Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Changelings - Part Four and Five


It's been over a week.

And I blame you.

Not that it's your fault, but I blame you.

Because if you remember correctly, I gave you full permission to hold me to my promise.

Okay, fine. I broke my promise.


I put up two parts at once to try to get back in your good graces. Which you may or may not end up being grateful for since there are only eight parts and I'm giving you two at once. But here you go. And once again, I re-promise to put the next part up within a week. And this time, feel free to harass me on Facebook. Please. Because I completely forgot this last week.

Part 4 - 

“Oh! Were-wolves.” Sabine spent most of her time living among normal humans, away from the changelings castle home-base, so some of the 'basic' changeling knowledge escaped her. “There've been more sightings of were-wolves in the last month than I've heard in the last three years put together.”

Oren roused himself from thought, but the concerned crease in his brow remained. “If you will excuse me, I have something to attend to. Gregg, I would suggest you head back to your room and get a good long rest. It's still early morning and I think this afternoon and tonight are going to be very busy.”

Gregg nodded smoothly. His every move was reminiscent of his last form. He left for his room, his footsteps silent.

“Sabine, would you accompany me to the hatching room?” Oren asked.

Sabine also nodded, but much more excitedly.

Oren smiled, amused. “The eggs in the hatching room are very fragile, my dear. Perhaps it would be better if your temperament were a touch calmer. A cat, possibly?”

Sabine made a face. “Cats aren't really my thing.”

She closed her eyes and concentrated. Her whole body lengthened, and every feature smoothed out, as if her arms, neck, shoulders and legs had been wiped flat. Her face lengthened and became diamond shaped. Finally, her clothes were replaced by shimmering blue and purple scales.
Coiling herself, Sabine the boa constrictor flicked her forked tongue out, smelling the air. One of the cats by the fireplace raised its head, glanced at her and lazily laid back down.

“I must say, you are one of the showiest boa constrictors I have ever met.” Oren chuckled.

“Thanksssss.” Sabine hissed, shivering herself to see the firelight dance of her scales. “Jussst give me a sssecond.”

The snake closed her eyes, and her head bobbed in a circle as she thought hard. In a few moments, the change had reversed itself, leaving Sabine with long, shiny black hair flowing down her back. She herself was slightly taller and a little more willowy. When she moved, she tended to take a curving motion instead of a straight path, and her hair showed the slightest blue-purple undertone.

“Sshall we go?” She asked, some of the after-effects still fading.

“Certainly.” Oren led the way out of the room and through the maze of hallways.

After a few minutes of walking, he put his finger to his lips and pushed open a heavy door. Sabine followed him through and blinked in surprise. It was very warm and dry inside. Other changelings in human form moved around carefully carrying baskets of colorful eggs, setting them in newly warmed nests. While Oren went to find someone in the far recesses of the room, Sabine tried to keep from licking her lips. The eggs looked to her still ever-so-slightly-snake-like eyes like a heavenly feast.

“Snake!” She hissed to herself angrily. “What was I thinking?!”

Part 5 -

After gazing around hungrily for a few more moments, Sabine wisely, left the hatchery, waiting just outside the door for Oren. He appeared after about five minutes, glancing around for her.

“Ah. There you are.” He said, then sighed heavily. “I'm afraid there's a lot of work for me to do.”

“Why?” Sabine asked smoothly. “Is something amiss?”

Oren let the faintest smile flicker across his face. “You still speak like a snake.”

“Is that so?” Sabine said in surprise, unknowingly stretching her S's.

“Yes. You chose word with lots of hissing noises.” He answered. “I'd be glad to tell you exactly what's wrong, but it's a rather long and involved story. However, I think it would behoove you if you found Lady Fontaine and asked her for the Tale of Half-Changelings.”

“That sssounds-” Sabine stopped and changed her words. “I'll do that.”

Oren nodded, not really paying her much attention as they split up. Sabine moved down the hallways silently but quickly. Every once in a while, the tiniest vibrations would travel through the stone floor, alerting her to someone's presence. Sabine shook her head, trying to rid herself of the snakley influence. Since she had not changed into one for a while, it's influence affected her strongly and would take a little while longer to wear off. If she did not change again for several days, she would gradually lose all the after effects and return to just Sabine, in appearance, personality, and movement.

She stopped in front of a heavy wooden door and blinked, surprised she had already arrived at the library. On the door was a sign:

The Library of Lady Fontaine:
Changes not allowed: Monkey, Elephant, Birds (excluding owls),
Skunks, Ferrets, Kangaroos, and any water creature.
Will all those who have changed please leave the library to do any personal business.

Beneath the last part of the sign, someone had scrawled: “And those who haven't changed too!”

Sabine pushed the door open and entered quietly. A large black panther glanced at her as it walked past with a large tome carefully held in it's mouth. Sabine slipped past to find Lady Fontaine. Soon she located her, a barn owl sitting at a desk in the back of the room. She was swiveling her head all the way around and back again, listening carefully. When she saw Sabine, she cocked her head almost completely upside down.

Sabine. I haven't seen you in quite awhile.” She said quietly, her beak clacking.

Sabine was impressed. It was supposed to be very difficult for owls to speak to non-changed because of their unique beak shape, but Lady Fontaine was very good at it.

Oren sent me.” She explained. “He said to ask you for the Tale of the Half-Changed.”

Lady Fontaine blinked her large black eyes, then turned and took off silently from the desk, swooping above the many, many bookshelves, chattering softly to herself, “Tale of the Half-Changed. Heavy reading. Dark times, then.”

After a few minutes, she returned, dropping a large scroll into Sabine's hands and alighting on the desk. “There you are, my dear. But, what does Oren want with the Tale of the Half-Changed? He should remember it.”

“He's in it?” Sabine asked in surprise.

Lady Fontaine churred softly, laughing. “Not only is he in it, dear, he wrote it.”

Welp, there ya go!

Sé onr sverdar sitja hvass!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Book Recommendations - Beowulf

by Unknown
Translated by Seamus Heaney

Beowulf, son Echtheow, spoke:
"Wise sir, do not grieve. It is always better
To avenge dear ones than to indulge in mourning
For every one of us, living in this world
Means waiting for our end. Let whoever can
Win glory before his death. When a warrior is gone,
That will be his best and only bulwark.
(lines 1384-1389)

First of all, I'd like to say that the previous book recommendations... however funny and interesting and involved those series are, they are basically fantasy fluff.
This is a really hard, deep book to read, and yes, I would recommend it. But it's one of the oldest manuscripts, and it was originally in Old English, a dead language. That means people can translate it and read it, but no one really speaks it any more to communicate. 

This book, translated by Seamus Heaney, is a bilingual edition - on the left hand side you have the Old English, on the right hand pages you have the modern English. It's really fascinating, seeing the comparisons between the languages. For instance, the equivalent of daughter is, if memory serves, dochter. See? And the introduction at the beginning is interesting too, talking about the history of Beowulf, what translating it meant, and how poetic Beowulf really is. 

Now, since this is such an old book, dated somewhere between the 8th and 11th century, it's not a terribly easy read, not at all, but in my opinion, if you can get through it, it is worth it. And if you've read Lord Of The Rings, The Hobbit, or The Inheritance Cycle, then you can really see the influence this story had on them. While he was still alive, J. R. R. Tolkien notably presented a lecture on Beowulf, and mentioned how it was among his most valued sources. And then there's Hrothgar, a main character in Beowulf, the one Christopher Paolini's dwarf king was named after.

When I first opened up Beowulf to read it, I saw the first lines:

So. the Spear-Danes in days gone by
And the kings who ruled them had courage and greatness.
We have heard of those princes' heroic campaigns.

And I just thought, "Wow. This is gonna be good."
And it was. A bit hard to get through, but still, I don't think I'll look back and think, "Oh, what a waste of time that was. Beowulf was useless. I could have done something else with my time." Which would be my opinion with some books.

There's my opinion on the book. Now a little bit about it. 

Beowulf is mainly a story about a hero of the Geats in Scandinavia. He hears about the plight of King Hrothgar, whose mead-hall is under attack by the monster Grendel. Beowulf takes several of his best men and sails to meet Hrothgar, pledging to defeat the monster or die trying. Hrothgar welcomes him into his hall and Beowulf makes ready to battle Grendel. 

I am not too great at synopses, am I?

In any case, I give it...
I'll say four stars. It was purty, purty good. Not the epic-est read-this-now-everybody-on-the-whole-world book, but worthwhile, I think, quite worthwhile.

Update: Oh, I forgot to mention. Yes, this was definitely written from a Christian viewpoint, for those of you who are concerned. But also I warn you, this gets a bit graphic in its descriptions, talking a little bit about bursting muscles and severed heads and bloody butchered corpses (Beowulf's words, not mine), so if you have a bit of a delicate constitution, you may not care to read it.

So the Geat People, his hearth companions,
Sorrowed for the lord who had been laid low,
They said that of all the kings upon the earth
He was the man most gracious and fair-minded,
Kindest to his people and keenest to win fame.
(closing lines 3178-3183) 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Changelings - Part Three

Well, I haven't posted since April 5th. I'm a very mean person to leave you hanging like that. And so, to make it up to my (two?) readers, I will immediately post the next part of the Changelings story, with the answer to who "they" are.

A quick summary of where we are in the story, 'cause it's been over a month since I posted the last part.
Gregg, Sabine, Kay and Oren are changelings. They can change into animals. Gregg is bringing news to Oren in the sorta changeling headquarters, which is a large castle. Oren kind of runs the place.Kay is a bird changeling that Gregg got his news from. Sabine is Gregg's friend. Gregg had been running through the snow, all night long, as a cream colored cat. He was so tired, he couldn't finish his change and got stuck halfway between cat and human, but Oren fixed him up with a tonic. Sabine just changed back into a human from a wolf, so she's a bit excitable right now, borrowing from the dog-like personality she just had.
I think that pretty much covers it. Here's part three for your enjoyment!

>>>>>>>> Part Three <<<<<<<

Sabine grinned back at Gregg. “You’re blonde.”

He ran his fingers through his hair. “Well, I was cream colored.”

She looked meaningfully at Oren. “You wanted to tell him something?”

He winced and nodded. Turning to Oren he said, “Sir, one of our field units reported movement. They seem to be migrating.”

Oren frowned, an unusual expression for him. “Which one?”


“Who reported this?” Oren repeated.

“Oh. Kay, sir. Kay…” Gregg searched for the name. “…Torth.”

Oren sighed heavily. “I was afraid of that.”

Sabine stepped forward, her eyes glinting wolf-green in the dancing firelight. “Is something wrong with Kay?”

“No, not at all.” Oren sat down in the chair Gregg had been napping on moments earlier. “Kay is extraordinarily reliable. She’s been with us since she was an infant changeling.
Just a little tiny thing. She used to change to a kitten and I’d put her on my shoulder. She would cling there and watch me work.”

“Sir?” Gregg said quickly, hoping to break him from his bout of nostalgia.

“Oh, yes. Sorry.” Oren smiled. “No, Kay has never been wrong. Which means there’s very little hope that she’s mistaken.”

Sabine glanced between Gregg and Oren and back again. “They can’t really be migrating, can they?”

Gregg looked very serious. “Not exactly.”

Oren put his finger tips together and explained, “Half-changers don’t migrate. If they’re on the move, they’re coming here.”

“Half-changers.” Sabine repeated, a little awed. “They do that on purpose?”

“Yes.” Oren said absently, deep in thought.

“The common people refer to them as were-wolves.” Gregg explained. 

I know that's still kind of short, but they will get longer pretty soon. 
One more thing. I made a Facebook page a while back, and I try to post there every time I post here. Sometimes in-between posts as well, so if you wanna check it out it's here

Sé onr sverdar sitja hvass!