Conversations with Christopher: Peter

Troubled by Paul and Hebe’s words about Peter, Christopher walks into ever-darkening mist, sensing his own desires are guiding him as much as the Cauldron’s next guest’s. 

The darkness doesn’t abate. He finds himself in an enclosed space yet space is all around him, filled with rows of seats and a stage standing before him. 

Lights illuminate the theatre, the single wall of crimson damask which forms the set. Peter paces in front of it, wearing a high-necked yellow shirt, a loose cravat, a red waistcoat, and matching breeches. He pauses next to a marble bust of man wtih a stern, frowning face. 

Christopher stops in the middle of the aisle, looking across the empty theatre. There’s no one here, but Peter and himself. 

Christopher: That’s a new look for you.

Peter: (not looking at him) I was trying to figure out what to say to you. Trying to rehearse the words as if they were lines in a play. Behold! (He spreads his arms wide and does a little spin.) I found myself here, on stage! (He pats the bust upon the head.) Quite the amusing little turn of the surreal, isn’t it, you old rogue?

Christopher gives the bust a wary look. You never know who or what might speak in the Cauldron.

The bust remains silent, all dour frowns. That doesn’t mean it…or he…isn’t listening.

Christopher takes a seat in the front row. 

Christopher: Who’s that? (waving at the bust)

Peter: A liar. Or a historian. (He shrugs.) For Suetonian, they were one and the same. It wasn’t about painting an accurate picture of the past for this particular record-keeper. It was about telling an entertaining tale which would be passed from listener to listener. Embellishments were welcome, especially if they suited his needs. 

Christopher: Why is he here?

Peter: Old Suetonian? (He let out a strained giggle.) Strange to hear myself speak of him thus. How I admired him when I was younger! Paul thought I was mad to do so. Now he’s nothing more than a prop, a reminder of my own compulsion to tell a pleasing tale with only enough truth to make it nourishing. 

Christopher: Is that what you want to tell me, Peter? A pleasing tale?

Peter: Someone has to do it. I’m sure Paul won’t. 

Christopher: He’s worried about you. Worried about what he might do to you, what he might have done. 

Peter: (letting out another strained chuckle) A little late for that. 

Christopher: He’s also worried about what I might do to you.

Peter: What you might do to me? (He throws his head back and laughs.) 

Christopher: (flushing) He’s right. At least he is about me. I have a bad feeling he’s right about himself, too. 

Peter: The shadow and the hunter, oh no! (He raises a hand in a mocking gesture of stage fear and swooning.) 

Christopher: It’s true. 

Peter: Oh, yes, it’s so truthfully one side of the truth! (He paces across the stage and make a turn.) If there’s one thing you and Paul have in common, it’s a tendency to shy away from everyone else out of fear of how scary you are. I’ve never been scared of you. Either of you. 

Christopher: Maybe you should be. 

Peter: And maybe there’s a gentleness, a vulnerability in both of you you’re unaware of. A certain tenderness that puts you in as much danger from me. 

Christopher: Is that what you think?

Peter: I’m the one that lures you into Once Upon a Time’s mouth.

Christopher: I have a bad feeling that was a spoiler. 

Peter: He’s the beginning of all stories so it should be expected. Stories involve conflict, even outright hell. Hell has at times been a mouth. Why shouldn’t Once Upon a Time, everyone’s beginning be a mouth ready to swallow them?

Christopher: It’s a frightening image. I much prefer to think of Once Upon a Time as a Door opening to a path which takes us where we wish to go. Even if it’s the wrong path. 

Peter: That, too. It’s all metaphor, only metaphor, yet metaphor means more than anyone realizes until it’s too late. 

Christopher: (sighs) I’m afraid that’s true.

Peter: (pacing back until he returns to Suetonian) All my lies are true. Unlike this old fellow. (He pats the bust on the head.)

Christopher: (smiles, shaking his head) There you go again. Distracting me from your contradictory words with a joke. 

Peter: My dear Christopher, I’ve never met a more contradictory child than you. (He makes a sweeping bow to his audience of one.) Everything you do is a contradiction. 

Christopher: (frowning) How so?

Peter: You feed on the living, you feed on other shadows. You feed on life, vitality, passion, memory, and thought. All the while you scheme to give those things back. 

Christopher: Scheme?

Peter: Carrying the stone, the egg, giving life to those delectable twins. That was quite the mythological scheme worthy of an old god. Or godling. 

Christopher: (squirming uncomfortably in his seat) Not my scheme alone. 

Peter: No, it was quite collaborative. You helped a lot of half-empty people achieve their own dreams, get at least a piece of them back in the process. Stealing Myself From Shadows, indeed! 

Christopher: (straightening his shoulders) Perhaps I define myself differently than you do. 

Peter: Don’t be so sure of that. We were were both happy in the Navel, giving people what they didn’t even want back. 

Christopher: Are you saying you’re like me?

Peter: Yes and no. I’m not sure if I’d give as generously as you, although I may have to be brave enough to try. 

Christopher: Why?

Peter: For my wish to be granted. Like I said, you were entirely too generous, but I want more. 

Christopher: Generous? I don’t remember giving you what you wanted. 

Peter: Yes, you did. You and Paul are alike in this as well. You’re willing to give away everything you have, everything you are, yet you’re hungry void ready to swallow everything

Christopher: Which is why we’re dangerous to you, no matter how gentle or generous you believe us to be. 

Peter: No matter how gentle, generous, or hungry you might be, you’re no match for me. 

Christopher: What do you mean?

Peter: I was happier than I’ve ever been in my life with Paul. The closest I’ve come to that happiness was with you. At the same time I wasn’t satisfied. 

Christopher: Why not?

Peter: (taking a deep breath, pausing center stage) I want to make everyone happy. I want to make everyone love and worship me. 

Christopher: (sighed) I’ve tried making everyone happy. Or perhaps I’m going to try making everyone happy. I’m not happy with my chances of success. 

Peter: Neither am I, but it’s what I want. No matter how small my chances of success are. 

(To be continued) 

Conversations with Christopher: Dyvian Part 4

Doomed. Blessed. Grow. Change. Dyvian’s words linger in the air, echoed by other voices lost in the spray. Christopher can hear Danyel and Tayel’s among them. Damian, too. 

If he listens hard enough, he can hear any voice he wishes to. 

Dyvian rips a foot free of the earth. Spectral briars writhe around his foot, only to vanish. 

Dyvian: Yes, I, too, am both doomed and blessed. (He smiles a savage smile.) I, too, have been forced to change and grow. 

He raises a finger to point it at the waterfall. 

A heavy chill fills the air, gripping everything, but it’s aimed at the cascade. The rush of water slows, stills, grows silent. It sparkles with a pale blue light. A luminscent green spreads across the stillness. The frozen fall becomes opaque as stone. 

The luminescence spreads with tiny hands to the black and white tower on either side. Becoming a bridge that connects them. Forming a wall which invades them. The searing green spreads through the darkness, silencing the screams caught in the ebon rock. It sullies the white stone, stealing its sparkle, replacing it with its own light. 

Christopher: Why did you do that?

Dyvian: Do you really think this was my doing entirely? Just because I pointed a finger?

The opaque light glows, changing the shape of the towers, of what was a waterfall. Light and mist pulse in a cocoon of creation. 

Dyvian lowers his hand. The cocoon falls in glowing strands which take on spider forms and disappear. 

One great tower stands where there were two. Bony fingers reach out of the top, forming a spiky crown, clawing for the sky. 

Christopher: Why must it always have a crown?

Dyvian: It’s a tower’s nature to reach for the heavens. Just as it’s the heavens’s nature to strike the tower down.

The sky overhead darkens in response to Dyvian’s words. 

Christopher: For reaching too high? Or for getting too close?

Dyvian: Yes.

The sky rumbles. 

Christopher: (looking up) Just who are you challenging? Map? Or Jupitre?

Dyvian: Why would I challenge the fallen king of the heavens? The power above was never his.

Christopher: Who’s making the sky rumble? 

Dyvian: Whomever ever feels threatened. Anyone can call down the wrath of the heavens. It’s a lot harder to rebuild than to destory. 

A tear gleams in the corner of Dyvian’s eye as he gazes at the light flashing in the sky. 

Christopher: You know who it is, but you don’t want to say. 

Dyvian: Towers are traps. They lure us into a state fo security, satisfy our craving for stability, especially the foundations. It’s never enough, just to feel secure. We have to keep going up, see how far we can go. 

Christopher: Does this tower satisfy your craving for stability? Or does it represent someone else’s?

Dyvian: (glancing over at Christopher) Spoilers, my dear. 

Mist rises around the man on the bank of the river, a river which stands between him and the tower. Dyvian gathers the mist around himself, throwing it over his shoulders as if it was a cloak. When he does, he disappears. 

Christopher remains on the bank, gazing at the space where Dyvian was before returning his attention to the tower. 

It continues to gleam under a growling sky. 

Conversations with Christopher: Quartz

Christopher marched across the empty field, mist rising beneath his feet. Ahead he could see the garden, his garden and Damian’s. Only the gate was gone. Nothing but the tall foxglove formed any kind of barrier between him and the flowers ahead. 

Christopher: Not that the gate ever was a barrier. It opened easily. 

Quartz: Wait up!

There is a stomp of heavy boots behind Christopher, following by a dwarf muttering in his beard. 

Quartz: Nasty look in the darkling glass, that woman. 

Christopher: You mean Map?

Quartz: Right. Thought I was suspicious of the outside world. Maybe even buried my head in the rocks from time to time. Got nothing on that Map of yours. 

Christopher: Why is she my Map?

Quartz: Mighty defensive of you, she is. Even if she’s pretending she’s not. 

Christopher: She threw me out of the cottage. 

Quartz: Aye, as she did me when I said something she didn’t like. Get the feeling she does that to a lot of people. 

Christopher: I’m not sure how that led you to believe she was fond of me. 

Quartz: Maybe she threw you out of her home for your own good?

Christopher: Or for her own good and her family’s.

Quartz: Aye, her family. (snorts) Not too impressed with her ways of protecting them. 

Christopher: What do you mean?

Quartz: She’s letting this lord who’s not really a lord have his way with one of her boys. Says the lad is willing. Hmph! She could do better than that. 

Christopher: I’m guessing the lord is Dyvian and the lad is Leiwell. 

Quartz: Didn’t mention the lord’s name, but yes, the lad was Leiwell. Know them, do you?

Christopher: (bares his teeth in what might have ben a smile) Oh, yes. I’ve had that pleasure. I’m having it the draft of Stealing Myself From Shadows our scribbler is writing. 

Quartz: Sounds like it’s anything but a pleasure.

Christopher: It was for Dyvian and Leiwell. Less so for Damian and myself. No, I can’t say it’s been all that pleasurable for them. Even so, I find it hard to forgive them.

Quartz: Right. You’re as fond of them as I am of Oriana in Fairest and Of Cuckoo Clocks and Crystal Coffins

Christopher: I understand why they did what they did. You get hungry in the Shadow Forest, especially if you’ve lost yourself. Or if you’ve just come into being. 

Quartz: Like you did. 

Christopher: Yes, like I did. Someone reaches out to you, offering you warmth, affection, a place, maybe even a person. It’s hard not to latch onto them, draining every drop of what they offer. Maybe even going beyond that. 

Quartz: Like you did?

Christopher: I controlled myself like I never have with Damian. They didn’t. Dyvian and Lewiell were waiting for us in the Shadow Forest. 

Quartz: Meaning you and Damian?

Christopher: And Peter. You should have him visit you for Secondary Characters Speak Out. 

Quartz: Not sure if he’s a secondary character. 

Christopher: I’m not sure if he is either. I’m not sure what Peter is. I’m not sure where he is.

Quartz: He was at the Navel, right?

Christopher: As was I. As was Damian. Until Doors opened for us into the Shadow Forest where Dyvian and Leiwell were waiting. 

Quartz: Sounds sinister. This is what the scribbler is working on right now, right?

Christopher: In Stealing Myself From Shadows. Right. I fear if I say any more it will be a spoiler. 

Quartz: Aye, the scribbler can be careless if we don’t stop her. Best let her get back to your story, so she can get back to my story.

Christopher: I was wondering when you were going to bring that up. 

Paula’s Prompts: Tales of the Navel

On January 19, 2022, P.T. Wyant posted a Wednesday Words prompt involving scissors, a waterfall, and a house on the hill.

The freebie Tale of the Navel from Peter’s perspective was the result.

The two blades clipped the long strands of silvery-white hair. The cat and the dog grinned at each other from each blade they were engraved upon, watching each lock fall glistening to the ground. 

Peter caught one in his hand before it could hit the grass, glancing over at the spray rising from the casade of water nearby.

“Don’t pout, Dyvian,” the dark-haired young man wielding the shears said to the former owner of the silvery hairs sitting in front of him. “You’re no longer a blossom of the Gardens of Arachne, nor my kept boy. You’re Lord Dyvian Ashelocke. Leiwell’s lord has no need of such long hair, does he?”

“You were Lord Ashelocke once.” Lord Dyvian Ashelocke shot a critical eye as cold and crystaline as a glacier at the one with the sheers. “Lord Stefan Ashelocke, yet here you are, cutting my hair. If you’re even here.”

“Excuse me,” Peter ventured, taking a step toward them. “Where is here?”

“My secret place for secret trysts.” The dark-haired hairdresser, Lord Stefan Ashelocke? offered Peter a toothy grin. “At the base of the waterfall below the house on the hill.”

“Now, Master,” Dyvian chided. “It’s not just a house on the hill. It’s the Temple of Seraphix where Seraphix’s Sisterhood retreats from the world. 

“To me, it’s just another house on the hill.” Dyvian’s master shrugged. “No matter what monsters choose to hide in it.”

“A monstrous Sisterhood?” Peter asked with some lightness, unsure if he would be taken seriously. 

“A Sisterhood of failed monsters,” Stefan replied, eyes glinting. “Until they awaken.”

“You’re so intolerant.” Dyvian closed his eyes. “I intend to build Seraphix’s temple upon a hill myself.”

“You would.” Stefan rolled his eyes before clipping another lock. “Why worship a god or some other entity when you can be master yourself?”

“To share power rather than horde it,” Dyvian retorted. “It’s a good idea. It may keep the power from corrupting us.”

“We’ll see just how good your other Followers are at sharing,” Stefan scoffed. “Not to mention yourself.”

“I’m willing to share.” Dyvian frowned a bit. “I’m more than willing to worship another.”

“You want to keep Leiwell and his family to yourself.” Stefan clipped another lock. “Just as I wanted to keep you and Duessa to myself. Just as Duessa wants to keep Damian to herself.”

“You know Duessa and Damian?” Peter asked with some wariness, glancing from the dark-haired hairdresser to Dyvian, trying not show his interest and antipathy. 

“I ought to.” The dark-haired man grinned. “I’m married to one and the father of the other.” 

“And I’m Duessa’s adopted brother which makes me Damian’s uncle.” The silver-haired man turned a mesmerizing ice blue eye upon Peter. “You ought to know me. I’m the one who sent you to Omphalos. I’m currently directing you toward your destiny.”

“What?” Peter rolled over in bed, aware he was in bed, dreaming, yet still speaking to these two beautiful men. “What destiny is that?”

“Divinity.” Dyvian offered him another bewitching smile. “I’ll make it so Paul and Christopher can no longer resist you. I’ll introduce to that little green flame and cool gust of blue you’ve been seeing.”

“How?” Peter demanded, sitting up in bed, but it was too late. The vision was gone. He could still hear water falling, but it was on the other side of the screen door of his bedroom in Gabrielle’s sanctum. It wasn’t really there.

He sighed, lying back to ask the ceiling. “Why do I always wake up just when my dreams are getting interesting?”

The ceiling did not answer. 

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#QueerBlogWed: A Tale of the Navel

On October 27, 2021, P.T. Wyant posted a Wednesday Words prompt involving a flickering light, a dream, dried herbs.

This Tale of the Navel was the result…

Sometimes the flickering light was green, sometimes it was blue. It fluttered in his hands, pulsing in his palms, warming him.

Nothing made Leiwell feel more tender and protective than the light. Dreaming of it effected him as much as the visions of his master. 

He’d awaken, breathe in the scent of dried herbs, hear Map humming under her breath through the cottage wall. 

Those smells and sounds grounded him in the here and now, reassuring him. There was no need to chase after the light. No need to go looking for his master. Map was here. She needed him. Sooner or later the light and his master would both find him. 

He was content to wait here in this cottage. With Map. 

For now Leiwell would be content to dream. It wouldn’t last. Dreams gave way to waking reality or they drew you back in. 

He would enjoy the state he was in, this flesh and blood form for as long as he could. For as long as others needed him to wear it. 

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Conversations with Christopher: Gabrielle Part 1

Christopher walks through the mists of the Cauldron, waiting for them to part. Waiting to see what they’ll reveal to him. 

Wispy tendrils of gray creep away from a familiar cobblestone path leading through Omphalos. On either side are cottages, quaint structures with pointed roofs. One of these structures has a swinging sign over the door, painted with an image of a flat stomach and a belly button.

Christopher: (stopping under the sign) The Navel. Center of all things bizarre. Quite a boast, to claim all bizarre things.

He glanced at the window. A muscular human statue with the head of a chicken lowers their beak menacingly at him. 

Christopher: Perhaps ‘Brie wants to talk to me. 

He opened the door of the dwelling. He enters the darker interior of a shop filled with shelves covered with crystals, candles, boxes, skulls, cups, and statues of squat smiling humanoids among stranger items. Racks of bright-colors robes are tucked away in another corner. 

Christopher almost stumbled down the slight slope into the shop which replaced the stairs.

Gabrielle: Welcome to the Navel, center of all things bizarre. (She says her usual greeting, but not with the usual boisterous enthusiasm. She’s too busy searching the shelves in a bustle of skirts and clattering shells.) For the sanity of me, I cannot find my sense of humor! Help me search for it? It’s got to be around here somewhere.

Christopher: Your sense of humor? 

He approaches the woman who’s become his mother, who accepted him into her home and Place of Power as her son. Her request isn’t nearly as odd as it might be to a lot of people. Lost memories, wayward ideas, and forgotten dreams find their way into the Navel, manifesting as cups, skulls, or statues. Why not a sense of humor?

What’s stranger is that Gabrielle should lose hers. She’s always smiling or laughing. From the time Christopher first met her, she’s had a strong sense of the wacky. 

Take those chicken-headed gods similar to the ones in the window. They’re taking up an entire shelf. Some are made of porcelain. Some are made of metal. Some of models made with actual chicken feathers. They all have human male torsos and the heads of hens. 

Inspired by the sight of them, Christopher heads to the shelf where those gods await. 

Christopher: It wouldn’t happen to be here, by any chance? Your sense of humor?

Gabrielle turns to glance at the deities only she seems to appreciate. A smile starts to brighten up her face, lifting the lines from it. 

Gabrielle: You might say so, yes. How those chickens annoyed Damian! Almost as much as the chicken representations her father collected annoyed our scribbler. Only her father was trying to be Country French. I collected these in an attempt to protect Damian with a joke. 

Christopher: Protect him? How?

Gabrielle: Well, chickens have been known to gobble up spiders along with insects and worms. One could consider an arachnocrat a type of spider. 

Christopher: The Lady Duessa seemed more amused and scornful at the sight of them along with everything else in the Navel than afraid.

Gabrielle: That was Duessa. She wasn’t the only arachnocrat that wanted Damian. Others might come calling. These deities could be a form of protection.

Christopher: I’m not sure if they ever protected Damian or me. They seemed as eager to get us as any other arachnocrat. 

Gabrielle: Maybe I should get rid of them. (She gives the chicken gods a sad look.) No one seems to like them other than me. 

Christopher: (waves a hand in protest) Don’t worry about. I’ve grown accustomed to them. They’re part of what makes the Navel bizarre. 

Gabrielle: They are, aren’t they? (She perks up a bit.) They still make me smile, but no. They’re not what I’m looking for.

Christopher: We’ll keep looking. 

(To be continued next Monday…) 

T is for Troile

I was inspired by a mythological character named Troilus, but mine is a different tale to tell. I have another name in Aissa and Polyxena. When I don skirts and the guise of a woman, I become Polyxena of Troy. 

Does this shock you? Polyxena has become a Trojan princess of legends Achilles achieved as much passion for as he did her brother, Troilus. I have a secret to reveal, they’re both me. 

This secret dawned upon the scribbler when she realized Polyxena wasn’t in The Iliad. My Achaen, my mightiest of the Achaens, my Achille had another reason for withdrawing from the Trojan war, another motive for picking a fight with Agamemnon. It was me. Cressida or Briseis was the one who transformed me into Polyxena, dressing me as a woman so Achille and I could meet. 

You might say the contradictions in mythology inspired my story along with Achille’s. Our scribbler looked between those contradictions and found our story. Found how Ganymede, former prince of Troy and cupbearer of the gods sent me to the Isle of Scyros so Achille and I could meet. He himself was there in skirts, pretending to be Aissa. It was a disguise which wasn’t to last, but it inspired my own as Polyxena. 

Love in skirts, how different his feelings for me were than those he held for Patrocles! Not that the latter weren’t strong. I saw a very different side, a soft side of Achille, a side which perhaps playing Aissa brought out of him? For donning skirts and putting aside our manhood taught us things we might never have learned otherwise, bringing us close together. Even if we did clash with swords at the end. 

Only this is a tale waiting to be revised and told by our scribbler. May she finally find the time to tell it, of what truly happened between us. May our feelings finally be vindicated within this tale. I pray to the gods it shall be so. 

O is for Ouroborous

We came with Tarot imagery into the scribbler’s imagination. We were always there, the world that her characters struggled against each other within. The idea that we might be the world itself, the voice and soul of the world bubbled to the surface of the scribbler’s imagination during this very Blogging From AZ April Project, the first time she took part in it. 

Thus Ouroborous, the World Serpent was born. Thus World of Ouroborous along with us were born. 

We are what Nevalyn yearns to be, the Dragon a clerical order formed to worship. Our followers strive to keep the light from withering the world, even as we stop ourselves from swallowing it, plunging it into darkness. We are the Unicorn’s temptation, that which she’d rather trample and gore than accept and embrace. We were the reason she could not stay pure. We are what she blames for the impurity in others. 

All of these ideas simmered in the scribbler’s imagination for years. They came to a boil here during the Blogging From AZ April Project. We’ve been here for ages, yet we were born here. It’s a paradox we’re well aware of and amused by. Paradoxes too often amuse us. 

#RainbowSnippets: A Symposium in Space

Happy Easter to all who celebrate it!

It’s also time for Rainbow Snippets, six sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction posted on our blogs. After considering what to share, I decided to continue with A Symposium in Space. After all, Agathea’s orb is sort of like an Easter egg. Sort of. 🙂

A sly tone laced with humor emitted from the mechanical device. 

I wondered if Agathea had given it her voice. What projected from the orb was such a caressing, sensual tone. It rivaled Pausania’s own for the levels of malice it could deliver, wrapped in a disguise of courtesy. I wasn’t used to this level of complexity in a simple communicator, but I was behind the times. Or so Pausania kept telling me. 

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L is for ‘Lyssa

I’ve always been the dark seductress for idealistic girls willing to let me inspire them and drain them. I was this in Amberwyne’s past when I first emerged from the scribbler’s imagination into a roleplaying game. 

Fidessa supplanted me in this. First at The Keep where she took Amberwyne from me. ‘Dessa decided to keep her in The Players Are the Thing, as if she could. Not even I could keep Amber, but she’s welcome to try. I’ll be laughing at her whenever I catch a glimpse of her in whatever magic mirror peers beyond the fourth wall of whatever tower she’s brooding and obsessing over Amber within. 

No. I’ve found far more willing prey within Tales of the Navel. Myself. 

Does that shock you? Surely preying upon one’s self is less reprehensible than preying upon others. It’s not as if Melyssa Ashelocke isn’t willing. She summoned me forth when she bound herself to Seraphix, leaving behind her mother and the arachnocrats. I was born from her own wish, her desire to drain and feast upon not the tender blossoms of the Gardens of Arachne, but the predatory ladies feeding upon them. 

Surely that’s not reprehensible either. It’s simply part of a monstrous food chain, not that Melyssa needs any justication for her hunger. Nor for nursing me within her heart. 

Not when she’s with me. Never when she’s me. I’m part of her she wishes to be, even if she fears me. Or feels ashamed of me. I simply must overcome that fear and shame so we can become one with Seraphix. So we can become ourselves. 

There’s nothing to be ashamed of in such a desire.