Wednesday, October 30, 2019

#QueerBlogWed: The Threshold Part 1

On August 21, 2019, P.T. Wyant posted at a Wednesday Words prompt involving a door in the hillside.

The result was another huge Tales of Omphalos: The Shadow Forest story about a young Leiwell. Here is the first part...

Hiking up the hillside dragged at his ankles, his feet as always. It was as if the rising ground reacted against Leiwell, sensing somehow that he didn’t belong on it. 

He gritted his teeth and took another step. To be a part of this world, he had to live in it, eat its vegetation, learn to move with its ways. At least this was what Map, his mother was always telling him. 

“Such pretty foolishness. Why do you insist on going the wrong way?”

Leiwell turned, sliding down the slope a bit to land in front of a patch of moss, facing a steep rise he couldn’t possibly climb. 

A raven flew down to land at his feet. It strutted around with smug lightness before fixing a sharp, beady eye upon the boy. “You’re a halfling, aren’t you? Not quite human, half something else.” Its searching gaze took in every detail of Leiwell’s small face, his shabby tunic, and scuffed boots. “Slopes and rising ground take a keen dislike to your sort, yes, they do. Or perhaps they simply try to challenge you?”

It let out a caw, which sounded a lot like a mocking laugh. 

“Who are you?” Leiwell studied the raven in turn, the way its beady eyes took anything while darting around, avoiding the boy’s gaze.

“Ah, ha, caw! Names are not something I offer lightly.” The raven flapped its wings, rising in midair, so its beak was at the level of the boy’s eyes. “There’s something else I can give you, something you’ll find much more interesting.”

The raven fluttered a short distance away to land at the sheer wall, drawing attention to the indentations in the rock, which wasn’t rock. It was wood, with grooves carved into it of distinctive shapes. There was a door embedded in the green, a door with serpents and spiders etched across, crawling across bones and roses. 

“Now you see it?” The bird bobbed his head with vigorous enthusiasm. “Aren’t I clever to show you this? Wouldn’t it be easier to simply go through the hill than climb to the top?” The raven began to hop on one foot. “Thank me, pretty one, praise me.”

“Thank you, but I was trying to get to the top of the hill.” Leiwell didn’t like the look of the door at all. Something about the spiders was familar, like the creak of a door where a shadow that’s always been watching awaits. 

“Why would you want to do that? To get that decrepit ruin of a tower at the top?” The raven let out a derisive caw. “Trust me, all you’d ever want to see in that old pile of rocks is deep underground…and right behind this door.” The bird nodded again at the sheer wall behind him. 

Leiwell was trusting this bird less and less, yet his words, “a pile of rocks” made the boy curious. His mother, Map used almost the exact words to descripe the ruined tower on the hill. He disliked the look of the door, but it was curious. What was so familar about that pattern, especially the spider?

He wouldn’t learn anything more about this mystery if he turned away from it. 

Leiwell lay his hand against the side of the snake, rather than the spider, searching for a door knob, some way to open the passage. 

Empty air greeted his hand until a cool grip seized him, pulling him forward. 

At first the boy dragged his heels, expecting to hit the door, but he passed through the wood as if it wasn’t there.

Of course. It hadn’t been an ordinary door at all, but a Door, a portal to another world, or perhaps a place that didn’t exist except in someone’s imagination. 

The raven’s mocking laughter pursued him. “Ha! Ha! Caw! Here’s a pretty little fool for your hungry pleasure, Master!”

To be continued...

Monday, October 28, 2019

Secondary Characters Speak Out: Quartz and Melyssa Ashelocke

Quartz sits in front of a red curtain, facing a woman whose form is not entirely clear. For a moment, she becomes round-cheeked, girlish-faced with clouds of honey colored hair falling in waves around her face on the shoulders of a simple, long white shift. Rose-purple eyes gaze at him from out of above those rounded cheeks, filled with a certain youthful defiance and yearning, mingled with something older and wearier. 

Quartz: So. You play a major secondary role in the scribbler’s Work in Progress; My Tool, My Treasure, don’t you?

Melyssa: Major secondary role is right. I’m always a tool. Never a treasure. 

Quartz: Why d’ye say that? You’re Duessa Ashelocke’s girl, aren’t you? Her only daughter and heiress?

Melyssa: I’d say Gabrielle was more my mother’s girl than ever I was. (She grimaces.) I’ve been a huge disappointment as a daughter. (She turns the grimace into a bleak smile.) The disappointing daughter!  (She laughs at her own joke.) It’s a role I replay once more with Juno in Omphalos. 

Quartz: Juno is whom you think your mother is in Omphalos, but she’s not really your mother, right?

Melyssa: I’m not sure how I ended up with Juno, her husband, and her little monster of a son. When I first see Map in Omphalos, I start to remember my life, Seraphix help me. Although in truth, it’s the twins who help in their odd way in A Godling for Your Thoughts?

Quartz: Right, that’s the book which takes place before My Tool, My Treasure, one of the three that the scribbler is revising. How is that going?

Melyssa: One of the revisions the scribbler is making is including more about the various Followers of Seraphix, the godling, whom are also residents of Omphalos. Our scribbler filled in some details about Maggie, Meggie, and Gryluxx while she was on vacation, along with writing more about Leiwell and Dyvian. 

Quartz: Hmph. Well, she wrote about me as well while on vacation, so I can’t really complain. Much. 

Melyssa: I can. She didn’t write anything about me, although I do get a lot of attention in My Tool, My Treasure. I suppose it could be worse. 

Quartz: Tell me about you. You were originally a minor character in an online roleplaying game our scribbler was in, right?

Melyssa: More than online game in which I was the comic relief. (She scowls again, but the wrinkles on her face soften into a more thoughtful expression.) Our scribbler decided to fuse me with a much more serious villain in another roleplaying game, a leanhaun who drained Amberywne’s life from her.

Quartz: Amberwyne who is now the Amberwyne in that Work in Progress, The Players Are the Thing?

Melyssa: I do miss Amberwyne. You could argue I’ve never let her go. (All of a sudden, her features change, becoming leaner, more chiseled and seductive.) That part of me became Fidessa, who is in the story within a story in The Players Are the Thing. And I’ve become Lyssa who is now ‘Lyssa in Tales of the Navel: The Shadow Forest.

Quartz: Can’t help noticing you look different as ‘Lyssa than when you’re Melyssa or that matter Mel.

Melyssa: Mel is whom I was as a Sister of Seraphix. I dropped the ‘lyssa at the end of my name in an attempt to leave the Ashelocke and the arachocrat behind.

Quartz: Right. Melyssa, Duessa, Vanessa, there’s a lot of -ssa going around in the Gardens of Arachne and Mystere. 

Melyssa: Yes, there is. Unfortunately Mel was as big a failure and disappointment as Melyssa was, a weak goof who turned petty and vicious, even as she turned on the person dearest to her. (She looks away) I dislike the memory of Mel, yet she was part of me as much as Melyssa Ashelocke was. A part I plan to discard. 

Quartz: And ‘Lyssa?

Melyssa: (She smiles a sharp-toothed smile.) She’s my heart’s desire, the embodiment of my darkest wish which Seraphix created within me. She’s the part of me which prefers not to bother with Marriage Feasts, but to feast upon the arachnocratic ladies themselves.

Quartz: And that’s forbidden, right?

Melyssa: A ridiculous taboo. Our future Marriage Feasts often form romantic, passionate friendships with each other before we drain them, yet the ladies whom own them flirt with each other, even as they try to outdo each other, all the while denying themselves intimate contact between them. It’s a taboo I’m almost sure my mother broke with Gabrielle, although Gabrielle was not an arachnocratic lady, so it’s not exactly forbidden with her. 

Quartz: And you’re interested in an arachnocratic lady or you just want to break the taboo?

Melyssa: Yes. I’ll feed and break, scattering the shards of hypocrisy everywhere so they can no longer trap me. Perhaps I’d finally be free.

Quartz: Huh. (He draws a breath.) Not sure if you scare me or I sympathize. 

Melyssa: The twins feel the same way. As do Christopher and Damian. 

Quartz: Aye, I can see that. You’re definitely someone I could see being the main character in other circumstances. 

Melyssa: Oh, yes. I could be. 

Quartz: I do pity your intended victim, although I have a feeling she’s getting what’s coming to her. 

Melyssa: Believe me, she does. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

#QueerBlogWed: Paula's Prompts

On August 28, 2019, P.T. Wyant posted at a Wednesday Words prompt involving a return, a reunion, and a rebel.

This Tale of the Navel: The Shadow Forest was the result...

Once more, I find myself returning to the garden when we once met among the roses, unsure if our special place isn’t just as a reflection of the Ashelocke gardens. 

This little patch of rose bushes, bordering by foxglove and giving way to vegetation is nowhere nearly as large and lush as the carefully cultivated blooms grown by Duessa, amidst the pruned hedges, mazes, and of course the statues of beauties who’ve been frozen forever in time. 

I sometimes get flashes of that place, the exqusite menace lurking within the quiet, waiting to claim us all as we’re constantly watched. 

This garden is different. This garden is ours. It’s where I awakened to a sense of self at the sight of Damian’s smile, at the touch of his hand. 

Perhaps Damian loves this garden as I do, even if he can never admit it. His spirit is too in rebellion against his aunt. Duessa Ashelocke, to confess his affection for anything which is hers. 

“All we were was food to be fattened up in gentle captivity before fed as Marriage Feasts to our brides.” Fear flashes silver amidst the ruddy rage, which deepens the crimson in his rose purple irises. “I’d think you of all people would shudder at the sight of them.”

“I don’t really recall that garden.” My words don’t taste entirely true on my tongue, even as flashes of color streak into memory, accompanied by the sound of mocking, feminine laughter, the ominous rustle of long skirts across a grass carpet. All of this returns to me, raising the hairs on the back on my neck. Not all of this hair-raising is from terror. Some of its stirs with a different sensation all together. “The first time I saw roses was when I reached for your hand. For me, they’ve always meant you.”

Colour blooms in both of his cheeks at my words. “Don’t romanticize the roses. Or me, for that matter.”

“How could I?” I gaze at the delicate point of his chin, flaring up into triangular cheekbones without a trace of beard upon them. 

My own face is the same, without a hint of the hair which appears on other male youths my age. 

“I know too little of roses or you to romanticize either.” The statement leaves a sour taste on my tongue. 

“You’ve only forgotten.” Damian lowers his eyes. As if he can’t bear to see me instead of the other Christopher, the true Christopher. A Christopher who known both Damian and his aunt intimately. “Or perhaps you chose to discard your memories of us.” 

There is no hiding the hurt in his voice at this possibility. 

I reach out for his pale, slender fingers, the first things I saw in this current existence. The source of my life. “Even if the boy I once was did such a thing, I can’t imagine myself ever forgetting you.” 

Perhaps some of my warmth, the warmth I’d once absorbed from Damian himself touched its source. 

Damian widens his eyes, which brighten, softening his entire face. For one moment, he is mine. Mine completely. 

I’ve learned to treasure these moments. Sooner or later, his rebellious spirit will stir, goading him into remembering he’s Damian Ashelocke, foil to Duessa Ashelocke and all she’s built and caged. 

That might well include me. In this moment, however, he’s responding my warmth, feeding on my energy. He was mine as much as he was his aunt’s. 

I’ll take these moments whenever they come my way. Take, treasure, and try to make them last. Not that they ever do.

It’s part of what makes them precious. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

#QueerBlogWed: Paula's Prompts

On August 14, 2019, P.T. Wyant posted at a Wednesday Words prompt, "I have to talk to you".

This prompted this A Godling for Your Thoughts? (the third novel under revision of my Tales of the Navel: The Shadow Forest series) freebie story. I'm now thinking of inserting this into the novel itself.

“I have to talk to you.”

Tayel turned to the girl who was slightly taller than himself, rounded cheeks quivering, honey-colored hair falling in full waves around her face. Melyssa looked nothing like Juno, Jupitre, or Thomas, for all they claimed to be her mother, father, and brother. 

“Say whatever you’d like.” Perhaps he was inviting trouble by giving her permission to do this, but Tayel was already in trouble, along with his family. After all, they now had neighbors. “I can’t promise to say anything you’d like to hear.”

“Heh. Like mother, like son.” Mel actually grinned a little at his bluntess. She glanced in the direction of the corner where Map sat, away from everyone else at the party. “Much as I dislike boys in general, I got to respect your lack of pretense.”

Tayel wasn’t sure how to respond to such a statement. He glanced at his other mother, Ashleigh, who was laughing right along with Maggie in front of the window while Jupitre stood nearby, scowling. 

He wasn’t enjoying the party, any more than Map or his son was. Thomas hovered around Danyel. Tayel tensed at this, but his twin seemed safe enough at Leiwell’s side. Perhaps safe was a relative term for they were listening to their host, Melyssa’s mother. Juno laughed, chattered, and fluttered her eyelashes, basking in the attention. Such a harmless manner she had. So deceptive. Tayel was sure she wouldn’t try anything at a party with her neighbors present. He allowed himself to relax. A little. 

“This is why I’m confident you’ll be honest with me.” Eyes the same rose purple as a certain mysterious, charming man on the other side of the Door gazed at him in earnest anguish. “About your mothers and mine. About me.”

“Honesty changes when voiced by different lips.” Tayel glanced at a table covered with goblets, cheeses, and sweets. He was tempted to reach out and just pop one in his mouth. Not because he wanted cheese or a sweet, but to have something to do. He didn’t. He couldn’t. He had no idea if he’d be able to keep any of the food down or not. 

“You’ve lived here for a long time, haven’t you?” Melyssa asked with some hesitation. “Do your mothers ever talk of who or where they were before coming to Omphalos?”

“Why do you want to know?” 

Tayel tensed at this. He disliked questions. He hadn’t been about to ask any, but here was his twin, asking, opening a door to all sorts of answers they might not want.  

Danyel stood at Tayel’s elbow, gazing at Melyssa with hard, shining eyes. Of course he had to ask. 

“Look, I’m not sure if anything is what it seems in Omphalos.” Melyssa reached out to the table and grabbed a pie. “My family may not be my family. The only thing that seems familiar is your mother’s face.”

“Um, I thought I was familar.” Meggie walked over to the table, lay a hand on Mel’s shoulder before seizing a pie herself. She crammed the whole thing in her mouth and started chewing. 

“You’re more than familar. You’re almost like my own feet. Something I take for granted, yet I’d miss if they weren’t there.” Melyssa stared at the young woman chewing and lifted her own pie to her mouth. She took a bite.

Meggie swallowed. “Well, obviously we know each other. We didn’t even have to ask where. We looked into each other’s eyes and remembered.” She shut her own for a moment. “I could see the Temple of Seraphix up on the hill, the greenery, the pine trees surrounding the slope-“

“-the pine cones which would rain down on us whenever our Master was irritated about something.” Melyssa smiled a little and swallowed. “Yes. Master.”

“What about her?” Meggie reached for another pie. “Funny. I haven’t thought of our Master since coming here. Weren’t we chasing her? With torches.”

Danyel tensed at this, gazing from young woman to young woman as if he was considering bolting. He reached out and squeezed Tayel’s hand. 

For a moment, he felt as if he was running in a bigger, heavier body through a dark woods, screams of rage following him. “Freak! Halfling!”

“What’s a halfling?” Danyel asked out loud. He gazed at Melyssa in an almost challenging manner. 

“Someone who is part monster.” Melyssa frowned at her own words. “They’re often spies for actual monsters, trying to lure humans to them as prey, food for their masters.” 

“Do all halfings do that?” Danyel held on tight to his twin’s hand. 

“Well, I don’t know. I’m not sure.” Melyssa’s frown deepened. “A human really can’t allow herself to wait and find out. The halfing could destroy her while she’s trying to decide if it’s evil or not.”

“Are you halfling?” 

Tayel gripped his brother’s fingers at this foolish question, which could easily set this angry, fearful girl off. 

Melyssa, however, didn’t get angry, although a line deepened in the center of her forehead.

“To be honest, I, um, wondered the same thing. A lot.” Meggie picked up a strawberry tart. “You didn’t always act like a human would.”

“And you? Were you human?” Melyssa crossed her arms and lifted her chin in a direct challenge. “Would you even be in Omphalos now if you were?”

“Huh, good point. I used to think I was.” Meggie took a bite of her tart. “Just what is a human any way?”

“Anything that isn’t human,” Melyssa said with a decisive nod. 

“Um, all right. So we chased down the Master with burning torches because she wasn’t human, either though none of us were, either.” Meggie glanced at Melyssa out of the corner of her eye. “I don’t remember what happened next. Do you?”

“This is why I was trying to talk to Tayel.” Melyssa rolled her eyes. “I thought we might know something.”

Tayel shook his head. He was sure, though, that Danyel did know something. It was unusual, highly unsual when his twin knew something he didn’t. 

“How can you do that?” Danyel squeezed Tayel’s fingers so tight, rage he could barely keep in vibrating under his skin. It made Tayel angry, too, palms sweeating with a hot fury so unlike his own cold anger. “She was your master. You weren’t any different than she was. Yet you hunted her down.” 

“I…I…was frightened of all anyone not human, even though I myself wasn’t either.” Melyssa shut her own eyes. “I thought they were my mother’s spies, all of them.” She hung her head in shame. “There was no excuse for what I did. I wouldn’t have blamed Master for any revenge she took.”

“Maybe she did take revenge? She might have killed us all,” Meggie suggested before shoving the rest of her tart in her mouth. “Would you hate her if she did?” 

Once more, Danyel tightened his fingers around his twin’s.

“No.” Melyssa shook her head. “Danyel is right. We turned on the Master simply for being who she was.” Mel hung her head. “We had no right to do that.”

“No, you didn’t.” 

Both of the twins felt the hairs rise on the back of their necks at that melodious, deep voice, even before a cool hand dropped onto each one of their shoulders.

Melyssa and Meggie gazed with wide eyes at Dyvian, the local lord, the one who’d brought at the residents of Omphalos together. 

“Your Master was kind to you, kinder than anyone else ever was. How did you reward her for her kindness?” Tayel felt the movement behind him of swaying hair and robes. Once Upon a Time was shaking his head. Perhaps he’d even wag his finger if they weren’t occupied in pressing them against the cloth of his tunic, along with his twin’s. “You betrayed her.”

A red light seemed to shimmer around the man, standing there, gazing at the two girls with no pity in his eyes.

“Forgive me!” Melyssa dropped to her knees, unable to look up at him.

“Melyssa, I thought better of you. I thought you wouldn’t allow yourself to be drawn into a society’s prejudices, losing all independent thought in process.” Dyvian lowered his eyelashes. “Perhaps you’re unworthy of Seraphix. Perhaps you’ve always been unworthy.”

“I don’t deny it.” Melyssa lifted her head, eyes swimming with unshed tears. “I’m trying so hard to be so. I’m trying to change. For the sake of my wish!”

“And you, Megan. How you can speak with such cheerful casualness of betraying and hunting down your master?” Dyvian gazed at the plump young woman with aggrieved eyes. “Is your loyalty given and taken away so easily?”

“Perhaps.” Meggie didn’t lower her hazel eyes, although she bowed her head. “One of the things I wish for is to have something or someone worth giving my loyalty to.” For a moment, her gaze flickered to Leiwell before returning to Dyvian. “I’ve never had my sister’s heart.” 

“I see. You crave change. Both of you.” Dyvian released a long, shuddering sigh. “Perhaps I should forgive you. Perhaps I, too, should change.”

“Why does it matter so much to you?” Danyel spoke up, turning his challenging gaze on the man who’d held their elder brother in thrall for so long. “Why should it matter to you if anyone betrays Map or not?”

“The betrayal strikes far closer than anyone dreams.” If Tayel gazed at Dyvian long enough, perhaps he’d see the outline of a plump, dark woman dressed in green interposed over the tall, pale man. “To strike out at her is to strike out at himself.”

“Not for much longer.” Dyvian spoke in tight, rush of words which made the air shiver. “Soon I shall be my own man. Soon I shall be free.”

For one moment, Melyssa, Meggie, the twins, and Dyvian all stared at each other, the air between them heavy with unspoken things. 

Only Dyvian let out a soft laugh and waved his hand. The girls laughed as well. The tension eased. 

“Well, we all have a wish, don’t we?” Dyvian allowed his eyes to alight upon Tayel. “Tell me, little one, what do you wish for?”

Danyel blinked and released his hand. He lifted his own, stared at it for a long moment, before studying his twin. 

The warmth still lingered in Tayel’s palm. If he looked down, he might see a warm green, with hints of blue with its depths, dappled in sunlight. Just a little bit of his twin he carried with him, in case everyone else in the world carried him away. “Not all of us wish to share our wishes with the world.”

“Indeed we do not.” A smile played upon Dyvian’s lips, even if a light gleamed with his eyes, a cold glow like a diamond or a crystal’s. “Secret wishes are more precious than hoarded treasures. I wonder how long you’ll be able to hold onto yours.” 

Tayel clenched his hand into a fist, shut his eyes, hearing the noise everyone talking, refusing to look back at anyone. 

Especially Danyel. Above all, Danyel. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Paula's Prompts: Wednesday Words

On July 24, 2019, P.T. Wyant posted at a Wednesday Words prompt involving a ceramic village, a wise man, and an infant.

This poem was the result...

The wise man lords it over the other figures
Standing around in the ceramic village
After all, that infant in the manger is his charge
No one can care for him so well as he
Certainly not the baby’s mother
Struck with maternity at too tender an age
Distracted with responsibility and a thousand worries
He’s far more capable than the harried stepfather
Unsure what to do with his ceramic bundle of joy
He’s definitely more efficient than any of the shepherds
Standing around, flirting, laughing with each other
Insensitive to the gravity of the situation
Only the wise man understands what’s happening here
Although his two colleagues may have a clue
Sense what everyone in the ceramic village is becoming
Symbols of something far greater than their material
Icons of a venerated holiday, wrapped in mystery and legend
He will guide and care of the child, whom inherits the bulk of this burden

Even if the child never cares for him in return. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

#QueerBlogWed: Paula's Prompts

On August 7, 2019, P.T. Wyant posted at a Wednesday Words prompt involving mushrooms, a boat ride, and a locked chest.

This poem was the result...

Join us on the boat ride
We’ll pick you up on the bank
Smell the mushrooms stewing in the pot
Not even the sea breeze can chase away the odor
Just let it drift up your nostrils
Trickling the edges of your brain
You may catch a glimpse of the locked chest
Our captain insists it’s here
Sitting on this boat
Even though not one else can see it.
She’s not sure how to open it
Insisting the contents whisper to her in her sleep
Promising riches, access to lost secrets
Perhaps she’s consumed one mushroom too many
They’re much stronger if you eat them
Even after they’ve been stewed
I’ve never dared to breathe too deeply
To taste more than a bite of stew
They should be perfectly harmless, those mushrooms
That’s what everyone says
Yet why can you see the chest out of the corner of your eye?
The one only the captain sees
Don’t let it trouble you, just enjoy the boat ride
Ignore the hissing whispers in your ear
Remember it’s just the wind

No matter what it might promise you.