Dust billowed around me as I leapt into the light of the gorge. Coughing and spluttering, I lay there on the ground next to the dwarf. Sitting up, I looked around and saw that everyone had made it out of the cave uninjured.

I back flipped onto my feet and raised my fists into the air. “Wwwooooooooooo!” I shouted, and leapt around in triumph. Last time I had felt that much excitement was when I won in Game Ball against the Zadash Owlbears. “Yes! That was amazing!”

“Just remember, the reward’s fer us three,” he said, wagging his finger between himself, the tabaxi, and the bard.

“Quiet down, ye dolt!” the dwarf grumbled. Gracefully executing a back handspring over the dwarf, I slapped him on the shoulder, then bounded away in a couple more flips. I heard him growl at me, but I was too busy grabbing Fred’s arm and holding it above our heads to care.

“Dwarf! You should have seen yourself in there,” I said, somersaulting over to Jerry. “Those goblins didn’t stand a chance!” Punching the tabaxi in the arm, I said to him, “That thing you did with the daggers! That was really cool!”

“Eh. Ye didn’t do half bad yerself. Now settle down, and let’s get out of here,” said the dwarf. Complimenting him seemed to dull the edge of his attitude.

I fell into step at the dwarf’s side. “Really though. That was a lot of fun. Thank you for letting me help.”

“Aye!” the dwarf agreed, then scowled at me sideways. “Just remember, the reward’s fer us three,” he said, wagging his finger between himself, the tabaxi, and the bard.

“Yes, of course,” I responded, patted the dust off of my leathers. “Do you guys always do this sort of thing?”

Fred stepped closer. “Yes, we’ve been taking odd jobs here and there. Are you an adventurer? You can join us if you like,” he said, then continued, “I’ve got a rope. Do you have a rope?”

Once again taken aback by the odd questions, I began to answer, but the dwarf interrupted. “I didn’t say he could join us!” The musician started to protest.

“He’s not bad with a bow,” Jerry spoke up. He didn’t normally say much, and his accent was very unfamiliar.

“Bah, fine,” the dwarf acquiesced.

“Awesome!” I said, and then asked, “So, what’s the next job?”

“We’ll pick it up in Nicodranas,” the dwarf replied, his tone indicating that I should know the answer to such a simple question.

I responded with a smile. The dwarf’s belligerence wasn’t going to get me down. Meeting this group was a godsend for me. Having someone to talk to and staying busy helped me keep my mind off of Lucien and gave me a sense of belonging, even though the dwarf didn’t seem to trust me. That said, I sensed a grudging respect coming from him after our battle with the goblins.

We still had a full day of travel before we would arrive in Nicodranas, so I spent that time telling my new acquaintances stories from Trostenwald. I told them practically everything about me except for my flings, Lucien, and the trouble I was in. No need to get anyone caught up in that nightmare. 

Fred started talking next, and I learned that he didn’t know who his parents were, and that he was looking for them. He had been adopted, and as soon as he turned of age, he left home to become a traveling musician. Then he fell into the various stories and adventures in his past that had led him to meet Jerry and the dwarf. Apparently, the dwarf didn’t even share his name with these two.

Jerry’s story was short, and incomplete. He suffered from amnesia and had no idea where he came from, who his parents were, or even what a tabaxi was.

I found his story heart wrenching. How could one go through life without knowing his past? For me, my past was everything. It had shaped the foundation of my life and sculpted me into who I grew up to be. “I’m very sorry, Jerry, I don’t know how you can cope with that,” I said to him, clapping him on his shoulder. His response was a shrug, so I let it be.

“What about you, dwarf? You have a story to tell?” I asked. 

“No,” came the reply. 

“Are you serious?” I asked. “Surely, there’s something worth telling.”

“Aye, I’m serious. Now shut up!” he said, while raising his hand up to stop our forward march.

That’s when I noticed he was staring at the tall grass on the side of the road, his axe out and his stance ready.

I nocked an arrow and readied myself for danger. The grass parted, and a massive shape leapt at us, a blur of muscle and claws.

~ Michael C. Sahd, author of The Unfettered Child and Assassin Marked

The arrow whizzed past my nose, and two more thudded into the dwarf’s shield. “Get ’em!” the dwarf shouted as he charged toward the little creatures. Grabbing an arrow from my quiver, I nocked my bow and took aim. The missile flew true, taking out the closest goblin. “That was my kill,” the dwarf shouted as he charged forward.

“Brace yourself, dwarf,” I shouted, leaping onto his shoulder, then high into the air.

At almost the same time, the tabaxi placed a dagger in his paw and cast a spell. The blade flew through the air as though on its own. It struck a goblin in the shoulder. The creature stumbled, cursing in its guttural language, but soon the dwarf hacked its stomach open, and it fell to the ground. The last of the goblins, seeing his advantage of surprise foiled, dashed to a cave not far from the rocks.

We followed him in, while the dwarf mumbled something about cowards. The cave was narrow, with not a lot of room for us. I took up the rear and could barely see inside the narrow cavern. “Guys, I can’t see anything in here,” I said.

“How is it that a blasted elf can’t see in the dark?” the dwarf grumbled, as he hacked the goblin’s back, pinning it to the cave floor. A taller goblin loomed out of the dark, probably a bugbear. It lifted its spear, getting ready to thrust it into the dwarf’s lowered guard. The bard started playing his lute. Three orbs of light illuminated the cavern, revealing several goblins getting ready to charge in.

I had already killed one of the little guys, and although I didn’t want to kill more, it looked like an us-or-them situation. I darted forward, stepping up onto the side of the walls, arching over my companions and letting loose an arrow, striking the bugbear under the shoulder and then leaping behind it. The dwarf slashed up and gashed the goblinoid under the chin, finishing it off. He then dashed past me, shouldering the body of the bugbear out of the way.

I ran with him into the wider area of the cave. “Brace yourself, dwarf,” I shouted, leaping onto his shoulder, then high into the air. When I had attained enough height, I used my natural genasi ability to levitate and floated into the air, then shot another goblin right on its crown.

The dwarf charged forward, catching arrows in his shield, and cut down the closest archer. A dagger shot into the room from the cavern entrance, speeding straight into another goblin. The melody from the bard picked up, and I felt inspired. A female goblin wearing bones and feathers cast a spell that streaked a line of fire toward the cave entrance. One of my arrows pierced the spellcaster through the eye, and the other goblins started to flee deeper into the cave, while another bugbear came roaring out. The dwarf intercepted its charge, hacking its knees out from under it, and I finished it off with an arrow.

The goblins dispatched, the dwarf went about cutting off their ears. “What are you doing?” I asked, aghast, as I floated back to the ground.

“We need proof that we did the job. Aye, it’s grisly, but we don’t get paid without ’em.”

I shook my head and started looking for something else the goblins may have left behind. I had just found a chest and commenced digging through it, when the ground began to shake.

“Everyone out!” the dwarf shouted. I ran for the exit as the ceiling started coming down.

During the day, the gorge walls cast deep shadows across the floor, and at night, the darkness was near absolute. I walked through the rocky pass an hour after the sun had set, and my eyes refused to adjust to the complete darkness. Regardless, I could see the campfire flickering against the stone walls in the distance. You never know who or what you might encounter at night, so I approached cautiously. The nearer I came, the more details of the trio sitting around the fire began to materialize.

The canyon is an image from Arizona. The group sitting by the fire, I added.

A surly looking dwarf sat across from a human musician and between them was the largest tabaxi I had ever seen. Glancing at their fire with envy, I decided to simply introduce myself. “Good evening gentlemen.” If they turned out to be hostile, I felt certain that I could easily outrun them. “Mind if I join you for the evening? I’ve been traveling far, and could use a break.”

“Sure,” the musician spoke up. They didn’t seem surprised by my stealthy entrance. “Say, would you like some gold? Here . . .” He reached into a bag and started counting coins. Yes, my jaw dropped, and I looked over to his companions. The tabaxi rolled his eyes, and the dwarf sighed with exasperation.

“Put yer blasted coin away! We don’t even know this fellow,” hollered the belligerent dwarf. “Fer all we know, he could be a crook.”

“I-I really don’t need your gold,” I stammered.

“Are you a crook?” the musician asked, temporarily discontinuing his counting. The thick foundations of face paint cracked slightly as he smiled at me. Never before had I seen a man with so much makeup on, except in the circus, but this guy clearly intended to look normal.

“Of course not!” What a strange group of people to encounter on the road. The musician immediately went back to counting coins, and then held out nine gold coins in his gloved hand.

“Fine!” the dwarf said, followed by a heavy sigh. “Ye can stay the night by the fire, but yer not taking a watch. I’m keeping an eye on ye!”

Lifting my hands up in a gesture of peace, I said. “Look, that’s fine. I really mean no trouble.” I sat cross-legged across from the tabaxi, and the bard dropped the coins in my lap. “Well, thank you,” I said.

“We’re searching for a group of goblins. The guards in Nicodranas are paying us for clearing out the rabble,” the musician continued. “Would you like to help?”

“Sure . . .” I started to say, but the dwarf interrupted.

“Oh no ye don’t,” the dwarf bellowed, glaring at the musician. “They offered the job ta the three of us, and the reward is for the three of us.”

“Look here,” I said gently, and the dwarf set his glare on me. Smiling at him, I said, “I’m not here to take anything from you guys. I’m just trying to get to Nicodranas and was hoping for a good night’s rest. Consider my help with the goblins payment, as well as this gold your companion just offered me.”

The tabaxi chimed in, his voice deep. “That sounds reasonable to me.”

“Fine!” the dwarf grumbled.

“Thank you,” I said, smiling at each of them in turn. An awkward silence followed, and I decided to break it by introducing myself. “So . . . my name is Elohel. I’m from Trostenwald, and if you haven’t heard of me already, I’m the local swimming champion and I was the team captain of the Trostenwald Brewers.”

After I received some blank looks, the musician spoke up. “My name is Fred. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” I shook his hand.

Then the tabaxi introduced himself. “You can call me Jerry.” Tabaxi were not common in Trostenwald, but not unknown. I had run around with a few when I was younger, but this guy was massive and his mane hid the back of his head and his neck. Thinking back, I hadn’t met a tabaxi with a mane before, but I had seen a few in story books.

Turning to the dwarf for an introduction, I received a glare from under bushy brows. “None of yer damn business, elf. Now get ta sleep. If yer goin’ ta help terminate some goblin pests, then ye’ll need some rest. I hope yer as good with that bow o’ yers, as yer at games.” Then the dwarf lay down on his mat and pulled some covers over himself. “Fred, ye keep the first watch; Jerry, yer next; and wake me if there be any trouble.” At that, he glared pointedly at me before pulling his wool over his head.

Chuckling, I also lay down for the evening. Many people confused me for an elf or at least a half-elf because of my ears. Genasi are a rare breed, and I never felt the need to correct people’s misunderstandings.

****

I woke before the sun lit up the gorge and saw the dwarf stirring the coals of the fire. Sitting up, I stretched my shoulders, hearing the bones crack. “What are ye doing up, elf?” the dwarf asked.

Standing up, I stretched my calves and hips. “I always wake up before the sun, to do my exercise routine.” I dropped and started doing pushups.

Grunting, the dwarf said, “That’s fine, but don’t wander too far. I can hear the little green buggers prepping an ambush over yonder.” He indicated the direction with a nod of his chin.

“Noted, and thank you.” I spent the next thirty minutes going through part of my routine, skipping the jog. When the sun started peeking over the walls of the canyon, I stopped. The dwarf woke the rest of the party.

“Alright, time to wake,” he said, as he gently shook his companions. Then he explained the situation about the goblins to the others. “Are we ready, then?” he asked the group. We all nodded, and I picked up my bow and shouldered my quiver.

After everyone packed their gear, we cautiously moved forward. This is where I suppose I should admit that I have never killed a person before, and although some don’t consider goblins people, I figure that if it can talk, it’s a person. I’ve been hunting, and I’ve killed game and other beasts, but . . . let’s just say, I was very nervous.

Sweat poured down my forehead, and butterflies danced in my stomach, as we neared some massive boulders that had fallen from the cliffs, now serving as sentries to those who pass.

The wind blew from behind us, whistling through the gorge and funneling through the rocky walls. As we passed the rocks, I turned to peek around a rock, and my eyes locked with a tiny snarling goblin who aimed at us with a bow. I watched in dismay as an arrow glided in the air directly at me.

~ Michael C. Sahd, author of The Unfettered Child and Assassin Marked

I personally find woodworking and crafting fun. So, over the last couple of weeks, perhaps more, I set to work making a crosscut sled for my table saw and a dice box in addition.

For those of you who may not know what a crosscut sled is, I’ll explain and show the pictures.

The individual pieces before assembling the whole thing.

Generally, a table saw is for ripping boards. It has a fence and a circular saw blade that protrudes from a flat and level table. The fence can be moved right and left, but it always stays parallel to the blade. This will allow you to take a board and slide it along the table so that you can cut its width perfectly using the fence as a width stopper while the blade cuts your desired width the entire length of the board.

However, the table saw usually has tracks built into the surface to place a miter gauge. This gauge allows a person to make a crosscut at different angles. The crosscut sled however, always sits 90 degrees from the blade and has a fence that extends across the cutting area so that small, perfect cuts are possible. It’s very useful for making cuts for smaller items, which a miter saw lacks due to its cutting area.

So, I put my first cross cut sled together and then I went ahead and built a box to roll my dice in.

Practically completed. It basically looks like this when done.

This project was incredibly fun. I cut the walls of the box in one solid piece, and then I cut out the grooves that will hold the bottom of the box in. Then I cut the edges at a 45 degree angle and pieced them together with glue.

I slid the base in after connecting two sides, and then I fit the entire thing together, gluing the project together.

For the base, I cut it seperate from the bottom of the box so that it can be removed. The reason for this inclusion was so that I could glue felt to the base. I used scrap wood from my crosscut sled so it’s a little heavier than I intended. Regardless, the box is awesome, and incredibly lucky. I rolled so many 20s the day that I first introduced it to the D&D group.

My awesome lucky die box. I will paint the sides with designs soon.

I’m pretty sure everyone is jealous.

~Michael C. Sahd, author of The Unfettered Child and Assassin Marked

Introduction

So I’m really bad at being consistent with blogs, posts, etc. However, in an attempt to maintain some sort of consistency, I’ve decided (with some urging from my wife) to create a schedule of weekly posts that are easy and more interesting to me than forcing myself to write a book review that I feel uninspired to write.

Not that I won’t continue to post book reviews at all, but by maintaining this schedule of posts, I can provide consistent content that I feel will be interesting to everyone, including myself, while also sprinkling the blog with other blog posts, like book reviews, when I feel moved to do so.

Hence, I present to you this list:

  • D&D Monday: Every week on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, I meet with some friends and/or our family members to play tabletop roleplaying games. I will share the highlights of the previous week’s adventures here on Mondays.
  • Wordless Wednesday: Every Wednesday, I’ll post an interesting picture or multiple interesting pictures.
  • Fun Friday: I’m a crafter and like to spend time in my woodshop creating or building something, and I will share that on these days.

Today’s post will include a little more than most so that I can give some background on the adventures and characters, and bring you up to date with what we are doing in each campaign.

Monday’s Campaign, Adventures in Wildemount:

When this campaign began, I was taking a long hiatus from Dungeons and Dragons. However, when my friends told me about it, it sounded fun, so I joined.

If you’ve watched or listened to Critical Role on Youtube or Twitch you’re probably already familiar with Wildemount. I ,on the other hand, had never heard of it except for seeing the Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount on the shelf at my step-son’s game shop.

When I joined, I intended to keep it light and silly, and so I present . . . Elohel Arohefel! What I didn’t expect was that Elohel would become one of my favorite characters.

I originally found this image on Pinterest, but, sadly, I don’t remember where or how I got it. I Photoshopped the colors to match that of a Genasi.

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Elohel Arohefel, and I am an air genasi. I grew up in the sleepy town of Trostenwald with my darling human mother, Fetia. My good-for-nothing father, Ihel Arohefel, left before I was born and the only thing I know about him is that he never comes around, and the fantastical tales my mother tells me about him. You see, he is a Djinn, and I suppose he is too busy to give his son the time of day, or to visit the woman he knocked up, and ditched to raise a child by herself.

Anyway, my mother had a booth that she would set up in downtown Trostenwald to sell her crafts and wares, so when I wasn’t schooling, I had free rein of the streets. Some might call me a friendly guy, quick to make friends. I suppose I can’t argue, befriending people has always come easy to me. This meant that I made friends with most of the urchins in Trostenwald, and we got into all kinds of mischief. I couldn’t tell you how much candy we pinched, but I always paid the vendor back later . . . well, if they deserved it. I was much less sympathetic if they treated my friends poorly.

When I saw my 14th summer, my mother finally remarried. His name was Wendel Tervaround, and he treated me very well. However, he didn’t like that I ran around with the troublemakers in town, and he got me involved in all kinds of sports and games. My favorites, however, were swimming, archery, and acrobatics.

At the age of 16, I met my good friend Lucien Baumbauch while playing Game Ball (A game where you kick a ball around and try to get it into the opposing team’s goal). Lucien was wonderful, and he introduced me to all the wealthy families in Trostenwald.

I suppose it’s at this point that I must admit that I’m a sucker for a pretty face. Already, I have had a few flings with some of my peers in the working class, for I found that girls really like athletes, especially friendly athletes. Although my step-father joked it was my blue skin.

After Lucien and I started hanging out, I went to many dinner parties, wine-tasting events (although I don’t drink), and other events only the wealthy were privy to, and I found that my charm attracted these people too. I learned quickly that the wealthy did not like their daughters participating in “flings.” So obviously, I had to be more careful. My friend, Dorymorn, the owner of The Leaky Tap Inn, started covering for me while I brought my lovers there in the evenings.

However, Trostenwald is not a large town, and these things have a way of spreading on the rumor mill. Fortunately, Lucian always covered for me, and I had the favor of the Baumbauch family, so even though I had a lot of angry fathers and mothers out there, they would only complain about it.

When I was 20, Lucien asked me to stop running around with every girl that smiled at me. I didn’t understand at the time why he suddenly became uptight about it. In fact, it felt to me that he was jealous. I couldn’t understand. I mean it’s not like I neglected our friendship, and he never seemed to be interested in any of the girls I dated, so what was the problem?

I was angry, so I stayed home for a few days and helped my mother and step-father out with their work.

Then one night, I was at the tavern with my family when Lucien came in and asked to talk to me outside. It was strange, because he was flustered and looked terrible, like he was on the verge of crying. I went outside with him, and stepped into the alley so we could talk. That was when he professed his love for me.

This floored me. I mean, we had been friends for four years at this point and I had no idea. Of course, after he said it, certain pieces of the puzzle started to fit, and I felt foolish for not recognizing it sooner. As he continued with his stammered (obviously prepared) speech, I could only stare at him with my jaw dropped. As I stood there staring while he stuttered his way through this confession, his resolve started to peter off, and he was about to go. Let me say, I surprised myself when I grabbed him and pulled him in for a passionate kiss. After that, he and I were inseparable once again, but discreet about our dalliance, at least with his family.

This continued for a couple years before his mother Gryselda discovered our relationship, and that is when trouble really started coming my way. All the others who were angry with me had renewed their grudge, and life started getting hard for me and my family. Lucien’s family forbade him to see me, and I was not allowed in places I had once been welcome. One night, someone tossed a burning bottle of liquor into my bedroom window.

I decided that I no longer had a choice. I had to leave. So, in the dead of night, I grabbed a few personal items and went south to the Menagerie Coast.

To get to the Coast, I had to travel through Yuyun Gorge, and that is where I came across a small group of adventurers sitting around a campfire. There was a dwarf named Grimdol, a very large Tabaxi named Jerry, and a bard named Fred. Fred invited me to sit with them at the fire, and in a friendly gesture, even gave me some gold. They explained to me that they were hired by the guards in Nicodranas to rid the Gorge of a band of goblins that were harassing travelers through the Yuyun Gorge.

I helped them dispatch the goblins and then I basically became a member of their team.

I had used this image for Elohel at some point too. I had changed the colors on this one as well. You can find the original here, by Erion Makuo.

So this post is much longer than I intended, even after I cut it down shorter than it had been. This is Elohel’s backstory, and I have many little adventures I can add from game play. so I will continue posting more of Elohel’s stories and my other characters’ tales as soon as I polish them up, and I won’t wait until next Monday to publish them.

~Michael C. Sahd, author of The Unfettered Child and Assassin Marked

Observe the image below! Soon, I intend for my website to feature a dark appearance to match the style of story I enjoy horrifying you with. The dilapidated tabletop covered with horror and dark fantasy themed objects will feature the links to other parts of the webpage.

With my skills in Photoshop, crafting such a website design is simple. However, I would rather create something that feels authentic, more realistic so to speak, so I’m going to hit up the photographer that helped me with the cover to The Unfettered Child, Jarrod Woods. Perhaps he and I can can come up with a photo that would serve this purpose and offer a more interactive and aesthetically pleasing website.

I hope this change will represent the first small step in my efforts to provide content that you will find interesting throughout the coming years, while also reflecting the darker nature of my tales. I will share more in the coming weeks, and update you on the progress of this new design.

What are your thoughts and opinions?

~Michael C. Sahd, author of The Unfettered Child and Assassin Marked

The Legend of Solis (Chronicles of the Enlai Book 2)The Legend of Solis by N.E. Michael
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In The Legend of Solis, the story continues from The Nexus Mirror, but the protagonists shift. Not that we don’t see some of our favorite characters from The Nexus Mirror, it’s just that the story doesn’t focus on them. We’re introduced to a new character, a very likeable character named Tobias Ford. This new character starts off as a soldier in the United States military, which has begun a campaign to hunt down the Enlai. As the story progresses, we find out that Tobias is a very powerful Enlai, and he switches sides.

Michael Noah’s last book, The Nexus Mirror, was good, but The Legend of Solis was great. I flew through it in a few days. A lot more action, and I really enjoyed the characters.

I may not have enjoyed it as much if I hadn’t read The Nexus Mirror, so I definitely recommend reading that first. I’m giving it 5 stars, as anyone who enjoys reading about superpowered beings will really enjoy this book.


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