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NaNoWriMo Day 1

The first day of NaNoWriMo is done for me and I will rest the rest of the day by spending time with my family. Did I achieve my goals today? Yes and no.

In some ways I did achieve my goals in that I wrote. That is enough of a goal for me and I am happy that I got anything done. Also, I managed to sit here at this desk and get something completed and prepared myself for a good story that I think will turn out quite well in the end.

The flip side of that it that it will need a horrendous amount of editing and rewriting and I absolutely hate this opening. But that is the nature of NaNo and I know that everything I do now will need to be changed completely until its ready for publishing. But that is for the end of the month or at least once I have finished the first draft for this story and perhaps the other one that I would like to try and write this month.

Now my word count is the goals that I did not make today. I am ending today with 1,366 words. This is far short of my 5K personal goal for the day and 301 short of the recommended 1,667 average per day that is needed to complete a NaNo story by the end of the month.

So on the one hand I am close but on the other I have a long way to go. Either way I feel like today was a good start and something to keep pressing forward with as this entire project continues.

Now, I will go and spend some time with my family as family is one thing that should not be forgotten.

Till tomorrow my friends.
~Daniel

Tomorrow is the first of November and for many of us that means NaNoWriMo or National November Writing Month. If you don’t know this is a month where writers around the world set off in pursuit of writing a novel within a specific timeline. The goal is 50,000 words in 30 days.

Many people have attempted this project and every year many succeed but greater still are the number of people that fall to the wayside for one reason or another. Over the last 5 years I have attempted it four times and mostly due to work and other constraints in my life have not been successful.

The goal of NaNo is to write a story and many people do try to make a worthwhile story that can be turned into a novel that, hopefully, is good enough to submit for publishing. However, NaNo does have a dark side as the editing side of the industry look with dread on December and all the horrid submissions they receive from NaNo writers.

I’ll be honest here and say that I plan to become one of those people which submit my story for submission. However, I do not expect that it will be ready in December. My goals right now is to first write the story (and I do not expect to limit myself to the 50K words but to 100K or more depending on where the story takes me). After it is done I expect that I will be doing a lot of editing and will be spending a lot of December getting the story to look and feel right. Once that is done I plan to hand it over to a retired editor that has shown some interest in my work. If he likes what he sees then perhaps he can help me to get it in front of the right people or at the least work on several corrections to the story.

Regardless, right now my main goal is to write the story. Therefore, each day I am going to return here and post something of my progress. NaNo officially starts for me in 3 hours and 15 minutes as I type this, but I won’t truly get a start until near 8 tomorrow morning. The standard NaNo goal is 1,666 words per day but I am planning to attempt somewhere between 2500-5000 each day.

This probably sounds like a lot to many of you and it is. I do not fully know if I will be able to accomplish my goal but I am certain that I will put all my effort into making this goal a reality. I can do this I am certain of that and over the next month I will do my utmost to see where the next story takes me.

Until tomorrow my friends, be well.

~Daniel

Still Alive?

Am I still alive, still kicking around the world? Yes I am. I’ve moved though since the last post and life has been far more hectic than I ever thought it would be.

I actually am unemployed these days and that has proven both a blessing and a horror as I’m home all the time but I have learned a lot both about myself and the way I write. I do not have anything to share with you all just yet but some stories will be coming soon along with some other changes to my site.

I will be joining in NaNoWriMo this year as well so be looking for some updates during the month of November as I progress through my next project.

See you soon my friends and be well.

~Daniel

Occasionally I try to get out and take a trip away from home for a day or the weekend. This weekend I traveled up to Milwaukee, Wisconsin which is a lovely city that I have enjoyed visiting before. It has great museums, good shows (saw Cirque Du Soleil’s Quidam about 5 months ago) and some nice attractions. However, this time I want to talk about a little breakfast place I found called Blue’s Eggs.

Blue’s is a breakfast and lunch spot located at 317 N 76th St in Milwaukee and surprisingly enough to me this was probably one of the very best breakfasts I have had in my entire life. Before this I would have said that Benedict’s Eggs and More in Downers Grove, Il had the best breakfast around but today Blue’s far surpassed my expectations.

Already the restaurant is known as the best in Milwaukee and therefore it peaks my interest. If it’s the best it needs to prove it to me after all. From the start the restaurant does not appear to be much. It’s in a strip mall with a bank and Buddhist center to either side but the parking lot is very packed as is the entry way as well. It’s always a good sign if a restaurant is busy and this one had a definite wait (I had to wait for 30 minutes and there was still a line after I left the restaurant about an hour and half later).

The staff is very friendly here and everyone seemed to have a smile despite the rushing about and though noisy it wasn’t the noisy levels that make dining an unpleasant experience. This was a pleasant buzz of conversation over good food.

Now for the food and drinks. Sitting down I found an actual kitchen towel used as the napkin (rather a cute idea really compared to the more fancy napkins), and water was presented in a bottled carafe for each table. The menu is simple and contains a limited number of breakfast and lunch items including several alcoholic beverages. I didn’t try one but the bloody marys appeared quite tasty.

One definite plus to this place was the inclusion of Richi loose leaf tea on the menu. Any place that provides loose leaf get a plus from me. But I settled for coffee today which was quite tasty and didn’t require excess sugar as is the case at too many places.

Looking over the menu I was actually unsure what to get as everything looked very good from simple biscuits and gravy, roasted mushroom omelets, smoked salmon crepes, and so many other items that it was a hard choice. I ended up with their classic eggs benedict.

While i was waiting for dinner the waiter brought over a dish of grapes, butter and jam. The grapes were a great way to pass the time waiting and a good appetizer though I didn’t get a chance to use the butter and jam sadly.

The eggs benedict took a while (about 30 minutes to arrive) but was absolutely fantastic. First it contains a home-made english muffin which was light, slightly sweet and very tasty; then it contained, not the usual canadian bacon or ham steak, but shredded ham from a roast that was just a bit salty but lovely to devour. The egg on top was quite nicely poached, and the sauce was also very well done. Honestly this was one of the best eggs benedict I have ever had.

For a side dish you get to choose one of several items ranging from steel-cut oatmeal, fruit, bacon, and several other items. I went with a buttermilk pancake and it too was delicious. Normally I don’t like buttermilk but this pancake was light, full of flavor and with the syrup on it was just sweet enough to make you pause momentarily as you ate.

Finally, the breakfast was done and I was sad to see it go but I as content and quite satisfied as I sat there finishing off my coffee. The only real issue I had is that I only got one refill on my coffee and would have liked a little more. But considering how busy the restaurant was I can understand the delay.

Overall I would suggest this restaurant to everyone. If you are ever in Milwaukee and need a great breakfast, seek out Blue’s Eggs and enjoy the food. The wait is well worth your time.

Till next time my friends, be well

~Daniel

System Reset

Although it has been a while since I last wrote to you I have not been idle. I have been plowing through my work and I am continuing to attempt to get a handle of my writing. Sadly my efforts have not produced the results I want in the later field although the former appears to be reaching a very good position.

Due to this I believe that my efforts in writing will start to show some positive results and I will begin to see progress in reaching my goals.

But in continuing to work on my tales I realize that I have neglected some aspects of the craft. Some of these are things that I cannot do anything about at this time and will need to hold off on those until I am truly ready to push my work out into the world. But right now I see that I have neglected a few of the basics or at the most let them slide a little too long.

One area that I have not considered of late is the world in which my tales take place. I have long known what this world is like but I have not written it down anywhere recently and the vast majority of my old notes are lost to moves and the ravages of time. And some pieces are lost in the clutter of a far too messy office.

This came to light in the last few days as I was thinking about the path my hero needs to take. As I pondered this I started to hit upon several questions that pushed me in different directions and led me to places I really had not considered. I then talked the matter over with a few people and realized that I had not even considered some aspects of history, character traits, and cultural aspects that would define what is truly happening throughout the story.

In other words, while I had built some structure for my story long ago, I and the world itself have changed so much that that structure is no longer sufficient. I need to go back to the beginning and start again to rebuild the world and give it enough flesh to truly support the story.

To that end I will be spending the next little while world building and seeking the bones that will truly support the tale I want to tell.

With that though I am seeking out ways to organize the data that I am building. Currently I am using Liquid Story Binder by Black Obelisk which I will review at a later date. But in the interim I wonder what software other writers use or what they have discovered while looking over the methods that are available.

I will return soon my friends. Until then be well

~Daniel

Giving Chocolate

A few weeks back Emlyn Chand posted a new contest on her blog at The Ambitious Ambigue. This contest was to write a romance story between two kindergarten children in dialogue format.

Unfortunately I did not finish on time, and I did not follow all the rules. But I have now finished and I think that I like the feel of this tale. So, for your reading pleasure here is my take on a little romance. Enjoy.

~ Daniel

***

“Alright, Katy, now you just need to fill the pot with water and set it over the stove to heat slowly.

“That’s it and carefully set the bowl of chocolate over the pot.

“Good, good. Adjust the flames a little. We don’t want to burn the chocolate as we go.

“Very nice. Now just keep stirring it until its nice and smooth as I showed you earlier.

“Careful. Don’t get too close to the stove. We don’t want you to get burned as well.”

“Yes, Daddy”

“I know you know what you’re doing little one. But I worry about you getting hurt at times.”

“Ill be careful”

“Ok, just keep stirring and turn the cream to very low heat once the chocolate is about half melted. I’ll keep watching while I’m on the phone.”

“Ok”

“Hello.

“Oh, hey Tom. What’s up?

“Nothing much here either. Katy is making a cake and I’m supervising.

“What? Chris too? I probably shouldn’t be surprised. Our kids do tend to spend a lot of time together. Do you know who he is making it for?

“Really… That’s too bad. Katy’s is for him.

“No, she can’t hear me right now, but I can still see what she is doing. I’ve got her melting the chocolate now and I’ll have her add the cream soon.

“Well she knows Chris likes the cakes I make so she wanted to make a special one for him. I’m letting her do the decorations however she wants but the base will be exactly as I usually make it.

Is April making something too?

Wow, Katy’s favorite…wait, is she making them for Katy?

“I don’t know if I really like this. The kids are way too young to be thinking about love.

“I know. Their starting out much earlier than we did. I want to blame their teacher since Katy says she has made a big deal out of valentines day in the last few weeks. But I know it’s not her fault.

“True I don’t know how any of them will react to the one their giving something to giving something to their other friend.

“Their young enough that I don’t think it will be a problem. They should be able to handle it and Katy already said that she is coming over to the bakery to help out after school.

“Right, so we will be able to watch them all and see if they need us. We will just have to be there in case of heartbreak.
“Anyway. I need to get going Tom. I can smell that the chocolate is just about ready and I’m still going to help Katy as much as I can till she doesn’t need her daddy anymore.

“Ya, I’ll be at the store around 3 so we should have plenty of time to get the last of the pastries made for all the orders we have. Mary wont be there till 9 but she’ll be closing up the shop as well.
“Yup, good luck with Chris. Bye.

“How does the chocolate look, little one?”
“It just finished melting dad.”

“Good, then we just need to add the cream next. Did you warm it like I told you?”

“Yup”

“Well done. This should be a wonderful cake your making for him.”

:”I know. He’s going to love it”

“Yes, dear. I’m sure he will.”

Milk Tea Anyone?

Last year I decided to start learning about Japann, Japanese culture and their language. In my research I found that one of the best methods is total immersion in the language/culture you are aspiring to learn. Essentially this would mean traveling to Japan and living there in order to become fluent and really understand them. Someday maybe that will be an option but for now the best I can do is to bring little pieces of Japanese culture into my life.

To do this I started looking for ways in which I could add some Japanese products to my life and start learning a bit here and there. Sadly most of the avenues I found involved purchasing the items from Japanese stores and having them ship what I want to me. This was not very feasible as the cost of shipping the products was often more than the cost of the product itself and thus unless I was making a very large purchase it simply was not a valid option.

However, in November I discovered a place in Arlington Heights, Il called Mitsuwa Marketplace. In many ways it was an answer to prayers that I never made. Mitsuwa is very simple a Japanese grocery store containing a lot of the items that most Japanese would expect to find at their local markets. It has pretty much everything from Japanese vegetables and meats, to soy sauces, curries, spices, various rice and tons of products that you just can’t get anywhere else.

The store also has other shops connected to it including a bakery (Pastry House Hippo), book store (Books Sanseido), liquor, small eelectronics, household goods (haven’t paid much attention to these yet), and also several small restaurants as part of a food court. In essence Mitsuwa is a small Japanese mall with a lot of good stuff. And these other stores are great for what they have but I’ll get into those more in another post.

Ideally, what the store does is bring a little bit of Japan to those Japanese which have immigrated to the US and might miss something from their homeland. I know of a few people that make frequent trips here just to stock up on specific goods that they can’t get anywhere else or that simply do not work as well for them as products that are designed for them. The good news is that since they want these products and Mitsuwa is willing to bring these products over for their consumption then I get a chance to try a lot of different things and in the process expand my knowledge of both the Japanese language and a little about their culture.

Yesterday I stopped by on my way out town for a little trip. Ostensibly the visit was to pick up some of the breads from Pastry House Hippo (I am going to write some posts about Pastry House later on as their breads are simply wonderful and I they are worth writing about), but I also grabbed a couple drinks. One of these was Milk Tea.

This is something that I have heard about several times in the past and really didn’t care one way or the other if I would ever try it. But seeing as was taking a trip why not start it off with something different?

Milk Tea is exactly that, a blend of teas with milk, and some sugar. Now I am a pretty big tea drinker. I typically have at least two pots of tea per day. One in the early morning with breakfast and another in the evening as I close out my day. My tea is usually drank with just a little sugar in it as I have yet to find a tea that I feel is enhanced by adding milk.

So while I wanted to be a little adventurous it was with some hesitancy that I bought the milk tea. The drink was about what I expected. The tea is a blend of assam and green that I found to be alright but nothing really special. The milk in it was marginal and as the label shows that it is simply a condensed milk powder. That in an of itself is no big deal. What got to me though was that the first ingredient in this drink is sugar. 18g of sugar per serving to be exact and since there are 2 servings in this bottle that means there was a whopping 36g of sugar in that drink. It’s a good thing I’m slow at drinking and it took me nearly six hours to finish that bottle because that is a lot more sugar in my tea than even I like.

From what I have been told Milk Tea is supposedly a drink for those that are not accustomed to drinking tea at its best and I think I can see why. It’s a bit weak, it has way too much sugar and the milk itself may act to cover some of the real tastes of the tea.

I will not say that the drink is bad because I’m sure it has its supporters and those that truly enoy it. But sadly I cannot be one of them. Milk tea may be a decent product out of Japan and I have plans to translate that label in order to better understand what other labels at the market may say but for me I will not be buying another bottle of milk tea.

My next cup will be my usual earl grey, loose leaf, with just a little sugar, and at a proper 195 degrees as it rests in my cast-iron tea pot.

Until next time my friends, be well.

~Daniel

Edit: After I wrote the above post it was suggested that the problem was likely that it was a powdered milk. So due to this I may give milk tea another chance and will see how it plays out with some real milk in good hot tea.  But first does anyone have any suggestions for tea that would be the most suitable for adding milk? Further, should the milk be warm or cool?

Thanks all.

I think the title of this post sums it up quite nicely. Steak sauce should not be put on steak. Some of you out there may be nodding and agreeing with the thought even before I get to the explanations but I can imagine that most would think I’m a bit off my rocker. Which possibly isn’t too far from the truth. But give me a few moments and I’ll explain what I mean.

First you need to remember that there are several different meanings for steak sauce and for steak. And here I am talking about one specific combination. But first I’ll explain specifically what version of sauce and steak I mean.

Steak sauce: Quite simply there are two basic sauces here. The first is the mass produced commercially available sauces you can get at any grocery store. Sauces like A-1, Bulls-Eye, Heinz 57 and a dozen others that can taste good in their own way. But lets face it, these are factory produced concoctions with quite a bit of preservatives and in the end their main function is to cover the meat in question to impart whatever flavoring they are toting. And that is where the problem really lies.

The second form of sauce is the home-made variety. Something you can make on the fly with a few simple ingredients. Usually I make these with some beef broth, cognac or sherry, the drippings from the cooking meat, and some other spices for kick. Overall, these are small batch items that you make for one meal (unless you like to think ahead and have a really great recipe in which you might make enough for a short while if you have a good way to preserve it), have a great flavor and can only compliment the meat with which your working. These certainly deserve to be on good quality steak as they will only enhance the meal you have planned.

Steak: As far as the steaks go we have three distinct options. 1)Chopped Steak, 2) Strip or other type of steak that is typically of a lower quality (or was stored improperly), 3) good quality Steak like a filet. I should mention that this post is really geared towards the steak and egg breakfast which tends to be when I have the most steak. I’m not really sure why but steak makes more sense to me early in the morning than at night.

Typically when I go to a family restaurant you will get the first option readily enough. This can be a good thing but a ground up piece of meat in a vaguely steak like shape is not really steak. It’s hamburger and really the restaurants should not even try to make it sound better by having steak in the name.

However, it can be very good particularly if the cook knows what he is doing and spices it well. I have had some great chopped steaks and they did not need any help, but these are few and far between. Typically the chopped steak is dull, lifeless and lacking in any real quality.

At slightly better restaurants you might get the strip steak. Sadly these are usually not very good. They tend to be fatty, greasy, tough, with little or no seasoning and overall a very unpleasant meal. I think I have had one good strip steak in this context over the years and that was a fluke at even that particular restaurant.

I would also be very careful of ordering this at most restaurants as I have found many of these steaks with an extra element of flavor which can only be described as the refrigerator or freezer. This is a taste that can only come from meat that has sat in their fridge for far too long improperly wrapped. Be warned my friends that many restaurants will not properly handle their meat and you can get a very nasty taste from it (this is certainly a time when steak sauce would be appropriate just to mask the added taste dimension, if you can even stomach what you are served).

The last category is the absolute best and the most rare. To find a restaurant that will serve a pair of fillet medallions that are well seasoned, cooked just right (always to medium rare, why would you ever ruin a steak by taking it pass this stage?), and presented by themselves or maybe with a few mushrooms is simple something wonderful. I know of one restaurant that has this and when they are on their game it is truly an enjoyable meal. Always look for the highest quality in your foods my friends as that is certainly a part of the path to happiness.

Now, steak sauce doesn’t belong on steak. This phrase means first the commercial sauces and second the quality, well made steak.

A steak by its very nature should be a cut of good quality meat containing just enough fat to render added flavor without making things tough. It should be something to enjoy that melts in the mouth with every bite. It should definitely be something well-seasoned and well-prepared. This is the steak that I am talking about here and I have to wonder why anyone in their right mind would cover the natural flavors of a good steak.

In my view the other items I mentioned are really not steaks. Ground meat of any sort is not a real stake, its ground beef, hamburger and really should be labeled as such on the menu. The strip steaks and others cuts can be steaks but if your going to leave them with so much fat and gristle that they are really not edible then why bother offering them? Overall, the only real steaks I know are good, quality pieces of beef that are handled properly with seasoning and heat to bring out the best flavor.

With all that being said, why would you ever cover a good quality steak in a commercial grade sauce? Why would you hide the delicious flavor and well-done execution of such a steak with an overpowering sauce that doesn’t enhance anything but merely masks? I cant think of no rational reason to do so and to me that is a bit insane.

This is what I mean when I say that steak sauce does not belong on steak. You don’t need it. Steak sauce is something that belongs on pieces of sub-standard beef that have not been prepared well. If you cannot find the beef to be tasty in its own right, then by all means cover it in some sauce. At least then you can get some protein for your diet but all you really will taste is the sauce.

Steak sauce does not belong on steak but if you insist on having it, then at least try to limit the sauce to your eggs. At least they almost never have any real flavor and the sauce becomes a blessing.

Until next time my friends, I bid you well and happy eating.

~Daniel

The Daily Ramble

Good morning everyone, it’s a lovely snowy day here in Chicago and while I got up late I am here to bring you a new feature for this blog called the Daily Ramble.

Since I started this little corner of the net I have wanted to fill it primarily with things that interested me and to focus almost exclusively on my writings. But, since it is rather boring for me to talk about how much I have written on any given day, giving you percentages, number of words or pages, etc. I have seldom posted anything that resembled straight statistics. Instead I would wait until I finished one of my works and perhaps give a snippet.

Unfortunately, this means that my blog remains somewhat silent most days and i realize that this becomes a turn off as most people would want to see some action on any given day.

So I am introducing this new method for me to have something out here every day. The Ramble will be primarily just that as I contemplate something in my life each day. Some days I will talk about my writing, others may involve my studies. Then there will be days where I may talk about nothing at all or just something a bit strange (for instance yesterday I may have talked about how steak sauce is not meant for steak but is best on eggs. Of course I will also touch upon some of my hobbies.

Essentially dear friends this will be a daily look into my life without being an actual journal entry.

I will try my best to make it interesting as we go forward. I should also mention that I will not be making this a political rant on purpose at any point although I may touch upon some things slightly if they truly catch my eye. Particularly since there are already an abundance of political blogs out there.

I think that should do it for this first entry to the Ramblings. And as I watch the snow fall outside, it looks like it’s already another 2 inches on top of the 20 inches we had in the blizzard on Wednesday, I wish you all a cheery and warm day.

Be well

~Daniel

Darkened Sands

Since I am bringing back this site, I thought I should bring back a sample of my writings.

Darkened Sands is a short piece I wrote a while ago but it has a feel for my style and is a piece of character history I wrote as I was planning out another series.

I hope you will enjoy this glimpse into Kistala’s world.

Darkened Sands

The sun god burned as he rode across the sky. His fiery steed strode with purpose as he always had, lighting the world below and keeping the ice at bay. The air shimmered with every step of his hooves, sending waves of light and heat through the sky which rippled with a thousand colors for the pleasure of the eye. But down below, under the sun god’s ever watchful glare a battle waged on and Kistala was too busy with her own troubles to enjoy the sight.

It had been a long day and she was sore all over. But still she had to press on; ignoring the numerous cuts she had endured at the hands of these invaders. They could not be allowed to take this beach.

She panted heavily, her steely eyes locked upon the rat before her. His own blades were held high and she could see the fear in him as he tried vainly to find a way to escape. They had come to her world to destroy them, and this one at least knew that it had been a mistake. She had vowed she would make them all regret that choice.

Shifting her weight, she dug her claws into the white sands below, barely noticing the dark stain from a nearby form. Her muscles bunched and she leaped forward with a deep growl. Her eyes flashed as she came down, her sword whistling through the damp air, but it found no resistance as the invader clumsily tried to block his fear making it nearly impossible.

She landed in the sands beside him quickly pulling the sword free of his body. It slumped to the ground adding its own stains to the sands as she stood up, letting her gaze wander over the beach.

“It had been beautiful here once..,” she thought. Her mind traveled back over the years and she remembered a time when she had visited this very beach with her family. She remembered swimming in those waves, wading out as far as she dared before the bottom of the cove gave way to the sea. Of battling the current as it tried to drag her out and the waves that tried to send her tumbling back in to the snow white sands.

The trees back then had all been lush and green, their leaves spreading out wide and shading most of the beach from the sun god’s ride. Even the rocks had been beautiful, tall in their majesty as they arced out over the cove, their faces a motley of grays, browns and reds. She fondly remembered climbing these same cliffs in search of bird eggs for her mother, and of diving contests with her cousins to see who was the strongest in the pride.

But those days were long gone and now the cliffs still sparkled, but they were covered in a network of ropes and timber as the rats were using it to bring supplies up to the staging area they had tried to build. The trees were mostly gone, and even the sands were no longer pristine. Instead everything seemed to have become ugly to her eyes. And these filthy creatures had been the ones who had dared bring such ugliness to her once beautiful world. She hated them for that and had vowed that she would see them removed from this place so its beauty would be restored.

She shook her sword clear of the last drops frowning as she lifted it to note how poorly it looked after this days battle, but she was not yet done in her struggles if she wanted to cleanse this place. Turning right she saw two of her comrades continuing their fight and she made a move to join them. Gasping in shock she looked down at her own body and there, out of her left side a spear head flashed in the sun.

With a cry of rage at her own stupidity she turned to regard the rats behind her, pulling the spear out of their combined grasp. She quickly hacked into the first of them, his body soon falling to join the one from before. But the others had quickly backed off, pulling their own weapons free as she killed the first one.

Taking a step back she eyed her opponents gauging the three of them and how well she might be able to fight them. She was still weak from the days fighting and this new wound would slow her terribly. It may even spell her demise. But even death would not stop her from removing their blight. She reached back, and to their horrified eyes she easily snapped the spear off near where it penetrated her leather.

“Come little rodents, this kitty still wants to play,” she laughed at them tauntingly.

One of them stepped back at her words, his blade falling slightly as some measure of fear triggered within him. It was all the opening she needed and with a roar she charged them, her sword striking quickly out at each of the ones that had not moved before she shifted focus on the weak one. He was relatively easy to dispatch and in a few moments her blade again glistened darkly.

But she could not let up as the others were apparently more seasoned and were quick to attack her while she was turned. She barely moved in time to block their blows, trying to snap back with her own thrusts. Around the fallen bodies they moved, their feet and claws shuffling through the sands.

Blades clashed against each other, throwing off sparks of light. She kick and managed to get one of them off balance enough that her next attack nearly took half the tail of the other, but though they were not as good as her brothers had been, she was far too gone to be able to withstand them.

Time passed swiftly upon that battlefield as the three of them danced with few opportunities made that would allow her to be rid of them. Her breathing had become laggard and she knew that she could not last much longer. Her opponents were almost as spent as she was, but she knew that if something did not change soon she would not survive this conflict.

As if the gods had heard her thoughts, one of the two lost his balance as his foot fell against the body of the one she had slain earlier in the day. She quickly took advantage of his situation, pouncing forward and slamming her blade into his chest. She only had a moment but before she could turn away the other one was upon her, his own blade cutting into her arm. She cried out, her hand falling away from the sword as she crashed to her knees. Her blood loss and exhaustion finally overcoming the little reserves that she had had left.

She looked up at the rat as he towered over her his own sword rising up to strike the final blow, but he merely looked over her head, a quizzical expression appearing on his face. She barely took notice of it as her body slowly fell to the side, the bloodied sands cushioning her fall.

Her eyes turned towards the sea and she could hear the gentle swells of the waves as they came in to crash upon the shore. She had not heard it before, and she smiled for it was a beautiful sound.

“It’s just as I remembered,” she thought happily, her eyes drifting closed completely unaware of the rat falling down beside her.

***

Her eyes shot open as she awoke with a start. Feeling dizzy she gazed around, momentarily confused as it seemed she still in the dream, but this was not the same place it had been back then.
She started to relax, turning her head to look down the beach, where she could hear laughter, but her movements were too fast. She gasped, her hand immediately rising to her side caressing the old wound.
“It still just as painful,” she thought as her eyes finally found the two boys playing down by the water.
“But they were worth it all.”

© Dae Dracos/Kieran/Kierloth aka Daniel.G. – 2009