The Four- Chapter 15: Delving Deep

Skirting the lake, they spread out, trying to cover as much ground as possible. A short time after the lake disappeared from view, they came to an area with old stumps and much younger trees.

“Someone logged this area in the last century. These trees are much younger here.” Adran ran his hand over the bark of one of the trees. “Look close, this may be a sign of another entrance.”

They began to search more intently, spurred by Adran’s discovery. They were spread from lake shore to the steep hillside. The younger trees allowed far more sunlight to reach this area and the brush was even thicker and more difficult to move through.

Seraphina was the first to cry out. “I think I found something!”

The others hurried to her and found her clearing brush and heavy tree limbs. Cut lumber seemed to have been placed deliberately in a pile.

“There is an opening behind this mess. A tunnel, I think. Help me.”

Pulling downed limbs, and hacking at new growth, they made quick work of a makeshift barricade. Behind the pile was a crudely dug tunnel, hacked out of earth and stone. Roughhewn logs supported the ceiling and walls, darkness stretching before them.

“This isn’t dwarf-made.” Jarek studied the crude excavation. “I wonder if this is how the hold fell? The orcs tunneled in and caught them unawares. Told ye, they kin be cunning.”

“These aren’t orc prints though.” Seraphina was tracing a clawed, four-toed print in the damp earth.

Striking a flint, Malark lit a torch. “Kill more greenskins.” With those words he headed into the dark.

“Big guy has spoken.” Lia tossed her hair and chased after the always angry barbarian.

Sighing, Seraphina jumped up and headed into the dark as well.

“You cannot find your sire out here, dwarf.” Adran motioned towards the tunnel.

“Nay, I cannae find him out here.”

The last two headed into the damp, dark tunnel one after the other.

Hurrying to catch the others, Adran called up the narrow tunnel. “Hold, Malark, wait for us!”

If he heard the elf, he didn’t reply. His desire to kill greenskins, or just be in battle, drove him on. Heedless of danger, he plunged into a large cavern, large enough his torch could not light the far side. Halting, he glanced around. A flash of movement to his left caused him to swing his torch like a club, connecting with… he wasn’t sure what.

“Attack!” is all he could think to shout, swinging his axe towards the nearly unseen threat.

Lia and Seraphina ran from the tunnel, alert, but unable to avoid being attacked. Grey-green skinned creatures seemed to materialize from the dark, bumpy skin camouflaging the creatures against the stone cavern walls.

Lia took a hard blow, then smashed the stock of her crossbow into the face of her attacker.

Seraphina was able to parry slashing claws, but the creature’s snapping jaws clamped on her arm. With her free hand she stabbed deep, punching her blade deep into leathery hide.

Jarek came barreling out of the tunnel, seeing a fourth creature running towards a makeshift barricade across a cave mouth. Hurling a small axe, the bit buried deep in the creature, but did not stop him. Adran stepped up next to the mail-clad dwarf, drawing an arrow back. Exhaling, he paused then sent the arrow flashing across the cavern, planting the arrowhead between the creature’s shoulder blades, sending it head over heels into an unmoving heap.

Malark dueled with one of the creatures, axe held in two hands. He was bleeding from deep scratches across his torso. Letting the creature come close, he swung his axe in an arc in front of him. The blow smashed aside one arm of the lizard-like creature, then opened a gaping wound across its torso, entrails spilling out. The speed of the creature brought it in close, and Malark bit the creature on the face, snarling and spitting.

Locked on Seraphina’s arm, the creature raked its claws across her, slashing the little halfling. Twisting the embedded blade, she ripped it out, opening its abdomen. Smashing her fist in an uppercut blow, she drew the blade across its throat, a gush of dark blood rushing out. In a moment the malevolent light in creature’s eyes dimmed.

Holding her crossbow with both hands, Lia was able to fend off her attacker. With her hands occupied, though, she couldn’t fight back.

Jaws snapping, Malark’s attacker was slowing as its lifeblood ebbed away. Weakening blows failed to hurt the big man. In turn, Malark pushed the creature away and swung his axe in an overhang stroke, smashing the creature to the cavern floor.

Lia struggled to stay upright, the creature outweighed and outmuscled her. Seraphina hurried to her aid, twin blades flashing in the dim light. Both blows cut deep, killing the creature.

Panting, they had their guard up, waiting for more of the creatures to appear from the darkness. Turning and staring into the nothing, they waited. Malark finally picked up his torch, holding it high.

“Troglodytes. Disgusting creatures.” Jarek spat on one of the corpses.

“Capable foes, though.” Adran stalked along the cavern wall, an arrow drawn and ready. “Able to hide nearly anywhere. Stay alert my friends.”

Searching the cavern took a few minutes. The creatures wore no clothing, and carried no coins.

“Over here!” Lia called. Standing near the log barrier, the others heard an animalistic roar.

Gathering near the barricade, they could see it was made of stout logs and heavy vines. Beyond the wall was a huge brown bear, huffing and roaring. With each roar it stamped its feet, making false charges at them.

A heavy twist of vines kept a makeshift gate closed. An old spear lay on the ground near the barricade.

“Me thinks the runner was coming to let their pet out.” Jarek mused.

Nodding in agreement, Adran slung his bow, slipping the arrow into his quiver. Approaching the barricade, he murmured on soft tones.

“Hold there. Stay. Not going to hurt you brother bear.”

Roaring still, the bear pawed at the ground.

“Shhh, we are friends.”

Roaring still, but quieter, the bear slapped the ground once, then stood still.

“That’s good. Be still bear. Be still. I will set you free.”

“Set him free?” Jarek’s voice rose in pitch.

“Yes. I am going to set him free. Back up, slowly. Away from the tunnel.”

“Yer mad, ye crazy elf.” Jarek was shaking his head but slowed moved away. All the way across the cave.

The others followed him, making a clear path from the side cave to the tunnel.

“Stay, stay.” Adran murmured, slipping a knife from his belt. Cutting the vines securing the gate, he sheathed the knife, and put both hands on the gate.

“Ready?” he asked.

“If we say no?” Lia backed further away.

“I will open the gate, brother bear, and you will be free.’

“Does he understand you, Mr. Elf?” Seraphina held her blades low, watching the curious encounter.

“He does. In his own way. Ready?” He repeated, then tugged the gate open. Pulling the gate fully open, he hid behind the logs.

The bear charged towards the others, roaring and growling. It rose to full height, bellowing a roar. Dropping to all fours it stamped its forepaws, and feinted at them. Feinting again, it turned and rushed towards the tunnel. Pausing for a moment before entering, it looked at Adran and growled softly. Hurrying into the tunnel, it disappeared.

“Warn us the next time you try and make a huge bear a pet, will you?” Lia tossed her hair, shaking her head.

“He was a prisoner. Fighting out of fear and pain. No real threat to us.”

“Says you, elf. Hungry bears eat anything.” Jarek watched the tunnel like he expected the bear to come rushing back into the cavern.

“I think he left,” Seraphina giggled. Then moaned in pain. “Oww, that lizard thing bite me hard.”

“One got me good, too.” Lia put a hand to her ribs. “And Malark got cut pretty bad.”

Wiping the blood away, Malark nodded. “Bad creatures.”

Digging in his pack, Adran pulled some rolled cloth out and a small bottle of healing balm. Dabbing the balm on the deep scratches caused Malark to wince. Finished, he wrapped his torso in clean bandages.

Jarek stepped to Seraphina and took her arm in his hands. Murmuring low, she felt her arm heat up, then the pain ebbed away.

“Thank you, Mr. Jarek!” She smiled big, stretching her arm out, twisting and flexing it. “Much better!”

Nodding, the dwarf pulled a small bottle of red liquid from a pouch and tossed it to Lia.

“Drink that. It’ll help.”

“Hope you brought more of these.” She shook the bottle, the unstopped it and drank a portion.

“Aye lassie, ah did. Hopefully enough.”

Adran was by the tunnel, crouching and looking closely at the ground.

“I think these troglodytes use this tunnel frequently. These four probably get relieved at some point. Must be a tribe den in here someplace.”

“They cannae be the downfall of this place. The orcs dinnae know they are down here?” Jarek stroked his beard.

“Could have been here before the fall, dwarf. Or moved in after your kin were gone. Did this place have connections to the Underdark?”

Shrugging, Jarek looked away. “I dinnae know, elf. Me sire never spoke of any connections.”

“Regardless, we have troglodytes to worry about as well. Be on your guard.”

“We. Are. Underground.” Lia shook her head as she headed deeper into the cavern. “I see, three, no four tunnels. I say we go left.” She pointed to one of the tunnels.

“Right. We should always go right.” Adran protested.

“Which is why we are going left.” Lia pushed Malark. “Come on. Let’s go find more stuff to kill.”

Grunting, Malark led her down a passage. They were back before anyone could follow. “Dead end. That one,” Lia pointed and Malark headed into the darkness.

Adran sighed, watched Jarek and Seraphina leave, then unsheathed his sword and followed the others.

Passing a side tunnel, Lia stared into the darkness. “I think that goes back to the cavern we were just in. Keep going.

This tunnel zigzagged a bit and opened into a huge cavern faintly glowing with phosphorescent light. The ceiling soared above, stone formations hanging from the ceiling and rising from the floor. Little glittering spots reflected Malark’s torch, the stone gleaming and sparkling. Across the cavern little spots of light glittered like stars in the night sky. Patches of glowing fungi dotted the floor amid man-sized capped stalks and huge puffballs.

Gasping when he entered the vast cavern, Jarek murmured soft amazements and blessings.

“By Moradin’s hammer, The Glitterhame!”

The little party stood in silence for a long while, taking in what they could see. The formations stretched into the darkness beyond vision. Glittering sparkles shone all around. They could hear the soft plops of dripping water, and a soft sigh of wind. Seraphina knelt and cut a piece of a tall specimen of mushroom.

“Capped Butters? But huge!” She sniffed the piece, then took a bite. Smiling, she closed her eyes, savoring the flavor. “It is, it really is.”

Slicing off another piece she passed it to Lia. “Try it, it is delicious.”

They gathered around the tall mushroom and cut pieces to eat. Eating and enjoying the stunning panorama of the cave, they took advantage of a quiet moment.

“The descriptions dint do this cavern justice. The beauty is beyond compare!” Jarek’s eyes glittered, a mad smile on his face. “Tis meant to be, me kind need to be in places like this.”

They explored a little, trying to gauge the true size of this massive space. The ceiling soared almost fifty feet overhead. Several high ledges stood against the cavern walls, with passages leading away from the north and south. Meandering through the fungal garden, the party stumbled across a path crossing the cavern.

“Still going left.” Lia nodded to Malark. “Let’s go check that ledge.” She shot a little ball of flame from her fingertip, the light sailing up over the edge of the ledge and lighting a space beyond before it faded out.

“More cave.” Malark flexed his grip on his heavy axe and stalked forward, eyes on the ledge, torch held high.

Approaching the ledge, they discovered a loose rockfall. Malark began to climb, leaning forward, each step sending small rocks tumbling. Halfway up the wall, tentacles lashed out, striking the big human. He smashed his torch into on tentacle, slicing at the other with an axe stroke. Before the others could react, another tentacle lashed out, wrapping around his arm. Lia moved closer, staring into the darkness trying to see the threat. Seraphina had her bow up and aimed, deliberate steps in the loose stone.

Jarek was the first to react, hurling an axe up, striking a beaked monster crawling over the ledge, tentacles grasping at Malark. The creature squealed and growled. Malark has batting at tentacles with his axe, deflecting each darting strike. On the defense, he wasn’t able to effectively attack the strange creature.

Adran began to sprint up the loose rock face, light steps bouncing from rock to rock, then leaping atop the ledge. With a vicious overhand stroke, he severed the tentacle wrapped around Malark’s arm. Finally free, the barbarian used the flaming torch to burn another of the tentacles.

Lia was carefully climbing the rock fall when another creature slithered over the edge, tentacles lashing at Lia. One struck her hard, causing her to slip. The creature was on her in a flash, a beaked maw snapping at her, slicing cloth but missing her flesh. Seraphina jumped atop the creature, burying an arrow deep in its scaly body. Thrashing, it threw her off, sending her tumbling down the slight slope.

Adran and Malark battled the first creature. Deflecting tentacles, and quick riposte slashes at its thick body. Poking the torch at the beak, Malark buried his axe deep in the creature, a gush of thick blood pouring out. Twisting the axe free, he sliced a tentacle off, stomping on the slithering appendage.

Jarek ran to help Lia, bellowing threats and curses. He hurled another axe at the slithering creature, then smashed a heavy hammer onto the beak. Crushing the bony mouth, another heavy blow ended the thing’s life.

“Filthy gricks. Ne’r a cave without the blighters.” He spat on the quivering, snake-like creature. “All tentacles and beaks, ‘n bad attitudes.”

Helping Lia up, he looked up at Adran and Malark. “Is ‘e all right?”

Malark nodded, rubbing welts on his left arm, left by the grick’s grasp.

“He will live.” Adran looked down at the long creature, then headed deeper into the cave beyond the ledge. Malark followed, picking up his axe, holding the torch high.

The other three waited below, on edge after the sudden attack. Before long, the elf and the human were skidding down the ledge, holding sacks jangling with metallic clinking.

“They had a little treasure laying around. Left when they consumed their meals, I suppose.”

“Coins and armor.” Malark held up a sack before slipping his pack off and stuffing the loot inside.

“Plenty of bones. Human, animal, and others.”

“Gricks will eat any meat they catch. There may be more, they kin den like rats.”

“The cave up there was empty, save a few eggs.”

“You smashed them, yea?” Jarek slipped his small axes back into his belt as he looked up at Adran.

“I wasn’t going to…” Adran began.

“Malark smash. Bad eggs.”

“…But he had other ideas.”

“Good on yea! Filthy creatures. Good fer nuthin’ blighters.” Jarek was mumbling, looking up at the dead grick hanging over the ledge.

“We should keep moving. The cave up there might make a place to rest if we need it.”

“I’m okay. Ready for more.” Seraphina was scanning across the cave,

“Me, too.” Lia flicked flames across her fingertips.

“Off we go then. I see some worked stone ahead; we kin check it out. Might be the way to the forge.”

Jarek headed off, axes in both hands.

Malark followed, torch in one hand, axe in the other.

Falling in line, the others followed. The cavern narrowed and ended at a small tunnel hacked from the living rock. It was narrow and short, maybe five feet wide and less than six feet from floor to ceiling. Jarek led the way, Malark ducking to follow. The torch light glimmered off an iron door not twenty feet away. Heavy rivets dotted the surface, a tarnished silver rune gleaming in the flickering light.

The Four- Chapter 14: The Mountain Door

The clouds and hills conspired to bring night quickly. Before darkness encompassed them, they found a little nook to camp in. The rains had filled a pool of clear, clean water. Tufts of mountain grass clung to the thin soil, but were enough for the ponies. Seraphina and Adran had been gathering fodder as well as small game on their earlier forays, and were grateful to be able to keep their small stockpile for later. They were able to find enough dry sticks to cook their small meal, using the fresh meat gathered during the long day.

“As long as you two keep finding game, we will eat well this trip. After that it’s all dried mutton and hardtack, well…” Jarek cleaned a bone and smacked his lips, “we won’t eat this well on dried rations, ta be sure.”

“The higher we go, the less we will see. Might see a goat here and there though,” mused Seraphina. “And mountain berries if we are lucky.”

“Mountain berries?” Malark looked over.

“Like raspberries, only less juicy and plump. A little tart, but delicious. Me southern kin always brought some when they came to visit, they traded for them from somewheres.”

“I think they are raspberries, Seraphina.” Adran sipped from his wineskin. “A variant at least. I’ve had them, at least I think I have. They weren’t regular raspberries, I know that. They were sweetened with honey, served as a dessert in Evereska. The berries grow in abundance around the city.”

“Isnae a fable, then?” Jarek smacked his lips, “I’ve had a drink they called Evereskan Clearwater, I thought it was just a fancy name to boost the coppers. T’was a fair drink.”

“No, my stunty compatriot, Evereska is more than a fable. None but elves are admitted. Tis the last high place in Faerûn, a very real place. Short on metal, though, and Clearwater fetches a fair price outside the vale. A primary export, I am told.”

“No lie, I paid a full dragon for one glass. Not a right stein, a measly glass. A dragon a glass.”

“And? How did you take it?”

Jarek roared with laughter. “I cannae lie, cost me three dragons more before I came to my senses!”

Adran smiled. “Four dragons worth of drink. You would have drunk the whole night for less.”

“Aye, laddie, I coulda, but I no woulda tasted the sweet spice of Clearwater.”

Seraphina looked down, a slight smile at the little moment of peace between Jarek and Adran. It would do for now.

The night passed uneventfully, save a short downpour after Deepnight. After a small breakfast of dried fruit, stale sweetbread and wine, they set off, wet and sullen. By Highsun, though, the sun appeared and warmed the day. Cloaks and blankets were spread in the sun while they shared a long lunch. Jarek climbed a nearby pillar and sat for much of the break, alternating between staring at his map, and gazing into the distance. Their pace had slowed considerably. There was no trail now, they simply choose easier places to walk. Several times they came to sheer cliffs and had to backtrack in search of another way. With the sun sinking behind them, they were searching for a place to rest for the night when Jarek came scrambling back over a ridgeline. He was waving at them, skidding down the rise in a rush to return.

Small rocks skittered down the slope ahead of the excited dwarf. Rushing up to the group he was bouncing on his hobnailed boots.

“We’ve found it!” He stabbed a thick finger against the map, “Right where me map shows!” He couldn’t contain his excitement. “Right o’er this ridge, in the next valley. Come! Come see!” He turned and scrambled back up the ridge. Grabbing at rock and crack as he pulled himself back up. The others followed, at a much slower pace.

“He seems sure.” Seraphina was next to Lia, each woman carefully looking for hand and footholds.

“He does. Hope he is right; we could wander these hills for months and not find anything besides trouble. I saw a valley off to the north that is deep and tree-filled. Any number of beasts must be close by.” Lia reached down to help Seraphina up a sheer sheet of rock.

“And not getting rained on while I sleep will be a bonus.”

“Hear, hear. No bets this place will be deserted. Something is living there. Orcs? Goblins? Worse?”

“Worse? What’s worse than a pack of greenskins?”

“Undead things. Dragons. Some mad wizard. Lots.” Lia smiled and did a couple quick eyebrow raises.

“Now I can’t tell if you are serious or joking.”

Reaching the crest of the ridge, they were a little winded and gasped for air as they looked into the next valley. Nestled between two of the larger peaks, trees covered the lower portions of mountain and high hills. A glimmer of white shone from near the top of the southern peak, snow, even in mid-summer.

“There,” Jarek was pointing, “just above the tree line on the south peak. See? The mountain road?” he was beaming, a broad smile they had not seen before.

“I see it.” Adran was staring into the distance. “Carved into the living rock.”

“Aye, the final path to the Mountain Door. Under the Stone Tooth. Just as the map says.”

A tooth-like rock spire crowned a sub-peak below the main summit. It was a very obvious landmark.

“The Mountain Door is the way in. Though, if any gits are making hoose, they’ll be using the defenses. Might take a gander ‘round the area ‘fore we crash the gate. Aye?”

“Aye. Seems reasonable, since,” Adran pointed after he spoke, “see that? Smoke. Someone is home. Is there only one entrance?”

“Dinnae say. Maybe. Might be some postern gate, an emergency exit. Most mountain holds have one in case the mountain comes down on the main gate.” Jarek was thoughtfully stroking his beard.

“First off, we need to find a way over this ridge for the ponies. And then someplace to hide them while we go into the hold.” Adran scanned the little hidden valley from end to end. Jarek’s eagerness to get closer was evident to the whole party. He was bouncing on his toes as he peered towards the prize.

“To the west, this ridge gets lower, I kin feel it. We’ll find a saddle or pass.”

Seraphina was looking closer, at the thick forests around the peak with the tooth. “We need to find a small cave, or a hidden glen. I’ll set some traps to keep any predators at bay. Keep Chester and Bailey safe.”

“The buggers seem gentle, but they kin defend themselves, lassie. Still, we kin hide them.”

Satisfied with the next plan, they little group skittered and slid back down to where the ponies waited patiently.

Picking their way along the ridge took some time. There was no clear way forward, and scrubby brush made the path difficult. After a time, they arrived at a narrow cleft, a notch in the solid rock of the ridge. Crossing over took them into the forested valley, the trees and thick brush climbing nearly to the top of the ridgeline. This deep in the hills, night came early. Darkness swallowing them before they could explore the valley. Camp was hacked out of the scrubby, thick brush under the tall pines. They risked a small fire for warmth, carefully shielding the flames. Eating and resting seemed dreary tasks with their destination so close, but the all eventually drifted to sleep. The night passed uneventfully, to which they were all thankful. A hearty breakfast followed, and they were ready as the sun crested the hills and peaks around them.

Skirting the trees, they led the ponies along the ridge summit. It took hours, but finally they found a small glen with a pool of gathered rainwater. Further below was a series of large ponds surrounding a small lake. Without even taking in the vista, Seraphina quickly went to work. Setting traps and snares for predator creatures, she used rope and rock, sapling and log. The glen was mostly hidden from the sky, even so, she kept an eye up, watching for rocs or other aerial beasts. Satisfied with her work, she disappeared for a while, coming back with several conies and other small creatures she used to bait the traps. The others had gathered all the fodder they could find, hoping the ponies would be satisfied and stay hidden while they ventured underground. Eating a lunch of dried foods, they were all eager to get closer to the hold.

“What we need is a bag of holding big enough to stash animals in.” Lia mused, lighting and extinguishing little flames across her fingertips. “Shove these two grass eaters into the bag, and just take them with us.”

“You should get on that,” Adran replied, dropping more fodder into the pile.

“Why me? My magic is unnatural and wild. I don’t create, I just harness the Weave. Aren’t you tree huggers more the creative type?”

“Tree huggers!” Jarek guffawed, slapping his knee. “Pointy-eared tree hugger.”

Lia stared at Jarek; head cocked. Pulling her long, loose hair back to reveal her own pointed ears.

“Pardon, lassie, I dinnae know…” He stammered and stuttered, mumbling an excuse to wander off.

Raising an eyebrow, Adran watched Jarek leave. “No, Lia, the creation of magic items is not something I am very familiar with. For tokens and scrolls, I know the basics, but objects of magic and power? That is beyond most in the Circles.”

“Just a thought.”

“I believe the possibility is there. With the right knowledge and components. It take much experience to create items of lasting power.”

Lia had a distant look, looking down towards the lake. She was chewing her lip, deep in thought.

Adran watched her for a bit, then sat, cross-legged in the grass and closed his eyes.

Seraphina was sitting in the crook of a tree, sharpening one of her blades, and watching the others.

After a few minutes, Jarek came back to the camp, his cheeks still a little rosy from Lia’s reveal. he broke the quiet with a clap of his hands. “Shall we?”

Malark rose to his feet, flexing and growling low, the real reason he had come was becoming a possibility now.

“Do you have a plan?” Adran slung a quiver of white-fletched arrows as he spoke.

“Me plan was to find the trail, and scout out the Mountain Door. Go straight in.”

“Just like that?”

“Aye, just like that.”

“Without knowing what lies within?”

“Either me clansmen have found it and are forging as we speak, or goblin-kind are laired within. A hearty meal and barrels of ale, or a ruddy good fight. Either way, this dwarf is ready.”

“And if its hundreds of orcs, dark ones from the Underdark, or worse, that is no concern?”

“Nay, the hold is here, ready for us.”

Adran scoffed, folding his arms. “That wasn’t the deal, dwarf.” There was a stony edge to the word dwarf. “Just yesterday your words were ‘take a gander ‘round the area ‘fore we crash the gate.’”

Malark scowled, looking from dwarf to elf.

Lia stepped forward, “As I recall we weren’t heading to our doom if the hold was infested. That was the deal. Right, Jarek?” She glared at Adran, then looked back at the dwarf.

Jarek stammered for a few long minutes, his face turning red. He wrung his hands, and stomped off, only to come back in a moment.

“Aye,” he finally relented, “that were the deal.”

Nodding, Adran unfolded his arms and picked up his bow. “We can scout the main entrance, but if it is too heavily guarded, a back door will be a much better option.”

“And if there is no back door? What then, elf?”

“We make a new plan.”

Harrumphing and irritated, Jarek made a show of getting ready. He stomped around and avoided talking to the others until the four were quietly standing together.

“To Khundrukar” is all he mumbled and set off towards the looming peak.

Without the ponies, they made better time heading back to the west. They passed the narrow notch they used to cross the ridge, then continued a bit on, dropping into the thicker forest. Angling towards the Stone Tooth, they struggled through thick undergrowth. Small animals were scarce, possible evidence of an occupied dwarf hold.

“What do you feel?” Adran asked Seraphina, the two of them slightly ahead of the others.

“Fear,” she simply replied.

Abruptly they came to a clearing, the undergrowth crumpled and browned, much of it simply missing. The soil was crunchy and orange tinted. A slight acrid scent hung in the air. Adran and Seraphina stopped the others before they stumbled into the clearing.

“What in the nine hells?” Jarek murmured, stepping around the edge of the area.

“Fire?” Seraphina mused, mostly to herself.

Sniffing, Adran cocked his head. “What is that scent?”

Malark kicked at some of the dead foliage, watching it crumble to dust. “Bad smell. Smell like death.”

“It’s a strange scent, pungent and…” Lia wrinkled her nose, “its in my nose. Ugh.”

“Get back, this isn’t good.” Adran backed up a few steps, waiting for the others. “We can skirt this area. Step back, keep your breaths shallow until we get away.”

“What could have caused that?” Seraphina pulled her blouse up over her face as she backed up.

“Orc trap? Some kind of volatile chemical fire?”

Unsheathing his sword, Adran looked to the sky, then scanned the dense undergrowth. “Or a creature. Felldrakes and ankhegs spit acid.”

“And dragons, don’t they Mr. Elf?” Seraphina had an arrow nocked, scanning the sky for threats.

“Some do, yes, but…”

“What is it?” Lia had a ball of flame in each hand.

“Spit it out elf, but what?” Jarek held an axe tight, his knuckles white.

“The acid spitting variety is the black dragon, but they tend to favor swamps and lowlands.”

“Don’t mean one wasn’t driven from its home.” Jarek spat and swore, “dragons, just what we need.”

“Stay alert, it should be easy enough to hide in this thick brush.” Adran pointed with his sword, “this way, we’ll skirt this place and keep moving.”

All of them were tense and alert for a long while. Carefully stepping to avoid sticks and vines, eyes frequently scanning the sky for the sight of a great wyrm soaring above.

Before long they arrived at a well-worn trail. Adran halted the group before they crossed the path.

“Come, look,” he motioned to Seraphina. She crept up and knelt on the trail, a fingertip tracing faint marks in the dirt.

“Six, maybe eight, boots. Headed that way,” she pointed away from their destination. “Might be some older marks too, hard to say with all the rain we had.”

“Hunting parties?” Adran was kneeling next to her. He glanced over his shoulder, then looked the halfling in the eye, “Can you say when they passed this way?”

“After the worst of the rain, so less than a day. Two groups, for sure.”

“What say we stay here and watch? Set an ambush and see who passes back this way.”

“Will Jarek go for waiting? He seems eager to get inside.”

“If we four decide to set an ambush, he either stays or heads off on his own. He won’t risk his hide alone. We’ve come this far; he can wait a little longer.”

“I’ll tell him. He dislikes you enough already.” She smirked and stood and dusted her knee before walking back to the others.

“We found a trail. Has some use, too. We are gonna stick around for a bit and see who might pass by. Set an ambush and wait.”

“Wait? This close to our prize?” Jarek’s cheeks flushed.

“This is a ‘gander’ you over-eager dwarf.” Lia added. “Careful and safe. Hope some orcs come through, Malark is about to lose it if he doesn’t kill something soon.” She laughed an easy laugh, unlike the forced laughter when they first met her weeks ago. “Right, you big oaf?”

Malark grinned his grimace-snarl-smile, Seraphina shuddered at the creepiness of his ‘smile’. “Malark kill greenskins. Make Malark happy.”

“See, Jarek? Tis a good plan.”

Jarek looked at the three, knowing Adran either came up with the plan, or would agree anyways. “Fine. Great. We wait. Not like you care what this old dwarf has to say.” He grumped and huffed.

“Not true, Mr. Jarek,” Seraphina soothed. “We care what you have to say. But this trail is pretty fresh. We might catch some of them unawares. Whittle them down. A solid plan.”

He couldn’t argue with her logic and sighed, “alright lassie, we kin wait a bit. Not for days though.”

“Not for days, just a couple hours. That will leave us time to scout the Mountain Door well before dark.”

“Aye then, lets kill some orcs.” He grinned for the first time since he first spotted the hold.

Concealed in the thick brush, the little group waited in silence.

Jarek hid behind the remains of a once mighty tree. He had a pair of hand axes planted in the rotting wood, ready for use. Chewing on his pipe stem, he dearly wished he could strike a smoke. Across the trail in a dense stand of saplings, Seraphina waited. Bow in hand, an arrow lying loose across the rest. Her eyes were closed as she listened for the soft scuff of leather on stone and dirt. Further down the trail, Adran and Lia waited on opposites sides. Bow and crossbow were readied, extra arrows and bolts carefully laid out to allow for quick reloads. Malark waited a little further on, javelins at the ready. The plan was to unleash a hail of missile fire as soon as any orcs entered their view.

Arrow and bolt, javelin and axe. They hoped to injure as many as they could, betting the sudden attack would stifle the orc response long enough to get a couple volleys of missiles off before they reacted.

Minutes passed slowly. A gentle breeze moved leaf and needle, and pushed fluffy clouds across the sky. Here and there a birch fluttered and chirped. Small critters nosed though the grass along the edge of the trail. Time seemed to stop for the party. Spread as they were, they couldn’t communicate without making too much noise. Minutes turned into an hour. Then two.

A signal from Seraphina shrilled across the quiet. A warning that she had heard something. Already stressed from the wait, the signal set them all on edge. Muscles tensed and ears strained to hear the same sounds the little halfling heard.

They didn’t wait long. The guttural sounds of orc-speak soon drifted up the trail. Unhurried and unaware, these orcs had no concerns as they returned to the hold. Rounding a bend, Seraphina saw them clearly. Six orcs. Hunters, judging by the bows and game they carried. A large deer and boar were carried by four of the hunters on game poles. Various other creatures hung from the poles and the other orcs. Fully laden and weary from their efforts, the orcs were over-confident in their mastery of this hidden valley.

Waiting for them all to enter the kill zone, Seraphina warbled again. Bowstring taut, fletching against her cheek, she let an arrow fly before the warble ended. Scooping another arrow, she was firing again as the first arrow found its mark.

Each of them drew and fired, or hurled missiles as fast as they could aim. Chaos reigned on the trail. The four carrying the game poles were a confused cluster when they were wounded, the heavy poles and dangling game tangling up when they attempted to get free. The other two were able to shrug off their burdens easily, but also met with more attention from their hidden assailants.

Three orcs were dead before the fight really started. Bellowing curses and threats, the other three searched for targets amid the thick brush. Jarek was the first to burst from cover. His volume matched the wounded orcs, calling out cries for vengeance and blood.

Malark rushed from cover; axe held high as he charged. He slowed long enough to make vicious strikes at two prone orcs, ensuring their demise, before he crashed his axe into the greataxe his prey carried.

Roaring his battle cry, Malark bashed and parried, sweeping upwards under the guard of the orc, carving a furrow through skin and muscle. Wrestling for control of the orc’s axe, he headbutted the brutal beast, breaking its nose before burying his axe in its neck. Spatters of blood covered his face and chest. Breathing hard, the hulking barbarian looked for his next victim.

Jarek parried and blocked, laughing maniacally as he toyed with a wounded orc. Bleeding from deep gash in its thigh, the brute was hobbled, swaying on his feet, yet defiant still. Cursing the dwarf, it snarled and roared, swinging its axe in clumsy, weak arcs. Nimbly dancing around the orc, Jarek swung and poked, teasing the beast. Raging, the orc bellowed and staggered, trying to catch the dwarf. Angry and intent on fighting the dwarf, it didn’t realize its lifeblood was poring out until it was too late. Jarek laughed when the orc’s arms went limp, the axe falling to ground from dead fingers. Sinking to its knees, the orc was probably dead before Jarek cleaved its skull in two.

Lia missed with her first shot, tossing the crossbow aside as she flung bolts of flame at the standing orcs. Burning and sizzling skin and fat, her magic incensed the creatures. Leaping from the thick underbrush, she had a dagger in hand while flinging more flames into the face of her adversary. Blinded by the eldritch fire, she ducked under its guard to slash a tendon behind one knee. Howling in pain, it dropped to the ground, hobbled by the slash.

Before Lia could react, Seraphina launched herself off a fallen trunk, twin blades held in a reverse grip, blade tips down. Bounding from the fallen tree to the kneeling orc, she buried both blades to the guard, ripping them free and kicking the orc over. Panting from the exertion, she grinned at Lia.

“Fun times, eh?”

Shaking her head, Lia couldn’t help but smile. Seraphina tended towards quiet and reserved most of the time. In combat she was whirling dervish of death.

“If you say so, you crazy little devil.”

 Checking the bodies, the scavenged a few coins, then hauled the bodies into the brush, concealing the dead and their gear.

Jarek was carving the hindquarters from the boar, squatting next to the big beast.

“Um, Jarek?” Seraphina was watching him, a curious expression on her face.

“This is fresh meat. Be a shame t’ waste it. Why dint ya get some meat from the deer, too? We kin eat well tonight.”

Shrugging, she couldn’t deny his logic, and set to work. It didn’t take long, and they had several cuts of meat tucked away, a good meal provided by dead orcs.

Wiping his knife on a scrap of cloth torn from the dead, Jarek eyed Adran.

“And now? Now we head to the Mountain door?”

“Aye, dwarf, now we scout the way. Lead on.”

Grunting, Jarek sheathed the knife and picked up his axe. They was a spring in his step as he headed down the trail, the looming tooth hanging above them in the air.

The trail turned steeply upwards, climbing the peak, switchbacks cut into the rock. The first turns were hidden in the forest, thin as it was close to the tree line. Stopping in the last of the tall brush, they scanned the mountainside, following the trail with their eyes to where it disappeared behind a huge boulder.

“Must be there.” Jarek murmured. “Behind that rock.”

“What is there?” Seraphina was scanning the cliff face and the trail cut into the rock.

“A grand entrance. Me kinfolk took a natural cave and expanded it. There are steps climbing to a wide entry, and a pair of stout, stone doors. At least me sire described it that way.”

“Will they be open?”

“I dinnae know, lassie. My heart says yea, but orcs are cunning and not stupid.”

“Hard to see what’s up there, from here at least.”

“Which is why we need to keep moving.” Jarek headed up the trail, which lead away from the summit and hidden gate.

The others waited only a moment before following him. The trail rose quickly, and turned back in a hard turn to the place they were scanning only minutes before. Jarek was still in the lead, leaning forward into the climb, axe loose in his hands.

Some fifty feet ahead the trail turned again, the cliff face blocking the turn. Adran reached forward and caught the eager dwarf on the shoulder.

“Wait!” he hissed; voice low.

Jarek paused for a moment to push Adran’s hand away. An arrow flashed by his head in the same instant.

“Orcs!” Seraphina warned, firing another quick shot.

Hearing a squeal and harsh voices, the group sprinted up the trail.

Arriving on a wide ledge that doubled back into the mountain, they saw one orc running away, head low, moving fast. Another orc waited, Seraphina’s arrow protruding from its shoulder. Snarling, it charged.

Jarek was barely able to block its strike, metal clanging on metal in a sharp exchange of blows. Adran tried to shoot the fleeing orc, his shot barely missing.

Ducking a sweeping blow, Jarek finally was able to land a strike, tearing a chunk form the orc’s hip. It staggered back enough that Malark could hurl a javelin. The missile hit the beast in the chest, toppling it over the edge of the trail. Screaming as it plummeted into the forest below, the delay allowed the other orc to turn a corner and disappear.

“After ‘em ya louts!” Jarek cried, hobnailed boots sparking on the rock as he charged off. Adran looked back at the others, shaking his head and ran after the dwarf.

 The other three hurried on, heart rates rising from both the steep trail, and the excitement of combat. Jarek turned a corner, disappeared from sight. Then Adran rounded the same corner. He was climbing stairs, chasing the dwarf. Lia, Malark and Seraphina had just rounded the corner when both came barreling back.

“Flee!” Adran warned, arms outstretched to guide the others back. Around the tight corner, the cliff gave them cover.

“Defenses are manned and ready. Bastards are using the arrow slits me kin prepared so long ago!”

“Aye,” Adran added, “the other orc was shouting as he hustled up those stairs. More guards must have been waiting, they were ready when we turned onto a series of steps.”

“Can we get past?” Lia was looking beyond the dwarf and elf, eyes on the corner.

“Honestly? I don’t know. If they have any defenses manned, I don’t see how.”

“And a fight on this trail won’t be a fun time.” Seraphina was looking up the cliff face, then down over the edge.

“Could you see the door?” Adran turned to look towards where the hidden doors might be.

“Nay, I dinnae see ‘em. The tunnel turned sharp like; all I saw was that orc hustling up more stairs before I turned tail.”

Nodding, Adran moved towards the corner.

“Mr. Elf?” Seraphina had a worried tone.

“Just wondering,” he replied. At the corner, he took his cloak and flung the bottom around the edge. A pair of arrows sailed by in the instant he did.

“Now we know thyey can see this spot from the arrow loops.”

“Rush by?” Malark was bouncing from foot to foot, eager energy building in the big man.

“Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t think we should risk it. If we all get wounded just getting to the door, we will have an even tougher time when we get in.”

“And they are waiting for us. The whole tribe could be standing at that door.” Lia was watching back down the trail. “Plus, if Seri’s tracking is on, there is another hunting party out there. We could get trapped between two groups.”

“I think its time for that gander, dwarf.” Adran looked down at Jarek.

Hating to admit the elf was right, he harumphed and stalked off, heading down the steep trail.

The others followed him down, always glancing back up the trail for any orcs coming after them. At one of the switchbacks Jarek was waiting, staring at the rock of the mountain.

“Much lower and we will be ‘neath the caves within. We should go ‘round the peak.”

Taking a saddle between the Tooth and the rocky mound where smoke lazily drifted skywards, they left the trail and began exploring. Around to the east the forest cover gave way, exposing the sky over a large area. Hiking closer, the discovered a small lake surrounded by smaller ponds. Ducks and geese glided across the smooth water. Bugs buzzed and flew amid the lake-side vegetation.

“Well, look at that!” Jarek stopped in his tracks when the lake came into view.

The party spread out, each lost in their own world as the gazed across the mountain lake.

“Might be a back door into the mountain under there.” Adran pointed at the water.

“I cannae swim that well, elf, so yer on yer own if you go that way.” Jarek stroked his beard. “Perhaps the lake twirn’t always there. Late winter it dries up and opens a passage. Or in their delving they opened into an underground lake.”

“Perhaps, but it isn’t late winter, and none of us are prepared for a lengthy swim underwater.” Adran skipped a rock across the still water. “Not even me.”

“I’ve heard tales of potions that allow a person to breathe underwater. Are they true?” Seraphina knelt to fill her canteen.

“Aye, lassie, wizarding folk can create such magic. Ah dinnae think to look for any. I don’t recall me sire speak of the lake.”

“Malark not swim. Sink. Go deep.”

“You and me both, big guy.” Lia tossed a pebble into the water. “Besides, there are things that can eat me in the water.”

“Plenty of creatures on land can eat you,” Seraphina laughed.

“On land this doesn’t happen.” Lia flicked a mote of fire into the lake, the ball of flame sizzled and extinguished the moment it contacted the water. “I prefer a fight when I can burn things.”

“Then let’s find the backdoor.”

Books and movies and music: Media I love

I subscribe to a number of blogs. Most have something to do with miniatures gaming, buying or sculpting miniatures or painting miniatures. Or buying miniatures and hording them for the apocalypse. Wait… That’s mostly what I do!

Many of the blogs revolve around miniatures, but not all of them. One that is always very interesting to read is The Chronicles of History. Samantha James writes an introspective and educational blog filled with cool stuff. Her most recent article asked, and answered, six questions about books and movies. She asked her readers to reply with their own answers, so I did. And in trying to answer those questions I had to really think about favorites in books and movies and tv shows.

I fixated on books as i read the article and thought about my answers. All my life I have been a reader. I can’t tell you what my first book was as a child, but I can remember some of my favorites. And thanks to the wonders of the interwebs I have been able to find many of them to share with my own children.

Books like A Good Fish Dinner, Socks For Supper, The Monster at the End of this Book, Babar books, Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble and Bembleman’s Bakery. These, and dozens more. My parents filled our house with books. My grandparents did, too. We were surrounded by books and encouraged to read. Every car trip had a bag full of books. Our bedroom had a bookshelf full. I ruined a couple books the year I slept in a tent most of the summer. Rain and a leaky tent are not good for books. I thought long and hard before ever taking a book camping again.

All my school classrooms had books, and the library had some wonderful treasures. In those halcyon days of youth I could ride my bike, alone, to the local library and use the heck out of my precious library card. Books were a huge part of growing up.

Sadly, I never thought to keep a good list of all the books I loved, and I cannot remember them all. There was a super cool sci-fi anthology book in my school library I would pay too much money to own if I could remember the title. I even emailed the current librarian of that elementary school in the off-chance the book was still there. No luck. Trust me, that book was cool.

My classroom one year had a book I still read about once a year. Titled Treasures in the Depths by Robert Uhl, it had real black and white pictures and I was convinced for years it was a true story. This book did kindle my love of the sea, and my desire to see what is under the surface. Years later I did get SCUBA certified and I’ve blown bubbles in some really cool places. Haven’t found any gold though. I was able to purchase the book at a school surplus sale. I promise, I didn’t steal this book!

My personal copy. All the images online had alternative covers.

The local library had a cool book about a young boy who lived in Maine. His dad was a lobster fisherman and he often helped on the boat. He restored one of the old traps his dad wasn’t using and painted a buoy in his own unique color and set the trap out. Of course he caught the biggest lobster they had ever seen. As a big fan of eating lobster, this book was right up my alley. alas, it is on the list of titles I cannot remember and I haven’t been able to locate it online.

Of course as I aged, so did my books. I started reading military history books in junior high/middle school. I read and bought those for years, until basically I ran out of space to store them. World War Two was my first favorite. World War One, The French and Indian War, and the American Civil War followed close behind. Eventually I started reading about wars like the Franco-Prussian War, the War of the Austrian Succession, the Hundred Years War, and a dozen others. This interest led to building plastic models for a time, and eventually to the miniatures games that are my primary hobby.

When I discovered Games Workshop games, I discovered the Black Library and all the fiction in the Warhammer universe. It is one universe, and you can’t convince me otherwise. Read Angels by Robert Earl in the short story book Dark Imperium and then we can talk.

Pretty much all I read for ten years was Black Library fiction. The Eisenhorn books are easily my favorite trilogy of all time. The Gaunt’s Ghost novels are also some of my favorite books and characters every written. When the Horus Heresy came out I was blown away by the initial three novels, and recommend them to anyone looking for a dark, gritty and shocking look at sci-fi. I was well and truly hooked and devoured BL books.

I soured on Games Workshop in the early 2000s, but kept reading the Horus Heresy, because darn it, I was going to finish that long saga! Kids and activities slowed my own reading. I did introduce them to some of my favorite books of childhood, an then watched them fall in love with their own favorites. As time went on, I introduced the Dan Abnett and his amazing Black Library books, especially Inquisitor Eisenhorn.

Of course, I read all the Harry Potter books. Many times. Love them all. And the Hunger Games books. Those took a little bit because when I was first told about them I could not get over the children as tributes idea and refused to read them. When one of my kids wanted to, I had to in order to make sure they could. Such good books. I finally read The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit in the early 2000s. After the LOTR movies came out. Weird, I know, but none of my friend ever talked about them. I discovered Ender’s Game late. Most of the follow on books had already been published when I finally read it.

When other books followed the kids home, I would read some. The Ranger’s Apprentice books are fun, short reads. Percy Jackson’s adventures are really fun, and much better than the movies. Eventually my daughter introduced me to the Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows gang. Along with a couple other series. I returned the favor with a book i saw on Amazon named Crimson’s Script. Weirdly cool with plot twists and strange magic. My son was the first to start reading the Brandon Sanderson books and has recommended several. The sheer size of the books and the scope of the Cosmere has kept me from leaping in yet. But I will. I found Sanderson’s Skyward, again on Amazon, and ordered it straight away because it is sci-fi. Loved it, and we eagerly awaited each following book, and are anxious for the last, though sad that the saga ends.

My dad introduced me to a book series I never expected him to read, even though he is a fantasy fan. The author is Brandon Mull and the series is Fablehaven. No spoilers about the first book, but if you like fantasy, this is a series you should check out. My kids and wife really loved these books, and we have all read them several times.

Books have become such a big part of our life that my daughter has been writing for years. I have dabbled, as well. I have even submitted to Black Library open calls three times. I guess I must be out, since I have yet to have a response. The daughter? She submits to short story anthology (like I have!!) and gets accepted and published. Good for you sweet girl. Way cooler than your dad, for sure.

I’ll never have enough time to read all the books around. And I will never tie of people plugging a favorite.

Which brings me back to the blog article I referenced at the beginning and the six questions. I’ll just post my reply to author:

Tough question. I love both the book and the movie versions of To Kill A Mockingbird, and it it is, imo, one of the finest stories/movies ever made. But I am a sci-fi fanatic at heart and Ender’s game and Do Android’s Dream of Electric Sheep? Blade runner wins by a slim margin for lines that are not even in the book. “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe… Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion… I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain… Time to die.” Incredibly powerful.

I haven’t picked up a new book this year. My kids have had a list of books to read, and i am way behind. I’ll have to pick one published from 2021… Wow, I am way behind… Cytonic in the Brandon Sanderson Skyward series.

How does one pick an all-time? My favs ebb and flow with my mood. Rogue One for its hopeless desperation, and ultimately, hope given to a galaxy in chains. Blackhawk Down for courage in the darkest moments, and the ultimate sacrifice by men who lived larger than life. Cosmos, for opening my eyes.

Again, my moods dictate what I listen to. And my music tastes run the gamut. I always come back to Fear by Blue October, for its message of hope in darkness.

Gregor Eisenhorn form the trilogy bearing his name by Dan Abnett. A man struggling to combat the darkness, and embracing that same darkness in a quest to protect those he loves.

Band of Brothers. A miniseries, I know, but it was perfection of the war movie.

These questions are kind of tough. Do favorites stay forever? Mine don’t. My moods and interests change and with it, the media I consume. Especially music.

Many of the books I have read have never been made into movies, so that question was tough. And I stand by my answer,. If you have never seen Blade Runner, do it. Such an incredible film and Rutger Hauer is at his very best.

I have not bought a book in a while. Trying to catch up on the referrals from the kids, and we have all of those.

Favorite move is so hard. I love Star Wars, and that is why if i ever have to pick, I usually comes back to Rogue One. I like last stands and hopeless causes. And underdogs and dark heroes. That movie hit all the right spots. Last night i saw Guardians of the Galaxy 3, and that movie sailed right to the top three of my favorite Marvel movies. I really enjoyed the humor and action of the first Guardians movie. This one was back to that formula, and added in some intense, heart-breaking moments to give gravitas to the film. I prefer to have favorite movies in many genres versus a fav overall and would add Gladiator, Last of the Mohicans, Return of the King, The Lion King, Blackhawk Down, Cosmos, Blade Runner, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Dark Knight, Open Range and a bunch more to my favorites.

One of the best movies I have seen in a while is the new Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. It was a wild adventure romp full of humor and heart, and I highly recommend it to anyone. The great thing is that you do not need to be a fan of D&D to enjoy the movie. If you are however, you will find all sorts of hidden gems. A fun family movie with some great actors.

As I am writing I have my YouTube feed playing and at this moment it is Snow Patrol’s Open Your Eyes. The stream has had Snow Patrol, Muse, Imagine Dragons, The Killers, Keane, Coldplay and a bunch of others. Other days its Disturbed, U2, M83 and a dozen dozen others. My music tastes are wide and varied. Eminem to Yanni. Garth Brooks to Disturbed. Samuel Kim to Metallica. Wherever the mood takes me. Collective Soul, Blue October, Chvrches, Metric and The Killers are probably my five favorite bands, and I listen to them a lot. Most days I just let my YouTube feed go, and see what happens.

Favorite song is tough. I picked one of my favorites to answer the question. There are a dozen plus others I consider favorites. Run, Heaven’s Already Here, Tremble for My Beloved, and After All by Collective Soul. Wait, Lower Your Eyelids to Die with the Sun and the whole Oblivion soundtrack by M83. Hate Me, Fear and Home by Blue October. Recover, Clearest Blue, Now is Not the Time and Asking for a Friend by Chvrches. Metric’s fav tunes are Breathing Underwater, Dressed to Suppress, Wanderlust and Now or Never Now. The list goes on and on.

I love music, and something is playing all the time. when I write. When I relax. When I build models. Driving. I never get tired of music, and it doesn’t distract me the way a tv show or movie would.

My absolute favorite book hero is definitely Gregor Eisenhorn. His journey is tragic and powerful, but he never stops doing what he feels is right. If I could put one character on tv or in a movie, it would be Gregor.

I have a love/hate relationship with tv. I enjoy a good comedy and watch too many. But tv keeps me from writing or painting. I never have enough time for both. Good thing is we are almost out of shows to watch on the services we pay for, and I am not paying for anything else. So there is that.

What about all of you? Answer those same six questions. I am curious what others are watching and reading and listening to.