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Kyellan, the Gray Sentinel: The Horns of War


Kyellan

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Snow drifted gently from the heather-gray skies above, settling a blanket of white stillness around the courtyard. The priory was quiet on this early winter morning, the cold keeping everyone in their beds long past the sun's late rise.

 

Kyellan swept the stones clear of the snowfall, though he knew he would be doing the same a mere hour later. The elder brothers could not traverse slick walks, and there was no sense inviting injury when it could so easily be avoided. The world seemed impossibly quiet, with all the animals in hibernation and the birds flown to warmer climes.

 

A gentle chirp startled him out of his near-meditative state. He looked up to see a small, red bird sitting atop the stone wall. He knew its kind well, but the crimson starlings flew south in the late autumn... and yet more, something seemed strange about this one. Its feathers seemed startlingly dark, almost the color of a drop of blood.

 

The bird cocked its head at him, chirped again, and then exploded from the snow atop the wall in a spray of white, and was gone. The world returned to its softened silence.

 

Kyellan shook his head. Perhaps the bird had merely been lost, or left behind by its fellows. A sad state, indeed, but he knew naught of the affairs of birds.

 

With the stones at last cleared, Kyellan set aside his brush, shook his gray cloak and gloves clean of the snowfall, and returned to the eastern common hall.

 

A cheery fire now burned in the hearth, spreading its welcome warmth throughout the stone walls. Kyellan gratefully shed his snowy cold-weather gear and took a chair beside the fire, rubbing his chilled hands. His right still ached faintly from that training accident two months ago, but every day the hurt grew fainter, and his grip stronger.

 

"Good morning, Ky," said a voice, which warmed him almost as much as the fire itself. He turned and smiled at Athe, his blood-sworn sister. They had taken the oath of service to the Sentinels together, and though the ceremony had been the first time they met, a bond of friendship like Kyellan had never felt before had been forged between them through trial, hardship, and learning.

 

"And good morning to you, lazybones," Kyellan grinned. "I see you've taken to rising with the bears, rather than the sun."

 

She rolled her eyes and pulled up her own chair to the fire. Her auburn hair glistened in the flickering light from the hearth, and glared at him briefly from beneath her eyelashes. "You always take the best spot in the morning."

 

"And if you'd get up earlier, you wouldn't have this problem."

 

"If even the Knight Commander sleeps in on a morning like this, you can hardly blame me for doing the same. Don't worry; after the morning meal, I'll be in plenty of shape to beat you all around the training yard."

 

Their shared laughter was interrupted by a throat-clearing from the doorway. Kyellan looked up to see the weathered face of Marcthelion Irontree, Knight Lieutenant, and the man in charge of their training. They immediately sobered, and rose to attention.

 

"The Knight Commander summons all Sentinels and Companions to the Great Hall. Immediately. A message has arrived from the capital." Irontree's deep voice was grave.

 

----------------------------------------

 

Okay, so I gave this a fair amount of thought. I've decided that I've kind of played out the Star Wars theme over 2015, and despite the fact that I still go to lightsaber class every week, I think it's time to give the Jedi thing a rest. So, since I also make some kind of claim to being an author, I've decided to go with something original this time.

 

We'll see how it goes. Like the running challenge I did last summer, I'm going to add a bit to this story with each update post I make throughout the month. This is all-new... I'm making this up as I go along, folks, so bear with me. You're seeing the writing process here--first draft, little editing, and no outline. Let's see what happens.

 

Anyway, on with the challenge goals! This new 4-week thing is interesting, so we'll keep it light this first time out.

 

Goal 1: Track calories every day. I've been making great progress on my weight loss since I picked MyFitnessPal back up a few months ago, and I'm starting this challenge somewhere between 210 and 215. (I'll get an exact number tomorrow.) That means I'm down somewhere between 20 and 25 lbs from where I was in the summer. Don't change a system that works--I'm actually getting toward fighting shape, and I want it! The holidays are over, and I'm once again in full control of my food. On the bright side, I only had a couple of tough days throughout the holiday season, so I actually kept making progress instead of being set back.

 

Goal 2: Run 5k once a week. In preparation for the June Tough Mudder in Vermont (which I'll be running with Oramac, and anyone else who wants to join us! :D ) I've been running once a week with my buddy. He pushed me through a 5k training route back in mid-December, and since then we've also run a 4-mile loop and a different 5k trainer. It's been great! My first 5k time was 44:59, and last time it was 38:11, which I'm pretty happy about.

 

Goal 3: Injury Recovery via Sword Training. I'm still working off the hand injury I got back in November, but it's getting better. I'm gently trying to work my grip back into shape via my lightsaber and my longsword. This is a careful and tricky process, but it's very important.

 

Level Up Your Life: Track every expense for the month in YNAB, and reconcile it all at the end of the month. The wife and I have been working with YNAB through December to great success, and I want it to continue. We've already worked ourselves from being pretty far behind to being back on track, and I want 2016 to be a carefully managed year, money-wise. We've got our Germany trip coming up in September, and I want to figure out just what my salary can do when it's put to real priorities instead of disappearing into the ether.

 

------------------------------

 

That's what I've got. Looking forward to seeing everybody else's challenges as we roll into 2016!

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"You are what you do. Choose again, and change." - Miles Vorkosigan

Challenges

109 | 8 | 7 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1 |

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Swords or GTFO. :P

 

Although, a Tough Mudder you say? In Vermont, you say?

 

Well, there is something about running with a bunch of hateful northerners that just makes these things more fun. :P Makes me wonder...

 

In the meantime, wow, good luck with the writing, dude. That's a harder thing to balance with the challenges than I thought, and I commend you for it.

 

The whole thing looks like a matter of running up the virtuous cycle as hard as you can. All right, then. Work that process!

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Nice story intro--really well done! Can't wait to see where it goes. Looks like you have well-developed goals. And I agree that if something is working, keep it up. Good luck in the challenge!

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~Arrowan

Human, Adventurer 

Level 4

STR 9/ DEX 6/ STA 15/CON 8/WIS 16/CHA 7

 

"Use what talent you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang 

except those that sang best." -Henry Van Dyke

 

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Swords or GTFO. :tongue:

 

Although, a Tough Mudder you say? In Vermont, you say?

 

Well, there is something about running with a bunch of hateful northerners that just makes these things more fun. :tongue: Makes me wonder...

 

In the meantime, wow, good luck with the writing, dude. That's a harder thing to balance with the challenges than I thought, and I commend you for it.

 

The whole thing looks like a matter of running up the virtuous cycle as hard as you can. All right, then. Work that process!

 

Yep, TM in Vermont, June 2016. https://toughmudder.com/events/2016-new-england

 

You should totally come up and do it with us. Gonna be awesome. :D

 

Thanks for the well-wishes. Hopefully the writing will be helpful, since it's just for fun and there's no pressure. I don't even know if it will turn into anything good, and I'm not holding myself to writing anything particularly long or involved. It's just time to play with a story for a while. =)

 

 

Nice story intro--really well done! Can't wait to see where it goes. Looks like you have well-developed goals. And I agree that if something is working, keep it up. Good luck in the challenge!

 

Thanks! Hopefully the story will turn into something. :D

 

----------------

 

Okay, better profile pic, complete with ghoooost swooooord, because the Photoshop filters turned out that way and I like it. :P

 

graysentinel-3.jpg

 

Oh, and here's proof of my run for the pre-challenge week:

 

Screenshot_2016-01-03-16-17-02-e14518657

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"You are what you do. Choose again, and change." - Miles Vorkosigan

Challenges

109 | 8 | 7 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1 |

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Irontree disappeared through the doorway, and Kyellan exchanged a look with Athe.

 

"That didn't sound good," she murmured.

 

Kyellan pushed back away from the fire and stood. The cold immediately began creeping in on him again, but he shrugged off the insidious discomfort the best he could. "Not good at all. I'd better go find my ceremonial gear."

 

"Right behind you," Athe said, waving him off as she moved into his vacated place by the fire.

 

"Don't be late, now," Kyellan said, smiling, as he passed through the arched doorway.

 

Her voice floated after him. "What, me? Never."

 

He took the stairs two at a time to the second floor of the priory, passing several other Sentinels of varied rank and privilege along the way. He gave each a solemn greeting, except for Bonn--one of the other recruits who'd joined up in Kyellan's cohort. He gave Bonn a friendly grin and a wave, which Bonn returned with a quick slap on the shoulder as he passed. Kyellan's grin turned to a smirk as he went on, because the hood of Bonn's gray ceremonial cloak had folded over itself somehow, and was sticking straight up in the air. He assumed that one of the Knight Sergeants would correct his fellow recruit--preferably with some extra chores. Bonn had done him a similar turn the week before, all in good-natured fun of course, so it was about time for a little vengeance.

 

Upon reaching his chamber, Kyellan quickly shed his working clothes and carefully pulled on his ceremonial vestments. The white shirt went under the black leather bracers, displaying the single silver chevron on both wrists which marked him as a probationary member of the priory. His neatly-brushed black trousers tucked into black knee-high riding boots, and over it all went the gray cloak which was the symbol of their order. Plenty of men wore a gray wool cloak for traveling, but the distinctive cut and the deep hood--which transformed into a mantle when folded down--made a Sentinel obvious from a hundred paces.

 

Checking everything to make sure there were no blemishes on his bracers or stray threads trailing from his cloak, Kyellan strode back out into the corridor and headed for the Great Hall.

 

At the top of the stairs which would take him down to the gathering, he paused for a moment and took a slow breath. He hoped that the news from the capital was good--perhaps there was a new addition to the royal family?--but the sinking feeling in his gut told him otherwise.Surely Irontree would not have been so serious if the news was light. He'd only been at the priory for a few months, admittedly. Maybe he just hadn't gotten a handle on everyone's moods yet. 

 

He took one more breath to calm his nerves, and then descended the stairs toward the meeting chamber.

 

-------------------------

 

Quick story update for today. On today's first day of the challenge, I'll be going to Kung Fu tonight. Doing fine so far tracking food, and I've logged my single expense for the day to this point (needed gas).

 

I'm also using my GripMaster at work to do some therapy on my hand, so with any luck that will help too.

 

Bonus: I did 10 minutes of meditation this morning. Pretty sure it's the only thing keeping me sane at work today.

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"You are what you do. Choose again, and change." - Miles Vorkosigan

Challenges

109 | 8 | 7 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1 |

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Okay, better profile pic, complete with ghoooost swooooord, because the Photoshop filters turned out that way and I like it. :P

graysentinel-3.jpg

You know that put a big grin on my face, don't you. ^__^

I'll set mine up after watching the movie the second time in half an hour. This time in English. I'm looking forward to talking about it somewhere this month. Pretty please.

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level 12 Hobbit Monk (respawned September 2016)
STR 4 | DEX 15 | CON 16 | STA 15 | WIS 33 | CHA 24 | Halfling | Newbie | Fencer and Bookworm

Introduction | Character | Daily Battle Log | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 67 | 8 | | 10 | 11 | 12# | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | #### | 17 | Current Challenge

Spoiler

 I'm exercising, because I want to get my stamina and strength. I enjoy medieevil swordmanship,  Tai Chi, yoga, aikido and fire spinning. I'm also a roleplaying nerd and a book worm. Let's fight the procrastination dragon!

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Great looking challenge!!  I need to pick up the pace on mine and get something more useful up.  

 

I like your story/challenge mix.  Really cool, and I like your writing style. 

Thanks! It's obviously rough-draft, but that's okay. I'm not here to win awards :D

 

 

You know that put a big grin on my face, don't you. ^__^

I'll set mine up after watching the movie the second time in half an hour. This time in English. I'm looking forward to talking about it somewhere this month. Pretty please.

 

:D

 

I am here for you. We will talk Star Wars. It will be fun! =)

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"You are what you do. Choose again, and change." - Miles Vorkosigan

Challenges

109 | 8 | 7 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1 |

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Herm.....

 

June Tough Mudder. 

 

Herm....

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RisenPhoenix, the Entish Aikidoka

Challenge: RisenPhoenix Turns to Ash

 

"The essence of koryu [...is] you offer your loyalty to something that you choose to regard as greater than yourself so that you will, someday, be able to offer service to something that truly is transcendent." ~ Ellis Amdur, Old School

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Well, I have time to register.  I also need to do that whole "Look at my budget" thing. :P

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RisenPhoenix, the Entish Aikidoka

Challenge: RisenPhoenix Turns to Ash

 

"The essence of koryu [...is] you offer your loyalty to something that you choose to regard as greater than yourself so that you will, someday, be able to offer service to something that truly is transcendent." ~ Ellis Amdur, Old School

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The Great Hall buzzed with dozens of conversations as Kyellan reached the landing. Around him surged a sea of gray wool, topped by heads with hair of various colors. Even from here, he could see the spike of Bonn's hood stretching up toward the vaulted ceiling, and he suppressed a chuckle. This was neither the time nor the place for laughter.

 

His hopes for good news quickly disintegrated when faced with the mood of the room. No one spoke brightly; all conversation was muted and conducted in hushed whispers and undertones. Heads huddled close together as everyone tried to figure out what word the Knight Commander might be bringing to them, but as Kyellan brushed by the clusters, no one sounded certain at all.

 

He found a spot near the back of the hall with the other young recruits from his cohort--Athe had somehow beaten him back down here, looking pressed and polished, as always. Lorne's bracers were a bit askew, but otherwise the lanky young woman seemed to possess her usual poise and grace--which was to say, that he had none at all. Still, she was a quick thinker, and could seemingly run for miles without even becoming winded, so Kyellan took her slightly-disheveled nature in stride. Jace's broad features and pug nose were belied by the sparkling wit in his beady eyes, and though his good-natured grin occasionally seemed a bit unpleasant, his humor was always on-target. Rika and Arik were blond-haired, blue-eyed twins, a rare sight, and rarer still within the ranks of the Sentinels. It wasn't often that two members of the same family possessed the skills and temperament necessary to make it through the recruitment process.

 

And of course, Bonn, who--no, Kyellan saw him stopped by one of the Sergeants, who quickly stripped the young man down with a few words, and unceremoniously yanked the ridiculous hood from his head. The others sniggered as the Sergeant dismissed him, and sent him scurrying over toward them.

 

"Thanks a lot, jackass," he mumbled to Kyellan. "Now I've got kitchen duty for a week."

 

"They're not going to let you cook, are they?" Athe asked with mock horror. "I don't think my guts could take it."

 

"Har har," Bonn said, his expression dark, but one corner of his mouth quirked. "I'll just poison you all, and then I'll be the only one of our cohort left. They'll have to let me in, if only out of pity."

 

"That's the only way you'd ever get in anyway," Arik chuckled.

 

Their laughter silenced as a figure rose to the dais at the far end of the chamber. The Knight Guardians clacked the butts of their spears on the stone floor three times; a slow, solemn rhythm that always reminded Kyellan of the chapel bells, in the village where his parents lived. He was almost certain that he could hear the bells ring in the chamber, even though the priory didn't have any at all.

 

Horace Grimhand, Knight Commander of the Eastern Watch, slowly drew back his hood, and addressed the assembled crowd.

 

---------------------

 

Whew, was afraid I wouldn't get to my story update for the day. I hope you all enjoy finding out what happens at roughly the same time I do. :D

  • Like 2

"You are what you do. Choose again, and change." - Miles Vorkosigan

Challenges

109 | 8 | 7 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1 |

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You're really just cranking this stuff out day by day? It's really quality work. I'm quite enjoying it as well.

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~Arrowan

Human, Adventurer 

Level 4

STR 9/ DEX 6/ STA 15/CON 8/WIS 16/CHA 7

 

"Use what talent you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang 

except those that sang best." -Henry Van Dyke

 

Link to post

Ah, so you're a bit of a pantser when it comes to this whole thing, huh? Interesting. :)

 

Actually, I'm a terrible pantser. xD It's how I used to write, way back, but I found that I actually do much better when I'm planning stories ahead of time. 

 

However, I expect someday to have child(ren), and since telling a story on the fly is an important skill for a parent, I thought it might be appropriate to give it a shot now and then.

 

 

You're really just cranking this stuff out day by day? It's really quality work. I'm quite enjoying it as well.

 

Thanks! And yep, just sitting down and letting my fingers work. I do have an unfair advantage, though--I have published something like seven or eight books. So, experience and tons of practice. It's not my first rodeo, so to speak :D

  • Like 3

"You are what you do. Choose again, and change." - Miles Vorkosigan

Challenges

109 | 8 | 7 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1 |

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Thanks! And yep, just sitting down and letting my fingers work. I do have an unfair advantage, though--I have published something like seven or eight books. So, experience and tons of practice. It's not my first rodeo, so to speak :D

 

I had a feeling. That's so awesome. I love to write, but I've never actually published anything (and don't really have plans to). I just like to share. 

 

It's extremely enjoyable. I can't wait to find out what's going on. :)

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Thanks! And yep, just sitting down and letting my fingers work. I do have an unfair advantage, though--I have published something like seven or eight books. So, experience and tons of practice. It's not my first rodeo, so to speak :D

 

I can vouch for this as I've read some of them.  It's good stuff! 

"Someone ever tries to kill you, you try to kill 'em right back." - Captain Malcolm Reynolds

 

Current Challenge

 

Also, I Agree With Tank™

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"My brethren," Grimhand said, his deep baritone voice resonating in the chamber enough to run a chill down Kyellan's spine, "Word has arrived from the High Lord's seat at Hammerfall. Wystria has once more declared war on Yulor. It seems that this succession crisis will require more blood to be spilled in the name of House Sironin."

 

A low murmur went through the room.

 

"This will mean little change for the youngest of us, at least for the foreseeable future," Grimhand went on, as his gaze fell on Kyellan and his friends for the briefest of moments, before moving on. "However, all sworn brethren are instructed to begin forming cohorts for hospitaller and relief missions immediately. The Sentinels honor no Lords and serve no kingdoms, as ever, but it is our duty to relieve the suffering of the innocent. Please see Knight Lieutenants Irontree and Fairweather for your dispatch, once your teams are assembled.

 

"You are dismissed."

 

"War!" Rika hissed, as the Knight Commander made his way off the dais, and the room exploded into conversation. "Not again, not so soon!"

 

"If you ask me," Jace said with a smirk, "The High Lord ought to just divorce that peasant cow of a wife and marry his Wystrian counterpart. Then the kingdom would be back together like it ought to be. Who cares if they're cousins? Not like there's no precedent in their line for it already."

 

"I've heard they hate each other," Lorne said. "A lot."

 

"That's well enough for them," Jace shot back, "But they aren't the ones shedding blood for their petty feud--"

 

"Recruits," interrupted the voice of Knight-Sergeant-at-Arms Godwin Hawkfeather, "You're to report to the training yard immediately. As Commander Grimhand said--this news means little for you. We're yet to find out whether any of you have the mettle to be sworn in as Sentinels."

 

-----------------

 

Short one, but consistency is key!

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"You are what you do. Choose again, and change." - Miles Vorkosigan

Challenges

109 | 8 | 7 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1 |

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Speaking of published books, where are they available? I'm super curious and would love to support if I can. :)

 

You'll find my work under the name Christopher Kellen. Ebooks and paperbacks are available on Amazon. I recommend The Elements of Sorcery as a good place to start--the first one, Sorcerer's Code, you can download absolutely free. =)

 

Consistency is key. I find that even if all I can do is look at my manuscript that's still way better than a day of avoiding it in the middle of a productive streak.

 

It's way too easy to avoid it for one day, and then one day becomes one week, and then six months later you haven't written a word. Not that I've ever done something like that. >.>

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"You are what you do. Choose again, and change." - Miles Vorkosigan

Challenges

109 | 8 | 7 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1 |

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