magic

The High Wizard

At the Ink Slingers Guild meeting last week, we had an even 12 writers, including a new member and two on Skype, so with three exercises, everyone got to pick one word. Here’s the last exercise, which has nothing to do with Jimmy and therefore gets its own post 😉

abstract-772508_1920

Candle, bobble-head, star,

Gina kept her eyes fixed on the bobble-head on the desk. It appeared as though a child had carved it, as the features weren’t true to nature, nor the proportions of the limbs, but to the credit of the carver, it did look somewhat like a deer.
“That’s the family cat,” a low, gravely voice issued from the plump purple chair behind the desk. “The thing just won’t die, and my great-grand-son thought he’d try his hand at carving.”
Gina nodded, and her eyes flicked up to the High Wizard. She still wasn’t sure why she had been granted this audience. She was no star in any of her studies.
She had no outstanding magical talents. She couldn’t make teacups appear out of thin air, or make a candle light with a wave of her hand. She was decent at potions, the mixing and brewing of herbs and essences, but that wasn’t real magic. It was more like cooking a soup than anything, the other professors said with their noses in the air.
“I’m sure you’re wondering why you’re here,” the High Wizard said, and Gina’s
heartbeat tripled when she read every hidden, sinister thought she had ever had
about failing and being expelled into the Wizard’s simple words.
“Yes, sir High Wizard sir,” she said, her voice squeaking. “I had been wondering
that.”

____________________________________________________

❤ DragonBeck

Advertisements

ISG 5th Anniversary Edition Celebration

The incredible, indelible, and intrepid Ink Slingers Guild held our Annual Anthology Party to celebrate the 5th Anniversary Anthology Serenity Rising!

It was the most fun a writer could have: hanging out with amazing authors, eating a lot of food, signing books with amazing stories – one of which they wrote – and toasting and making speeches. Okay, I might be kidding on that last one a bit, but Lisa was brilliant (you can read the text of her speech at the beginning of the book) and I did manage to come up with something to add on the fly and off the cuff (how do I get myself into these things??) which amounted to I love you guys!

Highlights include, but are not limited to, cake:

isg-cake

And an awesome banner with balloons (and awesome people):

isg-party-me-no-demon-eyes

At the end, we chose the words for 2017, tryst, bludgeon, and bloodless (and the title, but that’s a secret to be revealed at a later time):

wordsd

You can look forward to reading those stories at the end of next year, and in the meantime, get your copy of the latest book of stories; each is an adventure, so sit back and enjoy as the Ink Slingers Guild take you to the Serenity Rising.

As always, more to come soon,

❤ ❤ ❤ DragonBeck

Unleashing the Words

For the record: I don’t believe in writer’s block.

I do believe sometimes it takes more effort to get the words on paper (or screen), but this six sided, three-dimensional bogey man that plagues writers from under the bed or in the plumbing or wherever it hides? No, I don’t believe in that.

But most people would argue that whatever you call the manifestation known as “writer’s block”, or whether you believe in it or not,  is irrelevant. It exists, and it’s a real problem.

When I feel a little stuck or stultified (a brilliant word meaning: cause to lose enthusiasm and initiative, especially as a result of a tedious or restrictive routine), I draw.

More specifically: I draw maps. Without a clear picture in my noggin of where the story is taking place, the words get flat and shallow. More importantly, they become sluggish, and this is not good.

Currently, I’m working on the first draft of book five of the Guardians of the Path series, taking off to a new region of my world, and I was having trouble getting the words to flow as opposed to merely trickle. So I sat down and worked out a simple schematic of where the story was taking place. This may not be “simple” for some, but quite a bit of time was spent browsing the interweb, looking at pictures (also a good method of invoking the gods of inspiration) of European cathedrals and prestigious English college campuses, buildings which were reduced to squares on my diagram.

I give you: the Coven of White and Black –

img_20161001_135744

This probably doesn’t mean anything to anyone at this precise moment, but take my word for it, it’s awesome!! And yes, Laboratorium is now a word.

And away we go!

Just a little something for you to try if you get particularity desperate 🙂

Good writing!

❤ DragonBeck

Remembering

This is the last one from the meeting – I’m actually very pleased with myself for remembering which words were my words for this meeting’s exercises, and that has exactly nothing to do with the following piece 🙂

potion-1249050_1920

slow, forget (my word), fantasy,

Mary sat in the corner on a rough stool, watching the witch do her thing. Mary had never expected to wind up trapped in a fantasy world, with no clue how she ended up there or how to get back. The old woman in the black dress and the pointy hat threw some colored powders and smelly liquids into the giant silver cauldron on the fire, and gave one slow stir with a knobbly piece of wood which looked too long to be a wand and too short to be a broomstick. Then she pulled out a ladleful of the stuff and walked over to Mary.
“Drink this,” the witch instructed. “It will help you remember.”
Mary was about to protest that she hadn’t forgotten anything, she just didn’t know what had happened, for the twelfth time, but gave up before she started. She took the ladle and glanced suspiciously at the shimmering pink concoction.
“And what’s in this exactly?” she inquired. “Because I’m allergic to shellfish, and I can’t have wheat, or dairy.”
The witch gave her a silent glare, and Mary quickly lifted the ladle to her lips. It didn’t taste half-bad, sort of like a cross between a strawberry and something else she couldn’t put her finger on. After she drained the ladle, she sat there, waiting for something to happen.
“I don’t think it worked,” she started to tell the witch, when a picture of a man who she hadn’t recalled existed half a second ago popped into her head.

_____________________________________________

❤ DragonBeck

Continuations

This blog post is so full of continuations….

Both book covers

…the most important one being, of course, the continuation of the Guardians of the Path series (drum roll) – Ria’s Mark is offically published on Amazon.com!!!!

You can get your ebook or print-on-demand copy here.

And, at the last Ink Slingers Guild Meeting, we were very productive with our writing exercises. I managed to continue the same story through *four* exercises. In true cliff-hanger style, you get half now, half later. Enjoy!

sparkle, chip (my word), furtive

Temin looked around at the guests and tried to hide his smile. A furtive sparkle
made his face light up, and he quickly took a sip of something pink and sweet.
He saw he wasn’t quite fast enough when Drina sidled up to him.
“Enjoying yourself?” she asked. She looked stunning in a blue dress studded with
chips of diamond which revealed one slender leg.
“Oh, it’s alright, as far as parties go,” Temin answered.
“I could tell them all who you are,” Drina told him. “Then you might not be
laughing so hard.”
“I’m not laughing at all,” Temin said. “And they wouldn’t believe you even if
you did tell them.”
“What are you doing here?” she demanded, her pretty face marred by a scowl that
would send an Ironclad Barbarian fleeing in terror. “When are you going to leave
me alone?”
“Narcissism doesn’t become you,” Temin said. “I really don’t care that you’re
here at all.”
Drina crossed her arms. “Really?” she said, drawing out the word.
“Yes, actually,” Temin said.
He put his arm around her shoulders and turned her so she faced the fountain.
The water spouted out in arcs colored with blue and purple light. “You see that
one there, standing just by the swan? I think she’s much more suitable, don’t
you?”
Drina narrowed her eyes, trying to see which party guest he was referring to.
When her eyes lit on the young woman under the swan, she gasped and pulled away
from him.
“You wouldn’t dare,” she said.
“Wouldn’t I?” he replied. With a smile, he sauntered towards the fountain.
______________________________
ginger, plate, door

Temin made his way through the people laughing and talking about the latest
fashion or some other pointless topic to the fountain. The young woman was
standing along, looking about with a light in her eye that Temin desired very
much. At last, someone with something more between their ears than
thrice-ruminated gossip.
Her ginger hair fell over her shoulder, and her skin was like porcelain. She
looked up with polite interest when Temin stepped in front of her.
“Good evening,” he greeted her. “Isn’t it a lovely party?”
The girl shrugged. “I’ve not been to many, so I really couldn’t say.” Temin
almost swooned. A server walked by with a plate of something frilly and mostly
tasteless. Temin waved him away.
“So what are you doing here?” he asked.
“None of your business,” a curt voice interrupted. Drina interposed herself
between Temin and the girl. “Would you like me to show you where the door is?”
she said.
“Oh, that won’t be necessary,” Temin said. “I could just conjure one up if I
need to.”
Drina paled at the threat, but she did not back down. “You need to leave.”
“I will do so in my own time,” Temin said, thunder building in his eyes.
He took a deep breath, and made an effort to calm himself. He put on a bright
smile and gestured to the garden. “Perhaps we can talk about this, in a
civilized manner, in private?”
Drina glared at him, but after a glance at the girl, she gave a nod. Temin
smiled. Interesting, he thought, as he followed the woman into the darkness.
Very interesting.
___________________________________________

More soon,

❤ DragonBeck

So, finally, as promised, here it is.

Alanna, this one’s for you 🙂

(AN ADVENTURE WORTHY OF A PIRATE)

Everyone knows the story of dashing Count Ronjon and Sæspeira, the fabled Esprit de Mer, the Spirit of the Sea; how Sæspeira was stolen from Ronjon and he was banished and declared outlaw, only to be recalled by the very queen who had stolen the treasure and banished him when Sæspeira was “lost” several years later.

There began Ronjon’s romantic search for Sæspeira. Few people know, however, the story of Sæspeira and its journey outside of Ronjon’s possession. It is a tale of fragments, of the flash of the sun on choppy waters, now you see it, now you don’t. Certainly most of it remains a mystery, like the sea itself. But there are snippets, a sighting here, a rumor there, a hushed whisper, or a boast. It would be hard to accurately ascertain the validity and verity of these, but some do lend more credence than others.

And some are simply too incredible to be anything but fact, for no man has that breadth of imagination or propensity for lying.

This particular fragment of Sæspeira’s tale starts with a boy who was not quite a young man named Damian Cooke. Nothing much can be said about him, except he was an exceptionally ordinary boy. Two arms, two legs (though he did almost lose one), two eyes, a nose, a mouth.  The son of a fisherman, Damian had worked on the docks and smelled like salt and seaweed ever since he could walk, and had grown up with sailors’ chanteys for lullabies.

Around the age of fifteen, somehow or another Damian got it into his young, brash head it would be a good idea to stow away on a ship and have an adventure. With complete confidence in his ability to talk or charm his way out of just about anything, he found a likely candidate: an old snow with faded purple sails, flying neutral colors, with the words Dark Swan painted aft in large loopy letters.

After he had finished gutting the day’s catch, he wandered the docks until he was sure no one was watching, then under pretense of loading a barrel of pickles onto the Dark Swan, Damian slipped aboard with nothing but a switchblade in his belt and the clothes on his back. He thought the diminishing land was the beginning of his adventure. Nothing happened for three days.

Damian was sure his adventure was under way when the first mate’s angry face discovered him behind the barrels of sweet water three days into the journey. It turned out the captain was mostly drunk most of the time ever since his letters of marque had expired, and it was the first mate who was truly in charge on the Dark Swan. The reason the crew didn’t simply replace the captain is another story altogether, but it was the First Mate who judged Damian with narrowed eyes, and would ultimately decide upon his fate.

Unbeknownst to Damian, the commonest punishment for stowaways was the deep six, but fortune or something greater smiled on him that day. One of the crew had suffered a stroke while swabbing the deck in the unforgiving sun. Damian was to replace the unlucky fellow, and was spared the lashes or something worse. It was shortly after this, on deck, when Damian noticed that the neutral colors had been replaced by a grinning skull on a black field. He grinned to himself. Now this was an adventure!

Soon Damain was promoted to cabin boy, under the first mate no less, whose name incidentally was Lucky Limerick. A lot happened over the next short time which would qualify as a bona-fide adventure: slinking into port on false colors, the huge storm threatening to sink the ship as they bailed for their lives, or the standoff with another ship, a huge brig also flying the Jolly Roger. Cutlasses and boarding hooks were waved about and colorful threats shouted across the three feet of water between the ships. Only one man was injured, and it was only a shallow cut.

However, it was only after two months when young Damian Cooke’s true adventure truly began. They had come upon the sorry wreck of an abandoned ship run aground on a reef. The pirates were making short work of unloading what valuables remained on the unfortunate ship. Damian was swabbing the deck, while around him the sailors sang Early in the Morning in throaty voices. “What shall we do with a drunken sailor? What shall we do with a drunken sailor? What shall we do with a drunken sailor? Early in the morning. Put him in the long-boat and make him bail her. Early in the morni..!”

At that exact moment everything went to hell, surely as if Davey Jones himself had surfaced. The Dark Swan rocked from side to side like a giant had picked it up and tried to shake out the little men within. Damian had a bare second to glimpse pure white sails and the King’s colors before he was thrown against the gunwale.

He must not have been completely knocked out, because he managed to crawl away as the ship came to pieces around him. Through the sounds of whistling cannonballs, wood splintering and the screams of men, the strident ringing of the ships bell fixed itself in Damian’s mind. When it cut off suddenly, it seemed an ominous warning was given to those who were paying attention.

A grinding sound from port made the Dark Swan shudder. All at once the ship lurched to a halt. Before he had time to further investigate, a high pitched whistle drew Damian’s eyes up. A black ball with a halo of orange fire grew bigger and bigger, transfixing him until it slammed into the ship and engulfed him.

***

Damian came back to the world with a pounding headache, fuzzy vision, and so many different pains he wasn’t sure there was enough of him to hurt that much. When he tried to move, one pain came into sharp focus. He screamed until his own ears hurt, but the other pain didn’t diminish. Taking deep, short breaths, he forced his eyes open, clenched his teeth, and looked in the direction the of the pain. He wished he hadn’t.

His left leg from the knee down wasn’t much of a leg anymore. He was going to throw up. He did so. Leaning back, wiping his face with his dirty sleeve Damian thought about home and his mother and father, not for the first time, but for the first time he thought he might not see them again. Tears streamed down his face, and he forgot his leg for a little while.

He was sure he was not long for this world, and he could only continue to cry. However, Davey Jones did not come for him, and through the abating tears, Damian saw the shattered mainmast, skeletal without their sails. Black smoke swirled like ghosts. His leg impolitely reminded him it needed tending to. Damian choked back a sob and his eyes followed the smoke-ghosts as they fled for the skies. He made a decision. I will not become a ghost.

He dried his eyes and looked around to see what he could possibly do. The Dark Swan was no longer a ship but the lost hope of one. Some parts were intact but more were missing. Fire gnawed at what little remained. The pink-gold reef under the ship gleamed though the shallow water. Through a gap in the prow, no doubt cleaved by a falling mast or a cannonball, a small strip of green gave a promise of continuing life. If I can reach it. 

The first thing to do is see if any of the jolly boats are still seaworthy, Damian told himself. He began to pull himself along the deck, wincing and grunting in pain. He made it two feet before he ran into a smoking corpse. A cutlass was clutched in fleshless fingers, and an old chest was cradled in the crook of its arm. Its boots were mostly unharmed, and from them Damian discovered the identiy of the dead man. It was Lucky Limerick. He died with his gold in hand. Through the tatters of the vest, glass glinted. With a trembling hand, Damian pulled the bottle away from the dead man. He had seen the sailors pass others like it around. Uncapping it, he sniffed the strong fumes. Taking a tentative sip brought on a fit of coughing. It was the first rum he’d ever had.

Damian took another swig from the bottle. The rum burned the whole way down but it reminded him he was alive, so he didn’t care. With immense effort, he dragged himself further up. The boat continued to burn around him, the sails nothing but ashes now. Her keel was fixed on the reef, but the tide was coming in and every wave threatened to pull the ship under.

Damian took another swig, gritted his teeth, and swung his shattered leg over a gaping hole in the deck. Pain lanced up his whole body and he screamed, muffling the sound with his fist. The King’s ship had appeared as if by magic, right on their tail. They didn’t have a chance to turn before the cannons blasted through. He’d had been fortunate to be on deck at the time. No one below would have survived, certainly not after they were rammed into the reef.

He looked down at his leg. In amongst the fire, the screaming, the explosions and the creaking of wood stressed passed its limits, he didn’t actually remember how he had gotten wounded. The bone was exposed, a grim little hyphen of white between his knee and his foot. Dear god, if he managed to get off this ship alive, he was probably going to lose the leg. He began to black out, his vision fading.

It might have been his imagination playing delirious death-specters at him, but before darkness took him, Damian swore he heard an Irish lilt calling from somewhere nearby and yet very far off.

“Ahoy, mate! Hold on, we’re coming aboard!”

***

Damian came to. He appeared to be floating on some sort of fluffy cloud, which made him want to cuddle into it and fall asleep. The cloud was rocking him back and forth, and now he just wanted to throw up. Rolling to the side, he did just that. A strong hand grabbed his shoulder and kept him from rolling out of the bunk.

“What…” Damian tried to say, but his tongue wasn’t working. It felt like a piece of raw fish. “What…”

“What happened?” the owner of the hand supplied. “I believe we rescued you. In a manner of speaking.”

“Who…” Damian tried again. “Who are you?”

“Name’s Killian,” the voice said. “Killian Jones.”

“Damian Cooke at your service,” Damian grunted as he tried to sit up, but the whole world swam under him.

“Yes, you’ll not be at anyone’s service anytime soon, mate,” Killian said. “Not until we append Ole Peg-leg to your name.”

“What’s wrong with me?” Damian managed to get out, grabbing at the hand which was still steadying him.

“Well, doc thought it would be better to keep you somewhat shall we say oblivious of your troubles until he could do something more permanent about your leg,” Killian explained.

His leg. Right. It was probably going to come off. Damian tried to curse, but he couldn’t remember the words. He looked down. His leg had been swathed in bandages, but they didn’t look like they would hold long. The world started to swim. He looked up. Bright blue eyes and a face topped with black hair doubled and quadrupled over him. He thought the man was trying to offer him a reassuring smile.

“Don’t worry mate, you’ll be good as gold. Trust me, I’d know,” Killian said, touching his forehead with the silver hook which had taken the place of his left hand. “Just as soon as we…”

Damian never found out what what it was, because the ship shook violently, throwing both men to slam on the ceiling, and Damian was out again.

***

The next time Damian came to, the bright blue sky was above him. His whole life was turning into a complete nightmare. All he had wanted to do was see the world and maybe impress some girls with tales of his adventure and pirating. This was nothing like what he had dreamed about or bargained for. He was going to throw up again.

He hauled himself over and found himself staring at the sea lapping the side of a boat. It didn’t matter, it would do. He threw up again, and his head cleared somewhat. That came at a price. His leg began to throb again, which quickly grew into a burning pain. Damian looked around. Killian was in the dinghy with him, looking over his shoulder.

Damian looked as well, and saw what could only be the arm of a squid encircling a ship. With a mighty crack then a sucking sound, the ship was pulled under. A few bubbles were its eulogy.

“I must be bad luck,” Damian groaned.

“Pretty sure it’s not you, mate,” Killian said. “Don’t beat yourself up.”

“How did we get off?” Damian wanted to know.

“I may have commandeered the captain’s jig, and got us off that doomed ship in time,” Killian smiled. “No need to thank me. Just sit tight. I’ve got a plan. Of sorts.”

Damian waited for him to elaborate, but no more was forthcoming. Damian needed something to take his mind off the steady worsening of his pain. “Who are you? Really?”

“A friend, mate.” Damian was treated to a dazzling white smile. “Now be quiet, and rest.”

“I’m thirsty,” Damian mumbled, his mouth sticky and sour. He noticed Killian was clutching an ornate box. “What’s that?”

“Salvation,” Killian said. “I hope.”

That didn’t sound promising, and it was not taking Damian’s mind off his leg. “Where are we going?”

“No where at the moment mate, unless you want to paddle with your hands.” Killian shrugged. “There were no oars.”

Damian stared at him, wide-eyed and more than a little accusing, and Killian sighed.

“Alright. Among the no-longer-needed-valuables you were relieving that unfortunate ship of back there, was something very powerful a lot of people are looking for, which is incidentally the cause of all your current trouble and woe,” he said, arching an eyebrow. “I manged to grab it, and you, and get to the captain’s gig before that kraken found the ship and pulled it completely to pieces down. I did not, unfortunately, have time to ascertain there were oars. As I said, no need to thank me.”

“How did we get this far from the ship without oars?”

Killian stared at him. “I paddled. With my hand.”

Damian tried to think with that, and couldn’t. “Why did you bring me?”

“Don’t know, mate,” Killian said with an uncomfortable expression. “Perhaps providence was smiling on you and sent an angel down to whisper into my ear. You were lying over this chest when I found it, and I couldn’t just roll you over and leave you there.”

Damian blinked, and opened his mouth, but Killian clamped his hand over Damian’s mouth. “Shh! We’re not in the clear yet.”

Damian sat at the bottom of the small boat, shivering with fright and fever as Killian leaned over him. Long moments passed. The chest and its mysterious contents taunted Damian. His leg felt as if it had swelled four times, and some monster with flaming teeth and acid saliva were devouring it. Damian was being suffocated by the firm grip, and he wrenched his head away. The man let him go, bright blue eyes fixed on the rolling water just off the port side.

The ship and the kraken were gone. The sea was endless in all directions, until the sky swallowed it. Damian felt a twinge of unease by the vastness of the water, but Killian appeared unaffected. Killian did however, seem to have a problem with the water nearby. He held the chest to the middle of the small boat as he peered down, eyes narrowed.

“We should be small enough to go unnoticed by that great yet very dumb beast,” Killian said, his gaze moving further away. “However, there’s more out there than you’d guess at first glance. And they’re coming for this.” The silver hook tapped the chest.

At this point, Damian decided he really was just having a bad nightmare. Any moment now, he would wake up on the Dark Swan, a pile of rope an uncomfortable pillow under his head, and stumble away for his rations of beans or hardtack, and everything would be back to the way it was before. He pinched his arm. It hurt and he didn’t wake up.

“This must be what hell is like,” Damian mused aloud.

“Oh, this is no Hell. I’ve been there, and places a lot worse than that, mate,” Killian said with a grim smile.

“There are places worse than hell?” Damian asked, incredulous.

“Much worse,” Killian said.

“I suppose you’ve traveled to many places, then?” Damian wanted to know.

“I’ve been around.” Noting Damian’s enthralled expression, Killian forced a smile, and went on. “You know there’s an island, where you can fly if you believe it?”

“That sounds like like an adventure!”

“I wouldn’t call it that, but to each his own,” Killian said, settling down in the boat, still keeping an eye on the water.

“I wanted an adventure,” Damian lamented. “That’s the whole reason I stowed away.”

“And how are you liking your adventure?”

“Not so much now,” Damian admitted. “I didn’t really think I was going to die on my adventure.”

His behind was going numb, and he shifted. Pins and needles lanced down his leg. It awakened the flaming monster devouring his leg and he made a sound between a cry and a whimper. Killian looked abashed, glanced down at the bandaged leg, and started talking to distract the younger man.

“Have you heard of the man named Ronjon?”

Damian nodded, gritting his teeth. “The pirate who searches for the treasure which was stolen from him.”

“He wasn’t a real pirate, but that is neither here nor there,” Killian nodded down at the chest. “This is the treasure he was searching for.”

“Doesn’t seem very grand,” Damian said, looking doubtful. “Not grand enough to have all those stories told about it.”

“Tis not the size of the treasure that defines what it’s worth.”

“What is it?”

“I’ve heard many different versions of the story, depending on who’s doing the telling. Let me see if I can do this without making a bags of it; I’m really not in the habit of telling stories. Once upon a time there were a load of not incredibly winsome amadáin who fought all the time and were always trying to come up with better ways to make each other miserable. The result of all that was a fantastic magic known as Sæspeira, which all power-hungry men desperately want to get their hands on, and…” Killian waved his hook inarticulately. “…the rest is history.”

“And you have this Sæspeira in that chest?” Damian asked.

Killian nodded.

“What do you want with it?” Damian asked, suddenly afraid. “What are you going to do with it?”

“For the moment, I’m going to keep it out of the hands of the curs who want it for less than decent purposes,” Killian said. “And then perhaps I’ll use it to save the people I love. We’ll see if I live that long.”

That didn’t sound so bad. Damian shifted, trying not to disturb his leg, which had stopped screaming and was only muttering now.

“How you holding up?” he asked.

Damian tried to give a brave smile, which came out more as a grimace. Killian nodded. They sat there in silence for a while, the water gently rocking the boat. Damian drifted on the hazy line between awareness and unconsciousness. He thought of his parents again, and almost started crying. Killian stood up suddenly. When Damian looked, the waves had gone flat as glass. A worried frown crossed Killian’s face.

“What is it?” Damian asked, trying to sit up.

“I believe we’re been found,” the other man said.

“That sounds bad.”

“Not necessarily,” Killian grinned and lifted the box. “We’ve got this.”

Damian hated the fact that all they had was an old chest the old pirate wouldn’t open. The horrible thought that Killian was bluffing made the breath catch in his throat, and Damian welcomed the wave of pain from his leg which banished the thought. Clouds began to gather overhead, huge wheels of grey and black, spinning in a hypnotizing circle.

“We’re definitely going to have a visitor. Shame I don’t have any rum to offer.” Killian was standing at the fore of the boat, one foot perched atop the prow. “Hold this for a moment, would you. Don’t let it out of your hands, and for god’s sake, don’t black out on me.”

The box was shoved into Damian’s hand. It was hard, and a lot heavier than it looked. How Killian could carry it under one arm was a mystery.

“Be back in a moment,” Killian’s voice floated back to him. “Don’t run off. And don’t. Open. The chest.”

The small boat rocked hard as the one-handed pirate dove off. He hit the water clean as a knife. For an instant he was visible through the water as he kicked down. Then he was gone. His jacket lay where he had stood, as did his boots. The clouds continued to gather above, casting the world into a premature twilight.

Damian waited, hardly daring to breath, arms wrapped around the box for the protection he fancied it would give. He wondered if the Kraken came back if the protection would hold. A dangerous notion occurred to him. Springing from the same place as the idea to stowaway aboard a ship, this notion crept in slowly at first, like the warmth of a swallow of rum, then exploded in his head like fireworks.

No, I shouldn’t, he told himself. Killian told me not to. If it’s really as powerful as he says it is…but then again he could be lying.

Before he could do anything further, a woman appeared out of the water, rising on a cloud of silver seafoam. Damian was immediately struck with a mind-numbing terror. It could have been from the sparks of power flickering between her fingers, or the otherworldly predatory look in her eyes, or it could simply be the divine beauty of her face. Whatever it was, Damian became utterly speechless.

“Mortal child,” she said. “You possess something which does not belong to you.”

Damian clutched the chest tighter, convinced he was to be torn to pieces any moment.

“Hand it over and I shall heal thy leg and send you home.”

A small part of Damian’s mind, which managed to retain some semblance of rationality in the face of this – god his mind whispered – powerful being, saved him. If this woman could take the box without asking, he reasoned, she would have. Which meant he had some leverage, as long as he did not let the chest go.

Weakly, he shook his head. Thunder crossed the woman’s face, and the foam bubbling under her began to froth and hiss in agitation.

“Then I will strike you down,” the woman hissed, her voice cold.

Damian trembled, waiting for the death blow. It didn’t come. Instead a voice somewhere below and to his left spoke. It was a quiet voice, but it still startled him enough to almost soil himself.

“She cannot, you know,” the voice said.

Damian swallowed and looked down. Another woman had appeared, this one hanging over the side of the boat. Her arms were crossed and her chin rested on them. Her pale blonde hair was streaked with silver and fine lines crinkled at the corner of her eyes and mouth when she smiled. Very green eyes looked at the world with a patronizing amusement. A fishtail flipped in the water behind her. When she saw Damian staring at it, she splashing him in the face with a well-place flick of said tail.

Damian coughed and spluttered, wiping salt water from his eyes. The mermaid laughed.

“Did your mother not teach you it was impolite to stare?”

“Who are you?” Damian asked for lack of something better to say.

“My name is Neoteros,” the mermaid said, and again laughed her silver laugh. “Do not fear me, I mean you no harm.”

Damian looked warily between the two woman. “And who is she?”

“Her name is Cytherea,” Neoteros told him. “I make no claims for the benignity of her intentions for you.”

The beautiful woman on the pillow of foam favored her with a glare. “My name,” she enunciated. “Is Aphrodite.”

“No one had called you that for an age, dear,” Neoteros said with a sweet smile. “I dare say no one remembers that name.”

“Shows how much you know of the world,” Cytherea (or Aphrodite) sniffed.

Neoteros rolled her eyes. They glittered in the murky light leaking through the clouds above, and Damian found himself becoming quite captivated. Aphrodite turned around, lowered herself with unconscious grace to the foam and sat with her back to them, not deigning to acknowledge their continued existence.

“Pay her no heed,” Neoteros said. “She is only being dramatic.”

Damian found it difficult to believe that, but he nodded dutifully anyway. Neoteros noticed the pale sheen to his face, the spots of fever in his cheeks, the growing tremor of his body. She cast her eyes skyward, either asking permission for something or wondering why she had to do things so obviously beneath her, then took a handful of water and blew gently across it. Typhoons and whirlpools danced across the surface, then the water fell still.

“Drink,” the mermaid said.

Damian did so. The water was sweet on his tongue, not a hint of brine. The warmth reminded Damian of the rum, but it was gentler on his throat. Instantly, the pain in his leg faded, then disappeared altogether. The clean, fresh feeling, devoid of pain, made a tear leak from the corner of his eye.

“Better?” Neoteros smiled kindly.

“Thank you,” Damian said, brushing the wetness away.

He kept stealing sidelong glances at the beautiful creature in the water. The faint lines on her face and the silver in her hair made Damian think she was very old, but something else told him she was much older than she could ever look and he could ever understand. He was sure she was at least older than his parents. Neoteros caught one of his glances and favored him with a bright smile. He blushed and felt obligated to say something.

“I’ve never seen a mermaid before.”

“Oh, I am no mermaid,” Neoteros laughed. “I am an Oceanid.”

Damian could see no difference, but he nodded once again. His glances began to be divided between the mermaid – or Oceanid, whatever that means, Damian thought, shivering when he realized he was much further out of his depth than he’d thought before – and the cold woman on the foam cloud.

“What is she doing?” Damian asked when Aphrodite’s stillness began to fray on his already frayed nerves.

“Waiting.”

“For what?!” he exclaimed.

“For you to let your guard down so she can get what she wants,” Neoteros explained.

“What does she want?” Damian gulped.

Neoteros laughed. “That would take several ages to tell so you fully understood, but let me see if I can get in the main points.”

Her fishtail flicked just under the water, sending ripples out, and she frowned as she considered.

“In the beginning, the universe was ruled by Gaia, Mother Earth, and Uranus, Father Sky. The had twelve children, the Titans. One of the Titans named Cronus overthrew his father and ruled during the Golden Age of the world. In his turn, he was defeated by his children, the Olympians.

In order to defeat the Titans, the Olympians bade their cousins the Cyclops, fearsome one-eyed giant craftsmen, to create three powerful weapons: a thunderbolt for Zeus, a helmet for Hades, and a trident for Poseidon. After their victory, these Olympians oft fought among themselves, most notably the three most powerful, the brothers Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon.

One story tells of Zeus and Hades combining their powers to trap Poseidon in the terrible realm of Tartarus and stealing his trident. But Poseidon was canny and had prepared for such a betrayal. In secret he had the Cyclops make him a protection against the weapons of the gods, known as Sæspeira, or the Spirit of the Sea. Using it one could render any weapon or army impotent, making it a more powerful weapon than any other.

It was hidden in a magnificent shell and given to Triton, Poseidon’s son. Zeus and Hades thought nothing of it when Triton blew into it, for they were more powerful than the son of Poseidon. But when Sæspeira sang, Zeus and Hades were stripped momentarily of their power, allowing Poseidon to escape. After Poseidon was freed, he retrieved his trident and struck the water with tremendous anger, causing a huge earthquake. The ground shook and split, and a crack opened up beneath Triton. In his effort to save himself, Triton let go of Sæspeira, and it fell from his grasp through a portal to another world.

This world in fact, where it was picked up by the boy Ronjon.”

Damian gulped and looked down at the chest he had dared not open yet. Maybe Killian was telling the truth. “So this is really Sæspeira then?”

“It could be,” Neoteros commented in a mild voice. “I do not possess vision to see through matter. Judging by storms starting, I would imagine so.”

“Should I open it?” Damian was compelled to ask.

Neoteros was silent for a long time. “I would not presume to say what you should and should not do.”

The answer made Damian feel absurdly secure. “Do you know why she wants this?”

“The same reason they all want it,” the mermaid shrugged. “Because they’re all bored, greedy, vain children throwing mud and rocks at one another in their cosmic playground, and they like that rock the most.”

In some ways, what the mermaid said made perfect sense. In others Damian was sure he couldn’t possibly know what she meant. It was too big of a concept to fit comfortably in Damian’s head. “And why do you want it?”

“Oh, I don’t,” Neoteros said. “I just came to see what the fuss was all about.”

“What fuss?” Damian said, feeling horribly lost in the growing confusion of whatever it was he had gotten mixed up in.

“Well, some landborn fool who thinks he knows anything about the sea is trying to see Poseidon about his treasure,” Neoteros shook her head with a weary sigh. “Fool,” she iterated.

That would be Killian, Damian thought. “What happened to him?” he asked timidly.

“Oh, nothing yet, I would imagine,” the mermaid said, examining the pearly tint to her long nails. “Posy isn’t home at the moment. Neither is his wife, my dear sister Amphrite, who would be the most sympathetic to his cause, I think.”

Just then a familiar head popped out of the water. Speak of the devil Damian thought but did not say, fearing to invoke the name. Killian took a deep gulping breath, saw the two woman hanging over Damian and promptly began choking. He went under, and shot out of the water again.

“What the bloody hell is going on?” Killian said, black hair plastered over his ears and forehead. “I leave for a few minutes…!”

At his voice, Aphrodite turned around. Her eyes brightened, and her red lips pulled back in a hungry smile. Before anyone of them could move, she appeared over the man, reached down and plucked him out of the water like she might pluck a flower in a meadow.

“Perhaps you would like to make a trade?” she said, an ingenuous expression on her face as she looked at Damian.

Killian started to struggle, but the woman was much stronger than she looked. She wrapped him in porcelain arms, pinning his arms to his side and no matter how he tried, Killian could not break her hold.

“Don’t give it to her, Damian!” he cried out.

“I will end your meddling friend if you do not hand over Sæspeira,” Aphrodite said.

“Don’t you dare!” Killian shouted even louder, increasing his efforts to break free.

Though he could not move much, he managed to gouge the woman in the thigh with his hook. A single tear of bright red blood ran down her leg. Aphrodite showed no sign she felt pain, but a terrible anger made her eyes turn black. Killian began gaping and moving his mouth, but no sound came out. Damian could read his lips easily enough. He just repeated the same thing, blue eyes blazing as he kept fighting with pigheaded stubbornness.

“What are you going to do?” a low voice said.

Damian looked down. He had forgotten Neoteros was still there.

“I don’t know,” Damian said. “I don’t think I’m the one who should be deciding this.”

“Well, you seem to be the one holding the power,” the mermaid said. “I think the Fates would disagree.”

“What should I do?” Damian whispered.

“If I were you, I would open the chest and one of two things would happen. One, either Sæspeira is there and you could use it to free your friend. Or, the whole thing was a ruse, and you will have to beg Aphrodite’s forgiveness for your hubris.”

Damian didn’t like either of those options, but what choice did he have? They couldn’t stay like this forever. Actually, he amended. Neoteros and Aphrodite probably could. That made up his mind. His hand twitched towards the tarnished bronze catch of the chest.

“No!” Killian’s anguished shout rose above the crashing waves.

Damian hesitated, fingers poised to throw open the chest. He swallowed, and prayed to god he wasn’t making the second biggest mistake of his life. He realized in a detached way that the god he was praying to was most likely Poseidon himself. The thought came too late to stop or change Damian’s course of action.

The chest opened, and nothing happened. A large, pink-silver shell, a slender spiral widening and curving, pearly highlights glittering in the light,  held almost everyone transfixed for different reasons. Neoteros could have been looking at a pile of rotting driftwood for all the interest she displayed.

Killian gazed at Damian, eyes wide, speechless. Damian’s hand crept towards the fabled Sæspeira. With a cry, Aphrodite dropped the dripping Killian, and lunged for Sæspeira. Damian was frozen. Dimly, Killian’s enraged cries interspersed with furious splashing and a voice saying use it, you fool, use it before she claims it! impinged on the part of Damian’s conciseness which managed to remain lucid. However, his body had become completely disconnected from this intelligence and he could only watch, mouth ajar as the goddess came straight fro him.

Her eyes blazed, her lips pulled apart in a joyous snarl. Pale fingers were a hair’s breadth from Damian’s throat when the world jolted. Aphrodite was pulled back like a puppet on a string. All of Damian’s discombobulated pieces came crashing together and he utter a strangled yelp. His fingers groped for Sæspeira. They came away empty. Panicked, Damian looked down. The silver shell had disappeared.

“Easy dearest cousin,” Neoteros said.

The mermaid – Oceanid, Damian corrected himself again – floated or her back. In her hands was Sæspeira, and she stroked it with unconscious gestures, her eyes fixed on Aphrodite.

The goddess had deflated like sails in a calm. She appeared to be no more than a beautiful woman, an unusually beautiful woman, but just a woman nonetheless. A bewildered expression made her look very young.

“What are you going to do?” she asked in a small voice.

“Do not speak,” Neoteros commanded.

Slowly, her distant gaze traveled to Killian, who tried to remain afloat without moving. She raised a finger and pointed at him.

“No!” Damian cried, trying to leap out of the boat.

Neoteros’ green eyes flicked to him, her amused spark surfacing for a instant before it was submerged in that weird ethereal glow. Damian understood with implicit certainty he was looking not at Neoteros but at Sæspeira itself.

His leg still wouldn’t support his weight, and he flopped over the side of the boat, wood cutting into his ribs. A flash of light blinded him, then he was standing in the boat next to Killian. Killian was completely dry and blinking rapidly. It took a moment for the fact that Damian was standing on his own two feet to sink in. His leg had reappeared, whole and unmarred. Such magic was so preposterous, for a moment Damian wished his injury back just so the world would still make a little sense. He gasped and felt sick, and leaned towards Killian, who caught him and propped him up.

“Keep it together mate,” Killian said in a low voice. “We mustn’t lose that shell.”

“I think we already have,” Damian whispered back.

The two morals stared at the two very ancient beings staring each other down. Killian was tense, poised to leap into action, though what that would do, Damian wasn’t sure. Then the one-handed man launched himself at Neoteros. He fell into the water just short of her, sending a sheet of water cascading over her. The Oceanid was startled, and again the glaze fell from her eyes. Her body jerked and Sæspeira tumbled from her grasp into the water. It sank from sight. Immediately Aphrodite was released from the invisible bonds restraining her. She wasted not a second and dove into the water after Sæspeira. Killian cursed and followed her. Neoteros paused and spared a glance at Damian.

“Go home, young one. This is a game for giants, not children, and tangling with gods is not for the fainthearted.”

Damian was too discombobulated to appreciate the insult in her rebuke. Neoteros waved a slender hand in his direction. A wave of sparkling light reminiscent of water rolled over Damian, and the last thing he saw was a sleek fishtail disappearing into the deep. Then he was tumbling head over heels, carried along by an elemental force which dumped him unceremoniously into blackness.

***

Light filtered into Damian’s eyes. When he tried to open them, they were crusted shut. He rubbed at them for a moment and then was able to gaze at the bleary world. He was on the dock, sandwiched between a crate and a barrel against a cold, stone wall. The sun was peeking over the horizon, a shy, rosy glow. Already sea-dogs and wharf-rats swarmed over the rough cut planks. Noise grew in Damian’s ears, the whisper of the waves lapping against the breakwall, the squawks of gulls, the creaks of ships and sails, and the shouts of men.

Damian stood with difficulty. He felt weak, and the shadow of a headache thudded between his ears. A sour taste in his mouth suggested he had been throwing up. He thought maybe he had been drunk.

“Da’s going to kill me,” he muttered, and turned a little too quickly on his heel.

Reeling, he grabbed for the stone wall and with less haste began to make his way home. Try as he might, he could not recall what had transpired between tossing the last of the previous days catch, boned and gutted into the crate, and waking up this morning. When he got home, his mother scolded him for being late for breakfast. His father had already left for the day. Damian was punished by having to mend all the nets piled in the skiff shed. He sat on the dock, salt-heavy air ruffling his hair.

Around midday Damian looked up to see an old snow flying neutral colors coming into the dock. The name Dark Swan was painted aft in looping letters. He felt a twinge of something, longing perhaps, perhaps something else. Then he dismissed it and went back to pulling the twine over and through, tying it off and repeating.

If he often dreamed of pirate ships, beautiful mermaids, and a man with a silver hook in place of his left hand, he did not remember it. If, in later years when his hair had turned white and his teeth had mostly gone, the lower part of Damian’s leg muttered with phantom forgotten pain, he would write it off to bad weather.

***

conch-78124_1920

 

❤ DragonBeck

Magic Dances and Bottles

Yesterday the Ink Slingers got together again. We had tea and a wonderful time with many laughs, which was appreciated by all as it seemed to be “one of those weeks”.

I got almost nothing done writing-wise the last two weeks, so there went my conquests (and I started out the year with such a good streak!). I did however accomplish a few things, including reading Stephen King’s It, which had been moved to the top of my reading list by recommendation of the Committee of Recommended Books. Apart from the Dark Tower series, I don’t usually read Stephen King, because horror is not my thing. However, I found It to be within acceptable horror parameters and quite enjoyed it. I still will not be seeing the movie. There are some things I cannot be talked into.

This week, Jen brought me the Silmarillion, which was also moved to the top of my reading list for the same reason above; and she brought me The Children of Húrin, so I’m going to have a Tolkien fortnight. I have been instructed to enjoy them, an injunction I cannot slight. In that light, I structured my conquest more ambiguously this time, because I love loopholes, and also perhaps I’ll be able to say I’ve done a few more of them at the next meeting 😉

I did receive exciting news from my lovely editor: I should get the edits back on Ria’s Mark in a week or so!! So that’s coming along well. I shall keep everyone updated as to pre-orders, giveaways, and release dates as those become known.

And as always (except for that one time), we did our writing exercise to keep our minds sharp and our fingers nimble. Again, we were very productive and got four exercises in. Here are the first of mine:

dance (my word), flutter, circus.

Mirelda watched the group of young girls move through the dance. The flutters of
their hands and the kicks of their feet were awkward and uncoordinated. It
appeared as though it had been choreographed by a circus clown. Mirelda tried to
keep her growing unhappiness from showing. When the girls had finished, a
dozen fresh faced turned to her expectantly, waiting her approval. Mirelda
didn’t know what to say.
“That was, um, delightful,” she managed to get out without choking on the words.
The girls looked uncertain.
“But will it work?” a voice in the back called out, sounding very much like the
girl was on the verge of tears.
And she had every right to be. What they were doing was not to be taken lightly.
With this in mind, Mirelda was blunt with her response. Perhaps cruelly blunt,
but it could save lives.
“No,” she told them. “I do not think that will work.”
A cacophony of wails erupted, a Mirelda winced.
“That’s not going to work either,” she yelled over the noise.
The girls quieted to whimpers.
“We have to appease this demon with grace and aesthetics,” Mirelda said. “Not
that staggering and lurching you were doing before.”
“We don’t have time to put together another routine,” a girl to the left said,
her face streaked with tears.
She was perhaps fifteen years old. Mirelda knew she was right, but she could not
have them give in to despair. No ceremony would be worse than a poor one, for
the only alternative was the sacrifice. Mirelda lifted her chin and put on a
brave face.
“We must do the best we can, girls,” she said. “After all, it is the lives of
your brothers you hold in your hands.”
____________________________________________________________

sea-749619_1920
bottle, paisley, giftcard,

Melly walked into the old shop and was immediately overcome with a fit of
sneezing. Cleaning up her watering eyes and running nose, Melly peering into the
dim, dusty corners of the shop. She pulled the giftcard out of her purse and
checked the address again. Yes, she was in the right place. It was an odd store,
bigger on the inside, and messier as well.
Melly walked back though the random shelves and piles of stuff, searching for
the sales attendant. The store was empty. At least that was what she thought
until she rounded the corner and ran into an old man with wild white hair and
halfway vacant eyes.
“Can I help you?” he asked, peering at her, and she thought he must have lost
his glasses.
“No, thank you,” Melly said. “I’m just looking.”
“See anything you like?” he asked as he turned back to the shelf and began
cleaning an odd vase with a rag that was dirtier than the vase.
“No, I… ” Something caught Melly’s eye.
On the next shelf, in the middle, sitting on a folded paisley something, was a
bottle. At first glance, there was nothing particularly spectacular about this
particular item, but the closer Melly looked, the harder she found it to look
away.
“What is that?” she asked, her eyes fixed on it.
The man didn’t look up from his work. “Don’t know. I just work here.”
Melly reached out to touch the bottle. There was a bright flash, and the store
disappeared.
____________________________________________________________

Hope you enjoyed that. More coming soon! (And no, I have not forgotten my promise of the previous week, that story is coming soon as well.)

Tenna’ ento lye omenta

❤ DragonBeck

Terrible Disguises and Sinister Letters

Hello all! 🙂

The lovely and vivacious Ink Slingers gathered at the secret underground bunker we like to call the Gargoyle’s Den for our fortnightly meeting, where I had the best cup of Bengal Spice tea sweetened with honey I believe I’ve ever had.

I made all my conquests (for the second week in row!!) including finishing the first draft of my anthology submission, which I’m calling Love Potions Sold Separately and ten thousand words written on Book IV of The Guardians of the Path. It was a little touch and go, I won’t lie. I still had about 450 words left to go on GOTP and I had to glue the last few scenes together of Love Potions. Fortunately for me, Erika was a smidgen late, so I had a few extra minutes before the meeting officially started, and I got it done. Bam! Alanna also got 100%, so we were the conquest queens of the evening.

We did all our usual secret plotting, and googled each other for data-gathering purposes. I got some good ideas for blogs I can write, involving my secrets to literary success and dragons – two of my favorite things. You, of course, will be privy to the blogs; the secret plotting, not so much, because then I’d have to set my dragons on you. I apologize.

And…….I’ve been fighting with my email for half an hour trying to recover these exercises because I am too lazy to stand up and walk into the other room in order to get my laptop. I succeeded – obviously – and I present to you terrible disguises and sinister letters (I forgot to add the chosen words for the first story, so you’re just going to have to guess 😉 )

Shelly was panting as she tried to get the buckle to snap. “It’s too small,” she
complained. “This is never going to work!”
“Yes it will,” Linda countered. “Hold your breath.”
Shelly did as she was told, and Linda attempted to get the belt cinched. “It’s
too small,” she finally said.
“That is what I have been trying to tell you for the last ten minutes,” Shelly
said, as she tried to dispel the lightheaded sensation threatening to send her
toppling into the nearby chair. “Did you steal this from a ten-year old?”
“Next time, you can be in charge of the disguises,” Linda snapped. “How much
time do we have?”
As the question fell from her lips, the bells began to toll.
“Oh no!” Shelly cried, springing for the flap at the opening of the tent. “The
coronation is right now!”
“Forget the stupid belt,” Linda ordered. “You look fine.”
“Fine?” Shelley said.  “I look like a tavern wench who put on her husband’s breeches.” She looked down at herself. It was an accurate description, and she hated it.
“Do you want to get the crown back or not?” Linda said. “This is the best chance
we’ve got.”
Shelly pursed her lips and nodded. Taking a deep breath, she pushed all her hair
under the hat Linda handed her, and strode out of the tent with the manliest
swagger she could muster. She was concentrating so hard on swinging her
shoulders and not her hips, that she failed to see the person in her path and
she ran right into him.
“Pardon me,” she growled in a deep voice.
“The fault was mine,” a familiar voice said, and she looked up with a gasp.
Right in front of her, his deep blue robes covered with crescent moons and
stars, was Gordon. He looked at her, and the color drained from his face. He
opened his mouth, and Shelly did the only thing she could think of to avoid a
scene. She punched him in the face, so hard he went cross-eyed and fell at her
feet. No one batted an eye and she hurried on, pulling the hat over her eyes and
hoping there were no more surprises in store for her.
________________________________________________________

Chicken, road, slam,

Yolanda looked at the dilapidated house in front of her, chickens running all
through the yard because the coop was broken, weeds choking the path to the
front door, faded red paint chipped off in great big patches that made it looked
bruised. The young woman stood in the middle of the road, staring at the house,
then at the paper in her hand. This was the correct address. It looked like no
one was home.
“This is what I get for listening to that cheap street magician,” Yolanda muttered.
But she was here now, and it wouldn’t hurt to go and knock on the door. She did,
and almost died when it opened. A small boy stood on the other side, looking up
at her with a polite smile.
“Can I help you?” he asked.
“Yes. Well, I don’t know,” Yolanda said. “I’m looking for a Mister Falantain.”
“Come in,” the boy said, pulling the door open wider.
Yolanda looked surprised, then stepped inside. She jumped when the door slammed behind her, and she turned to find the young boy was no longer there. In his place stood a man with a dark
beard and bright eyes.  He smiled at her.
“And who do I have the pleasure of addressing?” he asked.
“You’re Falantain?” Yolanda gasped. “But he’s supposed to be a hundred years
old.”
“Looks can be deceiving, but you would already know that,” the man said with a
knowing smile. “Would you care for some tea?”
“Like the kind you gave my parents?” Yolanda spat. “The night you poisoned
them?”
“Dear child,” Falantain said. “I had nothing to do with your parents’ death. You
were more at fault than I am.”
“That’s not true,” Yolanda said.
“Why do you think they were out of the house on that night of the full moon so
long ago?” Falatain said. “They were afraid of you, sweet girl.”
“It’s not my fault,” Yolanda said, trying to make the words true.
Falantain held out his hand. A letter sealed with deep red wax sat with sinister innocence
between his fingers.
“Perhaps you’d like to hear it from them.” (dun dun DUN).

 

Hope you enjoyed that, and do have a lovely weekend!

❤ DragonBeck

First ISG Meeting of 2016

Hello world!!

As promised here, I give you the fruits of the first ISG meeting of 2016.

It was a thoroughly delightful meeting. Every chair was filled will an awesome writer, every cup was filled with delicious tea. The Ink Slingers were in good spirits, and we made big plans for this  year, including several novels published (a few “second novels” as well!) and our fifth (yes, fifth) annual anthology!

I’m glad and unsuprised to report none of us lost our touch over the holidays, and the writing exercises were incredible, as usual.  Any writer who disagreed was promptly set straight on that point. We had a variety of monsters, magic, and mayhem; here are my contributions. Enjoy!!

creamy, medicine, twit

Carmen looked at the strange bottle of medicine, trying to read the writing on
the side. It didn’t make any sense at all.
“But this is what the witch said would work,” she said to herself. “But what if
I go on like a complete twit, and just do what she says, without any sort of due
diligence, and it kills him or something?” Carmen was working herself into a
nervous fever for no reason at all. He was going to die anyway, so the medicine
could only help. Although she couldn’t read anything on the label, Carmen did
recall the witch’s instructions perfectly. “Make some tea, sweeten it with honey
because this tastes like rotten eggs and radishes, and put in a few drops of
this. It’ll do wonders.”
Carmen did as instructed, and put in two drops of the creamy potion the witch
had whipped up from ingredients she read out of a worn spellbook and kept hidden
behind her hand. Carmen went into the bedroom. Christopher was lying in bed,
pale as a ghost and drenched in sweat. He was sleeping, but it was fitful and
restless.
She woke him and helped him to drink the tea. He sipped slowly at first, then
more. His eyes brightened, and color came back to his cheeks. Christopher smiled
at her, before his face began to change shape and his body to shrink.
In a moment, a mouse swam in the blankets where Christopher had been, and Carmen
felt like she was about to faint.
___________________________________________

Clip (my word), gypsy, word,

Genny walked around the massive bulk of the dragon, examining every scale. After
he had spiraled down through the roof, as graceful as a cow giving birth, she’d
had to make sure nothing was broken or embedded. She found one scale, bent
inward. She used a pair of pliers to pull it out and put a salve on the wound.
The dragon moaned and snorted, and she gave him a thump on the side.
“Don’t be a baby,” she said. “It was just a little clip. It could have been a
whole lot worse.”
After she had finished ministering to him, she pulled out the book the gypsy had
given to her when he’d sold her the dragon egg. She paged through, barely
reading the words, skimming passages here and there. He’d grown much faster than
Genny had expected, but she didn’t think that was a bad thing. She glanced up at
the great beast, now dozing contentedly, smoke trickling from his nostrils, his
lips twitching as he dreamed. He looked like a giant puppy, she thought.
She continued with her haphazard instruction in raising a dragon, and came to a
missing page in the middle of the book. She blinked and reread the previous
page. When she got to the last sentence, her heart began to pound and she read
it four times over, just to be sure. The words didn’t change however, and she
closed the book, clutching the worn leather, wondering how she was ever going to
find that gypsy boy in time.
________________________________________________________
Tingle, cane, diamond

Juke hobbled along the old road, clutching the cane in his wrinkled,
liver-spotted hand. The hand that yesterday, had been a youthful thirty-four. A
tingle raced through his joints, followed by an arthritic throbbing. Juke had to
stop, fumbling in his coat for the bottle. He took it out, and looked with
dismay at the few drops of the potion left. The shaking became worse, his vision
dimmed as cataracts grew over his right eye, and he was left with little choice
but to pull out the diamond stopper and tip the last time he had left onto his
tongue.
His hands stopped shaking, the skin grew smoother, and his vision was now clear.
For a while. Juke continued down the street, leaning on the cane more by habit
than necessity now. He rounded the corner, and sudden pains in his chest made
him stop, bend over, and clutch at his heart with a trembling hand. His vision
blurred, this time from tears.
He didn’t have enough time. He would never reach the old shop, would never be
able to fix the mistake that only yesterday had seemed so harmless. He fell to
his knees, the brass lion’s head with ruby eyes glaring at him from atop the
shiny wood of the cane. The cane that had started it all. In these last moments,
he realized it was the key, somehow, it was the answer to the puzzle.
He heard someone ask something in a concerned voice, but it was now difficult to
breath. His heart labored inside him, and all he could see were the glowing red
eyes of the lion as he sank into blackness.

_______________________________________________

See you soon, somewhere out there!

❤ DragonBeck

Optimism

Optimism is defined as: hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something.

As we come upon the start of this new year, I’m seeing more than I would have expected about how awful 2015 was, and the best we can look forward to in 2016 is more of the same. Or worse.

It may be that 2015 was a horrible year, for many valid reasons. Commenting on it one way or the other will not change it.

People were maltreated, abused, bruised, battered, bludgeoned, and beaten by life, this past year and years before. This does encourage pessimistic sentiments.

But that is not the title or point of this essay.

Sometimes things happen which make one think the whole world, perhaps even the whole universe, is against one, plotting one’s downfall or total annihilation.

As much as that may seem to be the case, it is not true.

One may think the deck is stacked against them in particular, but the odds are more or less equally not in anyone’s favor. The world is rough, life is hard, and if it’s not hard, it’s hard work. That is what we’ve got to deal with.

But we can deal with it from one of two viewpoints: an optimistic viewpoint or a pessimistic viewpoint.

Few people know this golden secret: The world is only as one sees it, the future only what one makes it. No more; no less.

Where there is a will, there is a way. And if the first way, plan A, doesn’t work, there are 25 more letters in the alphabet, and about 20 more alphabets available after that.

Giving up or giving in is a choice, not fate or destiny or circumstance.

One is one’s own worst enemy, the holder of all the chains that hold one down, the creator of all the shadows that darken one’s world.

Any chain or shadow thrown at a person by another, or the universe at large, takes root and grows only when the person themself plants it and waters the seed.

Soon, all that person will see is a dismal, bleak garden overgrown with weeds, with no room for the brightly colored flowers of life.

The best herbicide for these weeds? Optimism. Hope. Not rose-colored glasses, but only the idea that things can get better, and that you can make it so.

It is not necessary to envision a Utopia or a life of total bliss, or to strive for such.

Even if things were a mere hair better, slightly more tolerable, one would have the spirit of it.

If a person found just one more reason to smile, enjoyed one more sunset, said one more kind word to bring a light to another’s face in the whole year than they did the year before, it would be an improvement.

It would be a step in the right direction.

And perhaps, if enough people take that one step to make things just a tiny bit better, that perfect world will become reality, and not just an unachievable Utopian dream.

Perhaps we may even see it in 2016.

One can hope 🙂

❤ DragonBeck