MMO Grinder....is awesome!

     I'm a pretty busy person. When I'm not working 40+ hours a week at the local upscale grocery store, I'm doing artwork for Mad Matt Reviews, writing, reading, watching TV, and playing either single player games, or MMO's.
     I've been interested in MMO's since I started playing City of Heroes back in 2008. Strapped for cash, I began asking around for sites where I could find free-to-play MMO's. Someone on the Gaia Online forums pointed me toward onrpg.com. That's when my eyes were opened to the wide world of free-to-play MMO's. I had been on Gaia's zOMG beta, and it was okay, but this site offered real 3D games. Shooters, RPG's, Strategy, pretty much topped the list for me. Unfortunately, my ancient laptop couldn't play them. I had to settle for scrolling through the pages of games, watching video clips of game play and trailers, until my roommate moved and gave me her old Dell Dimension 4700 desktop.
     This was about that time that Bob and "Namiru" introduced me to Anarchy Online. By late 2009-2010, I had the second-hand desktop up and running and  a new netbook to chat over Skype with. Along with "Mad" Matt Winchell, I learned the ropes of AO from twinking in Backyard 5 to raiding in Temple of the Three Winds and Biomare. I joined The Independent Rubikans and now have about 8 toons spread out over a paid account and a fr00b account. I've even reupped my paid account for the month thanks to a game time card.
     I still visit onrpg.com, though, pining for what might have been. What if I had chosen the salad instead of the soup? Every time I visit, I see a new free-to-play MMO going into alpha or beta testing. I would love to try a few more games, but there just isn't time for them all!
     That's when I came upon MMO Grinder. Internet based review shows have become very popular in the past three years, or so. MMO Grinder seeks to inform people on many free-to-play MMO's such as Pangya, LUNA, and Lord of the Rings Online. Games are reviewed based on Graphics & Art Design, Music & Sound, Gameplay, Community, and Cash Shop. Other criteria are reasons to Play the game, reasons to Pay or use the cash shop, and why a player may want to Pass on a game. Each episode seems to be about half an hour long, and a lot of attention to detail is incorporated into the show. If you don't have time to actually play a lot of the free-to-play MMO's floating around out there, head on over to the show and see if ChaosD1 has reviewed one you're interested in.


Introduction: The Way to Kumas

The Way to Kumas is a short story focusing on a character I've made for my D&D group. Growgash is a half-human half-orc fighter with the usual troubled past and love life. In an effort to stretch the ol' creative writing muscles, I've started this short story. Hope you enjoy it!


The Way to Kumas

     The memory of the healer's fingers tracing their way across her wounds haunted her day dreams out here on the plains. The small escort of mounted men for hire and their priestly charge plodded onward through the saw grass and meadow flowers. Every now and then a butterfly in gold and blue, or a red meadow lark would pass their ears in halting flight. The young elf healer back in York had been gifted with long curling blonde locks down to his waist, nimble fingers, and blue green eyes that seemed as if the sea had been poured into them. Jaxon was blonde. She glanced over at the strong, muscled rider next to her. Perhaps he would be obliged to sate the fire in her loins tonight. Damn that healer! She had just gotten used to being on her own, too. Not many were willing to share the sleeping space of a half-orc half-human woman, even for little more than warmth.
It had been two days, since the party left York. Hired for a miserly sum of fifteen silver to escort the priest on his pilgrimage to Kumas. The city was only three days ride from out of town, and yet she had never heard of it. But the voyage promised a chance for change.
     Beside the old, bald man rode his apprentice, a boy of thirteen. Three other mercenaries had been hired in addition to Jaxon and herself, but she couldn't speak to how generously they had been paid. Two big ugly men and a younger man of about twenty, or so. They were clean but with broken teeth and matted hair. Like themselves, their piecemeal armor was battered but also cleaned with the worst dents beaten out. Growgash eyed the younger of the three behind her. He had a nervous quality to him, although he could handle the long sword he carried on his back. She had seen to that, herself. The bruises she'd given him would heal, but his broken pride and anger were another matter.
     The goat path they traveled was narrow and overwhelmed by the tall plains grasses. Small stones lay flush with the ground where the topsoil had been worn away. Growgash was just wondering at that when behind them came a high pitched squeal of anger that made the horses reel in terror. The priest had his hand up over his head, his eyes bulging his mouth gaping. The apprentice walked his pony forward and dismounted. Clearing the brush from the path, a black and mangled thing was revealed. He lifted what looked to be a skull not of humanoid form and, taking a knife to what was left of the neck, gingerly carried the grim find to his master. The old man took the skull and stared intently into eyes long gone, then pulled a small sack off of his belt and sprinkled what looked like sand onto its crown. A blue light flowed in the wake of the sand and for a brief moment, the being seemed alive again.
     Beyond in the distance a flock of birds burst forth from distant treetops. These were no meadowlarks, but large black creatures the size of a man. As these monsters lifted heavily into the air the black on their backs caught the sunlight and glistened gold. The soldiers' eyes grew wide as saucers at the sight.
     “Great golden beasts...” the younger mercenary gasped. A deep troubled feeling mixed with greed in Growgash. This was an evil portent, for no creatures like that openly dwelled within forest, plain, or mountain. To capture one would make mean only ill fortune. She had had enough of that in recent years. To her dismay, the priest pointed and howled ecstatically toward the spot of the forest the birds had fled.
     “This the place we must go to,” the apprentice told them, also pointing towards the thick woods. Growgash eyed the others and caught their anxious expressions.
     “By the gods,” spluttered one of the older men, “one feather off them kind will pay my way ta glory!”
     They left the path and headed into the forest. The priest had his apprentice hide the skull away in a sack, the blue light managing to shimmer through the rough fabric. The half-orc mused again, how it seemed almost alive.