Tag Archives: Jesus

What’s Wrong With My Story?

I think most people are used to seeing fellow bloggers talk about how great their stories are.  We’re all trying to sell ourselves (and our books).  It’s part of business; it’s part of being a self-published author.  And many self-published authors take to blogging, like yours truly.  And we use blogging to talk ourselves up.

But today, I’m going to layout what’s wrong with my series, The Golden Lands.  

Maybe I should cut myself some slack because I’m only in high school; but at the same time, that doesn’t matter to me.  don’t really care about how old I am, or how my age effects my writing.  No matter your age, your writing and plot-structure can and will most likely have flaws!

So, what are mine?


First, let’s really take a brief look at the setting and plot of The Golden Lands, especially for those of you that aren’t familiar with the story.

We’ve got sixteen year-old John Hedekira, looking after his siblings after their parents randomly disappeared.  They live in a world of harmonious anarchy; there are no formal states of government.  However, there are also these things that run around and kill people, formally called Malam, but informally called Evil.

Yes, things are bizarrely simple in The Golden Lands.

I’m not sure as to whether I should consider the super-simplicity a flaw.  I made things weirdly simple for exactly that reason; to be weird.  For example, John’s brother is named Frater, and his sister is named Soror.

Know any Latin? Soror et Frater=sister and brother!

Malam (the race of evil bad dudes)=Evil

Virus (the race of men, pronounced veerus)=man

Femina (the race of women)=woman

Okay, so maybe some people might think this simplicity is lame, and I can see where you’re coming from.  So, my first flaw could be considered to be a lack of creativity in regards to names.


A “lonely” plot for the beginning of a story?

The plot that begins in Volume 1 and continues up until Volume 4 is this:

John’s home is attacked by a band of Evil (the race of evil bad dudes).  They leave him bleeding out in his home, and kidnap Soror and Frater.  John survives the attack, however, and is determined to get revenge and rescue Soror and Frater…but mostly get revenge.  He had a falling out with Soror and Frater right before the Evil invaded…so it’s mostly about revenge.

John Hedekira bleeding out in his home.

So, what’s wrong with this plot?  All of this happens in the first chapter.  Sounds fast-paced and exciting, right?  Well, hopefully it is!

The issue is that some might consider this to be a “lonely” plot.  John doesn’t have very much character interaction until Chapter 5.  So, in spite of the fact that the plot is very fast paced (the first book is only about 80 pages long, so the plot has to be), it can feel a little sluggish and “lonely”.  What’s more, John is rather aloof and grumpy for most of Volume 1, so even when he does start making friends, the character interactions still aren’t as satisfying as you might want them to be.

Overall, I’d say another issue that people have with Volume 1 is it’s “lonely plot”.

Unrealistic “anime-feel”

Edward silly face

This was entirely intentional.  If you look at my blog, all of the pictures/covers are drawn as if they were anime.  That’s the way it is supposed to be.  The Golden Lands is a fantasy/anime series.  That being said, I think anyone can enjoy the story, whether you appreciate anime or not.  You just need to understand that, in anime, there are certain restrictions that anime characters are NOT bound by.

For instance, John becomes a really good swordsman very quickly.  He gets his butt kicked twice in the first half of Volume 1, and then he becomes a boss by the end.  Okay, so he’s a fast learner?  Not so much.  It has more to do with his anger.  He fights better when he’s angry (and there IS a reason for that).  But still, it’s a minor plot hole.

There are other things that might confuse people however, relating to anime.  For instance, anime characters can lose loads of blood and keep on fighting, or at least survive.  This definitely relates to how John is able to chase after the bad guys that stole Soror and Frater only a day after he nearly bleeds to death.

Also, random silly things happen all the time.  For seemingly no reason at all, anime characters can have their heads blow up when they’re angry, and the next moment their head will be attached and everything is perfectly fine.  I think you get the idea…random things happen, and you just need to accept that that is a part of anime!

Those are the main issues with Volume 1.  Overall, the book has received good reviews.  But I must admit my mistakes and encourage you to understand my flaws.  I also beg your pardon for them.  I do my best as a writer to create stories that you will all love…and I really hope that you do love them!  What more could a writer ask for?

Stay awesome!

Dominic (Aul)

Like me as a blogger? Like the way I write?
Believe me, my books are way better than this post. If you really want to see the best I can do, check out my fantasy/anime series “The Golden Lands”. The first volume is free as an eBook, or you can just read it in the form of “episodes” right here on my blog! Go to my page Embark on the Journey: Volume 1 Episodes for a complete list of episodes. I also post episodes every week, so look for them if you really want to experience the best I’ve got!


Why We Love Anime #38

Bleach pic

Showing you how awesome anime is…with epic, thought-provoking pictures!!!

A popular theme in anime is the personification of our inner battles.  Before the hero can become powerful on the outside, he has to defeat whatever is holding him back from within!

Like me as a blogger? Like the way I write?
Believe me, my books are way better than this post. If you really want to see the best I can do, check out my fantasy/anime series “The Golden Lands”. The first volume is free as an eBook, or you can just read it in the form of “episodes” right here on my blog! Go to my page Embark on the Journey: Volume 1 Episodes for a complete list of episodes. I also post episodes every week, so look for them if you really want to experience the best I’ve got!

Why We Love Anime #37


Showing you how awesome anime is…with beautiful, epic pictures!!!

There’s so much to say about this picture.  A battle fought long ago, the sky heralding a new beginning…and yet the warrior knows that the struggle still goes on.  There’s still more to come.

What does this picture make you think of?

Like me as a blogger? Like the way I write?
Believe me, my books are way better than this post. If you really want to see the best I can do, check out my fantasy/anime series “The Golden Lands”. The first volume is free as an eBook, or you can just read it in the form of “episodes” right here on my blog! Go to my page Embark on the Journey: Volume 1 Episodes for a complete list of episodes. I also post episodes every week, so look for them if you really want to experience the best I’ve got!

Why We Love Anime #36

anime cape

Showing you how awesome anime is…with epic pictures!!!

Nothing to do but stand in the sunset with a glorious cape…well, okay then!

Like me as a blogger? Like the way I write?
Believe me, my books are way better than this post. If you really want to see the best I can do, check out my fantasy/anime series “The Golden Lands”. The first volume is free as an eBook, or you can just read it in the form of “episodes” right here on my blog! Go to my page Embark on the Journey: Volume 1 Episodes for a complete list of episodes. I also post episodes every week, so look for them if you really want to experience the best I’ve got!

Why We Love Anime #35

anime rage

Showing you how awesome anime is…with incredible, visually-epic pictures!!!

This image really gives you an idea of how monstrous anger can be within a person.  Or at least that’s what I gather from this picture.  What do you think?

Like me as a blogger? Like the way I write?
Believe me, my books are way better than this post. If you really want to see the best I can do, check out my fantasy/anime series “The Golden Lands”. The first volume is free as an eBook, or you can just read it in the form of “episodes” right here on my blog! Go to my page Embark on the Journey: Volume 1 Episodes for a complete list of episodes. I also post episodes every week, so look for them if you really want to experience the best I’ve got!


white ichigo

Note: this has characters from current and future volumes of The Golden Lands.   That being said, this is not actually from TGL, in spite of how the characters and forms of magic are from TGL.  

ALSO: contains violent and suggestive content.


My vision quivering and blurring, I’m able to make out drops of my own blood striking the stone ground with a dull splat.  My shoulders are burning with exhaustion, and so are my lungs.  I stand there with my head bowed, chest heaving and arms drooping, knowing that I’ve already lost, but still unwilling to go down.  I don’t want this Thing to win, even if I feel as if I’m slowly slipping into submission.  That’s what all of this is really about, in fact: submission.  Pain and loss of blood don’t matter. This Thing doesn’t want me to die; It wants me to hand over my soul.  The scary thing is, I find myself allured by what It’s offering me.

That’s the way Lust always works.

He’s so enticing, so admirable…in all the wrong ways.  He looks just like me, but there’s something dark and promiscuous about the way he moves.  As if that weren’t disturbing enough, when he speaks, his voice is that of a seductive woman.  And, as he is undeniably a minion of the evil one, his voice echoes eerily, as if he is possessed.   And he is, I think.

Lust alights in front of me, cocking his head.  “What’s the matter?” he says with mock concern, “Aren’t strong enough?  It’s okay.  You never were.  And you knew it.  You knew that sooner or later, you’d give in.”

I grit my teeth and tighten my grip on my sword, trying to ignore him, trying to focus on rising, on gathering myself, in preparation for another attack…or another assault.  But his voice is so calming, so smooth, and so right—everything he says reverberates through me.   And the sad thing is, everything he’s saying is true.

“Sure, you fought,” he goes on.  “That’s what you were supposed to do.  But in the back of your mind, you had the intention of giving in all along, didn’t you?  Admit it, you want this.”

No! I tell myself, closing my eyes, trying with all of my being to block him out.  I know he’s wrong.  I know he’s wrong.  I know that giving in isn’t actually what I want, no matter how much it feels like it.  I don’t want lust.  I want to be free; I want to be stronger.  I want to love.

But…love is so hard.  Sometimes it feels like it’s too hard.

The second I open my eyes, his shoulder slams into my face.  I tumble across the ground, my face going numb for a moment.  But here’s the thing, the thing that’s the most terrible part of this fight: whenever Lust strikes me, it feels good.

There’s nothing fulfilling or even genuinely satisfying about the feeling.  It’s pleasure; it courses through me for a moment.  But it’s guilty pleasure.  And then it goes away.  And I hate it.

I land on my back, and Lust lunges after me, shrieking and laughing playfully with his flirtatious, girly voice.  “Come on, John,” he says, landing so that he’s standing over me.  “Don’t you want to play?”

I hesitate.  That, in and of itself, causes my confidence and will-power to plummet.  Why am I hesitating?  Is it…because I actually want this?  Do I want to give in to this thing?


My fist clenches.


But then Lust giggles and runs his sword right into my stomach.  I’m pinned against the ground.  Blood rising to my mouth, and I gurgle.  He won’t stop laughing.

“Come on, John,” he says.  “You know you can’t do this.  You know it feels good.  What’s wrong?  Nobody has to find out.”

Then  Lust lowers his head, as if to whisper to me, and he says: “Just let it sink in.”  And slowly, he increases pressure on his sword, causing it to slide deeper and deeper into my stomach.  He smiles gleefully, staring into my eyes, licking his lips.  His eyes are gleaming freakishly.

I feel his lust enter into me.  It feels good…such passion, such smooth, dirty but delectable sensations rushing over my body.  But I still haven’t accepted it yet.  I’m still not dead.  I’m holding on just barely.

“Just let go…” he whispers.

I start to.  What am I doing?

“I’ll hold you,” he whispers.

I let go…a little more.

“I’ll love you…”


I bite my lip, and force my body to go tense, fighting against the lust coursing through me.


The faces of the people I care about flash through my mind.  The guys, the girls, the gods.  The One.  My best friend.  The people that are trusting me to make it out alive.  To make it out without giving up my soul.  They want me to win.  They want me to fight.  But…how?  I can’t do this on my own.  I’m too weak.  I’m not powerful enough.  I can’t do this.

For a moment, I ignore Lust.  And with my mind, my soul, I reach out.


Lust grimaces.  “What are you doing?” he sneers.  “Can’t you see that you’ve already lost.  You’ve already accepted too much lust into your body.  Just give in.  Just give in!”

I raise my head to the sky, reaching out.  He has to come.   He has to come.  I shouldn’t have tried to do this on my own in the first place.  But now…is it too late?  Will he abandon me?


“It’s over, John!” Lust declares.  “If you won’t focus on me, then I’ll make you!”  He rips free his sword, laughing so perfectly and sweetly, my eyes flinch in the direction of his eyes, which bore through me with murderous desire.  Still laughing, he slashes at me again and again, his blade ripping through my shoulders, my chest, and my arms.  I raise my sword to try and block his attacks, but he’s too strong, or I’m too weak.  He bats my blade aside, and laughs even louder.  “‘Looks like there’s no one to help you, John!” Lust screams.  Pleasure and a glorifying sensation rush through me.  I falter.


There’s nothing I can do physically against Lust.  So I close my eyes, grit my teeth, and lock up my soul as tight as possible.

A whitish blue blur of light zips past Lust.  His face goes slack, and a moment later, Logos appears out of the air behind my opponent, his sword outstretched as if he had just finished slicing someone in two.  The tip of his blade is already dripping with blood.

Then Lust screams.  Blood erupts from his chest, and he staggers backwards.

Logos, using a charia technique called “riding”, flits through the air in the blink of an eye, and suddenly he’s crouched beside me.  I stiffen, trying to sit up, but I can’t.  I can feel my blood pooling beneath me, and my body is screaming in pain.  “Don’t,” Logos tells me.  Placing his hand gently on my chest, a blue light illuminates the air around me, and gradually, the pain disappears.  I exhale deeply, relief coursing through me.  And even as the pain departs, so does my bodily desire to give in to the lust implanted within me…the lust that I had begun giving in to.

I look up appreciatively at Logos, and grab his hand.  He hoists me up, and together we both turn in the direction of Lust.  “Logos,” I begin to say, knowing that I may not get another chance to say this, “I’m sorry…”

“Don’t worry about that right now,” Logos says, looking sidelong at me.  He smiles gently and confidently at me, “Let’s just focus on getting rid of him first.”

I falter, but then grunt and nod my head.  Once again, I redirect my attention to Lust.

Lust sputters and whines as he recovers from Logos’s attack, his voice still that of a woman.  “Damn you!” he screams.  Slowly, with the sound of skin stretching and bones cracking, his wounds commence to heal.

“Don’t give him a chance!” Logos exclaims.  In a flash of light, Logos turns nearly invisible, “mounting his horse”, and he rides at Lust.  I charge at Lust as fast as my feet can carry me, endeavoring to keep up with my friend.

Lust cries out in pain as Logos reappears in front of him and severs off one of his arms.  Then I collide with Lust, slashing my sword through his chest.  Lust screams again.

Then Lust rides away from us to my left, placing a distance between us and him of about twenty feet.  He’s already regenerated.  Reaching out his hand for me, as if he could clutch me and dig his fingernails into me at a distance, he roars, “You might be able to protect him, Logos!  But I planted a seed in him, a seed that he took delight in and began to sow.  The real enemy lies within himself!”

He’s right.  I can still feel the lust inside of me, the lust that I welcomed and entertained.

“Then he shouldn’t have to do battle with you also!” Logos says through clenched teeth.  Hastening towards Lust on just his feet, Logos’s sword begins to glow with charia.  At the same time, Lust’s weapon emits a dark, mist-like form of power.  Raising their blades, they commence exchanging blows, their swords singing through the air and colliding with the sound of lightning.  For a moment, it looks like they’re evenly matched, but then I realize that Logos is too fast for Lust; his power is so pristine and precise, and he knows how to use it so perfectly, there’s no way that Lust can counter him.  Logos ducks one of Lust’s attacks and spins, gaining momentum, and then his sword flashes upwards, slicing Lust through the face.

“John, come on!” Logos calls.  “I can defend you, but only you can defeat him.”

Lust stumbles backwards, his body momentarily rendered dysfunctional, and he trips, falling onto his back.

This is my chance.  I can finish this.  I can defeat Lust.

But as I rush towards him, I still feel as if there’s something holding me back.  There’s still a part of me that wants lust.  No matter what, even if I win this battle, lust will always be easier.  It will always be easier than remaining true to Logos, true to my friends, and true to the world itself.  It will always be easier than love.

And Lust knows that.

“You don’t deserve to kill me!” he screams, his voice piercing the air.  “You already gave in to me; you don’t deserve to be free!  You already abandoned your friends!  You already left your god!  You don’t deserve them!”

I stop.  What…?

“John,” Logos says, “don’t listen to him.”

He’s right.  I stopped caring when I began to give in.  I stopped loving my friends.  I stopped loving Logos.  I already began to choose lust over them.  Will winning this fight even matter?  Did I already lose?

“John…” I hear Logos suddenly say, his voice soft and hoarse, breaking through my thoughts.  “…you know that it’s not true.  It does still matter.  I still care about you, even if you started to give in.  But what’s most important is that you didn’t allow yourself to die.  You didn’t allow Lust to take control.”  He looks back at me, and smiles sadly but peacefully, “I’m still with you, John.  Now finish this.”

“No!” Lust shouts, starting to rise from the ground.  He lunges upwards and stabs.  Only his blade moves not towards me, but towards Logos.  Logos is still looking at me; he’s not ready for the attack.  I don’t even consider the fact that Logos is the most powerful Knight in the world; surely, if he’d wanted to, he could’ve escaped.  But he doesn’t move.  And I act, fearful that Lust will wound him.

Lust’s blade runs me right through the heart.  I stiffen, my body going rigid with alarm, and my eyes widen.  A moment later, I quiver, and my head bows.  Lust seems surprised that he struck me instead of Logos: I got there just in time.  But then Lust’s mouth curves into a smile, and he begins chuckling.  The chuckle grows into a laugh.  “Hah!” he shouts in my face, “Nice job—”

“What are you laughing about?” I cut him off.  My voice sounds perfectly normal.

Lust frowns, and his mouth falls open, a look of confusion falling over his face.

“Sacrificing myself for the person I love the most can’t result in subjection to lust,” I say.  “Sacrifice is what love is all about.”  I raise my head, looking Lust square in the eye.  “Love and lust are opposites.  You just lost the battle.”

I tighten my grip on my sword.  And in a clean, swift, powerful motion, I slash outwards at Lust…

…and cut his head from his body.

There’s a brief pause, and then Lust’s body drops lifelessly to the ground.  And then, in a cloud of black smoke, he disappears.

All that’s left is me and Logos.  I turn, facing my friend.  For a moment, we merely regard each other in silence.  And then the words begin pouring from my mouth, “Logos, I’m sorry.  I never should’ve tried to fight him without you.  I’m sorry…that was stupid.  I don’t ever want to come close to giving in to Lust again.  I want my soul to stay with you.”

Logos looks at me intently.  For a moment,  I’m not sure how he will respond.  But then he opens his mouth and says simply, “And so it is.”  And then he disappears in a flash of light.

Well, what’d you think of that?

Like me as a blogger? Like the way I write?

Believe me, my books are way better than this post. If you really want to see the best I can do, check out my fantasy/anime series “The Golden Lands”. The first volume is free as an eBook, or you can just read it in the form of “episodes” right here on my blog! Go to my page Embark on the Journey: Volume 1 Episodes for a complete list of episodes. I also post episodes every week, so look for them if you really want to experience the best I’ve got!

Stay awesome!

Dominic (Aul)

Why We Love Anime #34

Sword anime pic

Showing you how awesome anime is…with cool, visually-incredible pictures!!!

Looking like a boss!

Like me as a blogger? Like the way I write?
Believe me, my books are way better than this post. If you really want to see the best I can do, check out my fantasy/anime series “The Golden Lands”. The first volume is free as an eBook, or you can just read it in the form of “episodes” right here on my blog! Go to my page Embark on the Journey: Volume 1 Episodes for a complete list of episodes. I also post episodes every week, so look for them if you really want to experience the best I’ve got!

So…What Now?

Edward silly face

Well, in case you missed it, the first “season” of The Golden Lands finished yesterday.  The nine episodes of Volume 1: Shadows in the Sunlight were pretty successful, over all.  I hope you guys enjoyed Volume 1.  Soon, I will be releasing episodes for Volume 2!

If you missed anything from Volume 1, go to my page “Embark on the Journey: Volume 1 Episodes” to see a complete list of episodes.  Just being honest: The Golden Lands is the best story I’ve ever written.   Please just give it a chance.  The episodes aren’t long either!  If you don’t want to read my books on my blog, you’re welcome to download the free eBook here at Smashwords, here at Barnes and Nobles, or on the iBook store.

Thanks for all of your support.  More blogging is coming soon!

Stay awesome,

Dominic (Aul)

TGL Episode 9: The Battle of Two Beasts *FINALE*


This is the finale of Volume 1!!!!  I hope you guys are enjoying these.   If you missed any episodes, click here to see a complete list of episodes with episode descriptions!


john vs dragon blog
Image by Elizabeth M

“Malam!” I shout as loud as I can, my arm raised to protect my eyes from the smoke in the air.  I stumble forward, leaning against the stone wall in the sitting room, and shout again, “Malam!”

 It’s a good thing the people of this village built their houses out of stone.  The fire sprayed into the house through the windows and caught the roof on fire, but overall the building is unharmed.  I run towards the stairs to see if Faith is all right, but she is already at the bottom of the steps, arrows on her back, bow in hand, and boots on her feet.  “Come on!” I say, leading her towards the door.

We reach the threshold when Faith says, “Wait!  What about Kirk and Laura?”

Frustrated but determined, I reply, “I’ll get them.  Don’t go anywhere!”

Franticly, I run up the stairs, coughing as the smoky air burns my lungs, and I hurry down the short, narrow passageway to Kirk and Laura’s room.  I fling open the door, fearing that a piece of the roof might have fallen on them, or for some reason they got cooked alive.

I stop in their doorway and my jaw hits the floor.  They are both heavily sleeping, each of them snoring loudly.  I shout, “Get up!  We’re under attack and the house is on fire!”

Both of them snap awake and sit upwards, and Kirk yells, “I didn’t do it!”

Then the couple looks at me, and their confusion is evident.  I hold my hands out in a hopeless gesture and say, “What the heck is wrong with you!?”

Seemingly, a pang of understanding courses through the couple, and they scramble out of bed.  I expect them to come with me out the door, but then my eyes widen with surprise when both Kirk and Laura leap out of the room from a window beside their bed.  I shake my head and run down the stairs out of the house.

When I reach the streets, my heart starts beating rapidly.  I don’t see Faith.  I told her to stay here.  Would she really go off by herself, amid all this chaos?  “Faith!” I call worriedly.  I look down the road but don’t see her anywhere.

“I’m down here!” I suddenly hear her say, her voice strained and tight.

I look down and to my left in the direction of her voice, and I see her beneath the giant body of Kirk, who is being squashed by Laura.  I feel relief.  “Oh, there you are,” I say.

Faith reaches for me and gasps, “A little help!”

I step forward and push Kirk and Laura off Faith.  “Thanks,” she breathes.

“No problem,” I say.  I feel comfortable knowing that Faith is with me and the fact that this town is full of large, burly men.  This is not a desolate, helpless village.  I feel confident that we can handle this band of Evil.

I turn towards the center of the village, and that’s when I see it.  My head lowers and my brow narrows.  I face it with determination and anger, my courage unfaltering, at least as I watch the beast walk slowly into the main intersection.  A mere black shape against the background of blazing fire, the dragon spreads its wings, searching for new prey.  I have never seen a dragon, and I never expected to run into one.  But I can see why they are so feared.  I guess I should count myself lucky; this dragon is only about twenty feet tall.  It’s only a little taller than the houses, which stand at about eighteen feet.  I look over at Faith and say, “I’m going after the dragon.”

“I’ll keep people away from the dragon,” she says.  I can tell she’s feeling nervous, maybe even scared, but we both start forward in the direction of the dragon.  I am already developing a plan when I come to a halt, seeing the dragon corner a family against the side of a house.  The father holds a pick, and he charges the dragon.  I start forward to help him when the beast rises on its hind legs, and it opens its mouth.  From within the depths of its belly, a bright yellow glow runs up through the dragon’s throat, and a huge burst of fire erupts from its mouth.  I stop, and my eyes grow wide.  The beast aims at the man, and with a loud scream, the father is engulfed in flames.  I want to look away, but I can’t tear my eyes from the sight.  I feel tears form in my eyes, and I watch the black, lifeless body of the man fall to the ground.  His wife and children shriek, and they start crying.  Then the dragon turns its gaze upon them, and with a swipe of its paw, the voices of the family fall silent.

I grip my sword as tight as I can and hiss through my teeth at the dragon, “Damn you!” Then I run off, ready to initiate my plan.  I hear Faith call to me, but I ignore her.  I know what I need to do.  I know that the dragon deserves death, and I will give it the punishment it deserves.

I rush down the street, my arms out behind me, and I shoulder my way into a house that is not burning.  I ignore the family huddled together in their sitting room and rush up their stairs to the second floor.  Raising my head, I strike at the ceiling repeatedly, marking out the shape of a square.  Then I breathe, preparing myself, and then I bend my knees and jump.  I burst out onto the roof, landing on my feet, with my left hand placed out in front of me on the roof for balance.  I stand and sprint away.

Leaping from house to house, I near the center of the village.  Every few seconds a blast of fire erupts from the center of the town, and I hear screams of pain.  I run faster.  I am only three houses away when I see the dragon rear on its hind legs and watch as the fire builds in its throat.  I leap one house, then another—

—the dragon aims—

—when, crying out, I jump from the top of the last house before the main intersection.   I slash as I fall, and my sword flashes in the firelight.  I land on one knee and listen as the dragon grunts.  There’s a pause, and then a spray of blood bursts from the wing of the dragon.  The beast arches its back and roars, releasing its flames toward the sky.  His would-be-victims, a pair of small boys, run away.  The dragon turns to face me, and I rise from the ground.

I take up a stance, beholding the dragon with hatred, even as the beast claws at me.  I jump away and up, and the monster’s paw strikes the ground, earth and ashes flying into the air as a result.  I land on my feet, but the beast came after me without hesitation, and I duck another blow right before it hits my head.  It feels like only an instant passes, yet already I see fire building up in the dragon, and I run to my right as a torrent of flames blow towards me.  There’s no real cover I can get to without getting torched, so I run faster, circling the dragon, barely outrunning the flames.  When they stop coming, I seize the chance to rush forward and slice the beast’s tail.  I don’t know where my courage comes from, but I am determined to make this dragon suffer.

The dragon roars and its tail lashes in response.  I try to jerk away, but the monster’s tail strikes me in the chest, knocking me into a house bordering the main intersection at the center of the village.  I notice a cluster of people running down a street at my left, and some of them stop and look.  I wish they would leave, but at the same time I like having an audience.

I charge the dragon, but it sweeps its wing through the air and I am hit off my feet.  I tumble backwards, groaning with pain, but I quickly rise.  The dragon stands tall for a moment, approaching me, and then it bites.  I sidestep, and almost dodge the attack, but the tough, scaly temple of the beast rams into my shoulder.  I stagger away, but not before I cut the beast’s face.  The monster screams, and I see its belly begin to glow, when an arrow pierces its stomach.  Casting my gaze behind me, I see Faith standing atop the roof of the building at my back.  She shoots another arrow, this one bouncing off the dragon’s shoulder.  While the beast is wounded, I shout to Faith, pointing at the villagers behind me, “Get them out of here!”

Faith nods and loads another arrow, turning in the direction of the villagers.  I note with dismay that a group of Evil is about to attack the villagers, but the men of the crowd step forward and clash with the Evil, attacking with picks, hammers, and swords.  I turn back to the dragon.

I shout with fury and run at the monster.  This dragon burned a man to death and killed his wife and children.  For this I want to make the beast suffer, but just because it is alive and evil, I want to give it a miserable death!

The dragon strikes at me, slamming its paw down in an effort to squash me.   I duck under the blow and keep on running, my heart racing as I narrowly escape the attack.  I am right in front of the dragon and running at top speed.  Gripping my sword with two hands, I slash the dragon’s leg off.  I run until I am a safe distance away, and then turn around and smile.  “That’s right,” I say as I watch the dragon scream and thrash.  “Writhe in pain, you monstrous bitch!  Cursed be your soul and cursed be your fate, that you would ever act evil in front of John Hedekira!”

The monster rises from the ground and claws at me, its eyes full of malice and rage.   Yet my sword flashes upwards, and I cut the paw of the beast from its arm.  The dragon falls onto its back and wails.  “Scream!” I shout.  “Scream as the pain burns you!”  I see the tail of the dragon whip towards me, and I lunge forward and slice the tip of the tail off.  The monster cries all the louder.

I know I have won.  Bounding forward, I leap atop the dragon’s chest and stab.  The beast gurgles, and I grin.  It gurgles as I gurgled when I was bleeding out, drowning in my own blood in my own home.  I stab twice more, and the dragon finally ceases moving.  I jump off the beast, satisfied with myself.

    Then I hear Faith’s voice call, “John, come on!”  She is standing in the road where the villagers clashed with the Evil.  I join her, jumping over dead humans and beasts alike, and she explains, “The Evil are trying to capture the villagers.  They headed for the front of town.”

“They’re trying to leave,” I say, angrily, “Are you hurt?” I ask her.

She shakes her head, “No, you?”

“Bruises,” I say, “that’s all.  Thanks for helping me.”

“Thanks for killing the dragon,” she returns.

We run together to the front of the village.  Two squads of grim men join us, their breaths falling heavily with exhaustion.  Ahead of us, I see a cluster of Evil running towards the gate of the town, which has been broken down.  As we grow closer, I can distinguish, on the backs of many beasts, large bumps.  I peer harder, and I realize that the bumps are the women, children, and even men that the Evil are carrying off.  “Why are they capturing them?” I wonder.  “Are they hungry?”  I think of Soror and Frater, and remember how Faith said she had seen my siblings with the band of Evil that invaded our home, alive and uneaten.  I grimace, determined to figure out what the Evil intend to do with the humans they are trying to capture.

We catch up with the beasts, right as they reach the gate.  I can’t stab any of the Evil in the back, lest I hit one of the unconscious humans they carry.  So instead I sprint forward past a beast carrying a tall woman.  Once I am in front of the monster, I jump and turn in the air so I face the Evil, and I stab it in the chest.  Around me, the men of the village fall upon the beasts, and they easily subdue them since the Evil are carrying their fellow townspeople.

One Evil charges me, holding his axe high.  I parry the axe and growl as I fight against the weight of the beast’s blow.  At my left, I see another Evil attack me, swinging his sword for my side.  I grunt, franticly trying to think of a way to dodge both attacks, when Faith suddenly jumps in front of me and blocks the sword with her knife.  I sigh with relief.  We both push our foes backwards; I kill my foe with a stab in the gut, she kills hers with a stab in the throat.  I am looking for another opponent when Faith points and pulls me forward, saying, “Come on!”

I see who we are chasing after.  A lone Evil is running away with a little boy on his back, out of the village towards the forest.  We follow him, weaving past men and beasts alike, and we rush out into the field that precedes the forest.  We are gaining on the beast, and next to me I see Faith draw back her arm and throw her dagger.  It pierces the Evil’s leg, and I rush forward and hastily remove the boy from his back.  Faith pulls free her knife, blocks the dagger of the Evil, and cuts off his hand in a swift uppercut.  She draws back her dagger to kill the beast, but I quickly say, “Stop!  I have a question for this Evil.”

Faith steps away, and I transfer the boy to her.  Stabbing my sword into the Evil’s shoulder, I ask stiffly, “Why are you capturing humans?  Tell me if you don’t want to die a slow death!”

The beast looks at me and says, “I cannot tell—”

I twist my sword and the Evil grunts.  “Damn you, tell me!” I shout.

The beast hisses through his teeth and growls.  I make as if I am going to twist my sword again, when the beast says through clenched teeth, “Fine.  I will tell you.  But only because the answer will bring fear into your heart.”  The Evil smiles at me, and then answers my question.  “We are capturing humans and taking them to the Gray Lands.”

I’m confused.  It doesn’t make sense.  “Why?” I question, “Why the Gray Lands?”

The beast gurgles, and then replies, “We must obey our master.  You do not understand; you could never comprehend his power!”

“Who?” I question.  “And why are you taking the humans to the Gray Lands?”  I don’t know if I can contain myself any longer.  Who is he talking about?  What’s going on?

The beast coughs, gagging, and then in a hoarse voice he says, “The Gray Lands have become an altar.”

“An altar?” I hear Faith say behind me.

“An altar for what?” I urge.

The Evil breathes deeply, and slowly says, “An altar upon which all Knights and Beloved will be offered as a sacrifice…” he pauses and smiles, staring right into my eyes, and he finishes, “…to the God of Death.”