The Burning Throne, Part 2 –

Part 1 can be found here: http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2011/10/21/the-burning-throne-part-i-diary-of-a-crab/ as well as the explanation of what this is.

This week’s serial post is c0ming a few days early because I’m going to be very busy Friday. The following fiction is from one of our early sessions.

Included in this week are a part written by Nick Dianatkhah, who is playing Togashi Shichiroji AKA ZukoZuko. Who is now a wanted criminal, which is not known by his travelling companions. Meta-game, the characters are not aware that the Spider Clan they meet are actualy servants of evil, tasked with infiltrating the empire. The Spider are actually orchestrating the pirate attacks that way they can look good when they swoop in and save the day.

And the guys bursting into flame at the end? That’s because Zuko got his flaming fists on, only Makoto was too busy to notice. 

Coming next week, the Ballad of Ide Todo, by Steve Diamond. Which is when this writing thing started getting a little crazy.

 

Second Entry

From the journal of Hida Makoto, Crab Clan.

I have decided to keep a record of my journey. Should I die, I would hope that this scroll would be delivered to my half-brother and village magistrate, Hida Kenzan, so that he may know that I died as a Crab should, battling evil and defending the honor of my clan. Unless I died doing something really stupid. Then never mind.

It has been a busy few weeks, ridding the river of pirates. It was a good morning. I killed many pirates. I’ve never been shot by arrows before. It was enlightening. That is all.

Hmmm… Perhaps I should add more details. After all, the glory is in the details. Very well.

I have volunteered to serve the Unicorn courtier Ide Todo in his duty to move supplies to the war front. He is a small, quiet man who does not believe in violence. I do not think much of him, but he answers to the regent, and through him, I hope to impress the Otomos. 

Besides Todo-sama’s contingent of Unicorn bushi and Mantis archers, he is accompanied by a strange Dragon named Kitsuki Tsuze. He is some sort of “investigator”, whatever that is supposed to mean.

The leader of the archers is a man named Tsuruchi Machio, who as far as I can discern comes from a wealthy father.  He is a strange one, fascinated by odd gaijin things.

The last of our group is a ronin who has distinguished himself from the rest of the troops by his fearsomeness in battle. His name is Zukozuko. He is missing one eye and at some point lost half his face in battle. He does not talk much. I like him the best.

The others had been travelling together for some time before I joined them in Lion lands. They had participated in some intrigue between the Dragon and the Phoenix before Ide Todo was given his current assignment. I do not know what happened there, as the others are not fond of speaking of it, but apparently a murder was committed, a Dragon was framed, and in the resulting mess Tsuruchi Machio got himself into a duel, and is only alive because some insane flaming-fist Togashi monk interfered in the duel and murdered Machio’s opponent. The cowardly criminal monk fled and has not been seen since.

From those events, they have managed to gather a Mirumoto named Rei (who was somehow disgraced by the events) and a pretty Doji girl. Now clanless, they have been useless thus far, merely taking up space on our barges, but we could probably put the swordsman to work. I could probably find some use for the Doji girl too. 

Hmmm… That came out wrong. For whoever is reading this journal, know that my heart belongs to another. The Doji is safe.

#

“Thoughts Over Tea” – Reflections

 -Written by Togashi Shichiroji, known as Zukozuko, on the ride to war with the Army of Dark Fire.

Upon the cliff face,

Small tufts of grass may take root.

Across the grass lands

A few large stones may be found.

The broad back of Ningen-do

Finds neither of them distant.

I feel at ease tonight.  There is something soothing in my habits, that quiets the discomfort in my soul as we head to the warfront.  It would be a lie if I told myself I was not afraid, for I nearly tremble with terror at the thought of what we, and I specifically, will face there.  I do not fear the flame’s touch, nor Yobanjin spears.  No, I expect that will come during the battle.  Or it may not…  No, today I find myself in fear of killing.  Of putting blood on my hands again.

My master taught me all that a man should know to live a right life, and the path to search for enlightenment.  I feel like he was honest in his endeavors, and that he prepared me to the best of his abilities.  He did not tell me what enlightenment is, as it is different for everyone.  He merely gave me the tools he had and set me on my journey.  I do not know whether I have lost my way, or whether I have found the path to my own personal enlightenment.  I suddenly feel as though my teaching and experiences have not been enough.  I have broken the laws of my country and hide in plain sight.  I have committed murder, and reveled in bloodshed so much that I could pass for a Lion Deathseeker.  And I don’t feel I am wrong.

Tsuruchi Machio is a friend.  Or was one.  I know the laws and customs of the glorious Empire, but in my heart, I could not let the man die.  I have thrown my goals, my clan, and my honor to the dirt to save that samurai, and I don’t understand why, but I don’t feel that it was the wrong choice.

But it was murder.  That much I know.  The laws were set forth by the Kami, or those who spoke in their stead.  The iaijutsu duel is sacred, and to interrupt it, dishonorable, to kill a man in a duel is murder of a most heinous nature.  But it wasn’t wrong.

I find it difficult to speak with my companions.  In no small part for fear of revealing my identity.  But more so for the fact that I do not believe they will understand.  Ide Todo, a man much regarded for his accepting nature, and honest attitude, is a man I find myself more and more willing to follow.  I find myself more and more inspired by his actions and his words.  He is a natural leader, a surprise for many, I think, because of his affinity for the courts and not the blade.  Rokugan does not revere, respect, or coddle the weak.  Ide Todo is a weak man.  But perhaps only in body.  His spirit remains strong.  I wonder if he is a man who will truly protect those he gave his word to defend, whatever the cost.  I do not think, for all of his pure intentions, that is he that man.

Kitsuki Tsuzi.  I once knew, with all my being, that there was something of great import regarding him.  The vision I saw was clear as the mountain lakes near my monastery.  The portents obvious.  And now… I see chaos during my meditations regarding Tsuzi-san.  

I find myself drawn towards Hida Makoto more and more.  The man is a killer.  That is to be sure.  He kills without remorse, and without hesitation.  The man is a brutal machine.  Does he feel the same tsunami of spirit within him?  The same confusion? Killing and murder are not the same.  I am not ignorant.  But I wonder if he can help me understand.

And then there is Aiko of the Spider Clan.  While Makoto-san exemplifies violence.  Aiko exudes it.  There is something primal and something dangerous about her.  I believe, while I have not seen her kill, that she would understand the pull on my soul.  But she is like my mountainous homeland.  Difficult to navigate, forbidding, and unforgiving.

Perhaps none of them can assist me in quieting my discomfort.  After all I am the one who has sinned against the heavens.  I am the one who must come to grips with my actions on my own.  I know what I have been taught.  I know what I am supposed to feel.  I know what my duty dictates that I do.

But I cannot do it.  Perhaps this makes me weak.  Until I have come to an understanding of the subject I cannot allow myself to be taken.  I feel that my Master has not achieved his own goal of enlightenment because he has not been seeing the broader picture.  A man must experience and conquer all aspects of himself and the Five Rings.

However, does this revelation mean that a man, sometimes, must commit murder to protect that which is important?  Must a man commit sin to achieve his larger goals?

#

Third Entry

From the journal of Hida Makoto, Crab Clan. 

The Lion Clan have been of little help in our mission. They are more worried about the Scorpion Clan scheming across the river, than they are of the Red Sun pirates controlling the river. The Scorpion say the pirates are coming from the Lion side and the Lion say they are coming from the Scorpion side.  Who cares, I say? Find them and smash their heads.

One of the pirates we intercepted earlier was bearing a coded message. Kitsuki Tsuze was able to decipher it, and it gave us a list of targets and times. A small village was listed for this morning, but if we rode hard we knew we might be able to reach it in time to catch the bandits.

However, we arrived to the sound of battle rather than the sounds of a defenseless village being slaughtered. (trust me, they sound very different).  A group forty black-clad samurai bearing the unfamiliar mon of a spider had engaged the bandits and were utterly destroying them. We joined the fray late, and I was only able to kill a few pirates before the fight was over. That was very disappointing.

The leader of the strange samurai approached me. She had assumed by my armor and fierceness with the tetsubo that I was our group’s leader, but sadly I had to point her toward Ide Todo, who is easily overlooked. She said that her group were a minor clan known as the Spider, and that they were also focused on defeating these bandits. Her name was Iko.

I interrogated the one surviving pirate. He gave up the location of their base and said that they answered to someone known as the Moonless Night. They say that intimidation is a peasant skill, but I disagree. I am a fearsome Crab warrior and I still had fresh brains on my tetsubo. I can’t help but be intimidating. Having given my word not to kill the pirate, I told him to run away and find a respectable trade.

Since we shared the same mission, Ide Todo asked the Spider to join forces with us. We then travelled to see the Scorpion daimyo at Three Pillars Fortress, but it only had two pillars. Scorpions are annoying, but they are good hosts.  Ate fish. Drank sake.  Wrote in my journal, but now my eyes grow heavy. Hopefully tomorrow we will get to kill more pirates.

Fourth Entry

From the journal of Hida Makoto, Crab Clan. 

As I expected, the Scorpion are of no help. I enjoy their hospitality, even as I wonder if my sake is poisoned. The leader here is the least offensive Scorpion that I’ve met. He has a fat, playful dog that took a liking to me. Over breakfast, we learned from a messenger that the Badger Clan was defeated by the Yobanjin hordes of the Dark Oracle of Fire. Shiro Shinjo has been besieged. The war grows worse while we waste our time guarding supply barges. I wonder if this is what the Fortunes really would have me do? But I must persist.

While Ide Todo was speaking with the Scorpion Daimyo and pleading for men to aid in the war effort. I was approached by one Bayushi Ujiro. He is a slimy little man, who had some dealings with Ide Todo and the others during their earlier misadventures. He seemed to know too much about me, and even spoke of my acquaintance with the Otomos. He knows too much. Someone at home must have spoken about my conversation with Kenzan… Wringing Ujiro’s chicken neck would have been gratifying, but I played stupid until he went away. If the Scorpion think Crab are dumb, why rob them of their preconceived notions?

The next expected attack on the deciphered list was against several river barges heading for the front. Our group and the Spider travelled to the banks where the barges had been tethered. We were surprised to find that these barges were filled with goods from outside the empire, and they were piloted by gaijin. As odd as it seemed, their papers were in order. Truly, we live in strange times.

The main force of Spider and our archers hid in the tree line, while Ide Todo, Kitsuki Tsuze, Iko and their yojimbo watched from a small boat on the river. Zuko surprised me with his compassion. He didn’t think we should leave the gaijin so unprotected. That was very brave of him… Of course, that was where the most fighting would be, so I wasn’t going to let him get all the glory by himself. The two of us took cover on one of the gaijin barges.

There were far more pirates than expected and Iko wisely held her men back until the enemy were totally committed. I killed them until my arms grew tired and even managed to take one man’s head clean off with my tetsubo. That was fun. I discovered once again that arrows really hurt.  Finally, the Spider swept in and crushed the pirate force to the last man.

It turns out that the gaijin barge’s captain, Aramoan, is the woman engaged to Tsuruchi Machio, who was off delivering a message and missed the whole fight. The marriage is part of some strange Mantis diplomacy, but Machio-san often speaks often of his love for her. She only lived because of Zukozuko’s defense. The gaijin was rather thankful. Maybe they’re not all bad.

Something strange happened during the fight. A few of the pirates that Zuko was fighting burst into flames upon death. I did not witness this firsthand, but saw the corpses burning afterward. We believe that this may mean that the Army of Dark Fire has agents amongst the pirates. Iko seemed very surprised by this development.

Forgive my poor handwriting. I write this while riding on a horse. Now we are on our way to track down the rest of these wretched pirates.

#

Continued next week with the Ballad of Ide Todo http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2011/11/04/the-burning-throne-episode-3-the-ballad-of-ide-todo/ 

Speaking of Cover Art… Final Spellbound

I had the rough draft placeholder up, but here is the final, which looks a lot cooler. I especially like Faye on this one. 

Spellbound is available now in eBook from www.baen.com (that’s where you go for your Kindles & Nooks too), Uncle Hugos is already shipping autographed copies, and it will be on sale everywhere else the beginning of November.

And it is freaking epic. :)

 

Monster Hunter Legion cover art

Coming September 2012

cover art by Alan Pollack

The Burning Throne, Part I: Diary of a Crab

I’ve mentioned before here on the blog that I participate in something I like to call Writer Nerd Game Night. It is a group of novelists and book reviewers, and once a month we get together, get our serious nerdery on, and play Legend of the Five Rings. (which the lovely Mrs. Correia refers to as “Letters and Numbers”)  For those of you not familiar with it, think D&D in a world of magical samurai.

I was doing a book signing one night with Dan Wells, author of the I Am Not A Serial Killer series, and when it came up in coversation that I had been a gamer back in college, he invited me to come and play with them. It had been 12 years, but I had a great time. This has been a tradition for the last year now.  The group consists of me, Dan, his brother Rob Wells (author of the excellent Variant), Paul Genesse (author of the Iron Dragon series and editor of the Crimson Pact) and Steve Diamond (Crimson Pact) and Nick Dianatkhah of Elitist Book Reviews, and Abe Ragine (artist and video game designer).  Over the campaign there have been a bunch of special guest stars, who I’ll introduce when I put up the fiction. 

Oh, yeah… The fictions… Well, let’s just say that when you get a bunch of nerds this literate together, there is bound to be some writing going on. I think I started it with the following bit, which was character background for my first WNGN. I wrote this on a plane and during a layover in Atlanta. So this is what happens when a bunch of professional novelists get together and play imaginary magic samurai.  

From here on, the fiction kind of spiraled out of control, and between all of us we now have a small novel worth of stuff, with much of it being actually really good. Since I’ve got all this material anyway, I will be posting this stuff as a serial every Friday.

Background: They had already played a few games without me. One of the characters (Togashi Shichiroji, by Nick) was a mystical flaming fist Dragon monk, who interupted a duel to the death to save his friend (Tsuruchi Machio, by Rob).  This was a major crime, and the monk fled. During the escape he was horribly burned and disfigured. He has since returned, and is travelling with the group as a masked ronin named Zuko. (the other PCs don’t know, otherwise honor would demand they execute him). 

The leader of this group is a pacifist diplomat named Ide Todo of the Unicorn Clan. (Steve).  He has been sent on a mission to get supplies to a warfront. For those of you familiar with the setting, Dan (the GM) has combined The War of Dark Fire with the Race for the Throne story arcs.

And here is where I joined up… Regular readers won’t have a clue what some of this stuff is about, but just treat it like a fantasy novel.  Don’t worry. You’ll catch up.  I hope you enjoy our glorified fan fiction. :)

 

First Entry

From the journal of Hida Makoto, Crab Clan. 

I do not know much of storytelling. I’m certainly no Ikoma bard. If I’m going to keep a journal, I probably shouldn’t start in the middle with me fighting maho and riding on a boat far from home, led by a Unicorn that can’t fight, along with a Mantis that wants to be a gaijin, a Kitsuki that loves the ladies, a ronin with half a face, and a crew of miscellaneous samurai, minor clan warriors, and a Doji and a Mirumoto that as near as I can figure have been exiled for adultery. If you’re going to tell a story like that, you really need to start at the beginning, otherwise whoever reads this scroll after I’m dead will just be very confused. They will say, how did a simple son of Hida end up at the ass end of Lion lands battling pirates?

The answer is a strange one. In order to tell this story, I must go back to the Wall.

I am Hida Makoto, son of a forgotten failure of a Crab that does not deserve to be named. He was considered one of the best of our clan, and great things were expected of him, but then one day he failed in his duty. None will speak of his mistake, but many Crab died as a result. He was ordered to commit seppuku, but instead he ran away, a coward, never to be seen again. Some say that he joined the Lost, others say that he became a bandit, or lived as a peasant as his father before him. I do not care. To me, he is dead. 

My mother is Hida Nari of the Elite Guard. Toritaka Sujin married my mother when I was very young. Their children were placed ahead of me in status, and though I was the oldest child, I have always been considered the lesser son.

My forgotten father was the son of the legendary warrior Moshibaru Junaro. To some weak-kneed non-Crab he is remembered as the eta torturer who subverted the celestial order and rose to the station of samurai during a twenty goblin winter, but he’s affectionately remembered as Hida Neck-Breaker to everyone that’s ever fought on the wall.

I am the half-brother of Hida Kenzan, hero and magistrate of our small village in the Twilight Mountains. Luckily for Kenzan, we have different fathers. Only Toritaka Sujin wasn’t a coward.  My siblings are all great warriors and bring much honor to our clan, whereas I am but a sad reminder of our former shame.

Other clans say that the Crab are simple and crude. We are not. We are pragmatic. When every day can bring sudden death from the Shadowlands, there is no time for mincing words, nor can we afford the luxury of weakness cloaked as politeness. I was born under a dark cloud. I had not created this shame, nor had I committed my father’s sins, but they were mine to bear all the same. As he failed, so was I expected to as well. Sometimes, perhaps, we Crab can be a little too pragmatic.

I have worked very hard to overcome this. I have sworn before the shrine of the Fortune of Persistence that I will not fail. Most of my brothers in arms accepted me and I was proud to fight by their side. Others, especially those that knew my father, were not so forgiving…

My sensai tried to break me, yet the mountain did not break.

My gunso tried to dismiss me, yet the mountain did not move.

The Shadowlands tried to kill me, yet the mountain did not die.

Three years passed on the Wall. To some I was a brother. To many I was tolerated slightly more than the eta that shoveled the dung from our stables. For me, I was content to serve. 

My service thus far had been inconsequential, consisting of minor skirmishes against the Shadowland’s beasts testing our defenses, until last winter my unit of heavy infantry was given an assignment. We were to support a group of Seppun guardsmen and their charges. It is rare for an Imperial delegation to bother attending Winter Court in Kyuden Hida. We were told an Otomo courtier wished to inspect the wall. Inspect? What did he think he would find? Was he a Kaiu? Did he think he was going to point out its flaws, or maybe dare to judge the men that stood upon it?

He was even going to bring his daughter. We were told that though she was eighteen years old and of the Imperial family, she was not yet betrothed, which meant she was probably ugly as an ox. The Otomo’s group was sent to us, because it was felt that we were currently at the least active spot along the border. Our orders said that the Otomo’s safety was of the utmost importance. My unit laughed at this idea. We had no time for sightseers.

Nevertheless, my gunso is a man who understands duty. The Hida would surround the Seppun, who would surround the Otomo. Hiruma scouts would be on patrol and a Kuni witch hunter would never leave the courtier’s side. The Imperials had been given so much precious jade that they could barely walk. I, being of a very minor importance, was to guard their baggage.

They arrived. As expected, the Imperial was an obnoxious man, who in his pampered softness annoyed us all. He did not understand the Shadowlands or the danger it represented. His group was just as bad, giggling nervously at the swirling poison fog below, or pointing and sneering at the Crab who they considered as crude inferiors. Until the monster came… Then for one brief instant they understood what it means to be Crab. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

That was when I saw her.

At first I thought that my eyes had deceived me, for nothing so beautiful could exist so close to the fires of Jigoku. She was like no woman that I had seen before. Whereas Crab women are loud and strong, this one was like a pale flower. Thin and delicate, a winter chrysanthemum. She did not point and laugh like the others, pretending to be brave, while hiding nervous glances to the south. No. She was the epitome of regal calm.

She walked to the edge of the Wall. One of her Seppun yojimbo called her Lady Yuni, and urged her not to scar her eyes with such ugliness. Her voice was a whisper. She answered that it was her duty to look, because one who served in the Imperial court had to face the truth of things. No… This Otomo Yuni was not like the others.

The beast of Jigoku came from the air on wings of skin. The Hiruma heard it first and began herding the Imperials to safety, but the beast was too quick. It landed amongst us before the Imperials could reach the doors of the tower. The battle was joined. The Seppun were unprepared for such violence and many fell quickly. My brothers and I formed a line so the Imperials could flee, and we pushed the beast back. It was a fierce battle. HIDA!

I was struck down. One mighty blow from the Oni broke my tetsubo in half and rent through my helmet. My blood came pouring out. My brothers were knocked away. The Oni towered over me and raised one claw. It was an honorable death. A Crab’s death. Yet, it was not to be. An arrow hit the Oni in the mouth, distracting it from finishing me. My brothers rushed the creature and our witch hunter smote it with fire made of jade. It was hurled from the wall and fled screaming back into the wastes.

As I lay, bleeding, I turned my head to see which brave Hiruma I owed my life. Instead, I found Otomo Yuni, wielding the bow of one of her fallen Seppun guard. The rest of the Imperials had run away, but she was determined to do her duty to the empire. She fired one last arrow after the retreating demon, and I saw the barest hint of a smile cross her perfect face as the jade arrow struck home and the demon squealed.

This was a descendent of emperors.

I struggled to remain conscious as my wounds were bound with jade powder. As Otomo Yuni was pulled to safety, she took the time to say, “The most horrible thing I have ever seen is something you battle every day. The empire thanks you, oh brave sons of Hida.” I remember no more as I passed then into the realm of dreams.

My wounds were grievous. My skull had been broken. As I slept, I dreamt of Otomo Yuni. I barely knew her, but I knew that I loved her.

Hida Kisada, Fortune of Persistence, appeared to me. He told me that I had a great destiny to fulfill. The winter chrysanthemum, the archer of the Wall, was destined to become a daughter of Hida. She was to be my wife. He expected much of me and this was to be my duty. It would be difficult. Much sacrifice would have to be made. I was to go north toward the War of Dark Fire to prove my worthiness.  

Of course, I told Kisada that I would not fail. You don’t argue with a Fortune.

By the time I awoke, weeks had passed, the snows had melted, the passes were clear, and the Otomos were gone.

I went and spoke to my brother. He was glad to see that I’d recovered, but then I told him of my vision. He told me that he thought I’d been hit in the head too hard. We argued. Growing angry, he said I was a fool. Of course, Imperials had married Crab before, but those were daimyos, generals, and champions, not… He did not wish to finish, but I knew what he’d been about to say.

“The spawn of an eta? The son of a coward? Is that what you think I am?” I immediately regretted that. My remarks were shameful. It was not fair for me to speak this way.

Kenzan was furious. He had always treated me with the utmost respect. He had been the prodigy that had stuck up for me at the dojo, he who had gotten me the honor of being assigned to the Wall. “Do you wish for me to lie to you? Do you wish for me to tell you some Doji fairy tale where a minor samurai rescues a princess? Your place is here.”

“Would you have me disobey a Fortune?”

Kenzan’s face grew red. “I am still the head of this village, poor and as unworthy as the Otomos surely think it is. If Kisada wanted you to go on this fool’s errand, he’ll still need to get my permission first!”

I took a seat in the middle of his audience chamber. “Fine. I’ll wait here until he tells you so himself.” He stormed out.

I sat there for an entire day. Kenzan returned the next morning, and was surprised to see that I hadn’t moved. I heard the resulting argument between him and his Yasuki advisor. The walls of a Kaiu fort are thick, but not thick enough to stop a voice like Kenzan’s when he was angry. From the one side of the argument I gathered that the advisor thought I was an embarrassment anyway, why not send me off? I’d either prove myself, and thus end the talk about my cursed bloodline, or I’d die trying. Either would be an improvement at court.

Kenzan returned, and this time he was holding a tetsubo. That was not a good sign. I didn’t think that he’d just club me, but we are Crab, and he did have mother’s temper… Instead he placed the tetsubo in front of me and said. “Yours is broken. Take this. It belonged to Moshibaru Junaro. You have my blessing. Return with honor or not at all.” 

“I will not fail, brother.”

Kenzan shook his head, called me many names, and said that I’d better not screw this up. We spoke for a time. I promised that if he needed me to send word.

My lord questioned me, yet the mountain did not yield.

A Yasuki caravan was heading north so I rode with them. They were happy to have another warrior along. It was the furthest I’d ever been away from home. We travelled through Crane lands (which were very pretty and filled with vapid white-haired samurai busy getting into idiotic duels at the slightest provocation) and then I left the caravan and travelled alone into Lion lands (where a bunch of samurai play at war while speaking of honor). I stopped at many shrines along the way, seeking guidance at each to see which way my journey should take me. It always felt like north.

The journey was long. Doubts ate at me. At times I wondered… Was Kenzan right? Was I mad? While I was off playing the wandering samurai, my brothers were fighting demons without me. Would some who would surely die have lived if I had been there, holding the line? Each morning I awoke, looking south, toward Crab lands… But the mountain should not bend, so I continued on.

One night I was at a Lion keep, enjoying the hospitality (and trying my best to not get into fights with those self-righteous fools) when a group of unfamiliar samurai arrived from the river. Their leader was a small man, frail and almost sickly in appearance, wearing the flamboyant purple robes of the Unicorn Clan. His voice was quiet and his words were soft. His name was Ide Todo. He did not even carry a katana.

Suddenly, I received an impression, surely from Kisada himself, as if a great voice spoke directly into my mind. “THAT MAN IS TO BE YOUR LEADER. FOLLOW HIM.” I laughed so hard that I almost choked on my sake. The Lion samurai regarded me strangely. I was fairly drunk, but I was certain that I had heard the voice. It seems even Fortunes have a sense of humor. “NO… SERIOUSLY.”

Hmmm… So I listened to the small Unicorn speak. There had been a battle against many pirates. They were taking supplies to the war front on behalf of the Imperial Regent. And then it clicked. Commissioned by the Regent! Helping this Unicorn on his quest would be like helping Otomo Yuni personally.

A Fortune tested me, yet the mountain did not bend.

Thank you, Hida Kisada. I will not fail.

Continued here:  http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2011/10/26/the-burning-throne-part-2/

Great essay by Dave Ramsey on the Occupies

http://www.daveramsey.com/article/dear-occupy-wall-street/lifeandmoney_economy/  Similar points, but he was a lot nicer than I was. :)

MHI Patch Contest, VOTE NOW!

Please put your vote in the comments of this post.

To view all of the submissions, click here: http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2011/08/30/monster-hunter-international-patch-contest-ii-the-patchening/

Note, there are some that have copyrighted images in them, and those just plain can’t win. Sorry.  That said, vote for who you like, because on some of the images that you might think are copyrighted actually were submitted by the owners. Which was sort of a geeky surprise for me. :)

I will leave voting open until November 7th, mostly because I was very late in getting all of the patches posted here. I didn’t expect that many!  I am in awe of you guys.  After that I’ll tally them up, pick the author’s choice winners, and announce them all on the blog.

And since this post has got 3,300 hits this morning, I should’ve put a link to go buy something.  Here, go look at Dead Six:  http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Six-Larry-Correia/dp/1451637586/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1319124685&sr=8-1   You should read it, because it is cool.

The Grimnoir Chronicles: Spellbound eBook is out now

http://www.webscription.net/p-1479-spellbound-book-ii-of-the-grimnoir-chronicles.aspx  Available for download now. $6.  No DRM. Available for Kindles, Nooks, or whatever format you want.

Act of Valor

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUkKuImX_ok&feature=player_embedded

From what I understand all of the SEALs are played by SEALs. This started out as a training film, then turned into a Navy film, then full on Hollywood. It looks great. The part where they catch the body so it doesn’t spash. Goosebumps.

WordPress tech question, how to squish trolls?

How do I block an IP?

After all these years, and leaving up pretty much every comment except for spam and the craziest of crazy, I’ve finally decided to block one person. At first smacking down their profanity laced, drug fueled tirades was amusing and I got some fun out of it. Then it just got repetitive. Now I get another incoherant screed every day or so. I started marking them as spam, but he just keeps making up new e-mails.

And yes, Plow, this one’s for you baby. And for the record, I’ve won life. You’ve lost. Feel free to post your crap on your own sad page. Whenever you write about me and post a link back here I get as many as seven whole hits a day!  Though that usually doesn’t show up in the top 20 referrers list so I don’t often see it. 

There aren’t enough hours in the day to respond to you with the same information every time you post.

So since this is the last time I’ll ever address you:

1. I don’t delete your posts because I’m a coward that is too afraid to debate with you. I tried that several times in the past. You are a self proclaimed drug addict with severe emotional/anger issues that keep you from functioning fully in society. If I wanted your style of debate (screaming the F word and obscure random insults every few seconds) then I’d go down to Pioneer Park and argue with some homeless people.

2. Thank you for your service in the Navy. You are correct. I never served in the military. Never claimed to. I was declared medically unsuitable. I was bummed, but then got on with my life, and it only really comes up with people like you for some reason. (well, you do need something to feel superior to me about, so there you go)

As for supporting the troops. My house is the “permenant residence” for a couple of guys that are deployed right now. I’ve worked with the military off and on for a big chunk of my life. In my contractor career I’ve supported troops on 15 bases in 10 states. I’m making enough money off of writing to quit my day job, but I love what I do and who I work with.  My coworkers in my office include a retired Navy Commander, a retired Army Colonel, a retired AF colonel, and two retired AF Master Sergeants. (though one is now in the Reserve) My best friend is an EOD tech in Afghanistan right now. My former business partners were SF and my gunsmith was a Marine.

Strangely enough, I get along with military people really well  (except all of them aren’t drug addled nitwits, like you).

In my writing career that you like to disparage, I’m fairly popular with military readers. I was the #1 book of the Ronald Reagan carrier battle group. I have a standing invite to ride an assault boat with Navy SEALs the next time I make it out there way. I had some of the top selling books in the PX system. I’ve got a ton of pictures on this blog of guys sporting the MH patch while riding in turrets or hanging out the side of Blackhawks.

Basically, I get along well with military people and have worked with them a lot. When I was a CCW instructor I taught $20,000 worth of free classes for anybody Active, Reserve, or Guard. Show up with a card, free class. It was the best way I could say thanks. 

So yeah, I support the troops. I love them. I just don’t like you. And since the only thing in your life you have to be proud of is your service, that’s what you fall back on to try to make me less. And as you do so, your crazy ramblings about the right insult the other posters here, many of whom are also prior service, and in some cases, still active duty. Of the many things about you that annoy me, that is toward the top.

3. I have no desire to drive to Oregon to “punch you in the face and get arrested becasue I have big man syndrome” and the rest of that elaborate fantasy involving how the judge and sheriff were going to hang me because I’m not a vet and you are.  Those of us that aren’t on Zoloft don’t have elaborate violent revenge fantasies about random people on the internet. The last time I was in Oregon was to do a book signing. Trust me, I didn’t think of you the entire time.

4. I don’t think you understand what kind of writer I am.  You keep insulting what I do for a living, as if my literary skills being mocked by a hermit blacksmith are going to hurt my feelings. I’m pretty successful. I’ve been on the NYT twice on the most competitive list. And before you go, but only #23! I had one of the top 3 fantasy writers in the world come up to me at WorldCon and compliment me for how remarkably high that was, and how he’d only had one of his multiple series get higher than that. My last main series book spent 12 consecutive weeks as a national bestseller.

I have 6 books out in 3 years with 18 additional under contract. I’ve sold the rights to a TV show to one of the biggest production companies in the business. I’m being translated into six languages. I was one of the 5 worldwide finalists for the prestigious Campbell award for best new writer. I have a lot of fans. I have a bunch of really successful writers that really enjoy my work. In the last two weeks I’ve been complimented by #1 and #2 in my genre. For how long I’ve been doing this, I’m doing pretty darn good.

Oh, and on that note, yeah, I’m financially secure and not nearly as fat as you seem to think I am. :) I’ve been happily married for 13 years and have a wonderful family. I’ve got lots of friends and get to do fun things whenever I want.  I’m active in my church, though you came out of the closet about hating Mormons too.

You live alone in the woods, smoke dope to get by, and I should listen to your opinions… why?

5. I could respond to why I don’t care about your political opinions, because those seem to be the posts you always respond to, but for the life of me, despite the thousands and thousands of words you’ve typed here, I have absolutely no idea what your fundamental beliefs are. Your writing is so incoherant and confusing that I honestly don’t understand your point most of the time. I often don’t even realize it is you posting until you say something about FDR or Smedley Butler.

And on that note, I know more about that time period than you do too. Sorry. 

Even as far as people I totally disagree with, most of the posters that come on here just to argue with me are at least intelligent enough to put their argument into a format that I can understand. You are not brilliant. You are not misunderstood. It isn’t that my people can’t engage you in a debate. You are simply an idiot.

6. And yep, been poor. Really poor. I had a really hard upbringing. That usually only gets brought up with people like to interupt your gigantic sob stories about how impossible life is, and I can say, yep, been there, deal with it and move the hell on already. I don’t normally say much about it, but it wasn’t a picnic. And unlike typical liberal scum, I don’ t like to insult my parents. I think I know why that is so hard for you to wrap your brain around. The concept of somebody pulling themselves up and improving their lives without the government doing it for them is inconceivable.  

So good bye, Plow. I’m done. Find some other blogger to fixate on, you hippie sack of shit. I’m done with you.

I’m on a roll with this whole writer thing

So last week I saw on Facebook that Jim Butcher, author of the Dresden Files and all around super star writer, posted about how he loved Monster Hunter International.  Today, I’m google searching my name and I find:  http://www.charlaineharris.com/bb/bb_current.html  Where Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Sackhouse books that HBO’s True Blood is based on, picked MHI as one of her books of the week.

Two awesome writers saying they like my stuff in two weeks. Not too shabby.

So… Let’s see, Jim Butcher had a TV show, Charlaine Harris has a TV show…. They both like MHI. I’ve sold the rights but haven’t heard anything lately… Come on MHI TV show!  You know it would be awesome.

As a writer, it is pretty darn cool when you find out that writer’s who you enjoy/respect really like your work. I had a major geek out when Tracy Hickman told me he loved Hard Magic. (too late for Spellbound, but he’s blurbing Book 3: Warbound). Hard Magic is also Dan Well’s favorite of my books. The two of us were invited to the Novell Brain Share event/party last night, as special guests, where we sold and autographed a gigantic pile of books (and right after that he went home and his wife had a baby, congrats to the Wells family).

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