Monthly Archives: December 2016

The Dagger of Tiamat, Part Three

I’m too embarrassed to say how long it has been since I posted a new installment of “The Dagger of Tiamat.” But, I managed to post the third part of the story before the end of the year, so I’m calling it a win. Read the first two parts here and here.

The Dagger of Tiamat, Part Three

“Okay, so what is the Dagger of Tiamat?”

     They had traded the dimly-lit pub for Professor Ferguson’s flat, which occupied the top two floors of a Georgian townhouse across from Russell Square. Brendan and Gwen were seated on a sofa in the parlor, a bookcase-lined room that looked out onto the street. Ferguson was sitting in a high-backed leather chair across from them. Judging from the stack of books on the side table, that was probably where the Professor spent most of his free time.

     “Would either of you like something to eat?” Ferguson asked, shrugging out of his tweed jacket. “I’m afraid I don’t entertain much, but I might have a little something in the kitchen.”

     “No thanks, Professor. I’m good,” Brendan said. Was Ferguson stalling or just being very British?

     “I’m fine, Professor,” Gwen said. “I think it’s best that we tell Finn what’s going on.”

     Finally. Brendan leaned back and looked at his old friends.

     “The Earth is a nexus,” Gwen began. “It’s a crossroads, of sorts, where countless different dimensions intersect. And, in certain places, the barriers between Earth and these other dimensions are thin enough to pass through.”

     “O-kay.”

     “Interactions between Earth and these different dimensions account for the myriad of gods and goddesses that have been worshipped by cultures around the world.”

     “Gods are real?”

     “In a sense,” she replied. “Many of these extradimensional beings possess powers and abilities that would have amazed and terrified early humans. The natural reaction would be to worship these beings as gods.”

     Brendan nodded. It had often been theorized that many of the myths and legends from around the world had been inspired by metahuman activity. This was as good an explanation as that.

     “But,” Gwen continued, “where there are gods, there are also demons. The most powerful of these beings are often called Old Ones or Elder Gods. Vile creatures of unimaginable power and unspeakable cruelty.”

     “This is where the Dagger of Tiamat comes in, right?”

     “The Dagger of Tiamat is a relic from a darker time, a time when cults of greedy, black-hearted men and women worshipped these creatures. They performed dark rituals, seeking to curry favor with powerful beings in return for power, wealth, and influence.”

     “Politicians?”

     Gwen scowled. “Finn, this is serious.”

     Brendan raised his hands in surrender. “Sorry,” he said. “So, it’s just a magical item, right? No biggie. We’ve dealt with that kinda thing before, Gwen.”

     The thought of the adventures they shared in the past brought a smile to Gwen’s lips, then it was gone. “This is worse than any of that, Finn. This is bigger than the vampires, the zombies, the evil sorcerers, the cursed keep left signs.”

     “Worse than the transient mystery house disguised as a phone box?”

     “Much.”

     “You see, Brendan,” Ferguson interjected, “the dagger is a conduit of sorts. It’s a way to draw power from one of these Old Ones through a dimensional barrier.”

     “Unfortunately,” Gwen added, “it’s supposed to be used as a part of a ritual involving several people. The Old One’s power is supposed to be dispersed, not channeled into a single individual. Pierson– Malcolm, well he’s basically been mainlining power from the Old Ones for five years.”

     “That sounds bad.”

     Ferguson nodded. “Quite. We fear that Malcolm’s disappearance this close to the solstice–”

     “When many of these dimensional barriers are at their weakest,” Gwen added.

     “–could be an indication that he’s planning something big.”

     “Big? How big?”

     “If he has enough power,” Gwen said, “he could theoretically tear a hole in one of these barriers and allow these Old Ones to invade our dimension.”

     Brendan exhaled. “That’s a big Twinkie.”

     “I need to stop this, Finn.”

     “Wait. What? Why you? I could call in the Cape-and-Cowl Club. They love this kinda stuff.”

     Gwen shook her head. “It has to be me, Finn.”

     “Why?”

     She stood, her sundress, leggings, and boots suddenly replaced by a long shirt of gleaming chainmail, cinched at the waist by a thick leather belt. A dark green cloak, emblazoned with glowing symbols, hung from her shoulders. A gauntleted hand rested on the hilt of the sword that hung at her side. Her skin glowed like the summer sun, making her red hair appear aflame.

     “Why, Finn? Because it’s my destiny.”

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Top 10 Fictional Characters I Wouldn’t Mind Snogging at Midnight: 2016 Edition

It worked last year, so might as well do it again.

1. Cable McCrory

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A snarky computer expert with an endless supply of flannel? Yeah, not my type at all.

2. Claire Temple

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I hear she likes coffee…

3. Jamie Campbell

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Spunky, redhead journalist? Sold. Plus, she clearly has a thing for brilliant-but-arrogant assholes…so, win.

4. Jesse Quick

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Love a woman in uniform.

5. Jessica Jones

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Jessica would snap me in half before the clock finished striking midnight. So. Worth. It.

6. Patterson

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We’d take a break from the Twilight Zone marathon…

7. Wanda Maximoff

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Maybe I didn’t fully get over my Goth/The Craft phase.

8. Jane Porter

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I regret nothing.

9. Ellie Bishop

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A quirky genius with an eidetic memory and a love of food? Yes, good.

10. Karen Page

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Drawn to closed-off men with deep psychological issues. Score!

BONUS: Lana Lang

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Ginger. Engineer. Superhero.

In Praise of Rick Riordan

I’m about half-way through the second book in the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series by Rick Riordan, and before 2016 ends, I wanted to tell you all that you should be reading Riordan’s books (if you are not already).

You may have heard of Rick Riordan. He created Percy Jackson. Percy Jackson is a regular kid from NYC, who also happens to be the son of Poseidon. The first Percy Jackson series introduced the world to Camp Half-Blood and the demigods who trained there, preparing to go on whatever quests the Oracle sent them on. This series came out during the height of Potter-Mania, and was probably unfairly overshadowed by Rowling’s masterpiece.

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Anyway, from there, Riordan wrote a trilogy about Carter and Sadie Kane, siblings who also happen to be magicians loyal to the Egyptian gods. He wrote a second round of Percy Jackson books that introduced the Roman equivalents of the Greek demigods of Camp Half-Blood, a series of short stories were the Greek demigods meet the Egyptian magicians. Then came Magnus Chase, followed closely by a new series about Apollo.

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These books are brilliant for several reasons. First of all, they treat each pantheon as individuals. The Egyptian gods are not just rehashes of the Greek gods with different names. A Greek demigod does not have the same motivations that an Egyptian magician has, and no one has the same motivations as an Asgardian einherjar.

Second, these books feel like superhero stories to me. Whether Percy is calling forth a tidal wave or Carter Kane is summoning mecha-sized mystical Horus armor or Magnus Chase is using his healing powers, it all feels like reading about young superheroes learning about their powers. Whenever I think writing superhero prose the way I want to write it is impossible, I pick up one of Riordan’s books and get inspired anew.

If you like superheroes and mythology, and you’re not afraid to be seen reading middle-grade fiction, go and grab some Rick Riordan books.