Dungeons and Dragons Inspired “Shadows in the Stone”

My love for fantasy started when I was a child. I had always loved magical things, fairies and worlds of wonder. While I may not have understood this when I was really young, by the time I was 13 years old, I knew I wanted to learn more and if I could, experience some of the magic.

My path to better understanding magical worlds began at that age because I started playing a role-playing game called Dungeons and Dragons. A leader in our neighbourhood had played and became our dungeon master. He was perfect for the role.

Stumbling my way through my first campaigns, I learned about different races (human, dwarf, elf, hauflin [halfling in this game] ) and their attributes and shortcomings. I learned about casting spells, magical items and magic in general. At first, I read the dungeon master’s copy of Dungeon Masters Guide, then I bought my own to keep as a reference and so I could read it at home. I studied this book and what went into this game as much if not more than the subjects at school. In fact, I recall one day when our dungeon master walked into the Lounge of the Boys and Girls club, found me and few other members studying his books, and said, “If you guys put this much effort into studying for school, you’d all get 100s.”

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“Shadows in the Stone” Exclusively at Amazon

Shadows in the Stone epic fantasyIn early October, the first book in the Castle Keepers series Shadows in the Stone became available to read for free by Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited members.

The first draft of Shadows in the Stone was written when I was sixteen, back in the mid-80s while listening to what is known today as Classic Rock. I was in high school and once homework was done and tossed aside, I pulled out my coil-bound notebook and wrote the story in pencil.

Pencil gave me the option pen didn’t: to erase words and complete paragraphs if I didn’t like what I’d written. I’d sit on my bed late into the night when a scene grabbed me and write long past midnight. I was hooked.

The story had been written from every character’s perspective and the details I used to describe them was similar to filling out a character sheet in a Dungeons & Dragons game. You knew their exact height, eye and hair colour and weight. One of the main characters was Argon (known today as Bronwyn). Alaura was originally Anna. Isla of Maura was originally Durania. Where did I get that? Have you ever listened to Duran Duran?

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Zesty Cranberry Muffin Recipe

cranberriesCranberries. They’ve been a part of my life since I was conceived. I’m certain my mother ate them while pregnant, and soon after I was off the bottle and on real food, I’m certain she fed them to me. I have never stopped eating them. If I had a penny for every cranberry I’ve eaten, I’d be a millionaire with growing investments.

Each October, we were sent to the woods with pails to pick berries. By the end of October, my siblings and I had picked enough cranberries to make dozens of bottles of ‘jam’.

I call it jam. Some call it spread. Others call it sauce. To me, it was jam because that’s what I put on my sandwich. If it was a successful pick, we had enough jam to do us until the following October. Most years, it was a successful pick.

While most endured the tangy taste of the red berry with turkey at Christmas time, I ate it every day. Every day. From primary to grade 12, I took a cranberry sandwich to school with me for lunch. While others were having peanut butter and jam sandwiches or egg sandwiches, I enjoyed the sour red berry squished between two slices of bread. Mmm.

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The Jodrey Trail and a Scene from Shadows in the Stone

Last summer, I hiked the Jodrey Trail, Blomidon Park, Nova Scotia. The entire hike provided breathtaking scenery, but there was one section that stood out above the rest for reasons others in the hiking group wouldn’t understand. While I’d never been on this trail before, I had explored it in my imagination.

Jodrey Hiking Trail Blomidon

Setting the scene

The vegetation was lush. Tall trees provided a thick canopy that trapped cool moisture and reflected the heat from the scorching temperatures of the hot July day. It also provided the perfect micro-environment for ferns and mosses to grow. Inhaling filled me with the wonderful aromas of the forest.

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Character Introduction: Bronwyn Darrow

My Castle Keepers series has grown immensely since I published the first book in the series on May 6, 2012. Shadows in the Stone introduced readers to several main characters and a host of supporting characters. Although most of them are ingrained in my brain, it might be difficult for readers to keep up with who’s who.

There are two reasons for this:

  1. There are dozens of characters.
  2. I’m a distracted writer who doesn’t release a book every year (that’s going to change right now).

To refresh the minds of readers and to give new readers a place to refer to, I’ve decided to show case one character a week. In addition to explaining their role in the series, I’ll add additional information, such as where I found their name.

Bronwyn Darrow

In short: Dwarf, male, born and living in Maskil, swordsman, at the start of Shadows in the Stone, he was a corporal with the Aruam Castle guard.

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Jack Somerled

Jack Somerled

Human, explorer, first appeared in chapter 09 of Scattered Stones

“Knavesmire!” The rough voice hacked the name as if it were phlegm.

Jack Somerled’s ears twitched, but his body remained relaxed as his fork poked a potato and lifted it to his mouth. From his corner seat in the tavern, he had a clear view of the scraggly group of mixed-raced men hoarded around a table slinging ale and feasting on plates of meat.

“If he avers to have journeyed there, he’s peddling featherless fletching.” The heavily bearded human chuckled.

“I stated not that he’d journeyed,” said a hauflin, “only that he’d seen it.”

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Lord Dirck Landis

Lord Dirck Landis

Human, lord of Aruam Castle, first appeared in chapter 05 of Shadows in the Stone

The door slammed and Lord Dirck Landis jumped from his chair to see who had entered. Two of his senior guards dragged a prisoner into the room and tossed him against the wall.

“My Lord,” Corporal Franklin motioned towards the tattered elf sprawled on the floor. “He is suspected of using magic within the town walls.”

“It was ignite powder!” the young man shouted. “Harmless!”

“Witnesses claim otherwise,” said the guard.

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Kellyn Mulryan

Kellyn Mulryan

Dwarf, sword fighter, prisoner at Blackvale Castle, born Glen Tosh, first appeared in Scattered Stones.

“Stop!” shouted the guard. “You can’t go in there!”

Kellyn ignored the quackpod and kept running. As she drew water from the well in the courtyard, she had seen Merk cross the open balcony and enter his study. He had been absent from Blackvale Castle for several days, and this was the first opportunity to inform him of the tragedy that had occurred to his favourite prisoner.

She reached the door, flung it open and raced inside. Merk stood admiring a painting on the far wall. He glanced in her direction but remained silent.

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Emerson Wheatcroft

Emerson Wheatcroft

Human, cartographer, born Maskil, lives Wandsworth, first appeared in the short story “Destiny Governed their Lives”.

Emerson Wheatcroft neatly scrolled the word Goshen near the circle representing the village on the map. He blew gently on the hide to quicken the drying time. It had taken him a fortnight to reach the labelling phase; the customer required it to be practical yet pleasant to the eye.

He rested in his chair and admired his artisanship. At this point—with the mountains, rivers and settlements dotting the landscape—he felt satisfied. The labelling was a mere detail, an important one, but one many people achieved successfully.

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Lord Merk Lindrum

Lord Merk Lindrum

Human, Lord of Blackvale Castle, sorcerer, first appeared in chapter 27 of Shadows in the Stone

The brush touched the canvas lightly, dabbing grey shadows on the undersides of fluffy clouds floating outside the window. Satisfied, Merk Lindrum turned his attention to the cat lounging on the sill. It also required more shadowing.

He glanced around the easel and scrutinized his pet; its white fur shined as it lay stretched in the sun, sleeping. A few strokes on canvas and it would be perfect. His fan brush gently stroked the watercolours together to create tiny hairs that stabbed into the shadow.

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