Thursday, November 16, 2017

Writers are weird

Hello, gentle readers.
I have the horrible desire to write but, alas, I cannot satisfy that itch.  Not like I would like. 
When I write, I do it on my laptop. My laptop, alas, is having problems. It needs to be repaired and I'm hesitant to use it until it's repaired lest I exacerbate the problems.
I'm on a Chromebook, at the moment, but I cannot stand Google Docs. It's an aesthetic thing, I suspect. And a trust issue. 
I don't trust the cloud. And given how so many people couldn't access their Google docs earlier this week, I feel weirdly vindicated in my disdain.
I suppose it all comes down to comfort level. When I was younger, I wrote on a typewriter. An honest-to-God typewriter, with an ink cartridge and correction tape. The whole nine yards. I imagine that must sound like a caveman, banging away on a rock to today's generation.
Then I transitioned to a desktop computer and lastly to a laptop. The laptop I had before my current one lasted almost 8 years. Transitioning to the new one was mildly traumatic, like burying a beloved pet.
And now the thought of writing anything longform, with pen and paper, is just daunting to me.  
So, here I sit, typing this up on this Chromebook in blogger, because this is more comfortable to me than writing stuff in Google Docs. 
Writers are just weird. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Lux Tenebris: Swordhold

The City of Swordhold

"Swordhold endures."

At the foot of Mount Istegar sprawls the ancient city of Swordhold.  The city was founded over five hundred years ago by an exiled dwarven queen, Svaina Eidiris.  Eidiris fled the Graytooth Mountains after refusing to take part in an arranged marriage. She fled her father's kingdom with a small band of followers and traveled south, guided by divine visions to Mount Istegar.  There, Svaina established her stronghold and welcomed outcasts and exiles from across the North and West.
Although there was an initial effort to establish a traditional dwarven city by tunneling into the mountain, this effort was abandoned when excavated tunnels began collapsing. Taking this as a sign from the gods, Queen Svaina put a halt to the excavations and, instead, ordered her followers to build their city at the mountain's foot.  Today, this area is known simply as the Old City.
Swordhold grew quickly over the next few decades. While dwarves preferred to settle in the Old City, human and halfling immigrants established the Emberhand and Wyverngate districts. As cultural differences and prejudices began to rear their heads, Swordhold experienced several years of unrest.  The troubles came to an end when the factions were forced to unite, to defend the city from an army of orcs and goblins led by a half-orc warlord called Olgren Farseer.
The defense was only partially successful. The invaders succeeded in breaking through the defenses in Wyverngate, but were led into a trap by a human adventurer, Iyumo Scarhand, and his gnome companion, Kerren Eskerose. Scarhand died in battle with Olgren Farseer, but Eskerose survived and was elevated to the nobility by Queen Svaina. This established the precedent in Swordhold of elevating worthy individuals to the nobility.
It's estimated that almost forty percent of Swordhold's population was slain during the Siege of Olgren Farseer. The survivors united around Queen Svaina and the new nobility, many of them elevated from heroes of the siege.
Queen Svaina died shortly after the Siege, passing quietly in her sleep. She was succeeded by her son, Falnar.  Known as the Hammer-Head, what Falnar lacked in diplomatic acumen he made up for in the application of force.  When an army of Greytooth dwarves arrived on Swordhold's doorstep, seeking to seize the city under some obscure tenant of dwarven law, it was Falnar who saw them off. 
In an unexpectedly brazen move, Falnar led the city's defenders outside the walls and fell upon the Greytooth interlopers. He did not attempt diplomacy, he simply broke skulls. When the day ended, the Greytooth forces were in disarray. Falnar showed them no mercy and harried the survivors through the night until none were left alive.  He returned to the city, exhausted, but beloved by the people.  The Hammer-Head would rule for ten years more before meeting his end at the hands of an assassin.  His killer was never identified, but was always suspected to have been an agent of the Lords of Mountgate.
Falnar's death left a power vacuum.  He had no children and had never appointed an heir. The city's nobility met to discuss who would take the throne, but, although there were several worthy candidates, the nobles could not reach a consensus. Eventually, the candidates were presented to the people of the city, who were instructed to select the new ruler by popular vote.
The people chose Lady Asha Shatterheart.  Queen Asha was a human woman who had been adopted and raised by the Shatterhearts, a noble dwarf family.  In many ways, Queen Asha reflected the new face of Swordhold: youthful, exuberant, and civic-minded.
Queen Asha's first act was to establish clear protocols for succession. This would prove to be a wise action as Queen Asha herself died, unexpectedly, from a winter fever a few years later without heirs. 
Following the rules of succession, Queen Asha was succeeded by King Trane. A dwarf of ancient stock, King Trane ruled for over a century before abdicating and passing the throne to his eldest son, Ollar.
Ollar saw Swordhold through a troubling period when the city became embroiled in conflict with other local powers. Swordhold emerged from the Little Wars as one of the three dominant cities in the North, alongside Mountgate and Darkwater. Ollar also saw Swordhold expand, with the addition of the Greybend District and the smaller Grey Arms District. 
When Ollar died, the throne passed to his son, Olleron. Noble by birth but a scholar by inclination, Olleron caused a stir within the city when he welcomed a contingent of displaced elves into the city.  The area these elves settled would become known as the Longbow District and after a period of adjustment on all sides, the elves would become a welcome addition to Swordhold's makeup.
During this period, Swordhold became involved in the War of Three Cities, drawn into conflict with Mountgate and Darkwater.  Eventually, Olleron would ally with Darkwater against Mountgate and the war would come to an unpleasant end. 
Shortly afterward, Swordhold would find itself under siege from an abolethic monstrosity called Y'vern. Assaulted by magic and madness, Swordhold fell into a state of anarchy known as the Mad Decade. It came to an end when an unlikely alliance of paladins and sorcerers managed to banish Y'vern to another plane of existence.
King Olleron had gone insane during the Mad Decade. With Y'vern banished, Olleron was removed from the throne and replaced by his eldest surviving child, Garrador. Garrador held the throne for a year before abdicating to become an acolyte of Arilil, Goddess of Sadness and Despair.
Garrador had no children and, at his abdication, he named his successor. He chose a minor human noblewoman, Lady Trenna Noor, to replace him on the throne. The Council of Nobles was thrown into an uproar by this appointment. Lady Noor had only recently been appointed a noble for her actions during the Mad Decade. Despite her good character, she was an unknown element. The council felt that the city needed someone more established to guide Swordhold and so, for the first time, the Council of Nobles voted to overturn Lady Noor's appointment and elect one of their own to the throne.
When news of the council's decision reached the streets, the city exploded into violence. The so-called Succession Riots lasted barely a week, but left a distinct impression upon Swordhold's psyche.  The council reversed their decision and Queen Trenna was enthroned in a very public ceremony.
Under Queen Trenna's rule, Swordhold reached its current size with the incorporation of the Lightfall District into the city. Where her predecessors had worked to establish and fortify the city, Queen Trenna's rule was spent working to heal the city and care for its citizens. She established a number of charitable institutions and civic policies that remain in place today. Queen Trenna also passed laws requiring all arcane spellcasters within the city to register with the throne upon 'pain of death.'  Although not opposed to magic, Queen Trenna never forgot that it was arcane spellcasters who assisted Y'vern in his siege of the city.  As a result, Swordhold has some of the harshest laws regarding the regulation, study and use of arcane magic on the continent.  She is also credited with the city's motto, 'Swordhold endures.'
When Queen Trenna died, the throne passed to her son, Estan. King Estan continued many of his mother's policies, but focused more on diplomacy and trade than his predecessors. He established better trade relations with Darkwater and Fallen Baramir, and sought to establish better diplomatic relations with Mountgate and Goldsun. His efforts were starting to bear fruit when the Draconic Invasion began.
The Draconic Legions laid siege to Swordhold. During the siege, King Estan was slain by an enemy arrow. His son, Prince Berret, was too young to assume the throne and so his mother, Queen Erielle, has been acting as regent.
After a long siege, Swordhold surrendered to the Draconic Legions under the command of the dragonborn paladin, Eiroth Greyscale.  Following their surrender, the imperial forces did loot the city, but there was little loss of life. When the draconic forces were ordered to raise Swordhold and pull back to Calhorne, Eiroth Greyscale was magnanimous. The dragonborn paladin allowed Swordhold's residents to leave the city before he put it to the torch.
Since then, Swordhold's citizens have worked hard to rebuild their fallen city. Prince Berret has achieve his majority and been enthroned as King Berret.  Advised by the Council of Nobles and his mother, the young king focuses his energies on rebuilding Swordhold and caring for its citizens.  He is already being compared to previous monarchs, like Queen Svaina and King Ollar. The weight of the crown is a heavy burden on the young king's head, but he has risen to the challenge, and his people have followed his example.
Swordhold does, indeed, endure.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Man With the Broken Hearts

I knew a man
who collected broken hearts,
mostly his own,
of equal parts, 
tragedy and grief.

But he was brave,
and kind
and forthright too.
He'd give his last dollar,
to you.

But when it came,
to matters of love,
he needed guidance,
from above,
because he always
made bad choices.

Pretty faces turned his head,
and more than once,
led him to sleep in the bed,
he had made for 
himself.

Until the day,
his heart gave out,
and he not longer went about,
looking for true love.

And wouldn't you know it,
when he stopped,
that's when his bad luck
seemed to pop,
and he finally met
the right one.

His broken hearts are things
of the past,
he's found a love that 
will last,
and we're all 
very happy
for him.

He found a dog,
a noble breed,
who loves him dearly,
yes, indeed,
even if he isn't
pedigreed.

Because love,
you see,
is all you
need.
It's all any
of us
need. 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Comic Recs!

Hello, gentle readers! I'm currently neck deep in some personal projects so haven't been able to post as much as I used to. With that in mind, here's this week's comic recommendations. Enjoy!

The Gravediggers Union
The first issue of The Gravediggers Union sort of throws you, neck-deep, into the story. It's a bit jarring, but I'm curious to see what happens next issue. Whether this is a longterm read? I'm not sure. I'd give it 3/5 stars.

Lazarus X+66
I've enjoyed these one-shot stories being told in Lazarus X+66.  This month we get a glimpse into the complicated relationship between Lazari from two families that seem to be gunning for each other. Overall, I'd give it 3/5 stars.

Atomic Robo
It's always fun to read Atomic Robo, and this issue is no exception. We've got Robo and his support staff at Tesladyne, an amusing cameo by Sir Richard Branson and hints at a dangerous cybernetic hivemind up to shennanigans.  I give it 4/5 stars.