She cleared her throat again. I realized I was hearing this, not remembering it. I froze as my eyes focused on the person sitting across the table from me. It was Pausania. I recognized her light, brown gown, clinging loosely to the contours of her body. Tassels and other embellishments had been added to the simple cloth. Many of these adornments floated around her. It was a compromise between what was fashionable and what suited her. Her auburn hair was thick and luxuriant, as always. Tiny strands of copper mingled with the auburn, making its redness even brighter. It wasn’t natural. Very little about Pausania was natural, but she had the knack for appearing artless.
Saturday, June 18, 2016
Friday, June 17, 2016
Thursday, June 16, 2016
This gave birth to Leiwell, Danyell and Dayell's older brother in 'The Hand and the Eye of the Tower' (which is currently undergoing revision, before publication). I thought I'd share a little snippet about Leiwell with you, here. He's just started a mysterious job for an equally mysterious master in order to help support his foster mother and little brothers. He can say little about his work, but he's returned home from his first night in a terrible state.
Leiwell was already there. He’d fallen onto one knee, still cradling the book under one arm. Map was there, helping him to his feet, and wearing her fiercest scowl.
“I’m all right,” Leiwell said, before she could snarl whatever she had to say about his condition. Trembling, he managed to stand up straight and smile at his foster mother. Never had he looked less all right. His forehead wasn’t just pale, it was white. Beads of sweat covered his forehead, like tiny leeches sucking at his skin.
Danyell ran to his brother’s side, just in time to catch Leiwell, before he lost his balance again. He could feel Map’s strength, supporting Leiwell on the other side. Dayell stood in the doorway, staring at the three of them with wide, shimmering eyes.
“Please, don’t look so scared,” Leiwell gasped. He tried to shake off Danyell and Map, but neither of them would release him. Leiwell began to move, supported by his mother and brother. He was entirely too light. Danyell swallowed a terrified lump in his throat, as the trio waddled towards a wooden chair. “My first night was a lot more difficult than I thought it would be, that’s all.”
Saturday, June 11, 2016
“Love left scars on anyone unfortunate enough to be an object of it,” Pausania said. Her entire body vibrated with the force of her words. I could feel it longing to escape from her body. Often, in the past, she’d start pacing--as if she were stalking her own violent feelings. “The situation was too much to be borne. One of the Titans, Dione, coupled with Zeus, the king of gods. The result was the birth of a second Aphrodite. The second Aphrodite was much gentler, due to loving nurture within her mother’s womb. She wasn’t as fair of face and body as the first Aphrodite. You had to get to know her to truly see her loveliness. To truly adore her.”
Friday, June 10, 2016
The endless lights are flickering in my darkness. A door is standing before me. It’s a familiar door. I stare at it, feeling weary, tired, as my existence calls me back to myself.
I walk forward. Every step is heavy, which takes me away from my flower. Eventually, I reach the door. I open it.
My room exists, the room I created for myself from mortal imagination and loneliness. A thousand lights are dancing, swirling in the air around me. A thousand mad dreams, a thousand mad hopes.
I watch them for a moment. I let myself be entranced by them. All of them are streaking towards a door, another door. The final door, which awaits everyone. Perhaps even me.
I turn away from it. In the end, the God of Death is no different than anyone else. Afraid of that final door. Willing to emerge myself in a thousand trivial distractions rather than face the final mystery head on.
A thousand open books lay around my apartment. Pictures of the sky and the stairs have already been captured within them. Snap shot moments of experience, trapped in paper. You’d think I’d know better than to try to capture them. I, of all creatures, should know how transient they are. However, like many others, I want those moments to last. I’ll cheat, do anything I can to try to keep them.
A bunch of flowers await me in a vase. Including her. Persephone. She stands in the center, putting to shame all the other delicate blossoms with her beauty.
I walk towards her, wanting to admire her, to keep her for myself. However, she can only last in this realm for so long.
In the meantime, that realm requires its queen.
Wednesday, June 8, 2016
“Many a person on different worlds has looked up in the sky. Too many have seen the elder Aphrodite’s gleaming ship, hovering in the heavens,” Agathea said. She almost whispered the words against my cheek. “One life giver might see a cluster of stars overhead. Another might see a beautiful, ethereal face. Everyone who sees the ship loses something crucial to their being. They stop smiling. They no longer bother to treat anyone kindly. They lose affection for everyone and everything. This is because Aphrodite’s ship has carried off their best parts.”
Your Highness!” The voice is sharp and slightly grating. “This titled thief is allowing his cows to graze on *my* land-“
“-it’s not his land, Your Highness!” The second voice had a lot more boom to it. Boom, which expects you to recognize its name, even if you’re a princess. “The land belonged to my family for seven generations!” Second Voice shot First Voice a look of pure, unmitigated scorn, baring his buck teeth in the process. The buck teeth are hereditary in his family. It’s a distinctive trait of House…it’s right on the tip of my tongue, but I can’t remember it.
It’s hard to remember anything in this hot, stuffy room. The only windows are air slits. Light comes through them, but it’s a sleepy, afternoon light. Such a light makes it hard to stay awake.
“Your Highness, this prating pratt’s claim to the land ended, when my sister’s cousin married his father’s ward,” First Voice said, with strident authority. He waved a roll of parchment, which he held in his hand. It was depressingly thick. The light flashed on his many rings. They dazzled my eyes. “This thief, himself, signed the agreement!”
“Where?” Second Voice demanded. Of course he had to ask where. I had a dreadful feeling it was right in the middle of that parchment. I needed to remember his name. I couldn’t just think of him as Second Voice.
“It’s right here!” First Voice said, as he began to unroll his parchment. Of course, the significant part was in the middle. “I, Henry of Clear Waters, agree that House Vinegarten has exclusive rights to the land, including grazing, cultivation-“
“I never agreed to any such thing!” Buck Teeth snarled, looking even more outraged than before. I needed to remember his name. Buck Teeth was not an improvement on Second Voice. “There was never any such declaration in the parchment I signed!”
“Your signature is right here!” First Voice waved parchment at him, sending it rolling in different directions. “It’s in the sixteenth paragraph of the agreement between House Clear Waters and House Vinegarten! It specifically states that any kin to the heirs of a noble house, whom marries another is now one with the land, one with the blood, one with the heirs…” His words are oddly hypnotic. I can feel my eyes closing, even though I need to keep them open.
One with the land, one with the blood, one with the heirs. I force my eyes to open. The air is starting to sparkle. It’s only sunlight, coming through the window slits, shining through the dust. It still looks magical. It reminds of my tower room, where I will go to escape from my duties, as soon as I get a chance. One with the blood. Her lips are blood red, as they smile at me.
I stare at her, surprised to see her, here and now. She raises a snow white hand to touch my face. I thought she only appeared in my dreams. Her hand is cool, but soft. I close my eyes, enjoying her caress.
“Your Highness!” The touch of her hand is gone, as I open my eyes. Buck Teeth and Second Voice are both looking at me with expressions of expectant impatience.
“Go on,” I said, doing my best to sound regal, like my royal father. He would never have fallen asleep, when his subjects were talking to him. For that matter, my mother wouldn’t have, either. She might have been selective, about what she chose to listen to, but she wouldn’t have fallen asleep. Lord Gerald Hargreaves, my father’s closest friend and advisor, would never have fallen asleep. He would have remembered everyone’s names, too. I was a princess. It was my duty to listen, not fall asleep, when they needed me to hear their concerns.
What was this constant need to nap of mine? I’d sleep long enough, once I turned sixteen, if my curse came to pass. This was a thought guaranteed to make me sit up straight.
“I believe I’d just proven that the land belongs to me, I mean the Vinegarten family, Your Highness,” First Voice said pointedly. Vinegarten. He was a Vinegarten, part of one of the oldest families in the realm. This particular Vinegarten wore more jewelry than the rest of them combined. “This upstart from Clear Waters cannot allow his cows to graze upon our land, without the express permission of my family.” First Voice didn’t even bother to hide his smugness, as he shot Buck Teeth a trumphant look.
“It’s an outrage!” Buck Teeth snarled. No, his actual name was Lord Clear Waters, although I couldn’t remember his birth name. “For years, it’s been prime grazing land! The Vinegartens will ruin it, by planting vineyards!” His teeth were more pronounced than ever, as he scowled. “They have quite enough vineyards!”
“Is that what House Clear Waters thinks?” Lord Vinegarten countered. “Our wine is being served at tables all over, beyond the realm-“
“Which is exactly what the Vinegartens are,” Lord Clear Water said, with a sneer. “Glorified wine merchants.”
“How dare you!” Lord Vinegarten cries. He drops the scroll to advance on Lord Clear Water. Fortunately, I can see Lord Gerald moving from his seat in the court. I hadn’t even noticed him, he’d been so quiet. “The Clear Waters would be glorified peasants, if they hadn’t intermarried with us!”
“Take that back!” Lord Clear Water snarls. His sneer is gone, as he lunges at Lord Vinegarten. It takes most of the court and several guards to separate them. At least my urge to sleep is completely gone.
Cauldron of Eternal Inspiration: Take a Look at Yourself: It's 'Fairest's release day! In honor of the occasion, I'm post a new 'Fairest' freebie story, 'Take a Lo...
The glass slipper was too small for her foot. I had to work her flesh into the shoe. It’s an art I’ve managed to perfect, over the years. Stroking the arch of her foot, I slide her toes into the slipper. The flesh shivers at my touch, so it wiggles its way into the shoe’s interior. Once it’s there, I tickle her heel, so it quivers its way into the back of the slipper.
Saturday, June 4, 2016
I flinched. I wondered if traces of whomever I’d devoured lingered on my skin, or clung to my lips. Now, I had a human form, as well as a human awareness of what I’d done as a shadow.
Gabrielle regarded me without judgment, although a hint of steel glinted in the darkness of her pupils. I wondered what she’d done to others of my kind she’d caught feeding in the Navel.
A shudder ran through my slight frame, bringing further awareness of how small and weak I was in in the real world.