Hello, lovely ones!
It’s new year, and the gang are throwing in their Second Chance pieces, now available to vote for at the Voting Page
This month, as the hand in will be the beginning of February, let’s revolt against Van Halen and actually talk about Love. Yes, this month’s theme is going to be Love, and what a lot of fun we’re going to have looking at the dark brood that I call my writers this year.
So, short and sweet as I’ve been trying to write everything this weekend, please find this month’s Example piece below:
Sitting like a grubby jewel on the expansive cliff face known as The Sword Coast, Waterdeep could be argued to Faerun’s New York City. Deep in the hustle and bustle of the manically packed streets of hawkers and hookers, shoppers and shops, stands the less than famous than some of its competitors tavern; The Sunken Shoe. As the metaphorical camera of narrative starts to get slightly travel sick, we take one last swoop into The Sunken Shoe to reveal a grubby interior, sides caked in dust, so are some of the patrons. Behind the bar, a Drow (an Elven race that prefer darkness to light; think Goth kids) cleans the solitary surviving glass owned by the bar as the customers now have to drink out of the cheaper and more durable wooden tankards. Anyway, ignore Thomas, we’re not interested in him. Moving along the bar towards the booths near the end of the room, we find the two patrons that aren’t sleeping sat in one of the booths and deep in their cups. A white scaled male Dragonborn (Humanoid-Dragon person. The result of if a dragon and a human got their Marvin Gaye on…) wearing thick armour, speckled with bullet wounds and holes, and a Dwarven man with short brown mohawk and beard running down into singed ends, wearing a flannel shirt and jeans sit swaying slowing in the seats. The shorter of the two lifts a finger and aims at one of the three dragons he can see sitting across from him:
“Balthazar, I have a question,” his thick Scottish accent straining against the alcohol and thought process that are waging war in his mind. “What is love?”
The Dragonborn sat stoically for a moment, either dazed from his drink or trying to look like he were in deep thought, before belching loudly; a cloud of frosty air wafting from his nostrils.
The two sat in silence for a moment before the dwarf burst into raucous laughter. Balthazar’s smile slowly crawled across his lips like a night worker slowly slipping into a morning’s embrace.
“Snowball, your wit is as sharp as your sword,” the Dwarven drinker chuckled, calming himself back to the conversation. “But seriously, what is it like? How do you know?”
Balthazar cleared his throat and leaned forward, his face growing serious and the closest to sober it had looked in years.
“Grimnir, in your luxury you have not had to experience it, and I suggest you keep it that way. I only half joke when I say it is painful, for it really is.”
“I wouldn’t call it luxury,” Grimnir protested. Balthazar waved him off with a smirk.
“You know what I mean.” He pauses for thought before continuing. “I once loved a woman, she was big and boisterous, stronger than an ox. We flirted a little, before we were separated and I promised to bring her War Hammer back to her. Months I searched for a way to return, and finally found myself in the way as she tried to save the world. We spent several nights together, and she confided in me when I thought I were mere distraction. And then she left; suddenly and without warning. I was informed she had gone to another plane of existence, so I waited. I was killed in battle, and revived, and still I waited. When she finally returned after nine years, so did my happiness. But, as you are well aware, we are not designed for happiness. So when I finally tried to prove my worth to her, show her that I was strong enough to stay, she beat me to a pulp and left me for fear that she’d kill me if she didn’t.”
The two sat in silence again. Grimnir cleared his throat.
“I’m sorry to hear of your loss in my absence, old friend” Grimnir said with a sense of searching for the right words, “but that is just one story in a book full of many different endings.”
Balthazar barked a laugh. “That’s easy for you to say, as a man who has been around long enough to see a few chapters written. How have you, a man who has experienced centuries, never felt love?”
Grimnir shifted awkwardly in his seat. “You know that my line of work means that I have little in the way of feelings other than anger, resentment, and many other bad things. I think I’m starting to understand a new feeling.” He chuckles as he catches Balthazar raising an eyebrow sarcastically. “I have been exploring this generation’s heroes and have stumbled upon a fun group known as Marblesong. They are kooky and very headstrong, but they seem to be in a bad way as of late. They have a Halfling with them, a wonderfully energetic and cute thing, and I have been informed from my Betters has a lot of potential.”
“Has the old dog fallen for a young pup?” Balthazar clucked mockingly. Grimnir grinned and threw the dregs of his cup at the Dragon.
“No, you big softie, I just… I care for this one. I haven’t cared for much in a long time; present company excluded of course. I just want to make sure this one survives more than the other two, and that bothers me. I am not one for picking a fight that I can’t handle, but we went against a bloody Fire God the other day and I spent the entire time worrying about her safety above my own and the others. It is not right.”
Once again, the two returned to staring at the bottoms of their cups in silence; both wanting to say something but not too sure how to word it. Finally, Balthazar offered a refrain.
“Friend, you have been gone so long, it seems you have forgotten how to live. Love comes in many forms: Sexual, casual; platonic; careful. So many versions of love exist in this world that it kind of has its own magic. To show emotions that might elevate your vulnerability doesn’t mean to question the very foundation of your being. For once, allow this to be a moment of growth for you. Your care for this girl is obviously not lustful love, but that of a kindred spirit. Lovers are just friends who worked out the next step; it doesn’t mean you love them any less if you stay as just friends.”
As if narrative sensed a need for more, the door exploded open as a hyperactive Halfling girl with short brown hair, seaweed green eyes, and a permanent grin bounded into the bar; followed shortly by a dour looking Half-Elf with ginger hair and golden scales lining his features, and a tanned Elven woman with auburn hair, streaked with mistletoe, and somewhat dazed expression on her face.
“Right,” Grimnir said, slamming his hands on the table. “Gang seems to be back up to things. Better go play meatshield for glass cannons. You remember how to get hold of me, should your stubbornness slip?”
Balthazar nodded. The two stood and then embraced, before parting ways once again, to find out what fate had in store for them this time around…