After corralling his men (and Thom’s lady), the group headed down to the dining hall, where Lord Talgret was hosting them. Clearly refreshed from the afternoon’s relaxation, the air about them bore a newfound energy. Eventually they reached the grand hall after traversing the keep with Solnos guiding them for a little over five minutes. Despite his casual clothing, Sigi still had his sword strapped to his back. Earlier, this caused Thom some hesitation, and much to his wife’s reluctance, he wore the breastplate to dinner.
Lord Talgret was barely eclipsing his forties. His brown, short kept beard and long dark-brown hair was almost picturesque in how it was kept. He stood a little over six feet tall, his chiseled jaw matching how his frame was kept over the years, a few scars adorning his neck. Aside from a missing pinky on his right hand, he was well groomed. He sat in his quarter at a desk, wearing pants, boots and a light linen shirt while he looked over some parchments containing dispatches from the troops under his command. Before long, there was a pounding at his door.
The cool night against the moon-lit snow helped the dark riders alongside Sigi feel stoic. Though the road was clear, the snow on the sides of it had piled up in their absence, sometimes garnering a foot in depth. Within a few hours, they’d once again be outside of the lands of Rothgard, and within a day, they’d be at Lord Talgret’s borders. The crisp night air of the forest had a different sense of urgency tonight. It wrapped around the men, refusing to resist them because even it knew of the precious time they had to begin a counter-momentum against that which was slowly consuming the land they knew. It too, wished for them, and the others like them, to survive.
As Sigi walked towards the keep, the village took care of things to be tended at the bonfire tonight. Now that the remaining men had returned home, many of whom had served under Rothgard’s hand for decades, the funeral pyre and processions could proceed that evening. Sigi kept his eyes forward, determined. He had not lost several men to the Goron to return and find his promised fund depleted before him. He knew that if the council seized the house assets, he would surely be delayed from an army. He would have to go elsewhere to seek it, and by that time, the Goron could already be on top of the southern kingdoms.
The wind had settled down in the hours following the fight, allowing for a clear view of the stars that dotted the northern horizon. Just barely, one would be able to tell that there was a constant hue from the north, where the sun shone longer. Sigi’s attention stayed towards it, watching as the fires had died out over time. The men were exhausted, and not as battle-weary as other compatriots he had rode with before. It was just as well, he thought. The days ahead would become long, and the fight within them longer.
As they moved on at a steady pace, the energy of survival lingered in the air. The pace of the men was brisk, many of them looking behind, except for Sigi, who kept his gaze forward as he carved a path. Behind them, growing ever greater, was the light bell sound of the Goron.
“Feh!” one of the men said loudly. “Why don’t they just hurry up and attack us? I want this fight done and over with!”
“Because they know to wear down their prey mentally before attacking,” Sigi turned and said. “If you’re exhausted from worrying about them, even in the slightest, it gives them more of an advantage. Expect them to keep at it for at least a few more hours.”
Relman woke up refreshed the next morning, having recovered from the exhaustion night prior. Though light snow was on the ground, the clouds were still thick above the trees. Between that and the treeline itself, it was considerably warm. Relman looked around; he seemed to be the first awake, though the others were snoring. He looked over to where Sigi had sat himself the night prior, and saw him looking north. The next thing he noticed was that there was no snow around him, as if he had displaced his own heat to keep it from landing.
The men had continued riding forward, staying completely silent. All of them had seen corpses before; even some of them had slain men. But what concerned them is that a tribesman, whose voracity in combat was known but their forethought was lacking, had smashed their head into a tree until they died. No man did that. None of them had even heard of such a thing. In their minds, they began speculating about what could have driven him to do so. How far had he been running? Where did he come from? Were they due to face the same fate?
The light storm from the night prior had left enough element in the ground to cause fog to roll over the field when the sun began to rise the next morning. Some coughing around camp, signifying a few coming out of slumber, and the feint smell of tired campfires filled the air. Some of the men had already begun packing up items onto their horses. Though they had made good time yesterday, they had further to go yet. As Relman woke, he saw Sigi standing in the same place as the night prior. Slightly bewildered, he also began to gather himself and get out of his makeshift bed.
The next morning yielded overcast clouds, but they weren’t dark enough to warn of snow or rain. The countryside, and the surrounding foothills, kept the snow from the few nights prior, so the earth offered its own warmth to the sixteen men riding out north of Lord Rothgard’s castle. The provisions had been placed between most of the horses, and little was kept in terms of weapons and armor, spare for what every man would carry day-to-day. The horses walked at an easy pace while scaling the mountain. If things became hairy at any point later on, they wanted their horses in prime condition to leave as quickly as possible. The Goron didn’t relent, and they moved faster than man. But they would not get to the tribelands for a few days time at this pace.
Fifteen men, including Thom and Relman, sat around the hall table in the keep. They had been chosen by proxy, and were awaiting the arrival of Sigi and Rothgard. Smalltalk, with occasional laughter, was around the great table, which had been lined with mead. No food had been placed, at least not as of yet. The hall, made of stone and arched supports, echoed gently as there were thick tapestries over the windows to help absorb the sound. Fires roared on either side of the halls, keeping it warm despite the onset of a clear, cold night. On a few of the walls hung hunting trophies, but the most prominent item was the banner that hung at the northern fireplace, depicting the coat of arms for the keep.
A door in the corner opened, and Rothgard walked through, followed by Sigi, bearing his black clothes and the large sword on his back. As the Lord went to sit at the head of the table, Sigi rested his sword near the hearth, going to stand by a fire while Rothgard looked over the men gathered.
Sigi sat at the tavern again, eating his second breakfast while others in the tavern sat in complete silence. No one was there from the night prior, when Sigi had first arrived. Other people sat in silence, watching him. The word of his arrival, and who he was, had spread through the keep quickly. Their eyes didn’t bother him; he simply bided his time.
The harsh weather had relented from the night prior, revealing a timberline outside the castle walls, and a clear day out east, where the cliffs gave way to the forest that Sigi had tracked earlier. A few of the workers were up early, the goats were out of their pens, moving to shake off the cold that was still biting. Though the winds of winter had passed, the chill of it remained. As the sun peaked out over the treetops to give some warmth to the small courtyard, the Lord of the near-fortress had studied it a bit more briefly before finishing his morning meal.
A few pounds of a fist came to his heavy door. He set down the goat milk that he had taken a few sips of. “What is it?”
“There’s a man here to see you, m’Lord. He stayed the night last night at the inn down near the gate.” This immediately raised flags with him. No one came during the winter months. And last night was particularly harsh. And then he felt it… this presence at the door. Goosebumps raised the hair on the back of his neck. He knew.
So, it is Tuesday. I am spending the day returning to Berlin so that I am within screaming distance of the airport. I will be leaving Friday morning at 9a for the airport. I have decided to give Berlin a second chance, now that I have become accustomed to Germany a bit more over the last few weeks. I feel that starting off in the city may not have been the right choice, as I have always been one for the country.
So, even though I managed to take the wrong train at the very end (despite looking at my route list several times), I got to Rothenburg. The weather had turned dim as I thought it would from the drive in, but the reward for this was blissful.
The bells are saying goodbye to me right now. I will be leaving here in a little over an hour, and this place has been absolutely wonderful. It had lived up to all of my expectations, and I felt absolute peace for the first time in… Well, I cannot honestly remember. All the other times I have escaped from where I live, I always felt like it was on a short leash. Here… The mountains rose up to say, “Don’t worry. We won’t let the world see you here. We are the curtain.”
My last night in Starnberg was rather memorable and fun. The friends that I had made there knew it would be my last, so I was invited out to the restaurant aside Hotel Seehof. In short, I was out to 5a, and was beginning to feel the effects of the free red wine I had. The restaurant owner was letting us have fun and be festive, on the house. I found out he was originally from Sicily, and came up here to start this business. His name is Roberto, and he was absolutely amazing.
Man, what an interesting day it was getting to Starnberg, mostly towards the end. But the journey was a nice one. Coming directly out of a hotel near the Ostbahnhof and only stopping for 15 minutes to get food, and then finally make it all the way to(and around) Starnberg was quite a feat.
So I am just posting low res for the time being, to save on upload duration. If I double post from one before, enjoy the picture twice! Click the entry to see them all.
As I dive deeper into Germany, the depth of the beauty increases as well. I did not bring extra batteries for my camera because I thought the TSA wouldn’t allow them. So my main digital camera is nixed for the moment, but I am getting pictures of the countryside on my phone. It is better than nothing, but when I arrive in Munich, that will be one of my first priorities. Pictures are not optional.
Sorry I have not updated this as much as I have wanted to. But, I did get some awesome pictures of Dresden. I have to say that this has been my favorite city thus far. I will do a quick upload of some here, and work on full resolution versions later. Click the entry for some pictures. More soon!
Remind me not to make use of metro systems in cities. I remember now that I cannot connect the dots between five different lines of transportation. But I purchased a day ticket so I could go anywhere. So I just walked my heart out. Overall I probably walked fifteen miles, and the rest was on the s Bahn and U Bahn.
So I went to bed at 10:30 pm local time. It is now 4:30a and I wonder why I am up. But I don’t think it matters. My body was in survival mode in the refreshingly cold weather. But regardless of finding out how the bus system works or calling a taxi and giving directions, I was in a state of wonder. I am here… And it is hard for me to believe.
I still don’t think that it has truly set in. I have just left Phoenix, and it is dark outside. I will be in London in a little under nine hours. This has all been said over the com and I am still waiting for the tv crew to pop out and say, “Just kidding.”
At the end of “The Truman Show,” the boat that he has taken has sailed into a wall. He had found the end of his world, and he realized that there was more beyond it. And as he left, he took a bow and said (essentially), “Thanks for watching.” And he walked out the door.
I have dealt with a similar wall that I have pounded against for 16 years. In dreams and in my waking moments, I often fear that Germany only existed in the pictures that I saw, the video that was shown to me, and through the people that said they were from there. It has felt fake, perhaps because I associate a lot of fiction with computers, the internet and television. Is my fear well placed? Maybe not. But that is what humanity is all about, is seeing if something is real, or if it is fake. And as I write this, the minutes tick away until I am taken to the airport and board the flight past this wall.
This is more informational than anything else, so it won’t fit into any categories I have on my blog. So be it, that’s fine.
Over the last few days, my electrical current problems have become a bit worse. Most recently, I returned from a trip in Prescott hiking. I pulled into the driveway and turned off the truck. I went to open the door, and my cab light didn’t come on. I checked the dash switch for it and it should have been on. No headlights, no stereo. Not even a turn over with the ignition. I fuddled around with the ignition a bit more, and everything came back on. I had grown pretty certain that my alternator was acting up again, and was breaking the circuit. Perhaps fiddling with the ignition barely pushed it into a good position to allow current to resume. Didn’t think much of it.
The voice of the wind carrying the mist that rumbles higher in the clouds. Many wish for the sun, or a clear night with which to study the stars.
It’s always hard to start these blogs out, when they talk about self reflection and where things will go from here. It becomes a bit of a task, taking that first step. But, I’ll discuss first what I am thinking about most prominently.
I am always about reform and change when the people are in support of it, and have valid grounds with which to push for it. But many causes are left in the dust because people gathered and were angry, but nothing went on beyond this. I have always believed that success is not measured in how far you got, but in how long your victory is cherished.
I had written this many, many years ago. I believe I was 20 at the time, and I really hadn’t taken the time to proofread over go over my work at all. I am putting this up here for comparison in the writing styles that I had then, to what I have now.
I awoke in a tent slowly, my eyes adjusting to the dark. It was night, and the wind was flapping against the tent, and I could hear the low talk outside. My ears strained to hear what was being said, and soon I heard all I wanted to hear for the past two years.
The war was over.
I heaved a heavy sigh. I would finally go back home to Azironia, and see my friends and family. The idea excited me so much, I sat up. But the wounds hindered me, and I was back down on the cot. Soon I remembered everything I was involved in. The last battle was very hard and long; spells being cast, swords sparking, and peoples war cries that echoed in my ears. At the time, I was in my Elven primal state, a berserker rage, that cut through most that stood in my way. I picked up wounds doing so, and this was where I was being cared for.
But I couldn’t help but smile. The Great War was over, and I could go home. Home in the Elven wood of Azironia.
I looked around in the tent for my clothing and Elvish blades. I found both lying next to the cot, and slowly I picked up the blades. As I did, the rune-insribed blades faintly glinted in the candlelight.
I looked down at myself, examining my wounds. Apparently I fought well, as I had only one slightly big gash in my chest, but that was all, spare the scratches I earned. I leaned over to pick up my cloak, and I picked up some pouches containing herbs I would use to help heal myself with.
I pulled out some of the herb, and slowly stuffed it under the gauze, feeling the wet, swelling sore that had been dressed. Making sure I distributed it evenly, I pulled out my hand and wiped off the ooze with a towel nearby.
I was beginning to close my eyes when someone approached my tent. I was forced to squint my eyes from the light glowing from the camp fires as the tent was drawn open. I did not know who it was, even when the voice spoke to me.
(Most photos taken by Sidney. Feel free to click on them and enlarge accordingly.)
So recently, Sidney and I decided to have a hike out in the woods. I had done some quick research and found pictures of an absolutely gorgeous lake called Bismarck Lake. As we were heading to Flagstaff, I decided to throw it out that we leave early and get some hiking out of the way before we settled in for the evening with friends at a house. The landscape was absolutely gorgeous.
In order to get to this trail, you head out on highway 180 northbound. You’ll come across Hart Prarie road, aka FR 151. You then proceed east on it for some time. FR 627 will be on your right. Take it to the end, and you come across Bismarck Lake trailhead.
As we started heading north on the highway out of Flagstaff, we encountered a nice thunderstorm. It helped remind us that we were definitely out of Phoenix and in the high country. We were amongst a few other cars heading into the weather, but the smell was amazing. The soaked ground, combined with the pine permeating the air, gave a great reminder of where I grew up and enjoyed being in. Soon enough, we came across the road (which I had to make an abrupt and bumpy stop for, as it was quite sudden).
Somewhere, between the unrelenting clouds that blew snow around the trees, and the horizon that rose into mountainous cascades, the moon shone through occasionally. Its gaze descended through the flakes of snow that whipped about the trees, refracting itself off of the falling powder, and kissed its glow off the incandescent surface that gradually deepened as the night wore on. Though the terrain was flat, and the trees tall, no matter of earth would protect the woodland creatures or the ground from which it harvested from the cold bite of winter. This reminder of Skimir’s journey was no less harsh than the last.
No woodland creature dare come out into this cold blight that had set itself upon the land. Even the castle village that lay up on the hills to the west, while glowing with fires, was as still as ice outside, spare the wind that would rouse whistles from cracks and corners. Through the weather, though, trudged a man who may have been discounted a fool by most. No other man would dare brave this weather; yet his leather cloak and boots, his giant sword carried on his back, and the gloves, all black, seemed to be animated by a force that held no regard for the elements that tried to punish him for coming out. He moved forward steadily, only slowed by having to pick his feet up out of the hole they had created in the snow to step forward. The snow– it seemed, was in agreeance with the wind. Each step it tried to trap this broad and tall man, and each step it groaned as he successfully wrestled his foot from its grasp.
The man, unseen beneath his cloak, came upon a timber line, clearing out enough for him to gaze castle-ward, peering briefly before adjusting the leather mask he had applied to protect his face. Even though the moon shone bright at him, the cloak of this man seemed to devour the light before it reached his face, leaving him almost unrecognizable to any other that may see him. Slowly he trudged onward towards the village, eventually making an ascent of several hundred feet up trails where the wind tried even harder to combat him. But the man held no attention to its efforts, his feet now less hindered on the mountainside where the snow simply swept away.
In all sincerity, I have not paid attention to the Casey Anthony trial. I did not want to pay attention to it, because I was boycotting the attention it was receiving. I was boycotting the way the media was intricate about reporting every move, and making it so huge. And now, one of the jurors is afraid for her life because of the judgement call her and others had made.
There are so many groups out there that want justice for the Casey Anthony trial. It’s understandable; no girl should be robbed of a promising life. But neither should a juror that made a call in the justice system that has made the call that someone is not guilty. I see Facebook groups popping up, independent comments about how the mother and jurors should be lynched and murdered, and how the justice system “just doesn’t do right.” To those of you who are a part of this prejudicial wave, I have three words for you:
Go Fuck Yourself.
I’ve been mulling over this all day. Though I had a good weekend working on my truck recently, I also had an eye-opener to the thoughts and thought circles on my mom’s side. Particularly, with her and friends (?) that she had kept for a while. My own brother expressed his concerns to me about how mom had been acting lately. I know I am at risk of her (and everyone else involved) reading this, and facing a form of exile as a result, but if it goes unsaid, it’s going to fester and a good friend of mine reminded me of the medicine I had once given her: “There are two people you need to think of first: you and yourself.”
So, mom and anyone else contained in here, I love you dearly. But I feel as if I needed to process my thoughts after hearing both sides, seeing everything from the impartial perspective I was brought up to hold onto so I could see everything clearly. And tonight, I am calling it like I see it. If you remember how you raised me, you’ll understand. I am afraid of this being the beginning of worlds being torn apart, mine included. So each word I type… is probably the heaviest I will have ever typed to this point.
Ed came up behind me. “Dude, you all right?”
I looked over at him. He was trying to search for some kind of response to what just happened. I knew I had a look of regret on my face. “Yeah, I am good. Just worried about the girl.” I was hoping that would cover it.
“Yeah, looks like she’ll be okay. She was hitting on some premium grade pot. Looks like this guy had all kinds of premium shit. Meth, pot, ex… you name it, it’s in there. But it’s good.” He stepped in front of me, looking back into the room. “Hey, Ty, the girl said she heard the growling too, but that it was coming from you.”
I looked back into the room for a moment. They were getting her a wool blanket. Her eyes averted mine when I looked at her. “We still have to see if she was really just smoking pot, Ed. You know how it goes.” She hadn’t. I could smell it. But it would buy me some time.
“Yeah, I know,” Ed replied. After a few moments, “You know Anderson is gonna be on your case about this tomorrow. You keep feeding him ammunition for him to shoot at you.”
“Fuck Anderson,” I fired back. “I’d give him ammo for a Desert Eagle and he’d find a way to make it into pellets. I’ll deal with him when the time comes.” Anderson was the sergeant’s assistant at the cop shop. I had no idea why he was there, except to piss people off. I turned back to Ed. “Who’s chatting with the neighbors?”
“I’ll get some guys on it.” He left back down to the stairwell. Everything sunk in around me again. The rain outside, the cops talking, the people down the hall guessing what it could be. The rats in the wall. It was time to leave. I started heading towards the stairwell. I took a few steps down it.
“…he probably won’t be dealing around here anymore.”
So I went to Z-Tejas earlier, just to grab some grub and talk with a few people. I didn’t realize how packed it was going to become in the next few hours. As more people started crowding around the bar, I became quieter. I was listening to them… and realizing how shallow-thinking a lot of people can be. The only person I could kind of relate to was the black guy sitting at the end of the bar, who was minding his own business and seemingly doing the same thing. What made me put out my card to leave, though, were the people.
2:17 a.m. Possibly one of the most thoughtless stakeouts I have ever been on. We were sitting in the car, with the rain tapping against the roof like needles on my ears. It put my partner to sleep. But he was put to sleep by anything, and kept asleep by anything else. I looked over at him. His breathing was slow, but it was loud. Probably by the way his neck was turned.
I put my gaze back out on the street. The streetlight ahead of us gave off that orange glow, the rain becoming tainted by its light as it came down. A sidewalk beside it, and a fence beyond. I think there was an abandoned construction site next to us. I didn’t really care to look over at it. My eyes had been fixated on the entrance to the little projects complex a little further down the street on the left. No one was coming in or out because of the rain tonight. Just as well since I didn’t feel like having anyone else interfere with my operation.
Her scent still lingered in my nose. Another girl dead, neck cut open, cut like the other two. She smoked pot before she died, and she only used a speed stick for deoderant. No perfume or anything. But there was a smell on her, like the other two, that carried evil man about it like a rotten fragrance. When I smelled it on her, I had enough. I opted for the stakeout. No warrants or anything. I just did my own hunting to find out who this guy was. Homicide didn’t care much for the case. It was just another death in the projects with gang-related carelessly tagged on it.