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25 Dec 2011

Merry Christmas

Author: Cool Snoops | Filed under: Announcements, Coolsnoops Artwork, Midnight Confabulates, Nuku Nuku

 Like the snowflakes? I think it adds a nice touch to the site for the holidays. Anyway, merry Christmas to all you guys who I know visit this site constantly every day hoping for a new Nuku Nuku release because you haven’t learned what an RSS feed is =P
Nothing to update yet, which is why its been quiet, unfortunately. Yeah, yeah, I know yall are disappointed that there’s no Halloween or Christmas cartoon, but I’ve got to earn my bread and butter to feed Midnight and the gang too, you know…

 Pssst, Master actually started working on a Holloween cartoon, but didn’t finish it because he was too bus…

 MIDNIGHT! Heh, heh, please ignore the ramblings of a starving, delirious mutt! I’ll see what I can do about releasing another chapter this week though…maybe.

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8 Nov 2011

Demon of Flame Manga

Author: Cool Snoops | Filed under: Downloads, Record of Lodoss War

Two years after the sorceress Karla escapes, Parn and Deedlit continue to search for her. Meanwhile, war is brewing between two desert clans who were once one. Complete.

[listyofiles folder=”wp-content/files/comics/DemonFlame” options=”table,filesize”]

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7 Nov 2011

Lodoss Novel “Holy King of Valis”

Author: Cool Snoops | Filed under: Record of Lodoss War

Holy King of Valis
After rescuing Ashram from his attempted suicide at Fire Dragon Mountain, Groder tries to lift his depression.

Ashram had settled into the quarters he’d been given. He lay out flung on the crude bed, staring straight up at the ceiling. At a desk against the wall at the other end of the bed was another man, wearing a robe as dark as Ashram’s armor His name was Groder. He had been a mage, the Black Adept Wagnard’s best pupil. Sitting on a plain chair without even a cushion, he regarded Ashram with a complicated expression.

“What’s on your mind?” Groder asked. He waited a while, but Ashram didn’t answer.

“Lord Ashram…” Groder got up and walked over to Ashram’s bed.

“Nothing much at all,” a delayed reply came, tonelessly.

Sighing, Groder shook his head. He stood at the end of the bed, looking down at Ashram. “What did I rescue—one of the living dead? I don’t want to see a look like that on your face!”

At the battle at Mount Fire Dragon, realizing that he was going to be defeated, Groder had used a teleport spell to return to Marmo. His master, Wagnard, a prepared a magic circle, so that he could return at any time after he had the Crystal Ball of Souls in his hand. Once back, Groder used the magic circle again, this time to rescue Ashram. Finding his location with a crystal scrying ball, Groder used all his magical power to summon him, pulling him back to the circle.

To do this, he used the ‘Forced Repatriation’ spell he had learned from Wagnard. It was one of the Lost Magics that Wagnard had obtained from the ruins of the ancient kingdom in Lake Lunoana. It was the first time Groder had used the spell, but he performed it with complete success. By a hair’s breadth he had caught Ashram as he was going to fall into the incandescent hell of Mount Fire Dragon’s crater, and called him back.

However, for allowing the Crystal Ball of Souls to be stolen, and for saving Ashram’s life, he incurred Wagnard’s anger. For betraying his master he suffered a harsh punishment.

Wagnard had cursed Groder with a geas spell. It was the same spell that Wagnard himself had been put under by his own former master Larkas. If someone under the spell used magic, unendurable ferocious pain ran through their whole body.

Even now Wagnard was confined by this spell; the geas Larkas had put on him was that strong. However, even in the midst of unbelievable pain, he was able to cast spells without his concentration being disturbed. He was even able to endure performing lengthy magical rituals.

For an ordinary human, to do so was impossible. After being put under the geas spell, Groder tried many times to use magic. However, each time he was discouraged. Now it had become clear to him that he could no longer use magic. Beaten by his own body, for the first time he understood Wagnard’s greatness.

However, betraying Wagnard, Groder became Ashram’s ally. He had only been swept away by the feeling for an instant, but that Ashram was essential to Marmo, and therefore to himself, he was convinced. However, nothing could be hoped of Ashram in his present state. To Groder, it wasn’t much compensation for losing his magic. Ashram’s manner was so dejected, you could even wonder whether his own sword had struck him and killed his soul.

He had been expelled from Marmo’s governing council, demoted to the rank of an ordinary captain of the knights, assigned as adjutant to Jadd, and required to cede Beld’s sword Soulcrusher to him; and all of this he had accepted. He had complied with a docility that left the council members in mute amazement.

“You’ve been pulled down into poverty,” Ashram murmured.

If now was the end, then yes, Groder was completely destitute. But he had no intention of this being the end. “What? Even though I’ve lost my magic, I still have better wits than most people. I could brag that I’m more useful than you are right now,” he said.

“No matter what you say, you won’t make me angry. I should have died at Fire Dragon Mountain. My heart’s desire was refused; Kashue defeated me, the Scepter of Domination was lost; our best and bravest fell, while our enemies won renown. What a great comedy!” he spat out, mocking himself.

It’s a bad wound, thought Groder, deciding to end the conversation. Time might take care of it, or Jadd’s manner of treating Ashram might ignite his anger. Groder himself didn’t intend to be the one to light that fire. Once awakened, Ashram would no doubt strike off the head of the person who did so. The old Ashram surely would have.

“If Emperor Beld saw you now, what would he say?” Leaving those words in the air, Groder left Ashram’s room.

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7 Nov 2011

Lodoss Novel “Sea Demon”

Author: Cool Snoops | Filed under: Record of Lodoss War

Sea Demon
On their way to the new land they seek, the boat people from Marmo run into trouble…

There was neither wind nor wave. The surface of the sea had become a mirror, throwing back a reflection of the fleet of escapees from the dark island Marmo. There was an illusion of the world being split into two, with the ocean surface as a boundary. When you looked into the sea, your double gazed back from the looking-glass world. Was it thinking your thoughts, too? wondered Ashram, facing himself in the water-mirror.

The fleet had been in that part of the ocean for more than three days. In that time there had been no wind at all. With their sails hanging slack, as if they had lost all energy, the ships didn’t make the slightest motion. As for the rowing boats which made up the majority of the vessels in the fleet, heavy seaweed had twined itself around their oars, and no amount of exertion could budge them even a faction. The sea held the ships completely imprisoned.

Ashram knew little about the ocean, but he knew enough to tell him that there was something wrong with this sea. By the rumors running among the sailors, it seemed they feared it was something called the Graveyard of Ships.

As things stood now, if the fleet couldn’t escape, all its people would inevitably starve to death. The boats would rot and become driftwood in the sea. It would truly be their graveyard.

Of course, Ashram wasn’t watching the situation idly. He had ordered the dark elf Pirotess and the mage Groder to investigate the surrounding sea. But until their search produced a result, the only thing Ashram could do was wait; and while he waited, keep his nerve. If fear rose, it would bring about panic. With his manner full of unfaltering dignity, Ashram made himself visible to the people as much as he could, by walking the deck of his ship, going out in a small boat to inspect the condition of the other vessels, and so forth. In response, the people somehow remained calm.

However, every day wasted meant a day’s less provisions left in store, and drinking water was an even greater concern.

The new land towards which they were traveling was still a long way distant. This far continent lay somewhere to the south of Lodoss. It was a land of many enigmas, even it’s name being unknown, though it was said to be many times larger than Lodoss.

“Lord Ashram…”

At the familiar voice, Ashram looked around. It was Pirotess. Coming around in front of him, she knelt on one knee in salutation. Behind her was the robed figure of Groder, who made a slight bow.

“How did it go?” Ashram questioned them both.

“As far as my field of expertise is concerned, there was nothing,” Groder answered somewhat longwindedly, then glanced at Pirotess.

“A spirit power is causing this,” Pirotess took over, “and it’s controller is at the bottom of the sea.

“The bottom of the sea?” Ashram looked dubious. Speaking again, he asked what its nature was.

“An ancient tree,” Pirotess answered concisely. This reply drew another askance look from Ashram.

“An ancient tree under the water, you say?”

Ashram knew something of the ancient trees. All flowers and trees were born from a legendary progenitor, the World Tree, Yggdrasil. Like the gods and the dragon kings, it was a life-form born in ancient times from the body of the Giant of the Beginning. When the World Tree’s holy fruit, the Fruit of Life, ripened, the gods took it and from it created the multitudes of plants and animals, fairies and spirits. Humans, of course, were amongst these. After the Fruit of Life was taken, the World Tree weakened until it came to the verge of withering. To save this ancestral tree, the gods sealed it in the spirit world of plants, the world which was the source of the spirit powers that ruled trees and flowers.

The ancient trees were not created from the Fruit of Life. The gods took the World Tree’s young shoots and planted them so that they might grow into new trees, whose role would be to raise up abundant forests. From the places where these trees were planted in antiquity, the old forests were born and grew over the land. Several forests on Lodoss were protected by the ancient trees. The Forest of No Return, spreading between Alania and Kanon, and the Forest of Mirrors north of Moss, were two of such. Ashram recalled that there was an ancient tree in the Forest of Darkness on Marmo. But that there could be an ancient tree in the depths of the ocean was hard to credit.

“Plants also grow in the sea, do they not?” said Groder, as if seeing Ashram’s question.

“We dived into the sea and investigated. A giant forest of seaweed spreads on the sea floor near here, and at its core lives an ancient tree, controlling a spirit power. It manipulates the water, and even suppresses the wind.”

“Do you think this ancient tree could be causing our confinement?”

Pirotess nodded, her expression pensive.

“Good work,” Ashram acknowledged them both.

“So then, what do you wish to do?” Pirotess asked him.

“It’s obvious. If we can deal with the source, escaping from this trap should be easy,” Ashram answered with a wolfish smile. He looked like a soldier again.

“Is it your intention to deal with this yourself?” Groder asked. Ashram shot a glance at him.

“This ancient tree’s roots stretch through the sea floor. It controls even the spirits,” Pirotess said; but she accepted that Ashram’s mind was made up.

“Even so, I’m going,” Ashram said. “I would dispatch a squad of knights to the ocean floor—but they couldn’t fight down there. If I went alone, could you use your spirit magic to let me fight underwater?”

“Certainly, it would be possible. So long as you and I go together,” Pirotess replied, smiling. From the water spirit Undine’s power source there were spells for breathing underwater and for freedom from the effects of water pressure.

“I may be bold in speaking, but you’re no longer a knight of the royal guard. Please don’t forget that you’re king of this drifting nation,” Groder admonished Ashram. He could recall the previous emperor Beld and his court wizard Wagnard having similar conversations.

“Regardless, I will go! This is not a pointless fight; I no longer intend to use my sword for futile purposes.”

It would have been if he could have kept serving as Beld’s champion, as he had in the past; but the present situation was different. The hero to whom he had sworn loyalty was no more, and the people fleeing the dark island had decided to make Ashram their king. Ashram accepted this. The people of Marmo had neither wealth nor leaders left, not even anyone who could serve as a king while the crisis lasted. As the person who was responsible for their being in this position was none other than himself, he wouldn’t shirk the task of sorting out the mess. They were looking for someone who could acquire territory, amass wealth and taken foreign thrones. After that, they could decide if he was a true king.

“As the number of people who can go to the ocean floor is so limited, then the best must be sent. But such is the last thing I could beg for!”

“Begging might become your future role,” Ashram said maliciously.

“I shall take that to heart.” While a rueful smile escaped him, Groder inclined his head deeply.

Groder, although one of Marmo’s wizards, was unable to use magic. By the hand of his own former master, the Black Adept Wagnard, he was under a geas. If he tried to cast any spell, his whole body was forced to endure agony. This was, in fact, the same curse that the Black Adept himself was under. The Alanian magic users’ guild, the College of the Wise, when the mage Larkas was its master, had imposed this penalty upon the dark sorcerer, for mages were prohibited against staining their hands with blood in pursuit of their calling.

Nevertheless, Wagnard continued to work magic; he was even able to perform lengthy necromantic rituals. It seemed that his tenacious will gave him the strength to endure the effects of the curse. Groder had only once tried to cast a spell, but after experiencing pain as though he were being ripped apart, he had regretfully abandoned the magic arts. After that, he had served Ashram as an ordinary advisor. However, his extensive knowledge and great intelligence were extremely useful to Ashram.

Groder awaited their arrival in the new country with interest. He intended to employ all his shrewdness to the fullest as prime minister, in other words, he would put his nose to the grindstone.

“Spirit of water, Undine! Maiden of flowing form! Allow us to go beneath the sea and drown not, and move freely in the deeps…” Pirotess began to chant a spell.

With the spell’s completion, an otherworldly power wrapped itself around Ashram. Unresisting, he emptied his mind and accepted it. All of a sudden, breathing became painful. It felt unnatural to be breathing air. He tried holding his breath, but the uncomfortable sensation of a foreign substance in his lungs remained.

“By your leave, shall we go?” Pirotess asked.

Ashram was going to unfasten his black armor.

“You may leave your armor on,” said Pirotess. “Your majesty’s person will neither sink nor float, and you will be able to move as you wish. Of course, in order to do so, you must swim a little, if…”

“Stiffly, but I can.” Ashram drew the demon sword Soulcrusher out from its sheath and gripped it in both hands. Then, climbing over the ship’s side, he dived head-first into the water. Pirotess followed suit with her rapier in hand.

As Ashram entered the sea, a soft sensation enfolded him. Despite the weight of his plate mail, he didn’t sink at all; rather, the surrounding water caught him gently, seeming to support him from every side. There came a feeling of being entirely absorbed into the water.

Resolutely, he tried breathing. Seawater flowed down his throat into his lungs. Feeling pressure in his chest, Ashram coughed violently. Bubbles rushed out of his mouth; but after a moment they ceased, and there came a false sense of comfort—which wasn’t a bad thing, he thought.

He shifted his sword into one hand and stroked his other hand through the water. Facing the bottom, he advanced a little. He stopped moving his hand and came to a halt. Just as Pirotess had said, the world under the water felt the same as the world above. Walking, he met no resistance. Only, it was different from the surface world in that here there not only forwards, back, left and right, but up and down to move in too. At that moment, Pirotess came up alongside him. She was swimming as splendidly as a mermaid.

All around, blackish green seaweeds stretched towards the ocean surface in countless numbers. In amongst the sea plants, fish large and small swam around, as though inviting you in. If you looked up towards the surface, you saw an outstretched ceiling of glass. There wasn’t even a pattern of light upon it, so completely still was the water. Evidently this was the forest, Ashram thought.

It was different from a forest on land only in that there were the sea plants in place of trees and the fish in place of beasts. By the great numbers of fish, the sea-forest was a bountiful place. However, to Ashram and his people it was a sea of hostile magic.

“Come, I’ll show you the way.” Pirotess took Ashram’s hand and invited him towards the ocean floor. Ashram placidly accepted the guidance. From somewhere a glimpse of pleasure came into Pirotess’s tense looks. Here, where the two of them were together alone, she was able to behave as though forgetting their respective rank. For Ashram it was the same. The dark elf woman was the only person with whom he could let down his guard.

Years ago, Pirotess had sought to take his life, believing him to be responsible for her older brother’s death. However, they had now come to be lovers. As much as Ashram disliked talk of fate, he acknowledged that there was a mysterious connection between them.

Pleasantly aware of her cool hand in his, he swam down towards the ocean floor. The water was clear and transparent, but in the dense seaweed forest it immediately became dark. The bottom was invisible.

“Are you going to summon Will o’ Wisp?” Ashram asked.

“It will be only be dark for a short while. The ancient trees radiate a golden light,” Pirotess said, shaking her head.

“Are you quite certain about destroying an ancient tree? Aren’t dark elves guardians of forests?”

“We only protect forests on land,” Pirotess said resolutely.

“If so, fine…” Ashram flicked a glance at Pirotess’s profile. There was no observable wavering in her expression. Of course, the question of how to defeat an ancient tree was by no means settled. But there was no time to grope around for a method. Ashram intended to take the simplest course of action. In the same situation, if he was the mercenary king Kashue was that what he’d probably do? If he was that free knight… The thought, which appeared suddenly in his mind for no reason at all, he immediately drove away into a back corner of his head. After that he swam downwards in silence. How deep had they dived? Everything was enclosed in darkness. Even if you looked towards the surface, you couldn’t see anything. He stopped feeling the water engulfing his body. Even the sense of disorientation faded. A hallucination of floating in empty space assailed him. In the midst of this, the feel of Pirotess’s hand was the only point of contact with reality.

It was then that he perceived a dim, indistinct light somewhere distantly ahead. It was a pale golden glimmer.

“It’s over there,” Pirotess pointed to the light with her rapier. “That must be the ancient tree’s glow.”

The ancient trees were also known as golden trees, Ashram recalled. The name came from their golden shinning leaves. He was interested to see what form an ancient tree living at the bottom of the ocean would have. It couldn’t be the same as a tree on land. He imagined a giant seaweed. If that was the case, then surely a single blow with Soulcrusher would be enough.

The glow became more vivid as they approached it. Initially visible only as a mass of light, the golden tree’s form now began to be apparent. The ancient tree had a trunk with a mess of countless thin branches separating from it. It had no leaves. It resembled the washed-up seaweed you found when you walked on a foreshore. But, as to be expected of an ancient tree, it was bigger beyond imagination. It was on the scale of a fortress.

As they got nearer, they saw that the tree was surrounded by sunken ships. These had to be the wrecks of vessels which had entered this area of the ocean and couldn’t escape. The assembly of multicolored swimming fish could be seen. While countless little fish swarmed, suddenly a giant fish would jackknife across your field of vision. Knowing nothing of humans, these fish didn’t try at all to flee when you came near them The scene was like an illusion.

You could live here, forgetting the ordinary world, he thought. But that wasn’t possible. Marmo’s fleet of refugees wasn’t going to be joining the sunken ships’ company.

“Let’s go!” Ashram yelled, and swam to close in the distance to the ancient tree’s base. Emanating tension, Pirotess followed.

In age and girth, the ancient tree’s trunk far surpassed the greatest cedar on land Even a skilled woodcutter would need half a day to fell it. But they didn’t have that much time at their disposal; Pirotess’s spirit magic wouldn’t be effective indefinitely. Ashram swung Soulcrusher over his head and struck at the trunk. It was a heavy blow.

Soulcrusher bit into the trunk deeply. As Ashram had hoped, the trunk wasn’t too hard. A hundred such blows would easily destroy the tree, he guessed. Taking heart, Ashram lifted his sword again.

At that moment, trouble struck. He hadn’t been feeling the presence of the water at all, it had been so calm. But all of a sudden a current surged violently. Ashram was dashed into a nearby rock. The side of his head struck a corner of the rock and blood curled into the water like smoke. Ashram gritted his teeth and clung to the rock. Wedging a foot into a crevice, he secured a foothold.

However, that wasn’t the end of it. The fish, peacefully swimming until then, abruptly all swarmed and attacked him. The nearby sea plants, too, stretched out groping dark leaves.

“Will you deal with these fish?” Ashram called to Pirotess. Undoubtedly the ancient tree was controlling the fish and the sea plants. He couldn’t very well ignore their simultaneous attack, but he wasn’t about to consider them as opponents.

“Flow of the waters, obey my will…” Pirotess began chanting a spell. As she finished, the current altered and began to whirl around Ashram. In the whirlpool’s center, Ashram felt little of it; but the fish and seaweed swarming around him were thrown away like discarded playthings. Now he as able to concentrate solely on the tree.

The ancient tree’s limbs trembled as if from anguish, and a shriek shook the sea floor. Millions of bubbles gushed up, completely obscuring Ashram’s vision. Even so, he kept hacking with Soulcrusher. Stroke by stroke, the black blade whittled more of the trunk away. Then a strange sound, like a stringed instrument, came from somewhere: “…What reason?” Some ten blows later this voice, if such it was, sounded again. Ashram heard it not with his ears but as an echo in his mind.

“Who are you?” Ashram demanded, not pausing in his attack.

“For what reason dost thou refuse me? For what reason dost thou injure me?” The voice in his mind repeated the same words many times. Finally, Ashram realized where it was coming from; the ancient tree itself was speaking, sending forth it’s will.

“Accept me! I am the guardian of this ream. I raised this forest and the creatures dwelling in it. Thou shalt be more than a visitor here; thou shalt dwell here, too.” The voice was gradually becoming clearer, as though the thoughts of diverse minds were aligning along one wavelength.

“We are people who live on land! Not one of us wants to live in your realm!” Ashram shouted, putting even more force into the blows he struck with his sword.

“I promise thee abundance here, so that thou shalt prosper…” Still the tree’s voice kept on echoing in his mind. Why are you injuring me? It repeatedly questioned, betraying pain. Already the ancient tree’s trunk was cut halfway through, and not surprisingly it had a defeated appearance.

“Whatever you are, I have to kill you! I must protect those who call me their king. That’s a king’s purpose!”

Ashram concentrated, focusing his mind, and with the demon sword that was once Emperor Beld’s, he wholeheartedly rained blows.

He realized that the ancient tree’s light as going out. From its base where it was severed the tree listed, then fell, near to the sunken ships.

Looking around, he didn’t see any fish swimming at all. All around him, seaweed torn in pieces drifted like clouds. The bubbles in the water were gone altogether, and with fallen leaves surrounding the tree the scene had the quietude of a winter forest. The ancient tree’s radiance was gone, but Ashram perceived a faint light filling his surroundings. It was a blue-white light.

“Pirotess?” Ashram slowly turned and looked around.

“That was splendid!” Pirotess spoke with a smile, but her face was harrowed with exhaustion. Behind her was the light of a Will o’ Wisp she had summoned. How much of her magical power had she spent while he was fighting the tree?

Ashram swam to her. Silently, he lifted her slender form with one arm and carried her. For an instant, she stiffened in surprise, but soon relaxed, entrusting herself to him.


He spoke as he swam towards the surface. “The dark properties of the forest, your people inherited them, didn’t they?”

Pirotess nodded. “The forest did not only give its bounty; it also took, no one knows how much. From the power of the spirits of the wind, water, and light…like the dwarves, living their cursed existence like parasites under the ground, it was loathsome.”

“Then this underwater forest was like your own?”

“Perhaps…” Pirotess replied. “To the fish, the sunken ships became like coral reefs. The drowned sailors’ flesh became their food. That ancient tree was created for the purpose of raising a forest in the ocean. It wanted to assimilate the things that came into it’s realm. No one can criticize it for that.” Pirotess’s mourning for the tree was evident in her words.

“I don’t blame it. This was nothing but a contest for survival, between our kingdom and this one. Perhaps there’ll be other battles like this.”

Pirotess closed her eyes and nodded. “Nevertheless, you were certainly the victor here. This country on the ocean floor is only the first to be conquered by you.” Her consciousness slowly became distant. Even a feeling that she was going to endure did not arise.

“For now, rest. Here in my arms.” Ashram’s voice reached her ears as though across a dream. Wrapped in warm tranquility, Pirotess drifted to sleep. A deep, deep sleep…

Comments Off on Lodoss Novel “Setting Sail”
7 Nov 2011

Lodoss Novel “Setting Sail”

Author: Cool Snoops | Filed under: Record of Lodoss War

Setting Sail
After the fall of Marmo, Ashram the black knight and Pirotess, his devoted aide de camp and lover, are planning to lead their people to a better place…

The northern sky glowed like a red ember, reflecting the fire that consumed the Forest of Darkness. Smoke billowed up, spreading thickly across the sky like thunderclouds. Perhaps the sky would be hidden behind it. If so, it would be the gods’ mercy, Pirotess thought. Or the evil gods’ mood, perhaps.

In feeling that their native forest was precious the dark elves, evil spirits, were no different to the high elves. In that they were all fairies of the forests that were given life in ancient times, they were the same. The only difference was that, there being both light properties and secret dark properties inside the forest trees, the dark elves had taken over the dark properties by force. That was pillage, parasitism.

That dark elves wanted to control other races was perhaps their fundamental nature as fairies. The forest did not only give its blessings, but also took, to an extent that no one knew…

Pirotess was, at present, on a boat floating in harbor. Already she had gone up on deck many times and turned her gaze towards the highway stretching north from the port. The silver-white hair that hung around her dusky-colored cheeks and brow, dancing in the sea breeze, she harshly swatted aside, so as not to miss seeing the shape of someone coming along the highway.

At the highway’s other end was Marmo’s imperial capital Persei, called Darktown. But now that capital would be overrun by the self-styled righteous military force that had come from the main island of Lodoss.

The Forest of Darkness, sacred place of the spirits and magical beasts, was wrapped in flames; the great temple of the dark god Falaris, he whose doctrine was absolute freedom, looked to have fallen to the enemy. Some time ago, the evil dragon Narse who guarded the temple had been seen flying away into the eastern sky.

Marmo, the feared Dark Island, was conquered. The empire that had aspired to unite Lodoss was perished and gone. And now the empire’s surviving people were preparing to leave by boat and escape from the island with the aim of finding a new land.

This was the will of a certain man. Known as the Black General, his name was Ashram. He was the one person to whom Pirotess had vowed loyalty. And, in more than a hundred years of life, he was the first man to whom she had given her love.

The fleet was scheduled to depart when Ashram returned. However, his figure had not yet appeared. Only just then, Pirotess noticed a bright-red sunburned man who had already come close to her. She pulled her drifting mind back to reality. The man was Dorett, the captain of the fleet of privateer ships. For half the time, this fleet attacked foreign merchant ships, wrecking them on the coasts. In wartime, as the empire’s navy, they transported soldiers and equipment and engaged foreign warships in battle. Putting it simply, they were pirates, directly managed by the empire.

“Is all still ready for our departure?” Pirotess asked the captain, suppressing her inward agitation. That he and his men had been laboring for weeks almost without sleep or rest, she knew. The question had a purpose besides acknowledging this. By the condition of the northern sky, whenever the enemy attacked now, it would not be a surprise.

“Even if we’d gotten ready years ago, this is a daft decision! If we go to sea in a fleet like his one, we’re going to die!” His salt-burned face turning purple, Dorett shouted.

“We will certainly die if we stay on this island,” Pirotess replied with deliberate coolness. “You have lives which are exhausted in a few decades at best. To throw them away here would be regrettable.”

“Whatever your lifespan, no one bloody wants to die. The food and drinking water’s all loaded. Sailors have been assigned to each ship. They’re all seasoned and capable crew.”

“If so, you should have said it at the start,” Pirotess spoke caustically, then rewarded the captain with a smile. That this would work like a forest dryad’s charm spell, she knew very well of course. For a dark elf woman she was well-endowed, and she had equal ability to fascinate human men.

“We’ll leave as soon as he comes back.” With a bewildered look coming over his face, Dorett turned his back to Pirotess. Then he walked away quickly in the direction of the ship’s stern. He was a clod of a man who desired nothing but gold and women, and after that liquor, but he got the necessary things done.

“And this time too, we rely on him…” Pirotess spoke to herself.

The people of the dark island had probably never before banded together to this extent. Even when Emperor Beld was alive and they were subordinate to his influence, they had carried on secret feuds.

Now, however, Lusev the prince of the wicked spirits was burned to ash along with his dark forest. The church of the evil god had crumbled, the high priest Shoedel likely gone to his god’s side. The chief court wizard Wagnard too, having entrusted his subordinate wizards to Ashram, had disappeared somewhere.

Seeking not easy death but difficult life, the people of the Marmo empire, all of them, waited for the Black General Ashram’s return and orders.

But the general had still not appeared.

For the sake of buying enough time for the preparations for escape to be made, Ashram was leading the elite of the dark knights in battle at the northern port of Salbad, the Shadow City.

In the terrible fighting in Salbad about half the knights had met brave deaths on the battlefield; but by this sacrifice the preparations for escape to be made, The surviving knights had arrived at the harbor on the previous day. Only one, only Ashram, hadn’t come. According to his second in command Hicks, he had stopped off in the capital Persei to pay his last respects to the throne.

However, that throne no longer had an incumbent. Pirotess was aware of feeling a complicated mix of irritation and jealousy.

When all was said and done, there was no escape from the influence of Beld, the empire’s supremely great founder. It was so even for such a hero as Ashram. He was unable to surpass Beld’s renown. Perhaps this was because he was convinced that he couldn’t surpass his own limits. Pirotess thought of this impatiently. There was no need to outdo the dead. No one could overcome a hero who had passed into the realm of legend. If Ashram had only recognized that, perhaps he wouldn’t have been facing defeat today.

After Beld died without leaving a successor to his empire, four powerful people resurrected the council in Darktown. It was the same system of rule that Marmo had been under before Beld unified the island and declared himself Emperor. As a result of this change the Marmo army had been weakened considerably at its highest level. If the whole army had been able to move with one will, the outcome of the war might well have been different. But that was in the past now. The ocean trek ahead would be harsher than the past battle, beyond doubt. For there to be a chance of completing it safely, a strong leader was needed. Besides Ashram, there was no one who could shoulder that role.

With a feeling as though she was praying, Pirotess again turned her eyes towards the highway. The sun had already gone down in the west. It was getting dark. Only the northern sky continued to glow red like a sunset. This time, some human figures came into sight on the road. There looked to be three people. One was seated on a horse. A second man had hold of the horse’s bridle. The third figure looked like a child.

“Ashram?” Pirotess strained her eyes. Dark elves had better vision than humans, and as a shaman her eyes were able to capture light that an ordinary person’s couldn’t, making her night vision hardly inferior to her day vision. Of the approaching trio, she was sure the man on the horse was Ashram. The uneasiness in her heart vanished like mist clearing.

Compared with the fact that Ashram had arrived back safely, the matter of who the other two were was not greatly important.

Pirotess let a crewman know that Ashram had returned, and ordered a small boat to be sent out to meet him. The fleet could set sail before the final fall of night.

“Lord Ashram!” His face beaming, the man shouted out the news while running towards the stern after Dorett. In answer to his shouts, the other sailors came hurrying up on deck. To get a glimpse of their returned leader they gathered on the side of the ship where Pirotess was. The change in the ship’s center of gravity was enough to make it lean.

“Get back to your bloody posts!” Captain Dorett’s roar came from the stern.

After letting a boat over the side of the ship, the sailors jumped one after the other into the water and climbed on board it.

“Idiots! If you all get in there won’t be room for Lord Ashram to sit down!” Dorett’s voice thundered again.

“We’ll swim on the way back,” someone retorted.

Pirotess had thought she would go out to meet Ashram too, but by now it was too late for her to try to get in the little boat. She would just have to wait for him to come on board the ship. With a sardonic smile on her lips, Pirotess looked along the highway again.

In that instant her look froze.

Coming up behind Ashram, the figures of about twenty mounted knights had appeared. All of them were encased in white suits of armor. Were they Holy Knights? Pirotess tensed.

Whether they were the only ones in pursuit, or whether more were coming behind them, she couldn’t judge. But at least those twenty were going to catch up to Ashram ahead of the boat. Looking down, she saw that almost none of the sailors in the boat were carrying weapons. Furthermore, they didn’t seem aware of the change in circumstances.

“Undine, spirit of water…” Chanting words in a strange, echoing speech that was no common language of either humans or elves on Lodoss, Pirotess jumped over the rope that was attached for a safety handhold along the ship’s side.

Flying in a parabola through the air, Pirotess jumped overboard, down to the sea, and landed on it. The fluid element behaved like solid ground under her feet; the spell she had cast enabled her to walk on the surface of the water. With the sea lying gently in the evening calm, Pirotess was able to run at full speed.

The agile dark elf overtook the little boat in short order and swiftly arrived on shore at the quay. Passing by sparse human dwellings, she ran towards Ashram. As swift was she was, the battle would probably still start before she reached him. He wouldn’t be easily defeated; she was certain of that. But the number of enemies was large, and they were Holy Knights of Valis. They were different from the ordinary rank-and-file soldiers and monsters. To fight a large number of them, without magic, was difficult.

While she ran, Pirotess focused her will so that she could protect the Black General with her shaman magic. With magical back-up, warriors could increase their fighting power many times over.

Beyond the port, the highway sloped slightly uphill. At the top of the hill, Ashram and the Holy Knights were facing off. The knights were moving to surround Ashram and his two companions. From that position they could attack any time. Ashram hadn’t drawn his sword yet. He fixed a scowl on one of the Holy Knights.

“Lord Ashram!” Pirotess yelled at the top of her voice. She was still a fair distance away, but some of the knights heard her and turned their heads. However, none moved their horses in her direction. Surrounding Ashram, they stayed still, as though they were under a spell.

Pirotess covered the last distance in a breath. She stopped twenty paces away from the Holy Knights. She crossed her arms in front of her in the pose she always adopted when readying to cast a spell.

“Well met. Good work,” Ashram spoke from atop his horse. Seemingly unconcerned about the Holy Knights, he moved forward.

The knights tightened their circle around him.

“Welcome, your safe return…” Pirotess’s voice came out hoarsely. She felt a choking pressure inside her chest. She desperately tried to force back the tears that were threatening to flow. She didn’t want to behave like an ordinary girl; and Ashram wouldn’t want her to either.

“Who are these people?” Pirotess wasn’t referring to the Holy Knights, but to the two strangers with Ashram.

“My followers, apparently. Not that I wished them to come.”

“Followers?” Pirotess surveyed the pair again. Surprisingly, the one that looked like a child was actually one of the plains fairies known as grassrunners. These fairies weren’t native to Lodoss, so this one was probably a traveler from the northern continent. Surrounded by the Holy Knights, he didn’t look the slightest bit afraid, but was displaying a sunny smile. He had a short sword at his hip, and inside his jacket there would be several concealed daggers. His kind were born hunters and master thieves. Even if the knights seriously attacked him, he thought he wouldn’t get a scratch, was the impression the little sprite gave off.

The other man looked like a priest of the war god Myrii. Over a chainmail shirt he was clad in a robe stitched with the god’s emblem. He was a middle-aged man with an imposing frame. With a warhammer held in one hand he stood silently, directing a coercive force at the circle of Holy Knights.

“Are the preparations for our departure complete?” Ashram asked, still showing no concern about the knights surrounding him.

He doesn’t need anyone’s help here, Pirotess thought. If there were twice as many enemies, he would still cut them down.

“One thing aside,” she answered, inclining her head slightly.

“My thanks for your efforts.”

“Please, thank Captain Dorett and his men instead. They worked without rest.”

While Ashram and Pirotess were having their short conversation, the Holy Knights seemed to come back to themselves. They drew their circle a little tighter and brought their swords and shields to bear.

“Black General, you won’t escape!” one of them shouted.

“Did the king of Valis send you after me?” Ashram asked, glaring at the man.

“The king said not to pursue you. But we don’t intend to let you go. By striving against the people of Valis, you committed a crime worth a punishment of ten thousand deaths!”

“You disobey your king’s orders, but still call yourself Holy Knights?” The priest of Myrii spoke in a severe tone. “Committing massacre after a war is over is not the will of the gods!”

“To bring down the wicked is the justice of Falis!” the youngest knight retorted, answering back to the force of the priest’s words.

“Do all of your rabble have a personal grudge against me?” Ashram spoke coldly, directing the question to the young knight.

“We are Holy Knights! We don’t fight for such reasons,” the youth answered hotly.

“Then what is your reason?” Ashram asked once more.

“We don’t need a reason for disobeying the king. We seek to uphold almighty Falis’ justice, and therefore seek vengeance on you. Not as Holy Knights, but as Free Knights!”

“Free Knights?” Ashram’s brow rose a little at the young knight’s reply. “You sorry lot call yourselves Free Knights?” After these words, he gripped the hilt of the sword sheathed beside his saddle. It was a greatsword with a dark blade. Once it had been wielded by the Demon Lord who almost destroyed Lodoss. Beld took it, and Ashram inherited it from him.

The sword’s name was Soulcrusher. Once it had passed into another man’s hands, but of its own accord it had returned to Ashram. Rumor ran that the sword selected its master, and that it would not suffer to be wielded by one not of true heroic mettle. With his thumb Ashram released the fastening that held Soulcrusher in its sheath. The metal sheath fell to the ground with a resonant clang. Tension coursed through the Holy Knights.

“I know the true Free Knight. That man lives without the dogma of religion or the authority of kings. He is loyal only to his own heart. You, who cling to gods and depend on your country—you’ve got no business calling yourselves free knights! I was going to send you back alive. But I will not be merciful now.” Ashram raised his sword one-handed, faced the knights front-on and spurred his horse.

“Take him prisoner!” the oldest knight cried out. No doubt it was he who had ordered the pursuit, using the words about being Free Knights to bring the others with him.

“King of the Winds…” Pirotess started chanting a spell.

Ashram heard her. “Don’t interfere!” he shouted. His voice was stern, permitting no argument.

Pirotess obeyed. The war-priest, too, stopped chanting in the middle of the spell of holy magic he had begun. The grassrunner, who hadn’t shown any sign of wanting to take part in the battle, stood smiling, waiting to watch the spectacle of Ashram fighting the Holy Knights.

With the first swing of his sword Ashram cut down the knight in front of him. The man fell to the ground, blood spraying from the wound. Soulcrusher had sliced him open from shoulder to sternum.

The two men nearest him wielded their swords, but the distance was too far and their attacks missed.

Ashram’s black armor was magical, protecting its wearer as a ‘Shadow Body’ spell did. The Black Knight took out the two attacking him with one blow apiece, cutting one through the head and the other across the belly. Shedding brain matter and entrails, the two corpses fell forward in their saddles.

“Form squads!” yelled the man who looked to be the captain. In response to the order the young knight and two others lined their horses up, exchanged their swords for lances and with reckless ferocity charged at Ashram.

Ashram calmly waited, holding Soulcrusher low. The lances came in at him. As they were just on the verge of striking, he swung his sword up. The black blade shattered all three lances.

The four warhorses collided with each other. Two of the Holy Knights lost their balance and fell. With a swift movement of the reins Ashram made his horse step on the head of one of the fallen knights. The man’s skull broke with a sharp sound.

The other man got to his feet. This time the black horse kicked with a back leg, catching the man in the chest, sending him flying through the air to land on the ground with a crash. The man gave a feeble groan, then fainted in agony.

The young knight had somehow remained on his horse. Without a pause, and with faultless aim, Ashram drove Soulcrusher through the youth’s throat. The young knight fell to the ground, blood bubbling out of his mouth.

“What devilry is this…?” the captain of the Holy Knights murmured in a voice that trembled. Having lost six comrades in the space of a few moments, some of the knights started to run, screaming.

“Is that how free knights act?” Ashram yelled this taunt after the fleeing men.

With the circle of men surrounding Ashram broken, Pirotess approached him quickly. “Are you going to let those men escape?”

“Let them go,” Ashram said disinterestedly. Without haste, he turned to face the remaining ten knights.

“Lord Ashram!” Arrived at last, the sailors came running. It looked as if their blood was up and they were going to attack the knights. Some of them were strutting with daggers at the ready, but most were bare-handed; but they looked keen to fight if Ashram only gave the order. Ashram silently thrust his sword out. The sailors stopped in their tracks like well-drilled troops. Not one of them said a word.

“You look regretful,” Ashram spoke to the captain of the Holy Knights. “To die like this now, after winning the war! You should curse your own stupidity.”

“Wait!” The captain flung his sword away. “I surrender. If you wish, I’ll ransom myself.”

“Unfortunately, I won’t have time to collect it,” Ashram said with a cruel smile. “Since you believe in the god of light, you should go to heaven when you die. So you’ve got nothing at all to fear!” He raised Soulcrusher over his head and flew in among the Holy Knights. With the first stroke he cut in half the man who had begged for his life.

From then on it was a one-sided battle. The knights, seeing the truth, fought desperately; but they couldn’t inflict so much as a scratch on Ashram. When he had cut the last man’s head from his body, he wasn’t even out of breath.

Watching the way he fought, Pirotess held her breath. Of course she knew he was a superb swordsman, but she hadn’t imagined he could take down twenty knights in such fine style. It resembled Beld’s style of fighting.

“That was magnificent,” Pirotess told him. He had come back displaying an air as if nothing had happened. Strangely, he was wearing an uncomfortable expression.

“Wielding this demon sword is the last thing I want to do,” were his surprising words.

“Have you lost interest in battle?”

“No, not that! But I’ve been made to realize that there’s no meaning in victory won by a sword. I crossed swords with that man, and I understood.”

“The Free Knight Parn?” Pirotess guessed. It was the Holy Knights calling themselves Free Knights that had made Ashram angry. She had never seen the man called Parn, but Ashram had fought him during all the years the Marmo were stationed in Kanon. He was Ashram’s greatest enemy.

“He and I met in the royal castle. To test each other’s strength, we dueled. If we fought a hundred rounds, I won fifty-one, I would think. To know that was enough. To exchange lives in that place was stupid. We both put our swords away.”

“That was a strange thing for you to do, when that man had caused you so much trouble.”

“Indeed.” Ashram smiled bitterly. “But I’ve him to thank for showing me something. In the past I put everything into training with the sword, trying to surpass Emperor Beld. But even if I had defeated Beld, I wouldn’t have been greater than him.”

“I fear you concern yourself too much with his late majesty, General. The fact is, the dead can’t be overcome.” As Ashram had brought Beld’s name up, Pirotess finally spoke her mind.

“Wrong.” Ashram looked down at her. As ever, his expression revealed no hint of his mood. “They can be.”

“How?” Pirotess asked, not understanding his meaning.

“It’s simple. When you join the dead yourself the loud-mouthed bards give you value.” Ashram glanced around at the grassrunner, who was fossicking for valuables in the pockets of the dead Holy Knights.

Noticing the glance, the grassrunner gave a carefree smile. “These knights are rich, of course! In the new country, we’ll be using gold. I’ll be rich.”

“Pray that it’s so!” came Ashram’s reply. Respectfully obeying his hot glance, the following sailors turned around and followed him.

Comments Off on Finally…
6 Nov 2011


Author: Cool Snoops | Filed under: Announcements, Midnight Confabulates, Nuku Nuku

 After about 5 months of banging my head against the wall learning how to use WordPress, and trying to fix all the bugs in the Blak Magik theme, I believe that we finally have something worthy of being deemed finished! For those interested in the adjustments to the Blak Magik theme (ask for details at your own peril):

  • changed the white boxes near the bottom of the screen to match the rest of the background
  • added navigation links to the footer
  • and removed achive.php because it wasn’t formating the archives like the home page

Let’s hope that I don’t have to do anything like that again…ever! I can’t imagine what any admin is thinking that constantly changes their theme =S

Plus, we’re getting close to 20,000 hits *screams*

 Oh boy! That means Master will draw another cartoon of Midnight…

 In your dreams, pup! I was thinking something more along the lines of releasing another chapter of Nuku Nuku…


Comments Off on Lodoss Novel “The Black Knight”
20 Sep 2011

Lodoss Novel “The Black Knight”

Author: Cool Snoops | Filed under: Record of Lodoss War

Dark Conquerer
In which we find out about Ashram’s misspent youth and his first meeting with the legendary hero Beld…

Chapter 1

There is an island called Lodoss. It lies off the southern border of the continent of Alecrast. Among the continent’s inhabitants some people call it the Cursed Island, for all over it are haunts of wicked men, and wars continuously rage.

To the southeast of Lodoss was a small island, Marmo. Known as the Isle of Darkness, Marmo was a dreaded and shunned place, controlled by evil. It was onto Marmo’s ground that the body of Kardis the goddess of destruction fell, causing the land’s corruption. The trees were twisted, the grass and flowers blighted. Of the fish in the surrounding waters no few were deadly poisonous, and malign spirits and monsters laired in the forests. In this cruel environment, humans had to find ways to survive. Almost all of those dwelling on the island had committed crimes on Lodoss and had fled to Marmo or were banished there. The rest were indigenous hunters who dwelled in the baneful forests.

Marmo’s largest city was Persei, known as Darktown. Confined on a plain between hills and a river, it was a fortified city encircled by a strong wall. It was the most prosperous place on Marmo. The island’s second city was the northern port of Salbad. The only other human habitation were villages dotted around the outskirts of these two cities, where serfs dwelled, coaxing crops to grow in poor soil.

The island had no legitimate rulers. Affairs in Darktown were managed by a council formed from among the influential people, including Salbad in its jurisdiction. However, the sinister spirits and barbarian humans of the Forest of Darkness did not acknowledge it’s authority.

The companies that ran armed merchant ships, and the landowners who controlled the serfs, who together had organized the council, had an alliance with the church of Falaris and the lesser dark gods, and with the Thieves’ Guild, but the alliance was not a secure one. With each faction looking for it’s own profit, secret feuds revolved among them.

There was no law or order; only that which was of the darkness was free, and the weak were compelled to serve it.

But there came a time when a wave of change advanced upon the island where this stable though dire state of affairs endured. This change was brought about by one famous hero and one unknown youth.

Near Darktown’s eastern gate was a rookery of derelict, uninhabited buildings. A man walked along a stone-paved street where dust was dancing. By his looks he was a thief. His feet glided along without making a sound. His stooped back was shaking just a little, and his idle-seeming hands were ready to move at any time to the poisoned throwing-knife in his breast pocket. Restlessly moving his gaze over the buildings around him, he kept walking.

Then at his feet there was a bursting sound, and a new dust-cloud blossomed up. A small stone or something had been thrown down. The man felt heart-stopping shock. He hadn’t sensed anyone’s presence.

“I guess I’m not surprised. Some business is coming my way, isn’t it?” Mocking laughter echoed. From a ruined rooftop to the thief’s left, the figure of a youth appeared. He couldn’t have been of adult age yet, but he was taller by far than average adult height. He had black hair and strikingly white skin. By looking at his calm face you couldn’t guess that he had taken the lives of some hundreds of people.

Among those were a few score of the Thieves’ Guild’s specialist assassins.

“You’re Ashram?” the thief said in a choked voice.

“That’s right, Mister Amber Eyes. Or should I call you Ditch?”

“What are you talking about, you mongrel?”

The man known as Amber Eyes felt as though a knife had been shoved into his chest. Even his colleagues in the Thieves’ Guild weren’t supposed to know that Ditch was his real name.

“There are any number of ways to get information. If you can’t do that much, you can’t afford a brawl with us!”

“A brawl? A war, more like!” Amber Eyes said heatedly. The Thieves’ Guild’s covert group of assassins had been almost wiped out by this man and his gang.

But what the fight had taken care of, Ashram couldn’t have known. Thanks to the dispute with Ashram’s mob, first the Thieves’ Guild’s previous master and then many important guild members had lost their lives. Though he had only been a junior member, Amber Eyes had come out of it as a major player.

Anger and fear welled together in Amber Eyes’ heart. He didn’t think this youth was motivated by anything more than sheer insanity. Did really blood flow in his veins? Did he hear his heart beat?

“It could be a war, if you want to make it one. But I don’t see it that way. I don’t like you lot, so I slapped you around, that’s all,” Ashram said, poker-faced. “Did you just come here to have a chat?” Over his handsome features there came a cruel look in which murderous intent was plain to see.

“I’ve got something to give you.” With a sour expression, Amber Eyes brought out a letter from a pocket in his clothes. “The Darktown Council has entrusted me with this confidential document.”

“Leave it there. I know what it says. Kill a man, right? One of the six heroes, the red-headed mercenary, perhaps?”

Amber Eyes nodded. He wouldn’t have been surprised if Ashram had a pipeline to all of the council’s privy information. He probably had someone working in it as a spy. But then, Amber Eyes himself was in the same situation. He had some pretty good inside information about Ashram’s gang. Only, he wasn’t able to act on it.

“This is quite something,” Ashram said. “The council is more afraid of a man with the demon sword and the barbarians from the Forest of Darkness than they are of me, eh?”

The red-haired mercenary named Beld, around twenty years ago at the outbreak of the Demon War, was one of a hundred heroes who went to challenge the demons in their home in the Deepest Labyrinth, and one of the six who survived. The remaining brave souls all met their ends in the deadly maze. The handful who came back were honored, and as the Six Heroes their names passed into the legends of Lodoss. And even now this legend continued to be written.

One was the hero Fahn, who became the king of the holy country of Valis, and by making alliances with the other nations of Lodoss blew away the clouds of war from the main island.

The second was the sorcerer Wort, who came to be known as the Great Sage. He built a tower at the entrance of the Labyrinth and remained dwelling there as a watchman. By his hand, too, the dwarven kingdom that was overrun by demons was sealed, to prevent evil from returning by that road. The third was Neese, the priestess of the earth goddess Marfa, who became high priestess of Marfa’s church and now dwelled in the great temple at Tarba. Worshipers reverently spoke of her as the living embodiment of the goddess. Although the great temple was in a far-flung region, pilgrims from all over Lodoss made journeys to it. The fourth hero was the Iron King Fleve of the southern dwarf tribe, who had lost his kingdom. His whereabouts were unknown. It was said that he continued on alone, hunting the surviving demons that remained in his ruined kingdom; but no eyes had seen him for many a day. The fifth was a mysterious character, a warrior mage known by no name, and whose true nature was likewise a riddle. Although possessing equally great prowess with both magic and sword, that hero had seemed to fear the touch of other people’s eyes. Because of this veil of mystery, the warrior mage’s existence was increasingly coming to be thought of as a legend invented by talespinning minstrels.

And the sixth hero was the red-haired Beld, the mercenary whose beloved woman was stolen away by the king of the demons. It was Beld who struck the fatal blow against the demon king, and of the six heroes, he was the most famous.

His figure had appeared suddenly on Marmo, and he had begun to wage a war in the name of unifying the island. And now word had it that as well as the barbarians of the Forest of Darkness, the dark elves and their servant creatures had allied themselves with him too. This gave Darktown’s rulers cause for agitation. If the spirits and monsters were Beld’s allies, an army of how many thousands—no, how many tens of thousands—might he raise? Even if all the people of Darktown took up arms, victory against such an army couldn’t be imagined. And not everyone would fight to defend the city. The majority of the citizens were not living contently. Rather, they lived at the outer limits of poverty and terror. In their eyes, Beld and his army could well appear to be liberators. Out of fear of betrayal, they uttered no words, but a feeling that serfs and the poor were waiting eagerly for Beld to attack was flowing around Darktown.

“The council is prepared to accept you as a member. You and your…associates will also therefore become legitimate citizens.” Amber Eyes gave a servile smile as he conveyed the council’s terms.

“A lovers’ match, in this rotten town?” Ashram laughed aloud. Then he picked up a chunk of rubble and deftly threw it. The rock flew straight through the air and hit a crow that was overing over the roof of the adjacent derelict building. The poor bird shrieked in agony and dropped down to the ground. If it had been a human being, it seemed by no means unlikely that Ashram would have done the same thing with equal insouciance. He was like a child pulling the legs off an insect. Amber Eyes shuddered.

The Thieves’ Guild’s brutality had a calculated purpose. It was protective armor against the guild’s enemies, and it was a method of maintaining order, and also one of acquiring gold and and silver. The Guild admitted no one who was merely an unthinking, unskilled thug. But Ashram and his offsiders displayed a vicious nature which by far surpassed the Guild’s.

They went around slaughtering roadside beggars; using knives they mutilated prostitutes in their private places, making them unable to sell their bodies anymore; they had torched all the buildings connected with the Thieves’ Guild, and an unknown of other buildings besides. Of course, the Guild fought back desperately. It killed members of the gang one after another and left their bodies exposed around the city as a continuing warning. To people who know fear and the necessity of protecting themselves, this was a most effective method.

But the kids in the gang were of a different breed. They had no parents or siblings, no money or food, no past and no future. They didn’t believe in gods. The only thing they believed in was themselves. Only by flocking together to plunder and destroy could they at last feel themselves to be truly alive. They couldn’t be compared with the Guild. They were like stampeding wild horses, a horde of beasts with a hunger that couldn’t be satisfied.

In the eyes of his fellows, Ashram was a hero. His word was their only law and they followed his way unconditionally. With them running in a rabble at his side, he had started the fight with the Council.

The Council wasn’t silent, but it couldn’t put effective measures into action. The church of Falaris, which exercised a strong influence over the Council, approved of Ashram’s gang as disruptors of order, and the worshipers of Kardis the goddess of destruction, seeing Ashram as one who was guiding the world to its end, even supported him. In the midst of this, another threat was rising: the red-haired mercenary Beld and his swarm of barbarians from the Forest of Darkness. Why Beld had taken a stand to unite Marmo was unknown. On the main island of Lodoss, rumors were running among the people that Beld would make a clean sweep of evil across their lands. He had announced the founding of a Marmo Empire. He was even calling himself the Dark Emperor, implying that he intended to rule with absolute power, and he was demanding that the Darktown Council resign. However, they weren’t about to comply. If they resigned their seats of power, that would be the end of their lives at east. They had elected to ally with Ashram’s gang and fight Beld. If the mob of kids affiliated themselves with the council and got a taste of sweet living, they might become docile. At any rate, if the council couldn’t make peace with the gang, it wouldn’t have a future.

Therefore, it was going to make a new organization with them as members. Allowing a period of time, the impudent Ashram would become manageable.

But Beld and the barbarians were outsider enemies. If they were allied with the spirits from the Forest of Darkness, they were foes of humanity. The dark elves, who controlled the spirits, treated humans just as they did the petty goblin and kobold monsters. Joining with them didn’t seem like the action of one of the six heroes who had brought down the demon king and his army. It was rumored that Beld had been bewitched by the demon.

“Do you think Beld will want you for cohorts? If you want to survive, join forces with us and simply do away with Beld.”

“We’re not afraid of dying. We’re different to you.” Ashram drew a dagger from his breast pocket and cut a thin line across the palm of his hand. He licked up the blood that oozed out.

His lips became stained bright red, as if rouged. It gave him a feminine air of allure. To a man with a taste for other men, no doubt it would have been attractive.

It was not at all to Amber Eyes’ taste. Negotiation was useless, Amber Eyes thought despondently. The council had to avoid fighting both Ashram and Beld together. Such a fight would be hopeless. The only hope was that they would not form a united front. Beld and a hoodlum like Ashram would not be out of harmony with each other.

“Well, what’s your answer?” Amber Eyes asked, thinking to end the conversation.

“My answer is, I’ll do it. It’s plain you’ve got some sort of ulterior motive, but for the likes of that man to be called a great hero turns my mood sour. I’ll cut Beld to ribbons—just like the Thieves’ Guild’s master.”

Amber Eyes’ light tawny eyes grew alert at the sound of the second name. By the way the conversation had gone up until then it had seemed impossible that Ashram would accept his offer. Could he really want to join with the council? He had an idea of the council’s intentions, he’d said; but might that not be a bluff? Amber Eyes would have to get information from his spy.

And on top of this, Ashram had said he would kill Beld. Amber Eyes recalled the Thieves’ Guild’s previous master’s body, at the house of the fifteen year old girl who was his lover, all cut up, his intestines and both eyes pulled out and thrown out with the rubbish on the road. The girl had been in Ashram’s gang. Plausibly, she had her eyes on Ashram and therefore did his bidding.

“Really?” Amber Eyes said, trying to get a better sense of the truth.

“I’m in the mood for it. Ask too many questions and you’ll be sorry!”

“All right, then. I’ll tell the council.” With suspicious feelings, Amber Eyes silently called upon the name of the thieves’ god Ganeed. He’d played his part, at any rate. And even to the council, he didn’t have to report everything. He’d taken another step up towards the becoming the master of the Thieves’ Guild. Only the finishing touches remained, and his hand was already moving.

“You guarantee I’ll have a place on the council?” Ashram said.

“Of course,” Amber Eyes replied quickly. “The council will welcome you with pleasure.”

To that Ashram just snorted and said nothing.

Amber Eyes resolutely turned his back and began to walk back the way he’d come.

Comments Off on Nuku Nuku Chapter 4 Released
3 Jul 2011

Nuku Nuku Chapter 4 Released

Author: Cool Snoops | Filed under: Midnight Confabulates, Nuku Nuku

Hallelujah, chapter 4 is out! And what’s even better, is that you can download it right this second:

Chapter 4 (6MB)

Enjoy! And don’t forget…donating helps motivate me ;)

Do not donate! That is less time Master will spend with Midnight…*whines*

Comments Off on Captcha
28 Jun 2011


Author: Cool Snoops | Filed under: Announcements, Nuku Nuku

I added a captcha to discourage spam and make my life easier. This will leave me more time to edit…which I know will thrill Nuku Nuku fans the world over eagerly awaiting the release of chapter 4!

Comments Off on Whew
18 Jun 2011


Author: Cool Snoops | Filed under: Announcements, Midnight Confabulates, Nuku Nuku

Well that was certainly a very large undertaking…and while I was sick to boot! I saw this awesome theme for WordPress called Blak Magik that I immediately fell in love with the other day, and immediately knew it was destined to end up as Enchanting Media’s new design. I mean, it’s been quite a few years since I revamped the ol girl. I guess it comes from moving so much in the past, although we’re retired now =T
It took me 2 solid days working around the clock to migrate Enchanting Media to WordPress, working out all the bugs and updating/tweaking it while I was at it. I think I’m done for a while, so that’s why I’m writing this post. Sort of like christening the ol girl. With that being said, don’t expect a sudden buzz of activity just because everything is new and shiny for the moment! So I would recommend subscribing to our RSS feed to be alerted to updates. Can you actually believe it? Who would have ever thought that Enchanting Media would have an RSS feed =S

I’m almost done editing chapter 4 of the Nuku Nuku manga. I can’t believe that a whole year has already flown by since my last release, yikes! I’ll try to be a little more timely with Nuku Nuku releases. Life isn’t getting any less busy, so I’m just going to have to set aside time to do it. Getting old does have its disadvantages =\

I’ve enabled comments, but every single one has to be approved by yours truly before it goes public. So if the feature is abused too much by spammers and foul mouthed fools, then off it goes! Keep that in mind when contemplating what to post. But with that being said, maybe your encouragement will help motivate me to finish our projects quicker, hmm…
We have several hundred visits a month, so it would be nice to hear from some of them. Notice some was underlined? I don’t want to be mobbed with zillions of posts ^_-

I’m still looking for a translator for several projects that I’m willing to pay you for. Please contact me…

You can breath easy, now. All the files that were hosted here are still here. Click on the Downloads link at the top or bottom of the page to bring up AutoIndex…

We’ll just have to wait and see what the future holds in store for Enchanting Media. Everyone enjoy Father’s Day…

GASP, Master has children???

No, no, relax Midnight, I’m still single…hint hint wink wink nudge nudge to all you young bachelorettes out there.