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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ruveneska: The Scavenge, Chapter 4: The Unexpected Visitor

by Darro C.

The meeting was at noon, and Shuren overslept. He rushed to get out of his bed. He jumped out of his night clothes and into his casual outfit. He didn’t stop to wash his face. He ran down the hallway looking the way he did just as he woke up. He scrambled into the grand hall to find a mess of Zelzes. Each Zelze stared at Shuren puzzled as he made his way through the pile of them. Shuren even heard a slight giggle here and there, but he ignored them. Shuren searched for Rollan but could not find him.

Shuren noticed that the Zelzes were staring up, almost at the ceiling. Shuren looked up at the tall ceiling. In mid air, Shuren saw a count of five dragons flying. Three of the five carried two people while the remaining two carried one Zelze each. Shuren saw that Karoline, Lloyd and Rollan were flying above them. Rollan was on the left flying on a sharp blue Dragon, Lloyd in the middle in a dark green Dragon, and Karoline on right with a faint white Dragon. Shuren waited a moment, but no word was spoken. It seemed as if they were waiting for something.

Rollan looked down and saw Shuren. He made a gesture to the Zelze to his left. Suddenly, the bright purple Dragon swooped down towards Shuren. The Zelzes each took a step back. The Dragon landed softly beside Shuren, the Zelze signaled for Shuren get on it’s back. Shuren nervously climbed on. The Dragon lifted into the air quickly almost causing him to loose his balance. Before he knew it, he was at the elevation of the others.

“Well now,” Rollan said to Shuren, “Let’s get started.” Karoline and Lloyd both nodded. Rollan cleared his throat. Everyone’s attention was now fixed on the five Dragons floating above them. “There are a few reasons why the meeting was called today. We are all still grieving upon the lives that were stolen from us by surprise. I’m afraid that the bad news has yet to end.” Rollan looked over at Lloyd.

“Garland and the Ingles have already taken action. They have begun recruiting a few days after the battle,” Lloyd said. It almost seemed as if he was about to choke. The faces below showed a very worried expression. Lloyd continued, “The worst part is that he is doing it forcefully. He threatens villages to join him or become enslaved.” Gasps were heard. Some were angry and others were upset. It took quite a toll on Lloyd to express the worst of news to them.

“There is another thing,” Karoline began. “I’m sorry but we can not exactly tell you what this thing is, but it should be known that we are going away to try and solve this thing.” Complaints were cried all over. Karoline took a deep breath and said, “Rollan, Lloyd, Shuren, a few others and I are going after this thing, and we expect you people to be strong with out us for that while.”

There were more complaints amongst the Zelzes below. Shuren was tired of hearing unhappy comments. “Listen everyone! This thing is important. It may be more important than the war itself! This thing, we think it’s a weapon that Garland is after, and we must stop him! You must be strong! I have revised a plan that I think that would work.” The room suddenly went quiet. Shuren was enlightened for once. “We will divide ourselves into several groups. We are going to have a race with the Ingles. We will go to the remaining villages and recruit them. For this we will need most of the Dragons available. We will need only a few Zelzes per group, and twice as many Dragons. You will fly to the villages and convince them to join us. We can fit about two people per Dragon.

“As for the people to be in each group, that’s all up to you. Are there any volunteers?” Shuren asked. After a few moments, there was nothing. Then, a long hand shot up in the crowd. Shuren smiled, “Yes, there’s one.” Another hand shot up, followed by a few more until there was a total of twenty Zelzes. “Yes, twenty, that’s the perfect amount. You are all brave, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

“Now, for the people who stay behind, I expect you all to prepare for war. Train, practice spells, do anything you can to aid. If there happens to be an ambush, send out one of the remaining Dragons for help. I say that two days time will be enough for us to prepare for the journey ahead of us. Now, are there any questions or statements?” Shuren asked after a deep breath. There were no comments or questions to be said. “Then, this meeting is dismissed. Zelzes, be prepared.”

The crowed below fluttered and scattered into an empty hall. The five Dragons landed in the hall and everyone climbed off. Now was calm. “So who will be traveling with us?” Shuren asked.

“I think Blayger, Thegor and there Dragons should be enough,” Lloyd said.

Shuren paused for a moment. There were seven people going, and there was only three Dragons, there weren‘t enough Dragons. “Lloyd that’s not enough.

Lloyd looked confused. “There is not enough what?” Shuren began to feel that he was being toyed with. He made a serious face, and Lloyd said, “Oh, don’t worry about that Shuren, I have that under control.” Both Shuren and Karoline were confused, they shook off the confusion.

Now, only Shuren, Karoline, Rollan, Lloyd, Thegor, and Blayger were left in the hall. Shuren spoke up, “So exactly what should we be prepared with?”

“Definitely weapons and rations,” Karoline said, “the usual survival necessities.”

“I think that we should travel light,” Thegor said as he patted his dark green Dragon, “they are not super strong.”

“I agree,” said Lloyd, almost as if he understood what she was saying. The subject was soon changed into a more important matter.

“Well where should we go first? Lekay is the closest place,” Shuren suggested.

“No,” Karoline said firmly. “That is where we are most likely to get captured, also, if that is where one of these keys are, Garland is sure to have already retrieved it.”

“I say that we should go to Kyladin first. It’s in ruins so it should be fairly safe,” Rollan said. Shuren agreed, though he really wanted to go to Hogony first. Everyone else agreed. “So it is settled, we will travel to Kyladin fist.”

The seven of them walked out of the grand hall and back to their rooms. Shuren brainstormed on what he should do before he left. He had two days left on the mountain and he has sure that he would not be back for a long while. He will say goodbye to everyone, and gather all of his belongings. He continued to walk and ended up at his own room. Shuren realized that the meeting only lasted half an hour. It was half past noon and Shuren didn’t know what to do. It was the first time since his miserable days at Hogony, that Shuren was bored.

Shuren grabbed a book from the shelf and opened it, it was a non-fiction book. Shuren didn’t have much a taste for non-fiction books. He was into more of an adventure. Though his recent life was an extremely wild one, he would like to enjoy one without his life being in danger. Shuren went through all of the books on the shelf, but they were all informational books. Then, Shuren began to wonder, he never asked about a library in Aela-Doria. Surely all of the books must have came from somewhere. Then again, where would a library get all of it’s books in Aela-Doria? Still, Shuren wanted to search for one.

He walked outside and down to the grand hall. It was less empty than it had been after the meeting. There were several Zelzes in the grand hall. He asked one of them about a library, but they were not sure if one existed. Shuren continued to walk and walked into the healing room, where Shuren was first healed by Niance. The Zelze in there was not Nina, but another one. “Where is Niance?” Shuren asked.

“She is not present at the moment, I do not really know where she is,” the lady Zelze replied.

“Hmm, well thank you.” Shuren walked out of the room and roamed the halls. Shuren made some random turns and found himself in a foreign hallway with a few doors and an archway that led to a balcony at the end of it. A door on the left opened and a familiar face walked out. Catalina looked up to see Shuren and was startled.

Shuren realized how unusual the situation seemed. He has never been to her room before, let alone this hallway. She smiled and walked up to Shuren. She had her usual silky robe-like outfit on. Her hair was tied in a bun. She reached Shuren surprisingly did not touch him.

“What a surprise, I was just about to go see you, but it appears that you have found me,” she said quietly.

Shuren thought for a moment. If there was anyone who would know about a library, it would have been Zelzor. Now that he is gone, Catalina was one who seemed close enough to Zelzor to know about a library. “Hey, is there a library in this place?”

Catalina raised her eyebrows, “As in a collection of books?” Shuren nodded. “I’m not completely sure that there is.”

“Has Master Zelzor ever mentioned anything about a library?” asked Shuren, hoping for a small clue at least.

“Not that I know of, but there are two rather large cases in his room,” Catalina replied.

That struck Shuren, there was! “Yes, lets go see it then,” Shuren said, “lead the way.”

Catalina walked ahead of Shuren. They walked through the set of hallways that Shuren walked through the first time ever. They ended up at the gigantic double doors. They pushed them open to see a deserted room, fairly dusty. The lost of Zelzor struck Shuren again. He took a deep breath ignored it. The desk with the chair look as if it wasn’t moved in ages. The bed was made remained empty as it has been and the windows were closed. On the right side of the room, the large book cases stood tall. They were filled with old books.

Shuren walked up to them as he heard Catalina close the doors. He shelf read the spines, most of them were of a foreign languages of which he could barley understand. Though from the context, he was sure that they were just informational books. Shuren leaned his back against the book case and sighed. He was craving an adventure novel.

Shuren heard Catalina walk up towards him. “Did you not find what you wanted?” Shuren shook his head. She sighed also. She placed her right hand next to Shuren’s head and her left on the other side. She approached him. Shuren was trapped between her arms. “I’m sorry that you didn’t find it.” Shuren began to feel tense. She moved her head closer to the point that their noses were touching. Shuren did not move, and she did the opposite. She then brushed his lips with her own, and then turned into a full fledged kiss. Shuren cold not help but kiss back, it was his first ever. Then suddenly, the force that Shuren was leaning on caved in. Shuren fell backwards into a dark room, and Catalina fell on top of him. Dust fell from the ceiling, making it hard for Shuren to breath. He coughed and struggled to stand up, after doing so he helped Catalina up. They paused for a moment, and began to laugh.

“Ferina,” Shuren said as a ball of fire ignited in is hand. It lit the room, revealing nothing but walls. Though, on the far right side, was a dark hallway. Catalina grabbed Shuren’s hand as they began to explore it. The hallway turned into a flight of stairs that led down. They slowly walked down. Then, there were no more stairs, but a glossy floor instead. Shuren added more energy to his fire, causing his whole hand to catch fire, lighting more the of the room. Shuren saw, above him, a chandelier with a few candles. He shot flames at each one. Then the room was illuminated for the most part. On the walls were torches, he and Catalina lit them also.

The room was bright, and they were astonished to see what they found. The room was about as big as Shuren’s, and inside was stacked from the ground with books. There were no cases, they just sat on top of each other, each one with the fine leather covers that all books were made of. Ironically, it was a library.

Shuren smiled, and laughed. Catalina just held onto Shuren, unaware of what to express. Shuren immediately began browsing. There was a mixture of all kinds of books, from novels, to medicine books, to cooking recipes. Shuren was filled with joy to find one that he didn’t expect to. One that he had began reading before his journey began, titled Her Heirloom. The novel that included Craig as the main character. Shuren strictly remembered the last section that he read. He had left of when Craig outsmarted the trolls and camped out for the night.

It must have been an old book, for that was the only reason that the library let Shuren have it. Though he had not realize that it was old enough to be in Aela-Doria.

“What is that?” Catalina asked Shuren, pointing to the book in Shuren’s hands.

“It’s a novel that I was never able to finish. I read it back at the village before that jerk sent me on a suicide mission.” Shuren replied.

“Who is this jerk?”

Shuren gripped his book tightly. “His name is Bastian Mclore. He hated me just as much as I hate him now.” Catalina looked surprised. “That bastard is the reason why my village was attacked. He works for the Ingles, and he’s the reason why we were ambushed.”

Catalina looked irritated. This was the first time that she ever heard him speak such aggressive words. “Well, then what should we do about this?” she asked.

Shuren shook off the though of his grudge. “I don’t know, what do you think we should do? This must all be Zelzor’s correct?”

“Most likely, now that he’s gone, I think it would be nice to share a piece of it to everyone.”

Shuren nodded, “Well then, lets get to it. We’ll just grab an armful of the now and take them out into the grand hall. The we can tell people to come down here and get them.”

Catalina agreed. Shuren levitated two stacks of books, though he kept Her Heirloom in his arms. Catalina grabbed as many as she could by arm and followed him.. Shuren’s stack was wobbly, while hers stayed still and content in her arms. He still needed work on his magic. The left the room with the many stacks of books and walked up the stairs and back into Zelzor’s room.

They stepped over the pile of rubble and spilled books that they broke earlier. They slowly led the stack of books into the halls. People gathered around them as they set them down in the grand hall. The Zelzes rummaged through the four stacks of books and questioned where they came from. Catalina told everyone to settle down until they were all quiet.

“Everyone, we stumbled upon a library of some sort.” Shuren explained. “There was a room behind the book cases in Master Zelzor’s room. It led downstairs into a fairly large room with tons of books. I thought that you all should be able to read them all.”

The Zelzes began to commute amongst themselves, deciding whether or not it was right to be going trough Zelzor’s belongings.

Suddenly, Shuren came up with an idea. “I think that we should create a library.”

Zelzes were confused to here this. With all of the stress from the war, they had not expected anything like this. “We can’t let this war take everything away from us. Let’s try to stay positive. Let us try to enjoy ourselves while we still can.”

Soon, agreement seemed to be mutual with everyone. Shuren assigned groups of people to go down into the room and retrieve all of the books. They found an empty room, and decided to use it as a library.

“We will need to build book cases, large ones at that,” Shuren said as he helped a group of Zelzes clear out the room. After they moved all of the belongings out of the large room, they began cleaning it up. While cleaning, Shuren assigned a group of Zelzes to fetch enough wood for at least twenty book cases.

While cleaning, Shuren saw Karoline walk in through the room. Her sudden appearance hit Shuren in his gut. He was just with Catalina earlier, and did not think of Karoline once, it was almost as if his feelings for her were gone. Though as soon as he saw her, all the those feelings, and even guilt, rushed back. He was not sure of how to act towards her.

“What is all of this?” Karoline asked in a positive mood.

“We’re building a library,” Shuren replied simply. “We could use a hand, I know you are an excellent builder. Would you mind building some book cases with the wood we gathered? Or at least show them how?”

“I guess so, I have nothing to do in my spare time. I can lend a hand.” She said. Shuren thanked her and showed her the pile of wood in the other end of the room. It was almost a relief to get her out of his presence, he felt so timid and guilty.

Karoline finished two book cases by nightfall. The size of them were fairly large. They were tall enough to fit a lot of books, but not taller than anyone’s reach. She had taught other Zelzes how to build them, and expected them to continue when they were gone. They had retrieved about half of the books from the basement room. Could not think of where to put so they stacked them up in the grand hall.

Shuren thanked everyone and walked back to his room with his book. He was so excited to continue reading it. He had not even reached halfway yet before he left on his journey. Shuren walked into his room, washed up and laid down in his bed.

He grabbed the book and searched for the last page that he was on. When he found it, he began reading it. Before he even read a paragraph, Shuren felt uneasy reading it. He didn’t feel right reading it just then. It just seemed very uncomfortable to him, as if it wasn’t right. He closed the book and set it aside. He blew out his candle and went to sleep.

* * *

Shuren woke up quite early the next morning. The thing he could think of was Catalina. He felt very strange after kissing her. Though he has never before, he was sure that it gave him an abnormal feeling. Not only did guilt fill his head, but he also felt uneasy.

Shuren walked out on his balcony and watched the sunrise. Peace began to sooth his soul. He stared at the orange half-circle rise slowly above the horizon. The sky above him was oddly the color of lavender, but the sky before him was a flaming red. The redness of the sky dispersed and gently turned darker into the early morning of the sky. Before Shuren knew it, the sky was completely lit with a light blue.

Shuren walked back inside his room when he heard a knocking at the door. He almost knew exactly who it was. He opened the door and was correct. Catalina swayed into the room with her long silk robe gently sliding on the floor behind her.

Shuren was not shocked this time. By now, he was used to it, and practically enjoyed it. He shut the door behind her as she sat down on his bed. Shuren walked over and took a seat next to her. “What is it?” he asked.

She leaned over and gently kissed him, this time, shorter than the first and the last. As their lips departed, she put her lips next to his ear. “. . . I’m leaving,” Catalina whispered.

A jolt went through Shuren’s heart. He was speechless for a few moments. Eventually, he managed to say, “Why?”

Catalina sighed. She lifted herself off of the bed and walked around the room a bit. Their backs faced each other as she stood next to bed and Shuren stayed sitting. “There is something that I must do alone. I must take care of something. I’m afraid that this will be the last time we see each other for a while.”

Once again, Shuren said nothing. Once again, he could not have true happiness. Shuren felt as she was his one true chance of happiness, and just his luck, it will leave him. “Is it really that important?” asked Shuren, afraid of the answer. She nodded. “Just my luck . . .”

“I’m leaving very soon, it’s very important that nobody knows that I’ve left,” she said seriously. “In order for me to be safe, you must let everyone know that I have gone missing.”

Shuren wondered why, but did not ask. He wanted her to be safe, “I will try.”

“No, you must promise me that you will not tell. Nobody can know! If they do, then I might . . . Die.” Catalina explained with the same serious tone.

Shuren felt his eyes water. He was not entirely sure if he was crying or not. She came closer and hugged him. After a few moments, she whispered, “I will find you when you find it.” Then, she kissed her fingers and placed them on his lips one last time.

She turned around and walked outside onto the balcony. Shuren stayed inside, wiping his face from the hot tears that he could not control. “I will miss this place,” she began. She turned around to face Shuren and said, “Shuren, I lov-”

Suddenly, a black bolt of lightning struck the balcony right beside Catalina. A man with a dark leather suite appeared before the sky grew dark. Shuren was found frozen. The Mawbryn pushed Catalina aside, causing her to fall to the ground. The man walked blew away the window that led into the room. The balcony shook and began to crumble. The edge of it broke off and collapsed. Glass flew into the room, some of it cutting Shuren. He couldn’t not react, he could not move. All Shuren could do was watch Catalina knocked out on the floor.

The Mawbryn walked into the room and raised his arm. With a deep voice, he muttered, “Dinwoa!” Shuren was blown against the wall behind him. High-speed wind rushed against his body, keeping him on the wall and immobilized. Shuren barley budged his fingers, but it was enough. Books flew out of his shelf and struck the Mawbryn in the back of the head.

Shuren was released from the wind. Shuren waved his arm and said, “Arcaetama!” A web of electricity flew from his arms and struck the Mawbryn. Shuren then rushed over to his bedside and grabbed his scimitar. He turned around expecting an attack but there wasn’t. The man was now outside forcing Catalina off of the floor.

Then, the doors for Shuren’s room flung open. “Shuren! The sky is dark, is must be them-” Lloyd said as he walked in to find a Mawbryn on his now collapsing balcony. Lloyd immediately armed his bow. The Mawbryn grabbed the now conscious Catalina and forced her in front of himself as a shield. Lloyd halted.

“Shuren!” cried Catalina. Before Shuren began to run, smoke was already rising from the ground. Another black bolt of lightning struck and they were gone.

“NO!” Shuren screamed until his face turned purple. He arced his body backwards and threw his scimitar with rage. It sliced through the air and went right into the smoke. There was a loud clunk as it hit the balcony.

Lloyd ran into the smoke, but found nothing, the man was gone, and so was Catalina. The smoke disappeared and the sky regained it’s color. “Shuren, the balcony!” Lloyd yelled as he reached for Shuren’s scimitar.

Shuren ran over to the edge of his room and forced the scimitar backwards. It flew behind them and stuck into the wall. Then he compelled his energy under the falling balcony. It was very large and hard to control. He had to think fast, he could not reattach it to his room. He could only let it down somewhere.

“Just throw it somewhere!” Lloyd said loudly.

Shuren spun around for momentum and forced the balcony away from the mountain with all of his strength and rage. The large chuck of mountain flew out into the valley hundreds of yards away. Seconds later there was a loud thump as it hit the ground.

Shuren slumped to the ground with tears streaming down his face again. Lloyd came over and patted his back. “I’m sorry,” he said.

Shuren took a deep breath, “I couldn’t save her. Why would they want to take her?”

“I don’t know,” Lloyd said, “she was a pretty powerful sorceress.” He tried to comfort him.

Shuren stood up with even more rage. He lifted all of the ruble and shards of glass from his window and forced them out into the valley. Lloyd could only stand there and watch Shuren go out in rage.

More Zelzes ran into the room realizing that there was an attack. Niance asked, “Sir Ruven, Sir Lloyd, are you hurt?”

“We’re fine, but they-” Lloyd began.

“They took Catalina!” Shuren finished. Niance gasped along with the other Zelzes.

Lloyd stood up, “I think we should go talk to Rollan.” Shuren wiped his face and followed Lloyd.

“We’ll take care of this mess,” a Zelze said as he pulled the reverse blade scimitar out from the wall.

Lloyd led Shuren throughout the halls. The Zelzes in the hallways asked them what exactly happened. Lloyd explained it to one Zelze and told him to spread the word. Shuren, however, was not paying attention. He was lost in grief, yet again.

“First Master, and now Catalina, and it’s all my fault! If it weren’t for me, they would still be here, no one would have to be hurt!” Shuren thought. Shuren clenched his fist. He was angrier at himself than ever.

Lloyd opened the door to Rollan’s room. Rollan was inside sitting, looking at a map of Oryk. He looked up, “So what happened?”

Shuren sat down. Lloyd said, “I’ll go get Karoline and the others,” and left. Shuren stared at his fists with his teeth clenched. “It was the Mawbryn, they took Catalina.” Shuren said plainly.

Rollan sighed with disbelief, “What was the point?” It seemed as if he was asking himself that question.

“What was that?” Shuren asked a little confused.

“There had to have been a point. Garland said that he needed you alive correct?” Rollan asked. Shuren nodded. “Then why one of the Mawbryn come to attack you, and also take Catalina?”

“She is a very powerful sorceress,” Shuren replied. Rollan shook his head.

“Though she is very strong, they have plenty of powerful Ingles that can do quite a bit of Gippy sorcery.” Rollan contemplated.

“I was too weak,” Shuren began, “I wasn’t strong enough to save her. When he appeared, when he attacked, I couldn’t move. I-I was paralyzed.”

The doors opened, and a group of people walked in. The first was Karoline, who made Shuren’s spine shiver. He had been so caught up with Catalina that he did not think of her. No longer could feelings of affection rush back to his body with a single glance. Right then, only anger and grief flowed through him. Lloyd, Thegor, and Blayger walked in behind her.

“I head there was an attack, are you okay?” Karoline asked with concern.

Shuren nodded, but said, “They took Catalina.” Karoline raised her eyebrows with disbelief. She did not show an expression of sadness but instead anger, she never really did like Catalina, but she did reside with them. “Was it only one?” Shuren nodded.

“I think we should leave today.” Rollan then said after a moment of thought.

“What about the rest of us?” Thegor asked.

“All of us, we all leave today, even the Zelzes that were going to stay here.” Rollan explained.

“Yes, I agree with Rollan,” Blayger said. “It is no longer safe here since they know where we are. We need to find a safe place for them all.”

“What about Veryala?” Lloyd suggested. “They can’t find the village anywhere in the Dead Forest. Also they have many barriers that protect the village.”

Rollan nodded, “How many Paleps do we have here?”

Thegor said, “A few stables full. It should be just enough to transport them to Veryala.

“Very well,” Rollan said, “call for an emergency meeting in the Grand Hall. This needs to be done quickly.”

* * *

The Grand Hall was quickly filled just as it was the day before. Though, this time, only one Dragon hovered above everyone. Thegor and Rollan rode Rissam in the air. Everyone was now quiet.

“As you all should know by now, there was an attack earlier this morning. It was a Mawbryn, from Garland’s army. Our Ruven tried to fight him off, but he had the element of surprise and overpowered our unarmed Ruven.” Rollan sighed. “Luckily, our Ruven and Sir Lloyd were able to make him flee, but unfortunately, he took one of us with him. Our dear Catalina has been taken with her. We know not the location they have gone, and we are not going to find out. We can only pray that where ever she is, she is safe.

“As for us, we have no choice but to leave immediately. All of us. Now that they know our location, we are no longer safe here.” There were many complaints and cries as Rollan was explaining. “We will all go on our journeys, and whoever remains will travel to Veryala. It is safe there and the magical barriers will protect you all. You guys will take Paleps down there, it should take maybe four days with Paleps if you are hasty. We must pack and leave by sundown. Say your goodbyes, and pray for each other, this is war.” The crowd dispersed into the hallways. They all went back to their rooms to pack and get ready for a journey.

Shuren walked up to his room. He no longer felt grief. Instead, he felt almost nothing. He couldn’t even shed a tear. He found his room to be cleaner than before, with the exception of the big whole in the wall. Shuren saw a big leather sack on his bed and began to pack.

He stuffed his light Zelze armor into the sack along with clean under clothing. He packed a Gippy and a Grundell language book along with Zelzor’s copy of Her Heirloom. He grabbed the already packed leather sack that Blurton help him sew. It was already packed with his usual survival items. He then realized that he never unpacked them.

Shuren sat and thought of when The Trio helped him get ready for his journey. He missed them so much. Thinking of them made tears form in his eyes for the third time that day. He closed his eyes and clenched his teeth. Shuren grabbed his two leather sacks and his scimitar headed for the door. He stopped right before the exit. Shuren turned around for one last glance. The bed was not made, and the pool of water was motionless. He took a deep breath, turned around and walked away.

Essay: The First Day I Came to York

by Luis R.

The first day I arrived in York, I thought it was a nice place. I never lived in a city before, so I didn’t know what it was like in a city. When I got here the first person I met was my best friends grandma, she didn’t know we just moved in, so she screamed at me and my brother because we were in the backyard. The she apologized and introduced me to a person that is now my best friend. That’s how I met Quincey.

When we got to York we didn’t have a car so we had to use the busses to get to places.
Me, my mom, my little sister, and my little brother, it was our first time ever getting on a bus, we really didn’t know what to do but my step dad did so we didn’t get lost. My little sister enjoyed the ride on the bus, I didn’t, and it was too crowded. Then we finally got to where we wanted to a restaurant called Daddyos Pizza. We ate but they had something I never seen or tried before,”Chocolate Pizza”. I went and took two slices and had my first bite it was so good I had another.

We went back home. I saw Quincey at the back yard playing soccer, so I asked him if I could play he said yes. We stated playing soccer and I was good but not that good. My mom told me there was a McDonalds close to our house but I didn’t know where it was, so I asked Quincey if he knew where it was he said yes. I asked him to take me so I could get food for my mom and some for us will we were there. We went back home with a bag of food. Quincey invited me to go to his house, but to be careful with the dog because they bite. I went to Quincey’s house for the first time. The dogs didn’t bite, they just barked but after a will they liked me. We went back to my house and Quincey asked for some rice, and I gave him some, and he liked it. Quincey went home because it was late. That’s how me and Quincey became fiends.

Poem: Fine Beast for Dinner

by Anthony W.

As the sun rises so does the squigglwok

All the knights give way

The king addresses in an loisy way

“The sky is ponge

And night has yet to come

Gather all your kinsmen

Fine beast for dinner and let it be done”

A simple task is it not

For no man has caught the squigglwok

Only sir Erin the lak

Has ever caught a squigglwok

“find me sir Erin”

The grangy king roared

All thorough trussels

Across distant hills

Came sir erin.

“My veedy king you called”

“chuggy your men and get my wok”

At once they did soar

Under the glamp sky

With only the stars to

To light their eyes.

Unpun the night have they watched

The frong beast called the squigglwok

Valiant they were, but to no avail

Two were flayed

By the beast’s tail

Swirlent blades clashed and breemed

At each and every seam

Hobbed were their faces

Wrept were their braces

Till the hero left unseen

Gumped he was by the wok

the men shrept in shock

It was done

They had failed

It seemed

All came to a close

But then the beast shrieked

The hero’s blade stug in its throat

With a pull it crashed and died

Leaving only two alive

They slagged on for two days

Hauling the heavy beast

Till they made it to castle

For the feast

As ever the grangy king roared

“to the honorable sir Erin

We commemorate this feast”

It was a very fine meal to say the least.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Essay: Sleep Divided by School

by Isaac M.

School is something everyone need but sometimes you go to school tired, and you need some sleep. So, you know what everyone does? They fall asleep! The point it when people fall asleep in school there teacher would get mad at them like they did something wrong. Sleep is a natural bodily function. Now I understand the teacher yelling when people fall asleep when they think the lesion or class is boring. Like I said, sleep in something everyone needs and you should be getting it out of school when you can. Not when you are suppose to be learning. When you find yourself fighting the sleep in school I find that when I go to the bathroom I wake up walking through the halls, also if you need to make up fast look at a light not for too long thought or you’ll cause’ damage to your eyes. So I hope you have learned to keep awake in school.

Book Review: Castration Celebration (Jake Wizner)

by Becca L.

Where to begin on this monstrosity? I will admit, I barely glanced at the back cover synopsis. I saw the word castration and decided it must be mine. After all, what’s not to celebrate about castration (I would recommend male readers not dwell on it)? Even the cover, a mockup of the infamous High School Musical promo, tells vicious lies about the content of this book. It is not witty or clever, as the cover would suggest. It is the product of an author with half-formed ideas who, instead of developing one sufficiently, decides to cram them both into the same horrible book. The ONLY redeeming quality was the suggestion that this could possibly be a reworking of The Taming of the Shrew. I assure you, it was not. The unfinished play within the book was, but the book itself was another bit of mindless, romantic teenage drivel. I know, I have stood behind drivel in the past, but this drivel was too inane even for me. Boy meets Girl at camp. Allow me to break this drivel down for you. Girl works out Daddy issues in writing. Boy woos Girl, Girl resists. Boy wins Girl, Boy screws up. Boy magically makes everything better in the last three chapters. The end. The play follows the exact same plot, just more sex centered. I know you will all be shocked, but my friends and I have filthy minds. I can make anything sound dirty in my head and maintain a straight face until the appropriate moment. The lyrics to some of the songs in this book made me blush. I don’t dare repeat any on a library sponsored site, suffice to say that Boccaccio would be proud. When you see this book on the shelves, do not be seduced by its pretty cover or risqué title. Run as fast as you can to the opposite end of the store and thank me for saving you from this particular Celebration.

Ruveneska: The Scavenge, Chapter 3: Clues

by Darro C.

Shuren woke up the next day fairly tired. Though it was nothing the enchanted pool could not treat. After a quick dip, Shuren got dressed. He decided to go have a talk with Rollan. He quickly walked through his double doors and into the marble hallway. Many Zelzes were up and carrying on with their own business. Shuren walked throughout the webbed hallways and to Rollan’s room. He stood at the door quietly for a few seconds. He raised his hand to knock, though he felt he did not have to.

“Come in Shuren,” said a voice from inside the room.

Shuren was dumbfounded. His hand was still in the air. Through his entire life of knowing Rollan, he was always capable of amazing Shuren. He entered the room quietly. For the first time in his life, Shuren caught Rollan doing something imaginable. He was sitting promptly in an armchair, with a book placed in his hands.

“Rollan, are you reading?” Shuren asked astonished.

Rollan looked up at Shuren as if he had said something wrong. “Ah yes, I am actually. Not quite often will you find me reading a book these days.”

Shuren took a seat across from Rollan. “I remember when you wanted me to get you that copy of The Gospel of Oryk.” Rollan closed his book and smiled. “Why was it that you wanted me to get that for you? You never actually received the book from me.”

“Oh well, I’ve read that book more times than I have cast any spell,” Rollan stood up and went into his back room. “I just wanted you to know a little about the world that you are prophesied to save.”

Shuren frowned. One thing that could always make Shuren frown was the fact that he was chosen to save the world. He never quite got over the fact that a seventeen year old boy was to vanquish evil from the world of Oryk. Shuren though more of the book he was to deliver to Rollan. Than suddenly, a subject popped into Shuren‘s head, something he forgotten all about until recently. “Rollan, what happened that night? When I went to give you that book, you were gone.”

Rollan entered the room with an armful of books. He placed them on the table between the two. He sat down and paused for a moment. Shuren began to wonder if he was going to answer at all. Rollan raised his hand and began stroking his white beard. “Well Shuren,” he said. “What happened to me was ironic, really.”

“Well, let’s hear it than,” Shuren said eagerly.

“Earlier that day, I spotted a black bolt of lightning in the forest neighboring Hogony. I was preparing to investigate it when you came to my house,” Rollan explained.

Shuren remembered correctly. He saw a man in a black coat in the forest that day, it was obviously a Mawbryn. “Rollan, I remember seeing a Mawbryn that day. It was the first time I had seen one, I fled as fast as I could.”

“That’s right; you came out of the forest that day. When you came to my doorstep, I wanted you to get me that book, knowing I wouldn’t be there when you came back. I suspect that you read some of it that day,” Rollan said. Shuren nodded. “Well, after you left, I left the village and scouted the forest, and no doubt I saw a Mawbryn that day. I followed him, and he led me into the graveyard of which you found me in. He saw me and summoned the rest of his squad. I met every single member of the Mawbryn that day.”

Shuren was astounded; Rollan met with every Mawbryn member and was still alive. “Exactly how many members were there?”

Rollan paused again. He looked up and took a breath. “. . . There were seventeen of them.”

Shuren felt as if he were struck in the chest. There were seventeen of them! “There were seventeen?” Rollan nodded. “What about the leader? Was he there?”

“Yes, he was there.” Rollan said. “His power compared to the rest of them is on a different scale. The sixteen members of Mawbryn I could handle. They attacked me and I was able to fight them off. But their leader, he was about matched to me, probably stronger. If it were me and him one on one, I might have been able to fight him off, but there were too many of them. They cornered me and the leader began to threaten the village.”

“What did he say?” Shuren wondered out loud.

“He thought that I was still the Ruven, and threatened the village if I did not come with them. I went with them, to their lair. I did not see Garland there; they said he was taking care of some business down south. They tried to keep me there.”

Shuren was still in shock. “Rollan, why is it they wanted you?”

Rollan began to stare at the books sitting before him. “They wanted me because they though that I was the Ruven.”

Shuren looked up at Rollan staggered. “They took you because they thought you were the Ruven? What would they want with the Ruven?”

“I’m not sure. I knew that if I told them I wasn’t the Ruven, they would come after a massive load of others, so I kept my mouth shut.”

“You risked your life to protect mine. . .” Shuren realized.

“Don’t worry about that Shuren, I’m alive and that matters.” Rollan said. He took another breath and continued, “Anyway, they realized that I wasn’t the Ruven anymore. They seemed to think that the Ruven lived somewhere in Hogony, so that’s when they sealed me into the wall and attacked Hogony.”

Shuren was now frustrated. He was the reason his village was attacked, and he was the reason Rollan was in danger. In a way, Bastian was right, he was the reason Rollan was taken. “So it’s all my fault.”

Rollan shook his head, “Shuren, you did not ask for any of this. You did not let this happen intentionally.”

Shuren clenched his fist. “So now that means he will come after me now that he knows I’m the Ruven. So even just being here is a danger to everyone.”

Rollan said nothing for a moment. Than he said, “Well that depends. Were they already in danger for fighting the war? Danger could not have increased any more just by knowing you are hear. If they were really planning on taking you, they would’ve attacked right after the battle, when we were weak and in need of a leader.”

Shuren sighed. He leaned back into his armchair and tried to relax. Than, something came to his mind. “Rollan, since you were once the Ruven. Could you, by any chance, teach me about it?” Shuren tried not to raise his hopes, but Rollan was his last chance.

Rollan slowly shook his head. “It’s true that I was taught by Master Zelzor himself, I was never taught the spell,” Rollan said sadly.

“Why would he not teach it to you? You were the Ruven,” Shuren wondered.

“That I do not know, but remember what I said in Veryala,” Rollan informed.

Shuren nodded. He looked at the books that sat in front of him. “What are these for?” He picked up a hard covered red book and opened the page. They were not of common language, but some words he was able to pick up. “It’s in Ingle language, right?”

“Correct,” Rollan said as Shuren handed him the book. “I believe that it can give us a start about the Neo Crystal.”

“That’s right, the crystal’s legends did originate from Ingles,” Shuren said. He thought of how Karoline would be able to help. “I’ll go get Karoline and Lloyd.” Rollan nodded. Shuren stood up and walked outside.

He made his way through the halls of Aela-Doria. He searched in Lloyd’s room but he was not present. He decided to check outside. On his way to the main hall, he spotted Karoline. She was standing next to the pillar they were both at yesterday. She was leaning against it with her arm wrapped around it. She seemed so peaceful, just staring out into the world.

Shuren approached her apprehensively. He crept up beside her. She turned and looked at him and smiled. Suddenly, a light breeze blew into the hall, causing her luscious brown hair to flow in the wind. It was such a coincidence to happen at that moment. Shuren was caught breathless. “Erm, Rollan needs us, and Lloyd also. Have you seen him?” Shuren said quickly to not awkward the moment.

She turned her attention back to the view before her, continuing her thousand mile gaze. “I think Lloyd is training with Athar. I will be at Rollan’s room soon,” She said as she walked back through the halls.

Shuren let out the breath he had been holding. He shook off his feelings and walked outside and the downward bridge that led him to the training grounds. No doubt, he found Lloyd and Athar practicing archery. Also, Wresta, Strata and Linkouz were there.

“Hey guys, how are your injuries?” Shuren asked them.

Linkouz looked up with enthusiasm, “Nothing Niance couldn’t heal. She was amazing! I can’t believe healing would be so great.”

“I think Linkouz has a little crush on the Zelze,” Lloyd said as he finished up his training. The others laughed. “How are you doing Shuren?”

“I’ve been better. Lloyd, Rollan wants to see us,” Shuren said. Lloyd nodded.

Shuren turned around and began walking until Athar called out, “Sir Ruven, what is going to happen at the meeting tomorrow?”

Shuren stopped dead in his tracks. He had no idea about a meeting that was taking place. “What meeting?” He turned around and saw Athar land on Suxar. He walked up to them.

“Everyone in Aela-Doria was informed of this. Surely, you, of all people knew about this,” Athar explained.

Shuren lowered his eyebrows in confusion. “Well, I guess now I do . . .” Without another word, Shuren began heading towards Rollan’s room. Shuren pondered about the meeting. Why was he not informed of this? He began to feel frustrated. Shuren walked faster to reach Rollan’s room.

Karoline, Rollan and Lloyd were discussing about the meeting when Shuren walked into the room. They grew silent as Shuren sat down in the last empty chair. There was silence for a few moments when Lloyd asked, “What else should we discuss tomorrow, Shuren?”

Surprised, Shuren tried to act as if he was clueless, “What meeting?” Lloyd looked at Karoline confused. “Is there something that I should know about?” Shuren acted flawlessly.

“I’m sorry,” Karoline began, “I forgot. The meeting was scheduled to be tomorrow. We are supposed to talk about our next action.”

“Now that Garland has begun recruiting forcefully, we practically have no chance of winning in numbers.” Lloyd explained.

Shuren did not realize that Lloyd and Karoline had already been notified about Garland, yet again, Shuren was the last to know. He pushed the thought aside. He asked, “How far has Garland’s recruiters traveled?”

“According to Thegor, they have reached Aremac, which is west of Veryala. Since most Ingles live in Lekay, they have not reached that far. It also has only been a few weeks after the battle.” Rollan said.

“Then they have not reached Hogony yet,” Shuren said reassured. “I say that we should organize a group of Zelzes to recruit villagers. They would be able to fly with their Dragons to reach them faster than us.”

“Yes I agree with that, and we should continue searching for the Neo Crystal.” Lloyd agreed.

“Has anyone have an idea of what it means?” Karoline asked. There was no response around the room.

“Actually,” Rollan then said with a smile, “I think I have one.” The three of them looked at Rollan with disbelief. “It’s fairly simple actually. There are three places on this main continent of Oryk that are surrounded by nothing but water. There is the Ingle town of Lekay that is surrounded by the Esanci River. There also the ruins of Kyladin wrapped around by the Rocdom River. Then there is also Hogony, surrounded by the Aimon River.”

Shuren was shocked to here Hogony in the statement. “So these places are the ruins that holds the keys?” he asked.

“I’m guessing. It’s the only thing that seems logical at the moment.” Rollan said.

“But then what if it is not supposed to be logical? Maybe it doesn’t even exist?” Karoline said in return.

“That doesn’t even matter. If Garland is after it, it must not be good. Whether is exists or not, we have to stop his plot,” reacted Lloyd.

“So do we go after these keys?” Shuren asked. Shuren was not sure of how he felt about Hogony. He was half excited that this was his chance to travel back to Hogony, but it also worried Shuren that it would be a target of Garland.

“It is up to you Shuren,” Rolland said. “You are the leader and you must make the decision of what to do.”

Without hesitation, Shuren said, “I say we go after these keys and let some Zelzes recruit for the war.” Lloyd and Karoline agreed, Rollan had no response. Shuren tried to pay no mind to it, but not having Rollan’s approval bothered him. He shook off the feeling and asked, “So when is this meeting?”

“Noon tomorrow morning,” Karoline said.

“Well I guess that’s it for our small meeting, the big one is tomorrow, at noon. Get some rest everyone, war causes a lot of stress, especially on young ones.” Everyone stood up and began heading for the door. Shuren walked out and immediately tasted fresh air. It was such a relief to have left that enclosed room. While walking, he realized that he did not even show Karoline the Ingle book. He sighed as he walked back to his room. His usual positive mood had been eroded by stress. He made his back to his room.

After heating and eating the meal that was placed in his room, Shuren washed up and went to bed.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ruveneska: The Scavenge, Chapter 2: Love Struck

by Darro C.

Shuren took a deep breathe. He tried to hold it in but couldn’t. “Ah-choo!” Shuren shrieked. His sneeze seemed to catch a few attentions of Zelzes, but he paid no mind. He continued to walk aimlessly throughout the halls of Aela-Doria. He stopped in the grand hall and stared out through the pillars that held up the mountain top. The sun was near setting. He enjoyed watching the sun set, and with him being so busy lately, this had been his first in a while.

Shuren noticed that the only he was in the grand hall, but he didn’t look back, he kept his eyes fixed upon the beautiful scene before him. He had not even realized someone was coming. A hand placed upon Shuren’s shoulder that made him jump. He turned to see who it was. A pair of fierce red eyes met his. She had a beautiful elegant face, and her luscious brown hair was let down. It was Karoline.

His previous journey with Karoline zoomed through his mind. Shuren was attacked by Zelzor’s Demon Dragon, but Karoline was there to save him. Shuren was unconscious when they met, but eventually they were acquainted. Later she joined Shuren on his journey to save Rollan, which turned into so much more. Though all this time, Shuren barley knew anything about Karoline. She had always been closed from other people. Shuren knew nothing about her past, likes and dislikes, or even why she joined Shuren in his journey.

A familiar feeling settled in his stomach at the though of finally being alone with Karoline. After the grieved battle Shuren wasn’t at all interested in anything but being alone, nothing but the loss of his master, Zelzor, would be on his mind. Now that she had caught him off guard, he did not want to anger her by fleeing.

“It’s beautiful,” Karoline said as the sunset caught her attention.

A sudden memory returned to Shuren. He remembered back in Hogony when he was talking to Karoline alone, he called her beautiful, and they had been awkward after. He was certain not to make the same mistake. “Yes, very,” he said quietly.

Shuren felt her fingers brush against his. With instinct, Shuren grabbed hold of her hand. It was sweaty and cold, but Shuren liked it for some odd reason. After what seemed to be centuries they let go when they heard footsteps in the hall.

Karoline turned her head the other way, slightly pink. Shuren turned to see who was coming. A lean Grundell with long arms approached them, it was Lloyd. He didn’t seem to have noticed those two holding hands, but Shuren wasn’t exactly sure.

Shuren took a glance at Lloyd; he wasn’t wearing any battle clothing which was unusual. Now he was even taller than Shuren, and his long black hair was let down over his red headband. His long arms that dangled from his broad shoulders were waving back and fourth as he walked toward them.

Shuren remembered when he first met Lloyd back on his journey. Shuren had just found out about him being a Grundell, and when they approached his old village, Lloyd was there to greet him, but not in a friendly manner. Lloyd attacked Shuren, only to protect the village of intruders. Shuren won, though he could not remember if it was by sheer luck or Lloyd was going easy. Lloyd never seemed weaker than Shuren at all.

“Shuren,” Lloyd said. He hurried himself to reach Shuren, “Rollan wishes to see you, and you Karoline.” Lloyd said as he turned and to lead them back to Rollan’s room.

Shuren followed as did Karoline, slowly though. They walked through the webbed halls of Aela-Doria. They reached a stubby door in a hall of its own. They knocked and an elderly Gippy opened it; Rollan.

Back when Shuren was hated amongst his villagers, Rollan was the only one Shuren felt a connection towards. Rollan was the leader of the almighty Flaming Falcons, the rebellion of war times. He was an all-powerful wizard, whose powers were still unknown to Shuren.

They were let into a small but comfortable room, where four chairs sat in the center in the form of a circle. Shuren took a seat followed by Lloyd, Karoline, and Rollan who had just shut the door. Shuren looked at Rollan, who had a concerned face. Shuren assumed Rollan had bad news to tell them.

“Rollan, what is it?” Karoline asked, who also noticed Rollan’s concern.

Rollan paused for a moment. He simply said, “There is a problem . . ."

Shuren was not very fond of bad news. He was ready to bolt out of the door, Rollan looked more concerned now than ever. “What is it Rollan?”

He took a deep breath and began to explain, “Garland is now out in the open with his army.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” Karoline asked immediately.

Rollan opened his mouth to talk, but instead of his voice being heard, Lloyd said, “It means everyone, or at least most people in Oryk should be well aware of the war by now.”

Lloyd looked at Rollan and Rollan nodded back, signaling that Lloyd said it correctly.

“Well, how many people did not know about Garland to start?” Shuren said sarcastically.

“Not very many,” Karoline said seriously, shooting down Shuren’s light attitude. “You did not even know who Garland was. We Ingles are very secretive about our business. Barley anyone knew about him outside of our race.”

Shuren seemed puzzled, “Well that’s a good thing isn’t it? I mean now that they know they will want to help us, right?”

Rollan shook his head. Karoline made an angry face and Lloyd clenched his fist. It seemed that Shuren was the only one who didn’t understand what that meant. Shuren looked around as if they were crazy.

“No Shuren, it does not,” Rollan answered eventually. “It is true that all of Oryk knows about the war by now, but it does not mean they will even partake in it. Should they choose to include themselves however, they would not be able to reach us, assuming if they want to join us.” There was a loud screech in the back room causing Rollan left the room for a moment. Seconds later, Rollan came back in with a tray of tea and a kettle of boiling water. Rollan handed everyone a cup of tea.

Shuren took a sip. The steaming water shocked Shuren, but calmed him as it drizzled down his throat. “Well if they don’t want to partake in the war, at least they won’t get in our way,” Shuren said honestly.

Rollan shook his head again. He placed his cup down on his coaster and eyed Shuren. “Garland is forcing people to join his army.”

Lloyd did not seem surprised; it seemed as if he had heard the news before. Karoline, made a slight gasp, but did not seem so shocked. Shuren, on the other hand, struggled to put his cup down gently.

“He can’t do that!” Shuren yelled. He stood up and made his chair collapse behind him.

“Yes, he can,” Rollan said quietly. He raised his voice almost to an angry tone and said, “And he is enslaving anyone who doesn’t.”

“That’s not fair!” Shuren said even louder.

“Of course it’s not, it’s Garland after all,” said Karoline.

Shuren turned around and forced himself out of the door. He stormed throughout the hallway and back into the Grand Hall. It was dark now, but Shuren made his way outside and to his old training grounds with Zelzor.

He sat down on a rock and clenched his jaw tightly. Thoughts of Garland building a bigger army flashed through his mind. He remembered his sinister voice, he pictured him laughing as Oryk shot up in flames. He forced his mind to go black, it was too much to imagine. Yet, Shuren did not feel right being angry at Garland.

Shuren knew that he was supposed to destroy Garland, but he could never imagine himself doing it. He felt guilty whenever he forced himself to think it, and afterward, confused. In the pit of his stomach, he felt no hatred for Garland. This happened often, even after the death of his master, Zelzor. Even though his master’s death was caused by Garland, Shuren still felt no dislike of Zelzor. The more he though about it, it seemed more of his own fault that Zelzor was dead. “But it was master who banned me from the fight!” he thought to himself. Now it felt like Zelzor caused his own death. “No! It was Garland’s doing!” he thought to himself.

He cleared his mind of those thoughts and tried to calm himself. He picked up a rock and concentrated energy to his palm as he turned it to heat. The rock melted on his hand, just as taught to him by Zelzor. Shuren froze the rock and threw it down the cliff. He looked at the waterfall next to him. He remembered Zelzor stopping the entire waterfall with a point of his finger. Shuren raised his index finger and shot a barrier of energy to the water. As the water reached the cliff it stopped. More and more water built up against the barrier, making it even heavier. Shuren released the water. It went searing down to the lake and created a huge splash.

When Shuren was finally calm, he thought about the war. Garland has probably doubled his numbers by now. Shuren knew that their last battle did not include all of his infantry. Even then they were greatly outnumbered. To make things worse, they lost many soldiers during the battle. Shuren needed more troops. “Number’s don’t win a battle,” thought Shuren, “but we still need them.”

Shuren thought back to all of his readings. Gippies were the most populace in Oryk. After the Gippy Grundell war, Grundell villages decreased dramatically. The Gippies were known for the art of magic, and the Grundells for the art of combat. To get both of them on his side would be significant gain, but then they have been enemies ever since. They would never fight amongst each other.

Shuren felt a tiny drop of water on his right cheek. He looked up to see rain clouds surrounding the moon. Another drop struck his nose. Gradually the drops picked up in speed. Within minutes it was pouring over Aela-Doria. Shuren created a barrier over himself as he walked towards the Grand Hall. Rain drops ricocheted off his barrier as they came charging at him. Shuren made his way through the bridges completely dry.

He paced through the halls and hiked up to his room. As he approached his doors, he noticed that there was a crack in his doorway. He was certain that he closed his doors completely. He silently crept into his dim room. He noticed a dark figure at his window. Shuren held out his palm. “Ferina,” Shuren muttered under his breath. A small spark emitted from Shuren’s hand as a ball of flame hovered over Shuren’s hand. The room was suddenly lit.

The figure was turned towards the window. It was a woman wearing a black robe with long silver hair. Her slender body turned around as Shuren lit his hand. It was Catalina. She had a shocked face, until she saw Shuren. Her face lit up with a smile. “Sir Ruven,” she said quietly.

“What were you doing in here?” Shuren asked lightly. He pointed at a candle on his desk and shot a flame. The candle lit the room just as bright as his hand.
She looked at the candle gracefully. “It started to rain as I walked by and I heard the rain pouring in your room. So I came in to close the window,” she said smiling.

Shuren couldn’t help but stare, her smile was so beautiful. “Oh, well thank you.” He smiled back. She approached Shuren swiftly. Before he knew it, she was inches away from him. He froze. His heart throbbed in his chest. “Get away from her!” his mind screamed. Though no matter how many times this happened, he was never able to. She was simply too stunning.

Catalina eyed Shuren vigorously. He noticed that he was taller than her by several inches now. Her smile was almost sinister now. He felt her breath against his neck, slow and steady. Shuren, on the other hand, had trouble breathing.
“It was my pleasure,” she said seductively. She kissed her fingers and placed them on lips as she walked out of the door.

Shuren was left dumbfounded in his room. Eventually, Shuren gained his senses. He lit another candle, making the room even brighter. He looked at the pool in the center of his room. The water was enchanted for healing.

He stripped himself down. The air was cold against his bare skin. He felt the water; it was cool. He placed his finger in the pool; he released some energy to heat it just right. He jumped in and immediately felt relaxed. After several minutes, he began to scrub himself. Once he was done that, he took one final rinse and reluctantly left the pool.

He dried himself and began putting on his night clothes. They were soft and comfortable. Shuren wondered if Garland ever slept in nigh clothes, or even on a mattress. It was hard to picture such an evil person to be normal and relaxed as he was.

Once he was done, he jumped on his comfortable mattress. Sudden tiredness rushed through his body. He turned around and blew out his candles. The room turned pitch black, only being lit occasionally by the flashes of the roaring thunderstorm.

Somehow, to Shuren, a thunderstorm was peaceful. The rhythm of the rain followed by thunder was calming. Shuren listened to it carefully. It was almost a lullaby. Eventually, his eyes shut, and he was asleep.

Book Review: Eyes Like Stars (Lisa Mantchev)

by Becca L.

Once again I come to you in anger. Who could have riled me so, I hear you ask. Her name is Lisa Mantchev. She is on my LIST. Not only did she dare release Eyes Like Stars, the single greatest book written this year, she let it out six months early as a pre-pub! I now have six more months of torment waiting for the second book than any other reader! I would send Nate after her but he’s…. somewhere. Never mind. I shouldn’t tell you that.

Eyes Like Stars panders shamelessly to my thoroughly awesome demographic (you know who you are). It centers around the Theater Illuminata which is home to every character ever written into existence. A show at the Illuminata is cast not with actors portraying a character, but with the characters themselves. As is right and proper, it also houses a Stage Manager, Wardrobe Mistress, Props Master, Set Designer, and Theater Manager. The odd one out is our heroine, Beatrice Shakespeare Smith, or, as those who wish to retain all their fingers call her, Bertie.

Admittedly, she is a stereotypical plucky gal, full of appropriate attitude and spunk, but that character mold rocks so it doesn’t matter. She is about to be kicked out, unless she can find her place in the theater. Of course, to tell you anything else would give it all away, I’m going to make you read it (I know, I’m so cruel). I ask that all my fellow drama geeks sit down, as their glee at what they are about to here will probably cause a dead faint. Dear Bertie is best friends with the fairies from A Midsummer Night’s Dream!!!!!!!! They have actual characterization! They are no longer the flat bit players Shakespeare doomed them to play! Shakespeare fans may rejoice as the Bard’s more interesting creations are brought into the twenty-first century, Ariel included. And the cool people know I’m not talking about a mermaid.

Before I proceed, I must ask that everyone remain calm and remember that I am entitled to my opinions and if they differ from yours, there’s really no need to stone me, a verbal warning will suffice. Okay, deep breaths…… Nate, Bertie’s someone, is better than Edward. Before you smite me, allow me to present my case.

1. He’s a pirate. Nothing is cooler than pirates. And he’s a hot pirate! Admit it, when have you ever seen a hot pirate? Well, besides the Dread Pirate Roberts, he wore a mask so that doesn’t count. Ha! I told you.

2. His rival is extremely formidable and, quite frankly, can compete on equal footing for awesome points, yet he still beats him. He takes on a spirit made entirely of air and bests him. To use the vernacular, EPIC WIN.


The defense rests.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Poem: Why So Down?

by Anthony W.

Why so down?

day and night all around.

Lights are out without a sound

what troubles have you now.

Moonlight gently pouring

down upon,

a gentle lake.

Where have they gone,

these forms of conflict?

let it wash away

down the stream of,

another day.

The quiet isn't so bad.

let it rest

be still

and move on.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Poem: A Duel of Hearts

by Anthony W.

Lay siege, burn it to the hell
The day is young in this cold war
Our locking eyes burn the ground.
Is my way not enough?

Every move you make a weapon
Every gesture a will
The softness of your skin is an instant kill

This is a battle of attrition
I steadily losing ground
Day by day coldness sweeps
Hands yet to touch your rosy cheeks

Though I shall falter
I’ll try again
Crossing the field within

As the dawn grows near
And so I march
With an ace so noble and true
A soul filled confession from me to you

They say god smiles on men
All of which is false
He cheers on the heart of the lost

Ruveneska: The Scavenge, Chapter 1: Memorial Grounds

by Darro C.

Jump to:
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5

Cotoz laced his black leather boot tightly. He armed himself with his usual steel long sword. He wrapped his sheathed knife on the side of his left leg. His red cape fluttered as he stood up.

His cabin was still damaged. The floor was stained with black from fire in the back right corner of his house. The corner was rebuilt with mismatching wood leaving a dramatic color change on his wall. Spots of sunshine shone through the roof. It was merely piled up with tree bark, but not enough to cover all of it.
He left his poorly fixed log cabin to view it from outside. The only window was covered by a white cloth that hung loosely. The door was barley hinged to the cabin. Scars of battle stained the walls.

Flashes of the previous year shot through Cotoz’s mind. He remembered fighting a large number of Sleepwalkers, mindless corpses that were controlled by Ingles, to protect his village, Hogony, from total destruction.

The village of Hogony was barley saved from extinction. Though by three main leaders, they were able to rebuild it. Hogony was restored, not perfectly, but adequately with a new place added; the Memorial Grounds.

The Memorial Grounds was built shortly after the attack in Hogony. It was built on the left side of Hogony, out of the wall perimeter, but was connected by a large steel gate. It was half the village in size. Inside were graves and remains of precious people that passed away, most were from the ambush.

Cotoz walked through the village. The cabins were rebuilt better than his, but battle stains still showed. People were continuing life as if the battle never happened, with one exception. There was one thing that the ambush had certainly changed, and it was their arrogance towards their missing hero, Shuren Willans. Up until that moment, Shuren was the most hated person in the village, until he saved them from the Ingle’s attack.

Cotoz reached the stream that bordered the village. He walked over the bridge and saw the only house that was not harmed, but it did look as if it was. Though now it seemed in better condition than the others. Cotoz heard people walk over the bridge, he turned to see Lorica and Blurton approach him. Lorica, the magical archer was still as tall and thin as usual and Blurton was as gruff and muscular as before. Lorica and Blurton were the other two leaders that helped rebuild Hogony.

The trio stood together and peered at Shuren’s house. The tree entered the untidy house. A hole of missing floorboards caught there eye. Not surprised, the trio began inspecting the house. A glare from underneath the straw that the floorboards stood above frequently caught Lorica’s eye, but he ignored it.

They found that Shuren’s house was not left as it was since the ambush. Someone had obviously been there, but whom? No one entered the house ever since the tragic day. But still, items were disturbed and out of usual place since the day.

The trio had received word that there were noises from the cabin during the late night, but no one had confirmed that it truly happened. Though now, they had proof that something had entered. Drawers were open, books lied on the floor and even more floorboards were torn from the floor.

After a few more moments of silence Cotoz led the group out of the cabin and back through the village. The pathways were emptier than earlier. Stands and shops were closed as well as homes. They continued walking until they approached a giant fancy house. The trio entered Bastian’s house to find the entire village population waiting patiently.

Cotoz, Lorica and Blurton were the new declared leaders of Hogony. They had issued a meeting on that day at the usual meeting spot, Bastian’s house.

Bastian was the previous leader of Hogony, besides the elder. He was a rude inconsiderate Gippy whom was the one that led the Ingles to attack them. The traitor left on that day and no sign of him was found.

The house interior had dramatically changed from a home into a meeting spot. Bookcases that held fancy books were replaced with important documents. Fancy furniture used for show was now being used as regular comfort. Rooms were not filled with armory and weapons for protection. The Gippies may have lived as if it never happened, but they were definitely making sure it didn’t again.

The trio settled themselves in their usual spot, in the center of the room. The chattering had seized when they sat down. Everyone turned their attention towards them. The children playing in the next room had no mind in these meetings.

“Well, what’s the news?” asked Trone, the farmer. He was a Gippy who despised Shuren almost as much as Bastian did.

“As you all know, things in Oryk have been changing. Whole villages have been issued under an army at a time. I fear that our village will be also soon,” Cotoz said with concern.

Another Gippy shouted, “Then we won’t do it!”

Lorica eyed the Gippy with amusement, “It’s either fight for them, or be enslaved.”

Silence fluttered throughout the room. No one had a reply. Suddenly, Trone shouted, “How strong can they be?”

“Stronger than you can imagine. We’re talking about the army that nearly enslaved all of Oryk all those years ago,” Blurton said irritated. He looked at Cotoz. “Our only hope is to join the other army.”

Confusion replaced the Gippies’ faces from shock. A middle aged Gippy, named Iawor, said, “The other army?”

Cotoz took a deep breath. “As you all know, our fellow villagers, Shuren and Rollan, left the village to visit his home village, along with Miss Karoline. Well it turns out that they were drafted in the war, by the Zelzes.” Cotoz waited for a few moments for a reaction, but none came.

Quietly, a hand raised in the air. Lorica nodded at the young Gippy woman. She said shyly, “Zelzes are real?” Lorica nodded again. “Then that must mean that Dragons are also real . . . “

“Quite true,” Blurton said.

“What is the point of this war?” Trone questioned.

“As you all should know, Ingolor attempted to take over Oryk, but failed by Lord Zelzor.”

The Gippy woman raised her hand again, and before being called on, she said, “I thought that was just a myth, a legend.”

“Well it is true, trust me,” Lorica said certainly.

“We feel that what was not accomplished before is being finished now, by his grandson,” Cotoz explained.

Now fear replaced confusion. More silence swept the room. “Well what are we going to do?” the Gippy woman asked.

Everyone now placed their eyes on Cotoz, the battle expert. Cotoz was certainly the one who would lead training. Sure Lorica and Blurton were excellent fighters, but Cotoz was mainly better. “What we must do is prepare.”

The villagers seemed to be overthrown by a sudden blast of confidence. They all had faces of eagerness. “Train, right?” asked Trone.

Cotoz nodded. “Ever since the time of war has ended, we have slacked and lost our potential as sorcerers and warriors. We will train and our ancestors will be proud. We will fight for the good of Oryk.”

“This Garland fellow,” stammered Trone, “he’s the real deal?” The trio nodded. “His grandfather really did almost succeed?” The trio nodded again.
“Who will train us?” asked the Gippy woman.

Lorica stood up. “I will train u in magical arts to the best of my ability.”

Blurton paused for a moment, gradually; he stood up and said, “I guess I will train you in survival and smart decisions.”

Cotoz said immediately, “And I will train you in the art of combat.”

“Well what will we do afterwards?” asked the same Gippy woman.

The trio sat back down, with the exception of Cotoz. They looked puzzled for a moment. Cotoz entered deep thought. He opened his mouth to speak, but before he could he was interrupted.

“Will the Grundells be fighting on their side too?” asked Trone with a near frightened face.

Lorica said, “I am not going to lie, yes, the Grundells are on their side.”

A loud roar of protest filled their ears. The village obviously did not want anything to do with their eternal enemies, the Grundells.

A generation ago, the Gippies and the Grundells were engaged in a frantic war. The real reason of the war was still unclear, but so many died. They could not forgive one another.

“Can I have your attention please?” Lorica said. He was not heard over the loud chatter. “Attention please!” he said once again, but they still didn’t hear him. “ATTENTION DAMN IT!” he screamed, the room silenced at once.

The room settled down. Trone looked as if he were ready to throw a fit, but no one dared to say a word. Quietly, the Gippy woman raised her hand again. She opened her mouth and stuttered, “I - I have no problem with it.”
“Shuren is a Grundell, and you accepted him,” Blurton began, “did you all forget that?”
“Alright Blurton, say we somehow managed, even if we do join, who can beat Garland?” asked Trone, who seemed to be unanimous with the rest of the villagers, “I mean you did say this was the army that nearly took over Oryk all those years ago.”

“One, his name is Shuren Willans,” Cotoz said.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Essay: Spring

by Austin C.

Spring is a nice enjoyable season, as long as you have your allergies under control. I can enjoy spring to a point. I love the warmth weather it brings and the breeze it has especially when I’m in a moving car with the windows down. I do though have the worst allergies there is in spring, my eyes water and get bloodshot red, my nose itches like crazy, and I get headaches so bad I fall asleep. In my opinion fall has to be the best season but spring is a good season to escape from winter because after all the snow and being isolated inside layers of clothing, it’s nice to walk outside with a little feeling of exposure.

A major problem with spring is the insects. I hate them mostly any bugs that attacks or is of an annoyance. Bees are of an annoyance because they just fly around and you run into one of them without even knowing and risk being stung and that’s not fun. The one insect I hate the most is the mosquito. Mosquitoes are very annoying. I hate when I get bitten and I don’t notice it until that night and then it irritates me. What I like the most about spring is the rain. Rain isn’t the best when you are doing anything outside but when I drizzles outside I enjoy it. The sounds of rain as it lands on the roof and pavement is smoothing even though it makes me tiresome. So this is why I thing spring is a pretty decent season to have.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Poem: On the Outside Looking In

by Ashlee W.

I’m trapped inside myself.
I scream internally where no one else can hear.
I cry silent tears but they don’t understand why.
They just see weakness, not my struggle to go on every day,
Not my need for a friend or just someone to listen,
And not judge me because of what I have to say.
Because if you knew what I knew,
Then you would scream for me.
If you could just catch a glimpse of what I’ve seen,
Then you would understand why I cry.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Staff Reviews: Graceling by Kristen Cashore

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Review by Clio, TAB's advisor

Katsa is a Graceling, blessed (or cursed) with the ability to kill with her bare hands. Since she is the niece of the King, she is used as an enforcer, sent out to torture or kill those who have wronged him in some way. Although she doesn't particularly enjoy her job, she is very, very good at it. What the King doesn't know is that Katsa is also the founder of the Council, a group of nobles and commoners who work together to protect those who are vulnerable to the often cruel and frequently capricious whims of the powerful. When a prince from another kingdom is kidnapped, the Council sets out to rescue him and discover both the person behind the kidnapping, and its purpose.

Enter Prince Po, the kidnapped victim's grandson, whose Grace makes him almost a physical match for Katsa, and whose personality makes him endlessly fascinating to her. After Katsa refuses to carry out one of her uncle's orders, she and Po set out to discover the reason behind his grandfather's kidnapping. On the road, they discover more about their unusual skills, and encounter a King with a Grace so powerful it could literally destroy their universe.

Graceling is, quite simply, one of the best fantasy books I've ever read. Katsa is a fantastic heroine. Her relationships with family, conspirators, and Po unfold naturally, and her journey from enforcer to protector is well-crafted and believable. The concept of some people having superpowers is not, of course, new, but the Graces in this book are presented in a very unique, original way. One of the things I particularly enjoy is that not all of the Graces mentioned would be useful in any real way, which adds a touch of realism. Graceling is followed by a prequel, Fire, which came out in October 2009. Check each of them out immediately - you'll be glad that you did.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Poem: Music

by Nick W.

Music can determine many things about people.
Usually it can determine ones personality.
Sometimes it can describe ones mood.
It can express how someone feels about certain things.
Comparisons with music and life are also beneficial.

Comforting a person with music could cut some tension.
Images can also be express through music.
Singing and searching for certain elements in music could determine things.
Understanding different music genres and types could affect a persons mindset.
Most of all music is a like a lifestyle.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

New Books!

Are you looking for something new to read? Here are a few of the things we've gotten in this month. If you can't get them right away, put them on hold!

Blue Bloods: The Van Alen Legacy (Melissa De La Cruz)
With the stunning revelation surrounding Bliss's true identity comes the growing threat of the sinister Silver Bloods. Once left to live the glamorous life in New York City, the Blue Bloods now find themselves in an epic battle for survival.

Catching Fire: The Second Book of the Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins)
Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.

Fire (Kristen Cashore)
It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. In King City, the young King Nash is clinging to the throne, while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. War is coming. And the mountains and forest are filled with spies and thieves. This is where Fire lives, a girl whose beauty is impossibly irresistible and who can control the minds of everyone around her.

Going Bovine (Libba Bray)
All 16-year-old Cameron wants is to get through high school—and life in general—with a minimum of effort. It’s not a lot to ask. But that’s before he’s given some bad news: he’s sick and he’s going to die. Which totally sucks. Hope arrives in the winged form of Dulcie, a loopy punk angel/possible hallucination with a bad sugar habit. She tells Cam there is a cure—if he’s willing to go in search of it. With the help of a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf and a yard gnome, Cam sets off on the mother of all road trips through a twisted America into the heart of what matters most.

Hate List (Jennifer Brown)
Five months ago, Valerie Leftman's boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets.Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.

Liar (Justine Larbalestier)
Micah will freely admit that she’s a compulsive liar, but that may be the one honest thing she’ll ever tell you. Over the years she’s duped her classmates, her teachers, and even her parents, and she’s always managed to stay one step ahead of her lies. That is, until her boyfriend dies under brutal circumstances and her dishonesty begins to catch up with her. But is it possible to tell the truth when lying comes as naturally as breathing?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Game Review: Resident Evil 5

by Conan S.

If you have a friend and want to have endless fun, get Resident Evil 5. This game is perfect for cooperative play whether it be local or on Xbox live. My friend and I have already beaten this game three times and are working on it a fourth time. You will be sucked into playing it multiple times to unlock all the treasures, weapons, upgrades, and unlimited ammo for each of the weapons you have unlocked and upgraded. This may seem monotonous and boring, but once you’ve played it once you will want to play it again and again. And if you really want a challenge you can play veteran and then unlock professional mode. It is very hard (especially once you get into the later levels), but if you have a good friend next to you then masochism cannot be made any more fun.

There is no doubt that this game was made for two, but I have played it alone a few times, and it is definitely not as fun as cooperative, but it is still worth playing at least once. I usually just put on some music or a movie I have already seen on the side while I play by myself in a game, but I have a short attention span and usually have to multi-task. There is also a mini-game you can play with a friend or by yourself called The Mercenaries. In this game you have to kill as many “zombies” as you can within a set time. This is great for killing time and get some points on the side.

The campaign plot is also great. You are Chris Redfield, a member of the North American Branch of the BSAA (which not even Wikipedia has a vague reference to what it stands for, but is an anti-bioterrorism organization across the world). You team up with Sheva Alomar who is a member of the African branch of the BSAA. You are to investigate some reports of the use of neurotoxins in Africa. You soon find out that Wesker (a former teammate from STARS who was infected with a biochemical and is now super strong and fast). You also find out that another former teammate, Jill Valentine, has been captured and you also must save her. You are taken all across Africa to combat this virus and find Wesker. This is just the tip of the iceberg in a very detailed plot, which will take you on a great adventure.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Essay: All About Jokes

by Issac M.

“Classic”, “Funny”, and “L.O.L” are types of things people say when they are laughing. Laugh is what happens when you hear a really funny joke or when an everyday situation turns out to be funny. Things like joke’s, and cuts make people laugh. There are different types of jokes people use to make other people laugh.

Some jokes are called cuts, this is when a person is using someone else’s personal situations, insecurities, or image to make other people laugh. Sometimes this will result in hurting people’s feelings but normally the joker could care less, like way less, and most of the time the person being talked about isn’t around.
Sometimes cuts can really hurt peoples feeling making you lose friends or acquaintances. Or you can use it to faze your enemies and make them feel bad.

So now you know about how jokes can make your day but destroy someone else’s. This is Isaac M. with the monthly Bobel. Inspired by moe-dron-dron.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Game Review: Condemned 2: Bloodshot

Condemned 2: bloodshot is based of on-going events that are natural and supernatural. The protagonist Ethan who is a drunk and a former FBI is one to part taken in these natural, supernatural events as he regroups with his former partner Angel Rosa to investigate the murder of Malcolm Vanhorn the uncle of the SKX (serial killer X). SKX is Ethan’s nemesis is the murderer of his uncle Malcolm. In the game you have to use your knowledge as well as the equipment given you such a UV light, a GPS, and an ultra sound detector. The game now produces the new environmental weapons such as iron pipes, electric conductors, toilet seats, bowling balls and more. The game play is fun and very interactive as for the story line, I kind of get lost and had to really pay attention or even replay the levels just to get some knowledge of the plotting. I didn’t play condemned: criminal origins so I really didn’t know but when I played condemned 2 I was able to pick from the first game even though I have never played it. The downfall in the game is that in every level it’s basically the same thing, you start talking to someone then you have to solve and record a crime scene then while you try to go to another level you run into the same hobo bad guys and weird black things. Overall the game is fun and enjoyable, though I think the game is like those type of game you would beat once then stop playing unless you were bored.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Book Review: Geektastic (Various Authors)

by Jesse B.

Swords and sorcery, lasers and lightsabers, fiction and reality: All these collide in Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd, a new anthology of short stories collected and edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci. The authors syndicated within aim to thoroughly describe the follies and fantastications of the geek life.

As with all anthologies, there are low points and high points. There are two stories, specifically, which may strike the reader as dubious or simply ridiculous. (I have read previous works by none of the authors contained within the book, so I can ensure you an unbiased opinion.) In "One of Us", by Tracy Lynn, the head cheerleader at a high school pays a group of nerds to teach her about nerdy things; apparently, her boyfriend, the quarterback of the football team, is a clandestine geek, and she wants to impress him. It gets worse: By the end of the story, both cheerleader and quarterback attend a comics convention together. The implausibilities here are apparent. First of all, it should be obvious to anyone who survived high school that there's no such thing as a clandestine geek; a quarterback and cheerleader who attend a comics convention would instantly have their reputations shattered. Secondly, geeks would never associate with a cheerleader, not even for money; they hate cheerleaders and everything they stand for. Admittedly, there are some humorous moments in the story, but they are overridden by the stupidity of the underlying concept.

The second story which could be considered a low point is "The Wrath of Dawn", by Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith. In the story, a girl named Dawn feels cheated by her mother and stepfather and feels a connection with Dawn from Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, considering herself her parents' unwanted child. She attends a Buffy sing-along flick with her wicked older stepsister (Cinderella, anyone?) and jumps up in front of the screen to protest the crowd's mockery of Dawn (the film character). Eventually everyone is applauding at her remarkable display of courage. The story is fine up until then, when the whole thing becomes a load of bullshit. No person in their right mind would applaud someone for blocking their view of a movie. And no person in their right mind would ever stand in front of a movie screen and shout protest to the film's content. This leads the reader to the inevitable conclusion that the entire audience, Dawn (the literary character) included, is clinically insane. Absolutely ridiculous.

Luckily, the book is redeemed by the other stories included within. While quite a few are exceptionally well-written, two shall here be addressed. In M.T. Anderson's "The King of Pelinesse", fantasy backgrounds are seamlessly interwoven with a young man's quest for truth. Jim sets out to meet an accomplished fantasy author whom his mother had had an affair with years ago and discovers things he would have rather not. Intriguing in its prosaic style, "The King of Pelinesse" is easily one of the best stories Geektastic has to offer.

Another interesting story included in the collection is written by Libba Bray and is entitled It's Just a Jump to the Left. In the tale, two teenage girls begin to experiment with sexuality. The interesting factor is that this sexual coming-of-age revolves around the girls' exposure to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The girls at first think it is merely a whimsical movie but over time learn of the movie's sexual connotations, all while experiencing their first "loves".

Overall, Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd is an excellent read. Any geek or nerd would be hard-pressed not to pick it up. The collection is to be published this month in hardcover.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Book Review: Storm Front (Jim Butcher)

Storm Front is part action novel, part suspense mystery. It’s about a wizard named Harry Dresden in modern-day Chicago that struggles to work as a private investigator and as a consultant for the Chicago police department. Storm Front jumps right into the action with Dresden receiving a phone call from a woman who wants to hire Harry to locate her husband. Immediately after the call, the Chicago Police hire Dresden to investigate an unnaturally gruesome murder. After seeing the crime scene, on his way home, Harry is harassed by Gentleman Johnny Marcone, local crime lord. If that’s not enough, Dresden also has to contend with drug running, black magic, dark rituals, talking skulls, seductive vampires, and a council of wizards watching Harry’s every move.

All in a day’s work for Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden.

The story successfully merges numerous plot lines into an exciting and shocking conclusion. Storm Front delivers witty dialogue mixed with a touch of magic. Personally I enjoyed this book because I’ve always been a fan of fantasy books, yet if one were to ignore all the mystical references, they would find value in Jim Butcher’s style of writing that gets the reader involved with the moment. Storm Front is only the first book in the series “The Dresden Files”.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Essay: The American Dream: Riches Greater than Money

by Jesse B.

From the time of our country's inception, there has been talk of an "American Dream"; there has been, however, extremely limited discussion regarding what this dream actually is. It is perhaps useful to reflect on classic American literature for the answer. That being said, numerous literary sources from American history support a single ideal, which one might surmise to be the all-encompassing basis for the American Dream: Happiness is to be found not in cold, hard cash but in the simple pleasures of life and the very opportunity for success and advancement. The attainment of such happiness is the very essence of the American Dream.

The Declaration of Independence –- one of America's most important symbols of its ideals. Even prior to its 1776 publication, the ideals of the American Dream were rooted in the minds of the British colonists. As Thomas Jefferson writes in The Declaration, ". . . all men are created equal." He states that men are entitled to certain "inalienable rights" and that among these are the rights to ". . . life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." These rights speak nothing of property or money; instead, they speak of freedom and equality, the cornerstone of happiness, the pursuit of which is the American Dream.

Walt Whitman was, and still is, a powerful supporter of the common man. His works focus on the simplicities of life. One example of this is his famous poem "I Hear America Singing". In this work, Whitman analyzes the working habits of the lower and middle classes by comparing their labor to song. Each worker "sings" a tune all his own, but together their form a veritable American symphony. Langston Hughes, in his poem "I Too", expands on the thoughts expressed in Whitman's poem. He does so by directly addressing the ideals of the Harlem Renaissance and the push for equality among the races. The black man, too, he argued, was no less American and no less entitled to pursuit of the American Dream. Both Whitman's and Hughes' poems support the idea of the American Dream as both simplicity and opportunity.

Samuel Clemens, better known by his pen name, Mark Twain, is a staunch supporter of both cultural advancement and simplicity of lifestyle. His novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn epitomizes these ideals. The protagonist, Huck, lives a troubled life until he joins an escaped slave name Jim on a journey downriver. Huck and Jim become involved in many adventures along the way; however, Huck finds peace and true happiness only when he and Jim are alone on a raft, letting the current carry them. At first Huck feels he is committing a dreadful sin by helping Jim, but by the novel's conclusion, he realizes that Jim is as much a human being as he is. Huck questions the moral values of Southern society and heads west, hoping to find solace. Both the abolitionist ideals and love of nature presented by Clemens are characteristic of the American Dream.

The goal of finding happiness through both life's simplicities and the opportunity for success and advancement finds its way into the works of Jefferson, Whitman, Hughes and Clemens. To be sure, these are but a sampling of American authors with such a mindset. If one learns nothing else from reading their works, let it be this: Happiness doesn't come from dollar bills; it comes from the attainment of immaterial wealth, something far more valuable indeed.