Hero’s Tale VYA PostMortem

As promised, here’s my PostMortem on the Hero’s Tale Vote Your Adventure series. For the uninitiated, a PostMortem is a look at the successes and failures in a project. In other words, I’m tearing it apart to analyze it. I’ll be looking at the story and writing, as well as how the chaos of real life impacted things. And for the fun of it, I’ll give you a glimpse of some of the possible story branches that didn’t happen.

Story & Writing

The story is the most important part, and I think it turned out well. It was fun allowing others to help direct the plot. But the loose ideas in my head ended up being a hindrance. The project would have been easier if I had created a map of the story before hand.

The whole idea of having people give extra insight into the votes never took off either. There were a couple of times where I took some thoughts, but not as many as I hoped.

The main plot point that was influenced by this was the issue with Bardulf’s cracked ribs and broken arm. Mike and Matt, in the comments for Part 11, mentioned parts of this. Matt (rightfully) worried that Bardulf’s injuries might be too severe. Mike said it was too bad the healing balm wouldn’t help broken bones. I took that thought and ran with it. Bardulf wasn’t the type who would accept magical healing from the elf, but that didn’t stop Malic from not telling Bardulf that the herbs were more than they seemed.

Another plot point that didn’t work as I’d hoped was the elf side-quest. The relationship is important to who Bardulf is and is becoming, not to mention the world. But other than the herbs, it didn’t have a real impact on the story that was being told.


This project was fun, but I went in with un-realistic expectations. I didn’t understand how much time the writing and editing of each part would take. It took a lot of work. In a perfect world, I would have been posting a new entry each week. But it’s a lot of work to do when you have a family: writing, editing, rewriting, etc.

And then there is the emotional aspect. I was frustrated because I didn’t meet my self imposed deadlines, making me depressed. That, in turn, made it that much harder to write. The result being that it took even longer to write than I wanted. Thus, becoming a vicious circle.

There were some external forces at work also. My family moved twice during the project, throwing me off. It’s hard to get things done when the household is in turmoil.

I’m disappointed that it took so long to finish the story. I had hoped that this was going to be a project that would take a couple months to finish. I won’t deny that I considered stopping. But I really wanted to see how the story would end.

Unfortunately, all those breaks cost me readers. The number of people reading and voting dropped off. Thanks to those who stuck it out with me. I hope it was worth it for you, because it was for me.

But please don’t take this as complaining. I’m glad I did this, because I learned a lot. Especially how I work as a writer.


Now, what about those unused plot threads? I’ll let you into my head for a few:

  • There were a couple of places toward the end where Bardulf almost lost an arm. That would have changed some things, but the votes didn’t go in the right direction.

  • In Ruelinthal’s Edge, where the slaves were being held, the one person who would have helped Bardulf was the blacksmith. That would have allowed a chance for Bardulf’s horse to live.

  • At the start, if Bardulf had waited to see Lord Belmont and gone in the morning, the attack would still have happened. But in that thread, Lord Belmont would have died.

Final Thoughts

As I stated before, this blog will be going on hiatus. I don’t know what I will be doing next with it. If there are any Hero’s Tale related tidbits, I will be announcing them here. Otherwise, go take a look at my author site: http://BrianTRonk.com.

Thanks, Brian

Hero’s Tale VYA – Part 23

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. Welcome to Part 23, the second part of the finale. Stick around, I have a few closing thoughts at the end. But until then, please enjoy.

Bardulf dressed, and strapped his equipment on. When he put on the heart necklace, he placed a hand on the charm. I’ll be home soon.

He returned to Thom, and helped him up. They supported each other as Thom led the way out of the cavernous building.

The silence that greeted them outside unnerved Bardulf. Just hours earlier, the sound of battle echoed through the valley. He shielded his eyes as they adjusted to the light, and scanned the area. The sun peeked out from behind the mountains as it set. Then a roar echoed around the stone buildings, breaking the tranquility.

Both jumped, but Bardulf readied the staff for a fight. In his ears, it was a warning. He was not surprised when three quetzal came out of hiding.

The head quetzal leaned forward and inspected the two men. It’s Bardulf!

Bardulf didn’t have patience for banter. “I’ll tell you right now that I can understand you. Who are you?” The runes on the staff began to shimmer.

The lead quetzal shifted, and Burnum stood before him with a confused look. “How you understand?”

The runes vanished as Bardulf relaxed, happy to see a friendly face. “I am a quetzal as well.”

Burnum did not seem surprised, and pointed at Thom. “What about him? He with them.”

“I came to find him. He has actually been trying to stop all this.”

Burnum stared at Thom for a bit longer and then nodded. He turned to the other two, and spoke to them in their native language. The two quetzal left. “They stay. We go to village.”

While they walked, Burnum explained that a few hours ago, all the Yul’aric suddenly turned into quetzal. The invaders were either dead or had escaped. Now they were now searching through the city to be sure there was no one left. Only a few of the Yul’aric remained quetzal, though. The others changed back and seem to have lost the ability.

Fires burned in the village, and the people were celebrating the victory. Food was passed to the newcomers. Bardulf soon found himself a storyteller, as the Yul’aric gathered around him to hear what happened.

When he finished, Burnum brought Bardulf the fang spear, and then sat down next to him. “What next?”

“I go home.”

“Then I go with you.”

Bardulf wanted to argue, but recognized the importance of honor in the Yul’aric culture. “I will help you honor your debt. But I need you to take care of Thom.” He pointed to the fire where the young man relaxed, watching the children play. “Help him recover, and escort him home. I leave in the morning to help his father. I’ll find you after you arrive.”

Burnum looked at Thom. “I will, but this not repay debt. Must be paid to you. Do this as friend. Thanks for what you have done for my people.”

“I know. Thank you.”

Bardulf moved over to Thom and explained what was going on.

“Will I be safe?”, Thom asked. “I doubt these people are fond of me, and I don’t blame them.”

“You will. The son of the chief owes me a debt,” Bardulf answered. “He will make sure nothing happens. I am returning to help your father in the morning. I can’t delay.”

“I would expect nothing else from you, Bardulf.”

The next morning, Bardulf visited Thom. Burnum asked the shaman and some of the women to check Thom’s injuries. Burnum stood watching nearby. “I’m under good care, Bardulf. Tell my father that I’ll see him soon.”

The shaman stood and gave a vial to Bardulf. “Here is the venom. I hope it helps.”

“It will.”

Bardulf placed it in the bags with the rest of his equipment, and then removed his clothes and packed them. He shifted and stretched his wings while the staff, spear, and bags were lashed to his serpentine body. With a growl and nod, he sprung into the sky. The Yul’aric gathered to see him off. Their voices echoed through the trees as he flew away.

The day passed quickly as he soared above the clouds, out of sight from those below. By early evening, Belmont Acres came into view. He landed in the forests outside the city, and walked the rest of the distance. Two hours later, he was in front of the manor of Lord Belmont.

The guards at the entrance crossed their spears. “We can’t let anyone in.”

“Does Lord Belmont still live?”

“He does.”

“Barely,” the other guard mumbled.

The first guard glared at his friend. “We are asking everyone to offer prayers for him.”

“I’m not too late, then. I am Bardulf Sylvanni, and have returned with a cure.”

The guards eyes widened, and they ushered him in immediately. He left his equipment with the guards, carrying only the vial and staff in.

The doctor looked up when Bardulf opened the door to Lord Belmont’s room. “You’re back?” the doctor asked as Bardulf approached the bed. Alain Belmont was pale, and his breathing was faint and shallow.

“I am.” Bardulf handed the doctor the vial. “Here is the venom. Do what you can to find a cure. Now, leave me with Lord Belmont. I do this alone.” The man reluctantly agreed.

Bardulf closed the doors behind the doctor. He took the staff, and placed a hand on Alain’s chest. A trickle of power flowed through the staff, and into Lord Belmont. The man arched his back briefly, and breathed out a green mist.

Color immediately returned to Lord Belmont’s skin. His face, which had been pained, relaxed. Moments later, he opened his eyes. “Bardulf…?”

“Yes, my lord.”

“Did you find Thom?”

“He will return in a few weeks. I hurried to cure you.”

“Thank you.”

“You are welcome, my lord. I’ll return tomorrow to check on you and tell you about the quest. Until then, please rest.”

Lord Belmont smiled. “I look forward to it. We will discuss your reward then.”

When Bardulf entered his home and called out, he found himself embraced by his wife. After a minute, he released her and took the necklace off. “You can have it back for now,” Bardulf said as he put it back around her neck.

She frowned. “For now?”

Bardulf nodded. “I am leaving in a few days to find an elf. We need to discuss the future of the Rangers.”

Thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way. I cannot express thanks enough.

For now, this is the end of the Tale. I have plans for this site as well as Bardulf’s stor, but it will be dormant for a while. I am going to do a Postmortem about my experience with all of this. In the mean time, please see what I’m up to at my personal site. And now for the moment I’ve been waiting for…

The End

Hero’s Tale VYA – Part 22

First, sorry about the delay! This entry took longer than anticipated to get right.

Next, we have approached the end of the Tale. But, this isn’t all of it. Part of the problem was that I split this into two parts. The final entry will be ready in a week or two. There is no more voting, so please enjoy the story.

Calel’sinfas had to be protected. If he battled Calyn, it would be too late. Bardulf moved to strike, but was driven back by a slice from Calyn’s tail spike. “You havesss me to deal withsss,” he said while he moved to block Bardulf.

As a quetzal, Calyn was larger and faster. He had grown into the body over time. Bardulf could only hope to win through tactics. He glanced to Leonard, gauging the distance between them. The man stood with his eyes closed while the runes on the staff pulsed with ruby light.

A crazy plan took shape in his mind. You can’t catch me every time, Bardulf taunted. He coiled, and sprung into the air to get to Leonard.

Like lightning, Calyn caught Bardulf by wrapping his tail around Bardulf near his head, and slamming him to the ground. The momentum carried the rest of Bardulf’s body over his head, stunning him for a moment. “I only need to onsse,” Calyn hissed as he wrapped around Bardulf.

Even with his vision blurred for a moment, Bardulf was able to note that his head was near Calel’sinfas. That meant his tail was close to Leonard. He started to wriggle to see better, but Calyn stopped him, and maneuvered so he could see better. “Leonard wantsss you to ssee thisss.”

The glow of the staff now filled the cavern with a bloody hue. Calel’sinfas groaned and her head twitched. Bardulf wasn’t sure if she was in pain or fighting against Leonard. He had one chance to stop this.

Before he could second guess his idea, Bardulf whipped his tail at the staff. The spike whistled, and bit into the staff. There was a bright flash and a deafening crack as the staff snapped in half.

Leonard’s eyes snapped open, briefly wreathed in wisps of red light, like dying flames. He was still holding the top half of the staff, as the bottom piece to the ground. “You…” Leonard’s eyes glowed brighter, and his face contorted in rage. He grabbed the piece from the ground, and with one in each and, rushed forward and stabbed down into the mass of coils. Bardulf and Calyn both hissed in pain as a piece sank into each of them. “You had one job, Calyn,” Leonard roared.

Calyn constricted further, and then released Bardulf. “I am tiredsss of thiss! You can’tss blamess me for everything. Thisss wasss your ideass, and it diess with youss!” He struck at Leonard. The man’s eyes widened with surprise, as Calyn threw him across the cavern. Leonard crashed into a wall and fell to the ground like a limp rag doll.

The piece of staff sticking out of Calyn pulsed with azure light. He twitched, eyes bulging as he opened his mouth with a soundless cry. Tendrils of light snaked around his body, and with a flash, Calyn was suddenly human again. The staff clattered to the ground, no longer stuck in Calyn’s body.

Bardulf yanked out the staff with his mouth and discarded it before shifting. He limped over to Calyn, who looked up at him with dull eyes. “You win, my lord.” He coughed, and was still. Bardulf closed Calyn’s eyes as a service to his old companion.

The sound of something rolling on the ground made Bardulf spin around. The pieces of staff were moving towards each other. With a cry of alarm, Bardulf grabbed the closest piece. The runes glowed with a golden light. The piece on the ground lifted into the air a short distance in an attempt to reach the other.

Take the pieces and let them join together.

Bardulf looked at Calel’sinfas with a frown. “Shouldn’t it be destroyed? You would be safer.”

The sound that came out of the dragon mother was guttural, but Bardulf could tell she was laughing. No. That staff is made from a spike from my body, and is not easily destroyed. Maybe broken for a time, but not destroyed. Like an axe or a hammer, it can be used in many ways. It can heal poisons or grant rapid healing. But it can also control my children, or siphon power from myself. That is what he was trying to do. She nodded towards the body of Leonard. Please, put the staff back together.

Bardulf picked up the other piece and he held the two halves loose in his hands. They jumped together with a flash of golden light, and Bardulf found a solid staff resting in his hands. He took a moment to study it, and then looked at Calyn. “What happened to him? Why didn’t it happen to me?”

When I am awake, I can exert some control over the staff. He was dying, and no longer needed my power. I used the staff piece to retrieve what was mine. You will keep my gift and protect the staff.

It was a moment before Bardulf understood what was being asked of him. “Why me?”

You did not seek this power, and you have helped my children. And me. You are the obvious choice. The dragon mother moved her head. Now, it is time for me to sleep. I need your blood.

Bardulf stepped forward, then stopped. “What about the Yul’aric? They need help still.”

I already have. The dragon mother’s forked tongue flickered. Come now.

Bardulf walked up to her awaiting mouth, and Calel’sinfas licked the blood off of his body and the staff.

“That’s it?”


She settled back down, closed her eyes and mouth. Stone began forming over her body again. I will only be awakened by the staff in the future. I cannot be awoken before the proper time again. I will be able to speak with you through the staff at times. It may be in your life, it may not. Time is different while I sleep. Thank you, Bardulf. Then there was silence. The Dragon mother slept again.

There was a groan from across the cavern. “Thom?” Bardulf had forgotten about him and hobbled over to check on him. “How do you feel?”

“I hurt all over. Calyn didn’t hold back. But he didn’t bite me, so I don’t think I am poisoned.” The young man cracked open his eyes. “Bardulf? You are human again. And naked. What happened?”

Bardulf gave a quick summary of the events. “With the death of Leonard and Calyn, we can return home.”

“Good.” Thom winced with pain. “I will need some help getting there, though.”

“Let me get my clothes and equipment, my lord.”

Hero’s Tale VYA – Part 21

Another short entry this time. Sorry for the delay, we had sickness run through the family. I will be closing voting on Sunday, February 16, 2014. If you need to catch up, all previous entries are linked above for perusal. Now, onto the adventure.

Bardulf stayed, watching with fear and curiosity as the stone shell broke away. Its eyes swiveled while it opened and closed its gaping maw, knocking debris away. Deep green scales with gold and blue highlights glittered in the torchlight under the stone. Its golden eyes turned to Bardulf, and focused. The gaze was intense, and Bardulf felt as though the whole of his being was open to those eyes. Then it opened its mouth and hissed.

A shiver ran down Bardulf’s spine. He understood it. My child, why have you awoken me? He stared at the serpent in surprise. Intelligence was not something he had expected. But now that he had heard the language, he knew he could speak it as well. “I…sss..” Bardulf closed his eyes and focused. The language felt foreign, but it came to him. There are men who wanted to wake you for an unknown purpose. I woke you before them to try and prevent whatever it is they wanted.

They seek my heart. Bardulf could feel the anger in the air. They seek power.

Bardulf pondered the words, then asked, Why do you call me your child? Who are you?

You have been bestowed with a part of my power, thus you are my child. The creature paused. As for who? I am called Calel’sinfas by my children who guard me. I am known by other names in other places.

Bardulf suddenly remembered something that he had been taught by the elves, and shivered. You are called Elgrath by the Fae. You are one of the Elder Dragons. He whispered the last.

Amusement shown in the serpent’s eyes. I thought I sensed Fae magic on you. You are correct, I am. That is why I need to return to my slumber. It is not time for the Awakening. The eyes shifted to look somewhere else. But this incursion on my realm and children needs dealt with first. Her eyes fell back on Bardulf. You will help. It was not a question.

How can I help? Bardulf hesitated, and bowed his head. Mother.

Calel’sinfas took in Bardulf before replying. It requires your blood.

Bardulf opened his mouth to speak, but a scent wafted in from the tunnels behind him. He spun to see Calyn approaching in his quetzal form.

“It’s true!” Leonard stepped out from behind Calyn. He dropped Thom to the ground, whom he had been carrying. The young lord was bleeding from wounds. “Calyn, kill our substitute while I complete the ritual.” Leonard took the staff he carried in both hands. Bright ruby runes began to glow on the shaft.

The staff! Get it away from him!

Calyn’s eyes widened in surprise, clearly understanding what Calel’sinfas said. Bardulf took the moment of hesitation to decide his next move.

Inventory: (all on floor) fang dagger, flint & steel, heart necklace
Health: healthy (in quetzal form)

Who should Bardulf attack first?
A) Leonard
B) Calyn

Hero’s Tale VYA – Part 20

Shorter entry to the series this time around. Doesn’t mean any less trouble, in fact… Well, I’ll let you read about it. Voting will be up till the end of Saturday, January 25, 2014. As usual, all entries are linked above for your reading pleasure. Now, onto the adventure.

“Who’s blood is this?” Bardulf asked as he took the vial of red liquid from Thom.

“Calyn’s. We have some from Erol as well, just in case.”

Bardulf nodded slowly. “If we wait Leonard and Calyn will overpower us, and we loose our chance.” He walked towards the mouth of the giant serpent head. The tongue was curved, creating a small trough that flowed into the mouth. He gently pulled the glass stopper from the vial, and poured the blood onto the tongue. “We finish this without them.” It left a red streak on the stone as it flowed into the awaiting mouth.

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