Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Paula's Prompt: Meeting Madam Journey

On January 3, 2018, P.T. Wyant posted a Wednesday Words prompt involving a hat, a new day, and an icy road at

This Tale of the Navel was the result. I brought back a character who's been haunting the back of my imagination for sometime, Madam Journey.

She's returning to Omphalos, only this time she's visiting Gabrielle.

Morning light gleamed upon the icy road running through Omphalos. 

Not that this deterred Madam Journey. She pushed her cart along the slick cobblestones, which had changed its shape to something more rustic and rural. 

Reality was what you made of it, especially in a town to a Door to unreality. 

Gabrielle could sense it, shifting around the the stocky woman, who wore several scarves wrapped around her head, each one faded and musty. It shivered around the worn hem of her skirts and the thick shoes, which were grey and flapping about her feet. 

The traveler stopped moving when the cart drew up next to the Navel’s proprietor, who stood waiting outside her shop’s door. 

“Good morning, ‘Brie.” Her visitor greeted her in a husky voice, rough with unspoken sorrow and determiation. “Got your hat, just as you wanted.” She eyed the taller woman, or so Gabrielle appeared to most mortal eyes. 

Not that Madam Journey was most mortals. Like Gabrielle, she collected the bits and pieces that people left behind and returned them to their rightful owners. 

Unlike Gabrielle, she didn’t wait in a Place of Power for those owners to wander in, fooled by the guise of being customers in a store. 

Madam Journey went everywhere, pushing her cart, often being mistaken for a tramp. Few people realized they needed her, until they took a closer look into her cart. 

Gabrielle herself drew closer, only to blink back tears. 

There it was. The hat. 

She could remember the first time she saw it, so long ago. 

Mireille had pushed it down over coppery curls, a fedora covered with fishnet. 

Gabrielle had giggled at the sight of it. “That looks ridiculous!”

“But it made you laugh.” A long, slow wink under the netting had been her answer. “Laughter has a power of its own, just as great as terror. There’s tremendous strength in being ridiculous.”

“Yes, there is.” ‘Brie raised a hand to wipe her eyes. “Thank you for bringing this to me.”

“You’re always helping others to find themselves, girl.” Madam Journey picked up the fedora and brushed it off. “It’s only right that I should help you find a piece of you.”

“Actually, it’s a piece of someone else.” Gabrielle raised a hand to finger the fishnet around the brim. “Someone I don’t want to forget. Ever.”

“Sure, but your memories of that someone and the hat are yours, right?” Madam Journey shook her head, making the dangling end of one of the scarves wrapped around her head come lose. “Glad I could return it to you.”

Gabrielle smiled a bit at the other woman’s words. 

How many times had she said something similiar to someone else who wandered into the Navel? 

“Thank you,” she murmured, lifting the hand to put it on her head. 

‘Brie willed a smile to her lips, threw back her shoulders, and struck a pose. “How do I look?”

“Ridiculous.” Madam Journey snorted, but she smiled all the while. “Ridiculously beautiful.” 

Gabrielle looked down at her blue cape. It was covered with tiny, carrot shaped sequins, fasted with a demonic silver rabbit’s head. “I appreciate the compliment. I do try.”

“That you do.” Madam Journey snorted again. “You might try and coordinate that hat with the rest of your outfit. You could do that in a way that’s still bizarre.”

“I could.” Gabrielle reached up to adjust my brim. “Thanks again.”

“No need for thanks.” Madam Journey started pushing her cart down the icy road out of Omphalos. “You take care, girl.”

“Always.” Gabrielle raised her hand in farewell, letting go out of the hat. “Safe journeys.”

“Now where’s the fun in that?” Madam Journey snickered and kept walking. 

Gabrielle watched the traveler continue to shuffle down the road toward her next destination, toward whomever needed something from the cart. 

She wasn’t sure when she’d next see Madam Journey again. 

She just knew she would.  

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Paula's Prompt: A Recipe for Curses

On December 20, 2017, P.T. Wyant posted a Wednesday Words prompt involving sunrise, a recipe, and an evergreen branch at

This 'Fairest' freebie story was the result. Or perhaps it's a freebie story for a tale yet to be told about your favorite dwarf, P.T. Wyant? :)

The sun was just coming over the horizon, making every leaf on the tree and every blade of glass glisten and sparkle. 

Tears could be beautiful. Especially in this forest. 

He hummed to himself, kicking up his spindly legs, allowing the bells on his toes to ring. 

One could almost imagine a muffled curse in the crystal coffin below his bum, attempting to blister his delicate, pointed ears. 

“Manners, Quartz!” he murmured. “You should not be waking! Not a stubborn dwarf sleeping like the dead!”

He chuckled at his own joke, lifting an evergreen branch to his nose. 

“Nothing withers and dies here.” He shook his head, flipping the dangling red tip of his cape over his shoulder. “Don’t you see what I’ve done for you? I’ve saved your life from your foolish witchling, who almost scared you to death.” 

He leaped off the coffin to regard its surface. “Not that I expect you to appreciate all the trouble I took, leading you and your brothers to this cottage.” He sniffed, wiping a tear from his eye with the branch, grinning all the while. “See what I suffer for People of Interest! Speaking of interest, there’s an intriguing recipe I’ve learned of, thanks to your Fairest.”

The tiny little man tapped his branch against the coffin. “Extract a bitter heart, add it to an ordinary object. Mix the two together. Offer it to a potential victim to touch or taste. Victim will sleep like the dead for a hundred years, dying at the end, unless someone who truly loves the victim kisses her.” 

He laid his withered cheek against the crystal. “Only how will you awaken, Quartz? You’re not under a sleeping curse. No, you’ve been enchanted by something else all together.”

He let out a cackle which was half a sob. The strange little man lifted his head and leaped away the coffin. He kicked up his heels and began to dance. 

If he didn’t know better, he would have certain he’d heard an exasperated growl coming from its crystal interior. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Paula's Prompt: Alone in the Forest

On December 13, 2017, P.T. Wyant posted a prompt involving a crack, a scarf, and a drink at

This tale of the Shadow Forest came to me as a result.

The crack in reality opened. Leiwell could see stars, ready to explode and cool into other worlds, other possibilities. 

“That’s right, my darling.” Dyvian wrapped the scarf around the boy’s neck with loving tenderness. “Take it all in with those lovely new eyes.” He pressed a mug into his creation’s hand. “Just drink a little more strength and purpose before you leave with your new mother for a different world.”

“My new mother?” Leiwell blinked in the steam which hissed and stung his eyes. 

“A stubborn, wilful old crone, clinging to reality and allowing it to define her.” Dyvian’s lower lip curled in almost sensuous scorn. “Map will, however, ground you and give you direction like no other.”

Leiwell lifted the cup to his lips and sipped. A cruel bitterness touched his tongue and mouth. 

“I don’t want to feed on anymore of Damian’s strength.” The words sounded as childlike and bitter as the essence of the man he’d just consumed. 

Not all of Damian. Just enough to strengthen Leiwell and change him. Not that Leiwell felt this was a good thing. 

“Shouldn’t I have strength of my own?” He shivered, clinging to the mug, neither lowering it nor drinking from it. 

Dyvian’s eyes shimmered with a mixture of pink, gray, lavender, and icy blue, clear and reflective as ice. Leiwell could see a small, sulking face reflected in each pupil, chin obscured by the cup held by small hands. 

The face was his. Leiwell was viewing himself, reflected in his master’s eyes. 

No matter what else he became, he was still a part of Dyvian. 

The thought warmed Leiwell, even though it contradicted the wish he’d uttered. He preferred to remain a part of Dyvian rather than let Damian Ashelocke inside him. 

“It’s too late for such desires, my darling.” Dyvian reached out to touch the boy’s hand. “We’re both bound to Damian now.”

Leiwell shuddered, unable to suppress the chill which crept through his new limbs. 

“It’s not all bitterness.” Dyvian withdrew his fingers to gesture to the crack.

It sent burning white tendrils out into dark ground, the very roots of trees, creeping up the branches. 

“Take another drink and look again.”

Leiwell took another swallow. His victim’s discontent burned his throat, coating it with pain. 

Ah, yes. Leiwell had a throat now. He ought to be grateful to Damian Ashelocke for the gift, only he feared there would be a hefty price for this ‘gift’. 

He stared at the pinpricks of light, dancing in and out of the crack. Two of them pulsed with a fragile strength. One emitted a cool, blue glow, casting icy afterimages of circles, triangles, and overlapping teardrops. The other pulsed with a soothing, green warm, which stretched out with tiny tendrils toward Leiwell. 

“What is this?” He longed to reach out for his hand, to cup those delicate stars in his new palm, protecting them from the dark forces which whispered in both worlds. 

“Just as I am your Once Upon a Time, they are your Happily Ever After.” Dyvian raised his own hand, which trembled. The gleam in his pale eye was almost hungry. 

For a moment, Leiwell’s beloved master seemed as menacing as Damian Ashelocke. 

“Never lose sight of them.” Dyvian blinked, shook his head. 

He turned to Leiwell, gentleness softening his mouth and cheek. “Even if you lose sight of me, hold them close.”

“I won’t lose sight of you.” Leiwell reached out to seize one of his master’s long, cool hands. “You created me. I belong to you.” 

“How I wish that could stay true.” Dyvian turned his melancholy gaze toward the crack. “The will that animates me, allowing me to exist when I shouldn’t, demands otherwise.”

He took the mug from my other hand and turned to face the crack. 
He raised the vessel towards the pinpricks of light, before bringing it to his lips. 

The crack disappeared along with Dyvian. 

Leiwell was left in the darkness of the forest alone. 

Waiting for his new mother. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Secondary Characters Speak Out: Interviewing Hugh

Q: Quartz here, alone and neglected in my monthly column, ‘Secondary Characters Speak Out-

K: You’re not neglected. I’ve just written a freebie story for you. (grumbles under breath) I hope you’re satisfied, Paula. Give Quartz an inch and he’ll take the entire road-

Q: What road? Where’s my road?

K: Look, ‘Fairest’ belongs to Nine Star Press now. I’ve got to see if they’ve got an opening for your story!

Q: Or you could, I don’t know, finish my story?! By the way, what sort of addle brained title is ‘Of Crystal Coffins and Cuckoo Clocks’?!

K: (mutters) The title is a work in progress, much like the rest of it. (raises voice) Are you interviewing me? Or Prince Hugh?

Q: Prince who? Who’s Hugh?

(Cut to a plump, young man sitting in a seat opposite Quartz. His thick legs are stuffed into silk breeches like fat sausages. His jowls hang from a scowling face.)

Q: (looking around the anachronistic interview room) Huh, so this is what the scribbler’s world is like…

H: That’s right. Completely forget your prince. 

Q: (scowling back) You’re not my prince. I’ve never seen you before. 

H: A blessing to both of us. You’re the ugliest wench I’ve ever had the misfortune to lay eyes upon. 

Q: (beard bristling with indignation) Excuse me! I’m not a wench and I’m certainly not ugly! I’ve got the most immaculately combed beard of all my brothers, thank you very much! Like I’’ll take that from a bloke who doesn’t even bother with a beard!

K: (mutters offstage) I’ve never cared for beards myself…

Q: Shut up, scribbler!

H: Have to agree with the scribbler. I’ve no desire to even attempt a beard. Why should I give the ladies anything to hang onto? (leers at bit at everyone)

Q: Ah ha, now I recognize you! You’re Prince Charmless, the annoying Harold equivalent in that other fairy tale by the scribbler. 

H: (jowls trembling in fury) How dare you? (swells up like a toad) I’m Prince Hugh, not Prince Charmless! Not that you’re in any position to speak to me with such familarity, you dwarven wench! You will address me as Your Highness or not at all!

Q: I told you, I’m not a wench!

(There’s a jingling of bells in the background. A sly voice speaks from backstage. “Ah, I don’t know, my dear Quartz. You might make quite the comely dwarven wench.”

Q: Ugh! (shudders) Why do I think that sprite may have something to do with my being trapped in Fairest’s coffin during the freebie story? 
H: What was that?

K: (from offstage) To read what we’re talking about, read the last entry on this Author Page. Or the Forbidden Cauldron. 

Q: Never you mind. (to Hugh) I’m not addressing you. 

H: Such impertinence!

Q: Look here, you said I was to address you as ‘Your Highness’ or not at all. You’re not that high, nor do I think much of highness to begin with. I choose not at all, you sorry excuse for a prince. 

H: Now I know you’re a wench, in spite of your ugly looks. You have all these expectations of me, being a prince. 

Q: Not really. No. 

H: It’s not enough for any of you if I marry you, keep you in jewels and silks for the rest of your existence. 

Q: I can find my own jewels, thank you very much. I’ve not much use for silk. 

H: (not paying attention) No, because I’m a prince, you expect me to be handsome, charming, some sort of paragon of manhood. An ideal every woman desires and expects to claim.

Q: I don’t. I wouldn’t expect every woman to, either. The ones I’ve met wouldn’t be interested. (hesitates) Well, most of the ones I’ve met. Oriana might…she wanted wealth and power.

H: (still not listening) You never stop to consider that princes are people, too. We’ve got our flaws, like everyone else.

Q: Huh. (considers Hugh’s words) Maybe you’ve got a point under all that posturing. 

H: (swelling up once more with rage) Of course I do! I’m a prince!

Q: There you go, invalidating your own words…scribbler, why did I interview such a fool?

K: Hey, you were the one who wanted to focus on secondary characters. Hugh is the only other secondary character in ‘At Her Service’ besides Claude.

Q: There’s got to be someone less repulsive…

K: Not really. The only other possibility was resurrecting Ariella’s mother from the dead.

Q: (starting to sweat) Never you mind…

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Paula's Prompt: Quartz's Fairest

On November 22, 2017, P.T. Wyant posted as her Wednesday Words prompt 'a child hears the voice of their dead father/the problem is their father isn't really dead'. (To see these prompts, go to

Inspiration struck me concerning one of P.T. Wyant's favorite characters of mine from 'Fairest'. He keeps nagging for a story of his own. Here's a little hint about what may have happened to Quartz, the deceased dwarf from Fairest. (Fairest is my f/f fantasy fairytale, available in Nine Star Press's Once Upon a Rainbow at .


The nickname of her past self made the princess bride groan in her sleep, shuddering in the arms of her sleeping beauty. 

She’d only glimpsed a part of her past in the cottage, her Rose, nor had she tried to pry any deeper into her bride’s past. 

Briar was the name her Rose had given her, a name she’d accepted with her whole heart. 
Once upon a time, she’d had another nickname. 

She’d hated the name Blanche, which her father had inflicted upon her. It had only sounded less ugly on the rare occasions when Oriana had used it. 

She’d abandoned the name entirely when she’d taken refuge with her seven dwarves. 

Not that it had been any pleasanter to be called the fairest of them all. Not until Quartz explained it. 

“True fairness has nothing to do with your physical beauty. As far as my brothers and I are concerned, you’ve earned the title.”

How she’d longed to weep at that moment! 

Quartz hadn’t been about to let her. His natural gruffness would only allow so much sentiment to intrude on his daily existence. 

“Right! So if I call you, saying ‘Oi, Fairest!’, you’ve got to answer me.” He worked his bushy eyebrows into a serious expression, even though his eyes twinkled. “Understand?”

She’d smiled right back, thinking it was a joke. 

Briar never dreamed he’d actually call to her from beyond the grave. 

Only she was. In a dream. 

“Oi, Fairest!” She could almost hear Quartz’s meaty fists pounding on the insides of the crystal coffin, which had been her prison for a century. “You made me a promise, so you’d better be listening, lass!”

“Quartz?” She rolled over, disturbing Rose, hearing her princess’s soft murmur of distress. 

Rose had forgiven her for far worse. Hopefully she’d forgive her Briar for this. 

“Listen to me, Fairest, don’t you go blaming yourself for what happened to this daft old dwarf, do you hear me?” Quartz thumped on the walls of his uncomfortable bed for good measure. “It’s all that bloody 

“Bloody sprite?” Briar murmured, caught between dream and waking. “Quartz, what are you talking about?” 

“This sprite!” 
Briar blinked to see a little man perched upon her former coffin, kicking his stockinged feet up. The bells on each of his pointed slippers tinkled when he did. 

“This sprite has a claim on that daft old dwarf in the coffin!” The little man half sang, raising his head to sniff at the air. “No calling on witchy daughters for help, my dear Quartz! You’re in my heart, you’re in my book, and now we’ll never be apart!” 

This seemed familar, the singing, the possessive manner…the little man reminded Briar oddly of Oriana. Her former love, the jealous queen. 

Jealousy. Briar focused her dream vision upon the sprite, who felt less like a person and more like a breeze, a thought, something which might fade away if she blinked. 

“Oh, no, little witch!” The tiny man shook his head, causing another bell at the end of his floppy red cap to jingle. “You left this daft dwarf for dead, laid him to rest in this coffin.” He wagged his finger in reproval. “Foolish witchling, you’ve no right to take him from me.” A flicker of pain sparkled in one bright eye. “You never did. Now wake up and go away!”

“Wait!” Briar cried, recognizing the pain of that small, pinched face, the loneliness in his taunt, but it was too late. 

She stirred in Rose’s arms, sleep and the dream retreating from her. 

She opened her look to gaze into her princess’s blue ones. 

“You said his name.” Rose lifted a hand to touch Briar’s cheek. “You were calling out for him. Again.”

“Actually, Quartz was calling to me.” Briar captured Rose’s fingers and pressed them to her cheek. The feel of her princess’s flesh against her own released the truths hidden in her heart as always. “I answered him as I once promised.” 

“Do you think he isn’t dead?” 

Rose’s question stirred a long dormant hope, which many others had nearly laid to rest. 

“Of course he’s dead.” Opal had scolded Garnet once for cherishing the same hope, never knowing their princess turned witch was spying on the two of them from the nearby trees. “You may not want to believe it, but you’ve got to let go. We all do. No amount of grieving will bring our brother back.”

“I’m fortunate I have no whiskers to pull out,” Briar murmured. “Otherwise, I might be as ragged looking as poor Garnet.”

“I’m inclined to agree.” The corners of Rose’s full lipped mouth rose, softening her rounded cheeks into a smile. “Perhaps we should put such worries to rest?”

Briar stiffened at her words. “Why do you mean?”

“Perhaps it’s time we visited Quartz’s grave?” Rose raised herself to look her bride straight in the eye. “You can see for yourself if he’s truly at rest or trapped in some kind of enchanted sleep.”

Her simple declaration of what had lurked around in the back of Briar’s mind, unable to express itself stunned her. 

She’d been so haunted by guilt, so certain she’d killed Quartz. 

As an evil witch, she’d worked her magic within the fairy rings and cobwebs of the Forest of Tears, keeping a respectful distance from the coffin where the closest thing she’d ever had to a father lay. 

If Briar was to open that coffin, what would she find?

“I’ll go with you.” Rose looked straight at her with clear, fearless blue eyes. As always, her princess was willing to offer her strength, to carry Briar when she weakened. 

How she struggled to be worthy of such strength in turn. 

“No, my beauty.” Briar pressed her lips against the soft hand held against her face. “I need to do this by myself. I can’t explain why, not yet.” Unable to find the words, she gazed into her princess’s eyes, letting her own emotion fill hers, blurring her vision. 

“If you need to do this by yourself, I won’t stop you.” Rose didn’t release her hand. “Just remember I’m here for you when you’re ready to share this burden.”

“Always.” Briar kissed each one of her princess’s fingers, marveling once more at her fortune in finding this woman. 

Only once before had someone accepted her so completely. Only once had someone let her, despite the reservations of everyone around him. 

Briar couldn’t abandon him. Not if he needed her. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Paula's Prompt: Wednesday Words

On December 6, 2017, P.T. Wyant posted a Wednesday Words prompt involving candy, a wooden shoe, and an intruder.

It's the Ninth Day of Christmas, so I figured it wasn't too late for this holiday freebie story. It involves the very first tale I ever wrote when I was eleven years old, involving a teddy bear.

I was transforming and updating that first story into a Work In Progress called 'Wind Me Up, One More Time'. Ted Edward (the bear) became Theodora. The simple plot of Ted and Grace saving Princess Nathalie from the villain, Iama the Terrible became one of the many imaginary adventures Grace made up to cope with Nathalie's frequent absences away. While Nat is gone, Maia (Iama), Nathalie's girlfriend looks after.

Nat was always the cool one whom Grace looked up to, but Maia is the one who's actually there for here, while Nat disappears to who knows where. I found myself sympathizing more and more with 'Iama the Terrible' while I wrote.

The result is this story from Maia's perspective...

Her first inclination was to swing her fist at the intruder in the Santa suit, stuffing the wooden shoe with candy.

“What are you doing?” Maia held Grace’s other shoe aloft, more than ready to hurl it into Santa Stalker’s face. 

“Well, I missed St. Nicholas’s Day and Christmas.” A melodic voice, which never ceased to make Maia’s chest tighten issued from behind the beard. “Hopefully this will make up for it.”

“Nathalie?” Maia looked into familar hazel eyes, which crinkled up in amusement. 


Maia had no time to react to the echo of her former beloved’s name before a tiny whirlwind of coppery curls and flannel nightgown hurled herself at the intruder. 

“You came back!” Grace hugged Nathalie with all the fierceness Maia longed to express. “I knew you would!”

Santa Nathalie opened her arms and hugged Grace back. 

Suppressing a sigh, Maia picked Ted Edwina up from where Grace had dropped her. She held the stuffed bear in her arms, waiting, trying not to feel left out. 

Months of caring for Grace, acting as mother and mentor while Nathalie was away, yet the child forgot her completely, once Nat stepped through the door. 

Not that Maia could blame Grace. Nat had that effect on people. 

Envy mingled with a sigh of relief which escaped her at the sight of girl and woman together. 

“Of course I would.” Nathalie pressed Grace against the padding of her false stomach, hiding beneath her red coat. “I always return, no matter how long I’m away.”

She raised her head to fix her luminous eyes, swimming with green and golden flecks upon Iama. “This time, I mean to stay.”

“I’ve heard that before.” Maia could feel a smile creeping over her lips, in spite of her severe words. “You’re here now. That’s what’s important.”

Whether Nathalie stayed or got itchy feet once more, she and Grace would deal with it when the time came. 

Maia wasn’t sure if one could expect Nat to stay in one place for too long. Nat never ignored her feet when they started to itch. She needed to allow them to take her to whatever destination drew them near. 

Nathalie always returned, as she and Grace said. Bringing gifts, like the candy she’d stuffed into the wooden shoe. 

Like the shoes themselves had once been a present for Grace, when Nat came home. 

Each gift from Nathalie was like a piece of herself she offered her lost ones. 

Maia and Grace gathered the gifts with a sad greed, accepting what Nat was willing to offer. 

It was better than nothing. 

“Wait until you see what else I’ve brought home!” Nathalie dropped her head to dazzle Grace with the full power of her white toothed smile. “Only the best for my two favorite people in the whole wide world!”

Grace blinked in the face of that smile, only to bury her own in Nathalie’s stomach.

Nat’s smile faltered a little. 

“We missed you, Nat.” Grace’s voice came out muffled from a barrier of velvet. “I really hope you mean it this time. That you’re going to stay.”

The little girl tilted her small head up to eye Nathalie once more. “That would be the best gift ever.”

Trust Grace to get right to the point and nail it to their wayward loved one. 

“Don’t worry.” Nathalie raised a mittened hand to rumple Grace’s curls. “You’re stuck with me this time.”

“I hope so.” 

Maia let the words escape, allowing a tiny smile to lift the corners of her mouth. “That truly would be the best gift ever.”

“Well, Santa only denies the naughty, not the nice.” Nat grinned beneath her beard. “She’ll definitely be giving you what you want for Christmas.”

Maia widened her smile a bit. 

Here’s hoping, she thought.