Back to School Games for History!

Hello, fellow educators!

Are you ready to go back to school?¬† I’m still hoping to binge another sci-fi show or two.

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But school is just around the corner and you have to start thinking about fun games and engaging activities for this year’s students ūüôā

I thought that I would share these sweet resources that I made and found success with.   They will help ease your pain when it comes to creating a fresh and new back to school activity to engage your history classes.

I call them “History Detective” games!¬† ¬†

They engage the heck out of my high schoolers, but I’ll bet this activity will work just as well in a middle school classroom.

They are way better than regular icebreakers.  It gets the kids working together right off the bat to analyze and understand interesting pictures and primary documents from history.  Some pictures are funny, some pictures are thought provoking.

Here is a sample from the World History version of the back-to-school activity:

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The kids first see the pictures, and have to take notes about details that help them form opinions about the origins of the creature or what it is.¬† You can imagine the giggles this one gets ūüôā

Plus, we all know admin loves to see the kids working together and talking about something academic!  Very low prep activity too, all the kids need is paper, pen, and their brains!

And all you need is the projector and a laptop to connect to it ūüôā Plus your awesome and engaging classroom personality, of course!!

Click here for the U.S. History Version!

Click here for the World History version!

What sort of activities do you use to get the kids back in gear for the new year? 

Happy 2018!

Mr. P / Travelling Salesman

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Forbidden Tomes

Click here for the part before.

 

The parchment sealed, Elmyra hobbled outside on tired legs.  Wind breezed cold on her face, forcing her to squint as she walked to the small pigeon coop off to the side of her hut.  Sunshine felt far away.  A fluttering of wings and a bit of twine send the parchment into the sky, and old eyes stare after it.  Ancient eyes.

One pair of eyes belonged to the Elmyra.  The others? Well.

 


 

The bird wasn’t the fastest bird, or the most graceful. ¬†But it was the only bird Elmyra Cairon had. ¬†The others had fallen to the last winter, and she didn’t care to buy more.

She didn’t believe that she would be around much longer.

The bird fluttered along above the treeline, clumsily gaining altitude. ¬†Its yellow-red eyes stared out, blinking quickly. ¬†Were it a human, it would wonder if it was able to make it. ¬†But instinct drove the bird higher. ¬†Farther. ¬†The pigeon may not have been graceful, or fast — but it was old and reliable.

The parchment staggers its stride, but pigeon pride ensures that it reaches its destination just in time.

Finally able to descend, our pigeon makes an exhausted dive down toward the treeline, leaving what was left of the sun disappearing behind the Zephyr Mountains and entering the cool of the shade. ¬†It seemed to breathe a heavy sigh, swooping to land on the arm of a tall and lanky elf. ¬†The man gave a chuckle as he untied the paper from the bird’s quivering leg.

“Ch’arleh, a message came for us. ¬†Judging from the bird, its probably your mother.”

A snort-laugh came from a cave entrance behind the tall elf. ¬†The sound of a sword sliding into a sheath was followed by a whet-stone thudding on a wood table. ¬†Ch’arleh came out, auburn hair pulled into a high ponytail.

“That’s definitely my mother’s bird.” ¬†He picked it up gently and stroked its head. ¬†The bird cooed pleasantly. ¬†“She’s had this thing for as long as I can remember. ¬†Its time is almost up though.”

He set the bird onto a branch, and it sat and stared at him as he took the parchment back into the damp cave. ¬†Ducking to get into the opening, he stood and walked long strides into the mountain. ¬†Candles perched wherever they could, casting dancing shadows over shelves of scroll and tome. ¬†The oaken chair that used to be his father’s waited patiently for him, and he sat with a grunt. ¬†Cracked wax and rustled paper revealed the words with familiar handwriting:

Halharken East of the Zephyrs and travelling Westward.

Among them is one of your cousins from your father’s side and a¬†human noble.

He has some understanding of the arcane. 

Something is not right, son.  Please be careful.  With love,

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Your √Ėntarii

Ch’arleh stared at the parchment for a long time, feeling its rough texture between his fingers.

How much magic did she use to get this information?  

He shook the concern over his mother aside and set his mind to work.  He had little cause to worry for her, considering his plan.  The Halharken have exposed themselves on this side of the Zephyrs during the peace.

“Hmph. ¬†Peace indeed.” He whispered to himself. ¬†Action needed to be taken. ¬†If the Halharken were here, it meant that the Crown was willing to risk exposing itself. ¬†What made this risk worthwhile?

“J’imh! ¬†Send word to the outposts to recall their troops back here.” ¬†Ch’ar shouted into the mouthpiece of a wooden tube that ran from beside his chair, along the ceiling and to the mouth of the cave. ¬†He removed his hair, and let it hang down to his shoulders. ¬†The flickering darkness intensified as the smallest breeze toys with the candles. ¬†A poison breeze that comes from within the cave. ¬†From the shadows themselves. ¬†Ch’arleh smiles to his invisible allies, whispering words that allows their dark energy to flow through him. ¬† Words neither human, elven, or even ancient orc.

He felt electric as his hairs seemed to throb with hungry power, standing on end.   A power no one knew of but him.  Not even his dear, sweet mother.

A fluttering of wings outside disappeared into the darkening woods, calling his Ravens. ¬†Ch’arleh opened a scroll he had read dozens of times before — a scroll that had the language he spoke inscribed in harsh, foul-looking scribbles. ¬†Scribbles that seemed to shift and change to an untrained eye.

The symbols surrounded an image of a particularly evil-looking mask.  He mouthed the words that titled the forbidden paper to himself with a smile:

“Khosst Am’ojaan”

 


 

Robert and Omar smiled at each other and took a swig of their water at the same time.  The plan they devised was perfect.  They finished with just enough time for the sun to retire and for a crescent moon to rise.  With the Halharken keeping guard around the makeshift campground, they both felt comfortable enough to get their rest.  They needed it in the day to come.  Omar fell asleep instantly, soft snores oozing from a wiry beard.

Hours passed, and the sliver of moon crept slowly above.  Robert tossed and turned on the hard ground.  He stood with a frustrated sigh.  Maybe a walk would calm his nerves.

The Halharken were notoriously silent and so Robert did his best to match as he walked.  The night itself seemed to absorb sound, as even the insects held their breath.  He felt lonely even though he knew he was under guard.  Finally, he saw a hooded figure standing next to a thick tree trunk.  Thinking some small talk might just bore him enough to sleep, Robert strode to the silhouette of his guardian.

“A quieter night I have never seen. ¬†And yet I cannot sleep,” Robert softly spoke as he walked up. ¬†“How goes your watch, tracker?”

Silence replied from the leaning figure.  a beat passed and Robert froze where he stood.

“…Tracker?”

More silence.

He kept his distance as he circled around wide, hand on the pommel of his weapon.  A cloud passed over the waning crescent moon, stealing what little light there was.  The hood still obscured the face of the figure as he came to stand in front.  Roberts nerves were frayed and he shouted over his own thundering heart:

“Speak or I¬†will cut you down!”

The figure jerked suddenly, no longer leaning against the thick oak.

“Oh, Gods! ¬†Sir! ¬†I apologize, I must have fallen asleep.” ¬†The man sheepishly admitted. ¬†Robert breathed a sigh of frustrated relief and chuckled as he looked down.

“You scared the iron from my blood!” ¬†Looking back up Robert saw the man’s face. ¬†Young. ¬†Eyes bulging in terror. ¬†Robert’s mouth hung open – unable to speak – as he saw a thin line appear across the youth’s throat. ¬†A thin line grew thicker and began to spray blood as his head rolled from his shoulders. ¬†The head plopped to the ground and rolled enough for the bulging eyes to reflect the light of the moon peeking back out from the clouds. ¬†The body remained standing perfectly upright.

Robert steeled his stomach against the urge to projectile vomit and drew his blade with a practiced hand.  Glances around him revealed no one.  Nothing.  The headless body still stood with an eerie stiffness.

Then it shuddered!

 

tales of a travelling salesman final

 

Thanks for reading!

Until then, read this funny story I wrote about magic in modern times!

 

[WP] Magic is in the process of being rediscovered. ¬†You have just found a protection enchantment that sounds suspiciously like “Hold My Beer”.¬†

I murmured the words softly to myself:
“Ancient elder gods, I call on thee. Torgath. Shenron. Gibbles. Protect this chalice for me.”
Nothing happened save for a draft flickering my dying candle. Strange. I closed the book softly and retired to my bed.
_________________

The next day some of the anthropology and archeology staff went out to the bar because it was Friday and the only spell we got to work was one to produce a small frog.  
“Man, he’s a friendly lil guy” Professor Stevens said. The frog sat perched on his shoulder, bobbing it’s head to the beat of Journey’s “Seperate Ways”.  
“I think he likes the music” I laughed and shoveled some chips into my mouth. A twinge told me it was time to relieve myself in the dive bar’s dark bathroom.

 “Stevens, can you hold this beer for me? No roofies, please.”  
“Why don’t you ask — what was it — Torgath and something else…” 
“Hah!” I laughed and held my arms up theatrically, beer in one hand.
“Ancient elder gods, I call on thee. Torgath. Shenron. Gibbles. Protect this chalice for me.”
I set the chalice on the bar and started to walk away when I heard someone scream and drop a glass. I looked back and stared at a 8-foot reptilian hominid with black armor standing by my beer and holding a halberd. It used it to push back my friends as it snarled. It looked to me and hissed:
“Ssssssummoner. I will remain here and protect your drink.” It waved a massive scaled hand over the beer and a light white layer of frost encased the glass and some of the bar.  
“And it sssssshall remain cold for you. It issssss sssssafe to attend to your businessssss. I am the sssservant of the elderssss and you, powerful one.”  
The bar was silent except for Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades”.  
A massive popping sound filled the air and suddenly the same woman from before screamed again as a giant Koala-man appeared on the opposite end of the bar, clad in gold armor and pointing his sword at me.
“FOOL! You have summoned the minion of Shenron and Gibbles!” I stared in confusion as the reptilian darted across the bar and slammed his halberd into the koala-knight. The impact forced all the bar patrons back with a whooshing wind and immense pressure.  
“The battle for the end times has begun. You have chosen your side.” The knight kicked the reptile back and prepared for his attack.  
“Now fight, Mage!”

I stood frozen in horror as the Golden Koala-Knight lunged foward toward me, low to the ground.  The reptilian was still recovering from being knocked back as I stared at my impending doom.

The loudest ribbet I have ever heard thundered in the enclosed space of the bar.  The Koala and Reptile both froze, and everyone stared as the frog we had summoned before leapt from Professor Stevens’ shoulder and transformed into a frog-hominid.  An immaculate white robe and hood covered it, and the robe seemed to emanate its own light in the dark bar.

“YOU!” Koala and Reptile shouted in unison.

“Yes, me.” Frog croaked.  “End this foolishness or you shall both be banished back into the Hidden Realm.”  Without hesitation both combatants yielded with a bow.  

“Who… Are you?” I sputtered.  The rest of the bar patrons had fled, save for Stevens and I.  It was surprising that no one had stayed videotaping this for Worldstar Hip-hop.

“I am Torgath’s Great Priest.  I know you don’t know who that is, but it doesn’t matter quite yet.  What does matter is that we hold a summit of all of your magical researchers so I can lay out some ground rules for this age of prophecy.  I didn’t do this before because, frankly, you are all inept.  Well, not you.”  He looked at me with those strange sideways eyes.  “You are different, somehow.  Are you descended from elves?”

“What?” I whispered.  “I’m from Florida.” 
“Yes, of course.  Flawreeda.”  The frog chuckled to himself.  “Well, come with me.  He touched my shoulder with one webbed hand and touched his temple with the other.  The world around me seemed to fade away into static, trembling and twitching and then just white surrounded us.  

We appeared in the center court of the Hidden Kingdom, surrounded by animal-peoples and forgotten races.  But I didn’t notice this until I finished vomiting my fish and chips out onto an ancient mosaic that was older than humanity.  

“I’m sorry.”  My apology echoed out to scattered chuckles.  

“It’s nothing, child.”  The Frog-priest waved his hand and the mess vanished with a pop.  

I stood and stared at the impossible gathering of impossible creatures.  I felt dizzy as one immense creature stood with a whoosh of wind, easily 80 feet tall.

“So this is the one who performed the drink protection enchantment?” A loud scoff.  “I cannot sense any magical energy in him.”  

“It doesn’t matter if you can sense it or not” Frog-priest chastised. “He performed the spell and the two great warriors nearly began the end times.  AGAIN.”

Small murmurs erupted into a cacaphony of shouts and questions and statements.

“Kill him!  Prevent the end times!”

“Destroy their world to save ours!”

“Conquer them!”

The Frog-priest waved his hand.  Silence came before he finished its arc.  

“He must face the trials.  We shall see if their world will live.  He is the strongest Mage they have.  He will decide the fate of his world.” I stared in horror.

“Wait, what?”

[WP] After exploring the galaxy for quite some time, humanity finally makes first contact. Turns out science fiction got it wrong: compared to the other races humans are advanced, logical, responsible, long lived pacifists and the galaxy is a massive clusterfuck.

How they managed to become a space-faring civilization was a mystery. Glarkans were a blend of reptile and crustacean with a hefty helping of aggression. I had read the dossiers. I gulped as I stepped off the transport into the musty space station. The first human here. The second through 30th humans were my security detail.

The noise level was that of a souk. A normal one, not like that of Baghdad in the early 2000s.

“No bombs here. Yet.” Chuckling to myself to forget my nervousness. I ate way too much Indian food too.

What did I get myself into?

The noise level dropped as my detail fanned out, flanking my stroll onto their promenade. Strange beasts in the midst of arguments stopped and stared. They whispered. Clicked mandibles. Something not unlike a laugh. Shops closed their windows with a familiar urgency, as familiar as the feeling of rubbing my sidearm.

A large, obviously mature Glarkan towered into view. Ducking to get through a 12 foot doorway, he bellowed an alien laugh through drooping antennae. My detail flicked their safeties off and raised their rifles, and I hissed at them with a hand, palm down.

“Put those away!” I turned away, knowing they obeyed. The creature was already before us, and the others had vanished. Plates of organic armor were covered in scars and paint, clashing red and yellow and black. It crouched to speak, and we held out our translators to record it’s patterns of clicks and whistles. Similar to insect trills. A grunt thrown in for who knows what reason.

And we waited. It was impatient, and began stomping away the translators finally blooped at us.

“Be-gin. I wonder how you found us in this nebula. Are all of you so small? Why should we listen to you?” [[LAUGHING]] “What technology do you offer?”

I sent a mathematical algorithm in response to this first diplomatic exchange. They just managed to get space flight, so protocol dictates first contact. Easy diplomatic job for the practiced man.

“It’s a science.” I smiled inwardly. The being opened a data pad it had tucked somewhere between exoskeleton and hair. It’s 8 eyes flicked about slightly. The mandible mouth opened and closed, as if about to speak. But the response has to be careful.

“Congratulations for gaining a foothold into space. It is a major step for a civilization to get beyond their gravity well. You are now required to submit to Galactic Law. You are under the protection of the Consortium of Planets. We will be deploying a detachment of the Navy to protect you from possible pirate raids, and to prevent domestic disturbances.

We are also willing to share cultural information about our races, their poetry, art, history and characters. You may submit yours if you wish. Technology will be shared after a grace period of – 134,342 – of your home world’s solar days.

Failure to submit to the law will yield a disciplinary embargo of your planet. Our technology so outmatches yours, we do not need to take aggressive action. You will not be permitted to explore past your own solar system.”

It worked, as usual. I left vast amounts of data for them to peruse. Bylaws, and all the fun details of life within the Consortium. Taxes.

I kind of missed the days when they tried to fight back. But the only display that is needed is to steal their sun. A massive blockade of solar panels suffices to kill a world. Fairly nonviolent.

The large creature seemed to cower a bit. Then as it began to sign the line it shrieked and coiled up, appearing to pounce. The first squad shot their net grenades at the creature and the electricity has no effect on it.

The force pushed it back into the corridor and the smaller versions began to pile out of the closed up shops. Thunder of assault rifles echoed, and my earbuds muffled the sound to protect my hearing. With a thought I relayed to CENTCOM that shit had, indeed, hit the fan.

The high powered assault rifles tore into the creatures. They fell falling forward. Reaching.

The nets on the large one toggled to high heat mode as it regained its footing. Bright orange patchwork sizzled hungrily and brought screams from the alien.

I stepped up to it as the last Glarkan died bleeding green blood and my men reloaded. I placed a stasis field around it. A fine specimen. I plugged into its field a computer program that matched the beings neural waves. So to implant suggestions into it. And time could be manipulated with the stasis field. A minute could be a hundred years of whispers in the darkness.

The blue shield vanished as I stuffed the device stuffed back into my pocket. The 8 eyes of the ancient creature shuddered and were followed by a low hum with a click.

An alien “OK”.

 

Impossible. ¬†Something from another galaxy? ¬†Their technology must be —

“Sir,” A Fleuon broke his train of thought. “We are detecting strange readings from our long-distance sensors. ¬†Oscillating frequencies on radio and sub-space bands. ¬†They seem to be working to mimic neural patterns.”

“What?” I whispered. ¬†Suddenly a voice came from all around, echoing within the CIC.

“Please submit. ¬†We do not wish to rule over another dead galaxy.” ¬†The voice was deep, and resonated in such a way that shook his bones.

“Get the marines ready. ¬†Make sure all torpedo tubes are loaded to bear, and get anything that is space-worthy into the launch bay. ¬†Are communications down?”

“Yes, sir.” They all chimed in.

“Naturally.” I spat into the air.

Suddenly the Fleuons all convulsed violently, some sprayed out green fluid onto their consoles and shook so hard that their tentacles dented metal.  After several moments, they were all slumped over and dead.  I ran to the nearest, and felt that its normally soft body was now stiff.  Definitely dead.

The voice chided him. “We have destroyed your methods of control and communications by attacking the brain waves of those beings that run your ships. ¬†Please do not make us alter the wavelengths of our weapons to your neural frequency.”

I collapsed in my chair, silent.  Alarms flashed on consoles.

“Prepare to be boarded.”

I was as ready as I ever would be.

 

tales of a travelling salesman final

Thanks for reading, friend!

Should I write more about this character?

In the meantime, read this story my grandmother told me.

Probably Just a Bug-Bite

I was working late in a rural school, when the power went out. I was the night janitor, a job I had always enjoyed because of the relative solitude. I could sleep all day and relax for a bit before driving to work. I would bring my headphones and listen to some Silversun Pickups or Andrew Bird while I swept and mopped up the refuse from the day. Every day the halls were left filled with broken pencils and crumpled up papers with forgotten love scribbled inside. Sometimes I read the notes, and chuckled at their eager egos reaching for some strange ideal of romance. Sometimes I just sneaked a quick bowl and zoned out into my work and the music. Each day blended beautifully into the next. Rent was paid, snacks were bought, and small bits of my check I managed to save. I was content with my confident mediocrity.

Until the night the lights went out, I was enjoying the relaxing waves of soft rain on window panes.

The darkness washed down the hallway I was standing in like a splash of obsidian. It’s difficult to describe the feeling I had, but it was not a normal, healthy fear of the dark. I felt… Unnerved. I knew it wasn’t true, but I felt like I was being watched by the inky black that surrounded me and touched by the silence that swarmed and swirled.

I stood still for some time, expecting to hear the backup generators kick on or the clicking drone of emergency lights. But the only thing I heard was a loud metal clanging that shot down the hall and into my bones. Frozen. Reverberations shook my bones. Helpless. I stood as if locked in a dream. I felt like a child, confused. Silence finally began to echo and ring and ring and ring in my ears.

It must have been a dream. I must have fallen asleep. This must have been a dream, right? I don’t even believe myself as I begin to think of how to write this…

The lights finally kicked on as the sound ended, with a hum and a flicker. And I saw I wasn’t alone.

I caught a glimpse of a large hominid whirling away around a corner. Legs were too long, and the arms were longer. Slender. Pallid. Vein-y. I remember the veins. Thick and purple on a skinny frame. I could have sworn I saw them throb hungrily.

Next thing I knew, I was sitting in a chair in a classroom. I felt cold, and I shivered. I felt disoriented and my vision was blurry as a soft lightning flash illuminated the room with the slightest gleam. Slowly getting to my feet, my eyes noticed the room number posted on the board amidst reminders and notes. The room was in that hallway I was in, or that I thought I was in before…

I found my coworker after running outside into the breezy night rain and into another building. I must have looked wild, because he asked if I was OK. I wasn’t. I’m still not.

My partner said the lights never went out.

And it’s been two days, and I thought it was an exhaustion-induced hallucination because I hadn’t been sleeping recently. My dog has been constantly barking at the clouds and the squirrels that have moved into the roof of my home, constantly scratching and squealing.

But now I have a unusual dot where my bicep meets the forearm. Sight bruising, too. As if I had gotten stung or poked.

Now that I look closely, it’s starting to seem infected. The bruising is a dark hue, darker than even when I broke a bone as a child. And the veins are thicker around that dot. And my head… aches. Constant throbbing.

Maybe I should drive to the city hospital, an hour’s drive away. Those big-city doctors will know what this is.

Probably just a bug-bite, mixed with this fever and paranoia.

Yeah. That’s it. Still gonna go check and make sure.

Make sure it’s nothing serious.

Blood of the Ice

Click here for the part before

 

“Bread?” Omar eagerly hopped down from the branch above.

“Yes, an old Elvish woman gave this to me for the trip I had ahead” ¬†Robert said. ¬†“There’s plenty to share.”

He held the bag out to his subordinate.  An arrow flew from his left and whisked the bag from his hand, pinning it to a tree with a vibrating twang.  Robert smiled and looked at the archer, eyes wide underneath their hood.

“You have a keen sense for magic, tracker. ¬†Omar, where did you find this one?” ¬†Robert beckoned for them to come from the brush and they stepped forward with a visible pride, nearly prancing like a show horse in the Capital on Parade Day. ¬†Omar smiled wide with white teeth shining¬†in the sun and gave a laugh. ¬†He and Robert stepped around the corpses and the small lake of blood forming around them. ¬†Flies already began to buzz¬†upon their corpses with the greedy instinct of insects.

“This one I found following us a few years ago. ¬†An elf, actually. ¬†A criminal from the ruins of their once glorious city” Omar chuckled¬†and clasped them on the shoulder. ¬†“He followed us for days, without any of us noticing. ¬†He has a natural skill that we made useful, and he is now a brother. ¬†One of the best. ¬†Lucky for him…” Omar squeezed him hard on his shoulders, causing the elf to wince in pain. …” he didn’t steal from us.” ¬†Omar gave a hearty chuckle and released him.

“I was… curious.” The elf¬†spoke more softly than Robert expected. ¬†Monotone. ¬†“These men captured a Raven without his group noticing. ¬†A Raven with whom I had a personal score to settle” ¬†A small smile curled the edges of his mouth. ¬†“You were testing us, earlier. ¬†With the bread. ¬†I waited to see if anyone besides me noticed…”

“But they did not” Robert finished with a grin. ¬†The elf smiled.

“I am Landar. ¬†I have a wider skill set than most.” ¬†Robert looked to Omar approvingly.

“You did well to find this one, Omar. ¬†He will prove useful in the days to come. ¬†You have elemental magic, don’t you?” ¬†Other hooded figures stepped from the bushes, forming a circle around them with their backs to the three. ¬†Protective.

“Elemental? ¬†Landar. ¬†Why didn’t you tell us?” ¬† The elf’s eyes were wide and staring back into Robert’s piercing glare. ¬†Silence fell between them all for a moment. ¬†Omar shouted to his men:

“It’s a bruin, don’t worry about it.” ¬†They apparently sensed the creature and mistook it for… something else.

“Why didn’t you tell us, Landar?” ¬†The stare continued. ¬†Then the wind shifted, the way the wind sometimes does.

The wind pushed its way through the trees, rustling the leaves above and around the group. ¬†The smell of the forest whirled into Robert’s nose, making him nostalgic for something he couldn’t quite remember. ¬†He stared through the elf, thinking hard about why he couldn’t remember. ¬†The smell of damp leaves and an air slowly growing colder spread a strange longing within his soul. ¬†The elf mistook this for the stare of a legendarily ruthless officer of the Imperium, a stare that meant impending doom.

“Please… you must understand that it… it’s not something I… like to use. ¬†Or for others to be aware of. ¬†But you knew?” ¬†Landar was visibly shaken. ¬†As a cloud passed over the sun, draping the group in shadows, a Halharken blade appeared before the throat of the elf, held by a hooded man who appeared¬†with the shadow’s passing. ¬†The ancient darkness within the shade of the forest trembled with lustful anticipation. ¬†More blood may come on this scene. ¬†Blood that may only begin to quench their thirst. ¬†Robert and Omar’s silence coaxed more words from the fearful elf.

“You know it drains my life, more so than other magic. ¬†I have nearly no¬†control over it. ¬†I fear that I use… too much when I do…”

“Which element?” Robert snapped back from his daydream. ¬†He was tired, but there was so much more to do on this day.

“…Ice.” Landar whispered. ¬†Omar grinned, and waved to the silent man behind the elf. ¬†The curved steel whistled as it flew back into its scabbard. ¬†The elf breathed heavily, horrified.

“Normally we would kill you where you stand,¬†ele-mental.” The word dripped with acid from Omar’s lips. ¬†“But you will come in handy with a mission we have in the future. ¬†Some of us may actually survive with your skill on our side.”

The elf flicked his eyes between Omar and Robert, not entirely convinced that they would let him live.  Robert spoke words of reassurance.

“We really do need you. ¬†We won’t wait until you fall asleep to slit your throat as if you held the blood¬†of the flame.” ¬†The sunlight trickled through the trees into Robert’s eyes, and he looked up. ¬†“Omar, let’s get moving back to the mountains. ¬†We have some planning to do.” ¬†As the sun danced between the leaves, glittering gold, Robert had a strange image flash into his mind’s eye. ¬†A beach, at night. ¬†Then some strange house, with green grass surrounding it. ¬†Perfect grass. ¬†He shook his head involuntarily with a odd twitch, and the images vanished. ¬†The sun still glistened between the leaves. ¬†Nostalgia again.

“Strange” He muttered to himself, and he cracked his neck. ¬†The Halharken disappeared into the forest like darting birds, and he began to walk. ¬†They could not be seen or heard, but he knew they would escort him as he walked. ¬†Invisible. ¬†He rested his hand on the pommel of his sword, feeling the design as he had always done. ¬†But somehow, this time it seemed foreign and unfamiliar. ¬†As if it was his first time feeling it. ¬†He tossed the old woman’s staff into the woods to his side and walked down the road.

 


 

The old woman hissed as she sensed him throwing the cane away.  She had no way to track him now.  But she had heard some of what was said between the group despite the distance.  Halharken on this side of the mountain.  An elf that held the Blood of the Ice.  She tossed her anger aside as she scribbled furiously onto a parchment, arthritis shooting pain up her wrist.  She gritted her teeth and sealed the roll with a bit of wax and a stamp.  A stamp with the image of a raven holding one snake in its mouth and another in its claw as the two serpents twisted around its body trying to strangle it.

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tales of a travelling salesman final

The Greatest Con?

I promised I would keep this blog aloof from politics, but bear with me here.

Could Donald Trump have just pulled the biggest con of all time?  Here is a short story I wrote about this idea.  Then follows my reasoning:

Donald Trump stands before a roaring crowd at his inauguration speech. Rebel flags and American flags litter the audience chanting “U.S.A.!! U.S.A!!” The secret service stands nervously around him, some talking into their collars, others pointing to some demonstrators who are promptly removed. The Donald raises his small hands, signalling the crowd to quiet down. The crowd descends into a dull roar, and then silence. Like the entire country is holding his breath.

“My fellow Americans, I want to thank you for lending me your strength and bringing me here to this place today. We will make America great again.” The crowd goes wild, and then dies down again as he waves his hand. A flag can be heard flapping in the wind.

“But I want to tell you something. I haven’t been entirely honest with you all.” Laughter in the crowd. Nervous shuffling.

“This has been my greatest achievement. As most of you ignore, many of my business dealings failed miserably. Odds are, if I wasn’t born into my family that I had, I wouldn’t have been successful ever. I would be like you all. But I knew I had an opportunity. The best way to get the votes is to tell you all exactly what you want to hear. This…” The Donald looks down and chuckles to himself. Melania smiles knowingly behind him.

“This has been my greatest con. You are all fools. Banning Muslims? Building a wall? Are you all serious? Come on. I tell the best lies. The only words I would spew were exactly what you wanted to hear. And now you gave me the highest office that this country — no, the FREE world has. I thank you for your willful ignorance.” The crowd begins to turn angry, the secret service gets nervous and calls for backup. Little did they realize the National Guard had already been called in for extra crowd control by Donald. He knew this would happen. Crowds are fickle.

“I chose Mike here as my VP because I knew it would be best to have a very conservative counter to my, well, normal stances on policies. The Republicans should be happy, considering they maintain control over Congress.” The crowd starts to boo, and he waves his hand. Silence.

“There will be term limits on politicians soon. But make no mistake. I will be the best President. America will be great again. Taxes will be lowered for working Americans while big corporations will have their loopholes closed. Did any of you even read my tax plan before? The best tax plan?” He scoffs into the microphone. “That would have ballooned the deficit and caused austerity cuts to welfare and social security. Ridiculous. Don’t worry, America. I’m not going to screw this up.” The crowd is silent as he turns, and walks away.

As Confederate flags droop in the crowd, the American flag flaps briskly in the wind.

 


 

I have always wanted to run for office, and I said a long time ago that if I ever ran as a Republican, I would do exactly what Donald Trump has done this past year.

He used to be a big Democrat, but now?

Now he has been telling party-line Republicans exactly what they’ve been wanting to hear for years.

Normally VP picks tend to make the ticket more palatable to a larger base. ¬†Mike Pence is no contrast to the party lines¬†that Trump has consistently been feeding us. ¬†Maybe he is there to assuage the Republicans when he announces that he isn’t really¬†a xenophobic racist.

Conning the entire nation would definitely be within Donald’s character. ¬†Probably one hell of a rush, too.

I hope that time will reveal this to be right, and Donald isn’t as ridiculously far-right as he has been acting.

 

tales of a travelling salesman final

 

Suspicious Silence

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Her bony finger tapped Robert forcefully on the shoulder, snapping him out of his awe at the glorious vista before his eyes.  He turned and looked at her, and threw a glance at the bulging bag of bread she held out to him.

“Thank you, this kindness won’t be forgotten. ¬†Perhaps if we have a good harvest, I’ll bring my son with me next time I travel to your lands.” ¬†Robert smiled genuinely at her. ¬†The bread was some of the best he had ever had.

“Yes, perhaps!” The old woman replied¬†with a forced smile. ¬†Being so good at lying, it didn’t show. ¬†“Well, be careful on your travels. ¬†Better get a good start while the day is somewhat young.” ¬†Robert nodded, and turned away.

“Wait!” She burst out. ¬†Robert whirled back to her as a bird chirped. “Take this with you! ¬†Your legs are still weak. ¬†You have no horse.” ¬†She held out her gnarled wooden cane.

“I cannot take an old woman’s cane from her.” ¬†He said laughing and shaking his head.

“Please, I have plenty more. ¬†This one has no significance to me. ¬†Take it.” ¬†She held it out with both hands, and he saw that it was a very dark wood. ¬†With lines curving up the side in strange spiral stylings he had never seen. ¬†He hesitated, but took it from her. ¬†He might need a weapon in Elven lands, his throbbing head reminded him.

“Thank you. ¬†I will return this one day.” ¬†Robert lied¬†quietly. ¬†His hands tightened around it, feeling the smoothness of the staff before holding it to his side to steady himself. ¬†His legs were beginning to find their true strength again. ¬†He walked, the staff longer than he remembered it in the shade of the hut. ¬†The woman stood in the doorway watching him as he walked away through town, toward the mountains that were close to the borders of the Imperium. ¬†Before those stony peaks lived the¬†forest that Robert was found in, beaten and robbed. ¬†The old woman cackled and coughed as she went inside, closing the door behind her. ¬†The spell she cast left her tired, her bones ached more than usual. ¬†It was time for a nap.

Robert continued walking through the town, feeling the stares of all the Elves looking him up and down. ¬†A lone human in a land that despised him. ¬†Looking¬†to one merchant’s wares, some beautiful red apples gleamed¬†in the sun and Robert glanced up with a smile at the owner. ¬†The man stared back into Robert’s eyes with burning hate. ¬†Robert could see crow’s feet beginning to form around the Elf’s eyes.

Signs of aging.

Robert looked back down and continued to walk, the hateful glares urging him to increase his staggered pace.  Children suddenly appeared out of thin air, singing some Elvish taunt as they threw small bits of rotten fruit at him.  Robert understood.  This was something to be expected.  Children act on impulses that adults bury deep within their hearts.  Well, most adults.  The children disappeared as quickly as they appeared.  Robert continued to walk along as quickly as his legs would take him, both hands on the staff that steadied his steps.  A rock flew toward him from behind as an instinct from his younger days tilted his head to the left.  His right hand reached up and without looking he caught a rock that was meant for his skull with a loud slap.

The crowd watching him was more silent than before. ¬†He was quick despite his age. ¬†A reaction that a farmer shouldn’t have. ¬†Avoiding confrontation, Robert simply dropped the stone and continued down the hill out of town. ¬†Heading into the forest valley below. ¬†The people watched in suspicious silence as his head disappeared behind the road.


 

“Jah’sahn, are you sure that we should go into the Imperium again? ¬†Maybe we should just go home.” ¬†The young elf was nervous, and hungry. ¬†His hands played with the string of his bow.

“We have to.” Jah’sahn replied as he carved up an apple to share with his friend. “This is our last apple, and I am not going back to farming. ¬†I told you that already.” ¬†He took a deep breath to quell the anger he had within. ¬†Looking up at the clouds through the trees, the light glittered between the leaves. ¬†His father used to have a word for it, before he died and left him an orphan. ¬†His mother had died when he was a baby, during the Reclamation. ¬†A stupid name for a stupid war. ¬†Jah’sahn’s hands fiddled nervously with his sword resting in its sheathe.

“Fine, fine” His friend replied. “I just don’t want to beat up any old men again. It’s… not right. Human or no.”

“I understand, Brielbeh. How could we have known? After we tripped the horse up we had to follow through…” He paused for a moment in carving the apple. “But… I felt strange after that last encounter too. Even if the money we got for selling the horse kept us fed for a while. Did your sister recover with that medicine we got for her?” Jah’sahn offered an apple slice to him.

“Mostly. The fever’s almost gone, and she is talking again.” Brielbeh sighed and took the slice from Jah’sahn’s outstretched hand. “Its probably the only good thing that’s come of all this.” He muttered as he munched.
“Hopefully we can score something big. Maybe some information to give to the Ravens¬†for a price. Maybe they’ll even let us join up.” Jah’sahn mused, tasting the sweet fruit as a small bead of juice trickled into his stubble. “But probably not.”

“Yeah, probably not.” They both were sitting in a tree high over the road, looking at the dancing patterns that the sun created through the trees on the ground below.

“They say you have to be pretty skilled with magic” Brielbeh chuckled. “The only magic I’m skilled with is making food vanish!” They both laughed through their nose with a short exhale.

It wasn’t the first time they had this conversation, or laughed at this joke.
Robert was walking down the same road they were watching, his legs steadily gaining back their strength. That stew the old woman made revitalized him unlike any meal he had before. He didn’t have to rely on the cane so much now, and he carried it at his side. ¬†The birds were chirping all around him when he first came into the forest road, unfamiliar tones that made him yearn for home. ¬†Now, they were mostly silent. ¬†Robert’s hand tightened on the staff, as he felt a familiar fear creep into his body. ¬†The urge to stop and go relieve himself¬†on a nearby tree was overwhelming. ¬†Ahead of him, hidden in the trees, the two young men noticed him walking.

“Jah’sahn! ¬†It’s that man from before.” Brielbeh whispered. “What should we do?” ¬†Jah’sahn stared at him coming down the road. ¬†Thinking.

“Let’s see if we can’t help him. ¬†To make up for what we did.” They both smiled at each other and began to make their way down the tree branches, swinging and leaping with the dexterity of youth. ¬†They landed at the same time on the road, several paces from where Robert stood brandishing the staff at them.

“You two!” Robert snarled. “I won’t be taken by surprise again.” ¬†Jah’sahn moved forward, palms out.

“No! ¬†We felt bad about what we did, we want to –” An arrow materialized in his face, pushing his right eye from the socket. ¬†It hung in a muddled mass at the tip, before falling into the dirt. ¬†“Wee.. wahnt…to..” Jah’sahn slumped over and died in the dirt. ¬†Brielbeh screamed and ran toward his dead friend, but three arrows thumped into his back, one cracking through his rib cage and poking from his chest. ¬†His eyes bulged and he coughed, spewing blood over his white tunic. ¬†He fell on top of his friend with outstretched arms. ¬†Robert was mortified, glancing around at the trees and the bushes. ¬†A voice came¬†from somewhere in front of him.

“Aww, look at them. ¬†Two little lovers.” ¬†The words were laced¬†with an audible sneer. ¬†Small laughs came from the foliage to Robert’s left and right. ¬†The voice was familiar enough to put him at ease.

“Omar! ¬†I knew you and your men would come sooner or later.” Robert called out, placing his staff at his side again. ¬†“Come forth, and have my thanks!”

Hooded figures¬†came from the shadows, bows slung over their shoulders. ¬†The curved blade of the Halharken¬†Order rested on their hips. ¬†The Imperium’s best trackers. ¬†“I do think that these young men were going to help me… But…” Robert spit on their corpses as blood pooled underneath them, turning the dirt to mud. ¬†“They also got me into this mess. ¬†Stole my horse and everything.”

“Lucky you didn’t have¬†this” Omar appeared above him crouching on a tree branch. ¬†He tossed a sheathed sword to Robert. ¬†“Or they would have known who you were straight away!” ¬†It was Robert’s sword. ¬†Shorter than a longsword, greater than a knife. ¬†Forked at the tip like a trident. ¬†Carvings along the blade, runes that no longer worked. ¬†The pommel was resolved with the face of a bear. ¬†Emerald eyes.

“Yes, that would have been extremely unfortunate.” Robert whispered, strapping it to his waist. ¬†“Are you and your men hungry? ¬†I have some bread for us.”

tales of a travelling salesman final

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[WP] There is a portal to an endless ocean, filled with monstrous beings. After repelling the initial ‘leaks’, humans explore this endless, sunless, sea.

The Russian’s Sierra-Class submarine Pskov was the only craft of the joint operation to survive the initial onslaught from the other world. The rotting corpse of an impossibly large sea beast floated onto the shore of Chile, drawing large crowds of horrified onlookers. World leaders were scrambling to organize a barrier of some sort, a sort of control zone to prevent further creatures from coming through. Captain Rohkscov had no patience for the bureaucracy, however. He had just taken the liberty of attaching cameras all over his vessel, to allow for better perception in an entire world of water draped in darkness.

“Ensign. Any contacts on sonar?” The question came from a steel-gray beard.

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“An astronaut in orbit submits an Amazon Prime order (free two day shipping) as a joke, with the address set to the ISS. Amazon does not think this is a joke.”

“Hey, Johnson. Are you sure you are ready for this?”

“Yes sir,” Johnson whispered to hide his trembling voice. “But are you sure this isn’t just a joke?”

“You’re lucky you’re the only one willing to do this, or I would fire you like I fired the other folks who asked. We have a reputation to uphold. Now buckle up, and good luck!” The shipping manager stepped away from the hatch and sealed it shut, as Johnson buckled up.

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