Crosswinds: Gryphon Down

“Tell me where the gryphon is. Now!” she shouted out. Her breath started to grow heavy. Each swing, each thrust dug into heavy flesh… it took a toll on Juliette that wasn’t exclusively physical.

Crosswinds: Gryphon Down

By Penny


Despite its ornate façade, gryphon riding has always been one of the most common causes of deaths in the Tarithian army. Those brave, ignorant or desperate enough to take up such an activity often meet a grisly end, falling from hundreds of feet in the air without the need for enemy intervention. It had become a running joke among the Tarithian army: “Defeating a Tarithian footman requires a blade, a horseman a spear, but with a gryphon rider, you only need one good eye to watch the show.”

Of course, the subjects of such crude and morbid humor have not been blind to the dangers of their profession; gryphons have been fitted with equipment so their riders are firmly seated upon them, and the riders are extensively trained to avoid accidents. These measures kept overzealous riders from doing all sorts of tricks and twirls that might otherwise become the last bit of theatre in their lives.

However, as with all things human, there are always certain outliers.

Above Tarith’s forests flew a squadron of gryphon riders, the courier bags on their hips full of written orders for the officers on the front lines. Everyone was shrouded in anxious anticipation; as the war with the Krygons dragged on, horror stories from the front lines started to trickle back home. Bands of akor’mari, branded as killers and savages, stalked the night, their gray skin blending into the shadows, their red eyes gleaming in the dark, their hair as pale as the First Daughter moon – save for the strands drenched in the blood of Tarithian soldiers.

But right now, for better or worse, these boogeymen were the least of the riders’ concerns. One was a woman, whose frame was too small for the large gryphon she was riding on. Her feet couldn’t even reach where the stirrups were supposed to be, but even if they could, her gryphon was fitted with none, anyway. All it wore was a saddle, reins and body armor. The sight unnerved everyone; lack of proper flying gear was usually a death sentence, but this woman was an outlier, thriving in the skies far more than any of the riders.

“Hey, Juliette…” one of them called out to her. “Aren’t you scared of ending up being another one of the army’s safety stories? You’re barely wearing any gear at all!”

“Huh!” Juliette scoffed. “We’ve been over this again and again. If I was going to end up like that, it would’ve happened already, but I’m still here, aren’t I?”

“Still…! Continue reading “Crosswinds: Gryphon Down”

Thorn of the Rose

“O Scourge of the Sea! Though long you have stalked me, no more shall you withhold your truth from me…

“…O Scourge of the Sea! I see the curtain has parted, your true form at last revealed to me.”

Thorn of the Rose

By A. Broadhead


Act One

The moonlight lit the paths leading away from the village square, silvering the hair and hoods of the wuyon’mari streaming into it. Its light was overpowered by the lanterns in the square itself however, shining blue and violet, green and gold, from the branches of the white-barked trees. Keelath took a sniff of the air, scented with herbs and exotic perfumes and all kinds of food.

The Long Dark holiday was in full swing. Continue reading “Thorn of the Rose”

Conversion: Chapter 5, Part 5

Living Story Excerpts

…the next morning he was on the road again with his ram and the imp and a large supply of beer basted boar ribs…


The delivery was made and the fee for it paid. Still he was a little short, so Seryth agreed to look into the local kobold problem for the dwarves. He did his best to ignore the imp supplementing his fire bolts with some of its own… Continue reading “Conversion: Chapter 5, Part 5”

Conversion: Chapter 5, Part 4

Living Story Excerpts

He returned to Kharanos with the trolls dead and the meat and shimmerweed in tow. The dwarves gave him a feast in thanks, and Seryth went to bed with a bellyache and a sore head. He dropped off quickly into sleep, reflecting that he could always tell his father that the harvest had taken longer than usual to sell, hence his being away for a few days instead of the couple he had promised… Continue reading “Conversion: Chapter 5, Part 4”

Conversion: Chapter 5, Part 3

Living Story Excerpts

N/A.

Setting Translations

Also N/A!

Writing Process

This was a continuation of the scene started in Part 2, so I just had to complete the thought.

One thing I will have to watch in the future is how I describe rukh-shami. These ones at first act like moving boulders, but then Sirith notes they feel smooth and malleable like mud. Earlier in Chapter 1 he noted they bled sand. So which is it? Are these different sub-races? Or does it have to do with how these ones were burned to death instead of stuck with swords? Does normal fire even work on them? My world-building has a lot of unanswered questions…

The Prose

It was nearing sundown when Sirith approached the hills where the rukh-shami were supposedly encamped. He expected to see smoke rising in the air from campfires, but it was dark and silent all around. He pulled his ram to a stop and hesitantly dismounted, leading the riding goat into a brake of shrubs that he hoped would conceal it from sight.

Though the ympe clung impatiently to his shoulder, Sirith chose to approach the camps quietly, in a roundabout route up the shoulder of the hill rather than straight-on. He had an eerie feeling as he climbed Continue reading “Conversion: Chapter 5, Part 3”

Conversion: Chapter 5, Part 2

Living Story Excerpts

His fire magic kept him warm in the cold mountains, but it seemed to Seryth that it was just a little bit hotter, just a little bit wilder than it normally was when he summoned it…

Setting Translations

There’s nothing in this short excerpt to translate, except perhaps a reminder that Sirith isn’t in the mountains yet.

Writing Process

I read through some of the other chapters Continue reading “Conversion: Chapter 5, Part 2”

Conversion: Chapter 5, Part 1

Living Story Excerpt

Chapter 5: The ram finally slowed in Kharanos. By now, night had fully fallen. Seryth was hungry, and there were good smells coming from the tavern. "Stay here and don't get into trouble," he told the imp. The imp followed him anyway. The dwarves didn't seem to mint it, though, if they even noticed, and given the general level of drunkeness in the tavern, Seryth wasn't sure if they even did that. He asked a dwarf that seemed a little more curvy than the others where he could get something to eat. "Ye don't work, ye don't eat," said the dwarf, and handed him a requisition for boar meat and troll shimmerweed. Sighing, Seryth tramped back out into the snow... "Hey, at least you can get the bounty for the trolls while you're at it," said the imp, and then it quickly dodged a snowball.

Setting Translations

Kharanos = Svenby

When I’m stumped for a name, I’ll often look up words in a language that has the right look and feel for the culture I’m trying to name things in. Continue reading “Conversion: Chapter 5, Part 1”

Conversion: Chapter 4, Part 3

Living Story Excerpts

The cat continued to follow him like a silent shadow as he walked through Ironforge. The tunnels seemed considerably smaller now than they had when he was a kid.

The gryphon master was uninterested in lending him a gryphon, and so Seryth hired out a dwarven riding ram instead. The beast snorted as he stepped it down onto the snowy cobbles of Dun Morogh. He looked back and saw the cat still standing behind him, watching.

Seryth sighed. “Oh, fine! Come along if you want, but don’t cause any trouble for me.”

The cat bared its fangs, and leaped onto the ram’s hind end, changing into an imp in midair. The ram bawled and bucked and bolted, and for a while, it was all Seryth could do to hang on. Continue reading “Conversion: Chapter 4, Part 3”

Conversion: Chapter 4, Part 2 (Actually Chapter 3b)

Living Story Excerpt(s)

Chapter 3: The rewards for the gnoll-slaying and the farm chores were enough for Seryth to break even on his losses, but not enough to turn any profit. Seryth knew his father would be furious if he didn't come home with some extra silver to justify the trip. As he wandered the streets of Stormwind pondering the dilemma, Seryth was stopped by a dwarf smith who offered him coin if he took a message to Loch Modan. Loch Modan was a long way away, but the courier fees would more than cover the profits Seryth had expected to get from his now-stolen harvest. Seyth told the dwarf he would think about it and that he'd return in the evening if he decided to take the smith up on the job. The dwarf grumbled for him not to take too long.

While in the city, Seryth helped a child catch wayward balloons, bought himself a hat that was too big for him, and met a gnome with a pet bear named “Mangeclaw” that Seryth swore he had seen before, though it wasn’t clear to him why that’d be so, bears being a rare sight in Westfall.

Throughout it all, the calico cat continued to follow him.


As night fell, Seryth returned to the dwarf smith. Despite running errands for the local shopkeepers, he still hadn’t managed to make enough money for his foster father to be happy. Continue reading “Conversion: Chapter 4, Part 2 (Actually Chapter 3b)”