Thursday, 22 June 2017

Ghost in the Shell: The Scarlett Johansson Version

There must be no jails in the future, because Section 9 is all about killing.

Based on an anime of the same name this movie cherry picks a bunch of stories from the original content and mashes it up into one narrative, much like how the previously Asian protagonist is put back piecemeal with a pinch of amnesia into Scarlett Johansson. There are certainly worse bodies to get resurrected into!

I'm kinda glad none of the others wear a white, form squeezing body suit. :P

As expected from a GITS story it has a terrorist group, a corrupt company, a bunch of fight scenes and a lot of eye candy. I mean other eye candy, apart from Scarlett. Section 9 is well represented too, with a good choice for Batou, an almost cameo for Saitou and Togusa, and an elderly yet authoritative Aramaki. Who only speaks Japanese, while the rest of the cast speaks English. Yeah that did bug me a bit. The meshing of stories also made for some plot holes.

Also, by making trying to make this somewhat kid friendly by removing the gore and nudity (and blood) featured in the animated counterpart - it does make it fall short to GITS veterans. The futuristic capacity also had some ludicrous looking moments with things that don't translate well into real life. Keep your eyes open for people wearing ridiculous bubble helmets filled with ads. Even the opening surgical staff could probably not see where they were going at all.

So, not as entertaining as the originals but still worth a watch if nothing better is on. I give it 2.5 spider tanks out of 5. Would I watch it again? I'd probably give my consent, but not anytime soon.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Neverwinter: Up the River

After that lengthy campaign in TESO, I've found myself back at Neverwinter with the new grind of the River District. So far, it has been pretty entertaining investigating the conclave of Far Realm mages acting as the antagonists in this module - all while trying to dig up lost riches for the now broke Lord Neverember.

It's certainly much better than fishing in the Sea of Moving Ice, which is what ultimately led me to rage-quit take a break in the first place. Slightly regretting that now as it just means I have more currencies to grind up on. It does help that I finally got a purple mount (thank you Siege event for that free one) because damn, speed makes things more bearable. If you are only spending on one thing in the game, get the fastest mount you can afford.

Dragonarm 2017

My guild, Dragonarm, is still small but have made much headway with the Stronghold in my absence - same with the rest of the Greycloak Alliance, with the Greycloaks themselves nearing the max level 20! I also quite enjoy the addition of the Marauder event, even if it's only worth doing once a week, as it gives the alliance yet another avenue for cooperative play.

It comes as no surprise, during our last guild event, where we six manned a Marauder attack, that I am pretty much the weakest now of my team. Haha. I seriously only out DPSed the Gray's dedicated healer alt. Look at those numbers!

Ah well, I guess I'll just say I'm playing the game on "hard mode". :P

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Today I Smiled: Throttling Back

Phew, finally my Creative Writing Experiment is finished! While it was kinda fun to do, it also did take a lot of work doing it - not to mention a gap of around a year halfway through. I think I'll be returning to my simpler writing styles like in my Skyrim journal, which is also finished for now. This isn't the end of my stories though, as I still have many "survivors" on my list who need a chance to shine. :P

I will be throttling back my post frequency though. I know I keep threatening to do it and never actually do it, but this time I actually want to focus on a few other projects so don't be surprised if I start only posting once or twice a week for awhile. When said "other things" are out of the way, I will revisit the post scheduling.

What those other projects are? Well, I'd like to make more headway with this Game 13 thing that seems to keep going through cycles of re imagining / re configuring. There's also a tiny bit more story coming to Tales at the Bonfire when I get it written. Lastly I'd also like a bit more time to grind in Neverwinter since I'm way "behind" (behind who or what, I'm not really sure, probably "everyone" is a suitable answer), but I'd like to be ready for dinosaurs. ^_^

Friday, 16 June 2017

Nameless: The Last Ship

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

"Lord Warrior," said the novice acolyte as he gave a hurried genuflect. "Those monsters have breached the walls, we must evacuate now!"

Gigal nodded, looking one last time at Nessa's portrait before throwing a large tarp over it. The sounds of battle within the halls of this final stand had rattled the remainder of the Shadowstar cultists within. Gigal's small retinue of guards moved quickly to take her towards the Northern tunnel, an escape route designed by the old King that would take them right to the docks.

"What of the Urn?" asked Gigal without breaking her stride.

"It's already being ferried with the first boat to the master," replied one of her retinue - who was suddenly cut down by a large battle axe. A crazed, bald dwarf sprang from the adjoining corridor - making short work of more of Gigal's guards, who were unable to fight back effectively having heard what happens the worms within their enemy touch their skin.

As the last of her allies fell, Gigal charged forth herself in a full sprint - surprising her diminutive opponent as she sprang off a nearby wall to sail right over his attack. He spun around just in time to see the arrow that would pierce his brain and kill his body. Gigal didn't hesitate to flee, and picked up the pace through the tunnel and straight to the docks which were now on fire.

The few remaining guards were being overwhelmed here, so without hesitation Gigal spotted the closest ferry that still seemed operational and raced to it. Weaving and dodging past the clumsy worm infected that noticed her. Once she was on the boat, she set sail immediately - catching the tide that would pull her vessel out to sea, and out of reach of the deep ones.

She was fortunate that the cultists had begun loading rations on board, for she would be at out at sea - alone - for longer than she liked. It was during those days of lonely drifting that her mind thought of Nessa with a pang of regret.

When she finally made land, all her searching for the Shadowstar cultists led to nothing, as if they had all packed up and gone into hiding. After a captive for so long, this freedom felt terrifying. Her only skills were that of combat though, so when she learned of a caravan hiring adventurers to clear out some "cursed" hamlet, she signed up immediately.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Nameless: Pretty as a Picture

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

All that was left of Silvain.

Nessa blinked back the tears as she watched her last ally turn into dust. Filled with rage she turned to the slowly approaching  Lord Warrior, whose helmet was now missing. A mess of long blonde hair contrasted against the pitch black armor and Nessa was surprised that the Lord Warrior had a familiar, feminine face.

"Gigal?" she asked with more than a hint of confusion.

"Hello sister," replied her old arena team mate, as she suddenly sprinted forward into an attack. Her emotions unchecked, Nessa countered it sluggishly and was too slow to evade the follow up, catching an armored shin to the face, knocking her out cold. When Nessa regained consciousness,  she found herself stripped of all her gear, her ankles and wrists chained to a single point to the floor behind her.

More troubling was that she found herself in an intricate magical cage, facing a canvas filled with monstrous shapes. Gigal stood nearby but she was busy talking with one of her Shadowstar minions while a few others chanted in an unknown tongue around her. Finally Gigal turned around as the panicked minion left the room in a hurry.

"Congratulations," she said as her gaze locked with Nessa's. "Thanks to your interference by damaging the urn, the plans of the Shadowstar here are ruined for now. Furthermore, with the costly battle against the deep ones that I can't help but thing you had a hand in starting - they are withdrawing entirely from this region."

"Gigal... why? Why are you helping them!?" asked Nessa angrily.

"Because they helped me escape. They gave me the the opportunity and the means to take down Tectuk and I did. Most importantly, because they didn't leave me behind." Nessa felt that last one was definitely directed at her. Gigal continued, "So now I'm going to do what the rest of you did to me. Your friend Jann was very forthcoming with his imprisonment techniques. I'm told time moves much slower for those inside a painting."

"Wait, Gigal... you can't be serious."

"You left me in a place where I was regularly abused and had to fight for my life. Now you will get to experience that. Forever."

"Please, no! Let me go, you can't do this!" begged Nessa.

With her middle finger raised in a final gesture to her captive, Gigal didn't even break her gaze as she gave the command to proceed. Nessa screamed as a bright flash of light engulfed her, and as it faded she was gone from her shackles and from the cage - transported into the picture with the horrible creatures within.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Nameless: The Answer to Unasked Questions

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

Silvain spent most of her life among the tomes and mystical volumes of the Veiled Alliance library, and was always one of those people who look for answers to things no one had asked. A few such questions were: if the elemental urn is so dangerous, why can't it be destroyed? Can it even be destroyed in the first place?

With the magic of the artifacts surging around her, she strummed the lyre - channeling all the power at her disposal - in hopes of finding those answers. The tumultuous blast of energy was far greater than when Jann used the instrument, and the Lord Warrior tumbled out of the way just in time. To Silvain it didn't matter though - she was targeting the urn.

She didn't care that the cup, the seal and the lyre had begun disintegrating around her. She didn't care that her skin began to char from the inside from the overwhelming power that went through her. These, she knew would happen. As she her body slowly began to turn into ash she remained unmoving and focused on the seemingly untouched urn which, along with its pedestal, stood so out of place from the destruction around it.

And then it happened... the urn cracked... and cracked some more. And then a little piece of the top shattered... Silvain sighed with a small smile as she vaporized completely into nothingness. Everything she sacrificed in that attack had merely damaged the urn, but there in her final moments, she found her answer. If the urn could be damaged, it could be destroyed.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Nameless: Explosive Volume

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

With a flick of his wrist, Jann sent a huge ball of flame hurtling towards the three women but the spell exploded harmlessly against the shield generated by the Seal of Fire Silvain held up in front of it. The magic shield did nothing to stop the Lord Warrior's arrow though, which painfully pierced through her extended forearm, forcing her to drop the artifact.

As Nessa rushed their black armored foe, parrying more arrows with her shield, Fayina threw Rhone's spear at Jann - but she missed as the goateed mage hopped down from his perch while he simultaneously produced an ornate looking lyre. With a single strum, violent energies shot forth towards his targets. All Fayina could do was push Silvain out of the way as the magic from the lyre dismembered her in a sudden, violent explosion of blood and entrails.

Wide-eyed, Silvain used her good hand to conjure a wall of stone which blocked the next chord strummed by Jann. Through the debris of the crumbling wall, he didn't notice that the timid librarian had also magically flung a tiny few tiny rocks in his direction. The pebbles hit the strings of his instrument and to his horror, made it sound - firing the energy in his direction and completely obliterating him and the pillar he had jumped down from.

Meanwhile, Nessa had closed the distance and cut through the Lord Warrior's bow with her sword in a furious, flurry of attacks. This didn't stop her opponent though, who proceeded to fight unarmed - evading and deflecting Nessa's sword strikes and skillfully disarming and throwing her across the garden plaza with a surprising, spinning counter.

It was only at that moment that Lord Warrior spotted Silvain crouched to one side on some sort of impromtu magic circle, with the cup of life and the seal of fire at her feet and the lyre in her hands.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Nameless: Evil Intent

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

The night sky showed Silvain that they were almost out of time.

The city was more alert than usual the next morning, with armed Shadowstar soldiers aggressively patrolling the streets and what few civilians were about were hurriedly ushured into their homes. This made it more difficult for Fayina, Nessa and Silvain to sneak closer to the main frustum where the Lord Warrior was said to reside, but it soon became clear that they were not the only threats active that day.

The trio watched from a small, shaded alley as the city guardsmen clashed against a large group of ragged individuals. Some looked like disheveled miners, others wore the familiar greenish garb of the tree folk. One of them was a splitting image of Buster, down to his axe. Silvain held Nessa back as she began to move to assist them, not just because they had a more important mission - but more because this ragtag group attacked with no strategy. No tactics.

Yet for each one slain, the guards seemed to panic more - as if terrified of the blood being spilled around them. Soon they started fighting among themselves as well. While Nessa and Silvain squinted to try better understand what was happening, Fayina called their attention with a loud whisper.

"Now is our chance."

With all the guards now attending the commotion, the grand stairs to the pyramid was clear. With a deep breath, the trio sprinted across the open causeway and into the main Shadowstar headquarters. There was no looking back now

They moved quickly and quietly along the cold marble floor of the interior, counting themselves lucky as the lack of defenses continued inside. That is, until they reached a large open air garden in the center of the building. There, on a small altar was the elemental urn and beside it stood a menacing figure in black armor holding a wicked bow. The Lord Warrior was waiting for them.

"Right on time!" exclaimed a voice familiar to Nessa, as a thin man with a long goatee stood up from his perch atop a nearby decorative pillar. Jann smiled at them with evil intent.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Nameless: Plan B

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

Silvain sprung awake as she heard the wooden door open, rolling out of the small cot and grabbing her knife of the small bedside table. Underneath the very same table was a small sack containing the Cup of Life - rewarded to her and Fayina for rescuing the forest folk just a few days ago with the promise of its return once the elemental urn was retrieved from the Lord Warrior.

Silvain was living proof that the artifact worked, having healed the spear wound in her side completely. Alas, its healing properties could not restore the dead, leaving many of the forest folk and Silvain's comrades in shallow graves.

Peeking around the corner from the back room she saw there was no need to worry, as Fayina was already hugging the familiar figure that had just entered... it was Nessa, and in her good hand she held a peculiar stone which Silvain recognized from the books in the old library. The seal of fire.

"Where is everyone else?" Nessa asked.

"We're it," answered Silvain as she came out of from behind the door. "And we're almost out of time. Whatever the Shadowstar are planning to do with the urn is probably going to happen in the next few days when the stars align once more."

Nessa grimly nodded. "Then we do what I wanted to do in the first place. Tomorrow, we go after the Lord Warrior and stop whatever those cultists are trying to do."

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Nameless: Remembrance

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

While escaping the volcano was equal parts terrifying and tiring, watching the temple and a good number of its residents get swallowed by the rising lava was heart breaking. There was nothing Nessa could do or say as Rhone and less than a handful of her soldiers watched and cried from their safe vantage point.

It was surprising to see them cry at all.

As if suddenly remembering she was there, Rhone inhaled sharply and stood up. "You must leave the seal," she said in a tone unmistakable as a demand. Her loyal soldiers were a little slower to take the cue, but also wiped their tears away to face the human with spears and shields at the ready.

"Rhone, I need..."

"That is the last piece of our temple," interrupted the captain. "The last piece of who we were. You cannot take it. We will not let you. I will not let you."

"Don't do this," warned Nessa as the soldiers began advancing on her.

"You leave us no..."

Before Rhone could finish her sentence Nessa's throwing dagger had plunged into one of her bulging, black eyes - piercing her brain and killing the captain out right. With the advantage of surprise she then spun into the nearest soldier, parrying his spear with her blade and beheading him on the second turn.

The remaining two lizards then both attacked, one lunging forward and one leaping with a downward strike, both missing as Nessa unexpectedly shifted direction and rolled past them - severing the tail of the lunger on her way past. Off balance, he made for easy prey as the gladiatrix swept behind him - using him as a shield from the spear of his comrade, much to his dismay.

With a well timed shove, Nessa impaled the tailless one onto the his ally's weapon and then made quick work of the last disarmed foe. With all of her opponents dead, she collected Rhone's spear as a remembrance and began the long trek back to the city.

Friday, 9 June 2017

TESO: Forlorn Crags

Adventures of Skyrim - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

Having defeated Molag Bal, I venture next to the vast expanse known as Craglorn where a lot of my crafted goods have been being sent. A new threat has arrived in this zone: Aliens Celestials. Namely the Celestial Serpent, who managed to corrupt the Celestial Mage and Celestial Warrior. A band known as the Star Gazers, asks that I help them put these things back in the sky where they belong.

Easier said than done though as this zone is intended for group content, excluding me from at least 70% of the area. Still, I do manage to cleanse the Warrior's Apex stone, and assist a time traveling soldier to destroy an ancient emperor who uses terracotta warriors.

I also slam the local Iron Orcs, who have a penchant for feeding victims to their troll pets. After slaying their entire leadership structure I mess with the Scaled Court's research in making new beasties (Mantikora) and atronarchs (six armed air elemental)! Ultimately I also save the Celestial Thief from the Serpent's grasp, forcing the Serpent celestial to withdraw.

Ugly beasties.

Alas the actual final fight against it is blocked behind a "Trial" gate (requires team) so I doubt I'll ever get to see that. Worth noting the ATITD Pilgrimage idea is alive here - in the form of visiting six delves within two hours. Pretty cool, and still easier than the ATITD version! 

Having done most of the available content (I don't have the DLCs) I think it's time I take a well earned break, and thanks to one merc band in this region being called the Greycloaks, I have a good idea of where I'm headed back to.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

MMOs: TESO Level Scaling

[Added to my MMO Design folder.]

Years ago I did a post about the problem with levels in an MMO. Having now experienced the Elder Scrolls Online, I now get to see the other / another side to it and that is level scaling.

Much like in Skyrim, the bad guys always match your level - irrespective of map zone. This is a truer scaling than what Guild Wars 2 tried to do, where a level 70 who is "down leveled" in a lower level zone can still steamroll everything. Here's a quick Pro/Con tongue in cheek list for what TESO does:

Pros: You can now go in any direction immediately and not his "Foe Walls" to your quest progression. Wandering into a level 60 zone while level 5? No problem! Those enemies will hold their punches for you. Also, this means your friend who just joined the game can come into that uber, end of game quest with you. Nice!

Cons: Missed the tutorial happy cake dungeon (that doesn't exist - just my example) and are going back as a max level character? Expect those tutorial monsters to have a lot of new DPS heavy moves and hundreds more HP - enough to actually challenge you! Also, congrats - you just finished the game after 3 months? The guy next to you finished it in 1 day... while level 5.

I can understand why people both like and dislike the system, and while I don't mind it since I do prefer people to be able to immediately play together in games, I still think having no "over all" levels is the best approach.

By that I mean, don't attach Life or HP to levels, or if you must make it by the smallest of fractions. A new player gets 100hp. And end of game character might have 110 at most. Getting hit by a bus, or more likely stabbed with a sword, should still one shot either.

And don't even get me started about level based gear either. Blargh.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

TESO: Molag Bal

Adventures of Skyrim - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

Beyond the torture chamber is the path up to Molag Bal's fortress, and by powering up the magic amulet via absorbing the life of the prophet, I gain a temporary boost of super saiyan strength - literally one shotting the armies of dremora that try get in my way. Even flights of demon dragons and thick fortress walls are no match as I blast my way up the mountain to the towering daedric prince trying to throw down meteors at me.

I like how my pet monkey is just casually following me at this part.

I get up to him and blast him down to a more manageable size, fight him in a more standard fashion and ultimately chop off both his arms! This forces Molag Bal to flee and Meridia is kind enough to restore my missing soul as a reward.

Winning pose!

With that victory, Lyris and Sai head off to the sunset together and Abnur, who is missing, is reported (by Meridia no less) to have taken the cheat amulet with him to Cyrodiil for his own use - though he won't be able to do anything with it for a few generations. Now re-souled I am free to do whatever I want, and I get a nice cauldron hat for my trouble. I suppose chasing Tharn into Cyrodiil is an idea, but that's all PvP land. Regardless, main quest complete!

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Nameless: Unsealed

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

The shaking was getting worse as Nessa followed Rhone's lizard forces down the spiraling stairs in what seemed to be the very heart of the volcano itself - a huge spacious cavern with bubbling lava, ravenously consuming the rocks falling onto its molten surface. Amidst the chaos, a battalion of Shadowstar soldiers fought against the Verini guards.

"Quickly!" hissed Rhone to her column of warriors. "We must return the seal to pacify the great fire god!"

With a primal roar the lizardman phalanx surged forward with Nessa and Ladel bringing up the rear. Past the melee, Nessa spotted the caped Shadowstar commander barking orders at his troops as he retreated further into the volcano. Tucked under his arm was an ancient circular stone, no doubt the seal of fire itself! Unwilling to let the artifact slip away, she signaled to Ladel and the two of them broke off from the main combat across some precarious looking stones slowly sinking into the caldera.

It was a dangerous shortcut, especially for the rotund Ladel, but one that paid off as they soon ran into the Commander and his two guards, both of whom where caught by surprise as Nessa ran one through with her sword while Ladel manhandled the second one, throwing the screaming man into the lava.

"Stay back," the commander began as he threatened to drop the seal into the magma. Nessa had anticipated this though and instinctively rolled past him - severing his extended arm and catching the artifact with her shield hand - which in itself was a dexterous feat since she only had three fingers on it. Ladel took the opportunity to bash the now one armed man, sending him reeling backwards and forcing him to jump to another rock.

"Go," said Ladel to Nessa. "I've got this." The big man then jumped after the commander, who now had drawn a knife to defend himself.

Knowing the battle would be meaningless if the volcano erupted, Nessa ran back to Rhone's forces who despite heavy casualties were actually winning the fight. Finding the lizard captain at an opportune time, Nessa pushed the stone to her. "Rhone, use it quickly!" she urged.

But the captain's gaze lingered on something behind her... the huge stone pillars that once supported the city of Verini were crumbling into the boiling lava, soon followed by chunks of the city proper itself along with hapless citizens. "It's too late," she said sadly as she watched the destruction all around her. "It's too late."

"All forces retreat!" ordered a teary eyed Rhone. Nessa took one last glance back at Ladel, who was still fighting the commander, just as a huge slab of stone crushed them both into the burning sea.

Monday, 5 June 2017

TESO: Writhing Worms

Adventures of Skyrim - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

With all the alliance zones mostly done now (still missing some group content and a few bits and pieces) I return to the Prophet's cave to find he and Lyris haven't done a damn thing since I last saw them ages ago. Since my GFX settings are better now, I reattempt that rescue mission they wanted to do... to rescue Abnur Tharn, and then a Redguard sword master named Sai Sahan, and then a magic deus ex machina amulet to use against Molag Bal.

Wouldn't be a magic duel without at least one beam contest.

Naturally the worm cult leader, Mannimarco tries and fails to stop us at each step of the way - ultimately fighting for real to try take the amulet for himself because he wants to replace Molag Bal. He really shouldn't have said that because after I beat him down, Molag Bal's giant hand comes through a gate and whisks Mannimarco away to Coldharbour.

His mistake was not taking the amulet instead, because we follow close behind and sneak through the very same torture chamber where Mannimarco and other familiar villains are getting their comeuppance, a few of whom are of the Tharn bloodline (not that Abnur minds since they are all douche bags like that). Most of the prisoners beg to be freed from their torment, but I ignore all of them because that's what they all deserve.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Nameless: It's not Luck

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

Dariya quietly led her team deep within the pale, purple city constructed with alien architecture avoiding the many "infected" denizens within. While most seemed to be wearing the husks of miners there were others dressed far differently, from lands much farther across the seas.

Her son and the two dwarves were rightfully terrified of these worm folk, whom Dariya had only read about in rare, old tomes from long lost cities. The plan was simple: steal the magic crystal and escape. She was somewhat surprised at their progress through the city, as each patrol passed them by without a glance.

The crystal itself was also easy to spot, magically rotating above a dry fountain in an open plaza. Reaching the plaza undetected was another matter however, and Dariya just prayed their luck would hold out.

She only realized when they were within the last hundred meters that it wasn't luck. It was a trap. Dozens upon dozens of the worm folk were waiting for them, and even more blocked the way they came. The floor where they stood was covered with arm sized tentacle worms, wriggling their way towards the party.

"I don't suppose we could parley..." asked Dmitri in a trembling, hushed tone. His mother shook her head. "Don't forget why we are here. The plan remains the same. We'll make an opening, you two grab the artifact."

"Ta hell with that! I ain't dying for that piece of shite!" exclaimed Arslan as he charged toward the exit.

Before they could say anything more, the crowd surged forward. Throwing fire and lightning, Dmitri and Dariya cleared the path to the fountain while Buster charged in with grit teeth, hacking the stragglers that got in his way.

Dariya was so focused on covering Buster that she was surprised when she was suddenly showered with blood and turned to see the decapitated body of her son collapse to the ground. A crack of lightning from her fingertips made his assailant explode into giblets, but also knocked her to the ground.

There, beside Dmitri's head, she was consumed by fear as she witnessed the sea of worms closing in on her. In the distance she could see them already on Arslan who was being held down into their wake. Not willing to experience that, she gathered all her magic and uttered one final spell, detonating herself in a magnificent explosion of fire and blood.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

TESO: The Last March

Adventures of Skyrim - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

Reaper's March is a breath of fresh air after the stifling forests of Malabal Tor. Apart from the Imperials assaulting this zone (led by Tharns no less) there's also an evil khajiit spirit called the Dark Mane (also conjured by a Tharn) raising scary looking Khajiit warriors wherever it goes. The main quest involves assisting a pair of twin sisters in stopping this threat, which is great.

Capoeira esquivas are useful here too!

Unfortunately that "threat" occupies only maybe 1/3rd of the region, with the rest occupied by local bandits, gamblers, an arena and skooma peddlers. I do get to free Barbas (the talking dog) from a prison of his master, Clavicus Vile, though. There is also an awesome side quest at a scary mansion with a massive cavern underneath occupied by Imperials who are looking for the Oghma Infinitum. Hermaeus Mora tells me they cannot have it.

Quite a literal army of bad dudes in the tunnels.

Finally I'm at a level where I can solo handle the group of 8 or so mobs here, and manage to take down the boss too. For all my work, Mora appears and snatches the Infinitum at the last moment - rephrasing that "no mortal" can have it. I manage to retain a single page, still enough to make most people insane.

After beating back the Tharns and destroying the Dark Mane, Queen Ayrenn seems more agreeable to an alliance or at least a cease fire with the Pact but I don't know. She looks, talks and smells like a Thalmor scum. Odds that she will keep her word are next to nil.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Nameless: The Lyre

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

Florin's quick reflexes had saved Romila and Jann, as the air elemental's lightning blast flew past overhead. The mage sisters were not so lucky, catching the brunt of the attack with one screaming as she was thrown off the mountain while her sibling was pinned against a large rock by the force of the magic and electrocuted to death.

After a brief pause, it fired again but this time the lightning arced around Jann's outstreched hand - tracing the invisible barrier he had conjured. Beside him, Romila was whispering to herself silently as all her focus remained on the air elemental. With a sudden, dramatic gesture, the air elemental suddenly dissipated like a clearing fog.

"Dispelled," Romila sighed as she wiped the sweat from her brow.

Florin nodded and cautiously advanced up the path the elemental had been guarding which led to a small plateau. There stood a plain stone altar.

"This should be the place, yet its not here," muttered Jann disappointedly.
"Maybe it's some sort of puzzle," mused Florin as he examined the altar. "I don't think someone could have climbed the sheer cliff face to sneak past the elemental guardian..."

"Unless they had wings," corrected Romila as she pointed to a nearby cliff side that clearly supported some form of nest.


It took almost an hour for the trio to find their way up to the nest, and it was far larger than Florin had imagined. All sorts of shiny trinkets of various sizes lay scattered within, as well as a few man-sized eggs and the bones of various creatures. He definitely did not want to find out what lived here.

"There it is," said Romila as she pointed to a strange looking harp which fortuitously was at the edge nearest them. Without missing a beat, Florin gingerly climbed into the nest and retrieved the artifact. Upon turning around however, he saw a hint of steel at Romila's throat, followed by a spray of blood. As she collapsed with a surprise look to the floor, he could see Jann grinning behind her with a bloody knife in hand.

"Traitor!" Florin roared, but as he climbed out of the nest, his leg suddenly bent in a way it shouldn't, thanks to Jann's magic - immobilizing him on the spot and causing him to drop the harp.

"No hard feelings," sneered Jann as he snatched the artifact from the ground, while using his magic to dislocate each of Florin's arms. "I just prefer to ally myself with winners, you see."
With a final wave, Florin was sent painfully screaming and tumbling into the middle of the nest a broken and helpless man.

As if on queue, the shadow of a gigantic winged creature passed overhead, accompanied by the loud flapping of wings. Jann made a quick escape, leaving the panicked and screaming Florin as bird food.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Nameless: Forest of Spears

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

Tabitha yelled as her great sword was deflected by her opponent's shield, which was enough of a distraction for Fayina to plunge two daggers into the lizardman's back. Behind them, Silvain unleashed a spell with a clap of thunder that threw four more lizard man captors off their feet.

Tabitha made the most of this opening, rushing the four downed opponents and finishing them with brutal elegance before they could fully recover. Meanwhile, Magnolia was busily freeing her bound people and directing them away from the melee. She had freed about a third of the captives when the tip of javelin exploded out of her chest, and with a wide-eyed expression collapsed into the remaining prisoners, drenching them in her blood.

Silvain spun to face the new threat, throwing two magical balls of fire at the enemy squad. One missed entirely and exploded against a tree, but the second found its mark - talking half their number out and wounding a few more before a sharp pain hit her side and knocked her over.

A look of horror came over her face as she saw the long spear haft rising up to the sky. A lizardman soon appeared beside it, jagged blade in hand but before it could strike Tabitha's great sword cleaved his head from his shoulders. Silvain could feel her damp hands begin to shake as she tried to stop her blood from spilling out to no avail. Everything went black.


Tabitha had no time to tend to her downed companion as the lizard people drew closer. Fayina was doing her best to flank them but Tabitha could see that the thief was tiring quickly and could not get through their defenses.

Without wasting time she charged into the fray, brutally cutting down more of their reptilian adversaries and exchanging blood for blood as their more and more of their spears cut into her. A blow to the back of her knee unbalanced her, causing her to collapse onto all fours.

The nearest lizardman would have finished her off right there had Fayina not lunged into his side, shoving one dagger into the creature's head and another into its side. Unfortunately this wasn't enough to save Tabitha as the final lizardman attacked from behind her, shoving the length of his spear through her rear and piercing all the way through to her mouth - giving her a most undignified death.

Screaming with rage, Fayina charged the now weaponless lizardman head on, slicing and dodging, dodging and slicing, slicing and slicing... slicing and slicing... slicing and slicing. It took a few moments before she regained her mind, and found herself covered from head to toe and sitting in the entrails of what was left of her foe. The battle was won.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

TESO: Unfriendly Terrain

Adventures of Skyrim - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

Malabal Tor is perhaps my least favorite zone in the game so far. The cliffs and forest make the zone bloody annoying to navigate, exacerbated with the amount of back and forth travel required by the local quests. While there was a Redguard incursion, the main foes along the shore consist of pirates, some of whom are in talks of alliance with the Worm Cult and the Imperial Empire.

Which also includes bad breath Daedroths.

More troublesome are the orcs already in league with the Worm Cult, who are trying to summon Malacath to Nirn - a plan I obviously put to an end with some assistance from Malacath's nemesis, Boethiah. The overall bad dude here is "the hound", and his houndsmen of Hircine.

If you thought "werewolves" then you are right. Lots of them. Of course it is more difficult chasing the scum down than it actually is killing him, but I am elated regardless afterwards because it means I can finally leave this annoyingly designed zone. Side note: How is it that giant wasps make zero noise despite constantly flying? Stealth magic?

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Nameless: Time to Rumble

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

"What brings you here, manlings?" hissed Rhone in what Nessa assumed was her version of a friendly tone. "Wait, let me guess - you are here for the seal of fire?".

"How did you know?" Ladel blurted out like a buffoon, causing Nessa to grimace.

Rhone simply laughed. "That is the same reason those soldiers have laid seige to our home. They too tried diplomacy at first. Our answer to them is the same we must give you. Please understand, the Fire Ruby keeps our god, calm. There is simply nothing you can say or do that..."

A sudden, deep rumbling interrupted the captain's speech as the whole mountain shook briefly.

"Does that happen often?" asked Nessa as she steadied herself against a nearby wall.

Before Rhone could reply the rumbling returned, more intense than before. The other lizard folk began screaming and running past in terror.

"It can't be..." Rhone hissed angrily as she began to march deeper into the mountain. Ladel and Nessa followed close behind. "What's happening?" asked Nessa in a more demanding tone as a few more soldiers joined their group.

Turning the corner to an opulent staircase that spiraled further down the depths she got her answer. The bodies of dead lizard warriors and a few Shadowstar soldiers ley strewn lifeless on the floor. They had breached the walls.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Nameless: Worms

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

Dariya frowned as the little ball of light she had conjured slowly fell to the ground. "It's not here," she said to no one in particular.

"Looks that way ere too," quipped Arslan as he held a lantern closer to the spot she was staring. "So some taffer just gone and nicked it, yeah? Whaddaya think Buster?"

Buster wasn't looking at them though, he was looking back towards the mine cart they had used to descend to this deep and seemingly lifeless level. Then he saw it again, the shadows moving in the distance yet closing in.

Wordlessly he put his lantern on the ground and readied his axe. Arlsan understood right away and did the same with his sword and shield, at the same time Dmitri nudged his mother to prepare as well.

After a brief pause, they charged out of the darkness wielding pickaxes and hammers. It was only after Buster killed one that he realized they were just miners, only there was something off about them.

A bright flash of illumination lit up the chamber as Dmitri's fire ball set a good number of the attackers on fire, making it easy for Buster and Arslan to land fatal blows while their targets were distracted.

The last of them happened to collapse beside one of the lanterns on the floor, and from his mouth crawled out a hideous worm with tentacles. Dariya wasted no time to squash it with the end of her staff as the others recoiled in horror.

"Kill the worms!" she ordered as more began emerging from the corpses of the miners, too many to squash one at a time. Dmitri finally stepped forward with another fire ball, setting both the corpses and the parasites alight.

"You've seen these before, mother?" asked Dmitri. Dariya could only nod silently as a cold shiver ran down her spine. Wordlessly she turned towards a nearby wall and cast a variation of the revealing spell she did earlier.

With a silvery shimmer, a strange, purple door decorated with alien looking membranes materialized before them. "I think I know who took the artifact," she whispered.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Nameless: Summit

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

Florin pressed himself against the cave wall as much as he could as the massive red-coil mountain snake slithered past, not paying him or his team mates any mind. Once it was out of view, he signaled the rest of his squad to continue onward into the cold, howling wind and towards the bright opening ahead.

Despite the cold it felt good to stand on open ground once more, and they all paused a moment to catch their breath as well as make the most of the spectacular vantage point they now stood at, being able to see for miles to the horizon. Florin smiled at the rest of his team and noticed Romila looking the other way.

Following her gaze up the path, there looked to be a dense and compact cloud the size of a horse blocking the way. A cloud that wasn't being affected by the gusty wind. His eyes widened with sudden realization of what they were looking at as electricity began to spark violently from the innocuous looking air elemental.

"GET DOWN!" Florin yelled as he grabbed those nearest him and dove to the ground.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Nameless: Ruined

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

The village of the tree folk was in tatters, littered with debris, damaged surroundings and recent blood splatters. Most worryingly, it was deserted. There were no survivors hiding among the ruins, no bodies left lying in the mud. Silvain tried to comfort Magnolia, who was beside herself in tears.

"What lies to the North of here?" asked Fayina as she and Tabitha returned from scouting the nearby area.

"Some forgotten, ruined temple," replied Magnolia between sobs. "Why?"

"There are a lot of tracks going in that direction, it's possible some of your people are alive," explained Tabitha. "We're going after them."

Hearing this Magnolia recomposed herself as best she could and nodded.


The old stone temple, now covered in vines, sat in a steep valley, giving the girls a good view from the edge of the treeline. Sure enough, a small band of tree folk, bound together at the wrists, were being led into the main plaza by reptilian-like humanoids each carrying a spear and shield.

"What are those?" whispered Fayina. Magnolia could only shrug as she too had never seen them before.

"Doesn't matter what they are," growled Tabitha as she unsheathed her blade. "Not after we're through with them."

Friday, 26 May 2017

Nameless: Mount Verini

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

With a scream, Nessa swung her sword down hard into the shoulder of the Shadowstar soldier who collapsed in a shower of blood with a horrified look on his face. The last thing they expected to find at the gates of the ancient temple built into the volcano was an entire regiment of enemies laying siege to it.

An entire regiment now dead or dying.

With the battle over, Nessa surveyed the losses to her allies and they were equally severe. Of her team, which was reinforced by three other mages who Jann had freed from cursed paintings, only Ladel the cook remained upright, puffing with exhaustion.

Her eyes then came across a familiar thin body lying in a broken position near the middle of the field - the merchant Notaku. With a missing leg and a clearly broken arm his lifeless eyes just stared across towards the massive gates of the temple.

Gates which slowly began to open with a loud grinding noise. Lizard like figures walking up right on two legs, each with a spear and shield marched out and surrounded the two wary survivors. Their leader, marked by a different coloration on her helmet stepped forward.

"Enemies of our enemies are our friends," she hissed with a slight bow. "Please come in." Nessa and Ladel were happy to oblige, since the artifact they sought was supposedly within the temple anyway. Nessa noticed that half of their entourage remained behind to collect equipment and the dead.

"I am Rhone," said the guard captain as she led them into a huge, gold-gilded hall with magnificently carved figures decorating both sides. "Welcome to Verini."

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Nameless: The Other Problem

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

"Someone mind telling me what this magic crystal is doing in an active mine?" grumbled Buster openly as his team drew closer to the divide in the solid rock face ahead. It was Dariya who replied. "It was decided when we first found the artifacts that it was too dangerous to keep them together, lest the Wizard King claim all of them in one fell swoop. So, we only kept the urn under guard and hid the others with magic in hard to reach places."

As she finished, the group was mere paces away from the large, black maw in the divide that served as the mine entrance. Beside it was a large wooden building that served both as a guard post and the foreman's office. From it a tall woman with short hair, a plain face and a physique so muscular that it was easy to mistake her as a man stepped out to meet them.

"You don't look like a dig team," she uttered in a deep baritone voice. "Are you here about the other problem?"

"Whaddother problem?" asked Arslan without thinking.

"Problems in the lower levels. Not just our usual monsters either, entire dig teams are vanishing without a trace. There's a bounty posted for anyone that can sort it out."

After a brief awkward silence as the men folk exchanged dubious glances, Dariya edged her way forward and in her strange tone said "Yes, that's what we came for."

The man-lady hesitated a little at this but eventually produced a small roster sheet for them to sign their names on, pay a small entrance fee, and then directed them to a small store of supplies they'd need like oil, flints, lanterns and helmets. Once fully kitted out, the four finally headed towards the pitch black tunnel that served as the mine entrance.

Despite the brave faces, not one of them was eager to enter.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

TESO: What is dead may never die

Adventures of Skyrim - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

It turns out I was beaten to the very item I was sent to fetch by the Queen's own Vice Reeve who reveals himself as part of the Veiled Heritance who are present in large numbers here, as well as their sea elf allies the Maromer. Nearby orc clans also cause trouble for the locals but they are just road kill on my chase for the Vice Reeve whom I finally catch up to in an ocean confrontation thanks to a tip from Hermaeus Mora (seriously, don't steal from a Daedric Prince).

As for the Vice Reeve: I sunk his battleship.

The second half is more interesting, as the evil Prince Naemon who I had already killed last time had been revived as a lich by the late Vice Reeve, and is attempting to bring this part of the forest into the shadow realm. Slaying his undead minions, shades and ultimately the Prince himself (again) is quite fun as warping between the two states changes the spawn on the map. Doesn't matter so much for people who just kill everything but for a sneak like me I quite appreciated it.

Raz and Mai'q get honorable mentions for being my travelling "companions" in the zone since they keep showing up unexpectedly. Also on my journey I do ponder why some skeletons hold torches. Does it let them see better? Anyway it's then on to Malabal Tor which is under attack by... Redguards?

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Nameless: Dinner Reservations

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

"Is that a giant?" asked Fayina in a hushed whisper, earning her a glare from Silvain with one finger on her lips. Tabitha in the lead, simply rolled her one good eye as she edged closer to her target.

The trio had been drawn off course while traversing the woods by the sounds of crying which led them straight into a shallow hovel with a wide mouth. Close to the entrance was a small weeping woman, bound by a chain tied to a stake in the ground.

Tabitha was only a few feet away from her when the large shape deeper in suddenly stirred. With a snort, the giant rolled to his side and blinking his eyes awake slowly realized his captive was gone. Startled, he tried to get up quickly but instead hit his head on the cavern roof, knocking himself back into a stupor.


"Thank you," sobbed the grateful and now unbound captive a good distance away from the giant's hovel. "I wasn't sure what that brute was going to do to me."

"What's a giant doing down here anyway? I thought they live up in the mountains?" questioned Tabitha as she sheathed her blade.

The woman shrugged "I was just coming to collect herbs like I do every week, and this time he was there. He said I was trespassing and since I was on his property, he owned me."

"You are of the tree folk yes?" asked Silvain out of the blue.

"Y.. yes. I am called Magnolia. Why?"

Silvain smiled. "Your people were once given a special cup for safe keeping long ago by members our group."

"You ... are veils?" Magnolia asked in awe as she shook in excitement. "Veiled alliance," corrected Tabitha to no one but herself as Magnolia had already begun skipping off in glee deeper into the woods, trying to drag Fayina and Silvain with one hand each.

"Come on slow poke!" she called over her shoulder to Tabitha. "The village will be so excited to have you over for dinner!"

Monday, 22 May 2017

Nameless: All the Way up Here

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

"We're making good time," announced Romila as she shrugged off the soreness in her arms. Beside her, Florin looked across the desert expanse below to the distant red mountains, obviously concerned about the rest of his team. Romila saw this and slapped him on the back.

"They probably aren't even there yet," she mused. "Get your head back in the game, mercenary."

"Lady Romila," called Jann from up ahead. He was flanked by a pair of mage sisters, that he had freed from the cursed portraits just days ago. "There's a village up ahead."

"All the way up here?"

Curious, the stern woman took point with Florin close behind to see for herself. There was indeed a small village up ahead, but each structure was nearly twice the size of a regular dwelling. The damaged furniture inside was of the same scale.

"Giants lived here," Jann mused.

"But where are they now?" asked Romila with a hint of trepidation.

"I'm more concerned about what made them leave," said Florin plainly as he poked at a pile of rubble with a stick.

"Let's not hang around to find out, our climb is just beginning."

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Nameless: Crossroads

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

"I didn't ever think I'd miss trees," mused Buster as he looked up at the large jungle canopy they were marching through. Arslan, marching along side him at the front of the line just laughed. "The desert only looks like it goes on forever, baldy."

Behind them was Fayina still sporting bruises from Arslan's latest beating and Tabitha who was keeping close to the abused girl, followed by Silvain, a slim and freckled brunette who just days ago served as the alliance book keeper.

"This should be the place," Silvain said as she pushed her spectacles back to the bridge of her nose. The others stopped and looked around. Ironically it was the one eyed Tabitha who first spotted the pair camouflaged in the bushes, her hand instinctively reaching for the hilt of her blade.

"Easy there," said the taller of the two strangers as he pulled off his shimmering cloak to reveal a youthful yet bearded face. "I am Dmitri, and I believe some of you know my mother."

"Dariya!" squealed Silvain excitedly as she rushed over to hug the second figure whose hood had fallen enough to reveal a very old and wrinkled woman beneath. After a short exchange of introductions the grim reality of the task ahead set in once more.

"The seven of us here now just have to decide, who goes after the magic crystal and who goes after the cup of life," stated Dariya in an off kilter tone.

"Bags going for the crystal," said Arslan, proud with himself that he managed to speak up first. Tabitha quickly used it against him.

"I think the men should go after the crystal and we ladies go after the cup."

"The wh... Fayina stays with me!" Arslan demanded.

"No," interrupted Dariya - her weak voice still somehow managing a good measure of authority. "I will go with you, with my son. I expect you ladies to have the cup when we return."

"I swear we will," bowed Tabitha slightly. "On my life."

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Nameless: Grim Paintings

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

Notaku wiped the sweat from his brow as he cursed the burning sun under his breath. It had been two days since his small caravan had left the city with Nessa, Florin, Romila, and Ladel, a sweaty, rotund, low ranking alliance member who moonlighted as their cook and whose sharp body odor was becoming harder to ignore.

Thankfully their destination wasn't far now as a the ragged tent in the distance grew ever closer.

"Notaku, my old friend!" exclaimed the dark skinned man who greeted them. "And Lady Romila, it's been a long time. What brings you all the way out here?"

"We need your help Jann," replied Romila as Florin helped her down from the wagon. Behind them, Ladel and Nessa had begun unloading three flat squares of cargo - paintings depicting individuals in terrible or hopeless situations.

"Ohho, where did you get these?" mused Jann as he stroked his long goatee.

"Bought them," Notaku piped up proudly. "Which was hard to do without raising suspicion I might add."

Nessa, who was now standing just behind Romila whispered "So, how does this work? We give him paintings and he gives us reinforcements?"

"The paintings -are- your reinforcements my dear," said Jann over his shoulder. "The new regime is full of sadists who wanted a method to publicly incarcerate and torture their foes for all eternity, all while saving space in the physical dimension. It's quite brilliant actually. Please, bring them inside and I will begin preparations to extract these unfortunate souls."

"Jann was always best at this field of study," mused Romila out loud as she watched Jann lead Notaku, Ladel and Nessa to his camp.

"So why did Matthias kick him out?" asked Florin.

"Because he enjoys tormenting children."

Friday, 19 May 2017

Nameless: Glorified Fetch Quest

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]
Nessa observed the distraught and demoralized faces gathered around the camp fire. After the attack on their base, the handful of survivors had relocated to the Sorrows under the leadership of their vice-leader, a stern woman named Romila who had just finished giving a speech on what they were to do next.

"Your plan is foolish," Nessa hissed at Romila as she walked past, causing her to stop mid step.

"We should just rally all our forces and attack the Lord Warrior directly!"

"Nessa!" barked Florin in an attempt to get her in line. Both women ignored him.

"That was suicide even before they had the elemental urn," countered Romila plainly. "But you are more than welcome to try - after we have our counter measures in place."

"It's a glorified fetch quest..." Nessa began but Florin cut her off. "Which we will be glad to assist in. In fact, I've decided which of the four items we should go after first: all of them."

As everyone turned to him in shock, he held up his hands to explain.

"The way I understand it is we need all four artifacts to stand a chance, and the fastest way to retrieve them is to split up. Romila's people are mostly spell casters - there happens to be a shortage of capable warriors to support them yet here we are. Four of us. It's..."

"...destiny." Tabitha said in a whisper, still loud enough to be heard by all.

"You sure about this boss?" asked Buster, one bushy eyebrow raised.

"It just makes sense." Florin finished.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Nameless: Glancing Blows

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

After a few days of laying low at an inn on the outskirts, Matthias had come to see them. Impressed with their performance at the pyramid it was finally time to welcome them properly to the rebellion. Nessa couldn't help but be on guard as he led them into the local graveyard, and there deep within one of the tombs he opened a hidden door with stairs going down.

"Welcome to the Veiled..." Matthias began, but cut himself short when he saw the pool of blood at the bottom of the stairs. His worst fears were realized when the bodies of his allies came into view. A squad of soldiers with blood still dripping from their swords casually waited for them to descend. Furious, Matthias outstretched a hand and shouted a violent incantation.

Nothing happened.

The soldiers grinned and raised their blades. "For the Lord Warrior!" they shouted in unison before charging the hapless mage. They never reached him as Florin's squad leaped into action, swiftly executing the intruders. With the sounds of battle still ringing from deeper in, they knew there'd be more of them. Suddenly hit by a terrifying thought, Matthias began sprinting down one passage - almost outrunning his protectors.

Turning the corner he finally made it to their arcane vault where they stored artifacts too dangerous to fall into the hands of the new regime. A large contingent of soldiers was already there, and in the center - a menacing black armored figure holding the most powerful relic of all in that location - the elemental urn. Florin's team took a moment to realize they were now staring at the Lord Warrior.

The urn was somehow familiar...

With the smallest of nods, the rest of the soldiers yelled their standard battle cry and attacked while the Lord Warrior casually walked away from the skirmish and out an adjacent door. Desperate to prevent the loss of the elemental urn, Matthias charged forward on his own but was quickly brought low by a stab through the knee and a follow up through an eye.

Tabitha, Buster, Nessa and Florin were also hard pressed but managed to negate the enemy numbers by putting their backs against a wall. Slowly, like in the Kalek's pyramid, the soldiers fell one at a time until none of them were left breathing. Florin was surprised that not even the last few would flee. It seemed that escape was a privilege reserved for the Lord Warrior.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

TESO: Not so Graht

Adventures of Skyrim - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

Despite all my efforts it seems the Lion's Guard went ahead and captured some pact soldiers which led to my return to their valley encampment the Nord dagger man, Craizee, and together we killed every single Lion Guard scum left in there. At this point I definitely regret reviving King Emeric. Anyway, there's still hope for an alliance with Queen Ayrenn so I sail over to the giant forest of Grahtwood next, and this place is a mess - story wise.

The trees here are massive!

It's like they put piece meal ideas everywhere, such as a rebellion, a vampire den, the Worm Cult messing around, freeing forest spirits, a showdown against Sheogorath's new favorite mortal, assisting an Ordinator of Almalexia shutting down a dolmen and so on with no main thread tying them together like in past zones.

At least I got to push a drunk wizard off a tower.

Ultimately I just need to retrieve pieces of an ancient machine so that the Bosmer (who are actually cannibalistic since they don't eat plants) recognize Ayrenn as their true leader. Her brother Naemon tries to use the machine first which turns him into an ugly daedra which I destroy easily. Ayrenn (who did no work for any of this I might add) doesn't change at all, just powers up(?) and then sends me to fetch her next accessory over at Greenshade.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Today I Smiled: Eurovision 2017

Ahh Eurovision - it's been awhile since I posted about it last but  this was definitely fun to watch last weekend. If you missed it, don't worry - I've got you covered! This year had male models (5th place), yodeling (7th place), a dancing monkey (6th place), a guy in a horse mask (14th place), some dancing Moldovians (3rd place), an anime kid who is pretty damn good (came 2nd place, worth a watch) and these guys (10th)...

Can you guess why I liked them? :P

My faves of the more "normal" variety included a trio of chicks who blend really well (11th), the UK songstress (15th), this happy moon guy (16th), and this jolly Croatian with a great vocal range (13th). I have no complaints about the actual winner though.

I didn't understand a word of his song yet it was fantastic. You can tell how awesome it is when other competitors are crying while listening to it. He even earns bonus thumbs up for letting his sister (the one who composed it) take the stage and sing it with him in his encore.

Hope you enjoyed at least some of those links, if not here's something a little more mainstream. Similar to D&D devils, if you sing someone's song there's a small percent chance they will appear for an impromptu duet! :P

Monday, 15 May 2017

Nameless: Satisfaction

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

Finding the garden was pretty easy as it was at the highest level of the pyramid. There a large contingent of gladiators turned guards men stood watch while a dark skinned woman was busy at work deeper in. From the way she barked orders at the others it was clear she was in charge.

Moving in single file with Nessa up front, the team silently snaked its way into the garden grounds - silently taking down targets of opportunity while getting as close as they could to the woman. Unfortunately, Tabitha stepped on a particularly crunchy twig which drew the dark lady's attention.

"Intrud...!" she screamed, cut short by Buster's axe cleaving its way up between her legs and arcing out at her bosom - showering the short, bald man with her blood and entrails. There was no hiding now, as the team began openly engaging the guards who began pouring in from the lower levels.

"For the Lord Warrior!" they cried now and again. Not that it helped as their numbers slowly whittled down by the superior combat skills and the high ground advantage of Florin's group. At the end, they stood bloodied, wounded but victorious over the bodies of at least twenty foes.

Maybe more than twenty.

When it was clear no more were coming, they patched themselves up as best they could, took what valuables the dead no longer needed, and torched all the plants in the garden. Satisfied with their accomplishments they limped out of there together.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Nameless: Kalek

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

Once they got out of the claustrophobic secret tunnel, the corridors of the pyramid were surprisingly wide and well lit thanks to the numerous torches and the glass tip that let the sunlight in. Guards, who appeared to be ex-gladiators, patrolled lazily with wine skins in hand - making it easy to simply slip by them undetected. Hidden within one of the deep cells they discovered a cage with a frail looking man trapped within. Arcane tattoos and horrible cancerous growths covered his bare back and arms.

"Stay away," the prisoner muttered without turning around.

"We can help you," began Tabitha but was held back firmly by Florin who nodded towards two dead bodies outside the cage. Guards whose skin was covered in similar looking boils.

"The Lady of the Garden," coughed the prisoner. "She's made her plague too potent. Stay away. You cannot help me."

"Do you know how is she making this plague?" asked Nessa. "Help us stop this from happening to anyone else!"

The prisoner coughed painfully. "There is a collection of rare herbs from across the world that grow upstairs. They were once my pride and joy, now they are my doom. She uses those to make this virus. Destroy them. Destroy her. That should at least slow their plans."


"Go now. Kalek is dead."

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Nameless: Not much of a Choice

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

"Good to finally meet you," said Florin as he shook the hand of Matthias Morthen, leader of the resistance. As promised, Arslan had taken the team to meet him but where he led them was not some secret base, rather to an empty plaza beside what was known as Kalek's Pyramid, so named because of the hermit who never left its walls.

"You live up to your reputation," Matthias replied through crooked, dirty teeth. "Arslan has told me how you dealt with Acar. I'm afraid we are in need of your services again. Our spies tell us that the new regime is up to something in the pyramid behind me. I would like you to figure out what exactly it is."

"Your spies got tired of spying?" Nessa asked snarkily.

"Due to the nature of the threat," Matthias continued coolly. "They were not the best candidates for the job. Your team is. There's a hidden entrance just behind this statue..."

"You're being a little cryptic there my friend," interrupted Florin. "If you know what's waiting for us I would like to know."

Matthias sighed. "We believe they are developing a plague. One that specifically targets those with magic. Much like the Wizard King, the new order does not take kindly to rogue mages and nearly our entire force is made up of magic users. Now do you understand?"

"So... you're a mage and Arslan is..."

"While he isn't magically gifted, he is also about as stealthy as a crazed camel that enjoys dancing while wearing a thousand bells. Now, please - will you do this for me?"

It didn't sound like much of a choice.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Nameless: The Money Lender

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

"That will be one hundred fourteen thousand gold pieces," said the tanned and slender man with a devilish grin as he finished moving the beads on his abacus. Acar the money lender was not shy about displaying his wealth, residing in one of the most opulent mansions in the city and having even his guards and servants adorned with magnificent jewelry.

He also wasn't a fool, either. He knew the four adventurers before him didn't have the funds to pay off Fayina's debt. That's why he made sure they were each -thoroughly- searched and disarmed before he allowed an audience with them. Florin and Buster in particular seemed very uncomfortable in the white togas they were forced to change into, while the rest of their gear - other than Tabitha's eye patch - was confiscated. The guards in were very clear that all the items would NOT be returned. A small price to pay for Acar's time.

"How about you drop Fayina's debt and we'll let you live?" Nessa asked with all the charm of a hungry sand shark. Acar laughed. He had around twenty heavily armed guards in the room with him, and more patrolling the grounds. What could four unarmed fighters do to him?

Clearly needing a demonstration, Nessa gave a silent hand signal and suddenly the toga clad team sprung into action. They might not have been armed but all the guards were - and it was child's play to take the guards spare weapons in the melee. The money lender barely had time to call for more guards as the last ones in the room were slain, simply being outclassed by the four foreigners.

The reinforcements fared no better as the intruders casually waited for their arrival, and dealt with all comers easily. Eventually no more came, and the entire room had been repainted red. Acar soiled himself as they finally turned their attention to him.

"Alright alright! Her debt is paid! Please, leave me be!"

Buster marched right up to him, bloody knife in hand. "Nuthin personal, but the boss says we can't trust you."

Acar's eyes widened as he screamed and felt the blade jam up right between his legs, multiple times until he collapsed onto the blood soaked floor, dead.

"Burn the books," Florin ordered. "And lets loot this place dry."

It was late in the evening when Arslan and Fayina returned to the Sorrows. Their mission to return the relic Fayina stole had been successful, though their third companion - Shandel - had his leg broken during a confrontation with one of the tunneling creatures and was only going to slow them down on the return journey. Arlsan made the decision to leave him there in the monster's temple as a "heroic sacrifice".

He was surprised to see Florin's blood soaked team waiting for them at his hut, and more surprised at the large, somewhat filthy treasure pile stocked within. "Acar sends his regards," Florin greeted. "Sorry about the shine on some of these. It's a bit hard to transport things through sewer tunnels and keep them clean. So, how did we do?"

"You passed," Arslan said with a huge grin.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Nameless: Arslan

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

"You stupid wench!" yelled Arslan as he backhanded the terrified woman again, giving her another bruise to match all the others on he quivering frame as tears streamed down her face. He heard someone enter the little shanty hut from behind him, but didn't turn around right away - instead opting to first trip the woman over and then kicking her in the chest. After spitting on her he finally turned to see a group of strangers led by Shandel crowded at the doorway.

Sorry, couldn't help myself. :P

"Whaddaya want?" he grumbled angrily as he turned his attention back to the woman on the floor with another kick.

"Arslan?" Florin asked hesitantly, holding out the ragged cloth and a letter. The short man scratched at his beard before snatching both from Florin. After looking them over he crumpled them up and tossed them at the sobbing woman as hard as he could. "So yer the ones Matthias sent for eh?" he muttered again as he prepared to kick the woman another time. In a blink, the edge of Tabitha's blade was at his throat.

"You should stop hitting her now," she said with a dangerous tone. Arslan just scoffed and pushed the blade aside.

"This stupid whore be the reason them monsters attacked and killed the good folk out there. See, she took something of theirs from their temple and now they be wanting it back. Why don't ya tell these folk why you stole from the monsters Fayina? Tell em, I said!"

"To pay off a debt," the woman finally said, choking through pain and tears.

Arslan snickered. "Tell em why you're in debt, love. Go on then." The woman couldn't reply. Arslan scoffed.

"She's in debt since she bloody gambled away all the funds of our... little organization - and then some. Worse, the lender she used is one of the staunchest supporters to the new regime - someone pretty high on our hit list, but none of that matters did it? No, she just saw shiney things and spread her legs like a whore. Isn't that right you piece of shit?"

"Well take care of the debt," said Tabitha immediately, her words stopping Arslan before he could kick Fayina again. The short man scratched at his beard.

"Tell you what, you do that and you're in. It'll be like your... initiation. Afterwards, I'll take you to Matthias myself. Meanwhile, Fayina, Shandel and I are going to return this little trinket so these bloody monsters don't come back ere."

"You've got a deal."

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Nameless: The Sorrows

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

The sewers were much better lit than the last time Nessa journeyed through them. Burning candles and makeshift signs helped guide them to a large underground clearing with a small shanty town in the center. She wasn't sure where all the smoke from the various fires was going to, but there must have been some ventilation passage it was dissipating into.

"People live down here?" asked Florin out loud but before he could get any response a loud roar and an explosion followed by panicked screams echoed in the chamber. Drawing their weapons, the party rushed into the fray only to come face to face with a massive bi-pedal crab monster in the process of devouring a hapless resident. A second crustacean beast burst through the wall right beside the first, and more were bursting from the grounds nearby.

Buster didn't hesitate to charge the one that had its hands (and mouth) full, easily evading its clumsy strike to chop down into its face with his battle axe. With a spurt of greenish blood and a muffled roar the beast collapsed, dead.

"That's how it's done!" yelled the bald stocky man as he retrieved his axe and looked to his next victim. Inspired by the sight Tabitha, Nessa and Florin all charged in too. While the monsters were indeed strong, they were more adapted for digging than for combat and as more and more of them fell even the townsfolk began gaining the courage to fight them back with whatever makeshift weaponry they had. Soon enough, the remaining creatures retreated into the darkness from whence they came.

A local, dressed in slightly less tattered rags approached the team afterwards. "You fight well," he said with a smile. "My name is Shandel, one of the defenders of this community."

"Well met," replied Tabitha as she wiped off the sticky green blood from her two handed sword. "Would you happen to know where Arslan is?"

Somewhat surprised by the question, Shandel blinked for a moment then nodded.