Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Z is for Zoe

Hello, I’m Zoe. For too long it feels like I’ve been just watching life pass me by, even while I watch her. Yes, there’s a her. I first noticed Rhane Soames when we were both in the library. The intense gleam in her crystal-blue eyes, the way her lips parted while she read a book captured my attention. Here was a girl who could truly care about something. I watched for for some time, seeing her at the library, at a nearby cafe, never daring to speak to her. It wasn’t until I overheard her conversation with another young woman I gathered enough nerve to approach. The two of them were at the cafe I’d often seen Rhane at, talking about a roleplaying game. A voice inside my head seemed to urge me to be bold. I walked up to the two girls at their table. I introduced myself, saying I could help overhearing what they were talking about. I loved roleplaying games and would welcome a chance to be in one. Beatrix, the dark-haired, scowling girl with Rhane looked me up and down, but she took the hint. I met Beatrix later when she was in a much better mood. She offered me a favorite non-player character of hers, Rhiannon to me. How her hazel eyes sparkled when she spoke of her creation! Beatrix appeared to care more about Rhiannon than she did about Rhane. This bothered me. Only Rhane herself seemed to be falling more and more in love with her own character, Amberwyne. I’m not certain if Rhane pays as much attention to me or anyone else as much as she does Amber. Mona, who plays Isolde in Beatrix’s game, seems to have a huge crush on Rhane, which she’s channeled into Isolde’s chivalrous devotion to Amberwyne. While Amber seems to reciprocate Isolde’s feelings, Rhane is a bit uncomfortable with Mona’s. Perhaps Mona is too pushy, invading Rhane’s personal space too often, something Rhane is very protective of. Mona might be far worse if not for her firm belief that Rhane is Beatrix’s girlfriend. I’m not sure if Beatrix and Rhane are mutually exclusive, but Rhane is content to let Mona think so. Rhane is not a girl who likes aggression or to be pushed. She withdraws from people who do so. Mona doesn’t seem to respect Rhane’s reserve, but she respects Beatrix. I’m not sure what sort of past Beatrix and Mona have, but Mona ofen acts a bit like a puppy dog around the other girl, fawning over her, dressing like her, begging for favors. Just as Rhane is often too passive around Beatrix, not wanting to start an arguement with the prickly gamemaster. This doesn’t seem to make Rhane or Mona happy. It doesn’t even make Beatrix happy, who I can already tell enjoys a little more opposition that she’s getting. Perhaps it’s none of business, but I’m now part of this roleplaying group. We could have so much more fun if Mona and Rhane showed a little more spirit and Beatrix a little more tolerance. Beatrix would respect her players more and run a much more interesting game if she didn’t have to have things her way all the time. I wish I could show her this. A voice inside my head cautions me to move slowly and wait for an opportunity to let Beatrix know that The Players Are the Thing. I just hope she listens and pays attention when I do. 

Monday, April 29, 2019

Y is for Ylynessa

Once I was just Ylynessa, toy and plaything of a spider queen in a dark web across a circle. Or was I? Those memories don’t seem real, almost like bad dreams, horrific images which flash across my mind. Images of my family and myself being caught in the spider’s web long ago. The spider sucked the life out of everyone except me. I’m not sure why she spared me. I was fortunate my aunt found me, bringing me back to civilization. I was even more fortunate when Lord William Caerac adopted me as his own daughter, later treating me as his sister. He trusted me with his secret, not that I’ll ever reveal it to you. I’m not sure why I’ve confided this much to you common little brutes. Perhaps I just needed to talk. No matter. I’m still Lady Ylynessa of Caerac Keep, even I’m an adopted, self-made lady. I know more of what goes on within the walls of my home than anyone, even William. One day, you shall respect me, fear me, and love me. For there’s nothing the Vampire Corwyth has done which I cannot do better. One night all of you will tremble at the sound of my name, relying on me to make the Trouble at Caerac Keep go away. For I’m the only one who can do it, who can protect your miserable lives. See to it I value them more than I do now. 

Saturday, April 27, 2019

X is for Xylanthe

How hungry we’ve grown, bound within the Dark Circle, the prison where the cursed Circle of Thirteen bound us, after driving us from Aethyria. The joke is on our enemies since we’ve turned this into a haven for all sorts of monsters, seeking their own. Plenty of would-be heroes strode through the Circle’s barrier, intent on glory and riches through slaying monsters. We fed well upon these, allowing a few to go free after killing our more troublesome brethren, boasting of the treasures they found, how easy it was to take it from their owners. What a bunch of fools. They all remind me of Caerac and Gwyneth when they were young and hot-headed, before they settled down to form Keeps, erecting walls around themselves and their own. As if simple stone could ever keep them safe. Only food is no longer willingly walking into our jaws. Humans are crying out that it’s wrong to go adventuring, to slay nonhumans, and take their treasure. This is most inconvenient. How is a monster supposed to eat regular meals if no adventurers enter their lairs? We need to stir up terror, the desire to hunt us in the mortal herds. To do that, we’ve dispatched a true monster among humans to cause Trouble at Caerac Keep. She works our will, although she doesn’t realize it, keep us informed what’s happening behind Keep walls, and what she’s doing. If she’s as capable as we believe her to be, she will soon scare up a new source of food. She’s already selected a few choice morsels. We just need to wait for her to deliver them. 

Friday, April 26, 2019

W is for William

Greetings. I am William Caerac, Lord Caerac, the master of Caerac Keep. This place was left to me after Caerac adopted me long ago. I’ve kept quiet about being that same William. I’ve pretended to be my own son from time to time. The truth is I’m one of Corwyth’s conquests, so to speak. He got to me after being turned into a vampire, cursing me to a life of darkness and blood. It doesn’t have to be that way. Yes, I require blood to survive, but I’ve tried not to kill. I’ve ruled this Keep wisely and fairly. I even adopted a little girl, raised her, and no, not as food. Ylynessa started out my daughter. Now she’s my sister, my confidant, and my strong, right arm, which keeps the Order of the Unicorn in the dark about my true nature. Attitudes were finally changing in the Keep for the better about monsters. Ylynessa and I were doing are best to encourage this. Only people started disappearing. Others sickened or had strange dreams. There’s a rumour going around that the Vampire Corwyth is behind all of this. I doubt it. This doesn’t feel like my old master. Some of the abductions were people who’d definitely be missed. Someone is trying to stir up Trouble at Caerac Keep. I’ve asked a group of talented younglings linked to some of the missing people to investigate this matter. Hopefully they’ll disrupt the plans of my enemy or least distract this mysterious foe. Perhaps they’ll even lure them out of hiding. I’ve spent considerable time making Caerac Keep a safe haven in the troubled land of Rowenda for both myself and others. I’m not about to allow the peace I’ve worked hard to create to be disrupted. Not by anyone. 

Thursday, April 25, 2019

V is for Varwyth

For now I shall use the name of Varwyth. I’ve taken on the guise of a mage, a protege of both Padraig and Questioning. Why not? In a way, it’s the truth. Why have I done this? One, there is Trouble at Caerac Keep. People are disappearing. Someone is spreading rumours that it’s the Vampire Corwyth, trying to creat an army of undead slaves. This I know to be a lie. The world is changing, people are starting to sympathize with what they once thought were monsters. We’re on the cusp of another change, where mortals might accept the undead, even offer their blood openly and willingly. Why would Corwyth endanger such a future by spreading fear? No. Someone may be trying to raise the dead, create a legion of the undead, but it’s not Corwyth. Two, I wish to protect Rhodry Nevalyn, one of the valuable and delectable Serpent-Born. I’ve already lost lost Daeric. I’m not about to lose Rhodry. What’s more, the boy has fallen in with some dangerous company, thanks to that fool of an earl, William. A Point in the Unicorn’s Horn is investigating Caerac Keep at Rhodry’s side. Such a willing avatar of true faith is a threat to many an exotic creature. Faith isn’t the only perilous companion Rhodry has been forced to work with. I mislike the stench of destiny clinging to that Aethyrian girl, Ariadne, even if she is a bit of an idiot. Still those two may be useful for getting to the heart of this mystery, to solving the riddle of what’s happening. In light of this, I shall tolerate their company…for now. The other boy in the party is quite interesting, nor is he a particular threat. As long as this little party is useful, I will allow Rhodry to associate with them, but I’m watching them. I’m watching them all. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

U is for Undine

Once I was a watery spirit, content to flow free down streams and rivers, going with its currents and eddies. Only I was captured by a maiden with a greedy heart, bound within a shell. This shell became part of a suit of armour which does her bidding. I speak with a different voice, calling myself the Captain of the Guard at Caerac Keep. ’Tis true I guard the maiden along with whomever she holds dear, yet it doesn’t end with that. She forces me to do darker deeds. To seize struggling victims in the middle of their sleep and bring them to a dark, hidden place, as dark as the one I’m trapped in. I long to cry out for help. I reach out in dreams, warning certain sensitive souls of the Trouble at Caerac Keep, of my current plight. I can do this much at least. Some have heard. Some have tried to help. At least one has fallen prey to the maiden and the creature I’ve become. If only I could resist with the power animating this armour! As long as I’m bound to this shell, I am trapped here. I can only hope that others will heed the visions I send them, that they won’t be deceived by the maiden’s lovely face as I was. I’m not sure how much longer I can endure. I am a creature meant to be unbound, to flow freely. Being contained in this form of metal and shell is contrary to my nature. I try to endure. I wait for my champions to free me, to stop the maiden in her ambition. I whisper a prayer to the wind and the water that it’s not too late. Dark things are stirring in reaction to the maiden’s greed. I fear she may be far from the worst peril this world will have to deal with. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

T is for Thomas

What are you staring at, you fool? You want a taste of my fist. Get away from me! You’d better not hurt me! My father isn’t just strong, he’s the mightiest of all the gods! All right, he may seem like a broken, old man right now that a pretty, girly boy could beat. It won’t last. He’ll get his powers back. Danyel will be sorry when he does. I’m going to get him and that smirking twin of his, too. They think they’re better than me just because they can Dance, as they insist on calling their fancy moves. They look like witchery to me. Boys as small as them shouldn’t be able to send someone bigger than them flying. Everyone in my family thinks I should be nice to the twins. They live in the Old Cottage. They were the first villagers in Omphalos. They have secrets which could help us. They’re so beautiful, bah! Mother keeps trying so hard to be Ashleigh’s friend while making eyes as Leiwell. Melyssa is entirely too impressed with that fat, saggy wife of Ashleigh’s, not that their relationship isn’t plain weird. You’d think Mel wanted Map for herself of all things! Stupid pervert of a girl has no taste. Even Father finds Ashleigh charming and is starting to warm to Leiwell and the twins. Where is his pride? How can Father forgive the slight that family gave us? It’s not like him to forget a grudge! Am I the only one who realizes everyone in the Old Cottage is a freak? Even Lord Dyvian and Seraphix favour them. Well, I don’t care. Seraphix is interested in me, too. I’ve got my own talisman from my godling. He’ll help me, make me someone you can’t ignore, someone who’ll make your jaws drop. You’ll be really staring at me when that happens. You’ll see. 

Monday, April 22, 2019

S is for Seraphix

We are Seraphix, for We are many in one. Given form by a boy who loved Us and named by a girl who believed in Us, We strive to live up to their expectations, to every Follower’s expectations, for We are reborn in each one of them. We offered Our Voice to a man who was once a bride’s food and a woman’s fear. Our Hand and Eye are a pair of beautiful halfling twins born in the Shadow Forest, equal parts light and shadow. Our doom may well be at the hands of one of Our own. For as We struggle to life, to become a god, to become one with Our Followers, some of them turn against each other. Yet this is yet another test of godhood, to be able to live in many diverse places at once, in different individuals who believe in Us. If We fail at this, We may fail at godhood. We wonder how the First Seraphix, the original God of Balance managed this. Or maybe They were simply a creation of the Sisterhood who worshipped them, a tool of their faith? Not that We are any different. Once We were a mere shadow, a fusion of bits of beings, like Christopher. We created a faith involving him, centered around him, to give Us strength. We had Our Voice utter it in order to make it part of Our religion. Why do We need Christopher so much? Who were We that We cling to the thought of him and the twins he created? Perhaps it is not important. If We can manifest as a god for what Followers We have, perhaps that will be enough. Our Voice believes this be true. We pray that he is right. 

Saturday, April 20, 2019

R is for Rhane

Hello, I’m Rhane. Um, the main character in one of our scribbler’s Works in Progress called The Players Are the Thing. That’s what I am, a player in Beatrix’s ongoing roleplaying game. At first I fell madly in love with it, especially my character, Amberwyne. Only Beatrix is getting more and more irritable and the game is becoming less fun. I enjoy having Amberwyne and Isolde flirt with other, but Mona is getting this gleam in her eye which makes me uncomfortable. I have a feeling she’d like to head in a similar direction with me. I’m not sure I want to cheat on Beatrix, not we’re exactly mutually exclusive. Nor are we happy. I try so hard to make Beatrix happy, yet she’s always on edge. We’ve got a new player in the group, playing a former non-player character Beatrix ran called Rhiannon. Rhiannon kept crossing Amber and Isolde’s paths, leaving us unsure whose side she was on. Now Zoe is playing her. I’m not sure if I’m jealous or flustered by Zoe. She seems to really understand Beatrix. Beatrix becomes a bit like her old self when Zoe is around, laughing and talking in an animated, energetic fashion about Rhiannon. I wish that I could talk to someone that way about Amberwyne. I used to be able to with Beatrix, but I haven’t felt the old energy, the easiness between us in a long time. I can’t talk that way with Mona, even if I enjoy roleplaying with her. I’m not sure about Zoe. Everyone is interested in their own characters and why shouldn’t they be? I almost feel like Amber is nudging me from my imagination to encourage my other players to talk about their characters, to talk about themselves. Amber gives me advice I often wish I could follow, even if I’m just imagining it. She’s so much braver, prettier, and more charming that I am. I guess I created her as my ideal, but she shares some of my weaknesses. Once again I feel like she’s whispering to me, urging me to write some of this down. Tell my story. Maybe someone will listen. I love this private messages of hers, even they are imaginary. Perhaps I will try writing some of my thoughts down. See if I can sort my feelings out in story form. The idea appeals to me. It appeals a great deal. 

Friday, April 19, 2019

Q is for Quartz

Looks like this is my monthly blog, hmmph! Bloody scribbler and her bloody traditions, although I suppose mine has become a tradition, too. Quartz here, in case you didn’t notice the title. If you have no idea who I am, fine, I’ll tell you what I’m not. I refuse to be a dead dwarf, no matter what impression I gave readers in Fairest. I’m too stubborn to die of fright at the sight of my human daughter rising from her curse. No, there’s something more to my keeling over. I’m guessing this is some sort of trick or joke played by Nimmie Not, the kobold who decided to make my existence entirely too interesting. Unless I’m suffering from the sort of backlash via crystal resonation. The coffin we shaped and formed, my brothers and I, to contain our Farest, well, it might well have absorbed her pain. We were trying to heal her, after all. Now I’m the one in the coffin and did anyone think of cleansing it first? I didn’t bloody think so. I’m lying like one of the dead, yet I’m only sleeping. I’m not sure what’s wrong with me. It’s up to the scribbler to answer this. She started writing a story called Of Cuckoo Clocks and Crystal Coffins, which was supposed to be my story. Only Nimmie Not shows up in it a lot. I want to know what’s going on, but the scribbler keeps putting it aside for other, more pressing projects. I’ll have her know, I’m a pressing project! Pay more attention to me, scribbler!

Thursday, April 18, 2019

P is for Phaedra

Hello, I’m Phaedra, citizen of the Intergalactic Democracy, narrator of A Symposium in Space. I’m the descendant of a long line of space pioneers with stories to tell. I’m ashamed to say I’ve been quite the disappointing daughter of these remarkable life givers, or women as they would have been called back in their time. I haven’t done much myself. I am fortunate enough to have a beautiful, intelligent lover, but she’s one of the most negative personalities I’ve had the misfortune to get close to. Not that I’ve had much to compare her to. I think this is one of the reasons I want to go to Agathea’s symposium. I’m curious about the guests who’ll be there. I wonder about Agathea, too, the life giver who’ll be hosting this dinner party. Why did she invite Pausania and I to her intimate little gathering? Why is Pausania so reluctant to attend? All I know is I want to go, even if it causes friction between Pausania and myself. Everything seems to cause friction between Pausania and myself. I’m not sure if I should depend on her for transportation. If I don’t, how am I going to get to the symposium? I have an idea, an unsavory one, but it offers me my best chance of reaching this private event in space. We’ll see if it works. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

O is for Oleander

Beautiful and poisonous as the flower I am named for is what Thomas wished me to be. I was born from his desperate, petty wishes and I’ve strived to outdo them. This name belonged to another boy long ago, not that he was ever aware of it. This is the name Thomas gave him in his greedy little heart while he watched him from afar, hiding his desire in petty spite. My creator is quite pathetic, yet he’s part of me. I’ll wear this name with far more elegance than the boy he coveted ever did. I’ll show Danyel just what I’m capable of in this shape forged with Seraphix’s power. Only I suspect Danyel had something to do with my change. When he touched Thomas in his dreams, I came into existence. I may owe it to Danyel as much as Seraphix. The part of me that was Thomas rebels at his, resenting the power that slight, pretty boy possesses. Thomas can be an idiot sometimes. Why antagonize someone so useful, whom he himself covets? I’ll do what I must to continue to exist and eventually I’ll take whomever I wish. Thomas may thank me for this later if he doesn’t just sink into the morass of our collective memories. He doesn’t need to linger on for much longer. He has me now. I’m determined to live the life he never realized he wanted, that he lacked the courage to enjoy. Just watch me. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

N is for Nathalie

Hello, all you bright-eyed readers and lovers of story! I’m Nathalie, a character in a Work in Progress called Wind Me Up, One More Time. Oh, I could tell you a tale of two myself. Stories, you might say, are in my blood. I take after Morisot, my mother, in that respect despite being adopted. She and her partner, Cassat, once left the factory to tell stories together. Only Cassat returned our small town of Verity to stay. Morisot did not. She left Grace, my adopted sister and myself in a big house within Verity and told me to look after Grace while I was gone. Only she never came back. I have to go find out what happened to our mother. Why didn’t she ever come back? Grace grew up for most of her life without ever knowing Morisot. Only I get a telegram from a woman in another land who claims to be my birth mother, telling me that Morisot is dead. I’ve got to go to this woman, even if it means leaving Maia and Grace. I have to meet this stranger, find out who she is, what happened. I’ll return to my family with lots of stories for Grace about Morisot and this other woman. Perhaps they’ll even be true. I’m not sure if the truth will make Grace happy. It may not make me happy either. I still have to face it, no matter how painful it might be. I’ll decide later how much of it to reveal. I want what’s best for Grace, but I need to know why our mother wasn’t with us for all those years. I need to confront whatever lured her away and make peace with it, no matter how much it hurts. Only then can I finally admit Mother is dead. Only then can I say goodbye. 

Monday, April 15, 2019

M is for Map

I’ve tried so hard to live a quiet life. To be human. To be small. What’s inside me keeps coming out. Sometimes it rips through my flesh like my skin was an ill-fitting coat for the true me. Well, I got ride of that me. I left her behind a Door along with the rage that called down the lightning and the fire, burning an empty village. If only that had been its only victim. The same rage once destroyed a lot of people I cared about. Twice that temper got the better of me. There wasn’t going to be a third time. I opened a Door and took a walk along my path. I let my anger go. I found a beautiful child instead. Leiwell, who became my son. He wasn’t the one I was searching for, but he’s the one I found. The two of us opened a Door and crossed its threshold, returning to our cottage, what was left of our Omphalos. I didn’t leave much of it. I decided to make the most of what I had instead of fretting over what I didn’t. The price of power was the empty land around me. I raised Leiwell and the two of us tried to live a quiet, ordinary life. Only my Leiwell was never ordinary. He was as much a part of the Shadow Forest as he ever was my reality. One day he was drawn to a Door, to the birth of his ‘precious lights’. I didn’t know what he was talking about. I wasn’t sure I wanted any part of it. I couldn’t let him go alone. I followed Leiwell beyond the Door back into the Shadow Forest. There I met two people I’d given up hope of ever seeing again and someone I’d hoped never to see again. We were all there for the birth of the lights, hatched for an egg, and born from fiery water in the form of twin babies. It was Leiwell and I who escaped with those beautiful twins, even though two of those present had plans of their own for them. I’m not sure if we truly got away or if we were allowed to. We returned from beyond the Door with Danyel and Tayel, the newest members of our little family. Those children grew up much slower than human children do, showing a unique beauty and physical difference as well. Leiwell and I decided to hide them and ourselves from the rest of the world. As far as the twins are concerned, they’re Leiwell’s little brothers. They’ve become my sons as much as if I’d given birth to them. Who is anyone in the outside world to say otherwise? Leiwell, Danyel, Tayel and I have lived apart from them in our cottage next in the garden in the valley. We’ve stayed safe, as safe as we could. The outside world, however, is starting to take notice of us and the world beyond the Door never took its eyes off us. Leiwell has been drawn back to the man who calls him master and I can’t stop him. I’ve lost the power to do so. No, I deliberately let it go. I can still advise him along with the twins. I can teach all three of them the Dance, the simple moves I learned at the Temple of Seraphix in a life I’ve tried hard to let go of. The Dance has the power to deflect all the aggressive energy of the universe in theory. I’ve still got that much. I’ve got a bad feeling that the rest of my power, the power I cast aside in the Shadow Forest may come looking for me, even if I stay away from Doors. I’ve got an even worse feeling I’m going to need it. For now, I try to keep my head down and ignore anything otherwordly reaching out for me or the boys. I advise them to do the same. I’m not sure if they’ll listen. I’m not sure if it’ll work. 

Saturday, April 13, 2019

L is for Leiwell

This is it. This is my month. I’m the main character in My Tool, My Treasure, our scribbler’s Camp NaNoWriMo project. My choices, my decisions will shape the future. Do I listen to Damian Ashelocke, the treacherous presence who’s been part of me for son, I can sense the truth in his words and memories? Or do I give into my master as I always have? Do I yield to Seraphix? Whatever happens, I will protect Danyel and Tayel. I want my little brothers to be safe and happy. I used to not care what became of me as long as I could protect my brothers and serve my lord. I was more than happy to sacrifice myself. Only I’ve come to realize my sacrifice wouldn’t make my brothers, my master, or anyone I care for happy. This is what I learned in The Hand and the Eye in the Tower and A Godling for Your Thoughts? which I hope I’m revealing without spoilering those works under revision. My brothers might resort to something reckless to stop me if I do such a thing. I’m trying to move with a little more caution in dealing with Damian, Seraphix, and the Followers, keeping what I’ve learned in mind. I’m not sure where this new hesitation will take me. Matters are not as simple as they once were. Perhaps they never were simple. Perhaps I was the simple one. I’m becoming aware of just how complicated the forces are which brought everyone together in this Omphalos. How at odds with each other those forces could be. It would be so easy to unravel the tapestry of wishes and wills that link the Followers to Seraphix. Do I want to do that? What do I want to do? This is the choice, the conflict which faces me now.

Friday, April 12, 2019

K is for Kevin

Hello! Welcome to Aggie’s Tavern, the best stop for a drink and a tale in Caerac Keep! All right, it’s the only tavern at Caerac Keep, but the ale is good and the company is better. Only we haven’t had as much company of late. Folks have been disappearing without a trace from within our Keep’s walls. Less people are coming in for a drink, especially at night. Some say it’s the Vampire Corwyth, rising from his chained crypt to create an undead army of the living. Aggie, my boss says that’s nonsense, but there’s an uneasy look in her eye. She used to adventure, winning fortune with her sword back when it wasn’t a questionable practice. Some say she once fought at the side of Lord Caerac and the Vampire Corwyth himself back when he was a mortal cleric, yet Serpent-Born. Aggie scoffs at this, but she gets real edgy when you bring it up. She doesn’t like to talk about her past life. My elder sister says Aggie was nothing but a murderer and a thief. The tavern she runs was built with the treasure Aggie stole from kobolds and goblins. Truth is I like Aggie, but she comes from a different era. Her sword hangs over the bar in a place of pride which she refuses to take it down from, no matter how much her patrons grumble. It’s a funny thing, really. Our customers get all angry about kobolds and goblins being called monsters, yet they shrink away from Rhodry Nevalyn’s golden hair and eyes, not to mention his name. It comes from Nevalyn Herself, the Great Serpent and enemy of the world before Serena Jasior united the queendoms and conquered her. Not that this union lasted, the queendoms fractured with our land, Rowenda, becoming even more fragmented into Keeps. Tales are still told, carrying the old fear of golden hair and eyes, even though we’re told to be more tolerant of bat wings, slitted eyes, claws, and snouts. Personally I think Rhodry is a lot prettier than a kobold or a goblin, although I wouldn’t dare say so to my sister. I’d ask him out on a date if I were brave enough. Alas, courage is in short supply at Caerac Keep. It dwindles in the face of the company Rhodry keeps, especially the pale, golden-eyed wizard who’s started accompanying him. Now there’s a Serpent Born if I ever saw one and that’s one possessive eye he keeps on Rhodry. I watch from afar, not sure what to do. I heard Rhodry’s guardian, the mysterious sorcerer of the tower, Daeric Nevalyn has gone missing. One of the reasons Rhodry is now keeping odd company is this group is trying to find him and the other missing people. A foreign girl, an Aethyrian is looking for her sister. I think I remember her sister. Always had her head in a book or a scroll, covered with a hood. Very different than this maiden, who wears leather, which shows off her muscles. There’s another girl in the party, one of the Points on the Unicorn’s Horn. I’ve never seen her in this tavern before even if I’ve spotted her wandering around the Keep with the other Points. Gave me the creeps, those three. Now folks are saying one of the Points is missing and the other is ailing from a mysterious illness. Got to wonder what would have the power to mess with any of those three! Something bad is happening, no question, there’s Trouble at Caerac Keep. I’m just not sure what I should do about it or if I should simply try to stay out of it. 

Thursday, April 11, 2019

J is for Jupitre

Once I ruled the heavens by the power of the lightning bolt. Only somehow that power slipped through my fingers. Memories return of shivering behind a rock, while a monster swallowed my siblings whole. That monster was my father. Or of my twin sister cupping a wounded bird to her breast, awakening a passion which changed everything. I never should have made Juno my wife. Once we ruled the heavens together. Now I’m crippled and she’s trying to cage me. I only just escaped her, I, who was once mightier than all the others of my kind! Now I’m simply a wreck, a sad-looking, aging man. I want it back, my power, my glory, my strength! Only it may have taken on a new shape, even new life. I will find those former aspects of myself, even if I have to ally myself with monsters who rival my father in their dark hungers. Laugh at me now if you will. My day will come, along with my return. We’ll see who has the last laugh. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

I is for Iama

Iama was the villain in one of my mother’s stories which she wrote and illustrated along with her partner, Morisot. She was the melancholy of a woman’s soul kept in shadow, compelled to trap a princess in the same shadow until the princess’s sister rescued both of them. When I first met Nathalie and Grace, Morisot’s daughters, I called myself Iama the Terrible. It was just a joke, one which Grace squeal and Nathalie roll her eyes. How long has it been since the three of us joked around? There’s been little to laugh at of late, not since Nat left. I’ve been working long hours, spending less time with Grace. It’s all right since Grace is spending more time at school, working herself. I used to worry about her wandering around with that bear of hers, making up stories about Iama the Terrible in her tower of gold. Anyone she touches will turn into gold, shining, immobile, and lifeless. I think Nathalie read that story to Grace once. It’s funny, because Iama is an anagram of my name, Maia. I’m not really terrible, or I try not to be. I’m just strict and becoming more strict in Wind Me Up, One More Time, the work in progress I appear in. No, I don’t give my workers a lot of time off. Far too little those workers would say. I don’t take time off either. I’m doing what I can to make this factory a success. I’m trying to create a stable future for it, myself, and Grace. Everything I do has a purpose. Maybe it’s been a long time since I smiled or laughed. I’m too busy to have fun. There’s no time to waste. Not if I want this factory to prosper. Besides the work distracts me from all the lonely moments when I remember that Nathalie is no longer here, that I’m not sure if she’s ever going to be here again. Work doesn’t banish those moments, but it helps me to ignore them. I don’t want to waste time feeling sorry for myself. Every moment I’ve got has to count. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

H is for Hector and Harold

Hector: Wonderful. Here I am, trapped in this Cauldron with you again. Talk about character conflict. This is only when I’m not in Aissa and Polyxena, where I’m stuck in the underworld, dead, unable to save my city or my family from Achaen invaders. Or I’m still alive, fighting with all my might and it’s not enough to stop that obsessive madman, Achille. 

Harold: (sniffs) I couldn’t agree more. You’re a barbarian who smells. Your idea of fashion appears to be a lack of clothing and too many pointy bits. Men are much more civilized where I’m from. 

Hector: If you’re an example of what men are like where you’re from, civilization there is sadly lacking. 

Harold: How dare you! I am a nobleman!

Hector: And I am the son of a king, who’s slain countless warriors. How many men have you felled with your sword arm?

Harold: I have no need to fell or slay anyone. I have a title, lands, and wealth. What’s more, I am in Fairest, which is in Once Upon a Rainbow, an actual published book which has sold copies. You’re just a character in a 40 K+ story which no one wants. 

Hector: (bristles) Our story will find someone who’ll see its value or we’ll create our own place for it. I happen to be the brother of the main character! You’re just a cast-off suitor whose princess rejected him! 

Harold: Oh, I’m far more than that. You’ll see. I’m going to get in the good graces of Quartz’s younger brother, Opal. We started off on a not too ungraceful foot at the ending of Fairest. Through Opal, I’ll find a way into Quartz’s story in progress, Of Cuckoo Clocks and Crystal Coffins.

Opal and Quartz: (from somewhere backstage, otherwise known as the mists of the Cauldron) Eh?!

(Off in reality, I splutter and cough up whatever I’m drinking, caught completely off guard by this.)

Hector: Peace, Quartz and Opal. It’s not yet your time to speak.

Quartz: Oh, all right. (grumbling)

Opal: I don’t get a chance to speak at all this month if I don’t interrupt! What do you mean by using me to find a way into my brother’s story?

Harold: There, there, no need to fret. I’ll make it worth your while when I show up. I’ll give you lots of pretty things.

Opal: I’m a dwarf who works in a mine. I’m perfectly capable of finding pretty things myself. Stop making those dewy eyes at me. You almost foamed at the mouth, objecting to Briar and Rose’s union. Now you’re acting like you’re ready to propose. Knock it off. 

Harold: (waving a beringed hand) I’m simply being sociable. No need to scowl. As for my reaction to the princesses, well, Marian convinced me I was being, ah, a trifle unwise, considering that they are princesses. She was quite right. 

Hector: (eyeing Harold with contempt) You’re such an avaricious worm. You and Alexandros was get along quite well until you stole each other baubles and sugar cakes. 

Harold: Well, you’ve already let us know where all your bluster and pointy objects got you. The underworld! If you’re an example of what men are like where you’re from, worms will get better of you. They’ll gnaw your corpse in the end. 

Hector: You sniveling coward…we’re not in the underworld now. (He draws his sword) I’ll show you exactly what sort of a man I am and how much damage my pointy objects can do!

Harold: Aaaaeeee! I’m being attacked by a half-naked brute! I’m not into all that! (He runs away)

Hector: Come back and face me, worm! (chases after Harold)

Opal: (sticking his nose out of the mist and watching them go) I can’t believe you put them together in the same blog. Ever. Yet you do it year after year…

Me: It’s become a bit of a tradition at this point. Sort of like having these particular characters show up every year for the BloggingFromAZAprilProject. 

Opal: (sighs) 

Monday, April 8, 2019

G is for Grace

Hello! I’m Grace, the main character in a Work in Progress called Wind Me Up, One More Time which our scribbler? creatrix? is revising for a potential home. I myself live in a town called Verity, which attracts lonely women from all other the world to its factory. Like Morisot, my mother and Nathalie’s. She wrote books with a partner, Cassat, until one day she ran off and adopted us. I don’t remember much about it. According to Nat, our mother brought us back to Verity and returned to the place we came from. Nat tries to keep from forgetting by telling stories about it. She’s very good at stories. Nat and Maia have been my family for so long, I don’t remember any other. I do remember Maia. She introduced herself as Iama the Terrible, a villain from one of Cassat’s books. Turns out she was Cassat’s daughter. She wasn’t very terrible. Nat and I dressed better and ate better once Maia became part of our family. We got another family member, at least I think of her as such. Nat brought home a bear one Christmas Eve called Theodora. She became my closest companion. We had all sorts of adventures afterwards even if no one believed in them other than us. You have to have a stuffed animal to understand. Heidi might understand. She’s a friend I go to school with along with Heather. They plan to get married and make toys together one day. They’ve asked me if I want to marry them, too. I’m still thinking about it. Heidi has a stuffed rabbit named Carrot Monster so she might understand. Or maybe she would have once. I haven’t seen much of Heidi or Heather lately. I’ve been so busy. You see Nat got a letter about our mother dying. She disappeared after that. Maia kind of changed. She started working really hard at the factory. I don’t see much of her lately or talk to her. It’s gotten lonely. I didn’t want to admit I was lonely. At first I only talked to Theodora about it. Maia has gotten so cold, so distant. It’s as if she’s really becoming Iama the Terrible. Only I don’t want to think about that. Maia says I’m too imaginative, that I don’t think enough about my future. Only I’m trying to. I’m leaving Theodora at home more. I’m spending less time with Heather and Heidi, more on my schoolwork. That’s what I should be doing right? Only I feel like I’m losing something else, something as precious as Maia or Nat. I’m not sure what it is, but it’s slipping away. I’m not sure how to stop it or if I should. 

Saturday, April 6, 2019

F is for Faith

If I ever possessed another name, it’s no longer of any importance. I am now Faith, a cardinal point of the Unicorn’s Horn, a special division of the Order of the Unicorn at Caerac Keep dedicated to protection from the undead. The Horn is made up of three elite chosen ones who embody a virtue. I am Faith. My sisters are Hope and Charity. Only Hope has disappeared. Charity has fallen sick from a mysterious illness. I am alone at a fraction of my power without my other points. All this is part of the Trouble at Caerac Keep, a Work in Progress our scribbler needs to make more progress in so we can deal with the trouble. Alas in this tale I’m forced to team up with a Serpent Born (part of the golden-haired race descended from the Serpent, the most evil sorceress and demigod to walk the World of Omphalos), a foreign heretic (even if she is quite attractive), a devious little brat, and a creepy sorcerer who makes my skin crawl. I’m not sure if I want anything to do with these people. The lord and lady of Caerac Keep insist that I work with them. Sister Deirdre, head of our Unicorn Chapter in this Keep, instructed me to obey Lord William and Lady Ylynessa’s orders. The problem is I’m no longer certain if I trust either of them. I keep getting this odd chill, this sense of wrongness around them. I can’t explain it. Yet I’ve been commanded to obey them. I’m simply a point on the Unicorn’s horn, a tool for Her will. It’s not my place to question, but to act. Yet questions keep creeping into my mind in spite of my attempts to suppress them. Enough. People are disappearing from Caerac Keep, including Hope. My duty is to find those people. If allying myself with odd folk and obeying nobles who make me uneasy to help me in this, I shall cooperate. It’s that simple. Isn’t it? 

Friday, April 5, 2019

E is for Emma

Hello, I’m Emma. I was supposed to be the great experiment on our scribbler’s part in second person perspective, the main character in a Work in Progress called Your Name is Emma. Only I’m here talking in first person. I guess that’s the nature of this BloggingFromAZ project. 

I’m not here to talk about that. I’m here to talk about character conflict. In particular mine. 

I’m dead. This much I know, only I can’t remember much. I used to hang out at The Angry Roast a lot, only I can no longer drink coffee. I’ve got to possess someone to do that. The same is true for writing poetry, taking photographs, or reading. 

I never got published. I did something awful to Esther, the closest thing I had to a girlfriend. Only I now have a doppelganger called Lily. She’s one of the few other people besides Esther who can see me. 

I’m not sure how or why Lily came into my life. What happened with Esther may be one of the reasons I’m haunting The Angry Roast. That and the fact that I never got published. I can only go somewhere if Esther or Lily does. Or if I manage to possess someone, but that only works for a short time. Sooner or later I end up back at The Angry Roast. Only Esther or Lily can keep me away from it. 

I think this may be a part of my unfinished business. I read a lot of ghost stories before I died, so I might be able to guess a few things about my current state from their common themes. I think I was murdered at The Angry Roast or right outside it. I don’t remember dying. I just found myself in my usual seat at The Angry Roast. No one could see me. I drifted around, unable to interact with anyone or anything. Not until Lily showed up and introduced herself. She told me I’d died with no marks of violence on my body. There were only two puncture wounds on my neck. 

Ooo, was I killed by a vampire? That would be a dream come true if being dead didn’t suck so badly. Get it? Suck?

For me, there are worse things than my death or unfinished business. There’s the Soul Collectors. 

You might ask who they are. I’m not entirely sure. Their forms change. Sometimes they seems like door to doo salesfolk or religious evangelists. Sometimes they look like lawyers. Every once in a while, they let their true faces show. Those hungry eyesockets, like the hollows in a skull, only they’re filled with all the emptiness of the abyss. Only one thing fills their emptiness and that’s souls. They hunt and gather them which is why they’re called Soul Collectors. 

I’ve been unlucky enough to catch their eye or lack of an eye. I’ve managed to say one step ahead of them. I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to do that. If I could figure out how to move on, maybe I could do that. Move on, out of the Soul Collectors’s reach. This means I’ve got to resolve whatever’s keeping me here, all of it. 

I’ve got a lot of work to do for a dead woman. 

Thursday, April 4, 2019

D is for Danyel (and not Tayel)

Danyel: Tayel, you’re still with me? Not that I’m not glad, but your name is no longer Dayel. It’s Tayel. 

Tayel: Names may change. Purpose and conflict remain like a storm on the horizon. No way am I leaving you to face that storm alone. 

Danyel: I’m really happy you’re here. (He reaches out to touch his twin’s hand.) Too often we’re separated in Tales of OmphalosThe Shadow Forest. Say, why aren’t we part of Tales of the Navel?

Tayel: You’ve never been inside the Navel, even if I’ve faced its toothy smiles and equally toothy gifts. 

Danyel: All right, don’t tell me about it. You’re right. I’ve never been in the Navel. At least I’m not sure if I’ve been there. 

Tayel: Dreams and visions often offer experiences as rich as reality, especially to two such as we. 

Danyel: What exactly are two such as we? I thought we were human, but I’m no longer sure. I always saw Map as our mother, but she insists this missing woman, Ashleigh is really our mother. I always considered Leiwell to be our brother, but brothers, mothers, families, and humans appear to be something quite different than I thought. At least in other places. 

Tayel: They are who they are. We are who we are. There is neither cause nor need to behave like anything other than what we are. 

Danyel: Yes, but aren’t you curious about just how we’re different? Why we’re different?

Tayel: Questions open a Door. Anything might be waiting behind that Door to grab you.

Danyel: Well, this is true, but I can’t help wondering about these things. 

Tayel: This is why I fear for you. Fear what might reach out and grab you from behind the Door, taking you away from me.

Danyel: Don’t worry. I’m not leaving you. (He squeezes his brother’s hand.) If anything waits behind that Door, I’ll stand between you and it. We’ll stand together.

Tayel: Don’t stand between. Stand together. I can do that. (His shining eyes are troubled.) What lurks behind the Door can beguile, though, as well as terrify. It could lure you away from me. 

Danyel: What do you mean?

Tayel: I hope we never find out. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

C is for Caerac

Look upon my crypt and prostrate yourself, for I am Caerac. Caerac Keep in Trouble at Caerac Keep, one of ever distracted scribbler’s works in progress is named for me. The walled city which rose up around my resting place was built with my coin and land I won after a life of adventuring, a well-deserved reward for a life of danger and hardship. 

Only some don’t think I deserve my reward or any respect. My memory is reviled by the current generation occupying the city I built. I’m accused of being a murderer and a thief, because I killed monsters and took their treasure. Only they’re no longer regarded as monsters. Goblins, kobolds, they’re now ‘nonhumans’. They’re ‘innocent’ occupants of dungeons and dark places, driven there by humans, only to be hunted down by humans seeking adventure and treasure. I’d like to see any of these naive children clamouring for these creatures’ rights face one of them. They’d probably wet themselves. 

This lack of respect doesn’t simply extend to my memory. No, someone is actually disturbing my grave, resurrecting me for short periods of time. Wanting to know all about my past life, particularly the Vampire Corwyth and the Dark Circle. Don’t these fools know I kept these secrets for a reason? Can’t they let a man rest in peace? 

No, such courtesy is foreign to the children who live within the walls I raise. What is this Keep coming to, eh? Makes me relieved I’m dead. If only I’d be allowed to stay that way. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

B is for Briar

Good day. I am Briar, witch-turned queen in our scribbler’s published tale, Fairest. I started out a lonely, unhappy villain. Cursed, determined to curse another, I was saved by true love. Only one thing continues to trouble me, waking me up from a peaceful sleep in my beloved’s arms. 

I hear Quartz, calling me in my sleep within the crystal coffin I lay for so long. Quartz, the dwarf who became the father my own never was. He took me in, gave me shelter when I was being hunted. Eventually my troubles found me, but he offered me sanctuary with a free heart. When I myself was cursed, he lay me in a crystal coffin which I suspect he shaped with his own affinity with stone. He broke my curse, only to die of fright when he saw me rise like an undead monster. Only I was no such creature. I was a witch. Magic flowed through me, awakened within me even as I was awakened. I wonder what effect that coffin is having on Quartz’s seemingly lifeless form, pouring magic into it. 

Perhaps he’s not as dead as I feared. 

I cannot get near the coffin. It’s guarded by a kobold with the same protective ferocity with which Quartz once guarded me as I lay within it. There’s a story involving Quartz and this kobold, a story he never told me. 

Nothing would please me more than to have Quartz come back to life and tell it. 

In the meantime, I just have to keep reaching out to him in my dreams. Rose once found me in such a place. Perhaps I’ll find Quartz there. I’ll keep trying and searching. I won’t give up until I find him. 

He’d do the same for me. 

Monday, April 1, 2019

A is for Amberwyne

Hmm, this place looks familiar. Wasn't I here last year and the year before?

Oh, hello! I'm Amberwyne. Over the years I've been many things. Right now I'm a character in a roleplaying game, played by a character in a Work in Progress. This Work in Progress is called The Players Are the Thing.  This story doesn't get nearly enough attention from the scribbler, poor story and it's a really good story. You see, Rhane created me to play in this fantasy roleplaying game her lover, Beatrix runs. She (Rhane) falls more than a little in love with me, but I'm only someone she made up, right? Someone who live the magical life she'd never dare have herself.

Wrong! Like I'm going to let being imaginary stop me, especially when my creatrix is so unhappy. I mean, I'm really part of Rhane, right? The part of her who wants to change. There is magic in her daily life. I've just got to help Rhane find it. Only how do I do that? Being a character in a roleplaying game limits my options.

Hee, you'd be amazed at what a roll of the dice and a random thought can accomplish. Besides I am part of Rhane's imagination. Perhaps it's time for the characters to play the players, give them all a little wonder. The Game Master included. Especially the Game Master. We've just got to remember as we go along...it's only reality. :)