Reviews are In!

Kirkus Review is done. Quite positive I might add!

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/roderick-cheung/kings-fortune/

In Cheung’s novel, a man’s boring life is interrupted by a gang of immortal bounty hunters trying to take his soul.

Every day, Leon Zylo, “gets off work feeling a little more dead than the day before.” Even his beautiful, loving girlfriend, Rachel, and the tantalizing sights and sounds of Fortune City, the sprawling “megatropolis” where he lives, aren’t enough to combat the apathy brought on by his boring office job. One day, he’s awakened from his lethargic existence by loud bangs at his door. A stylish man named Kitsune informs him that he’s been “contracted.” A gang of “Baya,” known as the Immortal Aces, will be coming to kill him in 24 hours: “The last day of your life starts after the next sixty seconds,” Kitsune says. Leon receives an official-looking contract that explains the rules, but it doesn’t reveal what a Baya is or why this is all happening. He largely ignores it, and the next day, he finds himself the prey of a pack of “[s]ome super invincible league of assassins who dress like pompous jerks.” He struggles through daring street chases, hops on roofs, and evades his pursuers on speeding trains before realizing that the bounty they seek is more than his life itself—it is his very soul. Soon, even more dangerous hunters are drawn into the chase, and Leon makes a daring choice that leads him to the truth about the Baya and their mysterious powers. Cheung’s prose is reminiscent of a comic book: short, punchy sentences propel exciting moments of action and complement his amusing, pun-filled dialogue. The clever conceit at this thrill ride’s core—that the more Leon tries to stay alive, the more valuable his life becomes—turns the cat-and-mouse game into a concise metaphor for urban ennui. However, halfway through, Cheung boldly goes in a surprising new direction, developing the lore of the Baya and leaving behind some of the more intriguing and universal elements. The author continues to maintain an exciting pace, but something special gets lost when he delves too deep into the fantasy.

A fast-paced adventure that will excite lovers of anime and comics, but one that trades wider appeal for complex mythology.

Portland Review also gave it 4 out of 5. It’ll be up soon!

http://bookpromocoop.com/showbpc.php?aid=113&cid=19&xid=0

Updated – Fiction Novel: Kings of Fortune – Prologue

Below is the prologue for ‘Kings of Fortune’, a YA action/adventure fiction novel. The story is filled with violence and humor (hopefully it’s humorous, but I think I’m a funny guy regardless).

Kings of Fortune is a YA action adventure fiction about 26-year-old Leon Zylo coming to terms with his life, by becoming a superhuman bounty hunter who must kill and reap Soul.

For full effect, try reading the prologue with the instrumentals to “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” by Cage the Elephants, on a loop. I swear, it amps it. Or have whatever background music you chill out to. Whatever.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTBI1r4mdtY Kings ThumbKings Back Kings of Fortune

Prologue

The happy summer sun showers its affection over the endless streets of Fortune City. Like an overbearing lover, its passionate unwarranted heat wave settles upon the unsuspecting citizens, and these citizens would reciprocate by shouting their contempt at the sky while basking beside their unsatisfying oscillating fans.

Stretching across the metropolis, the heated sunlight reaches the heavily-packed highway lining the outermost edge of the vast city. Populating each lane of this sky road are endless rows of cars filled with frustrated citizens dreading their commute to work.

These rows of moving cars always keep a constant pace, similar to the dull, endless motion of a conveyor belt set to the lowest, most unfulfilling speed. The excessive warmth in the air only makes matters worse, and edgy drivers begin eyeing one another, wondering who would be first to break under pressure.

But let’s not dawdle on the monotonous rhythm of these cars, or the painful isolation of these individuals and their mind-numbing lives. That is not significant.

Of course not.

Who cares about that.

What is particularly noteworthy is one rebellious pickup truck that holds neither concern for the other cars nor remorse in disrupting the quiet, solemn mood of this warm early morning.

The rustic truck races from the far end of the freeway toward the horizon, constantly sliding through gaps of cars and switching lanes in the most reckless manner imaginable. Riddled with dents and stains, the muffler coughs dark clouds of poisonous exhaust.

It’s a wonder this junkyard vehicle could even move, let alone keep up with traffic. The first sight of this monstrosity on the road would undoubtedly leave not only a bad taste in one’s mouth, but also a terrible impression of the driver and its passengers. That impression would be wrong, however.

In fact, these people are actually quite well dressed.

“What band is this?”

The man sitting in the passenger seat of this reckless abomination, snidely questions the heavy metal song blasting from the speakers. He uncomfortably loosens the knot of his black tie trying to cope with the tune, but fails miserably. On his face is an open-mouth look of disgust, struggling to find ways to appreciate the song, but to no avail.

Unwittingly, he glances out of the window with his scowling grimace, only to make eye contact with a woman driver of an adjacent car. He doesn’t panic, but nonchalantly reshapes his expression to a full teeth-baring grin, and raises his sunglasses to reveal a winking eye. Well played, but the woman looks away as though nothing happened.

What a creep, she is thinking, and what a loss, he is thinking.

“Death Face,” answers Renzo, the driver.

“Death Face?” he turns away from the window. “That’s actually their name? Not even something like, Face of Death?” He contemplates for a second, then adds, “How…blunt.”

“That’s actually their third name. First, they were the Obituary Deliverers or… Obituary Delivery Guys…I think.”

“Too many syllables in those. Clever though, cleverer I mean.” He takes a moment to pick his teeth. “Some people just try too hard. I’m sure you meet them and they actually care more about the shade of their eyeliner than how many people they’ve killed. Know what this world needs?”

“I’m sure you’ll tell me.”

He tilts toward Renzo with a confused look. “Of course I’m gonna tell you. If you don’t know, why would I not tell you? Like I’m gonna just leave you sitting there silent and not knowing? No. What this world needs is a little less death,” he leans back toward the window, “and a lot more…style.”

“Strange, hearing that from you. You should be the last person to say that.”

He puts his hands in the air as if yelling, ‘What?!’ but instead, passionately shouts, “I care! And I have style! But I mean it. Maybe something more positive for this new generation of lost boys.”

Putting his finger on the radio dial, he goes to say, “Perhaps a hint of funk.”

The radio switches to an upbeat track filled with rapid percussion and an exciting saxophone melody. Then, he knocks on the glass window behind his seat directed at the other two passengers in the bed of the pickup truck.

They sit across from each other with their arms resting on the sides of the open trunk. Their legs are beside one another, and both try to avoid touching the dirty shoes of the other.

There is no doubt a lack of air conditioning on this primitive pollution generator they call a truck, but at least there is a constant flow of wind in the bed. The air continuously washes over their heads providing a permanent cooling massage. After thirty minutes of being on the freeway and the breeze even becomes an invisible beating. The two can barely see nor feel their cheeks with so much wind against their faces, but neither will admit it.

One of them slides her body down until her head touches the bottom of the bed, resting her head comfortably on her palms as she stares upward at the animated sky.

The cheerful rays of the golden sun highlight the pristine white clouds while outlining the skyscrapers with a sharp orange tint. Her gaze is locked on the mesmerizing view, almost distracting from the painful muscle aches throughout her body. Almost.

The man taps on the glass again.

“What?” asks the woman lying down.

“Don’t get all nancy on me but…good job today.”

“Who says nancy anymore?” Smiling, she adjusts her hands under her head to a more suited position, but winces from the sudden pain of her wounds. “Thanks, Kitsune.”

It’s rare to hear a compliment, but nice to feel acknowledged.

“Killing that last bounty was actually kind of…sad,” says Kitsune.

“Are you gonna cry when I leave?” she asks.

“Of course…but not as much as Kuro.”

The man sitting beside her awkwardly sits up, folding his arms into a stern, composed fashion. “We’ll all miss you. Enjoy your new life.”

“Don’t forget about me. Maybe I’ll even see you guys around.” Her eyes sparkle from the sunlight, face brightened with a sweet smile. “And arigatou, everyone…thanks, for everything.”

The truck falls silent for a moment, but just a moment.

Kitsune turns to Renzo, “Why do we feel so slow?”

“I’m hitting 83 already,” Renzo says, eyes straight and hands firmly gripping the wheel. “This thing only goes to 85.”

“Well, hit 84.”

Renzo slides the truck toward the adjacent lane and rams another car aside. The disrespected driver yells some loud, incomprehensible insult, but quickly fades with the distance as the rickety truck speeds past.

“There, 84.”

Kitsune is silent with a blank stare, then grins, “You’re a funny guy sometimes, Renzo. It scares me, how funny you can be.” Listening to the music, he starts nodding his head and rhythmically slapping the outside of the car door following the beat.

The rest of these hooligans join the session, loudly banging their hands and feet against the metal of the truck as they head deeper into the bright city.

Her fragrant hair flutters gracefully with the wind.

“So, what should we do today?”

World at an End. Chapter One and Two

Post Apocalypse short story.

This is a short story I wrote a long time ago, back in High School. It stemmed from my hatred of early school mornings, mixed with my imagination of a post apocalyptic world. Sadly, a month after writing this, “I am Legend” the movie came out, and I stopped writing it.

I didn’t want people to think I was ripping an idea. Because that is the worst.

World at an End

BEEP BEEP BEEP

The table vibrates violently and a hand sweeps across it. He clicks the trigger on the clock and at the same time, shoves a pillow over his face. Today is a new day, but so far it feels like the same one all over again.

“WAKE UP! Stop going back to sleep! You’re gonna be late again!”

The voice echoes through the hallway. Perhaps the walls were built for the acoustics.

“I don’t want to have to drive you again,” she continues.

“I’m up…I’m up…”

This repeats on a daily basis. I wake up reluctantly while my overly concerned mother causes a fit.

My mind is blank as I stumble to the bathroom. Staring back at me in the mirror is a pale ghost I know so well. My eyes are half closed and my jaw is dropped in amazement, wondering, “Do I really have to do this again?”

And then my mother yells, “Hurry the hell up!”

I fumble through my pile of clothes for the best outfit I can find. Matching is always a priority, no matter how much of a rush I’m in. After finding the right clothes, I forget whether I brushed my teeth earlier, so I run back to check if the toothbrush is wet.

It is. Thank goodness.

I ready my book bag, check my pockets for all accessories. Wallet, keys, phone, bus tokens. Each just as important as the last, and each sitting their respective pockets.

“Be careful today! Take care!” my mother howls.

“Bye!” I reply, shutting the door.

The bus arrives at 7:10. Only it’s…7:12. I walk a little faster, but not too fast. I don’t want to display much enthusiasm in getting to school.

The bus stop is just two more blocks down. Suddenly, I see it.

The bus.

No. No. I start picking up the pace, but I’m too far. The bus is dropping someone off, but I’m still a block away. The bus starts to pick someone up. Yes, stall it. Please!

I’m there, almost!

The bus leaves. That bastard. The bus is leaving, and races past the light to the next block. Within seconds, it disappears into the traffic.

Goddamn it. Terrible start to a terrible day. Fitting, I guess.

The next bus will probably take twenty minutes…or more. Nothing I can do now. I put on my headphones and drown myself from the world. It’s going to be a long day.

Whatever Happened, Happened

The bus shakes violently, bouncing up and down. My hands brace on to the chair as the bus rocks intensely over the road. Hopefully, the driver is going faster than his usual time, but that’s rarely the case.

I look through the window to see Center City in the far distance. Miles away, the skyscrapers stand tall and pristine beside one another, until something falls from the sky directly above it.

“What is that?!” shouts another bus rider.

The object is small and not discernable from the distance. I stare, hoping another second of observation will allow me the insight to understand what it is.

It drops, and only after do I realize. The city erupts in blinding light and I quickly turn away. The booming roar is deafening, and the bus screeches to a stop.

The other riders scream and cry,

“Oh my god!”

“NO!”

Their voices howl in fear and confusion.

I turn back toward the city and see the buildings replaced by an enormous cloud covered with blazing orange fire and black smoke. An enormous wave of black dust sweeps in all directions, rushing over the far distance of office buildings and residential houses before slamming against the windows of the bus.

That was a few years ago, in Philadelphia. It seems like a dream, but it wasn’t. I wish it was a dream, but it wasn’t. The world’s finally changed, and not for the better.

Enormous dark clouds of dust waft over the sky throughout most of the day, effectively blocking out the sun for hours at a time. If I’m lucky, I might even get four hours of light today. The grass is no longer green, but we’d hardly be able to tell. Buildings crumble under their own weight, and the sound of birds chirping is a forgotten memory.

Nuclear bombs were dropped in cities all across the country, all at the same time. Power was lost, and so were all communications. Maybe the government collapsed that day, or the next, I’m not sure.

For most of us, that was the end of the world.

“Alright, we’re dropping off!” the driver shouts.

“Hey, new guy. Ever use one of these?” He hands me a pistol. “It’s a .45, twelve in that clip. Don’t waste it.”

I had one before, except those twelve bullets didn’t do much for me the last time. “Thanks,” I mutter, and I take it from his black-stained hands.

He’s Clide. His jaw wears a thick beard while his cheeks are dirtied with dust. I only joined his group about a week ago and followed them up to Canada. They’ve been okay people so far, but I honestly don’t know them well enough to make a judgment.

The truck stopped in the middle of the suburbs. Probably a good place to stock on food and supplies while there’s still light.

I zip up the outermost layer of my down jacket before hopping out of the truck bed. The others have their metal bats and crowbars, and their pistols as well. A sudden cold wind rushes through us, and we shiver simultaneously.

“Shit, that never gets old!”

With less light, the climate feels like winter every day. Rummaging for jackets and coats are always a top priority now, right next to food and water.

“Alright, you guys know the drill. Split up, but don’t go alone. Find some good shit.” Clid turns to me as the other three guys walk into the street. “You’re comin’ with me, we need to find some gas.”

“Alright,” I say.

Another empty town. Quiet, dark, lifeless. The only thing I hear is the cold wind pushing past my ears. I pull the flaps of my warm hat tighter to my head and brace my body against the cold.

“There, an A-Plus,” he points. In his hand is a glock 19, and he waves it toward the gas station. “I’ll get the gas. You check the food.”

Walking up to the door, I ready the gun as I kick in the door. DOOF!

The door swings open and I glance at every corner. Nothing. Chips and candy lie scattered over the floor and crunch under my shoes, I think. It’s too dark to see clearly, but I can make out where everything is from the faint light. This place has already been ransacked, and I can only hope there’s one more gallon of water lying around.

There is. At the furthest corner by the wall refrigerators is the hidden jewel among the drinks. Wallet, keys and phone are no longer relevant. It’s food, clothes, and water. Maybe even gas.

I pop the top and begin inhaling the water. It’s never tasted this good, I swear. In a matter of seconds, nearly half of the jug is gone, and my stomach is almost full.

Now, let’s see what else there is to loot in here. My fingers rummage under the counter, searching for a gun or maybe some bullets. I can’t see from the angle of the light, but I can feel the dirt smudge along my fingertips.

“Hey, get me some gas cans. As many as you can find,” shouts Clide from outside. I search the backroom and find four.

Outside, Clide pries open the hatch in the ground and slowly lowers a tube. With a pump in hand, he begins siphoning from the well of gasoline into the containers.

Suddenly, a sharp, echoing shriek rings through the air, and Clide immediately stops.

“Inside, now!”

He didn’t need to tell me, I was already going.

We run into the store, shutting the door behind us. Moving fast, the pile the shelves and racks along the windows and the doors, but that probably won’t hold. The squealing noise of the creatures come closer and closer, louder and louder.

He tosses me an extra magazine and I keep it secured in my pocket. Then, we ready ourselves and our guns on the far end of the store, carefully watching every window.

The last time I used one of these guns, I fired every bullet and hit nothing but air. These creatures, Screamers, are humanlike, short, fast, and disgusting. Their tongues reach far out, able to lick even its own forehead. Their skin is wrinkled and peeling, but thick and dense. Most people wretch at the sight of their deformed faces, their hollowed eyes and maniacal stare.

They used to be people, but by some severe mutation, they’ve lost all humanity. They don’t think, they don’t talk. They simply scream, and rip. They’re stronger than anything I’ve ever seen, and they use their claws without remorse. It’s probably from their lack of restraint that they exert such force when they find their prey.

The street outside is dark, but I can make out the sporadic and wild movements of the creatures.

There’s a fluttering by the door, but passing before we even have time to aim.

What should I do next? My hands tremble from the fear and adrenaline, but I’d like to blame the cold. My palms get sweaty despite the dry, winter climate. Jeez, I really hope I’m not the cause of our deaths today.

I hear a shuffling by the window and I pull the trigger. The gun cocks back, and a bullet flies past the racks and through the glass. Blood splatters onto the ground, and Clide begins to shoot.

Another scuttling of flailing limbs on the right side of the store, and I turn and fire two shots. The shells eject from the gun and the window shatters. This time, there is no blood.

Clide continues shooting at the door, and the shrieking pain of the Screamers is blatantly clear.

Something scrambles past the window and I tap the trigger three times. The last bullet pierces the thin wall and blood spurts on the other side.

Clide shoots along the left window, but stops abruptly. “Shit, reloading!”

A dark figure leaps through the edge of the broken window, and I quickly turn to fire two shots. One hits the chest and the other the shoulder. It falls and drops its back hard onto the rim of the window.

They’re back at the door, slamming it harder now. My temples are pounding, and my entire body is warm. I’m still alive, so thank goodness for that. At least I have this moment to appreciate my fortune…

I fire the remaining rounds through the door, confirming my hits with their screams.

I reach into my pocket to retrieve the next magazine, and I quickly replace the one in my gun.

Immediately after, a Screamer jumps through the right window. I quickly turn and pop this one in the head with a single shot. My veins must be half adrenaline by now.

The door slams open and the racks and shelves tip over effortlessly. Chips and candy bars fly through the air in a chaotic storm, and we fire into the heart of it.

The first two Screamers are quickly shot down, but another jumps into the store from the side. I turn and shoot four rounds, hitting it three times with the last bullet missing.

One jumps through the left window this time, smashing away the rest of the glass and landing on top of Clide. One more tries to follow behind it, but my gun packs three shots into its chest.

Clide tries to wrestle with the Screamer and eventually falls to the ground. I try to kick it off, but its hold is merciless.

“Kill it! Kill it!” he screams.

I try to steady my aim but its movements are too wild. It rocks back and forth trying to claw Clide’s face as I line the barrel. Just then, it turns and glares at me with its frenzied eyes.

I fire.

The body thumps against the ground, and Clide pushes it off his body.

I exhale a tensed breath, and say, “Last bullet.”

Cooking is not a Skill! It’s something you should know

Okay, I find many of my friends suddenly so proud and flaunting their ability to cook a meal. But I mean, its cooking. Cooking is easy. Every human, since the the discovery of fire has learned how to cook. They needed to, unless they wanted to keep getting sick from eating raw meat or whatever.

With that said, cooking is not a skill. It’s something you should know if you want to be, I don’t know, still alive. Everyone in this world eats, and I mean everyone. We’re also professionals at eating. Which is why food industry, and not prostitution, is actually the oldest, and most eternal business. But I’d like to believe it’s everyone’s responsibility to eat something that they like.

tokyo63706_10151101926155059_1139666321_n

^ That’s me, staring up at all the injustices of Tokyo, and admiring it.

I started working at a French restaurant when I was in Japan (Since teaching English is a horribly dreadful job). It was a fine dining restaurant and I got to work on everything, until even becoming dessert chef. Since then, I’ve worked at a number of other restaurants. Cooking is easy. People get intimidated because of all these professional chefs cooking these amazing dishes on TV, but I want to say.

SHIT IS EASY.

You know how to make Beef and Broccoli? The Chinese dish? It’s literally just soy sauce, and you can add a dab of sugar or MSG like chicken powder if you want, but its totally not necessary. If you want a more pungent taste, add some oyster sauce. That’s it. Fry up some beef, boil the the broccoli for like 10 seconds then add that to the fry, throw in the sauce and that’s it. Done.

chinese-beef-recipe-3

Creme Brulee. Just take a few egg yolks, add sugar, milk and cream. Mix it, then steam or bake it. Of course, the crisp on the top would require a burner to melt the brown sugar. You can make different kinds too, like vanilla, though vanilla beans are expensive, vanilla extract is much easier. Or you can make green tea flavored, by mixing matcha powder.

creme_brulee_hi-res

These things take recipes but those are easily acquired online. Or I can post them here.

What I’m saying is, people need to stop putting culinary on some pedestal so that people will actually try it.

Moving on.

Japanese food. Here is the secret. A majority of their food is a combination of soy sauce, sugar, mirin and dashi powder. Mirin is basically alcohol reduced sweetened sake, and its mainly for cooking. Dashi powder is MSG, but don’t believe the hype about MSG anyway, its not always that bad for you.

Well known Japanese dish, Nikujaga, which literally means beef and potatoes, uses only that for the broth. Oyako Donburi is the same, except with more dashi and less soy sauce. Soboro donburi too, except instead of dashi, they use oyster sauce for the ground beef.

And that, is the foundation to Japanese cuisine.

guy-nikujaga

Thai food. Thai food is always extremely rich in flavor, no matter what it is. They put a crap ton of sugar on everything and oversauce like crazy. Everytime I eat it, I get thirsty and I learned why after I worked at a Thai restaurant. Main ingredients they use is Fish Sauce, Sugar and Lime Juice, and I’m serious. They drown their food in all of these ingredients.

Overall, cooking shouldn’t be hard. Just keep tasting as you cook it. Add salt, or sugar, or pepper to adjust to your taste. Always season the meats with salt and pepper at the least, and marinade whenever you can. Even just rubbing soy sauce and sugar into the meat is enough marinade.

Also, here’s a secret. After you fry up something, let’s say a piece of salmon, save the oil in the pan. Mix together equal parts sugar and soy sauce and throw it onto that oil with the fire simmering. Heat it up for about ten seconds and you have teriyaki sauce! Just pour it over the salmon and you have salmon teriyaki. Easy peasy.

Fiction Novel: Kings of Fortune – Prologue

This is the prologue for ‘Kings of Fortune’, a YA action/adventure fiction novel. The story is filled with violence and humor (hopefully it’s humorous, but I think I’m a funny guy regardless).

Kings of Fortune

Prologue

The happy summer sun showers its hot love over the endless streets of Fortune City. A joyful heat wave settles upon the unsuspecting citizens, and these citizens would reciprocate this affection by shouting their contempt at the sky while basking beside their unreliable oscillating fans.

The heated sunlight reaches over the main highway lining the outer edge of the vast city. Populating each lane of this sky road are endless rows of cars filled by frustrated citizens trying to get to work.

These rows of moving cars keep a constant pace similar to the dull motion of a conveyor belt set to the lowest, most unfulfilling speed. The excessive warmth in the air only makes matters worse, and edgy drivers begin eyeing one another, wondering who would be first to break under pressure.

But, let’s not dawdle on the monotonous rhythm of these cars, or the painful isolation of these individuals. That is not significant.

Of course not.

Who cares about that.

What is particularly noteworthy is one rebellious pickup truck that holds neither concern for the other cars nor remorse in disrupting the quiet, solemn mood of this warm early morning.

The truck races from the far end of the freeway toward the horizon, constantly sliding through gaps of cars and switching lanes in the most reckless manner imaginable.

The rustic old truck is riddled with dents and stains while the muffler coughs dark clouds of poisonous exhaust. It’s a wonder this junkyard vehicle could even move, let alone keep up with traffic. The first sight of this monstrosity on the road would undoubtedly leave not only a bad taste in one’s mouth, but also a terrible impression of the driver and its passengers. That impression would be wrong, however.

In fact, these people are actually quite well dressed.

“What band is this?”

The man sitting in the passenger seat of this reckless abomination, snidely questions the heavy metal song blasting from the speakers. He uncomfortably adjusts the knot of his black tie trying to cope with the tune. On his face is an open-mouth look of disgust, struggling to find ways to appreciate the song, but failing miserably.

Unwittingly, he glances out of the window only to make eye contact with a female driver of an adjacent car. Realizing his grimace is intensely splayed across his face, he nonchalantly reshapes his expression to a full teeth-baring grin and raises his sunglasses to reveal a winking eye.

Well played, but the woman looks away as though nothing happened. What a creep, she is thinking.

“Death Face,” answers Renzo, the driver.

“Death Face?” he turns away from the window. “That’s actually their name? Not even something like, Face of Death?” He pauses for a second in contemplation, then adds, “How…blunt.”

“That’s actually their third name. First, they were the Obituary Deliverers or… Obituary Delivery Guys…I think.”

“Too many syllables in those. Clever though, cleverer I mean.” He takes a moment to pick his teeth. “Some people just try too hard. I’m sure you meet them and they actually care more about the shade of their eyeliner than how many people they’ve killed. Know what this world needs?”

“I’m sure you’ll tell me.”

He tilts toward Renzo with a confused look. “Of course I’m gonna tell you. If you don’t know, why would I not tell you? Like I’m gonna just leave you sitting there silent and not knowing? No. What this world needs is a little less death,” he leans back toward the window, “And a lot more…style.”

“Strange, hearing that from you. You should be the last person to say that.”

He puts his hands in the air as if yelling, ‘What?!’ But instead, passionately shouts, “I care! And I have style! But I mean it. Maybe something more positive for this new generation of lost boys.”

Putting his finger on the radio dial, he goes to say, “Perhaps a hint of funk.”

The radio switches to an upbeat percussion filled hip-hop track featuring an exciting saxophone melody. Then, he knocks on the glass window behind his seat directed at the other two passengers in the bed of the pickup truck.

They sit across from each other with their legs extended out and their arms resting on the sides of the truck. Their legs are beside one another, and both try to avoid touching the dirty shoes of the other.

There is no doubt a lack of air conditioning on this primitive pollution generator they call a truck, but at least in the bed, there is a constant flow of wind. The air continuously washes over their heads providing a permanent cooling massage. After thirty minutes of being on the freeway and the breeze even becomes an invisible beating. The two can barely see nor feel their cheeks with so much wind against their faces, but neither will admit it.

One of them slides her body down until her head touches the bottom of the bed. She rests her head comfortably on her palms and stares upward at the animated sky. The cheerful rays of the golden sun highlight the pristine white clouds and outline the skyscrapers with a sharp orange tint. Her gaze is locked on the mesmerizing view, almost forgetting about the painful muscle aches throughout her body.

Almost.

The man taps on the glass again.

“What?” asks the woman lying down.

“Don’t get all nancy on me but…good job today.”

“Who says nancy anymore?” Smiling, she adjusts her hands under her head to a more suited position, but winces from the sudden pain of her wounds. “Thanks, Kitsune.”

It’s rare to hear a compliment, but nice to feel acknowledged.

“Are you gonna cry when I leave?” she asks.

Kitsune replies, “Of course…but not as much as Kuro.”

The man sitting beside her awkwardly sits up, folding his arms into a stern, composed fashion. “We’ll all miss you. Have fun with your new life.”

“Don’t forget about me. Maybe I’ll even see you guys around.” Her eyes sparkle from the sunlight, face brightened with a sweet smile. “And thanks, everyone…for everything.”

The truck is silent for a moment, but just a moment.

Kitsune turns to Renzo, “Why do we feel so slow?”

“I’m hitting 83 already,” Renzo says, eyes straight and hands firmly gripping the wheel. “This thing only goes to 85.”

“Well, hit 84.”

Renzo slides the truck toward the adjacent lane and rams another car aside. The disrespected driver yells some loud, incomprehensible insult, but quickly fades with the distance as the rickety truck speeds past.

“There, 84.”

Kitsune is silent with a blank stare, then grins, “You’re a funny guy sometimes, Renzo. It scares me, how funny you can be.” Listening to the music, he starts nodding his head and rhythmically slapping the outside of the car door following the beat.

The rest of these hooligans join the session, loudly banging their hands and feet against the metal of the truck as they head deeper into the bright city.

Her hair blows with the wind.

“So, what are we doing today?”

DOTA 2 Novel/Novelette

Not sure how many people here know about DOTA II but it is one of the most played games in the world. This year’s tournament even reached a grand prize of 5 million dollars, and the total prize pool for the entire competition was 10 million dollars, so, you know it’s big.

http://www.dota2.com/international/compendium/

I’ve played Dota for a while now, and last year, I decided to write a story about it. Hopefully, all these pro people on Dota Lore won’t flame me, but whatever. At least I get the attention. Here’s the first chapter.

Dota 2 – Chapter 1

Northern Fold

“The sun’s setting… better get back…” A young woman with a quiver of silver tipped arrows on her belt and a bow of fine mahogany wood in hand, strides quietly through the trees. She is no stranger to the forest and each step is as delicate as it is deliberate. Her hood covers her face in shadow, and only the light of the moon guides her path. Losing her way is not a concern, for her instincts inform of a creeping danger within the darkness.

“Third tree…fourth tree to the left…” With her light step and slender form, she quickly strides through without the slightest sound. She identifies her way back, recognizing every broken branch and each toppled trunk she had previously hurdled over, until…

The fourth tree she previously passed now bears a peculiar protruding shape embedded within its trunk. Intentionally inconspicuous, but easily seen by the ranger’s eyes. Stepping in for a closer observation, she reaches in with her mind already guessing what she has found. Before her hand touches the strange rod, multiple eyelids from multiple eyeballs along the shaft suddenly open and turn to her.

“Oh…no…” she quickly jets past the trees back down the road she came. On the path ahead of her though, she hears the sound of fast shuffling feet. Someone is already there coming towards her.

“I need another road,” she whispers to herself.

Looking around, she sees only trees and the single path she took. Behind her, she hears multiple branches snapping under the heels of boots, signaling another pursuer. Thinking quickly, she draws her bow, pulls back and releases a powershot through the dense row of trees ahead of her. The powerful arrow guided by the strength of the wind, pierces a line straight through and destroys the row of trees, clearing a path. Behind her, the sound of the pursuer’s feet quicken.

Listening to the pursuer’s footsteps behind her, she mutters, “There is more than one now.” She begins sprinting down the path she created, dodging a small camp of satyrs and gliding past more trees back to the path she recognizes.

Behind her, the howl from several wolves informs her of their distance, and of her hunter.

“Lycan, you bastard.” As she sprints, she glances over her shoulder and catches a quick glimpse of the Werewolf beast, Lycan, and his two wolf familiars no more than twenty feet behind her. Lycan, a man capable of transforming into a werewolf by desire, is a dangerous foe, and not one should ever face alone.

A glimpse of his blood red mane along his back is only dwarfed by the crimson glimmer in his eyes, a shine raged on by the innate bloodlust of the wolf. The enormous wolf double the ranger’s size has caught her scent, unwilling to relent until her blood is spilled. His two wolf familiars are smaller in size, but hold just as big an appetite. Their fur is the darkest black she has ever seen, and their stride through the dark forest like two streaming shadows. They would be invisible if not for the red in their eyes.

The sound of their feet grow louder, closer. One of the wolves takes a bite at her feet, the sound of its jaws snapping sharply as if it were beside her ear. She manages to keep a calm demeanor despite the rapid beating of her heart.

Threatened, she summons the power of the wind once more. From under her feet summons a strong gust pushing her body forward and rapidly quickening her pace. A visible haze lifts her body forward as she runs, gaining distance between her and her pursuers.

The ranger leaps over fallen trees, vaults over boulders and hops steps over small obstacles, and even then, her busied senses hear another set of running feet along the row of trees. In her peripheral vision, she sees nothing. Her instincts tell her otherwise.

She quickly turns a corner over a tree, rolls into the nearest bush and draws her bow. The wolves quickly charge past the same corner and immediately spot her, but too late. Aiming for the biggest wolf, Lycan, she fires a special arrow. A springy rope splits from the tip and strikes the wolf master’s chest, immediately expanding and wrapping around his arms. The rope extends to the wolves beside him, wrapping their feet and claws in an orgy of clumsy, fidgeting bodies.

“Next time, Lycan,” she says and continues sprinting down the path. Lycan howls watching her escape from his grasp.

In the distance, she sees her encampment.

“The first tower!”

The light of the tower was even more beautiful than the light of the moon. The tall ivory pillar, pristine with the symbol of the Radiant glowing in the night is a beacon of sanctuary at the frontline of the war. Seeing her salvation, she runs a path straight to the gates.

“What’s the rush?!” growls a gurgling low voice. Behind her in a puff of smoke appears a skeleton. Her invisible stalker from the forest, the skeleton dons a spiked helmet and thick gauntlets of fire red. Within its chest lies a bright burning stone heart, visible through his ribcage. No more than a half second after appearing, its readied bow releases multiple flaming arrows sent straight towards her head.

The Ranger tumbles to the side to face him, pulling back her bow to fire. She releases the string and the breeze forces the arrow forward once more in a gleam of light. The skeleton archer turns its body to the side and watches the arrow narrowly breeze past his rib cage.

“That’s all? You missed!” Turning back, he sees she has already fled.

“Guide my feet!” Her boots begin to glow a dark blue and her quick pace hastens even further, her feet moving at an abnormally rapid speed.

The gates of the first tower open and the guards welcome her return. She quickly slides in and her pace gradually returns to a normal pace. Her pursuers wouldn’t dare charge the grand gates of the first tower without a readied army.

“He disappeared in a mist of smoke, madam,” shouts one of the guards from the tower.

“Good,” she replies and continues walking.

The great high tower stands at the center of the large encampment. She walks past the campfires and  groups of soldiers eating and resting, heading straight for the main tent of the bastion.

“Where the hell was Drow!” she shouts as she enters.

“Drow,” the man sitting inside responds, “was busy fighting another wave of Dire.” The man, whose skin was tanned and darkened by his days in the desert, wears a majestic helmet of embedded jewels and a turban drooped over the side of his ears. His eyes shine golden with tenacity. Many consider him to be the most righteous and loyal soldier of the great Radiant Empire.

Chen, the Holy Knight, is captain of the Northwest First tower.

“Well I almost died! No thanks to either of you,” she pulls up her hood and locks of her bright, crisp red hair emerge, breathing a fresh breeze of air.

“Well, her duty is not to scout. There were enemies and she needed the bounty. What did you manage to do on your escapade?”

“Escapade? I was scouting the northern forest, and ‘bumped’ into Lycan. Oh and Clinkz. Those bastards keep prowling that place. He’s been  there for the past month and I don’t know why. I’m fine though, mind you. Nice of you to ask.” She starts brushing off the dirt and twigs from her cloak.

“We know Lycan has been feasting in that forest for some time, but not enough manpower to stop him.”

“It’s warded by the way. If we were to get in there, they’d know. Those damn eyeballs nearly stopped my heart. That ugly skeleton was stalking me the whole time. I could feel him beside me. Can’t believe I missed him,” she remarks, furiously gripping her bow.

“I see. You’d better be more careful next time. Not even the swift Windrunner can escape every encounter.” The man pauses for a moment, and reiterates, “But again, I must ask. What were you trying to accomplish?”

“Since you’re finally asking nicely,” she takes a breath, “I managed to ward the entire west side of the forest.”

“You mean…”

“Yes,” the Windrunner responds with a smile, “We can see everything they’re doing now.”