Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Skyrim Déjà vu

I had just killed a giant frostbite spider in a dank, smelly, cobweb filled room deep underneath the long abandoned Bleak Falls Temple - long abandoned except for monsters and bandits! Panting from the effort, the tingle of spark and frostbite energy still in my fingertips, blood dripped down my right arm from a particularly bad gash. The pain was there, immense, but I was beyond it - still caught in the rush. I had killed the thing by myself; I used no weapons, just the combination of burning and freezing energy pouring from my hands. I had real power!

But adrenalin can only last so long when the hurly-burly is completed, and shortly the distant burning in my arm become an overbearing agony. I stumbled and half fell against a boulder nearby, gasping raggedly as my vision swam. I tried to focus, to examine the pain and gaping flesh. The wound was bad, but I could not feel the blackness of poison - it was only pain. Only pain. I forced myself to still, to relax, to breath deeply and let the pain run through me but not override me. I clenched my left fist, remembered the patterns I had learned for healing and visualised those patterns as white lines blossoming open in my left fist. The energy came, expanded to fill all the places taken by pain. I watched as the torn flesh of my arm knitted closed. I touched the skin, still wet with blood but now whole. I wiped it away with a ragged sleeve. My bloodied robe does not bother me.

Now that I can breathe easily again, I look at the huge corpse, and an idea comes to me. I want to try a new spell, something dangerous, something that still worries at my conscience: can I raise this corpse as a zombie? I have not tried such a thing before, and the idea seems sacrilegious. I studied the book back in town, chill creeping through me as I mouthed the words to myself. Dare I take this step? Will I have the strength to keep my honour intact, or will this be an irreversible act of depravity that damns my soul? Necromancy is dark magic; I have heard many stories of its practitioners, old before their time and twisted by unnatural desires. I do not want to be one one of those ghouls that obsesses over the realm of death.

No, I will not become that. I am more practical. I remember very well the spider getting close enough to rip at my flesh. I made a mistake: I let the enemy get close enough to use its formidable attack. I am no fighter, who can go toe to toe with an enemy. I need something in my way. What better something than the risen corpse of an enemy? My mother always said: "re-use, recycle."

So I began the spell, dark words dripping from my lips, a ball of energy forming in my clenched fist and visions of moist earth and midnight in my mind. I opened my fist. The energy shot towards the corpse. Immediately the inanimate thing began shaking, streams of blue energy circled the corpse, lifting it into the air. I took a frightened step back, but it was too late now: whatever infernal process was taking place could not be halted. The corpse turned over in mid-air. Sickeningly, the limbs of the spider un-curled, straightened. Then it came down, dead limbs taking weight once more. Multi faceted eyes stared at me, as un-readable in death as they were before. I could still smell burnt spider hair, still see the scorch marks and deep cold burns scored deep into its flesh. It swayed... waiting?

I took a step away - and with horror saw the thing lurch after me, it's movements essentially the same, but somewhat jerky. Mechanical almost. I took another step, then another. Like a thing tethered to my ankle it followed me. Spider bristles rubbed together making an eerie sound in the silence now that the form had no will of its own. My skin prickled with goosebumps, but the elation was in me again as I bore witness to my own power manifest.

The spell would only animate this corpse for a short time. I was sure that in this part of the mouldering temple, no other enemies would be present near the nest of such a creature. With no enemies to test my undead guardian, I determined to find out for myself what punishment it could take. Sparks and frost leapt from my hands again, striking the spider who just stood there. It swayed with the impact but did not resist, even as its carapace was further scorched and frozen.

I cannot describe the feeling of power that leapt in my veins, chords of an unearthly music deep in my soul. The thing was still standing after my short burst. I closed my eyes and grinned with the memory playing against the backs of my eyelids. And then heard it move. Shocked, I opened my eyes and watched as it lurched, and then again - towards me! Sick dread coursed through my gut. Whatever energy animates the thing and binds it to my movements, there is obviously a greater imperative. I circled away from the beast, I wondered if its animating energy would run out before my own... and readied myself to face the creature again.

Skyrim Déjà vu.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Birthright by Rick Partlow

Birthright [Kindle Edition]

Rick Partlow (Author)

Amazon page.


Ripping yarn, with lots of sci-fi action: guns, fisticuffs, space combat, some huggin' 'n' kissin', intrigue and some great bad guys and better good guys! There is plenty of rumination over legitimate moral issues, but this story isn't about that. In the end all the morality amounted to was this: loyalty, family and friendship wins the day. It's escapism, but really pulled me in.

This book needs a good edit: there were plenty of spelling and grammar mistakes here that distracted me just a little bit.

What I like most about this story is all the military sci-fi, weapons and enhanced humans - some great kick-ass characters. I would like to read more of Caleb.