Saturday, December 25, 2021

Chapter 52: The Duel

 Previously: Chapter 51 - Gurubunder's Sword And Armor  | Next:  Chapter 53, The Duel's Conclusion!

If you ever wanted to ask the author a question about the comic, writing in general, or anything else, please  click this link and fill out this quick form!  Thank you!  I hope I have a lot of questions to answer!

For video of me editing the comic, click here!

Thanks again for reading.

We can see Gurubunder slowly but surely unveiling all of his arsenal against Darius, and we can see Darius struggling.  Is the Prince really serious?  Is he actually outmatched?  We'll find out more next episode!

This holiday season, I don't have any funny comic panel to end on.  I think that's fitting; it's been a difficult year.  I don't have much to say about it, if I'm being honest.  It's just the way cancer works, I guess.  But I'm not here to be a downer, and I appreciate all of the support everyone has showed me throughout the course of this situation.

I do hope you've had a Merry Christmas, or whatever it is you celebrate.  I meditated for a while on the Solstice, and it helped me tremendously.  If you're the type, I suggest the same.

See you soon!

Previously: Chapter 51 - Gurubunder's Sword And Armor  Next:  Chapter 53, The Duel's Conclusion!

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Chapter 51 - "Gurubunder's Sword And Armor"


9/27/2021 release notes:  First of all, happy birthday again to my beloved wife!

Thank you so much for reading!  In a lot of ways, this is the most heavily worked-on chapter of Chronicles Of Alleron, yet.  I spent a lot of time doing the small details, and it turned out pretty well.  I tried to set this chapter up with a somewhat strict focus on Gurubunder's actions, so it's like the camera following him around as he acts.

I also experimented a bit more with framing panels differently, so they aren't all just the same page and whatnot.  I still could composite things more, but taking pictures of Lego is quite hard (lots of bending over and sitting on floors, as well as fine motor skill issues).

I really hope you enjoy this one.  Next time?  Next time is Gurubunder vs Darius, and that fight could go a lot of different ways.  I honestly haven't decided how it's even going to go, yet.  I need some time to think about it.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Short Story One - Prince Darius Deliberates!


 Previously:  Chapter 50:  The Goblin Priestess' Fall | Next Chapter (Coming Some Day!)
                                                Start Over:  Chapter #1, Habbo and Goldhook.
                                                     The Author, Jesse Pohlman's Website! 

Quick greetings!  The tripod I was planning to shoot Chapter 51 with broke.  A new one should be on its way.  In the meantime, enjoy this short story!  Please don't forget to share it with your friends; and, please, leave a comment with what you thought!


Prince Darius Deliberates

Darius took a look around his office, loose papers and digital archives scattered around the blue-and-gold painted room at Bluefield Castle.  He rubbed his forehead for a moment, sparing a glance for his crown hanging on a nail near his door, then for his armor on the floor underneath it.  He reached for a document nestled to his left on the desk and read it again.

“In the Year Of The Flood, the Balancer died and the waters receded,” it began.

Darius mused on its ominous tone for a second.  ‘Dramatic opening to catch a reader’s attention?  Check.'

He parsed the document for a second time.  For the most part, it spoke in generalities about the nature of Mana, about the four cardinal elements, and about how the Flood was an example of water Mana raging out of control fifty years ago.

It was a nightmare his father had told him about, citing first-hand experience.  ‘So why the hell am I here, digging through old histories?  Well, besides the reports from Veyron’s scrying,’ the Prince thought to himself.

That scrying had been done by pouring ink into a bowl charged with incredibly potent spells, and a great deal of meditation.  Of its own accord, the substance formed letters - a name, and a trio of numbers.  The name was that of a historian, Adam Sensare, who had witnessed the Flood, himself, and chronicled the events therein; the numbers corresponded to historical database identification tags.  The next thing he knew, Darius was researching everything to do with the Flood from numerous sources of information.

He continued reading from a different remembrancer, Robert Dowl.

“It is impossible to determine a direction of causality - the Balancer appeared at seemingly the same time as the waters rose from seemingly nowhere,” Dowl had written as the introduction to his pamphlet.  “Our entire civilization was washed off of the face of the world - we, who had mastered flight, electronic communication, and so many forms of magic.  Only our greatest heroes and our cherished King were able to hold some of the devastation at bay and preserve our existence - but it all came at a cost.”

Yes, yes, my father and his friends saved the half-drowned world.  What a thrilling tale - that tells me nothing new,’ he pondered, shaking his head.  ‘Why did the archivists suggest this one to me, again?

Could this be here because of my father’s friends having some connection to the scrying?’  A frustrated sigh escaped his lips.  ‘And what friends they were; having met them, I can say without doubt they are a collection of problems.’  Darius folded his arms over his chest.  ‘Alright, that’s unfair,’ his inner voice nagged him.  Only the two had survived, and both were still ostensibly loyal to Alleron.

My astoundingly idiotic little brother Ajax has definitely screwed things up with Duke Xenophon of Strongaarn, of course,’ he thought to himself wistfully.  ‘Hah, thinking of them, I haven’t seen Arachne in over a year, thanks to Ajax screwing with her father’s duchy. I’m still terrified of what that could mean.’

Darius bent his mind towards another direction.  ‘Then there’s Archimedes, who is lost in his laboratory fusing magic and technology.  He helped train me in magics older than our kingdom, but he burrowed himself deeper into a labyrinth of his own creation.’

Darius reached for a memory stick and plugged it into his computer.  The machine came alight as the newly inserted device woke it up from stasis.  Moments later, Darius was clicking his way to another, seemingly unrelated document.

He had dossiers on numerous threats to the kingdom.  Most of them were simple in nature; dissidents who needed to be confronted in some way by the bureaucracy, and others who were petty criminals.  Some more notable, legitimately dangerous exceptions were figures like former Admiral of the Royal Navy, Marcus Swiftshank, now thought of as a pirate King at the fortress of Privateer Point.

Here, however, he found himself staring at a grainy picture of King Gurubunder, the ruler of all Goblins and one of the few other monarchs whose realms had survived the Flood.  ‘His father must have somehow held the Flood at bay, it’s just hard to imagine how.

The latest entry in the document came about thanks to a Goblin operative who had been captured by the Bluefield Company and interrogated with magical coercions to tell the truth.  Archmage Veyron had personally supervised the deposition of this Goblin, who called himself Marat.  Marat’s story had been the one which prompted Veyron’s scrying in the first place:

The Goblins, under Head Priestess Bandihutu, had been doing their own scrying - and had received prophecies that another Balancer was emerging, and that they were emerging from Bluefield.

Darius never used to put much stock in prophecies, but he definitely traded on what other people imagined them to mean.  If the Goblins believed a Balancer was going to emerge, they would do whatever it took to apprehend and contain them - if not simply kill them, outright.  That would mean the Goblins would have to launch raids into adjacent Alleronian territory to achieve their goals - specifically, his Duchy of Bluefield.

The Prince rubbed his forehead as he thought through that logical process.  ‘Marcus Swiftshank left me two simple messages:  That my father was seeking Mana Crystals, and that I was in danger. His latest stunt and his brazen lackeys crossed the line against my father.  I can’t begin to imagine what kind of reason he’d have for that.  It certainly can’t be a war with the damned land-locked Goblins.’

And, yet, his research had proven that orders had turned up - signed by Darius’ very father - to make just such an effort.  ‘The amount of power one Crystal provides is astonishing.  Two?  More?’  His eyebrows wrinkled, and with a few taps at his keyboard he accessed a file demonstrating, roughly, the amount of Mana he was dealing with - as if quantifying such a thing was anything more than academic speculations on the nature of magic.

And Darius was quite gifted with magic.

He’d have to be preparing for something he knows is coming, but can’t overcome without a tremendous amount of power.  I’ve drawn Mana from the one at Troy, but that’s it; it’s said they acquire the traits of those who use them.  Troy’s is fire-aligned.

Then, suddenly, an idea flashed in his mind.

What if my father is gathering the Crystals specifically because there is a Balancer emerging, somewhere?

He took a deep breath and focused on his recollection:


He gazed at his father’s pain-stricken face when Darius asked him about the Balancer who he had slain to end the Flood “They are not evil by nature, none of them,” the King of Alleron, Lysander, answered his son.  “But they get seized by the flow of Mana, and that leads to cataclysmic fates."


Darius sighed gently.  ‘I’m going to have to investigate this the hard way,’ Darius thought to himself.  ‘I need a walk in the garden to figure out how.’  With that, the Prince stood up and went for his armor, the plates of which rose from the floor and affixed themselves to his personage, seemingly of their own accord.  He took a minute to adjust the straps to his mood; in this case, relatively loose, but still able to take a hit.  Next, Darius took his crown - a helmet in its own accord, meant to be worn into battle and enchanted with near-weightlessness, among other things - and slipped it over his head. Without further ado, the Prince stepped outside of his chambers and began to navigate his way towards the garden outside of his castle.  His armor had similar enchantments to his crown, making it quiet - and quite good for escaping the palace without worrying his subordinates. Diplomacy must be an option.  Gurubunder isn’t a fool, despite the prejudices so many Alleronians have.  I’ve met Goblins on decent terms, before, and not along lines of territorial pissings.’  He sighed.  ‘Of course it’s easy to think of our disputes as mere pissings when we’re the dominant tribe of creatures in what’s left of our devastated world.’  He wasn’t even about to ruminate on the various extremist theories on Goblin equivalence to Humans; he knew many simply didn’t see them as the equals they clearly were, and Darius despised the fact it demanded his attention to correct. No,’ he thought to himself, slipping into the woods near Bluefield - all of which had been grown with the significant Earth mana that was prevalent in the region.  ‘I’m going to find a way to fix this predicament without anything stupid happening.’  He looked around at the trees - and the fact that, for years after the Flood began to recede, this land had all been under-water.  He’d helped raise the terrain, helped restore the forests for animals to thrive in.  It had taken a great deal of work. It had also helped increase the adjacent territory between the under-water Bluefield and the above-ground Goblins in the mountains. As Darius traversed the woods, he admired the varying colors of bark on the trees; some were green, some were white, some were dark and tanned.  A faint smile touched his lips as he leaped over a creek. He didn’t even frown when he felt the magical constraints hit him! Well, I’ll be damned,’ he thought to himself.  With the flex of his mind, he called forth a decent portion of his strength and shattered the attempted ensnarement spell. “Whoever you are, this is damned foolish,” Darius declared, drawing in a deep breath and taking a defensive stance with his naked hands raised. From behind four different trees, Goblin warriors appeared with blades ready; a fifth tree saw a Goblin sorcerer step forward, hands waving an incantation. I guess I could use a work-out - no need to be serious,’ Darius thought to himself.  ‘And, besides, I’ve got information to obtain. Just as the four swordsmen were nearing him, the Prince knelt down and touched his hand to the ground.  Four pillars of what seemed like bedrock shot up from the forest floor, slamming into the Goblin interlopers with the force of a small truck.  Darius had his doubts that they would all survive, but he was more concerned with what their sorcerer might do. ‘Pyrolance!’ roared the Goblin, a bolt of flames as wide as a cannonball erupting from an outstretched hand. Gotta cancel it out!’ Darius decided, sparing his attention towards the animals who lived in the forest and were certainly not interested in some dumb exchange turning their homes into charcoals. As the river of incineration approached him, Darius held his palm low and at his side, and called forth from thin air a tremendous sphere of water.  The flames smashed into the liquid, threatening to boil the barricade away.  Darius licked his lips, keeping a steady measurement on how much of the water evaporated and how fast he’d need to replenish it. He was concentrating so hard on his second task that he barely had time to bellow as the second set of magical constraints snapped down on him. A half-scowl took Darius’ face by storm as these constraints did the opposite of releasing when Darius called upon his magic.  Instead, he watched as the bubble protecting him dissolved.  The last of the pyrolance struck his armor, and while its defenses provided something of a relief to him, the pain from the unrestrained heat was overwhelming. The Prince took as little time as he possibly needed to refocus himself, his heart-rate increasing substantially.  ‘Now I’m angry. Darius once again called on his magic, but he felt a strange disconnect between himself and his power.  ‘Difficult to break, but I can--No! A second layer of restraint slammed down on him; nowhere near as strong as the first, but it was like this one was wedged between his ribs and his lungs, suffocating him.  This was a threat he could brook no longer. “Earth’s Voice, now!” shouted the sorcerer whose flame he’d stopped - and who he could tell, from the taste of the flames, had laid the second layer of magic upon him.

A shadow from behind him spoke in defiant tones.

“To the one who threatens me,

I have just one goal.

The verdant sky turns dark,

As the opiate of the soul.” Darius distinctly did not recognize the exact form of the spell that took hold of him, then - ‘A rarity,’ he thought as his consciousness began to ebb, and as the pleasant tingles from the new spell swept him up in illusory bliss.  The pain from the pyrolance faded away almost immediately, and his breathing became easier as the intermediary restraint spells seemingly shattered. “Why did you break my spell, Earth’s Voice?” asked the sorcerer. “We need him alive,” responded Bandihutu, staring down at the Prince.  Darius’ vision grew dim, then disappeared, but his subconscious just barely picked up the Priestess’ next words “He is the one I was shown when I asked to find the Balancer.  If he has not awoken, yet, we can still save him.”


Darius returned to his senses, completely ignorant of how long he’d been under, and took a grim look around.  He was a prisoner behind a cage of steel, somewhat exposed to the elements, but within view of a tremendous tree the likes of which he’d never seen before - he’d only heard of.  Its leaves provided a canopy to the fortress atop a mountain range.
A...The Mana Tree?’ he thought to himself, his mental voice envagened by the bliss from the spell now wearing off.  ‘Ah,’ he thought as he suffered a flash of recognition.  Darius observed a lowly skeleton standing outside of his cage, clearly not serving as anything more than a reporting asset.  ‘They’ve taken me back to their fortress.  By now, half of Alleron is probably assembling to take me back.  Their options are probably best served if they listen to my words. He took a deep breath and assessed himself and his situation; he was free, unmanacled, but there was a powerful Earth Mana signature coming from the bars.  A brief exploration revealed exactly what he’d feared; they left him alone because they’d prepared a prison cell just for someone like him. It’ll take time for me to get out,’ he considered, ‘If I even need to get out.  Maybe this is exactly where I need to be, after all - I did want to investigate,’ he concluded. He would wait patiently, conjuring a simple cup with Earth Mana and some tea to drink with Water, then warmed it up with Fire. It was a full hour until a pair of pirates arrived to share the jail cell with him, similarly unconscious, pushed in through the magical barrier into the prison bars which confined them.  The guard-skeleton took the wounded pirate captain’s hat and placed it upon itself, as if it had won the victory. And I know just where to start gathering information,’ he thought with glee as he took a final sip from his tea.


 Previously:  Chapter 50:  The Goblin Priestess' Fall | Next Chapter (Coming Some Day!)
                                                Start Over:  Chapter #1, Habbo and Goldhook.
                                                     The Author, Jesse Pohlman's Website!