Category Archives: Gaming fiction

Two Elves Redux

Hi!  Ken St. Andre talking to you for a moment, before I put the story down.  If you keep reading this blog, you’re going to notice that an awful lot of my stories are set in Trollworld which is, of course, my private playground within the Tunnels and Trolls game universe.  I could write about other times and places, and I will, sometimes.  I have a fun piece about wizards in outer space coming up soon–maybe tomorrow if I get it finished in time.  But it makes sense for me to set a lot of  my stories in Trollword–you see, it’s my world.  I made it up for the Tunnels and Trolls game, and if I don’t write about it, who will?  Like Tolkien with Middle Earth, or Howard with the Hyborian Age, I have a million little stories to tell about the fascinating place that is Trollworld.  And one of the things I have to tell you is that Trollworld is not just a single world–it is a nexus of realities–an infinite series of worlds where adventures can go every which way.  And what better way can I show that than with this story that I call:
Two Elves Redux

     by Ken St. Andre

Two elves sat in a room with a treasure chest. Two Orks had left a few minutes ago.

“Why are we here?” asked the first elf.

“We’ve got to be somewhere,” said the second elf. “Why not be here?” He grinned.

“Don’t get metaphysical on me. I hate it when you do that.”

“But you make it so easy.”

“No, really, why are we here?”

“We’re here to guard the treasure.”

“Guard it from what?”

“Orks.”

“Ha ha! But why are we here? The treasure doesn’t need guarding. This place is a fortress. I doubt if any thieves could ever get in there.”

“They might. Delvers sometimes come in force, and they can be tricky.”

“If any delvers are powerful enough to reach this room, I’m not going to fight with them. Are you?”

“The room only has one door. We’ll have to fight to get away.”

“Then shouldn’t we be guarding it out in the hallway where we can see people coming, and run away if we need to?”

“Our orders are to sit in here and guard it.”

“Damn!”

Silence for several minutes.

The first elf plainly wasn’t satisfied. “But why are we guarding the treasure?”

“Because the Evil Wizard is paying us to guard it.”

“Do you want to piss off the Evil Wizard?”

“Um!  No.”

Two elves sat in a room guarding a treasure chest.  They were thinking maybe they had made a big mistake when they took the jobs with the Evil Wizard.

End.

The evil wizard had the elves in his power.

If you would care to read a longer story set in Trollworld, please take a look at http://delvers.wordpress.com where my most recent story is called

Hobgoblin’s Holiday in Khazan.  Khazan, in case you haven’t heard of the place, is the capital city of the Empire of the Death Goddess.  It is named after her old nemesis, the elven wizard Khazan.  It bears only a very slight resemblance to the earthly city of Khazan in Central Asia, although that is certaily where the name came from.  If you work your way back through Delver’s Tales, you will see that they are all set in Trollworld, and cover a lot of minor adventures of minor characters in that world.  I seldom write of kings, queens, and earthshaking events.  I mostly write the minor adventures of minor characters, because the ordinary people of fantasy worlds should have their stories told, too.  Stay with me, and see how the citizens of Trollworld really live–and die.

End.

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The Old Elf Teacher Tries to Explain

The Old Elf Teacher Explains It All, Part 1

     by Ken St. Andre

The Old Elf settled on a comfortable hummock of moss and made the tongue cluck that meant, “Pay attention now”.  His ancientness showed in his long long nose, his long long ears, and his long long white beard.  The younger elves gathered in front of him and waited for him to speak.

“Today, younglings, we will learn about the gods.”

“But Grandfather, there are no gods, just Great Wizards.  That is what we have always been told.”

“And I ask you, what is the real difference between a Great Wizard, and a god?”  No one had an answer for that.  “These are the beings in Trollworld who have made themselves into gods.  Listen and learn!”

They waited expectantly.

“Greatest of the gods is Ohtariel, the God of the Sun (called Bhanu in Old High Elven). He brings life and warmth to the world, and frightens monsters and destroys them. In the morning, he rises to glory; in the afternoon, he sinks into defeat, and retires to an island in the west where he sleeps, recovering his strength to fight the great battle again on the following day. Those well versed in the lore of the sun associate him with Khazan-Ohtariel-Khazan, the great Elvish wizard who united the Six Good Kindreds and formed the Empire of Khazan. For centuries, Khazan reigned in his city in the Dragon’s Mouth, bringing a golden age to the land while the monster kindred hid in the wastelands. He overthrew the Ogres of Tharothar. He organized the wizards into a great guild that regulated the working of magic in the land. He defended the land from the depredation of Zweetz, the evil bird-serpent god. But in the end, he grew weak, and was defeated by Lerotra’hh, Goddess of Death and Night, and the monster kindred. Then Khazan withdrew into the hidden island in the sea where he now sleeps, leaving the land in spiritual darkness. One day he will rise again to bless the world with a new morning of hope. In the meantime, he shows his power and love in the daily light of the sun, which fights many battles with darkness and with storm, and always sets and leaves the world in shadow, yet always rises again to bring new hope to it. This is the legend of Ohtariel, also known as Khazan. ”

The setting sun symbolizes the temporary victory of the Monster Kindreds.

 

“But Grandfather, that is just a short version of the story of Khazan, a great elven wizard, but no god.  The world existed before he walked these lands.  And it still exists now that he is gone.  How can you call him a god?”

“Did it?” asked the ancient elf.  “Does it?” 

They did not understand.

–The End

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Bio:  Ken St. Andre lives a life of infinite power in Trollworld as Trollgod–not so much on Earth.

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Late One Night In An Empty Bar

     by Paul Ingrassia

“Johnnie Walker Blue, neat,” a deep voice said.

Joe jerked and dropped the glass he was wiping.

“Holy shit, you scared the hell outta me, man. I didn’t hear you come in…”

“Johnnie Walker Blue, neat. Please.” The short man looked in his mid-thirties, and his suit was torn and filthy.

“Let’s see the cash, little brother. That stuff’s forty bucks a shot.”

“Make it a double,” the stranger tossed a handful of damp, crumpled one-hundred-dollar bills onto the bar.

“It’s your paycheck, pal.”

The stranger downed the drink in two gulps.

“Another double, please.”

The second disappeared as quick as the first. The stranger waved his finger at Joe.

“You know, pal,” Joe poured the whiskey, “you keep slamming ’em like that, I’ll have to take your keys or cut you off.”

“I don’t have a car anymore, so keep ’em coming.”

“You okay, man?” Joe poured again.

“Can I talk to you,” the stranger had tears welling in his eyes.

“Sure, man. I’m a bartender, it’s part of the job description.”

“Listen, please… I have a confession to make.”

“You’re not gonna tell me you killed someone, are you?” Joe thought of the .45 next to the speed well.

“No, nothing like that,” he motioned for another drink. This time he sipped it. “I left my wife and kids today. I got up, went to work, and I’m never going back. They will be totally shocked.” The stranger started crying. “God, I love them so much.”

“So why don’t you just go back, man?”

“I can’t. It’s impossible.”

“Nothing is impossible,” Joe said. “Shit, between you and me, I’m a sober junkie. I was spiking it for fifteen years, every day, stealing for it, in and out of jail. I’ve been clean for two years now. If a scrub like me can kick the shit, anything is possible.”

“You don’t understand. I just can’t go back. Ever.”

“Well, buddy, if you can’t go back, then I guess you gotta do what you gotta do. Look out for number one now, move on, head off to the next adventure.” Joe poured him another.

“You know something,” the stranger downed the fresh drink in one swig, “you’re absolutely right. I can’t do anything for them anymore. Mary and the kids will just have to get over it, get on with their lives. I can only worry about me now. Thanks for your help. It’s time for me to go.”

The stranger slowly faded away to nothing.

“What the fuck!”

The bar door swung open and Sheriff Franklyn walked in.

“Hey, Joe. Gimme a beer and a shot of rot-gut. There was a nasty accident up the road a bit. Poor guy was killed, thrown from his car. He was only thirty-two. God!”

Joe stared at the sheriff wide-mouthed.

“What’s eatin’ you, Joe? Come on, I need a drink. I just got back from telling some poor woman and her kids that daddy aint coming home anymore.”

Joe collapsed.

end

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Bio: Paul is a Pushcart Prize nominated poet and a fan of cinquain, prose poetry, flash fiction, RPGs, and tabletop skirmishing.

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Paul also writes a great short ghost story, and we hope to see more of his work here soon.

end

Nocturnal encounter

Nocturnal Encounter

        By Laurie Rose Reeves

The still of the night does not go unnoticed by Grrogggg. Though lying by the fire, his hand remains on his weapon. One never knows when it might come in handy. Scrrraaaaffek is snoring lightly from the other side of the fire. Sklipp, the youngest of the group, is tossing and turning, this being his first battle. He has much to think about and much to learn. Barely discernable, a twig cracks. Grrrog’s hand tightens on his weapon. He sees that the others now have their hands on their weapons. This day is not over. How nice it will be to return to the swamp. Another twig……….”

***

A yelp from the other side of the forest had the entire party on their feet.  A pack of four-legged beasts shot from behind them towards the forest where the sounds had resounded.  Their foes lurched forward as well, just 50 or so feet from the party.  The four-legged beasts were grotesquely muscular, with huge fangs protruding 5 inches from their muzzles.  The beasts stood up to a troll’s chest.  Scrrraaaffek whispered, “I fed one of those beasts last night by the river.  I threw him the last of the meat from my plate.”  The party stood agog at the massacre as “their beasts” tore apart the threat that would have surely finished them all. 

dire wolves  (click this link to see a picture of dire wolves by David Ullery, a Trollhalla artist.)

 From behind the melee, another threat stepped forward as giants stepped forward. Formidable, these giants were, with maces bigger than any of the trolls’ heads.  Upon seeing that their beasts had been torn to pieces, the giants stopped to size up the situation.  17 beasts stood in front of Grrrogggg’s party, snarling formidably at the giants.  The giants, 8 in number, knew that they were outnumbered.  For now.  The leader grunted a command and the giant group turned to leave.  The giant leader stared down at Grrogggg. This leader had seen many battles.  He had a scar running down from his hairline to his ear and then to just near his right eye.  That had to hurt.  His left arm had a scar, not too old, going from his elbow to wrist. 

Grrrogggg realized he knew him from somewhere.  Where?  The giant leader pointed at Grrrroggg as if to say, “I will get you later.”  He then turned and left, his immense stature taking him close to the branches of the tall trees.  The beasts wearily approached the party and sat in a circle just in the outskirts of where Grrroggg and his warriors stood.  Grrroggg reached into his pack and threw out some dried meat to the apparent leader of the pack.  Grrroggg stepped closer, as did the leader.  Grrroggg reached out, the pack leader drew closer.  Grrroggg put his hand on the leader’s shoulder, “Thank you, my friend.  We surely would have perished had you not helped us.”  The pack leader snorted slightly then bowed to Grrroggg.  Why, why did he assume a subservient position?  The group decided to move on to a more secure position.  In finding a a cave, they found it a defendable position, the trees and forest about 50 yards away, it leaves some space between the unknown.  The group gave the beasts some more meat, built a fire and laid to rest for a few hours.  They knew the beasts were watching out.   Grrroggg took a last look at the darkness of the trees.  The vines hanging down reminded him of his childhood, playing on the vines with some who were in his party even now.

***

Though lying by the fire, his hand remains on his weapon. One never knows when it might come in handy. Scrrraaaaffek is snoring lightly from the other side of the fire. Sklipp, the youngest of the group, is tossing and turning, this being his first battle. He has much to think about and much to learn. Barely discernable, a twig cracks. Grrrog’s  hand tightens on his weapon. He sees that the others now have their hands on their weapons. This day is not over. How nice it will be to return to the swamp. Another twig……….”

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Life is made up of many tiny stories.  Just goes to show, life is better with friends, and even trolls have friends.

From trolls and wolves and giants let’s move on to fish.  Again, we are talking life and death.

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Just Say No

    by Ken St. Andre

Preface: Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a fish?

I want to tell you a fish story.

 

Splish!

“What’s that?”

‘Don’t know.  Over there, by the smooth stone.’

“Looks a bit like worms  Nice brown worms.”

‘Looks kinda good.  Maybe we should go over and nibble a bit.’

[No!  Don’t go, younglings!  It’s danger.]

“Oh, Gramps!  You always think everything is dangerous.”

[And that’s how I got to be as big and old and wise as I am.]

‘Look!  Clyde’s going over to investigate it.’

[Clyde!  Stay away!  Danger!]

(Don’t be silly, Gramps.  These worms can’t hurt me. Ohh, that feels kind of good.)

“What are the worms doing?”

‘They are rubbing against Clyde’s belly.  Look at the smile on his face.  He loves it.’

“I want some.”

‘Me too!’

SPLASH!

“What happened?”

‘Where’s Clyde?’

[The thing got him.  Clyde is gone.]

“Gone where?”

[Don’t know for sure, but I doubt if he will return.]

‘How did you know about the danger, Gramps?’

[When I was younger, something like this happened to me.  Strange delicious looking worms appeared in the water, they stroked my stomach, it felt better than anything ever has before or since . . .]

“And?”

[Suddenly the thing grabbed me, and pulled me out of the world.  I flew through outer space, but I wriggled and twisted.  I came down and hit hard.  It wasn’t water.  Something huge lunged for me, but I twisted and flopped as hard as I could . . .]

“And you got back in the water?”

[Yes.  I was very lucky.]

Splish.

‘Look, here it comes again.’

“Ooh, they do look good!”

[Just say no.  You will live longer.]

‘Let’s get out of here.’

* * * * * * * * *

End

Two Orks

 
 

There are two Orks guarding this treasure, but they're not in the picture.

 

 

Two Orks

     By John Wick

Two orks sit in a small, square room with a treasure chest and wait.

The first ork asks, “What are we doing here?”

The second ork says, “Shut up.”

The first ork asks, “But, I mean, what are we doing here?”

The second ork says, “Who cares?”

The first ork asks, “Are we waiting for someone?”

The second ork says, “Shut up.”

The first ork stops asking questions.

Two orks sit in a small, square room with a treasure chest and wait.

Not . . . The End

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Hi, my name is Ken St. Andre.  I’m a game designer (Tunnels & Trolls, Wasteland, Ogreocre, and many others you’ve probably never heard of) and a gamer.  So is John Wick  (7th Sea, Legend of Five Rings, Houses of the Blooded, and more).  These days he’s much better known as a game designer than I am.  You have to expect us to write stories about our games, or at least stories that could have some game context.  That’s what you got today.

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The Hero

by Ken St. Andre

 

Preface: I don’t know where this came from–perhaps a dream.  If I dream anything remotely interesting, I usually try to write it down. Talk about your small stories! But, at least this one has a moral.

This looks like a quiet place to stop and rest, but . . .

 

I paused by a forest pool to refresh myself and my mount.  I was kneeling and using my cupped hands to drink the cool, refreshing water when suddenly I heard a shout, and a man rushed out of the trees at me, his hands upraised as if he wanted to throttle me.

It surprised me, but I fear no man.  Lightly rising to my feet, I side-stepped his mad rush and drew my rapier in one clean motion.  As he turned to attack again, I foined at his neck and drove the keen blade through his bearded throat and out the back.  He fell down in a geyser of blood.  I dodged back so that none of it would soil my clothing.  He gasped and burbled, but he couldn’t speak and in about a minute he bled to death.

That was unpleasant.  I searched the body, but he had nothing on him but a peasant’s filthy ragged clothing and a poor knife of blunt iron–nothing that I would want, and nothing to tell why he attacked me.  Come to think of it, perhaps he had simply been happy to see me in that godsforsaken forest.  Now that I had a moment to think, I realized the shouts hadn’t sounded that angry.

Well, I had no way to bury him.  I dragged him away from the pool and left him behind some bushes–carrion for the forest wolves.  Filling my water bottles, I rode on and presently reached the city of Paris.

And the moral of the story, lads?  Never rush a fighting man, and stay out of my face!

End