Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Seven Tricks Freebie Story

On August 30, 2017, P.T. Wyant offered up a prompt for her Wednesday Words at It involved a sausage, some nails, and the full moon.

The sausage made me think of Seven Tricks, my Mouse Prince/Nutcracker holiday release. I wrote this story in response, before burrowing it away for after Seven Tricks's release.

I think Mousetrick, my mischievous rodent of a protagonist would approve. :)

This is dedicated to P.T. Wyant for inspiring me and to Nine Star Press for giving Mousetrick a chance to scamper into your homes.

Time for Cracktooth to share a little from his perspective. :)

The king came home, only to find his sausage had been eaten.

“You dared to devour my dinner!” He pointed an accusing finger at the guilty, grease spattered countenances of his wife and daughter. 

“You told us to!” Prissipat’s blue eyes shone with unshed tears. “You even sent a mouse to give us the message, knowing I hate mice!”

“I sent a mouse to give you a message? The king’s eyebrows weren’t as fierce as Cracktooth’s uncle’s, but they were impressively hairy. Especially when they worked up and down in a display of fierce displeasure. “What sort of nonsense is this?!”

“Well, that’s what the odious this creature claimed…” the queen began, only to falter at her husband’s expression. “Not that I believed him.”

“Mice,” Prissipat muttered the word through gritted teeth. “I can’t believe we listened to that vermin. They’re not be trusted. Not ever!”

“No, they’re not,” Cracktooth agreed, struggling to keep the amusement out of his voice. “They played quick the trick on us.”

“Well, I’ll trick them.” The king rumaged into one of his trouser pockets. 

There had been a time when kings had servants to carry all their necessities. Not any more. 

This king had been reduced by a lack of weath to carry things around himself. This mean he had to wear trousers with pockets.

It was something he never failed to complain of to Cracktooth whenever he had the chance. Such utterances with accompanied by many a reproachful glance. 

Cracktooth was, after all, one of the king’s servants. Well, a relation of one. If he was truly loyal to his monarch, he should carry his monarch’s necessities for him. Not force him to wear trousers with pockets, making his king go to all the trouble of keeping track of his possessions himself. 

The king didn’t dare complain about it directly to Dousselmause himself, even if the magician was in the king’s service. Bad things happened if you complained to a magician. Ill fortune had a way of finding you, or worse. 

A magician might listen to your complaint and do something about it. His response would bring you little satisfaction and no happiness. 

Cracktooth suppressed a shudder. He remembered only too well how his uncle had once answered his own complaint about being too big, too clumsy, and not having enough space. 

Douselmause had changed all of that. 

For a while, Cracktooth feared his transformation would be permanent. Instead, he’d simply had several of the worst days of his life being small in a world which was huge and terrifying. 

Also wonderful. 

Cracktooth felt his face heat up. He reached up a hand, almost expecting it to be a paw. He could almost smell warm fur, hear the rustling of paper, while a tail twitched with an almost seductive grace. 

Get those thoughts out of your head, he told himself, slapping his cheek. Smooth and hairless. 

It was almost a disappointment. 

What was he thinking? He was a human again. It was a huge relief in more ways than one, being human again. 

“Ah, ha!” The king’s crow brought Cracktooth back to the here and now. 

The king withdrew a handful of nails from his pocket. 

They glittered in his palm like metal teeth. 

“Papa, what are you doing?” Prissipat stared at the metal things in her father’s hand with more than a little disgust. 

“Dear, why are you carrying nails in your pocket?” The queen wrinkled her nose. “You haven’t been drinking with the carpenter again, have you?” She narrowed her eyes in suspicion. “Or that pretty apprentice of his?”

“Err, of course not!” The king’s guilty blush suggested otherwise. “I just had, um, important business with the carpenter. King’s business.” He poked a nail with his finger. “Items like these can be useful. Especially at times like this.” He grinned, exposed stained teeth. “If someone plays a trick on you, I say trick them back.”

He scattered the nails across the floor, moving so they landed in various places upon the ground. 

“Papa!” Prissipat said in an injured tone. “Mama and I are wearing slippers! Those things will poke our feet!”

“If we step on one of those sharp objects-“ the queen began in an irate voice. 

“Ah, but you can move around them or step over them.” The king tapped the side of his bulbous nose with sly malice. “A mouse will not be able to avoid these nails with such ease.”

“Especially if he returns to the kitchen to steal more food.” Prissipat smiled. The expression looked even uglier on her face, coupled with her dimples and full lips. 

Such a smile didn’t suit her. 

Cracktooth swallowed a sigh. 

What had happened to the beautiful princess, who’d once taken his breath away?

If only Prissipat would smile truly from the heart, perhaps he’d catch a glimpse of her. 

Lately, all Cracktooth saw was her ugly face. 

“Oh, perfect!” The queen bared her teeth in smile no more beautiful than her husband’s or her daughter’s. “Such a prank is perfect for the foul little creature.”

Creature, not creatures. Everyone was blaming the young male mouse with the fine, black fur for the theft of the sausage. Never mind that his queen had spoken to them first. 

The male mouse was probably acting on her orders. 

Cracktooth closed his eyes, trying not to remember fur, anxiety, and a frantically beating heart. How terrifying it had been to be so small, in peril of things you could easily avoid as a human. 

Like nails. 

Cracktooth raised his eyelid to study the glint of metal on the ground. 

Such a prank was too much retaliation for a single sausage. The magician’s nephew shifted his glance to king’s thick middle. It wasn’t like he was going to suffer overmuch from missing his dinner. 

The mice were probably hungrier. They’d taken quite a risk, tricking the humans. 

It was too high a price to pay for that trick. 

Cracktooth waited until the king, the queen, and Prissipat left the room, still chortling over the damage the mice would suffer if they returned. 

The nails glittered in the moonlight. 

He bent over and started picking them up. He gathered each and every one of them in the palm of his hand. 

The cold gleam of the orb shining in the night sky reflected its light upon the metal, making them easy to spot. 

It felt like the moon itself was watching him. It was too full, too bright. He shivered, while picking up the last nail from the ground. 

Oh, it was a fine time for magic, a night like this. His uncle loved such moonlight. 

“What are you doing, Cracktooth?” A deep, disapproving voice cut through his thoughts. 

He who lets his thoughts drift toward Dousselmause summons his presence. His uncle had once boasted (or warned him) that he was drawn to such mental wandering.

Cracktooth turned to face his uncle, his hand full of nails. 

“Just cleaning up a trifle.” Cracktooth tried to make his tone as careless as possible. “Nothing to concern you.”

“You call acting against our king’s will a trifle?” Dousselmause raised his eyebrows, knitting them together in an expression more fierce than their monarch could ever master. “It does concern me, nephew, concerns me deeply to see you thwart his vengeance.”

“Since when are you concerned with the theft of a sausage?” Cracktooth laced every word with scorn. “Surely there are matters more worthy of your attention.”

“Nothing concerns me more than my nephew’s well-being.” Dousselmause softened his voice and dropped his eyebrows. “It isn’t healthy to risk your king’s ire for a pair of mice.”

“What can I say? I find myself much more sympathetic than I once would have been.” Anger, which had simmered within Cracktooth’s belly for too long trickled into his words. “Who’s to blame for that?”

“You may be right.” The rest of fierceness dropped from Dousselmause’s eyebows, causing them to droop. “Magic has consequences. Now I must pay for what I did to you.” He removed something from his coat. 

“What’s that?” Cracktooth eyed the contraption of wood and metal which his uncle laid on the table. “Another mousetrap?”

“Not just any trap. It’s the means to showing our regard for those who dared to steal our king’s supper.” Dousselmause fixed his glittering eyes upon his nephew’s. “The seductive scent of any cheese I put in this metal jaw will be irrestible.” 

“Surely there’s a way to resist.” Cracktooth picked up the trap and tried not to shudder. It was easy to imagine the metal slicing into fur. 

Particularly sleek, dark fur.

“Only by taking seven steps backwards will a mouse free himself from its spell.” Dousselmause gazed at the trap with a measure of malevolent pride. “Tomorrow, these traps will be everywhere. Anywhere a mouse might scamper.”

Fear dried Cracktooth’s mouth. Once more, he thought of that dusky fur glistening with blood. 

No, he couldn’t let it happen. 

He was no longer a mouse himself. It shouldn’t matter. 

He closed his eyes, only to see that black mouse, whiskers trembling, as he raised his muzzle to face humans so much bigger than himself. 

That mouse didn’t deserve such a fate. 

“What will you do with this information, Cracktooth?” Dousselmause reached out to snatch the trap out of his nephew’s hands. “Remember. I’m watching you.”

Swift as the shadows cast by the moon, the magician disappeared. 

Cracktooth shivered. 

He stared at the platter of cheese, which had been left on the table. 

His uncle’s threats were never idle. He would be watching him. 

Tomorrow, the traps would be everywhere. 

Crackooth bit his lip and eyed the cheese. 

It didn’t matter. He had to find that mouse and warn him, despite the risk. 

Monday, November 27, 2017

Seven Tricks: Madam Mousenip Squeaks

Hello, humans. I’m Madam Mousenip, queen of all who scurry within the warren behind Grandfather Clock. 

I’m here to speak of my pride and folly. The only mouse worthy of being our people’s prince and future king, if not for certain…perversions. 

I’ll let him squeak for himself in this blurb…

“Some say a mouse king has seven heads. Hah, trust a human to get our legends wrong. A mouse prince must perform seven tricks before the twelve days of Christmas are up. It’s how he wins his crown, but I’ve got my whiskers set on something else. A stiff beauty with a magnificent jaw, waiting for me under the holiday shrub. I caught his scent in a dream, which I’ve been sniffing after ever since. Scamper with me through my adventures and misadventures, dodging traps, cats, and giants, while I win a steadfast nutcracker’s heart.”

I’m sure you can all smell the folly and the perversion for yourselves. (sighs) It gets worse, though. You’ll see in this excerpt from his story, Seven Tricks…  

Some say a mouse king has seven heads with seven crowns. In a way, this is true. A mouse prince must play seven tricks before the twelve days of Christmas are over. If he doesn’t, he cannot claim his throne.

“You must prove your worth before I acknowledge you as my heir,” Madam Mousenip said to me in the shadow of the enormous ticking tower. “Only by succeeding at seven tricks will you possess what you desire.”

She herself had become our sovereign through seven capers of her own, earning the name Mousenip for delivering tiny bites, which left cheese looking unscathed and humans whimpering. She’d nipped a human princess once. The bite turned the girl’s face into something so beautiful her people fainted at the sight of her. That was Madam Mousenip. Kind even to hideous giants.

I flicked my whiskers in humble acknowledgement of the Mouse Queen’s words.

In truth, winning the throne was what she desired, not I. What I wished for was a bit more romantic and complicated.

I’d had a dream involving our coming Christmas, but it wasn’t of me ascending the throne, oh no. I’d dreamed of an endless supply of tissue, scattered about the giant shrubbery humans insisted on covering with baubles.

Not that the shredded paper was what I desired, although there was enough for all my subjects, saving the king-size portion for myself.

No, what I wanted was the exquisite creature standing half in and half out of a giant box left open on the floor.

Wooden was he, keeping his arms and legs stiff and motionless in his bright red coat and green trousers. Wispy white hair stuck out of the crown on his head and square chin.

Ah, he had to be a prince of some sort. Perhaps a prince of the wooden dolls? Some of the humans kept such poppets as toys or slaves. Not much of a royal title.

The beauty bared his teeth at me in a seductive show of defiance. Never had I seen such an enormous, toothy jaw. The scent of roasted nuts wafted from his mouth, making my nostrils flare with hunger.

I crept up to this still, defiant beauty.

He didn’t move, or acknowledge me, even when I was a paw away from his face. The strange prince just stood there and grinned.

This infuriated me. Who was he grinning at, if not myself? Was he mocking me?

I nudged him with my snout.

He rocked on his stiff wooden legs but didn’t budge. The creature stood like a human being, but no human possessed so broad and beautiful a mouth as he. Nor did they smell so deliciously of roasted nuts.

“Maybe you’re a giant nut yourself,” I said in the way of mice, which sounds like chittering to anyone without the talent to understand our speech. “Do you taste as good as you smell?”

I sank my teeth into his hard shoulder.

His head turned very slowly. He regarded me with wide hungry eyes. The strange prince dropped his jaw, only to close it on my snout.

In a moment of intimacy, we bit each other.

I awoke with the taste of bitter sawdust in my mouth, mixed with the salty residue of nuts.

You can see the sweetmeat of a trap he’s bitten into. To read about his complete folly, go here….

What’s a mouse queen to do with such a pervy Nutcracker loving prince? For all his faults, he was my heir. 

I’m not happy setting him aside for another one. Certainly not Cheesecurd, however much he might want the job. 

It’s enough to make any mouse queen’s whiskers sag. Especially right before the holidays. (another sigh)

Any suggestions? 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Fairest Freebie Story: The Curse

On September 20, 2017, P.T. Wyant offered up a prompt for her Wednesday Words at
It involved an apple, singing, and a spider.

I was in the middle of Fairest's edits at the time. The apple instantly made me think of my f/f fantasy fairy tale.

A Fairest freebie story formed in my head, inspired by the prompt. This is dedicated to Paula Wyant, whom gave me the inspiration and Nine Star Press, who gave my story a second life.

Visions of darkness, rich with infinite possibility seeped through my sleeping mind, tingling through my fingers. 

If only the bitter taste of apple didn’t remain in my mouth. 

I concentrated my dreaming mind on a single vision of a spider. She spun in a corner of the cottage, which had been my home, ever since Quartz and his brothers invited me within. 

I’d destroyed her home with a broom. I’d wiped the cobwebs away with a rag, or whatever tool came to hand. 

“Get out,” I snarled under my breath, trapped between my past and dreaming self. “This cottage belongs to Quartz and his family. Not to you. You’re an intruder.”

“So are you,” the spider whispered in a low, teasing voice. 

I stiffened at the familar low sweetness, the suggestive intonation of every word. My movement should have awakened me, but I trapped within the dream.

The curse she’d consigned me to. 

“Whatever made you think you had a home here, little princess?” Oriana’s breathless whisper taunted me within the darkness. “Do you think cleaning up their filthy cottage makes you one of the dwarves?”

Her laughter stung, sweet and bitter. Once more, I taste the apple. 

I can almost picture it, red and luscious, filled with poison. Rather like Oriana’s heart. 

The spider twirled around a strand of her web, dancing, resembling a girl spinning on the middle of the dance floor. I could see that girl, all pouting lips and golden curls, catching the admiring glance of those fool enough to look her way.

It had been so easy for Oriana to charm people. Look at how she’d charmed me. The darkness help me, a part of me still wanted her. The wicked queen, my father’s bride. 

If the dawn could have been embodied in a person, it would have been her. The light when it first touches the land below.

There was no light in the dream. The darkness was blissfully silent. It would have given me peace, if it not for the cursed spider. If it not for the sour taste of apple in my mouth.

She forced my lips open, tongue probing within. 

“You’re mine,” she repeated, shaking my prone form. 

Dimly aware of the movement, I remained immune to her kisses, deep in the dream. 

“You’ll never belong to anyone else,” she vowed, hugged to close to herself. How frail and small she seemed, clinging to my prone form.

You possess a lifeless doll, my dear. I laughed at the irony that she, the wicked witch, had undone herself with her own spell. 

I’d slipped through her fingers as a result. By cursing me, Oriana had released me. She’d given me up to the very darkness she'd sought to bind me with. 

The spider in the web began to sing, each strand of the web vibrating with the sorrowful sound of her voice. 

“Who is the fairest of them all?
You, me, or her?”

You, Oriana. It’s always been about you. 

Me. You looked for yourself in the mirror, only to find me, my fickle ray of light. 

It’s always been about you and me.

You, me or her? There’s another her? 

Who is this third person who stands between us? 

A figure stepped forward out of the dark in answer to my question. The maiden parted its warm comfort with a confident lift of her hand. 

For a moment, I think she’s Oriana. The same wavy golden hair surrounds her delicate face, only it’s touseled with a careless abstraction. 

Oriana would never allow her precious tresses to fall into such a dissheveled state, especially since becoming queen. I grinned at the very idea, even while I slept. 

The girl grinned back at me. She fixed her blue eyes, bolder than Oriana has been upon me in innocent admiration. 

I find myself softening all over at that liquid gaze, filled with a purity and directness which Oriana has never possessed.

“Who are you?” I silently ask the girl. 

She shook her head and raised her hands. Her pale, uncalloused fingers started to weave and flex, forming vibrations, the next two lines of the song. 

“In castle, cottage, or circle small
What will you endure?”

“Riddles,” I murmured, not without displeasure. She’s intriguing, this maiden, whomever she might be. 

A slight blush colored her fair cheeks, but she didn’t look away from me. She allowed her hands to continue their dance. 

“Are you fair of face and eye alone?
Or is your fairness true?”

Ah, maiden, you spell out questions which have haunted me, but I’ve been unable to voice. I thought Oriana was the loveliest creature I’d ever beheld, but her beauty stopped at her face and eye. 

“True fairness has nothing to do with physical beauty.” I heard Quartz’s words when he sat in his cottage, whittling. “It has to do with what’s in your heart and what you have to offer those around you.”

Oh, Quartz, ten times the parent than my father ever was, do you know how much my world trembled when you said that? 

At the same time, you soothed my soul. 

Brightness gathered in the maiden’s eye, a shining tear. It was as if she’d felt my emotions, even while they made my breast ache. 

Was such sympathy even possible? Perhaps it could only happen in the darkness between two witches. 

“Two witches.” I gazed at the maiden, drinking in her bright presence. “Is that what you are? Another witch, come to comfort me, only you’re a good one?”

The maiden lowered her head, before she allowed her hands to shape the last words of the song. 

“When under the sleeping curse you lie
What will you change into?”

I don’t know. I’m not sure what I’m changing into. Only my heart feels lighter at your presence, your song.

“Beautiful.” Her lips, soft and naturally pink, innocent of the paints Oriana adored formed the word. 

“Beautiful,” I acknowledge her in turn, admiring the curve of her cheek, the tilt of her head. “Just like her.”

The sour taste of apple filled my mouth once more. Was Oriana trying to awaken me, to kiss me once more? The flavor of guilt and sorrow seep onto my tongue with her desperate affection. 

I decided to ignore it, to concentrate on the vision before me instead. Even if this maiden is nothing, but a dream. 

“Just like who?” The maiden stared me in hungry eagerness. “Who are you?”

“The fairest of them.” I felt my lips twist into something bitter, matching the apple taste which won’t go away. “That’s the answer to both questions.” I fixed my gaze on her earnest eye, her trembling hand. 

Just looking at her sooths some of the sourness. 

“Unless I’m speaking of you.” I nodded in acknowledgment of her beauty, the light captured in her hair and eye. 

Perhaps this maiden is the true embodiment of the dawn, the dawn I thought Oriana carried with her. Perhaps she’s found me and come to comfort me. 

“What do you mean?” For the first time, she seems young, uncertain, and less otherworldly. “What does the title mean, ‘the fairest of them all?’”

The light may have chosen to test me with this question, unless it was another attempt to taunt and tease me. 

“It’s in the eye of the beholder.” I stretched out a hand to touch her, wondering if she was more than a vision. 

I seized a lock of hair of my own hair, instead, pulled on it. The sensation was diminished somehow within the dream. 

“I guess it depends on who is the beholder.” How old and weary my words seemed, weighing me down with their faint promise. 

“Which one are you?” How urgent and earnest her question was. She leaned forward, almost as if she expected me to be snatched away from her at any moment. “The beholder or the beheld?”

How young and impatient her questions seemed. I wondered if this girl might not be real after all. 

Real and waiting somewhere in the waking world. 

“I’m sorry!” Oriana was crying, helplessly, somewhere far away. “I don’t know how to undo this!” 

No, she never had quite comprehended the consequences of any of her actions, had she?

“Ask her,” I said with all the bitterness I’d ever felt for my former lover. 

“Ask who?” The girl tilted her head, only to turn to face the spider. 

It seized her, yanking her out of the darkness, making her cry out. 

“No!” I cried in turn, opening my mouth, only to feel thick lips press against me. Not promising anything, simply offering affection, unconditionally. 

The sensation awakened me, opened my eyes. 

Quartz loomed over me, only to stagger back, clutching his chest. 

“Quartz.” His name echoed hollowly within my own ears. 

I rose from the crystal bed I’d been lying in for who knew how long. The humming in the air, the energy permeating my skin lift me up more than my own will. 

Quartz toppled to the ground with a thud. 

“Quartz,” I whispered, not believing this, not wanting to. I never meant this to happen to him, not him of all people! 

The only one who was real. The only person who truly loved me lay still on the grass. He didn’t reply. 

Grief rose into my throat, choking me with its immediacy.