Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Lost Queen

Aha, I have a very good excuse for not posting. But, what are excuses but a waste of time? Therefore, I shall finally post the very last story of our Short Story Contest I held forever ago.
(oh and yes, I promised forever ago an interview...well, it's been conducted! Coming soon...)

The Lost Queen
By Lydia Gilmore

Note from blogger: I've split the story into two parts. Enjoy!
Astir woke with a start. She had her knife in her hand but did not move a muscle. For the past month she had felt tense and thought it would be a good thing to sleep with her knife ready. There was no noise, not even from the birds. Her eyes darted to the window on the far wall; she saw light quickly dart, she almost missed it. She got up and walked to the door. Quietly she put one hand on the door and listened out. Then she heard something, it wasn’t quite loud enough though. She pressed her ear closer to the door to better hear. There it was again,
“Leave!” She could hear it better that time, but what did it mean? Who said it?
“LEAVE!” This time it was a command that seemed to reach inside her and pull.  She jumped with a start and quickly put on her things and grabbed a few items that she knew she would need on the journey.
“But where do I go?” She had no time to ponder on this question for again came the command came, “LEAVE!” As she opened the door the cold air took the breath out of her and from behind her she heard something else,
“And never return!” It was faint but she still heard it.
         As she reached the woods line she stopped and turned to find out just what it was that she was running from. It wasn’t long before she found out. Just moments after she stopped, her little hut burst into flames. Again she heard someone tell her to ‘Leave’. She darted and began running through the woods when she suddenly heard footfalls quickly gaining on her. She quickened her pace but it was no use. As soon as she felt someone reach their hand on her shoulder she screamed, but that scream was cut short. A hand was laid over her mouth and the man whispered in her ear,
“Sshh, it’s me.” It was a gentle voice and it did sound as if he were nice. There was something familiar about that voice. Yes, it was Shalum, her brother; at least he was like a brother to her. She relaxed and nodded that she would be quiet. Gently he let go and took her hand.
“Follow me, we are not safe here.” He said.
      Shalum had been her friend for as long as she could remember. Right now he was twenty five summers old.
    Quietly the two picked their way through the woods. As they did, Astir could smell the smoke and still see the last bit of fire glowing from her burnt hut.
Who had done this to her and why had they done this to her? She could not figure it out. All she knew was that someone was after her for some reason and that Shalum knew about it. They walked on for hours.
       After a while, Astir realized that the sky was beginning to get light and apparently so did Shalum, for he began to walk faster then finally started running. Astir took bigger strides to keep up with him. After a few minutes Astir realized that they were not running alone. It was now light enough for her to see what the stranger looked like. Surprisingly it was a Tall Dwarf, the same as herself and Shalum. Tall dwarves can grow up to five feet tall and their hair is always black. All the different kinds of dwarves look and have different ways of doing things and dressing. Astir was a bit shocked to see a Tall Dwarf because the only ones she had seen were herself and Shalum.
      They came to a tree and stopped. Shalum let go of her hand.
“Astir, I have to go now, but follow this man, he will protect you. I’ll see you later, alright.” Shalum whispered. “Good bye.” He gave her a hug and kissed her forehead, and then he was gone.
       The stranger took her hand, walked up to the tree, and lifted something up off the ground. Astir jumped when she heard a loud noise and a part of the tree swung open to reveal a circular stairway going straight down for many feet. Quickly they entered and the stranger shut the door quickly and quietly behind them leaving them in total darkness. Astir stood perfectly still so that she would not fall down the stairs. There was a ruff scraping sound, like metal against metal, then a flicker of light. The stranger still said nothing but took her hand again and led the way down, at a quick walk.
        About fifty feet, steps down they came to a tunnel. Although the light shone far into the tunnel, it seemed as if it would go on forever. Astir could not speak for the silence was heavy and seemed to weigh down on her, making it hard to even think about speaking. On and on they walked for what seemed like hours. Astir gave up trying to keep up with how long they had been walking and what time it might be.
     Her head began to droop and her feet to drag. Then the heavy silence was broken by the stranger, 
“It would be best if you walked faster and hold your head up. I’m sorry, but we haven’t got any time to stop for a rest, my lady.”
    “My lady? What does that mean? I guess I’m just not used to being treated like a lady. Either that or I’m not used to being around gentlemen, if he is a gentleman. All those rude dwarves at the post should learn a few rules from him! Well, I guess that I don’t act like a lady that much anyway. I work just as hard as they do. Or maybe more, I am bigger than all of them.” Astir spoke to herself. The very next thought was about his voice.  His voice was deep and ruff but it was not a mean voice. It sounded compassionate, and friendly. “Friendly, friend? Is he MY friend? I wonder what his name is.”
   Astir mustered up all her courage and broke the heavy silence yet again.
“Please sir, what is your name?” She tried to make her voice low, but it seemed loud in her ears. Her mouth was dry.
He looked at her out of the corner of his eye then replied.
“Truint, Truint Casting.” He replied. There was a long silence then Astir spoke up again, this time with more ease.
“Do, do you know what my name is?”
    Truint walked on for a few minutes, as if pondering some deep, deep thought. Then he replied. Your name is Princess Athena Montanez, (soon to be Queen) and,” here he paused for a moment with that same thoughtful look on his face then continued. “You are sixteen summers old, my lady.”
Astir, or Princess Athena, stopped in her tracks and stared at the dwarf in front of her, he was barely taller than herself and yet he seemed a lot taller. Everything began to spin, her eyes drooped, and she could feel her knees wanting to give out from under her. She closed her eyes.
   She quickly opened her eyes when she felt the dwarf’s strong arm reach around her and walk on with her. They walked on in silence for some time before Athena quietly said what was on her mind.
“I’m a princess.” 
“Yes,” was the reply.
“And I am sixteen summers old”
“Yes princess, did you not know that much about yourself? I know that you did not know your title, but had thought that your watch would have told you your age at least.”
“Watch never told me. Wait, how did you know about Watch?”
“My lady I think it would be best if we waited to finish discussing this when we arrive at the Main. It seems to be too much for you to discuss on the way. Please gather your thoughts and we will discuss it more when we get to the Main.”
“Gather my thoughts? I’d say you just scattered them, and shattered them! What am I supposed to think? I won’t have any problems with the questions but how am I supposed to Think when I don’t even know who I….”
“My Lady,” his voice was stern. “I know that all this is a lot of change for such a short notice, but we haven’t time to take it slow. You must try to control your feelings and words right now. It would be best if you were silent for now and keep your mind from running off in a million directions. Keep focused on the future not the past. Your help is greatly needed, and you must be strong and prepared for whatever comes.”
      Athena was quite, which is what Truint wanted. She was able to walk without his support now and he removed his arm from her side. As they walked on in the quiet, Athena’s head began to pound as she thought more and more about the new discovery, Princess Athena Montanez. .
“I’m a Princess. I’m a Princess.” Athena spoke to herself. “What does a princess do? In my case what role do I play? Am I just the daughter of a great King, or do I rein over some rich country or kingdom? Do I sit in a chair and tell people what to do, or do I go out among the people and mingle among them? Am I gentle or firm, or both?” More and more questions poured into her head and kept her awake.
       As she was trying to figure out what she, as a Princess, was supposed to do Truint spoke suddenly and startled her.
“We are here my Lady.”
        Athena jumped.
“My apologies, I did not mean to startle you. Follow me.”
      Athena watched as her guide opened a door by a hidden latch. Sounds of laughter died away as Truint opened the door. Quietly the stone door swung open and Truint stood in the doorway, blocking her from seeing what was in the center of the room.  Athena listened as one of the men inside spoke up.
“Castings!” by the sound of his voice, he was surprised.  There was a long pause but then the same voice spoke again, in a happier tone, “Where have you been my good friend? You have kept us waiting! We waited for you as long as we dared to feast without you, but the food was getting cold!” It was a deep merry voice that had spoken.
“I apologize for keeping you waiting, but something has come up that must be dealt with, immediately!” Truint said.
“Must we do it now on such an occasion?” asked the voice.
 “Now,” Replied Truint.
“Very well, you are in command.” The man said.
          Truint turned and motioned for Athena to move back. She did so and he hurried her across the tunnel to a door just opposite. Truint motioned her to one of the chairs in the corner of the room and Athena sank down into the chair. It was a hard wooden chair but it felt good for her to finally be able to sit down after many hours of walking and running. She felt the weariness more now that she was sitting than when she was walking.
         The other dwarf came in Athena looked up at his face, it was a kind smiling face. It made her smile.
“I think I’ll like him.” Athena decided.
    “Now then, what is so confounded important that you can’t wait for an hour or so?” Even if Athena had her eyes closed she could tell from his voice that he was smiling and happy, despite the unhappy interruption he just had.
“I want you to know Rince that you are one of my most loyal friends and I trust you completely.” Truint said.
“And I am honored to serve you,” Rince replied, for that was his name.                                                         “It is because of that loyalty, that I confide in you and tell you secrets that I tell no one else. I am about to tell you one of the only things that I hide from you now, but first you must give me your word that you will speak of this no more after we leave this room, unless I allow it.”
“I pledge you my word and any other service that you may require of me.”
“Very good, I will proceed then. I presume that you have heard of the lost princess, and that she would be ruling if she was still with us?” Here Athena listened more intently.
“Yes, most everyone knows about the tragic death of the king and the disappearance of the little princess, but no one seems to know much about how the princess disappeared. Most think that she died and her burial was not told of.”
“Well, she isn’t dead. Princess Athena Montanez is her name. During the Battle of Annex, the king was hit by an arrow and it was I who carried him off the battle field. He gave me special instructions about his daughter, for it was his only child, I was to make her disappear without a trace of a trail. He had his suspicions that it was his own brother who was fighting against him though he was not even in the war. His brother had been showing signs of jealousy and hatred towards the king for some time. The king knew that once he had died, his brother would soon be after his only child and heir to the throne. Though she was a babe, he would not hesitate to kill her for the throne. If our beloved Queen had yet lived, he would most likely kill her as well.
      “I was to find a most loyal servant of the king that could take care of her without anyone knowing who she was. The king took care of a Shalum, whom you know, and he was the son of his best friend. The boy’s parents had died and he could not bear to leave the boy alone, so he had me send him along with the princess when he was nine summers old.  I had accomplished this first task. When Shalum was sixteen he took over things with the better advantage of being outside of the castle. The second task, which I could not carry out till now is this; when the princess was old enough to take the throne, that I was to announce that the Kings own daughter was alive and that she was old enough to take the throne as rightful heir. The people of our kingdom loved the king dearly and would be very willing to see the lady as rightful heir. So, I say all this to say that I need your help to put her on the throne. Am I clear so far?”
“Mostly.  King Juan (our late king’s brother, and enemy, now our king) plotted to kill King Rigid (our late king) and succeeded. He planned on killing his own niece for the throne. King Rigid, planned ahead for his daughter’s safety, and sent her to be a common dwarf among her own people, till she was old enough to take over the throne. And when that time came, or rather has come, you and Shalum were left up to the job of putting her back on the throne?”
“But where is the lady?”
“Rince, my most trusted friend, I introduce to you Princess Athena Montanez.”
    Here, Truint moved to the side, revealing Athena. She did not really know what to do, but simply stand.
“My lady, it is a great honor to meet you. I am willing to be ever at your side and do your biding.” Rince went down on one knee and kissed her hand, then looked up at her.
     Athena was still very confused. What should she say, what should she do? There was an awkward pause then Athena said the only thing that she could think to say.
“Thank you.”
    Rince stood. Athena could feel the effects of the day’s journey come up on her quickly and the shock of who she really was, a princess. Her legs began to give out. Try as she might, she could not keep them under her. She crumpled and Rince caught her. She remembered no more that night.
        When she awoke that morning, she found herself on a bed in a room lighted by a small candle in one corner. She sat for a moment thinking back trying to remember, and then she did.
 She was a princess.
        She had no time to think further, for just then there was a knock at the door.
“Who’s there?” She said.
“It’s me princess, Truint.”
“Come in.”
    Truint walked half way into the room and bowed.
“Princess, I hope that you slept well?”
“Yes thank you.”
“I have talked with Rince and we have formed a plan. We would have discussed them with you, but you needed rest. We have a plan, but for it to work we will have to leave now and explain things to you on the way. Do you approve?”
“I- I guess so.”
“I will wait fir you outside of your room then.”
     Athena sat for a moment, and then finally remembering that she needed to hurry, she quickly found her satchel and put on some fresh clothes, then headed out the door.
     Truint was waiting as he said he would. Rince stood a few yards away with a lantern in each hand. He handed one to Truint then bowed to Athena.
“If you’ll just follow me Princess,” Rince said.
       As they walked Truint told her the plans they had for her. It was really quite simple. All they had to do was wait for Shalum to tell them what to do. But there were other details to be told of, such as her protection, and he told her part of what Shalum had planned. Right now, they were heading to a room at the end of the tunnel where they would wait for orders from Shalum.
 “When shall we reach the main entrance?” Athena asked.
“We will be there in about two hour’s time.” Truint replied.
      Athena walked on and thought on all that had happened and was going to happen. All that time that she lived in the her little hut , in the little village, and working at the post hauling stone, wood, water, and all manner of other things she could have been living the life of a royal, in the castle. And there was always three people looking out for her, her watch, who mainly just took care of her, Truint, who took orders young Shalum. Shalum was the third person. He was the son of the king’s best friend, the friend that gave his life serving his king.
“Would Shalum do the same serving me?” She asked herself. “Oh, I hope he isn’t in any danger.”
     “You will be sleeping in there.” Rince said, motioning to a door on the far wall of room. “Are you hungry?”
“Yes, very!” She said.  
“You’ll find bread, cheese, butter, and fruit in the cabinet over there.” Rince said.
    Truint pocked his head in and said, “Rince, come out here.”
“We’ll be back ma’am, will you be fine?” Rince asked.
“Yes, I’ll be fine,” she said.
      After Rince went out and shut the door she listened for a moment. All was quiet until a little creak, like a door opening, and then shutting. Athena shuddered. They had gone out of the room, perhaps outside and she was left sitting right here, under the castle perhaps, alone. She decided to get her mind off of it and found some food to eat.
      Exhausted from the days walk, she sat down to wait for them.
   ‘Creak- creak.’ There it was again. They were coming back, finally. Now she wouldn’t be alone. The door opened and Truint and Rince came in, then a third person came in. She stared hard at him for a moment then realized who it was.
“Shalum!” She jumped up and ran to him.
“Hello Princess.” He said. “How are you? I hope these two men have taken care of you.”
“I’m fine, and yes, you have all taken very good care of me. Shalum, I never realized that you were really looking out for me in the way that you are. All of you are putting your lives at stake for me. Thank you so much and more! If I am ever queen I will repay you!”
“Athena, right now you are the queen, and we three, and many more on the way are here to make sure that the entire dwarven kingdom knows that you are the queen, and that you are given the throne as it should be. We do it not only for you, but also for your father, the late king. It is an honour to do a service for both of you. We will protect you with our lives.”
      A tear rolled down her cheek, then another. Shalum whipped them away then said, “And all we ask of you, is to let us do this for you, and for you to be strong. Once the people know that you are still alive, they will be counting on you to lead them, just like your father did. They loved him, and will love you too, but you must be strong.”
    Athena smiled at him, dried her tears then said, “I will Shalum, I’ll try my best.”
“Thank you,” he said.
“How would you like some food? Are you hungry?” Athena asked.
“I’d like to take some on the way, I cannot stay though. I haven’t finished my previous task yet.”
“Oh, ok.”
     Athena put some of the food in a napkin she found and filled his jug with tart cider.
“When will we see you again?” Athena asked.
“Soon, very soon princess. Truint will tell you what you have to do, just don’t be afraid. I go to tell the people about a queen, a queen all thought was dead. The more people I tell, the more people that stand with you, the safer you will be. That is why I must go. Good-bye my princess.” And with that he was gone.
     “Princess. He always called me that, but I never knew that he really meant it,” she said to herself. She sat back down at the table with Truint and Rince as they ate.
“Well, what are the plans?” Athena asked.
“I must take the first watch. We should be safe, but just in case, I am going to stand guard. Rince will tell you the plans.” Truint said this as he walked out of the door.
“Well, there isn’t a point-by-point plan, but this is what the plan is. Whenever Shalum has finished his tasks he will come and get us. From there, we will do what he says.” Rince said.
“Do you think that all of this is going to work out?”
“Shalum may seem like a quiet man on the outside, but inside he is a cunning genius who’s fast as a squirrel,” Rince chuckled a little.  
“You sound confident.”
“Then I sound exactly the way I feel. I have known Shalum, and he has always had the upper hand on everyone and everything.”
   Athena sat in her chair quietly for a few moments.
 “Well, I think I’ll turn in. Good night Rince. And thank you for all that you have done.”
“I have done nothing.”
“No, you have done much, and I am very grateful.”
“As you wish your highness, good night.”
 “Good night.” 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

September End

I can't really believe that the last time I posted was back in May... I'm a horrible person, guys. I make all these promises to post and then I don't. I don't really have any excuses, unless Netflixing counts?
I haven't really been on social media all that much, so it's not just blogger that I've been absent from, but I really think I'm coming back. for real. so...

There's a contest going on at Rooglewood Press.


Are any of y'all entering in it? I'm trying, and I feel like I have a really cool concept going on, but I haven't hit any writing sprees, so it hasn't gotten very far and I'm not sure I'll finish it. But, I am excited to read everyone else's! Beauty and the Beast is a favorite of mine.
     If you're entering in it, I'd love to hear what genre it is, if you don't mind telling! (and the reason I say that last bit is because I don't really want to give out mine...)

I have yet to read the fanfiction over at Tales of Goldstone Wood, even though I promised my friend I would. The titles are pulling me in (example: The Delicate Matter of Murder; seriously, doesn't that peak your curiosity even a little bit?) so I probably will get to them over the weekend.

I'm re-reading Lord of the Rings. The last time I read them was almost four years ago, so I figured I should re-read them when I'll appreciate and understand them more (I mean, I only read them the first time because they wouldn't let me watch the movies until I read the books first).

And in a couple days, I'm going to be interviewing a villain. Really, I am. I'm really coming back. No, I'm not trying to convince myself. Sort of.

Anyway, that's all my interesting "writer news". What's yours, my fellow writers and readers?

Savo'lass a lalaith,

-The Writer

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Short Story #4

By Hannah Williams

    The silver call of a horn rolled across Raytelvis, its sibilance stirring each leave and blade of grass. The white deer grazing beside sparkling stream, raised their dripping muzzles, cupping their ears forward.
    In the southern forests of Raytelvis, a mighty horse paused and looked north to the city where the horn blew. The horse’s rider reached down and stroked its dappled neck.
    “That would be the arrivals from Kalar,” the girl said. With a sigh, she looked back into the deeper forest, the blowing branches seeming to beckon her, the breeze pulling her white hair towards it. Beyond the forest there was a horizon she could never quite reach. “Next time,” she whispered. Turning her horse with a tap of her heel, she wove her fingers into its black mane and cried, “Fly, Azazel!” Trumpeting, the stallion launched forward, leaping over the logs and streams that barred his way. They raced through the forest, following the horn’s call that trailed over the trees, across the green meadows, ringing from the five spires of the great white city, Tyven.


    Excitement shivered through the air as the youths gathered in a garden courtyard, talking incessantly to the young man newly arrived. One young woman did not join in the cluster, but walked to a garden bench and sat down, watching and listening with interest.
    “You don’t come nearly, enough, Tev. How are things in Kelar?”
    “Is that your badge? Look at the light inside it!”
    “First step to becoming general, eh, Tev?”
    “Think no one can best you now?”
    The young man receiving all the attention laughed and spread out his arms as if to ward off the firing questions. “One at a time,” he said. “Yes, Kelar, is doing well, though you should know that already. Yes, this is my badge. Yes, that is the Hollowed Light shining within. I would like to be General one day, but that’s getting a little far ahead, don’t you think?”
    The girl sitting alone on the bench looked up with a slight smile. “What about the last question?” she said. “Do you think no one can best you now?”
    There were several chuckles, and many eagers eyes turned to Tev for the answer. “First of all, I greet you, Lady Sildarius,” he said, with a bow. “As for your question, I believe your famed sister might find me a greater challenge now. I’m not what I was.”
    “Neither is she,” Sildarius answered, arising more giggles.
    And at that moment, the thunder of approaching hooves shook the stones. Over the eight foot wall separating the gardens, a horse leapt, clearing the top with ease, and landing with a clatter amongst the youths.
    Tev rolled his eyes. “On the contrary, she seems exactly the same.”
    A girl swung down from the horse, patting its flank affectionately. “I’m here, you can begin the revelry,” she said with grin.
    “A curse upon us if we started without you,” one boy laughed.
    “Go to the stables, Azazel,” the girl commanded, and the stallion trotted off down a passage at once. Flicking one of her braids over her shoulder, the girl approached her friends, an eager smirk turning up her lip.
    “Lieutenant Tev now, is it?” she said. “In this time of peace, the commanders recruit anyone it seems. Why, you haven’t changed a bit in the last three years.”
    Tev grinned at the teasing, as he had indeed changed significantly in aging from fourteen to seventeen. “You have though,” he replied.
    And she had. Though she still wore the same apparel—a sleeveless blue tunic over grey leggings—and though her white hair still fell behind her back save for the two braids that fell in front of each shoulder, she was no longer the girl he remembered, but a young woman his age. It rather startled him, though he knew it was silly of him to have pictured her forever fourteen.
    Furthermore, she’d improved. The muscles in her arms and shoulders were even more defined and the glint in her eye shone deadlier than ever.
    He hoped her assessment of him was much the same behind her apparent indifference.
    “You’ve grown into a lovely young woman, Dareseel,” he said, with another bow.
    She scowled. “If you resort to flattery, I’ll hurt you,” she snapped. “Becoming an officer better not have ruined you. I liked your rivalry much better.”
    Laughing, he combed his white hair out of his eyes and stepped back, his other hand coming to rest on his sword. “Don’t fear that. I didn’t become a Lieutenant for nothing. Not to boast, but my skill has improved tremendously. I’ve never forgotten the humiliation of being beat by you and I promised it wouldn’t happen again. I’ve trained extensively these past three years.”
    “Whereas I have done nothing but stich tapestries and sing sonnets,” Dareseel replied loftily.
    Nearly bursting with anticipation, the youths watching them formed a circle around the courtyard, giving the two plenty of room on the cobble-stoned ground. Dareseel and Tev instinctively began circling each other, though neither of them had drawn their swords.
    “Remember,” Tev said, his bright eyes turning serious for a moment, “if I push too hard, just tell me.”
    “Because your masculine strength gives you such an advantage.”
    Dareseel tossed her head. “The panther kills the ox.”
    She stepped forward, drawing her foot along a straight line in the stones. Her eyebrow raised in challenge.
    He groaned. “You going to make me strike first again, are you?” With a resigned sigh, he began to pull out his sword, saying the introductory, “Begin…”—
    --and Dareseel leapt, one of her own swords sweeping from behind her back and slashing through his belt. His sheath dropped to the ground, carrying his partially drawn sword with it, and forcing him to duck down to keep hold of it, while nearly tripping on the belt around his feet. In the second that he regained control of his sword, he swung around and caught her blade descending towards his back. He’d known better than to expect her to still be in front of him.
    “You snake!” he gasped, half with laughter, half with frustration.
    Her eyes gleamed as she pressed harder, forcing him to one knee while he was still unbalanced. “I’ll take that as a compliment,” she said. She boosted off the tension in their blades, her feet skimming the ground, her body crouched and her elbows pulled back, coiled for the next strike.
    Tev regained his footing, eyeing her warily. “You won’t get a chance to that again.”
    “You’re right,” she agreed. “Unless you were wearing another belt.”
    He leapt forward, and she slid back, dodging every thrust and slice he gave her way. “Careful,” she taunted, as his strikes became more frustrated. “Don’t lose control and eviscerate me.”
    He drew back, glowering. “Would it be so hard to just give me a decent dual?”
    “Oh, I’m sorry, am I annoying you?”
    “Forgive me if I don’t enjoy slashing at nothing until I’m disarmed by some cunning trick.”
    “So you admit my style is more effective?”
    There was silence. The audience looked back and forth at the competitors.
    Tev heaved a breath. “Unless I was seriously trying to kill you, yes, you have the advantage over me.”
    She nodded, prompting him to continue.
    “So I challenge you to a dual of blows,” he said. “An exchange of skill.”
    Twisting her lips to the side, she nodded reluctantly, tossed aside one sword, and positioned her remaining one.
    What followed was a dizzying display of flashing blades, sweeping and arching like scarves, clashing together with piercing ringing. Faster and faster they sped, retreating and advancing around the circle. Their audience watched in breathless pleasure, as a dual appearing this deadly while in control required sword-masters of the highest caliber.
    Tev, locked in the concentration of controlling his own blade and hers, had no time for coherent thought, but the knowledge did brush his mind that female though she was, she took his blows with unusual strength. In one brief moment of retreat on both sides, he noted that her expression was one of irritation and displeasure. A flicker of delight and remorse rushed through him at once. Perhaps he was besting her after all! But then was that anything to be proud of since it was only natural that he should be better than her when it came to a battle of strength and—
    His fingers stung as his sword was wrenched out of his grasp. He winced at the blinding light reflecting off his blade spinning up in the air. And he watched as it fell back down and clattered on the ground.
    With complete calm, Dareseel brought her sword up through its disarming arc and set the tip at Tev’s chest. “Satisfied, Lieutenant?”
    No one spoke or moved, still recovering from the result perhaps, or fearing the consequences.
    But after a stunned moment, Tev blinked and laughed. “You are amazing!” he exclaimed.
    Laughter and good-hearted cheers rose from around, and for the fleetest moment, Dareseel’s cool expression melted into one of relief, pleasure, and genuine gratitude. She stepped back and bowed, flipping her other sword to hand with her toe. “Thank you, Lieutenant Tev. Your competition was even more challenging than last time. I will be very sore after this, I am certain. Your strength has assuredly improved.”
    “Don’t try to console me,” he chided, shaking his head as he took his sword offered by a friend. “I can accept defeat, even at my own game.” He bent to collect his severed belt and eyed it ruefully. “I suppose I’ll just have to drag my sheath around as a sign of my humiliation.”
    “If I was one of those pretty girls with a sash, I’d offer it to you as a substitute,” Dareseel said loudly, causing quite a commotion from the admiring young ladies.
    Blushing ever so slightly, Tev accepted the nearest sash offered to him and looped his sheath through it. “So Dareseel,” he said, as he tightened the sash around his waist. “Surely you aren’t going to let all your skill just sit and stagnate. When are you applying to be an officer? I know women haven’t been accepted before, but they can’t possibly turn you down.”
    “I’m not going to be an officer,” she replied airily.
    Shocked, he stared to be sure she was serious. “They’ve rejected you? How insane! How idiotic—”
    “Before you offend your superiors and find yourself demoted, let me inform you that I have never applied,” Dareseel said.
    “But why? Surely, it’s what you want?”
    “You are quite mistaken.” She stepped back and drew in a deep breath, her eyes gleaming. “When I come of age, I am leaving.”
    Blinking, he considered her words and the fact that no one seemed surprised by the announcement, though some of the joy seemed to slip away, like a cloud passing over the sun. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the girl, Sildarius, frown.
    “Leaving. Where?”
    “Beyond the Saulation Mountains and west for a start! And after that, who knows?” An excited laugh bubbled out of her, and as he looked into her glowing eyes he recognized an emotion he’d never seen in her before—delight. He was used to seeing it when girls got a new dress or were paid a pretty compliment. She was so different.
He found himself a little caught up in her exhilaration. “So you’ll be leaving in a year? Who are you traveling with?”
“That’s it? But what do your parents think?”
“They’ve given their blessing.”
“By the Light, you are crazy, Dareseel! A girl like you traveling alone—” He paused.
“Yes?” she prompted wickedly. “A girl like me?”
He shook his head. “Never mind. I suppose you’ll do very well.”
“Indeed.” She brushed back her hair and gestured away. “Shall we go for some refreshments to celebrate my victory?”
“I think it would have been much more exciting to celebrate mine,” he said with a sigh.
“Because it would have been unexpected? I agree.”

That night, all the young friends dined together in the great feasting hall. The hall, wide and long, stretched high overhead and stairs spiraled up the magnificent pillars leading to the leaf-like floors that branched from it with the tables set upon them. Lush vines and flowers forested the walls and stairs, filling the chamber with a sweet fragrance.
    Sildarius was unusually silent amongst the gaiety, only joining in merry conversations to smile when there was laughter. But that night, her attention was fixed solely on her sister Dareseel. Her brow furrowed once or twice as she studied her, till even her sweetheart, Aron, crown prince of the city, leaned in to whisper if she was all right.
    “Of course, I am,” Sildarius answered with another sweet smile that seemed to satisfy him. And she was. But she knew Dareseel wasn’t.
As soon as the conversation had switched from adventures and swords, Sildarius had watched Dareseel’s interest wane away as it always did. Her eyes would glass over, a sure sign that her mind was far, far away. In the past few years, as they had all grown up, Dareseel had grown apart from them, as the young men had become shy of sparring with her, and the young women had taken interest in things that Dareseel considered boring. Today had been so close to perfect—Tev, never afraid of fighting Dareseel since his humiliation, had brought back out the pride and love they all had for her, and she had seemed to be a part of them again. But then she’d had to spoil it by expressing her desire to be gone. Off in some unknown part of the world.
 Sildarius frowned, throttling her linen napkin under the table. Why, oh why, couldn’t her sister just be content with all the beauty and love that surrounded her? Quietly and smoothly, to attract as little attention as possible, Sildarius stood, patting Aron’s hand to ward off his surprise and curiosity.
Slipping to her sister’s side, she bent down and whispered in her ear. “Dareseel, I’d like to speak with you.”
    Dareseel’s glazed eyes swam back into focus, and she quirked an eyebrow at her. “Now?”
    “Really,” Sildarius said softly.
    “Oh, very well.” Dareseel pushed back from the table and followed her sister down stairs.
Sildarius led the way out to the outer wall. Up the outer paths she walked, leaves from nearby trees swirling about in the high breeze. She looked back to see Dareseel giving her a skeptical look and she grabbed her hand, pulling her up the last few steps, before an objection could be made. At last, they stood at the foot of the center spire.
Sighing deeply, Sildarius let go of her sister’s hand and leaned against the railing. The sun was beginning to set behind the Saulation Mountains, and the sky was fading to soft lavender. “Look, Dareseel,” she said. “Will you just look at it?”
Obediently, Dareseel came forward and gazed out upon the land.
“There is no more beautiful place than here,” Sildarius said. “Rivers, forests, and meadows lace this realm, bordered by the Saulation Mountains in the west, the Blethian cliffs, with all their splendid waterfalls, to the north--the thick wood, to the south--the light of the KING’s garden to the east. Here we dwell. Our four great cities mark west, east, south, and north, the Hollowed Light shining within.” Taking a deep breath, she turned her back to the view and stared her sister in the eye. “So why, why, Dareseel, would you ever want to leave?” Her black eyes begin to gleam with tears. “What isn’t good enough for you here?”
Shoulders sagging, Dareseel placed a hand on each of her sister’s shoulders. “Oh, Sil.” She sighed heavily. “This isn’t about what Raytalvis is missing. It’s perfect in every way. It’s what I’m missing. I’m missing my purpose.”
“Your purpose is here, with your family!” Sildarius blinked back her tears, regaining her composure. “If you want to some great warrior, why don’t you become an officer like Tev?”
“An officer living in quiet peace and luxury, the only combat coming from a spar with a friend. Training for what? For a war that might never come.” Seeing Sildarius’s indignant expression, Dareseel held up a hand. “Now, now, you know I never want war to come here. And it is good for us to have an army, better still if we never have to use it. But to stay here all my days, Sil? No, that isn’t it, not for me.”
When Sildarius turned away, the set of her body still implying offense, Dareseel gently took her sister by the shoulders and turned her back to the sunset. “Now, may I show you what I see?” she whispered.
Sildarius gave an indifferent shrug, refusing to make eye contact.
Inhaling deep, Dareseel leaned out over the rail. “I see a horizon,” she said. “I see a world ahead, a life of adventure and peril and progress. I see a reason to push forward, to find what I’m missing, to aid a shattered world. I see possibilities, endless and forever reaching. And I hear—I hear a voice calling my name. I feel—a pull straight from my heart.”
Her voice, though calm, was so full of longing and wistfulness that Sildarius’s heart was pierced with a moment of understanding. She stared out at the bright glow edging the mountains, promising great things beyond. For that moment, her breath was suddenly taken away.
The next second, it was gone, and she drew back with a shiver. “You’ll die,” she whimpered. “If you go out in that dreadful world, you’ll die.”
“No, I won’t,” Dareseel said confidently. “This is the KING’s calling for me. I am the Adaile, the greatest warrior that will ever live.”
“You are vain and stubborn!” Sildarius snapped, not noticing how her grown-up superiority brought a smile to her older sister’s face. “How can you possibly know you’re the Adaile?”
Dramatically, Dareseel leaned back against the rail and pressed a hand to her heart. “I can feel it here. It’s my destiny.” When there was stunned silence, she rolled her eyes to the side and grinned teasingly at Sildarius, pulling out a smile from her, albeit still annoyed. “Seriously though, I do believe it. And I will prove it.”
After a long moment of silence, Sildarius sighed and hugged her sister tight. “I love you so,” she whispered. “I don’t want you to leave me.”
Face softening into a tender expression that was rare to see, Dareseel wrapped her arms around her little sister and kissed the top of her head. “Ah, Sil,” she said. “Don’t be afraid.”
Sniffing back tears and trying to smile, Sildarius said, “I’ll trust in the KING.”
“And so will I,” Dareseel replied. “Wherever He shall lead me. Over the horizon and home again.”

The End


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

soaring through imagination

I am flying.
     Hanging, suspended in the air above a city of extraordinary creatures.
     I am weightless.
     Life goes on beneath my feet. They are unaware of me as I fly over them, swerving to and fro though traffic. I am invisible.
     The scenery changes to that of a forest, where I brush the tips of trees with my fingers. I turn my face up, enjoying the way the current feels.
      I push up, out of the water and open my eyes, where shrieks and laughter fills my ears. There is no real city after all, no real traffic, just crabs and hermit-crabs.
     There is no real forest, just seaweed and leaves.
     I am still weightless, and I still feel like I could fly. But I choose to join my friends, making the biggest splash I can.
    And as I dry off, I think how wonderful, how amazing it is to be able to soar through imagination and see cities where others see sand, to see magical creatures where some only see fish.

Imagination is one of the most extraordinary things people could ever have. The things we see can be shown through more than just stories and writing; they are shown in paintings, in drawings, in carved wood. They are shown in the way a pianist plays, for the pianist sees a story in his music the way we see one in our tales. They're shown in the way a dancer dances, the way that a designer makes clothes...
      I could not ask for anything more- except for tea. and books. books are good. and music. I like music.

I will be back this week, featuring another short story- I wish I hadn't gotten off track with it. They're all so wonderful!
     And I'm proud to announce, I'm being an influencer for one of my dearest friend's book, which is getting published in a volume of four other people's stories as well! 
Savo'lass a lalaith, Dearest Readers. 
-The Writer 

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Writer Returns

My dear fellows,

I am back once again! I'm sorry for neglecting you so long...I can't remember if I told you about the cruise I was going on. Well, it's returned, and so have I.

      A list of things you can look forward to:
- The continuation of Short Stories
- A Villainous Interview
- The Dragon's Eye
- A sneak peek of my current Work-In-Progress; something I'm going to make a thing, asking people for sneak peeks of their works.

     I am glad to say, regarding my Work-In-Progress, that I have taken up my stories and drawing pencils once again, after leaving them untouched for a long time. And now, I have also come back to my dear little blog again! I'm very excited!

Savo'lass a lalaith, my dear ones! I shall return shortly...

-The Writer

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Short Story #3

Dealing with an Old Friend

By Sadie S.

The sun shone down on two young travelers moving through the forest of Lasho, which was showing the signs of spring coming to life again. Kim walked behind her traveling partner, Bronze. She still remembered the first day they met in the snow as she was petting a fuzzy Bolt Cat. He had asked her to join him on his journey to Quiet Waters. Over the past two months they had become close friends.

Kim watched Blaze flow around Bronze’s head whispering into his ear from time to time. Blaze had been Bronze’s guardian since he was a young boy. Bronze stopped and turned to his left and then continued. Kim followed. Bronze stopped and turned to the right, then took a few steps, then stopped again. He ran his dirty fingers through his messy black hair.

Blaze whispered something to Bronze, "No…well… are you sure… yeah…Kim… no, no… fine."

Kim placed a hand on her hip and voiced strongly, "What about me? What on earth are you talking about?"

Bronze turned to his half Dragon Elf and half human friend, and smiled, "Oh, nothing Kim. Blaze and I were talking about where we should go next."


"And we are going to the city of Rushless Beauty. You are going to make a deal with an old friend of mine," he called over his shoulder as he started walking away.

"Why don’t you make a deal with your old friend? "She asked following him.

"Oh, no. He and I in the same room would be a bad Idea."

"Why is that?"

"Well… last time we were together… let’s just say that he tried to kill me and I took something personal from him. Understand?"

"No...You mean…"

"Let just say that we’re not friends anymore," he interrupted her. Kim shrugged her shoulders and said no more. They walked down the path that Blaze showed Bronze. After three hours of walking and climbing hills, they reached the city. Bronze’s right arm pointed to city, "Kim welcome to Rushless Beauty."

Kim understood where the city got its name. Waterfalls encircled the city with reddish, green, and yellow trees as far as the eye could see. A lake, at the bottom of the city was surrounded with small houses. In the center of the city rose a mountain with a circle carved out of the rock as if it was a castle. Beneath the circle, the most beautiful water flowed down to the lake. The sound of rushing water filled the air. Kim lost her breath looking at the most beautiful city she had ever seen.

In no time they were at the lake. Small shops and houses lined the whole lake. Merchants shouted for the travelers to come over. Bronze eyed the stalls as if he was looking for something. At one stall he stopped and asked a very ugly lady about a dark blue sleeveless shirt. The ugly lady picked up the shirt and held it up for him to see. Blade whispered something to Bronze and he smiled, "I’ll take it and those pants over there." The woman pointed at a pair of pants and Bronze nodded. After paying the woman, Bronze walked away from the stall to a tree.

Bronze handed Kim the shirt and pants, "Here you go."

She looked down at the new clothing, "What’s this for?"

"I’ll tell you later. Now go change over there in that house. You will meet a nice woman. Tell her these words, ‘Bronze is stronger than Silver’. Got it?"

She bit her lip, but nodded and walked over to the house he had pointed at. Bronze took a seat under the tree and took off his brown cape. "Blaze, do you think this will work?" he whispered to his guardian.

"I think it will," Blaze answered in a sparkly voice. "I know that Kim is the perfect person for the job. It says only a Dragon Elf can get it. Plus she cannot get hurt, because it is in her blood to attack before she is harmed. Ahh, here she comes. Remember, watch your words."

Bronze stood up and smiled. Kim smiled back. She held her mother’s blue dress in her arms. She still wore her father’s red cape, not ready to take it off. "Perfect, come on Kim."

Bronze took the dress and placed it in his sack. They walked through the houses and the market until they came to stairs that led up to the highest point of the city. Red trees stood guard in front of the stairs. Leaves covered the stair steps, as if no one dared to step upon the stairs.

Bronze stopped at the entrance and took Kim by the arm, "Ok, take this." Then he placed a small bag in her hands, "I need you to walk up these stairs to where they stop. Wait there. Just wait. Don’t leave until you see a man with a long scar on his left cheek. When he asks you what you’re doing there, tell him you want the Biter. He may say no. Just say it again but this time add this; I have a gift from a friend. If he asks about the friend, just say the same thing you said to the woman at the house. Once you have it, get out of there and run back here to me. Got it?"

"I think so," she said calmly trying to remember everything he had told her. She started for the stairs.

"Kim, wait" She stopped and turned to Bronze who had his hand out. "I need your father’s cape."

"My cape?"

"I know it is important to you, but it’s not safe wearing it up there. Trust me on this one." Reluctantly Kim took the cape off and handed it to Bronze. He took it and placed with the dress. Kim turned quickly and walked up the stairs.

Wind blew through Kim’s brown hair as she stood on the side of the mountain looking at a wall. The stairs lay behind her. She looked left, to the right--nothing. Weird. Bronze did say to wait. Kim looked through her dragon’s eyes at the wall--nothing. Maybe…she closed her eyes. She reopened her human eyes and looked at the side of the mountain--nothing. She pressed her hand over the rough rocky side of the mountain. Nothing happened.

Kim blinked back to her dragon’s eyes. Rushless Beauty reappeared. She looked down at the bag Bronze had given her. Maybe if she pressed against this wall something would happen. She reached out her hand to touch the wall. Before touching it she looked down at Rushless Beauty. Suddenly out of nowhere came an arm which grabbed Kim and dragged her into a well furnished huge room.

Kim spun around to see a well-dressed man with a fur cape and jewels draping his neck. Kim looked at his face and saw a long scar on his left cheek, Bronze’s friend. "Why are you here? Why has a young petty girl come to this place?" he barked at her. Kim stared at him forgetting what to say. "Speak!" The man yelled in her face.

"I came for the Biter," Kim stammered.

The man took a step closer to her, "Oh really? You can’t have it. No one can."

"Why not?"

"Because only a Dragon Elf can wield the Biter. Why should I give it to a helpless girl?"

"Well, I have a gift for you."

"Really? From who?"

"A friend of yours, Bronze is stronger than Silver." With those words the man pulled out his sword and was about to attack Kim. Without thinking, Kim’s body moved with the blood of her Dragon Elf father. She kicked the man’s hand so hard that his sword flew across the room and out the window with a shatter. The man dropped to his knee holding his hand screaming him pain, for his hand was shattered as the window.

Kim straightened up and said without fear, "Now may I have the Biter?"

The scarred man looked up at her pain all over his face. He cursed in a language Kim didn’t know. "Biter, come to the Dragon Elf maid," he called flatly.

Kim turned her head to the sound of doors opening and closing. Soon a sword flew through the air and landed in her hands. Kim grabbed the mighty weapon and threw the bag from Bronze over to the hurting man. "Here, that’s from your friend."

Before Bronze’s friend opened the bag, Kim darted for the wall she was pulled through. She broke into the daylight and bolted down the stairs. When she reached the bottom step she looked wildly around for Bronze. She saw him under a tree taking a snooze. She ran to his side and kicked him gently. "Bronze I got it. Let’s go." Bronze groggily got up and took her by the arm and started running through town back into the forest of Lasho. Once they were far from the city, Bronze started to slow down. Kim half walked, half ran next to Bronze. Panting she said, "Here is the thing you wanted me to get for you."

Bronze smiled but didn’t take it. "Ah, no. I can’t use it. It’s for you Kim. Beside you know that I already have a fine sword." He slapped the one on his side.

"What? You wanted to get me a sword? Next time just buy one in the market, instead of sending me to your weird friend."

"Sorry, but we need that sword of us to get to Quiet Waters with no problems. Understand?"

"Fine." They walked a little bit without talking then Kim broke the quiet air, "What was in the bag you told me to give him?"

"The necklace I took from him. It was given to him by the only women that loved him. She died a week before they were supposed to get married. He was heartbroken. I tried to convince him he needed to stop mourning and rule Rushless Beauty. The people were waiting on him but he got mad. He yelled in my face, ‘I’m still the ruler here… you know nothing… why should I listen to your words?" He pulled out his sword. I followed, we fought. I cut the necklace off his neck and dove for it. I picked it up. I thought if I had the necklace he would listen to what I had to say, but I was wrong. That’s when he tried to kill me. I escaped just in time with the necklace. He swore if he saw me again I would surely die. Now, do you get why I wouldn’t make that deal with him?"

Kim nodded her head, "So you use to live in Rushless Beauty?"

Bronze slowed down his pace for Kim to keep up. "Yes, I grew up there before my mother died. After my mother’s death, Silver, the guy you met took me in and watched over me."

"Silver, that would explain why he tried to kill me when I said, Bronze is stronger than Silver."

"Silver tried to kill you? How did you escape?"

"She is Dragon Elf," Blaze whispered in Bronze’s ears.

Kim was about to answer but Bronze said, "Forgot you are half Dragon Elf and half human, sorry."

"Where is your father?" Kim asked.

"Oh, my dad died also. See my dad was a Might Man. He and my mother were trying to get to Quiet Waters also. Dad got attacked by a beast. My mother never told what type of beast. She brought him to Rushless Beauty and there he died of his wounds. I was only a baby at the time."

"I’m sorry. I didn’t know."

"Hey, it’s alright. Beside I’ve gotten over the past, now I just look to the future. Come on Kim, Quiet Waters waits."

Bronze took a few steps ahead and followed after Blaze who was leading the way. Kim strapped on the sword and followed her friend deeper in to the forest of Lasho.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Short Story #2

The Open Way

By Sarah

The door burst open. I jumped to my feet, ready to run- then relaxed as I recognized the person who’d just dashed in. "Jacen? What is it?"

Jacen bent over, panting. I waited impatiently for him to regain his breath. After several moments, he straightened up, pushing his mop of red hair out of his face. "Dia- the Way- it’s open!"

"What-?" I stared at him, not quite comprehending. "What do you mean?"

"I mean the Way is open." Jacen looked at me expectantly. "Like you’ve been waiting for. The Waykeeper sent me to tell you."

"Oo-oh." I started towards the door into our back room. "I should tell Lexa."

"Tell me what?" Alexa, my older sister, appeared in the doorway. She offered Jacen a smile. "Hello, Jacen. How are you?"

"I’m fine." Jacen grinned eagerly back at her. "Alexa, the Way’s open!"

Alexa glowed, just as I knew she would. "The Way is open?" She swept towards me, her light blue robes swishing. "Dia, can you believe it? We can go home!"

"Home." The word came out less excited than I’d intended it. "Finally."

Alexa and Jacen’s joyous expressions faded. Alexa stopped halfway to me. "What’s wrong, Dia? Aren’t you exciting?"

"Y-" The word choked in my throat. I’d learned my lesson about lies, even small ones, all too well. "Not really."

"What?" Alexa made a disbelieving gesture. "We’ve been waiting two years-"

"Right. We’ve been here in Therae for two years." I stared at my hands in my lip, fiddling with the green sash tied around my waist. "And I know you’ve wanted to go home all that time But for me, this feels more like home than Earth ever did." I waved a hand at our surroundings: the wood-paneled walls hung with ivy, the comfortable wooden furniture, the large windows and skylight, the forest outside. "I’m not sure I want to go back."

Alexa drew back as if I’d slapped her. "Dia, don’t be like that. Don’t you miss home? Our friends? Mom and Dad?"

"I told you. Home is here." I shrugged. "And all my friends are here. I hardly had any to miss back on Earth."

"And Mom and Dad?" Alexa asked, her voice stern.

"I miss them." I wove the end of my sash through my fingers. "I’d like to see them. But we both know how the Way works. If I go, I can’t come back."

Jacen spoke up hesitantly, as if afraid to intrude in our argument. "If your family’s there, Dia, maybe you should go. You know what they say: ‘Don’t break branches on your family tree.’"

He had a point, but I didn’t want to admit it. "Do you want me to go?"

"No!" Jacen looked as if I’d just insulted him. "You’re my friend. Both of you are."

Alexa gave me an "Enough being stubborn" look. "Dia, stop. We shouldn’t even be arguing about this. We belong on Earth, not Therae. This isn’t our world."

"Isn’t it?" I asked, more sharply than I’d meant it. "We helped save it, Lexa. Why wouldn’t it be our world? Because we weren’t born here?"

Alexa nodded. "Yes. Because we weren’t born here, and because our family is on Earth. That’s why we don’t belong here."

"I don’t think I belong on Earth." I crossed my arms, raising my head to stare her down. "I never felt like I belonged there. Not like I do here."

"Belonging isn’t a feeling." Alexa met my gaze with no sign of backing down. "Belonging is being a part of something."

I threw my hands up in exasperation. "I’m a part of something here!"

"And you’re a part of a family at home!" I could tell Alexa’s control over her temper was rapidly slipping. "Isn’t that more important than anything here?"

"Is it?"

Jacen broke into the conversation. "Why don’t we ask the Waykeeper for his advice?"

Alexa and I both perked up. I turned and headed for the door. "That’s the best idea I’ve heard all day. Let’s go."

I led the way over the swinging tree-to-tree bridges to the Waykeeper’s home in the lower branches of the tallest tree in the forest. Of the three of us, I’d been there the most times. Gerren, the Waykeeper, helped me understand what happened when Alexa and I stumbled through the Way two years ago, and since then, his company, his advice, and his special tea had kept me coming back.

The door stood open when we arrived. I started to go in, but Alexa held me back and knocked on the doorframe. "Waykeeper?"

Gerren’s voice came from inside. "Come in!"

I pulled free from Alexa and stepped inside the sun-dappled front room. I’d loved this place from the first time I’d come here. Something about it made me feel safe.

Gerren, a burly man who seemed like he should’ve been more at home on the ground than in the trees, rose from his seat by the largest window. "Hello, Alexa, Dia, Jacen. What can I do for you? You didn’t come to walk the Way already?"

"No!" I shook my head emphatically.

Alexa shot me an annoyed look and then turned to Gerren with her usual calm manner. "We, Dia especially, need your advice. It has to do with the Way."

"Ah." Gerren waved us towards him. "Sit down, then, and I’ll see what I can do."

Before long, Gerren had settled us all into cushioned chairs and had given us each a mug of his special tea. I sipped mine eagerly, nearly burning my tongue. If I went back to Earth, I would miss my time with Gerren most of all.

Gerren settled into his special chair by the small stove on which the tea kettle sat. "Now, Alexa, Dia, what’s your trouble?"

I opened my mouth to speak, but Alexa beat me to it. "Dia doesn’t want to go home. Can’t you explain why she should, sir?"

I bristled. "What if I shouldn’t go?"

Alexa started to reply, but Gerren raised his hands. "No arguing. Dia, why don’t you care to go back to your world?"

I shrugged. "I don’t even know if it is my world anymore. I miss my family, but . . . Therae feels more like home than Earth did."

Gerren turned to Alexa. "And why do you say she should go back?"

Alexa replied promptly, "Because, sir, Earth is where we belong. We were born there; we’ve waited two years for a chance to return."

My fingers tightened around my mug. "You belong there. That doesn’t mean I do."

Gerren gave me his "Dia, behave" look, and I shrank back. He looked at Jacen. "Do you have anything to add?"

Jacen jerked up straight as if surprised to be asked. "Me? Well, Alexa and Dia are my friends; I’d love for them to say. But their family’s on Earth, and family should be together."

"Good advice." Gerren nodded approvingly. "But I haven’t heard the best reason to do anything yet." He surveyed the three of us. "Have any of you considered what the Father wants you to do?"

I looked down at my tea. Alexa shook her head slowly. "No, sir."

"I guessed as much." Gerren gestured to the bookshelves surrounding the main trunk of the tree, which stuck up through the floor. "Dia, will you bring me the Word, please?"

I set aside my tea and hurried to the shelves. I slid the soft, leather-bound book off the shelf and, holding it carefully, carried it over to Gerren.

He took it. "Thank you, Dia." Once I’d returned to my seat, he bowed his head. We all followed suit. Then he prayed: "Father God, we come before You now to seek Your wisdom and Your guidance for Alexa and Dia. Please show us Your will for them and help them see what path You desire them to take. Amen."

We all lift our heads. Gerren pages through the Word. "Now, your question: stay or go? It would not be unlike Adonai to have called Dia to remain here. Many times, in both Therae and Earth, He has summoned one of His servants to a new home in a distant land."

He paused. "However, He does not often call people to such a change, especially when it comes to travel between worlds. The Father places people in certain worlds for a reason. Sometimes He’ll call them from one world to another for a short time, perhaps a year or two, but rarely do they stay forever."

"So you think I should go back?" Disbelief tinged my voice; I’d hoped Gerren, at least, would support my desire to stay.

"I think you should follow the Father’s call." Gerren leaned back in his seat. "Do you feel called to stay here, Alexa, Dia?"

Alexa shook her head readily. I started to nod, but stopped. "No. Not really. But I’m not sure I feel called to Earth either."

"Maybe that’s why the Father opened the Way, though?" Jacen looked at Gerren as if seeking affirmation that he was on the right track. "Isn’t that usually why He opens it? He’s calling someone from one world to another?"

Gerren beamed at Jacen. "There’s a lad with a good head on his shoulders. The Way opening is a call, Dia. It always is."

I gulped, staring down into my tea. "I don’t want to leave."

Gerren stood and walked over to me. He patted my shoulder comfortingly. "I know. I don’t look forward to saying goodbye either. But how often are we called to something we want to do."

I managed a small smile. "I guess that’s true." I took a deep breath. "All right. I’ll go."

We spent the next two days preparing to leave and saying our goodbyes. Every farewell seemed to chip off a little piece of my heart that would remain in Therae forevermore. Finally, nothing remained to be done, and Alexa and I returned to Gerren’s house for the last time. We carried nothing with us; we had come to Therae with nothing except the clothes on our backs, and we would leave the same way.

We found Gerren waiting outside for us. He greeted us with a sad smile. "Hello, Alexa, Dia. Are you ready?"

Alexa nodded confidently. "We’re ready." I found that I couldn’t seem to reply at all.

"Very well, then." Gerren led us across a series of bridges that criss-crossed between his tall oak and other nearby trees, all the while going steadily upward. It took nearly ten minutes to reach the Way at the very top of his tree. It looked like just another tree-hut, minus a platform surrounding it. However, through the open door and windows we could see nothing but light filling it.

We paused a few feet from the door. I glanced back. I could still turn around and stay here. I had time. But no. I’d been called back to Earth; I would obey the call.

Alexa and Gerren bid each other a rather formal farewell. Then Gerren turned to me. I hugged him before he could speak. "I’ll miss you."

"And I you." Gerren gently returned my hug. When he stepped away, he dug in his pocket for something. "I have something for you before you go." He produced a small bag and handed it to me.

I took it and peered inside. "Tea?"

Gerren nodded. "I know how you like it. Maybe it’ll help while you’re getting used to Earth again."

"Thank you." I clutched the bag tight. "Not just for the tea- for everything."

"You’re welcome." He nodded towards the Way. "I suppose you’d best go on."

"Right. Goodbye." I looked at Alexa and we joined hands.

Gerren moved to the side so we could pass. "Goodbye, Dia, Alexa. May the Father watch over you."

I couldn’t seem to speak again, so Alexa replied for us. "And you as well." Then we walked forward to the Way. The door was only wide enough for one at a time, so she entered first. I looked around the forest one last time, trying to store my last moments here.

And then I faced forward, took a step, and entered the Way.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Crossing to Afienda Part Two

Hey, so sorry it's taken so long to finish this!
The play ended this past weekend, so I'll have loads more free time at night, which hopefully means I'll be actually be tending to my poor, forgotten blog!

Read Crossing to Afienda Part One here

Crossing to Afienda
by Meredith B.
*last name shortened for safety reasons*

"The herald read the proclamation to us," Naolia whispered. Both girls were continuing to crush the stalks, a task that should have been relatively easy. Yet, the mallets were so heavy, and the pulsating ground made the girls legs throb with fatigue. "We have to be in the market square at noon tomorrow."
"I know. I came to tell you that you have to escape."
"But, I cant. Father and mother—"
"But, you must! Dont you understand? I am the reason youre here in the fields. Im the reason Randolf is gone."

Faluri shuddered as another spasm of memories struck her, and she sank into their insistent clutches.
The breeze had deposited her at the servants entrance of Lord Locmanas grand mansion. She had been found by a scullery maid and been appointed as a serving maid herself. She refused to tell anyone where she was from. The plague had begun the next day, and twenty noblemen had died. Then, Lord Locmana had been stricken with the mysterious illness himself, and hysteria had grown to a fever pitch. The lord had decreed that a Pacmana maiden must be sacrificed to appease Hungalis wrath and had said that the casting of lots would determine the maiden to be chosen. Now, as Faluri relived these memories, it suddenly came to her that the casting of lots was merely a clever ruse. She had always been the object of Hungalis desire, and he was determined to have her. She thought of Randolf, a king who was also a brother to a commoner. He had sacrificed himself so that she might live. Should she not do the same for his sister?
Hungali had been as good as his word, for the unexplained illnesses of so many noble young men had caused outright panic. Blame had naturally fallen on the Pacmana race. Only Faluris adopted family had taken a stand, for though they did not know where she was, they extolled the Pacmana race as equals to nobles. Thus, they were punished by being forced to become slaves.
Faluri stared at her adopted sister for a long moment. Then, she whispered to herself, "He knew Id give myself up to protect you, to honor Randolfs memory." There was no need to wait for the drawing of lots. She would do what she had to do tonight.
"Sweeties. Lovely sweeties!" An old mans voice rang through the relentless pounding of the mallets and groans of the slaves. Faluri gaped as she beheld a stooped form hobbling through the crowd of slaves. The overseers flocked to the man, snatching sweets from a basket which he balanced upon his hip. "Easy!" he cried. "Plenty for all!"
"All? These beasts dont get anything." One of the overseers guffawed, his mouth so crammed with barley sugar that his words were garbled. Syrup dribbled down his chin.
"Beasts, eh?" The man chortled, grinning cheekily. "Appears to be only you yourself. Beast in the decidedly singular. Wheres my coin? These treats arent free, you know."
"Watch your tongue, you old fool! Weve never payed in the past, have we?" The overseer yankd the basket from the old mans hand, dividing the remaining goodies among himself and the others. "Be off with you."
Calmly, the man raised his hands, snatching the basket back. The wicker container now bulged with a vast profusion of treats, and he staggered under its weight. The overseers gaped at his retreating form as he circulated among the slaves, giving each one a cone of barley sugar. "From King Elumis own fields. Not ill-gotten by slave labor but freely grown for all."
As the man made his rounds, he stopped beside the pit, gently patting each girl on the shoulder as he handed them the treats. "Only one day more," he murmured. "Then your slavery will cease." As He spoke these words, his eyes locked onto Faluri, who gaped in shock. "You are more than you think, courageous girl," the sweet-seller murmured. "Hungali wanted you to surrender to his embrace. Now, he will surrender to you." He withdrew a cloth bag from the folds of his brown tunic, and a belt the translucent color of honey. Thrusting these items into Faluris hands, he enfolded her in a strong embrace. His touch brought a surge of comfort and strength, and the scents of cinnamon, cloves and other spices clung to him. Faluri suddenly knew from whence the breeze that had carried her to the mansion had originated. Then the man vanished.

Faluri blinked in wonder at the bag. Trembling, she opened it and stared in disappointment. A lump of barley sugar, a skein of scarlet yarn and a strangely-scented leaf were the only objects it contained. Faluri withdrew the leaf, gaping it its strange beauty. Scalloped-edged, the leaf was a dazzling white and shone with a mesmerizing brilliance. Faluri returned the leaf to the bag, her mind reeling with confusion. She prepared to journey to her doom.
The barley fields were eerily silent. Faluri stood alone, her hands trembling. Around her waist was the golden belt, and attached to it was the small cloth bag. She felt the thrumming of Hungalis heartbeat and knew what she had to do. Stepping to the edge of the barley pit, she prepared to enter it yet again.
A thunderous pounding of hoofbeats tore through the silence, and Faluri shrank back, fully expecting the ghostly black steed to rise from the pits depths. Yet, the sound came from behind her. Trembling, she turned around and came face-to-face with a towering steed. The horses coat was dazzlingly white, and a scarlet mane flowed down its back. The horse neighed and reared onto its hind legs, and she realized that it was wild. Yet even in its wildness, it stood before her, its glittering golden eyes scrutinizing her closely. Faluri reached into the bag at her waist and withdrew the lump of barley sugar, a sugar more refined than any grown in these fields. She proffered the sweet, and the horse bent forward, its mouth nuzzling her fingers as it took it from her hand. The majestic animal nickered softly and knelt upon the ground. Light poured from its shimmering mane, and Faluri caught the distinct scent of cinnamon, cloves and other strange spices.
"Y-You will allow me to ride upon your back?" Her heart pounded in fear, but her eyes were filled with tears of wonder. "I must journey to the mountains."
The horse inclined its head. Faluri grasped its mane and clambered upon its back. Instantly, the horse rose and began to gallop, its cloven hooves thundering across the fields. The steeds movements were so graceful, and Faluris hair flew behind her in a gentle breeze. The horses movements grew even faster, and they were suddenly airborne. Faluri gasped, clinging to the mane with an iron grip. You will not fall. The steeds thoughts were amused. Trust me.

Soon, Faluri felt familiar biting cold, and she felt a tremendous jolt as the horse landed upon a stone walkway. To her right yawned the immense chasm, and everything was as she remembered from that harrowing day. The only difference was that now there was no one to lend her a helping hand. Even as she thought this, the steed vanished and the ground began to quake.
Ah! I knew you would return. Hungalis rumbling voice rang with jubilant triumph. Your weak heart could not bear that others die. Youre so pathetic!
Faluri swallowed, staring as the breeze began to intensify. "Y-You want me to come to you. Why? You love no one but yourself."
Have you any inkling of how hard Ive worked to establish my kingdom? He had to interfere, to take into his home a worthless donkey of a girl. The prophecy will not be fulfilled. His own weakness prevented it. Once I have dealt with you, then I will be safe. My reign will be firmly established.
Faluri felt the tears course down her cheeks, and she thought of Randolfs intervention. "He is strong, far stronger than youll ever be."
There was a long silence. Then, Hungalis tone of contempt abruptly changed. What do you wear around your waist?

Faluri trembled, clutching the bag in her sweat-soaked hand.

Come now. Let me see.
Faluri held the bag toward the gaping chasm, keeping the contents hidden from sight. "Ill show you if youll consent to remove the illness from the land."

Hungali laughed. You presume to bargain with me?
"This bag contains great weapons from King Elumis own land. Would you not desire to possess them yourself?"
The air from the chasm roared in anger, jerking Faluris tunic as it pummeled her extended hand. Give it to me!
"I must have your word first."
Very well, shrewd creature. I will remove the plague, but you will not leave here alive. Ill have you and the weapons as well. Now give me the bag.

Faluri opened her hand, reaching toward the roiling breeze. Instantly, iron fingers snatched the bag away, tearing it open to expose the contents.
A snarl of utter rage erupted in the air. You deceived me! What is the meaning of this? The bag was flung into the air in disgust. It flew toward Faluris outstretched hand. Hungalis aim was wrong, for the bag clattered onto the stone walkway at Faluris feet, the white leaf and the scarlet skein of yarn erupting from their cloth enclosure.
Suddenly, the overpowering scent that Faluri knew so well filled the air. She gasped as a tree appeared where the Lleaf had fallen, a squat object from which dazzling light poured forth. The trees golden branches swayed, its dazzlingly white leaves glimmering.
Hungalis laughter was horrible to hear. You think a mere tree will stop me? A massive tree the size of a great oak burst from the chasms depths, its towering branches a garish black. The tree bent forward, the snake-like branches wrapping themselves around the smaller tree. The trunk snapped, the deafening pop resembling the sound of a breaking back, and the Talmun tree hurtled into the chasms depths.

Your games bore me. Come and be mine.
As these words rumbled around her, Faluris attention was arrested by the glimmering scarlet yarn that still lay on the stone walkway. The skein was unraveling by itself, the glimmering thread stretching until it reached the lip of the chasm. The yarn continued to unwind, stretching until a thin rivulet of scarlet spanned the infinite divide. Faluri realized she was staring at a bridge.

I see. Yet another tiresome tactic. Hungali rose upward, suddenly transforming into the most handsome man Faluri had ever seen. His jet-black hair billowed around him like a cape, and his fathomless eyes shone with triumph. Calmly, he reached out a hand, clutching the thin rope bridge. I will break this as I destroyed that useless tree.
Yet, Hungalis boasts were futile, for the harder he pulled at the scarlet thread, the weaker he seemed to become. Faluri saw him shake with exertion.
"Hungali." A voice shattered the stillness, and the scarlet thread seemed to move. Faluri saw a form in the distance, a shimmering man walking toward her with measured strides. "Your day of reckoning has come."
That voice! That compassionate, powerful voice! Faluri gaped in shock as she beheld Randolfs approaching form. He walked upon the glimmering bridge, his scarred hands held out in front of him. His face shone with a translucent light.
Instantly, Hungali lunged toward Randolf, his face contorted with rage. The man form dwindled before Faluris eyes, and the powerful breeze pushed against Randolfs advancing form, repeatedly attempting to hurl him yet again into the cavernous depths. It is not possible! You were crushed.
"Faluri, come to me." Randolf continued crossing the bridge, heedless of Hungalis rants.
Yes, Faluri. Go to him. Step upon this futile bridge. It will not bear a mortals weight. When you fall, I shall be waiting to catch you. You shall melt into my embrace, and we shall become one. Hungalis jeers pummeled Faluris stomach, and her heart quaked with fear.
"I will enable you to cross, Faluri. Do not be afraid. Did I not give you sustenance in the barley fields? Did I not transport you here? Did not my branches weaken his power? Though I fell, I rose yet again, and the thread of my lifes blood has provided a crossing over Deaths demesne."
Faluri gaped, seeing within Randolf all the things that he was; a loving brother, a provider of sweetness, a scarlet-maned horse, a tree of life, a bridge builder and a conquering king. Shaking, she took her first tentative step toward the gaping chasm. In her ears, she heard Hungalis laughter. When she stepped onto the bridge, she felt it sway and give. The breeze grew so furious that she heard as in a recurring nightmare the walkway begin to collapse yet again. The bridge groaned as it swayed to and fro. A scream erupted from her throat.
"The bridge will not collapse, Faluri. Trust me."
Her heart in her mouth, Faluri took another step forward, her right hand extended. Warm fingers closed over her own, and she and the king began to walk forward together. The bridge continued to sway and shake violently, but Faluri clung to her brothers strong hand.
As they reached the other side, they stepped from the bridge onto a snowcapped mountain peak. Instantly, the bridge ceased shaking, and in the distance, Faluri saw a towering tree burst from the chasms depths. As the tree emerged, Hungali was thrown back into the chasm. A low rumble emerged from the chasms depths as the ground closed with a thunderous roar. The chasm had closed forever. Hungalis screams were abruptly silenced.
Faluri flung herself into Randolfs embrace. Brother and sister twirled round and round, and Faluri saw a dazzling sight. Vast barley fields stretched before her, the pure snow blanketing them in a profusion of downy white. Oddly, the air was not cold here but crisp and caressing, and the scents of cinnamon, cloves and other unidentifiable spices tickled her nostrils.

This beauty was unsurpassed, but as Faluri stared, she glimpsed a sight more wondrous than any landscape. People worked in the fields side by side. No overseers plied their whips. People of every color and class were united here. In the distance, she saw two figures, a petite, dimpled woman and a muscular man. Both of them sported pointed ears, and their faces were a mirror image of her own.

Suddenly, Faluri was running, her pace as swift as a mountain gazelles. As she ran, the two figures ran as well, their eyes shining. Daughter, father and mother met in a blinding collision, their tears of joy mingling together as they embraced.
Then King Elumi, (or Randolf as he would always be known by Faluri), was there, enfolding the family into his arms and gently wiping the tears from their eyes. "Welcome to Afendia, my sister," he said, his voice like the rushing of many waters. "Welcome home."

Two days later, a brother and sister descended a vast mountain. They trod upon a walkway of scarlet stone which was skirted by two Talmun trees that stood on either side of the path. The trees stood like strong, silent sentries.
The brother and sister journeyed to a valley in search of willing pilgrims, travelers who would accompany them to a new home, a land of perpetual joy. The Chasm Crossers would make many journeys of this kind, and all would be well. The prophecy had been fulfilled. An adopted girl from the Pacmana race had called forth the Kings wondrous grace.