Saturday, May 30, 2020

Learning about Poetry (part 5): Muse #3 Reading (Metaphor & Simile)

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
By Emily Dickenson compiled around 1861.

The poetry lines and content below is created by Ken Wickham, based on the poem above.
©2020 by Ken Wickham based on Emily Dickenson's "Hope is a thing with feathers"
All rights reserved.

Metaphors and similes compare one thing to another.

A simple exercise, I'll practice using the Emily Dickenson poem again, except the first line which does not rhyme.

A metaphor is something that refers to one thing by writing or saying another thing figuratively rather than literally.

Hope is soaring flight.

A simile is something that compares to something else using the words like or as.

Hope is like rolling dice.
Hope is as flying birds.

Now, to try fitting the sentence with a different topic. I like the first simile line better than the 2nd. Let me see what other word besides hope that I can use. Maybe change.

Change is like rolling dice.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Learning about Poetry (part 4): Muse #3 Reading (Imitating)

In the last post, I researched different poems that contained words from my random rhyme set. In this post I will try to mimic a portion of a famous American poem by Emily Dickenson.

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
By Emily Dickenson compiled around 1861.

To me, it looks like the rhyme scheme is the following for the entire poem.
Each letter represents a possible rhyme ending. I've highlighted in different colors the pairs that I think might rhyme.

A, B, C, B
D, E, D, E
F, G, G, G

So, taking some of the 9 words and focusing on only one portion of the ED poem, I'll try write something similar—yet different.

#264 egg, leg, beg, peg, vague, plague, keg, bootleg, nutmeg

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Plague Across the Land
©2020 by Ken Wickham based on Emily Dickenson's "Hope is a thing with feathers"
All rights reserved.

I've seen across the entire land,
All victims of the plague,
In a world looking strange and vague,
No, I don't want to beg.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Learning about Poetry (part 3): Muse #3 Reading-Research Rhyme Use

In this post I will research the 9 rhyming words found in the eg/ague set rolled in the part one.

Instead of trying to imitate anything in this post, I will working with one poem in the next post. This post is just to research how some songs and poems have used these rhyming words. This is mainly to help me read and get a feel for how they could be used.

Here are the nine words

#264 egg, leg, beg, peg, vague, plague, keg, bootleg, nutmeg

And here are examples of how they are used in songs and poetic forms—mostly songs.

"Cancelled Check" by Beck
Reaching out for a rotten egg
I dont want to beg

"Disaster Cake" by Cher
You gotta break an egg
If you wanna be in show biz
Then you gotta break a leg
Babe you're heading on a journey

"C.Y.F.M.L.A.Y?" Terence Trent D'Arby
Dont make me beg, dont take me down a peg
Shake a leg, break an egg

"Egg Man" by Beastie Boys
Humpty Dumpty was a big fat egg
He was playing the wall then he broke his leg

"Christmas is A-Comin" Bing Crosby
Christmas is a coming, the ciders in the keg
If I had a mug of cider I wouldnt have to beg

"Party at the Leper Colony" by Weird Al Yankovic
Finger food and an ice-cold keg
It wont cost you an arm and a leg

"You're So Fine" by Whitesnake
Tight skirt, skinny leg
You make a bad dog sit up and beg

"Treat me like the Dog I am" by Motley Crue
At the dog pound make me beg
Got me with my tail between my leg

"The Big Square Inch" by Sammy Hagar
Less skirt and a lot more leg
Down on your knees and beg

"Follow You Home" by Nickelback
You can shoot me in the leg
Just to try to make me beg

"The Beleaguered City" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I have read, in some old, marvellous tale,
Some legend strange and vague,
That a midnight host of spectres pale
Beleaguered the walls of Prague.

"Aint Talkin" by Bob Dylan
Aint talkin, just awalkin
Through the world mysterious and vague
Heart burnin, still yearnin
Walkin athrough the cities of the plague

"Indust" by Sick of It All
We cant ignore all the victims of the plague
Whove been fighting for a future
Thats looking pretty, pretty vague
We cant deny it, we can deny it

"King of the Hill" by Johnny Cash
You watch the girls and you drink bootleg
Get starved to death before you beg

Here are some of the uses of the last few words before the rhyme word from the examples above.
#264 egg, leg, beg, peg, vague, plague, keg, bootleg, nutmeg

rotten egg
an egg
arm and a leg
broke his leg
break a leg
in the leg
lot more leg
want to beg
make me beg
have to beg
knees and beg
down a peg
strange and vague
mysterious and vague
pretty vague
of the plague

I see that some mirror my idiom collecting done in part 2. I think that looking at idioms may help a great amount for inspiration.

In the next Poetry post, I would like to take one very popular short poem and try to play around with changing it just to get some hands on experience working with an established poem.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Learning about Poetry (part 2): Muse #2 Collecting (idioms)

In the last post, I used freewriting to write down some associations, feelings, thoughts, and relationships to words rolled for from d1000 table in Rhyming Fuel. Since I have not been keeping a journal, the freestyle let me capture a 13 minute look into what came off the top of my head for the 9 rhyming words.

In this post, I will be collecting ideas also based off of the nine keywords and the freewriting.

egg...chicken, birth, lay, breakfast, scrambled, oval, omelet, new, incubate, innovation, hot, cold
leg...broken, chair, walking, kicking, stand, standing, asleep, stable, sufficient, sore
beg...need, want, desire, must have, desperate, beggar, don't have, forgiveness, mercy, ask, motivated
peg...hang, place, hit, decide, fit, plug, mark, holt together, small fastener, home supply store, wooden
vague...unclear, murky, misty, foggy, dark, unknown, confused, brief, barely, unsure, unexplainable
plague...coronavirus, stay at home, walking pneumonia, hospital, contagious, communicable, sickness, long duration, antidote
keg... dynamite, beer, Cracker Barrel, barrel, container, holding, storage, filling, emptying
bootleg...unofficial, underground, copy, illegal, music, movie, 
nutmeg... spice, ingredient, French toast, cookies, baking, eggnog

Collecting, according to the open poetry textbook Naming the Unnameable, is writing down "images, ideas, and phrases" or sparks of poetry.

So for this exercise, I'll write down a few idioms based on the words above.

I like Idioms. In Grammar Fuel: 12,000 Phrases & Idioms, I collected 12,000 mostly American English idioms. Idioms are groups of words that carry cultural based meaning. Here are some idioms grouped together for each of the words.

a bad egg
egg on one's face
walk on egg shells
you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs
a nest egg
all one's eggs in one basket
lay an egg
kill the goose that lays the golden eggs

without a leg to stand on
cost/give an an arm and a leg
as fast as your legs can carry you
pull someone's leg
put one's pants on one leg at a time, just like everbody else
stretch one's legs
tail between one's legs
the first leg
get a leg up
be on one's last legs
fresh legs
break a leg

beg for
beg the question
beg to differ
beg, borrow, or steal
beg your pardon
beg for something
beg on bended knee
beg to disagree
beg something from someone

a peg on which to hang something
fit together like a square peg in a round hole
peg as something
have someone pegged
be knocked down a peg (or two)
take one down a peg (or two)
peg away at something

wake up in a vague fog like a cloudy mist

avoid someone or something like the plague
plague one with something

keg party
powder keg
sitting on a powder keg

bootlegged movies
bootlegged CDs
bootlegged software
This must be a bootleg copy—the quality is terrible.

a wooden nutmeg

That is pretty fun. Already after doing the freewriting and this idiom exercise, it feels like the foundation for a poem is already constructed.

The next muse in this series is Muse #3 Reading. In that post, I'll research some poetry in the past to see if I can build a small chunk of poetry fragments for some or all of the 9 keywords. I may even try to imitate those historical chunks.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Learning about Poetry (part 1): Random Word set and Muse #1 Journaling, well...keyword freewrite

I don't know a lot about poetry.

I'm sort of switch Poetry Month and Short Story Month. Last month during Poetry Month at Reddit, I created the short story "The Art of Love and Loss", even though I was also creating Rhyming Fuel, though nobody saw that beyond my family members. This month, which is short story month, I'll try to create poetry at this blog.

A few years ago, I did a series of posts concerning fables. I'd like to do something similar for poetry where I study, learn, and try stuff concerning poetry.

Rhyming Fuel

I wrote Rhyming Fuel because having a random rhyme word table was the easiest way for me to do something related to poetry. I don't know if I've ever seen a random d1000 rhyme word table before, so the creation seemed like a good challenge.

Having said that, I want to at least try to learn a little about poetry. Maybe a few readers out there would like to follow along or at least read about a poetry journey, however far the attempt continues.

I'm downloading an Open Textbook about poetry to serve as both instruction and inspiration for exercises that I will try.

Read more about Naming the Unnameable: An Approach to Poetry for New Generations

Naming the Unnameable: an Approach to Poetry for a New Generation is Creative Commons textbook which will form the basis for at least a couple of posts or attempts at poetry.

Rolling for a Random Rhyme-word set

The textbook doesn't say this, but I want a random word set to begin this experiment. This is takes words that I researched, gathered, and combined the last month and a half. It also gives me a chance to test out the list once more.

I roll a d1000 rolling a 264.

Using Rhyming Fuel, I find the random set.

#264 egg, leg, beg, peg, vague, plague, keg, bootleg, nutmeg

Muse #1 Journaling.

"For many of us, a poem starts with an idea, a memory, a sound, an image.....our
mind sorts through experiences, sensations, feelings, images, and ideas and files them in our

Here is what I am going to do. I know freewriting, which is Muse #4 in this textbook.

I as a Journaling exercise, I will focus-word freewrite the 9 words above for 10 minutes.

egg...chicken, birth, lay, breakfast, scrambled, oval, omelet, new, incubate, innovation, hot, cold
leg...broken, chair, walking, kicking, stand, standing, asleep, stable, sufficient, sore
beg...need, want, desire, must have, desperate, beggar, don't have, forgiveness, mercy, ask, motivated
peg...hang, place, hit, decide, fit, plug, mark, holt together, small fastener, home supply store, wooden
vague...unclear, murky, misty, foggy, dark, unknown, confused, brief, barely, unsure, unexplainable
plague...coronavirus, stay at home, walking pneumonia, hospital, contagious, communicable, sickness, long duration, antidote
keg... dynamite, beer, Cracker Barrel, barrel, container, holding, storage, filling, emptying
bootleg...unofficial, underground, copy, illegal, music, movie, 
nutmeg... spice, ingredient, French toast, cookies, baking, eggnog

It actually took me 13 minutes to react and write about each of the 9 words.

Okay. I now have something at least to work with maybe. At least it is a start. You may freewrite something else.

Next Poetry post.

That's it for today. In the next poetry post I might try Muse #2 Collecting, which is writing down images based on the stuff written above. 

Friday, May 15, 2020

Rhyming Fuel now available. 1000 sets of rhyming words numbered for d1000 rolls.

Now available, Rhyming Fuel

If you accept emails from DTRPG, you may have received a discount address for further savings.

For April's Poetry Month, I created a d1000 tool to roll for sets of random rhyming words.

It has taken a month and a half to get it to the point of release after 6 major revisions. It grew from 30 pages, to 40 pages, and finally 51 pages during the final weeks of adding new material.

Rhyming Fuel

This is a one-time 51 page PDF list of rhyming sets numbered 1 to 1000. About 20,000 words, a few used in more than one set. Sets average 5 to 20 words. They range from 3 to 658 words. No other rhyming lists are planned at this time.

Rhyming Fuel is a 1000 rhyme-word sets on a table mostly reverse alphabetized by ending and numbered for d1000 rolls. The rhyme sets are mostly American English based spelling.

#56 contagious, courageous, outrageous, umbrageous, advantageous, disadvantageous, ages
#165 arch, march, parch, starch, countermarch, larch, cornstarch, démarche, exarch
#451 cringe, fringe, hinge, singe, springe, tinge, twinge, infringe, binge, dinge, tinge, impinge, infringe, lunatic fringe
#715 forth, fourth, north, worth, due north, henceforth, thenceforth, compass north, east by north, in the north, to the north
#961 gushy, mushy, rushy, slushy, blushy

Examples of rhymes being in a nursery rhyme and a play dialogue.
Bat, bat,
Come under my hat,
And I'll give you a slice of bacon;
And when I bake
I'll give you a cake
If I am not mistaken.
Mother Goose, “Bat, Bat”

Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Second Witch: Macbeth: Act IV, scene 1

Rhyme Words
– A rhyme has similar repeated or corresponding sounds in the final syllables of two or more words, primarily used in songs and poems at the end of a verse or line.

Rhymes are useful to help construct a more poetic or musical song and poetry to a scene. The function of a rhyme is to create a repeating pattern that is pleasant to hear. Rhymes also aid in memorization.

Although written as a solo rpg accessory, this product is also a stand alone tool ready—it takes zero conversion to use as a GM tool to help generate scene or dialogue keywords. It is part of the Clawed SRC Accessory ™ and Grammar Fuel brands.

Fuel your game with Rhyming Fuell table of 1000 rhyme-word sets!

If you find any mistakes, this post may serve as a place to report errors or such.

Version update or plans

V1.01 changed one thing. I took a chunk of words ending in -y from words that rhyme with "die", a
long "I" sound and moved it to "ee" ending words since most of that list were words like "agony" rather than words like "crucify".

planned for V1.02 I notice that in #985 "trad route" should be "trade route".

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Short story, Gamestory from Reddit series posts: "The Art of Love and Loss"

This is a post showing the result of my gameplay in story form from my Reddit post series written about a months time at

[This post , what I call the "gamestory" rather than "gameplay" because it doesn't show game mechanic steps, is meant to bring together the main session portions of the story up and some basic story notes until the end. From this version that is somewhat equivalent to a 1st draft, editing and story changes are easier. I can't change what happened in the gameplay, but I can alter this gamestory version to make things more story-like. I've also went back and labelled & numbered scenes sort of like chapter breaks or shifts in the story. The numbers are not the session numbers. My first few sessions were establishing the basics of the story and the main character. No game mechanics are shown in this post. Just the resulting text.]

This Coin Solo Game System story is property of Ken Wickham written for the Reddit Solo_RPG_Tools subreddit, a subreddit dedicated to Solo RPG Tools - Generators, Engines, and Mechanisms by Ken Wickham. It is intended to help bring subreddit traffic and use to this specific section.
This story may not be reproduced or shared in any form, stored in any retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, reposting, or otherwise for any other person—without prior written permission of the publisher, except as provided by United States of America copyright law.
Permission is given to blogger and for the reddit where it is written.

The Art of Love and Loss
by Ken Wickham ©2020

The player character is trying to deliver something and while doing the delivery and begins to hallucinate a giant anaconda—which the character must overcome the terrifying situation in order to successfully deliver something important.
The character is motivated by the safety of the property (which the character is delivering). The mood is fearful terror about something, maybe related to the giant anaconda hallucination.

Scene 1
The horse trot echoed through the night as William led the one-horse pulling the wagon through the cold winter's eve.
He adjusted his black double-breasted frock coat and tightened his matching scarf across his mouth to try and keep in the escaping heat that he could see every exhaling breath.
Making deliveries regularly was a habit that was about to begin just now, but with his uncle's regular deliverer sick with pneumonia, the chance to make a little money came at an opportune time.

The least reasonable carrier is up against the challenging task of delivering a very old and valuable—almost vulgar—painting by the impressionist painter Sophy Iliani to a Jean-Luc Deponte, who procured the said painting in a recent estate auction of a deceased art connoisseur.
The least reasonable deliverer is journeying through an outdoor setting in the late 1700s to early 1800s sometime, I'm not sure exactly when, maybe through a winter's evening driving horse and wagon with cargo towards a destination.
Scene 2
The lanterns lit before the impending darkness vibrated and swayed as the horse continued up the road. Up ahead, what looked like a mangled form of something laying beside the road near a dark several dark spots caught Williams eye.
He began to slow the horse and wagon and peered down to see what looked like a shedding of skin—snake skin to be exact. William had seen many skin shedding throughout his life. Outdoors and hill and mountain travel is something he entirely enjoyed, and snakes shed their skins a few times each year.
He wasn't sure what he was looking at however with the dark spot around the snake skin. The snake skin did seem rather large, but his distance from the top of the wagon to the skin seemed to play tricks on his eyes.
Not sure what to make of snake skin and spots, he traveled forward hurrying to try and complete this task so he could collect his pay.
Scene 3
William thought about what his eyes had observed. The slight glistening of the seemingly too-large skin with an scaley imprint of scales.
His eyebrows raised, his fingers clung to the reins of the horse as he stared forward—eyes wide open he drove forward.
What happens if a giant snake is here on the road? he thought, eyes now dashing from one side of the road to the other side of the road.
He then remember his walking stick and gun.
With one hand on the reigns still steering, he reached back quickly grabbed the satchel from the wagon. Placing the satchel on the seat beside him, he next grabbed his walking stick and also placed in on the seat behind the satchel so that it would not roll off of the seat.
Scene 4
William was approaching the area that his uncle had mentioned was just past the third bridge, the area that he was to look for a guarded gate at the front of the estate of Jean-Luc Deponte. He had not traveled too far past the snake skin and occasionally glanced back to make sure nothing —would approach him from behind. The painting, wrapped for travel, also lay nearby still safely secure in the wagon.
A dog began to bark in the distance. A light from what could be a guardhouse emerged from the winter forest wall. He urged the horse forward and the wagons pace quickened. The dog barking grew more loud as he approached closer.
He steered a wide turn so that the wagon could enter the estate, slowed the horse, and came to a stop not far from the lit iron gate.
A figure was already emerging from the small building, holding a leashed barking dog.
"How may I help you at this late hour of the evening," the guard asked, his eyes glanced first to him, then his wagon, and then back.
"I have a special delivery for a Jean-Luc Deponte, something he recently purchased."
"He is expecting a delivery. Could I inspect your wagon briefly." he head-tilt motioned towards the wagon.
"Go right ahead. The delivery however is for him to handle alone," William said. He didn't want anyone—or anything for that matter—damaging his delivery.
The guard attached the leashed dog to a stake in the ground nearby, next to a food bowl and water, pet the dog, arose, and walked to side of my wagon.
The guard holding his light to illuminate the entire wagon brightly peered over the edge of the wagon, and saw the single package that lay there.
Scene 5
"He's expecting you. Continue through the trees around the turn to the main house," he motioned a right turn with his one free hand—
It was then that a loud howl and yapping of another dog echoed throughout the evening air.
William saw leashed guard dog stand at attention and ears erect. It gave out several loud barks and growls.
The guard reached down with his free hand to grab a pistol from his side.
William, slow to react, then reached down for his bag.
Where is that pistol, he looked below a raincoat.
Seeing the pistol, he grabbed it. His heart was now beating louder and louder.
With his other hand he grabbed the walking stick.
The red eyes glowed through the misty fog.
William raised the barrel of his pistol up. The chill of the night air and the glowing red eyes sent a chill to his bone.
A shot echoed, and he looked to see the guard hurrying to reload his rifle.
Looking back to the eyes, the form now emerging as a sleek black wolf leaping and sprinting towards the frantic guard at an unbelievable speed.
William aimed and fired his pistol. He is at a disadvantage due to the wolf's speed.
The shot unsteady goes sailing over the wolf's head.
Putting the pistol back in his pocket, he decides to run to the guard and use his walking stick as a weapon.
The guard yelled to him, "hold him off—reloading—grrr."
With both hands on the walking stick, William readies, and then swings with full force as the demon-like wolf leaps towards him.
His walking stick hits the right rear thigh muscle deep.
The wolf pounces, claws, and bites at him. He feels some pain in his lower right leg across his right calf.
Is the guard ready?
"Hurry," he shouts to the guard who is still trying to muzzle load a ball. The guard looks at the at William's leg where the wolf is attacking.
William hurries for another swing this time at an advantageous position.
The walking stick smash leaves a right foreleg abrasion. The wolf is noticeably hurt
The wolf continues to attack his lower right calf growling and biting into his calf.
"Move back," the guard urges.
He is able to kick the wolf in the snout and roll out of the way. As he is rolling he hears another thundering shot.
The shot penetrates and breaks the wolf's jaw. Blood pours out heavy from the wolf's broken jaw.
William, seeing the very hurt wolf with disfigured jaw hanging, forces a swallow down his dry throat. He musters courage to swing again harder. He leaps into the air and swings down with full force aiming for the head which cancels his advantage because it is a slight disadvantage of aiming.

He swings his walking stick the blow to the head cracks and hits the wolf so hard that its right ear goes flying into the air. The demon wolf falls to the ground glowing eyes open, but unresponsive and still breathing.

"Finish it, before it regains itself," the guard urges.

William feels his leg begin to sting and burn. He looks at the thing that had attacked both of them. It had bitten and clawed his right leg. He decides to try finishing off the attacking unnatural creature.

With a swing, the blow of his walking stick shatters the demon wolf's left eye socket destroying its left eye.

The demon wolf is now dead...
Scene 6
The guard looked down at the hideous remains.
William could see the still one eye that was still open still glowing but slowly fading. What looked like marks were on the unnatural canine's neck. Fang marks perhaps.
"What the hell was that doing on the premise," the guard said.
William now felt the rips and teeth piercings stinging on his right calf?
The searing pain was more than just the wound. Some effect or something else was making him sick. He could feel something in his blood that was making him sick. Each pulse brought deeper pain and throbbing to his skull.
"You alright?" the guard said.
No, he wasn't alright. Something is very wrong.
He started to feel the world spin and he gasped collapsing to the ground. Darkness enveloped him.
Scene 7
The darkness enveloped William, yet the misty fog seemed to continue even into the cold darkness.
Within the fog he could hear pitter patter that began distant.
The sound increased until he could feel the ground vibrating. From with the wisping mist, what looked like ants were swarming towards him. Only a faint light maybe glowing from the fog illuminated the hundreds, thousands, maybe millions of ants.
The ants were translucent purple and on the bulbous abdomen appeared to be a serpent marking.
The swarm of ants surrounded William, the vibrating ground and now loud overbearing drumming pitter patter felt electric to his skull and mind.
The misty fog increased in illumination revealing a moist and alive rainforest jungle. In the distance, a waterfall echoed a thunderous constant flow of some river.
The ants were now fleeing quickly. The echoing waterfall turned into a heavy breath. He felt something on his leg...
Scene 8
William moaned as he awoke from his strange dream.
He looked down to see a heavy panting guard tie something around his leg just below his knee. He felt pain and fire-like burning sensation.
The strong putrid scent filled his nostrils, looking over to the side he could see the wolf, or remains, still where he had slain the beast.
He was laying on the ground on what felt like was his frock coat. His scarf around his neck was also absent, maybe being used to tie his leg.
That's okay. He could always get another scarf. He'd rather prefer to live, if the scarf is what was needed.
He raised his head and then slowly pushed his body up, wincing at the pain coming from his calf.
"Careful there, my friend," the guard said. He turned his head, looking at William, and his face went from a tense look and seemed to relax suddenly in what was likely relief.
William looked again into the faded eyes and then to the marks on the demon dog's neck. "See those bite marks, almost like snake fang marks."
"Yea. What about them?"
"I saw what looked like a giant shed-snake skin not too far back down the road."
The guard looked to the wolf's neck for a moment. He shut is eyes tightly, removed a handkerchief, covered his mouth, grabbed Williams walking stick, pushed himself up, and while walking toward the wolf. With the walking stick he moved the broken jaw and battered head to the side to better see the marks.
The putrid scent that William could smell was heavy.
The guard gagged and spit to the side, seeming to hold his breath as he looked closer.
After a brief moment, he quickly stood up, releasing the wolf head, grasped for air.
A few breaths later, coming back to William, he spoke, "Yes. It does look like a snake bite, but not venomous...the neck is not swollen, maybe it's from some sort of giant constrictor type snake. Whatever caused you to black out probably was"
He motioned his head back toward the demon wolf.
William looked for a moment and then suddenly remember his horse and wagon.He looked around frantically, but there it was.
"I had to go get it," the guard said. "It had run a good distance away, probably frightened a little by the wolf, guns, and what happened. Luckily it didn't go past the curve."
William went from a sitting on the ground, pushed himself up onto his good leg, and somewhat tested his injured leg.
"I should probably get to the main house," William told the guard.
"I'll lock up and go with you. I need to tell Mr Deponte what has happened."
William limped around collecting his coat, took his walking stick from the guard, and then used it to limp his way to his wagon. In more ways than one, luckily he brought his walking stick tonight. He tried to pet his horse a few times to calm any nerves. He himself tried to breath easier, his hand wiped hot sticky sweat from his brow.
For a moment he looked off into the bushes, seeming to remember the waterfall, and … the ants. That was just a dream, he told himself.
The iron gate squeaked and groaned as it sounded like it closed. A few clangs and a shake later, footsteps echoed the guards return.
The guard gave a few pats to the head of the leashed dog and mumbled a few words. The staked guard dog gave a few barks and concerned look towards the motionless demon wolf carcass.

The guard then left the guard dog attached to the stake at the gatehouse and came towards William at the wagon.
The guard helped William up, went around, and took the side seat.
William glanced back to see the wrapped painting still in where he left it.
With a few clicks, he urged his horse forward, leaving the death and dream behind.
They made their way around the curve, through arching trees, and to the main house. The older looking but large colonial home came into view. The windows glowed with a welcoming warm presence and wisps of smoke flowed from chimneys.
Scene 9
The large colonial home, a two-story stonewalled townhouse, had a large steep pointed roof that looked like a pyramid shadowy against the gray overcast crescent moon sky. A heavy scent of burnt oak wood hung in the air.
The shadow of someone appeared in the lower glowing window, and a moment later the door opened.
In the doorway, a thin but tall figure topped with tricorn hat stood in the door way and slowly hobbled out onto the expansive porch.
It spoke with a mature, rumbling, and authoritative tone despite his frail nature. "Any later and it would be tomorrow." His voice sounded slightly irate though it seemed he was trying to force humor.
William brought to wagon to a stop.
He felt his strength falter. He felt the guard's hands steady his weakening and falling body.
"What is wrong," the deep voice rumbled.
The guard spoke, "A demon dog at the gate."
William opened his eyes and looked into a stern, mature, and somewhat rectangular face emerge from the night shadow of who was all likely Jean-Luc, Mr Deponte. His wagon's light reveal Deponte's drawn back mouth, a look of concern.
"I … killed that thing," William muttered. The guard reached behind trying to do something. He then brought William's canteen from the wagon and to his lips. The cool water help to clear his head a bit and brought him back to strength.
He then grabbed his pack slung over his neck along with the canteen; and he carefully grabbed the art piece lifting it slow and gently.
"Come inside," the voice boomed.
William walked up, limped, to the porch and entered into the Deponte townhouse.

The guard, whom Mr. Deponte called Kostas, recounted the events that had occurred as then entered the home.
They stood at the doorway entrance as the guard spoke. He focused almost entirely on the demon wolf encounter. Mr. Deponte did not seem in anyway surprised.
After a short and brief narrative of what happened, Deponte offered them into a parlor room just off of the entrance to the home.
"Lets go into someplace more comfortable," Mr Deponte suggested.
"Yes. That sounds just fine," William said, hoping to warm up from the night's chill.
Scene 10
The parlor room had a large painting, a warm fire, a sofa, and large rocking chair with a table and light next to it.
Once inside Mr. Deponte's parlor, William gave him the delivered package.
Mr. Deponte held it in his hands before slowly embracing the package, a painting with his arms. His mouth slightly trembled and William could see from the side of the face facing him a tear inch down a cheek. His arms slightly shaking and he placed the package next to his rocking chair, leaning up against a small table, and sat down.
William gave him the delivery papers to sign.
And after being offered a seat on a sofa, sat down on the opposite end where the guard also sat down.
Mr. Deponte placed the papers on a table next to a rocking chair.
In a deep and slow voice, he said, "Excuse me one moment."
Standing, he walked to an open doorway an entered in what might have been an adjoining room.
William looked to a large painting on the parlor wall.
A very much younger Jean-Luc stood to the left of the painting, smiling with his right-hand holding the both hand of a stern-faced young woman on the right—the left hand of his could be seen wrapped around the shoulder of who might have been his wife. William thought it might be his wife because a young woman, with a sad face, painted from the waist up on the lower part of the painting up to the edge stood in front and between them both.
The sound of a drawer opening from the room where Deponte went echoed. After a moment it closed. Shortly later, he emerged carrying two envelopes in one hand, and a bottle and pen in the other.
He gave the first envelope to William saying, "This is for your business for your delivery service of this dear painting from my business silent partner, god rest his lovely soul." He then paused as William placed the envelope into his bag.
"Thank you, sir"
Mr. Deponte continued, " And this is for...your troubles tonight." He handed William an envelope that felt like it had a significant amount of money.
"I hope that it will you with your wound...and help you forget what happened. It's the least I can do for such an unfortunate occurrence." William placed the envelope into his left coat pocked, which he was still wearing because of the chill.
William wasn't sure what to make of what Mr. Deponte had just said.
"I see you have a lovely family," he said pointed to the painting trying to strike up a pleasant conversation.
"—had a lovely family." he said. He looked at the family portrait and then to the wrapped painting. "Sometimes life does not go as planned. They are both no longer with me," he said.
"Oh. I'm sorry sir, for your loss," William said. Even though he wasn't married, he couldn't imagine loosing both a wife and child." He felt a little guilty for bringing up the family painting. But the painting was, after all, hanging in the room. It wasn't his fault entirely.
"But your delivery has brought something of them back." he pick up the painting and began to unwrap it. The back of the painting had a few markings of paint, a scribble of writing, and a few paint strokes and splatter. The front of the painting was towards the sitting Mr. Deponte.
"Oh. That's good to hear," William said, now feeling not as guilty for his remark. He let out a relieving breath of air.
"Which is better? To have loved and lost or not to have loved at all?"
Mr. Deponte stood and walked towards that other room.
As he did so, the painting turned towards William.
William could see clearly that the painting was of a half-snake woman from the waist up and serpent from the waist down. The snake woman's upper torso was bare and naked. And standing next to the serpent-woman was another even younger—Jean-Luc Deponte dressed in a purple suit—holding hands with the serpent woman in an almost identical manner as the family portrait.
Scene 11

I shouldn't have taken this job, William though looking once again to the painting of Deponte embracing that...serpent-woman abomination.
The guard, Kostas looked at me and then toward where I was looking. And then he quickly looked back to me. "I think that our guest should be going soon don't you agree. It's getting quite late."
After a few moments, Mr. Deponte reappeared and walked to his chair. He sat down, dipped his pen in the ink, and signed the papers.
The Kostas kept looking at me and the painting on the wall. He then took out his pistol and reloaded it.
Mr. Deponte was finishing with the paper work and seemed to be double checking everything. "Well, here we go. Everything seems to be correct and in order." He said with an almost forced smile. He started tapping his fingers on the table faster and faster.
I was starting to feel surrounded. Almost like the dream—the purple ants. The image of my head of them surrounding me flashed in my mind.
"Our guest may be suffering from...his unfortunate wound. He may want to stay the night here," he offered, though I was unsure about the offer.
Sure my wound on my right calf still burned. I still felt weakened. And the nightmare seemed to flash with each throbbing in my skull. I wondered what sinister serpentine madness could unfold.
Unsteady and unsure I mustered, "I'm ...fine. I'll just be," I swallowed a painful dry gulp, "on my way."
Mr. Deponte sat in silence looking at me directly in my face and then to my wounded leg.
"Well, if you insist. I've offered." He then slowly stood.
Kostas also stood with him and put his pistol at his waist. "I'll go back to the gatehouse with our guest."
"Of course," Jean-Luc Deponte answered. He motioned for the door.
I stood and we walked to the door, which he opened, and walked out into the chilly night air.
A dog, possibly the guard-dog barked in the distance towards the gate.
Once at my wagon, the guard offered to help me up, but I instead leapt up as quickly as I could. Although I was not fully strong, I would not let them know that I wasn't full strength. While the guard walked around and went to Mr. Deponte who was standing like a shadow just out of the range of the wagon lantern lighting, I removed my pistol from my pocket. I fumbled around for my ammunition in my pack.
The two spoke quietly like ominous shadows in the night—possibly ploting something sinister.
I managed to reload my pistol on the first try despite my unsteady hands.
"Very well," Mr. Deponte's voice boomed and echoed through the night. "Travel safe," he said louder.
"Thank you, sir," I said back.

Scene 12
The guard now came to the wagon and slowly raised up to the seat.
He had just sat down when William took the reins and started the wagon in motion, turning it around and back down the road towards the barking dog...and safety.
He glanced back over his shoulder to see the ominous silhouette of the man, and he recalled both paintings. William imaged the serpent woman standing next to him.
Several times in a row he urged the horses faster.
William was starting to feel the safety and freedom from exiting this place and finishing this job coming from ahead just outside the gate.
A voice from the guard said, "Hey. Take it easy. Not so fast."
William ignored the voice and plea.
Rounding the driveway turn, the lit guardhouse came into view.
The dog was barking towards where the demon wolf had fallen.
William looked across the road and saw something. Something, some form seemed to be over the fallen beast. As it came into view, William saw the form
A serpent woman, biting into the demon wolf, chewing off a chunk of flesh. She then looked up toward us, blood dripping from her mouth and hissed. "Hisssssss".
William's worst fears, it seemed, were correct.

The unnatural hiss seemed to echoed in the dark off of the towering leafless trees.
William looked to the serpentine form that was devouring the fallen demon wolf. The burning in his right leg seemed to amplify and sizzle.
"Hisssssss", the form's mouth warned them again.
The horse slowed and startled moving to the opposite side of the road. It's head was shaking back and forth, it's mouth snorted and grumbled. The once rapid regular horse-trot echoes became an erratic and chaotic.
William slowed his horse and struggled to keep it calm.
"Keep going," the guard urged.
Keep going?
William instead began to reach for his gun. His sweaty fingers twitched and hands trembled—
"Don't!" Kostas said. He reached for Williams arm to restrain his attempt. "That is Mr. Deponte's daughter."
His words echoed through the night.
William looked back once again at the woman-serpent. Through the demon blood, he could now see that the young woman that he had seen in the painting, had an uncanny similarity with this now fully woman serpent.
That painting had only shown this woman from the waist up.
He brought the horse and wagon to a stop.
The serpent woman reached down and picked up the entire demon wolf.
It looked first toward William and then toward the guard. "Hssssank you, Kostassss," she said in a beguiling serpentine voice.
She then turned toward the misty night and slithered into the winter forest, fading from view into the fog.
Scene 13

William looked once again into the dark woods and misty bare foliage where the serpent-wo—Mr. Deponte's daughter, had slithered and disappeared.
The barking of the dog brought William back from his gaze.
He then began to notice that the dog wasn't barking viciously. Rather it seemed to be barking playfully, with its tongue wagging.
William realized now that the dog actually seemed excited to see the sna—Mr. Deponte's daughter, rather than protective and warning barking.
William had, in his blindness to flee and possibly because of the pain in his right calf, misunderstood the barking as a warning. Seeing the horse move to avoid the snake plus the barking had nearly almost propelled him to shoot the daughter.
William then felt a tremendous relief that Kostas has restrained his confused-action.
William brought the wagon past the guard dog and to a stop at the gate.
"Thank you, Kostas for restraining me. I misunderstood what was happening," he said to Kostas.
Kostas looked first towards the road and then back to William.
He was reaching into his pocket and then stopped.
"Longina is the daughter if Mr. Deponte's first love. The artist that painted the portrait of them both, Sophy Iliani, is the wife that Mr. Deponte married after Longina's mother was killed when she was still a young age. Longina and her mother are Naga—Nagini to be more precise. They have both a human and snake nature. He knew that his first love had a part wild-snake nature and had to be let free for long periods of time to hunt let her snake instinct free. Mre Deponte raised Longina while her mother was away, Unfortunately, someone shot his first love."
William swallowed a painful dry gulp. Kostas looked to the gun in Williams pocket and then continued.
"Sophy got to know Mr. Deponte after his first love's death. She tried to live in the shadow of Mr. Deponte's first love, but could never replace nor fully win his affection. She left him and took the painting she had painted with her. Not only had Mr. Deponte lost his first love, he also lost an important image to remind him of the happiness that he had once had."
William glance back to where the painting had once sat. Now only the some material that he had placed to cushion the panting remained.
William glanced back to the thicket where Longina had traveled, "And now Longina has been set free."
"He could only contain her serpent nature while she was yet young."
"I understand."
Kostas removed a keyring from his pocket, lowered himself to the ground, walked to the gate, and with a clink-clank opened the lock. With a deep groan, the gates swung open.
"Travel safely," Kostas said and moved to the side to give him room to exit.
"Take care," he replied. He then set the wagon in motion, making a wide turn back down the dirt road he had arrived from.
Scene 14
Minutes passed and he kept looking towards the bushes. The mist was thickening.
Not that long time passed and he had only traveled several hundred yards when during one glance he spotted a familiar form in a clearing looking towards him.
He brought the horse to an abrupt stop.
"Hssscome here," she hissed.
He, slowly stepped down and walked towards the iron gate towards the serpentine woman.
She slithered closer, her womanly curves moved side-to-side, until she was next to him. A snake scent surrounded Longina. She brought up one delicate hand, through the iron gate, and pressed it against Williams cheek. She stroked slowly across his cheek and through his hair.
William was mesmerized and felt the warmth of her hand rush like a heat wave and flow through him.
"Longina," William said.
"Hsssyour name," she whispered.
"William," he said.
"Hssswilliam," she repeated.
"Hssswilliam," she smiled.
William slowly reached up. She brought her face towards his hand. He stroked her face in a similar manner as what she had done.
Longina smiled in the moonlight through the iron gate.
"Hsswilliam. You come to me sss?" she asked.
William found himself nodding yes. "Yes. Yes I will. I'll return soon." he said relaxed.
"Hsstogether," she said again looking into his eyes.
William nodded.
Longina turned and slowly slithered away. William watched. Near a nearby treeline, she stopped and looked once again his way. She then turned toward the trees and disappeared into the mistly woods.
William stood there a moment. He watched as the mist seemed to twirl into a snake-like pattern.
He looked at the moon and then turned back towards the wagon.
Getting onto the wagon he sent the horse in motion.
Further down the road he came across that spot on the road and the snake skin.
He brought the horse to a stop.
He dropped down and picked up the snake skin.
Once back on the wagon, he placed it onto the spot where the art piece had once laid.
He sent the horse forward.
He opened his black double-breasted frock coat and to release the heat that was emanating from his body. He could see every exhaling breath.
The horse trot echoed through the night as William led the two-horse team pulling the wagon through the cold winter's night.
Scene 15
William turned the papers into his uncle the following day. He collected his fee adding it to the bonus that Mr. Deponte had given him.
He did return not long after to the Deponte estate. And to Longina.

The End.