Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Paula's Prompts: Wednesday Words

On January 29, 2020, P.T. Wyant posted at a Wednesday Words prompt involving cleaning, a meeting, and a memory.

This poem was the result...

Remove a layer of slime
Remove a threat clinging to the surfaces
Spraying down every edge
Choking down memories as you do
Memories of feeling safe, walking outside
Were you ever unafraid, meeting anyone?
Any encounter could be a trap
A secret carrier waiting to infect you with their secrets
It’s hard not to attribute malice to the killer
Striking people down, taking lives right and left
Whom will it decide to take next?
Someone dear, someone precious?
Never the ones the world would be better without
A dangerous way of thinking
Brought on by desperation and fear
Sucking courage, poisoning connections
A force meant to divide an already divisive population
Weren’t we already unhappy?
Did we really need a greater helping of unhappiness?
Or maybe this is an unseen force’s way of cleaning
Scrubbing off the surface of the world
Throwing us all in the trash
A decision made after a meeting of concerned entities
Looking at the mess we’ve made of the planet
Perhaps we look like termites or an infestation to them
This is the spray meant to take us out
Or maybe there’s no greater intentions
Just the consequences of a careless race
There should be consequences for caring
For trying to make something better of ourselves
Maybe our smallest actions have consequences for the better
As well as repercussions for the worst
I can only close my eyes and roll the dice
Hoping me and mine will roll very well.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Secondary Characters Speak Out: Quartz and Garnet

Quartz sits fidgeting across from his equally fidgety younger brother. 

Quartz: First I don’t want you to be alarmed-

Garnet: How can I not be alarmed? We’re all pawns in the talons of Prunella! 

Quartz: Eh? 

Garnet: I’ve been putting the pieces together with Christopher, trying to figure out what’s really happening.

Quartz: Have you now? (mutters) That boy and his bloody conversations. Not sure if I should tell him to keep his mouth shut or send him flowers, depending on what he stirred up. 

Garnet: What was that? By the way, where are you?

Quartz: You don’t remember? You’ve been here before, Gar? Fourth wall between stories where the dead or enchanted can come back to talk?

Garnet: Huh? 

Quartz: Right. What was the last thing you remember?

Garnet: We moved into the cottage Nimmie Not led us to. You were gathering stones for Prunella. Only I was just talking to Christopher wasn’t I? All that was in the past, you were dead or cursed, and there was a girl-ouch, my head is all a muddle. 

Quartz: Right. It’s because that scribbler has gotten muddled. Something you figured out made her stop and think, dropping one of the stories she’s been juggling, confusing all of us in the process. Stupid scribbler. 

Garnet: Huh. 

Quartz: Never mind that. Just what have you figured out, lad?

Garnet: It’s just odd. It’s odd that none of us noticed that the mines we fled to were occupied by a dragon. Wouldn’t we have noticed? Wouldn’t they have noticed?

Quartz: Not necessarily. Prue takes very long naps. They might not think our arrival was worth waking up for. That dragon isn’t disturbed lightly and the seven of us are fairly light compared to Prue. Nimmie Not has to make a right pest of himself to get that dragon to stir when napping. 

Garnet: Prue…you’ve got stones, Quartz, giving that beast a nickname. (shudders)

Quartz: Eh, Prue isn’t so bad. Sure they sometimes collect knights and damsels, not to mention all kinds of junk, plus their breath stinks up a cavern something fierce, but they’re a civilized sort. 

Garnet: I’m not sure if I’m now less worried or more. 

Quartz: Right. Just what’s worrying you, lad?

Garnet: You’re gathering a lot of healing stones, taking them to one place all by yourself. 
Quartz: You were there when Prue asked. It was the price for settling in the Forest of Tears. When it comes to the affairs of dragons and kobolds, it’s best to involve as few family members possible.

Garnet: Why? Why do you have to pay the price for all of us settling in the Forest of Tears to that dragon and not for mining the mountain where “Prue” themselves sleep?

Quartz: Huh. That’s a good question. I’ll ask Prue. 

Garnet: Try not to get incinerated when you do. You might have to use your own healing vessel on yourself. That’s what you’re shaping with all the stones, right?

Quartz: You really don’t remember. Gar, I don’t have all the answers. I’m just trying to roll with the changes, while seizing a little happiness when it comes. 

Garnet: By a little happiness, do you mean Nimmie Not?

Quartz: Shut up. (blushes behind his whiskers)

Garnet: Right. I just hope you know what you’re doing, dealing with dragons and kobolds. 

Quartz: So do I, Gar. So do I. 

Garnet: I also hope you’ll ask us for help when you need it. We’re all living in the cottage, Quartz, all six of your brothers with you. We ought to be helping you pay the price for it. 

Quartz: (looking away) Don’t need you to. Better if you all stay out of this. Scramble out of that talon while you can. 

Garnet: If you say so. (sighs)

Quartz doesn’t reply. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

#QueerBlogWed: Paula's Prompts

On New Year's Day of 2020, P.T. Wyant offered at two prompts. One of them involved peanuts, a coin, and a pledge.

This The Players Are the Thing freebie story was the result. (The Players Are the Thing is a work in progress about the characters in a roleplaying game and how they try to help their unhappy players, who are losing their love of the game and no longer having fun in their everyday lives.)

Isolde turned the coin in her hand, studied the woman’s profile upon it. “This seems familar…”

“…do I recognize it?” Mona asked, distracted from her character’s contemplation while she chewed a bunch of peanuts. “I mean, does Isolde recognize it?”

“Make a recognition roll.” Beatrix, the Game Master glanced down at Isolde’s character sheet in front of Mona with heavily lidded eyes. The avid gleam beneath her eyelashes showed how little mercy there would be if Mona rolled badly for Isolde. 

Mona swallowed, blew on the dice, and cast them across the hard table between herself and the Game Master. 

“Oh, yes, you do,” Beatrix offered Mona a sweetly wicked grin as she spoke. 

Oh, Isolde recognized this lovely face, even if the tips of her ears were now rounded, as were her cheeks with a more human flesh. She glowered at Fidessa’s serene complexion, who’d somehow substituted her own face for the local lady’s. 

“Amber,” she muttered in an undertone.

Amberwyne glanced up and over at the coin…

“…do I need to roll?” Rhane asked, ready to scoop up a handful of dice.

“No, considering your character’s past relationship with Fidessa, you don’t.” Beatrix shut her eyes and allowed her smile to widen. 

Mona felt herself stiffen at the same moment Rhane did. The Game Master was never this nice. Not unless she was planning something especially wicked. 

“I do, however, need Amberwyne to roll her willpower.” Beatrix opened her dark eyes and locked them with Rhane’s blue ones. 

Rhane swallowed, looked away, and picked up the dice, taking a deep breath as she did. 

Mona fidgeted and played with her lucky green die. She’d offer it to Rhane, only no one rolled quite as well with it as Mona herself did.

Rhane shook the handful of dice and dropped them on the table, only to blanch at the numbers revealed on them. 

Beatrix leaned back, looking entirely too pleased. “Is that all you’ve got?”


Amberwyne stared at the profile. The lady’s eye moved to lock with her own, even as her neck swiveled. Color bled into it, a deep violet which drew Amber’s own. She felt herself leaning forward, unable to look away, unable to move, mesmerized by that metal gaze. 

“Amber?” Isolde saw the blank expression on her companion’s face and reached out for her arm, to try to shake her out of whatever trance she was. Whenever Amber parted her lips with such a dreamy expression, it made her innards knot with conflicting emotions-


“Don’t let your character get distracted right now.” Beatrix scowled, interrupting Mona’s description of Isolde’s reaction. “Not unless you want to lose Amberwyne for good. Roll persuasion, see if you can snap Amber out of it.”

Mona picked up her dice again. 


“Amber!” Isolde shook the other girl, trying to bring her back to the present, out of whatever trance she was in. “Amberwyne!” 

Amber gazed at her, not truly seeing her, even though she was right there. 


“Rhane, roll for willpower again, only this time, Amberwyne is at a disadvantage.” Beatrix gazed at a screen between herself and her players, statistics for an enemy only she could view. 

Possibly Fidessa’s, who was probably much more powerful than Amberwyne or Isolde. Mona scowled, wondering what she could do. 

Wait a moment, maybe there was something. 

“I could try and distract Amberwyne further.” Mona leaned a little closer to Rhane when she spoke. “It might help her, especially considering the way Fidessa can effect Amber’s heart and mind.”

“What did you have in mind?” Rhane cocked her head, a slight flush coloring her cheeks. Perhaps she guessed exactly what Mona…and Isolde…had in mind. 

Mona allowed a smile of her own to play across her face.


Fidessa had been Amberwyne’s mentor, mistress, and much more, if Isolde guessed correctly, even if Amber herself didn’t wish to talk about it. Her enchantments had a particular scent, triggering the weakness in Amberwyne, just as her likeness seemed to hypnotize Isolde’s precious companion whenever it appeared. The way Amber sometimes called her “‘Dessa” in more unguarded moments hinted at the nature of this weakness. 

Perhaps it was time to give Amber a little strength in an intimate way. 

Isolde leaned forward and took Amberwyne’s face in her large, chapped hands. She brought her mouth close to those parted lips and kissed them. 


“What?” Beatrix and Rhane said at the exact same time, both staring at Mona. 

“Well?” Mona smirked, feeling very pleased with herself. “Did this work? Did I distract Amberwyne from ‘Dessa and whatever magic her likeness possessed?”

Beatrix stopped smiling and considered the dice. “All right, Rhane, take two extra dice.”

Not looking at Mona, Rhane picked up the dice in question. Her hands trembled a bit when she cast them. 


Cool hands reached up to cover her own.

“Isolde?” Amber breathed the words in shaky surprise into her mouth. 

“Thank the spirits.” Isolde wrapped her arms around her precious princess and hugged her to her breast. “You’re back. I was afraid she’d taken you away from me. Again.”

“Taken me away? Who?” Amber whispered into her hair, but she was no longer able to see who. 

Isolde dropped a hand to cover the coin with her palm, concealing Fidessa’s likeness. “I swear to you, I shall never let her have you again. Never.” 


“The spell is broken, isn’t it?” Mona gave Beatrix a sharp look. “I’ve broken Amber’s eye contact with the image, so it no longer has any power over her.”

“For now.” Beatrix scowled, yet she was willing to let it go. This time. Mona let out a tiny sigh of relief. “I’d keep that coin covered.”

“Isolde will.” Mona gave Rhane a sideways glance. The other girl parted her lips, wearing a dreamy expression very like the one Amber must have worn. 

A pity she couldn’t kiss them the way Isolde had Amberwyne’s. Only Rhane was Beatrix’s, or she gave every indication of being so. She’d certainly never shown any romantic interest in Mona, for all Mona found herself hypnotized by Rhane’s lips, the way the light reflected on her ashen hair, the soft huskiness of her voice. 

It wasn’t the first time she’d wanted something that was Beatrix. Beatrix always had the prettiest, most interesting things. It seemed she also collected the prettiest, the most interesting people. 

Mona was lucky to be one of those people. This was an interesting game and an interesting opportunity to roleplay with Rhane. The problem was Beatrix’s scowl. It promised a cranky mood, which would hang over the rest of the session like a thundercloud, putting a damper on the fun. She’d almost suspect Beatrix was annoyed at her interest in Rhane, something Mona had never been able to hide. “Her pathetic little crush” was generally regarded with contemptuous amusement, unless something had changed. 

The game itself was changing. Mona was no longer sure if Beatrix herself enjoyed it. It made Mona enjoy it less, which was a shame. Perhaps this was one of the reasons she and Isolde had tried to spice things up. 

She hoped Amberwyne enjoyed it, even if she wasn’t sure if Rhane had. 

Such a shame. 

Mona ducked her head and pretended not to look at the fair-haired girl, unsure if she was fooling anybody. 

Beatrix rolled her eyes. Rhane reddened and studied her hands. 

She wasn’t. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Paula's Prompts: Wednesday Words

On November 27, 2019, P.T. Wyant posted at the Wednesday Words prompt of 'a family feast gone wrong'.

This freebie story, which takes place in the same world as Fairest and Of Cuckoo Clocks and Crystal Coffins was the result, showing that Garnet, youngest of the seven/six dwarves does have reason to fear garden gnomes...

The meat tasted terrible. They hadn’t added anything unusual, only onions and garlic, yet the expression on the Olde Gnome’s expression spoke volumes. Not that she’d limit herself to just making faces. “That smells rancid.”

Popover and Treacle exchanged uncomfortable glances. Their Elder hadn’t even tasted the dinner yet. Garden gnomes weren’t known for their culinary skills, but the matriarch of their family was known far and wide for her discerning taste. She’d sat at the tables of sidhe ladies, high elven queens, and in the lost halls of mountain kings, where not all treasures were gold or gems. Some grew in the dark, hidden spots, releasing a succulent flavour when plucked and prepared. 

Popover never would have dared to cook something so complicated, not for the Olde Gnome. He’d selected something a human might have grown in her garden, the simple onion. Nor was there anything too complicated with the braising process. No, it had to be…

“Something must be wrong with the meat,” Treacle muttered in an undertone. “Just where did you get it?”

Popover looked away, up at the beams overhead, festooned with mistletoe, honouring Mischief’s ability to ensnare and sicken Beauty, making him entirely his. “Well, it seemed like a waste. He was already dead and to simply leave him there-“

“Who?!” Treacle hissed, but it was too late. 

The Old Gnome rose from her seat to fix her hooded gaze upon Popover. “This is orc, isn’t it?” She made a slow, hissing sound of disapproval, showing a hint of the monstrous face which lurked behind the plump, rosy-cheeked facade most garden gnomes presented to the world. “I thought I’d raised my family better than that. You never braise orc! The flavour is too harsh, stringent, and it makes the onions taste like wilted arugula!”

This was the ultimate put-down. Gnomes might eat leaves, tree bark, and nibble on feathers if they were prepared properly, but nothing was worse than wilted arugula. 

“We’re sorry,” Treacle muttered in a low, grovelling tone. They’d earned a grovel. They needed to grovel after a mistake like this. Only something about the other gnome’s fawning tone irritated Popover.

“Why you expect so much of us, I don’t know,” he muttered, examining his knotty knuckles. “We’re the only gnomes anywhere expected to be gourmets and you’re the only elder with such expectations. I don’t know why we can’t be more like other gnomes, concentrating on gardening, mining, or-“

He didn’t get to finish his sentence. A stinging slap to his jaw sent his head spinning, silencing him. 

“I expect this much of you because you’re my family. I expect such a thing because it’s not the sort of thing one expects from garden gnomes.” The Olde Gnome seized his shoulders and shook him. “I expect it because butchering an orc and feeding it to your family is disgusting!”

“How is it any more disgusting than butchering and serving up any other living creature?” Popover rubbed his cheek. “Why can’t we simply eat vegetables?”

“Normally that’s fine, but this is a special, sacrificial holiday on which blood needs to be spilled and a life consumed.” The matriarch softened her voice, loosening her grip on his shoulders. “It’s important that the meal is prepared well, to honour those who came before us, who created us.”

“Why?” Popover tried to make his own voice as respectful as possible. “Those who came before us are gone. Those who created us abandoned us. Why should we honour them?”

“Just because they’re gone doesn’t mean they should be forgotten. Even if they abandoned us, we’re here because of them.” The Olde Gnome stroked Popover’s shoulder. “I’m grateful for being here. I’m grateful I have you, even if your cooking makes me want to cry sometimes.”

Popover found his defiance draining from him, leaving him hanging his head in his ancestor’s grip.

“So here’s what we’re going to do. We’ll throw out the stew.” The Olde Gnome glanced from Popover to Treacle. “I’ll take you out, show you how to hunt some proper meat for this occasion.”

“What are we hunting?” Treacle exchanged an uneasy glance with Popover. 

“Something far more tender and less difficult than to catch than orc.” The Elder smiled, showing her teeth to her relations. “I’m sure someone was foolish enough to get caught in a faerie ring and follish enough to slow down while dancing.” She winked at both of the younglings. 

Treacle grinned back, showing teeth of her own. Popover lifted his head, baring his own sharp incisors. 

Perhaps this family holiday would turn out to be fun, after all. 

I'm hoping I got some work done on Of Cuckoo Clocks and Crystal Coffins during April Camp NaNoWriMo. If you want to read Fairest, my f/f fantasy fairytale, which combines elements of Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, and Cinderella, it's here with a bunch of other 
LGBTQIA+ fairytales in Once Upon a Rainbow...

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

#QueerBlogWed: Paula's Prompts

Did you enjoy #BloggingFromAZAprilChallenge: Character Conflicts? My characters will take over the blog if I let them...which they've already done at

Now the Formerly Forbidden Cauldron will return to its regular schedule of Wednesday posts and Quartz's monthly outbursts, err, Secondary Characters Speak Out, beginning with one of Paula's prompts.

On January 15, 2020, P.T. Wyant posted at a Wednesday Words prompt involving a winged cat, a game, and a foreign language.

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

There were a series of moves I needed to make in the game or else the winged cat would swoop down and eat my mouse knight. I just had no idea what they were. It didn’t help that the runes and instructions for the game were in another language. Every time my mouse got devoured. 

“You’re letting me win, Gabrielle,” Raphaelle scolded right before the giant feline’s mouth swallowed my small, whiskered champion. “Your lack of Direction is obvious, even in a game.” 

“How can you expect me to be any other other way?” I snapped, allowing my temper to flare up, in spite of the danger. “You tie me to my own bed any time I show the slightest sign of initiative or individuality! How could I or anything I represent be anything other than prey to you and yours?”

Rafaelle recoiled, nostrils flaring in outrage. She raised one hand tipped with sharp nails, ready to slap me.

I braced myself for the blow, possibly the scratches when her nails connected with my cheek. Only the blow never came. 

“Perhaps you’re right.” Rafaelle lowered her arm. “Perhaps I’ve used force against you so often, you respond to it rather than the reason behind it.”

“What reason?” Direction had never made much sense to me. It just was, yet there had to be reason behind it. Rafaelle never seemed interested in the philosophy behind the truth any more than Michael was. Only Urielle seemed concerned with deeper meanings, but she cloaked them in brief enigmas, never giving me time to dwell on them. 

Mireille was the one person in my life who truly wanted to talk or discuss the meaning of anything at any length. This was why I was so hungry for her company, even if it meant sneaking outside the temple walls and risking the other Directions’ wrath. 

“Oh, Gabrielle.” Rafaelle reached out to touch my hand. “Are my reasons that unclear to one destined to deliver tidings to others?”

“I am?” I felt more slow and stupid than ever. “I thought I was a failure as a Direction.”

“No!” Rafaelle reached out to grab my hand, digging her nails into my skin. “You may be young, willful, and often in need of discipline, but Heaven chose you, Gabrielle. To consider yourself a failure is to question Heaven!”

Oh, so that was it. Behind Rafaelle’s smouldering disappointment in me lay fear. Every time I made my mentor doubt my capabilities as a Direction, she found herself doubting Heaven and her own faith in the perfection of Heaven. I was the embodiment of her doubt. 

“There’s always a reason for my anger, little one.” Rafaelle released my hand and lifted her own to caress my cheek. “You may not understand it, but it’s there.” She allowed her fingers to travel to the side of my head and rumple my hair. “I’m not simply trying to cow you into submission. I’m teaching you to unlock the riddle of correct behaviour.”

“The riddle of correct behaviour?” Rafaelle had never indicated there was any mystery to behaving well. I’d gotten the impression it was something perfectly obvious, but I was too slow to understand it. “How do I go about solving that?”
“By thinking about why I’m punishing you while I do it!” She curled her nail against my cheek, like a dagger. “Did you ever consider why I bind you to your own bed? It’s to give you a quiet moment with your thoughts, to consider your own actions and mine!” Trembling, she withdrew her hand from me. Rafaelle gazed at me, eyes huge and dark, raising a knuckle to her slack mouth. It was as if she were seeing me for the first time.

I looked back at her, feeling warm wetness trickle down my face, wondering if I was doing the same thing. All this time, I’d assumed she tied me up to humiliate me, to force me to submit to her. I’d never considered the possibility that she was trying to force me to think. My thoughts were the wildest, most rebellious parts of me, skipping after Mireille down paths Heavenly Directions would never go. 

Would Rafaelle still tie to the bed if she realized this? Or would she do something much worse? Would she try to stop me from thinking all together?

She might. She might take away the one place where I was free to be myself. She and the other Directions might have the power to do exactly that. 

This was why she could never guess my true thoughts. I’d have to create a mask honest and believable enough to wear around the other Directions, yet opaque enough to conceal my inner rebellion. 

Perhaps it was turning from the Direction Heaven intended for me. Perhaps I was meant to rebel, or share my feelings of rebellion honestly. 

I might never be able to leave the temple walls again if Rafaelle realized how rebellious I really was. I might no longer see Mireille. 

That possibility was enough to quash any consideration of openness. The chance of being parted from Mireille was too terrible to risk. 

No, I’d start building a mask and I’d learn to enjoy wearing it. I’d pour what truth into it I could and conceal the rest. It might be a useful thing to don if I was destined to take tidings to other places, like the Garden of Arachne. Concealment might protect my secret self from more than simply the other Directions. It could hide it from anyone who wanted to crush it. 

I never considered the possibility that Heaven might protect me from being crushed. Nor that Rafaelle might change her mind if I expressed my own with enough conviction. 

Later on, I did wonder. What would have happened, if I’d stood up to Rafaelle? Would I have been crushed? Or might I have won? 

Perhaps my mouse knight would have finally eluded the winged cat, making her way to the center of the maze in the game I could never win. Perhaps Rafaelle would have finally come to respect me.

I’ll never know.