Tag Archives: Baltimore

Into the Realm: The Chronicles of Carter Blake, Book I (C1S3)

To read the previous part, check here.

Subchapter 3

According to Gabriel Iglesias, there are six stages of fatness: big, healthy, husky, fluffy, “Damn!”, and “Uh-uh!” He says he is fluffy. The difference between damn and uh-uh is you are still willing to work with “damn”. If a “damn” approaches you on a crowded elevator, you will look around, and let him on. On the other hand, if an “uh-uh” approaches you on a crowded elevator, you hold up your hand, while pushing the close door button fast, and say, “Uh-uh!”

I bring this up because I watched his show last night after Daphne left. When I saw Lucas Rumpff, I couldn’t help but think, ‘Uh-uh!’ and laugh out loud. He glanced over at me, shook his head, readjusted his glasses and started into the library. Dressed in blue jeans and a green and black Hawaiian shirt, Lucas was around my height and maybe three times my girth. He had long, thick brown hair which flowed down to his shoulders. A beat up red laptop bag hung over his right shoulder. He’s in a few of my classes, but I never spoke to him. As far as I knew, he was a loner. I wondered if he preferred to be alone, or was lonely. I soon would find out, because Anderson, the Game Creator of my weekend BattleHammer game said we needed another player to “enliven it.”

I opened the large wooden door of the library and walked in. It was like going back in time. The overhead lights were actual chandeliers suspended from the high ceiling. The librarian had an antique Remington typewriter and dressed like a bobbysoxer. The wall lamps were arc sodium and cast an orange glow. The chairs in the reading room were stuffed leather and ashtrays were scattered around. I have no idea how the place got away with smoking paraphernalia after the way the media and government demonized tobacco.

I walked amongst the towering bookshelves, their aisles shadowed and sinister. I found Lucas debating between “A Stranger in a Strange Land” by Robert Heinlein and “Cobra” by Timothy Zahn. His laptop bag sat on the floor at his feet like an obedient dog. He glanced over at me. “Are you stalking me?”

I laughed. “No way, man. My name is Carter. I was wondering if you ever played BattleHammer.”

“Why?” he asked, suspicious.

“The Game Creator says to get some more people. I thought of you because you’re always reading sci-fi and fantasy books.”

“I’ve never done so.”

I was glad the suspicion was gone from his voice. I picked up interest in his tone.

“I can teach you how to play on the way over to the game. We have an all weekend thing scheduled. I’m sure you’ll love it.”

He looked back down at the books.

“I’d go for the Zahn book; I didn’t enjoy the Heinlein one. My advice: get both of them and then choose.”

“With my schedule, I will only have time for one. By the way, my name is Lucas Rumpff.”

We shook hands, and he returned Stranger. I walked with him over to the librarian’s desk and waited while she stamped the card with the due date. We walked out into the spring sunshine together to North Wolf St. A crowd of lacrosse players swaggered by. The captain of the team, who I tutored in chemistry on Tuesday evenings shouted over at us.

“Hey, Blake! Who’s your new girlfriend?”

“Aw, don’t be jealous, Stevenson!” I yelled back. “I’ll still let you fellate me!”

The jocks stopped.

“What the fuck did you say, Blake?” Stevenson said.

“Settle down,” I commanded. “Tuesday evening, seven pm., Chem 101. Don’t forget.”

The reminder deflated his anger and he waved for his teammates to follow him. Lucas and I trotted down the library steps and walked down the sidewalk.

“You shouldn’t taunt Stevenson like that, Carter. He’ll get you.”

“He doesn’t dare,” I said, feigning a confidence I didn’t really feel. I don’t understand why I said that. Broderick Stevenson could kill me. “He recognizes I’ll make sure he fails Chemistry if he does anything. A grade flop and he’s off the team. Bye-bye scholarship.”

“How?”

“He trusts me to teach him the subject.”

“Oh.”

We walked down Wolf St in silence for a block, and then I remembered I had promised to teach Lucas about the game. “So, about the game of BattleHammer; like Dungeons and Dragons, it uses a D20 system. Have you heard of the structure?”

“Yes.”

“Right. So, to do anything that requires effort in-world, you roll a D20, add the relevant modifiers and compare that to a Difficulty Class. Beating the DC means you succeed, missing it means failure. Understand?”

“Yep. I’m with you, Carter.”

“Alright, for playing, that’s about all you need to know upfront. If anything else comes up, we’ll fill you in as needed.”

“Okay.”

We paused to wait for the signal at North Avenue, and then crossed. We had to hurry a bit because the warning light began to flash when we were about halfway across the busy street.

“The next step is to fill you in on the world and major characters, and then I’ll fill you in about your character’s future teammates. We’ll begin with the gods. There are a whole hell of a lot of them, so I’ll tell you about those our party has had dealings with. First up is Kellün, the god of the elves and woodlands. He has many allies and enemies, but the main ones we are dealing with are Morgrid the Soul-forger and Lucien, the Demon King. Morgrid is the chief Dwarf divine being as well as being the one of the Forge. Lucien is self-explanatory. Unlike D&D, which separates fiends into two groups, BattleHammer says all pure evil beings are demons. Another deity I’m sure will pop up in the story is the father of the gods, Chokkan. Are you still with me, Lucas?”

He waited until we scampered across Federal Street before he answered.

“So far.”

“Good.” I panted. I glanced over at Lucas, who wasn’t even breathing hard. I was a bit envious. “Next are the major players of our game, otherwise known as our characters and the bad guys. My character is a dwarf warrior named Drago the Clanless. His clan was wiped out by the main bad guy who I’ll tell you about soon. Drago vowed revenge. His allies are as follows: Luwaxana, a female elven ranger, controlled by Mike Reynolds; Shauna the Deft, a human thief, controlled by Megan Anderson, the GC’s older sister; and Ox Silverfist, a half-dragon/half-troll Warpriest of Kellün, controlled by Stacy Meers.”

“Wow, a half-dragon/half-troll? That sounds like fun,” Lucas said, as we crossed East Oliver. Since the street was pretty dead, we didn’t bother checking for traffic.

“Does it? Just so you are aware – and I should have mentioned this before – in addition to the half-bloods, humans, dwarves and elves, you could also be a Leviathan, a deepling, or a Gnome,” I said, kicking an empty Pepsi can.

“Did you say a Ga-nome?”

“I did. In the world of BattleHammer, that is how they pronounce the name of their race.”

Lucas chuckled. “What are deeplings?”

We stopped at the corner of Biddle Street and looked for oncoming cars. The day grew dimmer as a cloud scudded past the sun. “They are a race of underground fairies, similar to leprechauns. They average about four feet tall and are between thirty and fifty pounds. Due to this stature, folks who haven’t encountered them before tend to mistake them for human children. They’re long lived like elves and dwarves, and reproduce about twice every seventy years. Deeplings are innate spell casters, and as such, they begin with a free level as a mage.”

“Cool. What about the Gnomes?” Lucas chuckled again at the pronunciation of the name.

By this time, we were near Patterson Park in East Baltimore. We walked up a pretty steep hill. Lucas took the tor with the same ease that he’d taken our swift hike from the library. I tell you, I still have no idea how he managed to set such a rapid pace and not breathe hard. My face was hot, skin greasy from sweat and I panted like a dog.

“They’re another race of midgets.” I gasped for air at the top of the hill. I motioned for him to stop so I could catch my breath. While he waited, cool and relaxed, I leaned over with hands on knees and tried to swallow my lungs again. After about ten minutes, I resumed. “Gnomes average about three feet in height with the women being taller and stronger. The males are smarter and more agile for the most part. They are natural pickpockets and rogues in general, and they start with a free level of thief.”

Twenty minutes later, we arrived in Anderson’s neighborhood. It was a pretty affluent section of East Baltimore, not far from Patterson Park. His folks owned a townhouse that was about twice as big as my mom’s row house. We walked up to the wide mahogany door and went in.

Continues here.

 

Grrr! I’m almost finished my edits, so why can’t I bring myself to actually finish?!

I’m on the final chapter, but it’s like there is something in my actual way. I don’t get it. I’ll edit a little, then I’m like, “Ugh. I don’t want to look at this anymore!” What about you, Dear Readers? Do any of you get to the point where you’re almost finished a project, then you lose all steam and forward momentum? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Here’s another excerpt from Into the Realm: The Chronicles of Carter Blake, Book I:

 

I found myself walking down a darkened street. I was a bit disconcerted to learn I was back home. And, the street lights were out. My feet crunched over bits of broken glass. The moon came from behind a cloud, and I learned the street name was Jackson St. A couple blocks to the East, the familiar green of Leone Riverside Park. ‘I’m home in Baltimore. How?’

I walked closer, and spotted a young woman in a circle of brightness cast from a street light. She dodged an attack by from a hideous monster with a yellow infused skull. Jellied blackish ocher masses sat where eyes would be on a human. Just below a dark hole in the center of its skull was distended jawbone filled with rows of tiny, shark-like teeth, pointed and serrated. A pallid green tubular tongue protruded from its maw. Silvery blue saliva dripped to the ground and burned into the concrete.

A strong wind kicked up, bringing with it the scent of rain. The young woman risked a quick glance up at the sky. Thick, grey clouds roiled in from the east. An empty beer can bounced up the street, its clang hollow and sad. The world lit up as if by an enormous camera’s flash. Two seconds later, the air was rent by an eruption of sound. A gentle plopping came as the first cold droplets of water hit the ground. As the wind picked up, the pitch of the rain changed. What had been soft, and gentle turned into harsh, loud and drumming.

Her hair clung to her face as water dripped from her jaw and ran into her eyes. She swiped her t-shirt across her eyes in a hurry and pushed her soaked hair back from her face.

The creature’s corpse-white skin sloughed off, revealing ropy bunches of grey muscle and bronze stretches of tense tendons and ligaments. It spread its arms wide and howled. The creature’s shattered arm-blade reformed. I ran to milieu, intending to aid the woman in some fashion.

The creature raced up onto the sidewalk and leaped into the air, its arms open wide. When it reached the apex of its leap, and gravity began to reassert itself, her rising foot caught the hideous thing underneath its jaw, severing its protruding tubular tongue. It crashed to the ground, whimpering in pain, a cancerous orange fluid pouring from its mouth. She held her right arm straight out from her body, hand open and waiting. “Come to me,” she said. I stopped, and waited. Nothing happened. She dropped her arm. The creature’s noises changed from pain filled to enraged. It whirled its legs around and spun to its feet.

Once more her arm rose. “Come to me!”  she thundered.

Faster than I could process it, a tinkle of shattering glass could be heard and instant later, a high-pitched whistle came through the downpour.  The whistle grew louder as a pure white streak of light rocketed through the air. Before my stunned eyes, a pure white sword, the twin to the one at my hip, slapped into her open palm. She angled the white blade across her body in a middle guard position.

The monster paused, seeming to consider her. It was hard to tell with the inky ocher spots instead of eyes. It opened its mouth and waggled the stump of its tongue at her. The woman’s lip curled in revulsion. The creature sprang into motion, swinging its blades, trying to eviscerate the young woman.

She blocked each strike. The creature swung high with its right arm-blade and came at her in the opposite direction with the other. She ducked the high swing, blocked the low one and raised her knee to parry its abrupt kick at her stomach. It attempted to slash its weapons across her neck in a scissors motion. She ducked and thrust her sword at its middle. The monster dipped its arm-blades downward, deflecting her thrust into the ground. Rather than try to pull the sword from the ground, the young warrior kicked above the crossed arm-blades, catching the monster in the remains of its face.

Its head snapped back and it crashed to the ground, arms going wide. It did a kip-up, kicking its legs outward and flipping itself back to its feet. Before it could recover from its flip, the young woman gripped her sword in both hands and slashed down at the creatures right shoulder, separating the limb from its body. Orange fluid fountained out from the stump and its howl overcame the crash of thunder.  It reeled back.

She bent and picked up the severed limb. The monster, whatever it was, whirled on her, hate radiating off it like heat from an iron stove. The young woman stalked the damaged creature, determined to finish it.

A familiar man yanked her back against him just as the creature’s arm-blade came within a hair’s breadth of decapitating her. ‘Robilar?’ He released her. She blocked the creature’s return swing with the white sword. She drove its own arm-blade deep into its chest. The monster stared at her, shock evident on its skull-like face. Its arm fell away from her white blade. The warrior swung her arm out to the side, then swung back to the left, cutting the creature’s head from its shoulders.

She looked over, and locked eyes with me. “I’ll be here for you when you need me. That’s how I roll.”

My First Convention

This weekend, I took in Otakon. It was the 20th anniversary, and my very first one. I enjoyed four panels, but spent most of my time taking pictures. I mentioned to each cosplayer that I was going to post the pics here, and that they could reach me via the “Contact Me” page for proper credit. I look forward to hearing from them, and I hope all of you enjoy them when I post the pics on Tuesday.

 

Interviewing Carter Blake

I was going to post another raw excerpt of my first novel, Into the Realm: The Chronicles of Carter Blake, Book One, but I think I’ll interview Carter instead. As of now, the Walker of Worlds seems to be in his mid-30s and has fully realized his powers. The Chronicles of Carter Blake tells the stories of how Carter grows into a man, and the Walker of Worlds.

We’re to meet in a café in Baltimore called Peace & A Cup of Joe. I’m seated at a table, pecking away at my laptop when there is a faint pop behind me. I turn. Carter is a big man, clad in a silvery, purple-green armor the is molded to his broad form. When he shakes my hand, I fight not to wince. He’s got a very firm grip. He has a weary expression on his face. His shoulders are a bit slumped and his back is bowed.

R.w.Foster: Hello, Mr. Blake. Welcome to beginingsinwriting.

Carter Blake: Thank you. Please, call me Carter. (he sits in a wooden chair which creaks ominously)

R.w.F: Thanks. May we jump right in with the questions?

C.B: Certainly.

R.w.F: What is the Realm?

C.B: (He smiles. There is a faraway look to his eyes) The Realm is a world of magic, Elven, dwarves, half-dragons and other magical beings. It is also a nexus of the Multiverse. It is where I first learned that I am the Walker of Worlds.

R.w.F: What is the Walker of Worlds?

C.B: The Walker of Worlds is the being created by the Ancients to stop out of control gods. You could say we are Arbiters. You see, when a god becomes too unjust, we cut them off from their power and banish them from their universes. We are the balance, and the beginnings of Reason.

R.w.F: What are some of your abilities?

C.B: I can freely travel between universes, I can seal a deity away from the Sourcewell where they get their power from, I can kill them and I also have some minor Chronomantic ability.

R.w.F: What is Chronomantic?

C.B: It means I have the abilities of a Chronomancer, or a time wizard. I have a limited talent at using the fabric of time to create powerful effects.

‘That sounds cool,’ I think.

R.w.F: Sweet. Would you give a demonstration?

C.B: Sure.

(He stands and his eyes take on a crimson glow. He moves his hands in a series of complicated gestures, manipulating something I can’t see. Moments later, another Carter Blake appears. This one waves, then merges into the original.)

R.wF: (Impressed). Wow. That was epic.

(Carter returns to his seat. It crackles)

Do you have anyone special in your life?

C.B: (A radiant smile lights his face, instantly making him seem to be a lot younger) I do. My Rishka, a half-Elven named Dearbhaile.

R.w.F: What’s a Rishka?

C.B: It means “Beloved” in Renline, and Elven dialect.

R.w.F: What’s she like?

C.B: (He straightens in his seat and leans forward) She is the most spectacular woman I know. Intelligence sparkles in her emerald eyes, her ruby lips are quick to smile. Her wisdom is clear in every word she utters.

(I smile. I know exactly what he means. I feel the same way about the woman I love.)

R.w.F: When you first entered, you looked exhausted. What’s been going on in your life?

C.B: (There is a hint of sadness to his eyes) I buried my best friend today. Robilar and I traveled together for many years.

R.w.F: I’m sorry to hear that, man.

C.B: Thanks.

(I decide to shift the conversation away from something that seemed to be so painful.)

R.w.F: What were you like as a kid?

C.B: I was bullied a lot because of my intellect. Some moron decided to tell my mother that I was a genius and should be made a highschool senior at 11 years old.

R.wF: You still sound bitter.

C.B: Wouldn’t you be? I felt like a freak. And of course, I got beatings from the older guys when I screwed up the curve. Or made them look stupid in front of their girlfriends. At that age, I hadn’t learned to keep my mouth shut, and hadn’t learned that not everyone knew what I did. I just assumed it.

R.w.F: That sounds harsh.

C.B: It was, but it helped me become tougher. After stuff like what I endured in highschool, the Realm was initially a cake walk. But then, I met L’Arcs… (His voice trails off)

Before I’m able to ask Carter further questions, he vanishes. Off to save another universe, I guess. I’ll try to get him to sit down for another interview as soon as I can.