Note: for more about my fiction, see this page.
The east road from Tashi was one leg of an ancient trading road out of Mindseye. From the city of Revealers it travelled east along the northern coast of the Grey Steppe, then to Shadowsbane, and finally Xia, the easternmost city in Nelara before one met the Worldspine. Roughly every ten pok, or ten thousand strides, were strung campsites called waygroves. On the wind-blown steppe, the waygroves were often the only visible trees across the entire horizon. Here, the groves were planted on the borders between farms, only loosely distinguishable from the tree cropping visible as far as the eye could see.
When the Lyrians had first standardized the footpaths used by locals, they marked the waygroves with small stone obelisks standing waist-high. Einar had seen many cracked, crumbled to dust, or carted off. The waygrove they stopped at for the night had lost its original one long ago, but he’d helped his father find and carve a suitable replacement. It stood on the trail, the chiseled ‘WAYGROVE’ sharp and unweathered. In smaller letters they’d carefully added ‘by authority of Tashi.’ The actual grove was accessible up a small path, a windscreen of evergreens planted atop a hill.
Maera looked up the path. “Do you think anyone else is up there?” From the road, all they could see was a shadowed portal through the dense grove.
Einar peered up, shading his face against the intense sunset. “No smoke. But why do you ask, anyways? The whole point of this trip is to talk with strangers, isn’t it?”
She laughed. “I know. We just need privacy for the spell I am hoping to cast tonight, that’s all.” Read the rest of this entry »
This is partly a test post to see how well Flickr image sharing works. My data allotment with WP is evaporating quickly with our photo-intensive posts, and I don’t care to spend $$ on storage when there are free sources and workarounds.
When resuscitating my ancient Flickr account I found all of the cool screenshots I spent hours playing games like Skyrim to get. I’m cherry picking a few to share here – let me know if the Flickr embedding doesn’t work well or if there are issues.
That last one has often been an image I’ve used when thinking about the Tree of Life in my fiction series.
I figured it was time for a photo tour of the garden. It’s all pretty brown right now, but we just got a nice soaking rain, so thing should speed up quickly, even with cool temperatures forecasted much of this next week.
This is the view looking at the front of the house from the street. Not pictured (would have been in the immediate foreground) is a bed between sidewalk and street – which all my neighbors seem to think is illegal – planted to snap peas. The bed in the foreground has one rhubarb crown in it and will be planted with the gooseberries and raspberries when they arrive.
For those not familiar with it, the Ice Age Trail, it is one of the longer hiking trails in the United States, though it is not yet finished. The total 1200 mile route (yes, Wisconsin is that big!) runs up and down many of the best geological features from the last Ice Age (hence the name), so there’s a lot of going in and out of glacial-formed hills, valleys, and whatnot. The marked sections currently stand at 600 miles, so most people refer to the trail by its segments.
In the past we’ve done most of our hikes at the Pike Lake Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, which includes a section of the Ice Age Trail, but the Alchemist (rightly so!) wanted to hike somewhere different. A friend of ours, who’s hiked a goodly portion of the marked segments, recommended the Monches segment.
Like many of the segments we’ve done, the glacial features let you see many distinct biomes in just a few short miles. The goblins only lasted 1.8 miles (a bit disappointing, as I know they can do longer) before we turned around, but in that short span we went from a hardwood forest (predominately oak, with some aspen and beech) into a lovely riparian zone, followed by a wetland that featured some insanely loud frogs even in the mid-afternoon.
I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking:
Last Thursday was the Alchemist’s birthday. Originally she’d had an important meeting at work scheduled that day that got cancelled last-minute, so she took a half day and we surprised the kids with a trip to the zoo. We have a zoo pass, so we get there often, but the weather that day was particularly fantastic – especially for April!
I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking, however.
Note: previous chapters, as well as an introduction to the Grey Empire universe, are available on my fiction page.
With a gasp, Einar woke in his own bed. He looked to one side to see a fire roaring in the fireplace. He looked above and a series of fire sigils were written into the ceiling’s beams that had never been there before.
“What- what are those?”
“You are awake,” Maera said in a quiet voice. He moved his head and saw her sitting at the foot of his bed. Well, their bed. He was still getting used to saying that. “Those were an attempt to give you a peaceful sleep.” A partial truth. She’s trying to dampen my influence. ‘Anything I can do?’
As Einar’s awareness increased, he noticed his sword was laid across her lap. Her fingers calmly strummed on the blade. ‘I don’t like that.’ Patience! “How long was I out?”
“About an hour. Rest a moment. I will tell your parents you are awake, but insist that we remain alone until dawn. This is master-apprentice business.” She rose, placed the sword at the foot of the bed, and quietly left the room, bare feet nearly silent on the wood floor. Read the rest of this entry »