Monday, March 30, 2020

Secondary Characters Speak Out: Quartz and Prunella

The air sparkles around Quartz, seated in his chair. Light reflects off dragon scales, dazzling our dwarf’s eyes into a squint while Prunella winds themselves around the misty spaces of the Cauldron, blocking out the sight of the red curtain. 

Quartz: Eh, I’ve never liked that curtain anyway, even if I’ve used it myself a few times.

Prunella: We’d be tempted to snap our fingers if we had fingers. Reminds us of a television show once in the scribbler’s world, which involved red curtains and snapping fingers. 

Quartz: I supposed you could snap other people’s fingers instead. Not that I’m offering mine.

Prunella: (They heave a sigh that makes the ground shake and the air stink of brimstone.) Always playing hard to get, aren’t you? Just as Nimmie Not often laments. 

Quartz: Don’t start.

Prunella: Why not? We’re the one who has to listen to him cry every time you’re not impressed by his antics. 

Quartz: Been listening to him for a long time, have you?

Prunella: We have, though we’re not sure how long. Nimmie Not may be old by your standards, but not ours. 

Quartz: Been around a long time yourself, have you?

Prunella: We remember when the Queens of Dawn and Twilight used to come to us in secret, ask for advice on how to get the better of each other. It was quite apparent to us they were only trying to impress each other. 

Quartz: Oh ho, was it now?

Prunella: We take a certain amount of pride in finally getting those two lovely, fractious rulers together, in forcing them to accept their feelings, which led to the union of their queendoms. That was when we had much better relations with humans. 

Quartz: Soured a bit since, huh?

Prunella: When a pretty young knight looks up at us with dark, soulful eyes, expecting us to raze the countryside, how can we say no?

Quartz: I’m starting to see that you and Nimmie Not share some of the same oddball notions about romancing someone. 

Prunella: Are those notions truly oddball?

Quartz: They are to me. Maybe not to everyone, but there are sure to be those who’ll find them oddball. How did your knight react to you razing the countryside?

Prunella: He gathered an army to fight us. We were hurt, deeply hurt. We thought it just be him and us. In the end, it was. 

Quartz: Ate everyone else, did you?

Prunella: And they were quite tender for such well-done warriors. 

Quartz: Right. And your knight? 

Prunella: The tenderest of the lot. 

Quartz: You ate him.

Prunella: He was human. He was mortal. Eventually his beauty and vitality would wither. Better to savour him while we still could. 

Quartz: Right. Like I said, oddball, not to mention horrific. 

Prunella: All right, little dwarf. Just how would you go about romancing someone in a less oddball, non-horrific way?

Quartz: I wouldn’t. Romance is nothing but trouble. 

Prunella: Oh, really?

Quartz: Really. Your story about the knight just proves that. For every Queen of Dawn and Twilight with a happily together, there’s a tale like yours. Or my poor Fairest’s. 

Prunella: Ah, the little princess with her passionate, deluded queen. Quite the sad little tale, that. 

Quartz: Right and I mean it. It was sad. It is sad. Caused a lot of unnecessary pain, that romance. 

Prunella: So you avoid romance yourself?

Quartz: Easy enough to do. Not much opportunity for romance as far as I’m concerned and I don’t go looking for it. I’ve got my brothers. And the rocks.

Prunella: Sounds lonely.

Quartz: Not at all. It’s loud. You try having six younger brothers, stomping all over the place. It would drown out the rocks, if I let them. And the rocks have voices, if you know how to listen.

Prunella: Which you do. 

Quartz: I do indeed. (He strokes his beard.) Nothing quite like hearing their song in the stillness.

Prunella: Hrmmph. (They let out a belching snort which fills the air with the stench of brimstone.) Sounds like you’re having a romance with the rocks. Of sorts. 

Quartz: Much more peaceful than your one-sided whatever with the knight. 

Prunella: (They chuckle, the sound echoing off invisible stone walls) Don’t be so sure.

Quartz: What’s that supposed to mean?

Prunella: You’ll find out. (more chuckling) If you haven’t already. 

Quartz: (mutters) Bloody enigmatic wyrms…

Prunella: That’s right. (continues to chuckle, stinking up the air with the odor of brimstone) 

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

#QueerBlogWed: Paula's Prompts

On January 8, 2020, P.T. Wyant posted a Wednesday Words prompt involving a new beginning, a plan, and resentment

This A Godling for Your Thoughts? (Tales of the Navel: The Shadow Forest) freebie story was the result. This will be the last freebie story or poem until May since #BloggingFromAZAprilChallenge: Character Change is about to begin on April 1st...stay tuned and get to know my characters a little better when it happens. :) Once more, they'll be talking in first person and taking over the blog. :)

Omphalos was a new beginning for everyone in what was now regarded as the Old Cottage, whether those everyones wanted it or not. 

Tayel was one of the ‘nots’. 

“Maybe it won’t be so bad.” Danyel sat on the edge of the bed he shared with his twin, trying to be cheerful. “Yes, there will be noise as more cottages are built, hammering, thudding, and talking, but we’ll be able to talk to.”
“Speech always waits on the tip of our tongues if we feel like indulging in it.” Tayel turned his face to gaze at the window. 

“Well, yes, you can talk to me, Leiwell, and Map, but this is a chance to talk to people we’ve never met.” Danyel studied Tayel’s jutting lower lip, so similar to his own. “It could be interesting.”

“Interesting.” His twin turned the word into a curse, wrapped in the allure of intriguing change. “Hammering and strange voices are merely the tip of the sharp blade brought to our breast by the presence of strangers. That is what Omphalos is or will become.”

“Maybe it won’t be a blade.” Danyel swung out legs that were a little longer since he and his brother returned from the other side of the Door. After years of remaining the same age, the twins were experiencing a sudden growth spurt. “Maybe it will be more like a cup, filled to the brim with a liquid that tastes different with every sip.” He closed his eyes, visualizing a dagger dissolving into rainbow liquid that fell into a waiting goblet. “Sometimes it’ll be bitter, but at others, it’ll be sweet.”

“What’s sweet tastes bitter on the wrong tongue. Or the right one.” Tayel stuck out his own for emphasis. “Omphalos is Ashleigh’s plan, Ashleigh’s triumph.”

He still wasn’t calling Ashleigh “Mother”, for all Map insisted she was. Not that Danyel was having an easy time with it either. It was hard, considering someone their mother who’d been gone for most of the twins’ lives. Who might disappear through another Door the moment she got bored. 

“We’re part of Ashleigh’s family, even we don’t feel like it.” Danyel sighed, not entirely convinced of this himself. “Omphalos is just her way of making us a part of it.”

“Drawing us into a design whether we care for the arrangement or not.” Tayel withdrew his tongue back in his mouth and glowered at the window. “Just as she’s finally drawing us into something she’s spent most of her existence fleeing from.”

“I know.” Danyel threw up his hands, unable to argue this point. “She’s a little late in deciding to be our mother and take care of us, isn’t she?” He swallowed another sigh and dropped his arms. “Map is our mother, however, and she really wants Ashleigh to be a part of our lives.”

“Doubt flowers and takes root in Map regarding Ashleigh’s intentions.” Tayel dropped his head, allowing a golden curl to fall forward, concealing his eye. “The outside world’s unkindness hunted our mother into isolation. She’d never allow it to get too close.”

“Perhaps the people of Omphalos won’t be part of the outside world Map is afraid of. Not once Ashleigh is finished building this village around us.” How Danyel hoped this would be true. “Perhaps they’ll be part of our lives and we’ll be part of theirs.”

“Perhaps.” Tayel allowed his head to droop even lower, not saying anything more, even though there was something he wished to. Danyel could feel it, breathing between them. 

Perhaps I don’t want to share our lives with this village, but you do. At the very least, you’re curious about sharing, being part of this community, this Omphalos. I’m not, but there’s no point in saying so, in widening the gulf between us by saying it. 

Only Danyel could feel that gulf widening with his twin’s silence. What could he say which would breach it?

He reached out for Tayel’s small, pale hand, not speaking.

Cool fingers laced through his, accepting the contact. 

The gulf might remain between them, but hopefully it was a little less wide.

Danyel feared the coming of Omphalos would only make it greater. Surely there was a way to welcome their new neighbors and community, to get along with them without becoming even more distant from his twin. 

Right now the distance seemed inevitable. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Paula's Prompts: Wednesday Words

On January 22, 2020, P.T. Wyant posted at a Wednesday Words prompt involving a rebel, a clock, and a pillow.

This poem was the result...

I’ve never been a rebel
The very thought exhausts me
Makes me want to hide my face in my pillow
Regulating my life to a clock
The clock brings order to an already chaotic existence
Filled with rudeness and noise on better days
A despairing sense of futility as well
Children screaming out their joy
Never caring their cries piece my ears
Round and round humanity goes
Caught in the same patterns, the same traps
Sometimes the patterns are beautiful
Sometimes they surprise me
Sometimes the clock itself is a joy to behold
Wonders popping out behind the face
Tiny figures moving in an orchestrated dance
The charm is in the orchestration
There’s no point in messing up the dance
Only one can feel so sluggish, so tired
Continuing to move the same moves
Perhaps one small moment of defiance
A single rebellious action might enliven me
Drawing out some of the despair
Threatening to eat away at the comfort of ritual. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

#QueerBlogWed: Paula's Prompts

On December 18, 2019, P.T. Wyant posted at a Wednesday Words prompt involving sheep, a windy night, and murder.

This A Portrait Is Worth a Thousand Words (my Work in Progress about a protagonist cross-dressing as a gothic heroine only to find himself caught in a gothic horror story involving his ancestor and childhood heroine) freebie story was the result...

The wind blew off the edge of the cliff, rustling through the trees. How impossible it was to see anything in this darkness! 

Perhaps that made it the perfect night for a murder. 

One had happened on this very spot, perhaps more than one. It shouldn’t have bothered the murderer. He regarded most human beings as sheep. The one he’d killed had been another murderer, the latest in a series of murders. Only this one had been special. This victim he’d truly cared about, perhaps the first he ever had. 

I shivered and closed my eyes. It was just another legend about this bluff, like tales of the desperate and lovelorn throwing themselves off the cliff. If I thought about it, the killer had been just another pathetic soul lured to make a sacrifice on this spot, only his sacrifice had been another, not himself. 

Chaos, death, spray, so many lives ended here on this eroding cliff, not far from Hartford Hall. Perhaps this was why Elizabeth Hartford had chosen this spot to conduct her rituals. She could draw on the unseen forces here to channel her power, if you believed in such things. 

I wasn’t sure what I believed in, but the longer I stayed at Hartford Hall, the more I wondered how much truth lay buried in the gothic tales which so thrilled nineteenth century readers, tales which were mocked and savoured by a critical, yet avid public. 

I was one of them, only I’d found my own tale, my own family, my childhood heroine. Only she was as tarnished with reality and secrets as this bluff. If I stayed here long enough, I might be tarnished as well. 

I’d longed my entire life to come here to Hartford Hall where Elizabeth once lived and studied things many would never dare. To turn back now would be to admit I was unworthy of being her ancestor. It meant I was unworthy of her. 

Some places and people were worth getting tarnished for. Elizabeth Hartford was one of them. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

#QueerBlogWed: Paula's Prompts

On December 11, 2019, P.T. Wyant posted at a Wednesday Words prompt involving a jump rope, a tree, and a picture.

This freebie story for my Work in Progress, The Players Are the Thing, was the result...

The tree in the painting would have looked so pretty with its golden leaves, standing like a queen front and center amidst the glade, if not for the jump rope.

It lay in the grass, peeking out amidst the protruding roots, like a snake or a hangman’s noose, a mute reminder of childhood humiliation.

Rhane Soames grimaced, found herself lifting her hand to block out the sight of the thick cord, but she couldn’t block out the memories, echoing inside her head. Memories of mocking, girlish laughter, coming from the crowd all wearing plaid skirts and knee socks that gathered around her to witness her humilation. Yes, Rhane was forced to wear the same skirt and socks as them, but she’d done something to stand out. She could still feel the sting of the rope against her ankles, burning as they laughed. 

Rhane gazed through her fingers at the here and now, glanced around the art gallery to see if anyone had noticed her doing something which might draw attention, more laughter. To her relief, this particular room was empty. No one was watching her. 

No one real, that is.

“Rhane, what’s wrong?” Amberwyne whispered within her imagination, as considerate and attentive as only ideals can be. She sat on a bench below the tree, wearing a peach gown with flowing skirts, billowing sleeves, amber waves of hair spilling over her shoulders. She gestured to a space on her bench next to her and patted it. “Please. Come sit next to me and tell me about it.”

Rhane closed her eyes and visualized herself there. She took a seat next to Amber, almost ready to cry with a relief that she, too, was wearing a gown with flowing skirts and billowing sleeves, like something a vampire might wear in a classic horror movie, not the plaid skirt and knee socks. Her own hair felt loose, lighter, as she gave it a toss. “I hate jump ropes. The very sight of them makes me sick and my ankles hurt, plus laughter starts echoing in my head.”

“Why?” This could have been a horrible question, but it was Amber asking, gazing at Rhane with brilliant crystal blue eyes, which held only compassion. No mockery. 

“I could never jump rope.” Every word felt like a zit, full of puss, pushing its way through formerly smooth skin. “I tried to do it. Only I never caught the moment, leaped at the right time. The rope always hit my ankles. I never knew when to move.” Rhane gazed down at her skirts, which hid her legs. “Knowing when to move connected the girls swinging the rope and everyone else who jumped. I wasn’t part of it, which everyone else found hilarious.” She could see the other girls, glancing at her, whispering to each other, only to start snickering. Letting Rhane know she was clumsy, weird, on the outside. After all, she was the only one who couldn’t figure out when to jump. She literally didn’t know the moment when it hit her, no matter how hard she tried. 

Tears, hot, itchy, and humiliating spilled down Rhane’s cheeks. Of all the stupid things to cry over, something which had happened long ago. 

Amber didn’t snicker. Amber reached out to take Rhane’s hand, protecting her tiny, soft fingers with her strong, slender ones. 

If only Amberwyne was real. No one real would understand weeping over a jump rope. 
“Maybe I’m not real, but my advice is.” Amber squeezed Rhane’s hand. “Don’t let the rope spoil the rest of the picture.”

Rhane looked away from the ugly cord to the brilliant fall foilage of the tree and its companions. “The rest is beautiful.”

“Just remember.” Amber leaned closer, so her lips were very close to Rhane’s cheek. “There’s only one rope and a lot of trees with leaves.” She kissed her player, whispering against her skin. “Just because you missed the moment to leap across the rope doesn’t mean there won’t be more moments. Better ones with people far more worth impressing than a bunch of girls who laugh at you.”

Rhane shut her eyes, savoring the kiss for as long as she could, until the vision blurred. She returned to reality, to the gallery. Tears still trickled from the corner of her eye, but they no longer ached. 

“I wish you were real.” Rhane uttered her prayer to the empty room, not believing anyone was listening. 

No one real was, but reality wasn’t everything. Inside Rhane Soames’ heart, Amberwyne smiled through tears of her own. “I may not be real, but I’m yours. Real or not, I won’t stop trying to make you as happy in reality as you are when you’re with me.”

Even if the result was Rhane no longer needed Amber and she, Amberwyne faded out of existence. 

Ah, well, her creatrix was finite. Why shouldn’t Amberwyne be? If the price of making Rhane happy was fading, Amber was willing to pay it. 

Hopefully she’d at least get to stride off into the sunset when it happened.