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.