A Moment at Court

Here’s a fanfiction/freebie story, involving the character of ‘Fairest’, to be published by prizmbooks.com on May 11, 2016.

“Your Highness!” The voice is sharp and slightly grating. “This titled thief is allowing his cows to graze on *my* land-“

“-it’s not his land, Your Highness!” The second voice had a lot more boom to it. Boom, which expects you to recognize its name, even if you’re a princess. “The land belonged to my family for seven generations!” Second Voice shot First Voice a look of pure, unmitigated scorn, baring his buck teeth in the process. The buck teeth are hereditary in his family. It’s a distinctive trait of House…it’s right on the tip of my tongue, but I can’t remember it.

It’s hard to remember anything in this hot, stuffy room. The only windows are air slits. Light comes through them, but it’s a sleepy, afternoon light. Such a light makes it hard to stay awake.

“Your Highness, this prating pratt’s claim to the land ended, when my sister’s cousin married his father’s ward,” First Voice said, with strident authority. He waved a roll of parchment, which he held in his hand. It was depressingly thick. The light flashed on his many rings. They dazzled my eyes. “This thief, himself, signed the agreement!”

“Where?” Second Voice demanded. Of course he had to ask where. I had a dreadful feeling it was right in the middle of that parchment. I needed to remember his name. I couldn’t just think of him as Second Voice.

“It’s right here!” First Voice said, as he began to unroll his parchment. Of course, the significant part was in the middle. “I, Henry of Clear Waters, agree that House Vinegarten has exclusive rights to the land, including grazing, cultivation-“

“I never agreed to any such thing!” Buck Teeth snarled, looking even more outraged than before. I needed to remember his name. Buck Teeth was not an improvement on Second Voice. “There was never any such declaration in the parchment I signed!”

“Your signature is right here!” First Voice waved parchment at him, sending it rolling in different directions. “It’s in the sixteenth paragraph of the agreement between House Clear Waters and House Vinegarten! It specifically states that any kin to the heirs of a noble house, whom marries another is now one with the land, one with the blood, one with the heirs…” His words are oddly hypnotic. I can feel my eyes closing, even though I need to keep them open.

One with the land, one with the blood, one with the heirs. I force my eyes to open. The air is starting to sparkle. It’s only sunlight, coming through the window slits, shining through the dust. It still looks magical. It reminds of my tower room, where I will go to escape from my duties, as soon as I get a chance. One with the blood. Her lips are blood red, as they smile at me.

I stare at her, surprised to see her, here and now. She raises a snow white hand to touch my face. I thought she only appeared in my dreams. Her hand is cool, but soft. I close my eyes, enjoying her caress.

“Your Highness!” The touch of her hand is gone, as I open my eyes. Buck Teeth and Second Voice are both looking at me with expressions of expectant impatience.

“Go on,” I said, doing my best to sound regal, like my royal father. He would never have fallen asleep, when his subjects were talking to him. For that matter, my mother wouldn’t have, either. She might have been selective, about what she chose to listen to, but she wouldn’t have fallen asleep. Lord Gerald Hargreaves, my father’s closest friend and advisor, would never have fallen asleep. He would have remembered everyone’s names, too. I was a princess. It was my duty to listen, not fall asleep, when they needed me to hear their concerns.

What was this constant need to nap of mine? I’d sleep long enough, once I turned sixteen, if my curse came to pass. This was a thought guaranteed to make me sit up straight.

“I believe I’d just proven that the land belongs to me, I mean the Vinegarten family, Your Highness,” First Voice said pointedly. Vinegarten. He was a Vinegarten, part of one of the oldest families in the realm. This particular Vinegarten wore more jewelry than the rest of them combined. “This upstart from Clear Waters cannot allow his cows to graze upon our land, without the express permission of my family.” First Voice didn’t even bother to hide his smugness, as he shot Buck Teeth a trumphant look.

“It’s an outrage!” Buck Teeth snarled. No, his actual name was Lord Clear Waters, although I couldn’t remember his birth name. “For years, it’s been prime grazing land! The Vinegartens will ruin it, by planting vineyards!” His teeth were more pronounced than ever, as he scowled. “They have quite enough vineyards!”

“Is that what House Clear Waters thinks?” Lord Vinegarten countered. “Our wine is being served at tables all over, beyond the realm-“

“Which is exactly what the Vinegartens are,” Lord Clear Water said, with a sneer. “Glorified wine merchants.”

“How dare you!” Lord Vinegarten cries. He drops the scroll to advance on Lord Clear Water. Fortunately, I can see Lord Gerald moving from his seat in the court. I hadn’t even noticed him, he’d been so quiet. “The Clear Waters would be glorified peasants, if they hadn’t intermarried with us!”

“Take that back!” Lord Clear Water snarls. His sneer is gone, as he lunges at Lord Vinegarten. It takes most of the court and several guards to separate them. At least my urge to sleep is completely gone.


‘Fairest’ Has a Cover! :)

Check out the amazing cover Kris Norris designed for my up and coming f/f, fantasy fairytale ‘Fairest’, coming May 11, 2016 to prizmbooks.com! Here’s a little UNEDITED snippet to go with the cover…

My first memory was of her dark eyes. They seemed to capture all the colors of my infant universe, even as they threatened to swallow me. Her eyes should have been terrifying, but they weren’t.

Her blood red lips moved, shaping words I could only dimly recall. My parents remembered them only too well, as did everyone else who’d gathered at the castle for my christening.

“I, too, have a gift for this child. She shall grow up, with all the beauty and promise of the dawn, but her sun will never rise.”

My mother told me she nearly swooned with terror at the look of sheer malevolence the witch gave to the sunbeams, playing about my cradle. She wanted to stop the witch from speaking, as did my father. No one could move, no matter how much they wished to. Everyone stood, still and motionless, spellbound by the witch’s gaze.

“Before the sun sets on the eve of her sixteenth year, the princess shall prick her finger on a spindle. With the first drop of her blood, a sleep will fall upon her, claiming her for a hundred years.”

Snippet from ‘On the Other Side of the Mask’

Here’s my six sentence contribution to ‘Rainbow Snippets’! It’s from a story I’m working on for Camp NaNoWriMo, as well as a submission. ‘On the Other Side of the Mirror’ takes place in my own pseudo Victorian steampunk city, Paradise. Needless to say, it’s not a very heavenly place. 🙂

Poems can shape the world, just as poets shape it with their thoughts and ideas. Their legacy causes ripples across realities, inspiring the inhabitants of other worlds. Their very names invoke power.

Which was why two, shivering boys brought before the court, before they were consigned to the church’s grasp called upon them. The court warden looked down upon them from his lofty dais, only to scowl upon them.

“Your bodies and souls belong to the temple,” she said, as she turned her scowl from their small faces to their tiny, clapsed hands.

Tales and Ale: A Holiday Blurb

This post is dedicated to all the wonderful writers of the Keep. Years after we parted, you continue to inspire me. I rewrote this blurb as an original story called ‘Every Thom, Dick, and Harry Has a Story’, changing it, so it was no longer Keepiture. However, the original story was Keep fan fiction, written in loving memory of the universe we all contributed to. Here is the Keep’s own version of St. Patrick’s Day, along with some of the myths, which surround it. Naturally, it’s all Davyn’s fault. 🙂

For those unfamiliar with Keep lore, Davyn is a former Darkling Enchanter, famous for alcoholic beverages, which could topple the most stalwart drinkers. Darkling creme is one of them.

There’s also a reference to ‘Branigan’s Special Ale’, which is the subject of a song Heather Alexander sings. It’s one of my favorite St. Patrick’s Day songs, which I’ll have to listen to at some point today. The song is on her ‘Midsummer’ album, a must for anyone who likes Celtic filk with a fae bend. The Keep has its own version of Branigan’s special ale, it seems. 🙂
“Drink up, me lad!” The speaker’s hair was fire red. He had bright green eyes with a merry twinkle in them, as he gestured to the beer taps behind the bar.

Rhodry, on the other side of the bar, looked from the barkeep to the taps. He couldn’t see Maggie. She had to be in the kitchen. There was a group of Singing Unicorns sitting at the other end of the bar. Half empty glasses of beer were in front of them, as well as half devoured plates of corned beef and cabbage. All of them were talking merrily.

Rhodry wasn’t sure he felt like a beer, let alone a plate of heavy food. He looked around the tavern for someone he knew. Amberwyne and Alexi were sitting at a table together. Amberwyne had a glass of amber liquid in a pint the same color of her hair. She’d finished half of it. She was also eating a huge plate of corned beef and cabbage.

Alexi, on the other hand, had a very small plate of salad in front of her, which she poked grudgingly with a fork. A small glass of white wine was in front of her.

“Don’t go ordering that wine, or the salad, as yon foolish lass,” the red-haired barkeep warned. “She’s missing out, not trying the ale.” He placed a small hand on his chest in an almost solemn fashion. “This is special ale, the very ale liberated by Padraig from the Golden Serpent, on this very day.”

“I’ve never heard that tale,” Rhodry said, pausing in spite of himself, at the promise of a new story. He heard legends of Padraig, how he’d battled the Golden Serpent, driving both her and her people from the Green Isle. The Green Isle had become staunchly clerical, afterwards, worshipping the Unicorn with an almost fearful passion. The Golden Serpent was often a metaphor for House Mavelyne in the old tales. “I’ve heard that Padraig fought the Golden Serpent, though sometimes the enemy is a dragon.” Which was one of the reasons Vic and many other people Rhodry knew didn’t celebrate St. Padraig’s Day. “I’ve never heard about any ale, though.”

“Ah, but the ale is very important!” the barkeep said. He leaned a little closer, as if he was going to tell Rhodry a secret. “Dragons have battled for this ale, but that’s another tale.” Pausing for dramatic emphasis, the redhead turned to pick up a pint glass. He filled it at one of the taps, before turning with the full glass back to Rhodry. “Maggie learned the art of brewing this special brew from her foremothers, going back to Brangwen herself.” He placed the glass on the bar. The liquid inside was red golden. “The Golden Serpent wanted the ale. She and her servants stole it from Brangwen, but bonny Padraig marched right into the Golden Serpent’s lair. He challenged both her and her minions to a drinking contest, succeeded in drinking them all right under the table. He marched out with stolen ale kegs, returning them to Brangwen.”

Brangwen, that name sounded familiar, no, it couldn’t be. “You don’t mean Branigan, do you?” Rhodry asked, his eyes widening. The legend of Branigan’s ale was notorious. Only darkling creme was more infamous.

“Ah, poor Brangwen, no one gives her credit. Everyone thinks Branigan brewed the brew.” The barkeep reached up to tug his forelock. It was an almost reverent gesture. “All Branigan ever does is pour the drinks and tell tales.” He winked, in an almost mischievous fashion.

Rhodry stared at the youth, who was shorter than most humans. He didn’t look much older than Davyn, but Davyn was much older than he looked. Centuries older.
“Are you saying that you’re actually him?” Rhodry asked in a hushed whisper. He couldn’t actually bring himself to say the name Branigan.

“Oh, I’m not saying anything, lad. We old barkeeps are as mum as Unicorn clerics in a cloister, save for those that sing.” The barkeep gave the Singing Unicorns at the other end of the bar a meaningful nod. “All we do is tell tales.”

“Well, your tale has convinced me,” Rhodry said with a grin. He reached for the pint. “I’ll try it.”

In the meantime, Davynrel con Tylal was having a little drinking celebration of his own. “Bottoms up!” the sidhe told the lovely, golden haired woman with him, before he downed his entire glass. He’d managed to get his own private room and his own private tap in the back of Maggie’s. He set down his glass and winked at his companion. “After all, today is the anniversary, centuries later, of the day I first drank you under the table.”

“As if I could ever forget, ‘Padraig’. Bottoms are always up for you,” Mavelyne, founder of House Mavelyne and the golden serpent said. She took a drink from her glass, before setting it down beside Davyn’s. There was a twinkle in her golden blue eye. “That was the first and last time I ever saw you as a redhead.”

“Ah, well, I was inspired by your lovely cousin before I ever met her,” Davyn said with a sigh. He shook his head, which for a moment, sported strawberry blonde locks. “My hair color didn’t turn out anything like hers.” A moment later, his hair went back to being its usual silvery gold. “It didn’t really suit me, fabulous as it looks on some of my relatives.”

“It caught my attention,” Mavelyne said. Her lips twitched in amusement. “How disappointed bards would be if they realized Padraig never battled the Golden Serpent and her minions, let alone drove her off the Green Isle, or rescued Branigan’s special ale from her! All he did was drink her under the table and seduce her!”

“Well, it’s a special memory for me,” Davyn said, lowering his eyelashes. He actually looked boyishly shy. “It was also the day I convinced you to return to the Harper realm with me.”

“Not to mention the day our daughter was conceived.” Mavelyne’s voice was husky. She looked back at Davyn. For a moment, the two former lovers stared at each other. A hundred intimate memories and regrets lay between them. Remembered. Unspoken.

It was far too serious a moment for Davynrel con Tylal. “It was also where I got the inspiration for darkling creme.” His smile turned wicked. “Admittedly, it’s a little stronger than this stuff.”

“Yes, just a little.” The sarcasm in Mavelyne’s voice could have sliced bread. Very thick bread with a substantial crust. “And no, for the hundredth time, I’m not trying it.”

Davyn shook his head and smirked. “You don’t know what you’re missing.”

New Writing Project Goes Live

This is the brilliant writer who inspired me to think out of the box, when it came to writing science fiction and fantasy. (heart)

Dreams of Dark Angels

Meretrice Garden

I was determined to get my new writing project off the ground before Christmas, so happy to announce that the first instalment of ‘Through the Night Gardens’ is ready to be viewed on its own blog page: https://throughthenightgardens.wordpress.com/

This is the first chapter of a novel, much of which will be available free online, although I do intend to flesh it out, add secondary plot lines, and eventually publish it in printed form and as an Ebook.

What makes this project different is that it was inspired by landscapes I created using player-made ‘dimensions’ in the MMORPG, Rift. It’s enabled me to realise the images in my head, not only just as illustrations to use in the story, but as actual virtual locations that people can visit, thus making it a transmedia venture. At the moment, the landscapes can only be viewed by downloading the game, Rift, and making a level…

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A Snippet from ‘Aissa and Polyxena’

Here’s a snippet from my submission to Lethe’s Press’ ‘Friends of Hyakinthos’, which I submitted January 29, 2016. I’m still waiting to see if it’s been accepted. It’s my own re-interpretation of Achilles’ passion for Troilus. Yes, I had to force the mightiest of the Achaens to behave himself, no easy task. You can hear him bluster  about it in ‘A is for Achille’ on April 1, 2016, if you like. 🙂 In the meantime, here’s a fragment from Troile’s perspective. For he saw Achille in a dream, before the Trojan war ever got started. Ganymede came to Troile in this dream, to warn another Trojan prince about the doom approaching him, and the lover who might destroy him…

‘“Look upon him,” the boy said, even as his eyes dropped to the cup in his hand. “Look upon the one, who would steal your life, as well as your heart.”

The ripples smoothed, as a face looked back at me. It wasn’t my reflection, oh, no. Heat rushed to my cheeks, as I met the smouldering blue gaze of the young man captured in the water. Truly, his eyes might burn themselves out of their sockets, as if the passion within the man’s body was too much for it contained. ‘