Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Writing Challenge 2 is now complete

One more done.. Quite enjoyed writing this one, liked the character even if he's a bit of a bastard :)

Just a note though about the next challenge, the theme is done (I'll post it tomorrow if I remember) but this week has been busy with me doing NFL Draft research (I geek out majorly over it every year) and I'm on holiday next week so will be busy toddling off to random places with the other half, I'll try to write it up but no promises.

The challenge though for was as follows

The theme of this story: epic quest. The main character: ambitious murderer. The start of the story: journey. The end of the story: smuggling.

And this is the end result..'Enjoy'


Kurz sat on a log staring absent mindedly into the flames. Oh what a fine tale this would have been he thought as he looked at his fallen companions - John the priest, Louella, Brandon and Jugati lay motionless. It was only a days trek to the city where they could have sold the Lich Gem for a kings ransom. Jugati and Louella had set off with two other companions a few years prior to look for a gem and over the months into years the group had changed. Friends had fallen, some had left in the night and others retired to  a whore house or tavern. Kurz had been hired a year ago, back then he was on the run from the Robed Storm and when they learned about his skill in picking locks he was brought on board for 10% of the sale of the Lich Gem. But now they lay dead, scattered in the forest, one day away from riches, the end of an epic journey. Kurz looked up as the sun began to rise and daylight started breaking through the darkness, it was time to move on thought, the Gem wouldn't sell itself. Standing up, Kurz the Dworn wiped his bloodied blade on Jugati, had one final rummage in the companions’ pockets for any coin he'd missed and set off back to the road for the city and his riches.

The road was paved this close to the city of Dit Mere and Kurz stopped by a small stream running along the side, splashing cold water over his scarred and stubbled face. Half Orc - Half Dwarves weren't appealing to Dwarves or Orcs and it was rare for one to survive past infancy but Kurz had a knack for surviving. His mother had called him a curse on her and the name had stuck, she tried to love him but it only went so far for a child that made her an outcast. She had died when he was young and since then he had brought himself up, before moving to the city where he drifted between jobs, guilds and taverns until he found himself here.

Dworn were blessed by an unworldly constitution, able to survive in the harshest of climates, under the most extremes of stress and pain they always emerged stronger and more bitter towards the world. Persecuted and hunted from town to town, hated by all they met it was a solitary life, those that survived into adulthood often became mercenaries or bounty hunters hunting those that would cast them out.

It was past midday when Kurz reached the city gates, he was able to make good pace on the roads, needing little to drink or eat as he focussed on getting to the city, only when he came to a halt at the gates did he realise he needed a drink. Taking a water skin out he took a long drink before pouring the rest of it over his shaven head. His head was covered in lumps and scars, wounds from countless battles,he had small tusks, much shorter than a common or hill Orc would have, rough stubble covered his chin, he would never get a full Dwarven beard but Dworn could grow them out to try to cover the face if they wanted to hide themselves more. His skin was was a leathery brown, a combination of the dark Orc skin, the pale Dwarven skin and years living in every climate known.

He noticed the local stables as he entered the city, the stable master and a young child looked over at him as he made his way in, the thatched roof of the house stretched and covered the stable itself, twelve horses stood in the stable including ten pure white mares, the sign of a Whiteblade presence in the city.

Dit Mere was an ancient city within the lands of Bruto, built hundreds of years ago upon the ruins of a long forgotten town. Streets winded and would suddenly stop and alleyways would loop around leading back onto themselves with no reason. One thing that stood Dit Mere out from other cities in the region however was the merchants. Being on the coast Dit Mere was a central trading port for different kingdoms, from the Gul to the North, to the Six Cities far across the ocean and south the Valun Khur, the Snakeman kingdom. Kurz knew that there would be merchants here but to get a good price he needed to find a specialist.

After an hour of walking through the city and asking locals Kurz eventually found his way to the Diamond District; a series of merchants all tightly packed together dealing in various gems and jewels. Kurz took the gem out the pouch, rubbed it on his jerkin and walked into the first shop.

Kurz could smell perfumed air as he walked into the shop, he passed two Automatons at the entrance that were on an eternal silent vigil. Kurz felt the tension in the air as patrons, all richly dressed stared at him, as he went  to the counter where an old man looked at him.

"We do not serve your kind here not leave before the Automatons force you out" the old man croaked

"I have an item of interest to you" Kurz brought out the gem showing it to the merchant

The old man coughed and quietly spoke "You either stole this or found it. What ever one it was you do not own it and I will not buy it and neither will anyone else in this city."

"This is worth a fortune!" Kurz hissed under his breath

The merchant spoke quietly and drew in closer to Kurz "And this is a Lich Gem and the Whiteblades will execute anyone that owns one and keep it for themselves"

"There must be a buyer somewhere!" Kurz replied

"I can arrange something for you. Go to the Sharksfin tavern tonight, I will send someone to you by dusk with an offer. Now go and do not be seen with that gem and do not draw any more attention to yourself half breed" the merchant whispered

Kurz stepped back, pocketed the gem and seeing the richly painted faces stare at him made his exit as he heard the old merchant claim he knew how to handle half breeds fine.

The tavern was thick with smoke and Kurz sat back on a chair, at least here nobody cared what he was and he drank from the mug of ale on the desk. He looked around and inhaled his pipe weed and thought over the day. He had tried other merchants in the diamond district but none of them would accept the Lich Gem despite his best efforts. He was blunt and straight forward, not used to buttering up merchants but even he was disheartened at the lack of interest. His ambition, his goal of living the life of a fat, drunk, spoilt Dworn had come crashing down and he had fallen back on the first option, the old merchant in the first store.

As the day darkened and the night came in Kurz drank and smoked. Close to midnight a hooded figure moved closer to the table and sat down beside Kurz, instinct made him place his hand at his side, ready to pull the black blade out at any moment before he recognised the old merchant beneath the hood.

"Give me good news or leave me be" said Kurz

"I have a buyer for you if that counts as good news" replied the merchant with a sly smile on his face "However.." the merchant quickly added "The buyer is not here. But in Valun Khur lands"

Kurz took two large mouthfuls of ale and a puff of his pipeweed and sat forward, his face directly at the merchants

"Why?" he asked

"You have a Lich Gem, half the city knows about it now, the Whiteblades are looking for a Dworn that has arrived in the city. And might I add on the the same day he arrives there are four murders on the Broken Way. You can either hold out for a better offer or you can get out this city and get somewhere that will buy it" the merchant replied

"The Valun Khur are at war with the Bruto, what would they want with a Lich Gem?" questioned Kurz

"You know very little of the power of these but there is a buyer. Ten thousand gold scales they offer" said the merchant

Kurz converted the offer in his head, it wasn't ideal but right now it was better than being put to the axe "It seems I don't have much of a choice right now" sighed Kurz as he realised the gravity of the situation “Who and where?”

“Can you read common asked the merchant and Kurz nodded.

The merchant stood up and passed over a parchment with the details on it before leavingquickly. Kurz finished his pipeweed and signalled for another ale, he sat back and thought the situation over. He would be smuggling both the gem and himself out the city, the Whiteblades would have the city on lock down by now so getting out wouldn't be as easy as he got in.

As the hours went passed Kurz finished off his pipeweed and had drank more than enough ale to knock a man unconscious for a week – another benefit of his constitution. He had a plan and now was the best time to take care of it. Throwing a copper bit down on the bar he paid for a torch to light his way through the night. Stepping into the darkness he lit it up on the embers left outside for patrons to use and as it burst into flame he caught sight of a pure white jerkin under a dark cloak on the opposite side of the street, the figure kept its head down but Kurz knew a Whiteblade when he seen one and started moving down the street quickly.

Full of zealotry the Whiteblades were dangerous foes, the law keepers of the Devout they searched out perceived troublemakers and sought to bring back artefacts for the Devout to use. Kurz ducked down an alleyway and came to a dead end, hearing the unsheathing of a blade behind him he turned to see two Whiteblades standing preventing his exit. Kurz grinned at them and reached into his pocket as they drew closer, throwing down three glass beads that shattered immediately spilling liquid on the ground he touched the torch onto the ground quickly and flames erupted immediately up. He looked back to the deadend and with the extra light seen a way up it, quickly scrambling and jumping up he could hear the shouts of the Whiteblades below him as he ran along the wall and jumped onto the rooftops. Kurz knew the light from the torch gave his position away clearly to the whole area but he had a plan in mind and kept on running over the rooftops as he seen more and more Whiteblades gather around shouting and screaming at Kurz as he made his way to the city walls and lept off the last rooftop and onto the city walls.

Kurz sprinted along them until he seen the gates below him,leaping off the walls into the darkness he fell onto the straw roofing of the stable and let go of the lit torch. Rolling off the roof and onto the ground he seen the building erupt into flames. Pulling his black blade out he ran back under the blazing roof where the horses were panicking and cut the rope around the halter of one of the horses and quickly mounted it, kicking his heels in the horse took off with Kurz on top. He looked behind him and seen the city gates open as the Whiteblades burst through before stopping unsure whether to save the horses, go after him or rescue the innocents trapped in the fire.

A child screaming for its parents was the last thing he heard as the horse galloped south... Sacrifices had to be made in this game of life thought Kurz and if it was the blood of innocents that fell in his way then it was to be. He started at the bottom of the pile and he knew one day he would rise from it to be known through the world.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Writing Challenge #2 The theme

Well it was set on Monday just past but I didn't get round to posting it.. The challenge we came up with (again we generate five random themes and pick one between us) is...

The theme of this story: epic quest. The main character: ambitious murderer. The start of the story: journey. The end of the story: smuggling.

Fun theme!

Friday, 12 April 2013

My first writing challenge

Whoops! Forgot to post this on Sunday but here it is anyway, my first writing challenge completed.

I know a few bits I'm not happy with (primarily a lot of repetition of 'realised') but I'll work on that, not aiming for a perfect story straight away, need to get myself back into writing shape first and these little practice runs are fun :) The formatting might also be a bit wonky (that's my term) but I wrote it in wordpad and it didn't copy/paste over correct

So to recap, the challenge was:
The theme of this story: epic conflict. The main characters: sickly manager and militant servant. The start of the story: natural disaster. The end of the story: insight.

And here is how it went...


“EARTHQUAKE!” Davidson yelled as he ushered the last of the team into the protection modules. That was the last thing they needed right now as the sound of the PGI gunfire was heard as the building started to shake.

“Move Jim, come on! Don’t go back for anything!”

Davidson looked down the corridor and realised he was the last one left. The emergency evacuation handbook didn’t cover what would happen if the PGI attacked during an earthquake but he had to improvise, his team depended on him as the only manager in that day. The local news had predicted the earthquake would happen over the next couple of days so there was only a handful of staff in, enough to keep the paper work under control otherwise they’d be back in next week with the executives complaining at them from the safety of the bunkers.

As he was about to go through the door Davidson coughed and stumbled, that familiar taste of blood and mould told him he needed to take a tablet before the virus got worse. Checking his pocket he realised his tablets were in his suit jacket back in the office.

“Damn!” he cursed out loud, realising he had not taking his tablet this morning. He needed to get one within the next hour or he’d pass out. Realising there was a chance that the protection modules wouldn't have any tablets and the PGI keeping a presence in the zone would hinder rescue attempts he decided to run quickly back to his jacket to get one before meeting the rest of the team

The building trembled and he heard PGI soldiers as he ran down the corridor. It wasn’t far but the voices meant they were nearby and he hoped  they wouldn’t notice him Ducking between the desks he made his way toward his own but stopped short, there was something there, a massive, grey metal figure with a skull head. Davidson coughed and it turned around and looked directly at him. It was a CY-pher, a virtually unstoppable robot, designed and built by the PGI to put fear and terror in the free world.

The CY-pher stared directly at Davidson as it lifted a rifle, pointing the barrel at him.




Then the floor collapsed.

Davidson rolled over, sitting up, dust and glass covered him. His body ached from the fall and he coughed up blood, the viron was getting worse and the last thing he remembered was the floor collapsing . Looking around he was trapped in the floor below, it looked like accounts but he wasn’t sure, the exits were blocked by rubble and the only way out was through a window, a sixty metre drop. His jacket was nowhere to be found, probably under rubble or still in the floor above. Looking over he seen the CY-pher lying there, its right arm torn off, caught under masonry. Then the eyes lit up an unholy red.




## AMBIENT TEMPERATURE 18C. LOCAL TIME: 1147. POSITION L=56.11 -3.15 N=0.08 0.39 ##

Davidson looked at the CY-pher as it stirred then darted behind some rubble that had fallen and held his breath.


The CY-pher stood upright and scanned the area. Beads of sweat formed on Davidsons forehead as he remained motionless, the taste of blood almost making him gag.

Identify yourself” the CY-pher asked in a computerised voice.

Davidson remained silent, he knew he’d die here, murdered by the PGI.. Alone, away from his wife and kids. This was it, this was the end.

Identify yourself” the CY-pher asked again.

Exhausted, Davidson exhaled and spat out the blood. Lifting his hands above his head he emerged from behind the masonry

“Please don’t hurt me PGI. I do not want to get involved in your war with us; I just want out of here and back to my family. Please let me go” Davidson pleaded

I have no intention of hurting you. I simply asked you to identify yourself” replied the CY-pher

“Michael” Davidson replied “Michael Davidson… I work here… Invoices on the 8th floor” he dropped his arms and tasted the blood and mould.

Where is research and development?” the CY-pher responded

“I.. Uhm.. I’m not sure.” Davidson hesitated and thought to himself”I think R&D moved to Sector 23/R a couple of months ago but we didn’t really see them they were on floor 12”

Damn… What a waste, what an absolute waste of life” swore the CY-pher. Davidson looked at the robot and edged back, something wasn’t right about this ‘killing machine’.

“What are you?” he asked

What do you think I am Michael Davidson?

“A robot, programmed to kill anyone that falls under the WDA”

I am not a robot and I will not kill you unless you attack me” came the metallic response

“So what are you then?” Davidson coughed, tasting that familiar blood and mould taste only this time it was stronger, much viler and he realised he had limited time left


You have the viron?” the CY-pher asked

“No thanks to you PGI that dropped it on us. Innocents died that day PGI… My sister was one of them. I was caught in the infection fall out and now I’m going to die because of it. Your attack on innocents only resulted in us showing that we would never give in to your demands” Davidson snapped back

That's what the WDA told you, what you wanted to hear.” Retorted the CY-pher

“I seen the planes. I seen the bombs. I seen the people dying and YOU.. Death bringer” Davidson spat “You might be a mass of metal and death sent to kill us and I might just be a manager here, sending out forms to barracks telling them they’ve spent too much on ammunition killing scum like you . But I was there CY-pher...” Davidson paused, getting his breath back as he leaned against the rubble, his head sinking.

So was I.. I died there and I watched your government kill you ” the CY-pher said

“You don’t know...” Davidson lifted his head “ … what? You died there?”

You wanted to know what I am. Then I can explain but first take your anti-Viron

“I don’t have any… It’s in my jacket which was near you when it collapsed. Please, do you have any?”

The CY-pher looked around the rubble “No. How bad is it?

“It's blooded, maybe ten minutes left”

The CY-pher paused for a moment.

Then it will be too late. Even if the extraction team makes it here they won’t have anti-Viron

Davidson  suddenly slumped to his knees and put his hands to his face crying.

“So this is it? This is how I die… I fell out with Linda.. My wife this morning, we had an argument and I forgot to take my tablet before I left the apartment. She didn’t want me to go in today, she was scared something would happen with the earthquake..  Linda.. I’m so sorry.. I’m so sorry” Davidson wept. “My kids… Harry and Thomas.. Daddy will be gone.. oh god.. no… “ he checked his pockets “I have a picture of them in my wallet but it’s in my jacket.. I’ll never see them again” Davidson sobbed, his shoulders shook, he retched and coughed hearing the CY-pher walk towards him.

I know how you feel Michael. My family is lost to me as well” replied the CY-pher

“LIES! YOU’RE A MACHINE!” Davidson shouted

Listen to me Michael. Accept what has happened, the world isn’t black and white, I’m no killing machine.. at least.. Not right now

Davidson looked up, took his tie off and wiped his eyes and mouth with it.

“You’ve lost 'family' as well?” Davidson replied  “What is going on?”

I was a man. I was there at the V-Battle when the viron bomb was dropped

“So you admit at least you dropped a bomb and killed innocents?”

I never denied we dropped the bomb. We warned the WDA of our attack, it had become the only way to save ourselves. Under four buildings in the zone were Hyper-Plasma rockets. They were being primed by your military to launch in two days towards us. They would have killed around two billion civillians had they struck. We realised the only way to prevent them being primed was to make the area uninhabitable. Communications went to the WDA telling them to evacuate the area but as the hours counted down we realised they were using civilians as a human shield. We tried to drop personal in to evacuate as many as we could but we were shot down. I was in a VTOL and we were shot down early in the engagement..”

Davidsons eyes glazed over and he took a minute, steadying himself “Then how are you..?”

My body was dead. My brain was barely alive, drifting towards oblivion when a team moved in and recovered our bodies. We became part of a project, our brains placed inside what you see now to give the CY-phers the ability to learn and improvise. It was a success but many of us retained our memories and were driven insane, they had to be shut down and the brains destroyed .”

Davidson coughed violently, the CY-pher moved to steady him but he pulled his arm away “I can keep myself up PGI, but carry on”

"Eventually they discovered that we retained memories of our past and they developed suppressors that dulled our memory. Only when those were shut off or we were away from our unit did our memories begin to resurface and this is how I talk to you now. My unit is dead, the suppressor they carry most likely crushed and my internal suppressor must be damaged. I can remember faces of a woman, children and I know they are my family. Those that were taken from me because the WDA did not evacuate you

 The CY-Pher continued “My name is Jake. Jake..  I cannot remember now.. My family will believe me dead and I would never let them see me like this even if I could return

Davidson coughed up blood, and slumped to his side before rolling onto his back, his eyes were dilated and skin looked fatally pale.

Davidson quietly spoke “So we're dead to our families. Dead because of a war we had no control over, dead because both sides hate one another enough to put innocents at risk over selfish pride.”


Davidson closed his eyes and Jake knelt beside him “I'm sorry about this war... I have three minutes left before the extraction team arrive and my memories become suppressed. I have an idea though, for you friend

Davidson wearily opened his eyes and looked at him “Help me Jake”

Speak a message to your wife, your children, I will record it and  I will get it to them when the suppression next weakens but tell me where you live ” Jake asked

“477 Sector 43/H. Linda. Harry. Thomas. I love you.” Davidson coughed. “Linda, remember our wedding day... Harry, remember the bonfires and laughter and Tommy think of us building those blocks together, to make the world a better place. I love you all” Davidson closed his eyes, his breathing slowed and black blood trickled from his mouth.

Jake held Davidsons head in his hand, overwhelming sadness and grief hit him as memories started to return.

“Ka.. Cl.. . My love... I need to remember you, to find you as well” his thoughts were interrupted by the sound of engines outside the building and the CY-pher staggered to its feet.


Friday, 5 April 2013

Two decades of PC Gaming (1990-2010)

Seen a post on Reddit featuring the best games from each year from 1990-2010 ( and looking through it I realised just how brilliant a lot of those games were, and also just how many of them I already owned but never completed or really enjoyed playing. 

So it got me thinking about a challenge to myself (gah! another on including my writing which is almost done for this fortnight). I'm tempted to start back at 1990, pick a game from each year that I either really enjoyed and completed (Baldurs Gate 2), already own but never finished (VVVVV) or one I've heard good things about but never played (BioShock). Work my way through the years consecutively and have fun playing!

So looking through them all I've discovered there's only two years there where none of the top games I had completed but I've got at least one from each year so that will help the finances anyway and there's a couple of them I want to pickup at some point anyway (Baldurs Gate Enhanced) so could  be fun. It's not a timed challenge, just a.. "Well give it a shot" sort of one, no rush or pressure on it :) I'll post about it if I remember and even start the challenge but in the meantime have a browse through the games and see how many years you've played.