#QueerBlogWed: An Unstately Raven Part 3

On July 14, 2021, P.T. Wyant posted at ptwyant.com a Wednesday Words prompt involving a deer, a new job, and a song.

The Tale of the Navel: An Unstately Raven involving Danyel and Tayel’s adventures (or misadventures) was the result. Only it was so huge, I broke it down into segments. This is the final part…

Gryluxx picked up a long black cape, swirled it over his shoulders like a stage villain. It had a silver clasp in the shape of a coin. A coin with a curiously alluring figure upon it, humanoid, yet with claws, horns, and a tail. 

The gesture was so melodramatic it made Danyel want to laugh. He swallowed the giggle. It came out as a cough. 

There had to be more to this man. Something the humming voice saw in him, something Danyel might learn if he listened. 

Listening wasn’t going to be pleasant if this was just the introduction to whatever job the twins would be doing. 

“We’re considering.” Danyel covered his elbows with his hands, hugging himself. “Believe me.” 

“Everyone here in Omphalos is more than simply a settler, searching for a new home.” Gryluxx fingered the talisman around his neck. “We’ve been chosen by Seraphix as were you.”

Again the same shiver ran down his spin. He felt the cold force of Tayel’s glare, warning him not to ask questions. Warning him not to ask whom Seraphix was. 

Danyel closed his eyes, felt the chill of a hand grabbing him through a Door. Heavy, sticky darkness pulling him down into the shadows. The hungry pressure of monsters coming from all corners and the release when he opened his arms to all of them. 

“How were you chosen?” he asked instead. 

“We heard Their Voice.” Gryluxx bowed his head in reverence, but his fingers spasmed. As if he was grabbing for something. “They spoke through our Lord, who offered each of us a token. Not everyone can handle a godling in Their full glory. They saw something they could understand, a symbol of their desire.”

Danyel caught the tailor’s sharp dark eye. “Did you?”

“I am not just anybody.” The tailor swelled his chest. “I can see our godling’s true form. I can see how he grows in strength, feeding off our faith. Just as we grow stronger, feeding off of him.” 

“What does this have to do with why you want us?” Danyel asked, trying not to shudder. Seraphix sounded a lot like a shadow. Only he was feeding in the real world, not the Shadow Forest. 

“It seems a pity we have to intercede through Their Voice to get to Seraphix Themselves.” Gryluxx balled one of his beringed hands into a fist. “Especially when our lord already seems to have such a tight grip on this growing village. Having other divine intermediaries could free more than one of us.”

“And you are such an intermediary?” Much as Danyel wished to get Leiwell free of his lord, Gryluxx didn’t seem like an improvement. 

“As are the two of you.” Gryluxx opened his hand to gesture to the twins. “I’m very interested in getting to know the Hand and the Eye a little better. As you should be interested in getting to know other allies than the Voice of Seraphix a little better.”

“You keep calling Once Upon a Time the Voice of Seraphix.” Danyel frowned. “Does your lord speak for your godling?”

“Once Upon a Time? Is that how our lord made himself known to you?” Gryluxx shot Danyel a curious look. “Yes, Lord Dyvian speaks for Seraphix.” He pointed at Tayel. “As you see for Them.” He turned his finger upon Danyel. “And you, you act for Them.”

“How do you know all this?” Danyel wasn’t sure if he trusted this information entirely. He certainly didn’t trust Gryluxx. “Did Once Upon a Time…Lord Dyvian…tell you himself?”

“I try not to wait around for people to drop whatever crumbs of information they feel generous enough to share.” Gryluxx smiled in scorn. “I look. I listen. I hear. I’ve tricks of gathering information which I only share with those who’ve sworn a blood oath to me.”

“Thus you peek in windows, listen in doors.” Tayel sounded just as scornful as Gryluxx. “Like a raven, perched on the threshold, flying away before you’re spotted spying.” 

For one moment Gryluxx stared at Tayel in perfect fury. The next moment he began to chuckle. 

“I can see what Seraphix chose you as Their Eye.” He gave Tayel a grudging once over of respect. “You have your tricks, too.”

“We both do.” Danyel decided not to mention his was picking up rocks, even if they were special rocks requiring return to a particular person. Somehow he didn’t think that would impress this man. “Are you looking to share information?”

“Share?” Gryluxx let out a scornful laugh. “Only a fool gives away what I’ve learned. A trade, though, we might be able to trade information.” He leered at Danyel. “Among other things.”

“Haste makes for foolish choices, binding fools in bargains they never wanted.” Tayel took Danyel’s arm, pulling him back. “We’ll consider your offer.”

“After all,” Danyel said over his shoulder, “we promised. To consider whatever you said.”

With those words, he turned his back on the tailor. 

“You’ll be back.” The words crept in his ear, down his back. “You will, at least, little Hand, even if the Eye is wary enough to look away. You’ve been too sheltered and now you’re too curious. You want to learn more about me, more about my wife. You want to learn more about Omphalos. You know you can learn from me. I’ll be waiting for you.”

Tayel tugged him toward the door. Danyel followed, yet those words continued to echo in his head. 

You’ll be back. 

Yes, he was. Creepy and untrustworthy as he was, Gryluxx was right. Danyel was curious. He had a feeling he could, indeed, learn things if he returned. 

Hopefully Tayel would forgive him if he did. 

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Conversations with Christopher: Pausania

Christopher sits in his stone chair facing a young woman with long loose tresses of auburn hair. Only she’d never call herself a woman. She’s a lifer, thank you very much and at the moment a lost one. She sniffs at the mists of the Cauldron with distaste. 

Pausania: Honestly, can’t you adjust the background here?

Christopher: What would you like to see?

Slightly curved sandstone pillars rise around Pausania and Christopher. The two of them are sitting on a floating terrace under a magenta sky with the occasional crystal drifting by to twinkle in the rosy air. 

Pausania relaxes into her chair, made of vines and something like a cross between bamboo and cedar. 

Christopher glances down at his own seat to see it’s the same. 

Pausania: Much better. Ah, I remember when my lover took me here. I was as wide-eyed as Phaedra at the time. 

Christopher: Where are we?

Pausania: Calliope III, my poor child. No one has taken you here? It’s one of the most relaxing planets in the Intergalactic Democracy. Much better than Semele. Everyone goes to Semele, but every girl should come here as well.

Christopher: Well, I’m not exactly a girl, so I’m not sure if I should. It does look interesting, though. 

Pausania: Wait, what? (She shrinks back from Christopher the same way Phaedra did.) What are you? 

Christopher: I’m Christopher. We’re actually in the Cauldron of Eternal Inspiration, our scribbler’s blog. Err, a place between worlds, err, universes on the web. Sort of. It can be Calliope III, though, if you want it to be. 

Pausania: A Cauldron? A place between universes? (She tightens her grip on the arms of her chair.) Are you some forgotten godling from Ancient Earth come here to make mischief? Are you Dionysus?

Christopher: No, I’m not Dionysus. (He considers her words.) I suppose as Happily Ever After I could be considered a godling. Perhaps. I’m not trying to make mischief. I’m only here to talk. Phaedra was here last week. 

Pausania: Phaedra?! What have you done with her?!

Christopher: Nothing! We just talked. She disappeared after we spoke, the way all guests do when they’re done talking here. 

Pausania: Is that so? (She narrows her eyes.) Make a lot of guests disappear, do you, Happily Ever After? Am I next?

Christopher: In a way. Once you’ve finished talking, you’ll return to your story. 

Pausania: My story? (She raises an eyebrow.)

Christopher: Your universe. Wherever you were before you came here. 

Pausania: Where I was was home. Phaedra just walked out on me. 

Christopher: She mentioned that. 

Pausania: She did, did she?

Christopher: Yes. She said she missed you.

All the snark seems to run out of Pausania. She slumps in her seat.

Pausania: Godling from another universe, I’m about at my wit’s end. You call yourself Happily Ever After? What happily ever after can I have after the things I said? I regret them, yet I wonder if I wasn’t meant to say them, giving Phaedra a chance to say everything she couldn’t. Not until I was cruel enough to give her an excuse to. 

Christopher: What did you say?

Pausania: What I thought I was supposed to. What I thought was true. Now I’m no longer sure. Of anything. I just want to find Phaedra. I want to talk to her. 

Christopher: She’s probably on her way to a symposium? She really wanted to go. 

Pausania: (She buries her head in her hands.) That’s the last place I want to go. (She lifts her face, staring at something only she can see. Or someone.) Only if Phaedra is determined to enter the predator’s cluster, I can’t let her go alone.

Christopher: You’re going to this symposium, then?

Pausania: For Phaedra’s sake, yes. (She lets out a strained groan.) Here’s hoping I don’t regret this. 

Christopher: I hope you don’t either. 

What happens at the symposium? Will Pausania regret going? Find out at…

Nine Star Press: 

Amazon: 

Barnes & Noble:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1130883509?ean=2940161507872

Kobo:

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/a-symposium-in-space

Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/928136

#RainbowSnippets: A Symposium in Space

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 sample different LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

https://www.facebook.com/groups/RainbowSnippets

For mine, Phaedra will continue where she left off last weekend in A Symposium in Space…

“Phaedra, beloved of Pausania.” A melodic voice, filled with sly suggestion, came from the orb. “I’d be very pleased if you and your lover would attend my symposium in space.”

“A symposium?” I murmured, confused by the archaic word. It conjured more images of Ancient Earth, but this time of our patriarchal past. 

Intrigued? Want to read more? Here are buy links…

Nine Star Press:

https://ninestarpress.com/product/a-symposium-in-space/

Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Symposium-Space-Feast-Words-ebook/dp/B07PGB15FY/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3BPACY58MCCMV&keywords=a+symposium+in+space&qid=1552937461&s=digital-text&sprefix=A+Sympo%2Caps%2C239&sr=1-1

Barnes & Noble:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1130883509?ean=2940161507872

Kobo:

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/a-symposium-in-space

Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/928136

#QueerBlogWed: An Unstately Raven Part 2

On July 14, P.T. Wyant posted at ptwyant.com a Wednesday Words prompt involving a deer, a new job, and a song.

This swelled into a Tale of Omphalos so large, I had to break it into segments. Here is the second part…

He crossed the threshold, entering the shop, blinking in the sudden darkness. He heard the soft footfall of Tayel behind him. There was no hesitation in his twin. Once Danyel decided to go inside the evil wizard’s lair, Tayel would follow. 

Except he wasn’t an evil wizard, he was a tailor. That was supposed to be something different. 

Meggie leaned against a table, skirts in disarray, eating a muffin. She didn’t look at the twins. 

Behind her stood several wardrobes, tables, and shelves with piles of lace, silk, and velvet scattered upon them. 

“What I’m looking for is someone who can organize everything for me. Someone who’ll do everything I say.” Gryluxx grinned, exposing yellow teeth. “I have a specific vision, guided and directed by our mutual lord…for now.  Obey and pay attention. You’ll learn a lot from me if you do, but you must do those things. Unless you swear a blood vow you’ll do this, you’ll learn nothing from me.” 

“A blood vow?” Danyel shivered a bit. 

“Yes.” The tailor grinned, licking his lips. “I am curious if you two actually bleed. If you’re human enough for such a thing.”

Meggie finished the last bite of her muffin. She moved with no haste to a table.

“Hurry it up, you slattern!” Gryluxx scowled at his wife. “Bring me the bowl.”

“Hmm, no need to be anxious.” The insult rolled off her as if she hadn’t noticed. “It’s not going to run off and abandon you. Not unless you, hmm, ticked off a wind spirit.” She stopped to blink at her husband. “You didn’t, did you?”

“Why would I do such a thing?” Gryluxx glowered at his wife. “I take better care of my tools than that!” 

“Do you, now?” Meggie blinked with sleepy indulgence at the tailor and fished a golden bowl out from under a pile of emerald green silk the same shame as Leiwell’s eyes. “This what you wanted?”

“Oh, just give it to me, you fool!” Gryluxx marched over and snatched the bowl from his wife’s hands. He was shorter than her, a lot shorter. He held out the bowl. “Now, I’ll spill your blood before I spill my secrets, little ones. Just a tiny precaution before we get started.”

“Assuming we do.” Danyel backed away from the bowl. 

“Offer more before asking.” Tayel stepped in time with his twin, eyes glittering. “Blood oaths aren’t given lightly, even by the neighborhood weirdlings you find hopelessly naive. 

Gryluxx looked perfectly furious at this. He picked up a jagged knife with a black hilt. “I could just take what I want, little ones.”

“You could try.” Danyel crossed his arms, looked the aggressive tailor right in the eye. “We could Dance.”

The gauntlet was thrown down. Gryluxx would have heard the village gossip about what happened to Thomas and Jupitre when they attacked the twins. They’d only been using their fists, yet their blows had been deflected back at them. 

What would happen if they Danced with someone coming at them with a knife? Danyel wasn’t sure he wanted to know. He wasn’t entirely sure what happened when he Danced, using the mysterious art and movements his mother, Map had taught all of her adopted sons. What seemed a series of simple movements and positions the twins had learned to mimick from Map changed into something mysterious and powerful. Something which could toss opponents far bigger than Danyel and Tayel about. 

Map called it the power of Seraphix or the Dance. Neither explanation satisified Danyel, but he didn’t want to question it too closely. It was better to have it than the usual weapons people used. 

Whatever it was, Gryluxx didn’t want to test it. For a moment, sweat beaded his forehead. He stood with the knife and bowl, staring at the twins. 

The twins stared right back. 

“Well done!” Gryluxx grinned, setting the knife and the bowl down upon some lace. “You’ve passed the test! I can’t have fools working for me, willing to bleed for anyone who’ll ask, heh.”

Meggie, oblivious to the tension between her husband and potential employees strolled over to collect the bowl and knife. She hummed under her voice a little tune which sounded familar. Danyel was certain he’d heard Map humming it. 

“This doesn’t mean we’re not going to pay attention.” They’d used the threat. Time to placate this man, if they could. “We want to learn from you…sir. We cannot promise to obey you without knowing what you want of us.”

“No, you can’t. Not the way Leiwell obeys his lord in all things.” Gryluxx returned to his previously leering self. “You may be the Hand and the Eye, but you do and say may not be enough to save your brother from his sad fate.”

“Like you said. We cannot promise to obey, but we can promise to listen,” Danyel offered, feeling his skin crawl. Just how badly did Gryluxx want the twins? Time to find out. “We can promise not to refuse your orders without careful thought.”

“A promise can bind without blood.” Tayel fixed eyes spitting silver light upon the tailor. “Just as we are.”

“It’s, hmm, true, my raisin.” Meggie blinked at her husband. “The woman they live with didn’t get birth to them, yet she is bound to them as a mother. I’ve seen it.”

“As have I.” Gryluxx fixed his beady eyes upon the twins. How greedy they were. “It’s just another one of the many curious things about you boys.”

“The offer you’re getting is, hmm, reasonable.” Meggie leaned back against the table, glanced at a sunbeam playing upon the silk. “More reasonable than some you’ve heard.”

“You’ve made your point, wench.” Gryluxx scowled at his wife before turning his annoyed face in Danyel’s direction. “Think carefully before you refuse me, boy. I see many things. I hear the meanings lying beneath our lord’s orders and the consequences for following them. I see, hear, and learn things which would turn your locks completely silver. Consider that when you contemplate cheekiness.”

To be continued next Wednesday…

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Conversations with Christopher: Phaedra

Christopher sits facing a young woman in an orange jumpsuit and short purple hair. Long bangs fall over her pale forehead. 

Christopher: That’s an unusual outfit. 

Phaedra: It’s the latest lack of fashion, according to Pausania. I’m dressed like the pilot of a ship even though I don’t have a ship. (She blushes a bit.) Well, I didn’t have a ship. 

Christopher: I take it you do, now?

Phaedra: Yes, the Timea. I’m surprised I’m not at her controls now. What is this place? (She looks around at mists surrounding her, at Christopher seated in his stone chair opposite.) Some sort of transportation nexus? 

Christopher: What’s that?

Phaedra: I’m not sure if I can explain it myself. It takes you out of your ship, transports you into a different part of the star cluster it’s part. 

Christopher: And what’s a star cluster?

Phaedra: (grimaces) Something a lot fancier than a space platform or station. The only one I know anything about is the one Agathea created. She’s one of the richest citizens of the Intergalactic Democracy, so it’s not something just anyone can afford.

Christopher: I see…no, actually, I don’t see at all.

Phaedra: Neither do I. And why am I trying to answer your questions when you haven’t answered mine? Where are we?

Christopher: This is the Cauldron. It’s nothing like Agathea’s star cluster. Actually I’m not sure if it is or not. Both are creations of our scribbler. Maybe they are similar. 

Phaedra: Why would they be? Who is this person you call our scribbler?

Christopher: Our creatrix, yours and mine. The creatrix of our respective universes. This blog, this Cauldron, this place is a space between universes where we can meet or interact. 

Phaedra: Blog? Cauldron? Those are some old-fashioned words. Particularly blog. Rhymes with bog. Or frog. 

Christopher: Blogs don’t exist where you’re from? Places where people post online?

Phaedra: Online? That’s another old-fashioned word.

Christopher: I guess you don’t do anything like that. 

Phaedra: Maybe. I have shared poems on in the intergalactic web. Along with trains of thought or trails. Sometimes we just call them trains or trails.

Christopher: That makes sense.

Phaedra: Judging from your expression, you’ve never heard such an expression. Not for the intergalactic web.

Christopher: To be honest, I shudder a bit at the notion of an intergalactic web.

Phaedra: Why? It keeps all lifers connected. 

Christopher: What’s a lifer?

Phaedra: You really don’t know? Lifers used to be called women back on Ancient Earth. It was a term for a girl when she matured to womanhood. Goddess, I’m using some archaic terms. You do still use the terms women and girl, don’t you? You’d still be referred to as a girl? 

Christopher: (trying to keep a straight face) Yes, we use the terms women and girl where I’m from, but neither of them would apply to me. Not right now.

Phaedra: Huh?

Christopher: I’m a boy. Sort of. 

Phaedra: What? Really? (She draws back, taking a sharp look at him.) Wait, what do you mean, sort of?

Christopher: I’m made of shadow, scattered bits of memory. Some of them belonged to girls and women. Only my current form is that of a boy.

Phaedra: Wow, that sounds so weird! You must be the product of some extremely advanced science! 

Christopher: Actually I think I’m the result of magic and will. My existence is a bit of a mystery. 

Phaedra: I shouldn’t wonder! This explains why you don’t have even a trace of a beard. 

Christopher: I don’t think boys had beards. Not in the Gardens I dimly recall once living in. 

Phaedra: Gardens? That sounds lovely. I admire any world which emphasizes an active plant life. This is one of the few things Pausania and I had in common. (She looks sad.)

Christopher: That’s the second time you’ve mentioned Pausania. 

Phaedra: Pausania almost became my lover. She wanted me to be her beloved. She was beautiful, charming, eloquent, interesting…only she was also irritable, constantly finding fault with me, and sucking all the cheer out of a room. 

Christopher: Sounds like a challenging person to be with. 

Phaedra: Oh, she was. I wonder if she wasn’t too challenging. (She lets out a sigh.) Being with her was stifling.

Christopher: You’re not with her any more? 

Phaedra: I’m not sure. We had a fight and I walked out on her. Perhaps it was the wrong thing to do, but I really wanted to go to the symposium.

Christopher: The symposium?

Phaedra: A gathering in space at Agathea’s star cluster. I’ve never been anywhere like that before. 

Christopher: Pausania didn’t want to go?

Phaedra: She didn’t want either of us to go. She wasn’t too nice about it, either. Not that it was just about the symposium. A lot of things which had been building up between us were finally said. There’s no way to unsay them. I’m not even sure if I want to. 

Christopher: I’m sorry. 

Phaedra: Don’t be. I’m having an adventure, perhaps the first real adventure ever, making my way to the symposium. 

Christopher: Good luck in getting there. 

Phaedra: Thank you. 

How does Phaedra get there? What happens at the symposium? Find out in A Symposium in Space available at…

Nine Star Press: https://ninestarpress.com/product/a-symposium-in-space/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Symposium-Space-Feast-Words-ebook/dp/B07PGB15FY/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3BPACY58MCCMV&keywords=a+symposium+in+space&qid=1552937461&s=digital-text&sprefix=A+Sympo%2Caps%2C239&sr=1-1

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1130883509?ean=2940161507872

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/a-symposium-in-space

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/928136

#RainbowSnippets: A Symposium in Space

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets!

Every Saturday or Sunday, those posting 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 sample different LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

https://www.facebook.com/groups/RainbowSnippets

For my own, I’m going to offer a taste of my novella, A Symposium in Space which I’m in the process of reading right now…

The invitation resembled an eyeball. 

A floating, pink orb drifted up to the open panels of Pausania’s apartment and fixed me with its lidless stare. 

I froze, unsure how to react. An unfashionable citizen of the Intergalactic Democracy, I still ran around in a vest with pocket protectors, unfamiliar with the latest technology. The bobbing globe made me think of tales of magic from Ancient Earth.

Intrigued? Want to read more? Here are buy links…

Nine Star Press:

https://ninestarpress.com/product/a-symposium-in-space/

Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Symposium-Space-Feast-Words-ebook/dp/B07PGB15FY/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3BPACY58MCCMV&keywords=a+symposium+in+space&qid=1552937461&s=digital-text&sprefix=A+Sympo%2Caps%2C239&sr=1-1

Barnes & Noble:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1130883509?ean=2940161507872

Kobo:

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/a-symposium-in-space

Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/928136

 

#QueerBlogWed: Unstately Raven Part 1

On July 14, 2021, P.T. Wyant posted at ptwyant.com a Wednesday Words prompt involving a deer, a new job, and a song.

This inspired a Tale of Omphalos about Danyel and Tayel which was so long, I had to split it into segments. This is the first part…

Danyel wasn’t sure if it was a deer or a unicorn, poking its delicate furred muzzle out of the woodlands in the back of the tailor’s yard. It disappeared in a flash of brown and white fur, and a flash of sunlight upon its horn?

“The woods creeps closer to Omphalos as Omphalos creeps closer to us,” Tayel muttered, moving a little closer to Danyel. 

“Cottages occupy the space which lay between the woods and us,” Danyel murmured back. Once they’d been great swards of green grass. How quickly people’s homes ate up those spaces.

Those patches of grass always felt lonely. Map admitted there had been cottages in those bare spreads of land before. Perhaps Omphalos wasn’t creeping closer, just returning. 

Danyel wasn’t sure he should say this to Tayel. It wouldn’t make his twin any happier. The two of them were on edge about this new job already. Not that they were sure they wanted to accept it. 

“Did you see the unicorn?” Danyel gazed up at the black door with the demon knocker. Gryluxx’s shop was the only one with such a door. “She’s supposed to be an avatar of the Goddess, isn’t she? Maybe she was a good omen.”

“Hope makes unicorns out of deer and fools out of us.” Tayel stepped back a few paces from the door and began to hum.

It was a familiar tune. Danyel had sang it with his twin before. This time it had slightly different lyrics:

“New jobs create new fears

A shining hope, an escape from tears

A mud drawing us deep, drawing us down

Tempting victims to sink and drown

Gryluxx is made of mud and dirt

Muddy thoughts, muddy heart

A desire to spy, a desire to hurt

In which we wish to play no part.”

“As always you find the joy in our new situation.” Danyel gave his twin an irritated look. “Doesn’t the very idea of a unicorn give you some hope?

“Something about this shop saps out hope into my song.” Tayel scowled at the door. “I’m only doing this because I don’t want you to be alone with that man.”

“Fair enough,” Danyel acknowledged. Tayel was being as direct as he ever was. 

In truth Danyel had serious qualms about this. He didn’t like Gryluxx any more than Tayel did. He was suspicious of the sinister man’s job offer, but he was also curious. Curious about the mysterious humming he’d heard when Gryluxx decided to lurk outside the twins’ window. Curious what the hummer thought Danyel and Tayel could learn from the evil wizard, err, tailor. 

He was curious about Gryluxx himself, too. Just how had that man known about the Hand and the Eye of the Tower? Only the tailor had called them the Hand and Eye of Seraphix. 

Seraphix. Just thinking about the name raised the hairs on the back of Danyel’s neck, not in an entirely unpleasant way. 

No, he had too many questions to ignore Gryluxx’s job offer, no matter how creepy he was. 

Danyel raised a hand to tap lightly on the door. 

It opened, revealing a young woman with a round, radiant face and sleepy hazel eyes. Something about those eyes made Danyel think of the unicorn he’d just spotted. Unless it had been a deer. The light in this stranger’s countenance reminded him of that glimmer he’d spotted. 

Was this another sign of some sort? 

Tayel let out a little gasp which made Danyel stiffen in response. Whatever he was seeing, his twin saw far more. 

The radiance dimmed in the woman’s face, leaving it rosy and ordinary. She gave the twins an absent-minded smile. 

“You’re, hmm, the twins from the Old Cottage.” She spoke with a sluggish slowness. “Danyel and, hmm, Dayel?”

“Tayel,” Tayel corrected her, sounding a little irritated. “Don’t confuse us when you’re already confused. Who’s behind a door isn’t always whom you expect them to be.”

Such a nice way to speak to a stranger who might actually turn out to be a friend if the twins tried to be polite. 

“What Tayel is trying to say is we were expecting Gryluxx,” Danyel added, ducking his head in a slight bow. “He asked us to meet him here. Isn’t this his shop?”

“Ah. Yes. That is it. Hmm. I’m his wife.” The young woman offered them another sleepy smile, not at all upset by Tayel’s words. If she noticed them. “Nice to meet you. I’m Meggie.”

His wife. Danyel couldn’t believe anyone would willingly marry Gryluxx, let alone someone who could still smile. 

“Hah! There you are, you sassy wench!” Gryluxx laid a bony hand upon his wife’s ample shoulder, rings flashing on his fingers, and leered at everyone in sight. “Can’t resist playing with anything pretty, eh?” 

He did something with his other hand Danyel couldn’t see, but it made Meggie widen her eyes, squirm, and squeal. For the first time she looked wide awake. 

“Give us a moment.” She breathed out the words with a speed unlike anything else she’d said and shut the door in the twins’s face.

Danyel and Tayel stood there, staring at each other and the grinning gargoyle of a knocker.

“Um, Gryluxx?” Danyel asked the door crack with some hesitation. “Meggie?” 

The sound of giggles, grunts, a pan flying across the room, something slapping, falling to the ground.

Danyel drew back from the door. Tayel looked flustered. The twins took another step away from the cottage and another. 

Maybe this was a bad time to ask about the job offer or anything else. 

They’d retreated several feet from the cottage when the door flew open. Gryluxx stood in the doorway, red-faced, wearing an open white shirt which exposed a lot of hairy chest. 

“Where do you think you’re going?” he yelled after them.  “Just how long did you plan to keep me waiting? Get inside!”

Danyel and Tayel exchanged uncomfortable looks and stopped moving away. With slow reluctance, they returned to the door.

“Well, don’t shiver all day like a pair of wilting virgins!” The tailor put his hands on his hips and scowled at the twins. “Are you interested in this job or not?”

“Perhaps.” Danyel planted his feet in the ground right before the threshold. “Depending upon what it is.”

“If you want to learn more, you’ll have to come inside and listen.” Gryluxx grinned and leered at once. “Or are the Hand and Eye of Seraphix afraid?”

“Always when strangers sneak up to our window.” Danyel crossed his arms. “That’s only common sense.”

“If we enter your Place of Power and you try anything,” Tayel added in a low voice, “we won’t be the only ones who are afraid.”

“Oh ho! Now this is more of what I’d expected of those our lord favors!” Gryluxx clapped his ringed hands together. “Never fear I’ll try anything, my dear. A happily married man such as myself has no need to lure the neighborhood weirdlings into my bed, no matter how pretty they might be. Now come in! Or go away, wondering just how much I know, how I know it, and if learning these things could save your precious brother, hmm?”

Gryluxx’s “hmm” was so much more sinister than his wife’s. Danyel gritted his teeth, aware he’d just been poked in his weakness. If there was any chance this man knew something which could free Leiwell from his lord’s grasp, Danyel was more than willing to look weak. 

To be continued next Wednesday…

Like my style of writing? Here are buy links to my published works…

http://www.amazon.com/author/kstrenten

Conversations with Christopher: Nathalie

Christopher walks up a path, a familiar path lined with roses to a white house. It’s not part of his own story, but he’s been here before.

He opens the front door, smiles at how it reminds him a bit of the Navel’s door along with the Old Cottage’s in Omphalos. I have a certain fondness for types of doors. It shows in my stories, something he’s noticing. 

He opens it, entering the house. 

The setting changes to that of a cozy room warmed by a roaring fire in the hearth. The tea things are still out on the table, a pot and plates in a forget-me-not pattern. 

A young woman sits on the couch in front the table, her long red skirts flowing out over her legs. She wears a loose russet sweater with a cowl neck, her coppery-brown hair falling in a cloud over her shoulders. She clutches a green journal with strong fingers dusty with pencil lead.

Nathalie: (without looking up) Hello, Christopher. I’m almost done. 

Christopher says nothing. He waits, recalling Damian being in a similar state of concentration. If he allowed it, the garden, the gazebo, the multicolored sky, and Damian at his easel would eclipse this time and place, bleeding into it, replacing it. Christopher holds those memories at bay, waiting for Nathalie. 

Eventually she closes her journal with a snap, laying it down on the couch beside her. 

Nathalie: Thank you. I wanted to finish that one scene. 

Christopher: You have that in common with our scribbler. Making people wait, letting food burn because she has to finish a scene. Whether she’s writing or reading it. (He smiles to take the sting out of his words.) That and you like to write in pencil. 

Nathalie: Pencil is transitory. It can be erased. It’s perfect for rough drafts because that state of writing is also transitory. I like using a tool which captures that mood, even if I seldom erase what I’ve written. 

Christopher: Spoken as if you were our scribbler herself. 

Nathalie: Parts of me are drawn from her personality. Other aspects were inspired by many things, including other people.

Christopher: Like our scribbler’s father?

Nathalie: You’re not the only one who catches glimpses of our scribbler’s past in dreams and visions. (She smiles) Did you know her father told a story about the Greedy Tree as opposed to the Giving Tree? A tree that was taking over half the trees in America until it was chopped down. Afterward it became a Greedy Stump. The tree itself became greedy sawdust, sawdust which became paper. It affected all of the corporations which used it. 

Christopher: (smiling slightly yet in a thoughtful way) This would explain a lot. 

Nathalie: The Stump of Wisdom in Wind Me Up, One More Time is an homage to this. I guess our scribbler got her father’s love of tale tales as well as fairytales which she passed on to me. 

Christopher: I wonder how much of you is in Princess Nathalie? The other Nathalie in your mother’s stories. Princess Grace’s sister, Theodora Bear’s former child, and Iama the Terrible’s beloved in Grace and Theodora: Magic and Mishaps? The fairytale waiting within Wind Me Up, One More Time? 

Nathalie: Just because Princess Nathalie and I have the same name and creator doesn’t mean we’re the same person. Any more than either of us are the scribbler’s childhood friend she named us for. (She stands up, moves away from the table to stop in front of the fire.) Even if I do have certain things in common with her. 

The light from the fire reflects upon her hair, catching the gold in it. The gold shimmers, sliding and gliding around Nathalie’s form, changing it. Everything turns into gold, swallowing the room. 

Christopher stands before a young woman, like and unlike Nathalie. She has the same golden-brown skin, but her coppery hair falls in waves over a peach gown. Christopher and the woman stand in a long hall, captured and reflected by an endless series of full-length mirrors. Sometimes you can catch glimpses of other people in the mirrors, other characters, ghosts drifting through the glass. 

Princess Nathalie: Hello, Christopher. Unlike my namesake, I am a character in a fairytale. I suffer mishaps which are mythical in nature. They set the tone for those struggling through their reality. Like the other Nathalie. She and I do share a similar passion, though, a similiar heartache. 

For a moment the mistress of the mirrors appears in each reflection, standing behind Princess Nathalie. Iama the Terrible lays slender gloved fingers upon the princess’s shoulder. Such a fragile cloth barrier between the enchantress and the effect of her touch, yet she cannot resist reaching out. Nor does the princess try to prevent it. 

The hall of mirrors disappears along with the princess and the enchantress. Christopher is back in the cozy living room with the Nathalie who stands in front of the fire. 

Nathalie: Both the princess and I have an Iama the Terrible. Only my Iama isn’t nearly as terrible as she thinks she is. 

Christopher: You mean Maia?

Nathalie: Please sit down. 

Christopher takes one of the chairs, a handsome wooden one with a creamy pattern of flowers and vines appearing in subtle shades. 

Maia leaves the fire, returning to the couch, smoothing her skirts out around her when she sits. 

Nathalie: Did you know Maia is an anagram for Iama? I guess Auntie Cassat, Maia’s mum thought she was being clever. Or the scribbler did. 

Christopher: Why did Maia named her daughter after Iama the Terrible, the villain of Grace and Theodora: Magic and Mishaps? Isn’t Iama supposed to be, well, terrible?

Nathalie: Call her a villain if you like. I don’t think she’s evil. 

Christopher: Which Iama are you talking about?

Nathalie: It’s easy to reduce a strong woman with power over the unseen like hearts and emotions as well as the tangible to a simple label which symbolizes the awe, fear, and attraction she generates. Like an evil enchantress. Iama hid her heart away. Everything she touched turned to gold. There has been times when Maia has done the same. Isolation, loneliness, turning inward makes us all terrible. 

Christopher: She took life with a touch. Even if that life was restored, she did steal it. (He looks at his own fingers.) I’ve done the same thing. I will again unless whatever hungry thing inside me is checked. 

Nathalie: (looking him up and down with the speculative eye of a writer who’s just sniffed out a potential story…sorry, Nat, he’s taken) Do you think this hunger comes from loneliness?

Christopher: In part. It may also come from being shattered, continuing on in shadow form. I’ve created life as well as taken it.

Nathalie: Really? (looks even more interested)

Christopher: (blushing) Or I will create it. Someone will drink my own energy, flourishing into an existence as an innocent being with the ability to touch things, connect with the world in a way I cannot. It’s too dangerous for me to do. For myself and others. 

Nathalie: (considering his words) I can see why you identified with Iama. She feared her power as well. As did Maia. 

Christopher: That’s only sensible. Isn’t it?

Nathalie: Iama kept everyone she touched in a collection of golden statues. They were the only company she was allowed or so she thought. In her loneliness she lured away the other Nathalie, out of a wish to connect with someone else. 

Christopher: A wish which was granted.

Nathalie: Your wish can come true, too, Christopher. Just don’t expect it to manifest in a form you’d expect. 

Christopher smiles at this for what can he say to the truth? 

Nathalie smiles back, resisting the urge to reach for her notebook and start writing down ideas generated by this talk, the curse and the blessing of a writer. She hums an odd little tune under her breath, to help remember this talk for when she does have a chance to scribble it down. 

This is another trait she got from me. 

Hope you enjoyed meeting Nathalie! If you want to learn more about her, Princess Nathalie, their romances with their respective Iama the Terribles, and what part Grace and Theodora Bear played in them, visit these buy links…

Mischief Corner Books/Shenanigans Press: 

https://www.mischiefcornerbooks.com/store/p161/Wind_Me_Up%2C_One_More_Time.html#/

Amazon:

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

#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 sample different LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

https://www.facebook.com/groups/RainbowSnippets

I had a hard time choosing what mine would be for New Year’s Day. Should I share a little from A Symposium in Space which I myself am reading right now? Or should I share something from Stealing Myself From Shadows, Christopher’s story? (I find myself stealing the time to write this tale, which is evolving into an entirely new draft from the one I had, due to all the development Christopher and the other characters have had via blogging at this Cauldron. :))

I decided to do Wind Me Up, One More Time, my novel and other holiday story. After all, it’s New Year’s Day and still the twelve days of Christmas. 😉

From Grace and Theodora: Magic and Mishaps

Theodora Bear could sense the little princess, her Nathalie, her child was in peril. Growing up and away was natural for children, but what was happening to Nathalie was not. She no longer remembered Theodora, her home, her kingdom, or her sister.

*Grace.* She called upon the princess’s younger sister, using the not-voice stuffed animals could use in extreme danger. *We need to find Nathalie. We need to save her before it’s too late.*

Intrigued? Want to read more? Here are buy links!

Mischief Corner Books/Shenanigans Press: https://www.mischiefcornerbooks.com/store/p161/Wind_Me_Up%2C_One_More_Time.html#/

Amazon:

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

#WednesdayWords: Paula’s Prompts

On August 8, 2021, P.T. Wyant posted at ptwyant.com a Wednesday Words prompt involving an old man in a park, rain, and a pie.

This poem was the result…

The old man sits in the park

Trying to ignore the rain starting to fall

We need the rain, the downpour of relief

An end, a delivery from the drought drying us out

This food vendor is the only one

The one who can make a pie

A pie like the ones he remembers

Restaurants with hard seats and dim lighting

No longer bothering with the white tablecloths

They gave up on those pies long ago

The crust stopped tasting buttery and crumbling

Long before they took the pies off the menu

Long before they took the tablecloths away

They blare harsh music in the restaurants now

Dimming the lights so he can no longer see

Driving away all the regular customers

Hoping to attract a shiny young crowd

It’s more pleasant to sink in the park

Even if the rain is coming down harder

It’s tastier to eat from a food vendor’s paper plate

Than food on pretentious plastic plates he can’t see

This is where the pie tastes as it should

And he can actually see it on the paper plate. 

Like my style of writing? Here are buy links to my published works…

https://www.amazon.com/author/kstrenten