Wednesday, February 27, 2019

#QueerBlogWed: Paula's Prompt

On January 23, 2019. P.T. Wyant posted at a Wednesday Words prompt involving bells, snoring, and a rainy day.

This Tale of Omphalos, a scene at a place villagers would later call the Old Cottage was the result. This took place back when it was the only dwelling in a valley next to a garden, below a hill with a ruined tower...

If Danyel listened, he could hear the bells in the distance, under the steady tapping of the rain. 

They were always louder on a cloudy day, but where were they coming from. 

Rivulets of water ran down the window pane from the roof of the cottage. Would the ceiling hold? Would it keep the water off his brothers and mother’s head? 

The bell tolled in time with each droplet, urging the rain to strike their shelter, to strike them. 

What nonsense. There were no bells. No angry chimes ringing out for Danyel’s pain, discomfort, and anyone else’s under this roof. 

“Do you hear them?” Unable to keep the question unsaid, he turned towards Tayel. His twin was the only one listening. 

A large, rumbling snore drowned out the rain and every other sound, real or imagined. Map sprawled in her favorite chair, eyes closed, mouth open, fast asleep. Loud, snuffling sounds emerged from her, resting, blissfully unaware of the world around her. 

Some of Danyel’s apprehension vanished at the sight of her slack face. If Map could sleep, unconcerned, there wasn’t anything to worry about. 

“That’s right,” Tayel murmured into his ear. “We have nothing to fear as long as she’s here.”

Danyel tried not to jump or twitch and failed. “I’m not scared.” The words tasted sour with untruth. “I mean, I’m just hearing things in the raindrops, aren’t I? There aren’t any bells.” 

“Rain erodes the barriers between us and those who would harm us.” Tayel scowled in the direction of the window. “They’re still here and so are we. Waiting. Judging.”

“Judging what?” Danyel rubbed his hands against his arms, glancing in the direction of his twin’s scowl. All he could see was the rain running down the windowpane.

Not that he’d seen anything. He couldn’t see shapes in the shadows. Not like Tayel could. Sometimes he heard things. The faint sound of music, laughter. Voices. Bells. 

He shouldn’t know what bells sounded like. He’d never heard them before. Some of the voices weren’t familar either. 
“Anyone who doesn’t fit into their world.” Tayel glanced at Map, a wrinkle appearing in the center of his smooth forehead. “She tries to protect us from them. Leiwell, too.”

“Protect us from what?” Danyel walked over to the window. Water blurred the image of the hill and the tower into a ripples of gray and green. 

He didn’t think Tayel was talking about the tower. Not this time. Perhaps there had once been a bell in its crown. That wasn’t where the sound came from. 

“Those who judge.” Tayel wrapped his arms around himself and bowed his head. “They look at us, at other people, only to see their own inner ugliness.” He glanced at his brother from beneath a long, curling lock of silvery golden hair. “You’ve read about them. The ones who blame others for their own weaknesses and coax mobs into hunting down those they point their fingers at.”

Monster! For a moment, Danyel heard the high pitched, angry cry. Halfling! He shivered. 

“Can they find us here?” His skin crawled, shivering with reaction. “Are we safe?”

“Map and Leiwell are doing all they can to keep us safe.” Tayel shook his head, sending stray curls flying in every direction. “Believe in them. Put your faith in them rather than strange sounds, echoing with anger.”

“I suppose the bells don’t have to angry. They could be pretty.” Danyel tilted his neck to one side. “It’s just I sense so much fear in the ringing at times.”

“Don’t let them frighten you.” Tayel pushed his hair away from his eyes. “Enjoy their beauty if you can.” He looked his twin up and down. “Maybe appreciation will soften their anger.”

“How?” Danyel ran a hand through his own unruly locks. “I’m not sure even sure where they’re coming from or if they’re real.”

“It doesn’t matter. Don’t underestimate the power of your feelings.” Tayel allowed his mouth to quirk into a half smile. “You may not be able to alter reality, but you can influence it. Persuade it to be more friendly than it’s currently inclined to be.”

“How would I do that?” Danyel crossed his arms, once more feeling like his twin was making a fool of him. 

There was so much Tayel saw which Danyel didn’t. Not that he would explain or share any of it, except in riddles.

“I don’t know. Surprise me.” Tayel walked over to where Map sprawled, snoring. “What’s more, surprise yourself.” 

He plopped down on the rug at Map’s feet. Tayel crossed his arms behind his head, lay back, and closed his eyes. 

Danyel’s twin wasn’t about to explain himself as usual. Danyel was not surprised, just a little frustrated. 

“I might surprise you, eh?” He gazed back at the window. “I may not explain myself either if I do.”

Enigma was Tayel’s way, but it wasn’t exclusively his. Danyel might just show him this, if he got a chance. 

If he got a chance. 

Monday, February 25, 2019

Secondary Characters Speak Out: Quartz, Juliet, and Albert

Quartz: Hullo, Juliet and Albert, welcome to the Fourth Wall. (Picture a dwarf with a graying beard, with a fair number of dark and russet streaks, and an increasingly red nose, sitting on that wall.) I’m drinking a mead eggnog. That’s right, mead mixed with eggnog. Don’t give me that look, scribbler. 

Me: (mutters from behind the curtain) I suppose it wasn’t that bad, but I only put a little mead in the eggnog. It’s no longer the season, Quartz.

Quartz: Bah, it’s whatever season we want and we’re drowning our sorrows in whatever we want. (gives the vampires a sideways glance) Or whoever we want as long as it’s not me. (pauses) On the other hand, getting bitten by a couple of vamps might really make Nimmie Not squeal like a pixie-

Me: Focus. 

Quartz: Right, I’ve invited you here to join me to talk about the young. Our young, whether they’re our surrogate children or simply our progeny. Christopher and Neil are their names, aren’t they? In their current, ahem, existences?

Albert: Nice to meet you, Quartz and Juliet (nods and hopes his smile doesn’t appear as wary as he feels, because although Albert has existed for more than two thousand years, this is the first time he’s encountered this intriguing wall…not to mention, Quartz…or Juliet). Ah, yes…Neil is my blood-mate’s name. His human name was Phillip, but he was given a new identity after being converted. I’ve actually converted hundreds of the humans we’ve recruited to join our faction over the past few centuries, but contrary to most of the lore, there’s no connection between a freshly turned vampire and their maker (glances at Juliet). Not in my reality, anyway, I’m not sure how things work in Juliet’s world. Neil is my blood-mate, but not because I’m the one who turned him.

Juliet: Fascinating. (she smiles at Albert). I would love to learn more about that, but another time. (She turns back to Quartz), it’s a pleasure to meet you both in such an unusual manner. (She glances around for a place to sit and decides to tempt fake, snaps her fingers and a chair appears. She smiles and takes a seat, crossing her legs). It’s not often I travel to other…realms…I guess you would say. To your question. Yes, Chris would be my Called. Like Neil, Chris is a new identity for my Called. His birth human name was Duncan. We are connected, unlike with Albert and Neil.

Quartz: My brothers and I took in a human girl, gave her shelter. I guess you could say she became my daughter. (lowers head) She used to be called Blanche. Hated the name. (smiles a little) That’s why I gave her the nickname Fairest. Sweet maid, that one, always did her best, although she had a tendency to brood. Usually about one particular someone, I found out later. (scowls) Drove me batty, the way she brooded, although she was starting to get better, until that someone showed up and ruined it. (scowls some more) Anything your Called or your bloodmate do that drives you batty? Makes you want to put your fist through the wall or worse?

Juliet: (Laughs) Chris? No. He’s charming and polite. He can be a little unsure of himself and overly emotional but that is common in new Immortals, at least in my world (she glances at Albert). There is nothing that would make me want to put my fist through a wall, however, I will admit there have been occasions where Chris and I do not agree.

Albert: (nods at Juliet) Understandably, our new ones are often unsure of themselves, too. (shrugs) Maybe if I had encountered Neil when I was human, or even in my earliest centuries as a frightened vampire, his insecurities might have angered me. But the thing is, I’ve got millennia of experience dealing with people and learning to understand that it’s usually best to simply lead them in the right direction. If I had let my emotions rule me, I never would have been elevated to faction leader (hangs his head and gnaws lip before looking back up and shuddering at the vile looking mixture in the weird dwarf’s mug). Okay, if I’m going to be completely honest, then I have to admit that having my own blood-mate is a new experience, and that’s a whole other ballgame than simply dealing with regular humans or vampires. When Neil thought I was capable of—(winces)—well, never mind. He didn’t know me very well then. But it really hurt, and I’m ashamed to admit that I did let my emotions rule my reaction even though I didn’t resort to violence.

Quartz: It’s hard to get your emotions out of it when it’s someone you care for. I’ll tell you one thing that makes me want to spit magma. If I were a dragon, like Pru, the ruddy countryside would be burning around that thing’s castle. Not that the castle is my problem. It’s the witch queen living within it, like a snug little spider tucked up in her web. (scowls) Who does she think she is, breaking my poor girl’s heart? Oh, right, she’s the bloody queen. Only that wasn’t bad enough for her, oh, no. She has to come back and wreck my Fairest’s life, right when she was putting it back into something vaguely resembling contentment by cursing her! Albert, man, you know something of this, don’t you?

Albert: Hmm (scratches his chin). You’re referring to Neil’s ex, Cameron, and Cam’s new boyfriend, Dennis, right? How do you know about them? (eyes the wall suspiciously and sighs) I regret so much of what happened with those two. If only they’d accepted things at face value and let it go. But no, they had to pursue us. They thought they were doing the right thing, but they were caught up in all the misleading vampire lore and thought we were evil beings. (gives head a sad shake) In past centuries we encouraged the incorrect lore because it helped us hide in plain sight, but in situations like what happened with Cam and Dennis it works against us. 

Quartz: Exes, I swear, they’re like bloody skulls and crossbones. (takes a big gulp of his drink) Grinning at you, ready to cast their miserable shadow over anything like happiness… Juliet, d’ye have any such skulls hovering over your unlife? Or Christopher’s? 

Juliet: (Clears her throat) there are always things in our past that could have been handled better, or should not have happened at all.

Quartz: Huh, that’s a bit different than what Victor said.

Juliet: (Her eyes narrow and a frown tugs at her lips). Yes, well Victor has a tendency to speak out of turn about matters that are best left in the past.

Quartz: Yes, some things are best left in the past…like bloody Oriana. Why couldn’t she just let things be? No, she has to sneak into our cottage and steal our daughter from us. Once she’d made us all miserable, she comes crying to my brothers and myself. As if she were the one who’d been cursed.  What’s the point in casting enchantments if you can’t fix the damage you’ve done? (mimicking a high pitched desperate tone) “Oh, I don’t know what went wrong. Why can’t my kiss wake her up? Boo hoo!” Blast it all to the depths, why are innocent lasses who use magic to heal people hated as witches, yet a queen wreaks evil spells and everybody loves her? Eh? How exactly does that makes her fair? Just what did my girl ever see in her??!

Juliet: (leaning forward). Not all witches are hated, Quartz. Some make excellent allies. I find that it is those who desire power to be the ones you have to worry about. Sadly, that isn’t only limited to witches, Immortals can be that way, so can humans, and all other manner of beings. It can be anyone, including a beloved ally (she shakes her head).

Albert: Witches? I’m pretty sure they don’t exist in my…uh…realm. Not real witches able to cast actual spells (turns to Quartz and nods). But I thought you made an excellent point, Quartz. All too often people can’t—or won’t—see the evil wrought by those in power. I was forced to do horrible things when I was human, as a Roman soldier. It was that or have those same horrible things done to me (quakes at the memory, which is far worse than the nasty beverage Quartz keeps downing). And yet, the general population respected those leaders. I’m still not sure how I feel about Neil knowing the story of what I did.

Quartz: (takes another generous swig of his unseasonal concoction) Honestly, the young. Sometimes I don’t understand them. Why do they do such fool things? Although I suppose I did fool things myself. Like move into a cottage a kobold offered me…with a bloody cuckoo clock. Ruddy wooden bird..(hiccups) What about you two? Ever do silly things yourselves when you were young?

Albert: (grins) I’ll have to go all the way back to when I was young as a human, because when I was a “young” vampire, my life was too terrifying for silliness. As a human child, I was fortunate. I had kindhearted parents, and silliness was encouraged. I was a creative child and liked to form creatures, real and imagined, out of clay. I can still hear echoes of my family’s laughter at some of the playacting I did with the figures (snorts a laugh, and shakes his head). I need to share that memory with Neil. As an adult, most of the silliness I’ve participated in has taken place in bedrooms, and that’s…personal (glares at the wall and hopes that stuff is private).

Juliet: (a grin fills her face). Many, many silly things. (She laughs).

Quartz: Care to share?

Juliet: Not at the moment, perhaps another time.

Quartz: Ah, youth. Such folly, such beautiful folly. (smiles a little) In the end, what did we learn after all these years?

Juliet: For me it’s been all about becoming a better person and helping my people. As well as keeping them safe. Our world is changing and we all must adapt or die.

Albert: I couldn’t agree more, Juliet! That’s how we operate in my world, too. Life is short (laughs). Okay, maybe not for vampires. But still, life is precious, and should be respected. We do our best not to negatively affect human lives, because to people like us—yes, “people”!—who measure their lives in centuries and millennia, human lives seem so very transient.

Quartz: Well, thank’ee, Juliet, Albert, for joining on the fourth wall. The view is nice from up here…(looks down and passes out)

Juliet: (rushes from her chair to catch Quartz). What an odd little man. (She places him on the ground next to the wall). It’s was an interesting session and Albert I would love to opportunity to learn more about your world and the rules that govern it. Regardless, it was a pleasure meeting another Immortal from a different reality.

Albert: (steps forward to catch the strange, drunken dwarf who has, after all, demonstrated a decent moral code, but Juliet is fast, and gets there first) Yes. Interesting indeed. It was a pleasure meeting you, too, Juliet (eyes Quartz, sprawled inelegantly in the grass, and sighs). And Quartz.

Quartz: Zzzz…

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

#QueerBlogWed: Paula's Prompt

On January 16, 2019, P.T. Wyant posted at a Wednesday Words prompt involving a caretaker, a dirigible, and the ocean.

This poem was the result...

The caretaker watches the dirigible float overhead
What’s it like to look down on the ocean’s vastness
How civilized it must be up there
Gazing at the distant blue from a safe distance
The caretaker is right in the middle of its raging beauty
Right now the water is showing a deceptive calm
It surrounds her island in every direction
Reminding her just how small she is
A tiny guardian incapable of truly protecting her charge
While the forces surrounding erode, lap, and nibble at the land
When they’re not crashing, roaring, and spraying
What hope can one little human have against such power?
An elemental strength constantly pitted against hers
She tries to comprehend the mysterious ways of this force
To work with its strength, become one with the waves
It’s not as if she doesn’t love the ocean
Even when it acts as her enemy
The watery predator taking bites of her charge
Yet her existence would be so empty without its salty kiss
Luring her to its coast again and again. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

#QueerBlogWed: Paula's Prompt

On January 9, 2019, P.T. Wyant posted at as her Wednesday Words prompt a cat, a whisper, and a single snowflake.

This poem was the result...

The cat mews and scratches the window
Watching a single snowflake fall
No one else can hear the whisper
The tiny pixie hidden in the icy lace
Dancing, teasing as she drifts down
Doesn’t she know this is the cat’s window? 
Still the impertinent winged creature alights on the sill
Shaking off her wings with a delicate arrogance
She’d be such easy prey
If only this barrier of glass didn’t lie between them
All the cat can do is let out a disillusioned yowl

As the little pixie scurries away. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

#QueerBlogWed: As Real As You Wish to Be

On December 19, 2018, P.T. Wyant posted at a Wednesday Words prompt involving cards, a bottle, and cookies.

This Tale of the Navel was the result...

“Have a cookie.” Gabrielle lay a plate in front of me, along with a bottle of water. The round, brown discs smelled of cinnamon, chocolate, and spices, making my nose hairs tingle. 

At the same time, my stomach churned, filled my throat with something bitter. 

No. I couldn’t have a cookie. Not yet. 

“I’m not sure if Christopher is ready to start eating.” Damian passed me a card. “Why don’t you look at this instead?”

I accepted the flat, painted piece of paper. I gazed at the tower, my fingers tingling. Violence, rage, and a dark satisfaction at seeing the stones of the edifice shatter mingled with a pain, as if someone struck my own side. 

I took a deep breath, feeling my stomach settle, satisfied with the rush of emotion. 

A closer look at the image of revealed the cloudy sky overhead, the lightning striking the walls. Pain lanced through my own side, mingled with a insistent, yet sensuous caress which made all the hairs on body vibrate. 

The tower on the card was in flames. The lightning loomed with merciless rage across the cloud, licking, hitting, ripping at the stone walls. It illuminated every defect in the damaged rock, giving it a pitiless brilliance. Two tiny figures hung in the abyss between stone and sky. One clung with desperate fingers to the wall. The other fell, still reaching out in desperate toward his companion, the tower, or maybe the sky itself. 

He looked so fragile, overwhelmed by the elements around him, stones raining down upon him, with him as he tumbled from the heavens. 

The storm gazed down at him, sending its bolts of energy afterwards to catch him? Or to strike him again? 

“Why do you show me this?” I dropped the card. I reached for the bottle, my hands shaking. “Why do you think I’d prefer this card to a cookie?”

I lifted the bottle to my lips and tried to take a hearty gulp as I’d seen Gabrielle do many times. 

Instead I took a tiny sip…and started coughing. 

“Forgive me. I only wanted to feed you.” Damian gazed at me, eyes wide. “I never thought…I was showing off my work. I painted that card myself.”

“It’s very different than Waiting for Rebirth.” I put down the bottle and picked up a cookie. 

I lifted it to my lips and inhaled the scent, but I didn’t feel like taking a bite. I still leaned forward and took a tentative nibble. 

Soft, sweet, crunchy…I began to choke right after the flavours filled my mouth. 

“What am I doing?” I put down the cookie and wiped the tears from my eyes. “This isn’t my world.” I gazed to the card with the burning sky and tower. 

“You like this place, though, don’t you? Give yourself time.” Damian smiled and reached out for me. The touch of his long, cool fingers reassured me. “Just because you came from somewhere else doesn’t mean you have to go back there.” His long lashed, rose purple eyes locked with mine. “This could be your world, Christopher, if you let yourself be part of it.” 

Let yourself be part of it.

I’ve never forgotten his words. Every time I’ve feared fading into shadow, I’ve recalled them, held them to my chest, like I once I held Damian’s hand. 

They’re my talisman against my worries about not being real. 

I’m as real as I’ll let myself be. 

At least I hope so.