Conversations with Christopher: Map Part 3

Christopher: Why wouldn’t I change? If I keep losing myslf in the Shadow Forest, wouldn’t parts of me fall away? Devoured by other shadows.

Map doesn’t answer for a long moment. The two of them sit at a round table in a warm kitchen, blue and white curtains drawn. 

It’s a safe place, a quiet place. At least it should be. Except Christopher can see the ruined tower, perched on top of the hill. 

Something looks back at them from that tower across the distance. Somehow seeing them through the glass. Seeing him. 

Christopher: You can feel it, too, can’t you? Something watching?

Map: It feeds on attention. The more you give it, the stronger it grows. The hungrier it becomes. Pay it no mind. 

Christopher: Does that really work?

Map shuts her eyes and presses her lips together.

Map: We’re able to live quietly in this cottage because of Leiwell. Because of what Leiwell does. (She gestures to the books on the shelf.) Everything we have is because of Leiwell.

Christopher: You’ve lived here longer than you’ve had Leiwell. 

Map: Aye, and I’ve been watched that entire time. I try not to look back, but when I brought Leiwell home, well, I had a feeling I wouldn’t be able to keep him. Just as I’ve a feeling I won’t be able to keep the twins. 

Christopher: What are you afraid of, Map?

Map: (shivering) Something happened to me beyond the Door. No. Something happened to me years ago, before I came to Omphalos. I let something free inside of me. It took on a life on its own. It stalks me, watches me, resents me. It wants my sons. 

Christopher: What do you mean?

Map: I shouldn’t mean anything. Just talking about it gives it more life. Only he’s already loose in the world. He walks in the guise of a man, a lord.

Christopher: He?

Map: The one I didn’t take home. The one I turned away from. He’s been many people. I think he’s even been part of your Gardens of Arachne. 

Christopher freezes, thinking of a smiling youth with silvery-moon pale hair and glacier-like eyes. A youth who defied the rules of the Garden as Damian did, becoming a young man. Even though he should have been a statue, standing amidst the flowers. 

Christopher: Dyvian. You’re talking about Dyvian, aren’t you?

Map: Is that his name? I never asked. He never told me. Leiwell only refers to him as his lord. Somehow he’s become the lord of the land around this cottage, which includes this cottage. 

Christopher: How did he meet you?

Map: (shutting her eyes) He wouldn’t exist if not for me. He was born of my anger, my hunger for love, and rage at being denied it. 

Christopher: He was a lot more than that when I met him. He was capable of gentleness, and more than willing to follow the ways of the Garden. At least he seemed to. 

Map: He’s capable of being many things if people wish him to be them. He’s willing to be whatever Leiwell wants to be, if Leiwell will serve him.

For a moment an image of brilliant green eyes looking back at him from Damian’s face comes Christopher. He shuts his eyes against the vision, biting his lower lip. 

Christopher: Leiwell already serves Dyvian. Dyvian feeds him. 

Map: (gives Christopher a sharp look) How do you know that?

Christopher: I don’t have the connection with Leiwell I do with the twins, but I did have a strong bond with one of his victims. 

Map: Victims?

Christopher: Map, you know what I am. You know what Leiwell and the twins are, yet you still took us in. 

Map: It seems to me you’re all victims. You create more victims if someone doesn’t take you in, show you a better way. 

Christopher: (pauses, thinking of Damian and Gabrielle) That’s true. 

Map: Whatever Leiwell did in the Shadow Forest, he’s a part of this world now. I’m making him a part of it.

Christopher: What if Dyvian…his lord…wants him to be something else?

Map falls silent, gazes at her hands on the table. She won’t look at Christopher or the window. 

Map: Every night Leiwell disappears. He won’t tell any of us where he’s going. He returns in the morning. Often bearing gifts.

Christopher: Only he’s listless, pale. Like he’s still wandering in a dream or part of him is missing?

Map: You think he’s going to the Shadow Forest. Feeding that creature. 

Christopher: I don’t know. If his lord is being what Leiwell wants him to be, it’s possible Dyvian is feeding Leiwell, too. 

Map: Feeding him so he can feed off him. 

Christopher bows his head, thinking of Damian, of looking at the sky while listening to the dance of Damian’s brush, the soft sound of Damian’s movements. 

Christopher: This may be what Leiwell wants. 

Map: Leiwell has no idea what he wants. He’s an innocent creature, only too receptive to anyone who’s willing to love or guide him. 

Christopher: Aren’t we all at first?

There’s another long moment where they gaze at each other over the table. 

Map: You should go. 

Christopher: Why did you lead me here, Map?

Map: I wanted to see you, to talk to you. Even if you’re as big a danger as your lord.

Christopher: You’re living with dangerous creatures, Map. You’re a dangerous creature yourself, even if you try to live quietly. 

Map: Get out.

Christopher: How long do you think you can hide? Look the other way while someone is watching you? While he’s watching your children?

Map: Get out!

Christopher gets up and walks to the door. He opens it, turns around. 

Christopher: The next dangerous creature you invite in may not be as willing to leave as I am. 

He steps outside where the mist is rising, waiting for him. 

Map gets up and shuts the door behind him. She goes to the window and draws the curtains. 

Conversations with Christopher: Map Part 3

Images swim within Map’s eyes, images which not everyone can see. Flickers of torchlight, accompanied by angry cries, the heavy echo of footsteps, and labored breathing. All washed out in a crimson pool. 

Christopher sees himself rising from the pool. Its bloody hue softens, suffused by blue, green, and refracted light. It bubbles, the bubbles floating from the surface to pop around him while he clutches an egg to his chest. 

He sees himself again, leaning over the edge of another pool of water. Cooler, quieter, yet colors still float across the surface. A hand stretches out from the pool, beckoning with pale fingers. 

Christopher: Is this how you see me?

Map: I see another Omphalos reflected in your eyes. You were happy there, but you couldn’t help chasing after what you couldn’t have.

Christopher: I have no sense of direction. I needed my…Map. (He stares at her, eyes widening).

Map: (nods with a sad little smile) I’ve had many names, but I always been fond of Map. The name you and Ashleigh gave me. 

Christopher: You became our Map. You gave us direction, a place to go when we badly needed it. How could have I forgotten you?

Map: You keep opening Doors, getting lost in gardens, or other people. You and Ashleigh both.

Christopher: You didn’t forget us. 

Map: I try not to open Doors. I stay right here, even when another Omphalos vanishes or burns down around me. 

Christopher: I’m sure I’ve seen you on the other side of the Door. Even if I no longer recognized you. 

Map: I said I try not to. I never said I didn’t. There’s a part of me that wants to chase after you. To find everyone else I’ve lost. 

Christopher: Have you?

Map: I found Leiwell, Danyel, and Tayel. You and Ashleigh for brief moments, but I’ve never been able to hold onto you. Sometimes others. My boys are the only ones I’ve managed to bring back. 

Christopher: Leiwell, Danyel, and Tayel.

Map: Yes. They’ve become my children. Drawn to dangerous things, all of them, but we’ve managed to form a family here.

Christopher: Where did you find them?

Map: I already told you. On the other side of the Door.

Christopher: That’s a big place. The Shadow Forest is huge and it’s always changing.

Map: Aye, and it’s not always a Forest.

Christopher: And you managed to bring these children back. 

Map: Not without help.

Christopher: Whose help?

Map: You’ll find out soon enough. 

Christopher: You’re very mysterious. 

Map: There’s too much to reveal you’re not ready for yet. I just wanted to show you this cottage. To see you, sitting here once more. 

She bows her head. Christopher can feel the grief, pulling down her shoulders, hanging in the air. 

He reaches for her hand. 

Christopher: I’m sorry, Map. I’m sorry you’ve had to bear this alone.

Map: (lifting his head, managing a grim smile) It’s not like I didn’t chose bear it. Someone has to take care of the cottage. Make certain there’s a home to return to. 

Christopher: I think in a way you’re like Gabrielle. She’s doing what you’re doing. Waiting in the Navel for people to come to her. 

Map: Is she, now? (Her smile broadens a bit.) I’m glad you’ve found someone solid to ground you. You kept attaching yourself to people who disappear. 

Christopher: (it’s his turn to smile sadly) I’m afraid that hasn’t changed. 

Map: No, it wouldn’t, would it? 

(To be continued Monday) 

Conversations with Christopher: Map Part 2

Grass crunched under Christopher’s feet as he approached the vine-covered cottage. There’s nothing but the fields and the distant forest. The garden at the foot of the hill is behind them. 

He can’t risk a glance over his shoulder.

A ruined tower perched upon the top of the hill. 

Christopher feels the hairs rise on the back of his neck at invisible eyes looking back at him. The breeze whispers and murmurs, tugging at his hair, his clothes. 

Map: Pay it no mind. Don’t let it do anything more than watch and whisper. It’ll feed on your attention. 

Christopher: What?

Map doesn’t answer. She marches up to the door of the cottage and opens it. She glances back. 

Map: You coming inside or not?

She enters. Christopher follows. 

Once he crosses the threshold, the whispering stops. He looks around at the sunlight streaming in the kitchen window, illuminating the wood of the long table. Five chairs are arranged around it. 

Map toward the table, dumping her bag of vegetables upon it. 

Christopher begins to follow, but pauses at the sight of a familar golden disc upon the floor. Directly above, a silver circle mirrors it. There are cushions upon the floor, a couple of comfortable chairs. The walls are covered with book shelves. 

Christopher: Is this the Navel?

Map: Like I said, this was Omphalos. Omphalos is another word for navel. Some believe the navel is the center of one’s being. (She turns her back to the hearth, to a row of knives and spoons hanging from the wall.) I suppose you could consider it my center. It’s always been my home, even as the village around me comes and goes. Right now it’s gone. 

Christopher: You said it would return because of folly. 

Map: Folly, greed, loneliness, the need to create a community, to draw back those who’ve wandered from the fold. They’ll return with their taverns, their shops, and their temples. (She scowls.) Your Navel wasn’t a shop or a temple, was it?

Christopher: It was a shop. An unusual shop. Nothing like this place except for these discs.

Perhaps he shouldn’t but he’s curious. Christopher steps into the golden disc. 

Warmth fills his hands. He looks down at them, sees them glowing with a green light. He sees Danyel, cocking his head, looking at him in enquiry. 

A chill runs down his back. Danyel is no longer there. Tayel gazes at him, violet-blues glimmering with silver triangles, fierce in their brightness. 

Tayel dissolves into light and color. Christopher feels himself rise into the air. Shadows swallow the light, enveloping the color. 

He stands in a a dark little bedroom. The only illumination is from a dim little window. Stray beams gleam upon the golden waves of hair of the two boys sleeping upon the bed. Their eyes are closed, their mouths are open. It’s Danyel and Tayel.

Christopher doesn’t have a chance to even say their names before he’s sucked into the silver disc upon the floor. Once again he stands in the gold disc, stinging pains prickling through his body, surrounded by cushions and book shelves. 

He steps out of the circle. The pains stop. 

Christopher: So this is where Danyel and Tayel live. Don’t they?

Map is now chopping vegetables at the table. She doesn’t even look up at him. 

Map: You would have found them, even if I tried to hide them from you. Don’t disturb them any more than you already have. 

Christopher: I wouldn’t dream of disturbing them. 

Map snorts and continues to chop. 

Christopher: (moving toward the table) This place seems so familiar yet it’s unfamiliar. 

Map: You used to live here, Christopher. As uneasy as you make me around the twins, this is still your home. 

Christopher: Was this cottage once the Navel? Or will it someday be?

Map: There you go talking about navels again. Get your mind out of your belly button. If you have one. I told you. It’s my home.

Christopher: The Navel is…was…my home. It may have been a shop as I said, but it was also my home. 

Map: It’s good to have a home. A place where you can settle down and grow roots. Makes you more attached to the world around you. 

Christopher: How long has this place been your home?

Map: I’m not sure. Time has a way of slipping away in this place.

Christopher: Have you lived anywhere else?

Map: I’ve tried. It never ends well. Not that things always end well here. Not when people come bringing their folly and their greed.

Christopher: You keep mentioning that. 

Map: It’s not a bad thing to build a village, but they keep wanting to get bigger and bigger. To become something they’re not. To make other people something they’re not. Eventually they disappear. 

Christopher: What happened to them?

Map: You tell me. (She pauses in her chopping to look at him.) What happened to you when we lost you?

For a moment Christopher recalls a hand holding his, only to release it. Two women walking away from him into the mists. 

He thinks about calling out to them, but Damian’s rose-purple eyes fix upon him. He cannot look away from them. 

Christopher: I found someone. Someone who needed me. 

Map: Hmph. We’ve got that in common. We keep finding people who need us. They break our hearts. Every time. Only we can’t turn away. Can we?

For a moment she looks up at Christopher with those dark eyes. He can see the green glimmer within them. He feels a warmth, swimming up from within him. 

When he meets Map’s gaze, the same green light flickers within the many colors caught within his own. 

(To be continued next Monday)

Conversations with Christopher: Map Part 1

Sunshine and flowers peek through patches of mist. Pebbles on a familar garden path crunch beneath Christopher’s feet. He knows this path, this garden, yet it winds into a less trodden area, at least for him.

The mist clears, revealing rows of leafy green and fern-like fronds of ripening carrots in the ground. A stout woman with a dusty scarf wrapped around her head and long skirts tugs, pulling one of the carrots out of the earth. 

Map: (for it is Map) There. Not too much. Just enough to stay solid. To stay real. 

She drops the carrot in a waiting bag at her feet, wipes her dusky face. Wrinkles line her brow, reminding Christopher of the grooves in trees. Eyes as dark as the hollow of a trees filled with hidden sprigs of green fix themselves upon him. 

Map: Oh, it’s you. Gotten lost again, have you?

Christopher: I’m not sure. Do I know you? 

Map: (snorts) Forgot me again, did you? After all the time I spend looking after what you leave behind. 

Christopher: What are you talking about?

Map: Danyel and Tayel. You’d better not have forgotten about them. 

Christopher: No! Of course I haven’t, but how do you know them?

Map: How do I know them? Hmph! (She picks up the bag of carrots at her feet and starts trudging down the path.) Must be nice, being able to walk down any road, find any world you want. No worries, no responsibilities. 

Christopher: (hurrying after that her) That’s not true!

Map: No? You do just enough to stay solid, never enough to stay in one place. 

Christopher: I have a place!

He pauses to look at the roses blooming around them, a gazebo nearby. Yes, this part of the path is more familiar. 

Map: Sure. Sure you spent a lot of time here. Basking in the beauty of the flowers while they basked in you. 

Christopher: (brindling) Just what is wrong with that?

Map: Ever dig for vegetables in this garden?

Christopher: No. I don’t eat much. 

Map: You should eat more. Dig more. I’m trying to get my boys to that, but they’re too much like you. Wandering around the pretty flowers. Starting at shadows. Getting lost. 

Christopher: I’m not exactly…wait. Your boys. Are you talking about Danyel and Tayel?

Map: And their older brother.

Christopher: Have you become their mother?

Map: They already have a mother. Or they should. 

Christopher: What do you mean?

Map doesn’t answer at first. She keeps walking down the path, past the roses, past the tall rows of foxglove to a familar wooden gate. Christopher recognizes it from Omphalos.

Map: Too many people get lost among the flowers and shadows. Someone has to look after those left behind. 

She opens the gate. 

Christopher stops, expecting the familar street lined with dwellings up the cobblestone path. There is no cobblestone path. No dwellings except for a single cottage in a field dotten with flowers below an incline. Forest borders the field on either side. 

Christopher: I thought I recognize this place, but I don’t. 

Map: Yes, you did. This was Omphalos. And it will be Omphalos again, given time, villagers, and folly. 

Christopher: How is that?

Map doesn’t answer. She just passes through the gate and heads for the cottage. 

Curious, Christopher follows her. 

(To be continued next Monday)

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Secondary Characters Speak Out: Quartz and Jupitre

Quartz stretches, shakes out his beard, stomps his boots, seeing the mist disappear beneath them as it clears around him. 

Quartz: That right, I’m back! Took the scribbler long enough to bring me back. Not that the shadows, nor the Conversations with Christopher can keep this dwarf down!

Jupitre: How nice for you. I wish I was back. I’d darken the sky and illuminate it with brilliance. I’d shower my might down on my worshippers, sporting with the more attractive ones. All I was once is gone. Gone!

Quartz turns, seeing he’s in some sort of forest clearing. The complains come from an old man sitting on a stump. He has stooped shoulders, resting his chin on a hoary hand as he scowls. A scraggly grey beard hangs in limp hanks from his chin. The rest of his face is lined with misery. 

Quartz: Right. Secondary Characters Speak Out is back, too. You must be my guest. Go on. 

Jupitre: Right? There is no right! Not for me! I’ve lost my thunder, my majesty, my godhood! Just look at me now. Talking to a snarky little dwarf I would have once hit with a lightning bolt for sport. Talking about secondary characters as if I was such a trival thing! Don’t you realize who I am? I am Jupitre! I ruled the heavens, making all the puny forms of earth beneath me tremble with fear and awe!

Quartz: Right. You’re not going to awe anyone. Not with that beard.

Jupitre: And now those puny forms dare to criticize my beard!

Quartz: Expect more. Criticism, that is. You should take better care of your whiskers. 

Jupitre: Take better care of my whiskers? I’ll have you know when I ruled the heavens, I had scores of beautiful boys comb, brush, and oil my whiskers! (He leers in nostalgia.) Not to mention other parts of me. 

Quartz: Uh huh. (utterly unimpressed) And what happened to them, eh? Those boys. 

Jupitre: (slumping back into a morose slouch) They left me. All my servants. All my worshippers. They stopped believing in me. Me!

Quartz: Sounds like you lost your worshippers because they stopped believing in you and maybe your godlike whatever as well?

Jupitre: Why do you think we gods made such a severe example of those who didn’t worship us, didn’t sacrifice to us? Without sacrifices, prayers, offerings, the devotion of our followers, we starve! We shrink and diminish into this!

Quartz: So this is what’s left of you without them. Your followers.

Jupitre: (tearing at his beard) How can I live like this?!

Quartz: Well for starters, don’t go worrying your beard! (waving his hands) Having scraggly whiskers solves nothing. Something my own family fails to figure out. 

Jupitre: And now this impudent dwarf dares to call me scraggly!

Quartz: You bet the shards I dare. What kind of deity goes ripping off his whiskers? You’re not a fool kid like my little brother. You’re a god, right? Show some pride!

Jupitre: Just what do I have left to be proud of? Without my power, I’m nothing but a weak old man!

Quartz: Right. No wonder you lost your worshippers with that attitude. 

Jupitre: I’m kept home by my wife, kept in a weakened state while she parades pretty visitors before me to mock me!

Quartz: Met Christopher, have you?

Jupitre: (showing interest in something other than himself for a moment) Is Christopher the slender youth, pretty as a girl with the multicolored eyes?

Quartz: Uh huh, that’s him. 

Jupitre: (the moment has passed) He looked upon this aging wreck of my former self with no awe. 

Quartz: Can’t imagine why not. 

Jupitre: And now you mock me again! I’m reduced to being a secondary character by a rude little dwarf in a blog written by a half wit with pretensions of being an author!

Me: (looking up with annoyance) Hey!

Jupitre: Once great artists and poets depicted me, worshipped me. Now I’m just a secondary character in some miserable scribbler’s blog!

Me: (grumbling) At least you’re getting an appearance. Which is more than you can expect of many people’s blogs.

Quartz: Scribbler, this is what comes of encouraging secondary characters to speak out. Some of them never shut up. 

Me: You’re the one encouraging secondary characters to speak out. 

Jupitre: (drawing himself up) How dare you treat me like a nuisance, both of you! (turns on Quartz) How dare you accuse a god of whining?

Quartz: Like I said, when that god won’t shut up. If you’re all that, why don’t you do something about it?

Jupitre: I told you, dwarf. I’m no longer any of that. This is all that I am now. All that’s left of me. 

Quartz: Right. Again, why don’t you do something about it?

Jupitre: What?

Quartz: Do something, anything. Change. Or try to change. You don’t like what you’ve become? Do something about it. 

Looking aggravated, Quartz stomps away, muttering something about gods being worse than witches or kobolds. 

Jupitre sits alone, the mists rising around him, his morose face turning pensive. 

Jupitre: Change. Yes. If I opened a Door to the Shadow Forest, change would be inevitable. Change would be far better than remaining as I am.

The mists almost hiss in sinister encouragement as they envelop him. 

Conversations with Christopher: Damian

Christopher walks through the mist of the Cauldron, enjoying its cool kiss once more. He tilts back his head, closes his eyes. 

The mists part to reveal a path through the roses. He opens his eyes, his irises swimming with colors, but the dominant one of the same rosy purple as the flowers. 

Damian appears behind him, looking at the path with eyes the same hue. He lays a hand on Christopher’s shoulder.

Damian: How far we’ve come, yet we keep returning to the same place.

Christopher: I love it here. Don’t you?

Damian: There aren’t as many roses here as in the Gardens of Arachne. Their scent isn’t as overpowering. 

Christopher: The very air in the Gardens is trying to seduce us into staying. If you stay in this place, it’s your choice. 

Damian: I didn’t stay, but I keep returning. To our garden. To you. 

Christopher: It means everything to me.

Damian: Not everything. 

Christopher: Perhaps not. Everything that matters to me is drawn to this place.

Damian: Not everything. You keep returning to the Navel. To Gabrielle and me. Even when I’m not there. 

Christopher: Even when the Navel isn’t the Navel. In another Omphalos, what will it be?

Damian: Something like a home? Where Danyel, Tayel, and Leiwell live with Map, trying to be a family? We haven’t gotten to that part of the story yet. 

Christopher: No, we haven’t left the Navel or this garden. Not this past month. Not in Waiting for Rebirth.

Damian: Waiting for Rebirth, huh? That was the first major change for us.

Christopher: It happened here. In this very Cauldron. Our story. The story formerly locked inside our scribbler.

Damian: She just needed to let it out. To let me out. She can be timid about letting things out, our scribbler. 

Christopher: We can’t stop, just because April is over and Camp NaNoWriMo is finished. We can’t let her stop. 

Damian: She’s easily distracted. Just a few words from a reader in her world convinced her to turn her attention to another story. 

Christopher: It’ll happen again. We’ve just got keep going. Remind her every day our story is worth telling. 

Damian leans forward to kiss Christopher’s cheek. 

Damian: Don’t worry. We will.

The mists rise from the ground, creating a blurry landscape. The gardens, Christopher, and Damian disappear into it. 

You may have disappeared, but you’re not forgotten. Don’t worry, Damian, Christopher. I know your story is worth telling. I’ll keep going. 

Z is for Zenobia

We came to the scribbler while she was Blogging From AZ as an idea. An idea for the representative of another power in the World of the Ouroborous, the power of the Kalanthian Empire. Unlike Serena Jasior’s empire, Kalanthia still exists at the time of Trouble at Caerac Keep. Even if it is smaller, much smaller than it was when we lived and reigned. Our nation still kept some of its power. Without that power, Serena Jasior never could have crushed the Serpent and declared herself Imperatrix. Not that she shows any gratitude for it. By all rights, she should have offered her brother’s hand in marriage to us, creating a single empire. Instead she allows the prince to engage in destructive duels, encouraging a kind of matrimonial free-for-all, dangling him in front of potential suits. We don’t play such stupid games. To make this self-made Imperatrix even more insulting, she keeps the choicest Serpent-Born slaves to herself. She would never have been able to keep them, if we hadn’t provided the collars which she could control their power. We have done so much for this world and Serena Jasior, yet she rewards us with ingratitude. We bring so much to the scribbler’s stories, yet she denies us our rightful place at the center of all things in A Suitor’s Challenge. The situation is intolerable. Dead dwarves aren’t the only one who can demand their share of attention. The scribbler is going to find this out, mark our words. 

Y is for Yuri

I came into being along with the concept of A Portrait Is Worth a Thousand Words. I was Westerleigh’s support outside the Hartford family. Someone who wasn’t detatched from his idol, yet could see her with clearer eyes than ‘Leigh. I’d see this obsession before, in the journals left behind by my ancestor Judith Cross, the artist who painted Elizabeth Hartford’s painting. Judith was closer to Elizabeth than anyone, her lover and confidant. Elizabeth broke her heart, leaving Judith herself a broken woman. Perhaps whatever is left of Elizabeth can smell Judith’s blood in me. That’s why her undead corpse lingers around the window at night, even if Elizabeth’s soul is bound to her painting. I wonder if that soul isn’t also bound to ‘Leigh, that ‘Leigh welcomed a sinister ghost into her heart and soul, one that’s feeding on ‘Leigh’s love, his very life force. The object of ‘Leigh’s obsession is a danger to both of us. A danger we must fight. I’d burn Elizabeth’s portrait, but I fear I’d burn Westerleigh’s soul along with it. Nor am I sure that this would stop Elizabeth Hartford’s walking corpse. Pray that ‘Leigh and I will find a way to stop her in A Portrait Is Worth a Thousand Words. Pray that ‘Leigh will want to stop her. 

X is for Xian

I came into being during this Blogging From AZ April Project, the first time the scribbler participated. 

We’d been around for years before that as Serena Jasior. We were inspired by one of the scribbler’s favorite celebrities, a particular part she played. Only we changed into something completely different in the scribbler’s imagination. We became a queen, an empress, an imperatrix uniting a beleagered fantasy land against an army of monsters. 

This fantasy land became the World of Ouroborous. 

I, Xian, former student of the Serpent Herself was born during this Project as part of Serena’s past. The Serpent was the intelligence behind the monsters. I turned against my master to save the world She threatened. 

Why shouldn’t we reinvent ourselves afterwards as Serena Jasior? Why shouldn’t we claim that same world as our prize and rule it? Just as we’re claiming Kyra Nevalyn.

This may seem sinister, but both the world and Kyra require guidance. Which is why I’m leaving Serena and the royal we behind. Once again I don the mask of Xian in order to earn Kyra’s trust. I needed to become a private individual to do so. Xian is a private individual and a private person. Serena Jasior is not. Sometimes I see them as two different people, even if they’re both roles I play. 

Hopefully we will get a chance to play both roles for you, dear readers, once the scribbler finishes A Suitor’s Challenge. 

W is Westerleigh

For every portrait of legend, there is a pair of worshipful eyes drinking in the legend, taking into their hearts and mind, giving it new life. 

Our scribbler has always been fasciated by movies, books, or TV series where a portait has mesmerized its viewers. When the mesmerization becomes the plot of the story, giving the portrait life, sometimes in an unearthly fashion. She herself wanted to write such a story. Only she didn’t want it to be a romance so much as an idealization, a veneration for the portrait’s subject. She has venerated many a person over the years, only to be disappointed herself.

Perhaps I’m an expression of that idealization and disappointment. Perhaps our scribbler is channeling some of those feelings into me in A Portrait is Worth a Thousand Words, making them a major part of a ghost story and a gothic vampire tale. I was originally going to be a gothic heroine, worshipping my idol, my ancestor Elizabeth Hartford, the subject of the portrait I’m mesmerized by. Only I evolved into a cross-dressing boy, pretending to be a long-lost Hartford heiress so Fiona will let me into Hartford Hall. Mine is an unveiling where Elizabeth’s spirt and I gradually reveal the truth to each other. 

Will we ever forgive each other for our deceptions? Especially when Elizabeth’s bloodthirsty corpse has risen from her grave without her spirit to stalk the one person dearest to me? 

Our scribbler finished a short version of A Portrait Is Worth a Thousand Words, but it didn’t tell the whole story. Not the story we were trying tell. I keep hoping our scribbler will steal the time to expand it, finding opportunities to flesh out the feelings waiting to be released inside us both. Pray that she will.