Well, I felt like I needed to write something

So I haven’t been writing much recently, and I’d like to fix that. 1000 word summaries of my day are rather dull though, so tonight I’m just going to try to freewrite for the next ten minutes and see what happens. I don’t do that often enough anyway.

So right now I’m trying to revise poetry, a task that I always assumed would be trivial until I attempted it. Revising prose, though you generally have more content to sift through, is far more difficult in most respects. This poem I have to watch for consonance and assonance between words, ensure that I’m not accidentally establishing a meter that I might break later, check that the lines aren’t too irregular, and make it a suitably over homage to Edgar Allan Poe that people can actually tell what I’m writing about. So far, any small change has myriad repercussions that I don’t expect.

I’m also reading a book by CS Forester right now Mr. Midshipman Hornblower, about a British naval officer during the Napoleonic wars. It’s a fascinating read, and Hemmingway recommends it right on the cover, but most of all it’s made me realize that the initials before your last name thing really works. We have CS Lewis, CS Forester, JK Rowling, JRR Tolkien, George RR Martin, and a whole armada of other authors who have adopted this convention and been successful. I feel like CK Waldon isn’t all that powerful though, I’d rather (I think) just publish under my last name and forget the rest.

On my desk is a calculator that I had to buy for senior year of high school. From ninth grade onward I’d had a really expensive, fancy TI-Nspire calculator, but in the eleventh grade I walked around with it in my back pocket and a rained a little bit. Not a ton, but it got wet and I made the mistake of trying to turn it on. After that it just stopped working and now I use the smaller (but nice because it can do calculus) TI-84 Plus. The plate covering the keys is blue even though the rest of the calculator is grey because I swapped it  with my high school friend’s plate and never gave hers back. I’m not sure that Lizzy even remembers that I have it… hehehe

Wow, freewriting is far harder than I remember it being, although perhaps having no kind of prompt whatsoever contributes to that. In any event, my time is done and I’m gonna go to bed, I think. Farewell world.

Another 1000 Words

I’ve committed to this whole writing 1000 words a day thing, but honestly tonight my heart isn’t in it. As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been reading an excellent novel by Patrick Rothfuss (The Wise Man’s Fear). I’ve made a ton of progress in it today, pleasure-reading is a glorious and rewarding pursuit, but this has unfortunately led to a marked apathy towards the usual commitments of my daily life. Fortunately, I have very little work due tomorrow and I have actually managed to take care of it already, so my idleness may not come back to bite me after all. I do feel a little guilty though. I rushed my Shakespeare reading to read modern fantasy. Should the English-major tribunal burn me at stake now?

This morning I woke in an astoundingly sleep-deprived state. I believe I went to sleep at about 1:30am, and I awoke to “Simple and Clean” (Yes, from Kingdom Hearts) with my eyes nearly sealed shut and my hair wrapped around my face like it was attempting to strangle me. My shower helped somewhat, I hadn’t been able to take one for a couple of days, and having clean skin and non-greasy hair is incredibly refreshing. I understand that those of you not in college may find the above confession somewhat revolting, but there are actually days when I feel that the ~30 minutes it would take to wash myself would be better spent asleep or working. Today is an exception, my workload is currently stalking me like a large, African cat, waiting to ambush me at a later point this week.

I ended up running somewhat late to my usual Monday-morning appointment with my friends Adam, Crews, and Colleen. By the time I got to our usual meeting spot (a coffeeshop), Crew and Colleen were gone, but Adam came late so we still met up before Russian. The coffeeshop was tragically out of my usual pumpkin-muffin morning pastry, and I was forced to purchase a blueberry bagel from the nearby lunch place. Whilst I love bagels, this particular shop sells questionably aged, rather stale bagels, whose negative qualities are not entirely offset by strawberry cream cheese.

I just had a terrifying thought. My Russian teacher wants everyone in the class to redo an assignment (I’ve done it already, this is just annoying) as soon as possible, and I forgot to attend to it today. It’s not even something I can do from my room. She wants us to video-record ourselves reading a dialogue from our textbook on specific computers in the computer lab. The problem is, her English isn’t sufficiently good to explain how we are supposed to save the files on the computer. I feel that I am fairly technically competent, but I had no idea what she was talking about. Hopefully it will make sense when I’m actually there.

I also have Theoretical Computer Science on Mondays, but the events of that class aren’t worthy of much narrative. I learned some things. There, we’re done here.

After class I was starving, so I went by central dining hall to catch lunch. As the swell of lunchgoing students swirled around me, I was reminded of yet another essay from The Writer’s Digest Handbook of Short Story Writing by Thomas H. Uzzell. One point that he raised that I found especially poignant was that many writers fail because they are  not sufficiently interested in life. If you don’t really care about people, you will never capture them and your writing will fall short of where it can go. In the midst of that press of people I actively tried to capture details about them, to see how much of their lives I could penetrate by examining them closely.

There was a man working behind the sushi bar of Native American descent. He wore a spotless red chef’s shirt with its prim double-rows of buttons, and keys hung off the belt loop of his jeans. His face struck me as that of a jovial man in his mid-thirties, but the ghost of the laughter I glimpsed on his face was restrained by his uniform.

Another student marked herself by the contents of her backpack. The two pouches on the sides held a polka-dotted, collapsible umbrella and a scratched, floral steel waterbottle. The pack itself was a purple plaid mixed with pink and gold. The north face logo marked it as expensive, and the conspicuous white lettering spelling out “Isabella” make me suspect I may know her name.

There was also a girl with a white phone case that gave her smartphone ears and a small crown. It makes me wonder what the case is a reference to, if anything. The cartoon-y style of it reminds me of something from my childhood, but it’s hovering in the periphery of my mind, allowing its presence to be felt but not for its shape to discerned.

After lunch I returned to “the Lair” (as we style our suite) and read Rothfuss for a couple of delightful hours. Then I met Adam for the meal known to Hobbits as “afternoon tea”. We returned to my room, watched an excellent (and creepy) short film called “The Maker“, and discussed my latest short story. We were just finishing regressing into our childhood (watching recent episodes of The Legend of Korra) when I had to dash off to work.

Work was uneventful, and I returned to my room only to be immediately caught up in a discussion of my housing for the next semester. My suite and I are currently seeking to rent a house or apartment, possibly as early as next semester, although definitely by next fall. In an almost-worrysome display of enthusiasm, my entire suite is throwing its energy into the hunt for a suitable space and the procurement of the funds to use it. I think I’ll miss living on campus, but only a little. The idea of having a more private space is ever-more appealing as I realize how little interaction I have with my neighbors anyway.

As I’m sure you can tell, I didn’t have much energy for writing tonight, and this is all rather forced. It is, mercifully, now over. Thanks to those who suffered through and read this drivel. I now return my attention to my companion for the night: Rothfuss.

1000 Words About My Day, The First Of Many

Dear readers, if indeed any remain to me, I’m sorry that I have been away from the keyboard for so long. In truth, I have been writing plenty, but, as it has been predominantly classwork, I have chosen not to publish it online. I am now in two writing classes and a literature class, and it is only with the accumulated determination of a writer watching his peers excel him (for his want of constant practice) that I have been able to force myself to return to this blog. As I am now struggling to come up with a short story that I find interesting, I have taken a leaf out of Thomas H. Uzzell’s book (“How To Get Story Ideas”, published as part of The Writer’s Digest Handbook of Short Story Writing, Volume I) and have decided to spend some time writing 1000 words about the interesting events of my day, every day. Now that I’m done with this ridiculously formal and over-written introduction (I’ve been reading far too much Alexandre Dumas), let’s give this a shot:

Today started innocuously enough. My little sister roused me from the awkward sleeping position that I adopt on the small twin bed at home (my feet hang off if I try to sleep normally) to say that lunch was ready. Not having eaten breakfast, this has somewhat thrown off my eating habits for the day. I finished a surrogate breakfast (cereal without milk) at about 8:30pm. Lunch was leftover chicken-pot-pie, a dish that my mother learned from whatever ancient deity governed the art of cooking. I would rather eat this pie of vegetables (why is that so difficult to spell?) than an actual pie filled with cherries or pulped pumpkin and spice.

When I was younger I remember that I constantly misheard my mother when she said the name of this particular dish. Rather than “pot”, I heard “pop”. While this may, to you, seem an odd thing to call such a dish, it made perfect since in my mind. Whenever you microwaved “chicken pop-pie”, the chunks of chicken would often rapidly split as they heated with a peculiar popping sound. As I was unaware that any chicken would do that when microwaved, it seemed totally reasonable to assume that the special preparation of the dish granted this magical property to the poultry.

After lunch I spent most of my time packing, grabbing the various items I had forgotten when I first came to Boone this semester: Quidditch Uniform, dress shirts, ties, extra clothes-hangars, that sort of thing. After loading all that into the car along with a generous package of food provided by my mother, I had little to do but sit and read until the bread my father was baking was done.

This situation was remarkably pleasant for two reasons: Firstly, I have not pleasure-read in nearly a month, as I was writing a short story and didn’t want my ideas polluted by the uncomfortably relevant subject matter of the novel at hand, and secondly because my father bakes absolutely the best bread on the planet, and I haven’t eaten it in months. So I sat at the kitchen table, in the midst of the usual Sunday-afternoon Waldon Family bustle, reading as the smell of dad’s bread permeated the air. It was glorious. Also I was reading Patrick Rothfuss, a remarkably talented writer whom I would recommend to any fantasy enthusiast I know, and his delectable prose augmented the pleasure of the moment all the more.

When the bread finally cooled, I bid each family member farewell and galavanted across the county to where my friend Jesse awaited his ride back to Boone. We set out, stopping almost immediately to refill my car’s fuel tank and to furnish the caffeine that would fuel us for the next 3.5 hours. To our great delight, the Monster “Import” energy drink was available.

As an aside, to further both your understanding of my strange lifestyle and my word count, allow me to explain our relationship with Monster and its various species. Since middle school, our go-to source of caffeine has been Monster. While I suppose it tastes unpleasant when you first try it, I can no longer recall the sensation. Like coffee and alcohol, it is an acquired taste, a flavor that–for me–is inextricably associated with hilarity, lack of sleep, and my best friends. When Jesse and I began our commute to and from Boone, it was the natural choice to keep up conscious for the incredibly dull drive.

The significance of the species name “Import” attached to the genus of “Monster” is that the can is easily resealable. Contrary to intuition, Monster Import contains the exact same made-in-America fluid as the normal variety. Rather, due to some strange international patent law, the can is imported from the Netherlands. Why bother to import the can? The lid contains an ingenious screw-based device that reseals the can completely, but that only requires one finger to operate. This design makes it the optimal can while driving, as I can open it, drink, and close it without taking a hand off of the wheel.

After making the landfall discovery of imported cans, we set out for Boone, listening to an excellent recording of The Count of Monte Cristo (put out by USF in their LIt2Go program, available on iTunes). This isn’t the first trip we’ve listened to the book, but rather the most recent of dozens. While iTunes currently seems to lack an easy tallying method of the total length of the book, I suspect it’s nearly 100 hours of audio, and thus Jesse and I feel accomplished to have made it to chapter 93/117 in a year and a half of commuting.

We reached some excellent points in the narrative today, I literally saw Jesse’s jaw drop out of the corner of my eye during a particularly well-crafted twist. I think it’s a great credit to Dumas that 150 years after he wrote, we still enjoy the power of his writing. I must admit, though, that the style in which I am writing (full of prepositions and complex sentences) is borrowed, as it is what I have listened to for several hours. I imagine sleep will purge it from my system, so that tomorrow I write in a more modern, and hopefully less complex, style.

Tonight was a string of unpackings: clothes, food, computer, friends, and books. After that I just picked through the food I brought with me for a dinner substitute and began reading The Handbook of Short Story Writing mentioned above for ideas about my next short story. I had hoped to read some more Patrick Rothfuss after finishing this post, but it’s already past 1 in the morning and I have an appointment at 9 with a good friend. I also just realized that WordPress thinks I’m in the wrong time zone, as it is 2 hours behind me, but that matters little.

My roommate is abed, and I suspect that my incessant typing isn’t helping sleep to arrive, so I think I shall leave the tale of today here. Hopefully I’ll be able to summon the gumption to attempt this task tomorrow. Farewell.

Backtracking

Amazing how easy it is to fall into old habits without realizing it. I started working on a short story today, and I was having a pretty hard time getting words out onto paper. I struggled, revised sentences in my head, and ended up getting only about 300 words down. Disappointing. I felt tired, and I was about to go to bed when I realized what had happened.

I was trying to write quality on the first go. Stupid, stupid me. I’ve spent an entire semester learning not to do that, learning about how freeing it can be to write without worrying about quality at first, and then to revise until you reach what you want (which is never, but I’ll go ahead and digress on that one). I’ll take another stab at it tomorrow morning and see if I can do better, by which I mean vomit my thoughts onto the page. Better here is definitely quantitative.

For those of you aware of it, this short story is a part of “The Solipsist”. I’ve finally started working on it in a semi-serious fashion, so we’ll see where it goes. For those of you who don’t know, I’m exploring a simple question that I find quite profound:

What would you do if you realized you were a figment of someone else’s imagination?

Short post today, but I want to get to bed. Just had to share something, it’s been too long since I’ve written here.

Home

So I’ve returned to Wake Forest. In fact, I’ve been here for over a week now. This past week, from Saturday to tonight, I was home alone. It was a learning experience, let me tell you.

Firstly, I learned just how much time it takes to perform routine maintenance of a house. Just keeping rooms livable and the kitchen clean was difficult. On top of that I cooked for myself and cleaned the kitchen after every time. I watered mon and dad’s plants while they were gone. I reorganized after every one of the friends that I had over moved things around.

It’s not that I had slobs over or anything, we all used a lot of books and reshelving them took quite a while. Cleaning up after the various nerf gun wars was also quite time-consuming. Basically I appreciate how much work mom puts into fighting entropy.

A few cool things happened this week. I got to try the next edition of D&D out, and had a blast with it. I watched Shutter Island for the first time (I thought it was well done, but not sure how much I liked it… I guess I’m just very confused.) I also learned how high my cost of living is. Every since I got that ticket that I believe I mentioned in a previous post, my finances have been shot. I’ve sold things left and right to attempt to raise the $218 dollars that I lack while also not bankrupting myself (still have to pay for gas, sigh). I’ve only managed to come up with $50 so far, but perhaps inspiration will strike. I also watched 1 and 1/2 seasons of Breaking Bad. I can see why people like the show so much, although I don’t think I’m addicted yet.

It occurs to me that I haven’t mentioned The One Sock on here before. This is my name for the greatest sock that I have ever knitted, which only 50% exists as of right now. It is the greatest sock both because of the care with which I am knitting it, and because of the yarn that composes it. In Boone there’s a bookstore that also sells very fancy yarn. This sock is a beautiful blue-dyed blend of angora wool and silk. The texture makes me want to cry.

I’m struck by the urge to go work on The One Sock (to rule them all) right now actually, so I’ll have to catch up with the Internet later. Enjoy your summer.

Reciprocal Visitation

So I went out to visit Ben, as detailed in Bryson City, but on Tuesday he counter-visited me back. I had just walked out of my final economics exam when he arrived. We caroused, drank  coffee, ate bagels, played D&D (and rewrote some of the rules in the process) and generally had a great time. We even got to have lunch with someone whose name differs from Ben’s by one letter. Sadly I can’t describe their name difference, as I don’t trust you (speaking to the internet as a whole) not to stalk them. Ah well.

Ben and I watched Hannibal whilst I packed up to leave Boone, and then he returned to the NOC shortly before I left for home. That was my mistake.

On a highway that I take out of Boone, just after you pass beneath the exit for the Blue Ridge Parkway, there’s a 4-mile steep hill. As I was going down this hill I foolishly adopted the idea that (given that maintaining the speed limit there is impossible anyway) I wouldn’t worry about how far over I was and would concentrate on controlling the car and staying in my lane. Unfortunately, I passed a State Trooper whilst thinking in this way.

Being pulled over was interesting. Like with most other high-stress situations, I didn’t actually feel any emotion whatsoever. I don’t know why that happens, but all of my strong emotional reactions to anything are delayed by a few hours. The Trooper was kind and more than just. I was ticketed for 15 over in a 55, less than he clocked me at. I’ll be honest, I didn’t realize how serious speeding tickets were until I got this one. It wasn’t something that I ever really worried about, as I don’t habitually speed. Just my luck.

So now a huge part of my summer wages are going towards paying this off, instead of… well, probably D&D stuff. That and stuff for my new dorm in the fall. I just started eyeballing my possessions with a mind to sell some of them, if I can. I wonder whether any of my old stuff is valuable, I could really use some cashflow right now.

Looks like this is just another scatterbrained post. I just can’t seem to concentrate right now, but I felt like I needed to blog, so here we are. Farewell.

Bryson City

Had another adventure yesterday. One of my best friends from Appalachian, Ben, is a raft guide at a river in the southwest of North Carolina. He invited me to visit him this weekend, and I decided that it would be fun. For context, I really hate driving. Not only that, I really hate driving alone. I especially hate driving alone to places I’ve never been before. This was all of those things, and therefore a large part of me didn’t want to go. I love Ben, but that 3-hour (one way) drive was scary. When I was leaving Boone I discovered that my iPod was dead, and thus I listened to the New River Boys CD that was in my car’s stereo about 7 times over during the course of the drive. I now have all of the lyrics to all of their songs memorized. I was pleasantly surprised by how well googlemaps directed me, and I didn’t really encounter any navigation problems whatsoever.

When I got there Ben bought me a Pineapple & Bacon pizza (the best possible combination) and we journeyed over to staff housing. He tried to introduce me to everyone, but I really can’t remember most of their names (Or faces even) so I won’t even try to relate that part of the trip. Ben and I eventually wound up sitting in his room, drinking V8 and watching episodes of How I Met Your Mother on his laptop. Honestly, it was pretty awesome. I’ve really missed talking to him, especially some of the nerdier stuff that we got into. We had a solid discussion on the philosophy of death and the meaning of life. Ben conked out after a couple episodes, but I didn’t even feel remotely tired, so I watched half of the current season before attempting to get any sleep. Sadly, it was only an attempt. I was too cold and had no pillow. Either one of these things might not have kept me awake, but the combination was devastating to entering any kind of tranquil state of mind.

Eventually I got up to turn off the fan in the room, hoping to make it feel warmer, and (klutz that I am) knocked the fan off of its shelf onto the floor. Of course, this woke Ben up and I felt terrible about it. Then I laid back down and tried to sleep. Still couldn’t. At some point my phone alarm went off and woke Ben up. I turned it off and returned to bed, where Ben offered me the sleeping bag that he had been using as a pillow. It was glorious. I was actually somewhat warm and I managed to improvise a pillow. I think I slept for 2 hours, and then it was time for Ben to go to work.

We drove back to the rafting center, ate chicken biscuits, and bought me a really awesome camping headlamp. Then Ben went to work and I sat down to read The Two Towers until he got back. While I was reading a professor from a well-known college asked about it and about what I am studying at Appalachian. Turns out he’s a professor of English at said university (I’d heard of it, but it’s name escapes me currently). We had a pretty cool conversation, earning me (I think) his stamp of English-major approval.

I went to the restaurant by the riverside and sat at the bar. I’ve never really eaten at a bar before, so there was a certain learning curve. For instance, I didn’t realize that I could just flag down one of the people on the other side of the counter and order food from them. I assumed that they only served drinks. I did have a cool talk with Hanna behind the bar when I did figure out how to order food though. (I felt like such an idiot… I can’t even adequately describe it.) The food was pretty good, and I left feeling like the world was a happy, friendly place. Hours later I discovered that I’d stolen the pen I signed my receipt with, making Hanna’s day much harder. (I did return it though, and she was pretty happy about it.)

Got to see Ben again briefly between his two “shifts,” but he had to go and wouldn’t be back from the river until after I had to leave. I didn’t really want to go, but there was little choice. Grabbing some caffeine to help with the raging headache that (inexplicably) had been assaulting me since lunch, I hopped in the car and made the 3-hour commute back, singing along with the New River Boys to keep myself awake. Surprisingly, even with my 2 hours of sleep, I didn’t really feel tired until I got back into my room. It’s depressing to think that I probably won’t see Ben again until August, but I’m just going to pretend I don’t know that.

Instead I’m going to focus on studying for my microeconomics exam and try not to think about how much easier it would be if he could be here to help explain it to me… sigh.

The Legend of Karl, Part the Second

If you haven’t read Part the First, please do so before proceeding. Otherwise, this will make no sense.

The group, known by the immortal moniker “The Charismatic Waffles,” adventured for weeks, slowly uncovering a dire plot to release the minions of the Demon Lord Orcus into the world via a strange ritual in the bottom of the ruins of an ancient keep. There, as they battled the leader of the local cult, they were joined by a mysterious half-orc named Lark. Lark fought alongside the party, helping them to bring down the scheme of the cultists, and joined their party from that point forward.

Here I stepped down as Dungeon Master, replaced by my friend Michael. As we swapped roles, I took him into a side room and revealed to him the secret of Lark: He was missing his left pinkie finger. Karl had not been idle during his time away from the party. He honed his skills in illusion and conjuration magic until he could construct the fake body of Lark to disguise himself amid the party.

The party travelled alongside Lark for months of real-time, years within the world of the game. They gained levels, saved one another’s lives, and swapped magical items. Every once and a while they would receive a threatening message from Karl, promising to make Quarion pay for his torment, and their fear of Karl slowly grew. When we finally came to the conclusion of Michael’s campaign, the party foiled an ancient wizard’s spirit as he was about to use the power of an unlimited wish locked within an ancient staff. The battle was easy, over before some of the party even had a chance to move. Everyone started in surprise when the wizard crumpled to the ground. It may have been the most anticlimactic moment in D&D history.

Casually, Lark moved to pick up the staff. None of the party thought anything of it, looting corpses was standard procedure. But they were all confused when Lark began to laugh. Their confusion doubled as his body began to shrink, slowly coming to resemble the hideously scarred form of a terribly familiar Kobold: Karl.

The majority of the party (everyone other than Quarion) sprinted out of the chamber and back along the hallway leading into it, leaving the ranger to face the Kobold alone.

Quarion was decapitated by a thrown greataxe. Afterwords his body and soul were seared into oblivion with summoned hellfire, so that he could never be raised from the dead. After ensuring the eternal annihilation of his greatest foe, Karl turned his attention to the rest of the party. With Quarion dead they were sneaking back into the room, hoping to take Karl unawares. Unfortunately, they couldn’t be stealthy enough to escape his notice, it was mathematically impossible.

A truly epic battle ensued, the true “boss-fight” that they had all been expecting, and the loss of Quarion was devastating to their offense. After finally weakening Karl to the brink of death, they all groaned when he used a magic item that they had helped him to acquire to restore himself to full fighting-fitness. Defeating him a second time was even harder, as they had exhausted their repertoire of advanced tactics and abilities while trying to kill him the first time. They did, eventually, succeed in again bringing him to the point of death.

Clutching the wizard’s staff with the last of his strength, Karl wished himself to become a god. The party, horrified, watched as a blinding pillar of radiance smote the ceiling, clearing a path between Karl and the heavens. He disappeared in a blinding flash of light, leaving behind the expended staff and the axe that had slain Quarion. The party expected him to descend any moment as a virtually omnipotent foe, and Karl fully intended to fulfill their expectations, but as he willed his new and imperishable body back towards the mortal world he was stopped by Bahamut, the Lawful Good deity of Justice. Bahamut warned Karl that it was forbidden for the gods to directly intervene in the mortal world. They were bound by an oath made to the Spirits of the World in the aftermath of the Dawn War, and Karl was now charged to keep to the oath. He could only act on the material world through mortals bound to his service. Enraged, Karl eventually yielded and began establishing his identity among the pantheon: god of vengeance, patron of the tortured and oppressed. Even as he shaped his own realm within the astral sea he watched the Charismatic Waffles, forever hoping that they would be foolish enough to venture into the Astral Sea where such petty oaths did not bind him.

Eventually the adventuring group known as the Charismatic Waffles disbanded, and its members lived fairly generic lives (at least for heroes) from then onwards. None of them ever entered the Astral Sea, and Karl had the hollow pleasure of watching age claim each of them over the course of several centuries.

The worship of Karl spread among the peoples of the world, obscure but not hated. The defender of the tortured was respected by nearly all faiths of the world, and his penchant for vengeance was forgiven because of the many innocent lives that his followers rescued from torment.

Slowly the world grew accustomed to this addition to their pantheon, and the status quo returned to a new equilibrium. It was believed that Karl was here to stay, that he was just as unassailable as the other gods, until the discovery of Quarion’s Tomb…

 

The Legend of Karl, Part the First

I have tried to tell this story many times, in many different genres. Each time, be it essay, facebook post, or oral recitation, I have felt like the story was incomplete. It’s hard to capture an event in words, and especially an event that occurred only in the imaginations of 7 people sitting around a pingpong table playing the D&D 4e starter adventure entitled “Keep on the Shadowfell.”

October 9th, 2010:

A group of total novices to the game Dungeons & Dragons gather for the second time around an improvised table surface in Jesse’s attic. I have been elected to be the Dungeon Master, and have half-heartedly scanned the campaign that I’m supposed to be running. I thought that I got the gist of it, and that was all that seemed important to me. The characters started on a road and were ambushed by a group of Kobolds (short lizard-men). It was only our second time in combat, and it took quite a while to look up the rules that we didn’t know (to this day we’re still finding basic rules that we’ve been breaking for years, so we clearly didn’t do a very good job). The battle took a long time, and I believe we set the forest on fire, causing devastation to the local ecosystem and the nearby village’s economy.

After the fight the party went to the local town, made their first shoddy attempts at role-playing their characters (to be fair, none of us really got good at this for a few months), and bought some items. They then resolved to track down the Kobolds to their home to discover why the ambush  had been set in the first place.

The Kobolds operated out of a cave, with a spring flowing from its center into a wide stream through the woods. When the arrived outside of the cave a number of Kobolds were stationed without as guards. Notably, a Kobold wielding a short sword and a shield with the emblem of a dragon’s head on it stood within a circle of glowing blue runes to one side. Statistically this Kobold was a normal Kobold Dragonshield, a level 3 enemy, but because he was the only one of his kind and because he stood within the circle of runes the party attributed special significance to him. (The runes simply gave anyone standing inside of them some trivial combat bonus.)  The battle was hard-fought, especially because one of the party was knocked unconscious and very nearly dragged away, but eventually the party triumphed over both the Kobolds outside of and within the cave. Within the cave they fought a Goblin named Irontooth, the leader of the Kobolds and the true reason that the party was ambushed. They got what information that they could off of Irontooth’s dead corpse, and then returned to the one prisoner that they had taken: the Kobold Dragonshield from outside of the cave.

They tied him up and began to question him. Jesse’s character, an elven ranger name Quarion, took the lead role in this inquisition.

“What is your name, Kobold?”

At this point I realized that I didn’t have a name from him. Desperate, I used word association: Kobold… starts with k… KARL!

They laughed for a solid three minutes when they discovered that their reptilian prisoner had such an ordinary name. When then finally settled down, the real interrogation began. Quarion drilled their prisoner for information about Irontooth’s master, but Karl legitimately did not know anything. At this time though I was unaware of how Kobolds are typically role-played as sneaky, timid, cowardly creatures, and I made Karl stubborn and defiant. Rather than admitting his ignorance, he refused to answer, prompting Quarion to perform the most gruesome torture that I have ever heard described.

Quarion slit the webbing between Karl’s fingers and toes with an arrow, and poured salt into the wounds so that they burned. He lit rope from his backback on fire and shoved it into Karl’s eyes, scarring his vision. He cut off Karl’s ears (at the time we didn’t realize that Kobolds’s ears are basically holes in their heads anyway), and finally he amputated Karl’s left pinkie finger, also salting that wound.

At this point I’d sat through enough gruesome torture. I felt that the world we were playing in couldn’t allow this to continue and still be considered a remotely just world. On the spot, knowing practically nothing about Kobolds, I invented that thousands of years ago Kobolds were the ruling force of a mighty empire, and empire whose power was founded upon formidable magic. While their power broke and they eventually fell to their current status of pathetic rabble, each Kobold carries within himself the potential to tap into that legacy and awake the ancient arcane might of their race. The sheer trauma of Karl’s torment caused just such an awakening, the first of its kind in thousands of years.

The ropes binding Karl ignited and disintegrated. With blinding green light shining out of his eyes he struck at Quarion with his good hand, clawing him across the chest through the leather armor that protected the ranger. His wound left three parallel claw marks, and a curse. When Quarion was healed of his wounds the three scars still burned green, filling him with debilitating pain whenever he smelled blood so that he could never torture a living being again.

As Quarion reeled from this blow, Karl leapt into the stream and disappeared.

The party didn’t hear from him again for a long time, but nobody laughed at the name “Karl the Kobold” anymore, especially when Quarion collapsed to the ground at the scent of his own blood.

Part the Second

Attempt #2

I tried to blog earlier, but it may have been the most scatterbrained that my writing has ever been, so I think I’ll spare you from it and start afresh. Today has been a pretty easy day. My English class was only a ten-minute conference with my professor, and we had a half-day in economics. On top of that I received a phone call from a dear friend. Sure, he may have called during class while my phone wasn’t silenced, but I’m very glad that he did. I may have a chance to see him next week! I also got a text from my future roommate, Luke, indicating that we may be able to hang out in the near future, anther exciting prospect.

Overall today I’ve been taking stock of my connections to other people. I scroll through my list of online facebook friends and see 16 people that I’d like to talk to, but there’s no way that I can possibly juggle that many conversations at once, so I end up not talking to any of them.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the next month or so, specifically. I finish summer session next week, and after that I have a brief respite at hom before plunging into the intimidating depths of Russian Camp. While the camp is happening here at AppState, there will be a great many high school students in attendance. I suspect that it will end up being a painfully controlled environment, the kind of perpetually chaperoned silliness that I haven’t had to deal with for a year. I’m not sure I’ll be able to handle it gracefully. That’s where the above-mentioned connections come in. I’ve really been speculating as to whether/how I might leverage the people that I know to get out of the restrictions imposed upon the high school students in attendance. Not to perform any flagrant abuse of privilege or anything, but to spend time with friends living elsewhere in Boone. A recently-acquired friend may run a D&D campaign during that time, and I’d like to be able to leave on weeknights and attend. Sigh…

I’m basing my fears about this camp on an email that they sent out with the acceptance notifications. It mentioned everyone having to turn their car keys in for the duration of the camp. Sorry, but that’s worryingly intrusive to me, and there’s little chance of that happening. If I can find any way around it, I will.

I also just got to talk to a friend in France for a while, and it was refreshing to nerd out about writing and books. I didn’t realize how much I missed such conversation.

Goodnight Internet, I’m done writing for now.