Battle Born

Current Listening:  “Battle Born”  -Five Finger Death Punch (Thank you Kymber!)

Current reading:  Yep, still working on Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson

So, my apologies on the radio silence.  Personal issues and editing have kept me from blogging on the regular.  However, we are back.  Ink and Quill is up and running again and hopefully we’ll gain some momentum.  Editing wise,  I see the light at the end of the tunnel for the first round. I have one chapter and an epilogue then round two. We’re getting there. There’s a scene I want to add to the prologue. My plotting wheels are turning.   A scene involving the big lug and a dream.  We’ll see how it pans out.

Also, I will be signing books at Gathering Volumes on Independent Book Store day on April 28.  I will be there from 10 until 4.  If you’re on Facebook, check out the event. Let us know you’re coming!  It should be a great deal of fun!

At any rate, on to this weeks Ink and Quill prompt.  I went with the vague prompt this week and played a bit of what if.  What would Maeseloria look like in her next generation?  How the children take over from their elders. That thought led to the following post.  Let me know what you think, guys.

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“Are you planning on tickling me with that, kid?” Lily Eisen taunted her charge as they danced around the sparring circle.  The years and motherhood had been kind to her. Only tints of gray threaded her dark hair.  She saw the woman before her as the little girl she once knew riding on her father’s shoulders about Lily’s home.  The little girl had grown into an awkward teenager before Lily could blink. That teenager into the young woman before her. Lily struck hard and fast.  Her opponent’s blocks were getting better.   Early lessons had her student seeing Marcus at the end of a round for healing.

If her favorite Shadow knew what she was about right now, he could very well call Lily herself out on the yards. Fate knew they had not crossed blades in many years.  She sincerely doubted Jaylor Vincenzo allowed his combat skills to rust in the last decade or so.  Their children were growing up into what Fate would call them to be—leaders, warriors, diplomats. Lily understood the need to let them grow into those people without hinderance.  Fate knew her own daughter broke her heart any time the girl spoke of her future.

Corrine Vincenzo scowled at Lily.   She called the woman “aunt” from the moment her lips could form the word.  The needles that pinned her hair in place were a gift from the woman on her sixteenth birthday.  Her father had nearly had a conniption. The needles were coated with a nerve-numbing poison designed to paralyze an opponent.  She swung out with the dagger in her palm only to have the blade knocked from her hand with an appendage-numbing counter attack.  “Fate damn it!” Cori growled in frustration.  For the last three weeks, she had not been able to land a single strike on Lily Eisen. The woman’s laughter and taunts were infuriating.

Around them, the winds picked up.  Her Jade heritage was flaring. Fate would think since she was part Taltos she could have the advantage of not having her emotions tide to the winds within.  She muttered.  Her Jade heritage, unfortunately won out.   “Watch your temper.  Stop fighting like we’re family  otherwise you’ll never progress.  Let go Cori.  You have that liquid in you but you’re afraid to use it.”  Lily  chided her and flipped the dagger to present the weapon to Corinne.  When the girl took the dagger, the girl spun again and caught the blade on the back of Lily’s hand.  “Yes!” Lily howled in a mix of pain and laughter. She shook the slice away with a thought.  The pain was minimal but the point was made.  “Again!”

This time the lesson took and Lily watched Corrine settle into smooth strikes that Lily would swear was her family legacy. She moves like her father. Lily thought. That moment’s distraction earned another well timed, well placed strike from Corinne.  Good.  Blood trickled down her side. That called the fight.  Lily sat down hard in the sand.  “Good.” She sat there, bled and laughed.  “You have his movements about you.  Wonderful progress today. Let’s summon Marc, shall we?”

“No need.”  A voice that had Cori cringing.  “I can see to you Lils, and then take care of the insubordination of training my daughter without my explicit permission.”  Jaylor Vincenzo spoke on lethal tones.  “You knew what my answer would be if you had asked. Cori, go home. Now. I will talk to you later about this.”    The girl vanished and reappeared in her rooms at Vincenzo Manor half a realm away from Mornesse.  Jaylor looked at Lily, a girl he himself had raised from the age of six.  “Did you have to?”  He healed the slice to her side and her hand.

“Did you want her learning from someone else, Father?”

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Grace

Today’s blog is brought to you courtesy of two items; a writing prompt from Ink and Quill and a photo taken by a friend of mine who just happens to be one of my readers.  He has the advantage of living in a beautiful part of our state. The moment he captured spoke to me so here we are.   Here is the Ink and Quill prompt.

Dancing: Who’s dancing and why are they tapping those toes?

Here is the image:

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Near the Maumee River, sunset.   Photo taken by Nick Hendry.

The leaves crunched beneath their feet as they walked together.  Her skirts rustled to disturb the quiet peace of evening.   Who could have guessed after all this time, after all the heartache here they stood?  Nicholas looked down at the beautiful, petite woman beside him and smiled.  When a thoughtful expression crossed her features, he favored her with a puzzled look.  Alexandra’s expression meant a matter weighed heavy on her mind.  Nicholas could tell she was debating the merits of telling him.   “What troubles you, little one?”

Miles from the capital, the pair were on assignment in Swyngate.    Christiana asked them to scout ahead to help plan the Adryn progress ahead. In truth, she had asked Alexandra to take the assignement.  The Queen just allowed Nicholas to accompany his beloved rather than Marcus.  Jacob Swyngate, lord of this section of the south, was a good man who made every effort to see to their comfort and answer their inquiries. The crisp air and calmer pace gave them an opportunity to connect in a way that life in the bustling capital did not allow.  These lands, they agreed, could serve as a safe haven if needed.  Alexandra had already assured the lord that he would receive a royal visit while on progress next Adryn.

“A task ahead troubles me.” Alexandra admitted on honest tones.  “You know my dreams as of late have awakened me more than once.”  A small smile tugged at the corners of her mouth as they walked through the mid-Isean weather. Beyond them, the river rushed on and the skies glittered.  “I am afraid, Nicholas.”  As she spoke, she slid closer to him.  His warmth had the power to comfort her in a way her brother’s familiarity never did. Nicholas would never question her Fate-given duties.  Her brother would. “What is ahead may destroy what we have all worked so hard to build.”

Nicholas hugged her close and whispered. Their companionship in these last years had become an easy one.  The days of fighting each other’s pride to be together were long gone.  “Can you share your duty with me, little one?”  The fear danced across her sea-hued gaze.  Years ago, the man he was would not have offered to share the burden of Fate’s duty.   He never would have thought to.   Nicholas was raised to believe that the Sorceress’ needed none but their Knight. This woman taught him a different way to look at their realm’s structure.  This generation of royals worked as a unit to build their dreams.  Station and title meant little to them when it came to their people, their realm.  Their unity inspired him. For all that he taught them in rebuilding the realm, they taught him in return.

She stopped him at the riverside.  Beneath the dying daylight, the river glimmered silver.  Purple etched the skyline as the sun sank beneath the horizon.  “I believe I need your help.  I do not know that you could survive without knowing what will come.”   Alexandra took a breath and released it.  She had to tell him.  In her dreams, she saw his magic saving her life.  She needed to know why; so many why’s existed with this Duty.  The result could mean closure on what felt like an ages old heartache for her Queen.   “I need you this time, Nicholas. More than ever.”

On quiet tones, she outlined her dreams and what she believed Fate required of her.   As she spoke, Nicholas alternated between patient grace and absolute terror.  What she planned was an enormous risk.  If she survived, they would have answers to a problem that he knew haunted his beloved.  Also, if she survived, she would have to deal with the repercussions of her choice on multiple fronts.  If she failed, Nicholas would press on for Kira’s sake but his life would never be the same.  “Very well, little one.” He whispered and bent to kiss her as though this was the last time.  “Until that time, I will enjoy what time I have with you.”

At last, Nicholas understood her.  Nicholas understood she would do what must be done with or without him.   The best he could do was support her.  “We will steal what moments we can.”  And with that, he swept her up into a simple waltz that had her laughing.  Her laughter held its own magic for him. The stress around her eyes faded and, for this moment, she could just enjoy their new-found closeness.  “Find joy where we can until, little one.  I will not fail you this time.”  He said when their impromptu dance came to a close.  The pair continued along the riverside to plan what would come to pass.  He could prepare but the task would be hers alone.

 

 

Thanks for stopping by today gang!  Stay tuned for big news about the Guardian’s Redemption release come October!

Random sound bites

Current Listening: “Beautiful Trauma” -Pink

Current Reading:  The Well of Ascension -Brandon Sanderson

So, between life business and revisions, the blog has been quiet.  For regular readers, sorry!  A few ventures have seemed to have slipped between the cracks with this first quarter of the year. I plan on doing a newsletter revamp for those of you that might be waiting for more of Nicholas’ story.  I will say this much; Guardian’s Redemption heavily features the Taltos heritage and family.  If you read through the end of Shadow’s Journey, you might have a hunch what’s coming.

At any rate, life is finally calming down enough for me to take a breath so here we are.  Life has been crazy as of late.  I have a habit of seeing to others needs before my own and, honestly, the last couple days it’s been biting me on the ass. For those that know me well, it’s a mental check out for my sake.  Do any of you get so overwhelmed by what everyone else needs that you go into a total emotional shut down because you just can’t give anymore? What’s that like for you?

For me, it’s a hot mess of tears, a need for quiet and to be away from almost everyone for a bit. Quiet comforts, vegging out with the TV or a favorite video game.  In fact, there are very few people allowed in my bubble when I need that check out time.  For most, when I’m in this place in my head, I fake it.  I am very good at faking it if I must.   I look back on a younger me and I laugh a little. That girl would push until she blew up all over people and then have to apologize for her lash out later. In some cases that did a lot of damage to her friendships.  In fact, I can say one person has survived the turbulence of my youth in a way that strengthened our relationship instead of damaged it.   (You know who you are and when you read this I love you and thank you.)

Let’s be honest, life throws a lot of shit our way.  Some good, some bad but we still have to keep plugging away. At least, I do.  I need forward momentum. I hate to be stagnant.  I hate feeling like things are beyond my control.  Lately, a lot of things have been beyond my control.  I have just had to sit and watch and support because that’s all I can do.  Having your loved ones go through shit at a distance sucks because you can’t do as much as you wish you could.  I still insist this is the reason someone needs to invent a teleporter.  If only for the sake of my heart and sanity.  For the people I’m fussing over, you know who you are and why I’m fussing.  I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way though.

So, what’s been on your plate lately that tries to send you screaming into the night? Or that wakes you up worrying?

Your regularly scheduled creative goodness will be coming later this week.  Shout out to readers, if you want a segment for a specific character, drop me a line in the comments.  I love pulling random things together like that.  Tell me who you want to hear from.  Later guys!

 

 

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.”

 

 

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.

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