#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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#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…)

#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…)

#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. 

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#QueerBlogWed: Tales of the Navel

On July 20, 2022, P.T. Wyant posted at ptwyant.com a Wednesday Words prompt. It involved a barrette, a wave, and a note.

This Tale of the Navel was the result…

The moment my fingers touched the barette, I saw the wave. 

I met her eyes for a moment. We both felt the force of the water lifting us up off our feet, making us part of its cresting power. Making us one. 

How could I have forgotten? All that stood out in my memories was the note left behind. 

I’m leaving. I’m sorry. 

Tears filled my eyes when I met those of the Navel’s proprietor. There was no condemnation in hers. Only compassion. 

“This is more than just a barette.” I clutched the small hair piece in my hand as if it was a treasure. 

For me, it was. I’d forgotten the wave until I touched this innocuous hair piece she’d once worn. She’d lost it at the beach. Perhaps in the very wave which caught us. 

“That barette is why you’re here.” Gabrielle’s voice was very gentle. “You were drawn to our door, searching for something you’d lost. Something you needed to remember.”

“How much?” I swallowed the lump rising in my throat, steadied my voice. “What’s the price for this?”

“You’ve already paid it.” There was no censure in this woman who hid her beauty and gravity behind a fishnet veil of smiley faces. “Haven’t you?”

Again my throat constricted. If only I could have taken my note back along with all my stupid words. 

“Yeah.” I got the impression that Gabrielle’s veil was something silly she had thrown up between herself and her customers to shield them from the light and power shining with her. Like a visor to shield us from the sun. “Yeah.”

She advanced to close her arms around me right when I began to sob. 

I’d wanted to forget the good times, to forget the wave. To convince myself I was better off without my long lost love. I’d succeeded. 

I never thought I’d miss those memories. I never thought it would hurt so much to get them back. 

I held onto Gabrielle, feeling more whole than I’d been in too long, unable to stop bawling. 

She just stood and held me. 

#QueerBlogWed: Wednesday Words

On May 11, 2022, P.T. Wyant shared at ptwyant.com a Wednesday Words prompt. It involved oranges, a blinding headache, and a long shot.

This poem was the result…

Another blinding headache

Making my stomach churn

It’s a long shot trying to do anything

Let alone anything that requires thought

I try to eat oranges

Remembering too late the citric accept

Adding force to the stomach churn

Did the food rehydrate me even a little?

Giving me the strength to return to the screen

No, it’s the pull of the character’s need

Needing to continue to put one foot in front of the other

How can I show less courage than my fictional creation?

Just one more sentence, one more step

And I find myself drawn into the plot

Pain forgotten in the force of its drive. 

#QueerBlogWed: Mel’s Master

On March 30, 2022, P.T. Wyant posted a Wednesday Words prompt involving a barn, soup, and a bouquet.

This isn’t the first time she suggested a barn. I thought this might have a connection to the barn that scared Tayel in a previous Tale of the Navel. Only the barn wasn’t that scary. Not back then, not to Map. Not that Sister Mel had any idea whom Map was. She was just Master.

The Master stayed in the barn, serving the soup up to everyone who approached. Somehow she’d hauled her giant cauldron, stirring it while the animals nearby neighed, whinnied, and snorted a protest. 

Not that there was anything to protest. There was no meat in the cauldron. Just vegetables, herbs, and a spice which tickled the nostrils, even if you had trouble eating. 

Melyssa Ashelocke may have dined on broth and flesh, the offerings brought to the daughter of the Guardians of the Gardens of Arachne, but she was Mel now. A Sister of Seraphix, eating food and relieving herself as human beings must. 

How strange, disgusting and yet pleasurable to enjoy these things. She might have given them up all together, if she’d continued to be Melyssa. If she’d embraced being a full arachnocrat. 

How Van would have sneered to see her, among outsiders, among commoners, among men. Many of them weren’t even good-looking. 

“Animals. Perverts.” These were popular terms Vanessa Ashelocke bestowed upon boys with beards, hairy chins and chests. “Snuffling and lusting after any female which crosses their paths, unable to control that lust. Tasteless fare. Why your mother keeps them as valentines, I’ll never know.”

The bearded didn’t snuffle nor leer at the master. They gazed at her in a faint disbelief as if they couldn’t believe anyone was offering them this soup. 

Custard sat on her haunches, watching them with an alert muzzle. If any other animals acted up around the master, she’d keep them in line. 

“Hello, Gyn.” Master looked each visitor in the eye, remembering their names. “How is your leg?”

“Better, Sister.” Gyn bowed his head. “Whatever is in that soup has strength to it.”

“Have some more.” The Master chuckled, pouring a little more in his earthen bowl. “Is that you, Meggie?”

To Mel’s embarassment, Sister Megan was right there with the men and women, holding out a bowl. 

“Sister Megan!” Mel barked, unable to believe the other woman’s gluttony. “This soup isn’t for us! It’s for the visitors!”

“It tastes so good.” Megan licked her lips. “It’s true what they’re saying. It gives strength.”

“Thank you, Meggie, but this soup is for the visitors.” The Master winked the round-faced, cheerful young woman in white robes. “I’ll make another pot for the Sisters of Seraphix back at the temple.”

“Oh, all right,” Megan said with a good-natured sigh. She held out her bowl to a little girl, peeking around the door of the barn, unsure if she should enter. “Come on in. We don’t bite.”

“At least not today.” The Master winked, her large black eyes twinkling in her weathered brown face. Sometimes she reminded Melyssa of a tree who’d taken on human form. Only most of trees who posed as humans were angry at too many of them chopped down for the two-legged dwelling places. When they appeared, they knocked down walls, sometimes dragging those inside deep in the dirt. 

The Master might be gruff, but she didn’t seem angry. Not seriously angry. 

The little girl crept forward. “I hear you worship a demon.”

“Not a demon, child.” The Master smiled in a kindly way. Mel marveled at her patience in the face of the same superstitious nonsense, again and again. “Seraphix is the God of Balance. We Sisters live here at their temple, seeking some sort of balance in our lives.”

“All of you?” The little girl crept forward. “Why do you share soup with people who can’t grow or make their own?”

“Because you can’t grow or make your own, but we can.” Map filled another bowl, handing it to the little girl. “We have things you don’t, therefore we’re sharing them. Redressing the balance.” 

The child frowned as if this made no sense. “The local knight usually takes our vegetables. He says we owe it to him, for protecting us.”

Mel let out a hissing breath. “The excuses men make.”

“Now, now, Mel.” The Master gave her a reproving glance. “Men aren’t the only ones who make excuses.”

“He has a lady.” The child stood with her bowl of soup, moving a little closer to Mel. “She took my sister as her servant. She gave her a fine dress, but we don’t see her very often.”

For a moment Mel remembered the long, flowing purple gowns Van wore, slit for her additional arms after she took Dyvian as her Marriage Feast. Something thick gathered in her throat, hot and heavy. 

“Sometimes those we love forget us for a time when they get a new dress,” she murmured. “We just have to wait for them to remember. Remember that there are many dresses. Only one of us.”

The little girl looked up at Mel with bright eyes and nodded. She lifted her soup to her lips. “What are carrying?”

“I was wondering the same thing.” Megan turned a bright eye on the other Sister. “You picked a lot of flowers.”

Mel flushed, looking down at the purple, blue, yellow, and red wildflowers she gathered. A shoddy bouquet and a shoddy offering. 

“Here.” She held them out to the Master, eyes shut tight. Not sure she wanted to see the Master’s reaction. 

After all, Van had laughed at her when she’d given her flowers. “We’re both girls, you fool. Arachnocrats. Here you are, offering me a bouquet like some lovesick morsel of a boy!”

Warm hand took hers. 

Mel opened her eyes to see the Master gathering the flowers to her breast, eyes moist. “Thank you, Mel. That was very sweet of you.” 

It was too much for Mel. She fled, running past the line of people entering the barn, toward the green hills. 

On one of them stood the Temple of Seraphix. Her home. Her Sisters’s home. Her master’s home. 

The Sisters of Seraphix weren’t forced to take on vows of chastity, but many of them chose to live a chaste life. Mel had been one of them. 

The passions of an arachnocrat, released in all their predatory hunger upon the boys had held no attraction for Melyssa. The other ladies, however, stirred up something different. Something forbidden. Vanessa, in particular. 

She didn’t want to drain Van of her life, her essence. This was one of the reasons she’d fled the Gardens of Arachne with Damian’s help. 

Melyssa found the Sisters of Seraphix and their Temple. She’d found the Master. Somehow about her made Mel’s chest ache. 

It might not be a problem for a human woman like Mel pretended to be, but Melyssa was Duessa Ashelocke’s daughter. Even if she had only one pair of arms, even if she’d never indulged in a Marriage Feast, she wasn’t sure if she could love anyone like a human woman. She wasn’t sure if she dared to try. 

The Master made her feel so warm and safe in a way Duessa never had. Mel just wanted to let her know how she felt, how much it meant to her. This was why she’d picked flowers, gathering a bouquet for her. 

It wasn’t any more than that. It couldn’t be. 

Mel swallowed and rubbed her eyes. She didn’t want to be a monster. This was why she was here, but you couldn’t always get what you wanted.

If only Seraphix was a god who granted wishes as well as offering balance, but that was a bit silly and selfish. 

Mel was lucky. Mel was happy. Mel had a good home with the Sisters. Here Mel was close to the Master. 

It was enough. It would have to be enough. 

#QueerBlogWed: Wednesday Words

On April 13, 2022, P.T. Wyant posted at ptwyant.com a Wednesday Words prompt. It involved a fishing pole, a leather-bound book, and a fever.

This poem was the result…

A leather-bound book replaces a fishing pool

You chose a different instrument 

To reel in your catches

A passive tool of predation

One your prey may not have noticed

For it was all part of your fever dream

A bright eye there, a sly smile there

Thighs shifting silkily under pants

Head tossed to reveal an arch of neck

They all performed for you

Doing a private dance you noticed

Peering over the edge of your book

Small and timid, so easy to overlook

Jotting down the details in your book

Details which became embellished

Secret stories of conquest related in a fever

A flush of fear, bringing on lust

A desire to reel those seductive swimmers in

You had them to yourself on the page

Only to turn cold with shame when the fever passed

Hiding the book underneath your bed

Allowing time and distance to pass

Before you dare to open that book again

Staring in bewilderment at the steamy details

You’d almost forgotten your conquests

The conquests you only conquered in a dream

You blush to read your own fantasies

Wondering where you get your own ideas. 

#QueerBlogWed: A Moment of Crossover

Quartz is getting impatient. He’s tired of being trapped in a crystal coffin, in a sleeping curse. He’s tired of his own story, Of Cuckoo Clocks and Crystal Coffins being put on hold while I’m concentrating on Stealing Myself From Shadows.

So when one of his favorite people in the real world posted a Wednesday Words prompt at ptwyant.com involving an origami star, a sheep, and windchimes, he decided to take over. Never mind the wind chimes at the Navel and Gabrielle’s greeting crawling their way into his cursed sleep…

Someone was folding paper into a star. Huh, pretty. Imagine being able to do that. A light shone inside. Maybe they’d put it in the sky. It would lead a bunch of star-struck worshippers to their true queen. 

Right. Only in dreams. 

Windchimes tinkled. A sheep bleated. Someone greeted me in one of those loud, ridiculously cheerful voices. “Welcome to the Navel, center of all things bizarre!” 

“Urgh, shaddap,” I growled, realized I was moving my lips. “Can’t a cursed dwarf sleep in peace? Like there’s anything bizarre about contemplating your navel.”

“Ah, the navel is the center of a person’s being. Therefore the center of the world.” The voice changed, becoming higher. More sing-song. Even more irritating. All too familiar. “Therefore if a person is important to you, their navel is the center of your world.”

“Right. Just what I need to get up. Ruddy romantic philosophy.” I opened one eye, my vision filled with the wrinkled, beaming face of kobold. “Why can’t you return use of my limbs instead, eh?”

“Peace, my darling demented dwarf.” Nimmie Not, my own personal demon reached out with impossibly long, bony fingers to tweak my nose. “To be honest, to claim to be the center of all things bizarre is unsufferable arrogance on the part of a wayward direction, but we can all make whatever nonsense we wish to out of it.”

“Nonsense being one of your favorite things.” I glowered at him, accutely aware of my sore back from lying too long on this crystal. “Forcing me to lie through yours is another.”

“Ouch! You wound me!” He clutched his chest, swaying above me, making me aware he was above me, on the other side of the crystal. 

The nose tweaking, it had been close, close enough to tickle like a mad will’o’wisp, but his fingers couldn’t touch me. Nimmie Not was outside my coffin, clear enough to see, kept away by rock. 

“So sad, so close, so far.” Nimmie Not sniffed the air. “I smell roses and briars. Her scent still clings to you.”

“She scattered flowers over me before she left.” Where had they gone. Maybe they’d been magical flowers, disappearing when my Fairest had. “Haven’t seen her. Haven’t been awake.”

“No, only dreaming the dreams of the perpetually grumpy.” Nimmie Not let out a sigh. “Your brothers miss you. Poor Garnet has torn out his beard.”

“I kept telling him not to, the silly lad.” I sighed, stared at the crystal. “And how is she?”

“She? What she are we speaking of?” Nimmie Not let out a sniff. “There are entirely too many princesses and witches wandering this Forest of Tears. I lose track of them all.”

“You know who.” I wasn’t moving my lips. Somehow I was talking. Somehow Nimmie Not was hearing. “How is she?”

“She? She has found a princess of her own to torment and curse.” The kobold let out another sniff, looking down his long nose at me. “She’s been having entirely too much fun with her victim to think about you.”

Aw, shards. Here’s hoping Nimmie Not was telling tall tales again. Alas, there was usually some truth in them. “Sounds like she’s happy.”

“How unhappy you sound when you say that.” The little man scowled, tapped his long fingers against the coffin. “Really, Quartz. When are you going to stop worrying about her? It’s not like she’s your actual daughter.”

“Yes.” Shards, the sadness welled up like a vein of silver uncovered. Why was it somehow beautiful? “She’s my daughter as much as she’s anybody’s. You don’t stop worrying about someone just because they’re not worried about you.”

“No.” Reproach filled his voice, brimmed in his bright black eyes as he fixed them upon me. “No, you don’t Quartz.”

If I could move, I might have flinched. There was no missing that double-meaning. 

“If you’re worried, get me out of here.” It was as close as I came to pleading with him. 

“I told you.” He crossed his arms, gazing at me with that reproachful face. “Breaking that curse and getting up is up to you.”

I snorted, even if it was just in my own mind. I didn’t believe him. Who would? 

From the first time I’d met him, he’d been full of mischief and tricks. Trying to convince me I was a Person of Importance. At least to him. 

Right. As if I’d ever believe that. 

Never mind a fool part of me wanted to. 

#QueerBlogWed: Tales of Tayel

On March 16, 2022, P.T. Wyant posted a Wednesday Words prompt at ptwyant.com involving a lucky charm, a rainy day, and a maze.

This Tale of Tayel was the result…

The rain fell, revealing the rainbow dragon gliding between the drops, between realities in a shimmer of color. 

Tayel decided to take them for a sign of hope, bringing together the sunshine and the rain. 

“Come on, Tayel!” Danyel ran ahead, golden curls bouncing, the silver threaded within them flashing. He disappeared behind a hedge covered flowers, a hedge which cut off the view of the path ahead. 

This was wrong. There were no hedges this high, not in their garden. 

“Danyel!” Tayel cried, seeing the illusion too late, trying to catch up with his twin too late. A wall of thorny green blocked the way ahead. He could only go right or left. There was no sign of Danyel either way. 

“A maze, a puzzle of paths.” He and Danyel had seen pictures of mazes in books, but sometimes Tayel dreamed of cultivated hedges, guiding and tricking the walker into a central court where a beautiful statue waited and watched. Waited and watched for the ones to come to awaken him, to become his vessels in the game he played with his deadly bride. 

“No,” Tayel growled through closed teeth. He might have enjoyed solving such a puzzle if Danyel had been at his side, but his twin had been taken from him. 

“Desires granted, trickling out a greater desire.” He heard the faint laughter of boys his own age, voices like and unlike Danyel’s and his own. This was a memory ghost, a memory belonging to someone who refused to be ignored. 

“Is he really here?” The voice was very close. “At the heart of the maze?” 

“Come. I’ll show you.” The other was deeper, seductive with a wickedness that lured others into mazes with beckoning fingers. 

Tayel held his breath, saw the exquisite dark-haired youth, leading a younger one with coppery-golden waves. It might have been Leiwell as a child, leading Danyel or himself, but no. The dark-haired boy didn’t have Leiwell’s slender face or his emerald green eyes. Rose-purple ones gazed from under sly eyelashes, fixing upon Tayel for a moment as if he saw him, but he said nothing. He kept a firm, yet gentle grip upon the boy he was leading. 

The two of them ran through Tayel, passing through him as if he was a ghost. He shivered, spasmed, waking up in his own bed. 

“Tayel!” Danyel gazed at him, a tousled curl falling over his eye, right where he should be. At Tayel’s side. “Are you all right?”

Tayel released a shuddering breath and didn’t say anything. He just reached out to hug his twin.

Danyel, startled, hugged him back, filling his nostrils with the scent of sweat, fear, and something like dew on grass in the sunshine. Fresh and clean. His brother was warm and present. 

Trap Tayel in a maze, force him to face living statues, a ghost haunting someone else’s memories; all of that he could cope with. 

He just prayed no one would ever separate Danyel and himself. This was the one destiny he couldn’t cope with. 

Tayel swallowed and held on tight, wishing he could do so forever. 

He doubted he was that lucky. No matter how many rainbow dragons appeared in his dreams.