Conversations with Christopher: Map

Mist rises, swallowing the road, the cottages on either side of it. The gate ahead disappears.

Christopher turns back to look for Peter, but he, too, has disappeared. 

He swallows, keeps walking. The stone beneath his feet turns into gravel. A glance down reveals tiny blades of grass and flowers poking through the pebbles. They start to wither, becoming dust. The crunch of the pebbles beneath his boots softens. 

He looks down again to see white sand upon the ground. 

The mist darkens to a opaque gray. A lantern sways in the distance, blue and green light swirling around each other, captured in the glass.

Christopher follows the light to the hooded figure carrying it. One wrinkled, weary hand emerges from a billowing sleeve, holding onto it for dear life. 

The wind gust past Christopher, blowing back the hood to reveal Map’s tired face, her shadowed eyes. 

Tiny invisible hands tear at Map’s robes, at Christopher’s hair. 

Map: Pay them no mind. It will only make them stronger. 

Her warning makes it impossible not to Christopher. The wind wails, moans, and complains. Christopher hears Jupitre’s lamenting in its cry. 

My lost light, the power which once crackled in my hand. Why did you abandon me?

Map stops in the tracks, tension vibrating in her bent shoulders.

Map: Why? Did you ever ask what it was like to be squeezed? To be swallowed whole? You only notice the pain when you’re the one feeling it!

Christopher: I thought that would only make him stronger?

Map: If he was stronger, maybe he’d shut up. 

Christopher: Are you sure he’s talking to you?

Map: (turning to give him a speculative look) Do you think he’s talking to you?

Christopher: I don’t know.

Map: It doesn’t matter. He blames us both. 

The light caught in her lantern, a pulsing blue and green energy beat against the glass walls. 

Please, Map. Let us out. 

The trap doesn’t instruct. It only confines. 

Christopher recognizes the two voices, the pulses of energy. He flinches. 

Christopher: They’re your children. Why are you doing this? Why not let them out?

Map: They’ve been bad. (She tapped against the glass.) They did things they weren’t supposed to do. They lost themselves because of it. 

Christopher: Didn’t we do the same when we opened a Door? 

Map: (frowning) You let them go.

Christopher: They were taken from me.

Map: To protect them. I have to protect them and you. I have to take you all somewhere safe.

Christopher: (looking around in the darkness, wind ripping at his clothes) Is there any such place?

Map: (heaving a sigh) No. No matter how hard we try to find, someone always finds us.

Christopher: Instead of hiding, why not help them…us…prepare for being found?

Map: We’ll never be prepared.

Christopher: It’s worth trying. Better than just wandering and hiding. 

Map regards him for a long moment. She sets the lantern down upon the sand and opens it. 

The light come flying out in streaks of color over the sand. They leave a trail of grass and flower in their wake. 

The sky lightens as the mist clears, revealing grass peeking out of the sand, even beneath his feet. 

Christopher: Why are the plants no longer turning to dust beneath my feet? 

Map: I don’t know. Why did I release the lights? They’ll only spend their energy and fade faster. 

Christopher: Only you can answer that. Maybe you didn’t want to make them cry. 

Map laughs, some of the sadness lifting from her brow. She and Christopher watch a tree shoot out from the ground, branches spreading out. 

Map: What will the price be for all this? Will it be worth it?

Christopher: It’s what they wish to do with their energy.

Map smiles, showing a hit of the sphinx she sometimes becomes in these strange places beyond the Door. 

Map: Good answer. 

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Conversations with Christopher: Peter

Pain. It cuts through his temples, making him stagger. Not even the cool kiss of the Shadow Forest’s mist or the comforting steam of the Cauldron can soften it entirely. 

Christopher breathes in the musty air, dust, shelves covered with items hiding in cracks and corners. Things a customer don’t realize they want, let alone need. A statue of a muscular man with a hen’s head leers at him with beady eyes. 

The shelves are too close. Their smell makes him sick. 

Peter: Here.

A hand guides him through the shelves, to the door. Chimes tingle when it opens. 

That sound is soothing, easing some of the pain. 

Christopher staggers across the threshold into the main street of Omphalos. Thankfully no one else is around. Peter follows. 

Peter: Do you do that often?

Christopher gets a brief memory flash of Damian putting a hand to his temple, groaning. 

Christopher: (lifting a hand to his brow) I wonder if this is what Damian felt in the Navel. When he said he felt trapped in there. 

Peter: Do you feel trapped? Are you unhappy?

Christopher: (shaking his head) This is the happiest I’ve ever been. Even though I still miss Damian. 

Peter: Were you happy when he was here?

Christopher: (pressing a hand to a temple which throbs a little less painfully in the open air) Happier than I thought I could be.

Peter: (smiling a little) Thought you were incapable of happiness, did you?

Christopher: Not incapable. Just not that happy with something so simple. Small things were so beautiful, so precious after the Shadow Forest. Time slowing down to something that didn’t constantly chase my imagination. 

Peter: (licking his lips and swallowing) Ah, so time can actually keep pace with one’s shifting mental imagery beyond the Door.

Christopher: It’s far more terrible than you realize. (He starts walking down the street away from Peter.) Anything which crosses your mind may manifest. Even if you don’t want it to. 

Peter: (following him) Sounds like you must have been a god on the other side. 

Christopher: (with a bitter laugh) Anyone can be a god on the other side. 

Peter stops for a moment with a convulsive shudder which makes him sway upon his feet.

Christopher: (glancing over his shoulder) Whether or not you would want to be a god is another matter entirely. 

Peter: (starting to trot after him) Who wouldn’t want to be a god? All that power!

Christopher: Exactly. (looking ahead) All that power. It comes with responsibility. 

Peter: Don’t assume everyone is afraid of that. 

Christopher: You should be. Wield great power and you’ll make great mistakes. 

Peter: Not to mention accomplish great things. 

Christopher: (stopping) Just what do you think a god is, Peter?

Peter: Someone who isn’t bound by mortal concerns or constraints. 

Christopher: Exactly. It’s overwhelming. 

Peter: To be overwhelmed like that, how I envy you. 

Christopher: Why? (He stops, turns around to look at Peter.) Why do you want to be overwhelmed?

Peter: I’m too easily underwhelmed. Too small. Too powerless. Unable to help or save anyone. Unable to release myself from my own restrictions. 

Christopher: Restrictions can define us, bringing rewards a god is incapable of appreciating. 

Peter: (raising an eyebrow) You think I’m unappreciative?

Christopher: Of the consequences of a god’s actions? Yes. 

Peter: Perhaps you’re too sensitive about such things. 

Christopher: I wasn’t suited to godhood. 

Peter: Don’t assume I’m not just because I want it. 

Christopher: (taking a step closer to Peter) We always want what we don’t have. (He reaches out a cheek to touch Peter’s cheek.) Appreciating what we do is much harder. 

Peter: (taking his hand and kissing it) Is that why you reject me? Once I have you, I won’t appreciate you. Is that what you think?

Christopher: I fear you love the quest far more than the treasure you seek. Whether it’s something you desire in another person or godhood. 

Peter: (dropping his hand) And your beloved Damian? Did he appreciate you?

Christopher: (turning away) Yes, I believe he did. For a while. Only I wasn’t enough. Not enough to satisfy him. Let alone make him happy. 

Peter: Is anyone? Just because a feeling is fleeting, should you turn away from it? I never have.

Christopher looks up at the top of the hill. Sometimes he sees a ruined tower up there. Sometimes a circle of standing stones. 

This time he sees dancing lights, twinkling and twirling around each other. He knows there will be a pond lying beneath them. A pond filled floating colors, disappearing and dissolving into each other. 

Christopher: (smiling sadly) No, you haven’t, have you?

He keeps walking, not looking back.

Peter puzzled, frowning, keeps following him. 

Conversations with Christopher: Danyel and Tayel

The mist is usually gentle, stroking his skin with cool touches. This time it was wet, slobbering all over him with icy tongues. Rain splashed upon his skin from overhead. 

Christopher: The sky is crying. This is supposed to be a good sign in the scribbler’s world. Her people need the rain. Don’t they?

Something thunders above in a dark cloud. The rain begins to pour, drenching Christopher. 

There’s a light at the window of a cottage in the murky gloom, revealing the shapes of other cottages. They appear and reappear, as if uncertain if they’re part of the landscape or not.

A doorway opens. The other cottages disappear. There’s is only one, the source of the light beaming out from a home. It shines upon the tousled golden waves of the boy in the doorway, beckoning to Christopher.

Danyel: Quick, come in!

Christopher stumbled forward, not as quick as he’d like to be, but he makes it to the waiting doorway and crosses the threshold. Danyel closes the door behind him. 

He’s in a kitchen. Another boy sits at a table, one identical to Danyel in appearance.

Christopher: Hello, Tayel. Thank you for inviting me in, Danyel.

Tayel: Hell followed by an o. How appropriate. (His voice is softer than his words as are his eyes, inspecting Christopher.)

Danyel: Shut up, Tayel. I was about to make us some tea. 

The boy hurries to the kettle humming over the hearth, grabbing a quilted potholder, and lifts the kettle. 

Christopher: (shivering) That’s very kind of you, but will any of us be able to drink that? Even though the fire is very welcome. Holding something warm would be welcome as well. 

Tayel: Getting out of your wet clothes would be equally welcome. 

Christopher: You’re losing some of your enigma, Tayel. That wasn’t much of a riddle. (He pulls off his black tunic, hesitates before revealing bare skin.)

Tayel: There’s is little to be revealed and nothing to be ashamed of. 

Danyel: (his cheeks color as he pours water into a waiting teapot) It’s only polite to look away. Or turn your back, Tayel.

Tayel: (rolling his eyes) Awkwardness will only flourish in such shyness. (He still turns his back, a matching blush to Danyel’s in his cheeks.)

Christopher strips off his shirt and his pants, removes his boots. There’s a waiting blanket on one of the chairs. 

Christopher: You were expecting me. 

Danyel: Aren’t we always?

Tayel: Whether we’re ready or not. 

Christopher: The feeling is mutual, but not unwelcome. (He covers himself with the blanket, leaving his arms free.)

Danyel brings over a couple of cups. Tayel turns around. 

Danyel: You’ll be able to drink this. Some of it at least. It’s made from pixie tears, a flower which grows where Doors appear. 

Tayel: Born between dream and reality much as we are. Able to consume us and be consumed. 

Danyel: Hopefully we’ll be doing the consuming. (He goes to fetch a third cup for himself.)

Christopher: (raising his and breathing in its aroma; a perfume of roses, apples, and the air on an afternoon under a changing sky with Damian nearby) Where did you find this flower?

Danyel: Map grows it. We harvest it. 

Christopher: So this is Map’s kitchen, her home. 

He looks around, sees an archway leading into a cozy room filled with a bookshelves, a few chairs, and cushions scattered across the floor. There’s a space on that floor where a golden circle is painted. 

The circle is exactly like the one in the Navel. 

Danyel: (sitting down at the table with his own cup, near Christopher, across from Tayel) It’s magic, that circle. The little bit of magic Map allows. 

Tayel shifts in his seat, looking a bit uncomfortable. 

Christopher: You stand in the center and it transports you to another part of the cottage. A part that’s hidden from most, a secret sanctuary. 

Danyel: (gazing at him with wide eyes) You make it sound far more magical than it is. This leads to Leiwell’s room. Only he gave it to us. 

Tayel: Revealing too much may be neither welcome nor wise.

Christopher: Perhaps not, but I appreciate the revelation. (He picks up his cup, sips it.) This is very good. 

Danyel smiles, blushing all the more. Tayel smiles, too, but it’s a tiny guarded smile. 

Christopher: Since you revealed something to me, I’ll reveal something to you. I have a similar circle in my former home. It takes me from a shop up to where my bedroom was. 

Tayel: The Navel. Where people coming looking things they didn’t know they were looking for. The center of all things bizarre. 

Christopher: (nods, not entirely surprised Tayel knows this) According to my mother, yes. 

Danyel: You said it was your former home. Don’t you live at the Navel anymore?

Tayel: Too many question open the Door to answers. (He gives an oddly protective glance at Christopher.) Answers hurt. 

Christophr: Yes, they do, but I don’t mind answering. (He does his best to smile. It’s easier than he thought it would be.) I made a choice to leave my home behind.

Danyel: Why?

Tayel: Danyel.

Christopher: It’s all right. I needed to go on a journey, a quest to find something. To find someone. To do it, I had to leave my home behind.

Danyel: You can’t return home? (He leans forward, worry prickling his smooth brow.) Once you find what…who…you’re looking for?

Tayel sits very still in his seat, hands around his cup. He gazes at Christopher from under lowered eyelashes, something gleaming beneath them. 

Christopher: I don’t know. I hope so, but perhaps I’ll change too much. I may not be able to go back. 

Danyel: Is that a good thing? Or a bad thing?

Christopher: I don’t know. (It’s harder to smile a second time.) I’ll let you know when I find out.

Danyel: Promise?

Tayel lets out a sound between a sigh or a hiss. It’s unclear whether it’s directed at Danyel for asking for a promise or a warning to Christopher not to make one. Perhaps it’s both. Perhaps he’s right to be wary of promises which may be impossible to keep. 

Christopher doesn’t want to be wary. Not with these two. 

Christopher: I promise.

Danyel’s bright smile is reward enough for promising. 

Here’s hoping neither of them end up regretting it. 

#RainbowSnippets: Seven Tricks

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets!

Every Saturday or Sunday, people participating post and share six sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction on their blogs. (I usually post mine a little early, but there was a kitty crisis.) It can be their own. It can be someone else’s. It just needs to be LGBTQIA+.

To sample various LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

https://www.facebook.com/groups/RainbowSnippets/?multi_permalinks=8467018006701520&notif_id=1673107427632096&notif_t=group_activity&ref=notif

Yes, I know the twelve days of Christmas are over. I’m not ready to let them go. I’m not ready to take the tree down. I feel like I was robbed of a few of those days. This is why Mousetrick is going to poke his nose out and nudge with a little more Seven Tricks

I nudged him with my snout.

He rocked on his stiff wooden legs but didn’t budge. The creature stood like a human being, but no human possessed so broad and beautiful a mouth as he. Nor did they smell so deliciously of roasted nuts.

“Maybe you’re a giant nut yourself,” I said in the way of mice, which sounds like chittering to anyone without the talent to understand our speech. “Do you taste as good as you smell?”

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

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Amazon:

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Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/758279

#QueerBlogWed: Map Mutters Part 1

On June 1, 2022, P.T. Wyant posted a Wednesday Words at ptywant.com. It involved a birthday, a bet, and an old woman staggering down the street.

This swelled into not only a Tale of Omphalos (an Omphalos without the Navel in it), but a Tale of Map. Muttering. A lot. Only she was overhead. Bumped into an old student from another life and the tale swelled. It became two parts. Eventually three.

This is the first part…

Map was fortunate enough to be old as she felt, much of the time. Right now she felt ancient. 

The weight of her memories left her staggering down the street, an old woman bent with guilt. Memories of a night when the sky turned red and the air filled with screams. 

He’d been born on that night, the worst of her memories, fleeing laughing into the darkness, red bleeding from his hands. Born in blood, guilt, and rage, manifesting before like a demon summoned by a sacrifice. 

She hadn’t summoned him, but he’d come. How many years had he lived on this world or some other? As many as she’d spent, wandering from place to place, trying to forget him. 

How like him to find her here in Omphalos, in the place she could finally call home. How like him to style himself a lord, declaring himself master of everything that was hers. 

“Lord Dyvian Ashelocke,” she growled through gritted teeth. Knowing she shouldn’t. Knowing by saying the name he’d chosen adorn, she was only giving it weight. 

How he’d smiled at her at the party, flocked by adoring villagers, Juno cooing at her elbow. Smiled at her, mocking her with the glint in his eyes. 

“It’s actually his birthday,” Ashleigh had whispered into her ear, almost giggling. “He especially wanted to meet you and the boys.”

Of course he wanted to meet Map now that something to lose; Leiwell, Danyel, and Tayel whom she regarded as her own sons. Of course he’d popped up when she was finally reunited with Ashleigh. 

Shall we make a bet, dear master? Oh, my apologies. You call yourself Map now. Don’t you?

“As if you didn’t know,” she growled under her breath. Not that she’d dared to at the party. 

She couldn’t let them know. Not Ashleigh, not the boys. She couldn’t let them know what she’d done. 

Don’t look at me like that. I wouldn’t exist if not for you. 

“That’s right,” she muttered, paying no attention to anyone who might be staring. “I’m to blame for bringing a Seraphix-damned vampire like you into the world.”

I’ll bet you I can win the hearts of all three of your boys, bringing them into Seraphix’s embrace. Not just our lovely Leiwell, but doubting little Danyel and timid Tayel. They’ll accept a place at our side as shadow, hand, and eye in the Followers of Seraphix.

“As if you’re on anyone side by your own.” She kicked savagely at the ground, aware that this wasn’t entirely true. Not if the tender look he’d stolen at Leiwell was genuine. 

Even worse had been the radiance in her oldest boy’s face when he looked back at his “lord.”

We’ll build a tower of our faith, make it greater than it’s ever been, no matter how often you try to beat it down. 

“It’s one thing to sense that the tower is more than it seems. Another to join with it.” She stopped in the road and glowered at the young woman gazing back at her. 

Bloody Seraphix, she knew this girl. Knew her round, guiless face, her dreamy hazel eyes which widened at the sight of her. 

(To be continued next Wednesday…)

Conversations with Christopher: Maia

A castle made of gold shimmers and straightens in the ever-changing mists. It becomes a sparkling skyscraper, a tower made of glass, flashing and teasing amidst the fog. 

Its light becomes a beacon, beckoning Christopher, luring him out of the mist onto a waiting patch of grass with a clear view of the skyscraper, rising into the heavens like the ambitions which formed it. 

A woman with short dark hair gazes up at its walls, a slight smile playing upon her face, a dark cape fluttering from her shoulders. She fidgets with a top hat in her hands as if she isn’t quite sure what to do with it. 

Christopher: Maia, isn’t it? I’ve met you before, but I’m not sure if I’ve been here. 

Maia: Here? This place doesn’t exist. I dreamed while slaving away in an old-fashioned factory which was the heart of Verity. 

Christopher: Why?

Maia: (laughs, transferring the hat to one hand) Why? For I am Iama the Terrible! (She flourishes her hat in the direction of the skyscraper.) And this is my castle of gold. Or perhaps I should say tower?

Christopher looks up at the sparkling walls, gleaming with golden light. For a moment, its glass turns a brilliant, hot white with a bony crown reaching out of the top with skeletal fingers. 

Maia: (shielding her eyes with her hat) Ow! Stop that!

Christopher: Sorry. 

The stones darken with black tears, whimpering. The sky grows dark, filled with rumbling clouds, outraged at the spokes daring to reach for the heavens. 

Maia: That’s not my tower. 

The clouds part, revealing the sun. The darkness drips down the walls of the skyscraper, pooling at the base, leaving it golden and gleaming once more. 

Christopher: (not looking at her) What’s the difference between a castle and a tower?

Maia: (giving him a sideways glance) Well, I suppose they’re both fortresses. You can barricade yourself inside either. Only a castle somehow still feels like a home. A tower is a prison. 

Christopher: A tower can be a home. A tower can part of yourself, but yes, a tower can be a prison. Locking you inside, making you feel powerful and safe.

Maia: It’s just a feeling. You’re not safe. (She looks back at her tower.) Isolation is not safety.

Christopher: (offers her a sad smile) No, it’s not. 

Maia: The white tower, the black tower. Which one did you hide in?

Christopher: Both and neither. 

Maia: You do like your riddles. 

Christopher: You like your tower.

Maia: I used to like it. I let it go, along with with the ambition that created it. 

Christopher: Leaving it behind in the Shadow Forest where it bubbles up once more in this Cauldron. 

Maia: Those are your words, describing your world. Not mine. 

Christopher: Why are you here? Why do you still call yourself Iama the Terrible if you’ve left your castle…tower…of gold?

Maia: (letting out a sigh) She’s still part of me, even if I’ve left her dream behind. I’ve got her princess. My princess. I’ve found I’m weak without her. 

Christopher: Are you?

Maia: I thought I was the strong one. The provider. The one who took care of her and our sister. Nathalie and Grace ended up having to save me. 

Christopher: Does that make you weak? Or wiser?

Maia: (chuckles again) Wise enough to realize I’m weak. 

Christopher: That’s something, isn’t it?

Maia: Yes, it is. Like saying goodbye to the tower. I have something better now. 

Christopher: (turns to gaze at her as if he’d just seen her) Something better?

Maia: Sure. I have my girls; Nathalie and Grace. No tower can compare to them. 

Christopher: No. (He looks up at the walls, not really seeing them.) It can’t, can it?

Maia: You have something, don’t you? Or rather someone?

Christopher: What?

Maia: Someone better than the tower. I never would have dreamed of this place, desired to build it if not for them. Only it kept me from them, from being parts of their lives.

Christopher: (looking down) I suppose it does.

Maia: Beware of your own walls, Christopher. Don’t let them come between you and the ones that truly matter. 

Christopher spins around to stare at her, startled, but Maia is already backing into a cloud of mist, blowing him a kiss. She disappears. 

He turned to look up at the skycraper which turns white, black, growing luminous with colors. Its windows are no longer opaque. He can see faces in the window, looking out at him.

Christopher: Thank you…Iama. I’ll keep that in mind. 

He starts walking toward the tower, the mist rising beneath his feet. 

Want to read more about Maia/Iama and her girls? Here are buy links to Wind Me Up, One More Time; their story…

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

#RainbowSnippets: Seven Tricks

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

It’s the end of a year, the beginning of a new one, but it’s still the twelve days of Christmas so Mousetrick will continue to squeak in Seven Tricks right where he left off…

The beauty bared his teeth at me in a seductive show of defiance. Never had I seen such an enormous, toothy jaw. The scent of roasted nuts wafted from his mouth, making my nostrils flare with hunger.

I crept up to this still, defiant beauty.

He didn’t move, or acknowledge me, even when I was a paw away from his face. The strange prince just stood there and grinned.

This infuriated me. Who was he grinning at, if not myself? Was he mocking me?

Enjoy what you’re reading? Want to read more? Here are buy links to Seven Tricks

Nine Star Press:  https://ninestarpress.com/product/seven-tricks/

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/seven-tricks-ks-trenten/1127424849?ean=2940158598838

Amazon:

Smashwords

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/seven-tricks

#QueerBlogWed: Danyel’s Dream

On May 16, 2022, P.T. Wyant posted at ptwyant.com a Wednesday Words prompt. It involved a raft, an urgent trip, and a pipe.

This Tale of Omphalos, in particular Danyel was the result…

He sensed it was a dream the moment he saw Map struggling to get into a raft. She’d never leave her cottage or her family. 

“Why are you doing this?” he protested. “I thought you didn’t want to go anywhere, like Tayel!”

“Now, now, I have to take this urgent trip.” She patted him on the head, stuck her pipe inside her loose tunic. “Someone needs my help, got themselves stuck behind some blasted Door. You and your brothers should manage for a few days.”

Brothers, yes. He had brothers. Leiwell, tall, dark-haired, with emerald green eyes. Foolish trips off to mysterious places were more his sort of thing. 

Not to mention Tayel. Tayel would never take a foolish trip off to a mysterious place. Most places weren’t mysterious to him, just unpleasant. 

Yes, his brothers, Leiwell and Tayel. He was Danyel. For a moment he’d felt like someone else, as if that name had been given to someone else. 

“But why are you taking that pipe?” The question was somehow very important, even though he didn’t understand why. “You don’t smoke, except when you blow rainbows when no one is looking.”

“Oh ho, have you caught me doing that, have you?” She grinned, her wrinkled face like a mischievous walnut. “Guess you could say I’m partial to pipe dreams, even though I thought I gave them up.”

“Does whomever you’re trying to save need a rainbow?” He struggled to understand the reason for this departure, even though it seemed unreal. Of course it was unreal. It was a dream. 

“You might say that.” She settled down in the raft, fixing a sharp black eye on him. “Maybe I need to smoke a rainbow to catch a rainbow. Maybe it’s the only way to send Christopher’s rainbow dragon back to him.”

“Christopher.” The name caught in his throat, making every hair tingle. “Who is Christopher?”

“Guess you don’t remember.” Map huffed, pushing the raft off the river’s bank. “Be a good boy, take care of your brothers, and don’t daydream too much about the tower! You’ll get its attention, make it a lot more than it ought to be.”

“Map, wait!” Danyel tried to call, only to find the words stuck in his throat. “Wait!” 

He woke up to his own cry, staring at the attic ceiling. 

“No point in calling after dreams.” Tayel was laying on his side beside him, staring at him with overly bright eyes. “They’ll only come back when they’re ready.”

“It was Map. She was leaving us.” Danyel rolled over to face his twin, their noses inches away from eah other. “She was looking for Christopher.”

There was no surprise in Tayel’s voice. “Map is downstairs, making the walls rumble as she slumbers as always. Listen.”

Danyel listened. 

Sure enough, he could Map’s snores through the walls and floor, heaving breathing and snuffling, like a dangerous bear hibernating. Not to be disturbed, not even by dreams of her departure. 

“Who is Christopher?” Danyel gazed at his twin’s lips, his glittering eyes. “That name sounds so familar.”

“Familar are the figures within the pages of book, coming to life in story.” Tayel shut his eyes. “He may have been one of them.”

“He may have been.” Come to think of it, the name did sound like someone who might have been in a story. “I can’t help feeling like he’s much more than that.”

“Anyone is more if you allow them to be.” Tayel turned away to face the ceiling. “To give them such power may be a dubious idea.”

“Like thinking the tower is more than a pile of rocks?” Yes, Map had mentioned the tower, too, hadn’t she?  “You sound just like Map. Warning us not to daydream because it’s dangerous.”

“If more than one warns you against the perils of imagination, you should consider before daring them.” Tayel kept his eyes closed, his lips pressed together.

“How I not dare? How can we not daydream?” Danyel demanded. “I know you do it. Why don’t you want to talk about Christopher?”

“Whispering your fears in the night encourages them to whisper back.” Tayel rolled away, leaving Danyel facing his back. “Go to sleep.”

Danyel didn’t answer. There was no point in doing so. His mind, however, refused to be quiet. 

Maybe so, but I’m not afraid of Christopher. I feel like he’s someone I want to remember, but somehow, someone is stopping me. 

He swallowed, pulling the covers up to his chin, only to have Tayel yank them away. 

You’re a blanket thief. Tayel didn’t speak, but Danyel heard the words in his head. 

For a moment Danyel forgot his worries and his questions. He just grinned. 

Like my style of writing? Want to read more? Find buy links to my published works at…

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

Secondary Characters Speak Out: Cheesecurd

Someone is scratching at the crystal of Quartz’s coffin. Scritching and scratching with tiny paws. 

Quartz opens his eyes, sees through a layer of rock turned translucent. It reveals a mouse’s muzzle, peering at him.

Our dwarf tries to yell, but cannot move his lips. Sometimes it’s like that in this coffin. He decides to think as hard as he can at his unwelcome visitor. 

Quartz: Get off!

The mouse on the coffins flicks his tail, pausing. 

Cheesecurd: (for it is he, Mousetrick’s rival) Where’s the cheese? I thought there would be cheese in this thing. (Again he scratches at the coffin, bumping his nose against it.) Mousetrick told me there would be cheese here. 

Quartz: Stop scratching, you…shards, I still can’t move my lips. This may be my guest for Secondary Characters Speak Out. Not sure why I’m trapped in here. 

Cheesecurd: This is boring. 

Quartz: See here, you…mouse. This coffin may be cursed, but it’s still crystal. Show some respect.

Cheesecurd: There’s no cheese I can get to. Just an ugly giant I don’t want to get to.

Quartz: Who are you calling ugly, snoutface? Though I suppose you’ve got a point about the giant. Seeing how small you are. 

Cheesecurd: Why do I bother? I’ve got better things to do with the last bit of year than scratch around here. 

Quartz: As if I didn’t. You try being abandoned by the scribbler and everyone else, left in a cursed crystal coffin.

Cheesecurd: There’s gingerbread to steal and nibble. Cheese to find. Paper to shred and hide. Ugh, I’m exhausted just thinking of it all. Maybe I’ll curl up and take a nap.

Quartz: Not on this coffin, you don’t. It’s not like you’re the only one with things you’d rather be doing. Or things you need to be doing. I doubt those brothers of mine are taking care of themselves. Garnet is probably pulling his whiskers right now. 

Somewhere far away in the Forest of Tears, Garnet sneezes, drops a guilty hand from his hanks of beard. 

Cheesecurd: It’s tiring, always having to share with the others. Everyone sleeping in my bed. Mousetrick is the worst of the lot. 

Quartz: Aye, he’s bad, that one. Always popping out of the cuckoo clock and the yellow smoke, huh? Who are we talking about?

Cheesecurd: Huh? Did the giant inside this crystal speak? I thought he was sleeping. 

Quartz: Never mind me. I’m just lying here. Cursed. Waiting for my princess or my kobold to come. Not. 

Cheesecurd: Guess it’s nothing. Guess it’s OK to curl up and take a nap there. There’s no tissue. It’s exposed, but it’s private. Don’t see any hawks or stoats. 

Quartz: Taking chances like that will make you hawk food. Or stoat food. 

Cheescurd ignores him, curls up on top of the crystal, and shuts his eyes. 

Quartz: Not that I’ve seen them in the Forest of Tears. They might still come. If they scare you. 

Cheesecurd begins to snore. 

Quartz: Right. Don’t bother acknowledging me. I’m only your host. Don’t even wish me a happy new year. Not that you’re listening. Some secondary characters aren’t even worth speaking to. 

Cheesecurd, oblivious, continues snoring. 

To read more of Cheesecurd’s laziness or selective listening, read  (which he insists is his story, not Mousetrick’s at)…

Nine Star Press:  https://ninestarpress.com/product/seven-tricks/

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/seven-tricks-ks-trenten/1127424849?ean=2940158598838

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Seven-Tricks-K-S-Trenten-ebook/dp/B0779JRC34/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Seven+Tricks%2C+by+K.S.+Trenten&qid=1636767558&qsid=134-3810483-5012939&s=digital-text&sr=1-1&sres=B0779JRC34&srpt=ABIS_BOOK

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/seven-tricks

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/758279

#RainbowSnippets: Seven Tricks

Happy Holidays! Welcome to Rainbow Snippets!

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

To sample various LGBTQIA+ tales, go to…

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

Mousetrick will continue to squeak in rapture about the object of his desire in Seven Tricks

Wooden was he, keeping his arms and legs stiff and motionless in his bright red coat and green trousers. Wispy white hair stuck out of the crown on his head and square chin.

Ah, he had to be a prince of some sort. Perhaps a prince of the wooden dolls? Some of the humans kept such poppets as toys or slaves. Not much of a royal title.

Wish to see more of this romantic mouse’s musings, scampering, and other capers? Here are buy links to Seven Tricks!

Nine Star Press:  https://ninestarpress.com/product/seven-tricks/

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/seven-tricks-ks-trenten/1127424849?ean=2940158598838

Amazon:

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/seven-tricks


Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/758279