All Warriors Have Scars

A scar is yesterday. It is the corpse of a memory too sharp to be forgotten. And Zanthia’s body was a graveyard. 


Her olive face, handsome yet delicate, bore a slash from her brother’s axe. Arms, back, and legs too were cloaked in tough mutilated flesh that told of her bravery, her loyalty, her glory and not least of all, her suffering.  


The bullet wounds were new and the sight of them still struck her with a cold pain. Six of them, potted into her shoulders and her thighs like bubbling heaps of melted wax.


She had traveled on for some time, hoping that the marks would heal. Regarding them as healthy, living tissue in a brief phase of ill, but skin is never the same after it is broken. It cannot feel. Instead, it sits flaccid, trying hard to imitate the smooth rosy shade of life. A tombstone in a garden of blooming nerves.


She remembered the Elven sorcerer, Elanil. Her delicate features, her piercing blue eyes, the sound of her screams as the wraiths drained her magic the day that Voshla turned against them. There had been too many men on the battlefield that afternoon. Zanthia could not protect her. She could not save her. How foolish she had been to believe she had found a new family.


But, where would she go now that she had seen the limits of her power and the cowardice of her companion?  For the time being, the innkeeper Arkurius Tillman had offered her room and board in exchange for security. As it were, there had been nothing to do but drink and remember how her heart had betrayed her; today was no different. Zanthia planted herself in a corner of the tavern and watched as the patrons stumbled through.


After her third ale, she noticed a pink-haired gnome bard at the far end of the bar, her large eyes staring intently, awaiting Zanthia’s permission. The moment their gazes locked, the gnome smiled widely, and started toward her with a swift and clumsy walk. Getting into the tall bar stool was a struggle for a creature with such short stocky limbs, but Zanthia held back her laughter.


The gnome extended her hand. Angie was her name and she seemed insistent on getting acquainted. She lifted her hand to the barkeep, signaling for two ales and turned her attention back to Zanthia, who dismissed her coldly:

“Return to your bardic songs, gnome. I wish to drink alone,” she said.


The gnome offered a knowing look and after bracing herself, she continued with both caution and sincerity: “I will leave if that is what you wish, but I have been watching you and you must know that we are not so different. I come here for a reason. I understand what it is like to be the only one of my kind, to fail the ones I love, to drink until I am a stranger to myself.”


Zanthia did not react well to the possession of forbidden knowledge. This creature was a danger to her. She readied her great sword for a swift decapitation. Angie raised her hand slowly and spoke with authority. A cool light emanated from her center: “Do not fear me, Zanthia. I come as your guide and creator, brought to you by ally not foe. Destroying me will mean a more final end than you could imagine.”


Zanthia pressed her blade against Angie’s neck firmly enough to draw a single drop of blood. Through gritted teeth, she spit a threat, “Tell me now, who wishes to enchant me and I promise to make your death a painless one.” 


Angie’s eyes grew large, but she was not afraid. In this moment, a gentle warmth breathed into Zanthia and she knew the scars on Angie’s spirit as she knew her own– A dead father. A mother driven insane by neglect and abuse. A childhood steeped in loneliness and isolation.—She was reminded of herself, had time been less violent, but equally painful. Just then, Zanthia spotted a pale blue pendant of summoning against Angie’s breast; there had only been one in all of Golarian, and it had belonged to Elanil.

She paused and lowered her sword. And then with broken hope she pleaded, “ Gnome. You are sent here by the great Elven sorcerer, Elanil. Speak the truth; does she survive? Has she sent for my help?”


Angie’s face sagged into a frown. She looked into her ale and imagined drinking it down. She thought of all the deaths it could help her forget, and she wondered if it was more painful to know or to remember. She spoke once more, hoping that this time, she would be heard:

“ We can never be assured of a happier future, and I know all too well that no magic can bring your family back. But know that Elanil is within you, and for as long as you live, those who meet you, will also be meeting her.

It is true you could not save her, but if you accept it, she can still save you.”

Angie slid off her chair and onto her feet. She approached Zanthia carefully and they embraced. An icy wind enveloped her and she remembered the sound of Elanil’s heartbeat. Her eyes opened and Angie was gone, the ornate pendant left where she had stood. 


Zanthia wandered out into the street, her great sword sheathed on her back. Somehow the deformed lumps upon her body seemed different; they reminded her of who she was, of what she had overcome.

All warriors have scars; Zanthia would not make the mistake of living in the pain of them. Morning was the best time to travel, but the sun was setting now. She jumped onto her horse and began to ride.


She did not know where she was going.

End of “Hypochondraway” Story


Lizzie gawked in horror as bloody tears wandered down my face.

” Oh my! Don’t worry, mam. You are just having an abnormal reaction to the- -oh dear.”

Her eyebrows crinkled as she tried to resist a frown. Her broken wincing face got smaller and smaller until I couldn’t see it at all anymore. I could feel my body losing itself, becoming more and more empty every minute, with every intense suck of the machine. All that blackness was seeping out forming small puddles of me on the floor. Drip. Drip. Drip. Into the cracks between the tiles. Lizzie’s voice swooped in: “I can’t! I can’t! Everything is leaking out! It’s everywhere, she’s everywhere!”.

I fell back and stared at the snowy white ceiling. “You’ll soon be forgotten”,it said brightly.

by Angie Hoover- Hillhouse

Excerpt from “Hypochondraway”

I was chewing my pencil during a presentation at work when splotches of purple clouded my vision. I tried to concentrate hard on Rick, ” The important thing to remember about the time sheets is that for every 15 minutes, you chart .25 hours.” His fat cheeks puffed up as he tried to contain his enthusiasm,“I kn-know!  Simple, right?”. I put my hand over my heart to sooth it, but it pounded the walls of my body, threatening to break free. I felt the color drain from my face, leaving me pale and obvious among the sea of healthy pink and brown co-workers. “Janeane! Janeane” Rick huffed, but I couldn’t speak.

I slid to the ground where I could press my skin against the chilly  hardwood floors to relieve the dizzying heat from my face.

” Get her a banana, Melanie. She needs calcium or potassium ah-o-o-or  something. Janeane, you just lie right th-there. We’re getting a wheelchair”.

A large drop of sweat trickled anxiously down his nose, stopping at the round tip to dangle over my face which lay flatly beneath him. I felt his short meaty arms wrap around my back and lift me into a rusty wheelchair- the only one we had at the office. A parade of people flooded into the room to give me fruits and water bottles and heating pads. Apparently fainting is a common malady. Almost all of my co-workers had a matron aunt or a  neighbor on the brink of death that fainted frequently and swore by the healing powers of whatever they happened to be shoving in my face.

“Hypochondraway” Short Story by Angie Hoover-Hillhouse

Swallowed by the Dragon by Angie

“Swallowed by the Dragon” Excerpt by Angie Hoover
I churned with the black in the belly of this beast. Swaying in bile as thick and dark as the oil of the Earth. After some time, I stopped swimming and sank. How peaceful it felt to stop clawing at the walls of her stomach. staying afloat was not worth the struggle. I would drop into her deep. I’d get smaller and smaller and then I would melt. I’d be liquid in liquid. Blood in blood.


Artwork by Angie Hoover-Hillhouse

This came to me like a comforting memory. I don’t know what that says about me. I almost feel like it is a complete work because it has such a clear beginning and end in my own mind.

See more of Angie’s posts here:

Excerpt 2 from A Woman Made Cold

She was as beautiful as he had remembered even with 10 years of life painted onto her expression.

Their eyes met and it sent a shock right through her. She was as beautiful as he had remembered even with 10 years of life painted onto her expression. She towered over him- a statuesque beauty. Her hair had been blonde when she was a girl but it had faded to a mousy brown since the birth of her son.  He was just as fat and disheveled as she’d expected but she couldn’t help but see him as the strapping young buck he once was.

Excerpt from “A Woman Made Cold” Original Short Story

by Angie Hoover-Hillhouse

A Woman Made Cold Short Story

She had endured a life seated in unparalleled heartbreak. She was not born hard; she was a woman made cold by circumstance.


She walked up to the door… her black leather heels digging deep into the softening oak beneath her. She didn’t knock. Her steps were authoritative without being obnoxiously loud.  She seemed emotionless but if you looked hard enough you would see that her compassion ran deep. She had endured a life seated in unparalleled heartbreak. She was not born hard; she was a woman made cold by circumstance.

Excerpt from “A Woman Made Cold” original short story

by Angie Hoover-Hillhouse

This story is still unfinished. It comes to me in pieces that may or may not ever fit together, but I suppose that is the nature of inspiration.

Untitled Artwork by Vanessa Cate 

Opening to “Hypochondraway”

There is a bloody rot in this place. It breathes beneath the floors. It lurks in the shadowy vents stalking the weak- hunting for meat until all the sick are swallowed whole. The thick smell of it made my vision go grey.

I’d been here as a child when it was a normal crumpled hospital for normal crumpled cirhossis patients and gangrenous feet. Thoughts of cancer crept into my ear, reminding me that there are poisons in this world that I can taste as clearly as the salt that rides on an ocean breeze.  I wasn’t completely cured yet. Dark, unpleasant thoughts often swelled up in my head leaving no room for cupcake recipes or oven cleaning tips. Today’s Hypochondraway treatment would fix all that though. From now on, ALL my daydreams would be happy and light like lemon meringue.

Excerpt from unfinished science fiction story titled “Hypochondraway” 

 The concept of this fragment is inspired by  a  series of psychosomatic fainting spells I had. The imagery, which I will expand on in later posts,  is taken from a dream I often have where I am sitting in the waiting room of a hospital in the early 1970s. Everything is yellow, linoleum, and humming with the sound of indifferent machinery.

by Angie Hoover-Hillhouse