Q is for Questioning

I started calling myself Questioning, for I’m always questioning my nature in these troubled times. Who am I? How did the world I struggled to save come to such a state? Did I bring this about when I encouraged Daeric to stand against his mother, for Xian to lead a rebellion against her master? How much is Magdalene responsible for the rise of the Dragons, the corruption of an order meant to bring equilibrium to troubled lands? This is why I abandoned the name of Magdalene and what she represented. I could no longer pretend to be the woman she was. I don’t believe in the things she fought for, the alliances she made. Those she once knew and trusted have changed too much. The Order of the Dragon once kept the various forces threatening to rise and overwhelm the World of Ouroboros in check, but who checks the Dragons, arrogantly standing in the shadow of Serena Jasior, now Imperatrix. Right now they’re as great as threat as the Serpent was. The lands live in a state of terror under the Dragons’s rule and they keep everyone clenched in their iron claws. I tried to back away from them, from the changes I felt responsible for. I tried to live quietly, teaching a select few younglings to notice everything happening around them, to question everything. The Dragons entered my school, seized my students, searching for Serpent-Born among them. They took one of them as a slave, a prize they were going to deliver to their Imperatrix. They let me off with a warning, not to stir up sedition against the Empire or the Dragons. Well, I’m stirring it up. I made a deal with a questionable ally to get Kyra, the student they stole back. I abandoned my former name and ran, taking Kyra with me. In our travels, Kyra found another former student of mine in an unlikely place, allowing herself to be drawn into A Suitor’s Challenge. Once more I’m questioning everything she’s involved with, especially the allies gravitating towards Kyra in the all-too prominent position she’s put herself into. Not that she or I are alone. I have my own allies, whom I may have to call on. I fear what disastrous changes may come to pass, if I get them involved, but things are already bad. Consequences, consequences, what will be the consequences, and will they be worse than the current state of things? It’s impossible not to question everything in this day and age.

#RainbowSnippets: Wind Me Up, One More Time

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets!

Every Saturday or Sunday, those participating post and share six sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction on their blogs. It can be their own. It can be someone else’s. It just needs to be LGBTQIA+.

To read a wide variety of samples from different LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

https://www.facebook.com/groups/RainbowSnippets/?ref=group_header

For my own, Nathalie and Grace will continue where they left off last Sunday in Wind Me Up, One More Time…

“This is why the train was built, right?” Someone once said that, someone not nearly as interesting as Nathalie. Someone who described Verity’s as ‘history’ with a grave, sour face. No need to add a hiss to a story. It had a way of slurping all the excitement out of a tale.

Mischief Corner Books/Shenanigans Press: https://www.mischiefcornerbooks.com/wind-me-up-one-more-time.html#/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B081LPX2WH/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Wind+Me+Up%2C+One+More+Time&qid=1573974211&s=books&sr=1-1

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/wind-me-up-one-more-time

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wind-me-up-one-more-time-ks-trenten/1134959345

Apple: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1488235515?fbclid=IwAR1_ox2T5jIHibPFBHUqTck0SNaP3pcZIgNM4DS3VAjU47mn3o5iu260bMA

P is for Peter

Hello, hello, welcome to the Navel, center of everything bizarre? I am Peter, let my know if I can help you find anything! What am I doing here? Why, I work here, my dear, now that Damian the Demented decided to walk through a Door and leave behind everyone he loved. Or perhaps you’re wondering what I’m doing in Tales of the Navel: The Shadow Forest, not to mention Stealing Myself From Shadows? I myself often wonder the same thing. I had a life of my own, a past of my own. A certain dark-haired, dark-eyed philosphical junkie named Paul might accuse me of running from both. I would argue I didn’t run, nor am I running now. I’m simply avoiding all that, dancing in the opposite direction, distracting everyone with a flamboyant dance. Have you ever seen my dance? Would you like to? Oh, you want to know more about Paul. There’s always a boy in my life, spinning my head in the wrong direction, not that I don’t love the ladies. Ladies make life worth living for, but it’s the boy who seems to crawl under my skin, only to wear that skin like his personal coat against the world, while squeezing my heart to a pulp. Ah, don’t mind me, I can be morbid, alas. It’s not like I didn’t offer both my heart and my skin to the boy both times. Oh, don’t worry, my skin is still attached. Here, feel for yourself. I was only being metaphoric. Paul didn’t actually start wearing my skin. Christopher didn’t suck my heart dry, not literally. Considering the nature of the Shadow Forest, I shudder to think of what it might do to me, using my metaphor. That was only a joke, don’t take it so so seriously! Oh, all right, maybe you should take it a little seriously. Yes, I stand before you now as Peter, but the metaphor isn’t finished with me. Who knows how it may alter my form? Don’t worry, if it does, it will be with my consent, although that’s a tragic waste of a handsome face and a fine body, if I do say so myself. Don’t look so sad! Don’t look too happy, either, though, you’ll bruise my ego. (winks) It’s not like I haven’t had fun. Working here in the Navel with all these ‘objects’, trying to find the right ‘owner’ for him, getting aquainted with their ‘affinities’, I can’t say it’s ever dull around here. Not to mention Gabrielle is the most splendid boss I’ve ever had, well worth a lot of weirdness. The boys in my life have been beautiful, well worth the sacrifices, even if they don’t appreciate them. Ah, well, that’s a lover’s lot, isn’t it? To be rejected by a reluctant beloved, incapable of accepting your feelings? It’s classical, even if it’s a little depressing. I try not to let depression get the better of me. As for change, why, I may change to the point you no longer recognize me. What do I mean by that? Oh, no, my dears, I’m not telling. I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise. I’ll give you a hint, though, I’m a lot closer than you’d think. No, I’m not explaining what I mean by that. Have an amusing day!

O is for Ouroboros

We are the Giant Serpent, the beginning and ending of the world, coiled and swallowing their own coils. You who live upon us, under our skies, breathing our air, drinking our water, drinking our fruit, and walking upon our body seldom notice us. This doesn’t make us any less as part of you as you are a part of us. You still fear our hungry maw, being swallowed by us, even as you consume us. Ours is not a simple relationship of predator and prey, no matter what our younger, more naive aspects believe. We were the first child of the Goddess, whom we wrapped in our coils in worship, spawning all things before She tried to trample us. Our nature is just as myriad as Hers. Whether you worship or villify us, you cannot simply define us by one aspect, although our nature changes with your perspective. We have many faces, mercurial and shifting, even if we are eternal, much like the Goddess or life. You may never notice us in A Suitor’s Challenge or Trouble at Caerac Keep, yet we are The World of Ouroborous. Without us providing a world, a setting, you would not have these stories. Think on that as you tremble, ready to call us a monster. Yes, we are a monster, yet so much more than than. So much more.

N is for Nevalyn

I wait, coiled within you, ready to strike. I am the Great Serpent, the changed nature of Ouroboros once swallowed. Ingesting Their essence, I became Ouroboros, a more active avatar of the Serpent, slithering through the land, waking many a hungry creature from its slumber, allowing it to emerge with bared fangs. How humanity trembled, even their great kings and queens who thought their positions were so lofty, so unassailable! They all turned their fangs upon me, including my own son, a bitter reminder that I couldn’t trust my own brood, my own blood. Not that the proteges I hand-picked were any more loyal. Little Xian fancied herself an Imperatrix, changed her name to Serena Jasior. She convinced the world of this, all the frightened humans to stand against me. She broke my power, scattered me in pieces, thinking she’d cast me into the Abyss. There were things I could do in pieces, lying within my own Brood.

This is how I found you, Kyra, my precious heir, blood of my blood, the perfect vessel for me to rise again within. Magdalene tried so hard to hide you, but it was impossible to keep us apart. I was born again with you, I nestled within your heart and mind. Only Stefan, another of my treacherous brood, lured me out of you with offers to do my bidding. He was so willing and you were so reluctant! I prefer to possess a willing vessel, we are both the stronger for it. Stefan has been entertaining, an opportunity to get close to the seat of power and Xian I hadn’t expected, but he’s not you. I miss you. I want you back. Perhaps there’s a chance to take you back in A Suitor’s Challenge, the one you’re willing to accept to save Stefan from me. Only he’s now Prince Stephen Jasior, what a splendid joke! I fear the joke will be on you, Magdalene, Xian, and Daeric, my treacherous son in the end. Little serpents you all might be, but I am within every little serpent, and we can do so much more damage than one Great One, coiled in the breasts of many.

(Nevalyn is the major villain in the World of Omphalos, my original fantasy setting in which I’ve got two works in progress; A Suitor’s Challenge and Trouble at Caerac Keep. A Suitor’s Challenge is a revised version of the second story I ever came up with, that of Kyra and Stephen when I was twelve years old.)

M is for Melyssa

Nothing sounded better than change. Who was Melyssa Ashelocke? Her name never suited me. Melyssa Ashelocke sounded like a far more arachnocratic lady than myself, one who could hold her head high about my mother, Duessa Ashelocke and my cousin, Vanessa Ashelocke. Someone eager and willing to drain the life out of willing Marriage Feasts. Or not so willing ones. Van never stopped salivating over Damian, something that disgusted and angered me. All the while, she shied away from our kisses and caresses, ones she once enjoyed when we were younger. No, we couldn’t be that close, not any more. We were ladies, we’d changed too much. Such actions could only be perverse between mature ladies. I hated her more than a little for rejecting me thus, especially when I never stopped wanting her. My desire twisted into something ugly, almost like a parody of hunger for a Marrage Feast. Nor is it the only emotion that twisted into something unsightly. As a child I wanted very much to please my mother, only I came to realize I was nothing but a disappointment, a failure as an arachnocrat, an Ashelocke, and a daughter. The truer I was to myself, the more of a disappointment I became.

I ended up walking out of the Gardens of Arachne, through the Mists of Mystere without consuming the life of even one Marriage Feast. Possessing a mere two arms and two eyes, I sought a new life an isolated temple among the Sisters of Seraphix.

Here’s where my memories start to get hazy. I know I was happy at the temple. I met my Master there. Never have I worshipped or looked to anyone like I did her. Only my Master betrayed me, disappointed me in some way I dimly recall. What I remember is the rage and anger. All the resentment I carried for my mother, for Van, it all exploded somehow, fixing itself on the Master. She was ready for my rage. Something happened, something terrible I lost in the mists of the Shadow Forest.

Now I’m stuck with a family I never wanted, a mother, a father, and a brother, of all things! I’m aware they’re not really my family, but I’m not sure if I want the Ashelockes back. I’m not sure of many things. Neither are Juno, Jupitre, or Thomas, the mother, father, and brother thrown together with me. What we share is a lack of certainty. It binds us together like nothing else. That and Seraphix.

We’ve all accepted a talisman of Seraphix from Her Voice. We’ve all heard its whispers. Mine sounds like the woman I’d like to be. It murmurs of my secret hungers, the various ways I could express them. It urges me to find Van, to find my Master, and act on those urges. It suggests I make my mothers, both of them acknowledge the woman I’m becoming.

I’m not sure for how long I can resist these urges. Nor am I sure if I want to. This may be my path to becoming what I’m meant to be. I hope it is.

(Melyssa is a character in my Tales of the Navel: The Shadow Forest stories. She first appears in A Godling for Your Thoughts? or does she? She’s also in My Tool, My Treasure.)

L is for ‘Lyssa

I am the avatar of change, the change happening to Melyssa, within Melyssa as a result of her desire mingled with the essence of Seraphix. I am whom Melyssa wishes to be, a result of A Godling for Your Thoughts? For I am a creatures who seduces her with her hidden wishes. If not for change, I wouldn’t exist. If the girl who’d been Melyssa Ashelocke hadn’t accept Seraphix’s talisman from their Voice, I wouldn’t be. If Melyssa hadn’t listened to and admired her cousins, Damian and Dyvian, I would never have come into being. If Melyssa hadn’t felt a forbidden passion she couldn’t suppress for another arachnocratic lady, my whispers wouldn’t have echoed within her dreams. If Melyssa hadn’t joined the Sisters of Seraphix as Mel, coming to utterly worship her master, she wouldn’t have raged against all she was. If Melyssa hadn’t been disillusioned and destroyed by that same master on the fringe of the Shadow Forest, I wouldn’t have propped up the wreckage which is she. I am her wish incarnate, shaped by Melyssa’s soorows and joys. I am Melyssa, reduced down to a sleek, seductive form, discarding the childish awkwardness of Mel. I have a hold on her heart and soul. I look back at her from the glass, reflecting her suppressed dreams. I won’t let her go. Nor will I let her continue to repress the part of her that’s me. Not until we’ve expressed all that’s in our heart to Vanessa Ashelocke and Mel’s former master. Not until we satisfy the hunger we’ve kept down for too long in Tales of the Navel: The Shadow Forest, particularly My Tool, My Treasure. No more denial. It’s time to live as we truly wish to live.

K is for Kyra

My life was a series of changes, pouncing upon me, ready to devour whatever I’d managed to build or establish of my existence. This was true long before I decided to accept A Suitor’s Challenge, fighting Prince Stephen Jasior in the magical arena for either his hand in marriage or my life, depending on the victor. Change came for me when I was one of Magdelene’s students in her little school, which was perhaps an early version of a seminary for Servants of the Unicorn, an oasis of orphans with no place to go. How much of an oasis it was for me was debatable, for I could hear the whisper of the Serpent in my head, calling me. Yes, the Serpent, the monster whom the Imperatrix Serena Jasior brought all the lands together in a united empire to fight, a united army to defeat, shatter, and banish into the Abyss. She must not have done as good a job as legend claimed, for I could feel Nevalyn writhing inside me. I didn’t know how to expell Her or banish Her. I was just a child. Only such excuses didn’t stop Stefan. Stefan, my only friend and companion besides Magdalene at the school was there for me when it mattered. He was the only Serpent-Born as well. We had to stick together, he once said with a shy smile. He went way beyond just sticking to me. Stefan stepped between the Serpent and myself, when She was about to possess me completely, offering himself to Her instead. This happened right before the Order of the Dragon attacked the school. I don’t know what happened to Stefan after that, for I was captured and collared by the Dragons, a prize to be brought to the Imperatrix. This slavery ended when Magdalene rescued me with the help of Peregrine, an old friend and ally. Yes, Magdalene survived the Dragon attack on their school, but they changed. Their formerly red hair streaked with silver turned silver turned silver completely and they no longer played the part of the woman who’d been their identity for so long. They became Questioning, reflecting a new state of flux and change within a world whose rules and status quo they could no longer accept. They traveled with Peregrine and myself, trying to avoid those who’d put a collar on me, or prevent us from existing, staying on the very fringe of civilization. Only I saw Stefan again, standing in the middle of an arena, flushed with the life force of some poor idiot princess who thought she could best him at magical combat. He’d become quite skilled at such combat. He’d also become a prince, Prince Stephen Jasior, adopted brother to the Imperatrix herself. Anyone who wanted to marry him had to beat him in the arena. None of his poor suitors realized what I did, when I looked up into his golden eyes. They were fighting the Serpent Herself, who was using Stefan as a vessel to feed on their lives and magic. Not that those close to his fallen suitors understand this. They want revenge for their loved ones. Others want an excuse to attack the Empire and Serena Jasior.

I’m not sure if an empire that calls me Serpent-Born and tries to put a collar on me just because my hair is golden and my eyes turn golden. If they knew about my connection to the Serpent, I could understand it. The Dragon help me if the Dragons ever do. No, I’m not all that loyal to the Empire. Stefan, though, Stefan was one of the first people I ever loved, ever got close to. I can’t let the Serpent continue tormenting him. For he’s still inside his own body, forced to watch everything She does in his name, because he stepped between Her and me. I can’t let it continue, even if I have to step up and become an Imperial prince’s suitor, courting court connections I neither trust or feel comfortable with to save him.

I owe him that much at least. Even if it means the most horrible change of all, allowing Nevalyn to depart his body and return to mine. I shudder at the thought of it, but I can’t let Stefan continue to suffer in my place. I just can’t.

#RainbowSnippets: Wind Me Up, One More Time

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets and Happy Easter to all who celebrate it! Every Saturday or Sunday, those participating post and share six sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction on their blogs. It can be their own. It can be someone else’s. It just needs to be LGBTQIA+.

To read a wide variety of samples from different LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

https://www.facebook.com/groups/RainbowSnippets/?ref=group_header

For my own, Grace and Nathalie are continuing where they left off last Sunday in Wind Me Up, One More Time…this is a little longer than six sentences, forgive me…

“I can’t blame Verity for losing her heart.” Grace looked up at the window, picturing a bear sitting there instead of a big doll, a bear Nathalie would let her take home. “I’d lose it, if I had all of her bears, looking at me with their button eyes, wanting to be hugged.”

“True, but Verity’s hands couldn’t keep up with her heart.” Nathalie stood up, straightened her back. “To keep making clothes and toys, she needed more hands to keep working. People all over the world, not just in Verity wanted what she sewed.”

Like what you’re reading? Want to read more? Here are buy links…

Mischief Corner Books/Shenanigans Press: https://www.mischiefcornerbooks.com/wind-me-up-one-more-time.html#/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B081LPX2WH/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Wind+Me+Up%2C+One+More+Time&qid=1573974211&s=books&sr=1-1

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/wind-me-up-one-more-time

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wind-me-up-one-more-time-ks-trenten/1134959345

Apple: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1488235515?fbclid=IwAR1_ox2T5jIHibPFBHUqTck0SNaP3pcZIgNM4DS3VAjU47mn3o5iu260bMA

 

J is for Juno

Why, hello, there, goodness me, are you back again to visit this Cauldron? How nice of you to drop by, very nice, would you like a cup of tea? I confess, I don’t get many visitors since I assumed this shape, tee hee! Once I had a husband, ah, he was the other half of my soul, if you’ll pardon the expression. The two of us changed after he became a wounded bird, transforming our relationship to that of husband and wife, something I sometimes wonder at. Not that I’ve got anything against marriage, no, indeed! I was once marriage’s defending champion, its patron and matron, and if I had to punish the naughty who threatened its sanctity by being a bit naughty myself, well, my dears, one has to be firm if one is to be taken seriously. And in truth, if I’d been truly diligent in punishing the naughty, I ought to have punished my husband. All of those women he sported with and to take our own daughter’s position away at our table, giving the job of a cupbearer to some fancy boy! Now that was naughty in a reign of naughtiness, which my husband enforced with his big lightning bolt and its power, tut, tut! Still I ruled at his side as the queen of heaven and I was happy, or was I? Come to think of it, I’m not sure if I was happy or not. I was beautiful, powerful, worshipped and feared by mortal men and women, but was I happy? Change came to us all, knocking my husband off his throne, but I left before that, didn’t I? Oh dear, so many memories are missing from the time before I met dear Lady Duessa Ashelocke. Did I find her or did she find me? Her little Garden of Arachne was a perfect piece of paradise after the bickerings in heaven. The Marriage Feasts were things of frightful beauty, yet somehow the natural conclusion after the mess men made of marriage. I’ve seen far too many women, good women, faithful women suffer at the hands of their husbands, tut, tut! Even marriage’s champion found herself dropping her banner. Is it a wonder I ended up joining the arachnocrats, even if it was a come-down from who I’d been. You might think I’m just a measley minion, bound to the Lady Duessa to do her bidding, but I’m not bitter, oh, no, my dear. Serving the Lady Spider has been marvelous, far more marvelous than serving my husband, even if it’s all a tad perverse, tee hee! I’ve learned a trick or two from my eight-armed mistress, tricks I tried on my husband when I finally caught up with him, such fun! Only he didn’t think so, poor dear. He’s still sulky about losing his powers, such a waste. All this time wanting him, wanting him to look only at me, to have him at my mercy, and now I finally do, it’s quite the disappointment. I’ve barely thought of any of my children other than my poor, damaged Hebe. She needed me, needed me like no one else ever has, and I failed her. I lost her, my darling baby girl. I’ve found other children, children who’ve become precious to me, but I miss my Hebe. I sense she’s nearby, very close, only I need to look closely with all six eyes to see her. Only that might mean revealing myself to those I don’t want to show too much to, oh no!

All of this is some of what’s going on with me in our scribbler’s stories; Tales of the Navel: The Shadow Forest. Dear me, it’s distressing to be relegated to the role of minor character! I ought to talk to Quartz, maybe visit that funny little blog of his, oh, what’s it called? Secondary Characters Speak Out. It’s even more distressing when your scribbler is too distracted to pay attention to your plight. I’m in Stealing Myself From Shadows; A Godling for Your Thoughts; and My Tool, My Treasure, but I’ve been on hold whenever she gets distracted, the naughty girl! I’m quite curious about the changes coming the future, but I’m getting impatient waiting for them, and when I get impatient, who knows what will happen? Tee, hee!