Rhodry: Um, hello, I’m Rhodry. (blushing a bit) I started out as a roleplaying character who was changed a lot, until my author gave my personality to my father. This is the new one, who didn’t grow up amongst a family of sinister nobles. Who was one of several young people who lived in a magical library, a sanctuary in a place called the Keep. I was called Rhodry Mavelyne. My author changed it to Rhoddry Nevalyn for a story called ‘Every Thom, Dick, and Harry Has a Story’ before she settled on Rhodry Nevalyn. She’s never forgotten my Keep name, though. It’s the name she herself uses on Twitter, tumblr, NaNoWriNo, Camp NaNoWriMo, and convention badges. It’s been a while since I’ve been in a story, although I’m hoping I’ll get to be in ‘Trouble at Caerac Keep’…
Rhodry: (jumping at the sound of her smooth, sinister voice) Yes?
Nevalyn: Wait for your turn, my dear. (smiles, showing very sharp teeth) We all want to introduce ourselves.
Una: (smiling to reveal her own needle like teeth) Indeed, we do.
(Rhodry backs away, his eyes turning from blue to golden.)
(Damian steps forward and smiles his most dazzling smile at Nevalyn and Una. )
Damian: Welcome to ‘Blogging from A-Z April Project’ for 2017! Last year, you remember we did ‘My Characters Have the Last Word’? This year, we’ll be doing the sequel, ‘Character Snippets’!
(Una cowers away from the smile) Ugh…the false brightness, the light!
Nevalyn (blinks, caught off guard): How does he do that?
Una: Where did he learn to do that?!
Damian: The Navel, of course.
Rhodry: (whispers to Christopher) What does he mean ‘My Characters Have the Last Word’ and ‘we’re’ doing a sequel? Isn’t this Cauldron actually our author’s blog?
Christopher: (whispers back) Shh, in truth, we took over last year, but we’re trying to maintain the illusion that she still has control. Particularly to her. We are part of her imagination, after all.
Nevalyn: (smiling darkly in Kyra’s direction) She may never realize the truth, the poor dear.
Xian: Of course she won’t. (rubbing her hands together and bowing, although she doesn’t bother to hide her smirk) Fictional characters could never take over an author’s imagination, not completely. Could they?
Damian: (dropping his smile for a pained expression) Ladies, please! Don’t gloat in such an obvious fashion. We don’t want our author to realize she’s completely in our power. We need to keep her in a fit state to write for us. We need to convince her she’s the one in control. Which is why we’re going to do exactly as she thinks she’s planned in the ‘Blogging from A-Z Project’. One of us will show up every day with a character snippet.
Ariadne: I’ll accept this blogging challenge on Saturday; April 1, 2017 in ‘A is for Ariadne’. I’ll show our readers my mettle with seven sentences from ‘Trouble at Caerac Keep’.
Nevalyn: How appropriate. A fool for April Fool’s Day.
Ariadne: (bristling) What was that?
Damian: (waving a placating hand) Please calm down, everyone. Ariadne, you’re actually supposed to only appear in six sentences.
Ariadne: (turning his glare on Damian) I don’t take orders from men!
Damian: (sighing) You’d get along very well with my family. I suppose it’s all right. It’s supposed to be six sentences, more or less. Don’t do too much more or less, though. We’re trying to convince our author she’s still in control of this Cauldron.
Byron: Yes, we are. I’ll be appearing in ‘B is for Byron’ on Monday; April 3, 2017 with a snippet from ‘On the Other Side of the Mask’. Or is it from ‘Trouble in Paradise’? I do get them mixed up. It was all one story, until our author decided to divide them.
Shelley: (laying a hand on his shoulder) It’s all right, Byron. We’ll decide which story we’re in on the dates of our appearances.
Christopher: I’ll be here on Tuesday; April 4, 2017 in ‘C is for Christopher’ with the next snippet of ‘Waiting for Rebirth’.
Damian: And I’ll follow him on Wednesday; April 5, 2017 with a little more of ‘Waiting for Rebith’. Unless we’ve finished it. If so, I’ll show up with a teaser from ‘Stealing Myself From Shadows’.
Elizabeth: Be grateful, readers, for I will grace you with my presence on Thursday; April 6, 2017 with ‘E is for Elizabeth’. I’ll even offer you a taste of ‘A Portrait Is Worth a Thousand Words’.
Fiona: (running a hand through untidy red hair, smoothing the label of a lab coat, and smiling myopically through spectacles) Are the readers here all ready? Hello! I’ll see you all on Friday; April 7, 2017 with six sentences of ‘A Portrait is Worth a Thousand Words’. Musn’t let the Lady Elizabeth down, oh, no.
Elizabeth: (raising her nose in the air haughtily) Yet somehow you always do.
(Fiona looks a little downcast)
Gabrielle: Oh, don’t be so harsh on your assistant, Elizabeth, she seems like a jolly sort.
Elizabeth: She’s not my assistant, she’s my descendant! As such, she can do better than she ever does! Just see how untidy she is!
Gabrielle: Now, now, there’s a place for a tidiness and a place for individuality, but they’re not always in the same place. Speaking of places, where are my manners? Welcome, readers, to the Navel, center of everything bizarre!
Damian: We’re not in the Navel, ‘Brie.
Gabrielle: (blinking and looking around) We’re not.
Damian: Well, not exactly. We’re between worlds.
Gabrielle: In the Shadow Forest.
Damian: Not really…well, maybe. This space is called the Cauldron of Eternal Inspiration. It’s our author’s blog. The Navel has been here a lot, as have we, but we’re sort of having a in between moment. In and out of character.
Rhodry: (blinking) Oh, is that it?
Christopher: (looking relieved) Ah, well, it’s not like I haven’t been in that state. Often.
Gabrielle: (blinks again, before turning to readers to smile, completely unfazed by the recent revelations) Welcome to the Cauldron of Eternal Inspiration, center of creativity! I’ll be your host on Saturday; April 8, 2017 in ‘G is for Gabrielle’, bringing you six sentences of ‘Waiting for Rebirth’. Unless we’ve finished ‘Waiting for Rebirth’. What comes after ‘Waiting for Rebirth’? (thinks for a moment) Or a sample from ‘Unwilling to Be Yours’!
Hebe: I’ll follow Gabrielle on Monday; April 10, 2017 with a sample from ‘Stealing Myself From Shadows’.
Isolde: Good day, all of you. Isolde, sculptor and reluctant warrior, at your service. I’ll be here on Tuesday; April 11, 2017 with six sentences of ‘The Players Are the Thing’.
Juno: Why, hello there! (clasping her hands together. There appear to be only two hands attached to two arms, but if you blink, slowly, you can see the shadows of two additional appendages reaching out from her thick torso) How lovely to see all of you dear readers gathered here at the Cauldron! I do love visitors, yes, indeed! Did you know I had Lord Dyvian over as a guest in my cottage once? As well as that handsome Leiwell of his, along with his adorable little brothers! Oh, but they’re all over at inspirationcauldron.blogspot.com! Along with my husband, Jupitre, the naughty man! He’d better be behaving himself over there, or I may have to get cross with him, quite cross, indeed! Have I mentioned what I once did to a certain cow who tried to carry on with him? It’s quite a story-
Nevalyn: Juno. (looking at Juno with golden, serpentine eyes)
Juno: (flinching at her gaze) Err, yes?
Nevalyn: (keeping her cold gaze fixed upon the other woman) Get on with it.
Juno: (flustered) Yes, of course. I’ll return to entertain you all on Wednesday; April 12, 2017 in ‘J is for Juno’ and a little snippet from ‘Stealing Myself From Shadows’.
Nevalyn: At last, it’s our turn. (fixing her gaze upon Kyra) Yours and mine.
Kyra: (trying not to flinch and keep her head raised high): No.
Nevalyn: (raising a golden eyebrow) No?
Kyra: No. (takes a deep breath and throws her shoulders back) It’s my turn. On Thursday; April 13, 2017 in ‘K is for Kyra’. I’ll be here with a sample from ‘A Suitor’s Challenge’. Not you.
Nevalyn: (with a slight bow) Of course. It’s your turn. (in an undertone) For now. Until the day I speak through your mouth as well as see through your eyes.
Rhodry: (in a low voice) I’m very glad Varwyth is at the other Cauldron. Otherwise, I might be trembling like that.
Damian: (in an equally low voice) I’m very glad Aunt Duessa isn’t taking a turn at this Cauldron this year, or I’d be trembling like that. Although I doubt I’ll be able to keep from trembling for long. (turns a shudder into a shrug) She’s too much a part of my plot.
Rhodry: You have a point. (tries to turn a shudder into a shrug and fails utterly)
‘Lyssa: My turn? (bows with a sinuous grace) How sweet of you all to come. I hope you’ll return on Friday; April 14, 2017 for ‘L is for Lyssa’ and a little of ‘A Godling for Your Thoughts?’
Melyssa: (glowering at ‘Lyssa) I’m not sure why we have separate blogs. We’re the same person, essentially.
‘Lyssa: I’m the future, dear, what you wish to be. You’re the reality you’re stuck being, if you can call it that.
Melyssa: At least I’m complete! Sort of. I’ll show you how complete I am when I return on Saturday; April 15, 2017 in ‘M is for Melyssa’. With my own snippet of ‘A Godling for Your Thoughts?’ !
Nevalyn: Our author is far too lenient. Allowing all of you to chatter like this, wasting blog space. If I controlled everything-
Ouroboros: My daughter, you do not control everything. You are simply one aspect of myself in one world.
Nevalyn: (with a deeper bow to Ouroboros than she made to Kyra) Of course. (aside) Someday, old serpent, I will dominate all of your aspects.
Ouroboros: (staring at Nevalyn with serpentine, yet tranquil eyes) Sometimes, you remind me of the Unicorn in your angry desire for domination.
Nevalyn: (closing her own eyes) How can you compare one of your own to that upstart horned beast?
Ouroboros: (unfazed) Only in your anger.
Nevalyn: (allows her own serpentine gaze to glide over everyone) Beware. I am the Serpent, coiling within you all. I knew secrets which would make all of you, including the Unicorn tremble. I shall return on Monday; April 17, 2017 in ’N is for Nevalyn’. Prepare for my coming in ‘A Suitor’s Challenge’.
Xian: (bowing) Of course, Master. (in an aside to Zenobia) We must get our hands on a unicorn horn, great queen.
Nevalyn: (fixing her golden stare on Xian) You wish to say something, my servant?
Xian: (bowing even lower) Only that it was your honoured sire’s turn, Master.
Ouroboros: Greetings. (turns his own sleepy serpentine stare on everyone present) I am Ouroboros, the Great Serpent of the World. I shall return on Tuesday; April 18, 2017’ in ‘O is for Ouroboros’, although I’m unsure of the form I shall take or the story I shall manifest in. I’m more of a concept than a character.
Nevalyn: Which is why you require aspects of yourself to act for you.
Ouroboros: You are but one aspect of the Great Serpent, my daughter. There are others.
Nevalyn: I’m the only aspect of the Serpent that matters. I shape all the others to my will.
Peter: Ahem! (smiles at everyone, except for Nevalyn and Ouroboros, whom he’s trying not to look at) Before we get sidetracked in a lengthy, philosophical battle, I should introduce myself. (winks at Christopher, Gabrielle, and everyone except for the serpents) Peter, at your service, humble retrainer to the lovely Gabrielle. (bows to Gabrielle) Not to mention hapless suitor to a certain beautiful, but reluctant youth. (seizes Christopher’s hand and kisses it)
Christopher: (snatching his hand back) Don’t do that.
Damian: (quietly) I’ve already claimed his hand.
Peter: (turning to Damian) Jealous?
Damian: (looking Peter up and down) Should I be?
Peter: Prick. Just you wait. I’ll be back on Wednesday; April 19, 2017 in ‘P is for Peter’. I’ll share a snippet with our readers which reveals just what a prick you are.
Damian: (smirks) How nice. You’ll be drawing even more attention…to me.
Questioning: I wonder what story he’ll share a snippet from. I also wonder at how much tension lies between characters in the Cauldron.
Damian: He’s not in ‘Waiting for Rebirth’, so it’ll have to be from ‘Unwilling to Be Yours’ or something which takes place afterwards. (smirk grows) He’s an afterthought in every sense.
Peter: And you’re a prick in every sense.
Questioning: I wonder why our author wrote us in this way? Yes, I’m Questioning, by name and by nature. I question everything; my gender, my identity, and what we’re all doing here. I do know I’ll be back on Thursday; April 20, 2017 in ‘Q is for Questioning’. I’ll be here to support my Kyra’s suit in a sample from ‘A Suitor’s Challenge’.
Kyra: (laying a hand on Questioning’s shoulder) I knew I could count on you, old friend.
Nevalyn: (hisses) I’ll have you know she is my Kyra, you slippery schemer. You don’t fool me with your vacant eyes and pretensions of loyalty. I can see straight into your heart.
Questioning: (blinking silvery gray eyes at Nevalyn, seeing something other than her) Is she really? Yours?
Rhodry: (mutters) I’m really glad Varwyth is at the other Cauldron! (clears his throat) Ahem, I’d better hurry up and introduce myself.
Christopher: Yes, you should. (gives Rhodry a sidelong, almost hungry glance. You’re very pretty. Very like my Danyell and Dayell with those golden waves of hair, just touching your shoulders, only it’s more of a ruddy hue.
Rhodry: (turning bright red) Um! If you want to know what who we’re talking about, go to the other Cauldron at inspirationcauldron.blogspot.com. See ‘D is for Danyell and Dayell’ on Wednesday; April 5, 2016 and ‘V is for Varwyth’ on Wednesday; April 26, 2017.
Christopher: You even blush in the exact way Danyell does.
Rhodry: Well, we come from the same imagination. (backs away from Christopher) Sorry for getting out of sequence! Back to this Cauldron and our schedule of events! I’ll be here on Friday; April 21, 2017 in ‘R is for Rhodry’ with a snippet from ‘Trouble at Caerac Keep’.
Christopher: So that’s your name? Rhodry?
Rhodry: Um, yes.
Kyra: Don’t tell him your true name, you little fool!
Damian: (smiling at Rhodry) How sweet of you to offer it up so willingly.
Peter: Why are you encouraging Christopher’s interest in another boy? I thought you’d claimed him for yourself.
Damian: I understand Christopher’s needs. I understand how hungry he gets. Don’t you?
Christopher: It doesn’t matter. (sniffs the air around Rhodry) He’s been claimed by another.
Rhodry: (eyes widen and shift from blue to golden) What?
Christopher: Truly pretty. Such a pity.
Damian: I doubt his vampire master shares.
Shelley: Vampire masters seldom do, along with others of their ilk. (gives Damian, Christopher, Nevalyn, or Ouroboros pointed looks) It’s a selfishness I’ll never stop questioning or challenging. I’ll do so again, when I return in ’S is for Shelley’ on Saturday; April 22, 2017, whether I appear in a snippet from ‘Trouble in Paradise’ or ‘On the Other Side of the Mask’.
Troile: A noble sentiment. I shall match your determination and conviction when I appear in ’T is for Troile’ on Monday; April 24, 2017 with an example from ‘Aissa and Polyxena’.
Hector: An example of what? Cross dressing? Falling in love with an enemy of Troy? You make me weep with shame, little brother!
Troile: You don’t belong here, Hector. Go back to your Cauldron at inspirationcauldron.blogspot.com.
Hebe: That’s right!
Una: If we could move on, young masters? (rubbing spindly hands together) I, Una, humble servant of the great Lady Duessa Ashelocke, queen among arachnocrats, shall appear in this Cauldron on Tuesday; April 25, 2017 in ‘U is for Una’. I shall bring a very special snippet from the unwritten chronicle of the Navel and Shadow Forest; ‘My Tool, My Treasure’. (quietly) And do what I can to crush that cursed spider witch as she crushed me.
Damian: (raising an eyebrow) Pardon?
Una: Nothing, little lordling! (bows) I was only saying it’s now time for your bride, the ardent Lady Vanessa Ashelocke to speak.
Damian: (shudders and grimaces at once) She’s not my bride.
Vanessa: How could I be anything else? What other arachnocratic lady is your equal in beauty, wit, rank, or power? You should be more eager. After all, you’re not getting any younger and you’re still uneaten.
Damian: (rolls his eyes) Excuse me for having other plans than being eaten!
Vanessa: I most certainly will not! You’re an Ashelocke! You’re a boy and an arachnocratic one! What plan could be more glorious than to be devoured by me? Think of all the combined power our daughter will have? Plus, your remains would stand in a perfect marblesque state in the Ashelocke gardens. You’d be there for all of eternity for generations to admire! What more can a boy hope for?
Damian: Much better than that.
Christopher: You cannot have Damian. I’ve already claimed him.
Vanessa: As if a mere shadow of a boy could know anything about truly claiming someone! Your paltry manner of feeding pales next to to an Ashelocke bride’s. I’ll show you how much in ‘V is for Vanessa’ on Wednesday; April 26, 2017 in a special look at ‘My Tool, My Treasure’.
Christopher: You’re not taking Damian. Nor are you putting aside ‘Waiting for Rebirth’ so you can drag him off to your web and drain him, or whatever else you plan on doing.
Vanessa: Don’t compare a sacred marriage feast to Duessa’s petty games.
Damian: (sweetly) I’ll be sure to tell Duessa you said that.
Melyssa: As will I.
Vanessa: (blanches) You wouldn’t dare!
Damian: (to Christopher) Don’t worry about ‘Waiting for Rebirth’. If it hasn’t finished at the end of March, we’ll return in May. Not to mention we can always take over Paula’s Prompts.
Westerleigh: If I may? Westerleigh Harford here, long neglected and forgotten character. I’m finally getting a chance to show a little development on Thursday; April 27, 2017 in a snippet from ‘A Portrait Is Worth a Thousand Words’.
Fiona: Hopefully, we’ll get a little attention here! Our author is constantly putting us aside for other projects!
Elizabeth: She’d better not continue to do that, if she knows what’s best for her. Get on with it, girl.
Westerleigh: I’m finished, my lady. (quietly) And I’m not exactly a girl.
Elizabeth: What was that?
Xian: We would have silence from both of you.
Elizabeth: (with exaggerated politeness) Excuse me?
Nevalyn: Quite bold, my servant. One would suspect you of having queenly or even imperial designs.
Xian: (bowing to Nevalyn) All in your name, Great Serpent. (aside) Until I’ve bound all of your brood in mystical manacles and turned them into weapons that will destroy you.
Christopher: (to Damian) I’m awed at how much treachery is brewing in this Cauldron.
Damian: (deadpan) You get used to it.
Gabrielle: Or you retreat from it.
Xian: (with a hint of imperiousness) If we may continue? We shall return in ‘X for Xian’ on Friday; April 28, 2017 with a snippet of our activities in ‘A Suitor’s Challenge’.
Nevalyn: Quite the imperial attitude you’re showing.
Zenobia: Indeed. I like it not.
Yuri: Truly frightening females lurk within this Cauldron. (glances at Elizabeth) I’ll strive to channel my fear into art on Saturday; April 29, 2017 in ‘Y is for Yuri’, when I appear in ‘A Portrait Is Worth a Thousand Words’.
Westerleigh: (touching Yuri’s hand) Are you all right?
Yuri: (manages to smile and pat Westerleigh’s hand in turn) No more than usual, Wess.
Zenobia: If you frail creatures are finishing swooning, I shall finish this introduction in a fashion worthy of a queen. I, Zenobia, shall end this Blogging from A-Z April Challenge once and for all in ‘Z is for Zenobia’ on Monday; April 31, 2017! You shall hear your last from me in ‘A Suitor’s Challenge’.
Xian and Nevalyn: (muttering as one) That’s a relief…
Zenobia: What was that?
Damian: (smiling) That’s that! The end of the introduction!
Zenobia: Well, yes-
Gabrielle: (waving) See you all in April! Bye!
Zenobia: Pay attention, when I’m talking to you peasants!