Building My DeathWatch Army.

Hello!

January has ended and the next one has begun, did you know we’re into a leap year? Crazy.

I’ve been plodding along with my projects, well some of them. I got the chance to order some warhammer in the middle of January and spent a few frantic days assembling them for the gaming club that I run on a Tuesday.

Last time as I mentioned, for my second army after Orks, I decided that I wanted to collect DeathWatch because they are basically the exact opposite of Orks: low model count, lots of strategic options, decent survivability on the models. I’m really enjoying how the army plays, it’s a nice change.

So I decided to order the Start Collecting box in addition to the codex.

The best thing about the start collecting box for DeathWatch is the upgrade sprue you get, it includes ten DeathWatch shoulder-pads, which are really what I needed to upgrade my existing marines and make them look the part. You also get an absolute ton of bits to upgrade your amrines, which kind of caused me an existential crisis like I’ve never experienced with warhammer before.

Normally, when you build a unit, you have a few choices, but it doesn’t take much time to decide how you want to build them; maybe your heavy weapon squads require a little more thought, but you usually have the decision down after not too much thought. DeathWatch veterans however have so many options and such interesting ways to play that I genuinely had no idea how to build them, so I had to turn to the things I did know: I built my smash captain and my venerable dreadnought.

I converted the Captain Artemis model in the start collecting box with a few bits to give him a jetpack, storm shield and thunderhammer – classic SmashCaptain fare. I’ll upload a picture of him later once I’m finished painting because I’m actually really happy with how it turned out.

After they were finished I literally stared at my phone and the codex trying to figure out what I was going to do. Eventually I went with a half-meta half-fun build. One unit of veterans with Storm Bolters and Storm Shields, one unit of heavy weapons; infernus heavy bolters and normal heavy bolters and a full unit of melee veterans with a range of weapons and some frag cannons thrown in.

I think the army I’ve built is going to perform pretty averagely on the battlefield based on who I’m facing, but it’s going to do what I wanted with this army…basically allow me to play games without bringing 100+ models to the table.

Tune in next time when I take you through my painting results!

Warhammer 40K And The Joy Of Making

Hello dear reader!

I have been busy over the last few weeks. In my previous post, I made various statements about what me and Emma wish to do this year. All of this has been pulled into sharp focus over the last week or so as I have been battling a furious illness, but I’m now on the mend!

What I’m here to talk about is my love of Warhammer, specifically 40K, which has somewhat taken over my life of late. There is a gaming cafe quite close to me that opened midway through last year and for the longest time I have wanted a place to go to play my games, specifically Warhammer. I noticed that while they had a limited stock they didn’t really have a time or place for people to play the game.

So, I approached them at the end of last year to basically volunteer to start a “learn to play Warhammer” session on tuesday evenings and it’s going amazingly well! Every time I arrive with my models, there are more people wanting to learn and to get their models onto the table; to me, it just shows that if you just give people the opportunity, they will show up and participate.

This has led to me investing a bit more time and money into my armies. I collect Orks and for the longest time, this was the only army I did collect, but in the interest of having two armies, one for me to play and one to loan out, I have started a Deathwatch army.

deathwatch army painted undercoated
First pass on undercoating, almost ready to purge the Xenos.

I’ve never collected an Imperium army before and I wanted one that would cater to my needs: low model count(because Orks), high special abilities and lots of customisation options. I also had ten random terminators hanging around so something that would allow me to utilise them would be handy.

I must say, I think Deathwatch are one of the most fun armies I have ever had the pleasure of modeling and playing. Because the lore of the army means that they are special forces with a predilection towards fighting aliens (and equipping stolen alien technology, it gave me loads of scope for kitbashing and making MY DUDES; so I have been having a great time snipping, gluing and tweaking to get them just as I want them. They are so fun to play on the battlefield too.

bitz box crafting custom open toolbox
My box of tricks!

Next, I need to convert one of my terminators into a chaplain, I think I’m going to try and record the process and put it on our youtube channel, follow the link below and subscribe to check that out when I upload it in a day or two!

terminator model conversion project
His devotion will be tested once I snip him into shape!

Until next time, have fun and be happy.

A New Year; Let’s Make This One Count

Good day dear reader.

Lots of things happened last year that made 2019 one of the most tumultuous in my memory: I quit my job…twice and am now back at the second place; I spent most of the year learning to drive and passed my test after three failed attempts; I faced a lot of time out of the house and with some serious insomnia along with struggling to keep my weight loss up in the face of all my stress, it meant that my writing and creative goals got put by the wayside.

Don’t get me wrong, I worked on a lot of interesting projects last year, but none of them went nearly as far as I wanted them to. This brings me to the new year. We’re starting a new decade and a lot has been lifted off my shoulders, so as far as I’m concerned, there is no longer any mitigating circumstances that stand in the way of me and my wonderful wife of 12 years (our anniversary was yesterday) achieving some long standing goals.

The SteadmanSociety team want to make 2020 the beginning of an active period in providing content. We have a wide variety of interests and hope to establish an eclectic community of like-minded people who can simply be together to share the ups and downs of life through the mediums we enjoy.

This year we hope to do four things:

  1. Challenge our writing skills by finishing and publishing at least one work of fiction;
  2. Begin streaming on twitch regularly, this will include gaming content, writing content and games development content;
  3. Start posting on our Youtube channel with slice of life updates, mainly just little videos to keep you clued in on how we are doing with our projects;
  4. Reach out to a wider community and hopefully prove we can keep you around!

This is a mission statement that me and Emma have really taken to heart over the holiday period. Christmas and new year are out of the way. It is time to work hard on the things we know we can achieve.

Join us then on our long road, we promise this year will be the best yet for SteadmanSociety.

Twitter: Here!

Instagram: @steadmansociety

Youtube: Here!

I Did A Thing – My “200 word RPG” Entry

Good day all!

My games design journey has officially begun. I’ve been trawling reddit, trying to get involved in the community and I found a post promoting the 200 word RPG challenge. This is pretty much as it says on the tin; you have to write a fully playable Role Playing Game in only 200 words. Well this was a challenge that I couldn’t really pass up, so I strapped my dev-boots on and got working.

Previously I was sitting down to wade into Project Power, which will be a very long process even to get a first draft of the rules done, when I saw this little gem of a project; so I hopped to it! Last night I must have been fairly inspired because I hammered it out in only a few hours and was very happy with the result; so I posted it off and huzzah!

I give you the official release of “One Must Ascend” 0.1 (200 word version)

One Must Ascend:-

You are a God – describe your aspects (Fire, Love, etc.) – Start the game with a pool of ten power tokens.

Take one action per turn:

War: Pick someone; your followers fight theirs. Both describe how and where.

Divine Council*

The winner rolls 2d6, the loser 1d6 – whoever rolls highest takes the difference, in tokens, from the other.

Worship: add one token to your pool.

Quest: Describe your hero and their quest and add up to three tokens to it. Any other god may describe a challenge for them to face. The questing god then describes how the hero tackles it.

Divine Council*

Hero wins – add one token from the challenger’s pool to the quest.
Challenger wins – Take one token from the quest and add it to their pool.

Repeat until no more challenges are offered.
The questing god then doubles the tokens, adding them to their pool.

Ascend – Commit any number of tokens. Any god may commit tokens to cancel yours out. If any remain at the end, you win. All tokens committed are removed from play.

*All gods not involved must decide who wins, by majority. No draws allowed. The council can demand more description to decide.

–END–

As you can see, there is plenty of scope for back and forths between mortal enemies and amazing stories crafted from your imagination and the barebones mechanics! There are elements of chance and strategy and potential for politics with enough players.

This will be put into my playtest list and refined, but if anyone possibly takes a look at this and actually plays it, well I’d love to hear from you 🙂

’til next time you beautiful nerds; game on.

John.

Link to the competition site: https://200wordrpg.github.io/

NaNoWriMo Prep – Games Development!

Good day readers!

John here and things in my life have been very hectic recently. I have myself a new job that comes with a host of new challenges; not least of which is scheduling all the amazing things I want to do, creatively. NaNoWriMo has been a part of Emma and I’s life for a few years now; every year we give it a go and inevitably fail (Emma succeeded once, which was amazing!) So this year we really want to give it our best. Emma is attempting a traditional fantasy novel based on the world she has been developing for quite a while, it’s really good and I can’t wait to read what she comes up with.

I however am going to do something completely out of the ordinary. I am going to be developing games for the whole month! You heard that right: in the time honored spirit of National Novel Writing Month, I’m not going to be writing a single word of narrative fiction!

For ages I’ve had a few half-developed games ideas rolling around my skull, a few of which I have taken quite far with the help of some friends, but there are some really interesting ideas which I always return to but never develop any further. Well, this November will give me the opportunity to flesh out those ideas into prototypes with proper rules and hopefully some art.

Idea 1 – PAP RPG – this will be a totally lightweight tabletop roleplaying system that I half-developed last year with the help of a friend. I am taking a few core mechanics that I really liked and going to try and build it into an enjoyable game!

Idea 2 – Project Power – This will be a card game centered around the political turmoil of our time, I’ll say no more!

Idea 3 – Project Felix – Another card game utilising some fairly interesting and underused mechanics which will be a cross between Resident Evil and Neko Atsume.

Idea 4 – Project Stellar – This is the project that is the furthest along, I have actually made some wooden spaceships and have a first-draft ruleset. It’s a tabletop, space-based, fleet combat game.

Idea 5 – I have no idea – Here’s the real challenge! I’m going to develop a brand new idea for some kind of physical game; from the ground up. I am going to try and make it fully print-and-play so I can basically just release it on here and get people playing it and best of all, I’ll be uploading dev diaries and hopefully find a few other ways to connect with you all. I really want to stream this stuff on Twitch!

Wish me luck, this is a purposefully large undertaking so I can really try and push my motivations into creating something a lot more interesting and fulfilling his year!

Good luck to everyone prepping for NaNoWriMo!

John Steadman.

Worldbuilding – A Journey Into Scifi

I’ve been working on science fiction stories for a long time, and with that comes the desire to support your ideas with as much flesh as you can. Scifi is a strange genre simply because by its very nature it requires more thought and exposition; the context in which you place your stories can in fact end up being the entire substance of those stories. This means that wherever possible, you need to be able to recall an interesting piece of galactic lore, or try to simulate grand politics in an interesting and engaging way.

This is where worldbuilding comes in. The pursuit of spending inordinate amounts of time on crafting a setting is all about creating a context which can organically make your stories come to life; as a dungeon master for many DnD groups through the years, there is nothing more annoying, or so able to break the flow of a story, as being unprepared for a twist. As a writer, when you’re actually writing your story, you don’t necessarily know where it’s going to go when you’re writing it. This is one of the joys of writing; with your notes you can set little milestones in your story, winding avenues where you know your characters must end up, but it’s those misty in-between parts where your instinct and indeed cunning as a writer must shine through.

Incidentally, you can make yourself seem a lot more skilled and a lot more cunning if you do most of the work in your setting beforehand, and that’s why we’re here; you want a nourishing soup of interesting facts and lore to draw from when you’re putting your characters in compromising situations.

Anyway, I began the journey into my setting a few years ago when I was working nights at my old job. I had some cleaning and restocking to do, I worked on my own, but after that I had atleast 2 hours a night to do whatever. Over the course of a few months to a year, I filled first an A6 notebook with tons of ideas for a history, then an A4 notebook that codified everything for me; in here I went into a ton more detail and actually wrote out the timeline for my setting’s history and fleshed out some of the more interesting ideas I had for the landmark events that really defined the setting.

Something that really stuck with me was a piece of advice I believe said by Jim Butcher – the writer of The Dresden Files. I will now butcher (no pun intended) that advice by paraphrasing it: “Ask yourself when you’re writing your story, whether you’re setting it at the most interesting time in your history, because if not, why not? Why would your reader want to hear second-hand about that interesting event rather than read it?”

The reason I bring this up is because these “interesting events” are what you should be looking out for when you begin worldbuilding; it’s these that should naturally turn into your stories. You’ll know them when you find them.

I’m writing scifi, so I began my setting’s history at the time when the timeline diverged from our own – conveniently, this was around the present time at which I was writing it, so 2017. I then went forward crafting a history which would catapult humanity to the place I needed it to be to have humans in my story. I went back and forth quite a lot on whether I should make humans the focus, or aliens; personally, I love the idea of aliens, but felt in the end that it would end up being more relevant if humans were the “main protagonists”. I actually go back on this later, but this decision paved the way for some really key decisions in my worldbuilding.

So after going through year by year, then decade by decade and eventually century by century, I got the the “present day” of my setting; this is the time in which all of the stories that take place in my setting will happen. At this point, I revised all the history which had been laid down and highlighted some of the more key moments: many battles and tactically interesting maneuvers took place in the huge upheval that brought humans forward and I wanted to make those events reference points from which I could craft exposition later on.

I also finalised who and what will be the main players in my story and every time I inserted another main player or race, I had to go back and quietly slot them into the story, or make a reason as to why they weren’t in it up until that point; it’s all quite a challenge, but incredibly fun when you feel like a decision you’ve made about your setting really clicks and creates some amazing ideas you hadn’t seen before.

For instance, I wanted a robotic race in my setting; I think the idea of AI is being explored more and more, so I’d love to be able to do some of that in my stories. Now, because I had waited until I had most of the history written before I put them into the setting, I had to figure out a reason why they were removed from most of the galactic history I had up until this point (almost 500 years). I did this by coming up with a little conceit – that they came about by accident: humanity, once they had conquered most of the galaxy, sort of began forgetting about most of the pusuits they had undertaken over the years. Humans had so many resources that they could open a huge mining operation for instance, then when it turned out not to be profitable, instead of taking all the robots and machinery with them, they just left it.

A group of scientists were studying a curious type of crystal that only seemed to exist in this obscure system at the edge of known space, the whole team end up dying from a radiation burst from a nearby star; this radiation burst also energises the crystals and kick-starts their sentience. They then access all the records from the scientists, learning earth’s history and also the plans of the scientists, namely that if this experiment were to result in sentience, they would dispose of the crystals and the budding life within. Eventually this crystalline race who are able to interface with technology reach out and discover the robots and primitive AI which had been discarded wantonly by the humans.

I came up with all of this after about 70 percent of the history of my setting was complete and it ended up being a hugely influential part of the story. To me, this just goes to show how having an idea and taking it to it’s logical conclusion, even if you believe that you might be “shoe-horning” your idea into the setting, is worthy and should be pursued.

I hope this little dive into how I crafted by scifi setting was interesting. I’ll be working on all of this for my upcoming entry into NaNoWriMo.

See ya!

StarFight: Chronicles – Part One – Awaken To Dust

Neko’s eyes flickered open and she squinted as several red lights blinking angrily at her. She could hear nothing but a dull buzz in her ears; she quickly surveyed the information panel of the emergency Lifecapsule she found herself in.

Well that’s a surprise, I’m alive.

The red lights indicated that a number of systems inside the ship were destroyed or broken in some way, but Neko could feel no acceleration, so she assumed the ship must have landed somewhere on the dust-ball of a planet she’d been scanning. Time to think; the Lifecapsule wouldn’t release her until it knew she was safe, so either she would have to wait until the emergency sensors completed their sweep, or she would have to override the controls and just take the chance.

She reached up tentatively to the console and accessed her vitals; the fact that she wasn’t feeling any pain could be misleading, her Lifecapsule would have shot her full of drugs pre-emptively, but sure enough she was pretty much fine: two bones in her left hand were fractured and she was massively bruised on her left side but there was no internal bleeding, no dislocation and no nerve damage. She accessed the emergency sensors and the sweep was stuck on 60 percent; the node must have been damaged, but she knew from her earlier orbital scans that the planet was breathable and the surface gravity was almost one gee.

Nothing for it.

She punched in the override code, every button press was followed by a visual and auditory warning, but with a whine and a pop, the explosive bolts fired and the door flew away, smashing into the far bulkhead and going no further; strong magnets in the door held it firm.

She pushed herself forward and took a sluggish step into the cabin. Her body felt heavy due to painkillers but her mind was sharp enough. She needed to know if the computer was still working; it was dark in the ship, she reached for her mag light but felt only bare thigh, she had forgotten that the Lifecapsule tore every scrap of cloth from anyone inside, to easily access the patient. No problem, her spare was in a compartment on the opposite wall.

Which is now magnetically sealed behind the capsule’s door.

Neko groaned and felt her way towards what she hoped was the cockpit, her night vision was beginning to kick in, but it didn’t have a lot to work with; windows in spaceships are a luxury this model did not possess. Neko cursed her sluggish footsteps as she thunked into a wall, her hands ran over the metallic surface and her finger found a long groove, she pushed hard and after a second the mag-lock released and the door to the cockpit slid open with a grinding noise.

That didn’t sound good.

Red light washed over her as she stepped inside and surveying the scene, she was glad to find it was more or less intact; two bulkheads looked to have buckled slightly, causing control panels and storage compartments alike to burst open, strewing cables, clothes and food all over. Neko waded her way through the morass before her stomach jabbed her mind and she knelt to pick up a ration pack before continuing on.

Neko practically fell into her flight chair, the painkillers seemed to be wearing off and she started to feel like she’d been beaten with an angry stick. Reaching forward she keyed in her passcode before tearing into the ration pack and waiting for the bootup sequence to finish. She was chewing on what seemed to be some dried meat analogue when the computer made a happy sound and the screen flashed up.

Neko made a low whistle as fifty two errors pulsed politely in the top left corner of the screen, she filed through them: Engines, weapons, navigation, most of the sensors, peripheral systems and all but two external cameras were dead. She accessed the functional cameras, the first showed blackness and the next showed her surroundings.

It looked as if she’d crashed belly first into some kind of muddy lake, she swivelled the camera, it would only turn sixty degrees or so but on the edge of it’s vision she could see some sort of thick vegetation. Okay, not such a dust-ball after all. The small yellow sun shone harshly down onto the now drying mud that had piled up in front of the craft. With the realisation that she was in no immediate danger, she slouched back and took another bite of the meat stick while idly keying a few buttons.

Ofcourse the air conditioning is broken.

The ambient temperature prediction was 96 degrees in the next 6 hours due to the sun’s oppressive rays. She was going to boil alive in her own ship unless she got out soon.; at least it looked as if the fission cells were operational, she had years of power if she needed it.

I really hope I don’t.

To be continued! This has been part one of the first chapter of my scifi epic – Starfight: Chronicles. I’ve been working on the setting for quite a few years and I’m happy to finally present it publicly. I’ll be posting more soon!

Presenting: Furlands

Furlands is my spin on an old idea – namely that there exists a world of roughly middle ages/renaissance technology level; with all the politics, religious fervour and personal strife which this might entail, but all the people are rodents. This idea was inspired by works like Redwall and Wind In The Willows, both of which I love, but I wanted to take a more strict take on the idea in terms of worldbuildng – really, this is more of a worldbuilding task than anything else; I really wanted to explore the idea of this kind of world, where different species of humanoid rodent vie for supremacy in the same way that humans might.

This presents a number of challenges, which, the more I thought about them, the more they intrigued me. Conisder, for instance, what it means for things like the idea of xenophobia or racism; in a world where there are many distinct species which cannot interbreed. There would be more of a focus on ones own culture, because cultures would be heavily influenced by the species’ habits; mice are nocturnal whereas rats are not, so mouse society would be more active at night and every different species would be faced with the idea that you cannot simply merge your culture with another, because even if rats wanted to integrate mice, both species still need only themselves to procreate, which changes politics dramatically over generations.

One thing I wanted to maintain is to code each species that I presented in my world with the sort of cultures from which they come geographically on earth; so my rats are scandanavian/western european, voles present as japanese, there are also Tanuki, which present as huge, 12 foot tall mountain people and many many more. There are lots of little rules that I want to figure out and maintain as a nod to all the little habits and features of those species, with some being vegetarian and others obligate carnivores, so their cultures reflect these virtues.

It is an interesting challenge, also in part because I don’t want this to innately be a young adult or children’s setting – I want it to be gritty and full of intrigue.

I have already published two parts of a short piece inspired by one of Emma’s ideas; The Fall Of The Hamurai – the story of the last days of a society started to unite many different species on an island which is my analogue of Japan. I also think my entry into NaNoWriMo will be based in this world.

Stay tuned as I dive deeper into this setting, hopefully I’ll get the time to build the central myths and go more into the unique politics of the various regions and species.

Thanks for reading!

John.

P.S. Here is the link to part 1 of the piece mentioned above:

https://steadmansociety.com/2019/08/05/the-fall-of-the-hamurai-part-1-blossoms-in-the-wind/

Games Design And I

I’ve been a gamer for as long as I can remember. When you’re into games, every now and again you stop and think about designing games yourself. There’s a thrill that comes from the idea that you could make a game that people would play, especially considering the fact that you yourself understand intimately the joy that this brings. Myself being a huge pen and paper RPG player, I’ve always wanted to design a roleplaying game and a few times in my life I have attempted to do this, either with friends or on my own.

Each of these attempts have met with failure, for a variety of reasons. Chiefly of which is that being an adult is hard. With every project I have attempted in the past, I became busy and eventually it petered out; it’s sad, but I’ve come to just see it as a function of the process. The time has to be right. For any project to get out of the early stages and for every stage after that, the stars have to consistently line up, you have to keep just working away little by little until you achieve enough to call the project complete. That has never happened to me yet, but I know one day it will.

So this writing project is part of that and this article is a small commitment to that idea; that one day I will make a game, because for me, games are the ultimate in creative human interaction – you are using manufactured constraints to build action and excitement that is unique every time those constraints are imposed. Gaming is so amazing because more than mediums like books or films, the person engaging with the work itself is a key part of the experience, so their personality becomes a part of the legacy of that work. It’s amazing.

I want to make a game, and one day you may see a little demo pop up on here, and maybe one day I’ll even see it played by others. Until then, I’ll continue plugging away at the keyboard. Take care.

P.S. I have been very ill this week, so sorry for the short, rambly piece.

Meeting Emelia – Character Study

I am currently quite ill, so today I’m going to show you the first quarter of the first chapter of a project I started last year. This opening basically goes into some detail about the life and feelings of a 13 year old girl named Emelia. She goes on to have some interesting adventures, but right now you’ll just get to know her. Thanks for reading!

Emilia sat cross legged on her bed. It was morning. She rubbed the sleep from her eyes and looked around; boxes were piled all around the strange room she was now supposed to call her own. Emilia’s parents traveled all over the country and sometimes overseas for their work. At the age of thirteen, Emilia had moved home six times, every time her parents bought a big house, let her pick her own room and gave her everything she could want. But the only thing they couldn’t give her, which Emilia wanted the most, was a friend.

They had tried their best for Emilia; her mother was allergic to dogs, her father to cats so they had gotten her a Bearded Dragon named Archimedes. Emilia hated him at first. He did nothing but sit there in a big cabinet, under a hot, bright bulb that hurt her eyes, and he ate worms and smelled like the zoo, so Emelia ignored him, only coming round to his cabinet to feed him with long blue tweezers or laboriously remove his heavy tiles and wash the corners of his dusty, dry home.

One day while Emilia was cleaning out his tank, she saw that he was huddled in a corner, looking very sorry for himself. She carefully grabbed him out and saw that he had laid a clutch of eggs! He was a she! But Archimedes looked dark and ill and her legs wouldn’t work properly, So Emilia quickly told her parents and made a hot water bottle to keep Archimedes warm, before they rushed to the vet to see what was wrong. The little spiky lizard had clutched onto Emilia so tightly that through her worried tears she promised to never to ignore her or say anything bad about her again.

Waiting in the vet’s was one of the worst times of Emilia’s life. Her mum hadn’t let her talk to the vet after Archimedes had gone in, just like every other time she had felt an important decision had been made, Emilia wasn’t there. Her mum just said that her lizard was very ill and the vet needed to operate on her, before sitting next to Emilia, diligently checking her watch every five minutes and texting on her phone. Emilia’s eyes had never been so red or puffy, and she had never cried for a longer time. Hours passed and her mum had to leave. Emilia’s dad arrived at the vets as it was getting dark. All she wanted was a hug, but neither of her parents were ever very good at stuff like that, he just said that he was sorry and that maybe getting her such a strange pet was a bad idea. Emilia never hated him more than in that moment and it echoed in her words.

“You never asked me. You never let me read about them; you just got her for me one day. You got me work, dad, not a pet.”

Her dad looked incredulous for a second before remembering the situation. He looked around nervously.

“Well. You could give him away after he’s better if you want. We just thought we were doing the right thing.”

Emilia looked up at him and smiled ruefully.

“She’s a girl. I found that out today. I’ve had her for three months and I never knew, and now she could die because I was too angry at you and mum to care for her when she needed me. No, I’ll keep her. I owe her that.”

Her dad looked confused, but realising that his daughter wasn’t so cross any more, he sat next to Emelia, put his arm around her shoulder and squeezed. Emilia’s arms flew out and for a few stiff moments they hugged in the green-walled vet’s waiting room before her father cleared his throat and stood.

“I’ll go and see if I can find anything out.” he said, before walking around the corner towards the other rooms, leaving her alone again.

Archimedes didn’t die. The vet came out and started speaking to Emilia’s father, who, to her surprise, directed the vet over to her. The vet explained that Archimedes had gotten one of her eggs stuck, and that he got it out. She would be fine, but needed to rest for a few days before she could take her home. On the car journey back, Emilia had detailed to her father all the things she would need for Archimedes and he silently nodded his approval. Three days later the little lizard was presented to her, wrapped in a blanket covered in unicorns, looking groggy and dark. Emilia carefully laid the soft creature on her chest and hugged her gently, promising to make it up to her.

That was a year ago. Now as Emilia sat quite content on her bed, surrounded by boxes, Archimedes lay on the windowsill; all wrapped in that unicorn blanket atop a hot-water bottle, bathing in the sun and looking suspiciously out onto the street below.