Secondary Characters Speak Out: Map

A hooded figure in black robes stumbles into a clearing in the woods. Sunshine falls upon the crystal coffin in the center of the clearing. 

The figure throws back her hood, revealing a weary, wrinkled brown face like the bark of an ancient tree. Wild, graying black hair escapes in strands from the tight knot at the back of her neck.

She moves toward the crystal coffin. A stocky, thick figure can be seen through the opaque barrier of rock, a figure with a graying black beard, dressed in a burgundy waistcoat, a jacket, and trousers, still wearing his boots even though he’s laying down with his thick hands folded on his breast. 

She stops right in front of the coffin, close enough to touch it, but she doesn’t. She gazes right down at the sleeping dwarf’s red cheeks, his whiskered face. 

His eyes open. They are dark, yet flecked with hints of color like many a stone hiddn in the earth. 

Quartz: (lips not moving, but his voice can be heard) You’re not my princess. Not my kobold, neither. Map, wasn’t it?

Map: (for it is she) Hmmph. Looks like I get to be your blog guest again. Lucky me.

Quartz: Hmph yourself. As if you were a secondary character. 

Map: I might say the same about you. Lying in a coffin as if you were dead.

Quartz: Not my idea. Blame the scribbler.

Map: Often. 

Me: (while typing these words on the screen) Hey! (glares at Map’s words)

Map: (gazing from the coffin out, as if she was on TV and I was watching her) Why not call her out on it? Secondary characters don’t stay dead in her worlds. 

Quartz: Right. Got something against secondary characters? Dead ones in particular?

Map: I just said. They keep coming back to life.

Quartz: Good for them. Maybe I should have them as guests. Think I might have had one already, but we should talk more. Share ideas for haunting the main characters. 

Map: I’m not a main character. Why do you want to haunt them anyway?

Quartz: Don’t you? Especially the ones you’d really like to talk to, but your story arc isn’t giving you a chance to?

Map: Well…(Map squrms a bit.)…I haven’t given up hope I won’t have to haunt them. That they’ll want to talk to me, too. 

Quartz: Right. Which is why you’re skulking around my coffin, wearing that face. 

Map: What’s wrong with this face? (She touches her own wrinkles as if only becoming aware of them.)

Quartz: Nothing. Sure it’s perfectly fine as human faces go, but it’s not your true one. 

Map: How in Seraphix’s madness would you know that?

Quartz: See things since sleeping under this curse. Maybe it’s the crystal. Maybe your disguise is slipping. 

Map: (drawing herself up) You think I’m disguising myself?

Quartz: Aren’t you?

Map backs up a step. She draws her hood over her head, crouches down in a huddled dark shape. The shape grows, expanding. 

The rough weave of her cloth hood transforms into a velvety membrane. A wing, wings like those of a bat or a raptor. She spreads her wings, revealing a lean dark torso, the body and claws of a lion. The wrinkles have vanished from her face, leaving it a smooth ebon like the surface of an opal. Neat plaits of braided hair fall to her shoulders from a silver circlet around her forehead, as silver as the light shining from eyes as dark and gleaming as a cosmos of stars. 

The sphinx leaps forward to pounce upon the coffin. She peers at the dwarf’s face. 

Map: (for it is still Map’s voice even if it’s stronger and clearer than before) Tell me, Quartz. Is this my true face? Or just the one you hoped I’d show you?

Quartz: Never guessed you’d look like this, but it’s less of a mask than your other face.

Map: Less of a mask, not my true face. Is that what you’re saying?

Quartz: Maybe asking you to show your true face is too much. Truth may get muddled. Lost in memory. Like a picture you keep on a shelf. You try to dust it, keep it clean, so you can see it, but the dust keeps returning. Maybe truth is like that. You try to keep it clear in your head, but memory and feeling keep getting it dusty. 

Map: You compare memory and feeling to dust? Are these things you feel should be cleared away?

Quartz: Never, but they can get the truth dusty. Just like they make it hard to see your true face.

Map: Not a bad answer, Quartz. A good thing because I was getting hungry. 

Quartz: So the legends are true. Your kind eats those who won’t answer their riddles. Or their questions. 

Map: I cannot speak for my kind, Quartz. I’ve met women who had the potential to become like me, but most of them died before they found their wings or claws. 

Quartz: Women, not sphinx?

Map: I was a woman once. Education, knowledge, and a specific sort of angry hunger shaped me, giving me centuries beyond most women’s lives. I’d hoped to encourage others to become like me, but they weren’t stronger than their anger. Or mine. 

Quartz: Right. These wouldn’t be those secondary characters haunting you?

Map: (wingtips trembling) I thought I’d killed them when they failed me, turning on me. I thought I’d fed them to another monster. Only he brought them back to life in human form. If they were ever truly dead in the first place. 

Quartz: So you never met another sphinx like yourself?

Map: Like myself, no, but I have met another sphinx. She was very different. I thought I’d find her here, sleeping in your coffin in human form. 

Quartz: Huh. Another woman has slept in this coffin, though she wasn’t a sphinx.

Map: And now you’re there. Sleeping yet not sleeping. 

Quartz: Blame the scribbler. She has yet to get back to me. 

Map: Has she, now?

Quartz: Don’t gloat over all the time you’ve gotten with her, woman. 

Map: I’m not gloating. She hasn’t spent that much time with me. Secondary character, remember?

Quartz: Right. If you’re a secondary character, I’m a Person of Interest.

Nimmie Not: (voice coming out of nowhere) You are!

Map: (glancing around at the sound) I see. I wonder now if you’re truly cursed rather than simply the subject of…attention. 

Quartz: Oh, I’m cursed. Absorbed it, you see, from this poor crystal. It needed cleansing after healing the girl who slept within it. 

Map: (peering at the stone) You’ve trapped yourself, trying to cleanse it. 

Quartz: Stop trying to riddle spoilers out of me. As you can see, your sister sphinx isn’t here. 

Map: She wasn’t my sister. She was my companion, the love of my life. She might have become my wife if I hadn’t let her go. 

Quartz: You didn’t curse her, did you? That’s why I put my girl in this coffin to begin with. To have the crystal draw the curse from her. 

Map: No, I didn’t curse her, even though I was angry and hurt. She may have cursed herself. 

Quartz: Sounds like you’re not sure.

Map: She carried her past like a burden, giving into destructive impulses until she shed her former self.

Quartz: Did that help?

Map: It did and it didn’t. She became a new person, but she discovered a new compulsion. 

Quartz: Right. Not sure how much she changed. 

Map: She left me before we could find out. 

Quartz: Why’d she leave?

Map: To follow her compusion. To open Doors. To discover new worlds, her own power, but I felt compelled to stay as much as she did to go. To take care of what she left behind.

Quartz: What did she leave behind?

Map: Children. At least I thought they were hers. Two of them looked very much like her. 

Quartz: Right. Whose were they?

Map: Does it matter? (She extendd her claws.) They’re mine now. Mine and Ashleigh’s.

Quartz: Ashleigh. If that’s the other sphinx, I think I’ve met her. Curious name for a sphinx. 

Map: Enough. Answering your questions, correcting your flawed statements is making me hungry. Only being answered satisfies me. 

Quartz: Are you often satisfied? 

Map: No. 

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#RainbowSnippets: Stealing Myself From Shadows

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+.

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For my own, Christopher enters the Navel, once again noticing how different this place is than the Shadow Forest in Stealing Myself From Shadows

 

I crossed the threshold, spotting the wind chimes dangling on the other side of the door. A memory of similar hollow cylinders hanging like flowers tinkled in time for a moment. 

    I blinked, enjoying the sound, allowing my eyes to adjust to the darkness. For a moment I thought the shadows of the store would overwhelm me, but I was no longer on the other side. The darkness was no longer alive and hungry. It was simply an absence of light.

     Damian touched my shoulder, guiding me away from a shelf I was about to walk into. Even in natural darkness, he gleamed, his fair skin providing a little illumination. Did he appear like this to everyone or just me?

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#QueerBlogWed: Just a Dream

On June 8, P.T. Wyant posted at ptwyant.com a Wednesday Words prompt involving beans, a gate falling of its hinges and a star.

This Tale of the Navel, Tale of Omphalos, a freebie story for The Hand and the Eye of the Tower was the result…

The beans had climed over a gate falling off its hinges. 

As long as I’d been in Omphalos, that gate had been in a state in disrepair. Never more so now. 

“Does anyone ever harvest those beans?” I didn’t look at my companion. Instead I stared at the star in the sky. 

It shone with a reproachful brightness which reminded me of Tayel’s eyes. How aggrieved he’d be if he knew I was sneaking around with his precious twin. Even if it was just in a dream. 

“Map gathers them. She makes a soup or a stew with these beans.” I could hear the slight hitch in Danyel’s breath, feel his shy gaze. “She doesn’t like to use meat.”

“No, she doesn’t.” I let out a sigh, imagining Map’s furrowed brow at the notion of any living creature having to die to feed another. “She will, though.”

Just because she didn’t like to eat meat didn’t mean she wouldn’t eat it. Or try to feed it to others. 

“Christopher.” Danyel’s small hand tugged at mine. “I’m dreaming of you, aren’t I? Why do I always dream of you, but I can never remember you when I wake up?”

I turned, allowing myself to look at his upturned button nose, the curl of silvery golden hair falling over his forehead. Luminous violet-blue eyes too big for his face gleamed with reflected starlight, mixing with the heartfelt question shining back at me. 

In an unguard moment, I told him the truth. 

“Because I’m selfish. I shouldn’t be talking to you, but I can’t stay away.” I tried to smile. “I’m lonely. I’m only like my former self when I’m with you in a dream.”

“Why?” He tugged at my hand again. “Why can’t you come see me…us…when you’re awake? Why do you hide in a dream?”

“Your brother doesn’t want me anywhere near you.” I pressed his hand with my fingers, delighting in being a physical person again. The price, however, was too high to do this anywhere than in a dream. “He’s right to be protective of you. He’s right to be worried.”

“Why?” He repeated his favorite word, the one he pestered all of his loved ones with in the manner of determined innocents. “Why should he worry about you? You wouldn’t hurt me. Would you?”

I turned away, allowing myself to dissolve into the mists, leaving him to gaze at a damaged gate covered with beans. 

Soon Danyel would be waking up. Soon he’d find himself lying next to Tayel, wondering what happened. 

Tayel would guess exactly what happened. He’d be hurt, worried, and upset with me. Sensing the danger, the truth of me, yet unwilling to name it. 

I was always with them, watching over them, even if it wasn’t as a living person. I was waiting for Danyel and Tayel, even though I hoped they’d keep away. 

I was getting too hungry and lonely to be careful. I’d given up too much of myself to bring Danyel and Tayel into the existence. To let them go, beyond the Door, to find a life as real as the one Damian had given me.

Part of me would always want them back. Part of me counted on them returning to me. 

The other part of me dreaded that reunion. Dreaded what might happen, what I might do when I met the twins in the waking world. 

Danyel was getting more and more persistent about seeking me out in his dreams. He seemed to want to find me as much as I wanted to be found. 

Tayel was afraid of me. Afraid of what I’d do to him, to both of the twins, but particularly to Danyel. Afraid I could take away everything he held dear. 

Alas, I could. This was part of the reason I dreaded meeting the twins in the flesh. Why I contented myself with glimpses in dreams and visions. Watching them through walls of stone. 

They were curious. They couldn’t help but wonder. Not even Tayel, no matter how hard he tried not to. 

Peter had once accused me of being entirely too irresistible. Of invoking a passion to get closer to me which bordered on madness. 

I hadn’t believed him. To accept such a thing was both vanity and undeserved. 

Seeing Danyel’s eyes shine at me made me worry. Just what had I kindled in this innocent life I’d created?

I feared we were both going to find out. 

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#RainbowSnippets: Stealing Myself From Shadows

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+.

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For my own, Christopher observes Damian’s own reaction to ‘The Navel’ in Stealing Myself From Shadows

“Come on in,” Damian opened the door, setting some chimes on the other side to tinkling. He ignored the sign completely. 

     Perhaps he was accustomed to the sight of people’s bellies. The thought caused the heat to rush to my cheeks.

     Damian held the door open for me for a slight bow. He studied my face, allowing a tiny smile to dance upon his lips. 

#QueerBlogWed: Map Mutters Part 3

All seemed to be going surprisingly well between Map and her former student (and victim), but matters are not what they seem in the final part of this Tale of Omphalos inspired by the prompts of P.T. Wyant at ptwyant.com

“We’ll get a chance to get to know each other,” she added, swallowing another sigh. Now she was committed. She had to go out. She had to get to know the people of Omphalos. 

At least this one. 

Meggie reached out to pat her arm with a tentative shyness. “I, um, hope so. Maybe we can be an um, good influence on each other. After all, we’re all, um, Followers of Seraphix here.”

Map froze at her words. “What did you say?”

Meggie froze, too, for a moment. The next she pulled out a cord hiding under her blouse, a cord with a silver coin upon it. A strange symbol was etched upon it. Map couldn’t tell if it was a person or a strange rune. 

“That’s, um, why we’re here. To bring Seraphix back as our, um, god.” Meggie glanced down at the coin. “We came, um, to build Omphalos so we could do that.”

“Your lord brought you here for that?” Map swallowed a throat which was very dry. “To somehow summon Seraphix?”

“Oh, no, um, not our lord.” Meggie blinked in surprise. “Ashleigh. Your wife. She was the one who brought us together. She was the one who urged us to come here.”

Map swallowed, closed her eyes, repressed an urge to put her fist through something. The cottages were too far away from the road. The only thing close enough was the woman in front of her. 

No. Meggie had been through enough at her former master’s hands. She wasn’t about to take a swing at her. Especially when she wasn’t the one Map was angry with. 

Behind her eyelids, she could visualize Ashleigh’s smiling face, pushing a lock of silvery-golden hair back behind an ear.

I know I haven’t been here for you or the boys, but I’m going to make it up to you. I’ll bring the world to you. A world we can all be part of. 

“I, um, thought you knew.” A furrow of concern wrinkled Meggie’s brow. “Map, are you all right? I, um, get the impression you’re not. Not really. Not with, um, everything that’s happening. Omphalos being built and all.”

“Simple yet insightful.” Map rubbed her eyes. “It’s all something of a surprise to me.”

“I, um, can’t speak for everyone.” Meggie fidgeted a bit. “I’m, um, not trying to force anyone to be, um, part of something they, um, don’t want.”

“No.” Map lifted her head, offered her former student a weary smile. “That’s not you.”

“I’m, um, not sure what’s me.” Meggie raised her own chin, a glint of something resolute sparking in her sleepy eyes. “I, um, wouldn’t be alive if not for our lord. I owe him everything. For bringing me back. Returning me to my sister. Introducing me to, um, my husband.”

“Yes,” Map said with some bitterness. Meggie’s precious lord had done all of that while her former master had reduced her to nothing. 

She couldn’t blame Meggie for following that creature. She couldn’t blame anyone for it. 

Except Ashleigh. Ashleigh should have known better than to trust a shadow’s promises. Even if Dyvian had become more than a shadow. 

“I, um, had better go.” Once more Meggie ducked her head. “It was nice meeting you.”

She hurried down the road before Map could say anything more. 

“Nice,” her former master muttered under her breath, spinning on her heel to watch her go. “I suppose it was.”

Nice, yet terrifying. Terrifying to see what the creature who chosen to play the local lord could do.

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.

“How am I supposed to win this bet?” she muttered to herself. “Especially if you’ve got so many other people I love on your side? Including Ashleigh?”

The cobblestones didn’t 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. 

#RainbowSnippets: Stealing Myself From Shadows

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 other LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

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The holidays are over and I’m not feeling remotely festive. Not with all the cat concerns I’m facing in real life. Time to open a Door and escape into the Shadow Forest in Stealing Myself From Shadows. Only it’s not the Shadow Forest Christopher is in, but Omphalos. And now he’s face to face with the Navel, the odd shop on the main road through Omphalos…

  This shop had a dusty window, displaying a skull and a deck of cards lying on a bed of purple velvet. 

    The skull caught my eye before the sign. Weathered and in need of painting, it took me a moment before I saw the image of a rounded stomach and a belly button.

    “The Navel.” I felt my face color. The mysterious Gabrielle, soon to be my mother, had a sense of humor.

#QueerBlogWed: Map Mutters Part 2

This is Part 2 of a Tale of Omphalos inspired by P.T. Wyant’s prompts at ptwyant.com. Map was ready to retort to that voice in her memories when she saw an all-too familiar face…

It wasn’t possible. It couldn’t be her. If it was, Map didn’t want to know. 

“What are you looking at?” she snarled, projecting every bit of hag-like menace she possessed at the woman. 

“You,” the young woman said, flushing a bit, wringing a burgundy skirt with a beautiful golden stitching around the hem. Much finer than the one covering Map’s lower body. “You’re not as beautiful as my husband, but you’ve got a glow. Um, it shines out from beneath your wrinkles, even if you’re, uh, trying to hide it.”

“Seraphix’s eyeballs, girl, do you still just blurt out whatever is on your mind?” Map snapped before she could think better of it. “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a hundred times not to just go saying those things to anyone. Especially some hag you’ve just met in the street. Especially if you’re married!”

“Um, have you?” Megan of the Sisters of Seraphix blinked those sleepy hazel eyes at her. “You seem, um, familar, but this is the first time we’ve met. Isn’t it?”

“Too many people seem familiar around here.” Map took refuge in vagueries, keenly aware of how much she sounded like Tayel. “Sorry for snapping at you as if you were.”

“Oh, that’s no trouble. My husband often says worse things.” Sister Megan blushed, brushing a stray russet curl away from her face. “I’m Meggie. We’re, um, neighbors. You’re Map, right? One of Danyel and Tayel’s mums?”

“You know who I am.” Another statement with a double-meaning. She’d see how Sister Megan…no, the lass had a husband now…Meggie would take it. 

“You were at Juno’s party. The one she, um, threw for our lord.” Meggie blinked slowly. As if she wasn’t sure of her words. “Not sure if that’s the same as, um, knowing someone.”

“True.” Map found herself smiling, in spite of herself. This one had always made her smile with her cheerful simplicity, her honesty, except for when it came to pastries. Especially custard tarts. 

Once she spotted a custard tart, or a pile of them, Sister Megan turned into a thief. It hadn’t been safe to leave them unguarded around her. 

Those had been simpler memories. Much better than the night when she’d found her claws and wings. The night she’d changed. 

The night a bewitchingly beautiful pale-haired boy had stepped out of the shadows and into a puddle of red ooze. 

No. Map would not dwell on that night. She couldn’t. 

She’d thought she’d lost the other Sisters of Seraphix that night, yet here was one of them. Alive and whole. 

“Meeting someone isn’t the same as knowing them. Even if you think you know them, they can surprise you.” She reached out to touch Meggie’s arm. 

Meggie flinched, blushing even more. “Um, sorry. Sometimes I’m shy about the, um, oddest things. I get uneasy, even though I, um, don’t know why.”

“Being uneasy around someone you don’t know shows good sense.” She nodded, an approving gesture she’d given the girl many times in the past. “You’re right. I’m one of Danyel and Tayel’s mums. Leiwell’s, too.”

“Oh, Leiwell!” Meggie lifted a hand to cover a face red as an apple. “I can see where you get your beauty from, Master.”

No stutter whatsoever. 

Map froze, chill running down her back. “What did you call me?”

“I mean Map.” Meggie ducked her head. “Um, sorry. I don’t know why I called you that. It just felt, um, natural.”

“What may seem natural could be a mistake.” Map locked her eyes with Meggie’s. “Never call me master again. I am no one’s master. I’m not worthy to be one.”

“Really?” Once again Meggie’s hazel eyes widened. “Um, I think you’d be a brilliant master.”

“Now why you go thinking that? You’ve just met me!” The old chiding tone came back to her voice, not unmingled with affection. “Get to know me a little better before you decide I’m brilliant at anything.”

“Yes, um, well, I do feel like I’ve met you.” Meggie ducked her head again. “I’d, um, like to get to know you better. If you’d, um, let me. You don’t come out of the, um, cottage very much. The party was the, um, first time I saw you.”

“No, I don’t.” Map let out a sigh. How had she not noticed her former student from the Temple of Seraphix?

Probably because she’d been too preoccupied, staring in shock at the “lord” who was the guest of honor. 

“I’ll try to get out a little more often,” Map said, suppressing a sigh. She’d been determined to avoid the villagers. To stay out of whatever game their lord was playing with them. 

Except Meggie was someone she’d known and been responsible for. Someone she’d thought she’d destroyed. 

How many other Sisters of Seraphix were part of this strange colony who’d decided to form a village around Map’s cottage? How many other people she’d once known?

She couldn’t hide from them forever. 

(To be continued next Wednesday…)

#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!

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

#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…)