Currently on art: Mid-quarter update

Hi everyone!

It’s been half a quarter since the last time I posted an update, so I figured it’s time to write a new one now. There isn’t that much to say, though; aside from powering through The Gauntlet (as is evident from the posts I made during the last weeks), art has been terribly slow. Now that I’m working on finishing my bachelor’s degree, studies have eaten an even bigger amount of my time and energy, so art-wise things are either slower than a snail or at a standstill (the notable standstill ones being my current drawing project and Lyokostar 1, which is stuck waiting for betareading that I don’t have the energy to do).

As for life outside of customary drowning in studies, it’s been mostly fine aside from the fact that my city had a COVID bomb go off last month when a huge group of people gathered together in a restaurant and there happened to be someone who had the virus. The number of people who got quarantined because of the chains that that one person in that one gathering caused was pretty massive compared to the number of people who were there, and there was a huge number of people who got symptoms and tested positive and stuff.

So yeah… Use a mask (properly!), do social distancing, don’t go into big gatherings, all that jazz. Those instructions are there for a reason.

Honestly, this is probably going to be one of my shortest Currently on art updates ever. I just don’t have much to say. I don’t do much else than work on my bachelor’s thesis, the game project I’m working on for a project course and my other courses these days, haha.

Well, I suppose it’s time to look into how things are going with my projects, as per my project widget:

  • Exceptional Jedi: Chapter 20 of The Strength of Mind is in writing. All writing is at 1697 days. Jedova’s reference is mostly at a standstill because more often than not I don’t find the time to work on it. I need to make a comic about Valentine Clanker and lots of other drawings. I’ve been creating data on Scrivener to build a wiki of sorts there so that I can flesh things out for writing. It hasn’t been progressing at all recently, though. Revising is still in a standtill.
  • The Fate’s Way: Chapter 42 is still in writing. I still need to redraw the regular Alyssa and also Alyssa’s friends and family and the other important people, like Matti, someday. Revising needs to be done.
  • Off-DA projects: Nothing of note happening right now aside from the game project course.
  • Greenfield: Due to studies taking too much energy, I haven’t edited this at all. Read more about the project here.
  • Lyokostar: The translation of Lyokostar 1 progresses: Part 8 of story 6 is waiting for betareading, but is likely to be on a standstill for a while. The monthly Lyokostar 3 oneshots in Finnish are on a hiatus because nobody cares. References need to be done.
  • A Wandering Aura: Nothing has happened for a good while.
  • Gaming: Habitica, Duolingo, Pokemon GO and now Pokémon Masters EX keep on going. I also got Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun recently and so far I’m loving it, although I don’t have much time to play.
  • Other stuff: I took on and successfully finished The Gauntlet! Woo! I’ve fallen behind with literature deviations because I can’t read them on DA without getting a headache from the eye strain. Because the number of FFM and Tribble Month stories I had on my TBR list turned out to be insurmountable, I cut most of it away. I will read the ones that remain, though, once I’m done with reading the stories of other Gauntlet participants. I’m working on my third FFM collection but its progress has ground to a halt because of my studies. I hope I will be able to finish it during the spring at the latest, though. Reading is still in a standstill on the book side since I’ve spent my reading time on Archive of Our Own, but I hope to change that during this month. I’m back at doing stuff on Unity (and I’ve done a bit with Blender too) because of my game project course. I should get back to video editing since I have so much footage to be edited.
  • Personal life: I’m drowning in studies as I’m trying to finish my bachelor’s degree during 2021, so there isn’t much to tell. COVID is still going on and I’ll continue waiting for the vaccine.

I suppose that’s all for now. Take care everyone and remember to stay safe!

The Gauntlet 2021 9: The Man Who Hardly Spoke

Challenge 9: Attending a Burial At Sea (Any): Conjure up a captivating tale taking place aboard a whaler ship, and include three different euphemisms for taking a poop. Every third word, when read separately, needs to form a story of its own.

Because I went with the captivating tale first, every three words form a vague, strange and at least a bit abstract story. For a better reader experience, I collected the words together and gave them punctuation. You can read what ensued from that process after the story.


“Want to log an entry? Now’s the last time you should. This Big Guy is gonna go next.”

That was the first time Murphey said anything to me. At that time, I did not understand what he meant, so I just shook my head, confused, while he went into the tiny toilet. I was new on the ship and far from having responsibilities regarding the ship’s logs, but Grandpa used to be whaler back in the day, so even I knew that you did not do anything with logs in the cramped toilet.

Later that evening, when I went to take a poop, I learned what he had meant.

~

During the following days, I learned from both experience and other crew members’ stories that Murphey, although jovial and confident when he did speak up, hardly spoke. The ship’s captain, Wulfric, even said that he was surprised when he spoke to me on my very first day at sea with the crew.

“One summer, we had a woman named Ivy in the crew, and Murph wouldn’t talk to her at all for the first month.” Wulfric chuckled into his coffee. “I think he’s shy around women. Except you, it seems.”

“How does he communicate with everyone then?” I asked, frowning at the comment.

“Gestures. Mostly his hands.” Wulfric shrugged, then cursed when his coffee spilled onto the floor. That was my cue to get back to work.

~

One evening when I was sore from work — we’d managed to catch a whale; unlike the times I’d been on whaler ships of people my grandfather knew from old days, this time I’d had to do a lot of physical work because of it — I ran into Justin and Murphey in the corridor. Or mostly just Murphey since when I turned to corner, Justin was ending the conversation with something about making room for lunch and thus leaving.

That was the first time I heard Murphey chuckle.

That was also the first time I saw that he winked at me.

Thinking about his smile back there in that darkish corridor still makes my heart flutter…

~

As the multiple weeks passed by, the comment about logging an entry somehow remained the only thing Murphey had said to me. Any conversations I managed to have with him outside work and sleep were rather uninformative at best and one-sided at worst. Well, I guess I should have expected the former when I was talking with a person whose main forms of communication turned out to be thumbs-up, thumbs-down, shrug and that damn infuriating enigmatic smile that he liked to give me especially during the times our conversations were mostly one-sided.

I did learn that he either did not know sign language or refused to acknowledge and use his skills at it.

I probably should’ve expected that.

~

“How long have you known Murphey?” I dared to ask Wulfric one evening when he and I were the last ones still eating.

“Hmm… Good quesftion.” Wulfric scratched his neck before taking another bite of his bread. “I fthingkf… that it’s been most of the time I’ve been on this ship. Feels like forever. He used to be a seasonal worker whenever he wasn’t at school when I first came aboard — never actually found out where or what he was studying or if he even graduated — but some years into my career he became a full-time man here too. What about it?”

“Just curious. Was he always this silent?”

Wulfric hummed. “Pretty much. He was a bit more talkative before he started to work full-time, but not enough more for anyone to notice the difference before Al, the captain back then, realized mid-season he hadn’t heard Murph speak a word since we first left the port.” He snorted. “Murph looked so embarrassed when Al asked him to say something to make sure he hadn’t lost his voice.”

“I see.”

Wulfric finished his dinner while I pondered what might have happened to Murphey back in the day. “Welp, I think I gotta go release the Kraken. G’night.”

“Good night,” I replied.

It was probably for the best to finish the dinner and go to sleep. It’s not like I’d get any answers by just sitting and thinking.

Honestly, knowing Murphey, I probably wouldn’t get anything but that damn smile even if I looked for answers.

~

Eventually, the summer season came to a close. The time on Silent Whale was over for the year for the seasonal workers, namely Ian and I.

When we docked at the port, it was time to farewell and head separate ways.

“I hope your teachers are happy to see that you didn’t get snatched by a shark!” Murphey said and laughed with everyone else.

“I’m sure they are,” I told, grinning. “Who else would pay for their work if not us students with our tuitions?”

That was the first time I heard Murphey downright laugh.

That was the last time I heard Murphey’s voice and saw his enigmatic smile.

When we all wished one another the best for the rest of the year, he winked at me one more time before I left.

That was the last time I saw him.

~

A year later, I went back to Silent Whale so that I could work another summer. After a year of questions and memories buzzing in my head, I hoped I would be able to get some answers I hadn’t sought out last year.

“Where’s Murphey?” I asked.

“Who?” Joe, a new seasonal worker, asked.

The crew I’d learned to know last summer all looked away, grief on their faces.

Wulfric was the one who spoke up. “He’s dead. Fell overboard in January and got pulled underwater by something before we could haul him back in.”

“It looked like a shark,” Justin remarked. “There was nothing we could do.”

“I hope your teachers are happy to see that you didn’t get snatched by a shark!”

“I’m so sorry,” I breathed.

All my hopes of talking with Murphey were gone by then, stolen by a hungry shark.

Whatever questions I’d had, they disappeared as the reality of never seeing the quiet man again set in.


“Log? Now’s time. This is next.” -The Murphey to That.

“Did what?” So shook, confused, went. Tiny was the far responsibilities. “Ship’s Grandpa, be in.”

So knew, did anything in toilet.

Evening went, a learned had.

~

The I. Both other stories. Although Confident did, hardly. Ship’s even.

“He, when? To my day? With one had named.” -The Murph

To all first chuckled: Coffee. He’s women. It does, with I, at gestures, hands. Then his, onto that cue back.

~

One, when sore, we’d catch.

Unlike I’d…

Whaler people knew days I’d do of. Because? I, Justin, in. Or Murphey, I, corner.

Ending with making lunch.

Leaving.

The I chuckle, also time that at… About? Back that still heart.

~

The passed comment, an remained thing said. Any managed with work were at one-sided well. I expected. When talking person forms turned.

Be. Shrug. Damn, smile! Liked me? The conversations one-sided?

Learn either know or acknowledge his, it should’ve.

~

“How you?” I ask. Evening and the still good scratched before. Bite bread. That most time on feels. He be worker, wasn’t when came. Actually, where he or… even some?

My, became man.

What? Just he. Silent.

Pretty was more. He work not for notice. Before, captain realized. Hadn’t speak since left.

He looked, when… him… something sure lost…?

I finished while… What happened? Back day. Think.

“Go, Kraken!” -Night

It for… to dinner, to not get by. And knowing probably anything, damn, if… for…

~

Summer to the silent: over year seasonal. Ian, when at it, to head.

I… Teachers to you: snatched shark. And everyone sure.

“I… Who pay, work? Us? Our was time. -Murphey

That last heard. And enigmatic, we. One best, rest year at more. I was time, Him.

~

Later? Back, whale. I, another, a…

Questions buzzing!

Head!!

I, able? Some… hadn’t… last…

I, Joe, seasonal. The learned, last looked on.

Wulfric, one up. Fell. January pulled something. Could back.

Looked shark…

There, we…

I…

Teachers…

To you…

Snatched shark…

Sorry…

All of…

Murphey…

By… By…

Shark…

I’d… disappeared…

Reality…

Seeing…

Man… in…

The Gauntlet 2021 8: The Dreaded Enchantress

Challenge 8: Just Because I Can (18 lines; see text): Write a scary bedtime story for grown men about the creature Jolene, but in verse! Eight syllables per line, if you please, and spell out Jolene’s name three times with the first letter of each.


Jolene, the dreaded enchantress
One with beauty beyond compare
Look at her once and you are hers
Even the monks can’t resist her
Never look at the enchantress
Even you can’t escape her spell

Jolene, the dreaded enchantress
One that takes everyone she can
Look at her once and you are hers
Even the most faithful will fall
Never underestimate her
Even you can’t escape her spell

Jolene, the dreaded enchantress
One that will take you for herself
Look at her once and you are hers
Even all the gods can’t stop her
Never give her a single glance
Even you can’t escape her spell

The Gauntlet 2021 7: To Chronicle A War Zone

Challenge 7: This Hamlet is Too Small For Your Lordship and Myself Both (888 words and a half, exactly): Not much of a difference between cowboys and medieval knights, what with them wearing spurs, riding their horses up and down the countryside and occasionally challenging each other to a duel… There’s no reason why we can’t substitute one for the other in this story about a sheriff, an outlaw and the power of either Friendship, Virginity, the Counterpoise Trebuchet, or any combination of the aforementioned. Include no fewer than three elaborate insults, genre ‘your lordship could not poor water from a sabaton if his lordship’s armorer hath provided instructions on the sole’ and one time-traveling ancient Roman onlooker, who shall comment (will have had commented?) on events in reverse chronology. Our Roman friend can’t say the letters ‘u’ and ‘w’ very well so substitute these with a ‘v’ and a ‘vv’ respectively. Your characters can’t say the same word twice! Also, for some weird reason all of your letter u’s which are not part of any dialogue have umlauts on them

To combat the restriction on saying the words twice, Durwyn and Launce speak dialects – Scouse and Brummie, respectively – and Eudomius’s use of pronouns is limited at best. Durwyn and Launce’s lines were translated by using the translators here: http://www.whoohoo.co.uk/main.asp.

If you can’t understand them, fret not! I included the original dialogue under the story to help figure out what they’re saying.


It was the last day of the war, according to the knights. I watched, wondering where to go next once I woüld see this throügh. Somewhere deeper into the fütüre again woüld be great; while Mars was no longer a deity to these people, his inflüence on the world was still clearer than a cloüdless night sky. The days of war and all the times these massive trebüchets had been fired proved that.

I had given my word to Dürwyn to keep him from being imprisoned, büt I knew that his kind were not needed where I woüld be going. Only few woüld even remember me, fewer woüld make any mention of me and only Dürwyn woüld try to keep me remembered — and no one woüld listen to an oütlaw like him. Besides, he oüght to face the jüdgement for whatever he had done. Laünce had still not told me anything, only that a major law had been broken and it was his düty to bring Dürwyn to jüstice, that he had made it his personal mission as his friend.

This trip has most certainly been an interesting one, far more interesting than the previoüs one where I was met with hostility that called for disgüises and agents from the local area.

Alas, my existence woüld not last forever. At nightfall, given that I had this Chronicle finished and an apology letter for Dürwyn prepared by then, I woüld depart and leave this era behind.

~

It took a few more days for üs to reach the site of the battle even thoügh we coüld feel the earth tremble two days earlier. I had heard of the powerfül weapons they üsed — coünterpoise trebüchets — düring my travels deeper into the fütüre after my Caesar’s death, büt now I coüld finally witness their power myself.

“Oh, gerron dat,” Dürwyn said, eyeing Laünce. “Bigger cockweights than doz o’ someone else ay kun.”
Laünce scoffed. “An’ ‘ad yaw fairther miskin a massiv’ oss, yourn ood still be tiny.”
I sighed as Dürwyn spüttered, desperate to come üp with a coünter. “Please stop. Have vvork to do. History never vvaits.”

I marveled the trebüchets’ power from afar, making and preparing notes so that I coüld record as müch as possible. As we had agreed on the way here, Laünce was already working on sketching images of these marveloüs weapons of war while Dürwyn kept both his moüth shüt and weapons oüt of sight.

As soon as the battle reached a lüll, I approached the knights, hoping that they woüld be more generoüs in their words and less generoüs in hostility and attempts to shove their weapons into my body than the tribe on the other side of the sea had been.

~

While I was not too fond of Dürwyn — a moüthy, irritating thorn in the side as he was — he and his gün were üsefül in taking down any and every robber that thoüght a historian like me carried something that woüld be valüable for the common folk. While he did say he was on the rün, I did not expect to meet anyone chasing him since he did not seem worried now that I was with him.

That is, üntil a voice called oüt throügh the forest, “Hold it roight the’er, outlaws!”
“Shit,” Dürwyn sighed.
I türned to look at the man who had called oüt from the forest. “Sorry, sir, bvt…”
“No buts,” the man interrüpted, now walking towards üs, a gün of his own pointing at Dürwyn. “Doy knoo yaouw, cape geezer, yet this one’s most certainly an outlaw.”
“Launce, don-” Dürwyn said.
“Nope.” The man Dürwyn had addressed as Laünce waved the gün. “I’m dem sheriff. My word’s the law.”
Dürwyn türned to look at me, terrified. Apparently, this was why we had a deal. I cleared my throat. “Listen. Mvstn’t. Prefer keeping vvord vntil mission ends.”
The sheriff türned to frown at me. “Then you’ll let him goo?”
Dürwyn looked even more terrified when I nodded.
The sheriff püt his gün away. “Fine. I’ll cum along with y’all, though.”
“Acceptable,” I noted, hiding how glad I was to defüse a sitüation with two men who, frankly, seemed ünable to see the differences between a horse and a donkey.

I shoüld have skipped time at some other spot than where I did two days ago…

~

The forest was different 150 years into the past from the era where I had located the war zone I was to chronicle next. ünfortünately, my timing and placing had led to me at odds with a man armed with a gün and big declarations aboüt how he was an oütlaw on the rün.

“Isn’t need for violence. Only heading tovvards nearby vvar zone,” I explained, hoping to defüse the sitüation.
“Yous blimp like you’d na find a needle inna ‘ayless ‘aytack!” the oütlaw spat.
Oüch. I spreading my arms, sighing. “Look, got nothing of valve.”
“You would juss tell ter knights er firkin,” the oütlaw growled.
“Hovv abovt striking deal?” I prepared to gestüre at myself as üsüal. “Protect and vvon’t get reported.”
“Seriously?”
“Yes.”
“Y’know wa’? Sound. Keep in mind: me don’t terlerate back stabb’n.” The oütlaw waved his gün once more before pütting it away. “Name’s Durwyn, by de way.”
I smiled in immense relief. “Evdomivs.”

What did I jüst get myself into?


Durwyn: “Oh, look at that. Bigger balls than those of someone else I know.”

Launce: “And had your father been a massive horse, yours would still be tiny.”

Eudomius: “Please stop that. We have work to do and history waits for no one.”

~

Launce: “Hold it right there, outlaws!”

Durwyn: “Ah shit.”

Eudomius: “I’m sorry, sir, but…”

Launce: “No buts. Dunno you, cape man, but this one’s most certainly an outlaw.”

Durwyn: “Launce, don-“

Launce: “Nope. I’m the sheriff and my word’s the law.”

Eudomius: “Excuse me. We have a deal. His help for avoiding capture. I’d like to honor it until my work here ends.”

Launce: “Then you’ll let him go?”

Eudomius nods.

Launce: “Fine. I’ll come along with y’all, though.”

Eudomius: “That’s acceptable.”

~

Eudomius: “There’s no need for violence, good man. I’m only looking for the war zone nearby.”

Durwyn: “You look like you’d never find a needle in a hayless haytack!”

Eudomius: “Look, I’ve got nothing of value.”

Durwyn: “You’d just report me to a knight or something.”

Eudomius: “Then how about we strike a deal? You keep me safe and I won’t turn you in.”

Durwyn: “Seriously?”

Eudomius: “Yes.”

Durwyn: “Y’know what? Fine. Keep in mind that me won’t tolerate back stabbing. The name’s Durwyn, by the way.”

Eudomius: “Mine’s Eudomius.”

The Gauntlet 2021 5: Mother Nature’s Strike

Challenge 5: Extraordinariest! (Less than 1000 words, but must be a prime number): … In which a suddenly genocidal Sir David Attenborough has decided it’s time to thin out the human population some, all the time doing what he does best: providing his trademark commentary. Just remember: Sir Attenborough can’t use numbers, names of animals, and all his adjectives have to be superlatives. Moreover, all his lines start and end with a vowel. Wrap up your story with a moralising message which, if acted out, would spell certain doom for humanity.


Behind protective glass and a gas mask, a man stood, watching the obscuring view with satisfaction. “As the gas spread throughout the land, people cried at Mother Nature’s strike against the humanity. Every action they had taken had led to this: the most efficient population cut mankind would ever see.”

The man nodded to himself, wishing he had had the willpower to pull the lever and do this long before things had gotten so bad for their planet. “Even though they would not understand it, this action was for the best of Earth, their home.”

The smile on the man’s face widened. “And all of you thinking it’s not the justest thing to do doesn’t mean that it’s not the most necessary thing to do to survive…”

The Gauntlet 2021 4: What I Lost

Challenge 4: Quoth the Raven: “Encore” (700 words, exactly): Dig up your inner (so not the actual) E.A. Poe and write some gorgeous Gothic fiction with notions of inevitable death! Romance! Mental anguish! … where the narrator gets visited by a talking animal which may or may not have been (but most definitely is; the judges will notice) Megalosaurus bucklandii. For added difficulty, our dinosaur only knows words with ‘e’ in them. For contrast, your narrator can’t use any e’s in their own dialogue. Include in this story four kinds of tea, no two of which are in the same sentence!


My (a good word) Liz,

First of all, I am sorry for my unforgivably bad writing. You will know why it is that way soon.

I pray that you stay in good condition. I, I’m afraid, am not. I told you about magic that could grant I what I look for: a right body, a right… status. You know what I imply. I found a magician who can do that kind of magic.

I was too caught up in my joy of finding it that I got into a trap. This magician did not inform I about cost of his magic until I was… what I am now.

This magic cost I a lot of my vocabulary. I cannot say or work with a… I cannot say it right. It is past D and prior to F.

Doing this hurts I so much. I got what I wish but lost an important tool. I cannot say a drink I want if it’s not akin to Chai.

I’m sorry, my fantastic Tulip. My trip brought us a calamity I had not thought to occur.

I’m coming back now, partly finally full and partly in parts again.

Yours always,

…I cannot say who I am now, so call I…

…Dull

P.S. I am sorry for moist on this. This hurts I so much that I cry a lot nowadays.

~

My (a word) Liz,

I don’t know what to say, only that I’m ill. I’ll stay in town of Cards until I’m not sick. I pray that Oolong will aid my condition.

This magic on I adds to my hurt day past day. I’m afraid that I’ll turn out bad.

Pray for my condition, my fantastic Tulip.

Yours always,

Dull

~

My Liz,

I don’t know what’s actually going on. I’m trying coming back although I’m still ill without a stop to it. During my trip to Light City, I found a giant, scaly animal who talks in words I lost, and only in words I lost. It has two giant foots, short arms and awfully long tooths. It said to I that I’ll pass away without coming back to you.

I don’t know if it was a hallucination or if it actually was with I. I don’t know much nowadays, I’m afraid.

My fantastic Tulip… I’m afraid of a lot nowadays. This magic on I adds to my hurt day past day still. I’m afraid I might actually pass away as this giant said. I cannot say if any of this is actually going on or just a bunch of hallucinations. I’m afraid that this magic has costs I’m only starting to pay, costs that I cannot pay.

Still, I’ll try coming back to you. I’m giving my word for it. I’ll bring you Matcha with I, as I told you I would prior to starting this trip that I now wish I hadn’t thought about at all any day.

Yours always,

Dull

~

My (a fantastic word) Liz,

I may not coming back to you. A man I bought Po Cha from will bring my things to you if I pass away too soon. This man’ll accompany I to you and knows your location if I pass away.

My fantastic Tulip… I’m so, so, so sorry about all of this pain that I’m bringing to you that words cannot show it. Words could not show how sorry I’m about all of this if I still had all words on my lips.

I’m so sorry for so much. I’m sorry that this will add to your pain, but I ask you to know that this might find you only past my own passing, so I want to say as much as I can with my lacking words so that nothing will follow I to what is past this living world.

I want you to know, my fantastic Tulip, that you lit my world up. I wouldn’t swap you to anything. I’m thankful for what I got and although our paths may go apart now. I’m thankful for having you.

If this is my last to you, know that you lit my world, my fantastic, brightly shining Tulip Star.

Yours till all is lost,

Dull

The Gauntlet 2021 3: Chosen By The Mirai

Challenge 3: It’s Your Destiny, Eh (Between 700 and 1400 words): In this fantastic Sword&Sorcery story, you explore the Chosen One trope… but your Chosen can be neither young, pure, or lucky! Include an animal helper that sides with whichever character last said something, and a strong, boozing character with a heavy accent and an axe who is NOT a dwarf.

All objects used for the offensive are named after the sound they make, and your story resolves itself in an explosion that is not of the Chosen One’s doing. For added difficulty, include four different eighteen-letter words, which must appear at the beginning of a sentence.


Eandris had no idea why she was kneeling in front of the four Sages of Mirai. She sure as hell had not been promised coin for humbling — that is, disgracing — herself in front of them.

And with Pishlak, it was going to be even more embarrassing… If only she had invested in either a portable silencer spell or an old-fashioned muzzle.

In any case, there was no going back. The Sages were in front of her and she now had to endure both this and the humiliation that ensued.

Sage Asos spoke first, “Absentmindedness invites disaster.”

“Exactly!” Pishlak exclaimed.

Someone please put me out o’ mah misery. Eandris sighed without a sound.

Sage Brosir spoke next, their voice not betraying the break in their serenity, “Bloodthirstiness is a pathway to the pain of a thousand villages.”

“Yup!” Pishlak noted.

Eandris let out another silent sigh, knowing without seeing that the Sages were glaring at the raven perched on her headdress.

Sage Chanteth continued as if nothing had happened, “Counteraccusations solve no conflict.”

“Indeed!” Pishlak said.

If only Eandris had been allowed to move just enough to pinch the damn bird’s beak shut.

Sage Dhos finished the customary lines of wisdom, irritation clear in their voice, “Disacknowledgement of the truth does not make it disappear.”

“True!” Pishlak crowed.

Eandris wanted to just sink into the cold stone floor and never resurface.

The lights dimmed, indicating that the kneeling wanderer could raise her eyes. Knowing that it could not save this wagon wreck, she spoke up to ease her mind, “Me apologize fo’ mah mate’s lack o’… silence.”

“Sorry!” Pishlak apologized. Eandris knew better than to believe it was anything more than a customary word; the raven was a pathological turncoat unlike anyone else she had ever met. Had he not been a valuable scout, she would have turned him into a roast years ago.

Sage Brosir waved their hand. “We apologize for the sudden summoning, Eandris the Chosen.”

Eandris’s eyebrows shot up. What?

“The Mirai has spoken. A calamity is coming,” Sage Dhos explained.

The eyebrows descended into a frown. So what?

“We need a hero to face this calamity, one chosen by the Mirai to combat the haze that is coming,” Sage Asos continued.

Where do me come in? Eandris could not help wondering why Pishlak was so silent all of a sudden, not that she minded.

“The Mirai chose you,” Sage Chanteth told.

“Wha? No. No. Nonononono.” Eandris stood up, shaking her head. “No, me won’t be a damn hero. No, me and mah whoom don’t do that kinda stuff.”

“You saved the village of Northeen from the ghouls,” Sage Asos noted.

“They paid handsome coin.”

“And apprehended the vampire of Gereth.”

“Again, coin. D’ya have coin fo’ me fo’ this gig?”

Sage Asos continued as if they had not heard the question. “And stopped the false Sage that eluded us in the empire of Miraldel.”

“Tha’ guy just got on mah nerves.” Eandris was already so done. So. Done. “Listen up, ya relics. Me ain’t doin’ any ‘hero’ stuff unless me get coin fo’ it, got it? Now, unless ya have coin fo’ me fo’ this, me is leavin’, effective immediately.”

There was a pause as the dumbfounded Sages, unused to such behavior as they was, sputtered for something to say. Concluding their imminent answer, Eandris turned on her heels and headed towards the exit. “If ya change yer minds and treasuries, me shall be in the nearest boozer.”

“You cannot leave,” Sage Dros noted. “The doors are far too heavy for a person to open. They must be opened with magic.”

Maybe fo’ a frail mage like ya. Eandris smirked as she leaned against the thick wood and pushed. The doors groaned but moved nevertheless.

Buoyed by the immense pleasure of proving the “all-knowing” Sages wrong, Eandris trooped away. She eyed the disciples she passed by, surprised that some of those poor fools were half as muscled as she was. That would not last if they followed their Sages’ lead, though; magic was known to make its users lazy enough to lose as much muscle mass as possible.

To the wanderer’s joy and amusement, the nearest tavern was right next to the temple she had found herself in. It was small, especially in height, but if it served booze, she would be content.

The clientele fell quiet when Eandris sat down at the counter, her chair of choice groaning under her weight.

“Continue yer discussions. Don’ mind me.” Eandris slid some coins onto the counter. “Yer cheapest ale, please.”

“C-coming right up, ma’am,” the bartender sputtered, eyeing the stranger who dwarfed him while getting a pint ready.

Once the pint was in front of her, Eandris took it, glanced over her shoulder and proclaimed, “To the Sages’ bullshit!”

With that pint, the journey towards the next hangover began.

Three and a half downed pints later, a lanky rogue on Eandris’s right screamed half straight into her ear, “Bomb spell!”

“Dun’ shou’ in ma-” Eandris slurred before the aforementioned spell went off.

The Sages of Mirai looked at the fire from their chamber. They did not need the Mirai to tell what had happened.

Sage Chanteth looked at the incoming haze in the horizon. Now, there was nothing that could stop it. They turned to their colleagues. “Prepare your horses, dear siblings. Our haven is lost.”

The Gauntlet 2021 2: Krash

Challenge 2: Supersonik, Elektronik (1500 words or less): The year is 2000-something and human colonisation of space is well underway. Sadly, the aesthetic has evolved backwards to resemble something like this clip by Zlad!. Space is still pretty much a dangerous place however, and so your story will tell an adventurous, musical and oh, so very sexy tale of getting stranded on a hostile planet. Replace all your hard c’s by k’s and have the main kharakter all their verbs in kompletely wrong places say.


Given we had a good khase for the Intergalaktik Polike. Was our engine shot now, and headed was our kourse deeper into this odd planet’s atmosphere. Was at its end this adventure of money and fame of ours. Forgotten would be we after our impending deaths.

Try I did to save everyone on board nevertheless, just so that have we kould some hope. “For krash-landing prepare!”

Krash!

When wake up I did, bounked light off the shining silver klothes of my friends’ immobile, bloodied bodies. Played still my musik player musik; must it have rekeived sunlight all this time for power.

Was I where? Know not I did. Hear I did skratkhing, feel I did heat. Alive anyone else was? Know not I did.

Look I did out of the window. A nike planet. Look it does good for an adventure, although frighten me did the gigantik kreatures in the horizon. Appear the planet did dangerous.

Was there something else as well: pretty humanoids, throwing rokks all at our ship. Have not they did mukh klothing, yet all blakk and shiny silver like ours. Very pretty. Very relatable.

Very mukh ours?

Hold they did very dangerous rifles in their hands.

Boom!

Turn I did towards the sound. Were they inside now, at me brandishing rifles. Aktivate I did the defense systems in response. Think I did that now was I safe.

Wrong.

Was at its end, my adventure.

And keep playing musik did my musik player throughout all this.

Hear I did Supersonik at my last moments.

The Gauntlet 2021 1: Rummy Air

Challenge 1: Needs More Pirate (1000 words or less): Write a suspenseful espionage thriller scene in your setting of choice – could be any time or place in history – but add one parrot-toting, rum-guzzling, Caribbean pirate.


With haste, you put a handkerchief over your mouth and nose. The only good thing about rum was that it did wonders to knock out both Captain Doublehook and his trusty parrot, Featherhook.

However, the most outweighing bad thing about it was that in the Caribbean heat and enclosed ships, it smelled worse than death whenever you opened a door. You suppressed the urge to stumble to the desk adorned with pillaged treasures from all across the archipelago and dry heave into one of the drawers. That could bring unwanted attention and you had only so much time to scan the map before Doublehook would regain consciousness in yet another massive hangover.

As you closed in on the desk, wary of the numerous rum bottles on the floor, you could not help wondering if this stench would make you drunk if you stayed in the room for too long. Featherhook being out on its feet, still attached to its owners shoulder, did indicate as much to you, after all. Nevertheless, while it was an interesting scientific scenario, you wanted to see such experiments conducted only in a controlled environment — something a Caribbean pirate ship would never be, at least not without taking the “pirate” out of it.

Doublehook murmured something between his snores.

You froze, suddenly reminded of the here and now. You had lost your focus — a fatal mistake.

If Doublehook woke up and saw you now, you would be pushed off the plank and the Queen would never get the map to Pirates’ Lair.