Poetry

I wonder…

Would you…

Could you?

If I left…

Ask me…

When?

If I stayed…

Could I…

Would I?

I wonder…

Should I…

Why?

Holding back…

Choking down…

Again?

I wonder…

Would you?

Could you?

761091c746098d6958b6919fab8cdb21

I don’t generally write poetry. I used to frequently when I was in my teens, but I lost patience for it along the spiderweb path of adulthood. Rarely ever do I write poetry for the sake of poetry. It is an art and I have other crafts to delve into, yet, when words fumble and tumble in the blender of my mind, sometimes poetry is the only thing that jumps out with even coming close to holding the ability to express the turmoil inside.

I’ve been away from my now ex-husband for over 4 years. I have many fond memories of my time married to him, but I also have many nightmares. There are times I sit and think, maybe it wasn’t that bad – and then there are others when I remember the minutes and hours I wished I could disappear. It was heaven and it was hell. It was joy and horror. So many opposites that don’t belong in any relationship much less a marriage. I recently had a coworker ask me what it was like being in that short of relationship. I hadn’t been asked that so specifically before and I am sure I rambled quite a bit. Some days were great, but on average, there were moments of great in days of angst. It was a roller-coaster, a runaway car, a roll of the dice, or shake of the magic 8 ball. I never knew what was going to happen next. What was his mood going to be like when he got home from work? What was he going to be like when he woke up? If he stormed out of the house because he got mad at me for not having it tidy (after I worked a 8-10hr day mind you often while he was unemployed), would he come back? Did I want him to?

71c8c09838ad6829f58ca70eef609e53

I consoled myself by saying that maybe it was a communication issue. Maybe we just didn’t know how to talk to each other. Don’t bring up the fact that all we did was talk for 99% of our courtship prior to getting married. My doctor has suggested I seek therapy to work through the emotional and verbal abuse I experienced over the 15-16 years of marriage. I suppose it could help, but really for me, being able to write about it and get it down and out helps the most. As I’ve found with many writers, making the words come out of our fingers works way better and makes more sense than making the words come out our mouths. I know one of the things that I am still struggling against is several “lies” he’s told me. I know they are lies, yet when you hear something often enough they tend to stick around.

How do you heal from wounds that you can’t see yet can still feel? I like saying time, but not all wounds heal with just time. So I decided to write. Eventually I will probably write a story with him as a character…

.4310d91328ed0442d327804c5fdbb0ec

I know I am not the only one who has gone through this, and I know that there are people out there going through this now – so, here are the lies that he told me.

-I am stupid.

-I can’t hold an intelligent conversation

-I wouldn’t make a good mother

-I can’t make decisions for myself

-I’m a horrible cook

-I am a horrible house keeper

-I am frumpy and unattractive

-I have no will power

-I am a horrible driver

-People don’t really like me, they fake it

0c89cc66878bc0a82184f13e34960417

 

I’m sure there are others, however, let me make my retorts to this. I have to have a truth to go with these lies.

-I have an AA and a BA, and a good solid amount of common sense. (he has an AA and has dropped out of at least two BA/BS programs)

-I hold conversations for a living. I’ve been doing that for over 18 years. I’m pretty sure I can hold an intelligent conversation.

-I have yet to meet another person who agrees with him. A mother is all I ever have wanted and he knew that.

-I made 99% of all the day to day decisions in our relationship when it came to the running of the house. I also seem to be doing pretty darn good at making choices for myself.

-If you looked at the weight we both gained, you could tell that I was a darn good cook!

-I will say that I am not a great house keeper, mainly because I stopped trying to keep house trying to get him to help and pitch in. I am working on being a better house keeper, but while things may be cluttery, overall the house is in good shape.

-Everyone has frumpy moments. I may not be the size 8 jeans I was when we met, but I am still super cute!

-I didn’t kill him. That took way more will power than words could ever express.

-All the friends we seem to have lost when we were together, are friends with me once again with him out of the picture… hm……

There were days I wondered if I left if he’d even notice. If I stopped breathing would he even care? I was never suicidal, but it still made me wonder. Sure my will power/self control is lacking in many areas, because that was what I turned to when I couldn’t turn to him. Shopping, cooking, eating… hiding in bed – they all became my escape from the life that I was living. It wasn’t the life I wanted. It wasn’t what he promised when we were engaged. He promised me love without end. I remember him telling me how our children would never doubt how much their father loved their mother. Our children – another thing he avoided having at all costs. I am glad that I don’t have to worry about them and having him in their life still, but at the same time – I just wanted to be a mother.

9ecfa3ded69464b5d0cd1ad10c0b058b

Towards the end I started accusing him of false advertising.  Everything we did as a couple prior to getting married (movies, dancing, talking about my writing) suddenly were things he hated after we got married.  To the point that he would walk out of movies, refuse to dance with me (even at a family wedding), and claim that being as I can’t hold an intelligent conversation with him, that I am a crappy writer as well.    While the divorce was his idea, I was so ready to go with it that I honestly say it was a joint decision.  Given how the relationship had evolved, or devolved, it could have been very ugly.  I think it hurt the most that he cried when I took the cats (it was something we agreed on) but not when I left.   It took me two years to realize and accept the fact that I was a victim of abuse.  He never really laid a violent finger on me, so he has never thought he abused me at all.  I have to learn to make peace and forgive someone who will most likely  never understand that they did something that I need to forgive them for.  That’s hard.  It is much easier to forgive someone who is sorry for their actions.  The man I thought I was marrying would have apologized.  Too bad that man wasn’t around as much as I thought he would be.

81f93f52031f35846699c287ed8a3a0b

 

It’s a never ending process it seems.  A complete work in progress.  If I saw him on the street, being me, I would probably still say hi.  I’d ask on how his family is, even though I still keep in touch with his dad and step-mom.  I won’t let me become someone who I am not, but at the same time, I am not who he thought I was, and I probably am not who he thinks I am.   I am okay with that.  I will treat him as I would any other person I know, but am not great friends with.  I have to accept the fact that those 16 years of my life and the 4 following (yes, this year would have been our 20th anniversary wow!) are influential in the ways I cope with stress and anxiety.  I am still figuring out who I am because the years I spent with him I certainly found out who I wasn’t and who I didn’t want to be.  I think the only thing I would change if I had it to do over, would be to take my marble rolling pin and my measuring cups!  I should have taken more stuff when I left, but I was so ready to be gone, I wanted out.  I can always buy another marble rolling pin, but honestly, the wood one my grandma had works just fine.  I have got new measuring cups.  They aren’t as solid as the old ones, but they can still scoop brown sugar without bending.  Anyone who is reading this and feels like it is similar to what they are going through, know you aren’t alone.  You never have been.  You’re not the crazy or toxic one.  Get out when you can.  Every situation is different, but you deserve better.

 

d1261ac5a36be418da980f4a4a2659fe

 

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

There’s nothing like

the scent after the rain, in the late warmth of spring

the glow of her face when she laughs

the faint fragrance of the lilacs and blooms drifting on the breeze

the radiance in her smile when she looks at her sweetheart

the warmth of the sun cooled by the afternoon breath

the compassion in her heart when she eases broken dreams

the ripple of the tall grasses lazily dancing

the wisdom on her lips when s

he helps bear burdens

the silence filled with the buzz of life

the gentle touch of her hands helping to mend fragile hearts.

There is nothing like Mom.

665013_3812042101953_832076114_o

In the mood.

Boy, I just realized that my last post in April never published – it is being fixed as we speak… er read… er… whatever – 3774b5b89027528d771d551e12ddeb4b

I know I’ve used this quote before, but honestly it is very true.  I’ve been waiting for inspiration to work on Harbinger for weeks.  It took me awhile, but then I realized that I was avoiding working on Harbinger.  I know part of it is that I have no clue what the 3rd book in the series is going to contain, and by the time I was this far through Shadowbrook, I knew where book 2 was going to go.  It is silly really, because I know what I’m going to work on once Harbinger is done.  I have two different books that I need to work on, one is another second draft and the other is a first draft I want to finish.  Sadly they don’t write themselves.  I’ve been pondering why the procrastination and realized I just don’t want to write the scene that I need next for continuing my second draft.  I haven’t figured out if it is because I think the scene will be boring or what.

 

I have so many goals I had set for my off season at work.  I thought I’d be done with all three of the writing projects I had planned for myself, as well as having ALL my flower beds weeded, and the garden ready for tilling.  Go ahead and laugh.  I am.  I’ve got maybe parts of 4 different flower beds done, and 3/4ths of my garden weeded.  I go back to work on Monday.  My lawn looks like a jungle or a scene from Honey I Shrunk the Kids.  I had taken my lawnmower apart to figure out why the self propelling feature was not working, and while I did figure that issue out, upon removing the bolt and blade from the machine, a portion of the adapter that the blade mounted to crumbled into about 8-100 different pieces.  Dad helped get the center core of a pinecone out of the belt area for the self propeller, but the part I need to make the mower mow is taking its sweet time getting here from Kentucky.  I ordered it on the 1st and while they made the shipping label right away, it didn’t enter FedEx’s hands until yesterday and the delivery date of the 12th got changed to the 17th.  This means my jungle lawn gets to go au natural until then.  I got caught up on my house work then fell behind again.  Honestly how do I do that when I am home all day?  I know part of it was cleaning, then baking, then not cleaning up completely after wards.   I have, however, completed watching all the seasons of the new MacGyver, the latest season of Criminal Minds, all of the NCIS: New Orleans up to date, and just started watching the first season of Bull.  Not to mention several movies, such as Jumanji, Coco, and The Greatest Showman.  So I suppose that’s where all my time went.

 

Saturday I was at my oldest nephew’s Jazz Band fundraiser and a junior high band played during the dinner portion and they played “In the Mood”.  I love that song.  When I was in high school my band teacher, Mr. Miller, loved the song too and had us play it frequently.  During that time I was playing the Bass Clarinet and I LOVED playing that line.  The rest of the concert was absolutely amazing.  Grants Pass High has a great program for music.  I still sat through the whole thing thinking about plots and characters and if I had anyone that could fit into the scenario of a band concert.  I didn’t get that much inspiration, though the music did make me think of NCIS New Orleans. 🙂

 

I’ve got loads of stuff I want to finish by next Monday when I return to work.  My ambitious goals are now set to getting the garden weeded so Dad can till it.  We did get a raised bed built and I got it filled with my beets, peas, strawberries, and a few other things in.  My house work will get caught up because I am making Mom’s favorite meal for Mother’s Day (which we’re celebrating early tomorrow) and I have a cake to make/decorate as well.  Between those two tasks, I will pretty much have the rest of my week filled up.  As mentioned a few paragraphs above, my books wont write themselves – darn it – so I have decided that I will either rewrite my need for that stupid scene, or I will sit down and hack it out.  It is only a 2nd draft, not a final draft.

 

And for fun, here’s my next chapter from the story I’ve been posting.

Chapter 3: Samuel

Back to current time…

 

 

“Hey, sometimes you gotta kill a guy,” the demon was defending the human’s question.

“There are rules against such things,” I glared at them. “Surely you both have heard that thou shall not kill.”

“You know, that’s funny considering all the wars you guys wage,” the demon countered.

“War is different.”

“Then maybe there should be clarification between murder and casualty of war.”

“Sam, stop provoking Sam,” the mortal put her hand on the demon. How she could stand to touch the vile thing, I had no idea.

“Yes, Dora,” the demon backed down. Odd, they don’t usually listen to humans.

“Now, as you have contracted to kill the bane of young Lilith’s existance, we need to be prepared for the events that will follow said action-”

“Oh, come on!” The demon interrupted me

“You must listen to reason,” I tried to explain.

“But reason is boring,” he pouted.

“So, do you have a plan for Lilith?”

“Yes, I have a plan,” the demon glowered at me.

“Is it a good one?”

“I have a plan…” he seemed to be lost in thought.

“Pray tell then, minion of evil, what is your plan?” I folded my arms.

“Simple, have her switch social workers from lame-o Mr. Faust to the awesome-o Miss Morfran.”

“Why me?” the mortal furrowed her eyebrows.

“’Cause I gave you the letter and apparently Mr. Faust sucks at taking care of his cases,” the demon pulled a chocolate bar out of his jacket pocket. “Caramel filled,” he handed it to her. “Want one?” He offered one to me.

“I have no need of such things, can we please focus on the matter at hand?”

The demon unwrapped his chocolate and indicated for me to continue.

“Why bother changing social workers if you are going to destroy the offender?”

“Because, this system is chalk-full of crappy humans. This Faust is obviously not very good, and they keep Dora’s load limited, so she can take on special cases. I say this kiddo deserves a good person to look out for her,” the demons poke through mouthfuls of chocolate. “Now, can we take this show on the road? I want Dora to catch the news.”

“Why?” I rolled my eyes.

“’Cause, I made a crime scene!”

“You say that as if you are proud.”

“I am! It’s the best one yet!” he grinned like a over jubilant child.

At least the human was rolling her eyes.

“What did you do?” she sounded almost as unamused as me.

“Well, I didn’t want to rune the surprise, but if, Mr. Halo up the -”

“Samael!” she snapped.

“Fine, so rigger kinda made his hand stick up. I didn’t want to make a mess. You know, cause I’d already showered.”

“Why does that matter?” I really couldn’t see his point.

“Really? Come on now, there are two types of jobs; those you shower before, and those you shower after. Dismemberment totally falls into that last category,” he shook his head. “Anyway, with there already being one body in the grave, I couldn’t dig deep enough to cover his freaking hand.”

“Tell me you didn’t,” the mortal was starting to look horrified.

“No, no, it’s okay, he’s giving a thumbs up from the dirt,” his grin was huge. “But it looked too boring, so I got him a get well balloon and tied it to his thumb.”

She was silent.

“You tied a get-well balloon to the exposed thumb of a body you couldn’t give a proper burial to?” I clarified.

He laughed nodding. “YEAH!” He slapped his leg. “I’ve been dying to do that ballon thing since I saw that meme – you know, the one with the roadkill and balloon.”

“You are psychotic,” I was now horrified. How on earth had this mortal survived with this demon as a guardian?

“I prefer creative, but hey, a complement is a complement,” he shrugged.

“Sam, I know you enjoy your work, but, you probably should have left off the balloon,” the mortal finally spoke.

“I should have taken a photo.”

“No, Sam, we’ve discussed this, no photos of your work.”

“Maybe I should be a crime scene photographer.”

“Sam, you’re already a lawyer.”

“Cliché,” I snorted. “But fitting.”

“I only did it so I could help her more openly,” the demon growled at me.

“Sam, why don’t you go home and let Sam and I chat?” the mortal suggested.

“I don’t think so, sweetheart. I’m not leaving you alone with a strange angel,” he shook his head.

“I would not harm her,” I assured.

“And if someone else tried to harm her?”

“Well, that would depend on many factors. Unlike you, I take the rules of a guardian very serious.”

“No, you don’t get it. NOBODY hurts my human!”

“She is not yours.”

“She is too!”

“Is he always so juvenile?” I looked at the mortal.

“Only when provoked,” she answered. “Fine, Sam, you don’t have to leave just try to keep your mouth shut.”

The demon nodded miming zipping his lips.

“So, Sam,” she turned her attention to me. “How about you tell me why this girl is even in this situation? You are her guardian.”

“Pandora, you have no idea how the guardians are supposed to function,” I shot a glare at the demon. “You aren’t supposed to be coddled.”

“I thought that rule was about cuddling,” the demon interjected.

“Honestly, a guardian isn’t supposed to reveal themselves to their wards either.”

“Oops,” the demon mockingly smirked.

“Did you even read the rulebook?” I frowned at himm.

“It was boring. There was no plot,” he shrugged pulling out another chocolate bar. “Besides, Dora and I make a good team.”

I bit my tongue. The demon was baiting me again. After a few calming breaths, I turned my words back to the mortal. “As I was saying, there are very strict rules we must follow. Angels are not as lax as the demons are with following them.”

“But you’re putting this little girl at risk,” the mortal didn’t seem pleased.

“A guardian doesn’t prevent bad things from happening. Those trials are part of the mortal experience. They help make you who you are.”

“No child needs to go through those things though.”

“It is all about the agency of others. Her mortal guardian is making choices. He will eventually be punished. My task is to keep the child alive as she hasn’t reached the end of her time yet,” I tried my best to soothe her. “She needs to grow and learn from these bad things to be who she needs to be as an adult.”

The mortal shook her head. “That is not fair.”

“Of course it is not. That’s why you mortals call it life,” I pointed out. “But as she has struck a deal with a demon – my hand has been forced and now I must intervene.”

“Could we discuss this at home? Dora hasn’t eaten and she’s about to get crabby,” the demon cut in. “And you won’t like that.”

“Fine, we will go to her home.”

“Don’t just zap us there, I need my car,” the mortal actually touched me as I raised my hand to transport us.

“Your car?”

“Yeah, I don’t even let Sam poof me anywhere. Makes me throw up.”

“Very well, lead the way,” I shrugged.

“I’ll order pizza, don’t leave without me,” the demon pulled out a cell phone.

By the time my attention was turned back to the mortal, she was halfway across the field headed to her car. I started to go after her.

“HEY! That’s my car!” The mortal shouted at a man trying to open the SUV’s driver’s door. I wasn’t sure why she was yelling. He was probably just as confused and thought it was his.

“KEYS!” the man pointed a gun at her.

“No!” she shook her head. “Leave and I won’t report you to the police.”

At the sound of the gun cocking, it finally occurred to me that this man meant to steal the car by force! He was also intent on killing her.

“You don’t want to do that,” I finally caught up with her.

“Keys! NOW!” he now pointed the weapon at me.

“You really don’t want to do that,” I debated giving him flash of my celestial glory, but he turned the gun back on the mortal. “Put the gun down, lest I smite you!” my voice didn’t thunder as I had hoped it would. “Thou shall not steal and thou shall not murder! Are those rules truly so difficult for you to grasp?”

The gun swung back at me and he pulled the trigger. The gun was easy to make misfire and my bolt of lightning swiftly followed.

The mortal turned from the smote man to me. Her eyes were wide and her mouth hung open a bit.

“What’d I miss?” the demon popped up next to her. “Awesome! A smiting!” he gave me two thumbs up.

I merely shrugged picking at my nails. “Hmph, sometimes you’ve got to kill a guy.”

 

Voices, not just in your head.

Boy time is flying. March went out like a lamb, but April so far has been pretty blustery. I’m happy that we’re at least getting some rain. My garden is very green, which is great, except that means I need to pull weeds. My crocuses are almost done blooming, the daffodils are in full swing along with my hyacinths, and my tulips are about ready to open. I love this time of year. I spent a good chunk of today getting some seeds started in the little greenhouse my mom’s lent to me for the season. Mom’s advice to me was to play and have fun with it. I love that kind of advice. My vegetable garden is a sight to see when it’s growing, especially if I’ve had/taken the time to pull the unsightly weeds. My raspberries are starting to leaf out and I am going to be getting a few more runners from my parent’s patch that have escaped the confines of their support system. I found a random primrose that I had forgotten I’d planted last year that has bloomed. Beautiful dark pink and white. So pretty! I have a slew of new things I’m going to attempt to grow that I’ve never tried before. Lovage, comfrey, stevia, rue, and a bunch of other herbs and flowers as well as a couple different kinds of pumpkins and root vegetables are my new additions. Oh! And brussel sprouts. They aren’t my favorite, but I am hoping homegrown will help make them more palatable.

Another thing I decided to try that is new, is playing with the story I started and shared on my previous post. Prior to writing Shadowbrook, I had never cared to write in the first person. After a couple years of toying with the first draft in third person, I realized that the story needed to be told in the first. This annoyed me, not sure why, but it did. I resisted it. Eventually I caved and wrote the book from the main character Maggie’s point of view. This lead me to writing pretty much exclusively in the first person for about ten years, and I will be writing it for several more as I finish the series.

When I started the story from last post, we’ll call it Guardian D&A, I was just rolling with it and it happened to be in the first person. Great, no big deal now, I’ve kind of rather become accustom to using that point of view. Problem was, I hate the restriction of the first person when I want to skip scenes and tell a part of the story that the previous speaker was not present for. So, as I doodled during my last few weeks at my seasonal job, I decided to find a bunch of OTHER random writing prompts and see what came out. What came out was a new speaker. Do I think this story will ever be published? Probably not, it’s just something fun to play with and experiment with getting to know my characters. My goal now, is to tell whatever this story is (it is slowly forming a plot of some kind), through the perspective of at least four or five characters. I may do six, but I don’t want to be totally wild and crazy. What is confusing as heck to me is when a story switches WHO is speaking, which is why I’ve avoided switching between speakers in the past.

A year or so ago I read The Kane Chronicles, by Rick Riordan. In this series involving the Egyptian Gods, instead of the Gods of Olympus with Percy, he tells the story from the point of view of the two main characters, Sadie and Carter. He actually made it pretty easy to tell who is speaking with the way he wrote it. You’d think that after writing the Percy Jackson books with the Greek Gods, the Roman Gods, and then the Magnus Chase Gods of Asgard, that the characters would seem to be recycled and the same people but in different scenarios with different names. I am happy to say that I found the characters in all were very individual and easy to identify as separate people/characters.   So I challenged myself to try to write each chapter from a different point of view and try to make it as obvious as listening to different people speak, that they are different narrators.

 

*to be honest this was supposed to have posted back in April and was much longer but I have NO idea what happened other than that I was having issues with wordpress on the day I was attempting to post.  Here’s chapter 2 of my fun story.

6 Hours Earlier: Samael:

 

“Sorry, murder wasn’t on the agenda last night.”

“Sam, it’s not on anyone’s.”

“No, it’s on mine, just not until next Thursday,”  I corrected Dora.

“You’re a psychopath,”  She rolled her eyes.

“I prefer creative,” I leaned on the kitchen counter as she flipped bacon in the skillet.  “Did you find your note?”

“Yes, Sam, I did.  You know there are notepads and pens in the house.  You don’t need to kill a chicken everytime you need to remind me of something,”  she padded across the kitchen to pull a few eggs from the fridge.

“You have to admit, the blood sticks with you better than a sticky note,” I snagged a piece of bacon out of the pan.

“Seriously, sam, please, no more blood notes.”

When she looked at me with that exasperated human gaze, it was hard to tell her no.  “Fine, don’t know why I even bother, you see Grayson same day at the same time every week.”

“Your fault for making me look crazy.”

“Sorry, I hadn’t realized nobody else could see or hear me,” I shrugged.  “You needed me though.”

“Yeah, I suppose I did,” she cracked the eggs into the pan over the bacon, poking the yolks with the edge of the shell.  “You’ll take care of everything from last night?”

“Absolutely, you don’t need to be involved in the matter further.”

“You really should find someone else to do your dirty work,” she sprinkled salt and pepper in the pan.

“Why?  You do it just fine,” I gave her a peck on the cheek.  “Besides, I would never let you be implicated.”

She blushed a bit, it was funny the way she reacts to my touch.  She was not the easiest mortal to manipulate. “Yeah, thanks for that,” she mumbled.

“Well I’d best be on my way.  See you tonight.”

“You aren’t staying for breakfast?”  she looked up surprised.

“Well, if you’re offering,” I grinned, snagging half the pan.

She laughed as I winked and disappeared in a blink.  When I’d first been assigned to protect the scrawny screaming bundle of pink flesh, I thought I’d end up destroying her.  As she grew up, I realized that this little human was a hoot. So, I decided to keep her.

I’ve never been accused of being the most demonic of demons, but I certainly was no angel.  Pandora kept me on my toes. After twenty years together, I concluded that being her Guardian was fate, and I decided I would never leave her.

When we were kids, apparently I mirrored her age, it was unknown to me that I fell into the category of an imaginary friend.  So when she and I kept up our time together, people thought she was a little nutso. It took a few years to figure out how to not be invisible to everyone.  Apparently that was against the rules – oops.

As she grew up, she seemed to attract the bad boys.  Not the bad boys that are actually good guys in hiding, but real bad boys.  One tried to hurt her, so I hurt him. To be honest, yes, my methods were more bloody and violent than the Guardian Handbook recommended, but they were very effective.  Apparently that was against the rules too.

When she turned eighteen, she should have been off and only certain scenarios would require my actions.  So I tried that. She got married and a random life or death scenario caught my attention. I hadn’t been notified of her need of protection.  It made me mad that anyone would dare hurt my human. So I vowed to never leave her again. Apparently that was ALSO against the rules.

With me back in her life, she got out of that abusive relationship and an ugly divorce started.I assumed the life of a cut-throat attorney, and the ex disappeared.  Well, not really, but I’m very good at making bad people go away. And yeah – that was against the rules too. After that I decided to ignore them – the rules that is.    Which leads me to my current task. The last time I had to clean up, it was like everyone had the brilliant idea to do body dumps in the murky river. This time, I scouted out the perfect place.  A little digging and my latest act of Guardian Demon would be fertilizer.

Licking the bacon grease from my fingers, I started to dig.  Well, I made a shovel dig. Then I frowned – crap – not again.  That awkward moment when you go to bury a body and find out someone already buried a body there.  Yeah, apparently my research lacked any way of identifying how many other people were aware of the same perfect spot.  I couldn’t exactly google it. I sighed digging the shovel into the dirt and smiled. If I were in a cartoon, a light bulb would be lighting up over my head.

It took a few moments to sort things out, but hey, who doesn’t love a double decker?  Sadly the detested departed couldn’t cooperate, so – I made do with what I had. This was no fun without Dora.  I couldn’t comment on my creativity to myself, well, I could, but it’s not as much fun. I stood back to admire my work.  The rich brown soil was evenly turned. You almost couldn’t tell there were two bodies snuggled up down there. I snapped the shovel away and tapped my lips.  Someone shouldn’t have any problem sorting this out.

I glanced at my watch.  I should give Dora a heads up.  I try to be considerate of her schedule, so I won’t send the anonymous tip in until after her appointment with Dr. Grayson.  I whistle a little tune and headed down to catch a train. I needed distance before I contact her. Oh the things I do for my human.

I didn’t need to use public transport, but when the human’s away, the demon has to find some way to play.  A persistent tug on my sleeve left me confused for a moment before I realized that I wasn’t invisible. I looked down.  “Yes, little girl?” I asked after the sixth tug.

“Do you want to buy a candy bar?”  she asked. In her lap was a beat up, taped up, see’s candy box.

“Why?”  I always found it unsettling that humans would send their little mini mortals around to beg for money in exchange for sugary treats.

She took a deep breath before launching into a prepared sales pitch about raising money for Mrs. Rattleman’s second grade class.  The part of town they were in didn’t have the best of … well… anything. The school couldn’t afford supplies adn the parents couldn’t afford supplies – so they were left with fundraisers.  By the time she finished I was shocked she hadn’t passed out. I was fairly certain she hadn’t taken a breath the entire time.

“How many have you sold?”  I asked.

She looked down.  “Non, everyone I ask either has already bought from someone else, or they are on a diet.”

“How many boxes do you need to sell?”   I pulled out my wallet.

“At least six,” she kicked at her holey backpack in front of her.

I hummed a bit and thumbed through the cash.  “I’ll take all six.”

Her brow furrowed.  “They aren’t all the same flavor.”

“Are they all chocolate?”

“Yeah.”

“Perfect, now, I don’t have change, but you can keep the extra,” I handed her $200.

Her jaw dropped a bit.  She held the bills up and sniffed them.  “What do you do, mister?” Her eyes were wide as she slid the backpack to me and passed the tattered box over as well.

“I make bad people go away,” I spoke softly.

“You’re a cop?”

“Something like that,” I fought back a grin.

“Do you make them go away forever?”  She shoved the money into her pocket.

“Depends on how bad they are.”

She studied me a moment before digging into her other pocket.  “I was going to give this to Miss Rattleman, but maybe you could help me,” she handed me a folded piece of paper.

Being what I am, I didn’t have to open it to understand her plight.  Even as a demon the evil of some humans made me furious. I did a brief show of reading it.

“I could give you your money back and say I lost the chocolates,” she offered.

I shook my head.  “No, you keep that.  Don’t want you getting in trouble,” I picked up the backpack.  “What I could really use is a balloon, maybe a marble?” I suggested discerning her other belongings.

“I’ve got that!”  she tugged open the side zipper of the backpack and pulled out a yellow balloon and a ziplock bag of jacks.  “I found the jacks in an alley near my house.”

“Perfect,”  I took the balloon.  “How about I only take on jack and one marble.  That way you can still play.”

“Are you sure?”

“These will complete my set at home.”  I smiled taking my fee.

“Is that it?”  she asked taking the plastic bag back.

“Now we shake on it,” I held my hand out to her.  She had a firm shake for such a little person. “Who’s your social worker?”  I asked shoving the items into my pocket.

“Mr. Faust.”

“Have you spoke to Mr. Faust about what is happening?”

“I try, but so far, no luck.”

“I will do my best, but make sure you keep trying with Mr. Faust.”

She nodded.

“And if it gets too bad, and he isn’t helping you, this is my friend Dora, call her and she will help.”  I handed her a card.

“Like the explorer?”

“Much cooler than that Dora,” I grinned.

“Mr. Faust would be mad that I’m talking to a stranger,” she reluctantly took the card.

“How rude of me!  I should have introduced myself.  I’m Sam.”

“Sam what?”

“Sam Dagon, and you are?”

“I’m Lilith.”

“Lilith what?”  I teased.

“Lilith Samuels.”

“Pleasure to meet you, Miss Samuels,” we shook again.  “Thank you for the chocolate.” I took the boxes from the backpack and set them next to me.  “Would you like one?”

“A caramel one?”

“Absolutely!”  I tore open that box and let her pick.  That was the same one Dora would have picked.

The train came to a stop and Lilith took her much lighter backpack and disappeared into the crowd.  Wasn’t every day I met a munchkin that reminded me of my own human.

I was just devouring the last of the almond bars – Dora hated them – when eau de brimstone assaulted my senses.  I’d forgotten how much I hated that smell.

“Samael, you’ve done it again!” the new arrival plopped into the recently vacated seat.

“Done what?  Won Demon of the month?”

“Rules, Samael, rules!”

“Toffee, Beez?”  I held out the next box on the stack.

“Chocolate?  Have you gone mad?”

“What’s wrong with toffee in chocolate?”  I retracted the box.

“I barely talked the council out of banishing you last time and here you are picking up another pet human!”

“Jeeze, Beez, they aren’t pets!  Dora and I are equals.”

“And the child?”

“Just needs a job done.  I’m not adopting her,” I unwrapped the next candy.

“Samael, there will be no more warnings.  You have two choices.”

“Why do I get the feeling that I’m going to hate them both?”

“You either cut ties with your human, or you start training her for her afterlife.”

“I’m not selling her soul!”

“Then you should have read the fine print.  Soul dibs goes to the agency providing the guardian.”

I huffed.  “And if I decline both bad choices?”

“Well, murder wasn’t on the schedule,” his voice wandered off.

“It isn’t usually on anyone’s.”

“Oh it was on yours, just not until Thursday.”

 

Typo’s… Spelling does matter.

It’s been quiet on the writing front for ages.  I’ve had a few dabblings here and there, but I have mainly been in editing mode working on the second book in my series.  I participated in NaNoWriMo and finished the first book in another series.  Then there was a long hiatus in my writing group, it reconvened, and then hiatus for the holidays again.  I’ve been busy working on a few other things and trying to get caught up on the house and health.   Today I managed to make it to my writing group after about 4 months if not longer.  It felt good, but I had one problem – I didn’t have anything particular that I was wanting to write.  I’m still editing and trying not to be a lazy writer for my sister/editor and I don’t like jumping around on writing projects very much.   So as we settled into our chairs with our cups of tea/coffee, I decided that I was going to pull out as many of my writing prompts and see if I can squish them into a scene.  As I was writing (actually writing, with a pencil even), all I could think of was ‘this is crap’.  It was not my finest writing.  I had no plan, I had no plot, I just kind of made it up as I went along trying to get from one prompt to another.   I didn’t think it was much, but my friends seemed to enjoy it.  I may write more on it, but I may not.  Who knows, but I decided to go ahead and share because I can. 🙂

 

b9491ded5f4a8f519f78272823b60899

 

Guardian D&A

 

“Have you considered murder?”  Dr. Grayson cleared his throat bringing my attention back from the window I was lost out of.

“Come again?”  I wasn’t sure I had heard him correctly.

“I said, have you considered murder?”  He repeated

“Umm…”  My words failed me.  “No, why do you ask?”

“Most people in your position admit to at least considering it,” his gaze made me shift in my chair uncomfortably.

“Are you suggesting I should consider it?”

“In our last session you mentioned a friend of yours told you, quote ‘Don’t get crabby, get stabby’.”

“Samael was just trying to make me laugh.”

“That wasn’t the impression  you gave last week.”

My gaze went back out the window only getting drawn back when my phone vibrated.  Not bothering to apologize for the interruption, I pulled it out of my pocket :Meet me on the bridge!-Sam:

“Sam and I have a very unique relationship.  But, to answer your question, no I haven’t considered murder.”

Dr. Grayson grunted something and I was fairly sure he thought I was lying.  “You can be honest here, Dora,  this is a safe place.”

“I know, and I am being honest,”  the clock on his desk chimed he half hour.  I stood, “Same time next week?”

“Yes, of course,”  he leaned back as I grabbed my purse without a second thought and headed for the door.  I waived at his receptionist without looking at her and went directly to my car.  Sam never texted me if it weren’t serious.  I rushed through traffic to the park.  The cold rainy weather kept the roads and the park fairly void of people.  Parking was easy and soon I was walking towards the bridge, Sam’s figure leaning on the rail of the bridge watching the river pass by.

“So, how was Dr. Grayson?”  he asked as I approached.

“Eh,”  I shrugged.  “I think I broke my therapist.”

He snorted.  “You’re only realizing this now?”

“He asked if I’d considered murder.”

Sam laughed.  The tenor rumble mixed with the rushing water below us.

“I never should have told him your suggestion.”

“It was a good suggestion.  You’re miserable to be around when you’re crabby.”

“So what’s the issue, why did you text me?”  I brushed his comment off.

“Yeah, so – we have a problem.”

“Which one?”

“I kind of created a crime scene.”

“You said you knew the perfect place!”  I snapped at him.

“Well apparently so did someone else.  The spot was occupied.”

“Occupied?”

“Yeah, little hard to bury someone when the grave is already full.”

“So what did you do?”

“Best  you don’t ask.”

I shook my head.  “You are the worst guardian EVER!”

“Dora, not my fault you got stuck with me.”

“Yeah, well… you suck.”

“Hey, as far as guardian demons go – I’m rocking this gig,” he grinned.  “So, what’s next?  Organized crime, betrayal, murder… popcorn?  You pick.”

I shook my head.  “Couldn’t you have just started with murder & popcorn?”

He grinned his demon smile.  “I know just the thing,”  he handed me a slip of paper.

“What’s this?”

“Met a kid on the train today.  She’s got a problem,” he shoved his hands in his pockets.

I scanned the heartbreaking letter.  “Looks like her guardian sucks too.”

“You know, they ran out of Guardian Angels, so she probably has a Guardian Demon like me.  Some just don’t care.”

“So why do you?”

“I like you,” he shrugged.

“Are you going to help her?”  I handed him the note back.

“I figured we could.”

“Samael, I can’t keep helping you with this stuff.”

“I don’t think you understand.  I’ve broke rules for you, major ones.”

“And?”

“And they  aren’t going unpunished.  I have to train you.”

“I’m not a dog.”

“That’s not what I’m talking about.  I have to train you to become one of us.  That’s the price of me still being your guardian after the age of 18.”

“I have to become a guardian angel?”

“Honey, you’re no angel.”

“I’m not a demon either.”

“Not yet, but once you become a strange smell in the attic, then you will be.”

“I’m not going to be a strange smell in anyone’s attic.”

Sam leaned in close.  “So, let me train you.  If you are to survive, then you will need all the help you can get.”

“Survive?”  My voice came out breathless as I inhaled.  His warm scent went to my head and my focus started to wane.

“They mean to kill you, Pandora,” he stroked my cheek, brushing my hair back behind my ear.  “They don’t believe a human is worth all the trouble we’ve caused,” he tilted my face up to meet his eyes.  “I’ve broken rules for you, caring is only one of them.  Agree to help me keep you alive, to teach you the skills of a guardian – angel or demon – and nobody will ever hurt you again.”  He wasn’t breaking eye contact, his index finger still crooked under my chin, keeping my face tilted to his as he drew closer.

I had dreamed about kissing this man, this demon, since we turned sixteen.  He always seemed to be the same age as me.  I was unable to blink as his face came closer.  A cold spattering of rain snapped me out of his spell as his lips lightly brushed mine.  I pulled back.  “Sam!  Don’t manipulate me!”  I pushed away from him.  “You said I should never kiss you.”

“Maybe I changed my mind,” he folded his arms over his chest.

I was about to retort when a blinding flash of light sent me stumbling towards Sam.  Two people appeared, one on either side of us.  They were dressed sharply and were glaring at Samael.

“We are having a PRIVATE conversation!”  Sam pushed me behind him.

“Silence you uneducated peanut!”  The older of the two snapped.

Sam retracted.

“What is going on?”  I shoved Sam to the side.

“Your ‘guardian’ has been interfering with the work of this Guardian Angel,”  the older one pointed at the other.

“Have not,” Sam grumbled.

“It is not the first time either.  This is Samuel and he was to be your Guardian, but due to a clerical error, you were assigned Samael at birth.  He could have petitioned to have it corrected, but he didn’t.  Counter to what he has been telling you, there is no short supply of Guardian Angels.  Samuel, here, is the Guardian to that little girl and you need to leave her be,”  he pointed to the letter Sam still held.

“Can’t,”  Sam held up his hands.  “She paid me.”

“You took money from a child?!”  The older guy frowned.

“No, I may be a demon, but I don’t make deals with children!  She gave me this yellow balloon, a jack, and this marble,” he held his other hand out.  “And we shook on it.”

The older guy frowned more.  “Fine, then you will aide Samuel.  Do this, and we will help protect Pandora, even though she’s aged out of the program.”

Samael nodded.

“Samuel, shake the demon’s hand.”

Grudgingly, Samael & Samuel shook hands.

“Good, now I will leave you to discuss your course of action to taking care of this innocent.”  The older angel disappeared in another flash of light.

Sam & Sam glared at each other in silence, long into the awkward stage.

“So…”  I couldn’t take the silence any longer.  “Have you considered murder?”

 

 

 

Hello, Stranger:)

Wow, has it really been  5 months?  I knew it had been awhile since I posted, but hadn’t realized it had been THAT long.  What with the holidays and all the fun craziness that comes with them, felt like yesterday when I posted last.

Writing has been flowing quite nicely.  I even started a story in November, I’ve got the plot lined out and know where it is gone, and currently am returning to the second book in the Coven of Fenix series.  I’m quite excited actually.  I’ve started the revision of the first draft based off of my amazing sister’s/editor’s marks and am looking forward to the second draft.  I am hoping to have Book 2 finished by the end of the year, but we’ll see what happens.

Here’s my current cover for book2.  Not sold on the color scheme and I may have to add some fog, but still it’s a start.

BookCoverPreview 1

The story I started in November, we’ll call it Children of the Citadel for now, started mostly off of visual writing prompts.  Obviously anything you can see is technically visual, but I’m talking photos off Pinterest.  Honestly there are quite a few pictures on there that will  trigger some sort of inspiration.  For me it started with a couple scene’s.  Okay – honestly it started with a textual prompt suggesting starting a story with a character dropping something in a well – but after that, it’s mainly been pictures.  I’ve found character inspirations, scene inspirations, setting inspirations – and they’ve been fantastic.  The ladies at Writing Group have suffered through my plotting and rearranging quite graciously.    I don’t know if I actually have a point here, I probably do, I usually come up with one by the time I get to the end… Ah, yes.  So – I’d come with several characters, and i had my intended main couple, but halfway through writing out their character bio’s, I found that they weren’t actually going to ever be a couple.  As the plot unfolded and I learned who the characters would be in the bulk of the series, I had a scene come up that showed the true colors of one of the characters.  His betrayal was devastating and shocking to the other characters.  As I shared the scene with my group, I realized, they just thought of this character as a sociopath.  They didn’t seen his evolution.  There was no empathy or sympathy for anyone because they knew he was a bad egg from the get go – but here’s the thing – He wasn’t.    He was never a bad egg.  He was never evil.  He was intended to be a bit neglected by his dad, but overall, he was supposed to be the one everyone could count on.  The actions of another character are what turned him to the evil he would be by the time of the betrayal.  I had to rewind and realized I needed my readers to LOVE this boy.  Care for him as if he were the sweetest most caring boy ever.  In the end, it ended up giving me more to work with and better character development.  So – the point – make sure you’re developing the character in such away to manipulate your readers into relating and connecting before you  make them break everyones heart 🙂

fae2ed09c8c65daf613f292269f86e56
Write me!

 

 

 

 

Writing with a porpoise

Writing with a porpoise

It’s been ages, I know.  Real life sure has a way of sinking in its claws and running away with you.    Between shifting gears outside from Summer gardening to cleaning up and putting away for the winter, things sure got crazy.    The garden is done, I still need to get it cleaned out.  I canned more pints of tomatoes than I can remember, various types of jams, apple sauce, apple pie filling, pickles pickles and more pickles, and lots of green beans.   I can’t wait to start planning next years garden!

I am sad to say that my chickens are no more.  I learned the hard way that foxes are day-time predators.  I knew my chicken run gate wasn’t 100% predator proof, but I hadn’t been worried, because the chicken coop itself was a pretty solid fortress.  I now have a running list in my head going of upgrades to the run for spring time.  In January/February I will be able to get some chicks and I will start my chickens over.  I miss my squawking egg layers, but I am taking it in stride as a learning experience.

I was so sad the last few weeks as I fought off a nasty cold and had to miss the last two writing group meetings.  Happily, I am doing better now and was able to attend our Halloween/Fall/Harvest public reading yesterday and had the opportunity to write something specifically for it.

I have a hard time judging how scary, creepy, or disturbing my writing is. Heck, I have a hard enough time knowing if something is actually funny or if it’s just humorous to me.   I also have a hard time writing short stories –  They generally tend to end up being a chapter or a detailed plot setting for a future book.  I was determined, this time, to create a short story that I could share beginning to end in 5-10 minutes.   I had a general idea of what story line I wanted to pursue, and turned to my Writing Prompt  board on Pinterest and picked out a few that fit well together.  I took my time writing out the story and didn’t worry about keeping it super short.  I let it flow and ended up with about 7 pages typed.

7 pages is way too much to read in a 5-10 minute window, even at the pace I can read.  I spent the next few days fine tuning, reworking, and adjusting my word choices.  How can you really shorten a short story?  I mean, 7 pages is actually pretty short.  I found reading it out loud was a good tool to help determine what could be cut out simply because it didn’t flow correctly out loud.  Between reading it out loud to myself and simplifying the descriptions and actions of the characters I was able to pare it down to to 4 pages (almost down to 3 if I played with my margin size and font).  I think it turned out pretty good.  I was told by a few that it did fit the thrilling creepy spooky mark I was aiming for.

I’ve found a new feeling of accomplishment in the success of crafting an actual short story.  I had given up years ago of ever actually being able to do so.  Keep an eye out on Monday for my next post.  I will be sharing the story on here for Halloween.

Keep writing and try new things. 🙂

Here’s the porpoise…

038657bc1d74464e507ac92007656e40

 

So about a month ago-ish, my friend and neighbor invited me to join her in attending our local library’s writing circle.  I honestly was a little intimidated because I don’t think my writing is all that good.  I’ve never really taken any classes on writing stories, and I know my grammar is abhorrent (ask my editor/sister).  My spelling is even worse, but thankfully we now have spell check so I’m not constantly running to a dictionary… do I even have one?  I think I inherited about four from my grandmothers. Anyway – so I was very close to not going because I had such little faith in my ability to write.  Sure I had people who really enjoyed reading Shadowbrook – but they were all friends or family and had a vested interest in trying to boost my ego (or so I thought).  I had honestly planned to spend all day in the garden and just accidentally forget about it.  The weeds were getting as lush as my vegetables and I really needed to spend some quality time with it.  Well, I hadn’t thought through the fact that I was listening to music – streaming on my phone – through my wireless bluetooth head phones.  Problem with this?  When I didn’t answer the text from her, my friend called me.  I actually answered the phone.  I was covered in dirt wearing a shirt that was way too big (yay weight loss) and not worthy of civilized company.  I told her sure I’d come but I had to put on a real bra (sports bras in the garden help minimize the cleavage mud from all the dirt) and wash my face.  That didn’t deter her and so in about ten minutes I was looking more like a woman and less like a garden troll (I’m too big to be a gnome) as I grabbed a notebook, my purse, and dusted my dirty jeans off as I climbed into her brand new minivan.

Let me just say – that was the best thing I had done for my writing in ages.

a55e5a4274c1cd4f1bb81025dd95b2a1

The writing circle has been amazing for my very small writing ego and while I may not think my writing is particularly good or skillful, they seem to like it.  They have no reason to spare my feelings and I’m pretty sure if I really sucked they’d tell me.  I’ve gone every Saturday since, save for one where I was out in the wild brambles of my Great Aunt’s cow pastures along the river picking blackberries.   The group even let me join their reading in the city park and I was brave enough to read.  I read part of the story I started from a handful of relatively random writing prompts my first day at group, and then I also read the first bit of “Bob” (really the story is called Order of Nyx).  I’m looking forward to the next reading and have been so tickled that one of the ladies there has gone so far as to complement me to my mother.  Makes me a little giddy thinking how excited I get at 36 (almost 37) years old to still get so happy when my mom gets a good report on something I did.  I thought I left that in high school.

With this new found confidence in my writing, I’ve concluded that maybe my talent is not so much in the way that I have found to put one word after the other, but in the stories that I concoct in this odd mind of mine.   Maybe I’m not that great of a writer, but I’m starting to think that I may actually be a pretty good story teller.  It’s also lead me to ponder where my confidence went in the first place?  Aside from the constraints of wanting to appear as adult as possible in a world that is still filled with the “grownups” of my youth, I stopped sharing my stories years ago.  When I was dating my ex, I talked about them ALL the time.  Every date he’d ask me how my writing was going and I’d tell him and he’d be up-to-date on all the wild imaginings of my characters.  This went on for the whole short courtship.  Shortly after we were married he told me he didn’t actually care about my writing and didn’t actually like hearing about them. There were a few other things along those lines that left me screaming “False Advertisement!” but that’s a whole other post.   His uncaring and disinterest didn’t just stop there though, he actually took the time over the years to tell me that he saw no worthy point in me writing and that it was just a waste of time and that I would be better served learning to do something useful, like computer programming.  Yeah – I didn’t get it either.

0812d0ba1feb8ecd9de9a64d7b44727c

After a few years of me struggling, I finally said screw it and just kept writing.  We had a few friends that would sing me praises enough to get him off my back.  As long as I didn’t try telling him about it he didn’t care.  The few times I did try telling him about a story, mainly so I could get some bit of trivia/info out of his encyclopedic memory of useless information, he’d make me feel like I was talking gibberish and I’d get frustrated thinking I was stupid and couldn’t tell a story to save my life.   I had to go outside of the person who was supposed to be my best friend that I could talk to about anything and everything to get someone to talk fiction and plots with me.  I made some amazing friends that are like sisters to me now that way, but it was hard when it was late at night and I couldn’t exactly ring them up at midnight to run a plot point by them.

a81818d8766d564167a9bfb854ec6476

Now I’ve had various other set-backs and derailments, but nothing so huge as that one.  I eked through writing Shadowbrook through the encouragement of my friends.  It took me 8 years.  Living on my own and finding my own circle of creative minds that I can talk to at almost any time (yeah still can’t exactly call up anyone at midnight for plot point talk) I was able to finish the first draft of Book2 in about a year.  Since I joined the writing circle, I have discovered a whole new cast of characters and can see another series lining up.  Things are looking great. 🙂

79aa10d0d15c380307471fb92b22f2a7

So this also wasn’t exactly what I intended to sit down and write this morning.  I had planned to write on more inspirations such as writing prompts.  Oh well, there’s always next time.   My point for what came out?  As writers we will always come up against discouragement.  As writers we may think that whatever comes out of our pen or computer is crap.  We may think that it’s a fun little story in our head but nobody would ever want to actually read it that wasn’t vested in our well being.  It’s not true.  If you have the option to join a creative writing group – do it.  I can’t believe I had never done it before.  They will boost you and encourage you and give you a sounding board to bounce crazy ideas off of.

So until next time… here’s the next bit of Bob.

 

 

Chapter 2

“Mommy monkey manicure!” Cal shouted as he fell out of bed some time around dawn.

Nim was sitting by the window watching the sun rise through the gray mist that hung over the Forest of Nyx like a shawl. “Morning.” she said resting her chin on her knees.

“Why are you in my room?” Cal jumped back up to the bed pulling the blanket up to his chest. “This isn’t my room, why am I in your room.” He looked at the blankets. “Where are we?”

“We’re at a tavern on the edge of the Nyx.” she stood up carefully stepping over Nanook who was sleeping soundly on the floor between the two beds. “How’s your head?”

“Throbs a bit.”

“YOU SURE?” She said much louder and he winced.

“Whadyoudothatfor?!” he whimpered his hands going over his ears.

“To see if you are suffering for your gluttonous gorging on the ale.” she said at a quieter level.

“You’re still yelling.” He pouted.

“Am not.” she pulled her boots back on. “Do me a favor. I know it’ll be difficult for you, but please, stay here, and try not to do anything stupid while I take Nanook outside.”

At the sound of her name the great beast was on her feet and by Nim’s side.

“Sure thing, just tread – quietly,” Cal winced as Nim slammed the door loudly on her exit.

“Did you sleep at all?” Asher’s voice startled her as she reached for the front door.

“Did you?” she looked over her shoulder as she lifted the latch.

“I slept enough.”

“So did I.” She let Nanook run off in front of her as she took in a deep breath of the chilled morning air after closing the door behind her. There was a bit of a musty overtone to forest and rain from the night before as she absorbed her surroundings. She closed her eyes and tilted her head back to feel the weak rays of sun kiss her cheeks.

She heard the door open and Asher’s solid footfalls come beside her. She could almost feel the warmth radiating off him as he kept his distance. She listened intently to his breathing and the sound of Nanook moving through the grasses along the side of the building. She could hear the dull thud of his heart within his chest. As a cloud moved between the sun and her her senses dulled and the sounds of his life quieted. She let out along breath and opened her eyes. “Can I help you?” she looked up at him.

“I don’t think you quite understand the dangers that could be waiting for you out here.”

“Because I’m a woman?”

“Because you’re unarmed and the great fluffy white marshmallow isn’t that intimidating at the moment.” he nodded to where Nanook was rolling in the muddy dirt.

“I don’t think you quite understand the dangers that me and the fluffy white marshmallow bring to you.” She gave a half smile.

“I suppose.” he folded his arms over his chest. “After all, I don’t believe that the mage is actually capable of what you said he did last night with the fire.”

“You’re calling me a liar?”

“Only liars get offended by being called a liar,” he pointed out.

“Or people who come from a place where lying is punishable by death.”

“Point taken, though that penalty isn’t used out here, only closer to your home.”

“So, I’m supposed to be your safe passage through the woods?”

“Yes.”

“What if I say no?”

He was quiet a moment.

“You haven’t thought of a backup plan, have you.”

“No, it never occurred to me that you five wouldn’t be game for the plan.”

“You swear that the group will not separate until we’ve each accomplished our goals?”

“On my life.”

She studied his eyes a moment. “Alright, but you had better not change your mind once you’ve got your sister back.”

“I wont.” He assured not blinking.

“Nanook!” She called sharply and the animal was by her side, shaking the mud and water from her coat.

As Asher watched them return to the tavern he realized that the dog wasn’t dirty at all. He turned glancing along the road and greenery as if feeling watched. Not seeing anything out of the ordinary he followed her back in.

Rainier and Bob were poking around the bar.

“You’re not going to find anything there.” Asher cleared his throat. As they looked up he noticed that Bob had a bloody nose. “Why is he bleeding?”

“Because he’s an idiot.” Rainier glared at the elf.

“I wasn’t aware that idiocy was cause for one to spontaneously start bleeding from their nose.”

“Apparently it’s a new phenomena.” Rainier nodded to where Nim was ascending the stairs.

“All I did was ask her what she was going to make for breakfast.” Bob’s voice was muddled as he took a rag from Rainier and pinched his nose closed with it.

“And she hit you?” Asher moved to find something better than a dirty rag to stem the flow of blood.

“No, she just looked at me and muttered something.” Bob sat on a stool that Asher shoved him into.

“Cruenas.” Rainier repeated. “I’m pretty sure that’s what she said.”

“Old Tongue?”

“Same language she spoke last night…” Rainier paused. “When um, when Finian put out the fire.”

“That’s what I thought.” Asher found a clean rag and handed it to Bob. “You two, just – stay out of trouble.” He headed to a door behind the bar. “I’ll fix breakfast.” He glanced back to the stairs and saw Nanook sitting at the top landing. “And… don’t do anything else to provoke her.”

Asher had spent many years studying the various races on both sides of the Nyx. There were very few Mages who could make a man bleed with just words. A witch was more suited for such things, but there again, that usually involved spells and potions. While she had spoke and some would consider that a spell, spells took a great deal of preparation and weren’t something that could be said under ones breath. He was pretty sure she wasn’t any older than Prince Calax and that meant she had no right to hold that power. There was only group that was known for that kind of power, and they were very rare and the blood had thinned through generations of exploration.

He shook the thoughts out of his head. The Order of Nyx was long gone. The Forest of Nyx was all that remained of them. He pulled a bag of oats from the cupboard and dumped them into a pot of goat milk he’d set to heat before Nimue had come down. He gave it a stir and added some dried fruit and a couple other types of grain. A few minutes later he felt the dog sniffing his leg. He glanced down and Nanook was laying behind him. There was no sign of Nim in the small kitchen. He tried to ignore the animal as he tried to get some form of breakfast ready for the group. As the mush thickened he heard Nanook whine a little.

“Come to beg for your breakfast?” He raised an eyebrow.

Nanook looked up with big eyes and another whimper.

“I don’t normally feed your kind here.” He went to the cold room and found a soup bone that he’d been saving for their current bought of weather. “I suppose it isn’t going to do me much good once I return to the forest.” He pulled it out and tossed it to her. The animal’s powerful jaws snatched it out of the air. He could hear the crunch of the bones giving way to her hunger.

He was just dishing up the cooked grain when the door swung open. Nim was looking for Nanook who was still working on the bone. “She hasn’t been bothering you too much has she?” Nim asked stepping around where Nanook had settled.

“Beyond being a tripping hazard, no, she’s been fine.” He ladled the last bowl full. “Breakfast will be ready in a moment.”

“Do you need any help?”

He just looked at her.

“I can carry bowls.”

“I know you’re capable, I just didn’t want to risk my nose.”

She shrugged. “If I’m offering, I’m not going to maim you for taking me up on it.”

“Alright, then if you can grab the tray from behind the door, we can take them out to a table.”

She moved to fetch the tray. “Thank you for feeding Nanook. I was going to let her go hunt or eat half of my food.”

“She would eat mush?”

“She will eat almost anything, though fresh rabbit is her favorite.”

“Well I’m glad she’s happy with the ham-hock.”

“Finian and Cal are down with the others now.” she put the bowls on the tray.

“I’ll get the tray if you can carry the last bowl and get the door.” He offered.

“I can carry it.”

“I have no doubt, but humor me. Please.”

She picked up the last bowl that wouldn’t fit on the tray and held the door open for him. Bob’s nose had just stopped bleeding and the four men were sitting around the same table from the night before. Asher set the tray in the center of the table and she took a chair keeping the bowl she’d carried as her own.

“Can we draw the curtains?” Cal was sitting with his eyes squinted mostly shut.

“There are no windows over here to draw the curtains.” Finian explained.

“And why is everyone talking so loud?”

“The ale.” Nim explained.

“Oh, our lad here really can’t handle his drink.” Finian laughed.

“Just eat your breakfast.” Nim ordered taking her first bite. It was better than she expected but she knew Cal would complain.

His first bite went in and came right back out.

“You don’t eat it, you don’t get anything till we stop later.” She cleared her throat. “Don’t be rude.”

Cal huffed and tried it again. “Not very sweet.”

“It’s food, just eat it.”

“I was talking about you.”

“Very funny. I can send you back home.”

Cal just shoved another spoonful in. “You know, I think you and I should just go home, Nim. Let these crazies do what they want in that forest. You know no man who has ever entered has ever returned.”

“I’m not worried.” Nim looked at them.

“Well you should be, with the whole, Forest of No Return, being our destination.”

“Surely you’ve noticed.”

“What.”

“I’m not a man.”

“Did you just joke?” Asher looked at her.

“No, I was just stating the obvious.”

“No, I think you were trying to tell a joke.”

“She usually becomes hilarious when I’m not feeling well.” Cal explained through his food. “Closest thing I’ve got to a sister.”

“Thing is right.” Bob muttered.

“Is there going to be another case of idiocy? Because we have more important things to do than have him try to stop his nose bleeds all day.” Asher locked eyes with Nim.

“Fine.” She shrugged. “I have agreed to go with Asher into the Forest of Nyx to find my father and his sister. I suppose that means Cal will be coming with us as he wont return home without me.”

“I can’t exactly return to the other Mages without completing my task, so I will come and lend whatever aide I can.” Finian said with a solemn nod.

“While I may not like her, she does have her – skill –.” Bob chose his words carefully. “And I believe it would be foolish for me to NOT go with you if it means you will all aid in finding my mother.”

“So, Rainier, what will it be? Will you join us to hunt your butterfly?” Cal asked with a grin.

“For the last time I’m not hunting a butterfly.”

“Fine, fine, keep telling yourself that, we know the truth.”

Rainier glowered at him.

“As long as he tells us his goal when it is time for us to help him, it doesn’t matter what the quest is.” Asher cut in before Cal could make any more fun.

“Yes, I will come with you.” Rainier confirmed. “But I swear, if anyone of you tries to tell me I’m hunting a butterfly…”

“What will you do to me?” Nim said leaning forward.

“Well – maybe not you. But the rest of you.” He threatened.

“Now that we’ve agreed. Eat up. Once we’ve finished we’ll pack what provisions I’ve got and we should set off before the day gets too late.”

“What of the tavern?”

“While I doubt we will die in said forest, I do not think I’ll be returning to it.”

“We already stopped it form burning down once, you’d better not be suggesting we send it off.” Finian huffed.

“No, I was going to tell you that I’ve someone coming tonight to take over. Just because I may not be needing it, doesn’t mean someone else wont have use. It is, after all, the only tavern in town.” Asher laughed.

“Right, right then. Good.” Finian returned his attention back to his mush and started shoveling it in.

“Do you happen to have a map of the forest?”

“No, Rainier, but there is one road that goes in and one that goes out and last time I checked they were the same road. As long as we don’t travel too far off the road, we shouldn’t have any problems.”

“Because we’ve got her.” Bob glared at her over his bowl.

“Exactly. So we all best remember that we need her far more than she needs us.”

“Right.” The men nodded.

“Don’t forget it.” Nim said taking her last bite before setting the bowl down for Nanook to come finish as the hound had polished off her bone already.

 

Distractible Distractions

Lets take a moment to talk about distractions. We all have them. They seem to pop up out of nowhere – or as I’m writing this post, they come from behind me over the arm of the chair and into my lap.

 

savannah

She typically picks whenever I am least ready to hold/pet/head-butt to demand my attention. However, it did give me a good idea for a blog post. 🙂

distracted

Distractions are everywhere. Most of us write on computers/laptops now, so that means Internet access. That means Facebook, Pinterest, and many other avenues of distraction. Sure we can justify them as means for research. Most of my pictures that I put on here are from Pinterest. But instead of writing as I find my inspirations, I just keep pinning. Sewing, crocheting, knitting, writing, cooking, baking… my list of interests just goes on and on.

2distracted

I’ve found that I can successfully write at times if I close out of my browsers. Other times, I have to revert to the old fashioned way and sit outside with a notebook and a pen/pencil. I often do my best writing that way. It’s a little hard to avoid the distraction of responsibilities, but sometimes, you just have to write and maneuver your keyboard/chair to allow for the cute furry distractions – or let the dishes slide to get that scene down. So find a way to eliminate your distractions so you can write, and enjoy these next few pages from the story I posted last week. I fondly call it “Bob”, but am considering calling it the Order of Nyx, but I haven’t settled on a title yet. 🙂  If you  missed the first part, read last week’s posting called “Bob”, then come back and finish reading the first chapter below.

 

“That was a neat trick with the fire,” he set his towel down and moved to join the others back in the corner.

Nanook bristled as he passed. He gave the dog a look and she cowed down.

“What did you just do to my hound?” Nim moved after him.

“I did nothing.” He didn’t look back at them as he sat down in the chair she’d been occupying.

“She cows to none, not even me.” She stood behind him. Nanook was at her heel but keeping as far from the barkeep as possible. “And that was my seat.”

“You can have my knee,” Asher offered.

“Only once I’ve removed it from your leg.” She reached to another table and took an extra chair.

“A bit prickly this one.”

“My cousin is an impudent snort, er impending skirt, erm… imblergl shot….crap. She’s… a… stubborn brat.” Cal was grinning, the ale making his face pink and droopy. “Stubborn cat.” He leaned on Asher and belched with a giggle in his face. “My cup,” he held up the three tankards he’d guzzled. “Ssssss, cups…. They are empty. Empty… not a very good,” he hiccuped. “Bartender are you… if my cups are empty.”

“For all that is holy, Cal, I told you.” Nim reached over yanking the cups away. “Ignore him.”

“Maybe I want him to tell me more of his cousin.”

“I’d sooner cut out his tongue.”

“Sheeeee’d do it.” Cal nodded with a wide grin.

“Do we need the lad to be sober for the little explanation you’ve promised to us?” Rainier asked.

The barkeep looked at Cal who was starting to yawn between his hiccups. “No, I suppose not.”

“So, get to it then, we haven’t got all night.” Bob glared at them.

“As I introduced myself to Nimue, my name is Asher Hyperion. I’ve been waiting for your five to arrive. Well, four actually, I wasn’t expecting our little prince to show up.” He nodded at Cal.

“How did you know we were even coming this way?” Finian asked. “I myself didn’t know I was going to come this way until three nights ago. I told not a soul.”

“And I didn’t know myself which path I would choose to go to the Grey East.” Nimue dug her fingers into Nanook’s fur to help ground herself.

“This tavern is one of very few out posts along the road through the Forest to the East. I hear much. It was a few years ago, but I spoke to a man known as Warin the Forgotten Knight. He told me of the small girl he left behind. He had taken the quest to travel into the forest to find the desires of the Old King’s heart to give his little girl the life she deserved. He made comment that if he did not return, that he was sure she would come after him. A few weeks ago I heard that the Brotherhood of Magi was sending it’s youngest Mage on a walk of powers to see if he was actually worthy of the cloak he inherited from his late uncle.” Asher’s eyes went from Nim’s steely gaze to Finian’s sobered expression. “And a certain elven wife was hunting and went too deep in the forests outer edge never to be seen again.” Bob’s sharp cheeks shifted as he gritted his teeth. “And then, we have the battle hardened warrior…”

“We get it, we’re all looking for something within the shadows of those trees.” Rainier cut him off. “We all have a reason to go there. Why do you care?”

“He’s a manipulator.” Nim spoke softly.

“I prefer outcome coordinator.” Asher gave her a grin. He held the smirk for a moment before it dropped. “Actually, my little sister and I used to run the tavern together. On a full moon three months ago she disappeared from her room. I was able to follow her steps until she entered the forest.”

“Lad, if she’s a small thing and has entered into The Forest, she’s gone.” Rainier said softly.

Asher shook his head. “I will say this of my little sister. She’s got a sight. There’s very little that could actually hurt her. So when I say, whatever doesn’t kill her, had better run from her, you best believe me.”

Cal said something from where his face had fallen to the table.

They paused looking at him, when he snored, they returned their attention to Asher.

“So what are you proposing?”

“To enter that Forest alone is folly.” Asher looked between them. “But, to enter together, that gives us a higher likely hood of survival.”

“No, it doesn’t.” Nim shook her head. “Cal’s father has sent more than five dozen bands into that Forest and only one man has returned and he was completely mad.”

“Did he send any women?”

“Why on earth would he send women with soldiers?”

“Legend speaks of a powerful witch who haunts the wood. She was persecuted and hunted by soldiers from the east and the west. Her only sanctuary was in the Forest of Nyx. She allows safe passage to those who respect and honor the ladies of their company.”

“That’s nothing but lore.” Bob snorted.

“My sister and I aren’t from here.” Asher cleared his throat. “We were born in the East. Ivette, my sister, showed me the way almost a decade ago.”

“Why would you come here?”

“If you knew what we left behind, you would understand.”

“Have you seen the witch?”

“You don’t see the witch, but you feel her.” He explained. “So we’ve got our girl…” He indicated to Nim. Nanook growled at him again. “And we’ve each got our own quests.”

“If the witch takes care of the girls, then why are you so worried for your sister?”

Asher shook his head. “The witch wont hurt her, but that doesn’t mean other things will be as kind.”

“What if I say I don’t want to go?” Nim asked.

“Then your father would be greatly disappointed in you.”

“I think they are all dead.” Cal said slurping as he rejoined the conversation. “Everyone of them.”

“I’m not sure any of them are dead.” Asher pushed Cal’s head back down to the table. He started snoring again. “The madness of the crowned prince most likely was because of the witch, but honestly it is quite possible that the soldiers and your father reached the other side of the forest and if my brother’s had his way, the probably aren’t being allowed to return.”

“You know this is all starting to sound like a bad joke.” Bob pushed his chair back.

“What?” Asher looked at him.

“A mage, a warrior, and an elf walk into a bar….” He started reaching for his things.

“Raibert, I swear to you that this is no joke.”

“So you’re saying, we all work together to accomplish each of our goals.” Bob held his ground. “If we find your sister first, she just stays with us while we find a father for our Forgotten Princess, a mother for yours truly, a whatever… butterfly for baldy.” he flapped a hand at Rainier. “And hope for the Mage to figure out his brain?”

“I’m not really looking for butterflies.” Rainier huffed.

“Whatever.” Bob rolled his eyes.

“And my brain is just fine, thank you very much.” Finian glared indignantly.

“You know, it’s been a very long night. I say we each pick a room, get some sleep, and reconvene in the morning.” Nim stood swiftly. “I don’t think we’re going to come to any agreement with a half inebriated mage, a sloshed prince, a bashful warrior or a sarcastic elf.”

“That’s a sound plan, prickly princess.” Bob grimaced at her.

“I am no princess.” She looked down where Asher was watching them mildly amused. “Can you carry my cousin up to a room for me?”

“Your highness can’t do it yourself?”

“I am not a princess nor a highness, I’m just a peasant.” she bit back at him. “And if I carry him, I’ll make sure to hit his head on every step, wall, and rail between here and his pillow.”

“As you wish.” Asher hefted Cal over his shoulder and lead her up the stairs that were relatively unscathed from the previous fire.

She stood back by the door watching as he plopped Cal down onto a bed.

“If you’d like any water for bathing-”

“Already had a bath, thanks.” she indicated to her still damp hair.

“Right,” He chuckled. “I suppose I have too.”

“You could do with another.”

“Anything else I can get him or you before you retire?”

“Key?”

“Sorry, there are no keys for the rooms.”

“What?”

“There are no keys. Protect yourself.”

“From what?”

“That’s a good question now isn’t it.” and he closed the door leaving her to the silence – and her cousin’s snoring.

 

 

 

 

 

Bob…

Bob…

I posted like yesterday, right?  I’m sure of it!  Boy time has sure flown, and I had all these grand plans of posting and getting some great ideas while I was on vacation like three weeks ago.  I actually spent most of the time off building a chicken coop.

13557739_10206761158209940_7805653034423063325_n

For these guys –

13600019_10206766386060633_5273716531722978973_n13626978_10206773523199057_1517969289183649217_n

 

One of them even gives blue eggs

13619906_10206773522319035_5434101139536374406_n

Well – blueISH eggs.

 

So, because I’ve been neglectful, I’ve decided to share one of my story starts…  Sometimes, it’s a good idea to share ideas.  Sometimes one person’s writer’s block is another person’s inspiration.   Enjoy. 🙂

~~~~

Petrichor filled her nostrils as she stood on the small hillock above the town. It was the first sign of civilization she’d seen in several days travel, and it would be the last she’d see as she traveled into the forest. Her dog sat beside her feet, its head just barely below her shoulder. She rested a hand to the thick coat to keep the dog in check. She still had many miles to go, and doubted that there would be any in the small village that would grant her shelter from the coming storm. She heard the slight rustle of leaves behind her and felt her animal tense as she spun, dagger drawn.

“I mean no harm.” A young man dressed in fine clothing jumped back. His hair was nicely combed and his sword looked as though he’d never had cause to pull it from the sheath.

She looked at him cautiously, sizing up the threat. She retracted, the dagger going back in its place. “Don’t worry, it’s too early in the day to be killing princes.” She turned her back to him. “A little far from home, aren’t you?”

“Father wanted me to bring you home.” He flicked a speck of dust from his arm. “Said you’ve had your fun, time to grow up.”

She laughed. “He’s your father, not mine.”

He frowned. “Well he promised your father to take care of you.”

“MY father made sure I could do that on my own before YOUR father sent him off on that cursed quest.”

“You’re not still sore about that, are you?”

“Really, Cal? You have to ask that?”

“Well rushing off to try to find him isn’t exactly going to bring him back from the dead.”

“We don’t know if he is dead.”

“Gregor said-”

“Your older brother was half mad from the toxic fruit he was eating to stay alive.” she rolled her eyes. “I’m not returning to Fairhaven.”

“Father told me to be prepared to follow you then.”

She looked at him for the first time, her gray eyes watching him incredulously. “Your father has already sent your four older brothers to the West. Three didn’t return, and one came back a lunatic.”

“You could call him Uncle.”

“No, that would mean that your grandfather would have to acknowledge my mother’s existence.”

“But.”

“She is the daughter of a king who Forgot her Name! I don’t care who she chose to marry. A father should never turn his back on his child.” she cut him off.

“Nim, come on. That was ages ago.”

“I’m still not going back with you.”

“Then I’m going with you. Are we camping out here or are we going to look for lodgings in town?”

“I hadn’t decided.”

“Well it’s going to get wet and cold, so we best be looking for the inn.”

“Fine, just, be quiet and I’ll find a room.”

“We’ll need two.” He said falling into step beside her as she and the dog started moving down the path.

“We’ll be lucky to get one that is not in the barn.”

“They wouldn’t put their crowned prince in the barn.”

“We’re not going to tell them.” She reached over yanking his crown off his head. “Honestly, Cal, you don’t go this far from Fairhaven with that on your head.”

“Why not?”

“It’s not safe.”

“Well maybe not for a girl.”

She shot him a venomous glare as she shoved the crown in her satchel. “Just follow my lead and try not to look so excited, it’s embarrassing. You look like you’re on holiday.”

“I am on holiday.”

She rolled her eyes and lead him towards the town. The few people that were on the streets scattered into the closest buildings as they walked through. It didn’t bother her at all, but Cal was looking left and right confused.

“Why are they hiding?”

“They never know if what comes into town is friend or foe.”

“I think it’s that dog.”

“Nanook is fine.” She located the tavern and pushed it open. The sounds of frivolity and mirth choked silent as she moved towards the bar for the keeper.

“This is not an inn.” Cal hissed at her.

“Shut up.” She gave him another look and he fell silent. “Any lodgings for the night?”

“Your party already arrived, booked the room for you,” The keeper didn’t look up as he wiped down the counter.

“Our party?”

“Aye, your party. They’re in the corner in the back there. Mind the dog keeps it’s nose out of other’s mugs.”

“Oooh a party?” Cal grinned.

“He means there are people waiting for us.”

“You sent word ahead?” He asked as she followed the keeper’s instructions.

“Nope.” she shook her head. As they made their way into the back area she saw the table referenced. There was a man wearing the cloak of a mage. He was listening to the warrior to his left. He was a battle hardened man with little to no hair left on his glossy head. The one that was watching the windows and doors was most curious. If Nim hadn’t been taught all the races of the four lands she wouldn’t have recognized the elven archer. “Hmm, typical.”

“What is?” Cal bumped into her.

“Why is it that archers are always elves?” She shrugged as the mage made eye contact with her. “Would look like they are expecting us.” She let her hand fall to Nanook’s fur and kept her close while Cal followed close behind.

“Nimue of Fairhaven?” The mage spoke, his voice was soft and barely audible over the returned rumble of the tavern.

“Yes?”

“You’re early.”

“Didn’t know I was expected.”

“Please have a seat and we’ll explain.”

“Are you really a mage?” Cal asked reaching for the cloak.

Nim blocked his hand. “Don’t touch the cloak.” She shook her head.

“I am Finian, this is Rainier of Buxley, and Bob.” He introduced himself, the warrior, and the archer respectivly.

“Bob?” Cal started to giggle. Nim elbowed him.

“He keeps forgetting my name.” The elf glared at the mage. “My name is Raibeart.”

“We’ve only just met.” Rainier indicated to the two extra chairs. “Finian summoned us.”

“How did he even know?”

“He is sitting right here.” Finian said taking a drink from his mug. “I didn’t summon anyone. I had arrived just before noon and the Barkeep told me that I was the first to arrive for the gathering. I assumed he had been made aware of some sort of gathering of Mages. Then these two show up.”

“Why would the Barkeep just be telling people to randomly go to the corner?” Nim frowned.

“Here’s your drinks.” The Barkeep looked at them counting quietly to himself. “Stay at the table as everyone leaves, I’ll join you once we’re locked up.”

“Why?”

“We’ll talk about that once we’re closed up.” He set the round of drinks down on the table. “Just… act like you planned this.”

Nim watched him as she looked at her mug of ale. “Is this all you have?”

“Sorry, highness, we’re not that refined.” The barkeep said turning to leave.

“She’s not a highness, I am.” Cal said through his mug as he chugged the beverage.

The barkeep looked between them.

“I was just going to ask for water.” Nim said softly.

“Trust me, the ale is far better than the water.”

She just shrugged and ignored him as they fell into an awkward silence. Nim’s gaze studied her sudden companions carefully. Finian wasn’t like any mage she had ever encountered. Most were aged and had a standard long white beard. Finian had longish hair with a few streaks of gray, but he was by no means aged. His face was clean shaven and his eyes were a soft green that peered out from dark bushy eye brows. His nose was rather delicate and almost didn’t seem to match the rest of his weathered face. His lips were thin and disappeared when he pressed them together, which he did often in between drinks of ale.

Rainier was solid as one would expect a warrior to be. His hair was mostly gone, though a pale ring of yellow blond hair was cropped close around the fringe. His eye brows were thin and barely visible where they hung over his brown eyes. His face had lines from laughing and smiling. His lips never fully disappeared as he smacked them periodically after sucking down another swallow of alcohol. His neck was short and would have been easily hidden if he had a full beard. There was more hair on his face than on his head, but it was cropped short and well groomed.

Bob had a very delicate face. The angles were so sharp they almost looked stone. His hair was dark with a coppery glow. His eyes were a pale blue that reminded her of cornflowers when they had lost most of their color. His eyebrows were thin lines that almost looked painted on his flawless skin. His mouth didn’t appear to know how to smile and was settled in an almost constant grimace. He wasn’t touching the ale, though periodically he would nibble a nail from the tip of his long spindly fingers.

Nim glanced at her cousin. He was gulping the drink loudly. She kicked him hard and he choked on the liquid. She glared at him. “Are you going to drink yours, Nim?”

“No, but neither are you.” she smacked his hand as he reached for her tankard.

“Can’t let it go to waste.”

“You can’t hold your drink.” she pulled it closer to her. “And we can’t afford to have you be sloshed right now else I send you packing back to your father.”

He huffed a little tipping his head and his empty glass back trying to get the last few drops.

“How did you know my name?” Nim asked the Mage.

“The Barkeep said a forgotten daughter of the old king would come. While the Old King has forgotten your mother’s name, there are many who have not and have kept record of your line.” he shrugged. “And you’ve your father’s eyes.”

“You know my father?”

“The First Knight of the Old King was well known by many.” He said with a nod.

“He was lucky he wasn’t put to death for taking the king’s youngest daughter.” Cal said taking Bob’s drink.

“He was still demoted in the army.” Nim shook her head taking the mug from him. “No more, Cal.”

There was a loud crash behind them as a few other patron’s got rowdy. A couple tables were laying in pieces as the brawl got bigger.

“Should we help the barkeep?” Bob asked in a disinterested voice.

There was another crash as more tables were toppled along with their contents.

“Oh I’m sure he can handle a little brawl.” Finian shrugged, then winced as another pitcher of ale flew across the main room.

“Oh this is bad.” Cal glanced at Nim who was distracted and grabbed her tankard chugging it.

Nim inhaled sharply as the two main brawlers slammed into a post where a lantern was hung. One of the men flailed his hand a little too far and the flame fell down onto the ale ladened dry wood floor.

“Oh this is bad,” Cal shook his head. He was looking at the empty tankard in his hands not the fire that was finding freedom from it’s glass confines.

“You’ve said that already.” Nim reached for her bag.

“It was worth repeating.”

She peered at him and sighed in frustration. “Really? Are you not even paying attention?”

“Hm?” he looked over where people were scrambling to get away from the fire that was quickly wicking its way along the splatters and puddles of ale. “You can fix that right up, can’t you Nim.”

“She would have to be a well trained mage to put out a fire as such.” Finian informed.

“Well too bad we don’t have any well trained mages here.” Bob looked at him.

“Am I a mage? Yes. Am I well trained? No.”

“Well we should do something.” Rainier started to push his chair back.

“I think we’re best staying out of the way.” Bob folded his arms across his chest.

“The building is on fire.” Nim stated.

“So.”

Nim raised an eye brown as she stared at the elf. “We are IN the building.” That didn’t get much response from the elf. “We should at least exit.”

“I’m with Bob, we should stay out of the way.” Cal reached for Bob’s half drank mug.

“If we don’t try to leave now, we’re going to be trapped in this corner.” She glanced at the corner they were in. No windows, and no rear doors.

“Just put the fire out, Nim. I’ve seen you do it.” Cal smiled into his mug.

“I’m not a mage.”

“Mayhap not, but fire putting out has never been one of my skills.” Finian set his now empty tankard down. “Fire starting? Yes. Extinguishing? No.”

Nim looked at Rainier who was the only one who actually looked worried. Cal was too interested in his drink to be concerned about the threat of the fire. Smoke was starting to fill the building. The barkeep was out with the others who had made it through the door staring a fire line to bring buckets of water in from the well. Nanook whined at her side, her large white tail swishing back and forth. Nim looked the animal in the eye and focused for a moment. It was at this interchange that Finian realized she and the hound had the same color eyes.

Nim stood and with a defeated sigh moved closer to the fire, the dog close at her heals. “Vidgnis.” she said under her breath. She held her left hand out stretched and the fire and smoke started to swirl around her. “Vidgnis Mehi.” She took in a deep breath summoning the element to her.

“What the devil!” The barkeep gasped as he let fly the bucket of water before he even registered what was happening.

Nimue looked up at him through the dripping foul water that covered her. She spat out the tepid dirt water and a bit of silt.

They just stared at each other for a moment.

“I was checking to see if Finian had succeeded in extinguishing the fire.” she managed.

The barkeep nodded slowly.

“I think I’d like to go to my room and change.” Nim wiped her face.

The barkeep was still a little too stunned to say much.

“Did you break him?” Cal asked.

“No, I think he’s just a little stunned that Finian was able to put out the fire.” Nim glared at him.

“Finian? Right.” He nodded. “Right, that was one way of doing it.”

“I’ll let the others know that the Mage has fixed it.” The barkeep shook his head a bit and turned just as another flung a bucket of water in his face.

“Where’s the fire?” The helper asked looking around.

“Mage, handled it.” The barkeep wasn’t enjoying the water any more that Nim was. “Everyone be gone for now. I’ve got cleaning to do. Tavern’s now closed.” He wiped his face and moved to close the door.

“Who are you?” Nim asked him as he went behind the bar to get a towel.

“Asher, Asher Hyperion.”

“Nimue Verguessen.”

He tossed a towel to her.

“You were right, the ale would have been an improvement over that water.” She dabbed her face daintily.