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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Legend of the Mystic Tattoo, first installment

      Welcome to the first installment of what, hopefully, will become a full story. A while back I read an article about a professor that gave his students an assignment. They were to write a story in tandem. Paired up by who they were sitting beside they were to write a story where one would write the first paragraph and then the other would add the next. It turned into a bit of internet comedy, but it got me thinking. I know a lot of authors and a few that have the inclination to do something crazy now and then. So, why not write a story in tandem? I contacted my good friend, Wendy Siefken, and asked if she would be interested. She was thrilled. We started writing a fantasy story in tandem the first week of 2014 and will post the continuing adventure on our respective blogs. Now, there is no guarantee that this will be finished, we are posted as we write. But, with hope and a lot of encouragement from you we will do our best. 
       Note: One of the notions I had was to give you the organic progression. What in the heck does that mean? It means that you will see what we wrote, without major editing and cleaning up. So, if your editors senses go all tingly resist the urge to respond with a deluge of correction comments. We know its rough. If, by some stretch of the imagination, this turns into a real publishable book, it will be edited. Right now it is just a wild experiment. But you should also know that this is still copywrite property of Daniel Peyton and Wendy Siefken, if you wish to cross post, publish, use, edit, or anything else to this story, you must first get permission of one of the two above, or both if possible. The artwork that will be involved is also copywrite property of Daniel Peyton and cannot be trasmitted, copied, cross posted, or used in any fashion without his(my) explicit permission. 
       Here it is. We plan on posting the continuing adventure on our blogs each Wednesday, so stop by each week to see what we have come up with. Drop us a comment, let us know what you think. To help illustrate that two people are working on this, my part is in blue, hers is in dark green. I do not change her words and she does not change mine. (Though we do keep in touch about story ideas that will need the others input.)
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The Legend of the Mystic Tattoo.  

         The Griffon flew steadily through the air over Aldaria. Steffan, the single operator of this little cargo ship, was ready to set down at the port and find a place to eat. His plans for the next nine hours involved food and a bed. He loved his little cabin on this steam powered airship, but a hanging cot was nothing compared to a good comfy bed.
        Steffan was not your ordinary cargo captain. With bulging muscles to catch the eye of every lady, and a smile to match, Steffan cut a striking figure. He often walked around bare chested, so to show off his impressive physique, though he would have you believe that he was just hot and needed the cool breeze. Yet for all of his charm and sex appeal he wasn't the kind of man who accepted the many lusty advances. Not only did he have a spark of gentleman in his heart, he was protective of himself. Every lowlife in the Far Reach knew of his mystic tattoo and wanted nothing more than to poison him and skin it right off his arm. He had to remain vigilant. So, each morning he would tie his bandanna on his head, tuck his sword into his sash and prepare for another adventure carrying cargo from the Far Reach to the distant lands of Aldaria. Always he hoped to one day discover the truth behind the tattoo, but that would have to wait until he found enough money for that sort of adventure.
       “Whoa!” Steffan pulled back on the air break and slowed down the air screw enough to begin his decent down toward the port of Far Reach. He often spoke to his ship like it was a horse, and he babied it all the same.
        After a quiet decline through the crisp morning air he spotted a good, open dock on the far side of the airship docking house. The docking house was a conical wooden building with a honeycomb of open ports all up and down it. There were large enough port holes for the massive airships of the Imperial Fleet, down to the small ports for ships like the little Griffon. Once Steffan had lowered to the level of the proper hole he waved a hand at the docking assistant and the man launched five ropes with hooks attached at the end to latch onto the ship and guide it inside.
Just as he passed the assistant the man stopped the hooks and held out his hand. “Papers and docking permit.”
         Steffan produced the proper paperwork and his up-to-date permit to operate an airship. The young man checked the information and then handed it back with a nod. As he started the ropes back up he robotically stated, “Welcome to Far Reach, it is three past sunrise, the weather looks to be warm, enjoy your stay.”
Airscrew propeller
       “Thanks.” Steffan sarcastically replied and then steered the ship so to help the ropes settle it into the bay. After it clunked right into place the arms underneath lifted and took hold of the ship. Steffan locked the steering and then turned off the air screw on top. This old design airship was held aloft by an antiquated and out dated airscrew, a large cone shaped wooden screw that spun at speeds according to how high or low you wanted to go. When the ship was docked, the screw could be collapsed and locked so that no one could steal the ship, though very few would find profit in stealing this old relic.
        “Hey there! Why if it isn't old Mr. Pecks!” An old man came walking up to the ship by the docking ramp. He has known Steffan for years and always poked fun at the way Steffan flaunted his body.
        Steffan lugged his bag over his shoulder and then smiled at the old man. “Hey gramps. Are you still over charging for these bays?”
       “Ha! This is the best docking facility in all of Aldaria, and you know it. It is worth every penny. Now pay up.”
        Steffan pulled out a hand full of coins and dropped them into the old man’s waiting hands. “Keep the change.”
      “Oooh, must have been a good cargo mission for you to be so generous.” Gramps greedily counted the money in his hands.
       Steffan shrugged and started walking down the plank, “It paid well enough. I am also tired and hungry and ready to get somewhere that I can sate both.”
       “Well, your gain is my gain then. Try Castle Shadow Inn, they are serving stew today, and it is the best in town.”
        Steffan headed down the walkway and turned to follow it toward the lifts. “You would have to say that, your wife owns it.” With that he boarded a lift and was carried down to the bottom level where the denizens and shops of Aldaria could be found. 
       When the lift stopped he stepped out onto a busy walkway where crews from other ships were spending their down time and money in the many shops and other forms of entertainment that could be found. The windows along the walkway were arranged to attract attention and begging to be purchased. Steffan strode down the sidewalk ignoring all the trinkets and also the scantily clad women who were draping out of windows or leaning seductively against a building trying to catch the eye of a sailor. He could hear his name being called by a few friends in the crowd who he acknowledged with a wave and calling them by name. The Castle Shadow Inn finally came into sight on the edge of the long street. The sign hanging above the door was old and weathered looking.

Once Steffan stepped inside the noise from the street faded away. A bustling little old lady came up to him and welcomed him warmly.
“Steffan, it’s about time you come around! Sit, sit I will bring you a big bowl of our stew. We gotta keep you from wasting away.” She smiled broadly at him as she took his hand and led him to a table against the wall where he could watch the doors as well as the rest of the room. Ms. Greta was a small woman with a cloud of fluffy white hair encircling her head. She barely came up to Steffans elbow but that didn’t stop her from putting people where she wanted them. She knew how to take care of her customers and was very aware of his tattoo and the draw of the legendary promises it held. Ms. Greta had no time for nonsense like treasure maps or such nonsense. Her purpose was to take care of her customers and feed them well so they would come back.
Steffan took a seat at the table and looked around the Inn that was half full of patrons. The tables were scattered throughout the room with wooden chairs placed around them. The wood beams of the walls and floor seemed to glow with their own light that made you feel safe and warm. A set of stairs led up to the second floor where rooms could be rented for the night. The aroma’s coming from the kitchen made Steffans stomach growl, reminding him he had been eating rations for far too long and would now settle for nothing less than a good home cooked meal.
Soon Ms. Greta was bustling back out with a large tray that held a big bowl of stew as well as two large slices of fresh made bread spread generously with butter. She set the dark ale in front of him as well. “Eat up and don’t worry, this is our special ale that has no effect on you. If you know what I mean.” She said giving him a knowing wink.
Picking up the spoon with one hand and a piece of bread with the other, Steffan breathed in the aroma’s, savoring the simple pleasure before digging into his food. By the time he finished he felt very full and very relaxed. Ms. Greta came back over as Steffan slid some coins on the table, enough for the food as well as a room for the night and a hot bath. He was looking forward to sleeping in a real bed with real sheets and pillows. Tonight he was going to relax and enjoy himself. People were still coming and going steadily all the while he had eaten. Now he sat back and watched the people and just observed those around him. More than one lady seated at a table with a man was slipping sideways glances at Steffans fine form and handsome good looks.
Soon, He decided to head upstairs to take his bath before he settled in for the night. It felt like it had been years since he had taken a bath let alone a hot one. The ship just didn’t allow for those kinds of luxuries. Usually you just had to make do with a sponge bath and let it go at that.
The deep wooden tub was brought round to his room and filled with steaming water. A large bar of soap was laid on a shelf nearby as well as a wash cloth and towel. Once the tub was full and his door had been locked Steffan stripped down and slipped into the tub. At first it was hot but as he eased into it his body adjusted to the heat. When he settled into the tub he let out a sigh of contentment. The heat from the warm water seeped into his muscles and relaxed him until he almost dozed off. By the time he roused himself the water had become tepid and he decided he had better wash up before it became cold.

After drying himself sufficiently and dressing for bed he found a book on a shelf on the bedside table. As the night drew on Steffan lit the lamp on the bedside table so he could continue to read. The book was a fantasy written by a long ago author, a fellow by the name of Peyton who had become successful after publishing his Dragonwand series. The book he was now reading was one of his earlier works called the Crystal Needle. Finally too tired to keep his eyes open any longer he checked the door one more time to be sure it was locked as well as a chair pushed up against the door. The window had bars on them so he knew no one would be coming in that way. The room plunged into darkness when he blew out the light and settled into bed. Tomorrow he had a lot of things to do and he knew just where he wanted to start.  

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