Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Paula's Prompt: Dayel's Discomfort, Part 1

On Wednesday, August 2, 2017, P.T. Wyant posted a prompt involving a setting: a fair (food booths, crafts, demonstrations, etc.) and a character: lone, lost, and found. For the details, see

Dayel, one of my pair of twins in Tales of the Navel/The Shadow Forest let me know he wanted nothing to do with this fair.

He didn't like people. He met quite far too many he'd rather have nothing to do with in The Hand and the Eye of the Tower. In fact, Dayel is quite relieved I've put him, Danyel, and his family aside to revise Stealing Myself From Shadows.

Let Christopher and his story go first. Let him and Danyel have a breather. In fact, the more stories with other denizens from the Navel and the Shadow Forest, the better.

The last thing Dayel wished to go was to a festival filled with strangers.

Only Danyel really wanted to go. It sounded like a lot of fun to more extroverted of my twins.

Besides, Dayel's reluctance brought out the sadistic, gleeful pushy side of my muse. Said muse simply had to drop kick Dayel into the festival.

Here Dayel is at a festival in Omphalos, which takes place in between The Hand and the Eye of the Tower and A Godling for Your Thoughts?

Yes, both of those books have yet to be released. I've avoided outright spoilers. I am dropping hints, though, like breadcrumbs, which you might follow to a few speculations. :)

“Dayel, the wind is showing itself!” Danyel pointed at a pinwheel, spinning in the breeze. “You can see it move, through that!”

Seeing anything was difficult. Too many people clustered around, invading the air with their chatter, their demands, their sheer presence. 

Dayel tried to block them out, but their voices reached into his ears, pounding against his temples. 

“Look!” Undaunted, Danyel pointed at yet something else. “We should get one!”

Dayel blinked in the direction of his twin’s finger. 

Damian stood behind a booth, bestowing his toothy smile upon everyone around him. A row of skulls were on display in front of him.

He fixed his rose purple gaze upon Dayel. 

“Why, hello there, little mystery.” He winked. “Fancy seeing you here.”

“Illusions should stay beyond the Door.” Baffled and a little alarmed at the presence of someone who shouldn’t be in the real world, Dayel took refuge in enigma. “I refuse to encourage daydreams with attention.”

“I’d hope I’d count as more than just a daydream.” Leiwell’s dry voice, touched with a little humor, slipped from Damian’s mouth. “Otherwise, I’ll never sell these nuts.”

Dayel blinked a second time, completely confusion. 

Leiwell stood exactly where Damian had been. There were no sign of the skulls. Small cones stood before him, giving off a whiff on roasted nut, cinnamon, and other spices. 

Map bustled behind Leiwell over an open fire. 

“Dayel!” Danyel nudged his twin, peering into his face. “Where did you go?”

“I was nearly lost in a dream which haunts me, but I’m back now.” Dayel couldn’t quite meet his brother’s eyes. “Don’t let such dreams trouble the air.”

Danyel bit his lip, unconvinced, but he decided to let it go. 

Did you enjoy that surprise appearance by Damian Ashelocke? Mwa ha ha...this is the end of Part 1, but the festival isn't over, oh no. I'll continue on Saturday...

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Paula's Prompt: A Memory in a Jar

On Wednesday, July 26, 2017, P.T. Wyant shared this striking image as a prompt at

This is my response. I dipped into the mythology of my own Shadow Forest to offer up a story about Once Upon a Time and Happily Ever After, two of the higher powers which exist beyond the Door.

“This is for you.” Once Upon a Time offered the jar to Happily Ever After. 

Happily Ever After gazed at its contents, clear to the eye through the pristine glass. 

Sparkling blue waves lapped upon the gleaming expanse of a beach. Only the faintest hint of clouds marred the purity of the tranquil moment. 

“Whose memory was this?” Happily Ever After attempted to keep his voice steady. 

“Does it matter?” Once Upon a Time frowned. The gleam in his eye dimmed. 

The clouds grew grayer within the jar. For a moment, the sand stirred. The earth beneath them trembled. 

“It belonged to someone who didn’t appreciate this peaceful scene.” Once Upon a Time took a deep breath. “Otherwise I wouldn’t have gotten it.”

The sands stilled with his attempt to quiet his temper, to stop it from shaking this moment in a jar, along with all the other moments in his thrall. 

“Perhaps that someone will value such peace, now it’s been sacrificed.” Happily Ever After meant his words to be light, allowing them to placate his opposite. 

Instead, they came out flat and somber. 

A chilly breeze tickled at the air, not within the jar, but around the two shadow masters.

“You can’t value what you don’t remember.” Once Upon a Time released his breath, adding to the cold. “You don’t like my gift.”

“It’s beautiful,” Happily Ever After protested. He meant every word. The beach was a beautiful memory, which he could shape into a perfect ending. 

Why did he feel like a thief for contemplating such a thing? It was his function, his title. 

The sky within the glass darkened, turning the ocean gray. 

“Precious.” Once Upon a Time moved forward to lay his hands against Happily Ever After’s temples. “You’re troubled by where our materials come from.” 

He leaned his forehead to press it against his companion’s. 

“Don’t ever doubt us,” Once Upon a Time whispered against his skin. “We’re doing good work here.” His lips were inches away from Happily Ever After’s. “We give the shadows something more than endless drifting and hunger.”

“By forcing them in a shape of our design,” Happily Ever After murmured into that inviting mouth. 

He looked up into his opposite’s eyes. Once Upon a Time’s were a glacier reflection of Happily Ever After’s own. A mingled blend of colors radiated and swirled within his irises; blue, purple, red, gold, silver, and green. Only Once Upon a Time’s were paler, chillier versions of those hues; ice blue, lavender, pink, cream, crystal, and lime. 

The colors reflected the man, if one could call Once Upon a Time a man. He took on male form. When the two shadow master coupled it was as males. Sometimes. Many times. 

Happily Ever After couldn’t remember them all. Sometimes, they blurred, only to return in flashbacks of eroticism which made the earth pulse and the wind sigh. 
More memorable were the times when they let go of their physical forms to take to the wind. They’d rush through the Shadow Forest together, shaking its leaves, kindling excitement in those who walked beneath them. 

Happily Ever After wasn’t sure why their cauldon of creation took on the form of a forest. Perhaps it reflected Once Upon a Time’s tastes, his idea of beginnings. 

His companion loved beginnings, along with the role he played in them. 

If only Happily Ever After loved endings as much. They were quite different than beginnings. They were terrible. 

Happily Ever After tried not to shudder at the thought of what truly lay at every ending. Perhaps something better lay beyond, but this meant getting past the true end. 

It was better to stop before, to leave his creations on a happy note. Even if doing so made Happily Ever After a liar. 

“Everyone here is hungrier because of us.” The words escaped from Happily Ever After before he could think better of them. 

Once Upon a Time recoiled, dropping his hands from Happily Ever After’s flesh. 

“Every living thing must eat.” Once Upon a Time’s lower lip trembled. “Life consumed lives in order to exist.”

“It still makes me sad.” Happily Ever After let his gaze drift to the jar. 

“Put your sadness to good use.” All softness left Once Upon a Time’s face and voice. “Create something beautiful for someone who wants it.” 

Once Upon a Time stood up, straight, growing a little taller. His shadow fell over Happily Ever After, chilling his opposite, leaving him tiny and small. 

“It saddens me how little you appreciate your master’s gift.” Once Upon a Time fixed Happily Ever After with a stern, patriarch’s gaze. “You don’t appreciate the trouble I went to in providing you with such beautiful building material.”

“Forgive me, Once Upon a Time.” Happily Ever After cast his eyes down in submissive respect, lowering his eyelashes to hide any rebellious thoughts which might reveal themselves. “Thank you for your gift.”

“Be of good cheer, my beauty.” Once Upon a Time reached out to touch Happily Ever After’s cheek. “It’s clear to me you’re growing empty. Once I fill you, you’ll scream with the ecstacy of pure creativity.” He winked. “Regret shall leave you in peace when I do.”

Happily Ever After lifted his head and managed to smile. 

Once Upon a Time would be as good as his word. Once he coupled with Happily Ever After, the other would be overflowing with ideas breathed and released within him. Bursting with strength, he’d craft ending after ending, filled with joy, lust, and anticipation, leading his creations to feel the tug of a hopeful future. 

It wouldn’t last, though. It never lasted. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

A Cloud in the Sky

Every Wednesday, the remarkable Paula Wyant posts a prompt at

On July 19, 2017, she offered up a wizard, a cloud, and a hole in the ground.

This is what I came up with in response.

Everyone learned to hide in holes in the ground whenever the cloud approached. It was a sign that their deity was angry.

The wizards had created Her to oversee their world, pouring their life energies into what they hoped would be a benevolent goddess.

Generally, She was. She breathed a gentle breeze which cooled everyone working in the fields, bestowing a soft rain which coaxed the ripest fruits and vegetables from the ground. 

Only once in a while would She grow irritable. The cloud always manifested when she was. 

The wizards learned to retreat below the earth. They shivered in the darkness there, listening to the wind tear up the trees, sweeping across the fields. 

“Why does She get angry?” One apprentice dared to ask her master this question while the two of them hid below the ground, listening to angry howl of the elements. 

Her elements. 

“Who knows?” The master bit her lip. “The Goddess moves in mysterious ways. To question her is to question ourselves.” She huddled against the wall, keeping a cool distance between herself and her protege. “If we did, the magic which created Her might unravel.”

The apprentice pondered her mentor’s words. Perhaps it was dangerous to probe too deeply into the goddess’s motives. 

This didn’t change the fact that their Goddess was upset. The guardian upon whom everyone on this world depended. 

Was it really all right not to question why?

The apprentice decided to find out. 

The next time the cloud appeared in the sky, she didn’t follow her master and the other wizards down into the holes. 

She lifted her head to look at the puffy mass of gray. 

“What’s wrong?” She studied the darkest part of the cloud, thick with unreleased storm. “Why do you rage?”

The girl wasn’t sure if she’d get an answer. 

The wind sighed, sending her hair flying, allowing tendrils to escape from her braids. 

“No one listens to me.” The air murmured the words into her ear with a breathless girlishness. “People talk at me, they pray, but they simply don’t hear my voice.”

The apprentice started at the voice. The goddess sounded so young, younger than herself. 

Young and lonely. 

“I’ll listen.” She wasn’t sure what prompted this offer. “I’d be happy to listen if you want to talk.”

The cloud dispersed, allowing a beam of light to shine down upon the girl’s face. 

For the first time the goddess spoke. 

Only the apprentice heard her words. Perhaps she learned secrets no other wizard had uncovered. 

Perhaps she simply heard the outpouring of a lonely being who’d never had company before. Not company which didn’t desire something. 

Perhaps the apprentice learned a little of both. 

She got to hear her goddess talk for the first time ever. 

All the while, the wizards huddled in the ground, hiding in their holes. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Troubled Thetis

Hmm, this picture is what looks like it could be a narrow path of a bridge leading over what looks like mist on the water, only it reflects the sky. The water stretches out in the distance, opaque and gray. 

I used it to write Troubled Thetis, a freebie story about my own interpretation of the mythical goodess/sea nymph. This character plays a major part in my m/m mythical Work in Progress, Aissa and Polyxena. 

The ocean had disappeared, melting into cloud. Nothing to buoy mortals upwards from the sharp rocks waiting below. 

It was only the sea reflecting the sky. 

Once Thetis would have smiled at Zeus’s vanity. The earth and the ocean simply had to reflect his majesty. 

It was difficult for Thetis to smile at anything. Not anymore. 

She stood in her goddess form, flesh and blood as any mortal, yet with every detail perfected. Nor did it have to remain the same. Sometimes, her hair was a pale blonde with a bluish tinge. At others, it was thick and ebon. 

Thetis preferred to turn her tresses into something fine and mossy, a mixture of human hair and green seaweed. 

Right now, each lock was faded, limp and opaque. Each strand reflected the bleakness beyond the luminescent waters lapping the rocks. 

Thetis might be a mere sea nymph compared to some of the mighty forces which moved the oceans, but the seas still reflected her moods, her troubles. 

Only the waiting sea wasn’t truly a sea. It was an illusion, reflected back from her mind. 

She glanced down at the shoal path beneath her feet. It looked more treacherous than it truly was. 

How easy it would be to step upon its smooth hardness, to follow the pale shoals through the mist. To approach the river which led to the lands of the dead. 

The River Styx. 

Thetis lifted her arms to examine them. Human fear prickled at her flesh, chilling it. 

Once she’d followed this bath, laden with her infant son. Achille hadn’t cried, not even once. Not when she mounted the rocks, jostling him in his swaddling, while she scrabbled for footing. 

She’d swayed on her feet, but Thetis had been determined. Determined to carry her precious cargo to his ultimate destination. 

The River Styx. By making the journey there once, her son would never have to make it there again. 

Achille had been strangely silent and solemn as mother and child made their way through the fog. The lapping sound of the waters, hungry mouths sucking the life out of further shore didn’t disturb him. Nor did the whisper of the dead on those shores, lured by the presence of fresh, mortal life.

Only when Thetis dipped her babe into the murky waters of the river did he react. 

Achille giggled and kicked up his foot.

Thetis struggled to submerge her child, to let him absorb the immortality the Styx was ready to be imbue him with. 

“Don’t resist,” she’d whispered. 

Only Achille had resisted. He squirmed and fought, keeping part of his ankle above the water. 

Perhaps her son had wanted that one mortal weakness, that vulnerable spot where Death could touch him. 

Achille had certainly flirted with Death all of his life. 

Hunting wild animals as a small child, when he was supposed to be learning gentler arts at Cheiron’s knee. Seeking out every battle, every possible challenge. 

Sometimes it seemed like Achille courted Death with a boldness boys seldom dared with any lover. Only Achille would dare anything. 

He was Achille, after all. Her beautiful boy.

“Perhaps you’re determined to take this path.” Thetis dropped her hands from her chilled flesh. “I can’t help wishing with all my heart to turn you away from it.”

Perhaps it wasn’t a mother’s place to turn her son from that path. Perhaps something else had to distract him, catch his eye, drawing him away from the shoal road. 

Something or someone. 

Note from the Author: It was really tempting to write about the Shadow Forest, This prompt was pefect for it. Thetis called out from my imagination, demanding my attention, my time. Too long had I lingered among the shadows. It was time for me to return to a universe and characters I’d long neglected. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A Growing Boy

I've finally posted the last part of Waiting for Rebirth at  It's time to share Paula Wyant's inspiring prompt on May 24, 2017. Every Wednesday, she posts one at I've held back from sharing this one, worried about spoilering my prelude at the other Cauldron. Now that Waiting for Rebirth is finished, I can finally post this Shadow Forest teaser. It gives you a glimpse of what's happening to Damian on the other side of the Door.  A Growing Boy reveals some of my other characters who play a part in my Tales of the Navel/The Shadow Forest series.

This blog uses cookies I must warn you about, especially if you live in the U.K. Please don't feed the cookies to the shadows. In fact, don't feed the shadows period if you can help it. :)

His winter was melting into greenery, into rebirth. 

Damian shivered and shut his eyes. He didn’t want to look at the abandoned cottage, forlorn and alone amidst the lush greenery reaching for the sunlight. 

“He’s hungry.”

The voice was older than it had been on the day of his Marriage Feast, deep with a maturity unknown to the males of his kind. Damian was the only one who’d survived his sixteenth birthday, much to the scorn of the other boys. 

Or so he’d thought. 

“Dyvian Ashelocke,” Damian murmured, turning towards the owner of the voice. 

The purple flowers of his Feast Day were still fresh, caught in the long tresses of Dyvian’s silvery white hair. Damian and Christopher had picked them themselves, trying to fake an enthusiasm for the day which was so natural to other arachnocratic boys. 

Dyvian had smiled with the same blissful joy every bridegroom showed, but his pale, violet rose eyes had been sharp and shiny as reflected sunlight on a glacier. Only when Christopher leaned forward to whisper something in his ear did his expression change. His white cheeks colored, giving him more of a marriage blush. 

“Is this where your spirit fled after Vanessa feasted upon you?” Damian asked, taking in the open, lavender robe his kinsman wore, exposing his hairless chest. Typical attire for a feast night, but Dyvian was far more wiry and muscular than any arachnocrat bridegroom could ever be. “Your flesh remains in its consumated form, within Vanessa’s garden.” 

“Someday, you’ll be here, too,” Vanessa had whispered into his ear, snaking her tongue into his ear. “Once Duessa gives you to me.”

Damian tried not to shiver, tried to swallow the sickness which made his knees weak whenever he thought of being Vanessa’s Marriage Feast. He hadn’t visited again, no matter how many times she invited him. 

This hadn’t stopped Vanessa from coming over to see him. Whenever she could. 

Damian gritted his teeth. This was why he was here in the Shadow Forest. To get stronger. To let go of the fear of being feasted upon by Vanessa or any other arachnocratic lady. 

“You shouldn’t be afraid, kinsman.” How gentle, how kind Dyvian’s voice was. Deep with confidence, a purring assurance Damian imagined Sebastian Ashelocke must have had.  “My spirit didn’t flee. It sought strength and power.”

Dyvian took a step towards his cousin. He was taller than Damian, with broader shoulders than he should have possessed. Damian had only seen such a thing in another male outside of the arachnocratic lands. 

“How is it possible?” Damian marveled, taking in the play of muscle. Dyvian’s chin was completely untouched by any trace of a beard. His hands were still slender and uncallused, yet they were long and strong. “You’re a man, yet not like any man I’ve ever seen!”

“I’ve have realized our true potential.” Dyvian moved with an almost feline grace towards his kinsman. It was an invitation to a dance, yet the air quivered with unrealized peril. “Marriage isn’t the end for us, kinsman. Not if we’re strong enough.”
Damian took a step back, away from the unspoken offer. He wasn’t quite ready to meet it, not yet. 

“You said he was hungry.” Damian turned back towards the cottage. Every leaf and frond of ivy clinging to the house quivered with need, with longing. It stretched out, silently pleading, almost like a small, pale hand reaching out from Damian’s own memories, trying to return to him. 

No. Don’t think about Christopher. He’s safe back in Omphalos. He’s real, enjoying the existence that never quite satisfied Damian. 

Perhaps he was, but just how much of Christopher had Damian pulled from the Shadow Forest? Some of him might still linger here in the leaves and grass.

Or in the cottage. 

“Boys get hungry, too,” Dyvian murmured. He took a flower from his hair. Someone had painted his fingernails purple. They were longer and sharper than Damian remembered. “Among arachnocrats, only girls get to eat, growing extra arms and eyes from their marriage feasts.” He lifted the flower to his nose. “I wonder what we’d grow, if we were allowed to blossom?”

“In order to blossom, we must eat.” Damian glanced back at the cottage. “What’s his name?” He gave his kinsman a sly glance. “I’m guessing he has another form, other than this.”

“Leiwell.” Dyvian shivered at the sound, the taste of the name on his lips. “He’s mine, Damian.” His eyes glistened with an emotion arachnocratic ladies revered, but seldom allowed themselves to feel. “Mine to create and feed without the interference of Duessa, Vanessa, or any other lady. He’ll never be anyone’s marriage feast!” The pupils of Dyvian’s eyes darkened and elongated. “Except, perhaps my own.”

“Such a naughty thought!” Damian grinned at the novelty of it. Play and romance happened between boys, but to actually feast on each other? It wasn’t just outrage, it was deliciously obscene. 

Ah, but who was he to judge? Hadn’t he let Christopher claim him right in front of Duessa herself? 

He turned to Dyvian, only to find his kinsman grinning back at him. 

“Ah, Damian! How I’ve missed you!” Dyvian’s grin softened into something more grave. “All the confidence of a lady and the shamelessness to back it up! One might also imagine you to be an incarnation of Sebastian Ashelocke.”

“No need to flatter me,” Damian said, feeling a flush creep up his neck. Sebastian Ashelocke had been his secret hero, the only male in the Ashelocke line who’d ever studied magic. 

“I don’t.” Something glimmered in Dyvian’s eyes, caught in his silver eyelashes. “You were always the clever one, the strong one, yet it never diminished your beauty. You outshone us all, except perhaps Christopher.” 

“Don’t mention him,” Damian murmured. Leaving Christopher, hearing Christopher cry out, when he stepped through the Door had been the hardest thing he’d done. Damian had thought his resolve was solid, but one thought of those liquid, imploring eyes, looking up at him with refound innocence was enough to shake him to the core. 

Damian couldn’t let himself be shaken. Not if he wanted to be strong. 

“Why not?” Dyvian asked. “Christopher was the loveliest of us all, the perfect ideal to aspire to. Delicate, slender, and filled with the yielding grace we tried to possess, yet something in him never yielded.” Dyvian brought his slender, white eyebrows together in a frown. 

Dyvian never frowned like that. He always tried to smile, to please, to win others over, to charm them, seduce them into following him. Somehow, it made Christopher and himself recoil, although neither of them had been sure why. 

“Did you take that frown from someone else?” Damian asked. He took another step back from Dyvian and the cottage. “Is that why you’ve managed to grow?”

“Yes, but it’s an ugly strength from an ugly lady.” Dyvian twisted his generous mouth in a sour grimace, but his eyes glittered with childish glee. “It is possible for us to feed on ladies, you know.”

“True, but I doubt you want your Leiwell to taste such fare,” Damian countered, glancing at the house. Everything about the greenery suggested youth, inexperience, and need. If only he wasn’t so like Christopher. It made Damian want to yield to that need. “Which is why you lured me from the path.”

“Don’t hate me, kinsman, but I want my Leiwell to have the very best.” The light dimmed in Dyvian’s eyes. “No one could ever compare to you, unless it’s Christopher.”

“You’ll never touch him.” At last, Damian voiced a jealousy he’d never admitted back when the three of them had been boys. “No matter how much you might seek him out, he’s found a place in a real world you and the other shadows can’t dislodge him from.”

“Ah, but what if you were in peril?” A sly smile tugged at Dyvian’s long mouth. “Once you leave the path, you’re fair game.” He dropped the flower from his hand. It drifted, slowly spinning to the grass. “What would Christopher give to steal you back?”
“He knows better than to return here.” Damian looked down at his feet. Darkness pooled around them, gathering, hissing. “To open a Door is to lose part of yourself.”

“He’d rather lose himself than you.” Dyvian allowed his smile to grow. “He’ll come, searching for you. He’ll find us.” Dyvian glanced the shadows swarming across the ground. “My boy and I have need of your strength. Yours…and his.”

“So do I.” Damian smiled back at Dyvian, delighted to feel the sharp curl of fangs, peeking out. Here, in the Shadow Forest, he was a lady’s equal. “Perhaps I’ll leave you a little, once I’ve feasted on yours.” He glanced at the cottage. “Both of yours.”

“Perhaps.” Dyvian moved with a swiftness Damian couldn’t follow with his eyes to stand between his former kinsman and the cottage. “Shall we find out if you can, Lord Damian Ashelocke?”

“I do enjoy being called ‘Lord’.” Damian allowed his tongue to caress his fangs, pricking it. A single drop of blood fell among the shadows, coloring them red. 

Dyvian’s own shadow grew, spreading out from his form to meet it. 

Did you enjoy this Ashelocke exchange? Curious about what’s going to happen next? Look for my ‘Tales of the Navel/The Shadow Forest’ books, when they’re released. Also keep an eye of both of my Cauldrons and this page. There’s a lot more of the Shadow Forest and its denizens to come…

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Paula's Prompt

The redoubtable Paula Wyant posts a prompt every Wednesday at On July 5, 2017, this involved fireflies/lightning bugs, the smell of food cooking, and an otter.

This proved to be surprisingly challenging. Not the least considering I'm juggling edits, Camp NaNoWriMo, and a host of other projects right now.

I managed to deliver a snapshot of part of Gabrielle's life to you, my Cauldron. Gabrielle is one of the major characters in my Tales of the Navel/The Shadow Forest series. She's the proprietor of the Navel, which is much more than simply a shop.

Here's a time in her life when she was much less formidable.

Fireflies danced around Mireille, forming a halo around her springy curls and bare arms. 

Gabrielle shivered at the sight of her. It was as if Mireille had become one of the Divine, a sacred spirit which ran through the earth and the air. 

“Look.” Mireille gestured to the river which flowed past them. 
An otter swam in its currents, bobbing her small brown head up and down, chasing a fish. 

Gabrielle had seldom seen such a playful beast. Perhaps she and Mireille could walk along the river, following her pursuit of the fish. 

The smell of roasting meat filled the air. Jean-Paul’s hum accompanied it, insistent and demanding. 

“I have to go.” Mireille backed away from the river and the freedom which awaited them. Towards Jean-Paul. 

Don’t go, Gabrielle wanted to cry. Already she was waking up herself. A hard cot lay beneath her prone body. Buckles bound her to the bed. She opened, resigned to wait and pray. 

Eventually, Rafaelle would release her.