Today’s snippet, titled “Coda”, is a piece I wrote about my current character, Mim, to sort of demonstrate her experiences with a major in-game event.
      Be forewarned, there are mature themes and naughty language below.

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      “Left! Second. Fourth. No- you must not drop your shoulder like that, Fawn, or your foe will catch you here,” Eric said, tapping the rounded point of his practice baton against the girl’s unprotected flank. “You’re in for a painful death, choking on aspirated blood before the end.”
      Sheepishly, she lifted her buckler once more. “I’ll get it. Let’s go again.”
      “Bruce, you switch with Fawn. She may be a better fit for your style than mine – nimble as she is.”
      “How you doin’?” Bruce asked, sidling toward his new sparring partner, all the while letting his eyes roam lasciviously over her fine feminine form.
      Mim rolled her eyes. Fawn was a woman grown and well used to the cheesy come-ons the men of [townname] came up with, but few had ever treated her quite so much like a side of beef. These three “friends” of Kenzi and Rat, on the other hand, leered openly. Toads, all of them, she thought, mindlessly parrying Garvis’ blow. The bandit leader was a skilled opponent and deserved her full attention; twice today, her lack of focus had allowed him to score solid blows against her.
      But Mim had other things on her mind.
      “All right, that was much improved, Fawn,” Azielle said, giving the young bard a pat on the shoulder. “Now, everyone to the east line. I shall cast a powerful offensive spell – one provided to me by Shevarash in order to educate you lot in the in-”
      And so on and so on, Mim wiped her brow with the back of her forearm. Once Azielle started casting, her tongue twisted in such a way that she could communicate only in Celestial. It seemed like so much sing-songy gibberish to Mim. She crossed the yard and lifted the wooden ladle of water to her lips.
      Gods, but its still so hot out, she sighed to herself, drawing a second cupful. Leaning over the water barrel, both hands on the rim, Mim seriously considered dunking her head in. But that was inconsiderate; everyone shared this drinking water and Azielle was always a little huffy when someone asked her to repurify it. Where’s this bloody Autumn they keep promising?
      “Here, this’ll go down cooler.”
      A frosty chalice of watered wine appeared before her eyes, hovering over the surface of the water.
      “No thanks,” she said, gulping down another ladle of cool water. Mim propped her rear against the barrel.
      “Hells, she just keeps going on and on, doesn’t she? All that effort to be nothing more than a slave to some needy bitch in the sky.”
      “She does,” Mim said mildly.
      It was still so weird to see Aiden again. When the Brotherhood had returned to [townname], dragging Mazul’s head on a sledge, celebrated as conquering heroes, Rat and his three toadies were not alone in the house. Aiden had found his way back and was shacked up with his thief-queen, Corrah. Thankfully, he had been able to vouch for their band of merry men when they showed up to help establish a base of operations here.
      Mim wasn’t thrilled to find Corrah a part of their group. She was an unrepentant criminal and it took every ounce of restraint Mim possessed not to have her and the four thieves tossed in the blackest cells [townname] could offer.
      Course, if I did that they’d probably just escape anyway and murder me in my bed, just like what happened to Grue.
      “Uh oh, there goes the Blade Barrier,” Aiden said, lifting his own chilled cup. He gave her a sidelong look and smirked. “Has her precious little master claimed any bloody vengeance on our own people with it yet?”
      “Not yet.”
      “He will, I imagine. It is his will, not hers anyway. She’s got little control of it because she had to beg for the power. Not like Anajalihn and Trick and I. We shape the very elements-”
      “Uh huh,” Mim interrupted him, tossing the ladle back into the trough. “Hey, did you hear that Trick is leaving?”
      Aiden nodded. The way his brow furrowed ever-so-slightly suggested that he had noticed and not appreciated her graceless change of subject. Fortunately, he was too well-mannered to speak out.
      “I dd. Tomorrow, if the rumors I heard are correct.”
      “Funny how our number has swelled yet we keep losing people.”
      “I take it you mean Tuanar?” Aiden waved his hand dismissively. “The old git was well beyond his prime anyway. We dedicated a great deal of effort and coin to return him to the mortal coil and he repays us by slinking off to retirement.”
      Mim frowned. “It was still the right thing to do.”
      His tone spoke volumes. It was true, the Brotherhood had expended vast resources to resurrect their fallen members, but Mim was glad she had insisted. It was only right and she was resolved to do exactly that each day of her life.
      To her surprise, the nightmares made that resolution easier. Though they had come roaring back with a vengeance, Mim was determined to endure them sober. It took some time to learn how, but she had found a way to channel the terror. Now it fueled her desire to set things right, to undo the wrongs she had callously ignored, to leave the world a better place than she had found it. And most days, she was just fine. Others…
      Other days she really needed a fucking drink.
      But Mim continued to refrain from imbibing any alcohol at all. It had been one hundred and three days since her last drink. She wasn’t entirely certain anyone had taken note of her extended sobriety, any one save Anajalihn, who had patted her hand and told her to carry-on with the effort.
      “Ah, it appears that the sparring is done for the moment,” Aiden said, tossing back the last swallow of his iced wine. His eyes sparkled and Mim was struck for an instant by how beautiful he was. Not her type, of course, but easy on the eyes anyway. “I think I shall head into the marketplace and look for Corrah. A little diversion for the afternoon.”
      Forcing a smile, Mim nodded. “Have a good time.”
      “Many, many good times, I suspect,” he said with a wink.
      Mim felt the color rise to her cheeks and was relieved he did not turn around to see it. As the others filed out of the practice yard, she lingered behind to clear her head and send the blood rushing to other extremities.
      High, low. Parry, thrust, riposte. She ran through the forms once, and then again, until sweat had soaked through her padded vest and linen trousers. Her hair, usually caught up in a tight pirate’s knot, had tumbled down around her shoulders and was drenched with exertion. Her heart was pounding, her blood sang in her veins. Her head was clearer than it had been in ages; she felt alive. Truly, utterly, absolutely alive.
      Startled, she nearly lost her grip on her falchion, freshly re-enchanted and still vaguely scented with the same strange odor that came after a lightening strike. She turned toward the voice, pushing damp, black curls out of her eyes. There stood Kenzi, crossing her arms and wrinkling her nose.
      “You’re not going like that are you?”
      An exasperated sigh accompanied her index finger, tracing the intricate, bejeweled tattoo she had commissioned after their victorious return. “To Bern’s Baubles, to pick-up our order. How did you forget that? You’ve been-”
      Mim shook her head. “No, I didn’t forget. I just- lost track of time. I’ll go get cleaned up and-”
      “No need. I shall take care of it.”
      Anajalihn snapped her fingers from the balcony and a warm cyclone of magical air swirled around Mim. In the space of a few seconds her clothes were dry and smelled as sweet as those freshly laundered; her hair too, no longer moist with sweat, was scented with jasmine. Mim chuckled, saluting the blonde elf. “Thanks.”
      “I cannot imagine why any mage worth her salt would not learn to prestidigitate It is eminently useful. Tsk. Don’t be long, ladies, I’ve set the cook and the scullions to creating a lovely supper for Trick’s last night with us. Grue has gone to bring back a side of beef – I do hope he purchases one already butchered rather than wrestle a cow to the dirt and slice it up himself.” With a distracted little wave and a twirl of her parasol, Anajalihn disappeared inside, reciting a list of preparations to herself.
      Doffing her quilted vest, Mim reached up to twist her hair into its customary knot. “Let me run upstairs to pull on a fresh shirt and fetch my purse.”
      “Just hurry,” Kenzi said to Mim’s departing back. “I can’t wait to see how my design came out.”

* * * End Part One * * *

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Signed, Josie

Note: Featured Image, “Country House”, by TheSwedish from

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