Sonnet No. 1 – The Fighting Sonnet (Part Four)



“Thy face itself, it puts me in a rage.

I must hold myself back with all my might,

Or else I’d call thee out right up on a stage.”

The bard looked up a few lines in and found Oswalt staring up at her in confusion, brow furrowed as if he were angry but wasn’t sure why.

“What is it about thee that irks me so?

Am I the only person who can see?

Now, foul wretch, prepare thyself for a blow,

For here comes a smackdown for thee, from me.”

Oswalt’s face had turned an unpleasant color like a raspberry a few stages past ripe. “How dare you call me a wretch?” He lunged at the bard, but she skipped backwards out of his grasp and continued.

“Thou art devil spawn, a child of Satan,

Horrid, ancient evil straight from scripture.

Thou would not be loved by gods most pagan;

Of things corrupt, thou’d be the victor.”

The towering man roared senselessly, scrabbling at the rock before him in an attempt to reach the bard. She hoped desperately that the mage would make his move soon, because she only had two lines left.

“I shall not call you out by thy crude name,

Return to the depths from whence thee – “

There was a bright flash, and then Oswalt’s roars were cut off abruptly. The silence was so complete that the bard could hear creaking, like that of falling tree, as Oswalt keeled over, revealing the slight frame of the mage.

” – came,” the bard finished, eyes wide. She grinned at the mage, who lowered his upraised hand and returned the grin with one of his own. Folding the sonnet up and stuffing it in her pocket, the bard dropped off the boulder and crouched to peer at the fallen giant. “Wow. What did you do to him?”

“Just a stunning spell amplified by three.” The mage stared down at his hands as if taken aback by his own power.

“He’ll be fine if we leave him? I mean, he was trying to harm us, but I don’t want him to be eaten by wolves or anything like that.”

“I imagine Oswalt will be awake before dusk has totally fallen, but just in case . . .” The mage flicked his wrist, and a few specks of light floated down from his fingers to Oswalt. “There. A simple protection spell.”

Still beaming, the bard turned to the mage and held up a palm. “We took this guy out. Teamwork for the win!”

The mage high-fived her. “Yeah, that was pretty awesome. And speaking of teamwork . . . we should probably fetch our other team member.”

They turned away from Oswalt and began to walk to where the mage had hidden the warrior.

“Do you think Oswalt will come after us again?” the bard asked.

The mage shook his head. “No, I think he’s finally learned not to mess with us.”

A voice came from the grass a few yards away, startling the bard. “Because you don’t mess with the Three Musketeers if you know what’s good for you!”

The mage led the bard off the path to where the warrior was curled up like a fawn in the grass. He grinned up at his companions, eyelids fluttering under the weight of sleep.

“I’m pretty sure that name has already been taken,” the bard told him. She bent to help the warrior clamber to his feet. “But I bet that between the three of us, we can come up with something just as catchy.”

“That should be a task to keep you awake for a few more hours, right?” the mage teased. “We need to reach Kulreach before nightfall if we want to stay on schedule.”

“I’ll give it . . .” The warrior blinked sleepily. “. . . two hours before you two are outright carrying me. . .”

With the warrior stumbling between the mage and the bard, the three companions retrieved their belongings and picked up their journey right where they had left off. But the bard, though she did not yet know it, had only just started her own journey into using words as weapons of her own.



Sonnet No. 1 – The Fighting Sonnet (Part Three)


“Ooo, a performance!” The warrior laughed delightedly. “Break a leg!”

“Or don’t,” the mage advised, and then the two disappeared into the gently rustling stalks of grass.

The bard rummaged through the mage’s bag for another moment before finding what she had been searching for – a crumpled, worn piece of paper. “Here we go . . .” she muttered under her breath, unfolding the paper and squinting at the words scrawled across it in purple and black ink. “Oh, yeah. This is perfect.”

What she held in her hands was not a spell of any kind, though a grimoire would certainly have been helpful (the mage would be a lot more useful if he had a way of guiding and expanding his talent). It was a sonnet of her own making from before she knew much about the form. Thus, it was certainly not the best she had ever written, but she believed – or at least hoped – that it would properly enrage the giant Oswalt.

At that point, Oswalt was quickly drawing nearer to the bard. When the warrior had originally caught sight of the man, he had been perhaps 500 yards away; now, the distance had shrunk to 100 yards. The bard realized that she did not want to face Oswalt on level ground. Projecting her voice would be easier from an elevated surface . . . and the man wouldn’t be able to step on her and squash her like a bug. So, she kicked her and her companions’ supplies into the grass where it would be hidden and set off down the path the way from which they had come, searching for a cluster of rocks she’d seen a few yards back.

Once Oswalt the Enormous Viking Man had finally caught up to the bard, she was sitting crosslegged on a medium-sized boulder that reached above the man’s shoulders. The bard gave him a bored look as if she’d been waiting for a long time. “There you are. I was beginning to wonder if you had gotten lost.”

The man stared at her flatly from the shadows of his helmet. In a voice that was nearly subsonic, he growled, “Where are they?”

“I think I know who you’re talking about, but you might have to be a bit more specific.” She imagined that the warrior would be rather proud of her for being sarcastic even in the face of this terrifying giant, who looked as though he could snap a full-grown tree like it was a twig.

“The one who can throw light and the golden one with the sword and the attitude.” Oswalt shifted from foot to foot, much like a bull would before charging. “Tell me where they are.”

“Oh, yes. They wanted me to give you a message.” The bard rose to her feet and shook out the piece of paper she held to unfold it. “Of course, being a bard, I had to take some creative liberties. So be aware that while the words are mine, the meaning behind them is one hundred percent from my two companions.”

“I have no time for this,” the man thundered. He took a step back, shielding his eyes with a forearm; the bard had wisely positioned herself so the sun was at her back. “I am not interested in your games.”

“This isn’t a game,” the bard retorted, seeming rather offended. “One might even argue that it’s a work of art. Just let me read it to you. Then I’ll tell you where they are.” She held the paper up, and in a clear, strong voice, read out her fighting sonnet.

“Good sir, I must ask: dost thou wish to fight?”

To Hear You Speak











I love words

And the only thing I love more than devouring them

By the handful

Is creating them.

Sometimes I throw them together haphazardly,

Sprinkle them wildly about myself;

Other times, I piece them together as carefully

As if I were assembling a living thing,

Each one a delicate cell with its own important purpose.


I love words,

So is it any wonder that I want to see

What you do with them?

I do not know much about you,

But I think

To hear you speak

Would tell me everything I need.

Sonnet No. 1 – The Fighting Sonnet (Part Two)

silhouette of Viking warrior

By tiarshuspendragon

The mage let his head fall into his hands, seriously considering forcing the warrior to take a nap.

However, the bard popped up and squinted against the sun. “You know, I’ve never seen this viking dude, because I was busy buying food while you guys were kicking his butt. So I’m not gonna miss out on the off chance that he actually is – ” The bard’s jaw dropped mid-sentence. “Oh, wow. That guy is more bear than man.”

“Ah, good, so he’s not a hallucination.” The warrior grinned broadly, pleased with himself, as the mage helped him to his feet. As he caught sight of the large man again, he frowned slightly. “Or . . . not good. Not good, because that means he’s here. And wants to attack us.”

“I would want to attack us if I were him. You went a bit over the top with the creative insults,” the mage remarked, giving the warrior a dry look.

The bard snickered. “Now those I heard. But are we going to battle him this time? I have a feeling our main fighter – ” (a pointed look at the warrior) ” – isn’t really up for fighting.”

“I beg to differ!” The warrior bent over, picked up what he must have thought was his sword (it was, in fact, a stick, and not even a very pointy one), and brandished it in front of him. His face went pale from standing up too fast and he swayed on his feet.

The mage grabbed him before he could fall. With a Charismatic Grin™, the warrior slung an arm over his friend’s shoulders for support. “See? I’m perfectly fine. Able bodied warrior, right here.”

“I see what you mean,” the mage replied to the bard, ignoring the protests of the boy he was half carrying by that point. “You and I are distance fighters more than anything, which works best when we have someone else engaging the enemy up close. Unfortunately, our warrior here is the one who performs best in close combat. So I suppose we need a different plan.”

Frowning, the bard watched as Oswalt the Unfriendly Viking Man approached. The overly muscular man seemed to be in no hurry, which only made him all the more intimidating. “Hey – did the insults rile him up enough to make his fighting sloppy?”

“I think so . . .” The mage’s lips pursed as he tried to remember.

“They made him very angry,” the warrior put in smugly. He leaned toward the bard and whispered, “Especially when I made fun of his tiny, adorable battle axe.”

A grin started to form on the bard’s face. “Good, then I have an idea – no, not about the axe, you sleep-deprived weirdo – but you guys are just going to have to trust me and go with it.”

“Done and done.” The mage shifted his weight slightly (the warrior was not exactly light). “Just going with it is our main way of doing things. So what do you need us to do?”

Stooping over, the bard picked up the mage’s bag from the ground. “Well, I’ll be needing this. You should probably put our sleepy friend somewhere – ” (the bard gestured vaguely away from the path) ” – where he’ll be safe, because I’m going to need you, dear mage, to sneak up close to that behemoth. I’ll try to distract him. When he seems angry enough, strike as hard and fast as you can, and then get the heck out of there. Not that I doubt your strength or anything, but I haven’t fought this guy. I don’t know if one hit will bring him down.”

“It may and it may not,” the mage said grimly. “It all depends on whether he’s fully healed from our last encounter. But we’ll figure it out, one way or another.” He moved to duck into the surrounding tall grass, dragging the warrior with him; but before he did, he paused and turned back to the bard. “May I ask how you plan to distract Oswalt?”

The bard only gave him a smirk. “Oh, you’ll hear. I do hope you’ll enjoy the show.”

Sonnet No. 1: The Fighting Sonnet (Part One)

Beautiful Forest

By: tiarshuspendragon

They were hot, they were hungry, and one of them was convinced that they were being pursued by a flock of angry sparrows.

Hint: it was not the mage or the bard.

“I swear,” the warrior said for what was possibly the seventh time that day, “that I keep seeing their tiny little heads pop up in the grass around us.” He crouched down beside a patch of tall grass – one that looked like every other in the two mile stretch of open grassland between the northern and southern halves of the Deomorian Wood – and peered at it closely. “Just waiting to peck out our brains, they are.”

His companions looked on, bemused. “I told you we shouldn’t have let him take two shifts at watch in a row last night,” the bard muttered to the mage. “Especially after all of us stayed up through the first shift of the night.”

The mage sighed.

Suddenly, the warrior shot up, pointing at a spot some two hundred feet from where they stood. “See, there’s another one! Oh, curses – they have the groundhogs on their side.” He turned to his companions, eyes bleary. “It’s been nice knowing you, mates. We’re done for.”

The other two exchanged a glance. “How about lunch?” the mage offered, already shifting his bag off his shoulder. “I think we all need a rest.”

Giving the warrior a sideways glance, the bard sunk to the ground in a crosslegged position, not even bothering to step off the path. “Agreed.”

Though he continued to throw suspicious glares over his shoulder, the warrior sat down next to the bard and took a swig from the canteen in his satchel.

The mage situated himself on the ground across from the other two, creating a rather lopsided triangle. He threw his bag in the center and opened its flap, revealing enough food for a veritable feast. There were apples of red and green and gold, biscuits that looked as soft as the day they’d been made, juicy blackberries, some sort of dried jerky, and –

“Chocolate!” the warrior exclaimed, diving for the wrapped package. He had perked up at the sight of all the food, forgetting – if only temporarily – about the sparrows and groundhogs. Looking up at the mage and cradling the precious treat to his chest, he asked, “Have I ever told you that you’re my favorite?”

The bard laughed, grabbing a few pieces of jerky. “That’s harsh.”

Already shoving chocolate in his mouth, the warrior managed to spit out, “Ah, come on, man. It’s not you. It’s actually not me, either.” He gestured to his mouth. “It’s the chocolate.”

The three companions inhaled their food, not having enough patience to pace themselves. It was all too delicious, and they hadn’t eaten anything since they’d woken up that morning. Afterwards, the three were very full but content, much more relaxed than before.

Until the warrior’s eyes went wide, staring across the remaining mile of grasslands and into the shadows of the trees. He tried to scramble onto his knees in order to better see over the tall grass, but nearly lost his balance in the attempt.

Brow furrowed, the mage looked at him with concern. “What’s wrong?” Both he and the bard knew that whatever the warrior was seeing was likely a figment of his imagination, but there was such a look of concern on the warrior’s face that he couldn’t help but ask.

“I know you’re not going to believe me,” the warrior said. “But do you remember that giant, viking-raider-looking guy we drove out of a village last week?”

Nods from his companions.

“Yeah, well, he’s coming out of the woods up ahead and he doesn’t look too happy.”

The Beginning of Something . . . Sketchy – Part 2


By: tiarshuspendragon

The top beaver took off the hat that had been somehow obscuring his whiskered face, then said, “I know you’re not here to catch up, Imelda. So, what drove you to visit the Bruxtan brothers?”

“Certainly not the weather down here, ” the woman said, fixing her hair with the aid of a half mirror hanging beside the door. “I swear, I can feel my hair curling in this wretched humidity.”

The bottom beaver tapped his finger on an imaginary watch. “You had better not be here just to waste our time. We have a client who needs us to be out in the main lobby, monitoring a guest.”

Putting a last stray strand of hair back into place, Imelda turned back to the beaver. “There’s a job.”

“There’s always a job,” the top beaver snorted. “A guy just has to know where to look.”

“This one is special.”

The brothers would have laughed if someone had told them that under normal circumstances; laughed and walked away. But this was Imelda talking, and she’d been in the business for what – 25, 30 years? She was as much of a professional as one could get, her reputation spotless in all the right places.

“Special?” The middle brother repeated.

The woman brushed a bit of lint off one of her tidy gloves as if she were talking to them over tea. “Hapsfeld sent me.”

There was a sudden moment of absolute silence in the room – music could be heard from the lobby, slight strains slipping beneath the door.

Finally, the top brother managed to say, “No, Hapsfeld’s dead. He died five years ago.”

Imelda shrugged. “I believed the same. But he isn’t. He didn’t.” She bent over and slipped off her shoe, pulled the folded up piece of paper from its place at the bottom. The woman handed the paper to the top beaver and crossed her arms. “And there’s your proof.”

The beaver looked down at the paper with suspicion written all over his face. His eyes grew wide as he unfolded it and stared at its contents; then he passed it down to his brothers, who gaped at it in awe. The bottom brother folded the paper back up again before handing it back to the woman and asking, “So he’s back in the business?”

“Oh yes,” Imelda replied, slipping the paper back under her foot. “And he’s ready to challenge the chain of command.”

That put an eager gleam in the eyes of the brothers. The middle one asked, “He wants us for this job, then?”

“Your names were among the first on the list. But I don’t have the authority to give you any more information than that.”

After a moment of deliberation, the top brother announced, “We’ll take the offer. Our current job isn’t worth half as much as Hapsfeld’s is gonna be. We want in.”

Imelda gave a thin-lipped smile. “Good. I didn’t think you three would take much convincing. You’re all intelligent beings. Now, if you’re ready . . . let’s go retrieve the others.”

The Beginning of Something . . . Sketchy – Part One


By: Tiarshuspendragon

The woman with the knife hidden under her skirt and the folded square of paper in the sole of her shoe had short blonde hair, cut at a sharp angle. Of course, blonde covers such a variety of shades that to simply describe her hair as blond would not create a decent mental picture. To be more specific, her locks were the color of a field of dry grass, brittle from the summer’s heat. The words dry and brittle would be equally as effective in describing how she presented herself, from the purse of her lips to her ramrod straight posture. She slid through the doors of the museum and into the middle of the gala without so much as a glance from security. It was easy to slip in among the other attendees, as long as one was dressed to the nines and looked the same as the rest.

A quick stop to chat with a few women in sparkling dresses and down a glass of water snagged from a passing waiter. There was no point in rushing, so she wandered about as if she’d known these people for years and actually cared about whatever reason for which the gala had been thrown. After a few passes around the lobby, she spotted who she’d been looking for, a figure half in the shadows by a grand fountain gilt with gold. He wore a dark jacket and was speaking with a man who wore an air of self importance that fit him more snugly than the waistcoat that stretched across his sizable middle. The woman waited, patient as ever, until the rotund man departed, having caught sight of a young woman bedecked in jewelry of silver and platinum. Once her person of interest was alone, she delicately picked her way through the crowd toward him.”Quite a lavish gala, isn’t it?” She asked, in lieu of an introduction. “A beautiful venue in a beautiful city.”

He responded, “Yes, but the weather here has been a bit chilly.”

The statement was utterly false – it was the middle of the summer, the temperature in the mid-nineties – but it told her that he knew who she was. A password of sorts.

“I’ve heard from some of the other guests that it is cooler in the other rooms,” the woman said, inclining her head toward a door not five feet away. “Shall we?”

The man started to protest, craning his neck to follow the form of the waistcoated man he’d been speaking to before. Even so, she pulled the man in the dark coat into an empty room, away from the noise and heat of the few hundred other party goers; most importantly, away from the few that were bound to nose about in what didn’t concern them. The woman shut the door firmly, then turned about, her demeanor abruptly changing from one who considers themselves small and beneath notice to that of someone confident in their own abilities. “You can drop the cover now,” she said in a clipped tone.

The man shrugged off his coat and hung it over the back of a chair – revealing three beavers, each standing upon the shoulders of the one below.