Sunday, 30 August 2015

Nameless: Dranner

[Day 31 of Blaugust 2015!]
[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

Finally, with Maeve on the point of exhaustion from expending her magic, the team cleared the mist covered forest and found themselves in what was left of the town of Dranner. Most buildings had been extensively damaged, with some reduced to piles of rubble. Strange shapes moved across distant intersections and inhuman calls and bellows filled the night air. Kiefer preferred not to run into any of these things by surprise and opted to keep the team moving stealthily through the shadows. Delmair, who was recovering quickly from his run in with the spirits, stopped Kiefer suddenly as they walked passed another run down hovel.

"There's someone in there," he whispered without taking his eyes off what he was looking at. It took Drisana's eyes a little while to adjust before also seeing the scared little face hiding beneath some rocks. Realizing he was seen, the face vanished deeper into the house - though it didn't look like there was much more of it to run into. Quietly, Kiefer signalled the rest to moved in to investigate while he and Delmair watched the door. Maeve decided to risk a faint light spell so they could better see who they were after: a frightened little boy, whose face was covered in soot. 

"Easy there," said Drisana calmly. "We're not going to hurt you. What's your name?"

"Buggie," said the child after a short moment of hesitation. "It's what my friends called me since I collected bugs."

"What happened here?" asked Nessa, without the slightest hint of compassion in her voice. Drisana gave her a disapproving look.

"Strange visitors came," Buggie said quietly. "They gave the Mayor a heavy bag, asked for a tour of the town. Later these three lights appeared - one on top of the mages guild tower, one at a lookout at the town barracks, and one at the highest bell of the cathedral. Soon after the monsters came. They began eating everyone... and..."

Buggie's voice choked as he began to sob uncontrollably.

"Did those visitors wear robes with a shaded star symbol on it?" asked Nessa to which Buggie nodded, confirming that these strangers were at least dressed like Shadowstar cultists.

"It's alright now," Drisana said as she hugged the little boy.

"Uh, not quite," said Kiefer as he and Delmair backed into the room. Towering ahead of them were two large, green humanoid with warty skin, frizzy, filthy hair, and angular yellow teeth. Trolls.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Nameless: Cold Touch

[Day 30 of Blaugust 2015!]
[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

Florin's plan involved the thirty odd troops separating into eight smaller groups to approach the city of Dranner from all directions in hopes that this would increase their odds of catching the enemy unprepared. While Drisana questioned the logic in this, at least she was still grouped up with Nessa and Kiefer. Their fourth member, a tall and pale woman named Maeve seemed inappropriately dressed for such a venture wearing simple red garments that matched her hair but there was no point in arguing attire now. Their team, "Group Eight" was to approach the city from the farthest side, which cost them even more travel time as they rode for most of the day to their instructed position.

Finally, at dusk did they begin pushing forward into the Dranner forest but since it was so overgrown they had to dismount their horses and continue on foot. As a cold mist began to settle around them Drisana felt uneasy as they pushed deeper, especially as the horses began to fight violently against their leads. Unable to calm them, Kiefer instructed the team to unsaddle them instead at let them go. After all, he had recharged his teleporting amulet if anything goes wrong. Drisana certainly felt remorse about using hers as part of the fare to travel across the sea at that point but quickly put the thought from her mind as ghostly faces began appearing in the fog.

Clearly she wasn't the only one seeing it as Nessa began hacking at the air, her blade finding nothing solid to make contact with. Suddenly a shimmering blue light emanated from behind them, pushing back the fog. It was Maeve, holding up what looked like a short wand that she had kept hidden in a sleeve. "Keep going," she urged and with her magic protecting them they managed to navigate the forest quicker, as if even the trees and branches were moving out of their path.

Eventually they stumbled across a clearing with four other bodies, one of whom was rocking back and forth in a fetal position. Nessa checked the other people first and found that each once was dead and ice cold to the touch. "You there," Kiefer called out to the fourth man. Hearing his voice, the blonde man stopped his motion and slowly raised his head - a clear look of relief on his face.

"Who are you?" Drisana asked as she quickly threw her thick cloak on the shivering survivor.

"I... I am Delmair... l..last m...member of group s...six."

"It's the spirits," explained Maeve to her other companions. "The faces in the mist. If they get their cold arms around you it's not long before you join them."

"You're with us now Delmair," said Kiefer as he knelt beside the man. "We still have a mission to complete."

Friday, 28 August 2015

The Fast and The Furious (1 and 2)

[Day 29 of Blaugust 2015!]

The Fast and the Furious

As seen by a non-car enthusiast.

A band of skilled thieves are hijacking shipments on the road because they have the stunt driving skills to do so. Who cares if it's quite reckless, has more variables and is way more dangerous than stealing stationary targets right? Anyway, the cops send forth an undercover agent (Paul Walker) to infiltrate the group of their top suspect: one Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), who also happens to be involved with illegal street races and such. Complications arise when undercover man starts falling for Dom's sister.

You did not just give away spoilers, did you?

Obviously this flick is for car buffs, which is why I totally skipped out on the entire series previously as I don't even like driving. However, I quite liked the acting, the action filled story, and the pretty good automotive stunt work which is kind of essential in a film such as this. I was a bit impartial to the "gangsta" type music, but I suppose it is most suited to that scene so that's fine. I do give it bonus points for good use of red herrings and having a nameless truck boss who totally kicks everyone's butt at the end. All up I give it three tires out of five, though I'm in no rush to see it again.


Turbo-Charged Prelude

This six minute music clip (because there are no spoken lines) follows Paul Walker's trek down to Miami which is where the next movie takes place. There's literally nothing that happens so unless you are a fan of this franchise, Paul Walker, or cops wearing plastic bags on their hats then you would be better off skipping it altogether. For those who enjoy "completeness" you can find it here.


2 Fast 2 Furious

Dey B 2 gansta 4 me.

Really title? Really? Anyway, the cop from last time is back, and since he is still racing in "underground" races this immediately attracts the FBI to recruit him for another undercover job which involves transporting dirty money for some cartel guy. Some silly one liner reason is thrown out as to why this is -the only way- to bust said cartel fellow, but hero cop can't do it alone so he recruits an old buddy (never seen before) who hates his guts.

This new character gets a thumbs up from me as his character progression is pretty likable, as does the pretty cool Tej. I suppose I should also mention that the female cast is more sexualized here too, for no other reason than "hey, they're hot". Might be a problem for some, but that's nothing compared to the rest of the problems.

Appropriate garage attire.

While I do appreciate that the "team" is smaller now and thus has less superfluous characters than number one, there are problems with the actual driving portions for me, which is probably worse if you are a car fanatic. Yes, there are mass driving stunts near the end but for the most part there's heavy use of pretty good FX during the earlier drives. I still would have preferred to see actual driving though? Also, there is a hell of a lot more talking while driving. Ever see a comic panel where Wolverine is in mid air about to stab someone and somehow manages to say three sentences? It's like that. Stupid.

In addition to a weaker story than the first movie I give this outing 2 tires out of 5, and isn't 1 I want to watch again.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Nameless: Florin

[Day 28 of Blaugust 2015!]
[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

A few weeks after their foray into the sewers, Drisana and Nessa were once again summoned to the Peacekeeper's office. The last time they had been there was when they received their reward stipend for alerting the Peacekeepers to the danger beneath the city. A large force of them along members of other units, guilds and mercenaries were assembled and raided the underground to cleanse it of all evil, and most probably treasure, but the girls decided to sit it out - having had enough bloodshed and enough gold to get by comfortably, for a while anyway. Curious as to what more the Peacekeepers wanted with them, they hesitantly returned to the main headquarters in the city square. A familiar face opened the door for them as they arrived.

"Nice to see you survived," Drisana said to Buster, his once mangled arm now in a cast. The bald man smiled as he ushered them in. Florin appeared beside him from a side door and gave them both a quick bow. "Did you miss me ladies?" he asked with a smirk.

"In your dreams, Kiefer. Why are we here?" asked Nessa, once again getting right to the point.

"Because I summoned you," replied another man further in with long, black hair. He stood an entire head taller than Kiefer and judging from his uniform was of much higher rank. "I am Commander Florin. Please take a seat."

After they all got settled, the commander continued. "While the threat to our city has been removed, it seems the plans of the Shadowstar cult extended farther - including our neighbouring city of Dranner. My scouts have reported that the entire city has been over run by horrible creatures, seemingly being drawn there by some malevolent power. We need to find whatever is controlling these beasts and put an end to it now, before there are too many to contend with."

"You want us to go there..." began Drisana.

"Yes! By all accounts the two of you have the most experience in fighting the cult so far and I would like all the expertise I can muster to keep my troops safe. Do you know how many men died cleaning out the ruins below? Only a third of the entire expedition made it back, and half of those are going back in to defend the yet unexplored deep roads that connect to the underground ruin. Quite frankly we are short on time and man power. The two of you helped save this city once, I am simply asking that you do it again while there is a city still left to save. If money is what you care about then I can assure you it will be worth your while."

Drisana looked at Nessa who also was thinking it over.

Finally, Nessa whispered to her. "It's what Nerith would have done."

Drisana sighed. "Fine, we're in."

The commander smiled. "Excellent. Prepare yourselves and rest well. We will move out at first light."

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Nameless: Belief

[Day 27 of Blaugust 2015!]
[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

Pale and tense from the sight of the giant's face, Nessa managed to relax when Drisana put a reassuring hand on her shoulder and realized that she was looking at a statue. A whole row of large stone statues that, while not as large as the giant himself, all bore his exact, crazed visage. Nessa breathed a sigh of relief and hoped none of her allies realized the warm trickle down her leg was not perspiration. Fortunately they were all examining the odd stone work.

"These look like something we ran into at Shadowstar," spoke Drisana as she advanced carefully.

"Looks like they were put here recently too," muttered Kiefer as he ran a finger along the edge of the stone. "There's not as much dust on them."

"Golems," spat Hortag as he found a small panel hiding a magical gem. "Best we destroy them now while they lie dormant."

Kiefer needed no further prompting as he and the rest of his team began pulling out the magical stones. Nessa watched from outside as Drisana also began to help them. That's when movement at the edge of her vision caught her attention. A floating orb of eyes and teeth had turned the corner and was coming straight for her! Without hesitation, Nessa dove forward into the statue warehouse just as a blazing beam scorched the area she was just standing in.

Seeing this, Hortag, Dorhum and Buster quickly stacked up on the side of the door while Kiefer and Drisana pulled Nessa behind one of the statues. Before Nessa could speak any warning the monster had reached the door and blew apart the statue next to them with another blast. Taking this as his cue, Buster charged around the corner with his heavy mace but as he swung the floating creature took the initiative and caught his arm in its sharp teeth then spinning around like a top, released the poor fellow into another statue, sending a whole row of them toppling over.

Hortag and Dorhum charged it next and while the older man used his pike to prod the monster's mouth, Dorhum rolled underneath it and spun around with all his might - hacking right into his enemy with his battle axe. Having never encountered such a beast before they didn't realize the repercussions of such an act as the spherical creature popped into a misty green poisonous cloud. Kiefer had stood up to run to their rescue but Drisana held him back firmly as there was nothing more he could do other than watch his two subordinates cough, vomit and defacate uncontrollably before finally collapsing into steaming melted puddles of flesh on the ground.

A sudden blast from the other side of the statues betrayed the presence of another eye beast, but this one was popped easily as Nessa threw a sword cleanly into its center. Unwilling to risk encountering more of these Kiefer quickly regrouped the team atop the conscious Buster, and pulling out a magical medallion which looked very similar to one the girls had seen before, concentrated and in an instant all four of them were back at Kiefer's office in the city.

"Get him to the healers," ordered Kiefer as he began to run for the door. "I need to alert my commander!"

"At least he believes us now," muttered Nessa as he left.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Nameless: Deeper

[Day 26 of Blaugust 2015!]
[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

As they followed the eight legged creature, the tunnels became even more dense with thick webbing to the point that each member of the party had to take great care where they passed or be caught by the sticky strands and worse, possibly summon more spiders. Eventually, Drisana found what she was looking for. A large section of floor from the tunnel had collapsed into a lower level that seemed to be hewn from stone. They gingerly climbed down one at a time and from their faces Drisana could see that even Kiefer's team had never seen this forgotten ruin before. It was then she had the feeling that she was being watched.

Glowing red eyes peered from the dark. There was more than one spider. The team barely had time to prepare as the gigantic insects attacked, with their venomous bites. Fortunately this meant they had to stoop down and put their faces right where the adventurers could stab them. While Drisana and Nessa managed to slay one together, Kiefer and his entire team proved that they weren't just some inexperienced chumps, managing to slay one each. The remaining spiders must have decided they were too dangerous and retreated into the darkness where they would hold the advantage. Kiefer wasn't stupid enough to give chase, instead opting to push on into the ruins where slowly the tangle of webs gave way to moss coated corridors.

A familiar clicking noise alerted the girls right away as they shepherded the team behind the nearest corner. Carefully peering around they were surprised to see not giant ants but man sized mantises patrolling the passages up ahead. They also were brandishing what seemed to be crude bone weapons. Not willing to alert these creatures to their presence, Kiefer signaled the team to go around another way with less moss, finding another set of stairs going down.

This section of the ruin seemed abandoned entirely, which was a good change of pace as it let them relax somewhat.Knowing that they were getting fatigued, Kiefer signaled them to stop and got Buster to help him try open one of the ancient doors nearby in hopes of finding a secure place to rest. As the doors rumbled open Nessa tossed a torch in and saw a terrifyingly familiar, huge bearded face with crazed eyes: the giant that devoured Sharon at the Temple of Shadowstar.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Nameless: The Rats Nest

[Day 25 of Blaugust 2015!]
[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

"The Rats Nest" was aptly named thought Nessa as she kicked away yet another giant rat in the winding maze of sewer tunnels. Other strange humanoids lived here too, but they were easily fought back or simply bypassed as they slept. According to Kiefer there was another group who handled population control but even they failed to kill all the prey down here. Nessa just figured they were sloppy hunters, but she kept that to herself.

Drisana had told Kiefer early on that whatever they were looking for would probably be at the deepest level so eventually after taking a number of ladders deeper down into the depths, they found themselves in what looked like extremely decrepit tunnels that were no longer used. "Last floor," muttered Buster as they arrived. Apart from layers of spider webs, it didn't seem like there was anything until Drisana spotted glowing red eyes watching them from the darkness. Not a pair of eyes. Eight of them. Hanging upside down, the monstrous spider began crawling towards them but a few loose bricks thrown by Dorhum dissuaded it to retreat into another tunnel.

"Don't worry, none of us be spider food," said the heavily bearded fellow, clearly proud of his rock throwing skills.

"What does that thing eat down here?" asked Drisana.

"Rats, bats or... perhaps of those wandering creatures from upstairs," suggested Hortag.

"Like us?" asked Kiefer slyly.

Drisana wasn't convinced. There were no bones here to indicate any of those had been down here recently. The spider was also far too large to have climbed up the narrow ladder pipe to hunt on higher floors and too big to just be sustained by wandering vermin. Undeterred, she began walking after it. Seeing this, Dorhum quickly ran in front of her to block her path.

"Whoa lady, are you crazy?" he asked.

Drisana grinned and picked up another loose brick.

"I trust you'll keep us safe," she said with a smirk as she pushed it into his chest.