A Look Back At My 2017 Resolutions

Hi people! So, as is only natural, at the end of 2016 I published a blog outlining my lofty hopes and dreams for 2017. You can read it here.

Let’s have a look at what those were, and how many of the got done, in part or in whole:

  1. Write. A lot. I did this. Not as much as I’d hoped (I wanted to get the first draft of my fifth novel done, but that didn’t happen). I rewrote book 1, and finished book 4, wrote some Stories My Friends Started, and some flash fiction writing exercises; and a few short short stories for anthologies. And a story to submit to Writers of the Future (it didn’t win but it was awesome).
  2. Read. Not quite as much as I write, but at least some. I did this!!! I read the Pendragon series (awesome) and Second Chances by Alanna J. Rubin (also awesome!).
  3. Keep Erika happy with my quota of Stories My Friends Started (if you’d like to help me with this particular resolution, go to Storiesmyfriendsstarted.com, and give us a sentence to start!) I sort of did this – Erika may disagree, but you can see what I did do here. “Jumping Back”, “Quiet”, “Liabilities of Language”, and “Inspiration” are a few of my favorites, as well as the rather impressive (if I do say so myself) four-part “Magic Mirror” story.
  4. Write/publish stories in the much-anticipated sequel to The Death of Jimmy – The Purge of Jimmy (coming soon). Yes – get your copy here for just $0.99!!
  5. Write/publish stories in Super Useless (coming sooner). And yes!! Get your copy of these delightful people with not so super superpowers here ($0.99)!
  6. Get my 2017 anthology in on time and within the specified word count. I did this too! “The Writer’s Trial” a fun little piece about writers, devils, and talking cats that I wrote several years ago, and by several years, I mean over a decade. You can get your copy here, also $0.99!
  7. Publish Book IV of the Guardians of the Path series. Yes! Go me! You can get the first four books here!
  8. Write first draft of Book V of GOTP (and dare to hope it will be published at the end of the year). Yeah, not so much. Strike one *sad face*.
  9. Write a novella series (or two). Yeah, really not so much. Strike two *sheds a tear*
  10. Savor the coffee. Let the Force flow through me… I did this. Lots of delicious coffee, and I saw Star Wars: Rogue One, though I haven’t seen The Last Jedi yet, but soon.
  11. Spend lots of time with my family. I did this too. We Skyped a lot, because we’re spread out across the U.S. now.
  12. Spend lots of time with my amazing companions in the Ink Slingers Guild, drinking tea, laughing, and being awesome. I did this. It was awesome.
  13. Be awesome in general. I think I did this.
  14. Spread the awesomeness. I beta read a couple books for some friends of mine, baked people yummy things, did a lot of networking this year, made a super cool little calendar for the Ink Slingers Guild.
  15. Bake yummy things. So many yummy things: chocolate chip cookies, strawberry jam biscuits, gingerbread, mince pies, shortbread.
  16. Make some good memories. I went to California to see where I was born, I went to Megacon, I went to the movies to see Thor: Ragnarok with my mom for my birthday, I went to see WD HAN in concert.
  17. Do something that I haven’t done before. I went to Megacon – my very first Convention! It was awesome!
  18. Go somewhere new. I’m not sure if this totally counts, but here goes: I flew by myself for the first time to visit my sister in California. It wasn’t new so much – I was born there, but it was the first time I’d been back in 24 years, so it felt like some place new. My sister also kept complaining about how new everything was, and all the new buildings that were being put up, so I feel that lends credence to my assertion that this counts.
  19. Don’t spend too much time on the internet (very important). I totally did this. You can read about my internet-free adventure here.
  20. Find that dragon, and travel the world a-dragonback (from 2016). In progress.
  21. Take over the world (also from 2016). Also in progress.

And that’s the last one – not bad for a year!! I am very proud of myself for actually getting most of my stuff done! Now I’ll have to think up some awesome resolutions for 2018….

❤ DragonBeck

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Merry Christmas!

Though it’s been said, many times, many ways, Merry Christmas to you!

Buon Natale
Merry Christmas
Fröhliche Weihnachten
Joyeux Noel
Feliz Navidad
Gun Tso Sun Tan’Gung Haw Sun
Hyvaa joulua
Sarbatori vesele
Kala Christouyenna
Shinnen omedeto
Mele Kalikimaka
Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom Rozhdestva is Novim Godom
Boas Festas e Feliz Ano Novo
Vesele Bozicne
Sawadee Pee Mai
Gesëende Kersfees
Gezur Krislinjden
Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah
Shenoraavor Nor Dari yev Pari Gaghand
Tezze Iliniz Yahsi Olsun
Selamat Hari Natal
Zorionak eta Urte Berri On!
Shuvo Naba Barsha
Vesele Vanoce
Nedeleg laouen na bloavezh mat
Tchestita Koleda
Bon Nadal i un Bon Any Nou!
Prejeme Vam Vesele Vanoce a stastny Novy Rok
Yukpa, Nitak Hollo Chito
Subha nath thalak Vewa
Sung Tan Chuk Ha
Sretan Bozic
Glædelig Jul
Jutdlime pivdluarit ukiortame pivdluaritlo!
Gajan Kristnaskon
Ruumsaid juulup|hi
Cristmas-e-shoma mobarak bashad
Zalig Kerstfeest en Gelukkig nieuw jaar
Maligayan Pasko!
Noflike Krystdagen en in protte Lok en Seine yn it Nije Jier!
Nollaig chridheil agus Bliadhna mhath ùr!
Nadolig Llawen
Feliz Natal
En frehlicher Grischtdaag un en hallich Nei Yaahr!
Barka da Kirsimatikuma Barka da Sabuwar Shekara!
Shub Naya Baras
Selamat Hari Natal
Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah
Ojenyunyat Sungwiyadeson honungradon nagwutut
Gledileg Jol
Nollick ghennal as blein vie noa
Natale hilare et Annum Faustum
Prieci’gus Ziemsve’tkus un Laimi’gu Jauno Gadu!
Linksmu Kaledu
Sreken Bozhik
LL Milied Lt-tajjeb
Meri Kirihimete
Merry Keshmish
God Jul
Pulit nadal e bona annado
Vrolijk Kerstfeest en een Gelukkig Nieuwjaar!
Bikpela hamamas blong dispela Krismas na Nupela yia i go long yu
Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia
Mata-Ki-Te-Rangi
La Maunia Le Kilisimasi Ma Le Tausaga Fou
Hristos se rodi
Sretan Bozic oppure Vesele vianoce
God Jul and (Och) Ett Gott Nytt År
Noeliniz Ve Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun
Srozhdestvom Kristovym
Kellemes Karacsonyi unnepeket
Naya Saal Mubarak Ho
Chung Mung Giang Sinh
E ku odun, e ku iye’dun

❤ DragonBeck

 

Fantastical Flash Fiction

Greetings all! Around this time of year, everyone gets pretty busy, myself included, so you’ll have to forgive the brief message! I hope you are doing well, and the holidays are not unduly stressing you out. Here’s some fantastical flash fiction from the last Ink Slingers Guild meeting for you to enjoy during an interlude to the craziness! 🙂

Regard, ruler, format,

“Your problem is that the format of your spell is wrong,” Moss pointed at the
pile of feathers at the end of the pentagram. “What is that?”
Sara looked at the bloody mass, and her face colored. “I’m not really sure. My
cat brought it in this morning, and it seemed fresh enough…” She trailed off
at the pained look on Moss’ face.
The wizard pinched the bridge of his nose, gave a deep sigh and pulled out a
ruler. He knelt down, being careful not to touch the cat’s offering, and began
to measure the lines she had drawn. “Off by two inches. Off by two and a half
inches. This one’s better-only off by one and a quarter.”
Sara was fighting tears, determined not to let him see how upset she was.
Fortunately, he was so intent on critiquing her spell that he didn’t have
attention for her. “And with regard to the placement,” he pointed at an oblique
angle towards the door. “It should be lined up with the point to the
North-north-west. If you truly want to summon the spirit of your grandfather,
you’re going to have to start again.”
Sara sighed, and went to get the bleach. That blood was going to take some work
to get out.
_____________________________________________________________________________
poison (my word), top, satisfy,

Nat very carefully drew the tip of the arrow through the poison, watching the
black liquid gleam and then sink into the metal. This particular batch was for
an assassin who was very difficult to satisfy, but there was a reason Nat was
called the best. Nat set the arrow on top of the roll of leather, and reached
for the last arrow. He held it up to the light, admiring the grain of the wood,
the expert fletching, the razor sharp head. Instead of drawing this through the
jar in front of him, he stood and walked to the shelf behind his work-desk. He
pulled the blue book from its place, and pressed the hidden lever. The false
back swung forward, and revealed the little cubby he kept his most rare and
potent potions. The tiny bottle had but a single drop left, and Nat has been
saving it for a very long time, but now the time was right. He tipped the liquid
onto the last arrow, and watched as the metal began to glow as if it has just
been pulled from a fire. Then the glow faded, but if one held the arrow up to
the light, the tip of the arrow now had a slightly paler gleam than the others.
Nat smiled grimly. It was time for payback.
__________________________________________________________________________
Derail, reflection, sugar,

Everything was in place to derail the king’s coronation. The street urchins had
been payed to tip the barrels of oil over the procession. The sharpshooter with
the flaming arrows was positioned on the corner of the highest roof of the
square, his arrow coated in black to dull the sun’s reflection on the metal.
“What do you mean, the coronation has been called off?” the sulky lord shouted.
“They can’t call it off!”
“I’m afraid they can, and they have,” the elderly advisor said without sympathy.
“It’s raining. They cannot hold a party in the rain.”
“When will they reschedule?” the lord asked. “They did not see fit to give that
information to me,” the advisor said, only now the slightest signs of strain
seeping through his carefully controlled demeanor.
“Well, then, find out!” the lord said, throwing himself across the feather bed
pouting. “First bring me some mulled apple cider. With sugar!” he added in an
imperious tone at the retreating back of the old man. The advisor closed the
door to the lord’s chamber, and only now did his impassive face melt into a
disgruntled scowl.
“Perhaps someone should plan your assassination, you spoiled little brat,” he
muttered to himself, before he walked off to get the tea.

❤ DragonBeck

Just Toppam

Here’s a three-in-one post of my writing exercises from the last meeting. Technically we only did two exercises, but both Brandon and I did continuations, so we got a third set of words for an extra-special story. Here’s mine – enjoy!

Turkey, messy (my word), narrow,

He walked down the narrow alley, the dead turkey swinging at his side. They
would eat well tonight, better than they had all winter. The dead bird was
scrawny, and had not been plucked, so it would be a messy preparation, but still
his mouth watered at the thought of hot, roast meat. His stomach gave an
answering grumble. Shadows moving behind him pulled him from his lovely fantasy,
and he groped for the rusty knife in his belt. He turned to look, but the alley
was empty. After a moment spent searching the darkness, he convinced himself
that he had been imagining things. He shrugged and turned to continue home. He
ran into the tall man standing in front of him, swinging the silver topped cane
with a smile that bared pointed teeth.

__________________________________________________________________
marked, butterscotch, grime,

“Who are you?” Tim stammered, clutching the turkey to his breast as if it would
protect him.
The second man smiled wider. “My name is Toppam.” The man bowed and touched his
hat.
Tim started. No one had ever bowed to him.
“And who do I have the pleasure of addressing?” The man had a pleasant smell
reminiscent of butterscotch hanging around him, and his fine clothes seemed to
repel the grime of the dirty alley they were standing in.
“My name is Tim. Tim Calloway,” Tim nodded, and raised his hand to his forehead
though he had no hat to tip.
“Mr. Calloway, it is an honor to make your acquaintance,” Toppam said. “Would
you walk with me this evening?”
Tim didn’t think he had a choice, so he nodded and fell into step beside the
tall, sinister man.
“You are probably wondering why I came to seek you out,” Toppam continued in the
same dignified voice that hinted at a private joke.
Tim nodded. “Yes, Mr. Toppam, sir, the thought has crossed my mind.”
“No, it’s just Toppam,” the man corrected, flashing pointed teeth again. “And it
is a simple enough answer Mr. Calloway. You’re a marked man, sir, a man marked
for greatness, if you would only allow me to assist you in that endeavor.”
_________________________________________________________________________
Zone, ghastly, tickle,

Tim swallowed. “I don’t know about that Mr. Toppam, sir,” he said, forgetting
that the man wished to be called simply Toppam. “I’ve never done anything great
in my life.”
The tall man threw his head back and laughed, then turned and patted Tim kindly
on the shoulder. “You are such curious little creatures,” Toppam murmured, more
to himself than to Tim. “Such potential, and yet so shortsighted and
narrow-minded at the same time.”
Tim gave a nervous cough, and distanced himself by two paces from the
frightening man. “Mr. Toppam, sir-”
“Just Toppam, if you please, Mr. Calloway,” Toppam smiled, this time his lips
pressed closed.
A tickle of unease rippled down Tim’s spine, and the fact that the man insisted
on calling him Mr. Calloway made him more uncomfortable still.
“Toppam, if it please you, sir,” Tim continued, pushing past the lump in his
throat. “If it’s all the same to you, I just want to go home to my family.
They’re hungry, sir, and waiting for me to bring them supper.”
“Unfortunately, it’s not the same to me, not at all.” Toppam gazed at the sky, a
ghastly expression on his face, one of age-old suffering, then he twirled his
cane once more, and the expression was gone. “That is a fine bird. Tell me, how
did you come by it?”
“Won it in a game of cards, fair and square, Toppam, sir,” Tim said, lifting his
chin.
Toppam chuckled. “If it makes you happy to think so.” Toppam snapped his
fingers, and the turkey vanished.
Tim let out an unmanly scream, and stumbled back against the wall, quaking as
Toppam stepped towards him, reaching into his jacket.
“Please don’t,” Tim pleaded.
Toppam grimaced. “I’m not going to hurt you.” He withdrew a small square of
paper. “Have you ever seen this woman?”
Tim squinted at the picture of a girl with blond curls and dark eyes for a long
time, just to be sure. “No, sir.”
A sigh escaped Toppam’s lips, and he looked relieved, the darkness leaving his
face and his eyes lighting. “There may be time yet,” Toppam said.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

❤ DragonBeck

Writer On Holiday (Sort of)

Hey there, wonderful readers of the world!

I know I haven’t been gracing you with literary awesomeness like I should’ve been, but I have a good excuse – I swear!
I’ve been visiting my sister out in the great (or greatest, depending on who you ask) state of California, and so I haven’t had much attention or time for anything else.

California is really nice – I am enjoying myself. I am immensely enjoying the weather, though it got a little hot. My sister is taking me to all the ice-cream places which are to die for (shout out to Jeni’s and McConnelsl’s – aaammmaaazing ice cream). Have you ever had Earl Grey And Shortbread ice-cream? If not, I heartily recommend it. It has a very writerly vibe to it, I think. The only thing I have a small problem with is that it’s very difficult to find postcards – not really sure why; this is a touristy state, is it not?

Anyway, I hope everyone is doing well, and we’ll talk soon!

Oh, and any advice on where to get postcards in LA/Orange County? Or really good ice-cream?

❤ DragonBeck

The Ribbon

There’s nothing like a little mystery to hook the reader and draw them in….

leaving, broad, ribbon,

The ribbon had been a present from her mother, given on the day of her first
leaving, so many years ago it was lost in the fog of the past that shifted and
evaporated in her decaying mind. “Grandmother?” a gentle voice asked, and her
eyes focused on the bright face in front of her, pretty, with blond curls and
bright greens eyes. Something stirred in the fog, but it was so hard to
remember.
“Grandmother, can you hear me?”
The girl was probably seventeen, just younger than she had been when she had
gone through the ceremony and the terrible ordeal that followed. Or was it an
ordeal that had been followed by a ceremony? The memories were getting more and
more mixed up now. She looked down, and focused again on the faded satin ribbon,
the gold thread shining weakly against the burgundy cloth.
This ribbon had kept her safe. That much she was certain of, and she was also
certain that the girl in front of her had to have it, for a reason she couldn’t
explain, just that she felt in the depths of her ancient bones. She held it out
to the girl in a trembling hand, and gave a sigh of satisfaction when she saw it
in her hand, somehow broader than she remembered against the girl’s slim wrist
and dainty fingers.
“Grandmother, what is this for?”
But Fate dictated that she would never answer that question, as her final breath
slipped from her lips and she sank into the whiteness.

_______________________________________________________

❤ DragonBeck

Bug Crisis

Erika said this wouldn’t end well. What do you think?

busy (my word), crisis, bug,

Just when she thought things couldn’t get any worse, the bug showed up. It was a
hideous things with too many legs, mandibles that clicked with a hungry sort of
questioning repetition, and glossy wings that rustled against its back. It was
also the size of a cat. Kella had been busy trying to avert the crisis brewing
in her cauldron, but now she was on the table, her heart hammering in her chest
as she watched the monstrosity crawl through her kitchen, praying to the gods
that it couldn’t climb the furniture.
Out of the corner of her eye, the witch noticed the purple froth begin to flow
more energetically over the rim of her cauldron, pooling on the the kitchen
floor like luminescent fog in the wee hours of the morning. The flames
spluttered, but clung stubbornly to life, which made the purple mist pour out
faster and faster, and soon the floor disappeared under it. Kella could still
tell where the giant insect was, by the way the mist moved, and the pair of
antennae that hovered above the blanket of mist, but then even those were
hidden.
________________________________________________________

❤ DragonBeck

Shadow Road – A Stories My Friends Started

I haven’t done one of these for a while, so I thought I should remedy that. This is the first SMFS that I ever wrote, and it’s still one of my favorites 🙂 For Shaina Clark. May you find reasons to smile abound.

Although he had spent every day of his childhood being pampered and spoiled to within an inch of his life, he was still one of the most melancholic individuals his associates had ever encountered.

No, Judianna thought, not pampered. Groomed. Yes, groomed from before he could walk. Though Mage Doneron had told her to study all faces present, Judianna could not help but watch golden-haired Prince Quiteas brood at one corner of the triangular table.

It had been a long time since she had seen him this close and he did not remember her face. Quiteas sat ramrod straight yet still seemed to slump in the angular chair with a veiled expression and pale eyes that missed nothing and gave away less. The prince was not dissimilar in physical appearance to the boy Judianna had known so many years ago, but other than that, he was a different person.

The armored bulk that was General Armareus occupied the second corner. The silver-robed stick figure of High Mage Doneron sat at the third. Judianna was a fourth of the Mage’s retinue. The General had a full dozen men with him, but only four were allowed at the table. Quiteas had one accompanying him, a slim figure bowed beneath a hooded robe. As such, his corner of the table looked somewhat desolate.

“Your majesty,” Doneron the Mage said, his voice smoothed by eons of chanting spells. “You cannot wait any longer. A decision must be made.”

“And I say you make it,” Quiteas said. Judianna didn’t believe it possible, but his mouth turned down even further. “It means nothing to me.”

The General cleared his throat. Had Quiteas been an underling, Judianna had no doubt the General’s meaty fist would have been around his throat by now. As it was, the General merely raised his hand in a conciliatory gesture.

“My prince,” he began. “The man who is chosen to take the place of the late Lord Sardaen must be someone trustworthy. The new Lord inherits all of the Harmand Way. I should not need to remind you that the Way is a very strategic point and the surrounding lands very productive.”

“I know my history,” Quiteas sighed a world weary sigh. “And I trust the both of you to choose wisely.”

“Traditionally, it has been the monarch who…” Mage Doneron began.

Quiteas silenced him by rising. The shadow by his side rose as well. Judianna kept her head down, though her eyes remained fixed on the prince. “Traditions come and go. You make your choice and I will speak the words if it will make you happy.”

“I don’t think your father would be happy to hear his son make a mime of the throne,” General Armareus.

“If my father has a problem with my ruling, I look forward to hearing from him in person.”

Prince Quiteas left the Council room frozen and fragile in the wake of his parting statement.

“It’s just as well you didn’t bring up his coronation again,” Armareus said with a glance at the empty chair.

Doneron poked at his face with long fingers as though to iron out the lines in his skin. “I wish the boy would just accept his father’s demise, come to terms with it and move on. He cannot be prince forever.”

“He is a stubborn boy,” the Armareus said, his armor creaking as he stood. “Give him time.”

“It has been a full seven years,” Doneron said, exasperation leaking from every syllable. “I do not know how to make him understand that when one travels the Shadow Road, they do not return and not even a Mage can make it so.”

“He will not give up on the King,” Armareus said, his men falling into place behind him. “It may be us who will be made to understand that we will be calling him ‘prince’ until he follows his father’s steps on the Shadow Road.”

Mage Doneron grunted in reply and it was long moments before he rose. Judianna rose with him and took up the rear of his procession, folding her hands serenely across her chest. Her lilac robe trailed long behind her, as did the robes of those in front of her. In this way, they were always evenly spaced as they walked. They traipsed along, their footsteps lost in majestic halls where only Mage Doneron seemed at ease among the towering columns and gilded glass windows.

As they strode from patterned tiles to snow white marble marked only by the shadow of statues, a messenger hurried up to Doneron and the entire procession halted. Hurried words were exchanged and the Mage nodded. The messenger disappeared and Doneron beckoned Judianna forward. He pulled a dark bottle from his robes and handed it to her.

“I had meant to give this to Prince Quiteas, but it slipped my mind. Please deliver it forthwith.”

Judianna nodded and took the bottle. Despite having learned the castle passages from schematics until she could walk them blindfolded, she had never actually trespassed within the prince’s personal wing. A nervous flutter made her stomach clench. She stood without the huge pair of black doors and knocked.

A moment later the left door opened and the robed figure that had shadowed the prince stood on the other side. The hood had fallen back to reveal a pale face, soft brown hair and pointed ears. Forest green eyes flecked with gold appraised Judianna and a slim hand came out to silently request the bottle.

Judianna gave the elf the bottle, bowed her head and turned away as the door closed. She had barely started down the hall when the door was thrown open and the prince’s voice yelled at her, gloomy even in wrath.

“Mage, what is the meaning of…oh, I beg your pardon. I thought you were Doneron.”

“He sent me in his stead,” Judianna said, bowing her head. “Is something amiss?”

“Yes!” Quiteas said, waving the bottle. “This is not what I asked for.”

“I’m sorry,” Judianna said, reaching for the bottle. “I will return it…”

“No,” Quiteas sighed. “No, that will not do.”

Judianna stood silent, puzzled by his vacillations. The prince deigned to explain himself, for what reason Judianna couldn’t say.

“I have had increasing trouble sleeping of late, and I asked the Mage for a draught to ease my nerves. This…this is milk and honey. I used to drink it as a boy,” Quiteas said. “I wager it is his way of rebuking me. Tell me, do you think he is right to tell me to accept that my father is forever gone down the Shadow Road?”

The question threw Judianna further off guard and she stammered. “I…I think the High Mage is very wise and has your wellbeing at heart, your Majesty.”

“That is not an answer,” the prince leaned against the wall, sad eyes studying her. “I saw you in the Council room, attending Doneron. You were almost as watchful as he. You seem familiar. I think perhaps I might have known you, a long time ago.”

Judianna contemplated how to answer the unasked question. She chose the forthright response. “As children we played in the halls whenever you could get away from hawking or divination, your least favorite lessons.”

“Judianna!” Recognition dawned in the prince’s eyes, and his frown lifted a little though he did not smile. “I thought you had left the palace some time past.”

“It was judged I had some magical potential. Doneron took me to apprentice,” Judianna said. “I have been here, but keeping to corners and shadows.”

“Doneron is teaching you to see and not be seen. I remember those lessons.”

“I find it quite useful. Observing is the easiest way to learn things,” Judianna said with a smile. “Words and eyes may lie, but actions cannot be other than what they are.”

“Indeed,” Quiteas said. “Doneron’s pupil to the heart. Come. Join me and tell me of what has transpired since we last spoke.”

He held open the door to his suite. Judianna drifted inside. Her eyes immediately went to the figure standing at the window. The elf had discarded the cloak and wore deep green satin trousers and tunic. Quiteas nodded in his direction.

“This is Masatri. He was bound to my father by some ancient, forgotten pact and he, like everyone else, assumes that he is now bound to me. No matter how I try to dissuade him, he insists on following me everywhere.”

The elf bowed, bronze highlights gleaming in his hair. “Men are strange creatures with short lives and shorter memories, but this pact is not something to take lightly despite His majesty’s obvious discomfit.”

“Don’t mind him. He is very sociable though he doesn’t say much. Come, sit.”

Quiteas gestured toward the sitting-place under a spread of windows. Outside the sky was grey and a stiff wind pulled at the trees, sending showers of leaves swirling about like dervishes. The three sat on cushioned lounges. Masatri brought iced lemon water, candied fruit and spicy biscuits. Quiteas ate with dainty, solemn bites. The elf filled a plate and ate with gusto. Judianna nibbled on a biscuit and spoke between bites.

“I learned history, language, simple sorcery and enchantment. Now, I’m learning the finer points of diplomacy and intrigue in preparation for accompanying Doneron to the courts of Glorina, Holvard, Athmar, Yoland and Itread to learn their dispositions and intentions to this kingdom.”

“No doubt you will do wonderfully and come back to lecture me on international politics as Doneron does.” Quiteas could have been making a joke but his dolorous expression did not change.

“No, I think he enjoys that too much to delegate that task,” Judianna said.

“Truer words were never spoken,” Quiteas said, rubbing his chin and gazing at nothing with his pale eyes.

It would be easier to judge what a painting was thinking than what thoughts lay behind the prince’s triste expression. Judianna thought that he might be handsome if he smiled and let the light touch his eyes. “Why do I never see you smile anymore, Prince Quiteas?”

“Perhaps you are not looking hard enough.”

“I do not think that is the reason, for your entire court would be as unobservant as I.” Judianna paused. “And yet, I recall you were quite gay as a boy.”

“Children have the freedom to be carefree,” Quiteas said. “Then they must grow up and become accustomed to reality.”

“Your kingdom prospers, your people want for little, your General grows fat for lack of war and your Mage has nothing to do but brew sleeping potions and fret about court invitations from foreign royalty yet this reality calls for such a dour outlook? What, I wonder, will your outlook be in times of strife, famine or war?”

“It is knowledge that strife, famine and war could come upon us at any moment that restrains my lightheartedness. It is not an easy thing to forget that even when the sun is shining, a hundred storms may be brewing beyond the horizon.”

“Yes, I do not think I would smile if I was always worrying about storms beyond the horizon,” Judianna said. “That, or I would learn to love the rain.”

“You already love the rain. Thunder and lightning as well, if I recall correctly.”

“You do,” Judianna said.

As she spoke a slow peal of far-off thunder reverberated. Quiteas looked up, then stood and threw open the windows. Wind whipped the curtains into dancing ghosts of lace and the smell of rain flooded the room. Judianna stood and walked to stand next to him.

“The gods heard us,” she said, her voice soft as she watched lightning flash across the clouds.

“I doubt the gods pay attention to anything I say,” Quiteas said, the light making planes and hollows of his face.

“Would your father wish you to be this miserable because of him?” Judianna asked softly.

“He came back,” Quiteas said, pointing at Masatri. “The elf left with my father, and came back without him. When I ask him if my father is dead, he gives the same answer.”

“He walks the Shadow Road,” Masatri whispered behind Judianna, making her jump.

“He pretends bondage to me, but obeys very little of what I say. He would not leave my father but for death or command. He will not say my father is dead. He cannot lie, so he was told to say that. If my father were truly dead, his allegiance would shift to me and I could make him tell me what happened. But I only hear about the Shadow Road. Until I hear differently, I await my father’s return.”

Judianna knew a little regarding the forest folk and could not fault the prince’s logic, but still, to be unhappy until such a time came…“You must cheer up, Quiteas. Surely there must be something you can smile about.”

“One day, when there is a good reason to smile, I shall do so.”

“And what would be a good reason to smile?” Judianna probed.

Quiteas turned away from her but for once she could see his thoughts plain as day. My father returning.

“You should not pick so lofty a reason to smile,” Judianna said. “Reasons abound all around, and if they are not apparent to you, then you can always make one up. You are the prince, after all.”

Quiteas looked at her for a long time. “You have not changed at all.”

Judianna shrugged. “I suppose I did not become accustomed to reality.”

“No I suppose not.” Quiteas paused. “I have kept you long enough. Doneron will be looking for your return. You must come and visit me more often. I will ask Doneron to send you.” Judianna thought she may have imagined it, but very slowly one corner of his mouth turned up. “That will vex him, I think.”

“He does not enjoy being vexed,” Judianna said, thinking of the Mage’s wish that the prince take up his father’s crown and Quiteas’ refusal.

“No, but he can be quite entertaining.”

Judianna smiled and bowed, making her exit.

“Wait.”

Judianna paused in the doorway.

“And please tell him: I choose Tamburn to be the next Lord Sardaen. Tamburn is a good man. He traveled with my father when he was younger and has kept the Donner Way faithfully.”

“I will tell the Mage. I’m sure he will be pleased to hear your Majesty’s decision.”

Judianna left still imagining the ghost of a smile on Prince Quiteas’ lips.

__________________________________________________________

If you’d like to start a story (and help a writer out at the same time), please go to storiesmyfriendsstarted.com and leave a sentence for us!

❤ DragonBeck

Meet The Authors

Hello everyone – happy Friday!

The Ink Slingers Guild are officially at Tampa Bay Megacon this weekend – we have a table in Artist Alley, and lots of fantastic books for you!!!

Let’s take a moment to get acquainted, shall we?

Lisa Barry:

“Writing and reading every minute she can, Lisa counts on her cats to keep her keyboard warm and on the countless gargoyles who stand guard throughout her house to ensure the safety of all those who enter with good intent. The gargoyles, even more importantly, listen carefully when Lisa reads to them aloud.

On a person note…besides having a deep admiration of gargoyles (who says they’re not real?), I love to read and write.  I collect gargoyles, I love music and can be heard driving up before I am seen, I’m a very picky eater (just ask my friends -eyes rolling-), I enjoy fishing and will catch them, clean them, cook them but won’t eat them or anything else out of the ocean.  I also believe in many fairy tale creatures, just haven’t knowingly met any yet.”

And she has a really cool tattoo.

  and coming soon…

Dalia Lance:

Dalia says “I have had a very interesting upbringing starting with growing up in Hollywood, CA. Never shy, I learned that if you are not willing to try something new you may let life simply pass you by. I love meeting people from all walks of life and these experiences inspire me on a daily basis. As a true friend once pointed out “You are never a complete waste, you can always be used as a bad example”. So what’s the worst that can happen?”

 

J. M. Pacquete:

JM Paquette writes cheesy vampire romance novels filled with action, adventure, intrigue, and sometimes slightly steamy sex scenes. She enjoys alliteration and puns of all kinds.

   

Alanna J. Rubin:

Miss Rubin says “I’m originally from Massachusetts. As a northerner, I never missed an opportunity to pick apples, carve pumpkins, or visit Salem to see the witches and haunted happenings. Now that I’m in Florida, not a day goes by when I don’t miss the changing colors of leaves, but I would never go back to having to shovel snow. As a fan of science fiction, paranormal, and romance…I find that individually they are fun,  however, I love them more when they’re mashed together. Often, when I am not writing my next adventure you’ll find me torn between watching a Jane Austen adaptation or hopping on the Tardis for an adventure in time and space.”

  

And yours truly, Nicole Dragonbeck:

I was born on the first day of a year-long eclipse of the sun, the thirteenth child of the Prince of Elves and an enchantress. As a small child I fell into a poisoned well and was horribly transformed by the toxic sludge seething in the deep darkness. I was fished out by a band of gypsies, who promised to feed and clothe me if I cooked and cleaned for them. They taught me to ride bareback and read palms, but I royally pissed off the leader by setting his wagon on fire and he cursed me with a great imagination and an equally great inability to tell the truth…and the rest is history.

  

I hope to see you at Megacon this weekend and get the chance to meet you in person!

❤ DragonBeck (and friends)