editor's note: The following is a story project started in the summer of 2003. Co-authored primarily by myself and a college friend as a way to keep ourselves writing over summer break, it sat unfinished for twelve years before the story came up in conversation with an anonymous third friend this past summer, who then read what we'd done and said "Ah! I know EXACTLY what happens next!" and then proceeded to finish it out. What I present here is the story, in full. It's been edited slightly from the original and had the ending added, but the original dialogue and flow is largely intact. If nothing else, it shows the friend-fic hobby goes back a lot farther than RCM - the Kat and Tim mentioned are real people, she really was obsessed with Ewan McGregor's Obi-Wan, and the argument at the beginning of the story was real (although the real life argument ended more or less with "Well, you can't be an Ewok because it's not a listed character class" being retorted with "That sounds to me like as a GM you just aren't up to adapting to the story"). I hope you get as much entertainment reading it as we did writing it.
The Time Traveler series by Umamor Hunter tells the tale of Marianne Spelling, a time traveling Chicago teen finding herself in a magical realm of ancient Scotland. Chapter One: Tying Up Loose Ends It was summer vacation the year I started high school that we heard the terrible news. Before I knew it, my family and I were aboard an eight hour British Airways flight to somewhere in Scotland.
Mary and the Second Dragon, a tale by Umamor Hunter, is one of a series of stories about a time-traveler finding herself in a magical realm of ancient Scotland. Near the mountain was Arumdas's cave, but just beyond that there was the forest that I almost ran into on my first day here. Catherine had told me that for most people it was certain death to venture into the wooded thicket that was known to house all kinds of the supernatural, but then again I also wasn't most people. Sometimes I'd walk in there, just to listen to the trees and the wind blow through them. I was hoping I'd run into some fairies or at least a ley line to make contact. Finding a way to end the war between Onin, the dragons, and humans seemed to revolve around the Sidhe. Weird things did happen in the forest though. I didn't need to be under the tutelage of a dragon to know that, but at least the lessons helped me defend myself if I ever needed it. Unfortunately I also happened to be in the middle of what I called "weird things." Whether it was because of bad luck or not, I was an anomaly and an attractant, and it was annoying.
What follows is an original short story written by Baron von Gosu. Wake up. Reluctantly he opened his eyes. He was right, nothing had changed. The cage door was still closed, the stench of hundreds of others still clung to him no matter how he buried his nose in his arms, and the constant jabbering of his neighbors was still loud as all get out. The dishes in the far corner of his cage were still empty and would be until the short fat man returned at some point later in the day. He yawned and curled back up into a ball preparing to go back to sleep when the big door burst open.