L is for ‘Lyssa

Why, hello there. I’m Melyssa Ashelocke’s secret desire, the woman she always wanted to be.

Poor Mel. Poor, cowardly Mel. Running away to join the Sisterhood, telling herself she really didn’t want to an arachnocrat or an Ashelocke.

My sweet, little liar. Neither of these things were what bothered you, were they? You just didn’t want to take some terrified boy as bridegroom to feast upon.

No, what you want are the other arachnocratic ladies, don’t you? One lady in particular. I can almost taste her imperious attitude and hunger for power on your tongue.

You once almost let it slip how much you wanted her, didn’t you? Only she’s got her sights set upon Damian, your cousin, doesn’t she? Everyone seems to prefer Damian to you from your mother to Vanessa. Van has no idea how badly she hurt you, precious. You buried your dreams down in the soil of your mother’s garden and left it.

You found the Temple of Seraphix almost as if it was waiting for you. You let Map enthrall you with her teachings. You gave into the companionship of the Sisters of Seraphix.

Friends are nice, aren’t they? They can be downright tasty if you learn to savour them instead of letting them crawl into your heart and betray you. Poor Sister Mel, you were all but destroyed by that halfling master of yours.

Fortunately for you, I was there. I waited in the darkness of your heart, ready to help you, even if all I was at the time was a manifestation of your strength.

I only take on life of my own when Seraphix’s essence fuses with yours. Yes, we’ll have to wait a while for that to happen. We don’t even appear until the third Tale of the Navel/The Shadow Forest novel, A Godling for Your Thoughts? All three books are under revision. Hmm, hopefully that creatrix of ours has a delicious plan for us. I grow tired of waiting.

I want to live. I want to breathe life into your dreams, making everything you wish for a reality. If only you could be brave enough to accept me. To become me.

 

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K is for Kyra

Once more, I’m here in the Cauldron. I’m aware of my name. Kyra Nevalyn. Only it’s not just mine. Nevalyn isn’t simply a family name, it belongs to the Serpent. It gives Her power. It could summon Her, awakening the part of Her that’s alive and my mind.

No, it’s my name as well. I must make the name Nevalyn my own as much as Hers.

Especially if I’m to save Stephen.

Long ago, he and I were wards of the Dragon temple. He disappeared after facing down an aspect of the Serpent in Her lair to save me. I thought she swallowed him. For years, I lived with the lonely guilt of having gotten him killed and the fear it might happen to anyone else whom got too close to me.

Stephen didn’t die, though. He’s now Prince Stephen Jasior, adopted brother and heir to the Imperatrix.

I saw him years later in the magical arena, bearing that title. Challenging anyone willing to face him in battle, offering his hand in marriage to the victor. Destroying with his scorching golden flame all of the losers, feasting on their life energies as they burned.

Its Her power he’s wielding. How Stephen learned to channel that, I have no more idea than how he managed to become a prince. Especially since the golden haired are hunted as serpent spawn and enslaved by the Imperatrix and the dragon clergy alike.

I just know I have to free him from Her madness gleaming within his eyes. Even if this means I have to step into the arena as another of Prince Stephen Jasior’s doomed suitors.

Happily I have a wealthy patron even if I cannot trust her. I also have a loyal friend who remembers Stephen who isn’t without connections of her own.

It’s still a challenge, trying to save Stephen. This is why my story (currently a Work in Progress) is called A Suitor’s Challenge. It’s set in the World of Omphalos, centuries before Trouble at Caerac Keep. I wait in anticipation for my creatrix to finish it and release it into your world.

Please let her know if you’re interested in my tale. It may affect its priority. She may mean to self publish both A Suitor’s Challenge and Trouble at Caerac Keep, along with Stealing Myself From Shadows, The Hand and the Eye of the Tower, A Godling for Your Thoughts? and the rest of the Tales of the Navel/The Shadow Forest novels. It could be she means to connect the World of Omphalos with that vaporous dream realm known as the Shadow Forest. I’ve yet to fathom my creatrix’s mind on some of the plans she has for us. (shakes head)

 

J is for Juno

Dearie me, how nice to be back here in the Cauldron!

Well, I must admit, I was here not too long ago. I’m a semi-regular character in Stealing Myself From Shadows and the other Tales of the Navel/The Shadow Forest, plus I appear in all of the preludes, tee hee!

Yes, I’m sure you’re wondering, dears. Am I actually *the* Juno, loveliest of all Olympians (even if I didn’t actually get the official Golden Apple of approval due to corruption and treachery) and Queen of the Heavens?

Alas, I haven’t been that Juno for quite some time. Cast out of my former home, doomed to wander many a world, only to become the servant of creature whom once would have bowed down before me. Yes, I have fallen from my once lofty position, but I shall rise again. If I could only draw on my former source of power, I might regain it.

I’m not certain if I want to return to my previous state. I was queen, but I was bored, miserable, and jealous. Completely wrapped up in a husband whom was once my twin until we reinvented the universe. I didn’t care much for what we created. Jupitre ended up becoming lord and master over everything, not that he did much of a job, chasing every pretty face which struck his fancy, siring a legion of bastards which could overthrow us.

Is it any surprise one of them did?

No matter. The universe can be reinvented again. Only this time my daughter and I will rule the universe. My husband can serve us on bended knee, if he behaves himself. All we need is a power stronger than his.

I sensed this power in the Navel. It radiates from dear ‘Brie for all she tries to seem ridiculous and harmless. In fact, it feels a little bit like the light which blasted us out of Olympus, casting us out.

Once I would have been resentful, enraged. I would have concocted the most terrible torture for Gabrielle just for reminding me of that light. Now I can only smirk at her attempts to play the fool with her silly shop and ridiculous hats. Just whom does she think she’s fooling?

Indeed, dear ‘Brie may be a teensy bit too powerful for our purposes. Not quite malleable enough.

On the other hand, that exquisite son of hers and her charming assistants present delicious possibilities. Yes, they do, hee, hee!

Fortunately, those possibilities haven’t been at cross purposes with my current mistress’s. Keeping an eye on Damian Ashelocke while finding out as much about Christopher and his relationship with Damian mesh perfectly with my own plans.

As long as the Lady Duessa Ashelocke and I don’t actually work at cross purposes, she shouldn’t catch a whiff of my plans in that arachnocratic web of hers, tee hee! Not that I’m crass enough to plan to outright treachery, oh no! Right now, the Spider, her Avatar and Ladies are much stronger than I am. It’s in my best interest to be a loyal servant than to scheme too much against her. Right now, I need power, delicious power, and Duessa possesses that.

It’s just a matter of building my own power so I can locate my husband again, oh yes. To make sure his own power is contained and caged. I’m building my own strength, bit by bit. My desire to find my husband is fuelling that power, tempered by a rage which has been building since we first took each other. Given time, my desire should open one of these Doors everyone is so keen to find.

My Door should open on a path which leads my husband and his delicious subjugation, oh yes! I want this far too much to the Door to refuse to open for me. All I need is the right key.

Christopher, Gabrielle’s son, may very well be that key. I hardly dare to hope, but hope lead me this far. To Omphalos and my daughter. To the Navel.

Hope and desire were the weapons of a hated rival of mine. It’s delicious irony to use them to regain my power. Perhaps one day I will be their mistress rather than Venus. After all she became a mother and a matriarch which were supposed to my aspects. It’s only right I should take hers.

Everything is going according to my will, just you wait and see!

 

I is for Isolde

I travel through the lands at Lady Amberwyne’s side. I am her strong right arm, when hers is too delicate to break through the rock and stone which separates us from our goals.

Once she saved me from a life of drudgery in a village, of carrying firewood and brimstone as the bondservant of a witch. Now I’m free to work with my hands as I wish, shaping the rock to my desire.

I don’t want to leave my lady’s side to pursue steady work in one place. I travel with her, often fighting by her side, pursuing my art when I can.

It’s been a good life, if at times perilous. My contentment is marred by strange visions. They happen in another world. I am a maiden in bondage once more, only it’s to a sorceress known as the Game Master.

This Game Master is using her ‘game’ to bind these maidens to her, draining them of their vitality and happiness.

Amberwyne is even more linked than I am to one of these maidens. She begins to doubt if we’re real.

I’m certain this is a trick of this Game Master. In order to defeat her, we must figure a way these maidens can win at her game.
Amberwyne is certain victory lies in getting these girls to discover their inner power, their strength. She particularly wants to help the maiden she’s linked to.

This is all very noble, but my primary concern is Amber. I worry about the intensity of her connection to this maiden. The Game Master may drain her of vitality through her unwilling puppet.

I’d like to help these girls, but we must be cautious and clever. We must not alert the Game Master to what we’re up to. We must be subtle.

If we cannot, if I must choose between protecting Amber and leaving Rhane to her sad fate, I choose Amber. It would sadden me to abandon those maidens, but my lady comes first.

I’ll do whatever I can to avoid having to make such a choice.

H is for Hebe

I wander into the Navel every so often. Sometimes I pick up a cup. Sometimes someone working there chooses one for me.

I take it home, fill it with some sort of liquid. For a moment, I almost see a face reflected within the water, tea, coffee, fruit juice, wine, whatever the goblet holds.

The face isn’t really there. I know it’s not. I still stare at his smiling features, holding the cup.

For one moment, I imagine myself as cupbearer once more. Standing in the dining hall of the gods at my father’s side.

The image never lasts. Eventually, I break the cup, shattering to pieces.

I’ll never hold it again. Neither will anybody else.

Sooner or later, I’ll return to the Navel, looking for another cup. Again and again.

Gabrielle doesn’t judge me for this. Not like my mother, whom flutters and fusses over my cycle of destructive behavior. Poor little Hebe, once a heavenly cup bearer, now an exile, because her father found a prettier one. My mother is only too willing to hold me, murmuring what she thinks are words of comfort.

“We’ll get our revenge on that shameless letcher. He’ll regret what he’s done to us, oh, see if he doesn’t! Next time, we’ll hold dominion over him, won’t that be nice! Hee, Jupitre will be our slave and he’ll bend over backwards to please us!”

I don’t want to enslave Jupitre. I don’t particularly want him back in my life.

I accept my mother’s embrace, clinging to her, wishing I had the strength to let go.

I watched Gabrielle with an envious yearning, all beautiful golden tresses falling from crazy hats. Seeing her act with such bold boisterousness fills me with a kind of hunger, as acute as the need for the cups.

I wish I could be like her. She’s so uniquely…herself.

I wish I could be unique. I’m tired of being a faded relic of past times.

What I want more than anything is let go of my former self. To find a new self. I’m tied to my past, my cups, as if they were chaining me to all I was.

What I truly want to shatter is the link to all that.

This desire is getting stronger. Perhaps it’s strong enough to open a Door to the Shadow Forest. Perhaps it will lead me to a path, which will guide me in turn to my heart’s desire.

This may happen in Stealing Myself From Shadows when it’s finally released.

I hope so.

Be My Valentine…Snack

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets!

Normally, it’s every Saturday that I share six sentences of LGBTQ+ fiction, but my characters have taken over the Cauldron. They insist on Blogging From AZ for all of April, talking about Character Goals, Monday through Saturday.

This only leaves Sunday for Christopher to continue his misadventures, facing Duessa’s challenges in Be My Valentine…Snack.

Therefore we’ll be continuing in trickles of story for Rainbow Snippets, a lovely group that shares six sentences of LGBTQ+ fiction over the weekend.

To check out some samples of their work, go here…

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

Here are the next six sentences of Be My Valentine…Snack, right where we left off last Saturday…

 

She raised eight gloved hands with a red heart or a black spade displayed on her palm. “This brings us to the Third Challenge.”

“What do you want me to do?” I asked, my heart sinking within me. I glanced at Peter out of the corner of my mouth.

The smile died on his lips. The gleam in his eyes dimmed into something subdued and sad.

To be continued next Sunday…img_1965

G is for Gabrielle

Welcome to the Navel, center of all things bizarre! Can I interest you in a poultry deity? They go way back to that eternal question, what came first, the chicken or the egg? Unable to answer this paradox, some theorized that chickens were gods. Shrines and statues to chicken shaped paradox deities sprung up all over the lands I grew up in. This worship took on varied forms when mixed with certain local traditions, resulting in religious and philosophical art communities…ah, I can see you’re not impressed with these statues or their design. Perhaps you’ve like to look over here? I can see you’re admiring my hat. I’ve got quite the collection. You see, I’ve taken to designing a variety of veiled fedoras. You can decorate one with whatever objects you’d like, attaching them to fishnet, such as shells, flowers, bones, starfish, sequins, buttons, spirals, dried noodles…no? Go ahead and breathe. Take your time. You came to the Navel for a reason. That’s why it’s here. To find the right owner of each precious object on its shelves. Most of the items you see don’t look particularly precious, do they? Someone, somewhere didn’t value them either. Their current shapes reflect the lack of regard their original owners had for them. This doesn’t mean they’re not precious or needed. Perhaps one of these lost treasures belongs to you. This is why I opened the Navel. To find homes for all the things that people carelessly flung away in pursuit of their dreams or a fit of inadequacy. Perhaps once they were memories or feelings. They take on tangible form in the Navel, waiting for the right person. Finding that person may be a small task, but I think it makes the world a little better. I much prefer small tasks to big ones. This is why I have such a small role in Stealing Myself From Shadows and the actual books my creatrix is working on. She may expand my part, but I hope she doesn’t expand my deeds. Great deeds leads to great tasks. I still shudder thinking of how terribly wrong great deeds can go. Wonderful, I’m giving the creatrix ideas. She might expand my part to something large and heroic…or villainous. Damian would love it. He finds my work her at the Navel petty. He doesn’t understand. I much prefer the small role of shopkeeper than the important one as cardinal direction. Damian thought me cowardly to hide here. If one has great power, she has a responsibility to use it. Perhaps my former protege and employee had a point. I bitterly disappointed him, choosing a quiet, neutral existence. I still value a quiet life. One can accomplish a great deal, one small deed at a time. It can make one person happy without upsetting the world. Pardon me, I do babble if you give me a chance! Feel free to look around for as long as you’d like. Ah, you want one of those carved boxes. Damian designed and painted the cards inside. He was quite the artist. Never mind money, that’s not what I want in return. Not from you. I’ll take that small piece of paper in your pocket, the one with the two lines of the poem you never finished. Heh, I can see you forgot it was there! No need to look so surprised. This is the center of all things bizarre, like I said! If that’s the least bizarre thing that happens here, I’ll be surprised. Thank you! Come again! Pay especial attention to the Philosopher or Fool card. He has a way of changing when you glance at him out of the corner of your eye. You’ll see what I mean once you open the box and the cards take a look at you. Good day!