Friday, August 30, 2019

Worth Fighting For, Chapter 7

Terra and Blynn knelt on the other side of the spread, gaping at the sword. “Are you serious?” Terra asked.

“No wonder they’re impervious to corrosion,” Hyren said. “And I’m guessing the blades don’t dull, either.” He gave it a few test swings and relished the singing of metal through air mingled with a faint hum of magic. “Amazing. I’ve never seen one of these in the flesh before.”

“Then how do you know about ‘em?” Blynn asked. “Aren’t you from space? Why do you know so much about Neopia?”

The commander paused after a stroke to look down at her. “Just because I’ve never been here, doesn’t mean I’m ignorant about this world,” he said. “Sloth has had scouts and spies combing this planet since far before his first takeover attempt. And I make a point of never landing somewhere unless I’ve done my research first.” He put the sword back in its sheath and the blade made a satisfying sound against the hardened leather. He’d found his compensation. He motioned to Terra and Blynn to head back out, gripping the hilt of his newfound prize as he tried to figure out how to carry the rest.

“I want one,” Terra said, staring down at the blades.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Worth Fighting For, Chapter 6

“So that’s when the space fungus started swarming our ship!” Hyren said. They had to have been walking for at least half an hour, now, but Hyren had scores more stories to tell. The tunnel was now so narrow that Hyren barely fit in it, and if it got any narrower he was going to have to turn to one side. “I turned to the Navibot helmsman and—“ He stopped short, drawing in an uncertain breath.

“What is it?” Terra asked from behind him.

Just ahead, the tunnel ceiling abruptly dipped, reducing its navigable area to a mere crawlspace a few feet high. It looked just large enough for Hyren to squeeze through. He shuffled awkwardly aside so Terra could see.

“Blynn, you go first,” he said. “I’m sure we’re nearly to the end. Maybe.”

Blynn started toward the hole, dropping to all fours and holding the lantern ahead of her with one forepaw. The firelight receded until it was barely visible.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Worth Fighting For, Chapter 5

“All right, let’s go,” Hyren said as he leaned over Blynn, shaking her shoulder to wake her.

“Huwhuh…” the Zafara said as she rolled over. Her eyes blinked open and focussed on the mutant Grundo, and she glared at him for a moment before sitting up suddenly, and Hyren had to jerk back before they collided. “Oh, hey! Is it morning already? Wow, I slept like a Pet Rock!”

She jumped out of her sleeping bag and stretched her arms high above her head, letting out a huge yawn before looking over at her sleeping owner with a mischievous grin. Blynn leaped onto Terra’s stomach and stuck her nose in the girl’s face. “Wake up and smell the streaky bacon!” the Zafara said.

Terra’s eyes flew open and she let out a shout of surprise that dissolved into laughter, hugging her Zafara close with one arm and feeling around for her glasses with the other. “It’s still dark out—” she started to say. “Oh—right.” She looked around at the gloom that hadn’t changed a bit since she’d drifted off. Hyren had opened up the lantern again before waking Blynn, but other than that, the shadows around them persisted, the air as still and silent as ever.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Worth Fighting For, Chapter 4

The three ate in silence after that. Neither Terra nor Blynn said anything. Hyren couldn’t blame them. He had become quite good at getting people to hate him. Not that that made him feel any better, but Hyren tried to swallow the emotions along with his dinner.

Once he finished his sandwich, Hyren removed his helmet and fiddled with it, as per his evening routine. It still didn’t respond, and he decided to finally let go of the meager hope of it ever working again, but it provided protection for his head and face, at least.

After Terra and Blynn had finished their food, Hyren said, “We should camp in here for the night. Despite its age, this room looks pretty stable, with no signs of decay except for that hole we fell through. In the morning, we’ll start finding our way out.”

Terra nodded slowly, wadding up her paper and stuffing it in her backpack. She glanced over at Blynn, who returned the look and took a sip from her canteen before trudging over to the piles of treasure, systematically inspecting each gold coin and string of pearls.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Worth Fighting For, Chapter 3

While the owner and the Neopet wasted their time screaming, Hyren reached out and grabbed the Zafara. She’d had the good sense to at least hold on to the lantern, and it lit their way through a cloud of dust and fractured rock as they slid down a sinuous shaft that finally spit them out into a larger space.

Hyren hit the floor with such an impact that it briefly blacked out his vision and sent the two children flying out of his grasp. Rock rained down on him and something heavy slammed into his leg, forcing a cry of pain from his throat. Then all was dark and silent except for the last remnants of the collapsed floor that trickled down and clattered against his armour like hail.

“Terra, are you okay?” the Zafara asked from somewhere in the murky gloom. “Oh, come on, little fella…” With the sound of tapping on glass, the Fire Mote’s steady glow dispelled the shadows in a small space around her.

“Yeah—yeah, I’m fine,” the girl said. “Looks like my pack made it, too. Oh, there’s my glasses... Are you okay?” Their voices echoed emptily, which meant this room was much more voluminous than the entrance.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Worth Fighting For, Chapter 2

The heat woke him. Hyren opened his eyes and realised he’d chosen the wrong side of the dune to fall asleep on. He was already sunbaked and sticky with sweat, his helmet unbearably stuffy. With a groan, he pulled it off, letting the desert wind cool his head for all too brief a period before it turned to hot again. He was sore all over, although he guessed that being trapped under a collapsed building did that to a person.

He’d been in wilderness survival situations before, on other worlds. But this time he had no troops to command or other officers to work with. He kept reminding himself to just be grateful he didn’t have to deal with incompetents, but the sudden isolation felt too strange.

Hyren took a moment to assess his condition. He’d certainly been in better shape, but he’d also been in worse. His wounds would heal with time and rest. His blaster still had some energy, his armour was in good physical condition, and he had a week’s supply of ration capsules. Really the only loss besides his sword was his armour’s power. The shock of the collapse had probably damaged the electronics, and the dust and sand didn’t help matters, either. Hyren just needed to find a place to recuperate and wait to be found.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Worth Fighting For, Chapter 1

This story holds a special place in my heart because it was really the turning point in not just my Neopets writing, but my writing career as a whole. Finishing this story helped me realize that I could actually write substantial stories start-to-finish - that long-form fiction wasn't an impossibly daunting task - and it inspired me to keep working on my novels. 

It was also the Neopian Times story that truly served as the catalyst for nearly everything that came after. With it, I tapped into a world and a cast that I became so deeply interested in that I couldn't help but want to explore them further, and the whole thing kept building on itself like some kind of wonderful literary snowball.

Ever since I'd adopted Dark_breed_Hyren as a teenager, I'd wanted him to have some sort of cool mysterious past, probably involving combat training because he was my dedicated Battledome pet. But everything I tried to come up with was kinda lame. After I took a break from Neopets for a while and came back to it in college, I found myself tinkering with the idea again, and settled on something that I actually liked--and that gave Hyren a lot of great character development. (And Blynn and Terra too, I guess. And also the Werelupe King? But that has more to do with "Worth Searching For" so I'll talk about that later.)

Another side note to this story is that I wrote it while going through an extremely rough college semester fraught with health issues and prodigious amounts of unnecessary stress (I don't recommend attempting that, not worth it). Plotting this story out in my head, and writing it down when I had the time, gave me something to cling to when it felt like the rest of the world had gone insane. So I have to credit this story for doing that. (Although nowadays I've learned that it's much pleasanter and more efficient to just take better care of yourself in the first place.)

Please note that this story does not read the same as what got published in the Neopian Times. I edited it quite a bit to bring it more up to speed with my current writing skills, and made it less intense because nobody needs that, seriously.


Chapter 1 - Chapter 2 - Chapter 3 - Chapter 4 - Chapter 5 - Chapter 6 - Chapter 7

Hyren woke up to voices outside his door.

“Hey, Blynn, isn’t tomorrow Grundo Independence Day?”

“Oh snaps, you’re right! How could I forget?!”

The diminutive blue Grundo rolled over in his bed to stare out the window of his room. An almost-full Kreludor, high in the sky, cast its silver light across undulating hills and towering cypress trees. His family had moved to Altador some years ago, from Mystery Island. His owner had been ecstatic over the rediscovery of a lost civilisation. Hyren was more excited to live in a place where it didn’t rain several times daily.

“What do you think Hyren wants to do tomorrow?” Hyren’s brother Pharazon asked from out in the hall. “Maybe we should throw him a surprise party!” The faerie Draik spoke in eager but hushed tones, as if not to wake Hyren.

“Ooh! Awesome idea!” their sister Blynn said. The disco Zafara, on the other hand, had a distinct lack of volume control.

Hyren smiled. With Blynn and Pharazon in cahoots, a party for him would be quite interesting indeed.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Okay, big writing update! I finished the first draft of Thunder Girl and sent it to my editor! It always feels good to get that first big step out of the way. Things like editing, formatting the print and Kindle editions, and painting the cover art don't take nearly as much time. I feel like I've really got the ball rolling on this one now!

While it's at the editor's, I'm going to take a big long rest, but before long I'll probably get bored and start working on more stuff. I'm considering putting "Worth Fighting For" up here after all, because I ended up finishing my edits to it to share it with a friend and I really like how it turned out. I also made some illustrations for it for sharing with said friend and I'd like to put those on here, and I figure if I'm going to put up the illustrations, I might as well put up the whole story!

Also, I have a couple of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fanfic ideas that I just can't bear to scrap, so we'll see just how bored I get.

Finally, I've also been brainstorming ideas for the novel I want to work on after Thunder Girl! I don't want to give away too much, but let's just say it's like Wreck-it-Ralph meets a high fantasy MMORPG. Can't go wrong there!