The Chronicle

Current listening:   Lost Stars – Adam Levine

Current Reading:  The Well of Ascension – Brandon Sanderson

Not much to say tonight, gang. Happy Valentines day to the lot of you.  I hope you take a minute and let your loved ones know how you feel.   Do you do anything special for yourself or your loved ones?  Do you have a favorite memory?  We aren’t huge about the holiday around here.  We’re pretty low key.  For my husband and I loving each other is about the everyday gestures.  A little touch,  a kiss, shared laughter at an inside joke.   (The chicken lives! Haha, love you babe.)

At Ink and Quill this week,  I chose to go with our vague prompt.  This one I had to think about because I wanted to tie it into last week’s blog.  This ongoing story with Brona is keeping me amused.  Let’s see what happens next, shall we?

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The dreams were bigger than her.  The phrase Chronicle of Light haunted her waking world.  Brona Devereaux sighed.  She sat on the highest ledge of Devereaux castle. The heights never bothered her. In fact, she found clarity more often than not observing the world from such a height and distance. Beyond her the mountains glittered beneath bright starlight above.   Her love had allowed her to escape with the promise that she would summon a healer come morning.  With exquisite care, he bound the foot and pressed a kiss to her forehead.  “Whatever Fate calls you to, little heart,  I will be here.  Tell me what you can when you can.”

His quiet confidence shook her.  Most men would not allow such secrets to stand.  Most men, she supposed did not hold the understanding of Fate that he did.  Light knew she was still learning.  She had quickly changed into a loose pair of pants and one of his shirts.  She tied the garment off at the waist then scowled when he found the sight amusing. “Oh go back to bed.”  She muttered as she left the bedchamber.

That exchange brought her to this moment and the quiet before her.  Layla would have been more decisive, she thought.  Her best friend, sister in every sense but blood,  would be more certain.  Her foot throbbed, she was confused and the night sat long before her.  The flicker of movement would have had her drawing a dagger had she not sensed his approach.  Her mental skills were improving by leaps and bounds.  She was learning to allow herself to sense who she chose when she chose.   Dominic always had a spot in her head.

“So, thank you for leaving your daggers put up,  Rae.” Dominic Devereaux smiled at his niece as he sat beside her.  “Want to talk about it or just leave it be?” He knew what the girl could do if pushed.  More often than not, he saw his sister staring out through Brona’s green eyes.  In moments like this, however, he could see the girl’s individuality.  He would never have caught his sister sitting out here alone in the middle of the night.  Raelynn, her grandmother,  would have sought his comfort or Nicholas’ .  Brona did not have that level of trust in him yet.

“Dom, what is a Chronicle of Light? Do you know?”  Brona asked suddenly.  In truth, she did not want to bother her grandfather until she had no other option.   Nicholas had enough responsibilities to the realm without the added trouble of her dreams.  The phrase and that redhead appeared in her dreams more frequently in recent weeks.  She had yet to understand why. The woman remained unaware of Brona’s presence as she went about her task.   Her uncle refused any familial acknowledgement.  He feared she would slip and the truth of their name and her relation would come to light.  Both Dominic and Nicholas agreed the girl deserved a better life than the one Dominic made for himself among the shadows.

“I believe, if my memory serves, that the title has to do with your Taltos heritage.”  Dominic said as he slid an easy arm around her to comfort her. He was saddened at the tension in her until he felt her relax into his side.  “You know Nicholas would be a better resource.”  The stubborn expression she flashed him earned a grin.  “Fine,  I’ll see what I can remember.  The Chronicle of Light, if I recall is an old term for those who are tasked with following another’s journey.  They are a record.  For what specifically, I cannot be sure.  I was only ever given a general education regarding the Taltos family titles and heritage.  There has not been a Chronical since the old bastard and I were children so I cannot be sure what exactly it means for you.”

“I think it’s bigger than me.  Part of me,” As she spoke,  Brona pushed a lock of her chocolate colored hair out of her face.  A frustrated huff left her throat when the words stuck.  “Part of me belongs to the realm and that frightens me. I’ve never belonged anywhere, Dom.”    Her eyes skimmed the horizon. The cold and starlight eased her for whatever reason.  A lone cloud crossed the empty sky.  With a small push of her will, she disbursed the water within the cloud.  It ceased to mar the night’s quiet beauty.

“That, my beloved girl, is the battle of all Fate’s children.  You will learn in time.  Be patient.”  Dominic hugged her and settled in beside her until she fell asleep against his side.  A small smile curled his lips as another touched the back of his mind.  Fate knew the twins were protective of one another. This new level of worry amused him. “She is fine, my little warrior. Tell your brother to stand down.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Shadow’s Dreams

Current Listening:   My Immortal – Lindsey Stirling

Current reading:   The Well of Ascension – Brandon Sanderson

Hello readers!  So we are just about two months into 2018, does anyone have anything new, exciting or fun to report? By all means, share something with me in the comments.  Your life has to be vastly more interesting than mine.   My wedding anniversary was last Saturday and, well, my hubs is pretty damned awesome….not that I’m biased or anything.  Love you babe because I know you’re reading this. ❤

Lately, life has been a crazy mess of the 9-5 and revisions, revisions, revisions.    My frequent readers are quite aware that I hate them and, at this juncture am nowhere nearing the light at the end of the tunnel.  I will persist. It will get done.  I just…need to bitch in the moment so to speak.  Also, let me give a shout out to my former hostess with the mostest and friend, Mia.  We got to connect on Skype this past Sunday and it was amazing to sit and talk to her face to face.   Check out her blog here.  She’s a great writer and a poet that knows it.

On to the fun part of the blog, the Ink &Quill post.  So this week I went with our vague prompt because books and well…you’ll see. If you’ve never checked out our little writing group, come hang out, b.y.o.c and  drop into Ink & Quill.

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Steps led her further into the forest and farther from a life she was just coming to understand.  Brona Devereaux often traveled in her dreams as of late.   Duty drew her forward into the sunset.  Darkness lingered in the outer edges of her mind as she walked.  The stone steps dug into her bare feet as she walked.  When an edge caught the sensitive arch of her foot, she cursed.

The white gown fluttered in the wind. Why the devil was she in a garment as unpractical as this?  A dress and a cloak brought a scowl to her lips.  Bloody footprints carried her forward into the dying daylight.  What was this place?  A flicker of movement to her left caught her attention and, on instinct she went for the daggers she normally kept hidden on her person. Her entire life was hiding and staying safe. Now, now it felt like this dream made her vulnerable.   The concept of family beyond the guild made her vulnerable. That too bothered her.

Even the warm comfort of the man she loved bothered her at times.  He made her feel safer than almost anyone in her short life and yet, that uncertainty sat at the edges of her consciousness like a chain.  Have faith, Chronicle of Light, this path is meant for you alone.  A phantom voice whispered in those outer recesses.  Brona cursed again as her foot began to throb.  Still she followed that sketch of red hair and lithe figure forward.  She kept to the edges of the steps and away from any sharp edges. Why was she here and better yet, why did she suspect she was just a spectator among the sharp contrasts of reality?  As dusk turned to dark, Brona followed her target into a hollow off the stone steps.  Her green eyes widened as she saw a stone roll away of its own accord.  The woman, a slender redhead, reminded her of Tessa Starson.  When Brona moved to step forward, she snapped awake with a gasp.

Panicked eyes shot from the balcony doors to window to her lap.  Uncertain hands went for the dagger that Brona still kept beneath her pillow.  She pivoted and growled a curse when she put her feet on the floor.  When she looked down at her feet, she saw the blood seeping from her foot.  “So would you like me to summon the healer or are you going to do it yourself this time, little heart?”

Fate damn it.  She woke him.

Running the shadows

Current Listening:  The Chain – Fleetwood Mac

Current Reading:  The Well of Ascension – Brandon Sanderson

Some days…it just feels good to take a breath.    This day, dear readers, has been one for the books.  If I did not believe in Murphy’s Law before today, I would after.  Anything that could possible fuck up did.  But, I made it to my favorite coffee shop,  I checked into their wifi,  into some Fleetwood Mac and I’m about to hang out with my favorite Sorceress.

A few updates before we go down that rabbit hole.  I am a few chapters into the revisions for Guardian’s Redemption.   With the craziness that is life in January,  I am not as far as I would like to be but  I will get there.  I am too stubborn not to.  This story’s flow is full of a lot of “what the fuck was I thinking”  or just straight up “wut?” moments.  Those of you that have been through this process with me, well, you know exactly what I mean.  I am not tearing my hair out just yet.   It will get done.  I am shooting for a October release/November signing.  Those dates will be coming.

So this week’s prompts for Ink and Quill;  this week I decided to go for the guided prompt.  The prompt is this:

Dream-catcher: Write something inspired by a recent dream you had.

So, naturally I am going to take my own twist on this because that is what I do.  I mentioned my favorite Sorceress above and she and I have been having a few chats as of late.  If you have read Shadow’s Journey,  you will know what she’s dreaming about and why.  If you have not, please keep reading to appease your curiosity.

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Reborn in the Light’s Grace.  The thought snapped Alexandra Jade awake with a  gasp.  In her dreams, she saw Devin.  Her eyes shadowed with the force of memory.  “Why now?” She whispered and hugged her knees to her chest.  Sunset had long since fled.    She passed most nights with her sleep disturbed by this exact dream.  Poison,  death and a fight to find the reason among Fate’s grace.  Her past collided with the future in a way she grasped to understand.

The streets of Mornesse, the lists beyond held her destiny.    That, she understood.   Once, years ago, she ignored Fate’s direction.  That ignorance cost a good man his life.  If she could sacrifice to prevent others from that brutal fate she would.  The dress, that day burned in her memory like the fire she stroked to life with her thoughts.  Troubled emotions brewed behind her sea-shaded eyes.  The fire shaped again and again to a crossbow bolt no larger than her finger yet that bolt would do damage to the realm; to the fragile family they built.    Her eyes flickered emerald as she fed that panic and pain into the hearth before her.

“What troubles you beloved?”  The quiet words caused a scream to catch in her throat.  Though Nicholas slept beside her most nights, Alexandra was so comfortable in his presence both within her mind and beside her body, that she often forgot he was beside her when she woke with such a start.  “You’ve had nightmares the last five nights in seven.  I have watched you meld the flames until you are calm enough to go back to sleep. What is Fate trying to tell you? Or am I not to know?”

For a few minutes, she took in his honest, earnest face.  She could not leave him out of this.  Alexandra decided he could not suffer through what lay ahead without her.  He may be the key to the entire puzzle, she suspected.  Her own white, blood-stained wedding dress flickered through the back of her mind. “I need your help and I do not think I could make you suffer as you once did.”    At his expectant expression, she smiled.  He would settle for no less than the entire truth once she chose to involve him in her scheme.  “Does the phrase ‘reborn in the Light’s grace’ mean anything to you?”

Nicholas pushed himself up onto his elbows and blinked the sleep from his sapphire eyes.  “The phrase was often used in my time to describe someone who suffered through Fate’s trials and came out the other side with a better understanding.  What do you believe it means to you, little one?”  He sat up and snaked an arm around her to pull her close.

“I think for me, it may mean I have to hurt my loved ones to understand the road ahead.”  She whispered as her head found the warm hollow of his shoulder.  “And I hope, in the end, that they can forgive me.”

 

 

Like a ghost into a fog…

Current Listening:  Round Here – Counting Crows

Current Reading:   Just finished The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir.

So, a long overdue update, the New Year brought a lot of interesting changes.  Please forgive the radio silence readers,  two days before Christmas I broke tooth and ended up with my first-ever root canal and crown the day after Christmas.  I think…ow about covers it.   The Maeseloria Monthly is still on hiatus until I can make a concrete decision on how to proceed forward with her.  I’ve only gotten a little bit of feedback from others about what they like/dislike about the newsletter so I’m still considering at this juncture.  For those of you that followed The Guardian’s Fall,  more to the story may appear here or in another format but I promise not to leave you all hanging with Nicholas’ story.

Revisions for Guardian’s Redemption are in early stages but have begun.  This book was kind of daunting to me because it brings a family full circle.  For story’s sake, I need to tell it well.  Those characters deserve it and so do my readers.  Many of you have been in love with the Taltos since day one.  I have too.  Nicholas is a dynamic character that I’ve enjoyed writing since his creation—even if the stubborn bastard doesn’t want to talk to me sometimes.   It is definitely time to expand on that.

On to Ink and Quill stuff, the group is backing up and running.  If you want to join a writer’s group that is supportive and fun, drop me a message or come find us out on Facebook.  J  We’re a pretty laid back bunch.  This week’s vague prompt got me visualizing on a character I have only just created.  You met her a few posts back.  Her history is a matter of interest and her background is somewhat sketchy.  Hope you enjoy!  Here’s the prompt:

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She remembered the ashes in the snow.  Perched at the end of a pier, Brona Rae watched the Isean tide roll in.  The cold Lochton weather did not bother too much.  A heavy coat both covered her and hid the weapons she carried more out of habit than any other reason.  A comfortable hat hid the crown of her chocolate shaded hair.  Her green eyes examined the white swells of sea before her.

She knew now.  R.D and N.T. were her future.  Learning not to be afraid of the magic that called her soul was the road ahead.  Edward Jacobs brought her home and, for that, she would be grateful for the rest of her days.   As overwhelmed as she often was by them, she loved having a family.  She loved having places to put down roots and grow as she now believed she was meant to.

In her lap was the battered prayer book she would carry all of her days.  Now, the back held both her initials and her father’s.  Whatever her life ahead might hold, that book would always be with her.  The book linked her past to this moment.  Her future slept between the pages of this book.

With a small effort she pushed the waves away from her. The swells obeyed.  The reaction brought a pleased gasp from her lips.  Brona knew the destructive capability of Fate’s blessing, the down side to that peace and light that called to her.  That night often haunted her dreams.

The village was just beyond the outskirts of the Kindred stronghold.  She remembered the way the ash mixed with rain and snow.  She had just arrived before the fires began.  Brona had almost ended her days among the ashes. She had just finished a recon mission for the Guild that evening.  She recalled the greedy way her contact scanned her over. She threatened the twit more than once at blade point to keep his hands to himself.  After all, she had no qualms about bleeding a threat to her.  She remembered soot staining her boots and the awful smell of burnt flesh on the wind.

What she remembered best was the way the magic pulled at her soul.  When she lowered her internal walls enough to sense what was happening, the force almost knocked her out. Never in her life had she felt such a pull forward.  It sent her skittering from the village that afternoon for Lochton.  She swore to herself that whatever was in her future; that level destruction she would never touch.

Brona understood the necessity.  She understood and feared that necessity all at once.  Before a few weeks ago, she only knew two people she would go to that necessity for. Even now, that list was short.  Lily and Layla she would go to that length for time and again.  She would suffer for it but for them that was a sacrifice she would make.  She focused again and pushed the sea-shaded swells away from her.

“Large movements are easier.  Don’t push so hard. You can do more with less, little Rae.”  A voice startled her from thought.  Lochton may be safe but the voice was known to her and, unlike those closest to her, she reached with her senses before striking.  Her sudden companion’s quiet force was both known to her and undeniable.  Tatiyana Jade sat down beside her.  Like her mate, she developed a fondness for the girl.  “Most of the time, the water will take on a will of its own. Watch.”   And with that, Brona could sense the tender tug of the woman’s magic.  Where Brona’s touch was firm, Tatiyana’s was as gentle as a feather.   “See the difference? Same result if you allow the water to do as Fate wills.”

Brona requested on quiet, hesitant tones.  Her cousin and grandfather taught her healing, wards and any number of skills they could yet,  she had never seen the easy finesse in them that this woman held. “Could you teach me more please?”

Ashes in the snow

Current listening:  Two Steps from Hell – Blackheart

Current reading: Still in between.  Still taking suggestions.

Hello readers!

I hope the holiday season finds you safe and happy.   This may be my last blog post for the season but I will be joining you all once again shortly after the holiday.  What’s your favorite holiday tradition in your family?  In mine,  it’s Christmas breakfast.  Every year we  try something fun and different. We get up, open our stockings and MAYBE a present if Santa’s feeling generous then we have a big breakfast before we settle in to open the rest of our gifts and enjoy the morning.  Last year’s breakfast was a blueberry French toast bake.  This year,  I am not sure what we’re doing.

For Ink and Quill this week, I am attempting to do both prompts at once.  The guided prompt was this:

War and Peace: Write about a recent conflict.

And the vague prompt was the following image:

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Let me know if you think I blended the two together. I was feeling brave.

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The burnt out husk of her childhood home sprawled before her.  Other women would have wept.   Other women would have mourned the loss of a childhood.  “Good riddance.”  The tiny Sorceress muttered.  She did not mourn.  She visited here to make sure that those old ghosts stayed dead.   Tanya understood the price of power better than any royal ever could. She and Sion both did.  No graves marked those that burned to death here.  No one mourned her mother’s madness.   Catriona Jade died as she had lived. The woman was forgotten to history and time.  All that remained were she, Sion and Layla. Each had suffered at the woman’s hands.  Each had devised new and fascinating ways to end the woman’s life as they grew into adulthood.

In a way, Tanya found it sad that for her the war began and ended in the same spot.  She and Sion were born in the castle that once stood here. Until age twelve, she lived under Stephen Starson’s watchful eye.  Their world was shattered when she was nine. Tanya sighed as memory’s echo flickered across her mind.  Her sadness faded in the ebb of her current happiness.  That woman hurt many people yet, they survived. In fact, they thrived. That too she suspected was Fate’s design.

Hope settled easily at her hip. The blade was a part of her as much as her mother’s darkness. As much as that ever-present sadness that seemed to sit in her heart.  Light balanced her. Love of her family balanced her.  Love of her mate kept her even when the sorrows threatened to overwhelm her.   She funneled the sadness of memory into her powers and allowed snowfall to begin to dot the landscape before her. Darkness would always linger her.  Generations would pass before the land could be cleansed of the blood shed here.  The powers behind Madryn’s book lingered here yet the book itself was gone.  Somewhere in Mornesse her mother’s madness remained.  Somewhere in Mornesse, the book written in her father’s blood remained.   Tatiyana pushed the thought away. Fate’s time, not mine. One of Stephen’s mantras eased her concern.

A hand settling on her shoulder startled her. Her response was immediate. She reached for her blade then froze when she felt who touched her.  She met eyes that mirrored her own.  “Brother-mine.” She greeted him on quiet tones as her free hand fell away from Hope’s hilt.  Their first reunion had been a shock to them both.  Both were dressed for Isean in warm coats and hats.

Sion  did not speak. He just drug her into a warm embrace.   His touch was one of few comforts she allowed herself.  Let it be sister-mine.  He murmured in her mind then set her away from his body.  “Come home. Dominic and Layla are waiting for you.”   And with that, the Jade twins vanished from the graveyard of their childhood.   For the last time, at war’s end, their world had burned.  In its ashes they built a new one.

 

For more about Taitiyana, check out the third book in the Maeseloria series, Hope’s Child

Sadness

Current listening:   Via Purifico – Final Fantasy Piano Collection

Current Reading:  In between.

Hello everyone!

I come to you with a dilemma.  Two prompts, two amazing ideas this week for Ink and Quill.  I am giving you one tonight but you will definitely have to wait until the weekend for the other.  (Who would have thought a guided prompt could produce so many possibilities?)  So this week, our vague prompt is itching to have me introduce a new face to anyone involved in the Maes universe.  To long time readers, tell me if you can figure out who and what she ties into.  Ladies and gents, meet Brona Rae and check out our vague prompt for Ink and Quill.

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The starlight cold of the capital made Brona Rae shiver.  She watched the city below with calm,  careful green eyes. Her target just left the cathedral. The girl understood that a mission was a mission but she could not bring herself to remove her target.  The woman brought so much good to a world that was once starved of such warmth.  Just watching the woman as she had these last few days had given her cause to doubt the merits of her assignment.

She would never be as calm, cold and collected as the fabled Shadow, or even Lily.  Brona understood that the act went against her nature.  If needed, she could do what must be done but she questioned her superiors in an effort to understand her purpose and the reason behind that assignment.  This was no different.  Her blond to brown hair was tied up in a loose knot to prevent an attacker from using the mass against her in a figh

Unlike many within the Guild, she favored her daggers and the crossbow.  Distance weapons,  close combat was more difficult for her.  Killing from a distance, thievery, spying these things she could do with ease and often requested those assignments.  How she was put on assignment assassinate a royal, she would never know.  At last word, none of the assassins had succeeded. Every single target failed and, at this juncture,  they each had a death warrant over their heads.  Rumor had it the guild had tried to eliminate Lily.

Brona paid a great deal of attention to the inner workings of the Guild. She knew their younger members were disappearing and, in a way,  she was glad for that. No child should have to grow up as she did, as Lily did.  She followed the city rooftops well above her charge.  In truth, she had spent months watching the woman.  She tried to understand why someone would want her dead. Tessa Starson, the people whispered, was a blessing to the realm and the people.  She healed them, she prayed for them.  The cleric brought them peace.  No one within the guild knew Brona’s true last name.  Given the history of the realm, Fate knew she was reluctant to reveal such information.

Late at night, long after the cleric retired from the cathedral, she would wind her way into the building and sit in silence.  This place called her and she could not understand why.  Her father was dumped in an orphanage when he was seven.  Until he died, they lived in the squalor of the capital.  He died just before her eighth birthday.  Before he died he made her promise to seek out the guild. The man understood what life he was sending her to but he wanted to see his daughter protected.  “Never tell them your full name. They will use you.”   He made her promise on his deathbed.

Brona knew that. She had power, she knew she did.   The power was a steady slow beat in her soul.  If she focused hard enough,  rain would tumble from the heavens.  The slumbering giant had gotten stronger the longer the royals remained in power.  She heard voices and, at a young age,  forced herself to lock that part of her mind away for the sake of her sanity.  Her father heard voices too and she suspected that drove him mad in the end.

So lost in thought, she almost lost her target.  Brona followed the woman as far as the castle gates.   Another pulse of the familiar lingered within those walls and Brona found herself reluctant to pursue that.  The Guild sent her all over the realm on recon missions before this one. Lochton and the North called to her like a siren’s song yet, there was that itch of the world she knew here in the capital.  Her charge was in the palace for the evening and that was as far as she wished to pursue the woman.  She wound away through the shadows en route to the cathedral.  Perhaps it was time to think and gain herself some peace.

The prayer book was old, many of the words faded from multiple readings.  Brona thumbed through the pages. Fate bless this place.  She thought as she lowered herself into a pew at the back of the cathedral.   In truth, she could not fulfill a contract against one who brought so much Light to the world. Darkness was all she knew. The city streets sometimes wept of her loneliness.  Her green eyes shadowed a moment as she read the old prayers. The book, her father told her, was her grandmother’s.

Fond fingertips turned  the pages as she murmured those prayers beneath her breath.  She knew from experience if she pushed power into the words, her hands would glow.  Brona tried this once before in a dark alley away from what her life called her to be. At last her fingers found the back cover of the book.  She traced those letters since childhood.  After her name, they were the first two letters she learned to write. R.D.   The second set of initials occupied the bottom corner of the cover,  N.T.,  she had no idea whose they were or what they meant.  That, she suspected, would be the mystery of not just her lifetime but her father’s as well.

In  many respects , the cathedral was the only peace she knew. The rest of her life, she felt was running the rooftops and following the woman her employer asked her to remove.   Her conscience stayed her hand.  Those that came before her, their hands would not be stayed. A mission was a mission.  Still, Brona could not bring herself to eliminate her target so, she watched.  She prayed for Fate to intercede. Fate take this duty from me, please.

In the shadow

Current Listening:  The Evil Clicking of My Husband Playing Overwatch (Love you babe)

Current Reading:  Still taking recommendations

So,  Nanowrimo is complete for me.  I finished on the 22nd.  It’s official.  Maeseloria: Guardian’s Redemption is done in rough draft form.  I am really happy with the product.  The new book is  tabled until revisions start January/February.  I’m excited by the story I’ve put out.    I hope those of you that are stateside had an amazing Thanksgiving.     What’s your favorite thing about Thanksgiving?

Ink and Quill-ers got two weeks for the prompts this go around due to the holiday.  I have to say,  thank you to those of you that wrote for the group.  I love the work you’ve been putting out.  It’s awesome to have you guys.

On to the prompt!  This week I chose the guided prompt because it amused me and got me thinking on a character that is new in Shadow’s Journey but not new to the blog reading crew.  Her name is  Lily Eisen.  She is rapidly becoming one of my favorites.     I hope you guys like her as much as I do.  Here is the prompt:

Eavesdropper: Create a poem, short story, or journal entry about a conversation you’ve overheard.

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“Rumor has it she did not survive the poisoning…”   Lily heard the guard whisper as she wound her way through the shadows.  A small smile curled her lips as she got closer to the catacomb’s entrance.  She blended with the night.  The Guild’s location was a secret to its members.  Based in the North, they were about an hour’s ride from Lochton.  She remembered being six years old and brought here under cover of darkness and blindfolded.  Lily shook the thought away. Those days were long gone.  She told Christi she needed help for this next mission to Mornesse.  The request was both selfish and not.

Layla was hers, more so than Isabelle had ever been.  The girl was brought to the guild at a young age.  She was old enough to be an adult but had no experience. In that,  Lily protected her as if she were a child.   Whoever had abandoned her did so with the intention of leaving her to die.  Lily would not allow her to.  At first, more nights than not,  Layla woke up screaming if she slept at all. When she could not sleep, Lily was there. In those dark nights,  Lily taught her how to use a dagger. The child learned as quick as any of the little children Lily herself had taken under wing. In those dark hours,  Lily found a kindred spirit she wanted to protect.  Whatever the girl’s history,  Lily had long since claimed her as her own.

Many of the upper echelon of the guild felt Layla would never be of use to them.  Lily understood what it was to be underestimated and discounted due to either your gender or whatever burdens you may carry within you.  After those first few terrifying nights,  Lily adopted the girl and made it her personal mission to prove them wrong.    If Marc knew she was here, the man would have a conniption.  These were the same people that sent her on a suicide mission to kill him.    Suffice to say the man would not be pleased if she chose this moment to disable the gem that currently hid her from his formidable talents.

I have to get her out, no noise, no movement, no witnesses. Fate above, please do not let her be on a mission right now. I need her to be here.  Her thoughts focused on the darkness before her and, as she passed the guard she palmed one of her poisoned needles. The man on the door was one of the more brutish members of the guild. She swept by him in the dark and scraped her needle across the back of his neck.  The strike was subtle and quite intentional.  Lily held her breath and froze in the shadows until the unsuspecting fellow dropped to the ground on unconscious.  The poison would not kill him but would leave him feeling ill for a number of days.  “The shadows are always watching.” She offered on a whispering sing-song to his fallen form before she proceeded into the catacombs below.

Anyone who may have been listening would assume that another member was returning from a mission. The phrase let people know the intruder was not a stranger to them. Such power games were common among the guild.  No one would pay any mind to the unconscious guard. She even took his guild coin for good measure and ditched the item in the shadows of the hallway.  Before they earned their daggers, all initiates were minted a coin specific to them.  Her own coin was minted with the flower that was her namesake.  Their duty was to keep the coin with them at all times.He would awaken with a headache and the impression that one of his bretheren had bested him to gain an advancement within the Guild.

As she passed other members, Lily pitched her voice in a way that no one but those that knew her well would recognize her.  Once through the main guard, she passed down the halls on quick, knowledgeable strides. When she left on her mission against Marc, she made sure Layla had earned her daggers.  She remembered giving the girl a brief hug.  Layla was as picky about physical contact as Marc’s sister, Alex.  “I have a way out for us. I promise.  This is my last mission.”   That was almost a year ago.

She rounded the corner into Layla’s room and backed left from the dagger that was launched at her head.  “Your aim’s gotten better.”  She whispered to the strawberry blonde girl.  Not long after her arrival, Layla had discovered that sneaking up on Lily was not a habit to have.  Layla’s strawberry blond hair and blue eyes drew a great deal of attention.  She was a little beauty that went to great lengths to hide that.  Lily understood why.  Her delicate beauty would be mistaken for weakness among the guild.

“Where the hell have you been?”  Layla growled and went for Lily’s arms without question.  When Lily closed her arms around her,  she relaxed.  Lily soothed the sudden panic in the girl’s face.  “Elders said you were dead.”  The words were hurt and Lily could do nothing but absorb the scent and feel of the girl in her arms. Layla’s normal exuberance was curbed by the shock of Lily’s arrival.  The nightmares still came for Layla and neither one of them understood why or how.  All Lily could gather was that Layla had suffered through hell before she came to the guild.  Without Lily’s intervention, matters could have gotten much worse.

“Away.  Clearly not dead.  Getting you out like I promised. Get your things, we’re going.”  When Lily set the girl back from her, she smiled though there were tears in her eyes.  “We are not coming back here. Not ever.”  Memories of this place and her years here clogged her throat.  For a moment, she felt a pang of guilt for what she had to do to survive.  In the end, though,  having the girl in her arms and the man that awaited her at home, were worth those sacrifices.  Being reunited with the only family she had left and the only father she had ever known were worth those sacrifices.

“You go, I go.”  Layla responded before she left Lily’s arms to gather her few meager possessions. The phrase acted as both a promise and direction.  Layla had to be talked out of accompanying her on that last mission to the capital.  The elders usually looked the other way when Lily took Layla with her.  Her missions never failed so no one complained.  The two of them had saved each other’s lives more times than she could count.  Layla had an uncanny sense of the world around her and, as she grew, Lily saw that the girl matched Lily’s reflexes stride for stride.  At times,  she surprised Lily with her intuition.

“You go, I go.” Lily repeated as Layla shouldered her bag. “Missed you, kid.  Let’s go. Details on the road.”   She kept the speech short and to the point. They could talk at length as soon as they got out of here alive.  If she wanted to make this painless, she’d summon his lordship.  Yet, she was not entirely sure the man had earned his way back into her good graces just yet.  They crept from the room and out into the halls.  The catacombs rarely bustled with life.  The halls of the dead were just that, dead.  Their kind did not often socialize with one another. Anonymity was often the key to their survival.

No one offered any further interference in her plan to remove Layla from the Guild.  Minutes later,  the cold, crisp air of the North hit Lily’s nostrils.  “We are free.  Come on, let’s get moving south.  I need to be in Mornesse in two days.”  Lily instructed as she wound her way through the trees.   Warmth was important.  Isean was not too far from its height.  The nights were cold.  She was prepared with a pack on both their horses. Cloaks, tents for the late hour.  They could survive.

Layla mounted her horse and noted Lily’s well planned approach.  That did not come as a surprise to her.  She wrinkled her pert nose at the errant snowflake settle on it.  “We camp. You tell me what going on. Another guild member boasted about poisoning you.”  Lily leaned over and fastened the cloak around Layla’s shoulders but did not answer. As another flake settled on the end of Layla’s nose,  she muttered.  “I hate the cold. Let’s move.”

 

 

 

Into the fire

Current listening:  My husband’s mouse clicks while he plays Diablo

Current reading: Taking suggestions.

Almost half way through Nanowrimo and here is where I stand:

Word count

To everyone participating in this event, I hope your coffee is strong and your words flow easily. To my readers, Guardian’s Redemption is well underway.   I hope you all enjoy the new story and are currently enjoying Shadow’s Journey.  To those of you that receive the Maeseloria Monthly,  the newsletter is currently on hiatus until January while I re-evaluate what I want to do with the publication.

So this week I decided to have a little fun with the vague prompt this week on Ink and Quill.  I go into these usually having a good idea where I want to go with any prompt I post. So,  I bugged one of my group members  who is familiar with Maes and said the following:

“Pick a prompt and a character. I’ll see what I can pull together on the fly.”  She did not disappoint. 🙂   Here is this weeks vague prompt:

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The house was quiet this Isean. Marc Jade enjoyed a rare moment of peace.  Jade Manor had few occupants as of late.  Most of the time,  the capital and realm business consumed he and Alexandra’s time.  “A family, beyond us.” He murmured and focused his skill on the hearth before him.  Alexandra had always had a knack for the finer graces of magic.  She could manage many feats that he could not.  He told no on that the torching of Catriona’s keep was more her power than his.  Nicholas said once he felt it wiser that people believed those powers were balanced between them.  “People need to believe.” The old man said. “If they knew all that she could do, they would fear her that much more.”

Marc reflected on that conversation.  He asked not long after the war’s end. Had it really been more than a year?  In that time, he met Lily and proposed.  In Mornesse he became a father.  The thought made him smile with a warmth he was still getting used to.   Layla Eisen was a whirlwind of action and affection that made him laugh.  He could not help but love the girl and her ways.  She trusted him as much as a daughter could trust a parent.

“And then there are your own children.”  A warm, much loved and familiar voice spoke from the door way.  His sister, Alexandra, stood in the doorway watching him manipulate the hearth.  This was often their custom when they were thinking, or brooding depending on the situation.  Lily would give him twins come mid Adryn.  “Fate above Marcus, do we both really have every blessing we talked about?”  With a small smile she strode into the room.  The house, as was usual, seemed to welcome her. The hearth’s brightened, the candelabra’s  blossomed.

“We do, dear sister. We do.” He agreed as she settled in beside him.  Alexandra’s warmth beside him was one they were used to. They spent many a night talking, planning for their future with no indication as to what it may truly hold.   It was before a fire that they decided to come home all those years ago.  That return was the beginning of everything they were now, if he thought about it.  “We have that much more to lose.”

In that moment’s silence,  she agreed. They would spend the night here before returning to the capital.  These moments were rare and Marc Jade valued them.  They sat the long night together,  talking and planning not their future, but their children’s.

Updates and things

Current Listening:  Beyond the Veil – Lindsey Stirling

Current Reading:  Taking recommendations

So as many in the writing community know, November is National Novel Writing Month or Nanowrimo for short. Those that have been following the blog this last year know that I participate in this event every year.   In fact, my last two books have been written during Nanowrimo.   This year is no different.  So far, these are my stats after four days:

Word count

I like to give myself extra padding at the beginning of the month because, let’s be honest, there are dry days. There will be days where the words just won’t come. Days will come where I will look at my character and ask them what the fuck are they thinking. It happens.  I’m tickled pink with where I am thought.

As for the Ink and Quill writing prompt this week.  I chose a song I’ve written to many times in five books and the following guided prompt:

Eye Contact: Write about two people seeing each other for the first time.

So last week we got to meet Dr. Sarina Starson…and a mystery man.  For tonight, and the sake of this prompt, that story continues.

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The quiet power of the man and the humor in his dark eyes set Sarina’s teeth on edge. In all her life, she never felt another power beyond her own.  In these last years,  the world felt as though it had grown somehow.   When their eyes met, she felt a magic beyond her own. Not just holy, not just a healers gift, but that sense of another drifted just beyond the light in his gaze.  “I would give you my name but I fear you may faint in light of the truth.”  He spoke with an easy smile and careless grin.  “I am aware you can sense me but not to the degree I can sense you. I have no intention of revealing more than is necessary for this moment.”

Nicholas stepped forward towards the girl.  “Emma passed her legacy on well. I do hope you are a better woman than your namesake,  Doctor Jacobs.”  Like Kaylen, he watched this girl for years to see if she would come into her power.   Medical school, he supposed, suited a Starson to the letter in this modern world.  He knew she went to school in Lochton and that Emma had long ago settled there.   “Forgive me for startling you.” He repeated as he offered a hand. “Nicholas.”

“Clearly you already know me Nicholas.”  She took his hand and shook it. When they touched magic flared between them.  Her eyes widened.  The man itched of a time far older than herself.  “Who are you?” Sarina’s voice filled with curious wonder.  Peace radiated from him.   For the first time in her life, she was not alone.  Gold sparked in her hazel eyes as he pushed Holy against her talents.

“A man, an old sorcerer some might say, an old bastard others might say.” He responded, his tones ambiguous.  When she pushed back with her latent skills, his features spread in a grin.  “I have not felt the touch of another holy user in more than fifty years.”  Nicholas chuckled and absorbed the warmth of the familiar.  The grin faded and his expression became focused.  “You feel that darkness too, don’t you Sarina? You feel the path ahead crumbling.”

“I do. Violence in the city has risen in the last year. I see more cases of violent crime in the hospital this year than I have in years past and…I feel it when I’m  here away from the city–like a cancer beneath the skin.”  Sarina shuddered and drew away from him.  “I do not understand it or what it means.”  The woman was confused and yet, a voice deep within her was more resolute.  “I need to stand against it and do not know how.”

His patient smile ease her. “I do. Your time will come.  My word upon it.”  Nicholas knew.   Kaylen would need his help. Hell, they all would.  With a thought and no further explanation, Nicholas vanished.  Be at peace, child of Light. Be patient. The path ahead will challenge you and haunt you.  Go to the Cathedral.  Speak your faith. You will know.

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So, eye contact….what’s your favorite story about eye contact? Personal story, or about two fictional characters. Feel free to share!

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