#QueerBlogWed: Protecting the Lights, Part 2

On Me Me Monday, I started an in character serialized Tale of the Shadow Forest from Leiwell’s point of view.

Today, we pick up where we left off…

 

Slender and fragile as if he were made of glass, he stood in the middle of a river of fire, a living avatar of shadow for all his shining bronze hair and luminous eyes.

What was Damian within me quickened at the sight of him. What was Leiwell trembled with possessive fury.
For in his arms, he held two infants. Within their tiny faces, their unseeing eyes and small fists were lights, the blue and green I’d once glimpsed.

No. These babies were the lights incarnate, helpless in the arms of one who had every reason to become my enemy.

“Leiwell.” The boy fixed his multicolored gaze upon me. “You’ve taken someone very precious from me.”

“Please don’t hurt them.” I fell to my knees and lowered my head. “Punish me, rip what’s Damian Ashelocke out of me. Just don’t hurt them.”

“I won’t.” Christopher held out the infants in his arms. One squirmed, reached up for him. “If anything, I want you to protect them. Can you do that, Leiwell? Can you be a brother to them?”

The squirming infant reached out his pudgy hand in my direction, feeling toward me.

“Danyel already likes you.” Christopher smiled with a hint of sadness. “He likes me, too. I fear he’ll be too ready to like everybody.”

The second baby opened his blue eyes and let out an angry cry. He reached out for his brother.

“Tayel doesn’t appear to like anyone.” Christopher lowered his eyelashes. “Born of my essence, they may return to me if they stay close. We’ll always be drawn together so I’m sending them away with you.” He lowered the babies into the fiery water.

“What are you doing?” Heedless, I dove into the fiery water. It kissed my skin in steamy bites without burning it.

I reached out and claimed Danyel, taking him into my arms. How someone as delicate as Christopher could have carried so much weight had been a mystery, until I held one of them. Danyel was as light as if he was nothing, too light. As light as one would expect fragments of a creature of shadow to be.

“Give me that baby, boy.” Map waddled past me and caught little Tayel in her thick embrace. “You know Ashleigh, Leiwell, and I will give them a good home.” She glanced over at Christopher, allowing Tayel to crawl over her.

“Why?” I murmured. “I’d think you’d want Damian back. Instead you’re giving part of yourself to me.”

“Once you’ve been shattered in the Shadow Forest, you can’t go back. You can only go on.” Christopher raised a hand to finger his own golden forelock. “Perhaps this is a way for Damian and I to continue on together. To steal a part of ourselves back from the shadows, even if we can never return home.” He spread his hand over his face, stared at me through his fingers. “Those fragments of us will find a home again through you.”

“May you never change your mind about this.” I gazed upon this boy with his heart shaped face and delicate features. How easy it would be to love him, yet he posed a threat to my new brothers by his very connection to them. “Being what you are, you’re sure to hunger for what you’ve lost.” I hugged Danyel to my chest. “If you ever try to devour them, I’ll make certain I devour you first.”

“Spoken like an overprotective brother.” Christopher let out a low laugh. “You might turn out to be very good at protecting these twins, Leiwell.”

“Indeed, he might.”

Christopher and I shuddered as if we were one person at the sound of my master’s voice.

 

 

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Me Me Monday: Protecting the Lights, Part 1

Time for another serialized backstory involving my Tales of the Navel/The Shadow Forest series. This one involves Leiwell, overprotective old brother of Danyel and Tayel, resident of the Old Cottage.

He plays a much more sinister role in Damian Ashelocke’s existence. Indeed, he wouldn’t exist if not for Damian. His character is far more dualistic as far as Christopher is concerned.

You’ll see a bit of what I mean in the story below…

I first glimpsed those delicate lights, glowing with gentle green, glittering with blue insight right after I’d come into existence.

Before that, there had only been my master.

He’s the one who named me Leiwell. Names have power, exceptional power in the Shadow Forest. My master shaped me into a boy’s form, slight and pale, using the essence of another youth to do so.

I’m never comfortable thinking about that youth. His burning rage hidden beneath a mask of submissive carelessness, the way he tried to suppress his own light within a veneer of darkness, only to release it all into the Shadow Forest. Everyone’s dreams might have caught fire if he had his way, feeding his power. Worse, he might have reshaped those dreams in his own image if I hadn’t devoured his light.

What’s left of Damian Ashelocke is more subdued, more tranquil. Much of his rage, his hunger was reborn within me. He left me with a craving for light, a very special sort of inner light. Perhaps you’d call it soul or essence.

My master believes I should indulge this craving. After all, his own was long repressed and he was fed on by others. Dyvian feels that it is our turn to do the feeding.

I’m not entirely sure if I should part of this ‘our’. Yes, seeing those delicate lights, pulsing with fragile life in the Shadow Forest kindled my hunger. This desire was tempered by a protective tenderness, one which threatened to rip and rend anything which might menace them.

No one would touch those lights. I’d protect them from everyone, including myself. Especially myself.

I was only a child back then. My master sent me to my mothers, Ashleigh and Map, to see if I could live as a human in their world on the other side of the Door.

I’ve tried to do so. I can only consume small amounts of food, in spite of Map’s attempts to get me to eat more. I remained small, pale, and fragile, never growing or changing.

Not until I was drawn back beyond the Door into the Shadow Forest.

This was when everything changed. My lights took on human form at his hands, held at his mercy.

No, not my master. His opposite. Perhaps his enemy. I’m not sure.

Christopher can be many things, including Happily Ever After. He was so precious to Damian. I half expected him to become my enemy.

What he did was change my life.

#RainbowSnippets: At Her Service

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets!

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

To read a wide variety of samples of LGBTQ+ fiction, go to…

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

Every once in a while, it’s nice to be nostalgic. I thought I’d share a little from one from one of my past publications.

Like Fairest, At Her Service was a f/f fantasy fairytale. Unlike Fairest, this story was all Cinderella.

Stroking the arch of her foot, I slid her toes into the slipper.

The flesh shivered at my touch, so it wiggled its way into the shoe’s interior.

Once it was there, I tickled her heel, so it quivered its way into the back of the slipper.

It was a service no other maid could provide. I was the only one capable of getting those glass slippers on my mistress’s feet.

It was why the Lady Ariella kept me around, even though I was a terrible servant.

Unlike many other snippets I’ve shared, At Her Service is available for sale! With buy links! It’s part of Once Upon a Rainbow 2, a Nine Star Press anthology of LGBTQ+ fairytales. Feel free to check out these links if you’re interested…

Nine Star Press: https://ninestarpress.com/product/once-upon-a-rainbow-volume-two/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Once-Upon-Rainbow-Jennifer-Cosgrove-ebook/dp/B0792JGVHH/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1517254007&sr=1-2&keywords=once+upon+a+rainbow+2

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/once-upon-a-rainbow-volume-two-jennifer-cosgrove/1127840263?ean=2940158781155

#QueerBlogWed: Paula’s Prompt, Part 2

On May 16, 2018, P.T. Wyant posted a Wednesday Words prompt at ptwyant.com, involving a bully, lace, and a fence.

This inspired a huge Tale of Omphalos, which I split into two.

Part 1 was posted last Wednesday. Danyel picks up right where he left off, freeing himself from the constriction of the lace collar…

 

“Danyel, what are you doing?” Ashleigh shot her son a scandalized glance.

“The same thing as you.” Danyel took a deep breath, reveling in his throat’s freedom. “Ah, that’s much better!”

“No, it’s not!” Juno clapped her hands to her cheeks. “Boys never untie their cravats in a lady’s presence, not in Arachnia!”

“How fortunate we’re not in Arachnia.” Leiwell undid his own tie, loosening his collar.

Not to be left in discomfort by his brothers, Tayel did the same.

“Ashleigh, stop them!” Juno wrung her plump, beringed hands. “They’re your sons. Are you going to permit them to show such a complete lack of propriety? Especially in the presence of ladies!”

“Well,” Ashleigh hemmed, fiddling with her own loose cravat with guilty fingers. “I’m not exactly in a position to lecture them, am I?”

“Come, Juno.” Leiwell lowered his thick eyelashes, offering their neighbor a coy smile. “Do you truly think we look so terrible?”

His collar opened to expose an indentation upon his slender, white throat. The coin he always wore glittered against his fair skin.

Juno gazed at his exposed flesh, mesmerized. She licked her lips.

Meggie fixed round, shining eyes upon Leiwell, nose and cheeks turning bright red.

Maggie reddened as well, only she remembered how to speak. “Not at all.” She made Leiwell a gallant little bow, similar to Ashleigh’s. “If anything, you’ve improved the look of the tunic.”

“Ah, hem, you’re an admirable model.” Meggie found her own voice again. “If I had you, I’d never want for inspiration. Ah, as a model that is.” She turned even redder. “I might not rely so much on my husband. In designing and tailoring clothes, I mean!”

Juno and Maggie grinned, nudging each other in a conspiratorial fashion, winking at Meggie’s red face.

Meggie flushed and fumbled with the ties of her own tunic. Like Maggie, she hadn’t chosen to wear her creation.

Ashleigh examined her foot, avoiding the gaze of her oldest son.

“Thank you, Meggie.” Leiwell smiled at the tailor’s wife, unruffled by all the winking, nudging, and blushing. “You honor me with your praise.”

This made Meggie blush and hem all the more.

“Did you design these lace collars yourself, Meggie?” Danyel glanced down at his loose cravat. It had been designed to knot into a tight bow. Too tight of a bow. “Or did your husband do it?”

“Ah, well, it was Gryluxx.” Meggie reached up to scratch her curly head. “I myself, ah, favoured a looser collar, but he insisted stiff and tight was better. Said there was a shortage of perfect throats in the world and the boys at the Old Cottage had all of them.” She dropped her hand, studied the hem of her skirt. “Um, he made me really want to see what the collar would look like on the three of you. “ She avoided looking directly at Leiwell. “I’m sorry. It, ah, suits you just as well open. Perhaps it should have been looser to begin with.”

“Never mind.” Ashleigh waved a hand, brushing away any possible objections. “It was very generous of you to make these lovely lace tunics for us. We all appreciate the gifts.” Silver glittered in her eyes, a silent warning to all of her sons against contradicting her. “Not that such fine garments are to be worn on just any occasion.”

“Oh, um, of course not!” Meggie shook her head in vigorous agreement. “This is just a way to thank Danyel and Tayel for all their hard work in our shop, my husband’s and mine.” She twiddled her thumbs with a bashful grin. “Not to mention everything you and, um, Leiwell have done to make us feel, err, welcome here.”

“Happy to oblige.” Ashleigh made another sweeping half bow, choosing to ignore Meggie’s shyness around her oldest son. “We strive to be good neighbors, those of us living in the Old Cottage.”

The Old Cottage. This was what their home was called by the other villagers of Omphalos who’d come later. The first cottage, which once had been the only cottage in a lonely field, outside the garden and below the hill, dwelling in the shadow of the ruined tower.

They’d been alone for so long; Map, Leiwell, Tayel and himself. Waiting for Ashleigh to return to them from the Door she’d disappeared behind. Her sons weren’t sure if she ever would.

Only Ashleigh had returned, thanks to Danyel and Tayel’s own trip beyond the Door. Eventually she’d coaxed an entire village to settle around her former home, with the help of their local lord.

Now they were expected to be good neighbors.

Not all of them had wished for neighbors. Particularly not Map, Leiwell, and Tayel. Only Danyel had wondered what it would be like, to have company. Leiwell had used every hidden power he’d possessed to keep them isolated and safe from the outside world.

Now his oldest brother was doing his best to be gracious, smiling through gritted teeth. Happily, Leiwell had almost as inexhaustible a wellspring of charm as Ashleigh herself.

Tayel and Map weren’t even bothering to try to be charming. The only reason Tayel had put on this tunic and come to the little gathering in the back of the Tipsy Hedgehog was because Danyel had.

Map had shut herself up in the cottage, avoiding the neighbors. Again. The only time she came out to mingle was to work in the garden. She kept to her herself, apart from the village community growing around them.

Map didn’t trust it or the lord responsible for it.

Considering who he was, Danyel couldn’t blame her. He glanced at the coin, dangling from a cord around both Maggie and Meggie’s neck, innocuous among the ties of their vests.

Juno’s was pinned to her bosom, a gleaming brooch.

It was identical, yet different to the one attached to the choker around Ashleigh’s neck. Not to mention the one glittering upon Leiwell’s breast.

No, there was a mystery going on with these coins and a lot to mistrust. Being a good neighbor might unravel part of this mystery.

Besides Maggie was so open and friendly while Meggie was shy and awkward, yet really trying to reach out to the residents of the Old Cottage. This was why she’d offered them the tunics.

“We’re not used to having neighbors.” He avoid the dull glitter of Meggie’s coin, forcing himself to look at her ruddy face. “We’re not sure how to act around people outside of our family.”

Meggie’s hazel eyes, muted and soft, peeked at him from under a brown curl.

Meeting her gaze eased something in his breast, letting the words come out. “We’re trying to learn.” A smile tugged at his lips, natural as drawing breath. “Please be patient with us.”

An answering smile spread across Meggie’s mouth.

More tension eased in Danyel’s shoulder and arms at her expression.

“Of course.” Maggie grinned, showing no awkwardness at all. She slung an arm over her sister’s shoulders. “None of us fit in where we lived in the outside world. That’s why we’re here.” She winked at Danyel. “To live in a place where we’re free to be ourselves.” She reached up with her free hand to finger the coin around her neck. “That’s all any of us ever wanted in Omphalos.”

Ashleigh smiled at her, glancing at Danyel. Some of silver in her irises softened.

Leiwell moved to rest his hands upon Danyel’s shoulders. Pride tingled in his slender fingers, warming Danyel’s shoulders and neck.

Only Tayel didn’t smile. He met Danyel’s gaze, his own violet blue orbs sober and serious. He shook his head in a tiny, almost imperceptible gesture.

No. They couldn’t relax their guard. No matter how friendly Maggie and Meggie seemed.

Danyel trembled, his moment of happiness quashed.

Why? Anger sparked in him. What’s wrong with enjoying our neighbors’ company? They’re here to stay, whether we trust them or not. Why not make living with them a more pleasant experience for everyone?

Tayel lowered his head, his golden hair falling forward, like a veil, separating him from his twin.

Danyel bit his lip, a lump of unshed tears swelling in his throat.

 

A Return to Grace

Grace appeared in my Blogging From AZ Project: G is for Grace at inspirationcauldon.blogspot.com.

Now she’s back, taking on a new form in a new draft of Wind Me Up, One More Time.

Here she is…

 

Grace:

Hello, I’m the first character our scribbler ever wrote about. She was only eleven at the time. Her best friend, Nathalie, gave her a journal with teddy bears all over it. Our scribbler decided her first story needed to have teddy bears in it. I met one called Ted Edward in the tale she wrote. The two of us saved a princess from a villain called Iama the Terrible.

Ours was a dreadful story. It made our scribbler quite ashamed of everyone in it, even though it was her fault. She didn’t try to improve it, not for a long time. She put the teddy bear journal away, refusing to look at it.

Only when she was published did our scribbler start thinking of her long lost characters from that story. A submission call for steampunk stories made her play with the idea of making Ted Edward Theodora Bear instead. Perhaps turning her into a clockwork bear.

This tale turned grim, dark, and very different than the story’s original concept. The draft our scribbler wrote grew out of control, becoming a complete mess.

A second look at the mess made the scribbler decide to scrap it for parts. Those parts would become a Christmas story. She’d try to return to the original concept of Theodora and I rescuing Princess Nathalie from Iama. (Yes, the scribbler named her princess after her friend. She used to do that all the time when she was a little girl, use her friends’s names for her princesses.) Only this time there’s a twist to the simple plot. Besides our scribbler doesn’t quite want to abandon the themes of growing up and rediscovering lost childhood which inspired the title. Somehow they got lost in the mess of a draft she was working on.

Here’s hoping she finds them again.

 

 

 

#RainbowSnippets: Wind Me Up, One More Time

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets!

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

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

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

These are the first six sentences of Wind Me Up, One More Time. It’s based on the very first story I ever wrote when I was eleven years old.

I’m currently trying to turn into a Christmas story for Nine Star Press. Wish me luck!

 

Nathalie used to tell me a story every Christmas, a story about how she rescued my bear.

“Far away, there’s a factory filled with cogs and gears. If you’re not careful, your spirit will be sucked into wheels, carried off on a wave of industry.” Nathalie’s voice was low and melodic, yet vibrated with unreleased possibility.

It made me hold my bear tight to my chest, sitting up straight. I found my eyes drawn to the bear she held in her lap, her earnest button eyes.

#QueerBlogWed: Paula’s Prompt

On May 16, 2018, P.T. Wyant posted a Wednesday Words prompt at ptwyant.com involving a bully, lace, and a fence.

This spawned a huge Tale of the Navel/The Shadow Forest or rather Tale of Omphalos. For this takes place in another Omphalos, different than the one Damian brought Christopher to, waiting behind another Door…

Due to the size of this story, it’s going to be broken into parts. Here’s the first…

 

Danyel tugged at the lace at his throat. It scratched his skin, a constricting collar. He peeked at Tayel, whom tried to keep his face impassive, only he kept darting his gaze down at the tight little bow at his neck, grimacing.

“Ah, don’t you both look adorable!” Juno cooed, clasping her hands together.

“They do, don’t they?” Ashleigh looked her sons up and down, entirely too pleased with herself. She wore the same tunic, only her cravat was untied, allowing her to breathe. “It’s clear they take after me.”

“Danyel and Tayel remind me of the gentle youths in a civilized land filled with gardens.” Juno pressed her hands against her lips, gray eyes moist. “The loveliest among them always dressed this way.”

“Always?” Danyel yipped, wiggling with the confines of the frilly prison. “How do they manage to bear it?”

“Like that.” Ashleigh shot a meaningful glance in the direction of her eldest.

Leiwell glided up to them, head held high, neck held at a graceful arc which emphasized the snowy lace against his fair skin. He didn’t squirm or show any sign of discomfort, breathing with perfect ease.

“Leiwell, you look so handsome!” Juno almost swooned in admiration while Maggie and Meggie gaped at him, mouths dropping.

“Ah, here I thought this tunic was a bit uncomfortable,” Meggie recovered her voice. “You wear it with such grace.”

“No question about it.” Maggie looked Leiwell up and down, admiring every inch of him. “I’m with Danyel…how do you do it?”

“By lying with elegance and a mask of serenity,” Tayel growled, shooting their older brother a sullen glance.

“No question about that.” Leiwell winked at Danyel. “I’m not comfortable in this, either.” Sweat beaded his forehead in tiny droplets. “I’m just more accustomed to keeping still.”

“How?” Danyel looked Leiwell up and down with worshipful envy. “It feels as if my own clothes were trying to strangle me.”

“Decaying fingers, scratching our skin with their tiny bones.” Tayel pointed at his own collar. “It’s letting us know it’ll never be our own.”

“Now, Tayel!” Ashleigh scolded, waving a reproving finger. “You shouldn’t speak of the lovely clothing Meggie designed for you in such a fashion.”

“Actually, that’s oddly poetic.” Meggie clapped a hand to one flushed cheek. “I have created an undead tunic.”

“You have a charitable heart.” Ashleigh laid a hand upon her own.

“Which we appreciate, in spite of our reaction.” Leiwell offered Meggie a charming smile and a half bow.

“You’re even stupider than I thought if you do.”

Everyone turned toward the fence separating Juno’s garden from the flowers, trees, and tables outside the Tipsy Hedgehog. Danyel swallowed an uncomfortable lump in his throat at the sight at the bulbous nose peeking over the pence.

Thomas looked down at them all, thick lips curled into a sneer. “Lace is ridiculous on a boy.” He darted malicious gray eyes in Leiwell’s direction. “Making it perfect for girly boys like Leiwell and the twins.” He snickered. “Why don’t you put on some ruffled skirts? Maybe add a little rouge to your cheeks?”

“What’s so funny about it?” Danyel asked, not understanding Thomas or what he was talking about.

“A little lesson about girly boys.” Leiwell smiled, narrowing his eyes. “Rosebuds coming into full flower have sharp thorns.” He took a step toward Thomas, his shadow creeping forward to loom over the fence.

“Mother!” Thomas squealed, darting a terrified glance at Juno. “Are you going to let him bully me?”

“He’s not the one you have to worry about.”

Thomas didn’t have time to do more than squawk when Maggie hauled him up by the scruff of the neck.

Only to reveal that, he, too wore the same tight lace shirt with ruffles, a collar fastened with a cravat tied in a puffy bow.

“Hah, Thomas, you must not dislike our tunics too much!” Meggie blinked in the direction of the spluttering boy. “You’re wearing it yourself.”

“Shut up!” Thomas pointed a stubby finger at Juno. “She forced me to!”

“Why don’t you join us, Thomas?” Maggie smiled with friendly malevolence at the boy in her grip.

“Since we’re all wearing the same tunic,” Leiwell added with a grin.

“Oh, Thomas, dear!” Juno tittered, a bit embarassed. “You look even more uncomfortable than the twins! I truly hoped to pretty you up a teensy bit.”

“Like that would ever work, you stupid cow!” Thomas struggled, tried to bite Maggie’s hand.

Maggie let go.

Thomas fell on the other side of the fence. Everyone could hear him spluttering and cursing.

“This outfit is stupid, hideous, girly, and wrong! No real man would wear it!”

“Ah, no, I wouldn’t say it’s hideous,” Meggie protested. “It does, ah, suit Ashleigh’s sons a bit better than you, Thomas.”

“Well, of course it does, you fat idiot!” Thomas kicked the fence, making it vibrate. No one saw it, although Danyel felt the wood quivering with the blow. “Unlike those fairies, I’m a real boy.”

“I doubt that.” Leiwell spoke in a soft manner, yet the conviction of his words carried in the air. “No one living in Omphalos is completely real. Not even you.”

“What would know about that?” Thomas banged against the fence once more for good measure. “You’re all stupid and ugly!”

With those words, Thomas stomped away, making as much noise as possible.

“Boys are such savages unless something is done to curb that ugly masculine urge to bully others.” Juno clucked her tongue in disapproval, only to remember there were three boys present. “Not that I see any sign of such violence in any of you, oh, no!” She tittered, an uneasy warble. “You’re a credit to mothers everywhere, Ashleigh.”

“I can’t really take any credit.” Ashleigh raised a mug filled with ale. “It was all Map’s doing, bless her steady ways.”

“Indeed.” Maggie raised her own mug to clink it against Ashleigh. “Where is your wife, by the way? I was hoping she’d join us.”

“Map was ill at ease in the tunic, I fear.” Ashleigh made an apologetic half bow to Meggie. “She feared she’d shame your work, if she attempted to wear it.”

“Well, I won’t wear it either.” Maggie glanced down at her loose shirt and laced vest, which was much closer to what Danyel and Tayel usually wore. “It’s just not me.”

“It’s not us, either.” Danyel raised a hand to finger his cravat.

No, it wasn’t. Why should he, Tayel, or Leiwell pretend to be something they weren’t?

He began to untie the bow, loosening the collar.