Random Post

Sep 12, 2015

The Adventures of Abelhawk

Here's another gem I found in my Gmail archives—the first story I ever wrote, thinking I would one day finish it. It's an old story... I remember writing it by hand on the bus when I was in seventh grade. It's funny to see how much effort I put into the details of the story rather than on plot or character development. I think that's a common practice of amateur writers. The story itself is really not well researched or even interesting, but I do like a couple of the worldbuilding mechanics, like the stavesmen and the idea that the army is made up of "War Monks." This was written before Argaenothruzil, but story elements that later made it into the forum RPG are seen here, mostly Abelhawk (whoever he is in this story) and the country known as Ziccao (originally Ziccaho, a name inspired from the sound of cities in the Book of Mormon). I think I ended up turning this segment in as a freewriting assignment in my creative writing class.
I guess my biggest confusion about this piece of work is that it's called the Adventures of Abelhawk, but the focus doesn't seem to be on him as a character at all. Oh well.

The Adventures of Abelhawk
Austin Ballard


The flagon of mead on the counter throbbed. A single drop, jarred by the tremor, slid down the side, leaving behind a dark brown streak. A hand clutched the tankard. It was white, thin, and hungry, like the hand of a beggar at the end of his rope.
The hand belonged to seer, who had shaken his hand in fright of a sound. The seer’s face seemed in the same manner as his hand. It was white, and had tight skin wrapped snugly over the bones of his face. His eyes were normally small and thoughtful, but they had gone wide when the far-off sound had been heard.
The seer had only hear a small moment of the sound, and now he was completely alert for more of it.
“Moland? What is it?” said a deep, rusty voice from across the table.
“I th-thought I h—“ Another tremor of fear shuddered through him, and two more dark streaks made their way down the side of the flagon.
“What?” The rusty voice was calm, but there was a note of concern in it. “What did you hear, Moland?”
“Chanting,” Moland’s voice trembled.
Across the table sat the owner of the owner of the rusty voice. He was impossibly tall, with broad shoulders and menacing eyes. He had a thick beard, which was dark red-orange, and which had droplets of ale clinging to the hairs from a recent drought from his own mug. The man was wearing armor and a tunic, which had inscribed on it a great ancient green rune, above a drawing of a man with a snake body, also green, on a field of purple. The armor was black and crudely smithed, with large deadly-looking spikes extending from the shoulders to the sides.
“The chanting,” said Moland again, “of many men.”
A muffled gasp of joy escaped from a nearby corner.
“Shaddup, fool!” said the giant man, and clubbed the something in the corner with his foot. Then, turning back to Moland, said, “Are you sure you hear—” Then he heard it too.
He couldn’t make out the words yet, but many—there must have been two hundred—men were obviously approaching, chanting loudly. The sound was a long, deep, echoing zing that seemed to occupy the giant man’s thoughts entirely.
Other joyful gasps filled the room, and excited shuffling was heard all over the floor.
Sweat trickled down the giant man’s forehead.
Moland’s white skin seemed even paler.
One of the gasping voices was uncovered from its gag and it cried loudly, “Hail the Hawk!”
The giant man cried out in surprise, for that phrase was precisely what the men were chanting.
“Hail the Hawk! Hail the Hawk! Hawk! Hawk! Hail the Hawk!”
With a burst of fear and confusion, the man tore a torch off the wall and threw it into a bowl of oil outside the window ledge, igniting it.
The chanting grew louder.
The War Monks were coming.


“Hawk! Hawk! Hail the Hawk! Hawk! Hawk! Hail the Hawk! HAWK!” With a final, echoing word, silence rang through the valley, with only traces of the recent sound reverberating off the cliffs at the east side.
Half a hundred War Monks stood in perfect formation at the top of a tall hill. A youth, holding a great silver banner with a yellow shape of a hawk, had silenced them from their chanting. He, like the white-bearded man next to him, were on horseback in front of the army. The bearded man reared around to face the army.
“Men,” he said, “our journey has reached its midpoint.” He was clothed in a yellow hooded tunic trimmed with white. Over it was wrapped a coat of glinting chainmail, and a long silver cape fell around his shoulders. He addressed the troops powerfully and considerately, like an encouraging father. “Over this hill lies what we have been looking forward to for five days of hard travel. I am grateful for your diligence in this hard trek, and I assure you it is for the good of the Kingdom, and well worthwhile. I wish you all luck, and I give you my word any deaths will be given honorable pyres in Ziccao.” He drew from his scabbard a beautiful glinting sword and raised it above his head. The early afternoon sunlight shone like a beacon from it, and the beam reflected off of warrior shields.
The youth held up the silver banner as the general cried out, “Attack, brave warriors! Save the prisoners, and shield your face from arrows! For Ziccao, and for the Hawk!”
The army shouted, and charged toward the small fort at the base of the hill. At the rear were stave-wielding soldiers, with gray urns strapped, lidded to their backs like clay quivers. A pale light flickered from the inside of the urns.
In front of them stood two rows of Monks with shortswords and large iron shields. They followed a final row of armored War Monks, each with a light shield in one arm, and in both hands carrying immense pikes, two meters in length, made of polished wood and tempered steel.
In front of the army were the youth, general, and two ballistae pushed by squires.
The general and youth were on horseback, the rest on foot. The pikemen had to run with both hands holding a pike, the squires were slowly wheeling the ballistae along, the army dashing past them, and the staff-wielding War Monks were running using the staves as walking sticks, the urns bouncing on their backs.
Aside from the distinguishing dark blue boots, the Monks wore unique pearl-white chainmail over teal hooded tunics trimmed with yellow. They also wore steel armor leggings studded with tiny amethysts, as well as short white capes, finely crafted leather belts, and silver vambraces. Most of the warriors wore normal leather gloves, but the swordsmen had white studded gauntlets missing the thumb, where was put a glowing yellow ring.
The warriors raced down the hill, roaring. Obviously, the fort had heard them coming. Scurrying black dots were writhing all over it, readying for battle. They saw alerting braziers alight in several towers. It was time for battle.
As they neared the fort, suddenly the general reared back. “On your guard, warriors! Be ready to pull back when I tell you to!”
The Monks were confused, but had learned to trust in their general’s judgement. When they neared the castle, suddenly the general blew his horn. Several flaming arrows flew in arcs towards them. They all retreated.
In an instant, the entire battlefield was aflame. The fort’s soil had been soaked with pitch, ready to be lit in case of battle. Monks rolled on the ground, extinguishing their tunics. They had made it out, barely. A few yards more would have doomed many of the front line soldiers to a fiery death.
The army quietly waited as they saw the torrent of flames die down. Whoever had placed the pitch had not put it close enough to the castle to fire arrows at. They also had fired the flaming arrows too quickly. If they had waited longer, they could have consumed the entire army.
Finally, the flames subsided. The pitch consumed quickly the grass of the battlefield, and it now looked like a dragon’s steppe. The general rallied his men again, and they charged.
The ballistae, once in position, fired huge tree-sized arrows towards the towers. They hit a weak spot of the masonry, and entire towers fell crumbling into the narrow brown moat. Black warriors in the tower fell and scattered into the air like ashes. The drawbridge had lowered, and many tiny black enemies dashed towards the army. The pikemen held their pikes out at length when they charged. The black enemies were revealed to be tiny gremlins, grey-brown skinned, with thin black armor. The pikemen speared many when they met, and any that got past were soon killed by the shortswordsmen. Soon, the drawbridge began raising again.
The general laughed. Whoever owned this fort couldn’t have been more unprepared for battle. The arrows were the only threat, and the towers holding archers were slowly falling apart.
The stavesmen advanced to the drawbridge and opened their urns. They reached their hands back into the glowing jars and pulled out crackling handfuls of lightning essence.

Sep 11, 2015

"Thumbs': A Short Play

I am pleased to present "Thumbs," a play some fellow students and I made in our creative writing class in high school. I can't remember the assignment exactly—I'm guessing we were just supposed to come up with a story and present it in theater form. I remember coming up with the odd, funny, and somewhat weak-plotted storyline together. We may have even performed it in front of the class or at least read our lines, but I have no idea which character I would have played. Maybe Dawson?
Anyway, I actually thought I had lost this play, but found it in my Gmail sent folder from nearly ten years ago! Thank goodness for that. I may have other projects hidden in there as well. Well, without further ado, enjoy "Thumbs."

Austin Ballard                                                                                                     Angie Peterson
Rick Hoffmann                                                                                                  Mason Stoddard
Kris Holt                                                                                                             Thomas Ridder

Ryan, the main character
Dawson, a roommate
Tony, another roommate
Nona, a girl
Angie, Nona’s roommate
Dawson’s Girlfriend

                                                           Scene 1

(Darkness. Typewriter sounds. Fade in on Living Room. It is a typical, semi-neat apartment with a sofa, comic books on the floor, coffee table. There is a door leading to stage left. Dawson sits at a messy desk, typing. He is a skinny man dressed in a white shirt and tie, untidy hair, glasses. Ryan is lying on the couch, hands behind his head. He is average in height and weight, dressed in a polo shirt over a white undershirt, baggy jeans, neat hair)
Ryan: Hey Dawson? What are you typing?
Dawson(He speaks in a boring, monotonous sort of way): A project.
Ryan: It’s always a project, isn’t it? Don’t you hate those darn projects?
Dawson: Mmm.
Ryan: I mean, think about it. Humans spend most of their existence just doing projects. Thinking, researching, drafting, typing, publishing.
(Brief silence, Ryan listens to the typing noises)
Ryan: I assume you’re at the typing stage, huh?
(A few seconds)
Dawson: Uh huh.
Ryan: All finished with the thinking and researching?
(A few seconds)
Dawson: Uh huh.
Ryan: Huh. Just—typing.
(Awkward silence, except for typing sounds)
Ryan: So....you use that spacebar a lot, don’t you?
(No reply)
Ryan: Do you use your thumb to hit the spacebar?
(A few seconds)
Dawson: Uh huh.
Ryan: Huh.
(A few seconds)
Ryan: I guess that makes your thumb pretty important, eh?
(A few seconds)

Dawson: Uh huh.
Ryan: If you didn’t have your thumb, you couldn’t, uh, hit the spacebar, right?
(No reply)
Ryan: When you really think about it, if you didn’t hit the spacebar, the words would be all jumbled and stuff.
(After pause)Dawson: Uh huh.
Ryan: So I guess there wouldn’t be any real point in typing anymore, because nobody would be able to read it.
(A few seconds)
Ryan: You might say the entire typewriter revolves around the spacebar.
(A few seconds)
Ryan: And the spacebar revolves around your thumb.
(A few seconds)
Ryan: So the typewriter revolves around the thumb. And projects revolve around typewriters. And most of our existence revolves around projects. (Looks at his thumb with interest) So our lives revolve....
(Tony enters through door. He is a tall, stocky guy with a Hawaiian shirt, unbuttoned, over a tie-dye shirt, shorts, and messed up hair. He looks slightly rushed and is rubbing his thumb)
Hey Tony.
Tony: Hey Ryan. Hey Dawson.
(Tony looks through papers on Dawson’s desk. Dawson looks slightly uncomfortable, and types slower)
(Finally)Dawson: Can I help you?
Tony: I was just curious about something in our insurance policy.
(Ryan stands up and goes off stage right)
Dawson: “Our”? You don’t mean “my” insurance, do you?
Tony: Well, hypothetically, let’s say I ran into a car. If I was driving say (Clears his throat briskly) Your car, would the policy cover me?
(Dawson starts typing slower and slower)
Dawson: Exactly how hypothetical are we talking here, Tony?
Tony: Well, okay, “hypothetical” is beside the point. Will the insurance cover it or not?
(Dawson starts typing frantically, Ryan comes back in, holding a drink)
(Slightly raising his voice) Dawson: You hit a car with my car?! Where’s the driver?
Tony: I’m sure he’ll be up soon.
Dawson: Soon?
Tony: Well, I didn’t exactly see him yet.
Ryan: You hit and ran?
Tony: I left a note on the car telling him to come up here when he saw the damage.
Dawson: What do you mean you left a note? How could you ha—
(Pounding on the door. Tony goes over to answer it, touches knob, it bursts open.)
(In enters Nona, a girl with black clothes, spiky dyed red hair, a tattoo on her arm, and several piercings in her ears)
Nona (In a rage): Which one of you hit my car?!
Dawson: Who are you? The driver?
Nona: My name’s Nona. Who did it?

Tony: I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to hit you! You popped out of nowhere!
Nona: I wasn’t even in the car!
Dawson(typing furiously): You hit a parked car?!
Tony: Well, technically, it was your car, so you hit it. Besides, friends don’t let friends drive drunk.
(Angie enters. She is a relatively short girl with a blouse, jeans, and blonde hair in a ponytail)
Nona (In a huff): What’s the damage?
Angie: Well, you don’t have to worry about that crack in the windshield anymore.
Nona: Why? Did you get it fixed?
Angie: No, there’s—just no windshield anymore.
Nona(turns to Tony): What are you (pokes him) going to do about my car?!
Tony (still rubbing his thumb): Well, if it makes you feel any better, I hurt myself in the     wreck. Bent my thumb way back.
Angie (covering her mouth): Ohhh... I’m so sorry to hear that.
Nona: What? What’s wrong with you?! My car got totaled and you’re worried about the thumb of the man who did it?!
Angie: Well, can’t I feel a little sorry? After all, human civilization itself revolves around the    thumb.
(Lights out, spotlight on Ryan and Angie, everyone else freezes, angelic music plays, Ryan drops his drink glass)
Ryan: That’s so true.......
Angie(slightly awkwardly): About what?
Ryan: Thumbs....without thumbs we’d be—
Angie: ...down with the dogs? And the cows?
Ryan: Exactly......
(Tape squeak, music ends abruptly, lights back to normal)
Nona: What are you talking about?!
Ryan: Well, everyone knows that you can’t do anything without your—uh, I mean uh,(Clears throat)    would you — like to continue this over dinner? Umm...
Angie: Angie.
Ryan: Ryan.
(They leave)
(Everyone stares at the door)
Tony(calling down to Ryan): Dude, it’s only 1:15!
Nona(clenches fists and throws her head back to the ceiling): GAAGHGHH! (Hands Dawson a paper) Sign this.
(Fade out)

                                                           Scene 2

(Fade in. Tony’s gone. There’s a big stack of papers on the desk. Dawson is still signing papers, and trying to type a couple characters at a time with one hand)
Nona: There. That covers the insurance.
Dawson: Finally. (Scoots chair back to normal, continues typing)
Nona(collecting her things): I can’t believe Angie left. Now I have to wait for her before I can leave.
Dawson: Uh huh.
(Several seconds go by, Nona sits on the couch and looks at her watch)
Nona: Who does your roommate think he is, just up and taking her to dinner? At 1:15 in the afternoon, no less!

(A few seconds)
Nona: They don’t even know each other! ...And what was all that about thumbs? (Sighs)
(Several seconds go by)
Nona: So...what do you do around here, anyway?
Dawson: Projects.
Nona: Oh. That sucks.
(Ryan enters)
Nona: What took you so long? Where’s Angie?
Ryan: We were only gone a half hour.
Nona: You were gone four!
Ryan: So? Angie’s outside.
Nona: (Grabs stack of papers) Well, good riddance to you guys. (To Ryan) She does this all the time to guys like you. I suggest you let her go while you can. (Leaves. Ryan looks shocked)
(Curtain closes, light the stage to the left in front of the curtain. Angie is sitting on a bench. Nona enters from around the side of curtain)
Angie: There you are! (She stands up, they start walking towards the right stage)
Nona: So, uh, how was...dinner?
Angie: Ohh...it was wonderful, Nona. We had the most interesting conversation.
Nona: Oh yeah, about thumbs, right? (Rolls eyes)
Angie: Well, it started on thumbs, but that led to talking about muskrats ruling the world—
Nona: I don’t even wanna know.
(They walk some more)
Nona: So you really like this guy, huh?
Angie: I think it could be a great relationship.
Nona: Well, I was talking to the typewriter guy and he says you’re number...well, you’re           not the first.
Angie: What do you mean?
Nona: Well, let’s just say you’re sort of a “backup.”
Angie(Shocked and hurt): You mean he’s taken?
Nona: Yeah, he has quite a few girlfriends.
Angie(Sadly): (sigh) This always happens to me.
Nona: Don’t let it get to you. Let’s go home and forget about it.
(By this time, they reach the end of the stage. Fade out)

                                                           Scene 3

(Open curtain, lights on apartment again. Ryan is pacing back and forth, Dawson is still typing, Tony is sleeping on the couch)
Ryan: Sheesh, it’s been three days and Angie still hasn’t called! I don’t understand—I thought it was a golden relationship. We had so much fun. I just don’t understand women. This always happens to me. Maybe I should just move on. Or should I call her? Nah, she won’t answer. She probably doesn’t even care about me. I’ll never have a girlfriend...
(Dawson stops typing, stands up, takes off his glasses, slams them on the desk, and starts talking with a passionate, powerful voice)

Dawson: Ryan, that’s the problem with you. You never start what you finish, and you always give up when the slightest factor goes wrong. What you and Angie have is timeless. It’s magical. I knew that when I glanced up and saw the way she looked at your thumbs. I know love when I see it, Ryan. Believe me, my own relationship is as incredible as yours will ever be.
(Tony wakes up, groans, and leaves through side)
Ryan(Shocked at this change): Wh-what relationship?
Dawson: Never mind that! You have to call Angie, Ryan. It’s your duty. Your destiny in this life. Without her, you will waste away in this pathetic apartment and die a bachelor. Believe me, she’s the only woman who will ever look twice at you. You know that. Buck up, man. Take whatever dignity you have left in your withering little bones and pick up that phone!
(Ryan, shaking hard, walks to phone and slowly takes phone from receiver, then pauses)
Ryan: But you never even leave this apartment! How can you—
Dawson: Call her now!
(Ryan jumps at Dawson’s words and starts dialing a number, pauses at the last number)
Ryan: No...I refuse to be a bachelor! I will call her!
(Dials last number and waits)
Ryan: H-Hi, Angie, it’s me, Ryan. No, wait! Don’t hang up! I know that to you I might not be as charming as the other guys, but that doesn’t matter. We have something special, I know it. And if you’re willing to just talk things out with me—no, no, let me finish. If you’ll just listen to me, I know we can work things out. (Pause) What? (Pause) you do? (Pause) She said that? But she said that to me! (Chuckles) Angie, will you come over right now? Yeah, I’ll see you! Bye! (Hangs up phone, clenches fists) YES!
(Fade out)
(Fade in again on apartment, it looks considerably neater than before. Dawson is typing again, glasses on. Knock on door. Ryan goes to answer it. Opens it up, Angie’s there)
Both: Hey! (Angie hugs Ryan)
Ryan: I don’t know why Nona said those things about us. She must be jealous, huh?
(They hug again)
Angie: Do you realize what she almost cost us?
Ryan: We should kill her!
Angie: Yeah!
(Tony bursts in from right stage)
Tony: Noooo! You must not kill my love!
Ryan: Your love? (Sighs, rolls eyes) Oh well. Come on, Angie.
(They hold thumbs. They leave)
(Nona enters)
Nona: Where are those two?! I’m gonna kill them!
Tony(Walks up, kneels at her feet): Aw, forget about them, Nona. Let’s just worry about us.
(Awkward silence)
Nona(shrugs): Ehh, alright.
(Tony picks her up bride style, they leave out the door)
(Dawson is left typing. Dawson’s girlfriend enters. She is an exceptionally attractive woman, tan skin, long brown hair, wearing a black designer dress)
Girlfriend: I thought they’d never leave.
Dawson: ready to go?
Girlfriend: Let’s go get a bagel.
(Dawson grabs his suit coat, slings it over his shoulder. His Girlfriend holds his arm affectionately. They leave through door)
(Several seconds go by)
(Dawson re-enters, grabs typewriter, leaves)

(Fade out, end play)

Sep 5, 2015

Three Wheels on my Wagon Bloopers

I briefly considered putting a reel like this at the end of the original video, but there were too many, and it wouldn't've been funny enough of an ending. So this worked out better!