All words presented in this blog are purely opinion, not fact - unless specifically stated otherwise in the post.

Tuesday 27 August 2013

Whats wrong with that? Secretly Awful

So I've been in need of a subject to write about, a segment perhaps, and today I've decided to give 'What's wrong with that?' a test run.
To put it simply I'm copying's 'After Hours' show and removing the back and forth from it. Not because I want to, but because I don't have any friends. I'm not just going into this with the intention to ruin things, I may very well realise that things are just as they appear, but after watching a lot of Cracked videos I've been thinking a lot about the things I watched as a kid and I've come to the following topic:

'Media from my youth that's secretly awful'

This one was mentioned in the video '3 popular childrens shows that secretly hate animals' and so I'm getting it out of the way first and quickly. The whole world of Pokémon runs on an entirely animal fighting based economy, but not only that; people are so poor in the world of Pokémon that at the age of ten (roughly) children are given a dog fighting animal and sent out in the world to fend for themselves.
This is awful on so many levels I can't begin to fully put across to you how bad it is, but try to imagine this; At the age of ten you are sent to a strange old man who everyone trusts and follows unconditionally, who then gives you a new pet -training on how to look after your new buddy, just a pet that's been squashed inside a little ball that fits in your pocket (we'll assume that the pokeballs are special technology that makes it comfortable and there is no animal cruelty in teleporting these animals, some of which are the size of buildings, into balls that fit into your hand) - then gives you a pokedex to store information and sends you on your way.
No food, no camping equipment, nothing. Just a pokeball, an empty encyclopaedia and a pat on the back.

Child abuse, child labour and dog fighting. child protection and animal protection agencies clearly don't exist in this universe.

Power Rangers
There are a few problems with power rangers, but perhaps nothing so bad as Pokémon.The main part of this is that enemies never seemed to attack when the rangers had school, which doesn't sound bad, but think about it. The Rangers were in school, clearly. The actors were in their thirties so they were clearly trying to portray high school students. There were a couple of episodes where you saw them in a hallway that looked like it had lockers. They always seemed to carry around school bags... so yes, the rangers were school kids, and the villain knew it. Worse than that, of course, Zordon knew it. He hired five plus kids to fight these villains. These giant monsterous creatures, clearly putting them in very real danger. He doesn't go to the police or the government and offer them armour or weapons, he gives it to a handful of teenagers.
Who's to say what Rita's real plan is? She's always cursing the power rangers, but is it because they foil her plan of world domination, or perhaps because she's trying to save them from Zordon's indoctrination?
... probably not, but it's still pretty messed up that the guy's employing kids to fight monsters when he could hire grown ups, police, maybe if it was grown ups doign the fighting they wouldn't let their hormones and 'turning around now would look awesome' sense distract them from finishing off their monster enemies and letting them turn into giants that wreck the city on a weekly basis. I mean seriously; how much does it cost to re-build a power ranger city every week? no wonder theres a recession.

... Was secretly about meeting paedophiles online and it being okay so long as they love you.
Okay, before you laugh this statement away let me explain;
In the original digimon the kids met their digimon in a digital world that was populated by others like them. An entire world populated by these digimon, these digital monsters, these internet predators, if you will. They befriend a handful of them who love them and make them trust in them. Whenever they have to, whenever they get excited or whenever it's important, they 'grow bigger' and it's made clear in a few places that the digimon cannot 'digi-volve' without the love of their child partners.
They constantly show that there are good internet predators and bad predators, the good ones love you, the bad ones just want to use you.
In Digimon Trainers (and I'm aware I was far too old to be watchign that show when it aired) they even included a type of evolution called 'Bio-merge' in which - and I'm not making this up - the children get naked and merge their bodies with their digital partners.
The two become one, if you will.
I know, it's a bit of a stretch to say that the entire show is about internet predators and the fact that so long as there is love; it's okay. But consider this one thing; why do most of the digimon, at their most evolved, become human? if they're simply monsters, just a nice little cartoon about pets, then why is it that most of the digimon evolve into humans that the kids can be with?

Its creepy.

- James

Wednesday 21 August 2013

Cracking Theory

So I didn't record the podcast till Monday night and then I spent all last night watching cracked videos and then went to the gym this morning, so I didn't edit the podcast for you. I deeply apologise. I will edit it tonight and post it up online for Friday. Deal? Deal.

Instead, today I will be talking about a conversation I had yesterday about Buffy and Angel, the demon hunting television shows by Joss Whedon.
Buffy the vampire slayer is quite clearly a coming of age story, showing a series of characters growing up, whether it's the teenagers or the adults they're all finding their place in the world. Buffy, Willow and Xander quite clearly are growing up, they're in High School and they're trying to get by, day by day, but even Giles' story is one of growth. A watcher who's new to his job of looking after a slayer.
They could have gone with a veteran Watcher, perhaps the watcher of the last slayer, but Joss decided not to, partially to give a better series of interactions between Buffy and Giles - the guy that's never dealt with teenagers before having to deal with one of the most teenager of teenagers? Hilarious! - but also - I believe - because the entire show is a story of growth, a coming of age story, including Giles.
Angel is coming to terms with his new role helping the slayer, Oz is coming to terms with his Were-wolf tendencies, Joyce is coming to terms with being a newly single mother... almost every character in the show displays the traditional 'coming of age' issues, while simultaneously kicking ass and keeping it interesting.

On the other hand, of course; Angel is a story of redemption. Each character in that show is seeking redemption from something and I couldn't tell you whether or not they get it.
Angel's looking for redemption for Angellus, Cordelia is looking for Redemption from being a bitch at school, Doyle is looking for redemption for turning away others of his kind and letting them all die, Wesley is looking for redemption for creating Faith, Faith is looking for redemption for everything she did in Buffy, Gunn is looking for redemption for letting his sister die... Fred and Lorne are odd cases, neither of them are looking for Redemption so much as a better life, away from the evil other universe- of course you could argue that Lorne is looking for redemption for coming from a universe where they treat humans as cattle, but you really can't say the same for Fred, however neither of these characters appear to be intended as primary characters from the beginning and, in my opinion, don't count.
(Because they don't fit and ruin my point.)
This, I think, is why the Angel episodes were a lot better than the buffy episodes while the buffy seasons were better than the angel seasons.
Angel was darker day to day, the episodes had more depth, but they didn't really build to anything, while Buffy's day to day episodes were far more angsty it was always building to the end of the season, putting things together to find the right place.

I dunno, I thought it was interesting. Not sure why you guys would... hm...

- James

Tuesday 20 August 2013

Lazy Snow Day

So I don't have anything to talk about today. Odd I know, as I am usually such a chatterbox. Instead I've decided to be lazy and regale you with a review from one of my old blogs. The review is for 'Metro 2033' Enjoy.

Metro 2033As I sit here at home in the warmth of my bedroom, surrounded by speakers and convection heaters looking out the windows at the snow strewn streets I truly feel bad for the future inhabitants of Moscow's metro system.
While I'm warm inside with music playing and a recent checkpoint loading up the people of Metro 2033 are stuck underground with their blankets wrapped tightly around themselves freezing to death, thanking their gods that at least it wasn't the mutants, the Soviets, the Nazis or, most terrifying of all, the Dark Ones who killed them. Travelling through the metro system the player is subject to the harsh realities that plague the post apocalypse in this linear first person survival game from 4A games in association with THQ for PC and X-box 360.

Metro 2033 is based on a book with the same name by russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky, set in a post apocalyptic Moscow where nuclear winter ravages the outside world, forcing the surviving people of the city and, perhaps, the world from venturing out further than the many train stations that have been set up as towns and cities.
The game follows the story of Artyom as he attempts to locate his friend and ally, a lone soldeir named Hunter, with the goal of stopping the menacing creatures known as the Dark Ones from destroying man kind altogether.
Artyom's journey is filled with twists and turns that force him through the darkest corners and under passes of Moscow's underground. The story is elaborate, creative and, though perhaps a little predictable at times thoroughly enjoyable.
The world and environment that the player is thrust into are amazingly atmospheric, from the gas powered lamps and the cramped housing facilities to the cracked glass of your gas mask and the simple but effective traps and alarm systems. Other characters in the world feel believable and emote-able.
Going through the levels you often have the option of fighting through crowds of enemy soldiers or sneaking past them with the (fairly generic) stealth system. Players can turn off lights and crouch through the tunnels to avoid detection, later on they can even get night vision goggles, however enemies can also use them, which means stealth isn't always a sure thing. In fact it's a little messy. You are given stealth weapons, silenced pistols, cross bows, throwing knives and the like, but a single kill with these weapons, regardless of whether anybody saw it, will render your stealth null and void. They will all be looking for you and it will take more than possible skill to avoid everyone.
Fighting against mutants is far simpler. They come near you, you kill them. You aim and shoot. If they don't come near you, you shoot them. You aim a bit better and shoot. For the most part they will come near you, and if you are fighting alongside anyone its highly likely that you wont even need to aim and shoot to kill them.

This is one of the rare occasions where the A.I. is too good. It doesn't happen often, but there have been occasions in Metro 2033 where I have been out of long range ammunition and relied solely on my shot gun, however my partner has been such a dead aim shot with their AK47 that I haven't had to waste a bullet. Good for my survival, bad for my statistics and gameplay experience.
Overall however the A.I. doesn't take all the fun, you have plenty of time to fight off enemies alone, and if you have a rifle and ammo the A.I. wont take too many of the kills in the team up sections.
Metro is a first person game which shares control similarities with Killing Floor (Next weeks review!) and Half-life. It can feel a little complicated at times, unnecessarily so. switching weapons involves scrolling to an appropriate selection and then pressing the fire button, which wastes valuable time when you're in the middle of a fight. it would be a lot smoother if the mouse scroll changed the gun automatically. The assumption is that this process allows the player not to have to change the weapon if they change their minds, however they cannot fire again until the selection pop up window vanishes once more, so the mechanic is more restricting than it is helpful. However these are an already established control system, not something new that Metro has attempted for the first time.
To be honest the gameplay, besides the survival aspects, of constantly changing gas mask filters, the scarcity of ammunition, the ability to purchase guns or use your currency as bullets and the rather entertaining story it's a fairly generic game. Besides the aforementioned it doesn't do anything that another game has done before it, often better.
I have little to say about the game graphically. It isn't a major aspect for me. However it does feel a little outdated, noticeably so, but not so much that the player cannot enjoy the game regardless.
Otherwise I've enjoyed the game thus far. There are one or two minor bugs, that I've noticed, but otherwise it's a fairly well rounded game, a very good purchase for an FPS fan looking for a good story.

So if I had to give it a score (and judging by my last couple of games blog entries it's starting to look like I do) I would give it an 8 out of 10. I have personally really enjoyed the game, however the gameplay is very generic, the graphics are 2008/2009 graphics and the A.I. ranges between annoying and impeccable.

Well that was that. I hope you enjoyed it.

- James

Monday 12 August 2013


So last week I started work on Exile's sidequell. Yes, Sidequell is a word... now... Basically its a sequel set at the exact same time as Exile. 'How does that work?' You ask? Well, Exile was only one small part of the whole story. An important part, to be sure, but not the only thing that happened. In this short story I hope to explore some of the unanswered questions.
Questions like 'How did the pirates organise?' 'Why did the pirates attack the empire?' and 'How did they do so well?'

I'm writing the story in a very similar way to exile and from the perspective of a character that was in it, though, one that was not fully explored.
I'm not going to say which character, since saying so might ruin the first story for anyone who hasn't read it - but should have - but suffice to say it's an integral plot character that Wren interacts with.

The story will take place from the time of Wren's childhood, though not necessarily one of his friends. It will take place from then up until the last moments of Exile.

Fingers crossed it will be loved by everyone and it will answer some un-answered (or asked) questions.

- James

Friday 9 August 2013

Zero Hour Contract

So when I started this blog I had intended for there to be some politics to it. I don't mean that I wanted to only write stories people wanted to hear to get popular as quickly as possible. I mean that I wanted to write some stuff about politics, from the perspective of someone who doesn't particularly understand the system.
Suffice to say I haven't done that, not at all.
However I did see a news article yesterday regarding 'zero-hour contracts' and I thought that it was a good opportunity to get back into the whole thing.
For those of you who are unaware, a zero hour contract is exactly what it sounds like. A job contract with no guaranteed hours.
When used properly a zero hour contract allows an employee flexible hours to work, while giving the employer a guaranteed work force whenever they need it and only when they need it.
I've been on a zero-hour contract at a computer games shop as a Christmas temp. When I was there it was done well, I got enough hours a week to make it worth while, and as soon as I got a better offer there were no hard feelings for moving on. However from talking to other people this isn't always the case.
In practice, it appears to be abused more than it works. Companies hire people on zero hour contracts, use them for a couple of hours a week or month and demand that they take no other jobs in case they are needed in the office.

This is a big issue, stopping many people from earning a decent wage, but why is it in the news today? Why is this relevant to politics?
Recently, after a report by the Chartered institute of personnel and development, Ed Miliband - leader of the Labour - started a campaign against the use of ZHCs, stating publically at a speech in prominent Labour borough, Newham, that they are exploitative and should be banned.
He made this speech without realising that many Labour borough councils use Zero Hour contracts for their staff, including 546 people who are employed by the council of the borough he was talking in.

Now you may be asking me why I care. Why this is an issue that got me off my ass to blog about it. Well besides the point that it's funny (which is really all I need to blog about something) it's also a microcosm of what's wrong with our political parties.
Over dramatic you say? well I say Nay! and I do it while standing on a pedestal wearing a cape that's flapping in the wind.
This is a minor issue, its a really silly mistake and it's probably going to be forgotten in a week, but it's something that should never have happened, ever. Really, how hard would it have been for Miliband, or one of his aides to send an e-mail to the Labour Council mailing list to ask 'do we use zero hour contracts? or anything that could be construed as such by the press?
Politics used to mean something. People used to be careful not to make stupid mistakes. They didn't just say things on a whim without vetting it first.
And while we're on the subject; politicians used to do what they believe is right to make the nation better, even if that mean working with people from other parties. They didn't devote all their time to getting into office and none of their time to governing.
We didn't used to hire people because they look silly and make us laugh (I'm looking at you Borris). We used to hire people to represent us, not to make us laugh.

Or maybe I'm living in a fantasy land and none of that was true. Regardless, something is wrong.

- James

Monday 5 August 2013

Speaking without saying

So the new Doctor who lead character 'The Doctor' has been cast. You would think that that would be the main crux of my blog post today, however I'm going ot shut up and say nothing. Partly because we don't know what's going to happen. We don't know what he's gonna be like. We don't know anything and it would be foolish to comment on something we don't know anything about. But also because I have a 30 minute podcast on it coming out on Wednesday.

I'm not sure what else to talk about today, that was really the big thing in geek news and I'm covering it later in the week. I could write a blog post about doctor who in general, or about the previous doctors and what Peter Capaldi has to live up to, but I think I've spoken enough in the past about doctor who and my fan-girlish love of it so I don't really feel I need to say anything. It's a huge role to fill and I hope that he does well.

I could talk about how excited I am to get the next Dresden Files audiobook next month, or how I'm reading the Desden Files comic book series and I'm finding it all ridiculously entertaining, but there's not much to say and I've pretty much already said it.

Again I could talk about what I've been doing to get published lately, but theres only so many times you can say 'I'm editing' and have it be interesting. I have had 4 rejection letters back so far, which is a good thing right? the more rejections I get the more likely I am to be published... no? that's not how it works? But... shit.
I did just have someone else read it and they were thoroughly entertained, hanging on every word from start to finish. Admittedly that person was my mother and she's a crime fiction nerd.

Really this post is just a post for the sake of posting isn't it? Well that's probably not a good thing.
Quick, I need a positive message... something people can say was worth reading... um... um... Sexism is bad? Screw it, that will do.

Talk to you on Wednesday!

- James

P.S. How fun was that? I wrote 6 paragraphs and didn't say a thing!

Friday 2 August 2013


So every once in a while I get a random idea in my head that wont leave me alone until I've written about it. You all can probably tell this from how I occasionally post up random pieces of work. Exile was like this, Hunter was like this, Dark Prince was like this and now I've got another idea poking at my skull.

The following is the first chapter I was able to write. I don't know at what point this will come in the story, nor do I know what I want to do with it. I know I want it to be a darker story without so many characters who are obvious stereotypical good guys. I want more grey areas and I want it to be less medieval and more musket era.

How it'll turn out or if it'll go further than a second chapter I have no idea. but here it is;


“A Warmancer of some renown once told me that at any one time there can only be fifteen Warmancers in the world. Five Warmancers who derive their power from their bloodline. Five Warmancers who derive their power from a spiritual lineage. Five Warmancers who gain their powers from great tasks and winning one of five sacred weapons. This is, of course Ludacris; there is only one true Warmancer, his holiness the Lord Father of man.”
The memoirs of Archdeacon Campbell 112 B.R.

His eyes opened slowly, groggily, as if he’d been drinking, though there was no stench of alcohol on his breath. His eyes drooped but - coughing against the musty room - he clenched them closed and redoubled his effort to open them.
He found himself in a small stone room, lit only by the quickly diminishing light of the sun outside. It was late and soon he’d be alone in the dark. He had to figure some things out before that happened.
He started to properly take in his surroundings from his place leaning against the back wall. The room was no wider than he was tall, nor any longer, though it was at least half himself again taller than he. The floor was darkly stained cobbled stone that sloped away from him to a drain in one corner of the room to the left of a thick wood and steel door that had just as much staining and a patchwork of scratch marks. The door was bracketed in dark glistening walls, slick with a mixture of grime, water, algae and... “Blood?” He asked the empty room, frowning.
He tried to take a step towards the wall, to verify that it was blood and not red moss or something, but he didn’t move. Or more accurately; he couldn’t move. His ankles rattled their restraints below him and his wrists rattled in their manacles above him. He frowned and looked up, then down. He was a prisoner. Why in the world was he a prisoner?
He looked back up at his arms, specifically his wrists. they were red, but not blooded or sore. he hadn’t been in the shackles long, perhaps half a day at most. He frowned to himself. Why did he know that? Why did he know what the marks on his wrist meant? That didn’t seem like everyday knowledge. it seemed like experience, but he wasn’t- He... Always he... no name. Why didn’t he think of himself by his name?
He didn’t know his own name.
Before he woke up, what was the last thing he remembered?
He didn’t remember anything.
No name. No past. He didn’t even recall what he looked like.
The nameless man looked back to his left wrist- he had light skin, slightly marred by the redness, his eyes travelled up his arm and more than anything he was shocked by the sheer number of different scars that criss crossed it. Large ones, tiny ones, long ones, short ones, thick ones, thin ones, jagged ones, fine ones, some that looked like teeth.
His eyes darted to the other arm. The same, just as many, just as varied. He realised that he was topless and looked down at himself. Scars littered his chesst and torso- except in an area around a black tattoo of the sword of Rakizikar - he didn’t know how he knew what the tattoo was, but thinking it he was certain that he was right - over the man’s heart.
His body was fit, untouched by fat or age. He wouldn’t know without looking at his face but he’d guess he was no older than thirty-five. He wore nothing but ragged breaches and his bare legs were as scarred as his arms.
Desperate, he tried again to pull against his restraints, but they refused to give. He moved and they rattled but he might as well have not. He screamed out, but it came out in a rasp, like he hadn’t spoken in a while. He yelled out again, straining his throat and managed a sharp cry of pain before his voice broke and he collapsed against the restraints, crying.
He didn’t even know why he was crying, he was just so frustrated. He wasn’t scared. He wasn’t in pain.
He was frustrated.
He hung there crying for a long time, using the restraints to support him so that he needn't support himself. After a while he stopped crying but his breathing was ragged. He weeped for a little longer but then he fell unconscious.
When he woke the sun was bright again, beaming through the window. He almost broke down again, crying into the empty cell, but a small voice in his head ridiculed him for his earlier weakness and so he straightened, composed himself and waited. He wasn't sure what for. He didn't even know if what he waited for would ever come, but he knew that he could do nothing else.
Besides; whoever had him locked up would surely come to him soon. They wouldn't keep him there forever without food or water. Unless they couldn't maybe? Perhaps between being locked up and now something had happened? A coup? A murder? who would care about the new prisoner in the wake of either of those things? He could go for days without food in either of those scenarios.
In which case he had to figure out how to escape-
He froze and turned to face the door. He could hear voices outside, getting closer. A man and a woman.
"I don't care what you think, gaoler. I want to see this one." The woman said, authority in her tone.
"Sorry, ma'am." The gaoler's gruff, withered tone promised. "Tisn't safe in the gaol. 'Specially with that one."
There was a pause and she spoke again, though the volume remained steady implying that they were no longer moving. "Oh?" She said, He recognised the tone as mocking. "Are you honestly telling me that you are so incompetent at your job that, walking through the corridors of this gaol I might get attacked at any moment? Despite my retinue."
"I-" The gaoler sputtered. "No, but..."
"As for this one, He should be restrained, locked up and unable to do anything." She reasoned.
"But he is a Warmancer!" The Gaoler insisted. "There's not much we can do to restrain him. We've done all we can but- I don't know if it's enough."
He could hear the smirk in her voice when she said, "I think I'll take my chances."
The Gaoler sighed and he heard his keys rattling in the lock. There was a loud thunk and the door swung open to reveal a squat man in his fifties. He looked bad. He had patchy grey and red hair that grew up in tufts. His face was scarred in several places, he had a cleft lip and his right eye was covered by a black sash that tied around his right ear and covered half his hair.
His clothes were just as ragged and sloppy. Stained with all sorts of colours - some of them definately blood. they were ripped in places, but the belt around his waist was prestine, as was the lead and wood handled sword that hung from it. The sword looked like a simple weapon with a wooden handle and guard that was held together by the lead casing and bolts.
He assumed that the gaoler's sword had a steel blade, but it's well maintained black painted wooden scabbard obscured it from view. He could tell that it was a short weapon with an elongated triangle blade that started thick by the guard and thinned to a point the further from the handle it went. It was an uncommon weapon, rarely seen within the walls of Vassil - Vassil? was that the name of the city that he was in?
He shook his head and returned his gaze to the door as the gaoler pulled his keys from the door and stepped aside to allow entry to a tall beautiful woman - who it wouldn't be entirely controversial to call a goddess - with long ebony hair, pale skin, large ice blue eyes, a button nose and full cherry red lips. she wore a long tight red dress that dragged across the floor, obscuring her legs and feet, trimmed with sky blue and gold that weaved throughout the red fabric in intricate, delicate patterns that were the work of an obvious master crafter.
The dress was low cut enough to imply the sumptuousness of her bosom, but not so much so that it revealed her for the world to see. Her arms were bare, long and sinuous tipped with long delicate fingers that were in turn, tipped with long genteel red nails.
She wore jewellery of every type, several ruby bracelets, a gold chain around her neck with a thick ruby hanging from it, rings of many types ranging from simple gold bands to ruby and sapphire encrusted platinum. Everything about her person matched, co-ordinated by colour, that simple fact even more than any of the obvious wealth that glittered upon her led him to believe that she was a member of high society.
She moved with a sensuous, delicate grace. Despite the setting, despite how constricting her clothes looked, almost gliding towards him. Well armed and armoured, faceless soldiers filed in behind her, spreading out around the room and drawing their weapons, focusing them upon him. They wore full mail armour, so large that he was quietly surprised that they’d fit through the door. The armour was painted sky blue with trims of red and each soldier - he couldn’t tell man or woman beneath the armour - had a crest upon their right breast. a simple black shield outline with a line down the centre, the left side had a background of sky blue with a red bird of prey, likely a falcon, coming from the centre line while the right had a red background and a large blue cat prowling from the central line.
The favoured weapons of the woman’s guard were a sword and shield combination. The sword was the more traditional straight variety with a red and blue handle and a domed guard made of metal, similar to that of the gaoler. The shield was simple, the same shape as the crest on their chests, it was engraved with the falcon and cat, then painted. All of the paintwork on the shield - on their entire bodies honestly - looked prestine, like the soldiers had never been in battle, or perhaps just that they’d never been hit.
He didn’t like to make assumptions based on obvious physical attributes, that could get a man killed.
It occurred to him that that was the first fact about himself that he had learned or remembered since waking. He didn’t make stupid assumptions, or at least he didn’t like to and knew better than to.
A small, timid looking young woman slipped in last, giving the gaoler a wide berth as his vicious, lustful eyes raked over her and moving to the first woman’s side as soon as she could. She looked uncomfortable, even with the woman, but she was at least familiar so she crowded close. She was a pretty little thing, cute though, not beautiful like the woman she obviously served. She wore a looser red dress with sky blue trim that frilled out a little, hiding her curves, but not well enough to make him think her large or frumpy. She wore glasses, simple wooden frames with thin glass lenses that made her already large green eyes look larger than they were. She had pink cupid’s bow lips and a slightly hawkish, but not unappealing nose. Her glasses rested right at the tip so that she could look over them or through them, down at the parchment, quill, ink vial and board she clutched in her hands.
She had neck length straight mousey brown hair kept back with a soft band of what looked like wood covered in red silk.
He remained quiet as they entered, eyes moving between each person, taking it all in and drawing conclusions.
This first conclusion he drew was that they knew him, or they knew more about him than he did. At the least they thought they did. Outside the room they had called him a Warmancer. He knew what a Warmancer was, but he had no idea whether or not they were right about him.
He concluded that they were from a noble house whose primary colour was sky blue. The woman had married into the family and her original family’s colour was red. The fact that the guards wore red as well as blue and that the crest had incorporated the colour - and likely one of the two animals - told him that she had married high in the family, a union of houses rather than an integration of a single body. She was likely the wife of the head of the house.
He also concluded that the house she came from was of higher standing than the one she had joined. If she had married up she would have worn blue with trim of red, showing that she was now a part of the new, more powerful family while indicating with the trim where she’d come from. Instead she wore her birth family’s colour with a trim of her husband’s colour.
It was a fair conclusion that both her new house and her old house were highly regarded, judging by her guards. They looked strong, powerful, skillful and were most definitely imposing. There were four of them and he could hear more outside. She was well protected, even in a place as well guarded as the gaol.
His final conclusion was that the young woman was a relative that had only recently come into her service from her birth family. She was of marriageable age, but didn’t have any signs of such a union. It was likely that she’d been put into service to make her more well known amongst the nobility to give her a good match.
Conclusions were different to assumptions. Conclusions were based on fact, they were logical, they were almost certainly right. A conclusion told him that she was the wife of a high lord. An assumption would lead him to believe that she was powerless because she was merely the high lord’s wife.
An assumption would lead him to believe that he was safe because he was in an imperial prison, monitored and law enforced.
An assumption would lead him to his death.
Conclusions were useful. Assumptions were dangerous.
His eyes returned to the blue eyed woman and he realised that she’d been studying him just as he’d been studying her and her retinue. Her ice blue eyes were as cold as they sounded, not cruel, but uncaring. Calculating. It was as if she didn’t see a person in front of her but a number on a piece of parchment.
He looked up into her eyes and she looked back. For a long moment nothing was said, and then she smiled. “You don’t know who I am.” She said, confidently. It wasn’t a question, it was a fact.
“Any reason I should?” He responded, without any forethought. His lips moved on instinct. “Honey I don’t know who I am and you don’t look anything special. Why would I know you but not me?”
Fact two learned about himself. He was an insolent wise-arse. Perhaps even a moron.
Her eyes flashed with anger for a moment, but she took a breath and flattened her hands down over herself, visibly calming. She stopped smoothing and looked back up at him, smile back in place. “My name is Duchess Katalina Lemore of house Lemore-”
“A Lemore, of house Lemore? how unconventional.” He responded before she could finish speaking.
Her brow knit together for a moment before turning to look at one of the guards. “If he interrupts me again; gut him.” The guard stepped forward and moved into a ready position to do just that.
He eyed the guard for a moment before looking back to the woman, Duchess Katalina. “Now. As I was saying; My name is Duchess Katalina Lemore of house Lemore by marriage and house Vassil by birth.”
He looked between the woman and the guardsman, finally settling on the woman. It didn’t matter how aware of the guard’s movements he was, if he was to be killed there was nothing he could do about it. “Congratulations.” He said to her. “Your parents fucked and now you’ve married. You’ll fuck your husband and have another kid that thinks it makes them special.”
Again her face contorted in anger and she slapped him. It hurt. A lot. More than it should have. His entire body ached, he felt very weak and it had been a long time since he’d eaten.
“You will show the proper respect owed to a Duchess of the Empire, half blood.” She growled, spitting the last words like an insult.
“I am.” He growled. Her eyes flashed again and she slapped him again. “Ouch.” He grumbled in a sarcastic tone he didn’t feel was truthful, shaking his head like he was just annoyed by the hair in his eyes. “What do you want? I have places to be. Can’t hang around here all day.” He let out a dry laugh he didn’t particularly feel.
She eyed him for a moment. there was a look in her eye that made him feel as though she was deciding whether to kill him or not. “I have need of a man.”
“Husband not as virile as you thought he’d be?” He asked before he could stop himself. She raised a hand to the guard before it could gut him though.
She ignored his words and continued. “I have need of a man who I can use.” She crossed one arm over her stomach to rest her other elbow against her hand. She raised the other and leant against her face. “A man with the skill and intelligence to get things done.” She stared at him for a long moment and sighed. “However in your current state I can see that you would be a poor investment. You would have made a powerful weapon, a Warmancer, beholden to my will? It would have made me the most powerful Duchess of the Empire. My Duchy would have grown, We would have taken the kingdom and with you at my side the Velan would have been inclined to side with us when it came to war.”
Fact three that he had learned of himself; he was at least half Valen. He couldn’t feel a tail, he was still quite tall, his skin was pale and he had no scales, so he concluded that he was half Valen and half Human. Unless he’d done something in his former life to gain their favour? who knew.
“Sorry to disappoint.” he grumbled,suddenly unsure as to why he was refusing the woman without hearing her out. He hadn’t thought it through at all, he’d just picked a gut reaction and went with it. Something told him that that wasn’t new for him.
Sure he didn’t like that he’d been tied up, but who says that she was the one who did it? In fact it was more likely, considering everything he’d seen and heard, that she wasn’t the one. Her little speech sounded a little megalomaniacal but she was a noblewoman, that was practically a dialect to them.
“You still might.” She admitted. “We’ll see how many more days in here your insolence will last.”
She looked to the guards and nodded. The two behind her parted and she left between them, followed by her handmaiden and then by the guards. The gaoler appeared in the doorway for a moment before slamming it shut and locking it.
He listened as the woman, her guards and her handmaiden walked back the way they had come, the gaoler moving in their wake.
He cursed to himself, spitting on the floor. He should have at least heard the woman out. Why in the world hadn’t he? He really didn’t like her and he didn’t know why. No, that wasn’t quite right. It wasn’t that he didn’t like her, but what she represented. He didn’t like the aristocracy, but he didn’t know why.
He sighed and rested against his binds. It hurt his wrists and ankles, but he just felt so exhausted. If he’d stood up any longer he would have passed out. He rested there and thought about what was happening. If he hadn't already spent a night crying and hated himself for it he would have broken down again. There was little else he could do, but he refused. He imagined that other people in his situation would reflect on their lives and try to figure out where they had gone wrong to be put in such a situation, but he had no life to question, at least not one he recalled.
He took a breath and closed his eyes to consider what he’d learned. He had to figure this out. Hell; he still had to figure out what 'this' was.
Fact one; he was likely a Valen-human half breed. This was likely the source of his dislike of the human nobility.
Fact two; he didn't like assumptions, which made him think that he'd been through something to make him paranoid about such things.
Fact three; they thought he was a Warmancer. Whether he was or not didn't matter as he didn't know how to use the power that name would offer him. What mattered was that they would treat him as one.
Fact four; he had a tattoo of the sword of Rakizikar on his chest and he knew what it was. It must have been important to him, but why?
Fact five, and he was certain that this was the most important fact; he was a sarcastic, moronic, arrogant wise ass who had no foresight what-so-ever.
“So what’s the plan?” A familiar voice asked.
He opened his eyes and looked up, shock evident on his features. Barely keeping himself from screaming, he stared around at his audience. Standing in front of him were three small children, all staring at him with interest. Not young, they were perhaps twelve, on the cusp of being teens they were simply small. About a foot high each, there was a boy and two girls. Each one was tinted slightly in one of the primary colours. The boy was blue, the girls were red and yellow. Weird, they were floating so that their heads were roughly level with his shoulder.
They looked like brothers and sisters, all similar but not identical. The little red girl looked like the type who expected everyone to do what she says. Arrogant, spoilt, but confident and strong, likely the leader. The little yellow girl was bright and happy. She looked like nothing could get her down. The last child, the little boy, looked timid and perhaps a little paranoid. The kind of child that every other kid in the village picked on.
Weirder still - if such things were possible - he had no sense of them being there. That innate feeling that someone was in the room with yo0u, that there was another presence... they didn’t have it. As strange and obvious they were in their physical appearance, spiritually; there was nothing.
He had no idea which one had spoken, or if one even had. There was every possibility that he'd gone crazy. He’d woken up with no memory in a prison cell and spoken to a duchess and now he was looking at three tiny twelve year olds in primary tint. There was a large part of him that hoped that this was what crazy felt like - if he had further to fall he didn’t think it was fair.
“Helloooo, Knight? are you listening to me?” The little red one said, waving a hand in his face. He looked between them, eyes wide.
“He doesn’t remember us.” The little boy sighed.
“Don’t be silly, it’s just an act.” the red scolded, shaking her head at the boy. “For the Duchess and her people. If they knew he remembered they’d have killed him.”
He paled slightly.
“I don’t think he’s faking, red.” The yellow girl said, staring at him with uncertainty.
“What?” Red asked, looking from yellow to him. “Nah, he’s faking it. Tell her you’re faking it.”
“What are you?” He finally managed to mumble out.
The three children stared at him for a second before the red shouted out, “Dammit!” spinning around and flailing her arms in frustration. She barely missed the blue and he fell back onto his butt - still floating in mid air - and started crying. Red kicked at the non-existant floor, pacing around in anger, cursing to herself while blue continued to cry.
Yellow’s expression turned to a frown and stepped along the pathless air towards him. He shied back as far as he could go, though it wasn’t far. She raised a hand towards his face but stopped just shy.
Still he felt nothing of her. “What do you remember?” She asked with concern.
“What are you?” He asked again, not exactly squirming, but doing his best not to let her get too close to him. Of course, if she wanted to get closer he’d be unable to stop her, of course.
She winced, as if the words had pained her, pulling her hand back. “He doesn’t even remember us!” Red exclaimed, pacing around. She stopped when she reached blue and pushed him with the sole of her foot. “His own Kindeshi and he doesn’t remember us!”
“What do you want?” He repeated, eyes narrowing slightly to look around at them once more.
“We’re not going to hurt you, Knight.” The yellow explained. “We are spirits. We belong to you. We can no more hurt you than you can hurt yourself.”
He calmed a little at that. Though he was certain many people had been told such things before the some horribly intelligent monster destroyed them, he felt somehow able to trust the word of this spirit. Of course that could be it’s power.
He took a moment to really look at them and noticed a couple of things that he hadn’t before. Each of the little spirits had slightly different hair, though it was all cut into the same fashion, a little bob that reached their necks but went no further. The yellow’s hair was bouncy and curly, the red’s was sharp, straight and spiky while the blue’s was flat and drooping.
The other thing that he noticed was that each of them left a quickly evaporating trail of their respective colour whenever they moved. He didn't know what that meant but he'd not seen anything like it.
At least not in the past day or so. And since that was all he could remember... He sighed in exasperation. “Am I insane?" He asked, too much exhaustion in his voice for him to be worried by the idea.
"Insane?" The yellow asked in confusion. "No? Why? Are you hearing things? Hearing things that aren't there is the first sign of madness." Her statement was a matter-of-fact to her, not one of opinion. "Are you seeing things?" He looked pointedly at her and after a moment she understood. "Us? Why, no! We are most certainly real! We are your Kindeshi."
"What's a Kindeshi?" He asked sceptically.
"We are." Red said, zipping over and stopping beside yellow. "We are your Kindeshi."
"Ok... And what are you?"
They looked at him like he was extraordinarily slow witted, even blue stopped crying to stare. "We are Kindeshi..." Yellow said slowly. "Knight, are you ok?"
"That must have been some hit on your noggin. You used to be smart."
"No, I don't mean-" he sighed and changed his tactic. "What do you do? What can you do? What's your purpose?"
"Anything and everything that a Kindeshi can do to help our Knight." Yellow said brightly, proudly even.
"Ok..." He said tiredly. "What is it that you can so to help?"
"Oh, that depends." She said.
"On what?"
"On lots of things."
He almost growled in frustration, but kept his calm. "What about now? How can you help now?"
"Oh." Yellow said, elongating the word like she was just now understanding what he had been asking her. "I don't know." She turned to the others "what can we do right now?"
“Why are you asking us?” Red said. “He tells us what to do and we do it- if we can.”
She turned back to him, “Right! did’ya get all that?”
“He didn’t get any of it.” Blue said, frowning and resting his head in his hands. “He Doesn’t remember us!” And with that he started crying again.
“Dammit!” He cursed, watching the small boy rocking back and forth. He didn’t like to see children cry, even imaginary ones. “Okay... can you get me out of here?”
“How?” Yellow asked, cocking her head to the side in confusion.
“I- I don’t know.” He sighed. “By any means necessary?”
“Then no.” She said, frowning.
“Okay, more specific... can you unlock my restraints?”
Yellow’s smile widened slightly and she zipped silently through the air to the locks on his restraints. She reached out to them and struck the metal. She frowned, confused as her had flew straight through the lock. She looked over at him and then back at the lock. she flew at it with some force but just shot straight through.
He cursed silently and shook his head. “Alright, stop. Clearly you can’t touch things.”
“I’m sorry, Knight.” Yellow said, sadly, bobbing back over to him.
“Why do you keep calling me that?” He asked,cocking his head to the side and eying yellow.
“Why; because you are a knight.” She said. “Thee knight. The Knight of the sword.”
“Rakizikar?” He asked.
All three of the little people’s expressions brightened and they looked over at him. “You remember!” They exclaimed.
He sighed and shook his head. “Only Rakizikar. I saw the tattoo on my chest. I remembered the name of it.”
Blue and Red went back to sulking, but Yellow seemed a little brighter. "We'll thats something!" She grinned. "What else do you remember?"
He shook his head, "nothing." She frowned, somehow it seemed a little exagerated. "I don't..." He sighed in frustration. "I don't know anything. I don't know what my favourite food is, what alliances i have, who I like and dislike... I don't know if i have a family, I don't- I don't even know my name!" He shouted the last, hanging his head.
He hung there, breathing heavily but refusing to cry. He wanted to just curl up and cry but... No.
There was a warmth on his cheek. It was only a small spot, perhaps the skive of his fingertip, but it started to spread. He was suddenly aware of just how cold he was in the prison cell and leaned into it. "You like strawberries, but your favourite is grilled venison, spiced with garlic and a mix of herbs." Yellow said.
He opened his eyes and looked at the little girl. Her hand was resting on his cheek; the spot of warmth that was still spreading. "You tell people it's strawberries, but you love venison more."
Suddenly memories flooded back to him. The taste of strawberries, the taste of garlic and herb marinated venison cooked slowly over an open flame. She was right; he did like the Venison more. He told people he loved strawberries because the Valen clan that he had made an alliance with treasure the deer and great deer that the meat came from. Not quite sacred to them, but it would look bad to the Dog lords of Riverwood county if you told them that your favourite meal was hound flesh, such as it was with the stag riders.
Red appeared to yellow's left and placed a hand on his shoulder and heat radiated from it, much hotter than yellows warmth. "You used to be allied to the aristocracy of man, but you discovered that they killed your mother and made you kill your wife."
He gasped in pain as his chest swelled with the suffering of his past, memories flooding back to him. The faces of all of the people he served all of the people he believed worked for the betterment of the world, only to show their racist views at the worst moment. He was an inquisitor of the human imperium. He was shunned for his differences but congratulated for how they helped him to find spies and divisionists. The humans had hated him for his velan blood, and when they had found out that he and a young noblewoman - daughter of the Duke of Rayga, most powerful member of the aristocracy - had fallen in love wed in secret and she had born him two children... it was bad. They tricked him into killing her and then they told him everything. How mother had been a Velan emisary who was raped and tortured for information. How his father was the torturer that he had brought him up, trained him in the art of the inquisition and eventually used the trust they shared to trick him into killing Eviline.
The image of his wife emerged from the recesses of his mind and made him weep. "You have few friends, but you hate the aristocracy." Red finished. Two people appeared in his mind's eye, a man and a woman. The first a humanoid woman with scaley skin and a tail, not a direct half breed of humanity and the Raiken, but she definately shared their blood as their representative. The second was a young man with long black hair and a patch over his right eye that did nothing to conceal a few long scars that crossed beneath the covering. He wore ragged inquisitor robes that had been augmented with all sorts of articles from the Valen, the Raiken, the blood skins and the warren alike. He had feelings of kinship with these two souls, but their names escaped him.
He started to weep with the pain of these new old memories but a cold spot appeared on his other shoulder, snapping him out of it, "you had a son and a daughter, but both were taken from you when they were born. You fought to get them back, and lost." Blue said, floating to yellow's right. The momory of anger came to him. The memory of travelling the five kingdoms in search of aid finding it amongst a few nests of the Raiken and a single clan the Valen and becoming the Knight of Rakizikar in order to have a chance of saving his quarter-blood children. The war between the alliance and the Duchee of Rayga was not a long war. They had not expected the Duke to call for aid from the other duchees and on the off chance that he did; they did not expect the Duchees to answer.
They did.
His rebellion had failed and he had never met his children.
Warmth touched his other cheek and he looked up at Yellow as Red and Blue touched with their other hands. The heat and cool spread through him and met in the middle, crossing over and turning to a full body warmth.
"Your name is Knight Kroe." They all said. "Warmancer and bearer of the sword of Rakizikar."
Memories so many memories more memories than have any right to be remembered flooded through his mind. Every time a person said his name every time he'd introduced himself, every piece of information he had about the sword of Rakizikar, every casting he'd ever made as a warmancer every warmancer he'd ever heard of. It all came together painfully, it came in a mush, in a rush of noise and light, sound and images. It felt like standing in a crowded market and he was trying to listening to everyone while someone hit him repeatedly in the head.
The last thing he remembered before falling through his restraints and landing unconscious on the floor of the dungeon was his execution a year earlier and his death by stoning.

I hope you enjoyed (or at least didn't detest) that and will continue to read :)

- James