On Deathrow

Percy - Eighth day of Patchwall

A drunken elf is singing out of tune in the cell next door. My cell is pretty good, as far as jails go. A clean, simple bed fills one end of the cell, the rest of the floor is swept clean. The hallways are even a little polished. I once spent a night on a bed of straw that was more bedbug than hay, and I paid for the room at that inn!

Such a shame at the end of this stay I'm going to lose my head. The penalty for my crime is death. Wish they told me that before I terrorised the unscrupulous bartender with a severed head, but I probably would have done it anyway.

A window sits at the top of one wall. I push the bed over and look out the small opening. The walls are a foot thick and big iron bars block my escape, but I can see a small laneway on the other side. It's empty except for a monstrous looking black horse. I've heard of these creatures, known only as night mares. They travel from plane to plane, striking fear in the hearts of good people. Its eyes are inky black wells filled every bad dream I've ever had. 

As I wonder why this ominous horse is standing outside my cell, a key turns in the lock. Funny, it's too early for lunch.  

A guard opens the cell room door and says "he's in here," as he leads Akta into the cell. I'm saved!

"Akta, thank gods, I'm saved!" I exclaim. "You're going to get me out of here, right?" 

She ponders this for a moment, trying to find the right words. "You're gonna die." 

What? Where's the audacious prison break, as my buddies storm the jail with their crossbows firing? "Come on Akta, you can't have that attitude. How are we going to get out of this mess?" 

"I don't know, dad. How will my sisters and I survive?" She blurts out, trying to shed some tears too and failing.

Ah, I see how they got access to this prison, normally visitors aren't allowed. How the guard believed Akta, a grey skinned Tiefling older than me, is somehow my daughter is beyond me. "I don't know, we'll find a way to get out of this mess, dear," I say, continuing the bit. 

The guard, watching us from the doorway, is so moved by our act he starts to sob. "I don't know, anything short of a pardon from King Hanin won't get you off this murder charge," he explains, all choked up.

Of course! "Akta, you know that little quest Veto asked us to go on where we could get King Hanin's favour?"

"Hmmm, I don't know that one." 

Damn. "Could you get your uh, sister? She might know." 

Akta is escorted out, returning five minutes later with Torran.

"Torran!" 

"Dad!" 

Good, she's in on the act too. "You know the quest Veto told us about, the one where we have to find a traitor in King Hanin's court? One of the rewards was a favour from the king, something that might bust me out."

I'm about to continue explaining when I see Torran try to slip me a dagger. Checking to see the guard isn't watching, I edge up to the bars and take it. The guard looks up as I'm pulling away from Torran. "Hey! No contact," he sternly explains.

As we're pulling away, I stash the dagger in my tunic without the guard seeing. "Sorry, I was just giving my daughter a hug. I don't know if we'll see each other again."

The guard's eyes are all puffy from crying. "I'm sorry, it's the rules. You have to go now." 

"We'll get out of this mess, I can't stand trial tomorrow and be sentenced, please help," I say to no one in particular, hoping Torran or Akta will understand. Torran nods as though she gets the message. 

 

A few minutes after they leave, I hear a rush of flames from the window. Looking out, Everyone is chasing some guy down the street. It's the barkeep! I can't believe my luck. Torran, Akta and Twinkle are chasing this poor wretch down the street into the path of the night mare.

"Aithon, pin him down!" Akta yells. The horse responds, knocking the barkeep down with his front hooves and lowering himself onto the ground. The barkeep is trapped by the fearsome horse. I wonder where Akta got this creature, sure hope he's not my replacement in the group.

Pinned by the weight of the horse, he pleads, "Stop, please, I don't know what you want!"

Akta walks towards him. "Yes you do. Because of your words, our friend is in jail. You have to get him out." 

"But I can't do that, there was a tavern full of witnesses! Please, I cant breathe!" 

 "You WILL get our friend out of the mess you put him in."

He's trying to move, squirming and straining. "I'll try, just get this, this thing, off me!"

"Aithon, let him go." The horse stands up. "You go around the corner to the guards and explain that Percy wasn't the one who left the severed head on your counter." 

 

Torran & Akta

At the jail's entrance, the barkeep knocks on the door. The same guard who escorted Akta and Torran answers. 

"It was me, I killed that man!" The barkeep wails. 

The guard is confused, but recognises the barkeep's face. "Who, the man whose head was left on your bar?"

"Yes, I killed him, then paid the man you arrested to bring his head into the bar," he begins to plead. "You have to believe me, I killed that man and covered it up!"

The guard is unconvinced. "We have witnesses, it wasn't you." He pauses, considering this strange turn of events. "Is someone threatening you? Wink once for yes, twice for no."

Akta is watching the exchange and notices the barkeep blink only once. Before he can say any more, she pulls out her hand crossbow, shooting the barkeep in the chest. Running around the corner, she mounts Aithonand gallops away.

Shocked, the guard begins to drag the body inside, yelling for reinforcements. Torran runs up to the door. "What's happened? Oh no, is that man dead?"

"Somebody shot him. You'd better get in here, where it's safe." 

Torran slinks inside before the door is bolted and the guards take up defensive positions. She begins to look around while everyone is busy with the phantom threat. A small room off to the side holds all the inmates possessions, on the opposite wall is the captain's office. 

The captain's desk holds a ledger with every prisoner's name. Torran looks up Percy's entry and sees his court date is set for tomorrow, the ninth day of Patchwall. Thinking quickly, she takes the captain's quill and puts a line in front of the date, changing it to 19.

Ten days - enough to obtain a favour from King Hanin and break Percy out.  

The Medium Things

Part of a series on the things I'm doing. For the other two, see the Little things and the Big Things.

Now that we've covered the Little things that are mostly hobbies I do in my spare time, let's look at the Medium Things, all the stuff that takes a sizeable amount of time and attention in my life.

YouTube

I was at a party with a bunch of Youtubers the other week and the dreaded question came up: what do you do on Youtube? I struggled to find an answer, because there really isn't one!

I've been making videos on Youtube on and off since 2009, a time when Ray William Johnson was the most popular Youtuber [shudders] and HD content was a real novelty. In the last year I've pushed myself to make more videos with mixed results. I started making daily videos in March, but that was cut short by a surprise internship opportunity at the ABC. Weekly videos have failed to materialise and I really struggle to find time to produce a whole video from scratch. Despite this, I've still managed to put together more than 40 videos so far this year. 

There's no clear genre or style that my videos fit into, but the sorts of videos that I have produced this year fall into three main categories: discussion of ideas, book reviews and news items. Watch this space, some exciting videos will be coming out in the next month or two.

This blog

This is the newest project I'm working on right now, but it has quickly become a big part of where I spend my time. I've been meaning to branch into writing for some time, but never really got enough momentum behind any public project to keep it running for more than a week.

Just like YouTube, I still haven't quite figured out what I want to do in this space, so I'm going to throw all kinds of stuff at the wall and see what sticks. The current categories - news roundups, book reviews and personal experience - are a good indicator of where this thing is headed. Basically these are the same as my YouTube videos, without all the production hassle.

Church

I've been going to church for about 10 years now, but it's something I don't really talk about on the internet. There's so much animosity toward organised religion on here that it makes me hesitate to even mention it. 

It is, however, a big part of my life. Church has been an anchor of sorts in a life that has profoundly changed as I figure out what I'm doing both professionally and personally. I still haven't figured everything out in my life, but one thing's for sure, I can count on this part of what I do never changing. 

Work

When I was meeting someone for the first time, they asked me the question, "what do you do that enables your lifestyle?" That's the best way to sum up nearly every job in university, and mine is no exception.  I work in a business that combines a newsagency and post office under one roof, a mix that works strangely well. The people I work with are wonderful, my boss is the best person you could ever work for and the workload is pretty light. I get to read anything that's on the shelves - a seriously great perk for a journalism student - and I get paid to talk to people every day. This is the unicorn of uni student jobs, with decent hours and wages, great perks, and and amazing boss.

It's not all sunshine and happiness, Australia Post's delivery drivers cause enough headaches for us that I could write a whole blog post about it (and just might in the future). We get angry customers, entitled customers, smelly customers, all kinds of people you'd hear about on r/TalesFromRetail.

But at the end of the day it's all worth it, because the break room has a free espresso machine. 

Interning

A compulsory part of my journalism course is at least one internship in a newsroom of some sort. I have mentioned these internships before, even writing about my experiences on the job.

I have been fortunate enough to intern at two major news networks, ABC and Channel Seven. Even though the placements were about five weeks each and only a few days per week, if you're approaching them properly the workload is like a real job. There's a lot of stress, long hours, wide ranging tasks and everything else that a real job entails.

It's a big undertaking and one that is immensely rewarding. Working alongside veteran reporters and producers has taught me so many things that can't be taught in a classroom and provided me with rich experiences and valuable contacts. Oh, and did I mention how fun they are, riding around with camera crews all day and making the news?

As of this blog post I am the only person in my class to have completed two internships this year. While there might be another internship on the horizon soon, but there's no way I'll break the record number of internships that one student did a few years ago - six in one year.

The Winds of Autumn, Part 2

Part two of this week's Dungeons & Dragons session, find the first part here.

1pm, Eighth Day of Patchwall

Guards rush through the street. An upturned cart lies abandoned. Why is everyone so worked up about a severed head? Nobody got this excited when Larissa lost her head after that sorry business with the consul.

Twinkle Toes is standing uneasily by the crack den. He's looking at everyone who's passing us in the street, but I don't think it's because of what I've just set in motion. "Let's go chase down this other lead," I say.

We head around to the Lysium entrance. The street is full of scholars now, most are visibly shaken. Some are comforting colleagues who have lost their lunch. I walk up to the guards at the Lysium entrance. "Some crowd, eh? How did you go finding Melinna?"

"Couldn't find anyone by that name, but you're welcome to go inside and look around for yourself," the guard says.

"What's your name?"

"I'm Hemon."

"You da man, Hemon."

The guard puts down his now empty tankard and points at me. "No, you da man."

What a nice guy. Inside, there's a lady behind a desk. Seems like a good place to start.

"Hi, we're here to see Belinna about a quest. We've got this, er..." I pat down my pockets, trying to find the quest token.

Twinkle chimes in. "You left the token at the crack den."

Dammit, Veto won't be happy.

The clerk is just as lost as us, looking around her desk for something. "You said you were looking for Belinna?"

"That's right, she's had some book stolen and we want to help get it back," I reply.

This gets her attention. "Oh, did Veto send you? I put out a quest for someone to get back my spellbook. I'm Marinia."

Marinia? Oh, that's what the paper said! 

"Right, Marinia! The quest notice was a little smudged, we couldn't read it properly," I explain, somewhat embarrassed.

"Ah, I understand. Now that's out of the way, let me explain the situation. Somebody has my spellbook, which means I am stuck doing this kind of work," gesturing to the papers strewn across the desk. "I uh, spent the night with somebody. He asked to see my spellbook, then said it would be good for his collection." 

She seems hesitant to tell us who it is. "He didn't so much take it, he refused to give it back. Rothvell, he's a collector of sorts, he lives not too far from the Frozen Rose in one of the colourful houses."

"I know the place," Twinkle Toes says. "You can see the it from a mile away."

"We'll get your spellbook back, Marinia. You can count on us."

 

We stop by the Frozen Rose. I shed my cloak, washing off the worst of the blood and hanging it up to dry. Twinkle hides the strong box in our room.

Downstairs, Veto is signing some papers at his desk. "Hey Veto old buddy, you know how we can't finish quests without the little tokens you give us?"

From the way he puts down his quill, it's clear Veto is no stranger to this conversation. 

I press on, not waiting for an answer. "We got swindled by some drug dealers who tried to kill us and they took our token. We made sure they won't hustle anyone else, but one ran off with it before we could catch him. Can we get another one?"

He looks up at us unimpressed. "Do you remember which number the token was?"

"63."

He crosses something off a ledger and pulls another token from a drawer. "It's a fee of 25 gold for losing a quest token. Make sure you don't lose this one."

 

The colourful houses are in a cheerful little quarter near the city wall. Rothvell has a sign on his letterbox with his name in large, cursive lettering. The house itself looks big enough to hold a dozen people comfortably.

We walk through an immaculate front garden, up a few steps to the front door. The doorbell rope hangs off to the side. Pulling it sets off a distant series of chimes.

A well-dressed servant politely answers the door. "Hello, we weren't expecting any guests today. Who are you?"

Putting on my best impression of a merchant I say, "That's right, Rothvell was not expecting us. However, I think he will enjoy the nature of our visit. He is a collector of rare and exotic goods, yes? Well we have something that might interest him."

The servant seems convinced. "Wait here a moment, I will see if my master will see you."

 

Rothvell's house could be mistaken for a museum. Rare artifacts sit on display at every turn, antique tapestries line the walls. The furniture seems carved from wood, though no tree in this land could yield such rich timber. The servant leads us upstairs, down ornate hallways, across a rooftop garden overlooking the street. He ushers us back inside, across another hallway and into a large room designed for these kinds of meetings. A colossal table dominates the room, we are directed to two plain chairs. Opposite us is a single seat upholstered with plush velvet and inlaid with gold leaf on intricate carvings. This is a chair better suited to King Hanin's throne room. It's clear Rothvell is a man of fine taste. 

The servant leaves to fetch some tea. Twinkle decides to look around the house, I stay put. The far wall has two large windows that overlook the city wall and the forests beyond. 

Twinkle sneaks back in, quickly followed by the servant holding a tea tray. "Rothvell will be just a minute, until then you can wait here."

I'm convinced, but Twinkle decides to follow the servant. I look at the pot of tea and wonder if it's laced with anything. Better to leave it.

Twinkle comes back having found nothing interesting. Rothvell follows soon after, servant in tow. He strains to move the oversized throne, pushing it into the table as Rothvell sinks into the luxurious fabric. 

He looks at both of us with eyes filled with hunger. "Gentlemen, my servant tells me you have something I may be interested in."

It's incredible how easy it is to get inside some places. "On the contrary, it seems you have something that we are interested in. Something you have acquired rather unscrupulously. We are here on behalf of Marinia, whose spellbook you refuse to give back."

If Rothvell is surprised, he doesn't show it. "Ah, yes, Marinia. We had such a lovely evening, in exchange for her spellbook."

"You took her spellbook because she spent a night with you?"

"That's right. My time is a valuable commodity, something which you are wasting right now. Perhaps we could make a trade, I would be willing to part with the book for 500 gold."

Is he serious? "I don't think so. My partner and I have been tasked with recovering this book and we are certainly not paying for something you stole. Now, will you return this book freely, or do we have to take it by force?"

"Is that some kind of threat? I don't take kindly to threats." He gestures to the servant, who pulls the chair back, replacing it as Rothvell moves around the table.

This ends now. "I will ask you one last time. Give us the book, Rothvell."

He takes a dainty monacle from his breast pocket and studies us. "I see you have little of value on you, but I would be willing to part with Marinia's spellbook in exchange for that dagger of yours," gesturing to Twinkle.

Affronted, Twinkle tries to cast a spell and fails spectacularly. Rothvell narrows his eyes, storms out the door and locks it. "GUARDS," He yells, muffled by the thick ebony door.

The servant is still in the room. I grab his shoulders, shake him and yell, "where did Rothvell put this book?"

"I don't know! Master never tells us these things," he cries, shaken. "There's a library next door, it could be in there but I have no idea!"

I let go of the servant and he drops to the ground. We need a way out of this room first. I charge at the door, hoping it will give way. It doesn't budge, instead rattling my skull and leaving my head spinning.

"Look!" Twinkle exclaims behind me. "You've opened a crack in the wall, we should try breaking through here."

We both begin hacking at the tapestried wall, sending plaster and antique fabric flying. The servant tries to stop us from his position on the floor. "These tapestries are incredibly expensive, don't destroy them!"

Without turning around I say, "Your master should've thought of that before going about this the hard way."

After a minute we've made an opening big enough for us to squeeze through. The walls are lined with shelves holding hundreds of leather bound books. On the far wall is a glass cabinet holding a single spellbook.

"Go get the spellbook Twinkle, I'll guard the door."

Opening the door slightly, I hear the faint rumbling of men running somewhere in the house. Closer, I hear Twinkle swing his mace and hit the books next to the glass. "Stand aside, I'll take care of this." I start firing off arrows at the glass, shattering the cabinet on the second shot. This triggers a trap, sending blades slashing out of the bookshelf and slicing the arrow's shaft in two.

"Get the book Twinkle, and mind those blades!" I turn to the door, the clatter of armed men is getting louder. I hear a dull thunk as Twinkle triggers the blades again, seconds later he comes running past me holding the book on his shield now dented around the edges.

We run out into the hallway where three guards are running towards us. "Stop! We're just taking back what's rightfully ours!" This stops them for a couple seconds, all we need to make our escape.

As we run into the garden I hear the guards start moving again, their captain saying "no, they're thieves stealing our master's things, get them!"

There's a low wall at the edge of the garden. We jump over it, landing in the front yard facing the street. It's a one storey drop, so we hit the ground hard but we're free and clear. Crossbow bolts fired by the guards whistle past us, but we're already out of range before they can hit us.

We leg it back to the Frozen Rose. From our room's upstairs window we see the three guards running through the street, past the inn, still pursuing us.

Twinkle starts leafing through the book, checking out the spells. This mage is powerful beyond anyone I've ever seen, with high level spells like prismatic spray and reverse gravity among her incredible repertoire. She could become a powerful ally...

 

As we turn down the street where the Lysium is, I can tell something is wrong. The crowd has thinned a little, but the guards outside the tavern have doubled. I begin to pull the hood of my cloak up and in doing so I catch the eyes of a guard. He points and yells "That's him!"

I run, leaving Twinkle to return the book. This part of town is unfamiliar and busy with late afternoon crowds. I struggle to make any lead on the guards and they catch up with me in a small square filled with fruit stalls. Four guards pin me down as more arrive in the square. Manacles are placed around my wrists.

"I'm innocent, that guy was a drug dealer," I feebly protest.

Unmoved, one guard replies, "We'll figure this out tomorrow, you'll have your day in court."

Half dragged, half carried, I'm taken to the city jail where a surly clerk takes all my possessions and marches me into a dank cell.

The door clangs shut, a key turns in the lock, and I'm all alone. How will I get out of this mess?

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Winds of Autumn, Part 1

In my Little Things post, I said I'd start writing about my Dungeons and Dragons sessions. Here's the first part of tonight's session, I'll put the rest of what happened up here later on in the week.

8am, Eighth Day of Patchwall

As soon as we're awake the girls and Brittany kick us out of the room. They have a spa day planned, courtesy of Brittany. She won some talent contest and the prize was a beauty package for three people. It's just me and Twinkle Toes for today's adventures, a halfling cleric who's recently joined our group.

"The girls get all the good stuff. What do you want to do?" he says.

Father always said don't rush into something on an empty stomach, so I head downstairs for breakfast. Twinkle decides to do some reconnaissance on a quest involving King Hănïn.

The tavern is busy with guests who stayed the night, eating some quality food before they set off on their journeys. The establishment's owner, Veto Smoll, weaves between tables making sure everyone's food is to their liking.

After a couple of hours Twinkle gets back. He chased down a few leads, but got nowhere. This king is a real paranoid type, he won't let anyone except his closest advisers near him. This case will be tough to crack.

The breakfast crowd has cleared out, leaving a only a few boozers who spend their days getting drunk and remembering days gone by. I'm restless for some action. "What do you want to do for the rest of the day," I ask Twinkle.

"Not sure, I just want to get away from the Amber Wrath," he replies.

We check the quest board for something out of the city, away from this gang Twinkle is anxious to avoid. Unfortunately for him the only quests the two of us could manage are in town.

Twinkle is undaunted and just as restless. "Let's just do some quest, we could use the gold."

Here's something: a quest to help somebody recover a stolen book. The notice doesn't have many details, but it seems self explanatory. The writing is a little smudged, but it appears to say "see Belinna at the Lysium," which is only 20 minutes away. We take the notice to Veto, who gives us a coin sized quest token with the number 60 on it.

 

It's getting colder as the seasons change. Today's the first time I've worn my cloak and really needed it. Turning the collar up against the breeze, Twinkle and I head through Icegarden's winding streets, passing carts laden with fresh vegetables and the occasional guard.

The Lysium is a big place with two guards on the front door. I walk up to the one closest to me. "Hi, we're here to see Belinna."

This guard wants nothing to do with me. "I don't know anyone named Belinna. You two look like you don't belong here, perhaps you'd feel more at home in the bar across the street."

It's clear I'm not going to get in here just on my wits, but there might be other ways. It must be thirsty work standing guard outside all day...

"Ok then, is there anything I can get you two?"

The guard I'm closest to walks off without a word, but the second one lingers. "Could you get me a midday ale? If you do, I'll have a look for this Belinna you're after."

Success. "Sure thing, we'll be right back."

The tavern across the street is filled with scholarly types enjoying a lunchtime drink. The barman is at the counter pouring tankard after tankard of ale.

"Hey barkeep, I'll have three ales please."

Without breaking rhythm he says "That'll be six coppers," then puts three pints in front of me.

I slide a silver piece across the counter. "We're looking for someone named Belinna. Do you know any information about her?"

He takes the silver and turns it over a couple of times. "I think I've heard of her. Behind the Lysium there's a ramshackle house where she lives, just go up to the front door and knock three times. Trust me, you can't miss it."

Twinkle and I find a table to drink our ale at. A scrap of paper was on his seat and somehow he's convinced himself it's a clue to our current quest and reads it very carefully. Neither of us can make sense of all the numbers that dance their way across the page, I can see how Twinkle might think it's a mysterious clue.

Halfway through our ales a sheepish scholar comes up to our table. Her face lights up when she sees the paper. "Oh thank goodness, you've found my maths homework!"

Confused, Twinkle hands her the page. It's clear he still thinks it's a clue.

 

We walk back over to the Lysium, ale in hand. I sneak the beer to the guard without anybody noticing, not even his partner. Not to brag, but my days spent as a groupie for a band of bards really pays off sometimes. Nobody is aware of his sneaky libation until he takes a sip, leaning inside his cloak for a drink and returning with a foamy moustache.

He's as subtle as an orc among halflings, but satisfied with our little gift. "Come back in 10 minutes, I can probably get you inside."

 

While waiting, we walk around the corner to check out this house. We're in a classy part of town, most places are well kept and the people are very well to do yet this house looks like it has been constructed out of driftwood. Sticks and planks are haphazardly thrown together without any plan, producing something that would be better suited to lowtown. I hesitate to even call it a house. The barkeep was right, it sticks out like a sore thumb.

I knock on the door three times and a half-elf answers. "Hello, who's there?"

"We're here to see Belinna. Is she here?"

The elf hesitates. "Uhh, let me check," he replies, heading further inside, leaving the door ajar.

I hear indistinct conversation somewhere in the house. "Let's go inside," I say to Twinkle. I give the door an almighty push, but years of neglect have rusted the hinges together. Even with great effort I barely open it enough to let the two of us in.

The room has no windows, the only light is from the doorway. With my dark vision I see two half-elves in the far corners, their hushed conversation stops when I step in the room. As we walk further in, the door closes and a bar is placed across it. I have a bad feeling about this...

"Where's Belinna?" I ask uneasily.

One of the elves points to the door in front of us. "She's in there, but you can't go in with your weapons."

"I'm not giving my weapons to you. If she wants our help, she'll see us as we are. Look, here's our quest token."

He takes the token and considers what I've said for a moment. "Fine. I'll take your sword, but you can keep everything else."

"That seems like a fair compromise," I say as he takes my blade. I'm a better at archery anyway.

He starts ushering me into the next room as I hear a crash on the floor. Twinkle has fallen over trying to follow me. Wait, can he even see in this darkness?

"Twinkle, are you ok?" The half-elf is pushing me toward the door. "Hey buddy, my friend has fallen over." He's still pushing. "Let me help my friend. Look, all his stuff has spilled over the floor." Still pushing. I don't want to get violent with Belinna's guards, but this situation is getting out of hand. He's got me in the next room, closed and bolted the door before I can react.

The room is furnished with a single table. A mound of brown crystals sit on it, something is familiar about it... wait, didn't Jagussen use those whenever he wrote new songs? Oh gods, this isn't Belinna's house, it's a crack den. "Twinkle Toes!" I yell at the door.

A faint glow radiates from under the door. "I'm trying to light a fire to see what's going on," he explains. "I'm surrounded by four elves, they're drawing their weapons, help!"

I back up from the door, then charge at it with everything I've got. It turns to matchsticks as I slam my weight into it.

Shocked by my surprise entrance, an archer to my left looses an arrow at Twinkle, hitting him in the shoulder.

I bellow "Get your hands off my Twinkle Toes!" as I take aim at the archer. I hit his chest dead centre, pinning him against the wall with my arrow as blood gushes out the wound. He slumps over, the only thing keeping him upright is the arrow. One bandit drops his dagger in shock. Four left.

The three still holding their weapons attack Twinkle, two hit really hard. He's not in good shape, but that doesn't stop him striking his axe into the nearest one, severely wounding him. Twinkle casts cure wounds on himself, healing the worst of his hits.

I've notched another arrow and try to say something witty. Wilting under pressure, I say something to the effect of "You're gonna... er, I'm about to... take this, asshole!"

The guy I'm aiming for looks up, practically turning into my shot. Critical hit. The arrow pierces the bridge of his crooked nose, goes up through his eye socket and into his brain, dead before he hits the ground.

The remaining three drop their weapons. "Stop, don't kill us!" One says.

"We just wanted to rob you, the tavern sends unsuspecting travellers here, don't hurt us," cries another.

I want to turn these bandits in, but I fumble putting my bow away and in the commotion they escape. No justice for them, but there's still one who can't get away...

I find a large basin of water in an adjacent room to douse the fire that Twinkle lit. Now empty, I fill the basin with drugs, also finding a small strong box under the table. "Twinkle, hand me your axe and then take this chest outside. I've got a few things to take care of here."

He labours under the weight of the strong box, slowly dragging it outside. As he's doing that, I place the basin next to the guy I shot in the head. Using Twinkle's axe I hack off his head, placing it face up in the bowl of drugs. I cover it with my cloak to keep the surprise.

Outside, I hand Twinkle his axe. "Wait here, I'll be back in a minute." Basin in hand, I walk down the street whistling a tune Jagussen came up with on one of his crack-fuelled benders.

The tavern is still packed with scholars. I nudge my way through the crowd to the bar, where the same barkeep is tapping another keg.

The surprise on his face betrays him. "Oh hello again, I didn't expect to see you back so soon."

I heave the bowl up onto the counter and shout loud enough for all the patrons to hear. "Next time you send someone to kill us," I pull back my cloak for the grand reveal. "Send people who will do their damned job and KILL US!"

Silence. The barkeep goes white in shock. A lady screams, somebody drops their tankard. All hell breaks loose as I put the cloak around my shoulders. Whistling, I push through the screaming scholars back towards the door.

What did Jagussen call this tune again?

Oh yeah, Winds of autumn.

Baby Driver is Edgar Wright's High Octane Masterpiece

Baby Driver has been in cinemas in the United States for more than two weeks now, but it was only released in Australia yesterday so I haven't had a chance to review this movie until now. Depending on which company has distribution rights, we can wait weeks, or even months. As a blogger without any following, there's no way I can get into press screenings, so I've waited for weeks like everyone else to see what could be the hottest release of the summer blockbusters.

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Edgar Wright is in a league of his own when telling a story using few words. Every frame, every line, every sound is used to deliver maximum information, reaching an economy of storytelling most directors can only dream of.

Nowhere is this more present than in his latest film, Baby Driver. This heist driven action flick is the embodiment of Wright's iconic visual storytelling.

Before we continue, this review contains mild spoilers of the film. If you haven't seen it yet, what are you doing, go to your local cinema! Spoilers ahead, after the break.


First let's look at the economy of storytelling. The first scene with any substantial dialog is about five minutes in and the visuals have already told us volumes.

We know it's set in Atlanta, not because of a lazy skyline shot or an even lazier title card, but because we catch glimpses of police cars with Atlanta in big letters.

We know the titular character Baby (Ansel Elgort) doesn't take himself too seriously because he's rocking out to music on an old school iPod while acting as a getaway driver. It's clear he's the best at what he does by the precise movement in time to said songs.

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The current trend of shoehorning 70s and 80s music into every movie since Guardians of the Galaxy has been turned on its head with Wright instead building the scenes around the music.

Each action sequence is meticulously staged to move in time with its piece of music, moving rapidly during the chorus and stopping to take breath as the interlude begins. The interweaving of music and action is so seamless that you might not even see it on first viewing.

Wright manages to pack in so much detail that it's impossible to catch it all in one sitting. Every detail, right down to the name of the nondescript cafe Baby visits (Octane, natch) is obsessively detailed to provide the most immersive 113 minutes you'll see in cinemas this year.

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Baby Driver is Edgar Wright at the top of his game. All the sound and visual precision is turned up to 11, taking his signature style and painting an absolute masterpiece. The star studded cast make their characters sing, creating a symphony so precisely delivered that you will be left in awe.