On the Road Again

Like the song says…hitting the road in t-minus 3ish hours.  Headed to GenCon and four marvelous days of gaming and, possibly,  some promotional work for my books.  For those of you that may be in attendance;  look for me.  I’ll be the one reeling my dorky husband in. Or, look for my Harley Quinn backpack. This backpack:  (I think it’s pretty epic.)

In other news,  I’m excited to meet a few longtime friends face to face and play my first D&D campaign.  The game seems complex or I am overthinking it.  We shall see.  My first character is a Sorceress and a soldier.  (Go figure, right?)  From what I understand;  the event is an amazing experience and I cannot wait.  If you are attending, love my work and want to meet up,  message me @SandraHults on Twitter.  Or drop me an email at maeseloria@gmail.com.  Smartphones are wonderful things.  🙂

By the way,  tick-tock the clocks ticking until the first issue of the Maeseloria Monthly.  If you have not signed up; for the love of Light, what are you waiting for?  It’s free! You can’t beat free?  Also, stay tuned for special offers via the newsletters possibly another giveaway!  For those of you that took advantage of the free digital download of Birth of Light;   inbox me for a limited time discount on Duty’s Song. You know…maeseloria@gmail.com.  Talk to me people! Ask questions! I don’t bite, honest.

Stay safe gang.  Take care.  See you next week.

 

 

 

Fight Song

Inspired by:  Fight Song – Rachel Platten;   Rise up – Andra Day

Brought to you by:  The Figment’s Weekly Writing Prompt

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And I’ll rise up like the break of day;   I’ll rise up, I’ll rise unafraid.  So this week’s prompt was the word “brave”.   This has taken a great deal of time and indecisiveness when this prompt was posted.  The hilarious part is that this was a prompt I provided and I could not bring myself to decide what I wanted to say about it.  I am still on the fence because when I put that word in a personal context; the meaning takes on a life of its own. The meaning to me is a wish to be brave enough to keep going no matter what.  I rise up.  Every.damn.day. I show up.  I push.  I keep going.

Brave is having the stones to step outside the little boxes we put ourselves in.  The expectations of society; family;  whatever floats your wee little boat;  whatever your situation is that binds you and causes your stagnancy.    I wasted a lot of time trying to meet the expectations of others rather than those I set for myself; rather than going after the brass ring I dream about.  A lot of years passed before I learned that meeting other people’s expectations was not the path I needed to be on.  Even now the words sound selfish; I needed to forge a path that was for me and not what everyone else required.

“O, that way madness lies; let me shun that;
No more of that.”

(Bonus points to anyone who knows that quote.)

 So I learned, however painful the cost, I learned.  In a way, I suppose, those growing pains fueled my writing.   Many people would say this is just the nature of growing up and yet; I see so many people shackled to those same walls rather than knocking them down.  Don’t misunderstand; finding that path is absolutely fucking terrifying but again; I learned.  I learned I was a fighter.  I learned that I can pick myself up by those bootstraps and keep pushing.   Hurt like hell but I learned.  Caused myself a lot of heartache; but I learned.    What do the cheesy old “The More You Know” Commercials say…Never stop learning?

Trite saying but true.  To this day,  I suspect that was intended to push people to continue their educations and to a degree I agree with that point.  To me though, I interpret the phrase to mean never stop challenging yourself to grow.  Personally; professionally; whatever; but do not stop.  Keep moving.  Stagnant spirits die.  Be brave.  What makes you brave?  Sound off in the comments below!

In non-writing prompt related nose…by this time Wednesday night we will be in Indianapolis enjoying GenCon. I’ll have a couple promo copies of Birth of Light;  get a hold of me on Twitter.

Walking in the Rain

Inspired by:  Listen to the Rain – Evanesence
Courtesy of: The Figment

Our hostess as played stump the author once again with the following quote:

“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.” ~Friedrich Nietzsche

And I have to thank her for making me think around corners and about how I want things to develop creatively.  What I bring you today is the next installment of the series I’ve been writing about one Nicholas Taltos and Dominic Devereaux.    Before I do, however, let me encourage you to sign up for my newsletter—starting September 1, 2016.  The newsletter will keep you in the loop about appearances, book releases, and giveaways.  I also intend to start a section called “Sandra’s Corner”.  Please don’t hesitate to submit your questions via email, direct message on Twitter or message me on my Facebook page.  If you closed the pop up when you dropped in, refresh the page and opt in.  If you like the blog, you’ll love what’s coming.

Now, with that shameless plug out of the way,  let’s get on with the story.

Rain battered the campus grounds as she stared into the storm.  Kaylen Burke watched the downpour with a numbed apathy.  The university had offered to give her time off to tend to her affairs but, truth be told,  she would rather be working to ease the emptiness at home.  Her husband was gone.  The police had come to her door two days ago to deliver the news and inform her that his body would be released to her once autopsy procedures were complete.

Her home was empty. Her heart was hurting.   The history professor’s thoughts scattered.  The sleek bob that was her dark hair rested on her shoulders and moved when she did.  She was still dressed for the office in a dark skirt-suit combination.  At least, she supposed, none of her students had come to offer their condolences.  Kaylen did not believe she could sit through another round of  apologies and well-intended sympathy.  Beyond her,  she would swear she saw two figures moving through the increasing storm in the direction of the history building.  Who would be fool enough to brave such a sudden, violent storm? Let alone at night?

She sighed and closed her sapphire eyes.  At times, she wondered if there was not more to their world than what was on the surface.  All her life, she felt as if she was on the precipice of a larger experience,  a larger world but could never quite break through the boundary between the normal and the extraordinary.  Her thumb traced the wedding band that still remained on her left hand with an absent sort of grace.  The gesture was familiar and gut-wrenching at the same time.  They had a comfortable life together.  She and Brad were married three years ago.  They loved each other; shared similar interests but now, now she wondered if she was not at that precipice once again. The thought of more was stirring her blood again.

“Good evening,  Professor.”  She had not heard her office door open and close but the voice she knew.  Director Tammond stood in her office soaked to the skin alongside a man she had only met once before.  His name, however eluded her.  The director was her immediate report. In fact, the man had been delighted to sign off on her tenure.  He said the realm needed more tenacious minds like hers.

Kaylen’s lips thinned to a line as she fought the urge to scream at his sudden arrival.  With a breath, she stilled herself and flashed him a small smile.  “Good evening Director,  what can I do for you tonight?”  That was the moment she absorbed the full shock of two grown men standing in her office soaked to the skin.  They both looked like drowned rats.  “Oh my,  was it so urgent that you both needed to brave the storm?”   An amusement she was not sure she had a right to feel bubbled up in her throat.   The old man, as he was often called by University Faculty,  was cantankerous and stand-offish to most but she found him both endearing and gruff.  His old eyes held secrets she could not begin to understand but she was never brave enough to ask.

As if he read her mind, he responded.  “I did and you should probably get braver.”  Nicholas shook the damp from his hair with a brisk gesture.  There was an easy long-time companionship between the two men—many faculty members suspected they were gay.   That was one of the more prominent rumor on the university gossip mill.  Kaylen never sought to dispel the rumors because she knew they were false.  Nicholas spoke too often and too with a great deal of fondness of the wife he lost many years ago.

“Will you stop speculating for a minute Kaylen?  Light above your mind is making me tired listening to you.” Nicholas interjected.  When she was struck dumb by his statement,  he continued while Dominic began to laugh.  “We have a lot to discuss and very little time.  The precipice you were thinking about a moment ago has arrived.” A glare silenced his companion as Nicholas reeled in his impatience.  Alexandra’s words drifted through his mind.  Be at ease, my impatient heart.  Things happen in Fate’s time, not ours.  With her warmth acting as a balm,  he gave Kaylen a stern glare.   “But,  for the love of Light Kaylen, could you stop the blasted rain?”

“What?”  The disbelief rocked her to the core.  Had the man lost his mind?    “What the devil are you talking about, Director? I can’t—“   Frustrated, her hands plowed through her hair and mussed the dark tresses into disarray.  Her spirit trembled at the force in his eyes when their gazes met.  Why had she never seen that sheer force of will before?  Why did she never feel the quiet resonance of power that seemed to exude from the man?   Kaylen’s gaze flicked past the Director to his pale-skinned companion.  The man had taken to leaning against the closed door and watching the scene as if he were engrossed in a good novel.

“You can. You will.”  Nicholas stepped forward and wrapped the smaller woman in his arms.  She did not know; could not know what she was. She was his.  She was theirs. She was a Child of Light and Fate would call her home.  Nicholas did not know if she was the last but he could feel that she was both a Jade and a Taltos.  He could feel his bloodline singing through her veins.  Of greater importance, though,  he felt his beloved’s bloodline in her veins.   He hugged her tight and set her away from him before he spoke on gentle, consoling tones.  “Kaylen, have you never wondered why it rains when you cry?”

More new stuff!

Hey guys!

So I have some additions to the website and a couple little things to share.  One,  when you visit my website, make sure you sign up for my newsletter!  The first issue launches September first.  Don’t miss out!  The newsletter will feature a portion of the story  “The Guardian’s Fall”.   This, and other side stories featuring characters you know and love will only be available via the newsletter.  Sign up for your copy today!

Also,   there will be a new feature with the newsletter called Sandra’s Corner. You can submit questions about anything from writing to my favorite book or song or whatever floats your boat.  Keep in mind;  your question may be answered in this issue or subsequent issues and please keep all questions to the G-rated level. Thanks.  You can submit your questions via email,  direct message on Twitter or Facebook.   I will be answering three to four questions an issue.  Please don’t hesitate to appease your curiosity.

Lastly,  if you are among the 25 people that downloaded Birth of Light;  take advantage of a discount when you sign up for the newsletter.  I have an exclusive deal for you for the purchase of Duty’s Song.   The deal will be available August 3-8th.

As always, thank you for the support.  Please give me some feedback on what you’d like to see on the site; any questions, comments.  Let me know.

Flakes

Inspired by (Sort of):   “Flake” – Jack Johnson

So, I have to admit that our hostess almost stumped her second in command with this week’s prompt.  (Yes, I got a promotion. Thank you, dear hostess.)  I admit to being stumped before but never to the point where I had to bounce it around with someone else until I could wrap my head around it—also the first time where I gave serious consideration to not participating.  Finally, a friend spun a different suggestion my way and that off-hand, off the wall suggestion got me going again. (Hats off to you, sir.)

Before we get creatively rolling, I have a few announcements  if any of you missed them on my Facebook page.  The first three Maeseloria have all been reissued with brand new covers—you can check them out here.  Also, the release date for Maeseloria’s fourth book, Light’s Guide, is October 17th, 2016.  Mark your calendars and stay tuned both to this blog and Facebook to take advantage of exciting opportunities and discounts.

Until then, enjoy.

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Ice glittered against the window pane.  Perhaps sprites were dancing across the glass, Adrianna Morningstar watched the frost on her windowpane with a perturbed gaze.  Was she in the right to summon them?  The treaty was centuries old and the public had no idea what darkness could be upon them.  Only the guardians remained.  After the last attack, what choice did she have?  The press could only be kept quiet for so long and the monarchy itself was not what it once was.  The era of the four houses ruling was long gone and all she had were their memoirs to forge a new path ahead.

Parliament would approve any legal changes to their realm.  She was a figurehead, nothing more.  Nearly a century ago, uproar among the people became the vehicle of change.  What she would do needed to be done in the shadows.  After all, who would believe her?  Kindred were the monsters of history and magic belonged in fairy tales.  If only they knew the truth.  The hour was drawing near.  Adrianna was not the monarch of yesteryear.   For the moment, she was alone but for her single security detail.   Everett Redwynd had been her shadow since they were children.   His connection to the past was clear to her.  Of all the houses, only she and a single Redwynd remained.   “Are you sure about this?”    He was also the only person Adrianna confided in.

“We have no choice.”  Adrianna replied with a shake of her head.  This meeting was casual and she was dressed in a casual pair of jeans and a loose sweater. The palace had been renovated to accommodate for modern technology what seemed like ages ago and, yet, the place still could seep winter’s chill from ones bones.  “The last attack may not be able to be kept from the press.  If the treaty is broken, you know what we have to do.”  Christiana had left them the keys to the proverbial kingdom yet her descendants had allowed the truth to fall by the wayside as technology progressed.  To arrange this meeting, she had dismissed the staff and any advisors that may have come snooping.  Light knew they were persistent enough.

She tucked an auburn lock behind her ear and sighed.  Messy auburn waves framed her face and the determined set of her chin brooked no argument.   For the first time in history, her station limited her.  Frustration sparked in her emerald shaded eyes.  Their guests would be joining them soon and, if they were as powerful as she suspected no amount of gun or ammunition would stop them should arm be their intent.

Adrianna doubted that would be the case but Everett expressed concern so he was armed.  The thought of her bodyguard pulling a gun on Nicholas Taltos brought the smile to her lips that the man noted as soon as he came through the chamber door.  “One would have thought her wards would have weakened over the last few hundred years.”  Nicholas muttered before he and Dominic bowed to the Queen of the realm.  When the woman gestured them both to chairs opposite her desk, Nicholas was thrown back in time to his many meetings with her predecessor.  The girl would have been Christi’s spitting image.   Did she seek to bring the realm together once more?

“Thank you for coming.  I had no idea where else to turn.” Adrianna started as she looked at the two men.   The pair appeared hardly as formidable as the records described but she suspected that was their intent.  “Or who else would believe me. “  Her eyes flicked to Nicholas’ and held with a firmness that impressed him.  “She left your names in our private family records.  The information was passed down from generation to generation.  How else would we have known the two of you would outlive them all?”

As he watched the woman size him up in a manner that echoed of Christiana’s tenacity; Nicholas began to laugh. The gentleman behind her was a Redwynd;  Nicholas could tell by the size and sense of the man.  He wondered if the man was completely aware of his dual heritage.  Who could say for certain? Fate’s hand had the most peculiar way of acting, he supposed. Time had taught him that lesson time and again.   “Of course she did.  Christi was always thorough.  She would have made sure at least your family would know what became of us or how to find us in times of strife. She told me once all she could do was prepare and hope. So here we are what summoned you to us, your Majesty?”

“This.” She spoke on gentle words and handed him what appeared to be a file commandeered from police records.   Nicholas scowled as he flipped through the crime scene photos. “Dominic.”  The single utterance had his friend peering over his shoulder at the photos.  Though he felt the weight of his best friend’s stare, Nicholas continued to flip through the folder and memorize each detail of not only the attack but the victim.   “Jason Burke.”  The name would mean nothing to the woman who sat across the desk from him but to Dominic the name would be significant for he had helped him locate the man’s wife years ago.

The rage, in fact, pouring from Dominic was a danger. He understood why but would not explain for those assembled before them.    “Settle down.  We will see to this.”  He sought to soothe his friend.  Nicolas understood.   History had brought him full circle once again.  Could miracles happen twice? Light only knew.  “What you suspect may be true, you’re Majesty, and things may progress sooner than planned but we will do what we can.  That is all Fate can ask of any of us.”   He stood and bowed.  “I have a family matter to see to if you but trust me. If what I believe is coming to pass, it will take more than the Morningstar’s guidance to resolve the matter.  We will be in touch.”

Announcements and reminders!

Hello!

I have exciting news to share with all of you.  Today and tomorrow Maeseloria: Birth of Light is available for free digital download on Amazon.com.  Consider this a reminder to those of you that may have missed the Facebook announcement first thing this morning  Don’t miss out on a freebie!

Secondly,  Duty’s Song is completed with a new cover and layout.  Here’s the big reveal!

Dutys Song New Cover

 

A few more notes of interest;  if any of you are attending GenCon in Indianapolis August 4-7,  I will be at the convension with a few promotional copies of Birth of Light on hand as well as a special deal for Duty’s Song for anyone who picks up a promotional copy of Birth of Light.   Unfortunately, I did not plan ahead enough to get a booth in the Author’s Alley,  maybe next time.   If you are attending GenCon and are interested in a promo copy,  feel free to tweet me @SandraHults or reach me via any of the contact information outlined on the website.

Also, if you missed it on my Facebook page,  Birth of Light also got a new look.  Check out the cover:

birth of light cover

All these events, including a new look for Hope’s Child are leading up to the release of Maeseloria Book 4,  Light’s Guide on October 17, 2016.  This is the official release date so stay tuned for more exciting developments.  As always, thank you for the support!

Tools

Inspired by:  Freedom – Amos Lee

My heart has been heavy in the wake of all the recent violence in our country.  I rarely post about world events.  Opinions are so varied and vast and I don’t believe in arguing to force a point on someone though others are huge fans of such arguments.  You have your beliefs,  I have mine.  If we differ, okay fine, don’t beat me to death over the disagreement.   I couldn’t sit quietly on this.  Recent events moved me too much.   From Orlando to the two men killed for following a police officer’s orders to the Dallas shootings.  Shooting seems too tame a word for these events but they will do for now.

I am by no means a scholar;  just a person like anyone else with their own set of thoughts and feelings on the issues.   To think that in all this time,  our country and its people. all people, are no closer to freedom than they were in the sixties—a time well before mine—is saddening and discouraging. To think that we may not see equality that is not restricted by gender, race, religion, sexual orientation in my lifetime is further discouraging.  In this sadness,  my thoughts turned to our weekly prompt for the figment.  Whether she intended it or not, our fearless leader struck a chord with the image she posted with me.

Death_to_stock_kinckerbocker_photography_41_zpso0pmk44y

Take a look at the image above.  What do you see? Tools, right?  So this got me thinking because, I honestly never consider anyone’s race, orientation or gender when I meet someone.   If anyone is willing to debate the point with me that you ‘always consider it’;   you are welcome to do so and I will answer your challenge with a smile.  When we were children; neither one of my parents ever really used racial or ethnic descriptions around us to discuss the people they knew, they worked with or anything of the sort.  As I age, I think this is the most amazing gift my parents could ever have given me.   None of us ever consider these things when speaking about another person.   Perhaps that…uniqueness…I guess is what makes it so much harder for me to wrap my head around someone who does see these things;  let alone acts on them.

That brings me back to the image above.  Tools.  I think I was given different tools than what most people have in their arsenal.  With that being said,  why would it be so hard to pass those tools down to our children?  Do I think we can fix the current state of affairs? Maybe.   I think no amount of legislation can change people’s hearts or minds.  Maybe those words are bitter or cynical or perhaps more realistic.  My mind comes back again and again to “what would it take to change the hearts of men, women, children?  What would it take to give them the blindfold I was given,  so to speak.”  I do not have any answers, I wish to God I did. I can only be me and hope that is enough.

My hope was challenged today; this week.  I watched every video posted about the two shootings.  I watched a video of a Cleveland area officer more or less chewing out other officers and telling them to “take the uniform off if they aren’t willing to give their lives for their fellow man regardless of race or religion or orientation”.  If you saw this video, I I wept right alongside that officer as she spoke.   I listened to a friend of mine talk about how she has to teach her sons to “get home alive” if they feel an injustice is being perpetuated against them.  It’s what I do,  I listen.  I gauge,  I consider every side.  It hurt my heart to read this.   It heart my heart to hear this friend’s frustration but,  at the same time her bravery floored me.  In a time when things are so volatile and one has to tread so very carefully;  she spoke her mind in a clear, succinct way that made me proud to know her.   I can only hope to be that succinct and clear.

Lastly, while I still have the composure to complete this post.  Keep something in mind.  It’s not a them.  It’s not a their.  It’s an us—men, women, children,  bi, gay, straight, trans,  who cares? If you put a blindfold on and talked to someone without the benefit of sight,  how would you know?  Could you evaluate your opinion on that person without your sight?  Would you know what their orientation or religion are at the word “hello”?  All of us are sharing this world.  How much could we change and impact that world with the right tools?

Time

Inspiration by:  The Arena –Lindsey Stirling (New album out in August!) ;  Five for Fighting – 100 years

Before we get to this weeks writing prompt, there  are a few orders of business I’d like to announce.  First,  if you missed it,  I guest blogged on The Figment Writer’s website.  You can check out that blog post here.  As always comments and feedback are welcome. A big thank you to them for allowing me to write for their website.

Secondly,  if you did not see the buzz on my Facebook page;  all three novels are getting a design face lift and a layout clean up.  I am very excited to announce that book one’s new cover and layout are complete.  Also,  for those of you wanting to get your grubby mitts on my first book, there will be a free Kindle download available on July 11 and 12.  Mark your calendars. The offer is good on Amazon for 48 hours.  Again, feedback and reviews welcome!

Now, on to this weeks prompt.  Dear Hostess,  you had me last Thursday when you posted this prompt but, as usual, these boys were stubborn about talking to me.  This weeks prompt was “Would you want to live to be 100 years old?”  So I took this and ran with the two gentlemen that decided to start running their mouths as soon as I read it.  Enjoy!

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Time.

Time marched forward whether he wished it to or not.  He wondered if Giddeon knew exactly what he was doing when he cursed him.  Nicholas Taltos watched the streetlights come on from his apartment in the capital.  Though it was true he had a house deep in the woods far from prying eyes, he loved the hustle and bustle of the capital. Even as a boy, the capital called to him.    A liveliness, a sense of purpose wound through the city streets.  He could not explain his draw here. Whether it was his duty, or the capital’s own charm, Nicholas could not separate the two.

Perhaps it was because he was the guardian, ever eternal, ever watchful.  The lore, the book and crests, the rituals; they were all his responsibility.   His lips thinned to the line as he thought. Who else would know what to do if the world came full circle, as it so often did? The warriors of ages past had long since been put to rest.    In a way he was glorified librarian.  Long gone were the Children of Light.  The woman he loved, their children and grandchildren were long gone.  Like him, they had taken their place among history.

How time had progressed, Nicholas mused as he sipped his coffee.  Just beyond the city lights he could sense the setting sun.  The only other survivor of their era would be joining him soon enough.  At times, he wondered at Fate’s sense of humor when she bound them together to live beyond their counterparts.  Maeseloria had grown beyond her magic.  Technology was the prime focus these days and forgotten were the days of fire, earth, and wind, water, shadow and holy.  Few truly believed anymore.    In fact, his great-great-whatever grandchildren were unaware of their heritage. What would his beloved Alexandra say about her very existence becoming a thing of myth?  A wry smile curled his lips as he thought about her.  Chances were good she would say that was as it should be.  “Time passes,” she would have said.  “We must roll with it or be crushed.  Is that not what you have always told me?”

Light above even after these centuries he missed her.  He missed her laughter and the way she would look at him when she was full of mischief and light.  He missed their quiet moments together and their growth.  She challenged him at every turn and, in many respects, made him a better man for those challenges.  Their hearts were connected and would remain so until he joined her in the Light.   The smell of roses brought her image before him.   Through their bond, he should have joined her in the Light but Giddeon’s curse seemed to trump their Fate-blessed bond.  If only they had considered what might happen should she leave the world before him.   “To you, my love.”   Nicholas raised his cup with a chuckle.    “Someday, I will see you again.”

“Stop being morose, old man. They would not want us to dwell on what was.”  A new voice intruded upon his musings.  Dominic Deveraux appeared in his apartment with a grin.  After all, Dominic was the only who could truly catch him unaware in this age.  Most of the youngsters in these times were too noisy—both with their actions and their thoughts.  Once a month, Nicholas needed his cabin in the middle of nowhere to lower the blocks he constantly kept in his mind.  How could his Alex, with her clairvoyance, ever have survived this age?  “Fate has to have a reason for keeping us both here long after the others.”   Without asking, his best friend flopped on Nicholas’ couch.   “Let it be.  We have trouble. An invitation of sorts.”   Of course Dominic would cut to the chase.  To the realm at large, Dominic ran Delevere Investigations while Nicholas served as an advisor at the local university.    Nicholas Tammond and Dominic Delevere were their names on their birth certificates; social security and on all cases of public record.   Nicholas has been an active member of the University since its inception though no one would know it.  In fact some fool dug up an old painting and attributed the university’s founding to him.  In truth, it was his, Tessa’s and Evelyn’s brain child.  They all believed that their people deserved education regardless of class or gender.  What had begun as Tessa’s makeshift hospital during the war evolved into so much more.

Dominic only requested his assistance with difficult cases that may have required a skill set he did not possess.  Those instances were few and far between because anyone that could have challenged them with mental and magic gifts was long gone and most of the realms populace would not believe unless smacked in the nose with the truth.

“What is it now, Dominic?”  Trouble was not often a word used between them.  After all, they survived years of so-called trouble.  If one could consider both civil war and the chronicled Kindred war mere trouble.  A curious brow perked at his friend’s tone.  Nicholas moved to the kitchen to refill his coffee mug before he determined what Dominic had deemed trouble.  The years had been kind—as if they truly had a choice in the matter—silver speckled his dark hair and there were a few new lines at the corners of his eyes but, for the most part, Nicholas Taltos remained unchanged by time.  Nicholas sensed the nervousness in Dominic demeanor and scowled.  That too was unusual.

Dominic did not offer further explanation when the man returned to the living area.   He simply set the invitation on the coffee table between them.    “We have been summoned.” Much like his friend, the circumstances of his life separated him from his mate and trumped the marital bonds of their realm. Those bonds no longer existed in a realm where people thought faith was simply a service rather than living, breathing being.

Nicholas looked at the scripted invitation on the table.  His nimble fingers plucked the document from the table.  He wondered why Dominic set it down as though Nicholas had set it afire.  As he read, his expression became concerned.   Queen Adrianna Morningstar respectfully requests the presence of Nicholas Taltos and Dominic Devereaux…  “Shit.”   Nicholas rendered the invitation to ash before they discussed the matter further.  This could not bode well.   The invitation meant that at least one of the royal houses kept tabs on them and understood that they could be reached in the direst of consequences.  In all these centuries they had not received a single request for assistance.  The invitation specified a time and place later that evening and after dark.   “Whatever she could possibly need does not bode well for the realm. “

 

When the world burns…

Inspired by:  Burn – Philippa Sou;   World on Fire – Sarah Mclachlan

Today’s post is brought to you today by The Figment and the author’s imagination.  If you have not read Hope’s Child;  you may not want to continue reading this blog post as it contains a few spoilers.  As always, thank you for reading and to our lovely hostess for keeping the creative fires burning. Enjoy!

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Ashes clouded the sky, the earth,  her line of sight and mingled with the mountain snow of the North. Alexandra Jade woke with a gasp.  With a shaking hand, she pushed tousled platinum waves from her face.  She willed her heartbeat to slow and wiped her eyes. The nightmares were frequent since wars end. In a time when so many found joy, she struggled far more than her family, or anyone else, may have suspected.  Until these last months, her life was an endless mystery that had never known peace.  The prophecy,  the monarchy,  rebuilding her family to what Fate called them to be, fighting a war on  so many fronts.  Peace was elusive at best.

Part of her believed the calm was too good to be true and, on so many levels,  she was looking for the next fight, the next problem to solve.  Had she ever really learned to live in all these years?  The question galled her.  For all her wisdom for the others, why could she never seem to apply that to her own life?  With a sigh, she bent and pressed kiss to Nicholas’ temple.  She reassured him with a whispered word then slid from bed.  Quick, quiet steps carried her to the closet where her robe hung.  Deft fingers tossed her mass of platinum hair into a loose knot on her head.

Her hands still shook as she belted the robe around her slender hips.  Alexandra Jade, fair and tiny when compared with many in her family,  stood at five foot five. Like most women in her family,  her fair, heart shaped face hid the shrewd warrior beneath.  That shrewdness was often used to mask the woman she kept buried even deeper beneath the shrouds of duty. A glance out the window told her dawn would be cresting the horizon soon enough.  Adryn was upon them and with the dawn, birdsong would arrive to welcome both the morning and the new season.  This quiet should have offered some sort of solace but did not.

Anxious and afraid of what might lay ahead, she slid her feet into a pair of well worn slippers.  Her emotions held by a tenuous thread as she moved through the palace. Only once in her life, in that terrible battle, had she given her emotions wing and allowed her power to do what it would. The reflections still haunted her dreams so much more than she could give voice to.  If she did, she thought she would shatter. The mantle of what must be settled heavily on her shoulders.  Palace floors turned to sand as she shifted outside into the chilled morning.  What kind of legacy would that level of violence leave?

The sea sprawled before her. A sea Alexandra only dreamed of in days past.  A younger, less bitter woman, saw these seas as a horizon to a larger life than their little manor.  The years taught her that a larger world meant larger consequences, larger responsibilities. She sat in the sand, kicked her slippers off and allowed the sea to lap at her toes. The tide would be rolling in soon.  Could she face every morning with this waking terror for the rest of her life? Was this anxiety the price she must pay for doing what was required?  Light knew the prices Fate extracted from her thus far were painful.

So lost in thought she didn’t feel him approach.  He noted this with a scowl.  She always felt him long before his arrival.  Since the war’s end, Marcus Jade felt his sister pull further and further away from all of them.  She advised when was needed but he saw the way both duty and emotion was eating at her.  “Has it gotten so bad that you block me on instinct?” Marc nearly flinched when he saw the sad smile cross her lips.  The damp at the corners of her eyes was not were not remnants of the tide rolling in. “You know, I’m not the fool I was a few years ago.”  He lowered himself until they sat side by side in the sand.  “I feel the lack of you.” Marc took a deep breath.  Everyone else was practicing hands off or could not see how she buried the pains of her burden.  By contrast, he dwarfed his sister by more than a little more than half a foot. Where her hair was platinum, his was the more common ash to gold shade common in his family.  Her eyes were the shade of the sea that lapped at her toes and his boots where his were green.

One could hardly tell they were siblings at a glance and yet, they had lived their entire lives in one another’s presence.  When she moved to apologize, he shook his head gently.  Each morning she woke him.  The sudden shock of the nightmares lowered her mental guards enough that he knew, at least, that the world was not yet right with his sister.   Their family was whole but she was not.  He wrapped an arm around her and kissed the top of her head as he so often did when they were children.

She would always see more; feel more than he because their family heritage was so much stronger in her.  “I know.”  He whispered those two words to her as the sun crested the horizon. “Talk to me.”  The plea was as gentle as he could make the words. The force of his personality struggled to handle her with care.  His request was answered with a mental flood of emotions that might have drowned a lesser man. Marc closed his eyes and let himself digest the anxiety, the fear compounded with the guilt that Fate required so much death to balance the scale. Guilt that she her loss of control was responsible for the flash fire that consumed so many Kindred soldiers.

“So much of this was out of your hands.” He said as he hugged her close and rested his chin on the top of her head. “Fate dished out the responsibility but left you to bear the consequences.”  He felt the protest rise to her lips before she could speak. “Allow me to finish, dear heart.”  Though he was loathe to admit the fact to anyone, Marc was gentler with his sister than he would have been with anyone else.  “These consequences will not last forever unless you refuse to share the burden with us.  Everything you have accomplished in this life got us here. Without you,  we would not be where we are.”

“I still hear their screams in my dreams, Marcus.”  He dipped his head in a nod in reply before she continued.  “They died because I allowed my power to do what it would.  My control was gone. More specifically, I wanted them all dead for the harm they caused not only our families but the realm.”  The words hurt her heart. Never in her life had she actively pursued vengeance.  Instead, Alexandra was more aware of what power out of control could do than most.  With the exception of family, nobility tiptoed around her with polite precision.  She was treated as though she were a dangerous butterfly; beautiful, exotic to behold but ultimately a danger to them. Her telepathic gifts shared their caution with her on multiple unwanted occasions.

“I think your perspective is clouded by emotion. You are human to feel as you do, Alex.”  His bluntness brought her head up with a snap and a small scowl. “Easy, allow me to explain before you go on the defensive and beat me to hell.” The response he received was as he expected. She hated to be called out and yet, who else would dare aside from Nicholas.   Her reaction gave him hope.  “You were more in control in those moments than you have been in your entire life.  They would have killed us all had you given them the opportunity.  You started the fire then left the element to its own devices.  Without you, we all would have died. Everything we gave, that we sacrificed would have been for nothing.”  Marc straightened and turned her to face him so their eyes met.  “Christiana may be the guide,  Aries may be the armor of justice, Tess may be the faith but you, beloved sister, are the heartbeat of us all.” Those words made the damn break within her. Marc felt it snap with the efficiency of a child snapping a dry twig.

The tears broke his heart and he knew he could not handle the overflow alone. In fact, as she wept, he began to feel the heat radiating from her smaller frame.  Nicholas, fucking help me here.  Cut her skills for a little while.  The man, a man Marc would swear to be his sister’s match in every way,  in question was awake the moment she left the bed. He knew her word of comfort was absolute bullshit. The pair of them had spent too many years in intimate contact for him to miss the larger problem yet, time taught him not to force the issue. She would speak to him about it when she was ready and no sooner than that.

Marc and Nicholas reinforced the wall Alexandra kept between her skills and her emotions.  Marc nearly breathed a sigh of relief as he felt her skin cool.  The reality of the situation was that the woman could burn the kingdom to the ground without that separation.  Because of that consequence,  she often kept her emotions at a distance. This stress was more than she could compartmentalize. The aftermaths of war bled into her subconscious because she could not allow herself to heal at the expense of others.  She needed to break to heal.

Bring her home to me Marcus. She is needed and loved far more than she lets herself believe.  Marc acknowledged Nicholas’ thought and shared the sentiment with his sobbing sister.  I will, old man, you  may depend upon it.  When the tears subsided, they would talk through the sunrise and very nearly until midmorning when Nicholas came looking for them.

 

Take Your Time

Soundtrack:  Final Fantasy X- Via Purifico
Current Reading:  The Tudors: The Complete Story of England’s Most Notorious Dynasty– GJ Meyer (ALMOST done!!)

“Eat healthily, sleep well, breathe deeply, move harmoniously.”
~Jean-Pierre Barral

So I have to be blunt for a moment.  Our hostess with the mostest at The Figment through me a real curve ball with this week’s writing prompt.  I’m rarely stumped but this one took some mulling over.  Today’s post struck me when a song popped onto my playlist today. These are the lyrics:

Take a breath
Take a step
Take a chance
Take your time

The song is from the musical The Last Five Years.  If you’ve never heard it, get it. It’s fantastic.  So the song lyrics got me thinking about that quote in a slightly different skew.  I thought about it terms of where we are in our lives and the risks we take for the lives we want to have.   Yes, eat healthy, sleep well. These are important for anyone’s physical health and are basically common knowledge with all the recent revelations about physical health.  But those last two…breath deeply…live harmoniously.

Those two bear a great deal more consideration.  Breathe deeply.  What if that means not just the use of lungs, diaphragm and windpipe? What if it has more to do with heart?  What if the quote is about that big internal breath we take before making a major change; a major step in our lives? Or the big deep breath of relief when a plan finally comes together?  (Cookie to anyone who gets the 80s TV reference)  So I got to thinking about that and the context of those song lyrics and it made me smile.  I know what it’s like to feel that way–to find out if you have the guts to pull through a hardship,  make that hard decision and survive beyond it.   Those decisions take a yard of guts; perserverence and patience.   They also take the ability to let situations go when they aren’t working as we may have planned and the maturity to move on.  That is how I interpret that part.

The last part,  with particular attention to our world and its current state of affairs,  becomes even more important in that context.  Live harmoniously.  Can you live with yourself in  your every day affairs?  The decisions you make, are they ones you just live with or do you take pride in those choices?  Better question, can you live harmoniously with the things that are beyond your control?  What gives you the courage to accept your choices–both the good and the bad–take responsibility and move on?

Confession time;  I used to be someone who would not accept that responsiblity and, consequently made some fairly shitty choices because I couldn’t own it. I was not happy with me the individual and that unhappiness branched out into other areas.    Time and experience taught me a great deal and I grew.  I often wonder if more people could take time to self-examine, how the world would be impacted on a larger scale.   Definitely food for thought.

So,  here’s a random question and shout out to readers. Do the actions of the individual impact the well being of the whole?  If we better ourselves as individuals,  will that in turn,  better our world?  Let me know what you think,  within reason.  Comments are monitored. If you’re abusive, well, you’re getting deleted.  🙂