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One Way Ticket To Talenthar – Prologue

Prologue

It was a dark, cluttered, rectangular room, carved out of solid rock, in a keep that was itself carved out of a gigantic monolith, all blackened and cracked as if it had been exposed to tremendous heat and energy. In the middle of this room stood a gray flecked pedestal, hewn from a colossal block of granite. A large hemispherical bowl of black enameled metal, engraved with golden cabalistic signs, sat in a hollow on its polished top. An aura of intense energy surrounded this bowl, and in it a deep blue, shimmering and smoking substance, looking like shiny molten metal, cast eerie lights on to the faces of the small group of people assembled around its perimeter.

The bulkiest member of the assembled group, an imposing figure towering over the others, garbed in his Wizard’s dark midnight blue silk robes embroidered in gold threads with similar symbols to the ones on the black bowl. His white beard and hair were standing on end as if they were charged with static electricity. He spoke in a deep melodious voice, “Eyegar, bring me the rosin, this incantation well needs clearing.”

“Yes, Master Andrack,” responded the tall, gaunt, elderly man, dressed in a gray morning suit, his short gray hair slicked impeccably on his head. He looked more like a well-groomed butler than a Wizard’s assistant. He soundlessly left the group, marching solemnly toward a massive table of dark wood so shiny that the room reflected on it’s polished surface. It was standing against the stone wall of the room and looked like it had grown out of the floor, which it probably did. Even though the table’s legs were squared off tree trunks, they seemed barely strong enough to support the accumulated weight of the phials, beakers and leather bound tomes that lay in a total disarray on its top.

As if the clutter of the table made some sense to him, Eyegar chose, without hesitation, a small clay pot filled with an orange powder. He put it on a silver tray, and brought it back to Master Andrack. The old wizard curtly acknowledged his assistant and took the pot from the tray. He then turned his gaze to the other five.

His eyes first settled on the dark, chiseled features of Chargoff, the General of the Kingdom’s armies. A grisly veteran of the Magic War, he stood ramrod straight in his lightweight, black chainmail. His strong chiseled features, were in contrast to a thick crop of black hair cut in a brush cut that covered his head like a helmet. His piercing gray eyes were holding Andrack’s gaze without flinching. He was a long time friend and ally of Andrack. A look of deep concern was etched on his face.

Next to Chargoff was an eager, powerfully built young man, Prince Arexis. He was dressed in deep emerald green court doublets, in which he seem to be uncomfortable, as if he was more accustomed to be in less formal clothing. A thick mane of curly red hair covered his head and a cropped beard adorned his face. He was the only son of the late, King Bluthor, Andrack’s best friend that had been lost in the Magic War. He was the unseasoned heir to the throne. He looked deeply worried and his eyes were darting from the incantation well to Andrack’s face as if hoping for a quick solution to his worries.

At the thought of his old friend, a smile quickly passed on Andrack’s wrinkled face. How Arexis reminded him of a young Bluthor, the same eagerness, the same open face and bright eyes, the same red tousled hair. Not so his sister, Princess Nathalia, who even barely out of her teens, was regally poised in her long black silk dress molded to her athletic body. Her head was crowned in dark, shoulder length, straight red hair. Where her brother was outgoing and eager, she was reserved and poised. Used to get her own way, she had been the terror of the castle’s staff when growing up. She still had problems getting along with anybody but her best friend and Lady in waiting, Maria.

To her right was a strange looking creature dressed in dark green velvet shorts complete with bright red suspenders. It had long thin hairy limbs with long claws on his naked toes and fingers, a short snout with a grin full of sharp teeth, wide set intelligent eyes and large pointy ears. This picturesque character was Dregnar, an intellectual troll, a rare species of trolls with lightning quick intellect. He had been in the service of the royal family for as long as anyone could remember.

Looking straight back at Andrack was a stout, middle-aged man with graying straight shoulder length hair. Garbed in long dark cleric’s robes with little adornments, he had been a torn in his side since they had met. Balnor, the court patriarch, did not trust magic. He was always quick to point it out. Andrack held out his stare for a moment, then cleared his throat. He said, “I will now show you the chosen one.”

His practiced fingers looked like butterflies when they traced arcane symbols in the air over the shimmering surface of the incantation well. After a timeless period of mesmerizing flight, they took a pinch of the orange powder from the little clay pot, and sprinkled it onto the cloudy surface of the liquid. With a hissing sound, and short green flames, the liquid stopped shimmering and cleared itself into a dark, highly polished metallic surface. Pictures started flickering on it. At first stars moving by at a tremendous speed, then a blue ball on a black velvet background, then white puffy high clouds through which the perspective dove on its way to the ground, finally, a dark unpaved road through a coniferous forest. In the distance a red box-shaped contraption on wheels was following the road. The red thing had a toothless grin and fiery eyes spitting blinding light. It was bouncing down the rough road at a terrifying pace. On its back sat a powerfully built man in his early thirties. A short beard and curly brown hair framed his face. Next to him was a large salt and pepper dog, powerful muscles rippling under its coat as it fought to keep its balance.

Balnor said with a sneer, “So, this is your hero. He does not look like much to me.”

Master Andrack replied, “My magic revealed that this is the only person left in the universe that can help us.”

Dregnar’s squeaky voice interrupted, “He his riding that strange beast, isn’t he? Only a hero could be riding something so fierce. Look at it bounce and growl!”

Andrack looked at Balnor, and said, “He is our only hope. My magic is depleted and I cannot fight Magdar in the upcoming conflict.”

“You could not fight Magdar, either, last time.” Interrupted Balnor.

“I was the only member of the Order of Wizards who survived the War.”

Before the argument could degenerate further, Arexis cut in sharply, “Stop bickering. It is important to know if it is worth depleting Andrack’s magic to bring an unknown warrior to our realm.”

Nathalia added, “We are not even sure that he will help us.”

In a quiet, controlled voiced, Chargoff said, “If we do not bring the chosen one, Magdar will surely be freed and chaos is assured. You, Nathalia, he has chosen as his bride. The rivers of Gods and Power have dried up, and there is a major drought and famine. The Kingdom cannot raise an army big enough to combat Magdar’s hordes. Your brother, Arexis, is not King yet and cannot command the other states. Andrack’s magic can only do one last thing, and it is to bring the chosen stranger. Do we have any other choice?”
After a long moment of silence, Arexis looked into everyone’s eyes. He finally stopped at Andrack’s trying to find an answer to the dilemma in the large Wizard’s gaze.

With a sigh he said, “You are right, I do not think that we have any alternative. Let us bring the chosen one.”

Andrack replied solemnly, “So be it.”

He then started chanting a long incantation in a deep droning voice, as his eyes rolled back and his fingers resumed their aerial dance. A green glowing cloud started to collect at the surface of the liquid in the bowl, its Inner Light became brighter to the point that it was painful to look at. As they stood back in awe, a powerful beam of white light shot out of the iridescent cloud, through the solid stone of the roof, toward the starry sky.

From one of the faint stars lighting the night’s sky, a bright beam of blue light emerged from it. Like a giant bolt of lightning it struck the middle of the burned desert, between the Gates of Doom and Andrack’s keep. A terrifying tremor shook the Kingdom. A gigantic crater, covered in mist, was left by the impact.

Andrack raised his eyes, deep exhaustion and strain showing in them, and he looked at the others. He said in a tired voice, “The deed is done.”

As soon as these words escaped his mouth, his huge form gently collapsed to the ground to the consternation of the others.

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From 1990: One Way Ticket To Talenthar

The Sass

It took a while

March 13, 2012

The previous post is almost a couple of years old. A lot has happened since then and this blog was completely forgotten. Last week we started to revamp the dozen or so sites we support on this host, one of many we use for our clients. This morning I remembered this blog and decided to see where it stood. What I found was not good as it looked like it was hacked a while back when our host got hacked itself. We had taken measures to prevent further occurrences on all our other sites except this one.

I have just updated the really antiquated version of WordPress this site was running on after making sure that everything was cleaned out first. I deactivated the old theme which is no longer supported and this time we will really make a new theme and start posting again. Things have been overdue for too long. I will be back with news and some new content shortly.

The Sass

We Moved!

June 28, 2010

I have just moved this blog to a new host, from our internal server here at the office. The site is showing off a lot of wear and tear and suffering from moving from a Windows Server to a Linux on. I also noticed that it is running an antiquated version of WordPress. In the coming week I will start sprucing up the place and then start posting regularly again. In the meantime, bear with me until I find time to clean up this site as I am in the process of also moving a dozen other sites!

The Sass

Nothing

April 25, 2009

When I became conscious, there was absolute nothingness. There was no light, no sound, no substance, nothing. The universe was not empty. Emptiness would infer the absence of something. There was absolutely nothing.

Slowly, after a timeless interval, I became aware of my essence, of my consciousness. It dawned on me that there must be a reason for my presence. I pondered the concept for a while. I finally realized that I had to find out about my environment. I grasped about the concept of seeing where I was, but I could not see. Something whispered in my mind; that to see, I needed some light. The concept seemed interesting. I thought about it for a while; and then, there was light.

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From 1980: Nothing

The Sass

Introduction to Talenthar

April 20, 2009

Back in 1989 I took a sabbatical to sort some things happening in both my personal and business lives. During that period of reassessment I also sat down and wrote a fantasy novel that was called “One way ticket to Talenthar“. Strangely it was mostly written by going to bed at night thinking of the plot of the story and my subconscious mind would fill in the plotline and character dialogs overnight and during the following day I would tediously write the story by hand as I was computerless during that period. The entire process repeated itself over a period of some months and then I borrowed my young cousin’s computer during his summer vacations while he was not using it for school, and I typed in the entire thing using my trusty old DOS WordPerfect floppies.

The original manuscript is still in storage somewhere in my uncle’s basement back in Canada and I have the original WordPerfect documents in my backups here at the office. I had some interest of publishing it at the time and I sent the story out. Through a friend some British editor showed some minor interest, but the story stood mainly untouched for all of those years as I lost interest of the endless cycle of sending proposals and waiting for refusals.

For many years I have wanted to edit the story again and flesh up the last third of it, as the plotline was rushing to its conclusion and was lacking details. I started a few times to do it, but never was in a situation where I could give it the time it needed. Most recently last summer I wrote a completely new version of the prologue based on a totally different point of view, to better give life to the world of the story. I really liked that new version, but time constraints yet again did not permit me to continue rewriting the story. The worse is that due to a combination of things totally outside my control (losing my writing computer’s hard drive and the network storage unit of the office on the same day) all of that work was lost. I found out this morning when I went looking for the new documents.

I still have an inkling of what I had written there, even if it is just a general idea, and I plan to start the rewrite yet another time. This time, to make sure I stick to my ideas I will first publish the original work followed by the rewritten one bit by bit or chapter by chapter, whatever fits my schedule best. I will start the project in the coming days and try to stick to a fairly regular schedule as best as I can humanly, or better sassquatchly!

Until then!

The Sass

It has been a while

April 18, 2009

This is the first post in many years, and hopefully it will be the start of regular posting again. A lot has happened in my life in the last few years, (including a few moves including) one following the first one by 3 weeks as we had moved into the house from hell. Our doggies celebrated their second anniversary a few weeks back and when I posted last they were just a few months old. Now they weigh more than 65Kg (~145 pounds) and they are our pride and joy.?

This blog started as a place on the Web, to post my writing and had somewhat evolved into a once in a while diary of things happening in my life. In the last few days I had started thinking about fiction writing again, and I thought about reviving this blog. The goals of the new version would be to publish some of fiction I had written ages ago, and new stories that has been circling in my mind for years. I read the ‘About The Sass’ entry here and it was almost exactly what I have in mind now, and what I had in mind when I first started. I guess that now I will have to finally deliver on it.?

In the coming weeks I plan to remove the cobwebs from the blog, a task I started today by removing all the posts that were not related to what I want this blog to be. What are left are a few very old stories and some general entries. What I plan to do is first research what happened in blog technology in the intervening years and bring the backend of the blog into the modern world, and then do a bit of sprucing up to the looks which were temporary when I did them years ago. I will then start publishing, chapter by chapter, a fantasy novel I wrote back in 1989? I hope that all the friends and family that were faithful readers in the old days will like what I will do now, and that new friends will become regular readers. Thanks for the patience??

The Sass

A Time Conundrum – Part 7 – Conclusion

August 17, 2006

Bill regained consciousness a few hours later. He was hanging sideways from his broken harness. Around him he heard soft moans of pain emanating from the lips of his crewmates. He struggled helplessly to extirpate himself from the remains of his harness.

Suddenly, a massive arm draped in coarse fibrous cloth easily pulled him up to his feet. He turned toward his benefactor. Bill choked in his own fears. He was looking directly into an alien face. The creature was bipedal and stood taller than himself. It was of more massive proportions. Its physiognomy was definitively of saurian origin.

Bill could not believe what he had done to his world. It dawned on him that all that he had known and loved, including Sheila, were now gone.

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From 1990: A Time Conundrum

The Sass

A Time Conundrum – Part 6

August 10, 2006

To Bill, who was on his third launch, the feeling accompanying time travel was expected, if not comfortable. It felt as if you were flattened out of existence then inflated back to life. As usual he felt somewhat disoriented after the jump. They stood in the emptiness of space in another time. After taking a bearing Rudder contacted Dr. Osbourne, they were on track. They would only have to set course for the black hole to collect it. He punched in the coordinates. The control panel in front of him came alive. The powerful thrusters hissed loudly as their jet of ionized matter propelled them to their destiny.

After a few hours of monotonous travel, alarm bells broke the silence that had set amongst the crew. They were near the black hole. Dr. Hillzinger went to his equipment, which had been installed in the large cargo bay. He quickly set his machinery in action. The drone of the ships mighty fusion generators increased in pitch under the load of the containment system. Bill looked out the window and did not notice anything unusual going on. He said, to no one in particular.

“I do not see the black hole. Are you sure it is there?”

Dr. Hillzinger replied. “It is of very small size, only a few centimetres in diameter. Though its mass is tremendous you will not see its effect due to the lack of matter entering it. If we were to collide with it, it would neatly bore a hole through the ship. When the containment field will be established there will be emission of high energy x-rays as the stray particles from the field enters it. Any matter in its vicinity will become ionized by the x-rays. You will see a glowing aura around the black hole.”

Hillzinger turned back toward his equipment and Phil joined him to calibrate the field. Everybody were busy around Sven and Bill. They felt somewhat left out as they watched, with interest, the activity around them. Soon the drone of the fusion generator reached a climax and a crackling ball of energy stood in front of the time capsule. Phil, using an electromagnetic traction device, skillfully captured the black hole and stored it in a containment cell in the cargo bay. He cheerfully slapped his thighs and turned toward Bill. He said.

“See, there was nothing to it.”

Bill smiled. He asked. “Do we have time to go have a look at earth before we set our plan into motion? I would like to have a look at what we are trying to preserve.”

Rudder, from his command seat, yelled at the men assembled in the cargo hold.

“If you want to go to earth first, we should go right now. We only have a few hours before our appointed meeting with the asteroid. We will go and have a quick look.

The thrusters throbbed back to life and they were on their way to earth. The view of the planet, as they approached was familiar to the crew. It had not changed drastically in the intervening eons. They touched down in a lush tropical area. They observed the scenery through the ships monitoring systems. They did not have the time for a full blown outing. Animal life teemed in the lowland area forested with massive fern trees. They caught the occasional glimpse of a massive sauropod lumbering through the tall plants.

Bill was amazed at the sight of the fauna and flora untouched by man. This was a dream come true. He wished that Sheila was with him to enjoy the experience. Their stay was too short. Their senses had just been teased by the complexity of the Late Cretaceous ecosystems, when they had to leave. Bill hoped that one day they would be able to study this unspoiled habitat at leisure. But a more pressing engagement awaited them. They reluctantly left the planet’s surface, the thrusters at full blast.

The trip to the rendezvous point with the asteroid was a short one. The crew got busy calculating the coordinates for the release of the black hole. Bill felt somewhat left out of the process. He anxiously looked on as they worked. Soon the machinery was set in motions. Phil used the electromagnetic traction beam to manoeuvre the black hole outside the cargo bay. After double checking his computations Dr. Hillzinger instructed Phil to use an impulse beam to propel the contained black hole towards the asteroid.

After a few wrenching minutes, the crackling ball of energy, containing the black hole, collided with the asteroid. A fiery release of energy ensued. In the aftermath of the collision the asteroid lost part of its mass. This matter was absorbed by the black hole. The result was a deviation of the asteroid’s path by a few degrees. Due to their distance from earth, this was enough to prevent a direct impact with the planet. The tidal forces from the close miss would create havoc with the earthly environment, but it would be a lot less destructive than a direct hit.

With the tremendous release of energy from the collision a great deal of static prevented communication with home base. It did not worry the crew who had been expecting it. Rudder Rudigast, with the help of Gina Lesage, set the coordinates for their return home. There would be a short delay before the capsule’s capacitors would reach full charge. At that point they would return to the Institute.

Bill spent this time thinking about his future with Sheila. This last week had been one of the happiest of his life. The woman he had always dream about, loved him after all. It had only been his shyness that had prevented them from hitting it on earlier. His new work association with Sven Blomquist and Sheila opened so many new possibilities that it would take a lifetime to unravel all of them. Both his personal and work life were at their zenith.

Bill’s ruminations were interrupted by Rudder’s voice. “We will be proceeding with time transfer in thirty seconds. Please brace yourselves.”

The crew experienced the now familiar sensation. When they emerged at the other end of the time warp, they were greeted by billowing clouds of noxious smoke. They were caught in a tremendous storm raging over an immense active volcano. Rudder controlled their position. He yelled in a high pitched hysterical voice, as he fought with the capsule’s controls.

“According to my instruments we are directly over where the Institute should be. I don’t know what happened while we were gone, but a massive volcano lies in its place. I will try to set us down.”

While Rudder and Gina were busy at the controls, the remainder of the crew prepared themselves for the worse. They buckled their safety harnesses tightly. All were tossed and buffeted as the experienced pilots tried to find a proper spot for a landing. A brief respite from the storm permitted them to locate such an area. Rudder aimed the capsule toward it, as the storm doubled in intensity. Any attempt at a soft landing was futile. Rocked by the storm the ponderous mass of the shuttle hit the ground with a terrifying crash. Only its great strength prevented it from rupturing. All aboard were knocked unconscious by the impact.

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From 1990: A Time Conundrum

The Sass

A Time Conundrum – Part 5

August 6, 2006

The morning of their flight was suddenly upon them. All had been checked and double checked. Tension filled the air. The scientists paced the floor nervously while the technicians attended to last minute details. Beside the regular crew of Rudder Rudigast and Gina Lesage, Dr. Hillzinger, Phil Redbird, Sven and Bill would be passengers of the capsule. Sheila Osbourne would remain behind to monitor her equipment from the Institute’s control room.

She cornered Bill before he was ready to embark. She kissed him deeply and said.

“Now that the experiment is almost over I am looking forward to spend more time with you. And I do not mean work time. Though there is some research that I would not mind doing with you.”

On that she hugged him suggestively and escorted him to the capsule’s narrow hatch, where they parted company. Bill joined the rest of the crew in the cabin where everyone was already preparing for the time flight. He buckled himself in a comfortable seat. While the flight crew was going through the final checklist Bill leaned to-ward Sven. He said.

“Do you think that we are doing the right thing? I feel somewhat like god. I hope that we are not playing with something that we cannot handle.”

Sven answered. “It sounds to me like you are getting cold feet. You know as well as I do that we are doing this for the good of mankind.”

“I know…, it’s just that I am anxious to get going. Actually I am more anxious to come back to Sheila.”

Sven laughed heartily. He replied. “It is nice to see that the shy Dr. Livingston is finally coming out of his shell. Don’t worry we will be back in time for supper. You will be able to go out with your cherished Sheila.”

Their discussion was interrupted by Rudder’s voice. He was saying. “We are about to disconnect the umbilicals. There will be a short period of darkness before we go to internal power.”

The lights blinked on and off a few times then stabilized. A soft hum enveloped them. Rudder’s voice came back on.

“Please get ready for time transfer. We will be going in one minute.”

Bill looked out the small aperture in the shuttle’s side. He caught one last glimpse of Sheila, standing behind her console, before his vision became blurry.

From Sheila’s point of view the jump appeared normal. First the outline of the time capsule became blurry, then it flattened itself into nothingness with a loud clap. She hoped that all was as well as it appeared. She had more riding on this launch than usual, Bill was aboard.

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From 1990: A Time Conundrum

The Sass

A Time Conundrum – Part 4

August 4, 2006

The next morning Bill awoke in his apartment with a broad smile on his face. Last night had been one of the best of his life. Sheila had been a brilliant conversationalist. They had talked until the wee hours of the morning. He had accompanied her back to the house where they chatted some more. They had made plans for the future. For now they would concentrate on their secret project so that all their energy would go towards its completion. Afterwards they would start a life together. With the celebrity and funding that would surely come from bringing back the dinosaurs, they would have all the opportunities to do the research that they both wanted. Their common goal was to make earth a better place to live in.

Bill slowly showered and dressed. He met Sheila in a park near the Institute of Advance Physics. They hugged tenderly. Sven was already at work to finalize the details with Dr. Hillzinger. Sheila escorted Bill through a service entrance. They arrived at her laboratory undetected. They were met at the door by Rudder Rudigast. Technicians were busy working around the large time capsule.

It looked like a giant cylinder with rounded ends resting on a gigantic pancake. It always reminded Bill of a colossal fried egg with a cylindrical yolk. The test pilot said.

“Dr. Blomquist is waiting for you in the office with Dr. Hillzinger. They have some good news for you.”

Sheila turned toward Bill. She said. “It is nice to have good news for a change.” She led Bill to her office’s door.

Behind the glass partition Bill could see the tall Swede discussing emphatically with a short grey haired man. He presumed that the older man was Dr. Hillzinger. Sheila confirmed his suspicion. When she entered the room, she turned toward the man and said.

“Good morning Dr. Hillzinger. It is nice to see you. I hear that you have good news for us.”

The man answered in a raspy voice, the result of a lifetime of too much good living.

“I have located the ideal black hole to deviate your asteroid. With a few more hours of computations, I will have the exact coordinates for the transfer and interaction. My containment equipment should be installed in your time capsule within two days. Now the only thing that I need from you is the rigorous location, in time, of the inter-action, so that we get the results that you want of it.”

Sven put his arm around Bill’s shoulders and brought him in front of a large wall terminal. He punched a few buttons on the control unit and said.

“This is the theoretical results of the asteroid’s interaction with earth, after a close miss. We will have to decide what ecological consequences would best serve our goals. I suggest that we do not create too drastic a change to preserve as much of the habitat as possible, on a large enough scale, to be effective.”

The two men worked for several days on their theoretical model. They finally agreed on the parameters needed to preserve part of the Late Cretaceous ecosystems and end up without too much drastic changes in the modern ones. From these parameters they calculated the precise timing of the interaction with the asteroid. The experiment was scheduled for the following week. In the meantime they would examine all the data and scrutinize the equipment.

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From 1990: A Time Conundrum

The Sass