Draken's battle

Darkness quivered in the back of Draken’s mind, threatening to disperse his current spell, still held in his commanding thoughts. He could feel the attack coming before it hit and struggled to get enough mana harnessed in order cast the protective one that he now held in preparation.

“Just a little more”, he thought to himself. Then just as the darkness was about to overwhelm him, he case his spell, feeling forces gather around him and cling to his mind, shielding it. A sharp gong sounded as his head reeled from the mental force of the impact from the blast he had just barely been able to sheild himself from.

Rubbing his cambrinth ring, shaped as a scorpion, he began to draw mana from it’s reserves as as the diminishing resources around himself. The darkness, still oozing the in the back of his mind, grew as he added mana to it. Draken had been saving this spell for just such a battle and planned ot use it to it’s fullest deadly potential this time. He’d used it in experimentation before, against the likes of wood trolls and creepers, but never to a lethal extent.

“Now would be the time”, thought Draken. For his foe was indeed powerful, maybe more powerful than himself, and he hated anything that was more powerful and destroyed those that were with trickery and deceit. With this newly learned spell, he didn’t exactly need to be more powerful or more learned than his adversary. He just needed the right opening.

Draken saw such an opening as his opponent closed it’s eyes for just a second. Mana started flowing toward his foe and Draken knew what was coming.

“Just a little…”, he took a breath through clenched teeth, “… more”. Draken could feel the other almost at it’s fullest and held that darkness in the back of his mind in check, ready to be unleashed. The other reached his maximum harness and just before the cast, Draken released the darkness from his mind, quickly slipping it past his enemy’s defenses. His opponent gasped and his eyes flared open in shock. It’s arms straightened and went rigid, fingers flexed. Shadows began to form around Draken’s feet and flew to his opponent and down his throat. More shadows seemed to materialize from nowhere and stream into every opening of his foe’s body, filling him like a balloon.

Standing there bloated and so fat it couldn’t move or even fall over, the shadows stopped and it’s mouth closed and opened like a fish as it’s eyes bulged. It’s skin crawled with the shadows as they seemed to move just beneath. Tears streamed down it’s fattened face.

Draken strode over to the bloated live thing and flicked his nose. He laughed a little chuckle to himself, pleased at the outcome of his new spell. It had succeeded in a most pleasing manner, using the victims own mana stores against itself to complete the effects. Helpless now, Draken’s foe stood where he was, tears still streaming. Darken pulled skinning knife from his belt and waved in it from the the bloated thing. His enemy watched every move of the knife, eyes moving back and forth, in shameless fear and not a small hint of anger. Draken took the knife and pressed the top to the thing’s nose, wiggling it’s nose just a little. With a smile, Draken sliced the nose down the middle and the shadows started pouring out of the wound, ripping the flesh bigger and bigger. The shadows poured forth which such force, the creature was ripped apart in a matter of seconds, the shadows disappearing as quickly as they had come.

Draken chuckled to himself once more, wiped the blood spatters from his face and walk on down the trail.

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Another time, another place...

Jenney and I moved from Austin to Carolina Beach, North Carolina and the past three.5 months have been amazing! It’s been like a working vacation. We were right on the beach, with beautiful views, and a personal walkway to the beach which was in a premo-spot. Not a ton of people, lots of waves, and lots of sunshine. We both worked hard, and played hard. It was great and I can honestly say I’ve lived my ‘beach life’ dream for at least a while. Chalk another dream up to ‘accomplished’!

Today marks the start of ANOTHER adventure. We packed up our life once more and left beautiful Carolina Beach behind. Tonight we wait at Jenney’s best friend’s (and Maid of Honor’s) house before our flight tomorrow for San Diego where we will be for a week, staying at her mother’s house before we are wed on Saturday, September 25th. We’re both so so so excited to see our friends and family and to celebrate what we’ve held true in our hearts for the last year; our commitment and love for each other.

After the wedding we’ll be flying back to North Carolina to pick up our belonging and drive to Colorado Springs where we will continue our life together. Jenney took the opportunity for a Pediatric job in her field of Occupational Therapy and will be doing more of what she loves. She went to school specifically for pediatrics, but the job market has, until now, dictate she work in Geriatrics instead. As you can imagine, the field of Geriatrics is a bit more sobering than getting to play with children all day, which is part of what she’ll be able to do at her new job. The new job is not quite as lucrative as a traveling position, but we will still be doing fine and loving our life.

My past year with Jenney has been the best year of my life, and I’m so looking forward to many, many more with her by my side. – guess I better write my vows ;)

For some of the great pictures we took on our travel this far, check out our photostreams on Flickr.

Jenney’s Photostream Jerad’s Photostream

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Vampire dream

I had a pretty in depth adventure in my dreams last night so I downloaded ommwriter to capture them in the wee morning hours as soon as I awoke. Ommwriter is pretty nice, the music and the interface really helped for this kind of writing and I think would inspire me to write more poetry. I’m still listening to the music as I type this up in my blog. Anyway, here are some notes on the things I remember from the dream. Should turn this into a short story.

  • start out searching for lost people down a dark hallway
  • hole in the wall
  • go through to find a vampire playing pool, trying to make crazy shots, like off the table, off the wall
  • knock off the cue ball from a precarious position
  • pisses off the vampire and I run
  • fall down a story, over a banister, into a pool of water
  • notice the missing childrens possessions
  • notice the missing children, wrapped up in cacoons made of the green weeds lining the bottom of the pool
  • pull some of the cacoons to the surface
  • free the children
  • vampire comes and i set her on fire, first her hair, then with gasoline
  • throw more gasoline up the stairway and onto her brothers
  • light the trail and run
  • i am vampire
  • they search for me
  • they find me, and we run from the mother, scatter
  • i am alone, running through backyards, pissed
  • there is a pool made of runoff, collected rain in a tarp, redneck pool, in which a male and female human lounge
  • i am pissed, redneck floating is pissed i’m in his pool making waves
  • i jump out, apologise, he threatens me
  • i am pissed so i tell him to hit me with whatever he has, a couple huge bottles
  • i warn him i may have some vampiric blood in me and need to feed afterwards
  • he doesn’t really understand what i’ve said and is rearing to hit me anyway
  • my brother appears, a werewolf and hairy, fangs bared
  • he bites into the male human and the woman turns to scream
  • i catch her and make he look into my eyes
  • draw her mind into mine and tell her all is well
  • remember well looking into her eyes, connecting with her mind, how it felt to draw her in, how she looked as i became her world, how it felt to have control
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Trip to Austin

What an adventure! Jenney got a contract in Austin Texas for her next position doing traveling Occupational Therapy, so we packed up the new Subaru Forester (new to us) and started the long trek from Grand Junction, Colorado to Austin, Texas.

Now it hadn’t snowed much at all in Colorado while we were there, but wouldn’t it so happen that the day we decide to leave, a huge storm is forecasted to come through! So we set out as early Monday morning as we could (still had a little cleaning to do) and started on our way. It was too far outside of GJ that it started to flurry, and before we arrived in Ouray, we had passed through some areas with some pretty substantial snowfall. But Ouray there was not much of anything on the ground, and the highway pass through the Redridge Mountains was not closed. So even though there was a sign that commercial vehicles were required to have chains, we went against our better judgement and started up the mountain pass instead of staying in Ouray, at the hotspring hotel, like we should have.

The mountains were amazing! Sheer cliff walls and narrow roads all covered in freshly fallen snow… and it kept getting deeper the higher we went. We were listening to the Lord of the Rings soundtrack on our way up, but when I went around a bend and the back of the car slid just the slightest bit, we turned off the majestic but suspenseful music.

We continued up the mountain pass at a whopping 15MPH and when we came to Silverton we decided to keep going. There were some plows on the road, and there were other vehicles traveling, so we thought we could chance it. We made it almost to Durango when I made a slip in judgement, and was going 20MPH instead of 15MPH coming up on a turn, and the vehicle started to slide as I applied the brakes. We slid off the road, still going quite slow, and took out the front passenger side headlight on a tree. The car bounced to the left and the back end of the car then hit the same spot taking out some of the plastic of the rear brake light and bending up my rear bike wheel which was hitched to the bike rack on the back of the car.

The car stalled, I cursed and pounded the steering wheel, Jenney remained quiet.

I got out of the car to inspect the damage, bent the front side panel back down into place, and got back in the car, kicking the snow from my feet. the car took a couple tries to start, but the engine sounded fine. The damage was completely superficial and since we had all wheel drive, the Subaru pulled right out of the snow bank.

We headed the rest of the way to Durango barely going over 15MPH the rest of the way. Talk about trepidation! When we got to Durango, we stopped at a gas station to get some gas, and I asked the cashier if she had heard the forecast. She said they were due to have about 13inches. I asked if there was a way out of Durango that did not involve mountains. She said she didn’t know of any. So we drove around town a little while and decided to bunker down at the Adobe hotel, which offerred us an ‘early snow rate’ of $40/night.

While we were settling in there, Jenney checked her messages and called back her recruiter who informed her that her contract in Austin had been cancelled! Talk about a depressing day. Stressful snowstorm trek through the precarious mountain pass, damage to our new car, stuck in a snow storm in a town we had not planned on being in and new next to nothing about, and now we were on our way to a job that did not exists.

We stayed in Durango for two nights and checked out the town. Walking through the snow was an adventure for Jenney. Coming from San Diego and being a Cali girl most of her life, she had never experienced a foot of snow before and it was very endearing how her face would light up and she made a snow ball, or a little snow man, or fell backwards in the snow to make a snow angel. She also found that it took a bit of skill to actually walk in the snow ;)

On Wednesday the sun came out and we decided to try our luck getting the heck out of Dodge… err.. Durango. What we found was that the roads weren’t so bad and the mountains were no where near as bad as the ones we had come in through, so we probably could have pushed through. But, better safe then sorry - and we didn’t want to push our luck any more than we already had. So we are glad we waited.

We made it so Santa Fe, New Mexico and decided to stay there for the evening. We still had a headlight out (garages in Durango didn’t have the parts available) so we decided no driving at night. We found a wonderful bed and breakfast on Manhattan St. and after getting settled, wandered around town for a while. Nice town, found some good beer, but the highlight was the fireplace and bed at the bed and breakfast. We awoke the next morning so refreshed and much less stressed from the ordeal through the mountains and Durango.

We headed out around 9am, after breakfast, and got all the way to Post, Texas where we decided on another bed and breakfast. It was only a fraction more than a local chain motel and much cleaner and homey. It was a historical building and I cold work in comfort and we slept quite well.

In the morning we got up early and were on the road by 7:30am, making it to Austin by about 1:30pm. We found a hotel as our basecamp to start the apartment hunt and after two days of exploring Austin and searching for temporary housing, we’re now staying in some guy’s camper that he keeps in his driveway. It’s clean, safe, and cheap. A much cheaper home base for now until we figure out what is going on with Jenney’s job and where we’re going to actually be for the next few months.

... read on


Finally took the old personal blog from d5 to d6 and gave it a face lift. The new Acquia Slate theme is pretty slick, but I wanted to give it just a small bit of uniqueness, so I wrote a little custom function into the theme in order to pull up random photos from one of my Flickr sets. It was fast and fun, made easy with the Flickr module’s API. Here’s a couple quick steps I took:

  1. Edited the page-front.tpl.php and inserted a little logic to give the #preface-wrapper a different background-image property.
    <div id="preface-wrapper" class="clearfix" style="background-image: url();">
  2. Wrote a custom function based off of the flickr_block.module's flickr_block_photoset_random() function. The function returns just the flickr farm url instead of running through the theme functions.
    function acquia_slate_flickr_block_photoset_random($nsid, $show_n, $size, $photoset_id) {
      // Get information about the photoset, including the owner.
      $info = flickr_photoset_get_info($photoset_id);
      if (!$info) {
      // Get a list of "all" the photos in the photoset. This is cached.
      $response = flickr_request('flickr.photosets.getPhotos',
          'photoset_id' => $photoset_id,
          'per_page' => 500, // get as many images as possible
          'extras' => 'owner',
      if (!$response) {
      // Randomly display $show_n of them
      $photos = $response['photoset']['photo'];
      $output = flickr_photo_img($photos[0], $size);
      return $output;
  3. Set the result of this new function, called with hardcoded arguments, to a theme variable within template.php's phptemplate_preprocess_page() function.
      // get a flickr image for the front page background
      $vars['flickr'] = acquia_slate_flickr_block_photoset_random($nsid, $show_n, $size, $photoset_id);

The one thing I couldn’t find was a block setting when looking at the flickr_block.module for the large size picture, which I needed. But looking at how the url is created within flickr.inc’s flickr_photo_img() function and comparing it with an actual large image on Flickr.com, I quickly saw that the size string is simply ‘b_d’ for large.

Fun stuff!

... read on