The Burning Throne, Episode 21: Arguing with Dragons

Continued from: http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2012/03/23/the-burning-throne-episode-20-aerie-of-the-sky-riders/ 

After getting Machio back, hilarity ensued when he was assigned the most annoying NPC ever as his bodyguard. Then we got to court. Unbeknowest to Makoto, the Poison Dragon that is murdering Phoenix is one of the other PCs, Fosuta Zuko. Awkward.

After that is a little piece from Paul, because the cursed magic sword he’s been carrying is trying to drive him mad. And it wasn’t like he wasn’t crazy enough to begin with.

Sixteenth Entry

From the journal of Hida Makoto, Crab Clan. 

Two weeks have passed since I have last written. Ide Todo’s daily lessons on the ways of court have consumed much of my time. I believe Todo-sama becomes frustrated at times with me, but I am beginning to understand this war of words that courtiers wage. Perhaps I can be of some use to Ide Todo, for often there are things that must be said, but no “proper” courtier will say . They dance around the ugly truth. But since most courtiers simply assume that I am an ignorant brute, it enables me to speak plainly, and say that which none of them would dare. It has worked pretty good so far.

That reminds me. I should probably brush up on my iaijutsu dueling…

After leaving the Mountain Spirit village with our new recruits, Akimi, Danjuro, and Misato, we travelled to the ruins of the High House of Light to search for Fosuta Zuko and Tsuruchi Machio. They had still not returned from their scouting mission. There was sign of a struggle. Machio’s bow and katana were found abandoned in a pile of blood along with a giant eagle feather.

During the search, a wounded Yobanjin came out of the ruins and took one of our eta hostage. I do not know what he expected to accomplish, but his impudence angered me. I could have handled that incident better. Crab do not bluff, but apparently neither do Yobanjin, and our eta was stabbed to death. I am saddened by the loss of another servant.

A short time later several of the giant eagles and their Yobanjin riders arrived. I prepared the Paper Lanterns to fight, but they had come to parley. They are called the Sky Riders, and Ide Todo spoke with them. The Ide are especially skilled at dealing with gaijin. They had taken Machio prisoner, but they did not have Zuko. The Sky Riders have been enslaved by the Dark Oracle. He holds their women and children hostage to ensure their service. Todo arranged a trade of the lesser gaijin nemuranai for Machio’s life. The trade was completed amicably, and we parted, not as a friends, but perhaps as potential future allies.

Todo is wise, I had wanted to simply club them. Birds have hollow bones so a tetsubo should do a real number on a giant chicken. The Sky Riders said that they would call us Rokugani Crows. I do not know if that is an insult or a compliment.

Since Machio’s contrary nature had already caused the Paper Lanterns some trouble, and his rescue had cost us several valuable nemuranai, his welcome was perhaps not as warm as he had expected. Ide Todo was still displeased over his prior actions against the Mountain Spirits, so allowed Magatsu to heal Machio’s wounds in the most degrading way possible. By scrubbing him with ash and gravel, and then making him give thanks at every shrine we passed on our way to Shiro Tamori. There were seventeen.

In addition, as nikutai, I pointed out that Machio had a bad habit of almost dying. So I appointed Shinjo Braga, who is completely without humility or sense, to be Machio’s yojimbo. Ide Todo was very pleased by this. Braga vowed to never let Machio out of his sight. Braga will test Machio’s food for poison. Braga will watch over Machio even as he sleeps, relieves himself, or makes love to his woman. Braga vowed that he will be the greatest yojimbo in the history of the Empire.

There was no sign of Zuko. His tracks simply disappeared. The Sky Riders said that they saw him follow for quite some time, before they lost him somewhere in the mountains. I worry for Zuko. He is my friend. We would have searched for him, but duty demanded that we deliver the mighty shamesword to Shiro Tamori. Zuko is a crafty warrior and I have no doubt that what he does, he does for a good reason. I will ask the Fortunes to watch over him.

It took two weeks of difficult travel to reach Shiro Tamori. These damned Dragon mountains make my home mountains seem like hills. During this time I made sure to speak with every bushi in our group. With Zuko missing, it is my responsibility to lead in battle. If I am to lead them, I must know them. This duty weighs heavy on me. I look back at my years on the Wall, and remember the actions of the leaders that won our respect. I will do my best to emulate their ways.

I nearly fell off my horse when we reached the besieged Shiro Tamori. In addition to the Dragon, Crane, and Scorpion army banners on the walls, the banner of Otomo Hoketuhime flew. I recognized the mon of Otomo Yuni’s mother immediately. I signaled Ide Todo, but he was already aware.  Todo-sama is surely the best nakado ever.

The Tamori granted us our own compound for our stay. It seems that word of the Paper Lantern’s exploits have gotten here ahead of us. Perhaps Ikoma Katsu is handy to have around after all.  We would not be able to speak to Togashi Satsu until morning. Once we were settled, and a decoy sword had been set out under guard as if it were the real shamesword, Ide Todo gathered the men to discuss our mission. He invited all that travelled with us to become full members of the Paper Lanterns and spoke of the oath necessary.

Ide Todo gave a stirring speech. I watched the men’s eyes as he talked. They believe in him. They will lay down their lives for him without hesitation. I could barely hear the words. The idea that these bushi would depend on my wisdom on the battlefield consumed my thoughts. I made another vow that night in addition to the one I made to Ide Todo. I promised Bishamon, Fortune of Strength, and Hachiman, Fortune of Battle, that if these lives were mine to spend, I would not spend their lives foolishly.

All the warriors but Rei took the oath. The disgraced former Mirumoto did not feel worthy. I have watched him. He is mistaken. He is more than worthy and conducts himself with quiet honor. I spoke to him afterward. He will continue to serve as one of Ide Todo’s personal yojimbo. He is a Dragon warrior that loved a Crane aristocrat’s wife, and thus brought disgrace to the Dragon Clan. Personally, I think that if some foolish Crane husband was insufficiently man enough to satisfy his woman, he got what he deserved. Aiko is far better off serving as the Paper Lantern’s scribe than she would be married to such a pathetic husband. Rei did them both a favor as far as I’m concerned.

After Todo’s very stirring speech and oath ceremony, I spoke to the Lantern bushi. It was a simple affair to discuss a few military matters.

That night we left Kuni Magatsu and all the men to guard the shamesword, and Ide Todo, Ikoma Katsu, Kitsuki Tsuze, and I went to dinner at the palace. I was very nervous. It was doubtful that I would speak to the Otomo daimyo, and even more doubtful that her daughter would be there, but if so, I hoped to make a good impression. My clothing is shabby compared to everyone else’, but my family’s holdings are not rich. I tried to dress up with some of Machio’s fancy stuff, but there is an old saying that you can’t polish a Crab shell.

Luckily, Otomo Yuni was not present. Good. I think I look much better in armor.

At dinner, I sat next to our old pal, Bayushi Ujiro. The Scorpion was his usual conniving self. Ide Todo can’t stand the man, but it turns out that I get along with him well enough. I don’t play games. Ide Todo spoke with some Kitsuki woman named Iweko. She seemed nice enough. During dinner, I made sure to tell my finest and most entertaining stories of Crab valor. Otomo Hoketuhime was sitting relatively far away, but I made sure to speak with sufficient volume when I told about how I’d engaged the wielder of the shamesword in single combat, how we cleaned out the Red Sun, the killing of the Moonless Night, and our various battles against the Yobanjin horde. The sushi wasn’t fresh, but there was lots of it.

Then our perfectly good evening was interrupted when a high ranking representative of the Phoenix barged in, demanding to speak with Togashi Satsu. He said that the Poisoned Dragon, the wretched murderous mad monk, had struck again, killing more Phoenix. The Shiba was enraged, insinuating that since the Dragon hadn’t caught the mad monk, that they were somehow complicit. It is well known that Ide Todo was an acquaintance of this monk before he went on his killing spree. When the Shiba saw Todo-sama, he grew angry, and wondered aloud how come Todo had not captured the Poison Dragon.

As Ide Todo tried to calm the Shiba, I saw an opportunity. The Paper Lanterns have not been recognized in Phoenix lands yet, and thus we cannot travel freely there.  I stood and introduced myself to the crowd. I told them that I had not been blessed to serve with Ide Todo in those early days, but that if the Phoenix would recognize the Lanterns in their lands, then I would personally see to it that the Poison Dragon was captured. Then to add a personal touch, (to let him know that I really did care) I offered to bring the Shiba the head, hands, and feet of the Poison Dragon in a nice sack.

Ide Todo had a strange look on his face when I finished, as if he’d been stricken mute with surprise. I’m not sure if I my move was tactically brilliant or incredibly stupid. Court is so very complicated.

The next morning we were allowed to speak to Togashi Satsu. The Dragon was quite literally a dragon. Apparently Satsu has the ability to turn into a dragon, and has been spending almost all of his time in that form. He was rather intimidating, and I have no doubt that he could have swallowed even me in one bite.

The Tamori we had spoken to had all seemed hesitant about Satsu. The Mountain Spirits had cursed Satsu. And now I understood why. He barely spoke, and when he did, he spoke in riddles. He had a small cryptic message for Tsuze about bewaring the oni’s eye. Then he mostly ignored us. Satsu’s mind is in the heavens and his head is up his ass. Ide Todo tried his best. Kuni Magatsu tried his best. But the damnable monk-dragon would not take the evil shamesword, nor would he tell us how to destroy it. All he told us was that no one was watching the heavens.

I am afraid that I lost my temper. How can his people watch the heavens when their villages burn, their armies are slaughtered, their stomachs growl, and their children are massacred by Yobanjin? How can the Dragon clan survive if their clan leader will not lead? My sensei often told me that he thought I would amount to nothing, but this morning I told a reincarnated Kami that he was a failure as a clan champion, nothing compared to a real clan champion like Hida Kuon, and that I could see why so many of his samurai would rather live as little more than bandits than serve him.  Oh, if my sensei could see me now.

Satsu did not answer me. Nor did he eat me. So I call it a draw.

We left in disgust. Ide Todo requested some astronomers. Hopefully they will be able to shed some light on what we are supposed to be watching for in the heavens.

From the Private Journal of Kuni Magatsu, Crab Clan Shugenja

The Month of the Serpent at the Clan Stronghold of Shiro Tamori 

It has been whispering to me more often now. The voice of the Shame Sword of Penance is in my mind promising me power and glory to defeat the lords of the Shadowlands.

I let it speak to me. I encourage it, for perhaps it will let slip its secrets and reveal its weaknesses. Perhaps it will let me see what is truly inside it so that I may destroy it and free the dishonored samurai within.

I wish to see into its core of metal, to the place where its true power resides. I was tempted to pick it up when I met with the Dragon Clan Champion himself, Togashi Satsu. It was in my mind to strike the dragon with the sword and wake him from his slumber. Perhaps I will attack him the next time I am in his presence.

Does Togashi Satsu not remember his friend Hitomi Akaui, who is trapped in the blade? Does Satsu not regret what happened? If Satsu had not counseled surrender to Kokujin, the sword would have never been forged. I wonder if Satsu is somehow allied with Kokujin, or was enspelled by him at the time?

Our meeting with Satsu was beyond frustrating. Words did not waken the dragon to action and all of us tried. Hida Makoto made a strong speech and if his impassioned words did not raise the dragon’s will, perhaps none will. Next time, we need action.

The dragon did tell us to look toward the sky and made some other warning I did not understand. We shall consult with the best two Dragon Clan astrologers. If they cannot help us, then perhaps we shall travel to the Phoenix Clan lands, for they have the most accomplished Shugenja Schools in the Empire. Most importantly, the Phoenix are not afraid to act like the Dragon Clan are.

In the meantime, I shall keep the sword close and guard it carefully, and in the deepest of night, I shall whisper to it.

#

To be continued next week, with one of my favorite pieces of fiction, Tenets of Bushido, which chronicles Makoto’s little motivational talks with the recruits. Honestly, it is one of those bits of fiction that is too darn good to waste, and will probably get tweaked into a real novel one of these days.  http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2012/04/06/the-burning-throne-episode-22-tenants-of-bushido/

Booksigning, Sugerhouse B&N April 7th (1st time with Mike Kupari)

http://store-locator.barnesandnoble.com/store/2941  Mike and I will be signing at the Sugerhouse B&N on April 7th, starting at 11:00 AM. This is the first time we’ve gotten to sign together, and in fact, this is his first actual book signing ever.

So if you are around Utah, come on out and make Mike Kupari’s first book signing extra awesome.

Look what I got…

The Hard Magic mass market paperback is coming out in April.

 

You guys should totally buy all of them. Tell your friends. Harrass your friends. Annoy your friends. Ignore those restraining orders! Spread the word. Grow a big scraggly beard and stand on the corner with a cardboard sign loudly proclaiming that Hard Magic is coming. (don’t forget to leave out a cup for people to leave money in, then take that money and buy more copies of Hard Magic for yourself).

Also, I’ve got a book signing on April 7th at the Sugerhouse B&N with Mike Kupari (our first one together).

My first 1 star review of Hard Magic

This is perhaps the greatest book review ever written. I simply had to share it with you guys.
 
0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars bad book,March 9, 2012

it had a bad word in the begining amnd all through it and i did not like the consept very much

Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
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Are you sure it had a bad word? Can you read good enough to tell?  Maybe I was just trying to spell Duck. Stupid autocorrect. That’s what I get for typing novels on my iPhone. :)

A caricature of me by Howard Tayler

Howard Tayler of www.schlockmercenary.com came to the Writer Nerd Game Night that was held at the SLC Nerd Show and drew pictures of us all.  If you’ve read any of the Friday serial fictions I’ve been posting, you will probably recognize this guy.

The Trayvon Martin shooting

This has been in the news a lot lately, and because of my background I’ve had a bunch of you ask me my opinion on the matter.

First off, I spent a lot of years as a firearms instructor. During that time I certified a couple thousand people to carry a concealed firearm in the state of Utah. One of the things that I made sure I harped on every single class was that it was a permit that says you can carry a gun in order to defend yourself from serious bodily harm, not a badge. It isn’t your job to enforce the law or protect other people’s property. Sometimes you’re going to blunder into a bad situation, but then if humanly possible you’re supposed to avoid and deescalate, and shooting somebody is a last resort to keep you or others from getting seriously hurt. Period.

For a regular citizen, placing yourself in danger unnecessarily is usually a bad call. Following someone, especially because you think they are up to no good, even if you think you’re doing it for a good reason like vectoring the cops in on them, falls into that bad call category. Neighborhood watch isn’t the police.

That said, just because you do something stupid to put yourself into a bad situation doesn’t mean that the resulting shoot itself was justified or not. For those of you getting super worked up one way or the other, you don’t know either, and you need to calm down.

Here’s what it comes down to. You don’t have the facts. You’re not one of the investigators and you’re not one of the attorneys, and odds are you won’t be on the grand jury. The available facts from different witnesses has changed daily. This shooting demonstrates exactly why we have a justice system. The law says that if in Zimmerman’s situation, a reasonable person would believe that they were imminent danger of serious bodily harm, and Martin had the ability and opportunity and presented himself as such a threat, then Zimmerman was justified in using deadly force. If Zimmerman did not have those things, then he wasn’t justified, and then should be tried in criminal court, and if found guilty, sent to prison.

That’s how the system normally works when the media doesn’t get involved.  

Also while on the topic of the law pertaining to shooting people, this has absolutely nothing to do with Florida’s Castle Doctrine, and as soon as you hear somebody spout off about that like they have a clue, you can safely file them in the idiot bin. That law doesn’t even come into play here, and anybody who thinks it does, probably doesn’t know jack about self defense law or they’ve got an agenda and they’re milking this. As a rule of thumb, if you don’t know anything about a topic, you probably shouldn’t try to sound smart about it by repeating anything you heard on the news, because they’re usually wrong, and people who know what they’re talking about will just think you’re an imbecile.

But the most important thing I take from all of this, the race baiting assholes out there need to shut the hell up.

Seriously. If their hypocrisy and evil doesn’t enrage you, then you need to take a step back and examine your life. The Black Panthers are offering a $10,000 reward for Zimmerman dead or alive. Spike Lee put the guy’s address out on Twitter for all the little psychopaths to go get their murder on. I’m a little confused here… Wasn’t lynching people without a fair trial one of those things we’re supposed to be ashamed about in our nation’s history?

As more facts come out, it seems like racism didn’t really have much to do with the shooting. But hey, don’t let that stop you. Innocent? Guilty? Who cares? Let’s burn this sucker down!

We’ve got the President saying that if he had a son he’d look like Trayvon… What do his looks have to do with it? Oh wait! That’s right. This is Obama we’re talking about here. It is always about race. Just like how he proclaimed that the Cambridge cops acted stupidly before he had any facts, Obama knew that this shooting was all about race, and not about the fact that allegedly getting your face kicked in legally constitutes serious bodily harm in the state of Florida.  

He also said we all need to examine what role we played in this event… No, Mr. President, we don’t need to examine our roles in this because that is friggin’ stupid. We didn’t have a role in this shooting, nor did you. The people who had a role in this are the two individuals involved, then the witnesses, investigators, attorneys, jury, and judge. None of which are you. So you need to quit fanning the flames for opportunist dirt bags like Sharpton and Farrakhan and let the justice system do its job. If you have any role to play at all, it certainly isn’t to be a prognosticating douche bag about topics you know nothing about. I’m pretty sure most other Presidents would try to prevent riots. I know. Crazy, right?

Man, this whole thing pisses me off.

If Zimmerman is guilty, fry him. If he is justified, then he should be left alone. And going back to what I taught in CCW classes, this whole thing is a perfect example of why you should just stay out of other people’s business whenever possible.

My ancestor (maybe) shows up on Minimum Wage Historian

Because conquistadors get the longest killing streaks and unlock mad perks.

http://minimumwagehistorian.wordpress.com/2012/03/14/conquistadors-get-the-longest-killing-streaks-and-unlock-mad-perks/ 

Am I related to Gaspar Correia? I don’t actually know. However, he was a historian who made up wild crap about monsters and mystical adventures because writing about actual real stuff was lame. So if we are related at least I know where I get it from.  

Vasco – Hey, Correia. What’s on the other side of those mountains? I don’t think the Portuguese have ever gone there. Correia – Oh, those mountains? That’s where there are dragon mummies that are ridden by ninjas who fight gladiatorial battles in an arena made of solid gold. Vasco – Oh. Groovy. Hey, let’s go pillage the **** out of that village.

Because my ancestors simply did not give a crap. Outnumbered 8,000 to 1? Well, that means we might be late for dinner.

The Burning Throne, Episode 20: Aerie of the Sky Riders

Continued from: http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2012/03/16/the-burning-throne-episode-19-honor-tears/ 

This week’s episode is written by Steve Diamond. During Writer Nerd Game Night we meet a lot of different characters. Steve really likes writing up the antagonist’s point of view. You can’t just have bad guys, you have to have bad guys with motivation. These are the giant bird riding barbarians that went on to kidnap Tsuruchi Machio. 

Aerie of the Sky Riders

Wind howled in Naran’s ears as he directed Odval into a dive.  On the mountain side below the goat never stood a chance.  It was dead the instant Odval’s talons—each the length of long knives—torn into the goat’s body.  There was no fear.  No chase.  It made for more tender meat this way.  Fleeing animals gained a certain measure of toughness.

Laughing, Naran patted the giant eagle’s neck and steered it back in the direction of the Aerie.  His other Sky Riders plummeted and rose along the face of the mountain each claiming a prize.

Tonight they would feast in celebration of his son, Guran’s, wedding.

He tightened his knees, then ankles against the eagle’s body, signaling it higher.  They rose and rose until they were the air was hard to breathe.  From here he could see forever.

Today he saw fire.

The Rokugani temple was aflame.  Even from this distance Naran could tell not all the flame was natural.  Magic was burning.  It consumed the temple within moments.  The fire and smoke should not have bothered him—the rokugani were careless fools with their magics and often did more harm to themselves than anyone else—but something in that unnatural colored flame filled his soul with unease.

Perhaps coupled with his son’s wedding night it was an evil omen.  He would converse with Badzar when he landed.

Naran turned his eyes north and saw more fire, but this he was expecting.  The Dark Oracle was burning the land.  Lesser yobanjin tribes were foolish enough to see the Dark Oracle as a god and savior of the land.

Let them waste their time on the land, Naran thought.  We have the skies, and no one can take them from us.

***

Ten goats roasted over fires with ten more goats being prepared.  It was a feast to please even the Gods.  Men beat drums in traditional rhythms for dancing.  Laughter and joy filled the Aerie.

“You wanted to speak with me, Chief?”

Naran cut off a thin slice of goat to sample before turning around.  He recognized the sound of his shaman’s voice.  “Yes, Badzar, I did.” He handed the wizened shaman a piece of the meat.  “Tell me, does this meat honor the occasion?”

Badzar bit a chunk off and chewed slowly, savoring the juices.  His face split into a smile, “Perhaps not, Chief.  I think I should take it all for myself so no one else has to eat this poor offering.”

“Ah, but then you would get fat,” Naran said laughing, “and then your poor eagle Jarval would break her back trying to carry you.”

“I would fall to my death,” Badzar agreed.

“You?  We can afford to lose a shaman.  It’s the eagle I’m worried about, as well as the unfortunate piece of ground you fall on.”

Badzar threw his head back and roared his laughter.  The tribesmen and women closest to them joined in.  The mood was festive.  It was a perfect night for celebration.

“Have you thought on the omen, shaman?”  Naran asked after they had wiped the tears of laughter from their eyes.  Badzar’s face grew subdued.  Naran knew that look.  Bad news was coming.

“It is confirmation of what I have been seeing for weeks, Chief,” he said, then lowered his voice.  “Something is coming.  If we didn’t already have this feast planned I would have moved it until the next moon cycle.”

“What comes?”

“I don’t know.  That’s what worries me.”

A shout drew Naran’s attention.  “Father!  It is time!”

Naran turned and saw his son approaching the central fire.  Guran wore a covering of stitched-together eagle feathers.  They were only taken when the great bird shed them naturally.  The ceremonial garb had taken months to make.

Guran’s bride, Falel, approached from the opposite end of the village.  She was similarly dressed, but the feathers of her dress were white as pearl, and the seemed to absorb the light from the fires.  Her feathers came only from the female eagles.

Where Guran’s garb had taken months, Falel’s had taken years.

And then another sound drew Naran’s attention.  The death cry of an eagle.

The Aerie erupted into chaos.  Men, women and children ran for their huts to retrieve weapons, but by then it was too late.  Surrounding the village were thousands of yobanjin.  Their scarring—a practice Naran had long ago forbidden among the Sky Riders—marked them as the Walkers of the Volcano, one of the larger yobanjin tribes.  They had long since sworn allegiance to the Dark Oracle.

And now they were here, in the Aerie.

A hulking man pushed his way through the ranks of yobanjin.  He carried the severed head of an eagle in his arms.  Naran’s vision clouded with anger, but he knew no good would come of attacking the man.  He would doubtlessly kill the land-bound dog, but the numbers the Walkers had would easily crush the rest of the tribe.

“I am Hajak, Chief of the Walkers of the Volcano,” the man shouted.  “I bring you the greetings of the Dark Oracle.  He wishes to know why you haven’t yet joined him.”

“The sky has no master,” Naran said.  He didn’t need to shout for all to hear him.  If a Chief had to shout to be heard, he didn’t have control of his people.

“I feared such a response,” Hajak shouted back.  He laughed loud, as if enjoying a joke only he had heard.  “The Dark Oracle will have your servitude, whether of your own free will, or forcibly.  Will you serve willingly?”

“The sky has no master,” Naran repeated.

Hajak nodded.  “Very well.”  He addressed his own people.  “Take the women and children!”

Many of the Sky Riders moved to stop them, but they were quickly subdued.  Naran’s Sky Riders held an easy advantage when mounted on their eagles, but on the ground they were only out-numbered yobanjin.  Naran found himself face-down in the dirt, a Walker’s knee in his back.

Naran flinched as the severed eagle head dropped into the ground next to his face.  Tears escaped involuntarily from his eyes at seeing the death of such a magnificent creature.

“You shed tears for animals but not for your people?” Hajak taunted as he knelt down on one knee.  “No wonder you were so easy to subdue.  We could easily erase your tribe from existence, but the Dark Oracle is benevolent.  At any time you can submit to his will, and we will give you your people back.  The Dark Orcale is also looking for magical items from the Rokugani ruins.  Bring him magical items and he will return your people.  Or you can make things simple and try to fight us.  We will happily slaughter all of you.”

Out of the corner of his eye Naran watched as a Walker ripped the ceremonial wedding dress from Guran’s bride’s body and threw it into one of the fires.  Within an hour all the women and children were gone, herded away as captives.

Naran stood and brushed dirt from his body.  “Riders,” he said, and then waited for his men to surround him. “We will not submit, but neither will we fight…for that is a battle we cannot win.  When the fires die at the Rokugani temple, we will look for the items the Dark Oracle wants and get our families back.” 

“They will just come and take them again!” someone shouted.

Naran nodded. “They will try.  We will find a new home, higher in the mountains where not even they can reach us—where even the Dark Oracle would die from lack of air.  There will be no discussion.  The sky is eternal, and so will we be.” 

His people didn’t roar their approval, they silently turned around and went about leaving their homes behind.

#

To be continued next Friday, when Makoto tells off a celestial dragon.  http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/the-burning-throne-episode-21-arguing-with-dragons/ 

SLCNerd this Saturday

http://m.sltrib.com/sltrib/mobile/53750155-81/nerds-geeks-event-saturday.html.csp

Unleashing the Power of the Internet to get Mike Kupari a Job.

As many of you know, Mike Kupari is my co-author on the Dead Six series, and just got back from a deployment to Afghanistan. He’s got another month of active duty, and then he’ll just be in the guard.

Which means that now Mike needs a job.

I was eating lunch with him today and this topic came up. He’s been looking, but hasn’t had any luck yet. He’s got a lot of really cool skills, but there are only so many times a day when a local business needs to defuse an improvised bomb.  So I offered to use my blog to help him shake the trees.

So if you know of any job openings at your workplace, please post in the comments. Mike will be reading them and will respond to you directly.

Now let me tell you about Mike. If you look at his resume, he’s done military (Army Engineer), military contracting (in Qatar), security guarding, and then back to the military (Air Force EOD). However he really doesn’t want to go back to being a security guard. He’s got 3 years of college, but didn’t finish because he went off to do the contracting thing.

He worked for me back when I was in the gun business, and I can say with all honesty that he is a really good salesman. He’s excellent with people and far more patient than I am. I used Mike as one of my assistant instructors any time I could, just because he was so good at dealing with people and excellent and training and answering questions. He’s got excellent written communications skills. Heck, the dude’s written a book good enough to get picked up by a national publishing house.

Mike is currently a Staff Sergeant in the Air Force. He’s an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician, which means the robot-driving, bomb-suit-wearing, balls-of-steel, go down and mess around with the murder-bombs guys. Like I said, this is not a skill set that sees a whole lot of use in the civilian world. But think of it this way, when you ask during the interview about how the candidate deals with stressful situations, Mike’s definition of what constitutes stressful will be a bit more refined than the other candidates. “Oh, no. I got the TPS reports filed in the wrong order! The boss will be upset!” vs. “If I don’t play this game of high speed death chess against the Taliban exactly right, then they’ll have to scrape up my remains with a spatula.”

I am one of his references. Personally, I would trust Mike with my life. He’s like an uncle to my kids.

So if you know of anybody looking to hire right now, and you want a smart guy, who is good with people, and can handle pressure, do me a favor and post in the comments.

EDIT: Forgot to add, Mike currently lives in Utah near Hill AFB.

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