Saturday, April 4, 2020

D is for Danyel and Dyvian (but not Tayel)

Once more, a tall, imposing man wearing midnight robes of green shadows stands, his own shadow looming over a pair of slight, androgynous twins with golden hair, barely boys. 

Dyvian: Look at you. (He gives one of the twins, whom look exactly alike, save one has bright, silver triangles in his violet-blue eyes. Those triangles flash with an angry light.) Your name no longer begins with D, yet here you are. How precious. 

Tayel: (the twin with the triangles in his eyes) Letters may shift and change over time, leaving me no longer Dayel. The heart, the will, and the intentions I possessed cannot be ripped away. One of them is never leaving my brother alone with you.

Danyel: (He squeezes his twin’s hand.) You don’t have to protect me, but I’m glad you’re here. 

Dyvian: As am I. Little Danyel is entirely too easy to torment. You’re a bit more of a challenge. Or are you?

Tayel: (His eyes glitter all the more.) Hungry darkenss only sees what it wishes to consume. 

Danyel: (He glowers at Dyvian.) Which was Tayel’s way of saying you have entirely too much fun tormenting us, no, not just us. Everyone.

Dyvian: Come, come. I’m not nearly as sadistic as I once was. When I was first conceived as a half-elven cult leader, I ritualized torturing and killing humans. (He lifts a finger to run across a stone altar which materializes beside him.) Not to mention what I was planning to do to the two of you. 

The twins back away from Dyvian and the altat several steps. 

Danyel: You called yourself the Vampire whenever you killed and tortured humans on that altar. 

Tayel: Satisfying a personal hunger behind a mask and a ritual. 

Dyvian: Ah, but that was only the first version of me, created for a very specific roleplaying universe, shared by many players and authors. My personality has evolved since then. Perhaps not in The Keep, the second setting I played a part in. I was still a cult leader for those of mixed nonhuman blood rather than half-elves, but my intentions were the same. As the Voice of Seraphix in Tales of the Navel: The Shadow Forest, I have grown far more complex. 

Danyel: You’re still a cult leader, preying upon the wishes of the vulnerable to swell your ranks.

Tayel: Your hunger remains, waiting in the darkness to prey upon victims as you were once preyed upon. 

Dyvian: Only there’s more to me than this, isn’t there? You can see it all reflected in Leiwell’s lovely emerald eyes, eyes that would exist if I hadn’t opened them to reality. At least one version of reality. 

Danyel: It wasn’t just you! Christopher and Damian had a hand in that!

Tayel: More than one will, one moment of pain and joy went into the shaping of Leiwell, not the least his own. 

Danyel: That’s right! Stop talking about our brother as if you own him!

Dyvian: Ah, but he’s not really your brother, is he? The three of you are simply light and shadow given shape and form, clinging to each other in your delusion of what a family should be, dictated by Map. 

Danyel: What if we are? How are we any worse than other families?

Tayel: Whatever brought us together holds us together. 

Dyvian: Yes, perhaps we should talk about how the two of you have changed. You’ve come so far from the innocent half-elven twins I once intended to sacrifice, twins you still similar to in The Keep. Now in Tales of the Navel: The Shadow Forest you’re proper little monsters, aren’t you?

Danyel: We’re not monsters!

Tayel: We are what we choose to be.

Dyvian: Yes. I’m looking forward to those choices. Born of shadow, dream, and flame, your decisions have been quite exciting. You’ve not only opened Doors, you’ve cracked souls in two, allowing all of their false hopes to pour out. 

Danyel: Just what are you accusing us of?

Tayel: Accusations reflect the nature of the accuser more than the accused.

Dyvian: All I’m saying is that the two of you may be more like me than any of us have come to fully comprehend. I wonder how Leiwell will look at any of us by the time we’ve made all of our choices, hmm?

Danyel: Leiwell loves us, all of us, even you. His love is the one thing we can count on. 

Dyvian: Only if he remains Leiwell. Can we count on that?

Tayel: Count on nothing. Simply choose and cling to what’s precious. 

Dyvian: I couldn’t agree more. Isn’t it curious how much we agree, if though neither of us love or trust me? While we all love Leiwell, yet none of us trust him, not completely. Particularly with his own welfare.

Neither twin replies. 

(Danyel, Tayel, and Dyvian are all characters in Tales of the Navel: The Shadow Forest, an ambient fantasy series of novels inspired by Tarot imagery which I’m trying to finish and figure out how to self-publish. I’ve written rough drafts of Stealing Myself From Shadows, The Hand and the Eye of the Tower, and A Godling for Your Thoughts?, the first three books. I’m writing a rough draft of the fourth, My Tool, My Treasure. I’m planning a fifth and sixth book, Web of Inspiration and My Cusps Runneth Over. I frequently post freebie stories from Tales of the Navel: The Shadow Forest here (when I’m not BloggingFromAZ) and Christopher often does Monday blogs at, Conversations with Christopher (not now, they’re BloggingFromAZ, doing Character Change over there this April as well.) 

Friday, April 3, 2020

C is for Caerac

I’ve been dead and buried for so long, yet my name, my legacy lives on in this very Keep’s walls. When I lived, it was a time of change. The Jasior Empire had been battered to pieces from without, while crumbling from within. The Order of the Unicorn was doing its best to gore and drag the Order of the Dragon through the mud, trampling them with their accusations of heresy, of using the very tools the Serpent delighted in while slithering Her way across every land She found something delicious. Fear of the Serpent was what united those lands under Serena Jasior, the Imperatrix’s rule. Once the Serpent had been cast in chains into the darkness, once the Imperatrix died, there was nothing to hold those lands together. The Imperatrix left her legend behind to inspire all of those fighting to build a legacy of their own in a world which had shattered. 

I was one of those fighters. I took my sword and battled across the monster-infested chaos of Rowenda. Orcs, trolls, kobolds, goblins, shapeshifters, not the mention the various undead some fool of a necromancer raised, they poured out of the north in my helpless country, no longer protected by the Dragons or the Empire. Only one Dragon continued to fight, even though his own order abandoned him. 

His name was Corwyth. His courage was only slightly less than his beauty. He was one of the brighter aspects in my life and I admired his ideals, even if I didn’t share them. 

Mine might have been a time of chaos, but it was also a time of opportunity. While Corwyth was obsessed with hunting down the undead, discovering their connection to the Serpent, I was obsessed with obtaining enough treasure to build a home for myself. Not just any home. I recalled tales of the opulence and wealth of the Empire. I wanted to recreate some of that, even if it was just a little piece. 

First I established a fort, which became a castle. The castle became a walled city, a Keep. My Keep, Caerac Keep. Nor was I the only Rowendian adventurer whom accomplished this. My rival and companion, Gwyneth was even more obsessed with legends of the lost Empire, of recreating it than I was. She built an even bigger Keep than I did with more guilds, traders, and a lot more trouble. Still our Keeps became not only our Legacies, but bastions of hope in Rowenda. They were the closest things our poor lost land had to civilization and a link to the past. 

I died an old man, reaping the rewards of my life of fighting. A far better fate than what happened to Gwyneth. Better still than what happened to Corwyth. That boy was entirely too brave and too beautiful for his own good, not to mention too fixated upon going after the undead. His fate shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, all things considered, even if it’s one that makes any cleric shudder. 

Does such a fate still make a cleric shudder? Times have changed, from what I saw of the younglings fool enough to resurrect me. Don’t they know better than to play around with such powers? Things may be more civilized, but with civilization comes forgetfulness. There’s Trouble at Caerac Keep and the young have forgotten to be afraid. They forgotten that monsters are monsters. Sympathize with them too much and you’ll get eaten. They’re forgotten that resurrecting the dead is a terrible power with a terrible price. I doubt any of these young fools are capable of paying it. 

I’d weep if I had any tears left. 

(Caerac is a background character in my Work in Progress, Trouble at Caerac Keep. He’s the founder of the Keep, dead and buried until he’s resurrected. He’s not happy about that.)

Thursday, April 2, 2020

B is for Briar

I didn’t always have this name. It found me, along with my princess in Fairest. Actually, I’m the one who found her, cursed her, intending to take her for myself. Instead Rose found me in the darkness of my own loneliness and led me out. I became her Briar after that. How badly I needed that change after all the changes previous. I detested my birth name, Blanche. Quartz, my beloved surrogate father gave me a nickname when I stayed with him and his six brothers, Fairest. One of the reaons I spiralled into the darkness was fear that I had filled him. Happily Quartz has his own story to tell in Of Cuckoo Clocks and Crystal Coffins, a story I appear in, dragging the name of Blanche behind me. There were a lot of painful memories attached to that name. Meeting Quartz and the other six dwarves, living with them in their cottage, I hoped to let go of that pain, to change. Only the pain came looking for me and I got trapped in it as always. My existence seems to have been a series of changes, some good, some bad. One thing I’ve learned is I can’t hide from them. I have to face the changes when they come, cope with whatever they bring me. Sometimes that whatever is wonderful. Sometimes it shatters me, shaking me to the core. Sometimes both. 

Something wondrous may be about to happen, something I didn’t dream possible. I was too lost in my own guilt to anticipate it, but I must be ready. I can’t ignore all the little changes happening, the dreams, the call I’m hearing in my dreams. I could miss that moment of wonder if I do. I don’t want to miss it when it comes. 

(To read more about Briar, you can find Fairest along with other LGBTQIA+ fairytales in Once Upon a Rainbow available at…

Quartz isn’t happy about what happened to him in Fairest. He’s demanded that I change his fate in his own story, Of Cuckoo Clocks and Crystal Coffins. I’m working on it right now. :))

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

A is for Amberwyne

(Amberwyne is a character in a Work in Progress called The Players Are the Thing, a story about a Game Master and a group of female roleplayers whom lose some of their enthusiasm for the game and life itself. Due to all the time and energy they’ve put into their characters, their characters come to life and try to figure out ways to help their players.)

I’m not real, even less real than many of the scribbler’s characters are. I took on life in the imagination of Rhane Soames, the main character in The Players Are the Thing. Rhane is a girl who shirks from conflict and problems in real life, spending most of her time dreaming. She poured all of her passion into me, a character she’s created for Beatrix’s roleplaying campaign. This gives me exceptional vitality and strength, which I appreciate, I truly do. Only I’ve come to truly care about my player, all the problems she’s hiding from. I think making me is part of her wish to cope with them. 

Why can’t I cope with them? I’m not real, you see, no real enough to solve Rhane’s problems for her. Not directly. Maybe there are other things I can do to help, to influence Rhane from within her imagination. I want to help her, to do what I can for her. 

The irony of this is if I succeed, if Rhane learns how to cope, she’ll need me less. That’s a dilemma, but not much of one. I can’t let my creatrix suffer. Besides all living things die. Perhaps imaginary things are destined to fade away in a similar fashon. I’ve just got to deal with what I can in the time I’ve got. Besides, there’s still the campaign story of the roleplaying game I’ve got to deal with. I’ve only recently become aware that is a roleplaying game for our creators. For a long time, it’s been my life, my peril. Fidessa, my former mistress and mentor seeks to enchant or enslave me as she’s enchanting and enslaving much of the word, bit by bit. Rhiannon (formerly a non-player character, now run by Zoe Parks, matters she and I are only just becoming aware of) is in Fidessa’s thrall, acting as her agent. I’ve been slowly luring Rhiannon away from Fidessa, not that my companion, Isolde, trusts in this plan or Rhiannon’s changing alleigence.

Oddly enough, our bonds within the story, mine and Rhiannon’s, parallels the one Rhane has with the ‘Game Master’, Beatrix. Beatrix appears to be sapping Rhane’s vitality and is more than willing to drain Zoe of hers, although she appears unaware of this. It’s curious that Beatrix set up such a bond between myself and Fidessa, myself and Rhiannon in our world. Does she wish for us to resolve her situation by resolving ours? It’s also curious that Beatrix sneers at any tender moments between Isolde and myself (courtesy of Rhane and Mona Talbot, Isolde’s player). Much of Rhane’s conflict is centered around Beatrix, just as Fidessa and the little traps she leaves behind are the source of many of our problems; Rhiannon’s, Isolde’s, and mine. This parallel leaks between realities, one we may be able to work with, if I can persuade Isolde and Rhiannon to. I’m not sure if they care about their players as much as I do about mine. Nor am I sure if they’re as aware of not being real. I must do what I can to get their help, but this may mean making them more aware of their situation. What will such awareness do to them?

Change is coming. It’s inevitable and I’m instigating it. Nothing will be the same once it comes. I can only hope that things will be better. 

Monday, March 30, 2020

Secondary Characters Speak Out: Quartz and Prunella

The air sparkles around Quartz, seated in his chair. Light reflects off dragon scales, dazzling our dwarf’s eyes into a squint while Prunella winds themselves around the misty spaces of the Cauldron, blocking out the sight of the red curtain. 

Quartz: Eh, I’ve never liked that curtain anyway, even if I’ve used it myself a few times.

Prunella: We’d be tempted to snap our fingers if we had fingers. Reminds us of a television show once in the scribbler’s world, which involved red curtains and snapping fingers. 

Quartz: I supposed you could snap other people’s fingers instead. Not that I’m offering mine.

Prunella: (They heave a sigh that makes the ground shake and the air stink of brimstone.) Always playing hard to get, aren’t you? Just as Nimmie Not often laments. 

Quartz: Don’t start.

Prunella: Why not? We’re the one who has to listen to him cry every time you’re not impressed by his antics. 

Quartz: Been listening to him for a long time, have you?

Prunella: We have, though we’re not sure how long. Nimmie Not may be old by your standards, but not ours. 

Quartz: Been around a long time yourself, have you?

Prunella: We remember when the Queens of Dawn and Twilight used to come to us in secret, ask for advice on how to get the better of each other. It was quite apparent to us they were only trying to impress each other. 

Quartz: Oh ho, was it now?

Prunella: We take a certain amount of pride in finally getting those two lovely, fractious rulers together, in forcing them to accept their feelings, which led to the union of their queendoms. That was when we had much better relations with humans. 

Quartz: Soured a bit since, huh?

Prunella: When a pretty young knight looks up at us with dark, soulful eyes, expecting us to raze the countryside, how can we say no?

Quartz: I’m starting to see that you and Nimmie Not share some of the same oddball notions about romancing someone. 

Prunella: Are those notions truly oddball?

Quartz: They are to me. Maybe not to everyone, but there are sure to be those who’ll find them oddball. How did your knight react to you razing the countryside?

Prunella: He gathered an army to fight us. We were hurt, deeply hurt. We thought it just be him and us. In the end, it was. 

Quartz: Ate everyone else, did you?

Prunella: And they were quite tender for such well-done warriors. 

Quartz: Right. And your knight? 

Prunella: The tenderest of the lot. 

Quartz: You ate him.

Prunella: He was human. He was mortal. Eventually his beauty and vitality would wither. Better to savour him while we still could. 

Quartz: Right. Like I said, oddball, not to mention horrific. 

Prunella: All right, little dwarf. Just how would you go about romancing someone in a less oddball, non-horrific way?

Quartz: I wouldn’t. Romance is nothing but trouble. 

Prunella: Oh, really?

Quartz: Really. Your story about the knight just proves that. For every Queen of Dawn and Twilight with a happily together, there’s a tale like yours. Or my poor Fairest’s. 

Prunella: Ah, the little princess with her passionate, deluded queen. Quite the sad little tale, that. 

Quartz: Right and I mean it. It was sad. It is sad. Caused a lot of unnecessary pain, that romance. 

Prunella: So you avoid romance yourself?

Quartz: Easy enough to do. Not much opportunity for romance as far as I’m concerned and I don’t go looking for it. I’ve got my brothers. And the rocks.

Prunella: Sounds lonely.

Quartz: Not at all. It’s loud. You try having six younger brothers, stomping all over the place. It would drown out the rocks, if I let them. And the rocks have voices, if you know how to listen.

Prunella: Which you do. 

Quartz: I do indeed. (He strokes his beard.) Nothing quite like hearing their song in the stillness.

Prunella: Hrmmph. (They let out a belching snort which fills the air with the stench of brimstone.) Sounds like you’re having a romance with the rocks. Of sorts. 

Quartz: Much more peaceful than your one-sided whatever with the knight. 

Prunella: (They chuckle, the sound echoing off invisible stone walls) Don’t be so sure.

Quartz: What’s that supposed to mean?

Prunella: You’ll find out. (more chuckling) If you haven’t already. 

Quartz: (mutters) Bloody enigmatic wyrms…

Prunella: That’s right. (continues to chuckle, stinking up the air with the odor of brimstone) 

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

#QueerBlogWed: Paula's Prompts

On January 8, 2020, P.T. Wyant posted a Wednesday Words prompt involving a new beginning, a plan, and resentment

This A Godling for Your Thoughts? (Tales of the Navel: The Shadow Forest) freebie story was the result. This will be the last freebie story or poem until May since #BloggingFromAZAprilChallenge: Character Change is about to begin on April 1st...stay tuned and get to know my characters a little better when it happens. :) Once more, they'll be talking in first person and taking over the blog. :)

Omphalos was a new beginning for everyone in what was now regarded as the Old Cottage, whether those everyones wanted it or not. 

Tayel was one of the ‘nots’. 

“Maybe it won’t be so bad.” Danyel sat on the edge of the bed he shared with his twin, trying to be cheerful. “Yes, there will be noise as more cottages are built, hammering, thudding, and talking, but we’ll be able to talk to.”
“Speech always waits on the tip of our tongues if we feel like indulging in it.” Tayel turned his face to gaze at the window. 

“Well, yes, you can talk to me, Leiwell, and Map, but this is a chance to talk to people we’ve never met.” Danyel studied Tayel’s jutting lower lip, so similar to his own. “It could be interesting.”

“Interesting.” His twin turned the word into a curse, wrapped in the allure of intriguing change. “Hammering and strange voices are merely the tip of the sharp blade brought to our breast by the presence of strangers. That is what Omphalos is or will become.”

“Maybe it won’t be a blade.” Danyel swung out legs that were a little longer since he and his brother returned from the other side of the Door. After years of remaining the same age, the twins were experiencing a sudden growth spurt. “Maybe it will be more like a cup, filled to the brim with a liquid that tastes different with every sip.” He closed his eyes, visualizing a dagger dissolving into rainbow liquid that fell into a waiting goblet. “Sometimes it’ll be bitter, but at others, it’ll be sweet.”

“What’s sweet tastes bitter on the wrong tongue. Or the right one.” Tayel stuck out his own for emphasis. “Omphalos is Ashleigh’s plan, Ashleigh’s triumph.”

He still wasn’t calling Ashleigh “Mother”, for all Map insisted she was. Not that Danyel was having an easy time with it either. It was hard, considering someone their mother who’d been gone for most of the twins’ lives. Who might disappear through another Door the moment she got bored. 

“We’re part of Ashleigh’s family, even we don’t feel like it.” Danyel sighed, not entirely convinced of this himself. “Omphalos is just her way of making us a part of it.”

“Drawing us into a design whether we care for the arrangement or not.” Tayel withdrew his tongue back in his mouth and glowered at the window. “Just as she’s finally drawing us into something she’s spent most of her existence fleeing from.”

“I know.” Danyel threw up his hands, unable to argue this point. “She’s a little late in deciding to be our mother and take care of us, isn’t she?” He swallowed another sigh and dropped his arms. “Map is our mother, however, and she really wants Ashleigh to be a part of our lives.”

“Doubt flowers and takes root in Map regarding Ashleigh’s intentions.” Tayel dropped his head, allowing a golden curl to fall forward, concealing his eye. “The outside world’s unkindness hunted our mother into isolation. She’d never allow it to get too close.”

“Perhaps the people of Omphalos won’t be part of the outside world Map is afraid of. Not once Ashleigh is finished building this village around us.” How Danyel hoped this would be true. “Perhaps they’ll be part of our lives and we’ll be part of theirs.”

“Perhaps.” Tayel allowed his head to droop even lower, not saying anything more, even though there was something he wished to. Danyel could feel it, breathing between them. 

Perhaps I don’t want to share our lives with this village, but you do. At the very least, you’re curious about sharing, being part of this community, this Omphalos. I’m not, but there’s no point in saying so, in widening the gulf between us by saying it. 

Only Danyel could feel that gulf widening with his twin’s silence. What could he say which would breach it?

He reached out for Tayel’s small, pale hand, not speaking.

Cool fingers laced through his, accepting the contact. 

The gulf might remain between them, but hopefully it was a little less wide.

Danyel feared the coming of Omphalos would only make it greater. Surely there was a way to welcome their new neighbors and community, to get along with them without becoming even more distant from his twin. 

Right now the distance seemed inevitable. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Paula's Prompts: Wednesday Words

On January 22, 2020, P.T. Wyant posted at a Wednesday Words prompt involving a rebel, a clock, and a pillow.

This poem was the result...

I’ve never been a rebel
The very thought exhausts me
Makes me want to hide my face in my pillow
Regulating my life to a clock
The clock brings order to an already chaotic existence
Filled with rudeness and noise on better days
A despairing sense of futility as well
Children screaming out their joy
Never caring their cries piece my ears
Round and round humanity goes
Caught in the same patterns, the same traps
Sometimes the patterns are beautiful
Sometimes they surprise me
Sometimes the clock itself is a joy to behold
Wonders popping out behind the face
Tiny figures moving in an orchestrated dance
The charm is in the orchestration
There’s no point in messing up the dance
Only one can feel so sluggish, so tired
Continuing to move the same moves
Perhaps one small moment of defiance
A single rebellious action might enliven me
Drawing out some of the despair
Threatening to eat away at the comfort of ritual.