Campaign Stories: Wiliken 11

“For weary warriors,” said the woman Grace. She closed her eyes and raised her hand. Wiliken watched as the freshly cut wound on his arm mended, inch by inch. If this woman had healed the githzerai and his companions before explaining her presence, it likely meant one thing: she expected battle and she expected it soon.

The woman’s companion was a half-elf wizard. Wiliken had encountered the likes before. His elf side guaranteed that he could harness the awesome power of nature and his human side promised that he had an unending need to talk about just how powerful he was. But perhaps this one was different, for Dusk got right to business.

“Jenkins has been scrying your mission,” he said, but his words were not directed at Wiliken. Wiliken assumed he was speaking with Douglas, and perhaps his comrade Jean-Baptiste. “He’s been trying to break through the wards that shield this place for some time now.”

“Your friend must be some powerful wizard to combat these wards from a distance,” Wiliken said.

“Powerful,” Douglas said. “Jenkins was the only one to walk away from the scourge of the Shining City.”

Wiliken flashed back to that fateful day, battling atop a hill as the Shining City was obliterated. Nobody could have survived that blast, he thought. But if the words his tentative ally had said were true, this wizard must have been a power of the highest rank.

While they spoke, the dragon-born Morgan had continued to swing the broadsword he’d acquired from the dragon-thing’s cage at the holding pens where masses of children were currently held captive. Grace walked over to a pillar, her steps nimble and precise, as if she were dancing, and removed a key ring that had been hanging there.

“Will these help?” she asked, a grin spreading across her face.

Morgan rushed to receive the keys from Grace and went to work opening the cages. The children filed out cautiously. The githzerai knew that they still did not appear comfortable with his presence, and this made sense. His son had been their captor after all. Some saw no purpose in leaving their prisons, and this also made sense. With the advent of these keys, the children had exchanged imprisonment in a tiny cage for imprisonment in a magically shielded sports arena.

Dusk noticed the disturbance first, and then Morgan. As Dusk muttered, trying to keep calm as he recited a counter-spell, and Morgan held his aching head, Wiliken knew why Grace had healed first and brought them up to date on the rescue second. The ward had been torn once again. Orange and black flames etched elaborate designs in the ground, frightening the children who either took shelter in their cages or moved as far away from the center of the room as possible.

From the dark teleportation circles emerged several a battalion of flame beasts and dust beasts and a towering minotaur with dark eyes.

Campaign Stories continues in Wiliken 12.

Project Karamazov: How-to Recording Guide

Whether you’re a public person trying to record your own sentence from The Brothers Karamazov or a member of #TeamKaramazov attempting to get some words from a celebrity, this guide should help you to figure out the easiest way to do so.


Voice Memos

Voice Memos has been a standard app on the iOS for as long as I can remember. It is fast, easy, and as of iOS7 the app looks much prettier as well. Here’s how to use it:

1. Touch the Voice Memos app.
2. Touch New Recording. The New Voice Memo window will open up and give you an option to name the voice memo. Choose a name, or leave it as New Recording, and touch OK.
3. Touch the record button. It is a big red circle with a white border. Recording begins immediately.
4. You may have noticed that as soon as you hit record, the big red circle transformed into a smaller red square, the universal sign for stop. As soon as you are done recording, touch the stop button.
5. Touch Done. The Save Voice Memo window will open, once again giving you a chance to name the voice memo. Once again, choose a name or leave it as is, and touch Save.
6. All of your recordings are listed in the white section on the bottom half of the screen. Touch the name that you assigned to your current recording.
7. You can listen to the recording by pressing the play button (a blue triangle), or you can send your recording via iMessage / text or email by clicking the square with the upward arrow coming from its center.

I will update this post every time I encounter a new method of audio recording that I have tested and know works. Let me know if you have a simple, highly accessible recording method that I should post here. (As you probably noticed, there is currently a big hole where the Android OS guide should be.)

Campaign Stories: Wiliken 10

Wiliken turned his thoughts to the company that he’d found himself in as the elevator slowly descended and he heard the grunts, howls and snorts of the animals below. The dragonborn Morgan had yet to reveal his motives for crashing Valgaman the Terrible’s ceremony, Jean-Baptiste was hard and fairly unreadable, and through all his speeches about responsibility, justice and protecting the weak, Douglas was certainly hiding something. The human had spoken to Wiliken as an arbiter of justice, as a king, or someone close to a king, might. He had accused the githzerai of being dangerous. Douglas had charmed all of them into fighting by his side, and yet the last ally he’d charmed, the boar, had been murdered defending the man. Wiliken supposed it was possible that they’d all die in the service of Douglas. Of course, despite his swagger and presumptuousness, Douglas might be a just man for all the githzerai could determine. Time will be the judge of this question, Wiliken thought.

The githzerai made first for his comrade Jurgen. When the deva noticed that Wiliken had joined him, he turned from the octo-bear and smirked.

“Nope,” Jurgen said. “He doesn’t know anything.”

Wiliken removed a small dirk from his satchel and held the blade up before the torchlight. Jurgen looked up, betraying the littlest bit of fright in his eyes. The githzerai lowered the blade precisely and cut a gash across his forearm. It stung horribly, but Wiliken did not flinch. Instead, as the blood began to trickle and drip onto the floor prompting the animals strewn about the room to focus their attention on him, Wiliken removed a small bowl from his satchel and collected his blood.

“If the creature wants blood, he’ll have none but mine,” Wiliken said. He handed the bowl to Jurgen. Jurgen appraised Wiliken. When he saw that his friend had wiped his blade and then sheathed it, he passed the bowl to the octo-bear, who grasped it expertly with one tentacled hand, poured the blood down into his mouth and threw the bowl back.

As the bowl slammed to the ground, Wiliken heard an uneasy grunt escape the mouth of the solemn dragonborn Morgan.

“What troubles you?” Wiliken asked. “Did the clattering bowl break your concentration?”

“There has been an opening in the wards,” Morgan said. Wiliken gathered that Morgan was referring to the wards Valgaman and company had cast in order to surround his menagerie in a force field, the same wards that locked them inside.

“That is great news,” Douglas said. The human had apparently returned from the pit without Wiliken’s notice. “A way out, perhaps.”

“Or Valgaman’s clean-up squad,” Wiliken suggested, darkly.

“Quickly, your blood,” Morgan said to Wiliken. “We need to free the children. If reinforcements are arriving, they’ll be fodder for a slaughter.”

“And my blood will stop this?”

Morgan seized Wiliken by the arm. The second time today, Wiliken thought as he struggled against the dragonborn’s greater strength. Certainly, the last, one way or another. With his other hand Morgan grabbed the bowl. Morgan squeezed the githzerai’s arm and with a dull ache, another stream of blood spilled into the bowl. To Wiliken’s surprise, Morgan dropped his head as soon as he released the githzerai, and apologized, before rushing the blood over to the dragon-like creature. The beast was curled in a ball, laying on the floor of the cage, but after he lapped up Wiliken’s blood, he arose, revealing his massive bulk in all its glory. The monster also revealed his treasure, a battered broad-sword that had been concealed beneath his girth, which the dragon creature kicked forward. Morgan grabbed the sword, uttered what Wiliken assumed to be his gratitude to the beast in draconic, and then ran into the next room.

The others followed Morgan. What they saw was a dragonborn who swung the sword heroically at the bars of a cage full of children, the sword clinking and then bouncing out of Morgan’s hands before he fell to his knees clutching his head in pain.

“Someone is ripping through the wards,” Morgan shouted. “Someone… powerful.”

No sooner had Morgan uttered these words than a red ornamental circle burned itself into the stone floor behind the dragonborn. Wiliken recognized this design as a teleportation circle. Two forms swirled together standing atop the circle, a man and a woman. Wiliken nocked an arrow, readying himself for his final battle. The man appeared to be a wizard of some sort, likely the being of great power that Morgan had spoken of. This could be my final battle, Wiliken thought.

Jean-Baptiste stepped forward and directly into Wiliken’s shot. “Grace?” he said. The woman stepped forward and embraced the druid. Wiliken lowered his bow. If the hard and wizened Jean-Baptiste had softened at the approach of the two new-comers, then they certainly were not Valgaman’s thugs.

“It appears the fates are on our side,” Jurgen said. The others agreed. However, Wiliken knew Jurgen, and he knew his friend did not believe in the fates. The deva’s sarcasm only loosely veiled his true thoughts, that they were not out of danger’s way, not yet.

Campaign Stories continues in Wiliken 11.

Campaign Stories: Wiliken 9

The holding area where Wiliken and company had found hundreds of caged children appeared to be a converted storage facility. Wiliken had expected to find an access tunnel leading to a surface-level loading dock, but sadly their escape would not be so easy. Everything entering Valgaman’s palace had to come in through the now impassible front entrance, rendering the building ineffectual in terms of daily operations but also highly useful as a trap for ones foes. The druid Jean-Baptiste had even attempted, in the form of a swarm of locusts, to navigate the ventilation ducts only to find the airways shielded as well.

As the githzerai’s allies milled about the complex looking for an overlooked means of escape, Wiliken analyzed the cages that housed the children. Were they as rusted and warped as the cage used to transport Jean-Baptiste to the surface, the children would have been freed long ago, but none of the trapped warriors had weapons powerful enough to cleave the metal bars.

After the lack of self-control he had shown in battle that day, Wiliken had thought to pass the time in meditation, but it had been so long since he’d last fortified his mind and the fear rippling off the myriad children at his mere presence was enough to break an expert trance. Wiliken told himself he was looking for a way to free the children, but instead he walked about idly, focused on his past and his guilt.

“A word, master githzerai?” asked Douglas. Wiliken hadn’t heard the human enter.

“I am at your service,” Wiliken responded, politely. “Not that I could deny your request. It wasn’t so long ago that you commanded your friends to restrain me.”

“I wasn’t certain I could trust you,” Douglas said. Wiliken remembered the disappointment he’d felt when his father-in-law Sazeran had expressed the same sentiment after returning the bow called “True Shot” to the githzerai. Somehow, Douglas’s mistrust didn’t have the same force to it.

“Do you trust me now?”

Douglas avoided responding to the githzerai’s question. “Walk with me,” he said.

Wiliken followed Douglas into the next room where Jurgen, Morgan and Jean-Baptiste – who had once again returned to his camel form – crouched near the animal cages, each trying to communicate with the beasts. Jurgen had hypothesized that the force field used to imprison them was encrypted with a password, so when the children didn’t seem to have the information they needed to escape he’d moved on to the next most intelligent life form, an enormous bear-like beast with tentacles for arms. Jurgen had called the creature an octo-bear, though Wiliken doubted that the deva was using the proper nomenclature. Dragonborn Morgan exchanged draconic words with a large dragon-like reptile and Jean-Baptiste stretched his camel-speak to its limits in hopes he could communicate with a regal looking sabre-toothed zebra. Wiliken considered their attempts to talk to the animals a fool’s errand, but it was certainly a better option than waiting for Valgaman’s allies to wipe them out.

“Inevitably, as you well understand, the issue of your son is going to come to a head,” Douglas said. “When it does, I don’t want to see my friend and I placed in a disadvantageous position. My grandfather often said that understanding is the best armor, so I wonder if you can help me to understand this son of yours.”

“I shall try my hardest to be of assistance.”

“Some of the children I interviewed recalled your son’s soldiers referring to him as Iiuza. Am I to believe that you are the father of the legendary githzerai whose actions lead to the fall of the Shining City?”

“Not at all,” Wiliken said. “From what I’ve been able to put together, my son Embrion was born close to the same moment the Shining City was destroyed. The word ‘Iiuza’ was never spoken in our house. You see, Iiuza is deep speech for ‘son of Iuz,’ a term coined by the first githzerai who entered this plane and used only to describe those they hated most. As Aaron grew older, he began to see kinship between himself and the mass murderer. It began with the coincidence of his birth. He later became blackguard-”

“Your son, blackguard?” Douglas said, appalled.

“Against my explicit orders,” Wiliken continued. The githzerai followed his interlocutor onto the freight elevator. Douglas pressed a button, and with a whir the lift jerkily ascended.

“Where I come from,” Douglas said, “a child’s deeds reflect on his father’s name.”

“Then I would certainly be exiled from your kingdom,” Wiliken responded.

“Is the same custom not true among the githzerai?”

The elevator emerged into the battle pit section of Valgaman’s menagerie and Douglas disembarked. The githzerai followed.

“To this matter, I must admit my ignorance,” Wiliken answered. “I, like my son, was raised among humans. Everything I know of my githzerai heritage I learned from books.”

The human and the githzerai walked several more paces together before they stopped.

“Do you know why I lead you here?” Douglas asked.

Wiliken looked down at the boar carcass beside him. There was blood on the sand, much of it his own.

“This is where you saved my life,” Wiliken responded. “Perhaps you wish me to take an oath on the blood debt I owe you.”

“The same grandfather I told you of earlier also used to say that when you save a life that life belongs to you,” Douglas said. “Not as a slave or a sacrifice, but as a responsibility. Perhaps you might liken this responsibility to that of a parent for a child. If your child saves another, then you are proud, for you have saved this person too. Similarly if your child has killed another. Your oath, I do not need, but I am responsible for you now. Every action you do from this moment on, I have condoned, for you have done it with the life I gave you. What I need from you is a reason to believe that you will save more lives than you end, that you will bring more good into this world than evil.”

“And if I do not convince you?”

“Then I will strike you dead in the very place where once I revived you.”

Wiliken’s anger flared, at Douglas’s self-righteous sense of justice but also at the boy’s belief that he could so easily end the battle-hardened githzerai. Certainly, it was not possible, not here, without his goons to back him up, not on the human’s best day.

Wiliken took a deep breath and focused his mind. “I will do my best,” he said. “Does that please you, master Douglas?”

Douglas stared at Wiliken for a moment. For a man of disguise, he displayed his emotions too easily across his face. The man was weighing his options, seriously considering both killing the githzerai and welcoming him as an ally. Wiliken stared back. Whatever his fate, he would face it without shame.

“It doesn’t,” Douglas said. “But I suppose it will have to do until we get out of this place.”

“And then?” Wiliken asked.

“Then,” Douglas said. “Then, I will be forced to make a difficult decision.”

Wiliken stared at Douglas a short while longer before dropping his gaze and walking back toward the elevator.

“One more thing, master githzerai,” Douglas said. “I’ll admit that my animal-speak is a bit rusty, but I believe your deva friend is offering to feed the octo-bear a child in exchange for information. Take my advice and steer your friend from that path, would you?”

Campaign Stories continues in Wiliken 10.